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Derivation Of Usonian Name
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Wrightgeek



Joined: 07 Jan 2005
Posts: 1548
Location: Westerville, Ohio

PostPosted: Fri Jun 08, 2012 6:31 am    Post subject: Derivation Of Usonian Name Reply with quote

I found this quote in a local newspaper article about the Rosenbaum Residence in Alabama:

Quote:
The term Usonian was coined from combining "U.S." and "Jeffersonian," meaning something wholly unique to the United States and free of European influence.


I have never seen this explanation for the term before; I have always understood USONIA to have been a conjunction of the United States Of North America.

Has anyone else seen this reference to Jeffersonian before? And if so, why Jeffersonian and not Jacksonian, a recognised historical era/period of American history?
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DRN



Joined: 10 Jul 2006
Posts: 3513
Location: Cherry Hill, NJ

PostPosted: Fri Jun 08, 2012 8:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The connection of the term "Jeffersonian" to Usonian is a new one to me. I understand Wright admired Jefferson for his authorship of the Declaration of Independence in particular, and for his intellect in general. (I've often wondered if Wright managed to visit Monticello following its opening to the public in 1923 or '24, and what his thoughts may have been...Monticello and Taliesin have a certain kinship despite their stylistic differences.)

I've always noticed the similarity of "Usonian" to unison and a possible derivation from the word Unity. These are words which Wright would have regularly seen in a Unitarian (another similarity?) hymnal during his lifetime.

Understanding that Wikipedia is wrought with errors and inconsistencies, this entry under "Usonia" may be worth checking nonetheless:
Quote:

Origin of the Word
The word Usonian appears to have been coined by James Duff Law, an American writer born in 1865. In a miscellaneous collection titled Here and There in Two Hemispheres (1903), Law quoted a letter of his own (dated 18 June 1903) that begins "We of the United States, in justice to Canadians and Mexicans, have no right to use the title 'Americans' when referring to matters pertaining exclusively to ourselves." He went on to acknowledge that some author had proposed "Usona", but that he preferred "Usonia."[2] Perhaps the earliest published use by Wright was in 1927:

But why this term "America" has become representative as the name of these United States at home and abroad is past recall. Samuel Butler fitted us with a good name. He called us Usonians, and our Nation of combined States, Usonia.

–Frank Lloyd Wright on Architecture: Selected Writings 1894–1940, p. 100.

The word is clearly cognate with the Esperanto name for the United States, Usono. The creator of Esperanto, L. L. Zamenhof, used this name in his speech at the 1910 World Congress of Esperanto in Washington, D.C., coincidentally the same year Wright was in Europe. However, the Esperanto online dictionary Reta Vortaro[3] attributes the word to Wright.
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peterm



Joined: 13 Mar 2008
Posts: 5797
Location: Chicago, Il.---Oskaloosa, Ia.

PostPosted: Fri Jun 08, 2012 9:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wrightgeek- If the newspaper article you refer to was penned by an Alabaman writer, it is conceivable that he/she wanted to associate Wright with an important, brilliant southerner. The connection of the terms Usonian and Jeffersonian is tenuous, though it is documented that Wright greatly admired Jefferson.

http://www.slideshare.net/Jonathan_Tyus/manifest-destiny-jackson

I hope that Wright was not a big fan of Jacksonian Manifest Destiny!

I just found the article, (courtesy of Prairie Mod):

http://www.timesdaily.com/stories/Ahead-of-its-time,191422
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Roderick Grant



Joined: 29 Mar 2006
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 08, 2012 1:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree, peterm, FLW would hardly have had a good word to say about Andrew Jackson, who felt the Cherokee were in the way in Georgia, and sent them packing to Oklahoma.
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SpringGreen



Joined: 31 Mar 2006
Posts: 503

PostPosted: Sat Jun 09, 2012 11:50 am    Post subject: "U.S." and "Jeffersonian" - my 2 cents Reply with quote

I have never heard that for the origin of Usonia. It occurs to me that the reporter was speaking to someone connected to the Rosenbaum House who thought that this was the derivation; and the reporter took what they said to be correct.

I'll try to erase that from my mind, so it doesn't become the "truth" to me!
_________________
"The building as architecture is born out of the heart of man, permanent consort to the ground, comrade to the trees, true reflection of man in the realm of his own spirit." FLLW, "Two Lectures in Architecture: in the Realm of Ideas".
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SDR



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
Posts: 15939
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Sat Jun 09, 2012 6:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Many "truths" got their start in just this way. Gossip/creative empathy > rumor > legend. How many labor beneath the burden of such mischief, today -- in the pew and on the street ?

I'm wrestling at the moment with just such an event: the invention, by an enthusiastic and proud young creator who doesn't seem to know when and where to exercise his talent -- and when to be a faithful servant of another artist (the Old Man, in this case). Work/play exhibited > alternate record > dissipated understanding of the subject. Ever were it thus -- I suppose . . .

SDR
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Rood



Joined: 30 Oct 2010
Posts: 991
Location: Goodyear, AZ 85338

PostPosted: Sun Jun 10, 2012 2:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

[quote="DRN"] Understanding that Wikipedia is wrought with errors and inconsistencies, this entry under "Usonia" may be worth checking nonetheless:

Quote:
Origin of the Word: The word Usonian appears to have been coined by James Duff Law, an American writer born in 1865. ... He went on to acknowledge that some author had proposed "Usona", but that he preferred "Usonia."[2] Perhaps the earliest published use by Wright was in 1927:

But why this term "America" has become representative as the name of these United States at home and abroad is past recall. Samuel Butler fitted us with a good name. He called us Usonians, and our Nation of combined States, Usonia.

–Frank Lloyd Wright on Architecture: Selected Writings 1894–1940, p. 100.


Despite Mr. Wright's claim that Samuel Butler coined the word "Usonia", people have searched diligently though Butler's works without finding any mention of the term.

Mr. Wright was a passionate defender of the special place the United States has in history, and I'm confident that he embraced the term as soon as he found it, just as he did the idea of eliminating individual States by reorganizing the country into several regional entities, after moving the capital from Washington, D.C. to the Mississippi Valley.
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Paul Ringstrom



Joined: 17 Sep 2005
Posts: 3894
Location: Mason City, IA

PostPosted: Mon Jun 11, 2012 12:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks to the efforts of Google Books this is the exact excerpt referred to in Wikipedia:

This seems to be the actual source of the word.


source: http://books.google.com/books/about/Here_and_there_in_two_hemispheres.html?id=JR4oAAAAYAAJ

from page 111 and 112 of Here and There in Two Hemispheres by James Duff Law

Letter to the editor that appeared in many newspapers and magazines may shed some light on the word:

"USONIA."

Dear Sir:
We of the United States, in justice to Canadians and Mexicans, have no right to use the title "Americans" when referring to matters pertaining exclusively to ourselves. Every day is keenly felt the want of a correct name for our great, grand, glorious, independent country.

I believe I am familiar with all the suggestions that have been made in this direction from time to time, and have been inclined to give my vote to the writher that first suggested "Usona," which is formed from the initials of "United States of North America." The assonance of "Usonans," however, has always been distasteful, and nothing better could be made from the first appellation strictly following the constructive genius of our language.

A much more euphonious word is "Usonia," and as it represents in a similar way the "United States of Northern Independent America" (a most important qualifying and accurately descriptive adjective being added) I am inclined to think it makes a perfect word and a dignified name to designate our land, our people and our nation -- "Usonia," "Usonian" and "Usonians" sounding equally well. It has also to us Scots the added merit of making a good rhyme to Caledonia, and thus knitting more closely together both Usonians and Caledonians.

May I ask what might be done to exploit such a suggestion, and how could such words be adopted and used popularly, literarily, officially, Usonially and universally?

Respectfully yours,
James Duff Law
Lancaster, PA 18th June, 1903
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Roderick Grant



Joined: 29 Mar 2006
Posts: 8420

PostPosted: Mon Jun 11, 2012 1:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In the 1950s, FLW said to John Geiger that, had he to do over, he would have chosen 'Bionic' instead of 'Usonian.'
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Rood



Joined: 30 Oct 2010
Posts: 991
Location: Goodyear, AZ 85338

PostPosted: Mon Jun 11, 2012 2:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Paul Ringstrom wrote:
Thanks to the efforts of Google Books this is the exact excerpt referred to in Wikipedia: This seems to be the actual source of the word.


source: http://books.google.com/books/about/Here_and_there_in_two_hemispheres.html?id=JR4oAAAAYAAJ

from page 111 and 112 of Here and There in Two Hemispheres by James Duff Law

...the want of a correct name for our great, grand, glorious, independent country.

I believe I am familiar with all the suggestions that have been made in this direction from time to time, and have been inclined to give my vote to the writer that first suggested "Usona," which is formed from the initials of "United States of North America."
Lancaster, PA 18th June, 1903


Indeed. Thanks. Now that we know who suggested "Usonia" the only questions are who suggested "Usona" in the first place, and how did Mr. Wright come in contact with Law's letter. For this reason and others it would be interesting to see a listing of the books in Mr. Wright's library.
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Paul Ringstrom



Joined: 17 Sep 2005
Posts: 3894
Location: Mason City, IA

PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 1:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

from http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Usona:

USONA

An acronym of the United States of North America, a 19th-century name for the United States of America

1898, “The Flaming Sword”, vol. 13 no. 33, page 9: 
A St. Louis professor endeavors to invent a new name for the United States, a cabalistic affair, USONA, composed of the initial letters of the words United States of North America ; the people he would designate as Usonians.
1919, Charles Alphonso Smith, New Words Self-defined, page 198:
“As a matter of fact, the name Usona […] was first proposed by a Canadian, James P. Murray of Toronto, in 1885.” (quoted from a letter in the New York Times, 20 July, 1918)
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Roderick Grant



Joined: 29 Mar 2006
Posts: 8420

PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 2:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think Usonia is a wimpy sounding word, nasal, weak, not in the true American tradition (not that Amerigo Vespucci ought to have lent his name to two entire continents). We should have a name that more accurately identifies with our rapacious nature, perhaps based on the cry of a bird of prey as it dives toward its hapless victim:

SCREEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!

... something like that.

Also, I've always thought that it was presumptuous of President Reagan to announce that the National Flower of the USA shall be the American Beauty Rose. It's over-cultivated. It should be a wild flower, maybe ragweed. Though my personal favorite is Black-eyed Susan.
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peterm



Joined: 13 Mar 2008
Posts: 5797
Location: Chicago, Il.---Oskaloosa, Ia.

PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 7:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Proud to be a Screeeeeeetian! God bless Screeeeee, (or is it Screeeeeeetia?)
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DavidC



Joined: 02 Sep 2006
Posts: 6441
Location: Oak Ridge, TN

PostPosted: Thu Sep 05, 2013 8:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

And if I were a citizen - and then happened to leave - would I therefore have to be an "Ex-Screeeeeeeetian"???

(sorry, couldn't resist)


David
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DRN



Joined: 10 Jul 2006
Posts: 3513
Location: Cherry Hill, NJ

PostPosted: Thu Sep 05, 2013 11:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, but you would still smell like an American Beauty Rose.

(couldn't resist either)
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