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Southern United States


Southern United States

The Southern United States as defined by the United States Census Bureau.[1] The "South" and its regions are defined in various ways, however. (See Geography section.)

The Southern United States—commonly referred to as the American South, Dixie, or simply the South—is a region of the United States of America. The South does not match the geographic south, but is predominantly located in the southeastern corner; Arizona, which is geographically in the southern part of the country, is rarely considered part of the Southern United States, while West Virginia commonly is.[2][3][4] Some scholars have proposed definitions of the South that do not coincide neatly with state boundaries. [5] [6]

Usually, the South is defined as including the southeastern and south-central United States. The region is known for its culture and history, having developed its own customs, musical styles and cuisines that have distinguished it in some ways from the rest of the United States. The Southern ethnic heritage is diverse and includes strong European (mostly English, Irish, Scotch-Irish and Scottish), African, and some Native American components.[7]

Some other aspects of the historical and cultural development of the South have been influenced by an early support for the doctrine of states' rights, the institution of slave labor on plantations in the Lower South to an extent seen nowhere else in the United States; the presence of a large proportion of African Americans in the population; and the legacy of the Civil War and Reconstruction Era, as seen in thousands of lynchings (mostly from 1880 to 1930), the segregated system of separate schools and public facilities known as "Jim Crow", that lasted until the 1960s, and the widespread use of poll taxes and other methods to frequently deny black people of the right to vote or hold office until the 1960s. In more modern times, however, the South has become the most integrated region of the country. Since the late 1960s black people have held and currently hold many high offices, such as mayor and police chief, in many cities such as Atlanta and New Orleans.[8]

Historically, the South relied heavily on agriculture, and was highly rural until after 1945. It has since become more industrialized and urban and has attracted national and international migrants. The American South is now among the fastest-growing areas in the United States. Sociological research indicates that Southern collective identity stems from political, demographic, and cultural distinctiveness from the rest of the United States. The region contains the Bible Belt, an area of high church attendance (especially in Evangelical churches such as the Southern Baptist Convention) and predominantly conservative, religion-influenced politics. Indeed, studies have shown that Southerners are more conservative than non-Southerners in several areas, including religion, morality, international relations and race relations.[9][10] This is evident in both the region's religious attendance figures and in the region's usually strong support for the Republican Party in political elections since the 1960s.[9][10]

Apart from its climate, the living experience in the South increasingly resembles the rest of the nation. The arrival of millions of Northerners (especially in major metropolitan areas and coastal areas)[11] and millions of Hispanics[12] means the introduction of cultural values and social norms not rooted in Southern traditions.[13][14] Observers conclude that collective identity and Southern distinctiveness are thus declining, particularly when defined against "an earlier South that was somehow more authentic, real, more unified and distinct".[15] The process has worked both ways, however, with aspects of Southern culture spreading throughout a greater portion of the rest of the United States in a process termed "Southernization".[16]


  • Geography 1
  • History 2
    • Native American culture 2.1
    • European colonization 2.2
    • American Revolution 2.3
    • Antebellum years 2.4
    • Civil War 2.5
    • Reconstruction and Jim Crow 2.6
    • Late 19th and 20th century—industrialization and Great Migration 2.7
    • Presidential history 2.8
    • Growth and poverty 2.9
  • Economy 3
  • Education 4
  • Culture 5
  • Sports 6
  • Health 7
  • Politics 8
    • Other politicians and political movements 8.1
  • Race relations 9
    • Native Americans 9.1
    • Civil rights 9.2
  • Symbolism 10
  • Major metropolitan areas 11
  • Major combined statistical areas 12
  • See also 13
  • Notes 14
  • References 15
  • Further reading 16
  • External links 17


The question of how to define the subregions in the South has been the focus of research for nearly a century.[17][18]

Bluegrass region in Kentucky
Glass Mountains at Glass Mountains State Park, Oklahoma
A field of yellow wildflowers in Saint Bernard Parish, Louisiana
North Carolina's Appalachian Mountains
Pearl River backwater in Mississippi
Misty Bluff along the Buffalo River, Ozark Mountains, Arkansas

As defined by the United States Census Bureau,[1] the Southern region of the United States includes sixteen states. As of 2010, an estimated 114,555,744 people, or thirty-seven percent of all U.S. residents, lived in the South, the nation's most populous region.[19] The Census Bureau defined three smaller units, or divisions:


External links

  • Edward L. Ayers (1993). The Promise of the New South: Life after Reconstruction. Oxford University Press.  
  • Monroe Lee Billington (1975). The Political South in the 20th Century. Scribner.  
  • Earl Black and Merle Black (2002). The Rise of Southern Republicans. Belknap press.  
  • W. J. Cash (1935). The Mind of the South. New York: Vintage Books.  
  • Pete Daniel (2000). Lost Revolutions: The South in the 1950s. University of North Carolina Press.  
  • Davis, Donald, and Mark R. Stoll. Southern United States: An Environmental History (2006)
  • Edwards, Laura F. "Southern History as U.S. History," Journal of Southern History, 75 (Aug. 2009), 533–64.
  • Frederickson, Kari. (2013). Cold War Dixie: Militarization and Modernization in the American South. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press.
  • Michael Kreyling (1998). Inventing Southern Literature. University Press of Mississippi. p. 66.  
  • Heather A. Haveman (2004). "Antebellum literary culture and the evolution of American magazines". Poetics 32: 5–28.  
  • Eugene D. Genovese (1976). Roll, Jordan, Roll: The World the Slaves Made. New York: Vintage Books. p. 41.  
  • Morris, Christopher (2009). "A More Southern Environmental History". Journal of Southern History 75 (3): 581–598. 
  • Howard N. Rabinowitz (September 1976). "From Exclusion to Segregation: Southern Race Relations, 1865–1890". Journal of American History 43: 325–50. 
  • Nicol C. Rae (1994). Southern Democrats. Oxford University Press.  
  • Jeffrey A. Raffel (1998). Historical Dictionary of School Segregation and Desegregation: The American Experience. Greenwood Press.  
  • Virts, Nancy (2006). "Change in the Plantation System: American South, 1910–1945". Explorations in Economic History 43 (1): 153–176.  
  • Wells, Jonathan Daniel (2009). "The Southern Middle Class". Journal of Southern History 75 (3): 651–. 
  • C. Vann Woodward (1955). The Strange Career of Jim Crow. Oxford University Press.  
  • Gavin Wright (1996). Old South, New South: Revolutions in the Southern Economy Since the Civil War. LSU Press.  

Further reading

  • Ayers, Edward L. What Caused the Civil War? Reflections on the South and Southern History (2005)
  • Cash, Wilbur J. The Mind of the South (1941),
  • Cooper, Christopher A. and H. Gibbs Knotts, eds. The New Politics of North Carolina (U. of North Carolina Press, 2008) ISBN 978-0-8078-5876-9
  • Flynt, J. Wayne Dixie's Forgotten People: The South's Poor Whites (1979). deals with 20th century.
  • David M. Katzman. "Black Migration". The Reader's Companion to American History. Houghton Mifflin Company. 
  • James Grossman (1996). "'"Chicago and the 'Great Migration. Illinois History Teacher 3 (2). 
  • McWhiney, Grady. In Cracker Culture: Celtic Ways in the Old South (1988)
  • John O. Allen and Clayton E. Jewett (2004). Slavery in the South: A State-by-State History. Greenwood Press.  
  • William B. Hesseltine (1936). A History of the South, 1607–1936. Prentice-Hall. 
  • Mark, Rebecca, and Rob Vaughan. The South: The Greenwood Encyclopedia of American Regional Cultures (2004)
  • Robert W. Twyman. and David C. Roller, ed., ed. (1979). Encyclopedia of Southern History. LSU Press.  
  • Charles Reagan Wilson and William Ferris, ed., ed. (1989). Encyclopedia of Southern Culture. University of North Carolina Press.  


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  2. ^ a b Southeastern Division of the Association of American Geographers
  3. ^ [1] Geological Society of America
  4. ^ [2] Southern Legislative Conference
  5. ^ Garreau, Joel (1982). The Nine Nations of North America. Avon Books.  
  6. ^ Woodard, Colin (2012). American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America. Penguin Books.  
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  8. ^ "Gallup Poll: U.S. race relations by region; The South". November 19, 2002.
  9. ^ a b Cooper, Christopher A.; Knotts, H. Gibbs (2010). "Declining Dixie: Regional Identification in the Modern American South". Social Forces 88 (3): 1083–1101.  
  10. ^ a b Rice, Tom W.; McLean, William P.; Larsen, Amy J. (2002). "Southern Distinctiveness over Time: 1972–2000".  
  11. ^ Marc Egnal, Divergent paths: how culture and institutions have shaped North American growth (1996) p 170
  12. ^ Rebecca Mark and Robert C. Vaughan, The South (2004) p. 147
  13. ^ Cooper and Knotts, "Declining Dixie: Regional Identification in the Modern American South", p. 1084
  14. ^ Christopher A. Cooper and H. Gibbs Knotts, eds. The New Politics of North Carolina (2008)
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  23. ^ C. Vann Woodward, The Origins of the New South, 1877–1913 (1951)
  24. ^ George Brown Tindall, The Disruption Of The Solid South (1972)
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  32. ^ The Tchula period in the mid-South and lower Mississippi Valley
  33. ^ see Conclusion: The Civil War in West Virginia
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  41. ^ a b c Ancestry of the Population by State: 1980 – Table 3
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  45. ^ Wilson, David K (2005). The Southern Strategy: Britain's conquest of South Carolina and Georgia, 1775–1780. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press. p. 9
  46. ^ Henry Lumpkin, From Savannah to Yorktown: The American Revolution in the South (2000)
  47. ^ Peter Kolchin, American Slavery: 1619–1877, (Hill and Wang, 1994), p. 73
  48. ^ Kolchin, American Slavery: 1619–1877, p. 81
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  51. ^ "Commentary: Lincoln's Proclamation". Retrieved September 30, 2014. 
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  55. ^ "Chapter 3: AN EASY ADJUSTMENT TO THE POST WAR NATION: PENSACOLA BETWEEN 1865 AND 1870". December 4, 2010. 
  56. ^ Richard Nelson Current, Those Terrible Carpetbaggers: A Reinterpretation (1989)
  57. ^ Nicholas Lemann, Redemption: The Last Battle of the Civil War, New York: Farrar Straus & Giroux, 2002, pp.70–75
  58. ^ , Vol.17, 2000,, p. 27Constitutional CommentaryRichard H. Pildes, "Democracy, Anti-Democracy, and the Canon", , accessed 2008-03-10
  59. ^ John Solomon Otto, The Final Frontiers, 1880–1930: Settling the Southern Bottomlands, Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1999
  60. ^ "Italians in Mississippi", Mississippi History Now, accessed 2007-11-28
  61. ^ Magazine of HistoryVivian Wong, "Somewhere Between White and Black: The Chinese in Mississippi", Organization of American Historians at the Wayback Machine (archived October 24, 2005), accessed 2007-11-15
  62. ^ Edward L. Ayers, The Promise of the New South: Life after Reconstruction, New York: Oxford University Press, 1992; 15th Anniversary Edition (pbk), 2007, p.24
  63. ^ , Vol.17, 2000,, pp.12–13Constitutional CommentaryRichard H. Pildes, "Democracy, Anti-Democracy, and the Canon", , accessed 2008-03-10
  64. ^ Glenn Feldman, The Disfranchisement Myth: Poor Whites and Suffrage Restriction in Alabama, Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2004
  65. ^ Dr. Michael McDonald, US Elections Project: Alabama Redistricting Summary, George Mason University at the Wayback Machine (archived April 6, 2005), accessed 2008-04-06
  66. ^ "Strikes", Texas Handbook On-Line, accessed 2008-04-06
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  68. ^ David G. McComb, "Urbanization", Handbook of Texas Online, accessed 2008-04-06
  69. ^ "First Measured Century: Interview: James Gregory". Retrieved 2006-08-22. 
  70. ^ Walter Johnson, Soul by Soul: Life Inside the Antebellum Slave , Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1999, pp. 2–7
  71. ^ John C. Willis, Forgotten Time: The Yazoo-Mississippi Delta after the Civil War, Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2000.
  72. ^ Texas State Historical Association
  73. ^ U.S. News & World Report Rankings
  74. ^ "Chart: States With The Most Fortune 500 Companies". Retrieved September 30, 2014. 
  75. ^ "State jobless rate below US average". The Decatur Daily. August 19, 2005. Retrieved 2007-02-12. 
  76. ^ Milwaukee now fourth poorest city in nation JSOnline, September 28, 2010
  77. ^ America's Poorest States, 24/7 Wall St
  78. ^ Matus, Ron, (March 6, 2005). "Schools still rank near the bottom".  
  79. ^ US Department of Education retrieved 2008-06-14
  80. ^ "Graduation Rates Rise in South, Study Finds".  
  81. ^ Bethune, Lawrence E. "Scots to Colonial North Carolina before 1775". Lawrence E. Bethune's M.U.S.I.C.s Project. 
  82. ^ Cooper, Christopher A.; Knotts, H. Gibbs (2004). "Defining Dixie: A State-Level Measure of the Modern Political South". American Review of Politics 25: 25–39. 
  83. ^ Reed, John Shelton (1982). One South: An Ethnic Approach to Regional Culture. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press. p. 3.  
  84. ^ David Hackett Fischer, Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America, New York: Oxford University Press, 1989, pp.633–639
  85. ^ a b Persons Who Reported a Single Ancestry Group for Regions, Divisions and States: 1980Table 3a.
  86. ^ a b Type of Ancestry Response for Regions, Divisions and States: 1980Table 1.
  87. ^ Wilson, Charles Reagan. Ferris, William R. Encyclopedia of Southern culture, page 556
  88. ^ Baptists as a Percentage of all Residents, 2000 Department of Geography and Meteorology, Valparaiso University
  89. ^ Samuel S. Hill, Charles H. Lippy, and Charles Reagan Wilson, eds. Encyclopedia of Religion in the South (2005)
  91. ^ "Adult Obesity Facts". Overweight and Obesity.  
  92. ^ a b Baird, Joel Banner (June 30, 2010). "Study: Vermont among least obese states". The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, VT). pp. 1A, 4A. Retrieved May 12, 2013. 
  93. ^ The Six Worst States for Sleep - 24/7 Wall St
  94. ^ "Geographic and Racial Variation in Premature Mortality in the U.S.: Analyzing the Disparities". 
  95. ^ CDC. "Death in the United States". 
  96. ^ Fenelon, A. (2013). "Geographic Divergence in Mortality in the United States". Population and Development Review 39 (4): 611–634.  
  97. ^ Rachel Pomerance, "Most and Least Obese U.S. States", U.S. News & World Report, August 16, 2012.
  98. ^ "Diabetes Most Prevalent In Southern United States, Study Finds", Science Daily, Sep. 25, 2009
  99. ^ "Southern Diet Might Explain the 'Stroke Belt'", HealthDay, February 7, 2013
  100. ^ Rick Nauert, "U.S. South Has Higher Risk of Cognitive Decline", Psych Central, May 27, 2011
  101. ^ Torio CM, Andrews RM (September 2014). "Geographic Variation in Potentially Preventable Hospitalizations for Acute and Chronic Conditions, 2005-2011". HCUP Statistical Brief #178. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. 
  102. ^ Michael Perman, Pursuit of Unity: A Political History of the American South (2009)
  103. ^ The classic study is V.O. Key, (1949)Southern politics in State and Nation
  104. ^ Key. Southern Politics State and Nation (1984)
  105. ^ Gordon B. McKinney (2010). Southern Mountain Republicans 1865-1900. University of North Carolina Press. ISBN 978-0-8078-9724-9
  106. ^ Numan V. Bartley, The New South, 1945–1980 (1995) pp 455–70
  107. ^ Bernard Cosman, Five States for Goldwater Continuity and Change in Southern Presidential voting Patterns (1966)
  108. ^ David M. Chalmers, Backfire: how the Ku Klux Klan helped the civil rights movement (2003)
  109. ^ Bartley, The New South pp 408–11
  110. ^ Earl Black and Merle Black, The Rise of Southern Republicans (2003)
  111. ^ William C. Martin, With God On Our Side: The Rise of the Religious Right in America (2005)
  112. ^ Michael Barone, (Nov. 9, 2012) p. A13Wall Street Journal"Republicans Find Refuge in the House," .
  113. ^ "Romney Bus Tour Charts Course for Battlegrounds Obama Won". Businessweek. August 10, 2012.
  114. ^ Katzman, 1996
  115. ^ "Tracking New Trends in Race Migration".  
  116. ^ "Study shows Memphis among most integrated cities".  
  117. ^ Mauer, Marc; Ryan S. King (July 2007). "Uneven Justice: State Rates of Incarceration By Race and Ethnicity" (PDF). Washington, D.C.:   (Report.)
  118. ^ "League of the South Core Beliefs Statement".  
  119. ^ Tony Horowitz, Confederates in the Attic (1998)
  120. ^ James Michael Martinez et al., eds. (2000). Confederate Symbols. University Press of Florida. 
  121. ^ "Table 1. Annual Estimates of the Population of Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Areas: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2012 (CBSA-EST2012-01)". March 2013 United States Census. United States Census Bureau, Population Division. Retrieved 2014-02-19. 
  122. ^ The 2012 Census population estimate for the part within the South (Kentucky) is 431,997.
  123. ^ The 2010 Census population for the part within the South (Kentucky) is 973,271.


See also

Rank Combined Statistical Area State(s) Population
(2013 est.)
1 Washington-Baltimore-Arlington DC-MD-VA-WV-PA 9,443,180
2 Dallas-Fort Worth TX 7,206,144
3 Houston TX 6,508,323
4 Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Port St. Lucie FL 6,447,610
5 Atlanta-Athens-Clarke County-Sandy Springs GA 6,162,195
6 Orlando-Deltona-Daytona Beach FL 2,975,658
7 Charlotte-Concord NC-SC 2,493,040
8 Cincinnati-Wilmington-Maysville OH-KY-IN 2,196,629
9 Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill NC 2,037,430
10 Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro TN 1,876,933
11 Virginia Beach-Norfolk VA 1,810,266
12 Greensboro–Winston-Salem–High Point NC 1,619,313
13 Jacksonville-St. Marys-Palatka GA 1,518,677
14 Louisville/Jefferson County–Elizabethtown–Madison KY-IN 1,490,724
15 New Orleans-Metairie-Hammond LA-MS 1,467,880
16 Greenville-Spartanburg-Anderson SC 1,438,550
17 Oklahoma City-Shawnee OK 1,390,835
18 Memphis-Forrest City TNMS-AR 1,369,006

Major combined statistical areas

* Asterisk indicates part of the metropolitan area is outside the states classified as Southern.

Rank Metropolitan Statistical Area State(s) Population
(2013 est.)[121]
1 Dallas–Fort Worth–Arlington TX 6,810,913
2 Houston–Sugar Land–Baytown TX 6,313,158
4 Washington–Arlington–Alexandria DCVAMDWV 5,949,859
5 Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach FL 5,828,191
6 Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta GA 5,522,942
7 Tampa–St. Petersburg–Clearwater FL 2,870,569
8 Baltimore–Towson MD 2,770,738
9 Charlotte–Gastonia–Concord NCSC 2,335,358
10 San Antonio-New Braunfels TX 2,277,550
11 Orlando–Kissimmee–Sanford FL 2,267,846
12 Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky*[122] OH-IN-KY 2,137,406
13 Austin–Round Rock-San Marcos TX 1,883,051
14 Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro–Franklin TN 1,757,912
15 Virginia Beach–Norfolk–Newport News VANC 1,707,369
16 Jacksonville FL 1,394,624
17 Memphis-Forrest City TNMSAR 1,341,746
18 Oklahoma City OK 1,319,677
19 Louisville–Jefferson County*[123] KYIN 1,262,261
20 Richmond VA 1,245,764
Downtown Tampa from above
Atlanta at night
Washington, D.C. in the spring
Downtown Houston
Dallas Skyline

The South was heavily rural as late as the 1940s, but now the population is increasingly concentrated in metropolitan areas. The following table shows the twenty largest metropolitan areas in the South.

Major metropolitan areas

Other symbols of the South include the Bonnie Blue Flag, magnolia trees, and the song "Dixie".[120]

Some Southerners use the Confederate flag to identify themselves with the South, states' rights and Southern tradition. Groups, such as the League of the South, have a high regard for the secession movement of 1860, citing a desire to protect and defend Southern heritage.[118] Numerous political battles have erupted over flying the Confederate flag over state capitols, and the naming of public buildings or highways after Confederate leaders, the prominence of certain statues, and the everyday display of Confederate insignia.[119]

While this "Confederate Flag" pattern is the one most often thought of as the "Confederate Flag" today, it was actually just one of many used by the Confederate armed forces. Variations of this design served as the Battle Flag of the Armies of Northern Virginia and Tennessee, and as the Confederate Naval Jack.


The Civil Rights Movement ended Jim Crow laws across the South. A second migration appears to be underway, with African Americans from the North moving to the South in record numbers.[115] While race relations are still a contentious issue in the South, the region surpasses the rest of the country in many areas of integration and racial equality. According to 2003 report by researchers at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, Virginia Beach, Charlotte, Nashville-Davidson, and Jacksonville were the four most integrated of the nation's fifty largest cities, with Memphis at number six.[116] Southern states tend to have a low disparity in incarceration rates between blacks and whites relative to the rest of the country.[117]

The migration also empowered the growing Civil Rights Movement. While the movement existed in all parts of the United States, its focus was against disfranchisement and the Jim Crow laws in the South. Most of the major events in the movement occurred in the South, including the Ebenezer Baptist Church is located in the Sweet Auburn district as is the King Center, location of Martin Luther and Coretta Scott King's gravesites.

The Great Migration began during World War I, hitting its high point during World War II. During this migration, blacks left the South to find work in Northern factories and other sectors of the economy.[114]

The South witnessed two major events in the lives of 20th century African Americans: the Great Migration and the American Civil Rights Movement.

Civil rights

Racial segregation was commonplace in the South until the 1960s

Native Americans had lived in the south for nearly 12,000 years. They were defeated by settlers in a series of wars ending in the War of 1812 and the Seminole Wars, and most were removed west to Indian Territory (now Oklahoma and Kansas). However large numbers of Native Americans managed to stay behind by blending into the surrounding society. This was especially true of the wives of Euro-American merchants and miners.

Native Americans

Race relations

The Republicans candidates for President have won the South in elections since 1972, except for 1976. However, the region is not entirely monolithic, and every successful Democratic candidate since 1976 has claimed at least three Southern states. Barack Obama won Florida, Maryland, Delaware, North Carolina, and Virginia in 2008 but did not repeat his victory in North Carolina during his 2012 reelection campaign.[113]

In 1994 mid-term elections, another Southern politician, Newt Gingrich, led the Republican Revolution, ushered in 12 years of GOP control of the House. Gingrich became Speaker of the United States House of Representatives in 1995 and served until his resignation in 1999. Tom DeLay was the most powerful Republican leader in Congress until he was indicted under criminal charges in 2005 and was forced to step aside by Republican rules. Apart from Bob Dole of Kansas (1985–96), the recent Republican Senate leaders have been Southerners: Howard Baker (1981–85) of Tennessee, Trent Lott (1996–2003) of Mississippi, Bill Frist (2003–2006) of Tennessee, and Mitch McConnell (2007–present) of Kentucky.

In the American Independent Party ticket. Wallace ran a "law and order" campaign similar to that of Republican candidate, Richard Nixon. Nixon's Southern Strategy of gaining electoral votes downplayed race issues and focused on culturally conservative values, such as family issues, patriotism, and cultural issues that appealed to Southern Baptists.

The South has produced various nationally-known politicians and political movements. In 1948, a group of Democratic congressmen, led by Governor Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, split from the Democrats in reaction to an anti-segregation speech given by Minneapolis mayor and future senator Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota. They founded the States Rights Democratic or Dixiecrat Party. During that year's Presidential election, the party ran Thurmond as its candidate, but he finally lost the election.

Bill Clinton, newly elected Governor of Arkansas speaks with Jimmy Carter in 1978. Both presidents are Southern Democrats.

Other politicians and political movements

After the 2012 elections, the 11 states of the former Confederacy were represented by 98 Republicans, 24 white Democrats and 16 black Democrats.[112]

National Republicans such as Sonny Perdue taking the governorship in 2002.[110] In addition to its middle class and business base, Republicans cultivated the religious right and attracted strong majorities from the evangelical or Fundamentalist vote, mostly Southern Baptists, which had not been a distinct political force prior to 1980.[111]

Pockets of resistance to integration in public places broke out in violence during the 1960s by the shadowy Ku Klux Klan, which caused a backlash among moderates.[108] Major resistance to school busing extending into the 1970s.[109]

The northern Democrats' support of civil rights issues culminated when Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which ended legal segregation and provided federal enforcement of voting rights for blacks. In the presidential election of 1964, Barry Goldwater's only electoral victories outside his home state of Arizona were in the states of the Deep South where few blacks could vote before the 1965 Voting Rights Act.[107]

President Johnson signs the historic Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Increasing support for civil rights legislation by the national Democratic Party beginning in 1948 caused segregationist Southern Democrats to nominate blue-collar electorate.[106]

By the 1940s the Supreme Court began to find disfranchisement such as the "grandfather clause" and the white primary to be unconstitutional. Southern legislatures quickly passed other measures to keep blacks disfranchised, even after suffrage was extended more widely to poor whites. Because white Democrats controlled all the Southern seats in Congress they had outsize power in Congress and could sidetrack or filibuster efforts by Northerners to pass legislation against lynching, for example. The region became known as the Solid South. The Republicans controlled parts of the Appalachian Mountains and competed for power in the Border States. From the late 1870s to the 1960s, only rarely was a state or national Southern politician a Republican, apart from a few Appalachian mountain districts.[104][105]

[103] With the collapse of the Republican Party in nearly all parts of the South, the Democrats after 1900 moved to a system of primaries to select their candidates. Victory in a primary was

In the first decades after Reconstruction, when white Democrats regained power in the state legislatures, they began to make voter registration more complicated, to reduce black voting. With a combination of intimidation, fraud and violence by paramilitary groups, they turned Republicans out of office and suppressed black voting. From 1890 to 1908, ten of eleven states ratified new constitutions or amendments that effectively disenfranchised most black voters and many poor white voters. This disfranchisement persisted for six decades into the 20th century, depriving blacks and poor whites of all political representation. Because they could not vote, they could not sit on juries. They had no one to represent their interests, resulting in state legislatures consistently underfunding programs and services, such as schools, for blacks and poor whites.[102]

A rally against school integration in 1959.


The South had a significantly higher rate of hospital discharges in 2005 than other regions of the United States, but the rate had declined to be closer to the overall national rate by 2011.[101]

The South has a higher percentage of obese people[97] and diabetics.[98] It has the largest number of people dying from stroke.[99] The South has the highest rates of cognitive decline.[100]

Nine Southern states have obesity rates over 30% of the population, the highest in the country: Mississippi, Louisiana, West Virginia, Alabama, Oklahoma, Arkansas, South Carolina, Kentucky, and Texas.[91][92] Rates for hypertension and diabetes for these states are also the highest in the nation.[92] A study reported that six Southern states have the worse incidence of sleep disturbances in the nation, attributing the disturbances to high rates of obesity and smoking.[93] Life expectancy is lower and death rates higher in the South than in the other regions of the country for all racial groups[94][95] This disparity reflects substantial divergence between the South and other regions since the middle of the 20th Century.[96]


Rank Team Sport League Attendance[90]
1 Alabama Crimson Tide Football NCAA (SEC) 101,505
2 Texas Longhorns Football NCAA (Big 12) 98,976
3 Tennessee Volunteers Football NCAA (SEC) 95,584
4 Georgia Bulldogs Football NCAA (SEC) 92,746
5 LSU Tigers Football NCAA (SEC) 91,418
6 Dallas Cowboys Football NFL 88,043
7 Florida Gators Football NCAA (SEC) 87,440
8 Texas A&M Aggies Football NCAA (SEC) 87,125
9 Auburn Tigers Football NCAA (SEC) 85,657
10 Oklahoma Sooners Football NCAA (Big 12) 84,722

A number of sports are popular in the Southern U.S., but American football is the most popular. The following table shows the most popular sports teams based in the Southern U.S., ranked by average attendance. All of the top attended teams in the Southern U.S. are American football teams.


The South has been seen largely as a stronghold of Protestant Christianity. Although the traditional Southerner was Anglican, or more accurately Episcopalian, the predominant denominations in the South are now Baptists[88] (especially the Southern Baptist Convention), followed by Methodists, with other denominations found throughout the region. Roman Catholics historically were concentrated in Maryland, Louisiana, and Hispanic areas such as South Texas and South Florida and along the Gulf Coast. The great majority of black Southerners are Baptist or Methodist.[89] Statistics show that Southern states have the highest religious attendance figures of any region in the United States.

In previous censuses, the largest ancestry group identified by Southerners was English or mostly English,[41][85][86] with 19,618,370 self-reporting "English" as an ancestry on the 1980 census, followed by 12,709,872 listing "Irish" and 11,054,127 "Afro-American".[41][85][86] Almost a third of all Americans who claim English ancestry can be found in the American South, and over a quarter of all Southerners claim English descent as well.[87] The South also continues to have the highest percentage of African Americans in the country, predominantely due to historical and economic factors.

The predominant culture of the South has its origins with the settlement of the region by large groups of Northern English, Scots lowlanders and Ulster-Scots (later called the Scotch-Irish) who settled in Appalachia and the Piedmont in the 18th century, and from parts of southern England such as East Anglia, Kent and the West Country in the 17th century,[84] and the many African slaves who were part of the Southern economy. African-American descendants of the slaves brought into the South compose the United States' second-largest racial minority, accounting for 12.1 percent of the total population according to the 2000 census. Despite Jim Crow era outflow to the North, the majority of the black population remains concentrated in the Southern states, and has heavily contributed to the cultural blend (Christianity, foods, art, music (see spiritual, blues, jazz and rock and roll)) that characterize Southern culture today.

Overall, the South has had lower percentages of high school graduates, lower housing values, lower household incomes, and lower cost of living than the rest of the United States.[82] These factors, combined with the fact that Southerners have continued to maintain strong loyalty to family ties, has led some sociologists to label white Southerners a "quasi-ethnic regional group".[83]

Several Southern states (Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia) were English Colonies that sent delegates to sign the Declaration of Independence and then fought against the government along with the Northern Colonists during the Revolutionary War. The basis for much Southern culture derives from the pride in these states being among the 13 original colonies, and from the fact that much of the population of the South has strong ancestral links to Colonists who emigrated west. Southern manners and customs reflect the relationship with England and Africa that was held by the early population, with some influences being provided by the Native American populations of the area.[81]

The area roughly considered to constitute the Bible Belt
Street musicians in Maynardville, Tennessee, photographed in 1935


Southern public schools in the past ranked in the lower half of some national surveys.[78] When allowance for race is considered, a 2007 US Government list of test scores often shows white fourth and eighth graders performing better than average for reading and math; while black fourth and eighth graders also performed better than average.[79] This comparison does not hold across the board. Mississippi scores lower than average no matter how the statistics are compared. However, newer data suggests that education in the south is on par with the nation, with 72% of high schoolers graduating compared to 73% nationwide.[80]


This economic expansion has enabled parts of the South to report some of the lowest unemployment rates in the United States.[75] But in the U.S. top ten of poorest big cities, the South is represented in the rankings by two cities: Miami, Florida and Memphis, Tennessee.[76] In 2011, nine out of ten poorest states were in the South.[77]

Many corporations are headquartered in Atlanta and its surrounding area, such as The Coca-Cola Company, Delta Air Lines, and The Home Depot, and also to many cable television networks, such as the Turner Broadcasting System (CNN, TBS, TNT, Turner South, Cartoon Network), and The Weather Channel. In recent years some southern states, notably Texas, have lured companies with lower tax burdens and lower cost of living for their workforce. Today, the states with the most Fortune 500 companies include California, New York, and Texas; closely mirroring the economic and population resources of those states.[74]

Many major banking corporations have headquarters in the region. Bank of America is in Charlotte, North Carolina. Wachovia was headquartered there before its purchase by Wells Fargo. Regions Financial Corporation is in Birmingham, as is AmSouth Bancorporation, and BBVA Compass. SunTrust Banks is located in Atlanta as is the district headquarters of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. BB&T is headquartered in Winston-Salem.

In medicine, the Texas Medical Center in Houston has achieved international recognition in education, research, and patient care, especially in the fields of heart disease, cancer, and rehabilitation. In 1994 the Texas Medical Center was the largest medical center in the world including fourteen hospitals, two medical schools, four colleges of nursing, and six university systems.[72] The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center is consistently ranked the #1 cancer research and treatment center in the United States.[73]

The two largest research parks in the country are located in the South: Research Triangle Park in North Carolina (the world's largest) and the Cummings Research Park in Huntsville, Alabama (the world's fourth largest).

Numerous new automobile production plants have opened in the region, or are soon to open, such as Volkswagen Chattanooga Assembly Plant in Tennessee.

In the late 20th century, the South changed dramatically. It saw a boom in its service economy, manufacturing base, high technology industries, and the financial sector. Texas in particular witnessed dramatic growth and population change with the dominance of the energy industry. Tourism in Florida and along the Gulf Coast grew steadily throughout the last decades of the 20th century.


In Mississippi before the war, for instance, most plantations were developed along the Mississippi and other navigable rivers. The bottomlands were not developed until after the war, when the chance to buy land attracted tens of thousands of migrants, both black and white. By the end of the century, two-thirds of farm owners in the Delta bottomlands were black. The long agricultural depression meant that many had to take on too much debt—together with disfranchisement and lack of access to credit, by 1910 many had lost their property and by 1920, most blacks in the Delta were sharecroppers or landless workers. More than two generations of free African Americans had lost their stake in property.[71]

In the antebellum years, by 1840 New Orleans was the wealthiest city in the country and the third largest in population, based on the growth of international trade associated with products being shipped to and from the interior of the country down the Mississippi River. It had the largest slave market in the country, as traders brought slaves to New Orleans by ship and overland to sell to planters across the Deep South. The city was a cosmopolitan port with a variety of jobs that attracted more immigrants than did other areas of the South.[70] Because of lack of investment, construction of railroads to span the region lagged behind that in the North. People relied most heavily on river traffic for getting their crops to market and for transportation.

Growth and poverty

The South produced nine of the first 12 U.S. Presidents prior to the Civil War. For more than a century after the Civil War, no Southerner became President unless he either moved North (like New England.

Presidential history

This growth increased in the 1960s and greatly accelerated into the 1980s and 1990s. Large urban areas with over 4 million people rose in Texas, Georgia, and Florida. Rapid expansion in industries such as autos, telecommunications, textiles, technology, banking, and aviation gave some states in the South an industrial strength to rival large states elsewhere in the country. By the 2000 census, the South (along with the West) was leading the nation in population growth. However, with this growth has come long commute times and air pollution problems in cities such as Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Austin, Charlotte, and others that rely on sprawling development and highway networks.

World War II marked a time of change in the South as new industries and military bases were developed by the Federal government, providing badly needed capital and infrastructure in many regions. People from all parts of the US came to the South for military training and work in the region's many bases and new industries. Farming shifted from cotton and tobacco to include soybeans, corn, and other foods.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt noted the South as the "number one priority" in terms of need of assistance during the Great Depression. His administration created programs such as the Tennessee Valley Authority in 1933 to provide rural electrification and stimulate development. Locked into low productivity agriculture, the region's growth was slowed by limited industrial development, low levels of entrepreneurship, and the lack of capital investment.

Later, the Southern economy was dealt additional blows by the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl. After the Wall Street Crash of 1929, the economy suffered significant reversals and millions were left unemployed. Beginning in 1934 and lasting until 1939, an ecological disaster of severe wind and drought caused an exodus from Texas and Arkansas, the Oklahoma Panhandle region and the surrounding plains, in which over 500,000 Americans were homeless, hungry and jobless.[69] Thousands left the region forever to seek economic opportunities along the West Coast.

Photo of sharecropper family in Walker County, Alabama, ca. 1937

In the early 20th century, invasion of the boll weevil devastated cotton crops in states of the South. This was an additional catalyst to African Americans' decisions to leave the South. From 1910 to 1940, and then from the 1940s to 1970, more than 6.5 million African Americans left the South in the Great Migration to northern and midwestern cities, making multiple acts of resistance against persistent lynching and violence, segregation, poor education, and inability to vote. Their movements transformed many cities, creating new cultures and music in the North. Many African Americans, like other groups, became industrial workers; others started their own businesses within the communities. Southern whites also migrated to industrial cities, especially Chicago and Detroit, where they took jobs in the booming new auto industry.

The first major oil well in the South was drilled at Spindletop near Beaumont, Texas, on the morning of January 10, 1901. Other oil fields were later discovered nearby in Arkansas, Oklahoma, and under the Gulf of Mexico. The resulting "Oil Boom" permanently transformed the economy of the West/South Central states and led to the most significant economic expansion after the Civil War.

Business interests were ignored by the Bourbon class. Nonetheless, major new industries started developing in cities such as Atlanta, GA; Birmingham, AL; and Dallas, Fort Worth and Houston, Texas. Growth began occurring at a geometric rate. Birmingham became a major steel producer and mining town, with major population growth in the early decades of the 20th century.

In 1890 Dallas was the largest city in Texas. By 1900 it had a population of more than 42,000, which more than doubled to over 92,000 a decade later. Dallas was the harnessmaking capital of the world and center of other manufacturing. As an example of its ambitions, in 1907 Dallas built the Praetorian Building, 15 stories tall and the first skyscraper west of the Mississippi. Others soon followed.[67] Texas was transformed by a railroad network linking five important cities, among them Houston with its nearby port at Galveston, Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio, and El Paso. Each exceeded 50,000 in population by 1920, with the major cities having three times that population.[68]

In the late 19th century, Texas rapidly expanded its railroad network, creating a network of cities connected on a radial plan and linked to the port of Galveston. It was the first statein which urban and economic development proceeded independently of rivers, the primary transportation network of the past. A reflection of increasing industry were strikes and labor unrest: "in 1885 Texas ranked ninth among forty states in number of workers involved in strikes (4,000); for the six-year period it ranked fifteenth. Seventy-five of the 100 strikes, chiefly interstate strikes of telegraphers and railway workers, occurred in the year 1886."[66]

An illustrated depiction of black people picking cotton, 1913

At the end of the 19th century, white Democrats in the South had created state constitutions that were hostile to industry and business development. Banking was limited, as was access to credit. States persisted in agricultural economies. As in Alabama, rural minorities held control in many state legislatures long after population had shifted to industrializing cities, and the legislators resisted business and modernizing interests. For instance, Alabama refused to redistrict from 1901 to 1972, long after major population and economic shifts to cities. For decades Birmingham generated the majority of revenue for the state, for instance, but received little back in services or infrastructure.[65]

Late 19th and 20th century—industrialization and Great Migration

While African Americans, poor whites and civil rights groups started litigation against such provisions in the early-20th century, for decades Supreme Court decisions overturning such provisions were rapidly followed by new state laws with new devices to restrict voting. Most blacks in the South could not vote until 1965, after passage of the Voting Rights Act and Federal enforcement to ensure people could register. Not until the late 1960s did all American citizens regain protected civil rights by passage of legislation following the leadership of the American Civil Rights Movement.

From 1890 to 1908, 10 of the 11 states passed disfranchising constitutions or amendments that introduced voter registration barriers—such as poll taxes, residency requirements and literacy tests—that were hard for many poor to meet. Most African Americans, Mexican Americans, and tens of thousands of poor whites were disfranchised, losing the vote for decades. In some states, grandfather clauses temporarily exempted white illiterates from literacy tests. The numbers of voters dropped drastically throughout the South as a result. This can be seen on the feature "Turnout in Presidential and Midterm Elections" at the University of Texas Politics: Barriers to Voting. Alabama, which had established universal white suffrage in 1819 when it became a state, also substantially reduced voting by poor whites.[63][64] Legislatures passed Jim Crow laws to segregate public facilities and services, including transportation.

Migrations continued in the late 19th and early 20th centuries among both blacks and whites. In the last two decades of the 19th century about 141,000 blacks left the South, and more after 1900, totaling a loss of 537,000. After that the movement increased in what became known as the Great Migration from 1910–1940, and the Second Great Migration through 1970. Even more whites left the South, some going to California for opportunities and others heading to Northern industrial cities after 1900. Between 1880 and 1910, the loss of whites totaled 1,243,000.[62] Five million more left between 1940 and 1970.

Nearly all Southerners, black and white, suffered as a result of the Civil War. Within a few years cotton production and harvest was back to pre-war levels, but low prices through much of the 19th century hampered recovery. They encouraged immigration by Chinese and Italian laborers into the Mississippi Delta. While the first Chinese entered as indentured laborers from Cuba, the majority came in the early-20th century. Neither group stayed long at rural farm labor.[60] The Chinese became merchants and established stores in small towns throughout the Delta, establishing a place between white and black.[61]

Child laborers, Bluffton, South Carolina, 1913

Despite discrimination, many blacks became property owners in areas that were still developing. For instance, 90% of the Mississippi's bottomlands were still frontier and undeveloped after the war. By the end of the century, two-thirds of the farmers in Mississippi's Delta bottomlands were black. They had cleared the land themselves and often made money in early years by selling off timber. Tens of thousands of migrants went to the Delta, both to work as laborers to clear timber for lumber companies, and many to develop their own farms.[59]

[58] from the voter registration rolls. The success of late-19th century interracial coalitions in several states inspired a reaction among some white Democrats, who worked harder to prevent both groups from voting.poor whites In 1876 white Democrats regained power in most of the state legislatures. They began to pass laws designed to strip African Americans and [57] Secret

Northerners came south to participate in politics and business. Some were representatives of the Freedmen's Bureau and other agencies of Reconstruction; some were humanitarians with the intent to help black people. Some were adventurers who hoped to benefit themselves by questionable methods. They were all condemned with the pejorative term of carpetbagger. Some Southerners also took advantage of the disrupted environment and made money off various schemes, including bonds and financing for railroads.[56]

With passage of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States (which outlawed slavery), the 14th Amendment (which granted full U.S. citizenship to African Americans) and the 15th amendment (which extended the right to vote to African American males), African Americans in the South were made free citizens and were given the right to vote. Under Federal protection, white and black Republicans formed constitutional conventions and state governments. Among their accomplishments was creating the first public education systems in Southern states, and providing for welfare through orphanages, hospitals and similar institutions.

There were thousands of people on the move, as African Americans tried to reunite families separated by slaves sales, and sometimes migrated for better opportunities in towns or other states. Other freed people moved from plantation areas to cities or towns for a chance to get different jobs and out from under white control. At the same time, whites returned from refuges to reclaim plantations or town dwellings. In some areas, many whites returned to the land to farm for a while. Some freedpeople left the South altogether for states such as Ohio and Indiana, and later, Kansas. Thousands of others joined the migration to new opportunities in the Mississippi and Arkansas Delta bottomlands and Texas.

After the Civil War, the South was devastated in terms of population, infrastructure and economy. Because of states' reluctance to grant voting rights to freedmen, Congress instituted Reconstruction governments. It established military districts and governors to rule over the South until new governments could be established. Many white Southerners who had actively supported the Confederacy were temporarily disfranchised. Rebuilding was difficult as people grappled with the effects of a new labor economy of a free market in the midst of a widespread agricultural depression. In addition, what limited infrastructure the South had was mostly destroyed by the war. At the same time, the North was rapidly industrializing. To avoid the social effects of the war, most of the Southern states initially passed black codes. Eventually, these were mostly legally nullified by federal law and anti-Confederate legislatures, which persisted for a short time during Reconstruction.[55]

Reconstruction and Jim Crow

The South suffered much more than the North overall, as the Union strategy of attrition warfare meant that Lee could not replace his casualties, and the total war waged by Sherman, Sheridan and other Union armies devastated the infrastructure and caused widespread poverty and distress. The Confederacy suffered military losses of 95,000 men killed in action and 165,000 who died of disease, for a total of 260,000,[52] out of a total white Southern population at the time of around 5.5 million.[53] Based on 1860 census figures, 8% of all white males aged 13 to 43 died in the war, including 6% in the North and about 18% in the South.[54] Northern military casualties exceeded Southern casualties in absolute numbers, but were two-thirds smaller in terms of proportion of the population affected.

The Confederate cause was hopeless by the time Atlanta fell and Reconstruction Era.

The Confederacy had the resources for a short war, but was unable to finance or supply a longer war. It reversed the traditional low-tariff policy of the South by imposing a new 15% tax on all imports from the Union. The Union blockade stopped most commerce from entering the South, and smugglers avoided the tax, so the Confederate tariff produced too little revenue to finance the war. Inflated currency was the solution, but that created distrust of the Richmond government. Because of low investment in railroads, the Southern transportation system depended primarily on river and coastal traffic by boat; both were shut down by the Union Navy. The small railroad system virtually collapsed, so that by 1864 internal travel was so difficult that the Confederate economy was crippled.

In the four years of war 1861–65 the South was the primary battleground, with all but two of the major battles taking place on Southern soil. Union forces relentlessly squeezed the Confederacy, controlling the border states in 1861, the Tennessee River, the Cumberland River and New Orleans in 1862, and the Mississippi River in 1863. In the East, however, the Confederate Army under Robert E. Lee beat off attack after attack in its defense of their capital at Richmond. But when Lee tried to move north, he was repulsed (and nearly captured) at Sharpsburg (1862) and Gettysburg (1863).

Confederate dead of General Ewell's Corps who attacked the Union lines at the Battle of Spotsylvania, May 19, 1864.

By 1856, the South had lost control of Congress, and was no longer able to silence calls for an end to slavery—which came mostly from the more populated, free states of the North. The Republican Party, founded in 1854, pledged to stop the spread of slavery beyond those states where it already existed. After Abraham Lincoln was elected the first Republican president in 1860, seven cotton states declared their secession and formed the Confederate States of America before Lincoln was inaugurated. The United States government, both outgoing and incoming, refused to recognize the Confederacy, and when the new Confederate President Jefferson Davis ordered his troops to open fire on Fort Sumter in April 1861, there was an overwhelming demand, North and South, for war. Only the state of Kentucky attempted to remain neutral, and it could only do so briefly. When Lincoln called for troops to suppress what he referred to as "combinations too powerful to be suppressed by the ordinary" judicial or martial means,[51] four more states decided to secede and join the Confederacy (which then moved its capital to Richmond, Virginia). Although the Confederacy had large supplies of captured munitions and many volunteers, it was slower than the Union in dealing with the border states. By March 1862, the Union largely controlled Maryland, West Virginia, Kentucky and Missouri, had shut down all commercial traffic from all Confederate ports, had prevented European recognition of the Confederate government, and was poised to seize New Orleans.

map of United States with southeastern states highlighted in shades of red
Historic Southern United States. The states in red were in the Confederacy and have historically been regarded as forming "the South". Those in stripes were considered "border states", and gave varying degrees of support to the Southern cause although they remained in the Union. (This image depicts the original, trans-Allegheny borders of Virginia, and so does not show West Virginia separately. See the images above for post-1863 Virginia and West Virginia borders.) Although Oklahoma was aligned with the Confederacy, it is not shaded because at the time the region was Indian Territory, not a state.

Civil War

Before the Civil War, the number of immigrants arriving at Southern ports began to increase, although the North continued to receive the most immigrants. Hugenots were among the first settlers in Charleston, along with the largest number of Hasidic Jews outside of New York City. Numerous Irish immigrants settled in New Orleans, establishing a distinct ethnic enclave now known as the Irish Channel. Germans also went to New Orleans and its environs, resulting in a large area north of the city (along the Mississippi) becoming known as the German Coast; however, still greater numbers immigrated to Texas (especially after 1848), where many bought land and were farmers. Many more German immigrants arrived in Texas after the Civil War, where they created the brewing industry in Houston and elsewhere, became grocers in numerous cities, and also established wide areas of farming.

The second issue concerned slavery, primarily the question of whether slavery would be permitted in newly admitted states. The issue was initially finessed by political compromises designed to balance the number of "free" and "slave" states. The issue resurfaced in more virulent form, however, around the time of the Mexican–American War, which raised the stakes by adding new territories primarily on the Southern side of the imaginary geographic divide. Congress opposed allowing slavery in these territories.

Horse racing at Jacksonville, Alabama, 1841

Two major political issues that festered in the first half of the 19th century caused political alignment along sectional lines, strengthened the identities of North and South as distinct regions with certain strongly opposed interests, and fed the arguments over states' rights that culminated in secession and the Civil War. One of these issues concerned the protective tariffs enacted to assist the growth of the manufacturing sector, primarily in the North. In 1832, in resistance to federal legislation increasing tariffs, South Carolina passed an ordinance of nullification, a procedure in which a state would, in effect, repeal a Federal law. Soon a naval flotilla was sent to Charleston harbor, and the threat of landing ground troops was used to compel the collection of tariffs. A compromise was reached by which the tariffs would be gradually reduced, but the underlying argument over states' rights continued to escalate in the following decades.

With the opening up of frontier lands after the government forced most Native Americans to move west of the Mississippi, there was a major migration of both whites and blacks to those territories. From the 1820s through the 1850s, more than one million enslaved Africans were transported to the Deep South in forced migration, two-thirds of them by slave traders and the others by masters who moved there. Planters in the Upper South sold slaves excess to their needs as they shifted from tobacco to mixed agriculture. Many enslaved families were broken up, as planters preferred mostly strong males for field work.[50]


Slaves on a South Carolina plantation (The Old Plantation, c. 1790)

Antebellum years

[48] In addition, some slaveholders were inspired to free their slaves after the Revolution. They were moved by the principles of the Revolution, and Quaker and Methodist preachers worked to encourage slaveholders to free their slaves. Planters such as

The Revolution provided a shock to slavery in the South. Thousands of slaves took advantage of wartime disruption to find their own freedom, catalyzed by the British Governor Dunmore of Virginia's promise of freedom for service. Many others were removed by Loyalist owners and became slaves elsewhere in the Empire. Between 1770 and 1790, there was a sharp decline in the percentage of blacks – from 61% percent to 44% in South Carolina and from 45% to 36% in Georgia.[47]

In 1780–81, the British largely halted reconquest of the northern states, and concentrated on the south, where they were told there was a large Loyalist population ready to leap to arms once the royal forces arrived. The British took control of Savannah and Charleston, capturing a large American army in the process, and set up a network of bases inland. There were many more Loyalists in the South than in the North,[42] but they were concentrated in larger coastal cities and were not great enough in number to overcome the revolutionaries. Large numbers of loyalists from South Carolina fought for the British in the Battle of Camden. The British forces at the Battle of Monck's Corner and the Battle of Lenud's Ferry consisted entirely of Loyalists with the exception of the commanding officer (Banastre Tarleton).[43] Both white and black Loyalists fought for the British at the Battle of Kemp's Landing in Virginia.[44][45] Led by Nathanael Greene and other generals, the Americans engaged in Fabian tactics designed to wear down the British invasion force, and to neutralize its strong points one by one. There were numerous battles large and small, with each side claiming some victories. By 1781, however, British General Cornwallis moved north to Virginia, where an approaching army forced him to fortify and await rescue by the British Navy. The British Navy did arrive, but so did a stronger French fleet, and Cornwallis was trapped. American and French armies, led by Washington, forced Cornwallis to surrender his entire army in Yorktown, Virginia in October 1781, effectively winning the North American part of the war.[46]

With Virginia in the lead, the Southern colonies embraced the Thomas Jefferson.

1st Maryland Regiment holding the line at the Battle of Guilford in North Carolina.

American Revolution

The oldest university in the South, the University of Georgia (1785).

The early colonists engaged in warfare, trade, and cultural exchanges. Those living in the backcountry were more likely to encounter Creek Indians, Cherokee, and Choctaws and other regional native groups.

In the mid-to-late-18th century, large groups of Ulster Scots (later called the Scotch-Irish) and people from the Anglo-Scottish border region immigrated and settled in the back country of Appalachia and the Piedmont. They were the largest group of non-English immigrants from the British Isles before the American Revolution.[40] In the 1980 Census, 34% of Southerners reported that they were of English ancestry; English was the largest reported European ancestry in every Southern state by a large margin.[41]

In the British colonies, immigration began in 1607 and continued until the outbreak of the Revolution in 1775. Settlers cleared land, built houses and outbuildings, and on their own farms. The rich owned large plantations that dominated export agriculture and used black slaves. Many were involved in the labor-intensive cultivation of tobacco, the first cash crop of Virginia. Tobacco exhausted the soil quickly, requiring that farmers regularly clear new fields. They used old fields as pasture, and for crops such as corn and wheat, or allowed them to grow into woodlots.[39]

Benjamin Hawkins, seen here on his plantation, teaches Creek Native Americans how to use European technology. Painted in 1805.

The Spanish and French established colonies in Florida, Texas and Louisiana. The Spanish colonized Florida in the 16th century, with their communities reaching a peak in the late 17th century.

The predominant culture of the South was rooted in the settlement of the region by British colonists. In the 17th century, most voluntary immigrants were of English origins who settled chiefly along the coastal regions of the Eastern seaboard but had pushed as far inland as the Appalachian Mountains by the 18th century. The majority of early English settlers were indentured servants, who gained freedom after enough work to pay off their passage. The wealthier men who paid their way received land grants known as headrights, to encourage settlement.[38]

European immigration resulted in a corresponding die off of native Americans who had not been exposed to various diseases.[37]

European colonization

Other peoples whose ancestral links to the Mississippian culture are less clear but were clearly in the region before the European incursion include the Catawba and the Powhatan.

Native American descendants of the mound-builders include Alabama, Apalachee, Caddo, Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, Guale, Hitchiti, Houma, and Seminole peoples, all of whom still reside in the South.

The Mississippian culture was a complex, mound-building Native American culture that flourished in what is now the southeastern United States from approximately 800 AD to 1500 AD. Natives had elaborate and lengthy trading routes connecting their main residential and ceremonial centers extending through the river valleys and from the East Coast to the Great Lakes.[36] Some noted explorers who encountered and described the Mississippian culture, by then in decline, included Pánfilo de Narváez (1528), Hernando de Soto (1540), and Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville (1699).

The first well-dated evidence of human occupation in the south United States occurs around 9500 BC with the appearance of the earliest documented Americans, who are now referred to as Paleo-Indians.[36] Paleoindians were hunter-gathers that roamed in bands and frequently hunted megafauna. Several cultural stages, such as Archaic (ca. 8000-1000 BC) and the Woodland (ca. 1000 BC - AD 1000), preceded what the Europeans found at the end of the 15th century—the Mississippian culture.[36]

Native American culture


[35] The South is a diverse meteorological region with numerous climatic zones, including

The popular definition of the "South" is more informal and generally associated with the 11 states that seceded during the Civil War to form the Confederate States of America.[34] Those states share commonalities of history and culture that carry on to the present day. Oklahoma is often included; it was not a state, but all its major Native American tribes signed formal treaties of alliance with the Confederacy.

  • The [22] or all the slave states before 1860 (which included the newer states of Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas).[21]
  • The New South: usually including the South Atlantic States.[23]
  • The Solid South: region controlled by the Democratic Party from 1877 to 1964. Includes at least all the 11 former Confederate States.[24]
  • Northwestern South Carolina.[25]
  • Alabama, Mississippi, Florida and at times Maryland and Delaware.[2]
  • Mississippi embayment areas of Arkansas and Tennessee, and northern and central Florida).[26]
  • The Gulf South: various definitions, usually including Gulf coasts of Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and Alabama.
  • The Upper South: Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and occasionally Missouri, Maryland, and Delaware.[27]
  • Dixie: various definitions, but most commonly associated with the 11 states of the Old Confederacy.
  • The Mid-South: Various definitions, including that of the Census Bureau of the East and West South Central United States;[28] in another informal definition, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, and sometimes adjoining areas of other states.[29][30][31][32]
  • Border South: Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland, and Delaware were states on the outer rim of the Confederacy that did not secede from the United States, but did have significant numbers of residents who joined the Confederate armed forces. Kentucky and Missouri had Confederate governments in exile and were represented in the Confederate Congress and by stars on the Confederate battle flag. West Virginia was formed in 1863 after the western region of Virginia broke away to protest the Old Dominion's joining of the Confederacy, but residents of the new state were about evenly divided on supporting the Union or the Confederacy.[33]

Other terms related to the South include:


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