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The Deep South

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The Deep South

This article is about the region of the United States. For the 1937 short film, see Deep South (film). For the Futurama episode, see The Deep South (Futurama).

The Deep South is a descriptive category of the cultural and geographic subregions in the American South. Historically, it is differentiated from the "Upper South" as being the states most dependent on plantation type agriculture during the pre–Civil War period. The Deep South was also commonly referred to as the Lower South or the Cotton States.[1][2]

Today, the Deep South is usually delineated as being those states and areas where things most often thought of as "Southern" exist in their most concentrated form.[3]


The term "Deep South" is defined in a variety of ways:


Though often used in history books to refer to the seven states that originally formed the Confederacy, the term "Deep South" was not actually coined until long after the Civil War ended. Until that time, "Lower South" was the general designation for those states. When "Deep South" first appeared in print in the middle of the 20th century, it applied to the states and areas of Mississippi, north Louisiana, southern Alabama and Georgia, Northern and Central Florida. This was the part of the South many considered the "most Southern".[6]

Later, the general definition expanded to include all of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina, often taking in bordering areas of East Texas and the original inclusion of North Florida and Central Florida. In its broadest application today, the Deep South is considered to be "an area roughly coextensive with the old cotton belt from eastern North Carolina through South Carolina west into East Texas, with extensions north and south along the Mississippi".[3]


From 1880 to 1960 the Deep South overwhelmingly supported the Democratic Party as a legacy of the rival Republican Party's record during Reconstruction. It was known as the "Solid South". With the Goldwater–Johnson election of 1964, a significant contingent of those voters left the national Democratic Party while still voting for Democrats at the state and local level into the 1990s. Conversely, support for Republicans among blacks eroded in the New Deal Era, even though few blacks could then vote in those states.

The Deep South has voted Republican in presidential elections for many decades, except in the 1976 election when Georgia native Jimmy Carter received the Democratic nomination, the 1992 election when Arkansas native and former Governor Bill Clinton won both Georgia and Louisiana and the 1996 election when the incumbent President Clinton again won Louisiana. Since the 1990s there has been a continued shift toward Republican candidates at the state and local levels. As of the current 113th Congress, only Louisiana has a Democratic US Senator, and only Georgia has more than one Democratic US Representative. Georgia Republican Newt Gingrich was elected Speaker of the House in 1995.

Presidential elections in which the region diverged noticeably from the Upper South occurred in 1928, 1948, 1964, 1968, and, to a lesser extent, in 1952, 1956 and 2008. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee fared well in the Deep South in 2008 Republican primaries, losing only one state (South Carolina) while running (he had dropped out of the race before the Mississippi primary).[7]

Much of the conservative Republican strength is based on the region's high religiosity. Southern Baptists, as well as fundamentalist Biblical movements, are prevalent in the popularly termed Bible Belt. There is also a strong support for social conservatism, including religious-based demands for home schooling, prayer in public schools, and opposition to homosexual marriage.[8][9]

See also


Further reading

  • Brown, D. Clayton. King Cotton: A Cultural, Political, and Economic History since 1945 (University Press of Mississippi, 2011) 440 pp. ISBN 978-1-60473-798-1
  • Davis, Allison. Deep South: A Social Anthropological Study of Caste and Class (1941) classic case study from the late 1930s
  • Dollard, John. Caste and Class in a Southern Town (1941), a classic case study
  • Harris, J. William. Deep Souths: Delta, Piedmont, and Sea Island Society in the Age of Segregation (2003)
  • Key, V.O. Southern Politics in State and Nation (1951) classic political analysis, state by state
  • Pierce, Neal R. The Deep South States of America: People, Politics, and Power in the Seven States of the Deep South (1974) in-depth study of politics and issues, state by state
  • Rothman, Adam. Slave Country: American Expansion and the Origins of the Deep South (2007)
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