Recently the use of the term “Usonia” to refer to the population of the republic styled “The United States of America” has provoked outrage from some citizens of that country, especially those to the right of the political spectrum.
This author uses the term respectfully and always with an initial capital as a proper noun, but equally respectful of the 65% of “Americans” who live outside those United States (not to be confused with The United Mexican States).
This was originally written as a reply to an aggressive question on social media, so please read this in such context.
I’m happy to explain Demography 101, in particular those aspects that apply to the continents of North America (generally accepted to included Central America and the Caribbean), and South America.
The countries of North America are:
Usonia – the United States of America (ca. 330 million – 49 states)
Mexico – the United Mexican States (ca. 130 million -32 states)
Canada – just Canada (ca. 40 million)
Cuba (ca.10 million)
St. Kitts and Nevis
Antigua and Barbuda
St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Trinidad and Tobago
Together they amount to about 520 million, of which the Usonian population accounts for about 60%. That’s a lot. With me so far?
The countries of South America are:
Brazil (ca. 210 million – 26 states)
Colombia (ca. 50 million)
Argentina (ca. 45 million)
Peru (ca. 35 million)
Venezuela (ca. 30 million)
Chile (ca. 20 million)
Ecuador (ca. 20 million)
Bolivia (ca. 10 million)
Together they amount to about 430 million, of which the Brazilian population accounts for about 50%. That’s also a lot. Still with me?
Now to “The Americas”, generally recognised as the collective term for the two distinct continents. The Americas are comprised of some 35 independent nations, some of them a federation of sovereign states.
Together these amount to circa 950 million. Now that’s really a lot. Usonia represents about 35% of the “American” population, the other poor sidelined bastards outnumber them two to one, but they don’t have the monetary wealth, having been drained by colonial powers and the Roman Catholic Church for centuries. A pox on Christopher Columbus and especially that adventurer Amerigo Vespucci, but I’m digressing from Demographics — so now to Linguistics 101 and the second part of the question as to the origin of the word Usonia.
The word Usonian appears to have been coined by James Duff Law, an American writer born in 1865. In a miscellaneous collection entitled Here and There in Two Hemispheres (1903), Law quoted a letter of his own (dated June 18, 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 the form “Usonia”. 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.
However there is as yet no published evidence that Butler ever used the word.
Usono is the name for the United States in Esperanto. The creator of Esperanto, L. L. Zamenhof, used the term in his speech at the 1910 World Congress of Esperanto in Washington, D.C., coincidentally the same year Wright was in Europe. But it was already well-established by 1908, when Joseph Rhodes, a fellow of the British Esperanto Association and a member of the Lingva Komitato, published The English-Esperanto Dictionary, which was “based upon the ‘Fundamento,’ the Esperanto literature, and the national-Esperanto dictionaries bearing Dr. Zamenhof’s ‘aprobo’.”
José F. Buscaglia-Salgado reclaims the term Usonian to refer to the peoples, national ideology and neo-imperial tradition of the United States of America.
Miguel Torres-Castro uses the term Usonian to refer to the origin of the Atlantic Puffin bird used in the children’s book Jupu the Puffin: A Usonian Story. The bird is a puffin from Maine, USA.
The evidence is clear that the word has in fact been in use by Usonians to describe themselves for more than a century. To refute that is an egregious demonstration of the arrogance and wilful ignorance of Usonians that continue to diminish respect for their country in the view of the world outside its borders.