Alternate Names for American States

American state names are pretty arbitrary historically, aside from attempts to name them after local Indian tribes, and even that is arbitrary given how low a percentage of the country's population is of Indian descent. Actually, the only one I can think of off hand that is definitely not arbitrary is Hawaii. Even there I guess Sandwich would be an alternative.
This is getting on the ball, but the vast majority of state names post-independence that weren't absorbed existing legal entities in some form (former colonies and/or provinces like Louisiana or New Mexico) were usually named after a physical feature that itself might be shared with an associated Amerindian tribe or at least a common Amerindian word for the area. Even the one major exception east of the Rocky Mountains - Indiana - at least clearly meant "Indian-Land" in Latin. Think about it: Michigan (lake), Tennessee (river), Ohio (river), Kentucky (common Iroquois name for the region), Alabama (river), Montana (mountains, derp), even Idaho was SUPPOSED to refer to mountains even if it was made up. Another subtle reason this came about was because America wanted to differentiate itself from Britain since it was (and still is in so many ways) pretty Anglo and place names were an obvious way to do that.

Yes, many times there were proposals to name a state after someone famous, but they never got through because of stronger civic and republican values of the time - also, I think a lot of people will forget many now-idolized figures still could have many detractors in their day as well that wouldn't just let their political opponent or bane be so honorably immortalized. Even Washington state was almost named "Takoma", after the mountain, before Congress finally gave in and gave ole' Big G a full state - because everyone at least agreed Washington of all Americans was pretty awesome. Heck, even then they had to get to the Pacific and were running out of state-sized areas to do this in as well. It was then or never.

As a resident of said state, I'm forever lamenting that Washington chose its current name over Columbia for the express purpose of avoiding confusion with the District of Columbia. They clearly thought that one through.........
Funny how that worked out, huh? At the time realizing "Columbia" was apparently a more common term for the American capital than "Washington" until the Washington City/D.C. merger became fully built up and synonymous with one another.
 
Always been intrigued by proposals for Texas to be several states - ideas?

Following the idea of geographic/native names @Umbric Man suggested: Rio Grande, Pecos (River), Limpia (Mountains - now Davis Mountains), early Colorado (River), Wichita (tribe), Brazos (River), Comanche (tribe), Jumano (tribe), Pueblo (tribe)
 
You could also rename Washington to Twality or Clackamas and Oregon to Yamhill or Champoeg, as these were the districts of the provisional government that held the Oregon territory;


Washington could also be called Olympia or Olympus due to the mountain range and the peninsula, and Oregon changed to Columbia due to it being the secondary name for the region at the time (which britain used when they took British Columbia).
 
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This is getting on the ball, but the vast majority of state names post-independence that weren't absorbed existing legal entities in some form (former colonies and/or provinces like Louisiana or New Mexico) were usually named after a physical feature that itself might be shared with an associated Amerindian tribe or at least a common Amerindian word for the area. Even the one major exception east of the Rocky Mountains - Indiana - at least clearly meant "Indian-Land" in Latin. Think about it: Michigan (lake), Tennessee (river), Ohio (river), Kentucky (common Iroquois name for the region), Alabama (river), Montana (mountains, derp), even Idaho was SUPPOSED to refer to mountains even if it was made up. Another subtle reason this came about was because America wanted to differentiate itself from Britain since it was (and still is in so many ways) pretty Anglo and place names were an obvious way to do that.
Kentucky is a river too.
 
This is getting on the ball, but the vast majority of state names post-independence that weren't absorbed existing legal entities in some form (former colonies and/or provinces like Louisiana or New Mexico) were usually named after a physical feature that itself might be shared with an associated Amerindian tribe or at least a common Amerindian word for the area. Even the one major exception east of the Rocky Mountains - Indiana - at least clearly meant "Indian-Land" in Latin. Think about it: Michigan (lake), Tennessee (river), Ohio (river), Kentucky (common Iroquois name for the region), Alabama (river), Montana (mountains, derp), even Idaho was SUPPOSED to refer to mountains even if it was made up. Another subtle reason this came about was that America wanted to differentiate itself from Britain since it was (and still is in so many ways) pretty Anglo and place names were an obvious way to do that.
And going with the physical features / native names, any offshoot bastardization on the transliteration on one of these is fair game. For example the Hidatsa/Minnetaree name for the yellowstone river is: miʔciiʔriaashiish (Mi tse a-da-zi ) so Montana could have been named any bastardization / romanization of that name that makes it easy for an english pronounciation from Mestudasi to Mizeedashi etc.
 
West Virginia almost became Kanawha, named for a river that ran through the region which in turn was named for an Indian tribe. Another proposed name was Vandalia , the name of a colony founded in the area in the 1700s. Instead, the convention assembled to by representatives of the northwestern county of Virginia who voted to succeed from Virginia when that state succeeded in 1861, voted to go with the bland and confusing name we know today.

The natives could have been known as Vandals.
 
Which three mountains is it referring to?
Apparently, the most striking thing when settlers landed in what is now Boston was three hills. Not a lot of sources online that say which three, but Wikipedia's entry on the Shawmut Penninsula (where the original settlement was) says they are Copps Hill in the North End, Fort Hill, in the Financial District, and the largest one was Trimountain, in what is now known as Beacon Hill. They changed the name to Boston later, after the city in England. The original name survives in "Tremont Street".

Side note, the spelling should be "Tremountaine". I forgot the "u". But then, we Americans are known to drop "u's" anyway, so, it's a plausible spelling. 😁
 
Apparently, the most striking thing when settlers landed in what is now Boston was three hills. Not a lot of sources online that say which three, but Wikipedia's entry on the Shawmut Penninsula (where the original settlement was) says they are Copps Hill in the North End, Fort Hill, in the Financial District, and the largest one was Trimountain, in what is now known as Beacon Hill. They changed the name to Boston later, after the city in England. The original name survives in "Tremont Street".

Side note, the spelling should be "Tremountaine". I forgot the "u". But then, we Americans are known to drop "u's" anyway, so, it's a plausible spelling. 😁
Wow, that's good to know. Thanks for the mini geography lesson!
 
Colorado could have been called Idaho.

Sequoyah could have been in some/all of Oklahoma.

I have a timeline idea that has no Trail of Tears and sees a state where Oklahoma is called Bonaventura.

Utah could have been Tizapa going with a local indigenous name for the Great Salt Lake.

Wabash was a possible name for Indiana.

Kanawha was a proposed name for what became West Virginia.
 
Colorado could have been called Idaho.

Sequoyah could have been in some/all of Oklahoma.

I have a timeline idea that has no Trail of Tears and sees a state where Oklahoma is called Bonaventura.

Utah could have been Tizapa going with a local indigenous name for the Great Salt Lake.

Wabash was a possible name for Indiana.

Kanawha was a proposed name for what became West Virginia.
What's the reasoning behind Bonaventura? That one interests me greatly
 
The Spanish had called the Canadian River Rio Buenaventura. Given the prestige of Latin and the imprecise spellings of the era, Bonaventura, which happens to mean 'good fortune', seems like a reasonable enough name for the state.
I wonder if they named it that because it means "good fortune" or did they name it after the Catholic saint?
 
One semi-insane idea I had would be to name almost every state for a President. This would have started when Washington died in 1798.

There are two ways to to this. One is when a President who has served a full four year term (excluding William Harrison, Tyler, Taylor, Fillmore, Andrew Johnson, Garfield, Arthur, Kennedy, and Ford) dies, a state is renamed for them, starting with Virginia being renamed Washington.

The other way, more likely, that when a new state is admitted to the Union, Congress just names it after a former President, excluding Vermont and Rhode Island. So that leaves 38 potential states. When Kentucky and Tennessee were admitted, the only available former President was Washington, so presumably Kentucky comes in as Washington and Tennessee remains Tennessee. Then Ohio would have to be admitted as Adams under this system, unless the "president has to be dead rule is applied" which would change things, as no dead presidents would be available as names until after 1824.
 
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One semi-insane idea I had would be to name almost every state for a President. This would have started when Washington died in 1798.

There are two ways to to this. One is when a President who has served a full four year term (excluding William Harrison, Tyler, Taylor, Fillmore, Andrew Johnson, Garfield, Arthur, Kennedy, and Ford) dies, a state is renamed for them, starting with Virginia being renamed Washington.

The other way, more likely, that when a new state is admitted to the Union, Congress just names it after a former President, excluding Vermont and Rhode Island. So that leaves 38 potential states. When Kentucky and Tennessee were admitted, the only available former President was Washington, so presumably Kentucky comes in as Washington and Tennessee remains Tennessee. Then Ohio would have to be admitted as Adams under this system, unless the "president has to be dead rule is applied" which would change things, as no dead presidents would be available as names until after 1824.
If you use the 'President must be deceased' rule from the beginning, then Ohio would be admitted as Washington, since George died in 1799, after the admission of Kentucky and Tennessee.
 
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