|For the Fallout 4 setting, see The Commonwealth.|
For the multi-national European organization, see European Commonwealth.
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The thirteen commonwealths of the United States were created in 1969, as a new division of government. Both state and commonwealth names were used to describe regions and governmental entities before and after the Great War. In Massachusetts, the foundation of the Thirteen Commonwealths resulted in the discontinuation of the use of the local State House. In Appalachia, federal documents use the distinction "Territory of Appalachia."
Commonwealths in games
There are a total of thirteen commonwealths covering the United States of America. However, only two have been referred to in released games.
Two states are formally referred to as commonwealths, a distinction unrelated to the thirteen superstates. These are Massachusetts (formally the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, as per its constitution, becoming known as simply "the Commonwealth" after the Great War) and Virginia (formally the Commonwealth of Virginia).
Appalachia's status within the commonwealth system is unclear. A terminal entry makes reference to Watoga (part of Appalachia) being in an unnamed commonwealth. The region as a whole is referred to by many different names throughout Fallout 76, with multiple variations on a "Territory of Appalachia." A special election poster for "Senator of the Appalachia Territories" has a background featuring six states: Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee.
Great Midwest Commonwealth
This commonwealth encompasses the state of Illinois.
This commonwealth encompasses the state of Nevada.
- The commonwealth name is seen on the Red Rock Canyon stone marker and Nevada state flag.
- The bumper sword's pre-War Nevada license plate reads "Southwest" across the top.
Commonwealths in other media
Two commonwealths are mentioned in material outside of the main games:
- The "Columbia Commonwealth" is mentioned on official Bethesda store merchandise, within a certificate of ownership for a Nuka-Cola delivery truck.[Non-game 1]
- The "New England Commonwealth" is mentioned in the Fallout 2d20 rulebook's blurb on Easy City Downs, a race track in the Boston, Massachusetts, area.[Fallout 2d20 1]
Behind the scenes
- The idea of dividing the United States into thirteen commonwealths originated during Fallout's development (1997). According to Tim Cain, Leonard Boyarsky did not wish to use the regular 50-star flag and instead used the 13-star design because "it looked cool," and planned to explain it as it being divided into 13 super-states, but the explanation never materialized.[Non-game 2]
- The commonwealths were planned to be expanded on in Van Buren. The tech demo (2003) includes an U.S. soldier serving in a division of the Great Midwest Commonwealth. Following its cancellation, Joshua Sawyer published a breakdown of the commonwealths and their constituent states in his unofficial RPG (2004), explaining that the commonwealths were an intermediate level of government between the state and federal powers created in the early 21st century, the purpose being to help create legislation broad enough to affect states with common concerns, but narrow enough to leave dissimilar states alone.[Non-canon 1] In reality, it created even more strife, as commonwealths typically did everything they could to promote their own interests at the expense of other commonwealths.[Non-canon 1] Sawyer's commonwealths include:
- Columbia---Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia
- East Central---Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee
- Eastern---West Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York
- Four States---Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico
- Gulf---Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida
- Midwest---Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan
- New England---Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut
- North---Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota
- Northwest---Northern California, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Alaska
- Plains---Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, Oklahoma
- Southeast---Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina
- Southwest---Southern California, Nevada, Hawaii
- Texas---Texas, Arkansas
- Commonwealths were first explicitly mentioned in Fallout: New Vegas (2010), with the Great Midwest Commonwealth and the Southwest Commonwealth being named in-game. In Fallout 4 (2015), the commonwealth foundation date was established as 1969, which differs from the "early twenty-first century" date of establishment from Joshua Sawyer's unofficial RPG.
- Massachusetts State House plaque: "The 'new' state house was completed in 1798 to house the government of the state of Massachusetts. The land selected was originally John Hancock’s cow pastures. The first dome was constructed of wooden shingles and covered in copper smelted by Paul Revere. The state government used this building continuously until the formation of the Thirteen Commonwealths in 1969."
- Senate orientation letter
- Valid ballot
- Fallout 4 loading screens: "Originally 'The Commonwealth of Massachusetts,' the state became known only as the 'The Commonwealth' after the Great War of 2077."
- The Lone Wanderer: "Virginia? Virginia's been gone for 200 years."
Jack Smith: " "
(Jack Smith's dialogue)
- AMS corporate headquarters terminal entries; Security terminal, 10-24-76: Re: Hey Stranger!: "Riley, I had no idea that you were still in the commonwealth, let alone in Watoga!"
- See Appalachia's behind the scenes section for references.
- Special election poster. White silhouettes of Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee appear in the background of the poster, presented at an angle.
- Red Rock Canyon stone marker
- Nevada state flag in Fallout: New Vegas
- Fallout 2d20
- Fallout 2d20 Rulebook p. 276: "Once a horse track in the New England Commonwealth, the Easy City Downs are now a raider den. Under the watch of those who occupy a set of ruined bleachers, various robots including Assaultrons, Eyebots, Mister Handys, and Mister Gutsys race for the entertainment of the local raiders as well as associated Triggermen."
- Non-game sources
- Nuka-Cola delivery truck; Unique certificate of ownership
- Tim Cain in Fallout Bible 8: "Leon said he used that flag because it looked cool and he didn't want to use a standard American flag with 50 stars. Eventually, he planned to make up something about 13 super-states or something, but he never did."
- Non-canon sources