Lost States by Michael J Trinklein

TitleLost States
Author: Michael J Trinklein
Genre: non-fiction (American history)
ISBN: 9781594744105
150 pages
: 2010
Source: public library
Rating: 5/5
Challenges/Resolutions: Non-Fiction Resolution


Summary (Book Description):

Everyone knows the fifty winners but what about the hundreds of other statehood proposals that never worked out? Lost States is a tribute to such great unrealized states as West Florida, South California, Half-Breed Tracts, Rough and Ready, and others. History buffs will be entertained and enlightened by these bizarre-but-true stories:
—Frontier legend Daniel Boone once proposed a state of Transylvania on the borders of Indiana and Illinois. (His plan was resurrected a few years later with the new name of Kentucky.)
—Residents of bucolic South Jersey wanted to secede from their “filthy” north Jersey neighbors and form their own union.
—The Gold Rush territory of Nataqua could have made a fine state but since no women were willing to live there, they had to settle for being part of California.
Accompanying the stories are beautiful full-color original maps detailing how these states’ boundaries might have looked, along with images of real-life artifacts and ephemera. Lost States is a quirky reference book for history buffs, geography geeks, and anyone who enjoys lush, fascinating cartography.

My Thoughts: This book was pretty funny 🙂 Of course, it was written to be funny. I mean, how could this not be funny: “Planning new colonies was kind of a recreational sport in that era [the mid- to late- 700s], much as fantasy football leagues are today” (p53). I love these books about forgotten things–or rather, things overlooked. They’re so interesting! I really enjoyed That’s Not in My American History Book that I read a few years ago. And Quirk Books is such a great publisher for this sort of book 🙂 Here are a few of the proposed states I found most interesting:

  • Albania: recently this Eastern European country has had a strong loyalty to the US and wanted to become a state
  • Forgottonia: some counties in western Illinois were circumvented by the vast highway/interstate network and felt left out, so they wanted to be their own state
  • Greenland: this is one the US actually wants and Denmark won’t sell (I’m not sure why Denmark wants/needs it, but I know the US wants it because it’s a great place to set up defenses near Russia–and this probably isn’t as big an issue as it would’ve been 15-20 years ago)
  • Nickajack: I just like the name 😀 It was an area in the South (northern Alabama, eastern Tennessee) that didn’t want to secede with the rest of the South during the Civil War, so it tried to become its own state
  • Washington: originally this was going to be eastern Ohio, not including Columbus (apparently it’s a problem that Ohio has so many large cities in a small space–living in Ohio, I never noticed that); and an interesting little tidbit that Trinklein believes would’ve happened: “If the proposed state had become a reality, Ohio’s vote in the 2000 elections would’ve been likely been split. That means no George W Bush presidency and probably no Iraq War.” (But who really knows if that would’ve happened)

Interestingly enough, I learned a few other random facts that didn’t really have anything to do with states or boundaries. I find it funny that I now know:

  • there’s a city in New Mexico called Truth or Consequences
  • Salt Lake City streets are wide because Brigham Young wanted teams of horses to be able to u-turn
  • nothing in the universe can reach absolute zero (Nick tried to explain why, something with molecules, but he didn’t finish because he couldn’t remember exactly)
  • the US spent an average of $103K on each Iraqi during the war
  • northern Minnesota is colder than Anchorage, Alaska
  • Puerto Rico has won the Miss Universe pageant three times

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