The world probably thinks there's a lot of infighting in America these days, what with Tea Partiers talking about watering the tree of liberty with blood, and the governor of Texas talking about secession.
But the truth is, we're always fighting. Long before and after the Civil War, American states have been pointing guns at each other and screaming ridiculous threats. Just consider...
It's ludicrous to imagine modern-day Iowa pulling a gun because a neighboring state disagreed about where the border should be. But the 1800s were a different time. For instance, when Missouri decided to resurvey the border with what would soon be Iowa (in a way that would, of course, make Missouri bigger) shit hit the fan.
Missouri sent in a sheriff and tax agents to collect from the settlers in "Iowa," and were met by a pitchfork-wielding mob that chased them back to Missouri. In retaliation, Missouri Governor and professional dumbass Lilburn Boggs, a trigger-happy guy who would later make it legal to kill Mormons, sent the militia to occupy the border. They were met by the, um, eclectic Iowa militia. According to one observer, they were, "...men armed with blunderbusses [basically antique shotguns], flintlocks, and quaint old ancestral swords that had probably adorned the walls for many generations. One private carried a plough coulter over his shoulder by means of a log chain, another had an old-fashioned sausage stuffer for a weapon, while a third shouldered a sheet iron sword about six feet long."
Their sacrifice would inspire this stunning monument.
The Iowans managed to take the Missouri sheriff hostage. Meanwhile, after being beaten by what was the worst-armed cosplay convention ever, the Missouri tax agents figured they'd need to find another way to collect. So, they cut down a bunch of honey bee hives as partial payment to have something to show their bosses.
"I know you were expecting a check, but I figured this would be just as good."
The states appealed to Congress to settle the matter. Congress drew an arbitrary line and told both sides not to cross it, by God, or else Congress would turn the territories around so fast it would make their heads spin.
Don't Make Congress Come Back There!
In the 1850s, the Mormons had found themselves run out of every other state in the union. They finally decided to head out West and found their own place, hopefully at least semi-free from angry mobs.
That situation worked out well for the federal government; the LDS church at the time was practicing polygamy, which was the gay marriage debate of the mid 19th century. Letting the Mormons move to Utah made it an issue they could avoid dealing with for years down the road. They even appointed Mormon Leader Brigham Young as Governor of Utah Territory.
Who, by the way, could take a hell of a photograph.
But then, President Buchanan took office and became convinced that the Mormons were planning to rebel. First, he decided to appoint a new governor to replace Brigham Young, then sent 2,500 troops to back him up. He didn't bother to inform Governor Young of the change. This would be like having Obama declare that Miley Cyrus was the mandatory new lead singer for Radiohead, and have the rest of the band not figure it out until she took the stage.
Unfortunately Buchanan didn't factor in the Nauvoo Legion, the Mormons' experienced militia who had detailed knowledge of the terrain. The Legion managed to avoid outright battles by engaging in sneak attacks and other guerrilla tactics.
The war with the Mormons ended up requiring one third of the U.S. Army and the high cost and many blunders by Buchanan quickly turned people against him. By the end of the war the Army sustained 38 casualties (along with an unknown number of Mormons). Buchanan was forced to end the war with a blanket pardon on all the Mormons and his party lost the House in the next Congressional elections.
Brigham Young was still replaced as governor, but 150 years later, you can see for yourself that Utah is still very much Mormon country.
Sometime later, their choir won a Grammy.
As you've figured out by now, through most of U.S. history a lot of the states kind of hated each other. This sort of thing can come to a head when the two have to cooperate. Like, for example, if they're building a bridge to connect them.
So you have the Red River, which provides a natural border between Texas and Oklahoma. Because the two states could hardly work together long enough to build a bridge, several private companies had made a killing on opening their own toll bridges and charging people to cross.
Toll booth operators have always been dicks.
In the late 1920s, the states figured it was time to enter the modern era and start building public bridges people could cross for free. They started buying out the private bridge companies and building their own. In the bleak as hell year of 1931, Texas and Oklahoma, showing a little teamwork, completed the Red River Bridge and prepared to open it.
However, a private toll bridge owner claimed that Texas had failed to buy out his rights and got a legal injunction against the bridge. Texas Governor Ross Sterling took that guy's side and ordered the bridge closed on the Texas end.
Oklahoma Governor "Alfalfa Bill" Murray, figuring there's no such thing as an insane overreaction in those circumstances, declared martial law. He sent the Oklahoma National Guard in to keep the bridge open and, hilariously, showed up there himself, armed with a revolver.
He had the mustache of a demigod.
Meanwhile, Governor Sterling sent in the Texas Rangers to enforce the bridge closure order.
Oklahoma native/Texas Ranger Chuck Norris stayed neutral.
Back on the Oklahoma side, Governor Murray decided the situation wasn't anywhere near stupid enough yet, so he increased the dick move quotient in the skirmish by 75 percent and ordered the Oklahoma National Guard to block and demolish the road north of the private toll bridge, rendering the area impassable.
Then, he expanded his martial law order to both sides of the Red River bridge. And that was how Oklahoma National Guardsman wound up occupying land in Texas.
Eventually, two court orders ended the standoff. The blockade of the north entrance to the private toll bridge was stopped by an Oklahoma court and a federal judge in Texas rescinded the injunction against the free bridge.
The story had made national and international headlines, reaching as far as Europe where it made Hitler believe that the United States was more divided and weaker than it actually was. Texas retained custody of the "Don't Mess With Texas" motto, and Oklahoma optioned its rights to become a terrible musical. Everybody won.