Why Minnesota? The Yukon's colder...So free Blacks, as well as people from Mediterranean nations, would end up somewhere around OTL Minnesota? It might be interesting if prisoners n these "penal regions" adopt a "we're all in this together mentality" regarding their situation. I can also see them looking at Chinese people and scratching their heads regarding which climate region they adapted to since China isn't one of those countries that can be neatly sorted into any one climate category.
The American West is going to be much weirder than OTL ethnically speaking.
Some people think that an alternate history timeline needs to make sense at all times or else it should be given a big ol' ASB stamp. Human beings, as emotional creatures, don't make rational decisions 100%. I am absolutely certain that in most timelines on this site our timeline would likely be decried as ASB for all the batshit stuff that happened. The rise of Adolf Hitler, for example, would be considered absolutely insane in most alternate timelines. People are so keen to keep every detail nice an neat that they fail to include the kind of "Ripley's Believe or Not" worthy tidbits that can be found everywhere in OTL.
I'm waiting with bated breath for the next chapter of this wonderfully insane timeline.