THE POLITICAL SECTIONS
The choice of names for the different political sections of the United States presents a difficult problem. The original sections comprised only thirteen states, all of which were located on the Atlantic seaboard. Comparatively few of the American people lived more than a hundred miles from tide-water. By the expression, Eastern states, politicians meant, when Washington was President, the New England states. The West began in the valley of the Mohawk in New York state, or even in Vermont, and extended along the valleys between the Appalachian mountain ranges to Georgia. It included also the uplands and back-country between the most easterly ridges of the Appalachians and the fall line which generally marked the head of navigation on the rivers flowing into the Atlantic. Mason and Dixon's line, separating Pennsylvania from Maryland, was the boundary between North and. South.
But now those sectional lines are obsolete. Delaware, Maryland, and West Virginia, have more in common with ' Pennsylvania and the other Middle Atlantic states, from the standpoint of the national politician, than with Virginia and the other states to the South. And the West has moved steadily westwards, until it has reached the Pacific coast. The West of Washington's time is now the East; the West of Andrew Jackson's time is now more East than West; the West of Lincoln's time is now the Center of the country. Geographical expressions in American politics have a significance which is relative not only to the points of the compass but also to the periods of history. Any particular choice of terms for designating the different sections must therefore be more or less arbitrary. None can be well suited to more than one period in the history of national politics.
It has seemed most convenient to use for the major political sections the expressions which are best suited to the period when the present partisan alignment was established, that of the struggle over slavery, and to reserve for the minor sections the terms which are most appropriate at the present day. The sectional nomenclature which, consistently with this plan, is employed in this book is shown