Ohio filled up quickly. When the tribes were defeated at the Battle of Fallen Timbers in 1794 it immediately attracted swarms of settlers, many of them Revolutionary War veterans exercising land grants they had been awarded for their service.* By 1803 it was admitted as the 17th state.
The Western Reserve, in the northeast, was largely settled by New Englanders, the southern part by Virginians, and the middle by Midlanders. Colin Woodard, in “American Nations”, identifies Midlanders as the American arbiters — when they vote with Yankees, Yankees win. When they vote with Virginia, Virginia wins. They are not meddlesome moralists, like the New Englanders. But they’re not libertarian southerners either. They’re in the middle. They were even before the founding. They have been throughout our entire history, right up to today.
The first Midlanders were Pennsylvania Quakers, staunch pacifists. They refused to fight in the Revolutionary War. Their political dominance in Pennsylvania faded, however, when they even refused to fight the Indians. The Germans who came immediately behind the Quakers were strongly antiwar. They came from a country nearly ruined by sectarian wars. They hated war. But they weren’t pacifists, and while Midlanders began as Quakers, they soon became more German-American than anything else. Quakers (they were like Shakers, except they only quaked with religious enthusiasm) faded into near irrelevance. The Germans kept coming, in huge waves. There was even talk of keeping them out, there were so damn many of them.
Midlanders believed in minding their own business. They didn’t like slavery, but they didn’t want to fight a war over it. So they were Democrats leading up to the Civil War. But Lincoln convinced enough of them — barely — to win Illinois, Indiana and Ohio, and thus the Presidency.
Midlanders will decide the election of 2016, just as they’ve pretty much decided every election. It’s been North vs. South since the very beginning, and the Midlanders get to decide. The American heartland, the Midwest, middle America, the Midlands — whatever you want to call it — has the same values it always has. They want to mind their own business. They don’t want to tell people how to live their lives. The Germans who settled middle America were Catholic, Protestant, and Dissenters — Moravians, Amish, Mennonites, Pietists. They got along with each other. They weren’t going to fight over religion, or anything else. They were tolerant. It is the ethic of Middle America — tolerance.
Middle America is tolerant all over the world. It doesn’t want to fight in wars overseas, pick winners and losers. Let the people of the world find their own way. Let’s mind our own business.
That’s what Middle America wants to hear.
* Including my direct ancestor, John Pettyjohn.