Highlights, Quotes, & Marginalia from American Nations by Colin Woodard

I should have posted these almost a year ago when I read Woodard’s awesome book, but here they are now. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it. It is guaranteed to reframe how you look at the country and help you to better understand what is going on with our current political situation.

Highlights, Quotes, & Marginalia

Guide to highlight colors

Yellow–general highlights and highlights which don’t fit under another category below
Orange–Vocabulary word; interesting and/or rare word
Green–Reference to read
Blue–Interesting Quote
Gray–Typography Problem
Red–Example to work through

Highlights: 82; Notes: 5


By the middle of the eighteenth century, eight discrete Euro-American cultures had been established on the southern and eastern rims of North America.

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Added on July 29, 2019 2:46 PM

These eleven nations have been hiding in plain sight throughout our history. You see them outlined on linguists’ dialect maps, cultural anthropologists’ maps of material culture regions, cultural geographers’ maps of religious regions, campaign strategists’ maps of political geography, and historians’ maps of the pattern of settlement across the continent.

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Added on July 29, 2019 8:48 PM

Kevin Phillips, a Republican Party campaign strategist, identified the distinct boundaries and values of several of these nations in 1969, and used them to accurately prophesy the Reagan Revolution in his Emerging Republican Majority, a politico cult classic.

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Added on July 29, 2019 8:53 PM

In 1981 Washington Post editor Joel Garreau wrote The Nine Nations of North America, a best seller that observed that the continent was divided into rival power blocs that corresponded to few national, state, or provincial boundaries. His regional paradigm argued the future would be shaped by the competing, conflicting aspirations of these North American nations. But because his book was ahistorical—a snapshot in time, not an exploration of the past—Garreau couldn’t accurately identify the nations, how they formed, or what their respective aspirations were.

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Albion’s Seed

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Champlain’s Dream

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Russell Shorto described the salient characteristics of New Netherland in The Island at the Center of the World in 2004

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Cultural geographers came to similar conclusions decades ago. Wilbur Zelinsky of Pennsylvania State University formulated the key theory in 1973, which he called the Doctrine of First Effective Settlement. “Whenever an empty territory undergoes settlement, or an earlier population is dislodged by invaders, the specific characteristics of the first group able to effect a viable, self-perpetuating society are of crucial significance for the later social and cultural geography of the area, no matter how tiny the initial band of settlers may have been,” Zelinsky wrote. “Thus, in terms of lasting impact, the activities of a few hundred, or even a few score, initial colonizers can mean much more for the cultural geography of a place than the contributions of tens of thousands of new immigrants a few generations later.”

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Important thing to consider in combination with Machiavelli
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CHAPTER 1 – Founding El Norte

In 1610 they built Santa Fe’s Palace of the Governors, now the oldest public building in the United States.

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CHAPTER 2 – Founding New France

On the island of Montréal, settlers hunted and fished on the seigniors’ reserves, damaged their fences, and threatened their overseers. The obstinacy of the Acadian farmers infuriated an eighteenth-century colonial official. “I really think the Acadians are mad. Do they imagine we wish to make seigniors of them?” he asked. “They seem offended by the fact that we wish to treat them like our peasants.”

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CHAPTER 3 – Founding Tidewater

It was, in essence, a corporate-owned military base, complete with fortifications, martial law, a small elite of officers, and a large contingent of rank-and-file soldiers.2 But the Virginia Company’s plan was based on the faulty assumption that the Indians would be intimidated by English technology, believe their employers were gods, and submit, Aztec-like, to their rule. The Indians, in fact, did none of these things.

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To a great extent this seems to be the modern case worth our military incursions into places like Iraq and Afghanistan.
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Tidewater’s leaders recruited their workforce from the masses of desperate, malnourished laborers who’d been crowding London and other English cities. They offered prospective laborers transportation to Virginia or Maryland and a fifty-acre plot of land free of charge, in exchange for three years’ service as a “white slave” or indentured servant. Most of those who responded were single men aged fifteen to twenty-four. They quickly came to represent the majority of Tidewater’s European population. Scholars estimate indentured servants comprised between 80 and 90 percent of the 150,000 Europeans who emigrated to Tidewater in the seventeenth century. Few survived their period of servitude: the mortality rate was as high as 30 percent a year. Those who did had a reasonable chance of becoming independent farmers, and a few became very rich.

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the threat of violence.16 One might ask how such a tyrannical society could have produced some of the greatest champions of republicanism, such as Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and James Madison. The answer is that Tidewater’s gentry embraced classical republicanism, meaning a republic modeled after those of ancient Greece and Rome. They emulated the learned, slaveholding elite of ancient Athens, basing their enlightened political philosophies around the ancient Latin concept of libertas, or liberty. This was a fundamentally different notion from the Germanic concept of Freiheit, or freedom, which informed the political thought of Yankeedom and the Midlands. Understanding the distinction is essential to comprehending the fundamental disagreements that still plague relations between Tidewater, the Deep South, and New Spain on one hand and Yankeedom and the Midlands on the other.

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CHAPTER 4 – Founding Yankeedom

Founding Yankeedom

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According to a central myth of American history, the founders of Yankeedom were champions of religious freedom fleeing persecution at home. While there is some truth to this in regard to the Pilgrims—a few hundred English Calvinists who settled Cape Cod in 1620—it is entirely false in regard to the Puritans of Massachusetts Bay, who would soon bring Plymouth and the other colonies of New England under their control. The Puritans left England en masse in the 1630s—25,000 in just twelve short years—because of their unwillingness to compromise on matters of religious policy. While other colonies welcomed all comers, the Puritans forbade anyone to settle in their colony who failed to pass a test of religious conformity. Dissenters were banished.

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But in other respects, the Puritans created a genuinely revolutionary society. Having secured, through deception, a royal charter for their colony, they were not beholden to feudal nobles (as were early Maryland and New France) or distant corporations (as were Virginia and, later, the Carolinas). New Englanders intended to rule themselves.

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Here were the kernels of the twin political ideologies of America’s imperial age: American Exceptionalism and Manifest Destiny. The first held that Americans were God’s chosen people, the second that He wished Americans to rule the continent from sea to sea. Both ideas had their origins in Yankee Puritan thought and would be developed and championed by the sons of New England.

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hundreds of Puritans returned home to fight in Oliver Cromwell’s New Model Army, a military force founded on the radical notion that promotions should be based on proficiency rather than social status.

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CHAPTER 5 – Founding New Netherland

The main road, Breede weg (Broadway), passed through a gate in the wall and continued on past farms, fields, and forests to the village of Haarlem, on the north end of the island. Ferrymen rowed goods and people across the East River to Lange Eylandt and the villages of Breukelen (Brooklyn), Vlissingen (Flushing), Vlacke Bos (Flatbush) and New Utrecht (now a Brooklyn neighborhood) or across the harbor to Hoboken and Staaten Eylandt.

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These characteristics—diversity, tolerance, upward mobility, and an overwhelming emphasis on private enterprise—have come to be identified with the United States, but they were really the legacy of the United Provinces of the Netherlands. Indeed, many of the historic achievements of the American Revolution were accomplished by the Dutch nearly two centuries before the Battle of Lexington: a successful war of independence against an enormous monarchical empire (the kingdom of Spain), the declaration of an inborn human right to rebel against an oppressive government (the 1581 Act of Abjuration), and the creation of a kingless republic.

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CHAPTER 6 – The Colonies’ First Revolt

In court, Puritans faced Anglican juries and were forced to kiss the Bible when swearing their oaths (an “idolatrous” Anglican practice) instead of raising their right hand, as was Puritan custom

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CHAPTER 7 – Founding the Deep South

Deep Southern society was not only militarized, caste-structured, and deferential to authority, it was also aggressively expansionist.

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The philanthropists banned slavery from Georgia, as the presence of slaves was thought to discourage poor whites from hard work, and they limited farms to a maximum size of fifty acres in an attempt to prevent plantations from forming. Georgia’s benefactors even forbade liquor and lawyers, as they thought both eroded moral character.

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CHAPTER 8 – Founding the Midlands

The most prototypically American of the nations was one of the last to be founded. From its inception in the 1680s, the Midlands was a tolerant, multicultural, multilingual civilization populated by families of modest means—many of them religious—who desired mostly that their government and leaders leave them in peace.

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Quakers spurned the social conventions of the day, refusing to bow or doff their hats to social superiors or to take part in formal religious services of any sort. They rejected the authority of church hierarchies, held women to be spiritually equal to men, and questioned the legitimacy of slavery. Their leaders strode naked on city streets or, daubed with excrement, into Anglican churches in efforts to provide models of humility;

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Many wealthy Quakers, Penn included, had come to Pennsylvania with slaves, but within a decade, Friends were advising one another that slaveholding violated the Golden Rule. In 1712, the Quaker-run legislature even imposed a prohibitive duty on the import of slaves, but it was overturned by a royal court.

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The Dutch, Swedes, and Finns of the “lower counties” became so desperate for proper government that they broke away to form one of their own, founding the tiny colony of Delaware in 1704

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CHAPTER 9 – Founding Greater Appalachia

But Greater Appalachia started as a civilization without a government. The Borderlanders weren’t really colonists, brought to the New World to provide some lord or shareholding company with the manpower for a specific colonial project. They were immigrants seeking sanctuary from a devastated homeland, refugees who generally arrived without the encouragement or direction of officials, and often against their wishes. Having no desire to bow to “foreign” rule or to give up their ways, the Borderlanders rushed straight to the isolation of the eighteenth-century frontier to found a society that was, for a time, literally beyond the reach of the law, and modeled on the anarchical world they had left behind.

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Living amid constant upheaval, many Borderlanders embraced a Calvinist religious tradition—Presbyterianism—that held that they were God’s chosen people, members of a biblical nation sanctified in blood and watched over by a wrathful Old Testament deity. Suspicious of outside authority of any kind, the Borderlanders valued individual liberty and personal honor above all else, and were happy to take up arms to defend either.

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The Borderlanders arrived in five increasingly massive waves between 1717 and 1776, each a response to a disaster back in the British Isles.

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Rather than trying to produce cash crops for export, the Borderlanders embraced a woodland subsistence economy. They hunted, fished, and practiced slash-and-burn agriculture, moving every few years as the soil became depleted. Life in Britain had taught them not to invest too much time and wealth in fixed property, which was easily destroyed in time of war. Instead, they stored their wealth in a very mobile form: herds of pigs, cattle, and sheep. When they did need cash, they distilled corn into a more portable, storable, and valuable product: whiskey, which would remain the de facto currency of Appalachia for the next two centuries

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Indeed, the Borderlanders’ top priority rarely seemed to be increasing their wealth; rather, it was maximizing their freedom, especially from outside forces.7

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The lucky tenth were usually the heads of “good families,” charismatic figures who commanded loyalty that was more a function of their personalities, character, and horizontal genealogical connections than of any particular policies they supported. They earned social standing from their individual deeds and accomplishments, rather than any sort of inherited station. Borderlanders recognized as “family” individuals out four generations in either direction, effectively creating enormous clans. Intermarriage between first cousins was commonplace, reinforcing the bonds of kinship

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But the Paxton Boys’ actions had revealed fault lines across Pennsylvania and other colonies that would break open during the American Revolution.13

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This crime wave discouraged settlers from accumulating wealth, reinforcing the old Borderlander pattern. “The person who by his honest labour has earned £50 and lays it up for his future occasions

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The cultural divide was even more disruptive in North Carolina, where Tidewater gentry, who effectively controlled the colony’s government, tried to assert jurisdiction over the Borderlanders in the 1760s. The legislature—which gave ten times more representation per capita to the coastal lowlands—imposed a property tax system based on acreage, not property values, effectively shifting the burden from wealthy plantation owners to impoverished Borderlanders. The new royal governor, Sir William Tryon, increased the burden in 1765 in order to build himself a lavish £15,000 palace. Again the backcountry responded with a vigilante movement of “Regulators” who violently seized control of the Appalachian portion of the colony for three years starting in 1768. Beating lawyers, sacking courthouses, and expelling tax collectors, the Regulators remained in power until their army of 2,000 was defeated in a pitched battle with Tidewater militia at Alamance Creek in 1771. Many Regulator leaders took refuge in the deep backcountry of what would one day be called Tennessee

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larger-scale experiment took place farther south in what is now the eastern part of Tennessee and central Kentucky, where several thousand Borderlanders insituted an improvised government deep inside Indian territory. Their new nation, Transylvania, was created in direct violation of the Royal Proclamation of 1763 (which prohibited settlement west of the Appalachians), the legal jurisdictions of North Carolina and Virginia (which then claimed the territory), and His Majesty’s property rights (as the Crown legally controlled all undeeded land on the continent).

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CHAPTER 10 – A Common Struggle

Some of the taxes were designed to effect social change; new fees for the issuance of university diplomas and licenses to practice law were higher than those in Great Britain “to keep mean [lowborn] persons out of those institutions in life which they disgrace.”

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We do much the same thing to African Americans now…
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But the British military commander, Baron Jeffrey Amherst, canceled all gift-giving and made it clear the savages were to obey or be slaughtered. The result was a massive, coordinated 1763 uprising of a dozen major tribes under the Ottawa tribal leader Pontiac aimed at hurting the British and restoring French control of New France. This war—the one that led the Paxton Boys to march on Philadelphia—resulted in Indians killing or capturing 2,000 colonists in the Appalachian sections of Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia. Baron Amherst, seeking to “Extirpate this Execrable Race,” instructed his troops to distribute smallpox-infested blankets to the Indians. Ultimately even biological warfare was unable to bring them to heel, and Amherst was recalled in disgrace

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Holy crap, this is the same Amherst as the college!
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The fifty-six delegates all knew that forging colonial collaboration wasn’t going to be easy, not least because of negative stereotypes associated with one another’s regional cultures.

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Most revealing, the sixth nation was not represented at the Congress at all, though it held perhaps a majority of the population of Pennsylvania and both Carolinas. The colonial assemblies refused to allow Appalachia to participate, depriving the enormous region of any voice at the proceedings.

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CHAPTER 11 – Six Wars of Liberation

What we call the American Revolution did indeed play out very differently in the various nations of the Atlantic seaboard. But there weren’t four neat struggles, one unfolding as the previous one concluded; rather, there were six very different liberation wars, one for each affected nation. Some occurred simultaneously and two involved invasions by one American nation into another.

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For the duration of the war, the tolerance and pluralism of the Midlands was suppressed by occupation forces from neighboring nations.8

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Greater Appalachia—poor, isolated, and not in control of a single colonial government—had the most complicated involvement in the wars of liberation. The Borderlanders seized on the pretext of the “revolution” to assert their independence from outside control, but, as previously mentioned, this took different forms in each region, sometimes in each community

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Though confronted by a common threat, the nations had not been united in the conflict. Each fought its own war of liberation, but most in New Netherland, the Midlands, and southern Appalachia fought on the losing side and were vanquished in 1781. The victors—Yankeedom, Tidewater, the Deep South, and northern Appalachia—would fight over the spoils, including the terms under which they would try to cement their wartime alliance.

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CHAPTER 12 – Independence or Revolution?

But the effort to preserve their separate cultures had produced two unexpected side effects: a loose political alliance with some characteristics of statehood, and a popular movement demanding “democracy,” a prospect the national leaders found quite alarming.

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Between August 1777 and May 1787, Yankee New England faced off against the four Southern states represented by delegates from Tidewater and the Deep South. Over this decade-long time period, not a single delegate from either of these blocs ever voted consistently with a colleague from the other. Delegates from “the middle states” served as the kingmakers, allying with one bloc or the other; traditional scholars have described these middle delegates as acting like swing voters, but a closer examination shows that delegates from New Netherland, the Midlands, and Appalachia tended to stick with their own. In New Jersey, for instance, voting habits in both Congress and the new state assembly were split into a northern New Netherlander bloc and a southern Midlander bloc, each of which had more in common with its cultural kin in New York City or southwestern Pennsylvania than with its “fellow” New Jerseyians. Similarly, even during the war, two parties struggled for control in Pennsylvania, one (the Constitutionalists) supported by the Scots-Irish of Appalachia, the other (the Republicans) by the Quakers and Anglicans in and around Philadelphia; the Appalachian bloc sided without exception with the Yankees, while the Midlands bloc often sided with the Southerners.3

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Regional divisions were so profound that in 1778 British secret agent Paul Wentworth reported there appeared to be not one American republic but three: an “eastern republic of Independents in church and state” (i.e., Yankeedom), a “middle republic of toleration in church and state” (New Netherland and the Midlands), and a “southern . . . mixed government copied nearly from Great Britain” (Tidewater and the Deep South); the differences among them, he argued, were greater than those among the nations of Europe.

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The same families appeared in the colonial assemblies and senior positions generation after generation, particularly in Tidewater and the Deep South, where they openly called themselves aristocrats. In any case, in almost every colony people got to vote only for legislators in the lower house. Governors, councilors, and other high officials were selected by the legislators or the king, to ensure the rabble didn’t put the “wrong sort” into office.6

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Much the same system can still be seen in the electoral college as well as in Alabama for the Governors office.
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As usual, Appalachia was all but closed out of the discussion, with only one representative at the convention (James Wilson of Pennsylvania); that region’s exclusion from the proceedings would prove a curse to the young United States.10

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New Netherlanders refused to vote on it at all until Congress agreed to add thirteen amendments modeled on the civil liberties enumerated in the Articles of Capitulation on the Reduction of New Netherland, which the Dutch had brokered before turning the colony over to England in 1664. The people of New Netherland had lived under the arbitrary rule of distant powers for a very long time and wanted assurances their tolerant approach to religion and freedom of inquiry would not be trampled on by a new empire. Had the Congress not agreed to these demands by passing the Bill of Rights, the United States would probably not have lived to see its tenth birthday

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CHAPTER 13 – Nations in the North

Early Midland emigrants wrote their friends at home that in Ontario “they will find a second edition of Pennsylvania, as it was before the American War.” Tolerant, diverse, and apathetic about the wider world, Ontario’s founding settlers were happy to let imperial officials bother

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CHAPTER 14 – First Secessionists

Outside Tidewater and the Deep South, many were alarmed by a document they regarded as counterrevolutionary, intentionally designed to suppress democracy and to keep power in the hands of regional elites and an emerging class of bankers, financial speculators, and land barons who had little or no allegiance to the continent’s ethnocultural nations. Indeed, the much-celebrated Founding Fathers had made no secret of this having been one of their goals. They praised the unelected Senate because it would “check the impudence of democracy” (Alexander Hamilton), and stop the “turbulence and follies of democracy” (Edmund Randolph), and applauded the enormous federal electoral districts because they would “divide the community,” providing “defense against the inconveniences of democracy” (James Madison).1

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In 1789 Appalachian people were dead set against the creation of a strong, elite-controlled federal government. Many of them feel the same way today.2

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In the dark hours of the wars of liberation, the Continental Congress had no money to pay salaries to their soldiers or to compensate farmers for requisitioned food and livestock. Instead Congress gave all these people government IOUs. This practice continued for years until, under the financial administration of the notoriously unethical banker Robert Morris, the state of Pennsylvania announced it would no longer accept the congressional IOUs as payment for taxes. With no other form of money in circulation in much of the countryside, many poor families had no choice but to sell the notes for whatever they could get, and wealthy speculators purchased them for one-sixth to one-fortieth of their face value. Soon just over 400 individuals held over 96 percent of Pennsylvania’s war debt, and nearly half was controlled by just twenty-eight men, most of whom were Robert Morris’s friends and business partners. Shortly thereafter, Morris and his protégé Alexander Hamilton took control of federal financial policy, rigging it so as to literally turn their friends’ worthless paper into silver and gold. Under Morris and Hamilton, the federal government would buy back the bonds for face value, plus 6 percent interest, paid in precious metals raised by assessing new federal excise taxes designed to fall most heavily on the poor people who’d been forced to take the worthless congressional scrip in the first place

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New Englanders believed that freedom belonged primarily not to the individual but to the community. Unfettered individual pursuit of absolute freedom and property accumulation, they feared, would destroy community ties, create an aristocracy, and enslave the masses, resulting in a tyranny along the lines of the British or the Deep South

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Yankees defended the acts, which were in accord with their concept of communal liberty. All citizens had the right to elect their own representatives, the thinking went, but once they did, they owed them their absolute deference—not just to the laws they passed but to everything they said or did while in office

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CHAPTER 15 – Yankeedom Spreads West

After the revolution, four of the American nations hurdled the Appa lachians and began spreading west across the Ohio and Mississippi valleys. There was very little mixing in their settlement streams, as politics, religion, ethnic prejudice, geography, and agricultural practices kept colonists almost entirely apart in four distinct tiers. Their respective cultural imprints can be seen to this day on maps created by linguists to trace American dialects, by anthropologists codifying material culture, and by political scientists tracking voting behaviors from the early nineteenth century straight through to the early twenty-first. With the exception of the New French enclave in southern Louisiana, the middle third of the continent was divided up among these four rival cultures.

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Connecticut and Vermont sent soldiers to help the settlers repel the attack, resulting in a final “Yankee-Pennamite War” in 1782. In the end Pennsylvania kept jurisdiction, but the settlers retained their land titles.

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On the Yankee frontier, God apparently handed out conflicting instructions. William Miller, a farmer born in Massachusetts and raised on the Vermont frontier, announced that Christ was to return, cleanse, and purify the Earth in 1843. When this failed to occur, he recalculated the date to October 22, 1844, setting his tens of thousands of followers up for an event known as the Great Disappointment. The movement’s adherents still await the second coming, worshipping on Saturdays and emphasizing a diet featuring cold grains and cereals. (They’re now known as the Seventh-Day Adventists and number over a million members.)

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CHAPTER 17 – Appalachia Spreads West

“Hoosier”—a Southern slang term for a frontier hick—was adopted as a badge of honor by the Appalachian people of Indiana.2

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Another described the Butternut as a “long, lank, lean, ignorant animal . . . little in advance of the savage state [and] content to squat in a log-cabin with a large family of ill-fed and illclothed, idle, ignorant children.” One Illinois newspaper deplored “the intellectual, moral, and political darkness which covers the land” in Appalachian-settled areas.4

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CHAPTER 18 – The Deep South Spreads West

They found allies among Appalachian Presbyterians like the influential northern Alabama minister, the Reverend Fred A. Ross. “Man south of the Equator—in Asia, Australia, Oceanica, America, especially Africa—is inferior to his Northern brother,” Ross wrote in his 1857 opus, Slavery Ordained of God. “Slavery is of God, and [should] continue for the good of the slave, the good of the master, the good of the whole American family.”

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CHAPTER 19 – Conquering El Norte

El Norte’s border had become porous to more than goods, however. In the 1820s Mexican authorities were helpless to defend their frontier from waves of illegal immigrants pouring across from the north and east in search of economic opportunity. Texas bore the brunt of this flood of immigration due to its long borders with increasingly populated Louisiana and Arkansas. Under Mexican law, Anglo-Americans were unwelcome, but Texas officials were desperate enough for settlers to look the other way. “I cannot help seeing advantages which . . . would result if we admitted honest, hard working people, regardless of what country they come from . . . even Hell itself,” said San Antonio politico Francisco Ruiz.3

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The Nacogdoches area had been granted to a hotheaded Appalachia-born slave planter, Haden Edwards, who’d tried to rid the area of norteños and squatters alike, to make way for “respectable” Deep Southern planters. When his illegal expropriations led authorities to withdraw his grant in 1826, Edwards declared independence, appointing himself the head of the “Republic of Fredonia.”

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CHAPTER 20 – Founding the Left Coast

In what was one of the largest spontaneous migrations in human history to that point, 300,000 arrived in California in just five years, increasing the new American territory’s non-Indian population twentyfold. Within twenty-four months San Francisco grew from a village of 800 to a city of 20,000.

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While the Yankees failed in their broad mission, they did have a lasting effect on coastal California from Monterey north. The coast blended the moral, intellectual, and utopian impulses of a Yankee elite with the self-sufficient individualism of its Appalachian and immigrant majority. The culture that formed—idealistic but individualistic—was unlike that of the gold-digging lands in the interior but very similar to those in western Oregon and Washington. It would take nearly a century for its people to recognize it, but it was a new regional culture, one that would ally with Yankeedom to change the federation

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Added on August 10, 2019 4:47 PM

CHAPTER 21 – War for the West

“There will be no compromise with Secession if war is forced upon the north,” Confederate secretary of state Richard Lathers warned President Davis. “The first armed demonstration against the integrity of the Union or the dignity of the flag will find these antagonistic partisans enrolled in the same patriotic ranks for the defense of both [and] bring every man at the North, irrespective of his party or sectional affiliations, to the support of the government and the flag of his country.” Davis, confident that the three aforementioned nations would side with the Confederacy in time of war, ignored Lathers’s advice. It would prove one of the worst miscalculations in North American history.9

Highlight (yellow) – CHAPTER 21 – War for the West

Added on August 10, 2019 5:12 PM

CHAPTER 22 – Founding the Far West

The corporate takeover of Nevada’s mines and political system followed a pattern that would continue in the Far West for nearly a century. By early 1864 the Comstock’s surface deposits had run out. When delegates gathered that summer to write Nevada’s first constitution, mining interests introduced a bill that effectively exempted mines from taxation, even though they represented most of the territory’s economic activity. Delegates linked with the mining industry claimed taxes would prompt the corporations to leave the region, imperiling the jobs of their hired miners and, by extension, demand for farm goods, cattle, lumber, and other supplies and services provided by locals. The frightened delegates passed the bill, effectively transferring the tax burden to everyone else in Nevada. It was a ruse that would be repeated again and again across the Far West.3

Highlight (yellow) – CHAPTER 22 – Founding the Far West

Added on August 11, 2019 8:49 AM

As late as the twentieth century one could ship goods from Chicago to Seattle via Helena cheaper than from Chicago to Helena on the very same train. Raw goods could be shipped out of the Far West more cheaply than finished goods, in an intentional scheme concocted by the railroads to prevent manufacturing industries from taking hold in the region and to keep it dependent on the cities of the Left Coast, Yankeedom, the Midlands, and New Netherland.10

Highlight (yellow) – CHAPTER 22 – Founding the Far West

Added on August 11, 2019 9:00 AM

Indeed, the Far West’s hostility to federal power has been the glue that’s held this authority-averse region in an otherwise unlikely alliance with the continent’s most authoritarian nation, with lasting repercussions for North America and the world.

Highlight (yellow) – CHAPTER 22 – Founding the Far West

Added on August 11, 2019 12:17 PM

CHAPTER 23 – Immigration and Identity

A few words on this era of mass immigration. Between 1830 and 1924 some 36 million people emigrated to the United States. They arrived in three distinct waves.

Highlight (yellow) – CHAPTER 23 – Immigration and Identity

Added on August 13, 2019 1:45 PM

The third wave, from 1890 to 1924, was the largest of all, with some 18 million new arrivals, mostly from southern and eastern Europe (particularly Italy, Greece, and Poland), three-quarters of whom were either Catholic or Jewish; this wave also included many Chinese and caused some alarm among native-born North Americans who feared these new foreigners would be unable to assimilate to local ways. This third wave was cut short in 1924, when the U.S. Congress imposed quotas designed to protect the federation from the taint of “inferior races,” including Italians, Jews, and immigrants from the Balkans and East Europe. Immigration remained restricted—and heavily biased toward northern Europeans—until the early 1950s.

Highlight (yellow) – CHAPTER 23 – Immigration and Identity

Added on August 13, 2019 4:53 PM

Another key point to note is that these “great wave” immigrants didn’t spread out evenly across the federation but rather concentrated in a few locations. Throughout the period, the majority of immigrants lived in New Netherland, the Midlands, and Yankeedom and most of the rest on the Left Coast. They settled in a handful of gateway cities, especially New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco. Virtually none of them came to Tidewater, Appalachia, the Deep South, or El Norte. (The Far West, which was still being colonized, attracted only small numbers of immigrants, but they accounted for a significant share of the region’s population—about a quarter in 1870, and almost a fifth in 1910.) New York City alone had more foreign-born residents in 1870 than the entirety of Tidewater, Appalachia, and the Deep South combined.

Highlight (yellow) – CHAPTER 23 – Immigration and Identity

Added on August 13, 2019 4:56 PM

It is fruitless to search for the characteristics of an “American” identity, because each nation has its own notion of what being American should mean.

Highlight (yellow) – CHAPTER 23 – Immigration and Identity

Added on August 13, 2019 5:18 PM

CHAPTER 24 – Gods and Missions

The southern clergy helped foster a new civil religion in the former Confederacy, a myth scholars have come to call the Lost Cause. Following its credo, whites in the Deep South, Tidewater, and, ultimately, Appalachia came to believe that God had allowed the Confederacy to be bathed in blood, its cities destroyed, and its enemies ruling over it in order to test and sanctify His favored people.

Highlight (yellow) – CHAPTER 24 – Gods and Missions8

Added on August 13, 2019 6:27 PM

The response was the creation of a secret society of homicidal vigilantes called the Ku Klux Klan. The original Reconstruction-era Klan was founded in Pulaski, Tennessee, and remained almost entirely an Appalachian phenomenon, a warrior order committed to crushing that nation’s enemies.

Highlight (yellow) – CHAPTER 24 – Gods and Missions

Added on August 13, 2019 6:35 PM

As other parts of the United States expanded and developed through the late nineteenth century, Appalachia fell backward, its people caught in a life not much removed from that of their immigrant ancestors in the colonial era.5

Highlight (yellow) – CHAPTER 24 – Gods and Missions

Added on August 13, 2019 6:38 PM

Much of the Yankee elite turned to Unitarianism, an offshoot of the New England church that embraced scientific inquiry and the pursuit of social justice. Under Unitarian president Charles Eliot, Harvard was secularized in the 1870s, while the Yankee-run American Secular Union fought to ban religion from public schools. Midlanders and New Netherlanders—whose societies were founded on religious and cultural pluralism—tended to support such efforts, knowing that if church and state were fused, dissenters would face discrimination.

Highlight (yellow) – CHAPTER 24 – Gods and Missions

Added on August 13, 2019 10:27 PM

Christian fundamentalism appeared in North America in reaction to the liberal theologies that were becoming dominant in the northern nations. It took its name from The Fundamentals, a twelve-volume attack on liberal theology, evolution, atheism, socialism, Mormons, Catholics, Christian Scientists, and Jehovah’s Witnesses written by Appalachian Baptist preacher A. C. Dixon. Fundamentalism’s early organizers gathered around the World Christian Fundamentals Association, founded by another Baptist preacher, William Bell Riley, who was born in Appalachian Indiana, raised in Boone County, Kentucky, and exposed to Yankee heresy while the pastor of a Minnesota church. Inspired also by William Jennings Bryan—a Scots-Irish presidential candidate from the (very Appalachian) Egypt District of Illinois—fundamentalist-minded Private Protestants went to war against science and its corrosive theory of evolution.13

Highlight (yellow) – CHAPTER 24 – Gods and Missions

Added on August 13, 2019 10:39 PM

CHAPTER 26 – War, Empire, and the Military

The rise of Adolf Hitler put the Dixie bloc in a potentially awkward position. The Nazis had praised the Deep South’s caste system, which they used as a model for their own race laws. Nazi publications approved of lynching as a natural response to the threat of racial mixing.

Highlight (yellow) – CHAPTER 26 – War, Empire, and the Military

Added on August 16, 2019 4:34 PM

U.S. foreign policy has shown a clear national pattern for the past two centuries. Since 1812, the anti-interventionist, anti-imperial Yankees have squared off against the bellicose, unilateralist hawks in the Deep South and Tidewater. Appalachia, while providing the warriors, is often divided on the wisdom of going to war when there is neither the prospect of territorial aggrandizement nor revenge. The Yankees—idealistic, intellectual, and guided by the Public Protestant mission—have sought foreign policies that would civilize the world and, thus, has often dominated the Foreign Affairs Committees on Capitol Hill. The Dixie-bloc—martial and honor-bound—has generally aimed to dominate the world and has traditionally controlled the federation’s Armed Services Committee.

Highlight (yellow) – CHAPTER 26 – War, Empire, and the Military

Added on August 16, 2019 4:52 PM

CHAPTER 28 – The Struggle for Power II: The Red and the Purple

The goal of the Deep Southern oligarchy has been consistent for over four centuries: to control and maintain a one-party state with a colonialstyle economy based on large-scale agriculture and the extraction of primary resources by a compliant, poorly educated, low-wage workforce with as few labor, workplace safety, health care, and environmental regulations as possible. On being compelled by force of arms to give up their slave workforce, Deep Southerners developed caste and sharecropper systems to meet their labor needs, as well as a system of poll taxes and literacy tests to keep former slaves and white rabble out of the political process. When these systems were challenged by African Americans and the federal government, they rallied poor whites in their nation, in Tidewater, and in Appalachia to their cause through fearmongering: The races would mix. Daughters would be defiled. Yankees would take away their guns and Bibles and convert their children to secular humanism, environmentalism, communism, and homosexuality

Highlight (yellow) – CHAPTER 28 – The Struggle for Power II: The Red and the Purple

Added on August 17, 2019 8:56 AM

It’s much the same dynamic that Thomas Frank described in What’s the Matter with Kansas? which revealed how the oligarchs of his native state used social and “moral” issues to rally ordinary people to support the architects of their economic destruction. “The trick never ages; the illusion never wears off,” Frank writes: Vote to stop abortion, receive a rollback in capital gains taxes. Vote to make our country strong again; receive deindustrialization. Vote to screw those politically correct college professors; receive electricity deregulation. Vote to get government off our backs; receive conglomeration and monopoly everywhere from media to meatpacking. Vote to stand tall against terrorists; receive Social Security privatization. Vote to strike a blow against elitism; receive a social order in which wealth is more concentrated than ever before in our lifetimes, in which workers have been stripped of power and CEOs are rewarded in a manner beyond imagining.4

Highlight (yellow) – CHAPTER 28 – The Struggle for Power II: The Red and the Purple

Added on August 17, 2019 9:04 AM


Sean Wilkinson of Portland, Maine (for creating the maps and patiently revising them);

Highlight (yellow) – Acknowledgements

Added on August 10, 2019 10:41 AM


E. Digby Baltzell, Puritan Boston and Quaker Philadelphia, New York: Free Press, 1979, pp. 94–106.

Highlight (green) – NOTES

Added on August 20, 2019 7:35 PM

12 Noah Feldman, Divided by God: America’s Church-State Problem and What We Should Do About It, New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005, pp. 52, 115–117, 127–132, 138.

Highlight (green) – NOTES

Added on August 13, 2019 10:31 PM

Getting Started with WordPress, an IndieWebCamp Pop-up Session

Have you been hearing whispers about the #IndieWeb and want to know more?

Did you see Tantek’s call to action at WordCampUS last November, but wondered how to get started?

Do you have a WordPress website where you want to better own and control your own data?

Do you want to use your own website to interact with other websites or even social media silos?

Are you a teacher or student and need a platform you control for communicating on the web while you’re stuck at home? Don’t want to rely on a toxic corporate social media site to do it?

David Shanske and I are hosting an IndieWebCamp pop-up session/workshop for WordPress beginners to learn a bit more about how to add some of the basic IndieWeb building blocks to their websites. 

Whether you’re new to the process or have some questions about how to improve your site, stop by and join us this weekend.

Getting Started with WordPress, an IndieWebCamp Pop-up Session on August 1, 2020 at 9:30 – 11:30am Pacific. Everyone is welcome. RSVP at the event site or by replying on Twitter.

If you don’t already have a domain name or need help getting WordPress set up on a host, stop by one of the Homebrew Website Clubs this week or ask for some help in the IndieWeb chat so you can follow along at the workshop on Saturday.

Little Free Library #8424 is Back in Business

Late this morning I finished building and installing a brand new Little Free Library on Harding Avenue between New York Dr. and Berendo St. in beautiful Northeast Altadena, CA!

Last year, we decommissioned our trusty old library after more than four years of service because one of the doors fell off and it need more significant repairs than we were able to provide. Now, just in time for our fifth anniversary next week on July 28th, we’ve replaced the library with a beautiful new model that should last for the next several years.

Everyone is welcome to come and enjoy the books. Please take the appropriate precautions with physical distancing (one patron at a time please), and follow recommended guidelines for hand-washing.

Currently there are a variety of books: fiction to non-fiction, children’s board books to adult fare; classics to contemporary; and paperbacks to hardcovers. Many are either new or generally very lightly used. Come today to see what we’ve got that may be of interest you. There are even some free erasers for little readers.

And remember our general guidelines: Take a book. Leave a book.

Learning Paths Annotations and Highlights to One’s Website Using ThreadReaderApp

Some small pieces, loosely joined for owning one’s highlights online.

I ran across a Chrome extension for highlights, annotations, and tagging tonight. It’s called Learning Paths. It works roughly as advertised for creating and saving highlights and annotations online. With a social silo log in process (I didn’t see an email login option), you’ve quickly got an account on the service.

You can then use the extension to highlight, tag, and annotate web pages. One can export their data as a .csv file which is nice. They’ve also got an online dashboard which displays all your data and has the ability to see public data from other users as well.

Screencapture of the Learning Paths UI for their Chrome extension

One of the interesting pieces they support is allowing users to tweet a thread from all their highlights of a piece online. Upon seeing this I thought it might make a useful feature for getting data into one’s personal wiki, website, or digital garden, particularly now that  ThreadReaderApp supports posting unrolled Twitter threads to one’s Micropub enabled website

So the workflow goes something like this (with links to examples of my having tried it along the way):

Screencapture example of ThreadReaderApp’s Authored Threads tab interface

While this works relatively well, there are a few drawbacks:

  • The UI for the annotations is a bit flaky at times and in my experience often disappears before you’ve had a chance to save them.
  • The workflow misses out on any of the annotations and tags you might add to each of the highlights (unless you manually add them to the thread, and even then you may run out of space/characters).
  • The appearance of the thread on your site is simply what you get.

While the idea works roughly in practice, it isn’t as optimal as the workflow or data fidelity I’ve found in using more robust tooling like that found in Hypothes.is for which I’ve also built a better UI on my website.

Still others, might appreciate the idea, so have at it! I’d love to see others’ ideas about owning their highlights, annotations, and related data in a place they control.


Theory on Cultural Changes with Respect to Mnemonics and the Ten Commandments in Ancient Near Eastern Cultures and specifically within Judaism

And God spoke:
“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens above, on the earth beneath, or in the waters below.
–Exodus 20:1-4

I have a hypothesis that the admonition in the ten commandments to have no other gods nor to worship idols was the result of a power struggle among early peoples on the border of nomadic lives and settling down into agricultural lifeways. These peoples may likely have been associating their memories not only to standing stones, portable items (the Ark of the Covenant as an example which was historically said to be carried into war), or small idols and graven images.

By removing peoples’ valuable cultural and societal memories over several generations, a ruling priestly class, particularly in a society with not evenly distributed writing and literacy, would have been more easily able to aggregate power within the culture to itself. From a cultural perspective it would also have put an extreme emphasis on writing, literacy, and learning with them. Is this part of an explanation for why Jewish culture still has such an emphasis on these tools thousands of years later?

This obviously needs to be thought out further with supporting evidence from the historical and archaeological record, but on first blush, I feel like the evidence for this hypothesis generally exists.

If I’m right, then these few sentences have had a far more dramatic influence on Western and even human culture than we have previously thought.

Featured Image: The Crusader Bible, MS M.638, fol. 39v, Paris, France, ca. 1244–1254, 390 x 300 mm, via the Morgan Library & Museum, Purchased by J.P. Morgan (1867–1943) in 1916
David’s Greatest Triumph, The Ark Enshrined in Jerusalem, David Blesses Israel
Old Testament Miniatures with Latin, Persian, and Judeo-Persian inscriptions
David retrieves the Ark of the Covenant from Obed-Edom’s house, and a jubilant celebration ensues as the triumphant king, playing upon his harp, leads it into Jerusalem. Once the Ark has come six paces into the city, a sacrifice is made of an ox and a ram. No one is more overjoyed than the king himself, who dances and leaps before the procession. David’s wild behavior embarrasses Michal, who points accusingly at him from her window. But the king is unconcerned, wishing only to give thanks and humble himself before God. (2 Kings 6:12–16)

Posting an event and RSVPing to it at the same time

Yesterday I had created an event post for an upcoming DoOO Meetup I’m hosting and syndicated a copy to Meetable. The sad, but predictable, result was a webmention being displayed on Meetable that duplicated all of the details including all of the invitations. This felt annoying to me, and I simultaneously thought that as the host, I also ought to officially RSVP for the event itself so that it didn’t appear like no one was going. Rather than go to the trouble of creating a stand-alone RSVP reply post, I thought, why not create a two-for-one bargain? So I naïvely added a class="u-in-reply-to" to the Meetable URL in my event and threw on a data tag to the front of the post like so:

<data class="p-rsvp" value="yes">I'll be hosting</data>

And of course, wouldn’t you know: it worked! The duplication of all the data on the syndicated copy disappeared, and in its place a smiling photo of me indicating that I’m attending.

Sadly, I’ve noticed that the WordPress Webmention plugin doesn’t seem to allow me to self-RSVP to my own original post within the same post. I thought I might try forcing it manually only to discover that Telegraph won’t allow the source and target to be the same URL. I also tried mention-tech which will apparently send it and report a success, but my site doesn’t seem to actually receive and display it. I will say this may be the only case I’ve run across in 5 years that I’d want to self-mention the same post and actually display the result.

A Domain of One’s Own Meetup | July 23, 2020

I’ll be hosting a Domain of One’s Own meetup on Thursday, July 23, 2020 at at 10:30 AM Pacific / 1:30 PM Eastern / 7:30 PM CEST. Everyone who is interested in the topic is welcome to attend. We expect there will be students, teachers, designers, web developers, technologists, and people of all ages and ranges of ability from those just starting out with a domain to those running DoOO programs at colleges or even people running their own hosting companies.

We’ll use Zoom for this online meetup (here’s the link to the room which should be active about 15 minutes before we start). We’re planning on using an Etherpad for real-time chat and note taking for the event.

Attendees will be expected to have read and agree to the IndieWeb Code of Conduct which will apply to the meetup.

We will 

  • Have discussions about A Domain of One’s Own and the independent web;
  • Get to know other colleagues in the space;
  • Ask colleagues for help/advice on problems or issues you’re having with your domain;
  • Find potential collaborators for domains-related projects you’re working on;
  • Explore new and interesting ideas about what one can do or accomplish with a personal domain;
  • Create or update your domain


  • Welcome
  • Introductions: short 2 minute introductions of attendees with an optional brief demonstration of something you’ve done on your domain or purpose for which you’re using your domain.
  • Group photo for those who wish to participate
  • Main meetup: Ideally everyone should bring a topic, demonstration, question, or problem to discuss with the group. Depending on time and interest, we can try to spend 5-10 minutes discussing and providing feedback on each of these. If questions go over this time limitation, we can extend the conversation in smaller groups as necessary after the meetup.


To RSVP to the meetup, please do one of the following:

Future meetups

While the time frame for this inaugural meetup may work best for some in the Americas, everyone with interest is most welcome. If there are others in Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, or other locales who are interested, do let us know what dates/times might work for you in the future and we can try to organize a time to maximize some attendance there. I’m happy to help anyone who’d like to take the leadership of other time zones or locales to leverage some of the resources of the IndieWeb community to assist in starting future meetings to cover other areas of the world. 

🎉 Invitations 🎉 

Tim Owens, Aaron Davis, Cathie LeBlanc, Kartik Prabhu, Amber Case, Amy Guy, Greg McVerry, William Ian O’Byrne, Jim Groom, Kimberly Hirsh, John Johnston, Robin DeRosaAudrey Watters, Ken Bauer, Will Monroe, Jeremy Dean, Nate Angell, Jon Udell, Adam Procter, Amy Guy, Kris ShafferAnelise H. Shrout, John Johnston,  Mark Grabe, Rick Wysocki, Doug Holton, Jeffrey Keefer, Rayna M. HarrisDavey Moloney, Vicki BoykisJohn Carlos BaezDan ScottTaylor JadinKathleen Fitzpatrick (mb), Blair MacIntyre (mb), Doug Belshaw, Adam ProcterDan Cohen (mb), Dave Cormier, Scott Gruber, Kay Oddone, Kin Lane, Martha Burtis, Lee Skallerup Bessette, Adam Croom, Sean Michael Morris, Jesse Stommel, Cassie Nooyen, Stephen Downes, Ben Werdmüller, Erin Jo Richey, Jack Jamieson, Grant Potter, Ryan Boren (mb), Paul Hibbits, Maha Bali, Alan Levine, John Stewart, Teodora Petkova, Lora Taub-Pervizpour, Clint Lalonde, Clint Lalonde Sonja Burrows, Jonathan Poritz Chris Long, Mo PelzelMichelle S. HagermanAnne-Marie ScottTim Clarke, Amy Collier, Laura PasquiniMartin HawkseyZach WhalenDaniel LyndsTom WoodwardMark A. MatienzoLaura GibbsAutumn CainesChris LottJess ReingoldTerry GreenErin Rose Glass,  Trip KirkpatrickMeredith FierroLauren BrumfieldHelen DeWaardKeegan Long-Wheeler,  Irene Stewart Christina HendricksBill Kronholm, Xinli WangTineke D’HaeseleerMartin Weller Jeremy FeltJane Van Galen, Tanis Morgan, Library Carpentry

Know someone who would be interested in joining? Please forward this event, or one of the syndicated copies (linked below) to them on your platform or modality of choice.

Hashtags: #​phdchat#​DoOO#​edtechchat#​literacies#​higherED#​dh, #​ds106#​educolor#​WPCampus#​openscience#​clmooc#​digped#​altc

Featured image: Hard Drive Repair flickr photo by wwarby shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Getting Started with WordPress, an IndieWebCamp Pop-up Session

I’ll be hosting an introduction to IndieWeb using WordPress and invite everyone to join me via Zoom (link to come).

Saturday, August 1, 2020 9:30 – 11:30am (America/Los_Angeles)

This will be a broad-based introduction to the IndieWeb session specifically focused on using WordPress. Our aim is to help people get set up and running a self-hosted IndieWeb-based website with WordPress though some of our discussion will work for WordPress.com versions as well.

  • Grab a cup of coffee and get an IndieWeb site up and running in just a few hours.
  • Have questions or problems with your current WordPress IndieWeb site? Stop by and get some help.
  • Just figuring out what IndieWeb is about? Much of what we’ll discuss is applicable to other platforms and may be useful to other beginners as well.
  • All levels of experience welcome
  • (Note: for those without a domain registered or web hosting, we may have a brief pre-session to help you out so we can be more productive during the main session.)

  • Notes for the session will take place at: https://etherpad.indieweb.org/WordPressQuickStart
  • Create week: Following the session, we’ll give people a chance to create something for their site to do remote demos.
  • Demos: When we’re done, we’ll have a short online demo session so people can show off the new sites and maybe demo their favorite functionality.

Would you like to volunteer to help manage the session? Add yourself to the list on the IndieWeb wiki or contact the organizers in chat.

Code of Conduct: indieweb.org/code-of-conduct

Syndicating my IndieWeb Wiki edits to my personal website

I don’t have a specific “Edit” post kind on my website (yet!), but I’ve set things up–using a prior recipe–so that edits I make to the IndieWeb wiki are syndicated (via PESOS) to the Micropub endpoint on my website to create draft posts on my personal website!

Presently they were easiest to map to my website as bookmarks until I can create the UI to indicate edits, but changing the UI piece, and retroactively modifying some data for posts, should be fairly simple and straightforward for me.

I’m not sure I’ll keep the entire diff content in the future, but may just keep the direct text added depending on the edit and the potential context. We’ll play around and see what comes of it. It’s reasonably sure that I may not post everything publicly either, but keep it as either a draft or private post on my website. In some cases, I may just add the edit syndication link on an original bookmark, read, watch, or other post type, a pattern which I’ve done in the past for articles I’ve read/bookmarked in the past and simply syndicated manually to the wiki.

I’ll also need to tinker with how to save edits I make directly in the chat channels via Loqi, though I think that is straightforward as well, now that the “easy” part has been done.

I only wish I had thought to do this before I made the thousands of edits to the wiki earlier this week. Both IndieWebCamp West 2020 and the edits for part of organizing that were the inspiration for finally getting around to doing this.

This isn’t as slick as the process Angelo Gladding recently did a demo of and is doing to syndicate his edits to the wiki from his website using a POSSE syndication workflow, but I’ll guarantee my method was way less work!

Also, since my edits to the wiki are made as CC0 contributions, the POSSE/PESOS flow doesn’t make as much difference to me as it might on other social silos.

I don’t edit Wikipedia incredibly often, but perhaps I set that functionality up shortly too.

Here’s the first example (public) post: https://boffosocko.com/2020/06/30/55772818/

I’ll get around to fixing the remainder of the presentation and UI shortly, but it’s not a horrific first pass. It’s at least allowing me to own copies of the data I’m putting out on the Internet.

IndieWebCamp 2020 West: June 27-28, 2020

Some of us have been wishing there were a , but it’s a LOT to organize and execute on an annual basis. To bridge a bit of the gap, I’m collaborating with some in the IndieWeb movement to do a free online-only (due to physical distancing) two day BarCamp-style conference on the weekend of June 27-28, 2020.

The broad ideas behind DoOO dovetail quite well and the IndieWeb community has a welcoming, inclusive, and helpful atmosphere with a solid code of conduct.

The upcoming event is called IndieWebCamp 2020 West (based roughly on the Pacific time Zone). I’ve already started proposing a few DoOO-related sessions on their organizing Etherpad. I’d encourage others in the community who are interested to register for the free two day camp to talk about what we can do with our websites and how we can improve them. Students, faculty, staff, and even hobbyists of all levels of ability are welcome. If you’ve got ideas for things you’re interested in doing on or with your website, feel free to propose your own topics (either now or the morning of day one).

We’d love to see everyone there.

Day one is a brief introduction followed by various discussion-based sessions on topics of interest to those who attend. (First time attendees are given the first opportunity to schedule topics.) Day two is a creator day on which people write, create, build, code, or otherwise improve something on their website. If you don’t yet have a website, people will be on hand to help you set one up, or get around obstacles you may have for being able to use and manage your website.

Details and RSVP information can be found here: https://indieweb.org/2020/West

If anyone has questions or needs further details or help proposing potential sessions, don’t hesitate to ask.

A Short Essay on the Relationship of STEM and Racist Ideas

I’ve seen many tweets today with the hashtag #shutdownSTEM. Some of them included some people asking why such a thing would be necessary. What does STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) have to do with racism they ask? 

I find myself seeing some immediate and excellent historical examples in Dr. Ibram X. Kendi‘s book Stamped from the Beginning. In chapter nine of the book he discusses the variety and flavors of racism espoused by Thomas Jefferson in his book Notes on the State of Virginia (1785), which would become the most  consumed American nonfiction book until well into the mid-nineteenth century.

Shortly afterward Samuel Stanhope Smith countered portions of Jefferson’s racist ideas in the 1787 annual oration to the august American Philosophical Society. This annual lecture was already one of the most heralded scholarly lectures in America and was attended by the wealthy and elite leaders and thinkers in the country. The lecture would be published as the influential Essay on the Causes of Variety of Complexion and Figure in the Human Species

While Smith used the lecture to attack the abhorrent racist idea of polygenesis, he did espouse a wide array of other racist tropes including assimilationist climate theory. Dr. Kendi specifically notes that he may have picked up this idea from James Bowdoin’s opening oration of the newly established American Academy of Arts and Sciences in Boston on May 4, 1780.
To quote Dr. Kendi:

Samuel Stanhope Smith joined those preeminent intellectuals in Boston’s American Academy of Arts and Sciences and Philadelphia’s American Philosophical Society in attacking polygenesists, in reviving climate theory in America. His scholarly defense of scripture was quickly printed in Philadelphia, in London, and in Lord Kames’s back-yard, Edinburgh. By the time he sat down in Princeton’s presidential chair in 1795, he had amassed an international scholarly reputation.

So in just a few pages Kendi lays out some serious evidence of the direct spread of a wide variety of racist ideas by not only by the academic elite, but the leaders of multiple influential universities and scientific and philosophical institutions in America. The reverberating echos of these wrongs are still haunting us today. They still need to be addressed and righted. We need to use our moral alembic and distill these racist ideas out of science in America.

Lest one wonder about the influence of Samuel Stanhope Smith’s essay, I’ll note that Noah Webster cited Smith directly in Webster’s 1828 Dictionary in the definition of philosophy. The citation was from  Smith’s second edition of his Essay on the Causes of Variety of Complexion and Figure in the Human Species (1810). The quote as given: “True religion, and true philosophy must ultimately arrive at the same principle.”

We’re obviously still seeking both true religion and true philosophy.

While you’re thinking about #shutdownSTEM on June 10th and long thereafter, I recommend you spend some time sitting with the ideas that have been handed down to us and question them closely, for this is what science and philosophy are all about. If you find you can’t do that hard work–and it is hard, then perhaps read a bit of Dr. Kendi’s excellent and ardent text Stamped from the Beginning.

Thread Reader and Micropub for PressEdConf

In March I wrote about Participating in PressEdConf20 directly from WordPress.

While using that method for publishing is still my preference for owning the content first and syndicating it to Twitter, there’s another method that many educators might find simpler. ThreadReaderApp now has beta support for the Micropub Spec so you can publish Twitter threads directly to your blog.

This means that participants can write their threads directly on Twitter and reverse syndicate them to their websites if they support the Micropub spec.

For PressEdConf participants who have WordPress.org based sites (or .com sites with a subscription that supports plugins), this should be relatively easy since there’s a Micropub plugin for WordPress.

Download the plugin, activate it, write your Twitter thread, and have Thread Reader unroll it. Then authentic Thread Reader to your website at https://threadreaderapp.com/account/micropub and click the publish button on the thread you want to copy to your site.

This functionality in Thread Reader will also work for any other blogging platform or CMS that has either native or plugin support for Micropub. This includes platforms like Drupal, Grav, WithKnown, and many others including several static site generators.

Once things are set up, it’s pretty straightforward. You can read about my first experience (linked above) for more details.

If you have prior unrolled Twitter threads in your Thread Reader account you can use them as test cases before the next PressEdConf.



IndieWebCamp 2020 West is Officially On

IndieWebCamp West Coast is an online IndieWebCamp being held on

Tickets / RSVP

What is it?

Two days meeting up online to share ideas, create & improve personal websites, and build upon each other’s creations. Whether you’re a blogger, coder, designer, or just someone who wants to improve their presence on the web, there is something for you here. All skill and experience levels welcome.
If you’ve never attended an IndieWebCamp, we’ve got an article to describe what to expect.

I’m definitely attending, and I hope you’ll join us!