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Why Are There Two Dakotas and Two Carolinas?

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It’s possible you’ve heard of North and South Dakota. You may have also heard about North and South Carolina. If so, then you already know that these states are strong, independent honeys makin’ money.

But why did these states divide to become geographic variants of each other? Here are the answers.

North and South Carolina

Jean Leon Gerome Ferris' Capture of the Pirate, Blackbeard, 1718

The foundation and settlement of the Carolinas—originally dubbed the Carolana Colony—was a comedy of errors ... an extremely bloody and diseased comedy of errors.

Early French settlers arrived only to be immediately driven out by Native American tribes. There was open rebellion, corrupt officials, uncontrollable strains of malaria and smallpox, and a dirty lunatic who called himself the pirate Blackbeard (top) prowling up and down the Carolina ports tormenting landlubbers. (His ship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge, was recently discovered off the coast of North Carolina.) When it came to becoming a thriving new colony, Carolana was all thumbs.

In 1629, Sir Robert Heath claimed the Cape Fear territory under King Charles I of England. Heath made no attempts at colonizing the area (because, see above), and following the execution of King Charles I in 1649, Heath fled to France where he died. Heath’s heirs would eventually try to reassert their claim to the territory, but King Charles II ruled the claim invalid and passed the land off to an 8-person club of very rich white men, known as the Lords Proprietors. The Lords—helmed primarily by Lord Shaftesbury and an enigmatic assistant named John Locke—would retain control of the area from 1663 to 1729.

The Lords Club proved to be totally ineffectual. They fought constantly and were unable to make decisions that made sense for the enormous land. The governors they had appointed were nothing but a hilarious laundry list of disasters: "John Jenkins was deposed," "Thomas Miller was overthrown and jailed by ... 'armed rebels'," "Thomas Eastchurch was forbidden to enter the colony," and "Seth Sothel was accused ... of numerous crimes for which he was tried, convicted, and banished." The Proprietors themselves disagreed about everything from the church to dealing with the Tuscarora and Yamasee tribes (all-out war would eventually break out with both tribes).

In 1710, after nearly two years of the Carolina territory living virtually ungoverned, the Proprietors appointed Edward Hyde as the governor of North Carolina, rather than the government of Carolina. In 1729, North and South Carolina were officially recognized as separate royal colonies until the Revolutionary War.

Other than this horror show of a beginning and total inability of its early leaders to agree on anything, there does not seem to be any significant reason for the split.

North and South Dakota

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Unless you were a fur trapper or a trapped fur, it was unlikely that you were anywhere near the Dakota territory before the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Neither the bitter cold nor gruesome violence between settlers and Sioux did much to lure people to the area.

Not until the 1874 discovery of gold in the Black Hills—sacred land to the Sioux—did prospectors really begin settling the area, wherein the word “settling” means "cannibalizing the land and escalating hostilities with the Sioux." (Ironically, Dakota is a Sioux word meaning “friends” or “allies.”) Railroads quickly followed the gold rush; settlers poured into the Dakota prairie and the population surged. Until 1883, the capital of Dakota Territory had been located in southeastern Yankton. Northerners, growing quickly and in need of governance, refused to recognize the remote area as the state capital and declared their own: Bismarck. This caused enough tension to facilitate a split in the land, and rather than pull this car over until you two knock it off, I mean it, Congress indulged the young state and cut a line straight down the 46th parallel.

In 1889, under the Enabling Act, both North and South Dakota were admitted to the union, becoming the 39th and 40th states, respectively. South Dakotans—in addition to creating their own constitution—christened Pierre as their capital, selected for its proximity to the new geographical center of the state. The town of Yankton was unceremoniously dumped. (Rumor has it that if you chant "Yankton" three times while looking in the mirror on Halloween, it will appear extremely rejected and sad.)

Most historians agree that the real reason for Congress’s eagerness to accept the separate Dakotas was a Republican ploy to bolster numbers in Congress. Former Indiana Senator Benjamin Harrison, a Republican (and noted man with a beard), became president in 1889. Congress had been predominantly Democratic until Harrison took office, and the admission of the two Dakotas gifted the House with a Republican majority.

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Big Questions
What's the Difference Between Stuffing and Dressing?
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For carbohydrate consumers, nothing completes a Thanksgiving meal like stuffing—shovelfuls of bread, celery, mushrooms, and other ingredients that complement all of that turkey protein.

Some people don’t say “stuffing,” though. They say “dressing.” In these calamitous times, knowing how to properly refer to the giant glob of insulin-spiking bread seems necessary. So what's the difference?

Let’s dismiss one theory off the bat: Dressing and stuffing do not correlate with how the side dish is prepared. A turkey can be stuffed with dressing, and stuffing can be served in a casserole dish. Whether it’s ever seen the inside of a bird is irrelevant, and anyone who tells you otherwise is wrong and should be met with suspicion, if not outright derision.

The terms are actually separated due to regional dialects. “Dressing” seems to be the favored descriptor for southern states like Mississippi, Tennessee, South Carolina, and Georgia, while “stuffing” is preferred by Maine, New York, and other northern areas. (Some parts of Pennsylvania call it "filling," which is a bit too on the nose, but to each their own.)

If “stuffing” stemmed from the common practice of filling a turkey with carbs, why the division? According to The Huffington Post, it may have been because Southerners considered the word “stuffing” impolite, so never embraced it.

While you should experience no material difference in asking for stuffing or dressing, when visiting relatives it might be helpful to keep to their regionally-preferred word to avoid confusion. Enjoy stuffing yourselves.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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Big Questions
Why Do the Lions and Cowboys Always Play on Thanksgiving?
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Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

Because it's tradition! But how did this tradition begin?

Every year since 1934, the Detroit Lions have taken the field for a Thanksgiving game, no matter how bad their record has been. It all goes back to when the Lions were still a fairly young franchise. The team started in 1929 in Portsmouth, Ohio, as the Spartans. Portsmouth, while surely a lovely town, wasn't quite big enough to support a pro team in the young NFL. Detroit radio station owner George A. Richards bought the Spartans and moved the team to Detroit in 1934.

Although Richards's new squad was a solid team, they were playing second fiddle in Detroit to the Hank Greenberg-led Tigers, who had gone 101-53 to win the 1934 American League Pennant. In the early weeks of the 1934 season, the biggest crowd the Lions could draw for a game was a relatively paltry 15,000. Desperate for a marketing trick to get Detroit excited about its fledgling football franchise, Richards hit on the idea of playing a game on Thanksgiving. Since Richards's WJR was one of the bigger radio stations in the country, he had considerable clout with his network and convinced NBC to broadcast a Thanksgiving game on 94 stations nationwide.

The move worked brilliantly. The undefeated Chicago Bears rolled into town as defending NFL champions, and since the Lions had only one loss, the winner of the first Thanksgiving game would take the NFL's Western Division. The Lions not only sold out their 26,000-seat stadium, they also had to turn fans away at the gate. Even though the juggernaut Bears won that game, the tradition took hold, and the Lions have been playing on Thanksgiving ever since.

This year, the Lions host the Minnesota Vikings.

HOW 'BOUT THEM COWBOYS?


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The Cowboys, too, jumped on the opportunity to play on Thanksgiving as an extra little bump for their popularity. When the chance to take the field on Thanksgiving arose in 1966, it might not have been a huge benefit for the Cowboys. Sure, the Lions had filled their stadium for their Thanksgiving games, but that was no assurance that Texans would warm to holiday football so quickly.

Cowboys general manager Tex Schramm, though, was something of a marketing genius; among his other achievements was the creation of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.

Schramm saw the Thanksgiving Day game as a great way to get the team some national publicity even as it struggled under young head coach Tom Landry. Schramm signed the Cowboys up for the game even though the NFL was worried that the fans might just not show up—the league guaranteed the team a certain gate revenue in case nobody bought tickets. But the fans showed up in droves, and the team broke its attendance record as 80,259 crammed into the Cotton Bowl. The Cowboys beat the Cleveland Browns 26-14 that day, and a second Thanksgiving pigskin tradition caught hold. Since 1966, the Cowboys have missed having Thanksgiving games only twice.

Dallas will take on the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday.

WHAT'S WITH THE NIGHT GAME?


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In 2006, because 6-plus hours of holiday football was not sufficient, the NFL added a third game to the Thanksgiving lineup. This game is not assigned to a specific franchise—this year, the Washington Redskins will welcome the New York Giants.

Re-running this 2008 article a few days before the games is our Thanksgiving tradition.

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