US-Township BAM 2: All of Them

This is the sort of thorough background work I can really appreciate!

That said, I have to wonder just what depicting the "township" subdivisions accomplishes for AH. I suppose a story that does not involve large PODs from OTL US history would benefit from the detail of tracking just what township an event takes place in--depending on the uses states actually make of township divisions.

But any substantial use of them by state governments will tend to subject them to changes as the boundaries get redrawn in the ATL.

I wonder how persistent these divisions are, versus being redrawn decade to decade or so--maybe every several decades. The less they are actually used for something important, the more rarely authorities will mess with them; if they have zero significance there would be no reason to change them at all and presumably they date back to the creation of the counties--but if one looks up counties of various states one finds that they are often themselves changed, generally by subdividing a large county into a small one. Having finished high school in Florida (I was an Air Force brat and got moved around though my father's career centered on Tyndall AFB in west Florida and tended to rotate through the same places several times in general, mostly in the South) I took some time to examine historical atlases for that state, and being essentially a Californian in exile I have looked at California's historic counties--in both cases, the state started out with just two counties--east versus west for Florida, probably corresponding to the historic Spanish and British division lines, and north (centered on San Francisco/Sacramento for the north) and south (on Los Angeles) for California--then pretty rapidly each half was parceled out into lots more new counties depending on settlement patterns, largely stabilizing pretty quickly but with many of the modern ones being split off from older larger ones in relatively recent times. For instance, Los Angeles, once the entire southern half of California, was split first east-west forming San Bernadino, and both halves were later subdivided extensively, the sparsely populated east less so of course--but for instance Orange County was split off of Los Angeles IIRC in the 1920s. So it goes; counties in say Massachusetts might have stabilized before the Revolution (though I bet the western part of the state/"Commonwealth" saw divisions in the 19th century) but in general they are reformed to track major demographic growth and settlement.

Counties are creations of the state government and exist for convenience in governance, is my takeaway, and the same must be true of "townships" or whatever the various states call them. In some cases, counties are merged with city governments, as with San Francisco; this generally happens when there is a greater urban area sprawling far beyond this core city-county.

Functionally speaking, the counties tend to control local policing, the pattern being a sheriff for the overall county with particular urban/town areas hived off to municipal police departments--even Los Angeles follows this pattern, a fair number of LA county residents even in the urban core zone south of the mountains live in "unincorporated areas" and are policed by the LA County Sheriff's department, interspersed between incorporated towns with their own police departments and of course the City of Los Angeles is merely the largest of these (by far, much like Prussia dwarfed the next largest kingdoms in the German Empire).

Also, social services in my experience are more or less devolved to counties, which can make for misery for a person dependent on them, as are local state lower courts.

I have limited experience with county government, paying attention to them only in California and Nevada--in these states the pattern is a Board of Supervisors, elected from districts which might or might not relate to the "townships," in a staggered fashion so that the entire population of the county never weighs in in any one election. These boards are rather small, 5, maybe 7, members and seem to merge legislative and executive functions. In any event, there is no Constitutional principle guaranteeing any powers to the county boards, they are devolved by state governments at discretion of the legislature and can be rearranged at will, according to political expedience.

I think if we glance over some of these state maps, which have at this point covered somewhat more than half the total population of the USA (the rough and ready division, east to west, is the Mississippi River, which has been decisively crossed far enough I'd bet well over 50 percent of national population is already mapped) we can see divergent philosophies at work. In some states, county sizes vary considerably and their shapes are very geographic, others are much closer to uniform in size and shape and tend to regular gridding, especially in the west. In some of them we see more or less regular division of the counties into roughly comparable sizes and fairly compact shapes of the subdivisions; presumably these counties are fairly uniform in demographics and probably countryside; in others we see contiguous but more irregular shaped patches widely varying in size, presumably many if not all of these represent fairly scrupulous equal-population zones some of which are urban and others rural, the latter being far larger in area. (Note such appearances need not correspond with more recent reality; it is possible such divisions were created decades or generations ago, scrupulous at the time, but kept frozen despite major demographic changes since, so their appearance is today deceiving and the units are grossly out of balance--though on the whole, the courts, and the effective court of political balance, tend to frown on gross population divergences in nominally equal electoral districts; however their detailed demographic balances can easily be quite another matter).

But we also see some examples of very bizarre shapes indeed, of sinuous spiraling of widespread country districts with arms apparently subdividing a central urban zone, so each district presumably is split between a rural and urban subpopulation. If the town is small and the county mostly rural this would have the gerrymandering effect of drowning out the urban vote and making the county board a creature of the rural hinterland; if the same divisions stand and then the town grows enough, advancing from the divided center along each twisted arm and perhaps colonizing the more distant back country with bedroom suburbs, then the balance tips and it is the rural interests swamped out with the county becoming a creature of urban factions.

Clearly then different states have different cultures, and histories, and use counties and their subdivisions differently. Some states build electoral districts by tinker-toying together groups of small counties, others divide the state up largely disregarding county lines.

In any event, I would guess that this map is a snapshot in time of subdivisions that are quite fluid, being altered from one Census to the next if not more often than that, and that any ATL manipulations of the mechanics of American elections will result in different factions controlling the subdivision and thus different maps even stipulating identical demographics--and of course if we have ATL policies in place, the demographics will evolve differently anyway.
 
I have combined the entire Eastern US
I'm loving this basemap! :D What are the attribution requirements for this one, specifically? I have a sf worldbuilding project where aliens win a bidding war for Louisiana, checking Manifest Destiny at the Mississippi, so this would be an excellent resource for it.
 
Where can I find a map tool to view township boundaries? I used usboundary.com but that site has been down for several weeks for some reason.
 
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