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  #1  
Old 09-25-2009, 06:50 PM
Qin Shi Huangdi Qin Shi Huangdi is offline
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When Did New England Become So Liberal

A hundred years ago New England was progressive, true, but it was also a center of business especially manufacturing interests and socially conservative in the sense of wanting public morality ie banning prostitution and abortion which was as an aside an important tenent of Progressivism. When and why did the Boston Brahmins, Boston Irish, and rustic Vermont farmers all become so liberal?
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  #2  
Old 09-25-2009, 08:10 PM
Shagnasty Shagnasty is offline
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I assume you are talking about social liberalism versus economic liberalism. I am a native born Southerner but I have lived in Vermont, Boston proper, and now in the outer Boston suburbs. The groups you name are all very different.

Vermont is very rural. It is one of the most least populated states and many parts of it are throwbacks to centuries past. They still have honest-to-god general stores with three movies to rent, one rifle for sale, and four pairs of snow boots in assorted sizes. They can also make you a sandwich behind the counter if you ask. It can mostly be described as libertarian (New Hampshire even more so) but lots of wealthy Bostonians and New Yorkers have vacation houses in Vermont and that certainly has an impact. Neighboring New Hampshire could easily be a Southern state if you just hired a tug-boat and pulled it down South and gave the population speech lessons. It isn't liberal at all except for the extreme southern part which are the distant Boston suburbs.

One theory I have about Northern New England is that no one has to be worried about minorities, inner city crime, or true poverty. It exists in isolated pockets but New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont are among the whitest states in the U.S. and fairly wealthy. If it wasn't so damned cold 6 months of the year, those states would be about the most perfect places on earth. They play arm-chair quarterback for the rest of the nation because they simply can't comprehend any problems that are going on anywhere else in the country.

There aren't very many Boston Brahmins around anymore but the stereotypical ones are very wealthy and they can easily pay lip service to being socially liberal because they have the means to hold things like charity events. There is nothing wrong with that but it does become part of their image. Wealth gives you freedom to build whatever image you want people to see.

The general class of the Boston Irish aren't known for being progressive at all. In fact, they are known for being quite racist to this day. One of the biggest racial scandals in the U.S. was the "school busing" controversy of the 1970's in which poor black kids were bused to new schools to get a better education and the clash between those groups was heated and severe and is now part of American history on what not to do.

The basic answer for why Boston is so liberal is that it is education central for the world. Harvard and MIT are right down the street from one another in Cambridge and they attract some of the smartest people around but they are Ivory Tower types. There are over 100 colleges and universities in the greater Boston area the last time I checked so students and faculty are always flooding in.

I am fairly socially liberal myself and I was once in Ivy League academia but I fully admit those fields attract some odd types. With so many of them around this area, it does make an impact.

Last edited by Shagnasty; 09-25-2009 at 08:12 PM..
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Old 09-25-2009, 08:56 PM
DanBlather DanBlather is offline
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I agree with most of what Shagnasty says. Another factor is the types of religions in NE. They tend to be the old-school ones where there isn't a lot of witnessing. You go to church on Sunday then don't talk about it much in between. This includes Episcopals, Unitarians, and also Catholics. They also have a lot of Jewish people so it would be rude to go around saying how it's a Christian country. Jewish people also tend to be more liberal.

It may be more accurate to ask why the rest of the country is so conservative. Boston is more like the rest of the world. It has the feel of a European city and has similar values. When New Englanders see the Palins and Joe the Plumbers and Evangelists they just don't seem like their kind of people.

I'd say that rural new England is pretty much the same as it was a few hundred years ago because it grew up before cars. Small towns, small farms, cute little churches. In much of the rest of the country it's been build for cars: malls, mega churches, no place to walk and get groceries.
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Old 09-25-2009, 09:16 PM
Starving Artist Starving Artist is offline
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It may be more accurate to ask why the rest of the country is so conservative. Boston is more like the rest of the world.
No kidding? I'm sure that would come as quite a surprise to the billions of people who live in South and Central America, the Carribean, Africa, the Middle East, Russia, China, the Far East, The Pacific Ilands, etc., etc., etc.?

And besides, who died and made Europe the ideal of human progress? Europe is crowded, bogged down in beaurocracy and red tape, full of crooks and tourist traps and pickpockets, has triggered two world wars, and everybody smokes. Plus they drive dinky little cars (if they even have cars, that is) and everybody lives in dinky little houses and apartments. And they have royalty. And aristocrats. And there are still some private companies and people there who actually make their own money. Why, some parts of it actually cater to people with money.

So, how is it that Boston is like the rest of the world again?

Last edited by Starving Artist; 09-25-2009 at 09:20 PM..
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Old 09-25-2009, 09:35 PM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is offline
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I agree with most of what Shagnasty says. Another factor is the types of religions in NE. They tend to be the old-school ones where there isn't a lot of witnessing. You go to church on Sunday then don't talk about it much in between. This includes Episcopals, Unitarians, and also Catholics. They also have a lot of Jewish people so it would be rude to go around saying how it's a Christian country. Jewish people also tend to be more liberal.
Boston used to be the center of anti-Semitism in America. Harvard imposed a quota on Jewish students after enrollment hit 20% in 1920. A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America by Ronald Takaki quotes a number of statements by Harvard's President, Abbott Lawrence Lowell, as patrician a name as ever reigned, about how Jews were taking over wherever they were let in. He wanted to cut their numbers by at least a quarter. Of course, he justified his statements by saying how prevalent anti-Semitism was among students and alumni so he was suggesting it to protect the Jewish students. Sure.

New England's liberalism doesn't really date back before WWII and much of it is quite recent. Boston politics was traditionally Democrat due to its political machine dominated by Irish Catholics who as noted were virulently bigoted. Boston sports teams were among the last to fully integrate and their athletes complained that they weren't accepted for the whole of the 20th century.

Liberalism is highly correlated with urbanism. Even in the South, urban areas tend to be much more liberal than rural areas. New England is almost entirely urbanized today, one continuous mass of cities and suburbs that extend forever. The reasons why rural areas are so much more conservative have been explored by many authors, but in general proximity breeds acceptance over time. That's been cities' historic experience and it's now working in suburbs as well as they become denser and more multicultural.
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Old 09-25-2009, 09:42 PM
brujaja brujaja is offline
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Those of us born in California are frequently semi-uninformed about the Eastern Seaboard with respect to politics, social conditions, etc.

Thank you for those very erudite responses, Shagnasty and Exapno Mapcase.

That is all.
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Old 09-25-2009, 09:44 PM
Qin Shi Huangdi Qin Shi Huangdi is offline
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Originally Posted by DanBlather View Post
I agree with most of what Shagnasty says. Another factor is the types of religions in NE. They tend to be the old-school ones where there isn't a lot of witnessing. You go to church on Sunday then don't talk about it much in between. This includes Episcopals, Unitarians, and also Catholics. They also have a lot of Jewish people so it would be rude to go around saying how it's a Christian country. Jewish people also tend to be more liberal.
However weren't many New Englanders strict Congregationalist Calvinists who were the ideological descendents of the Puritans at least before World War 2? Also a lot of Catholics are social conservatives. As for the Boston Irish being rather racist and old-fashioned then why are most Irish American politicians especially the Kennedys so liberal?
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Old 09-25-2009, 09:51 PM
sqweels sqweels is offline
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No kidding? I'm sure that would come as quite a surprise to the billions of people who live in South and Central America, the Carribean, Africa, the Middle East, Russia, China, the Far East, The Pacific Ilands, etc., etc., etc.?
Which American city are these places more like then?
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Old 09-25-2009, 10:01 PM
Shagnasty Shagnasty is offline
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Also a lot of Catholics are social conservatives. As for the Boston Irish being rather racist and old-fashioned then why are most Irish American politicians especially the Kennedys so liberal?
The Kennedys are a name brand like Coca-Cola. The last significant one (Ted Kennedy) died not very long ago. They don't represent the typical Irish-Americans in Southie. They always had their own thing going on. I fully admit that I have never understood Massachusetts politics. It has produced some of the best Republican governors in the U.S. William Weld was one but Mitt Romney was pretty talented as well and both are conservatives. You would have to move to the Boston area to understand it and, even then, you would be doing better than I ever will if you do.

Last edited by Shagnasty; 09-25-2009 at 10:06 PM..
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Old 09-25-2009, 10:10 PM
Qin Shi Huangdi Qin Shi Huangdi is offline
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Which American city are these places more like then?
I dunno, Birmingham, Alabama or Jacksonville, Florida.
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Old 09-25-2009, 10:27 PM
Spectre of Pithecanthropus Spectre of Pithecanthropus is offline
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And besides, who died and made Europe the ideal of human progress? Europe is crowded, bogged down in beaurocracy and red tape, full of crooks and tourist traps and pickpockets, has triggered two world wars, and everybody smokes.
I'm assuming this is tongue-in-cheek. If not, well it is a model of progress in many ways. Where else do you have numerous small countries, each of which has retained its own distinctive culture and usually its own language and vast amount of physical history? And where there are not vast differences in average living standards between one country and another, so citizens of one die trying to cross a burning desert to reach the other? We could learn something here...
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Old 09-25-2009, 10:38 PM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is offline
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The Kennedys are a name brand like Coca-Cola. The last significant one (Ted Kennedy) died not very long ago. They don't represent the typical Irish-Americans in Southie. They always had their own thing going on.
All politics is local said Tip O'Neill, D-MA.

The 20th century is full of examples of working class Democrats fighting for labor rights and social reforms while loudly denouncing segregation, immigration, and acculturation. People and parties aren't monolithic.

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I fully admit that I have never understood Massachusetts politics. It has produced some of the best Republican governors in the U.S. William Weld was one but Mitt Romney was pretty talented as well and both are conservatives. You would have to move to the Boston area to understand it and, even then, you would be doing better than I ever will if you do.
"Liberal" Republicanism was a force pretty much limited to the northeast for its entire existence. Maine's two Republican Senators are probably the most moderate Republicans in the Senate. I can't speak of Representatives because there aren't any. Every seat in the House east of the Hudson River is Democratic.

And although I'm watching from afar weren't both Weld and Romney considered to be on the far moderate wing of the party while in office? Jesse Helms wouldn't allow Weld to become an Ambassador (under Clinton!) because he was too liberal. Romney was never considered sufficiently conservative even after he repudiated every earlier stance in the last presidential election cycle. New England Republicans can be only so conservative and survive, while in other parts of the country there is no limit to the depths of conservatism that is approved.
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Old 09-25-2009, 11:03 PM
DanBlather DanBlather is offline
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"Liberal" Republicanism was a force pretty much limited to the northeast for its entire existence. Maine's two Republican Senators are probably the most moderate Republicans in the Senate. I can't speak of Representatives because there aren't any. Every seat in the House east of the Hudson River is Democratic.
That's an oversimplification. The Republicans and Democrats have basically traded positions over the last 50 years. One could argue that Republicans were the historically more liberal party as they advocated a stronger central government and were the party of Lincoln. There used to be lots of Republicans in office in New England until the Southern Strategy alienated them. The idea that Democrats are liberal and Republicans are conservative is a recent phenomenon.
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Old 09-25-2009, 11:17 PM
Qin Shi Huangdi Qin Shi Huangdi is offline
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That's an oversimplification. The Republicans and Democrats have basically traded positions over the last 50 years. One could argue that Republicans were the historically more liberal party as they advocated a stronger central government and were the party of Lincoln. There used to be lots of Republicans in office in New England until the Southern Strategy alienated them. The idea that Democrats are liberal and Republicans are conservative is a recent phenomenon.
Actually Republicans for a rather long time have advocated smaller government. For instance compare McKinley and Taft to William Jennings Bryan or Calvin Coolidge to FDR.
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Old 09-25-2009, 11:18 PM
DanBlather DanBlather is offline
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However weren't many New Englanders strict Congregationalist Calvinists who were the ideological descendents of the Puritans at least before World War 2? Also a lot of Catholics are social conservatives. As for the Boston Irish being rather racist and old-fashioned then why are most Irish American politicians especially the Kennedys so liberal?
If you had an Irish name you already appalled to the Irish base, so the rest of your positions were to attract everyone else.

Religion in New England is different than it is in the South. It's pretty much a private thing. Maybe it's because there is so much diversity. At any large gathering you'll have at least one Jewish person, Catholic, and Protestant. You would rarely hear something like "he jewed me down" because it'd likely offend someone. People also identify more with a specific religion. You'd say you are a Lutheran, or Episcopalian, or Methodist rather than a "Christian".

You also don't have the cult of Jesus with people talking about having a personal relationship with him, or addressing him in a public prayer.
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Old 09-25-2009, 11:30 PM
DanBlather DanBlather is offline
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Actually Republicans for a rather long time have advocated smaller government. For instance compare McKinley and Taft to William Jennings Bryan or Calvin Coolidge to FDR.
And many Democrats have long called for a smaller government as well. Look at all the "states rights" rhetoric from the solid Democratic south.

Putting aside the parties, the North (which used to mean north east) has always wanted a stronger (not necessarily bigger) government than the south. This may be because they had bigger interest in trade and banking than the more agricultural south.
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Old 09-26-2009, 01:39 PM
JRDelirious JRDelirious is online now
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However weren't many New Englanders strict Congregationalist Calvinists who were the ideological descendents of the Puritans at least before World War 2?
Already pre-WW2 the process of mergers had begun that led those churches to now be part of the United Church of Christ, usually considered a liberal affiliation.

And I must agree from my experience working with people from the region that Upper New England is quite its own world as opposed to points south of the Mass. border. (I've mentioned in other threads that I know and have worked in the past with Vermont Governor Douglas, one of the Last Republicans Standing in NE. Quite a fine example of a sane conservative, back when he was State Treasurer he once got nominated by BOTH parties. I wonder how would that play in Boston.) I do feel like there's some validity in what was mentioned, that a lack of easily definable Us-vs-Them lines until very recently meant the more antagonic version of conservatism dominating the GOP post-Nixon lost traction (and never mind the faction wanting to turn it into the Jesus Party).
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Old 09-26-2009, 06:02 PM
MichaelQReilly MichaelQReilly is offline
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I assume you are talking about social liberalism versus economic liberalism. I am a native born Southerner but I have lived in Vermont, Boston proper, and now in the outer Boston suburbs. The groups you name are all very different.

Vermont is very rural. It is one of the most least populated states and many parts of it are throwbacks to centuries past. They still have honest-to-god general stores with three movies to rent, one rifle for sale, and four pairs of snow boots in assorted sizes. They can also make you a sandwich behind the counter if you ask. It can mostly be described as libertarian (New Hampshire even more so) but lots of wealthy Bostonians and New Yorkers have vacation houses in Vermont and that certainly has an impact. Neighboring New Hampshire could easily be a Southern state if you just hired a tug-boat and pulled it down South and gave the population speech lessons. It isn't liberal at all except for the extreme southern part which are the distant Boston suburbs.

One theory I have about Northern New England is that no one has to be worried about minorities, inner city crime, or true poverty. It exists in isolated pockets but New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont are among the whitest states in the U.S. and fairly wealthy. If it wasn't so damned cold 6 months of the year, those states would be about the most perfect places on earth. They play arm-chair quarterback for the rest of the nation because they simply can't comprehend any problems that are going on anywhere else in the country.

There aren't very many Boston Brahmins around anymore but the stereotypical ones are very wealthy and they can easily pay lip service to being socially liberal because they have the means to hold things like charity events. There is nothing wrong with that but it does become part of their image. Wealth gives you freedom to build whatever image you want people to see.

The general class of the Boston Irish aren't known for being progressive at all. In fact, they are known for being quite racist to this day. One of the biggest racial scandals in the U.S. was the "school busing" controversy of the 1970's in which poor black kids were bused to new schools to get a better education and the clash between those groups was heated and severe and is now part of American history on what not to do.

The basic answer for why Boston is so liberal is that it is education central for the world. Harvard and MIT are right down the street from one another in Cambridge and they attract some of the smartest people around but they are Ivory Tower types. There are over 100 colleges and universities in the greater Boston area the last time I checked so students and faculty are always flooding in.

I am fairly socially liberal myself and I was once in Ivy League academia but I fully admit those fields attract some odd types. With so many of them around this area, it does make an impact.
This is a pretty good overview, especially wrt the northern new england states (who are as much libertarian than anything else).

But I would also content that New England has pretty much always been liberal by the standards of the day. For example, compulsory public education and the Abolitionist movement, both in the first half of the 1800's, largely got their start in New England.
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Old 09-26-2009, 06:52 PM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is offline
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But I would also content that New England has pretty much always been liberal by the standards of the day. For example, compulsory public education and the Abolitionist movement, both in the first half of the 1800's, largely got their start in New England.
Groups of people are not the same thing as regions. Just because small groups can advocate things that later became widespread doesn't mean they were widespread at the time.

And it's hard to push today's connotations of liberal and conservative into the 19th century. Abolitionists also tended to believe in other isms like prohibition. Is that liberal or conservative thinking? Were the Transcendentalists profoundly liberal or profoundly conservative?

And if you're going to cite liberal movements, why not note the region's puritan heritage and behavior? Banned in Boston was once a catch phrase because censorship of books and entertainment was noted there.

I'd keep the 19th century out of this discussion. It doesn't play by our rules.
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Old 09-26-2009, 07:02 PM
PatriotGrrrl PatriotGrrrl is offline
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New England is almost entirely urbanized today, one continuous mass of cities and suburbs that extend forever.
You mean southern New England. Northern New England and parts of western Mass. are mostly rural and semi-rural.
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Old 09-26-2009, 08:41 PM
Qin Shi Huangdi Qin Shi Huangdi is offline
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Already pre-WW2 the process of mergers had begun that led those churches to now be part of the United Church of Christ, usually considered a liberal affiliation.

And I must agree from my experience working with people from the region that Upper New England is quite its own world as opposed to points south of the Mass. border. (I've mentioned in other threads that I know and have worked in the past with Vermont Governor Douglas, one of the Last Republicans Standing in NE. Quite a fine example of a sane conservative, back when he was State Treasurer he once got nominated by BOTH parties. I wonder how would that play in Boston.) I do feel like there's some validity in what was mentioned, that a lack of easily definable Us-vs-Them lines until very recently meant the more antagonic version of conservatism dominating the GOP post-Nixon lost traction (and never mind the faction wanting to turn it into the Jesus Party).
Yet in 1984 Reagan carried Massachusetts yet not Minnesota in his landslide. Also if northern New England is rather centrist by your count why hasn't it gone Republican since New Hampshire in 2000.
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Old 09-26-2009, 08:53 PM
Mr. Moto Mr. Moto is offline
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Yet in 1984 Reagan carried Massachusetts yet not Minnesota in his landslide. Also if northern New England is rather centrist by your count why hasn't it gone Republican since New Hampshire in 2000.
1984 was an electoral anomaly. The only reason Minnesota went for Mondale is because of the favorite son vote, and even with that he won it by 0.18%. Reagan wiped the floor with Mondale without having to campaign very much at all.

Had he made an effort, he could have pulled off a fifty state rout.
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Old 09-27-2009, 12:34 AM
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1984 was an electoral anomaly. The only reason Minnesota went for Mondale is because of the favorite son vote, and even with that he won it by 0.18%. Reagan wiped the floor with Mondale without having to campaign very much at all.

Had he made an effort, he could have pulled off a fifty state rout.
Yeah...Fritz was...well, lousy. He didn't inspire ANYONE. His pick of Ferraro was such a blatantly cynical publicity stunt that nobody bought it. And the man actually said, on television, that he was going to raise taxes!

I was only 13 but I remember thinking that I wasn't at all surprised at the electoral results...
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Old 09-27-2009, 12:46 AM
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It's also a good rule, if you're trying to disassociate yourself from the Carter years, don't nominate his vice president.
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Old 09-27-2009, 09:09 AM
MichaelQReilly MichaelQReilly is offline
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Groups of people are not the same thing as regions. Just because small groups can advocate things that later became widespread doesn't mean they were widespread at the time.

And it's hard to push today's connotations of liberal and conservative into the 19th century. Abolitionists also tended to believe in other isms like prohibition. Is that liberal or conservative thinking? Were the Transcendentalists profoundly liberal or profoundly conservative?

And if you're going to cite liberal movements, why not note the region's puritan heritage and behavior? Banned in Boston was once a catch phrase because censorship of books and entertainment was noted there.

I'd keep the 19th century out of this discussion. It doesn't play by our rules.
Which is why I said:

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by the standards of the day
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Old 09-27-2009, 10:03 AM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is offline
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Sorry, even by the standards of the day, it's hard to argue that New England as a whole was any more liberal than other areas. For example, Philadelphia and New York, especially the latter, were widely considered to be more open and welcome and less oppressive than Boston. Upstate New York was as much a hotbed of anti-Abolitionist sentiment and did more since it was the route of the Underground Railroad. Post-war, the Midwest grew the Progressive, Populist, and Farmer-Labor parties. There are any number of examples.
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Old 09-27-2009, 11:20 AM
JRDelirious JRDelirious is online now
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Yet in 1984 Reagan carried Massachusetts yet not Minnesota in his landslide. Also if northern New England is rather centrist by your count why hasn't it gone Republican since New Hampshire in 2000.
Funny, Maine has kept electing two Republican Senators, Vermont has this Republican governor since 03 who is now retiring unbeaten, New Hampshire had GOP members of Congress until '06. The Presidential election is not the only measure.
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Old 09-27-2009, 08:47 PM
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...New England is almost entirely urbanized today, one continuous mass of cities and suburbs that extend forever.
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You mean southern New England. Northern New England and parts of western Mass. are mostly rural and semi-rural.
No, not all of southern New England either. The only truly urbanized areas in southern New England are the major cities and their immediate surroundings (e.g. Hartford, Providence, etc.) and the suburbs and exurbs of Boston and New York City.

I'm originally from Houston, Texas, and lived all over the country growing up, because my father was in the Army. I always had this idea that the Northeast and New England were completely urbanized.

I now live in eastern Connecticut. The area I live in is far more rural than just about any place I've ever lived. I live in a town of about 10,000 people with just one grocery store. On the other hand, I'm just 30 minutes from the city of Hartford (where I work). I often am bemused by the fact that if you replaced Hartford with Houston, my home would be well within city limits. Instead, my home is surrounded by forest. Indeed, Connecticut today is more forested today than it has been since the first European settlers first landed here.

Eastern Connecticut is not unique. Similar rural conditions exist in northwestern Connecticut, western Rhode Island, and especially western Massachusetts. Then you've got areas of Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine that are complete wilderness. These areas are so very unlike southwestern Connecticut (near New York City), that it is truly a different world.

I remember the first time I passed through Putnam, Connecticut (in the northeastern corner of the state). I saw 20-year guys in the McDonald's drive-thru with hunting lights and gun racks on their pick-up trucks with the pimped-out chrome exhaust pipes. It could have been rural Texas or rural Tennessee (where I've also lived). I remember thinking to myself, "Wow, even Connecticut has hicks."

Last edited by robby; 09-27-2009 at 08:48 PM..
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Old 09-27-2009, 09:03 PM
Uncertain Uncertain is offline
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At any large gathering you'll have at least one Jewish person, Catholic, and Protestant.
Yes, especially in bars. And they usually arrive together.
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Old 09-27-2009, 09:10 PM
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If you had an Irish name you already appalled to the Irish base, so the rest of your positions were to attract everyone else.
The Irish were rather self-hating, I take it?
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Old 09-27-2009, 11:57 PM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is offline
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I know Connecticut pretty well and it's very much like Upstate New York. Farms exist alongside suburbs and Appalachia starts literally less than an hour's drive south of Rochester. And I mean Appalachia in terms both of the start of the same mountainous upheaval and the social/cultural attitudes.

And all of Upstate shares the same characteristic: the cities are staunchly, even monolithically Democrat, and Republican territory starts at the cities' edges.

So why do I say that both areas are so urbanized that they are among the most liberal areas of the country? Mostly because of their size. You can find locations that aren't part of the newspaper coverage or television and cable viewing area of a major city but you have to look for them. Regular suburban housing infiltrates all the former farm areas and new developments go up regularly. Housing prices dictate that commuters looking for affordable housing live farther and farther away from the main city centers. The Hudson corridor heading up from New York City is threatening to hit the Albany metro area going south and the city's tendrils keep pushing farther into Connecticut.

Modern urbanization does not mean city centers. It's a pattern of density, accessibility, and influence. Most of New England does share these characteristics, even for places that are numerically small individually. Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut rank 2, 3, and 4 in density among states, ahead of New York. Even New Hampshire is 20th. And then there's the Peoples' Republic of Vermont. (Which, I should note, voted for a Democrat eactly once in its history before Bill Clinton but has never failed to since.)

As a region, New England is the most heavily urbanized area of the country. Individual areas elsewhere may be denser and individual areas within may be rural but I repeat that I'm talking only of the area as a region and with regional characteristics.

Last edited by Exapno Mapcase; 09-27-2009 at 11:59 PM..
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  #32  
Old 09-28-2009, 12:29 AM
elfkin477 elfkin477 is offline
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Religion in New England is different than it is in the South. It's pretty much a private thing
Even "private" is in adequate word for it. People do not normally talk about religion outside of church. This is why, when people start threads about their coworkers being at odds with them over religious matter, it's met by bafflement by some of us who have grown up here. I rarely talk to close friends about religion. No one ever talks about religion at work. We certainly don't have that person who talks your ear off about this church or that at work, never mind badger you about attending, because it's simply not done.

I disagree with the OP that New England is "so liberal" anyway, though. Massachusetts certainly is, and those people moving to southern NH have changed election outcomes to a degree, certainly, but there is still a lot of conservatism here. Unlike religion, politics is discussed at work and I'm far from alone in being a conservative.
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Old 09-28-2009, 05:11 AM
The Stafford Cripps The Stafford Cripps is offline
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Even "private" is in adequate word for it. People do not normally talk about religion outside of church. This is why, when people start threads about their coworkers being at odds with them over religious matter, it's met by bafflement by some of us who have grown up here. I rarely talk to close friends about religion. No one ever talks about religion at work. We certainly don't have that person who talks your ear off about this church or that at work, never mind badger you about attending, because it's simply not done.

I disagree with the OP that New England is "so liberal" anyway, though. Massachusetts certainly is, and those people moving to southern NH have changed election outcomes to a degree, certainly, but there is still a lot of conservatism here. Unlike religion, politics is discussed at work and I'm far from alone in being a conservative.
I would say that all this applies throughout Europe, in both left and right leaning areas (including the bafflement at people getting angry about religion at work in parts of America).
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Old 09-28-2009, 06:22 AM
badger197 badger197 is offline
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Boston sports teams were among the last to fully integrate and their athletes complained that they weren't accepted for the whole of the 20th century.
Most of Exapno Mapcase's post was on target, but this generalization about Boston sports teams is not generally accurate.

Yes, the Red Sox did not integrate until 1959 when they promoted Pumpsie Green . The Sox were notoriously the last major league baseball team to field African-American players, but other Boston sports team were among the leaders in integration.

Boston Celtics: In 1950, the Celtics drafted Chuck Cooper, the first African-American chosen in an NBA draft, and he made his debut in the 1950-51 season the first season in which African-Americans appeared in the NBA. In the 1960s, the Celtics were the first team with an all-black starting five, and, in 1966, Bill Russell was the first black coach in the NBA.

Boston Braves: The Braves became the 5th major league team to hire an African-American, when Sam Jethroe cracked the lineup in April of 1950. The Braves signed several talented black players like Hank Aaron before their move to Milwaukee in 1954.

Boston Bruins: The Bruins hired the first African-American player in NHL history in 1958 when Willie O'Ree took the ice.

Boston Patriots: The Patriots did not exist until 1959, but their first draft pick as a franchise was African-American running back Ron Burton from Northwestern.

Certainly, many black athletes had unpleasant experiences in Boston (and many other cities) in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, but it is unfair to generalize Tom Yawkey's stubborn resistance to integration to the city's other teams.
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Old 09-28-2009, 06:29 PM
ratatoskK ratatoskK is offline
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Don't forget that Unitarianism has roots in New England, LONG before WWII.

Also, my husband likes to observe that in Vermont, the rural conservative farmers get along very well with the hippies that moved there in the 60s, because they share a live-and-let-live attitude; i.e. I'll do what I want and you can do what you want. So it's an interesting mixture of conservatism and liberalism.
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Old 09-28-2009, 08:06 PM
Shagnasty Shagnasty is offline
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Also, my husband likes to observe that in Vermont, the rural conservative farmers get along very well with the hippies that moved there in the 60s, because they share a live-and-let-live attitude; i.e. I'll do what I want and you can do what you want. So it's an interesting mixture of conservatism and liberalism.
That is true and that is the form of Vermont libertarianism that some of us referenced above. New Hampshire has even more strong libertarian leanings but there are differences from those of Vermont. I don't know what to say about Maine. If you take Maine as a whole, it can be quaint, very beautiful, odd, spooky, eccentric, charming or any combination of those those especially in the very long winter. There is a reason Stephen King chooses to live there. It has its own thing going as well.
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  #37  
Old 09-28-2009, 08:23 PM
Telemark Telemark is online now
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Also, my husband likes to observe that in Vermont, the rural conservative farmers get along very well with the hippies that moved there in the 60s, because they share a live-and-let-live attitude; i.e. I'll do what I want and you can do what you want. So it's an interesting mixture of conservatism and liberalism.
This was mostly true up until the gay marriage debate spawned the "Take Vermont Back" movement, which has hopefully died out.
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Old 09-28-2009, 09:08 PM
Qin Shi Huangdi Qin Shi Huangdi is offline
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That is true and that is the form of Vermont libertarianism that some of us referenced above. New Hampshire has even more strong libertarian leanings but there are differences from those of Vermont. I don't know what to say about Maine. If you take Maine as a whole, it can be quaint, very beautiful, odd, spooky, eccentric, charming or any combination of those those especially in the very long winter. There is a reason Stephen King chooses to live there. It has its own thing going as well.
Speaking of horror writers does HP Lovecraft in any way embody the spirit of Rhode Island?
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  #39  
Old 09-29-2009, 07:48 AM
ratatoskK ratatoskK is offline
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New Hampshire has even more strong libertarian leanings but there are differences from those of Vermont.
Yes, NH long had a noticeable contingent of John Birchers -- people with signs on their lawns saying "U.S. out of the U.N." (And that was way before Reagan made this his theme.) I haven't been up in those parts recently so I don't know whether they're dying out.
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Old 09-29-2009, 07:54 AM
DanBlather DanBlather is offline
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Most of Exapno Mapcase's post was on target, but this generalization about Boston sports teams is not generally accurate...
Excellent post. I grew up in Boston and most of that was news to me.
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Old 09-29-2009, 11:02 PM
Fair Rarity Fair Rarity is offline
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I remember the first time I passed through Putnam, Connecticut (in the northeastern corner of the state). I saw 20-year guys in the McDonald's drive-thru with hunting lights and gun racks on their pick-up trucks with the pimped-out chrome exhaust pipes. It could have been rural Texas or rural Tennessee (where I've also lived). I remember thinking to myself, "Wow, even Connecticut has hicks."
I've spent a lot of time in the rural South and rural North and I like to joke that the only difference between the rednecks is the accents.
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Old 09-30-2009, 10:46 AM
robby robby is online now
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I've spent a lot of time in the rural South and rural North and I like to joke that the only difference between the rednecks is the accents.
Thanks--"rednecks" is a better term for what I was trying to describe than "hicks."

Also, there's also the racing of the trucks up and down Main Street - preferably without mufflers.
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Old 09-30-2009, 11:13 AM
Captain Amazing Captain Amazing is online now
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Thanks--"rednecks" is a better term for what I was trying to describe than "hicks."
The term in Connecticut is "swamp Yankee"
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  #44  
Old 10-01-2009, 08:43 PM
john b. john b. is offline
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A hundred years ago New England was progressive, true, but it was also a center of business especially manufacturing interests and socially conservative in the sense of wanting public morality ie banning prostitution and abortion which was as an aside an important tenent of Progressivism. When and why did the Boston Brahmins, Boston Irish, and rustic Vermont farmers all become so liberal?

Curtis, I believe you're wrong about New England being progressive a hundred years ago. Back in the early twentieth century, pre-Depression era, New England was predominantly Republican and conservative, very pro-business, anti-labor union, it was in many respects the heart, soil and brain of the national Republican party. The first GOP floor leader of the Senate was Henry Cabot Lodge (the elder) of Massachusetts, the Speaker Of the House for many years was Frederick Huntington Gillette, also from Massachusetts. The quintessential Republican president of that period was yet another Bay Stater, Calvin Coolidge. As to the Democratic party, it was somewhat less conservative but not by that much.

A lot of things began to change after 1930, and not just due to the Depression. The percentage of Roman Catholics in Massachusetts and other New England states, especially the three southern ones, was rising dramatically, due in part to immigration and also to Catholics tending to have larger families, while the Protestant population wasn't increasing at nearly so rapid a pace. This is significant inasmuch as the Republican party in New England was notoriously xenophobic, and many of its members as well as leaders were anti-Catholic, thus it was clear to many Catholics in the region, starting with the Irish, that they had to become Decmorats if they wanted to gain political power; and so they did. This had less to do with ideology than with clan vs. clan, thus regionally speaking the Republicans were the party of the Protestants, the Democrats the party of the Catholics,

When FDR was elected president and it became clear, as the years went by, that the Dems were here to stay, locally and nationally, the New England Republicans realized that they had to adjust to the changing times or perish, thus they began to gradually drift leftward, with only New Hampshire, of the six New England states, remaining staunchly conservative. Then there were was the international front. The Yankee Republicans tended to be Anglophile, thus extremely anti-German, pro-interventionist 1939-41, while the local Irish-dominated Democratic party was more in the isolationist camp (this was true nationally as well, with Americans of Irish and German descent heavily isolationist in those years, and not because they sympathized with the Nazis but because the Irish were anti-Brit on principle, wanted to see England lose, the German-Americans afraid of a backlash of the sort they suffered through during the First World War,--but I digress). It was around this time that such prominent local Yankees as Sumner Welles and Joseph Grew joined the Roosevelt administration. For the first time since before the Civil War it was "alright" for an upper crust Yankee to work for a Democratic president. The times were a-changing.

By the postwar era the once Protestant dominated Yankee GOP was opening up to "ethnics" (Catholics, Jews), and continuing its leftward drift; and the Democratic party wasn't so loathed by the Yankees as it once was; while prejudice based on religion (and eventually race) in general was on the decline. This trend tended to favor the by now liberal dominated Democratic party in New England, and as the years went by the boundaries began to blur. The election of John F. Kennedy, a preppie, a Harvard man and an internationalist (Yankee credentials), also an irish Catholic, led to an meltdown of the regional Republican party, against which there was great hostility among many groups, especially the Irish, for their having been excluded from the "party of the elites" for so long. Then came to 1964 presidential election, as ultra-conservative GOP candidate Barry Goldwater went down to defeat in a landslide for Kennedy's successor, Lyndon Johnson, in the last presidential election in which "coat-tails" mattered ("coat-tails" is a term that meant that the local elections followed the national ones, thus if the Dems carried a state by a landslide in a presidential election, they'd win big locally as well, and vice versa). Alas, for the Yankee GOP, Johnson carried all six New England states by huge margins, and in Southern New England especially, this was the death knell for the local Republican parties so far as their ever gaining a workable majority in the state legislatures was concerned. Add to this the burgeoning counter-culture of the late 1960s, plus the Civil Rights and anti-war movements, both popular among white Yankee Republicans, and the local drift to the left was neat complete. Add to this the fact New England as a region has become over the last forty years a place people are as inclined to move to as from (reversing the old pattern), places like Massachusetts and Vermont have a large percentage of their populations comprised of out-of-staters, not to mention people from other parts of the world. The end result is that New England as a whole has become very liberal and cosmopolitan, and in many places the demographics have changed dramatically, as the local accent is dying out, as are regional expressions, turns of phrase, attitudes. All these reasons add up as the answer to why New England is so different from the way it used to be.
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  #45  
Old 10-02-2009, 10:58 AM
gigi gigi is offline
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One theory I have about Northern New England is that no one has to be worried about minorities, inner city crime, or true poverty. It exists in isolated pockets but New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont are among the whitest states in the U.S. and fairly wealthy. If it wasn't so damned cold 6 months of the year, those states would be about the most perfect places on earth. They play arm-chair quarterback for the rest of the nation because they simply can't comprehend any problems that are going on anywhere else in the country.
But there are definitely areas with little opportunity, like where mills have shut down. I think there is real poverty there, but you're right it's a different kind from in the city.
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  #46  
Old 10-05-2009, 01:00 PM
john b. john b. is offline
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I agree Gigi: Vermont has become rather well to do, New Hampshire is far more middle class and less conservative than it used to be, however there's still a good deal of poverty in Maine; and yes, mill towns, if they haven't been "rehabbed", tend to be poor, even in southern New England. The changes in the region are of a patchwork variety, enormous in some places, non-existent in others.

Last edited by john b.; 10-05-2009 at 01:01 PM..
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  #47  
Old 10-05-2009, 07:03 PM
Susanann Susanann is offline
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A hundred years ago New England was progressive, true, but it was also a center of business especially manufacturing interests and socially conservative in the sense of wanting public morality ie banning prostitution and abortion which was as an aside an important tenent of Progressivism. When and why did the Boston Brahmins, Boston Irish, and rustic Vermont farmers all become so liberal?

I think its funny that about 200 years ago the people in Massachusetts, and New England started a war, resisting gun control, when General Gage marched from Boston and tried to confiscate arms and ammunition, and now today, the people of Massachusetts can not even carry an empty flintlock in a reenactment parade in Lexington and Concord.

Flip / flop.
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