America

The Protestant, English-speaking Creoles to the north were much more favourably situated for realizing the idea of ‘America’ and indeed eventually succeeded in appropriating the everyday title of ‘Americans’. The original Thirteen Colonies comprised an area smaller than Venezuela, and one third the size of Argentina. Bunched geographically together, their market-centres in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia were readily accessible to one another, and their populations were relatively tightly linked by print as well as commerce. The ‘United States’ could gradually multiply in numbers over the next 183 years, as old and new populations moved westwards out of the old east coast core. Yet even in the case of the USA there are elements of comparative ‘failure’ or shrinkage — non-absorption of English-speaking Canada, Texas’s decade of independent sovereignty (1835—46). Had a sizeable English-speaking community existed in California in the eighteenth century, is it not likely that an independent state would have arisen there to play Argentina to the Thirteen Colonies’ Peru? Even in the USA, the affective bonds of nationalism were elastic enough, combined with the rapid expansion of the western frontier and the contradictions generated between the economies of North and South, to precipitate a war of secession almost a century after the Declaration of Independence; and this war today sharply reminds us of those that tore Venezuela and Ecuador off from Gran Colombia, and Uruguay and Paraguay from the United Provinces of the Rio de la Plata.

Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities.

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3 responses to “America

  1. Pingback: America | Reaction Times

  2. Callowman July 8, 2014 at 10:35 am

    Is Imagined Communities a useful read?

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