The fact that the number of US states has remained relatively static is nothing short a miracle — there have been hundreds of attempts at state secession over the years. But what if they had all succeeded? This brilliant map depicts that alternative universe, where the US is broken up into 124 different states that stretch from sea-to-shining-sea.
The map comes to us thanks to the work of a Mansfield University geography professor named Andrew Shears, who describes the work as a piece of alternate history ("NOT a proposal"):
Most of my life, I've daydreamed about history — not so much the incredible depth of historical events that have already occurred, good thinking as that might be. No, I've constantly fictionalized history by changing the outcome of one event here and there and exploring the possibilities of what would have come next. Sometimes I come up with some utterly ridiculous progressions on these alternate timelines of whole new worlds based on relatively minor changes.
Shears' map shows each and every attempt at secession along with the boundaries these movements intended to set up, including Independent Long Island, which would've severed it from New York, and South Florida, which would've protected Miami from the rest of the state (smart move). Then there are those that partially, or temporarily, saw success: Like the State of Franklin, which existed for four and a half years before collapsing and being re-admitted to North Carolina in 1789 after failing to protect or support itself economically.
And considering the havoc wreaked by states like Franklin, we're lucky that so few of them succeeded. Of course, then there are more selfish reasons to be glad for the map that is today. Imagine having to memorise 74 more state capitals in school. [Washington Post; Andrew Shears]