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Thomas Jefferson’s ideas for state names in the midwest

Aug 23, 2011 By Abraham

Here is Thomas Jefferson’s suggestion for the layout and labeling of the American midwest…

Sylvania, Michigania, Illinoia, Saratoga, and Washington. OK, we can work with those.

But Chersonesus, Assenisipia, MetropotamiaPolypotamia, and Pelisipia?

I suppose we would have gotten used to any names — and even come to be inordinately attached to them — but at the same time I think we can all agree with the author of the 1904 book The Louisiana Purchase, who wrote

While we may see the reasons for these names, we may be thankful that they did not prevail, Ohio is better than Pelisipia, and Wisconsin to be preferred to Assenisipia.

(via Futility Closet)


  1. Bridget C says:

    “Ohio is better than Pelisipia, and Wisconsin to be preferred to Assenisipia.”

    One wonders if the author of that sentence has any sense of geography at all? Pelisipia is the bottom edge of Indiana, and Assenisipia is the top of Illinois.

  2. DK says:

    Interestingly, there’s been a movement for years to split Northern WI and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan as the state of Superior. Even more interesting is that there’s a wilderness preserve in the U.P. named Sylvania. Wonder if there are connections to this?!

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