At last, the Midwest is receiving recognition as the best portion of the nation. America's regional characteristics are remarkably durable, a diversity resistant to dissolution by the mobility of restless Americans, or by cultural homogenization driven by mass media. This especially pleases Midwest chauvinists, who have had to contend with curdled despisers from — Et tu, Brute? — the Midwest.

Thanks to the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 — the nation's finest act of statecraft prior to the Constitution — the region that would become the Midwest's 12 states, all west of the Alleghenies and north of the Ohio River (Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Michigan, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Kansas, Nebraska, the Dakotas) never, with the exception of Missouri, had slavery. Instead, these states had the crackling entrepreneurial energy that Alexis de Tocqueville, floating down the Ohio in Jacksonian America, saw to his right, in Ohio, but not, to his left, in slaveholding Kentucky.

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