The shoe on the other foot

Arnold Kling recently mentioned he was reading Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815. A little over halfway through the book, I am struck again by the historical contingency of particular foreign & social policy outlooks. For example, around 1800 New England was an export driven economy based on trade, in particular with Great Britain. Around 1850 the South was an export driven economy based on trade, in particular with Great Britain. By 1850 New England the whole Northeast had shifted toward a more diversified economy, and native manufacturers militated for the tariffs which their forebears would have scoffed at. Additionally, around 1800 New England was the redoubt of orthodox Christianity. The South was the domain of more easy-going religion, and outright heterodoxy among its social & political elites. Finally, one of the most interesting things to note is that it was in the Southern states that Francophilia during the period of the French Revolution was strongest!

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6 Responses to The shoe on the other foot

  1. Susan says:

    And 40-50 years ago, Vermont was one of the most Republican states in the union.

  2. Anonymous Coward says:

    Real Vermonters still are Republicans, it’s just the state became infested with all the hippy losers from NY that didn’t want the 60s to end and their immigration swamped the natives.

  3. John says:

    When you look at the electoral map of the presidential election of 1900, you can pretty much draw a line across the US, and nearly all states above it voted R and nearly all below it voted D. Who knows what it will look like in another 100 years?

  4. Susan says:


    Who knows? The Connecticut chapter of PIRG boasted that they, singlehandedly, turned North Carolina from blue to purple with their voter registration drive in 2008.

  5. Tom says:

    Peter Trubowitz’s “Defining the National Interest” is a good look at shifting regional blocs over time and how different regions produced different winning coalitions.

  6. Jack says:

    There are also some definite comtinuities in sectional differences between the regions in the early republic and today. The South, for example has always been more warlike and more accepting of violence than New England and the middle states, from the colonial period through the present.

    It is also worth pointing out that the Puritanism of early New England was a very intellectual, unemotional religion, very different in many respects from the Evangelical movement that would later come to dominate the South.

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