We think of our country as a single, unitary nation. That wasn't always the case.
It may not strike us now as odd that we use "The United States" as a singular noun, but this wasn't always the way everyone spoke. Google N-gram data, which tracks words across Google Books, shows that in the mid-1800s, it was roughly as common to refer to the United States in the singular sense as it was to refer to the United States as a plural group of states that were united. It reveals a profound shift in how Americans think. In the late 19th century, Americans appear to have started thinking of the US as one big actor instead of many smaller ones.
A Princeton PhD, was a US diplomat for over 20 years, mostly in Eastern Europe, and was promoted to the Senior Foreign Service in 1997. For the Open World Leadership Center, he speaks with
its delegates from Europe/Eurasia on the topic, "E Pluribus Unum? What Keeps the United States United." Affiliated with Georgetown University for over ten years, he shares ideas with students about public diplomacy.
The papers of his deceased father -- poet and diplomat John L. Brown -- are stored at Georgetown University Special Collections at the Lauinger Library. They are manuscript materials valuable to scholars interested in post-WWII U.S.-European cultural relations.
This blog is dedicated to him, Dr. John L. Brown, a remarkable linguist/humanist who wrote in the Foreign Service Journal (1964) -- years before "soft power" was ever coined -- that "The CAO [Cultural Affairs Officer] soon comes to realize that his job is really a form of love-making and that making love is never really successful unless both partners are participating."