The following short essay was cobbled together from a couple of Noel Maurer's posts to the soc.history.what-if newsgroup, (notably this one and this one) explaining why he redrew the state boundaries of the United States of Mexico for the For All Nails Project. Johnny Pez 09:14, February 5, 2011 (UTC)
IOW's Arizona is called Pimería, and is split between Mexico del Norte and Durango. The reason? In Sobel's Arizona, in 1820, the population was literally zero. A rotten borough to end all rotten boroughs.
The altered rump Durango consists of the old interior provinces of Sonora y Sinaloa and Nueva Vizcaya: OTL's Sonora, Sinaloa, Chihuahua, Durango, and Arizona south of the Colorado River. It's going to have an Anglo majority (at least of voters) in short order.
South of Jefferson is a state that was originally going to be called New Santander, consisting of Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamualipas. I suppose they COULD have been lumped into Durango as some sort of mega-state --- none of the northern states had a particularly large population --- but that felt wrong. New Santander was climatically an extension of south Texas, possessed good cotton lands, and was pacified. Durango (except Sinaloa) was desert or pasture land, with little good cotton land except for a region near its border with New Santander, and was very very very concerned with fighting Indians in the 1820s. And both are gonna have Anglo majorities (if temporary ones) right quick. Sounds to me like Jackson would split 'em. Finally, since "Arizona" means "dry", which described the climate of "New Santander", I decided to call the state that, thereby preserving the name, if not the area it covered.
Together with California, that gives four soon-to-be Anglo states and one which will vote Anglo (Mexico del Norte), without having to resort to ridiculous gerrymandering.
This is something that anyone in Mexico in 1820 would have realized --- Sobel's borders could only have occured to someone with a profound ignorance of the country. (For example, he apparently thought that northern OTL Mexico was heavily populated in 1819.)
He could then have had a rump "Chiapas," (although that name would not have occured to anyone) include ... uh ... pretty much all of Mexico's settled land area. But Sobel has his USM work and gain elite Hispano support. To make that plausible, you need to split mega-Chiapas (and Mexico's wealthy Hispano elites) into at least three states. Which, note, still gives you that soon-to-be Anglo Senate majority. It's divide-and-conquer:
- Yucatán received statehood because Jackson seems to be a smart fella, and wanted to head off separatism on the peninsula. The ladinos in Yucatan like slavery and need federal protection from the Maya. Very logical state.
- Guadalajara includes OTL's Nayarit, Jalisco, Michoacán, Zacatecas, Aguascalientes, Guanajuato, Querétaro, and San Luis Potosí. Basically it's the old Intendancy of Guadalajara. The Guadalajarans suffered a lot from the Hidalgo revolt: the Hispanos there are running scared of the Mexicanos, and the place has lots of open land for new settlers, which the Hispanos there will want to dilute the "mexicano" majority ... something a mega-Chiapan elite in Mexico City would not want. Also a logical state.
- Chiapas is modern Chiapas, Guerrero, Oaxaca, Tabasco, and a chunk of southern Veracruz. Jackson split it off because the idea of a (potentially rebellious) México Central extending from coast-to-coast made him nervous. Plus it had a population of about six eligible voters. (Okay, I exaggerate, but he figured he could count on Hispano votes from the state in the Senate.) The OTL state of Chiapas ought to be part of Guatemala, since, technically, is was under the Audiencia of Guatemala. As in OTL, though, we can say that Guatemala was originally part of Mexico after independence, then broke away, leaving Chiapas behind.
Whereas Sobel's blatant gerrymandering is going to be seen as a pure power play. The Mexicans weren't stupid, even if Sobel likes to write them as such. It also leaves Hispano-Mexican nationalism as a potent force.
So Jackson could insure "Anglo" control of the Presidency (which is powerful enough to insure that the only real role of the Senate is to select the President), gain Hispano support, look like a real democrat rather than an imperialist in drag, stick to something resembling the historical reality, weaken or destroy any sense of pan-Hispano Mexican nationalism, and make historical sense without Sobel's, excuse the term, stupid state boundaries.
Finally, the new boundaries require almost no changes to Sobel. Basically, it changes the history of the Rocky Mountain War (the Arizona border, but then again, it is Sobel's Arizona that is zero probability), some mentions of Tampico, and that's about it.
Those, then, are the reasons for the retconned states, but the actual reason for the retconning is simply that there was zero probability that Sobel's borders would have occured to someone in 1819, so they needed to be altered. We merely did so in the minimum manner that, IOHO, made the USM's subsequent political history the most plausible.
-- Noel Maurer, November 12, 2001 - November 25, 2002.