Crossing Boundaries


Rather than trying to aggregate American life into as few regions as possible, we might instead multiply boundaries to embrace more of the complexity, even allowing boundaries to overlap and cross. I would like to try out such an argument in an apparently unlikely time and place: the Mason-Dixon line and the Civil War. I would think that American regional identity has never mattered more than in 1861 and than along this border.

This article is adapted from a talk presented at the American Historical Association’s 1999 conference by Edward L. Ayers, Hugh P. Kelly Professor in the Corcoran Department of History at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville.

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Copyright © 1999 The National Endowment for the Humanities. This article first appeared in Humanities 20:4 (July/August 1999).

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