Wednesday, July 25, 2007

United Statesians?

Some people apparently take offense at the way citizens of the(se) United States call themselves Americans as opposed to United Statesians.


My response to the Latin Americans among these would be to say, "You had your chance, but decided to act French, instead."

Also, Americans had a strong tradition in identifying themselves with the particular State they lived in, often calling themselves Carolinian, or Virginian, or New Mexican, or Texan. This attachment was nostalgic, and focused on smaller communities with more peculiar cultures. Only now, some 4 or 5 generation after the Civil War, are these notions beginning to subside, along with ease and frequency of emigration.

I, personally, prefer to identify myself as a New Mexican, though I was born in New England and have lived in North Carolina for 10 years now.

3 comments:

Jeff said...

"New Mexican?" I will leave the jokes to other commenters.

However, I do not believe that:

"This attachment was nostalgic, and focused on smaller communities with more peculiar cultures. Only now, some 4 or 5 generation after the Civil War, are these notions beginning to subside, along with ease and frequency of emigration."

It was not nostalgic. This is actually the way people perceived themselves, back in the day before the federal government played a strong role in people's lives. The states were conceived as mini-nations, with the federal government serving the same function the European Community, and later the European Union, served for Europe: a trade federation, and a way to handle inter-(national)state disputes.

The attitude did change after the Civil War, but I think it would best be characterized as a change in attitude about statehood. People stopped looking at the Union as a contract when secession failed.

I was always enamored by this statement by a late historian (I'm embarassed that I can't remember his name):

"Before the Civil War, people said 'The United States are...' After the War, people started saying 'The United States is...'"

What great wealths of information and feeling such small subtleties in language can convey.

Juris Naturalist said...

Excellent points, as usual. I actually paused over the term nostalgic. Your comments are precisely what I was driving at.

Juris Naturalist said...

And a New-Mexican is so vastly different from a new (wait for it) Mexican that I cannot even begin to delineate the subtleties. I have a jar of New-Mexican green chile sauce that should do most of the explaining required.