M is for M states

Ole Miss went feminist to become a Ms. Also, ms is the abbreviation for manuscripts.

In the United States, there are eight states that begin with the letter M, tied with the letter N. But N has the advantage of descriptive adjectives New (Hampshire, Jersey, Mexico, York) and North (Carolina and Dakota); only Nebraska and Nevada are one-word states.

In 1963, ZIP Codes were introduced, although many large cities were divided into zones 20 years earlier. At the same time, the Post Office introduced two-letter abbreviations for the states, to accommodate space for the ZIP Codes.

The ones for the letter M tell stories about the states:

MA – Massachusetts. The mother of the country. Where the Pilgrims landed – on Plymouth Rock, and where the American Revolution was fomented, at the Boston massacre, then the tea party, and finally with the battles of Lexington and Concord. The second and sixth Presidents, both named Adams, were born there.

MD – Maryland. Home of Johns Hopkins Hospital and the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, plus other facilities with doctors.

ME – Maine. Rugged individuals, who wear clothing from L.L. Bean of Freeport, founded 100 years ago by Leon Leonwood Bean. It was part of Massachusetts until it became a state as a result of the Missouri Compromise of 1820, when it was admitted as a free state, as Missouri joined as a slave state.

MI – Michigan. A state which suffered greatly during the recent recession (oh, mi), but which appears to be coming back strong, with improved auto sales leading the way (oh, mi!)

MN – Minnesota. M and N are adjacent letters, nearly twins in the cursive. Likewise, the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul are related, yet quite separate cities.

MO – Missouri. The big mo, or momentum towards the Pacific Ocean, Missouri was the starting point of the Pony Express and is considered the Gateway to the west; thus the arch. It’s also the home of the defending World Series champions, the St. Louis Cardinals, who, after their 130th game of the 2011 season on August 24, were 10 1/2 games behind the Wild Card leading Atlanta Braves, with only 32 games remaining. They went 23-9 to finish 90-72, a game ahead of Atlanta’s 89-73, the largest comeback in history after 130 games.

MS – Mississippi. Ole Miss went feminist to become a Ms. Also, ms is the abbreviation for manuscripts, and there is a strong tradition of Mississippi writers, including John Grisham, William Faulkner, Richard Wright, Tennessee Williams, Eudora Welty, and many more.

MT – Montana. Of course, mt is the abbreviation for a mountain, and the Big Sky State is in the Rocky Mountains.

OBVIOUSLY, the Post Office was thinking about these things when they assigned the two-letter state designations almost a half-century ago.

ABC Wednesday – Round 10

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

31 thoughts on “M is for M states”

  1. Marvelously entertaining and creative. Great MNEMONICS for remembering states, their products and contributions, and their abbreviations! Love it!

  2. Oh my! I wish I had this memory board back a few (okay, many) years ago when my job involved shipping parcels to the US and I had trouble remembering (knowing, actually) the two letter designations.

  3. Interesting post, Roger! And to think that almost any of these states are larger than my country, which is divided in 12 provinces.
    Have a great week!
    Wil, ABC Wednesday Team.

  4. I’ve visited Massachussetts, Maine, and Montana. Loved them all – very picturesque! The one place I’d love to visit again is Massachussetts and go over to Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard…hopefully, spend a month there taking photos.

    abcw team

  5. Really creative take on M! Love the “meanings” behind the 2 letter abbreviations! We have only one M province in Canada – Manitoba (MB) – but I’m not really sure what claim it has to fame!

  6. There was a game show here that once asked the number of USA states that begins to Letter M. I would not want to try.

  7. “…only Nebraska and Nevada are one-word states.”

    And only Nebraska has a unicameral state legislature. That doesn’t start with “M”, but it’s still true.

  8. Thanks for the quick state history lesson! As one from middle MO, I can say the state has a lot to offer! And I’m with Denise…you’d be an asset to any Trivial Pursuit team! 🙂

  9. I’ve only been to two M states – Maryland and Missouri. Thanks for this informative post 😉 I learned a lot! 😀

    Dropping by for ABC Wednesday.

  10. When I first arrived in the States, I always thought that Mo refers to Montana hehehe. Great info here Roger.

    Rose, ABC Wednesday Team

  11. And are you a travel agent on the side? I was born in MO and live next door in Kansas. Have LOTS of family in southern MO near the lakes. Love the midwest and loved my lesson for today.

  12. Nice factoids. I do like the sound of “unorganized territory” on the 1824 map, I squinted to see what the label said because I knew it couldn’t possibly say tortoises, so I squinted harder and saw it was territories. Pity I liked the sound of a territory of free roaming tortoises. The map gives a real flavour of the push west.

  13. Hi Roger, very impressive post. I really enjoyed what you selected to say about each M State. Had no idea that the Pony Express started in the big MO.

    Thanks so much.

  14. Roger, you left out a lot of states. What about Mew York? Mew Jersey? Mew Hampshire? Malibama? Mexico New? Malaska? Mouth Carolina? Mouth Dakota? Moklahoma? Mutah? Moregon? Mindiana? Millinois? Marizona? Mevada? And don’t forget Mashington DC.

    Let’s hear about some of these places!

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