How the States Got Their Shapes
While surfing the tv the other night for something to watch before bed, I came across a program on one of the “educational” channels called How the States Got Their Shapes. I don’t remember who narrated the show, but Mark Stein appeared several times, and is the author of the book. The narrator was born and raised in Ohio and started there, taking us on an odyssey across the country from top to bottom, coast to coast, in no particular order, explaining why the individual states are shaped like they are. The reasons run the gamut from religion to politics to old King George drawing lines on a poorly (if) surveyed map!
I thought rivers played a major role in state borders – but it is much more than wandering rivers. The colonies were mapped out for a variety of reasons, including religion. (Incidentally, the Mason and Dixon Line did not separate the North from the South, contrary to what most of us were taught in school). California got so big because they had gold and presented a ‘take it or leave it’ attitude to Congress. Idaho has a skinny top because they had gold, and didn’t want the rowdy miners who would come to dig it out, so they gave it to Montana. Congress didn’t trust the Mormons so carved their Territory of Deseret into the much smaller state of Utah. (There we go with the religion thing, again.)
If you go online and google How the States Got Their Shapes, something lie 29M entries will come up. Including several for Mark Stein’s book, a copy of which will soon reside in my library ;-)
America: The Story of Us
With much ballyhooing, The History Channel began their epic 6 part showing of this 12- hour docu-drama last night. While I do watch The History Channel, I admit I am not a great fan of them. I have seen too many shows where they got the history flat out wrong, or strongly implied it was wrong, so I came to the tube last night with more than a tad of skepticism. I managed to stay awake for most of the show, dozing off while George Washington was frozen in Valley Forge. I don’t claim to be an Historian with a capital “H”, but I do love history, and must admit, I was very favorably impressed with what they presented. I found the presentation quite riveting and in fact learned a few things. Or, in some cases, possibly re-learned them.
Check your local listings for reruns of both shows, and set your clock to remind you about America: The Story of Us next Sunday night! I don’t think you’ll be disappointed by either.
Also, check your local library for DVDs of the programs and or the books!