From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
The U.S. Southern states or The South, also known as Dixie is perhaps the most distinctive region of the United States having its own unique historical perspective, customs and cuisine. There is some overlap with The Southwest and the Mid-Atlantic States.
(United States of America, TX to DE)
As defined by the Census Bureau, the Southern region of the United States includes 16 states: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia.
The region is blessed with plentiful rainfall and a mild to warm climate. Many kinds of crops grow easily in its soils and can be grown without frost for at least six months of the year. The South is blessed with fragrant magnolia trees and jessamine vines and beautiful flowering dogwoods.
The South received the continent's largest population of enslaved Africans from New England traders. In some states, their descendants outnumbered people of European descent in the 19th century. Whereas New Englanders tended to stress their differences from the British, Southern whites tended to emulate them. Even so, Southerners were prominent among the leaders of the American Revolution, and four of America's first five presidents were Virginians. After 1800, however, the interests of the manufacturing North and the agrarian South began to diverge.
Especially in coastal areas, southern settlers grew wealthy by raising and selling rice, indigo, cotton, and tobacco. The most economical way to raise these crops was on large farms, called plantations, which required the work of many laborers. To supply this need, American and British slavers purchased slaves in Africa to plantation owners and slavery spread throughout the South. The slavers bought the slaves with vats of rum made in New England from cane sugar grown in the Caribbean. This exchange of sugar, rum, and slaves is called the "Triangular Trade."
Slavery was the most contentious issue dividing North and South. The vast majority of Southerners never owned slaves; most were independent yeoman farmers just like their counterparts in the North, and slavery was not part of everyday life for ordinary citizens. But that said, the huge slave-run plantations of the Deep South were not to be found anywhere else. Political tensions arose for a number of reasons, especially slavery. Slavery was a moral issue that angered the North, but Southern planters faced total financial ruin if it were abolished, and in 1860, eleven Southern states left the Union and formed a separate nation, the Confederate States of America. War broke out, called in the North, the American Civil War, and called in the South, the "War for Southern Independence." Out-gunned, out-manned and out-financed, the Confederacy met defeat, and slavery came to an end. During the war, the pro-Union northwestern region of Confederate Virginia seceded to become the new state of West Virginia. The abolition of slavery failed to provide Africans with political or economic equality: Southern towns and cities legalized and refined the practice of racial segregation. For a long, the South resumed regional white supremacy through Jim Crow, segregation, sharecropping, disenfranchisement and offensive domestic groups such as the Ku Klux Klan.
The American Civil War of 1861 to 1865 devastated the Old South socially and economically. Before the war, the South was the wealthiest part of the United States — bearing much of that wealth in land and slaves. After the war, during the Reconstruction period, the South struggled to rise from poverty and worked to establish a successful economy from the ashes. Sometime after World War II, the old agrarian Southern economy evolved into the "New South" — a manufacturing region with strong roots in Northern-style financial capitalism. High-rise buildings now crowd the skylines of Atlanta, Houston, Dallas and Little Rock. In the 20th century, the South saw a regional outpouring of literature by, among others, William Faulkner, Thomas Wolfe, Andrew Nelson Lytle, Robert Penn Warren, Katherine Anne Porter, Tennessee Williams, Eudora Welty and Flannery O'Connor.
As the effects of slavery and racial loyalty disappear, a new regional identity is being carefully crafted under the banner of the aforementioned "New South" through such events as the hip annual Spoleto Music Festival in Charleston, South Carolina, and the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia. Although the South as a whole defies stereotyping, it is nonetheless known for entrenched political conservatism, for its Calvinist religion called "fundamentalism," and for vestiges of nostalgia toward the old rural South still present in small intellectual movements such as the revisionist "League of the South" and the Southern agrarians. The South is highly religious, and politicians and sociologists often refer to it as the "Bible Belt." The Southern conservative seldom identifies with the Democratic Party any longer, and since the Reagan regime most all have switched loyalties to the Republican Party. Unlike its public schools, churches and neighborhoods are still largely segregated voluntarily.
Fights over the old "Rebel Flag" of the defunct Confederacy still occur from time to time, and it and other reminders of the Old South can be seen everywhere on automobile bumper-stickers, on t-shirts, and flown from homes. However, these remnants are slowly fading away, Southern accents are heard ever less often in the larger growing cities, and the South is clearly merging into the greater commercial culture of the whole United States.
Exceptions within the region