USA - did the Founding Fathers consider other names for the new country?

Who exactly named America?

And were any other names considered before “America” was chosen?

“America” was chosen long before the founding fathers of the US were alive. The earliest known reference to the name is in maps made by Martin Waldseemüller in 1507. The name is a Latinized version of Amerigo Vespucci.

The name was arrived at mostly by default and is more of a descriptive term rather than an explicitly chosen name for the country as a whole. The United States wasn’t meant to be set up like other centrally run countries. The Founding Father viewed it as a collection of states bound together by a loose federal structure under the Constitution. It was the states themselves that got traditional names in the style of most other countries. The states were viewed as the unit of government most equivalent to other countries similar the way that the countries in the European Union retain their names today and just have a label that indicates that they are unified.

As a matter of fact, The United States wasn’t commonly used by the Founding Fathers or anyone else until much later. The more common term was These United States until after the Civil War. It is a subtle but important distinction. The original term emphasized that the country was just a collection of semi-independent states while the newer term implies it is a single collective unit.

Part of your question, as above, is answered here: Why was America named after Amerigo Vespucci? As you will see, the “America” part of the name was chosen a couple hundred years before the Founding Fathers were born.

As to why they decided on “The United States of America,” as opposed to just “America” or “The Republic of America” … good question. It seems to me back then everybody was obsessed with identifying themselves as “John Smith of Virginia” or “Deidrich Knickerbocker of New York” ;). While they wanted a unified nation, they also wanted to keep that cultural identity that, to be fair, they had been born with for the previous two or three generations.


ETA: Fooey! Ninja’ed!


Not that you’re wrong; “these” was indeed commonly used (and still is occasionally.) But it was always just a rhetorical device.

Little anecdote I remember from a general U. S. History textbook (don’t know how true this is):

When the newly-independent United States sent its first ambassador (John Adams?) to England and he arrived there to present his credentials, the receiving party (whoever that was) sniffed: “And how many countries are you representing? One or thirteen?”

Also remember that the first 14 years were not under the Constitution, but the Articles of Confederation - even less of a central authority. They only drafted the Constitution when it became clear to all but the most fanatic that the Articles were too weak an authority to be workable.

Let’s look at first use.

First they were colonies, then they wanted to be free and independent states.

They were united about this.

They were of America.

Is it only an u.l. that names like Columbia or Washington were considered? I’ve heard that bandied about, but is it just unfounded rumor?

Strike the word “Constitution” and substitute “Articles of Confederation.” The Federal structure of the Constitution is anything but loose.

Related question. What did Britain call “the colonies”. Did they have a name picked out like they did for Canada?

And I believe that before the Civil War, “The United States” took a plural verb; after the war, singular. “The United States are . . .” became “The United States is . . . .”

I’m not following you. The colonies alread had names. Why would the British have picked out new names for them? They were not proposing to make any changes; they were seeking to maintain the status quo.

The 1765 Stamp Act refers to the colonies as “the British colonies in America.” For example:

King Georgeo III appears to have used a similar phrase in his 1775 Proclamation of Rebellion:

On the other hand, in 1766, William Pitt, in his speech defending the colonies before Parliament, simply referred to the colonies as “America.”