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Updated on July 20, 2011

States Became Shapes

Travelling around the United States every state has a different shape and occasionally the question arises, how the states got their shapes. Who decided how big States could be and where boundaries were going to be set; overall how the states got their identities. The names of each state is spelled exactly as it is pronounced, it would seem not many could read or write so to spell with a sound was the best method to help recognition of each state. No special sounds were initiated. This logic sounds good; maybe the shapes of States are as simple. The things important to the nation as a whole shaped the states, land, water and other necessities of life dictated how the states got their shapes. In many ways, all of the things that hammered the country into shape dictated the boundaries; slavery, freedom of religion, gold, shipping, tobacco, cotton and more.

Bottomland in the South was a strong point in constructing the shapes of the States. The Southern states were the heart of agriculture and wanted the rich fertile soil of river bottom land for planting so this was included in the southern boundaries. The struggle for resources has always had a say in the shape of the states.

Water ways were essential for shipping and transportation; each state wanted some amount of control over waterway access. The big rivers move across the country like roads and everyone wanted to drive on them. This meant commerce and wealth for the people who controlled them. State boundaries were often set on theses rivers.

Ethnic and Religious Boundaries were a part of the reason people travelled thousands of miles. The freedom of religion was a critical point, but even in a new land people took issue with certain religions so basically they tried to stay separate. The Quakers were in one state and the Mormons were in the other. In Utah the land granted reducing Utah in size giving the Mormons less power and giving Nevada more, purely political in designing a boundary.

Diversity in Thought, people wanted to do different things had different interest and wanted to have state hood for their own reasons. Texas and California were physically and financially independent and more or less dictated the method and the boundaries by which they would become states. California with its golden hills which they meant to keep decided their boundary and Texas wanting to keep slavery agreed to the 35th parallel. This decided the top boundary for all of the slave states. This use of longitude worked for all but California where the line stopped. The struggle between slave and free would help decide boundaries. Who would keep control of the countries wealth? Again the diversity in thought made the call for how the states were shaped.

Politics, the mood of the people in power decided some boundaries. Land was given to certain families by bequest and they were usually rich families, if they wanted boundaries set in a particular place taking in a certain item that is where the shape of the state were set. Politics changed the boundaries in with the discovery of gold in Utah moving a larger land mass to Nevada, not to mention electoral votes. Some states lost land because of unfavorable political views. Today the ongoing struggle for resources goes on, Nevada and Georgia struggle over water rights. Only an Act of Congress can change things now; or an earthquake.

Railroads, when the Iron horse started to make its way across the land the need to travel only by waterway became less important and made way for new boundary requirements. People were after gold and land which in some places was being given away for the taking. Once again people needed the resources of good soil and water. There is that word again that shaped the states.


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