Midwestern United States
"Midwest" redirects here.
For other uses, see Midwest (disambiguation).
|Midwestern United States
|Largest metro MSA|
It occupies the northern central part of the United States.
It was officially named the North Central Region by the Census Bureau until 1984.
The Census Bureau's definition consists of 12 states in the north central United States: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.
A 2012 report from the United States Census put the population of the Midwest at 65,377,684.
The Midwest is divided by the Census Bureau into two divisions.
Chicago is the most populous city in the American Midwest and the third most populous in the entire country.
Other large Midwestern cities include (in order by population): Columbus, Indianapolis, Detroit, Milwaukee, Kansas City, Omaha, Minneapolis, Wichita, Cleveland, St. , PaulSt. , LouisCincinnati, Lincoln, Madison and Des Moines.
Chicago and its suburbs, called Chicagoland, form the largest metropolitan area with 10 million people.
The term West was applied to the region in the early years of the country.
In the early 19th century, anything west of Appalachia was considered the West; over time that moved to west of the Mississippi.
The Northwest Territory (1787) was one of the earliest territories of the United States, stretching northwest from the Ohio River to northern Minnesota and the upper-Mississippi.
Because the Northwest Territory lay between the East Coast and the then-far-West, the states carved out of it were called the Northwest.
The states of the "old Northwest" are now called the "East North Central States" by the United States Census Bureau, with the "Great Lakes region" being also a popular term.
The states just west of the Mississippi River and the Great Plains states are called the "West North Central States" by the Census Bureau.
Some entities in the Midwest are still referred to as "Northwest" for historical reasons (for example, Northwestern University in Illinois).
Another term sometimes applied to the same general region is the heartland.
Other designations for the region, such as the Northwest or Old Northwest and Mid-America have fallen out of use.
Economically the region is balanced between heavy industry and agriculture (large sections of this land area make up the United States' Corn Belt), with finance and services such as medicine and education becoming increasingly important.
Its central location makes it a transportation crossroads for river boats, railroads, autos, trucks, and airplanes.
Politically, the region swings back and forth between the parties, and thus is heavily contested and often decisive in elections.
Earlier, the rhetorical question, "Will it play in Peoria?
", had become a stock phrase using Peoria, Illinois to signal whether something would appeal to mainstream America.
History of the term Midwest
The first recorded use of the term Midwestern to refer to a region of the central U.S. occurred in 1886, Midwest appeared in 1894, and Midwesterner in 1916.
One of the earliest late nineteenth century uses of Midwest was in reference to Kansas and Nebraska to indicate that they were the civilized areas of the west.
The term Midwestern has been in use since the 1880s to refer to portions of the central United States.
A variant term, Middle West, has been used since the 19th century and remains relatively common.
"Plains states" redirects here.
For the geographic region, see Great Plains.
The states of the Old Northwest are also known as Great Lakes states and are east-north central in the United States.
The Ohio River runs along the southeastern section while the Mississippi River runs north to south near the center.
Many of the Louisiana Purchase states in the west-north central United States, are also known as the Great Plains states, where the Missouri River is a major waterway joining with the Mississippi.
The Midwest Region is defined by the U.S. as these 12 states: Census Bureau
- Illinois: Old Northwest, Mississippi River (Missouri River joins near the state border), Ohio River, and Great Lakes state
- Indiana: Old Northwest, Ohio River, and Great Lakes state
- Iowa: Louisiana Purchase, Mississippi River, and Missouri River state
- Kansas: Louisiana Purchase, Great Plains, and Missouri River state
- Michigan: Old Northwest and Great Lakes state
- Minnesota: Old Northwest, Louisiana Purchase, Mississippi River, part of Red River Colony before 1818, Great Lakes state
- Missouri: Louisiana Purchase, Mississippi River (Ohio River joins near the state border), Missouri River, and border state
- Nebraska: Louisiana Purchase, Great Plains, and Missouri River state
- North Dakota: Louisiana Purchase, part of Red River Colony before 1818, Great Plains, and Missouri River state
- Ohio: Old Northwest (Historic Connecticut Western Reserve), Ohio River, and Great Lakes state. The southeastern part of the state is part of northern Appalachia
- South Dakota: Louisiana Purchase, Great Plains, and Missouri River state
- Wisconsin: Old Northwest, Mississippi River, and Great Lakes state
Various organizations define the Midwest with slightly different groups of states.
For example, the Council of State Governments, an organization for communication and coordination among state governments, includes in its Midwest regional office eleven states from the above list, omitting Missouri, which is in the CSG South region.
Main articles: Geography of Illinois, Geography of Indiana, Geography of Iowa, Geography of Kansas, Geography of Michigan, Geography of Minnesota, Geography of Missouri, Geography of Nebraska, Geography of North Dakota, Geography of Ohio, Geography of South Dakota, and Geography of Wisconsin
The vast central area of the U.S., into Canada, is a landscape of low, flat to rolling terrain in the Interior Plains.
Most of its eastern two-thirds form the Interior Lowlands.
The Lowlands gradually rise westward, from a line passing through eastern Kansas, up to over 5,000 feet (1,500 m) in the unit known as the Great Plains.
Most of the Great Plains area is now farmed.
While these states are for the most part relatively flat, consisting either of plains or of rolling and small hills, there is a measure of geographical variation.
In particular, the following areas exhibit a high degree of topographical variety: the eastern Midwest near the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains; the Great Lakes Basin; the heavily glaciated uplands of the North Shore of Lake Superior in Minnesota, part of the ruggedly volcanic Canadian Shield; the Ozark Mountains of southern Missouri; and the deeply eroded Driftless Area of southwest Wisconsin, southeast Minnesota, northeast Iowa, and northwest Illinois.
Proceeding westward, the Appalachian Plateau topography gradually gives way to gently rolling hills and then (in central Ohio) to flat lands converted principally to farms and urban areas.
This is the beginning of the vast Interior Plains of North America.
As a result, prairies cover most of the Great Plains states.
Iowa and much of Illinois lie within an area called the prairie peninsula, an eastward extension of prairies that borders conifer and mixed forests to the north, and hardwood deciduous forests to the east and south.
Geographers subdivide the Interior Plains into the Interior Lowlands and the Great Plains on the basis of elevation.
The Lowlands are mostly below 1,500 feet (460 m) above sea level whereas the Great Plains to the west are higher, rising in Colorado to around 5,000 feet (1,500 m).
Missouri and Arkansas have regions of Lowlands elevations, contrasting with their Ozark region (within the Interior Highlands).
Eastern Ohio's hills are an extension of the Appalachian Plateau.
The modern Mississippi River system has developed during the Pleistocene Epoch of the Cenozoic.
Rainfall decreases from east to west, resulting in different types of prairies, with the tallgrass prairie in the wetter eastern region, mixed-grass prairie in the central Great Plains, and shortgrass prairie towards the rain shadow of the Rockies.
Much of the coniferous forests of the Upper Midwest were clear-cut in the late 19th century, and mixed hardwood forests have become a major component of the new woodlands since then.
Main article: Mississippian culture
Archaeological evidence indicates that Mississippian culture traits probably began in the St. area and spread northwest along the Mississippi and Illinois rivers and entered the state along the Louis, MissouriKankakee River system.
Mississippian peoples in the Midwest were mostly farmers who followed the rich, flat floodplains of Midwestern rivers.
Maize, or corn, was the primary crop of Mississippian farmers.
They gathered a wide variety of seeds, nuts, and berries, and fished and hunted for fowl to supplement their diets.
With such an intensive form of agriculture, this culture supported large populations.
The Mississippi period was characterized by a mound-building culture.
The Mississippians suffered a tremendous population decline about 1400, coinciding with the global climate change of the Little Ice Age.
Their culture effectively ended before 1492.
Great Lakes Native Americans
Most numerous were the Hurons and Chippewas.
Fighting and battle were often launched between tribes, with the losers forced to flee.
Most are of the Algonquian language family.
American Indians in this area did not develop a written form of language.
In the 16th century, American Indians used projectiles and tools of stone, bone, and wood to hunt and farm.
They made canoes for fishing.
Most of them lived in oval or conical wigwams that could be easily moved away.
Various tribes had different ways of living.
The Ojibwas were primarily hunters and fishing was also important in the Ojibwas economy.
Other tribes such as Sac, Fox, and Miami, both hunted and farmed.
They were oriented toward the open prairies where they engaged in communal hunts for buffalo (bison).
In the northern forests, the Ottawas and Potawatomis separated into small family groups for hunting.
The Winnebagos and Menominees used both hunting methods interchangeably and built up widespread trade networks extending as far west as the Rockies, north to the Great Lakes, south to the Gulf of Mexico, and east to the Atlantic Ocean.
The Hurons reckoned descent through the female line, while the others favored the patrilineal method.
All tribes were governed under chiefdoms or complex chiefdoms.
For example, Hurons were divided into matrilineal clans, each represented by a chief in the town council, where they met with a town chief on civic matters.
But Chippewa people's social and political life was simpler than that of settled tribes.
The religious beliefs varied among tribes.
Hurons believed in Yoscaha, a supernatural being who lived in the sky and was believed to have created the world and the Huron people.
At death, Hurons thought the soul left the body to live in a village in the sky.
Chippewas were a deeply religious people who believed in the Great Spirit.
They worshiped the Great Spirit through all their seasonal activities, and viewed religion as a private matter: Each person's relation with his personal guardian spirit was part of his thinking every day of life.
Ottawa and Potawatomi people had very similar religious beliefs to those of the Chippewas.
In the Ohio River Valley, the dominant food supply was not hunting but agriculture.
There were orchards and fields of crops that were maintained by indigenous women.
Corn was their most important crop.
Great Plains Indians
Main article: Plains Indians
The Plains Indians are the indigenous peoples who live on the plains and rolling hills of the Great Plains of North America.
Their colorful equestrian culture and famous conflicts with settlers and the US Army have made the Plains Indians archetypical in literature and art for American Indians everywhere.
Plains Indians are usually divided into two broad classifications, with some degree of overlap.
The first group were fully nomadic, following the vast herds of buffalo.
Some tribes occasionally engaged in agriculture, growing tobacco and corn primarily.
These included the Blackfoot, Arapaho, Assiniboine, Cheyenne, Comanche, Crow, Gros Ventre, Kiowa, Lakota, Lipan, Plains Apache (or Kiowa Apache), Plains Cree, Plains Ojibwe, Sarsi, Shoshone, Stoney, and Tonkawa.
The second group of Plains Indians (sometimes referred to as Prairie Indians) were the semi-sedentary tribes who, in addition to hunting buffalo, lived in villages and raised crops.
The nomadic tribes of the Great Plains survived on hunting, some of their major hunts centered on deer and buffalo.
Some tribes are described as part of the 'Buffalo Culture' (sometimes called, for the American Bison).
Bison flesh, hide, and bones from Bison hunting provided the chief source of raw materials for items that Plains Indians made, including food, cups, decorations, crafting tools, knives, and clothing.
The tribes followed the bison's seasonal grazing and migration.
The Plains Indians lived in teepees because they were easily disassembled and allowed the nomadic life of following game.
When Spanish horses were obtained, the Plains tribes rapidly integrated them into their daily lives.
By the early 18th century, many tribes had fully adopted a horse culture.
The use of horses by the Plains Indians made hunting (and warfare) much easier.
The area of the Great Sioux Nation spread throughout the South and Midwest, up into the areas of Minnesota and stretching out west into the Rocky Mountains.
At the same time, they occupied the heart of prime buffalo range, and also an excellent region for furs they could sell to French and American traders for goods such as guns.
The Sioux (Dakota) became the most powerful of the Plains tribes and the greatest threat to American expansion.
The Sioux comprise three major divisions based on Siouan dialect and subculture:
- Isáŋyathi or Isáŋathi ("Knife"): residing in the extreme east of the Dakotas, Minnesota and northern Iowa, and are often referred to as the Santee or Eastern Dakota.
- Iháŋktȟuŋwaŋ and Iháŋktȟuŋwaŋna ("Village-at-the-end" and "little village-at-the-end"): residing in the Minnesota River area, they are considered the middle Sioux, and are often referred to as the Yankton and the Yanktonai, or, collectively, as the Wičhíyena (endonym) or the Western Dakota (and have been erroneously classified as Nakota).
- Thítȟuŋwaŋ or Teton (uncertain): the westernmost Sioux, known for their hunting and warrior culture, are often referred to as the Lakota.
Today, the Sioux maintain many separate tribal governments scattered across several reservations, communities, and reserves in the Dakotas, Nebraska, Minnesota, and Montana in the United States, as well as Manitoba and southern Saskatchewan in Canada.
European exploration and early settlement
The Middle Ground theory
The theory of the middle ground was introduced in Richard White's seminal work: The Middle Ground: Indians, Empires, and Republics in the Great Lakes Region, 1650–1815 originally published in 1991.
White defines the middle ground like so:
White specifically designates "the lands bordering the rivers flowing into the northern Great Lakes and the lands south of the lakes to the Ohio" as the location of the middle ground.
This includes the modern Midwestern states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan as well as parts of Canada.
The middle ground was formed on the foundations of mutual accommodation and common meanings established between the French and the Indians that then transformed and degraded as both were steadily lost in the transition of imperial power from the French to the British and, finally, to the United States.
Major aspects of the middle ground include blended culture, the fur trade, Native alliances with both the French and British, conflicts and treaties with the United States both during the American Revolution and after, and its ultimate clearing/erasure throughout the nineteenth century.
Main article: New France
European settlement of the area began in the 17th century following French exploration of the region and became known as New France.
Marquette and Jolliet
They traveled through Michigan's upper peninsula to the northern tip of Lake Michigan.
On canoes, they crossed the massive lake and landed at present-day Green Bay, Wisconsin.
They entered the Mississippi River on June 17, 1673.
Marquette and Jolliet soon realized that the Mississippi could not possibly be the Northwest Passage because it flowed south.
Nevertheless, the journey continued.
They recorded much of the wildlife they encountered.
They turned around at the junction of the Mississippi River and Arkansas River and headed back.
Marquette and Jolliet were the first to map the northern portion of the Mississippi River.
They confirmed that it was easy to travel from the St. Lawrence River through the Great Lakes all the way to the Gulf of Mexico by water, that the native peoples who lived along the route were generally friendly, and that the natural resources of the lands in between were extraordinary.
New France officials led by LaSalle followed up and erected a 4,000-mile network of fur trading posts.
Main article: North American fur trade
The fur trade was an integral part of early European and Indian relations.
It was the foundation upon which their interactions were built and was a system that would evolve over time.
Goods often traded included guns, clothing, blankets, strouds, cloth, tobacco, silver, and alcohol.
Main article: Louisiana (New France)
The French and Indian exchange of goods was called an exchange of gifts rather than a trade.
These gifts held greater meaning to the relationship between the two than a simple economic exchange because the trade itself was inseparable from the social relations it fostered and the alliance it created.
In the meshed French and Algonquian system of trade, the Algonquian familial metaphor of a father and his children shaped the political relationship between the French and the Natives in this region.
The French, regarded as the metaphoric father, were expected to provide for the needs of the Algonquians and, in return, the Algonquians, the metaphoric children, would be obligated to assist and obey them.
Traders coming into Indian villages facilitated this system of symbolic exchange to establish or maintain alliances and friendships.
Marriage also became an important aspect of the trade in both the Ohio River valley and the French pays d'en haut with the temporary closing of the French fur trade from 1690 to 1716 and beyond.
French fur traders were forced to abandon most posts and those remaining in the region became illegal traders who potentially sought these marriages to secure their safety.
Another benefit for French traders marrying Indian women was that the Indian women were in charge of the processing of the pelts necessary to the fur trade.
Women were integral to the fur trade and their contributions were lauded, so much so that the absence of the involvement of an Indian Woman was once cited as the cause for a trader's failure.
When the French fur trade re-opened in 1716 upon the discovery that their overstock of pelts had been ruined, legal French traders continued to marry Indian women and remain in their villages.
With the growing influence of women in the fur trade also came the increasing demand of cloth which very quickly grew to be the most desired trade good.
Main article: Indian Reserve (1763)
Great Britain entered the Ohio country as a serious competitor in the fur trade around the 1690s.
The British almost consistently offered the Indians better goods and better rates than the French and the Indians were able to play that to their advantage, throwing the French and the British into competition with each other to their own benefit.
The Indian demand for certain kinds of cloth in particular fueled this competition.
This, however, changed following the Seven Years' War with Britain's victory over France and the cession of New France to Great Britain.
Britain tried to enforce imperialism over the Indians of the pays d'en haut and force the relationship between them into the roles of conqueror and subject and eliminated the practice of gift giving.
This, in combination with an underwhelming trade with too much whiskey, too high of prices, and not enough of anything else led to unrest among the Indians that was exacerbated by the decision to significantly cut down on the trade of rum, a product they had been pushing in the trade for years.
This all would culminate in Pontiac's Rebellion during 1763.
Following the rebellion, the British, having failed to reduce the natives to subjects, were forced to compromise and loosely re-created a trade system that was an echo of the French one.
Main article: American frontier § New Nation
While French control ended in 1763 after their defeat by Britain, most of the several hundred French settlers in small villages along the Mississippi River and its tributaries remained, and were not disturbed by the new British government.
Napoleon had lost interest in re-establishing a French colonial empire in North America following the Haitian Revolution and together with the fact that France could not effectively defend Louisiana from Great Britain, he sold the territory to the United States in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803.
Meanwhile, the British maintained forts and trading posts in U.S. territory, not giving them up until 1796 by the Jay Treaty.
American settlement began either via routes over the Appalachian Mountains or through the waterways of the Great Lakes.
Large numbers also came north from Kentucky into southern Ohio, Indiana and Illinois.
The region's fertile soil produced corn and vegetables; most farmers were self-sufficient.
They cut trees and claimed the land, then sold it to newcomers and then moved further west to repeat the process.
Main article: Northwest Territory
Illegal settlers, called squatters, had been encroaching on the lands now the Midwest for years before the founding of the United States of America, pushing further and further down the Ohio River during the 1760s and 1770s and inciting conflict and competition with the Native Americans whose lands they intruded on every step of the way.
These squatters were characterized by British General, Thomas Gage, as "too Numerous, too Lawless, and Licentious ever to be restrained," and regarded them as "almost out of Reach of Law and government; Neither the Endeavors of Government, or Fear of Indians has kept them properly within Bounds."
The British had a long-standing goal of building a "neutral", but pro-British Native American buffer state in the American Midwest.
When the American Revolution concluded and the formation of the United States of America began, the American government sought to evict these illegal settlers from areas that were now federally owned public lands.
In 1785, soldiers led by General Josiah Harmar were sent into the Ohio country to destroy the crops and burn down the homes of any squatters they found living there.
Eventually, after the formation of the Constitutional United States, the president became authorized to use military force to attack squatters and drive them off the land through the 1810s.
Squatters began to petition Congress to stop attacking them and to recognize them as actual settlers using a variety of different arguments over the first half of the nineteenth century with varying degrees of success.
Congress’ regarded "actual settlers" as those who gained title to land, settled on it, and then improved upon it by building a house, clearing the ground, and planting crops – the key point being that they had first gained the title to that land.
Richard Young, a senator from Illinois and supporter of squatters, sought to expand the definition of an actual settler to include those who were not farmers (e.g. doctors, blacksmiths, and merchants) and proposed that they also be allowed to cheaply obtain land from the government.
A number of means facilitated the legal settlement of the territories in the Midwest: land speculation, federal public land auctions, bounty land grants in lieu of pay to military veterans, and, later, preemption rights for squatters.
Ultimately, as they shed the image of "lawless banditti" and fashioned themselves into pioneers, squatters were increasingly able to purchase the lands on which they had settled for the minimum price thanks to various preemption acts and laws passed throughout the 1810s-1840s.
Native American wars
Main article: American Indian Wars
Near modern-day Fort Recovery, his force advanced to the location of Native American settlements near the headwaters of the Wabash River, but on November 4 they were routed in battle by a tribal confederation led by Miami Chief Little Turtle and Shawnee chief Blue Jacket.
More than 600 soldiers and scores of women and children were killed in the battle, which has since borne the name "St. ". Clair's Defeat
It remains the greatest defeat of a U.S. Army by Native Americans.
The British demanded a neutral Native American state at the peace conference that ended the War of 1812, but failed to gain any of it because they had lost control of the region in the Battle of Lake Erie and the Battle of the Thames in 1813, where Tecumseh was killed.
The British then abandoned the Native Americans south of the lakes.
The Native Americans were major losers in the War of 1812.
Apart from the short Black Hawk War of 1832, the days of Native American warfare east of the Mississippi River had ended.
Lewis and Clark
Main article: Lewis and Clark Expedition
The Lewis and Clark Expedition established relations with more than two dozen indigenous nations west of the Missouri River.
The Expedition returned east to St. in the spring of 1806. Louis
Yankees and ethnocultural politics
Main article: Indiana Territory
Yankee settlers from New England started arriving in Ohio before 1800, and spread throughout the northern half of the Midwest.
Most of them started as farmers, but later the larger proportion moved to towns and cities as entrepreneurs, businessmen, and urban professionals.
Since its beginnings in the 1830s, Chicago has grown to dominate the Midwestern metropolis landscape for over a century.
Historian John Bunker has examined the worldview of the Yankee settlers in the Midwest:
Midwestern politics pitted Yankees against the German Catholics and Lutherans, who were often led by the Irish Catholics.
These large groups, Buenker argues:
Development of transportation
Three waterways have been important to the development of the Midwest.
Development of the region was halted until 1795 by Spain's control of the southern part of the Mississippi and its refusal to allow the shipment of American crops down the river and into the Atlantic Ocean.
The second waterway is the network of routes within the Great Lakes.
In 1848, The Illinois and Michigan Canal breached the continental divide spanning the Chicago Portage and linking the waters of the Great Lakes with those of the Mississippi Valley and the Gulf of Mexico.
Lakeport and river cities grew up to handle these new shipping routes.
The Saint Lawrence Seaway, completed in 1959, opened the Midwest to the Atlantic Ocean.
The third waterway, the Missouri River, extended water travel from the Mississippi almost to the Rocky Mountains.
In the 1870s and 1880s, the Mississippi River inspired two classic books—Life on the Mississippi and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn—written by native Missourian Samuel Clemens, who used the pseudonym Mark Twain.
His stories became staples of Midwestern lore.
Twain's hometown of Hannibal, Missouri, is a tourist attraction offering a glimpse into the Midwest of his time.
Inland canals in Ohio and Indiana constituted another important waterway, which connected with Great Lakes and Ohio River traffic.
Railroads and the automobile
During the mid-19th century, the region got its first railroads, and the railroad junction in Chicago became the world's largest.
During the century, Chicago became the nation's railroad center.
By 1910, over 20 railroads operated passenger service out of six different downtown terminals.
In the period from 1890 to 1930, many Midwestern cities were connected by electric interurban railroads, similar to streetcars.
The Midwest had more interurbans than any other region.
In 1916, Ohio led all states with 2,798 miles (4,503 km), Indiana followed with 1,825 miles (2,937 km).
These two states alone had almost a third of the country's interurban trackage.
The nation's largest interurban junction was in Indianapolis.
During the 1900s (decade), the city's 38 percent growth in population was attributed largely to the interurban.
Competition with automobiles and buses undermined the interurban and other railroad passenger business.
By 1900, Detroit was the world center of the auto industry, and soon practically every city within 200 miles was producing auto parts that fed into its giant factories.
In 1903, Henry Ford founded the Ford Motor Company.
Ford's manufacturing—and those of automotive pioneers William C. Durant, the Dodge brothers, Packard, and Walter Chrysler—established Detroit's status in the early 20th century as the world's automotive capital.
The proliferation of businesses created a synergy that also encouraged truck manufacturers such as Rapid and Grabowsky.
The growth of the auto industry was reflected by changes in businesses throughout the Midwest and nation, with the development of garages to service vehicles and gas stations, as well as factories for parts and tires.
American Civil War
Main article: American Civil War
Slavery prohibition and the Underground Railroad
The Northwest Ordinance region, comprising the heart of the Midwest, was the first large region of the United States that prohibited slavery (the Northeastern United States emancipated slaves in the 1830s).
The Midwest, particularly Ohio, provided the primary routes for the Underground Railroad, whereby Midwesterners assisted slaves to freedom from their crossing of the Ohio River through their departure on Lake Erie to Canada.
Created in the early 19th century, the Underground Railroad was at its height between 1850 and 1860.
One estimate suggests that by 1850, 100,000 slaves had escaped via the Underground Railroad.
The Underground Railroad consisted of meeting points, secret routes, transportation, and safe houses and assistance provided by abolitionist sympathizers.
Individuals were often organized in small, independent groups; this helped to maintain secrecy because individuals knew some connecting "stations" along the route, but knew few details of their immediate area.
Escaped slaves would move north along the route from one way station to the next.
Although the fugitives sometimes traveled on boat or train, they usually traveled on foot or by wagon.
The region was shaped by the relative absence of slavery (except for Missouri), pioneer settlement, education in one-room free public schools, democratic notions brought by American Revolutionary War veterans, Protestant faiths and experimentation, and agricultural wealth transported on the Ohio River riverboats, flatboats, canal boats, and railroads.
Main article: Bleeding Kansas
The first violent conflicts leading up to the Civil War occurred between two neighboring Midwestern states, Kansas and Missouri, involving anti-slavery Free-Staters and pro-slavery "Border Ruffian" elements, that took place in the Kansas Territory and the western frontier towns of Missouri roughly between 1854 and 1858.
At the heart of the conflict was the question of whether Kansas would enter the Union as a free state or slave state.
Setting in motion the events later known as "Bleeding Kansas" was the Kansas-Nebraska Act.
The Act created the territories of Kansas and Nebraska, opened new lands that would help settlement in them, repealed the Missouri Compromise, and allowed settlers in those territories to determine through popular sovereignty whether to allow slavery within their boundaries.
It was hoped the Act would ease relations between the North and the South, because the South could expand slavery to new territories, but the North still had the right to abolish slavery in its states.
Instead, opponents denounced the law as a concession to the slave power of the South.
The new Republican Party, born in the Midwest (Ripon, Wisconsin, 1854) and created in opposition to the Act, aimed to stop the expansion of slavery, and soon emerged as the dominant force throughout the North.
An ostensibly democratic idea, popular sovereignty stated that the inhabitants of each territory or state should decide whether it would be a free or slave state; however, this resulted in immigration en masse to Kansas by activists from both sides.
At one point, Kansas had two separate governments, each with its own constitution, although only one was federally recognized.
The calm in Kansas was shattered in May 1856 by two events that are often regarded as the opening shots of the Civil War.
The so-called "Border War" lasted for another four months, from May through October, between armed bands of pro‐slavery and Free Soil men.
The skirmishes endured until a new governor, John W. Geary, managed to prevail upon the Missourians to return home in late 1856.
A fragile peace followed, but violent outbreaks continued intermittently for several more years.
National reaction to the events in Kansas demonstrated how deeply divided the country had become.
The Border Ruffians were widely applauded in the South, even though their actions had cost the lives of numerous people.
In the North, the murders committed by Brown and his followers were ignored by most, and lauded by a few.
The civil conflict in Kansas was a product of the political fight over slavery.
Federal troops were not used to decide a political question, but they were used by successive territorial governors to pacify the territory so that the political question of slavery in Kansas could finally be decided by peaceful, legal, and political means.
Southern leaders feared that Lincoln would stop the expansion of slavery and put it on a course toward extinction.
All of the Midwestern states but one, Missouri, banned slavery.
Though most battles were fought in the South, skirmishes between Kansas and Missouri continued until culmination with the Lawrence Massacre on August 21, 1863.
Also known as Quantrill's Raid, the massacre was a rebel guerrilla attack by Quantrill's Raiders, led by William Clarke Quantrill, on pro-Union Lawrence, Kansas.
Quantrill's band of 448 Missouri guerrillas raided and plundered Lawrence, killing more than 150 and burning all the business buildings and most of the dwellings.
Pursued by federal troops, the band escaped to Missouri.
Lawrence was targeted because of the town's long-time support of abolition and its reputation as a center for Redlegs and Jayhawkers, which were free-state militia and vigilante groups known for attacking and families in Missouri's pro-slavery western counties.
Immigration and industrialization
By the time of the American Civil War, European immigrants bypassed the East Coast of the United States to settle directly in the interior: German immigrants to Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Kansas, and Missouri; Irish immigrants to port cities on the Great Lakes, like Cleveland and Chicago; Danes, Czechs, Swedes, and Norwegians to Iowa, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and the Dakotas; and Finns to Upper Michigan and northern/central Minnesota and Wisconsin.
The U.S. was predominantly rural at the time of the Civil War.
The Midwest was no exception, dotted with small farms all across the region.
The late 19th century saw industrialization, immigration, and urbanization that fed the Industrial Revolution, and the heart of industrial domination and innovation was in the Great Lakes states of the Midwest, which only began its slow decline by the late 20th century.
A flourishing economy brought residents from rural communities and immigrants from abroad.
Manufacturing and retail and finance sectors became dominant, influencing the American economy.
In addition to manufacturing, printing, publishing, and food processing also play major roles in the Midwest's largest economy.
Chicago was the base of commercial operations for industrialists John Crerar, John Whitfield Bunn, Richard Teller Crane, Marshall Field, John Farwell, Julius Rosenwald, and many other commercial visionaries who laid the foundation for Midwestern and global industry.
At one point during the late 19th century, Cleveland was home to more than 50% of the world's millionaires, many living on the famous Millionaire's Row on Euclid Avenue.
In the 20th century, African American migration from the Southern United States into the Midwestern states changed Chicago, St. Louis, Cleveland, Milwaukee, Kansas City, Cincinnati, Detroit, Omaha, Minneapolis, and many other cities in the Midwest, as factories and schools enticed families by the thousands to new opportunities.
The Gateway Arch monument in St. Louis, clad in stainless steel and built in the form of a flattened catenary arch, is the tallest man-made monument in the United States, and the world's tallest arch.
Built as a monument to the westward expansion of the United States, it is the centerpiece of the Gateway Arch National Park, which was known as the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial until 2018, and has become an internationally famous symbol of St. Louis and the Midwest.
Main article: German American
|German Immigration to the United States (by decade 1820–2004)|
As the Midwest opened up to settlement via waterways and rail in the mid-1800s, Germans began to settle there in large numbers.
The largest flow of German immigration to America occurred between 1820 and World War I, during which time nearly six million Germans immigrated to the United States.
From 1840 to 1880, they were the largest group of immigrants.
In many other cities of the Midwest, such as Fort Wayne, Indiana, German Americans were at least 30 percent of the population.
A favorite destination was Milwaukee, known as "the German Athens".
Radical Germans trained in politics in the old country dominated the city's Socialists.
While half of German immigrants settled in cities, the other half established farms in the Midwest.
From Ohio to the Plains states, a heavy presence persists in rural areas into the 21st century.
Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, German Americans showed a high interest in becoming farmers, and keeping their children and grandchildren on the land.
Western railroads, with large land grants available to attract farmers, set up agencies in Hamburg and other German cities, promising cheap transportation, and sales of farmland on easy terms.
For example, the Santa Fe Railroad hired its own commissioner for immigration, and sold over 300,000 acres (1,200 km) to German-speaking farmers.
Farming and agriculture
Agriculture is one of the biggest drivers of local economies in the Midwest, accounting for billions of dollars worth of exports and thousands of jobs.
The area consists of some of the richest farming land in the world.
The region's fertile soil combined with the steel plow has made it possible for farmers to produce abundant harvests of grain and cereal crops, including corn, wheat, soybeans, oats, and barley, to become known today as the nation's "breadbasket".
Former Vice President Henry A. Wallace, a pioneer of hybrid seeds, declared in 1956 that the Corn Belt developed the "most productive agricultural civilization the world has ever seen".
Today, the U.S. produces 40 percent of the world crop.
The very dense soil of the Midwest plagued the first settlers who were using wooden plows, which were more suitable for loose forest soil.
On the prairie, the plows bounced around and the soil stuck to them.
This problem was solved in 1837 by an Illinois blacksmith named John Deere who developed a steel moldboard plow that was stronger and cut the roots, making the fertile soils of the prairie ready for farming.
Farms spread from the colonies westward along with the settlers.
In cooler regions, wheat was often the crop of choice when lands were newly settled, leading to a "wheat frontier" that moved westward over the course of years.
Also very common in the antebellum Midwest was farming corn while raising hogs, complementing each other especially since it was difficult to get grain to market before the canals and railroads.
The introduction and broad adoption of scientific agriculture since the mid-19th century contributed to economic growth in the United States.
This development was facilitated by the Morrill Act and the Hatch Act of 1887 which established in each state a land-grant university (with a mission to teach and study agriculture) and a federally funded system of agricultural experiment stations and cooperative extension networks which place extension agents in each state.
Iowa State University became the nation's first designated land-grant institution when the Iowa Legislature accepted the provisions of the 1862 Morrill Act on September 11, 1862, making Iowa the first state in the nation to do so.
Soybeans were not widely cultivated in the United States until the early 1930s, and by 1942, the U.S. became the world's largest soybean producer, partially because of World War II and the "need for domestic sources of fats, oils, and meal".
Between 1930 and 1942, the United States' share of world soybean production skyrocketed from 3 percent to 46.5 percent, largely as a result of increase in the Midwest, and by 1969, it had risen to 76 percent.
Iowa and Illinois rank first and second in the nation in soybean production.
In 2012, Iowa produced 14.5 percent, and Illinois produced 13.3 percent of the nation's soybeans.
The tallgrass prairie has been converted into one of the most intensive crop producing areas in North America.
Less than one tenth of one percent (<0.09%) of the original landcover of the tallgrass prairie biome remains.
States formerly with landcover in native tallgrass prairie such as Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Nebraska, and Missouri have become valued for their highly productive soils and are included in the Corn Belt.
As an example of this land use intensity, Illinois and Iowa rank 49th and 50th out of 50 states in total uncultivated land remaining.
The Corn Belt is a region of the Midwest where corn has, since the 1850s, been the predominant crop, replacing the native tall grasses.
The "Corn Belt" region is defined typically to include Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, southern Michigan, western Ohio, eastern Nebraska, eastern Kansas, southern Minnesota, and parts of Missouri.
As of 2008, the top four corn-producing states were Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, and Minnesota, together accounting for more than half of the corn grown in the United States.
The Corn Belt also sometimes is defined to include parts of South Dakota, North Dakota, Wisconsin, and Kentucky.
The region is characterized by relatively level land and deep, fertile soils, high in organic matter.
Iowa produces the largest corn crop of any state.
In 2012, Iowa farmers produced 18.3 percent of the nation's corn, while Illinois produced 15.3 percent.
In 2011, there were 13.7 million harvested acres of corn for grain, producing 2.36 billion bushels, which yielded 172.0 bu/acre, with US$14.5 billion of corn value of production.
The U.S. is ranked third in production volume of wheat, with almost 58 million tons produced in the 2012–2013 growing season, behind only China and India (the combined production of all European Union nations is larger than China) The U.S. ranks first in crop export volume; almost 50 percent of total wheat produced is exported.
The U.S. defines eight official classes of wheat: Department of Agriculturedurum wheat, hard red spring wheat, hard red winter wheat, soft red winter wheat, hard white wheat, soft white wheat, unclassed wheat, and mixed wheat.
Winter wheat accounts for 70 to 80 percent of total production in the U.S., with the largest amounts produced in Kansas (10.8 million tons) and North Dakota (9.8 million tons).
Of the total wheat produced in the country, 50 percent is exported, valued at US$9 billion.
Chicago is the largest economic and financial center of the Midwest, and has the third largest gross metropolitan product in the United States—approximately $532 billion, according to 2010 estimates, after the urban agglomerations of New York City and Los Angeles.
Chicago was named the fourth most important business center in the world in the MasterCard Worldwide Centers of Commerce Index.
The 2017 Global Financial Centres Index ranked Chicago as the fifth most competitive city in the country and twenty-fourth in the world.
As a world financial center it is home to major financial and futures exchanges, including the Chicago Stock Exchange, the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (the "Merc"), which is owned, along with the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) by Chicago's CME Group.
The CME Group, in addition, owns the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX), the Commodities Exchange Inc. (COMEX), and the Dow Jones Indexes., as well as headquarters of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago (the Seventh District of the Federal Reserve).
Outside of Chicago, many other Midwest cities are host to financial centers as well.
Federal Reserve Bank districts are also headquartered at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, and Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
Insurance Companies such as Anthem in Indianapolis, Nationwide Insurance in Columbus, American Family Insurance in Madison, Wisconsin, Berkshire Hathaway in Omaha, State Farm Insurance in Bloomington, Illinois, Reinsurance Group of America in Chesterfield, Missouri, Cincinnati Financial Corporation of Cincinnati and Progressive Insurance and Medical Mutual of Ohio in Cleveland also spread throughout the Midwest.
Navigable terrain, waterways, and ports spurred an unprecedented construction of transportation infrastructure throughout the region.
The region is a global leader in advanced manufacturing and research and development, with significant innovations in both production processes and business organization.
John D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil set precedents for centralized pricing, uniform distribution, and controlled product standards through Standard Oil, which started as a consolidated refinery in Cleveland.
The largest, most comprehensive monopoly in the world, United States Steel, consolidated steel production throughout the region.
Many of the world's largest employers began in the Great Lakes region.
Advantages of accessible waterways, highly developed transportation infrastructure, finance, and a prosperous market base makes the region the global leader in automobile production and a global business location.
Henry Ford's movable assembly line and integrated production set the model and standard for major car manufactures.
The Detroit area emerged as the world's automotive center, with facilities throughout the region.
Akron, Ohio became the global leader in rubber production, driven by the demand for tires.
Over 200 million tons of cargo are shipped annually through the Great Lakes.
Like the rest of the United States, the Midwest is predominantly Christian.
The majority of Midwesterners are Protestants, with rates from 48 percent in Illinois to 63 percent in Iowa.
However, the Roman Catholic Church is the largest single denomination, varying between 18 percent and 34 percent of the state populations.
Southern Baptists compose about 15 percent of Missouri's population, but much smaller percentages in other Midwestern states.
35 percent of Midwesterners attend religious services every week, and 69 percent attend at least a few times a year.
People with no religious affiliation make up 22 percent of the Midwest's population.
Many Midwestern universities, both public and private, are members of the Association of American Universities (AAU), a bi-national organization of leading public and private research universities devoted to maintaining a strong system of academic research and education.
Of the 62 members from the U.S. and Canada, 16 are located in the Midwest, including private schools Northwestern University, Case Western Reserve University, the University of Chicago, and Washington University in St. Louis.
Member public institutions of the AAU include the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, Indiana University Bloomington, the University of Iowa, Iowa State University, the University of Kansas, the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, the University of Minnesota, the University of Missouri, the Ohio State University, Purdue University, and the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
Other notable major research-intensive public universities include the University of Cincinnati, the University of Illinois at Chicago, Western Michigan University, Kansas State University, and the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.
Numerous state university systems have established regional campuses statewide.
The numerous state teachers colleges were upgraded into state universities after 1945.
Other notable private institutions include the University of Notre Dame, John Carroll University, Saint Louis University, Loyola University Chicago, DePaul University, Creighton University, Drake University, Marquette University, University of Dayton, and Xavier University.
Local boosters, usually with a church affiliation, created numerous colleges in the mid-19th century.
In terms of national rankings, the most prominent today include Carleton College, Denison University, DePauw University, Earlham College, Grinnell College, Hamline University, Kalamazoo College, Kenyon College, Knox College, Macalester College, Lawrence University, Oberlin College, St. , Olaf CollegeMount Union University, Wheaton College, Miami University, and The College of Wooster.
The heavy German immigration played a major role in establishing musical traditions, especially choral and orchestral music.
Czech and German traditions combined to sponsor the polka.
The Southern Diaspora of the 20th century saw more than twenty million Southerners move throughout the country, many of whom moved into major Midwestern industrial cities such as Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, and St. Louis.
Along with them, they brought jazz to the Midwest, as well as blues, bluegrass, and rock and roll, with major contributions to jazz, funk, and R&B, and even new subgenres such as the Motown Sound and techno from Detroit or house music from Chicago.
In the 1920s, South Side Chicago was the base for Jelly Roll Morton (1890–1941).
Kansas City developed its own jazz style.
The electrified Chicago blues sound exemplifies the genre, as popularized by record labels Chess and Alligator and portrayed in such films as The Blues Brothers, Godfathers and Sons, and Adventures in Babysitting.
By the mid-1950s, rock and roll emerged as a defined musical style in the United States, deriving most directly from the rhythm and blues music of the 1940s, which itself developed from earlier blues, boogie woogie, jazz, and swing music, and was also influenced by gospel, country and western, and traditional folk music.
Freed's contribution in identifying rock as a new genre helped establish the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, located in Cleveland.
Notable soul and R&B musicians associated with Motown that had their origins in the area include Aretha Franklin, The Supremes, Mary Wells, Four Tops, The Jackson 5, Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, Stevie Wonder, The Marvelettes, The Temptations, and Martha and the Vandellas.
These artists achieved their greatest success in the 1960s and 1970s.
In the 1970s and 1980s, native Midwestern musicians such as John Mellencamp and Bob Seger found great success with a style of rock music that came to be known as heartland rock, which were characterized by lyrical themes that focused on and appealed to the Midwestern working class.
In the 1990s, the Chicago-based band The Smashing Pumpkins emerged, and went on to become one of the most successful alternative rock artists of the decade.
Also in the 1990s, the Midwest was at the center of the emerging Midwest emo movement, with bands like The Get Up Kids (Missouri), Cursive (Nebraska), and Cap'n Jazz (Illinois) blending earlier hard-core punk sounds with a more melodic indie rock sentiment.
This hybrid of styles came to be known as Midwest emo.
Eminem went on to become one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed rappers of all time.
Meanwhile, Kid Rock successfully mixed elements of rap, hard rock, heavy metal, country rock, and pop in forming his own unique sound.
Both artists are known for celebrating their Detroit roots.
House music producers such as Frankie Knuckles and Marshall Jefferson recorded early house music records at Chicago's Trax Records while in Detroit, techno pioneers Juan Atkins, Derrick May, and Kevin Saunderson created a sound that, while ignored mostly in America, became quite popular in Europe.
Numerous classical composers live and have lived in midwestern states, including Easley Blackwood, Kenneth Gaburo, Salvatore Martirano, and Ralph Shapey (Illinois); Glenn Miller and Meredith Willson (Iowa); Leslie Bassett, William Bolcom, Michael Daugherty, and David Gillingham (Michigan); Donald Erb (Ohio); Dominick Argento and Stephen Paulus (Minnesota).
Professional sports leagues such as the National Football League (NFL), Major League Baseball (MLB), National Basketball Association (NBA), Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA), National Hockey League (NHL), Major League Soccer (MLS), and National Women's Soccer League (NWSL), have team franchises in following Midwestern cities:
- Chicago: Bears (NFL), Cubs, White Sox (MLB), Bulls (NBA), Sky (WNBA), Blackhawks (NHL), Fire FC (MLS), Red Stars (NWSL)
- Cincinnati: Bengals (NFL), Reds (MLB), FC Cincinnati (MLS)
- Cleveland: Browns (NFL), Indians (MLB), Cavaliers (NBA)
- Columbus: Blue Jackets (NHL), Crew SC (MLS)
- Detroit: Lions (NFL), Tigers (MLB), Pistons (NBA), Red Wings (NHL)
- Green Bay: Packers (NFL)
- Indianapolis: Colts (NFL), Pacers (NBA), Fever (WNBA)
- Kansas City: Chiefs (NFL), Royals (MLB), Sporting (MLS)
- Milwaukee: Brewers (MLB), Bucks (NBA)
- Minneapolis–Saint Paul: Vikings (NFL), Twins (MLB), Timberwolves (NBA), Lynx (WNBA), Wild (NHL), United FC (MLS)
- St. Louis: Cardinals (MLB), Blues (NHL), City SC (MLS)
Successful teams include the St. (11 Louis CardinalsWorld Series titles), Cincinnati Reds (5 World Series titles), Chicago Bulls (6 NBA titles), the Detroit Pistons (3 NBA titles), the Minnesota Lynx (4 WNBA titles), the Green Bay Packers (4 Super Bowl titles, 13 total NFL championships), the Chicago Bears (1 Super Bowl title, 9 total NFL championships), the Cleveland Browns (4 AAFC championships, 4 NFL championships), the Detroit Red Wings (11 Stanley Cup titles), the Detroit Tigers (4 World Series titles), and the Chicago Blackhawks (6 Stanley Cup titles).
In NCAA college sports, the Big Ten Conference and the Big 12 Conference feature the largest concentration of top Midwestern Division I football and men's and women's basketball teams in the region, including the Illinois Fighting Illini, Indiana Hoosiers, Iowa Hawkeyes, Iowa State Cyclones, Kansas Jayhawks, Kansas State Wildcats, Michigan Wolverines, Michigan State Spartans, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Nebraska Cornhuskers, Northwestern Wildcats, Ohio State Buckeyes, Purdue Boilermakers, and the Wisconsin Badgers.
Other notable Midwestern college sports teams include the Akron Zips, Ball State Cardinals, Butler Bulldogs, Cincinnati Bearcats, Creighton Bluejays, Dayton Flyers, Indiana State Sycamores, Kent State Golden Flashes, Marquette Golden Eagles, Miami RedHawks, Milwaukee Panthers, Missouri Tigers, Missouri State Bears, Northern Illinois Huskies, North Dakota State Bison, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Ohio Bobcats, South Dakota State Jackrabbits, Toledo Rockets, Western Michigan Broncos, Wichita State Shockers, and Xavier Musketeers.
Of this second group of schools, Butler, Dayton, Indiana State, Missouri State, North Dakota State, and South Dakota State do not play top-level college football (all playing in the second-tier Division I FCS), and Creighton, Marquette, Milwaukee, Wichita State and Xavier do not sponsor football at all.
The Milwaukee Mile hosted its first automobile race in 1903, and is one of the oldest tracks in the world, though as of 2019 is presently inactive.
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway, opened in 1909, is a prestigious auto racing track which annually hosts the internationally famous Indianapolis 500-Mile Race (part of the IndyCar series), the Brickyard 400 (NASCAR), and the IndyCar Grand Prix (IndyCar series).
Other motorsport venues in the Midwest are Indianapolis Raceway Park (home of the NHRA U.S. Nationals, Michigan International Speedway, Chicagoland Speedway, Kansas Speedway, Gateway International Raceway, and the Iowa Speedway.
The rate of potentially preventable hospital discharges in the Midwestern United States fell from 2005 to 2011 for overall conditions, acute conditions, and chronic conditions.
Major metropolitan areas
|State||2017 Estimate||2010 Census||Change||Area||Density|
|Iowa||3,145,711||3,046,355||+3.26%||55,857.09 sq mi (144,669.2 km)||56/sq mi (22/km)|
|Kansas||2,913,123||2,853,118||+2.10%||81,758.65 sq mi (211,753.9 km)||36/sq mi (14/km)|
|Missouri||6,113,532||5,988,927||+2.08%||68,741.47 sq mi (178,039.6 km)||89/sq mi (34/km)|
|Nebraska||1,920,076||1,826,341||+5.13%||76,824.11 sq mi (198,973.5 km)||25/sq mi (10/km)|
|North Dakota||755,393||672,591||+12.31%||69,000.74 sq mi (178,711.1 km)||11/sq mi (4/km)|
|South Dakota||869,666||814,180||+6.81%||75,810.94 sq mi (196,349.4 km)||11/sq mi (4/km)|
|Plains||15,717,501||15,201,512||+3.39%||427,993.00 sq mi (1,108,496.8 km)||37/sq mi (14/km)|
|Illinois||12,802,023||12,830,632||−0.22%||55,518.89 sq mi (143,793.3 km)||231/sq mi (89/km)|
|Indiana||6,666,818||6,483,802||+2.82%||35,826.08 sq mi (92,789.1 km)||186/sq mi (72/km)|
|Michigan||9,962,311||9,883,640||+0.80%||56,538.86 sq mi (146,435.0 km)||176/sq mi (68/km)|
|Minnesota||5,576,606||5,303,925||+5.14%||79,626.68 sq mi (206,232.2 km)||70/sq mi (27/km)|
|Ohio||11,658,609||11,536,504||+1.06%||40,860.66 sq mi (105,828.6 km)||285/sq mi (110/km)|
|Wisconsin||5,795,483||5,686,986||+1.91%||54,157.76 sq mi (140,268.0 km)||107/sq mi (41/km)|
|Great Lakes||52,461,850||51,725,489||+1.42%||322,528.93 sq mi (835,346.1 km)||163/sq mi (63/km)|
|Total||68,179,351||66,927,001||+1.87%||750,521.93 sq mi (1,943,842.9 km)||91/sq mi (35/km)|
The Midwest has been an important region in national elections, with highly contested elections in closely divided states often deciding the national result.
In 1860–1920, both parties often selected either their president or vice president from the region.
One of the two major political parties in the United States, the Republican Party, originated in the Midwest in the 1850s; Ripon, Wisconsin had the first local meeting while Jackson, Michigan had the state county meeting of the new party.
Its membership included many Yankees who had settled the upper Midwest.
The party opposed the expansion of slavery and stressed the Protestant ideals of thrift, a hard work ethic, self-reliance, democratic decision making, and religious tolerance.
In the early 1890s, the wheat-growing regions were strongholds of the short-lived Populist movement in the Plains states.
Starting in the 1890s, the middle class urban Progressive movement became influential in the region (as it was in other regions), with Wisconsin a major center.
Under the La Follettes Wisconsin fought against the GOP bosses and for efficiency, modernization, and the use of experts to solve social, economic, and political problems.
Theodore Roosevelt's 1912 Progressive Party had the best showing in this region; carrying the states of Michigan, Minnesota, and South Dakota.
In 1924, La Follette, Sr.'s 1924 Progressive Party did well in the region, but only carried his home base of Wisconsin.
The Midwest—especially the areas west of Chicago—has always been a stronghold of isolationism, a belief that America should not involve itself in foreign entanglements.
- Bradley, Mark Philip, ed. "H-Diplo ROUNDTABLE XXI-51" (H-Diplo 2020)
- Brown, David S. Beyond the Frontier: The Midwestern Voice in American Historical Writing (2009)
- Good, David F. "American History through a Midwestern Lens". Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft 38.2 (2012): 435+
- Lauck, Jon K. The Lost Region: Toward a Revival of Midwestern History (University of Iowa Press; 2013) 166 pages; criticizes the neglect of the Midwest in contemporary historiography and argues for a revival of attention
- Lauck, Jon K. "Trump and The Midwest: The 2016 Presidential Election and The Avenues of Midwestern Historiography." Studies in Midwestern History 3.1 (2017): 1-24.
Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Midwestern United States.