Monday, January 14, 2008

Where We Started
Where We Came

Here is a map of the counties of the UK. Notice right down at the bottom, .to the west is King Arthur's country, Cornwall. Next to it is Devon, where my Puritan ancestor's started. As you go along the coast, to the east, you find Dorset, Hampshire, Sussex., where my father's people came from in the middle of the 19th century, and then Kent, where my Cavalier ancestors began. From all the many counties in Britain, my ancestors managed to come from such a relatively small part of England. And, between Devon and Kent, there managed to be so much difference in the culture.

We forget how large space is without modern transportation. We forget that in those days most people never traveled more than seven miles from where they were born. That the invention of the bicycle greatly reduced birth defects because it allowed men who didn't own horses to court from a larger distance.

As I think about Fischer's Albion's Seed, I find it very helpful to consult this map.

It is also helpful to keep this map of Colonial America to hand.

The distances in the New World, the miles between the colonies, were much greater. And yet, because all of the colonies are on the Atlantic, and it was such a short time between their settlement and modern transportation, our states are much more alike after only a few hundred years than the English counties were after over a thousand. Space has shrunk.

The other thing to remember is that when the Puritans and the Cavaliers, the Uptons and the Herndons, first came here Massachusetts and Virginia were the only colonies that had been founded. To me, born in California and currently living in Alaska, all of the east coast states look about postage stamp size.But when the only transportation is ship and horse, those colonies were far apart. And they were far apart for long enough that the very distinct cultures which they started with were firmly rooted, and still are strongly reflected. It isn't just that I can understand the Uptons by reading about the original Puritans; I can understand why the New England states are blue states, where the roots of the liberal grounding came from. It wasn't just the Herndons who took traits from the Cavaliers. The South is still highly influenced by its heritage. Still red states. Still Republican stronghold.

To this day, New England and the South still mean different things by family values. Still have different views of proper male-female relationships. The hierarchy is still strong in the South.

Isn't it odd, that the South which was founded by elites who worked very hard to remain elite, is the hotbed of the GOP, which accuses New England of being "liberal elite"?

UK map courtesy
Colonial map courtesy
Click to enlarge


Anvilcloud said...

I find this stuff very interesting.

Deja Pseu said...

Very interesting insights! I've really been enjoying this series of posts.