Thursday, October 25, 2007

Golden Dome, Local Myth Version

People in New Hampshire have been telling visitors and immigrants from lesser states about the gold on the State House dome in Concord for years. I have myself asserted with great confidence that only those states which have had a president elected from among its citizens are eligible to have gold domes, and NH qualifies because of Franklin Pierce. A friend from Pennsylvania challenged this claim.

I can find no evidence that it is true, either by statute or custom. Counter-examples from Colorado and West Virginia reveal that there is no law which requires this, though that does not rule out custom which they choose to ignore. But I suspect this has been something which people in NH just say, finding it plausible and thinking it true, without actual basis.


Kelly said...

Nonsense. Georgia had a gold dome twenty years before Carter diminished the office. What's actually necessary is to have an in-state source for the material, and a state legislature with nothing better to do.

You Yankees can tell each other whatever silly stories you want, however.

Anonymous said...

Hi Mr. Wyman, my name is Karen and I work with Jonathan...

Interesting hypothosis/myth.
Iowa has a gold dome as well and although Herbert Hover was born there, my friend Wikipedia tells me that he moved to Oregon at age 11. Can we still say that Iowa is a state that has "had a president elected from among its citizens?"

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Karen, for reasons that are unclear to me, birthplace continues to be culturally important to us. Perhaps because it is a snapshot measurement which allows us to distinguish between people of the same name it persists. I don't doubt that having been "born here" still strikes us as meaning "you are one of our tribe" somehow.

My brother, who Jonathan was named after, was born in Western Massachusetts at Cooley-Dickinson hospital but moved away before he was two. He moved back after he was 45, and they never quite knew what to make of him. It was a culture which highly valued being born there, but he clearly was not one of them. In NE colonial times, the town militia was called out with the phrase "Town-born, turn out!"

There are stories of old Mainers not acknowledging neighbors who lived there 70 years as natives. "Just because the cat had kittens in the oven, I wouldn't call 'em biscuits."

So I say Iowa gets to claim Hoover in perpetuity. This is all pretty amusing when we consider Hillary Clinton running for president, trying to be a native of everywhere.