SECTION II: PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY AND STATISTICS (cont.)
Part 18. Political and Natural Subdivisions
As politically organized at present the area included within the limits of the United States is divided into forty-nine subdivisions, including Alaska. There are thirty-eight States, eight Territories, and three subdivisions, neither States nor Territories, each of which stands in a peculiar relation to the general Governmentnamely, the District of Columbia, the Indian Territory, and Alaska.
In the following table of the States and Territories the names are followed by their customary abbreviations. The dates are those of admission into the Union as States; in the case of the thirteen original States (printed in small capitals), they are the dates when those States ratified the constitution. The names of the Territories are printed in italics.
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As long as the population of the country was limited to the Atlantic and Gulf coasts there was no difficulty in classifying the divisions geographically; the Northern, Middle, Southern Atlantic, and Gulf States constituted a natural grouping. The almost un-known and at that time not easily accessible region beyond them to the west was known as "the West," and by this term until more than a quarter of the present century had elapsed the valley of the Mississippi and its tributaries on the east was designated. It w-as not until about the middle of the century that a still farther '' West" began to be taken into consideration.
Early in the history of the country the six north-eastern States (Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut) received the still current designation of New England. And till after the Civil War there was the division of the States into Southern or Northern, according as slavery was or was not permitted.
The suggestion was made by Mr Gannett, geographer of the census of 1880, " to divide the country into three great divisions,the Atlantic region, the region of the Great Valley, and the Western or Cordilleran region." The region of the Great Valley he calls the Central region, and this is again subdivided into two parts the Northern Central and the Southern Centralby the Ohio river and the southern boundary of Missouri and Kansas. The Atlantic division is also subdivided, by a line following the south boundary of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, into the North Atlantic and South Atlantic divisions. The Western or Cordilleran division is limited on the east by the eastern boundaries of Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico. A' farther subdivision will be found convenient at times, the Northern Central region being divided into two parts (the North-Eastern and the North-Western) by the Mississippi, and the Southern Central also into two parts (the South-Eastern and South-Western) by the same river. The Western or Cordilleran division may be naturally divided into the Rocky Mountain, the Plateau, and the Pacific Coast regions. Adopting the scheme thus suggested, we have the following grouping of all the States and Territories of the United States (Table II.), the only differences between this scheme and that of Mr Gannett, besides those already indicated, being that the Atlantic States are divided into three subdivisionsthe Northern, Middle, and Southern,and that West Virginia is placed with the Central States because its drainage is to the Ohio and in its physical characters it is allied to the North-Eastern Central group
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