The Blast-Furnace of Zion: America as Missionary Ideal

In Usonia as much as anywhere else, there is a political establishment and an associated civic religion. As we have previously articulated, this religion centers around the concept of America—a formerly ethnogeographical term which has taken on a certain ideological significance—and thus we will call it by its usual name, that being the American civic religion. Much has been written on the scriptures and saints of this religion, but one aspect in particular makes it especially distinctive among civic religions and is seldom discussed in any detail, namely that it is missionary—that is, that it seeks converts by means of immigration.

The ancient Roman civic cult, for example, could be seen as missionary, but only in the sense that any empire is missionary, imposing its format of loyalty-signalling on the peoples it conquers; and certainly there are established interests around the world in spreading certain ideas, certain loyalties, which are closely associated with the American civic religion. But unlike historically usual cults of State, the Usonian formulation is one which actively seeks immigrants to convert to it; it no longer expands geographically, but rather calls new members to move into its current geographical claim and become Americans in Usonia. There is a longstanding basis for this missionary impulse, and the purpose of this treatment is to discuss its earliest origins and its subsequent development.

First, we must note the two dominant mythic views of America which compete politically (and do so asymmetrically) within the civic religion. These form the ideological basis of the two-party system, though the governing methods of the two parties do not, of course, reflect the extent of the cultural divergence seen “on the ground”. The Republican Party and the Democratic Party—as well as the “conservative” and “progressive” mercantile, media, and lobbying circuits which are, respectively, associated with them—simply put, both appeal to Usonians on the basis of imperial unity; they differ in their audience, however, and thus attribute different qualities to their images of America.

The “conservative” view of America, found most often among the middle class and below, is perhaps most concisely embodied in the American’s Creed:

I believe in the United States of America, as a government of the people, by the people, for the people; whose just powers are derived from the consent of the governed; a democracy in a republic; a sovereign Nation of many sovereign States; a perfect union, one and inseparable; established upon these principles of freedom, equality, justice, and humanity for which American patriots sacrificed their lives and fortunes. I therefore believe it is my duty to my country to love it, to support its Constitution, to obey its laws, to respect its flag, and to defend it against all enemies.[1]

In this view, America is an ideal. Nowhere in this creed—do note that it was passed as a resolution by the United States House of Representatives in 1918—is there mention of a North, a South, and a West; “the people”, though repeatedly invoked, is referred to as a unity. Indeed, there are the words “a perfect union, one and inseparable”—which would seem to contradict the words just prior: “many sovereign States”.

This sort of semantic confusion is probably the result of innovation in the civic religion appearing alongside accretions from older formulations; “many sovereign States” is evidently one such accretion, for the Southern States acted as sovereign entities in seceding from the United States and forming another union, and their defeat in the ensuing war meant the defeat of the old principle by which the States could be called sovereign—whereas the older union, in winning the ensuing war, affirmed a new principle—that it was indeed “one and inseparable”.

Thus the curious language of the above creed reflects the victory of, in particular, one Usonian people over another, and more generally of certain interests over common Usonians generally. The Usonian norm in public discourse since the time of Lincoln, then, is to argue for regional, ethnic, or class interests with the assumption that imperial unity is inviolable, and thus with appeals to American values. Even the Southern States which had formed the Confederacy could appeal to American principles as a justification for secession[2]—for had not the United States seceded less than a century before from Britain?

This assumed unity is also present, albeit in a different form, in the “progressive” view. Prominent in the academy, this view is expressed most poignantly in Langston Hughes’ Let America Be America Again (1935):

O, let America be America again-
The land that never has been yet-
And yet must be–the land where every man is free.
The land that’s mine–the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME-
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose-
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,
We must take back our land again,
America!

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath-
America will be![3]

Here we see “the people” called to rally against another group: “those who live like leeches”. The concept of America has thus been even further abstracted from its ethnogeographical basis, and made into an imperative, an ideal: “where every man [must be] free”. It is stated explicitly that if the conditions and mores of what is called America do not reflect such an ideal, then America does not exist—”the land that never has been yet”.

The distribution of these views among the Usonian social classes follows a pattern: those with more education and a higher income are not only more likely to have a view of “American values” and related concepts more like that of Hughes,[4] but are also liable to disparage “Americanness” to the extent that they perceive America to refer to the former conception, which, though it contains no explicit ethnic character, marks one who adheres to it unmistakably as one of the middle or lower classes.[5]

The trend in the civic religion is one of abstraction from prior specifications about American nationality, which are more and more unprincipled exceptions to—to quote the American’s Creed—”these principles of freedom, equality, justice, and humanity for which American patriots sacrificed their lives and fortunes”; as hard as it may have been for even a suffragette in 1918 to imagine the importance of a figure like Martin Luther King, Jr. in the civic religion today, no widely respected conservative would today question it. This makes the “conservative” conception not only lower in status, but also archaic: it reflects, as the Creed would suggest, in an older form of the civic religion. It is thus poorly equipped to defend itself, rhetorically or electorally, against the more advanced form, which builds upon its premises (foremost among them being the ideal of America itself).

Indeed, the abstraction and distortion of the former ethnogeographical meaning of America does not stop with the “progressive” myth outlined above; for there is an even more advanced formulation of the myth. For this we can look to Amiri Baraka, “one of the most respected and widely published African-American writers”,[6] who has written on the matter:

We get clear enough to elect Obama
the terrorists take off they Klan clothes
put on some suits , they the t party, now. TEA
The Evil Assholes, they terrorists & Nazi’s
like always. They do anything to stop America’s getting rid of it’s craziness.
They never let all of us
be Americans. They terrorists
And the Republicans they even got negroes
Real Public Coons, they terrorists too
like Tom Ass Clarence & his evil wife …

We facing the sickness
of terrorists. Been terrorizing all of us
for hundreds of years. When we gonna catch em
and lock `em up! These terrorists. Catch em
and lock `em up! Then we can cure ourselves,
America, of what has always
Ailed us!

As illustrated by the fact that this very piece of writing has been praised by Brian Leiter,[7] one of the most powerful figures in academic philosophy in Usonia[8]—as well as, again, the fact that Baraka himself is “respected and widely published”—those whose personal and professional associations place them above the middle class are not wont to see Baraka’s view of America as threatening, but rather find with it much agreement.

In other words, the “progressive” view of America is a point of intersection between minority resentment of, and elite contempt for, common Usonians (also called middle Americans). Thus, before we have even undertaken to examine the missionary nature of the present-day American civic religion, we see an impetus for missionary efforts—that is, efforts at mass conversion by immigration, and thus mass replacement of common Usonians—already present in its central myth, namely that Usonia must be redeemed or vengefully transformed in order to qualify as America. As author and demographer Ben J. Wattenberg has put it:

Something is happening: we are becoming the first universal nation in history. Holy smoke! The half-true evolving, poetic proclamation of America is becoming truer and truer: we are a free people; we do come from everywhere. There are some specific potential problems and some specific potential blessings associated with this development, which will be discussed in a moment. But if you believe, as the author does, that the American drama is being played out toward a purpose, then the non-Europeanization of America is heartening news of an almost transcendental quality.[9]

Now that we have established a possible basis for it in the central civic myth, we will discuss this missionary impulse and its origins in further depth. It is based, again, not only on the idea that anyone can be an American—for this idea can be found among common Usonians, albeit far from universally—but also that it is the telos of America to host members of every people in the world. Perhaps the earliest well-known articulation of this idea is in “The New Colossus”, the poem by Emma Lazarus which was engraved in the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty in 1903. It ends thus:

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”[10]

Emma Lazarus, it is to be noted, was not an immigrant. She was descended from a line of Sephardic Jews, originally from Portugal, who had been living in New York since the colonial period. For an even earlier—and less poetic, more explicit—rendering of the same idea, we turn, reliably, to an Anglo-Saxon. Lazarus’s portrait of America has little to differ with that of one L.P. Brockett, who coäuthored a book—the very one we are about to cite—with Charles Louis Flint, one of the founders of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His, however, provides not only for the intermixture of all the peoples of the world in America, but also for the continued supremacy of his own people. He writes a generation before Lazarus’s poem is engraved:

But the future man of the American Republic will be a thoroughly composite being. It is not simply the union of the Mongolian and Caucasian types to which we are to look forward, but an agglomeration of almost all races and nationalities to make up the coming man. The old English stock of New England, Virginia, and the Carolinas, already blended with Huguenot, Norman French, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, German, French, Danish, Swedish, and Norwegian blood, will receive from the Canadian French on the one side and the Hispano-Americans on the other, an accession of French, Spanish, and Portuguese blood not wholly free from an admixture in all degrees with the Northern Indian, the Aztec, and the Negro races, and these, with the blending in our own Southern and Southwestern States with the African stock, and the combination in the not distant future of Chinese, Japanese, Hindoo, Malay, and Polynesian, will give to the average American of a hundred years hence, a darker complexion and very different intellectual and moral characteristics from those which we possess to-day. Still we have faith in the predominance of the Anglo-Saxon type, if not in numbers, at least in sway over the hundreds of millions who will then people this broad land. Its resolute will, its ability for governing and controlling, its rare executive power, and its high intelligence, secure for it here, as on the Eastern continent, the position of the foremost nation of the earth in all the highest qualities of manhood.[11]

Flint’s conception of his own people is a rather confident one, to say the least. Where lie its origins? In his own words, the Anglo-Saxon tells us: in the very same place as the missionary impulse we have been discussing. Abiel Abbot, another Massachusetts Yankee, writing more than three generations before Flint:

It has been often remarked that the people of the United States come nearer to a parallel with Ancient Israel than any other nation upon the globe. Hence OUR AMERICAN ISRAEL is a term frequently used; and common consent allows it apt and proper.[12]

Not only was America a land of promise in that it was a frontier, but its most influential people—the Yankees of New England—were Calvinists, who had much reverence for the Old Testament and its harsh portrayal of a personal god who favored some peoples over others.[13] Accordingly, a certain “chosenness” was felt by those who had come to the promised land of the New World. Bernard A. Weisberger, writing in 1964, confirms Abbot’s view:

“But the stranger that dwelleth among you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself.” So the Lord had spoken, through Moses, to the Israelites. The Americans, as the Chosen People of the 19th Century (in their own eyes), took all such commandments with proper seriousness. Moreover, in 1858 Abraham Lincoln had boldly tied together the Republican program for freedom in the territories and the American ideal of proffering to the world’s oppressed a gateway to hope. The West, he declared, should be “an outlet for free white people everywhere, the world over—in which Hans and Baptiste and Patrick and all other men from all the world, may find new homes and better their condition in life.” To the generation which took up the nation’s business after the Civil War, it was unthinkable to ignore a mandate of Jehovah and Lincoln.[14]

And ignore it they did not: millions of immigrants from all over Europe came to Usonia to become Americans over the following generation.[15] This very process, while perhaps, according to Yockey, invigorating the American stock with renewed enthusiasm for its identity,[16] furthered the abstraction of that identity, both in the popular mind and in the formulation of imperial policy.

For this generation, however, there were still limits to the extent of this missionary call—and therefore to the abstraction of America as a concept—for it was not sounded to the peoples of Asia or Africa as it was to those of Europe. Immigration from East Asia, China in particular, did occur in the latter decades of the nineteenth century, but various Acts were passed in order to limit it.[17]

Indeed, the aforementioned limits went even further: in 1924 an Immigration Act was passed, which established an annual quota at 2% of the number of foreign-born persons of a given nationality who were present in the United States at the Census of 1890.[18] This had varying effects, as one might imagine, depending on the said nationality: immigrants from Northwestern Europe were fewer in number, but still formed the greatest share; those from Southern and Eastern Europe less so; immigration from Africa, Arabia, and East Asia was negligible.

The passage of the 1924 Immigration Act demonstrates that whatever views Brockett and his associates had on the “future man of the American Republic”, such views were not consistent with imperial policy or the popular conception of America at the time.[19] The idea of the melting pot as such would not enter the American consciousness until Israel Zangwill’s 1908 play of the same name.[20]

Even before that, however, the idea of a “melting together” of immigrant peoples did exist in Usonia—but it was keenly described as a coming together of Northwestern Europeans, not of all the world; and at that a fait accompli, something already evident to the observer. J. Hector St. John de Crevecoeur wrote of such a mixture in 1782:

…whence came all these people? They are a mixture of English, Scotch, Irish, French, Dutch, Germans, and Swedes… What, then, is the American, this new man? He is either an European or the descendant of an European; hence that strange mixture of blood, which you will find in no other country.[21]

Nearly a century later, a magazine article made the precise analogy of the melting pot—but in relation to Englishmen, Irishmen, and Germans, with no mention of Jews or even Italians or Slavs, let alone non-Western peoples:

The fusing process goes on as in a blast-furnace; one generation, a single year even– transforms the English, the German, the Irish emigrant into an American. Uniform institutions, ideas, language, the influence of the majority, bring us soon to a similar complexion; the individuality of the immigrant, almost even his traits of race and religion, fuse down in the democratic alembic like chips of brass thrown into the melting pot.[22]

Thus the promotion of the melting-pot analogy by Zangwill marks an important turn, for he speaks of the American composite more as a thing to come or a work in progress, and a work of God at that, sounding more like Abbot, Lazarus, or Wattenberg—all that is wanting is the replacement of “Europe” with “the world”—than like the men quoted just above:

Understand that America is God’s Crucible, the great Melting-Pot where all the races of Europe are melting and re-forming! Here you stand, good folk, think I, when I see them at Ellis Island, here you stand in your fifty groups, your fifty languages, and histories, and your fifty blood hatreds and rivalries. But you won’t be long like that, brothers, for these are the fires of God you’ve come to – these are fires of God. A fig for your feuds and vendettas! Germans and Frenchmen, Irishmen and Englishmen, Jews and Russians—into the Crucible with you all! God is making the American.[23]

Thus the missionary character of the American civic religion and its theological girding are on full display, even before the passage of the 1924 Immigration Act—whose strictures were later reversed, indeed by people who were particularly interested in making Abbot’s account even more “apt and proper” than he is likely to have imagined.[24] A discussion of how this reversal was effected is beyond the scope of the present treatment; our aim here has been merely to illustrate the missionary character of the American civic religion and its ethnic and religious origins.

[1]: William Tyler Page, “The American’s Creed”, 1917.
[2]: See Thomas Jefferson, “Letter to William H. Crawford”, June 20, 1816; and James Buchanan, “Fourth Annual Address to Congress on the State of the Union”, December 3, 1860.
[3] Langston Hughes, “Let America Be America Again”, 1935.
[4] Data suggest that more affluent and educated Usonians are more likely to support the Democratic Party; see Stephen Ohlemacher, “In Congress, Democrats Are The Party Of The Rich”, AP, March 31, 2014.
[5] The history of the ‘Murica meme illustrates the association of White middle- and lower-class, particularly Southern, cultural elements and political views with a low-status conception of America.
[6] As per the brief biography given at Portside along with the quoted “poem”.
[7] Leiter linked and excerpted the piece, calling it “apt, and often outrageously funny”, in a blog post dated October 21, 2013.
[8] The Boston Globe has referred to Leiter as “the philosopher kingmaker”; he gained fame for his regularly updated list of what he considers to be the best philosophy departments in the American academy, which began to circulate, in his words, “like samizdat in the Soviet Union”; see Mark Oppenheimer, “The philosopher kingmaker”, Boston Globe, April 20, 2008.
[9] Ben J. Wattenberg, The Good News is the Bad News is Wrong, 1984, p. 84.
[10] Emma Lazarus, “The New Colossus”, 1883.
[11] L.P. Brockett, Marvels That Our Grandchildren Will See, an appendix to One Hundred Years’ Progress of the United States, 1873, p. 515.
[12] Abiel Abbot, Traits of resemblance in the people of the United States of America to ancient Israel; In a sermon, delivered at Haverhill, November 28, 1799.
[13] The New England Puritans saw an affinity between themselves and the ancient Israelites, and as with those labelled Puritans generally, preached a theology which, taking after Calvin, emphasised the total depravity of man and the complete dependence of man’s Election for salvation on divine grace. This affinity, and these emphases, persisted in American Protestantism up to and beyond the time of Abbot. See not only the sermon listed in note 10, but also Jonathan Edwards, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, A Sermon Preached at Enfield, July 8th, 1741.
[14] Bernard A. Weisberger, The LIFE History of the United States, volume 8, 1964, p. 59.
[15] See ibid., pp. 59-60.
[16] See Francis Parker Yockey, Imperium: The Philosophy of History and Politics, 1948, p. 136.
[17] One may read here the text of two such pieces of legislation restricting Chinese immigration.
[18] The text of the 1924 Immigration Act can be found here, and there is a chart of its quotas here.
[19] Even in 1924, however, one could be found to object to such measures on the grounds that they were un-American; see the address to Congress of Robert H. Clancy, a Republican congressman from Detroit whose constituency had a high immigrant population, here.
[20] See Werner Sollors, Beyond Ethnicity: Consent and Descent in American Culture, 1986, p. 66.
[21] J. Hector St. John de Crevecoeur, Letters from an American Farmer, 1782, Letter III, “What is an American?”
[22] Titus Munson Coan, “A New Country”, The Galaxy, volume 19, issue 4, April 1875, p. 463.
[23] Israel Zangwill, The Melting-Pot, 1908, Act I.
[24] See Kevin MacDonald, The Culture of Critique, 1998, pp. 240-303.

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Defining Usonia: A Pluralistic View of American History

When the descendants of European settlers in the New World began to see themselves as separate from the societies of the Old World, they had not had very long to form distinct ethnic identities. But even without ethnic or national traditions which stretched back through time to distinguish the creole from the European, the broader idea of ‘America’—an ‘imagined community’, as Benedict Anderson calls it, of those born in the New World—accounted for this feeling of separateness among creoles throughout North and South America.

The political application of this idea, and more generally of this sense of distinction from the Old World, was not uniform, however. It differed from north to south, not only because of language barriers, but as a result of geographic and economic factors—especially, as Anderson points out, that of print-capitalism: the mass production and exchange of text. South America’s various independence movements did not amount to a single grand Americanism, given the size of Spanish America and the great distances between its urban centers. In North America, on the other hand, conditions were better suited to such a development:

The Protestant, English-speaking Creoles to the north were much more favourably situated for realizing the idea of ‘America’ and indeed eventually succeeded in appropriating the everyday title of ‘Americans’. The original Thirteen Colonies comprised an area smaller than Venezuela, and one third the size of Argentina. Bunched geographically together, their market-centres in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia were readily accessible to one another, and their populations were relatively tightly linked by print as well as commerce. The ‘United States’ could gradually multiply in numbers over the next 183 years, as old and new populations moved westwards out of the old east coast core. Yet even in the case of the USA there are elements of comparative ‘failure’ or shrinkage — non-absorption of English-speaking Canada, Texas’s decade of independent sovereignty (1835—46). Had a sizeable English-speaking community existed in California in the eighteenth century, is it not likely that an independent state would have arisen there to play Argentina to the Thirteen Colonies’ Peru? Even in the USA, the affective bonds of nationalism were elastic enough, combined with the rapid expansion of the western frontier and the contradictions generated between the economies of North and South, to precipitate a war of secession almost a century after the Declaration of Independence; and this war today sharply reminds us of those that tore Venezuela and Ecuador off from Gran Colombia, and Uruguay and Paraguay from the United Provinces of the Rio de la Plata.[1]

When we add to this picture of the USA the great waves of immigration from continental Europe, especially Germany, as well as the longstanding presence of Africans and the later arrival of other non-Europeans, it becomes especially evident, as it is to even the most uninformed observer, that the concept of American nationhood is overwhelmingly political and commercial. It certainly isn’t an exclusively ethnic concept; the number of distinct ethnic groups whose members claim—and, by any historical measure, merit—the status of American, after all, is greater than one. The people of Appalachia, in the absence of any official recognition of their status as an indigenous people, list their ethnicity on the United States census as ‘American’[2]—they understand themselves to be a distinct people with a unique heritage, yet they do not even have a name for themselves which would assert their separateness from both Europe and other American ethnic groups.

The shrinkage Anderson describes is thus to be expected, regardless of terminology, and is prevented today not by some natural affinity between, for example, Massachusetts and Wyoming, but because the former has political and cultural influence that the latter does not. This influence is exercised in the formal packaging of Americanism which covers the whole country; it makes use of political associations between American peoples where cultural ones do not exist. The United States Constitution has been more important to imagined American unity, and commerce more important to actual American unity, than any national figure, any distinguished bloodline, any ennobled soil; the likeness seen on any denomination of the American currency is invariably that of a man of public affairs. American history is thus United States history, first and foremost.

Thus the term American is more of an ideograph than a demonym; indeed, its political utility would seem to correlate inversely with its coherence. There are several cultures underlying this ideographically entrenched national concept, and they are not entirely in agreement about the essence of the concept, let alone its implications. But for all their distinctions and all their mutual antagonism, these cultures form a continental paradigm, a mode of civilization, whose particularities we should like to discuss without the ideographic connotations of America.

Thus we use the name Usonia,[3] terminologically embracing the political bonds of the continent’s peoples in order to transcend them; Usonia conjures an image that America does not. Usonian citizenship, so to speak, is a practical matter, whereas American citizenship has a set of lofty ideas attached. Usonia exists on land and in human interaction; America exists in hearts and minds. We will therefore use the former when referring to the continental paradigm and the latter when discussing ideas of Usonian national unity.

Usonian history, as with Latin American history, is the history of several Americas in one, and in particular the centralization of their societies under the aforementioned national concept—e pluribus unum, truly. A historian of Usonian civilization must make use of all the tools at his disposal to develop an accurate picture of its defining traits and internal differences without falling under the sway of the ideography which dominates its political administration—and those tools are many, as Frederick Jackson Turner notes in his articulation of our task:

The economist, the political scientist, the psychologist, the sociologist, the geographer, the students of literature, of art, of religion—all the allied laborers in the study of society—have contributions to make to the equipment of the historian.[…]It is necessary that the American historian shall aim at this equipment, not so much that he may possess the key to history or satisfy himself in regard to its ultimate laws. At present a different duty is before him. He must see in American society with its vast spaces, its sections equal to European nations, its geographic influences, its brief period of development, its variety of nationalities and races, its extraordinary industrial growth under the conditions of freedom, its institutions, culture, ideals, social psychology, and even its religions, forming and changing almost under his eyes, one of the richest fields ever offered for the preliminary recognition and study of the forces that operate and interplay in the making of society.[4]

In The Frontier in American History (1920), Turner points out the asymmetricality of relations between the Usonian peoples, further highlighting the necessity of our approach:

To the average American, to most American historians, and to most of the writers of our school textbooks (if one can trust the indexes to their books) the word section applies only to the struggle of South against North on the questions of slavery, state sovereignty, and, eventually, disunion.

But the Civil War was only the most drastic and most tragic of sectional manifestations, and in no small degree the form which it took depended upon the fact that rival societies, free and slave, were marching side by side into the unoccupied lands of the West, each attempting to dominate the back country, the hirterland, working out agreements from time to time, something like the diplomatic treaties of European nations, defining spheres of influence and awarding mandates, such as in the Missouri Compromise, the Compromise of 1850, and the Kansas-Nebraska Act. Each Atlantic section was in truth engaged in a struggle for power, and power was to be gained by drawing upon the growing West in the Virginia ratification convention of 1787. William Grayson, by no means the most radical of the members, said: “I look upon this as a contest for empire. . . . If the Mississippi be shut up, emigrations will be stopped entirely. There will be no new states formed on the Western Waters. . . . This contest of the Mississippi involves the great national contest; that is whether one part of this continent shall govern the other. The Northern States have the majority and will endeavor to retain it. Similar con ceptions abound in the utterances of North Atlantic statesmen “It has been said,” declared Morris in 1787, “that North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia only will in a little time have a majority of the people of America. They must in that case include the great interior country and everything is to be apprehended from their getting power into their hands.”

If time permitted, it would be possible to illustrate by such utterances all through our history to very recent times how the Eastern sections regarded the West with its advancing frontier as the raw material for power.[5]

Corresponding to the division between coast and hinterland is that between the two grand competing visions of Usonia: that of a continental empire and that of a patchwork of distinct nations. Both of these visions can be called American, but where the former is pseudo-Oriental—it is this vision which has prevailed, and its application has resulted in an America that resembles less a haven for free men and more a Western analog of Russia or China; compare Reconstruction, the suppression of the German language during and after the First World War, and the expansion of the federal government following both, to the longstanding practices of Sinicization and Russification in Asia—the latter is post-European, that is, it follows directly from the desire of the European settler to live without the prior strictures of European population density, vestigial European norms, and accumulated European wealth. History has already provided us with names that fit these tendencies to a greater or lesser degree: Hamiltonian and Jeffersonian, which we will not presume to replace.

As Turner describes above, the Hamiltonian or imperial tendency is one of the Northeast colonizing the West and South. These sectional terms are useful enough, but—this is the opposite of the problem with the name America, which evokes a single people where there is merely a region—they encourage us to think of regions rather than distinct peoples. We have some established alternatives, however: Dixie is already a name for the South, and Northeasterners are Yankees. The West Coast, whose urbane inhabitants are the doppelgängers of Yankees, has California to the south and the Cascadia to the north. The task of naming the younger and less defined ethnic divisions of the interior is more difficult—though it has been attempted before[6]—and we will reserve it for another discussion. For now it will suffice to reiterate the importance of names.

Usonian history as we have defined it, and its relation to the practical matters of the present day, are themselves something of a frontier. There is not yet an organization of notable size which appears to have taken into account the implications of the fact that Usonia is ruled by an imperial government and not a national one—save for the imperial government itself, perhaps, but that is no certainty—and it is hardly difficult to imagine that there presently would, given that there is almost no linguistic distinction in the general discourse between Usonia as a quasi-continent and Usonia as a nation, and that there is insufficient established terminology for Usonia’s constituent peoples. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, there is no paucity of cultural and political differences worth examining in Usonia, from its origins to the present day; Turner was right to note the richness of the field of study which is furnished by American society, or, as we would say, the various societies, ‘American’ and otherwise, of Usonia.

[1]: Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities, 3rd ed., 2006, pp. 66.
[2]: Razib Khan, “The Scots-Irish as indigenous people”, Gene Expression, July 22, 2012.
[3]: Though most famously used by Frank Lloyd Wright, the name Usonia appears to have first been used by James Duff Law, a Scottish-American writer, in Here and There in Two Hemispheres (1903).
[4]: Frederick Jackson Turner, The Frontier in American History, 1920, pp. 333-334.
[5]: Frederick Jackson Turner, “The Significance of the Section in American History”, The Wisconsin magazine of history, Volume 8, no. 3, March 1925, pp.259-260.
[6]: See Joel Garreau’s The Nine Nations of North America, 1981; David Hackett Fischer’s Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America, 1989; Colin Woodard’s American Nations, 2011; etc.

A quote.

“Politics are vulgar when they are not liberalized by history, and history fades into mere literature when it loses sight of its relation to practical politics.”
Sir John Seeley.