Gerrymander was named for a corrupt Californian politician, Albert Jerry, who came up with a plan of drawing districts that were so misshapen that some of the districts looked like salamanders. These misshapen districts are a result of what happens when the party in power get to draw the map.  These districts are even more misshaped these days because they are drawn by computers taking every vote into consideration. Some Gerrymander shapes have gotten so out of shape they’ve earned nicknames, for example, Pennsylvania’s “Suprine Seahorse”.

The term ‘Sold down the river’ came from the slave trade Alexandria DC slave dealers specialised in buying slaves and selling them to nearby Virgina fields then they sold the to where demand was strongest like cotton plantations along the Mississippi River.

Religious influence has affected the shape of States in America. In 1854 Kansas in a territory hoping for statehood, however, Kansas is caught in the middle of the pending Civil War. People from both sides of America a flooding into Kansas hoping to change the vote on slavery. One on side of the state was Missouri, a slave ‘state’. On the other side was Kansas where antislavery feelings ran high. John Brown led the fight against slavery for Kansas. In 1861 Kansas joins the union as a slavery-free state fuelled by religious ant-slavery patriots in New England. During the civil War Kansas and Missouri continued their fierce border battles.

The Amish settled in Pennsylvania 300 years ago in 1776. However, some Amish people do use technology to get by in their businesses. There are now 28,000 Amish people spread across 28 states in America. This splintering of the Amish community happened before which is what caused New England to split into its small little state.

Like the Amish, the Puritans escaped from Europe to avoid religious persecution. In 1620 the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock. In 1629 The Puritans land in Salem. The two groups merged and spread across New England. It’s not long before the two religion’s start fighting and the New England cracks into what is today’s North Eastern states. Religious convictions like with the Amish caused a very strong divide in where the states are located.

Rhode Island was created by an even purer leader called Roger Williams. He was so puritan he was kicked out of Massachusetts.

The Quakers shaped Pennsylvania. The Quakers came up with the ideas of equal rights for women, fair dealing with the Indians and religious freedom for all. William Penn was owed a large debt by the British crown so the King Charles II paid him with Pennsylvania. In 1681 Pennsylvania joined the British colonies, however, Pennsylvania was landlocked its only lifeline to the sea is a river that runs through Delaware which land was also promised to Maryland. To Pennsylvania, the Protestants the liberal Quakers of Delaware are far easy to deal with than the Catholics of Maryland. The English King Charles II rejects Maryland’s claim and lets Pennsylvania govern Delaware. Penn’s Pennsylvania opened to all religions proved a very attractive place for many people to migrate to.

The Mason-Dixon Line still marks the border of Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Delaware.

Utah is known for Mormons. Utah used to be known as Deseret and it was larger than Texas. 50 percent of Utah is made up of Mormons. Mormons’ fled the US however during the Spanish-American war the Mormons’ land was won by the United States, that’s hoe Deseret was formed. The American government was constantly at war with Mormons over their lifestyle. In 1860 Congress shrunk the size of Deseret and renamed it Utah after the Ute Indians. In 1858 Silver is discovered in Utah, so Utah is cut in half to form Nevada. To the East, gold is discovered so it becomes Colorado. Finally, Wyoming takes the last bite out of Utah. Even after all this Utah is denied statehood because of polygamy. By 1890 the Mormons had begun to abandon polygamy and by 1896, they are granted statehood.

Wisconsin was established initially by the French fur traders. The Americans then moved into the industry via John Astor, he wanted a monopoly in Fur. Astor became Americas first multi-millionaire.  By 1850 there were enough people in Wisconsin to make it a state.

The Fur trade help define the border between the United States and Canada, which was British controlled. The English and the United States argued over where the border should be set eventually settling on half way between each countries stake. This allowed for the creation of the Washington, Oregon and Idaho States.

The first oil boom in America happened in Pennsylvania for thirty years it generated half the world’s oil. In 1857 Coronal Edward Drake came to Pennsylvania in search of oil. By the 1860’s oil was in high demand: for fuelling lamps, for greasing train wheels and machine pistons. Oil went on to shape other states like Texas, Alaska, and California. Quaker State and Pennzoil where both oil companies to come out of Pennsylvania.


North Carolina was sandwiched between two powerhouses Virginia the political capital and South Carolina with its rice fields. North Carolina was then overrun by the gold rush. In 1799 John Reed found a gold rock in his backyard, it was the first documented gold mine in America. That mine alone produced more than a million dollars’ worth of wealth. People then began to head west.

Gold shaped California, the people of California wanted all the gold to themselves. Instead of having a border run through the Sierra Nevada Mountains they set their own boundary in 1850, incorporating the entire Sierra Nevada Mountains keeping all the gold for themselves.  Silicon Valley emerged in California.

Ohio and Michigan were at war over Toledo. Michigan had already settled the area, however, Ohio wanted the area on Lake Erie for transportation. With the Eire Canal, these lakes became part of an interstate highway to the Atlantic. Water wasn’t just water, it was commerce. Ohio was a State while Michigan was only a Territory Ohio was represented fully in The Senate and The House of Representatives, Michigan as a territory had none. Congress decided that Michigan had to give up Toledo. Michigan was given the Upper Peninsula in exchange for giving up Toledo. Toledo ships 11 million tons of goods every year. Even though Michigan lost the Toledo war they got 40,000 square miles of land which included 16,000 square miles of peninsula. Michigan’s Upper Peninsula gave them iron ore, copper, lumbering and now tourism.


The Erie Canal was the brainchild of New York Governor DeWitt Clinton. The Eerie canal was the first transportation vehicle that allowed goods to be transported large distances. Opened in 1825, the Erie Canal was one of the most extraordinary engineering feats of the 19th century, connecting eastern ports and manufacturing with the rest of the country. Joining the Hudson River with the Erie Canal brought the eastern colonies in contact with the rest of the Eastern states. The ‘notch’ on the top of Pennsylvania gave them access to the Erie Canal.

Mississippi and Alabama got parts of Florida so they could have parts touching the Gulf of Mexico so they could have ports. Inland locked states rivers sometimes filled the same role. That’s why Nevada is where it is because it needed access to the Colorado River.

In 1763 Both New York and New Hampshire had a claim to Vermont so King George IV just drew a line to ensure he kept his territories in Quebec and avoided war between New York and New Hampshire and that is how the state of Vermont came into being.

In 1803 Napoleon sold Louisiana to the United States for 15 million dollars. Kaskaskia was one the first capitol of Illinois however over time, due to constant flooding of the Mississippi River, it became a small island in Missouri. The town of Kaskaskia has a liberty bell eleven years older than the one in Philadelphia. It was made in La Rochelle bell foundry. It was given to Kaskaskia in gratitude for sending back hundreds of thousands of fur and wheat and flour to the East coast.

Texas was once a sovereign nation, back then it stretched all the way to Wyoming. It began as a Mexican province called Tejas, but the in 1835 Texans launched a revolution within a year Texas won its independence. The Battle of the Alamo (February 23 – March 6, 1836) was a pivotal event in the Texas Revolution. Following a 13-day siege, Mexican troops under President General Antonio López de Santa Anna launched an assault on the Alamo Mission. Nine years after declaring independence, due to its enormous debt, Texas was ready to become a state. Texas refused to be broken up into separate states. However, congress lopped off the top of the state at 36 30’ degree so Texas could keep its slaves.

Colorado’s gold was first discovered in Kansas. Colorado was once the larger state of Jefferson. Like in California gold and silver was discovered in Jefferson and the prospectors tried to set their own boundaries however congress was onto this ploy and scaled back the territory eventually making it the state of Colorado.

Water became less important when defining the boundaries of states after trains and railroads were invented.

Washington State gave its gold to Idaho, because of Democratic and Republican splits in their political philosophies. The same thing happened in Colorado and Kentucky.

Mountains played a big part in the separation of states. Idaho and Montana are split along the Bitterroot Mountains so that each side could be evenly and easily governed. West Virginia is split along the Appalachian Mountains. The people of West Virginia had less in common with the people of Virginia.

Santa Fe is the longest serving capital city in America since 1610. It was a capital in Mexico before the Spanish-American war, then it was the capital of Texas, then when Texas’ borders were redrawn it was the capitol of New Mexico.

Georgia’s border was supposed to be drawn on the 35 parallel. In 1996 Congress created Tennessee from North Carolina Tennessee’s border with Georgia was supposed to follow the 35th parallel so the border was going to be a mile further east of where it actually is. However, the equipment used to build the border was substandard when you look at today’s equipment. If you follow the 35 parallel you’d find that Georgia is missing out on a lot of water that would otherwise be theirs. When the map was incorrectly drawn Tennessee got an extra 35 square miles of land. 9 time since 1890 Georgia has asked for the border to be redrawn.

Atlanta needs water and Nickajack Lake is on the border of Tennessee which should belong to Georgia. Atlanta, Georgia was the first capital city not built on a major waterway, because it was a railway hub.

Maine got its shape from the glaciers that carved out its landscape. There are close to 6000 lakes in Maine and there is at least as much water underground. Maine gets 24 trillion gallons of rain per year. If Maine’s water were oil, then it would be the Saudi Arabia of water. Maine was originally part of Massachusetts but in seceded in 1820 to counterbalance the admission to the union of slaveholding Missouri. Maine’s borders with Canada were complex and after decades of fighting over where the borders were, they settled on half way between the two countries claims.

Seven states draw from the Colorado River, California, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico. They are now taking out more than is put in. Nevada got access to the Arizona water supply from the Colorado River because congress wanted payback for Arizona siding with the South during the Civil War.

The Mississippi River borders 10 states, it drains 31 states thanks to the rivers that feed it. Illinois canal linked the Mississippi River to the Atlantic Ocean.

The Hawaiian Island provided the stopover to support and protect American commerce in the Pacific.

Baltimore didn’t have canals to link to the rest of the country so it chartered the first railroads the Baltimore and Ohio or B&O railroads in 1827 and like canal railroads would shape the states. Today America is covered by 130,000 miles of train track. Chicago is the great hub of American railways. It’s where the Great Plains meet the Great Lakes, today 3000 trains pass through their everyday. As railways grow they carried far more settlers out west.  In 1883 the railways drew up time zones to keep the trains on schedule.

There is a piece of Kentucky lost in Missouri and only bordered by Tennessee.

The Cumberland Gap became the only natural gateway to the west. In 1775 Daniel Boone and his men cleared the Cumberland Gap the Boone led the first settler through along old Native American trails. In just 35 years more than a quarter of a million pioneers marched through the Cumberland Gap, and they wanted to set up their own states. These states were originally Virginia and North Carolina but when the first settler arrived they wanted to set up a new colony in Virginia, on the other side of The Appalachian Mountains, they called it Transylvania. Virginia would let the land go, but not for another 17 years. It took Thomas Jefferson telling the Virginians that they had to let the land go. In 1792 the state of Kentucky was born. Settlers carved another new state out of North Carolina: Tennessee.


Hawaii does not include all the islands in the United States. Midway was not included in the United States. Midway had always been a strictly military base it had no state functions going on there. There is also Johnston Island used exclusively for Atomic bomb testing in the 1950’s and 1960’s.

The founding fathers faced a question how does a territory become a state? Ohio is the very first land system carved out of the United States. The process for becoming a state is not in the constitution, therefore a separate legislation was passed, the ordinance of 1787. This ordinance included the instruction manual as to how to become a state. First, there is a territory, then it can apply to be a state. This was a radical change from the old system of territories becoming colonies subordinate to the overload country.

To become a state there are certain requirements: it requires 60,000 residents, a constitution, and proposed borders. Both the territory and the congress have to vote on whether they accept the terms. If it passes the new state gets an official proclamation welcoming them as a new state. Every state since 1803 has this document. Except for one, the first, Ohio. Ohio was eventually granted a retrospective documents. This all surfaced in 1953 when Ohio was preparing for its 150 birthday. When officials discovered that they’d never received an official proclamation of their statehood. So Dwight Eisenhower himself signing the document retroactively making Ohio a state since 1803. 


In 1869 Wyoming became the first state to grant women the right to vote.