Southern United States

cultural region in the southeastern and south-central United States

The southern United States, also known as the American South, Dixie, or simply the South, is a region of the United States of America. It is located between the Atlantic Ocean and the western United States, with the midwestern United States and northeastern United States to its north and the Gulf of Mexico and Mexico to its south.


  • The whole political structure in Washington is partly designed to protect the Southern oligarchy. And Bobby Kennedy's much more interested in politics than he is in any of these things, and so for that matter, is his brother. And furthermore, even if Bobby Kennedy were a different person, or his brother, they are also ignorant, as most white Americans are, of what the problem really is, of how Negroes really live. The speech Kennedy made to Mississippi the night Meredith was carried there was one of the most shameful performances in our history. Because he talked to Mississippi as if there were no Negroes there. And this had a terrible, demoralizing, disaffecting effect on all Negroes everywhere. One is weary of being told that desegregation is legal. One would like to hear for a change that it is right! Now, how one begins to use this power we were talking about earlier is a very grave question, because first of all you have to get Eastland out of Congress and get rid of the power that he wields there. You've got to get rid of J. Edgar Hoover and the power that he wields. If one could get rid of just those two men, or modify their power, there would be a great deal more hope. How in the world are you going to get Mississippi Negroes to go to the polls if you remember that most of them are extremely poor, most of them almost illiterate, and that they live under the most intolerable conditions? They are used to it, which is worse, and they have no sense that they can do anything for themselves. If six Negroes go to the polls and get beaten half to death, and one or two die, and nothing happens from Washington, how are you going to manage even to get the ballot?
    • 1969 interview in Conversations with James Baldwin edited by Louis H. Pratt and Fred L. Standley (1989)
  • America’s expansion into Louisiana, Florida, and Texas involved the expansion and consolidation of slavery and provided enormous markets for some of the “excess” numbers of blacks in the East, especially Virginia. Partly because of the clause in the Constitution that gave the South added political representation for three-fifths of its slave population, Southern leaders increasingly challenged restrictions on the westward expansion of slavery and the creation of new slave states. Southern slaveholding presidents governed the nation for fifty of the seventy-two years between the inaugurations of Washington and Lincoln, and before Lincoln none of the Northern presidents challenged the slaveholding interests. Since slaveholders also tended to dominate the Senate and Supreme Court, it is not surprising that America long had a proslavery foreign policy, typified by the case of the slave ship Creole, or that the succession of major political compromises, beginning with the Missouri Crisis of 1819–21, largely favored the South.
    • David Brion Davis, Inhuman Bondage: The Rise and Fall of Slavery in the Americas (2006)
  • To my friends from the South, I would refresh you on the words of a great Georgian named Henry W. Grady. On December 22, 1886, he was asked to respond to a toast to the new South at the New England society dinner. His words were dramatic and explosive. He began his toast by saying: "There was a South of slavery and secession—that South is dead." There is a South of union and freedom—that South thank God is living, breathing, growing every hour.
    • Everett Dirksen, speech in favor of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as quoted in Landmark Speeches of the American Conservative Movement (2007), p. 27
  • Now this point has been made ten thousand times before, so there’s no reason to belabor it. But basically, all the southern leaders of the American Revolution were slaveholders. And they weren’t conservative fence-sitters either. I mean, we’re talking about George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, George Mason, James Madison. These were the guys who defined American liberty, fought a war to protect American liberty, and then built a new government to preserve American liberty. And they all owned slaves. It’s ridiculous. Now had these guys followed through on the logic of their own argument to its conclusion, that is that all men are created equal, and like, freed their slaves, that is, had George Washington issued the Emancipation Proclamation, the American Revolution would have been the greatest historical event in world history, simultaneously tossing off the archaic bonds of monarchy and the evil chains of slavery. But they simply couldn’t see a way out of the economic implications of emancipation. So the legacy of the Revolution remains forever tarnished.
  • A South politician preaches to the poor white man/“You got more than the blacks, don’t complain/You’re better than them, you been born with white skin,” they explain/And the Negro’s name/Is used it is plain/For the politician’s gain/As he rises to fame/And the poor white remains/On the caboose of the train/But it ain't him to blame/He’s only a pawn in their game/
  • When Southern people tell us they are no more responsible for the origin of slavery than we are, I acknowledge the fact. When it is said that the institution exists, and that it is very difficult to get rid of it in any satisfactory way, I can understand and appreciate the saying. I surely will not blame them for not doing what I should not know how to do myself. If all earthly power were given me, I should not know what to do as to the existing institution. My first impulse would be to free all the slaves, and send them to Liberia, to their own native land. But a moment's reflection would convince me that whatever of high hope (as I think there is) there may be in this in the long run, its sudden execution is impossible. If they were all landed there in a day, they would all perish in the next ten days; and there are not surplus shipping and surplus money enough to carry them there in many times ten days. What then? Free them all, and keep them among us as underlings? Is it quite certain that this betters their condition? I think I would not hold one in slavery at any rate, yet the point is not clear enough for me to denounce people upon. What next? Free them, and make them politically and socially our equals. My own feelings will not admit of this, and if mine would, we well know that those of the great mass of whites will not. Whether this feeling accords with justice and sound judgment is not the sole question, if indeed it is any part of it. A universal feeling, whether well or ill founded, cannot be safely disregarded. We cannot then make them equals. It does seem to me that systems of gradual emancipation might be adopted, but for their tardiness in this I will not undertake to judge our brethren of the South.
  • Never since the days of the Spartan Helots has history recorded such brutality as has been ever since the war and as is now being perpetrated upon the Negro in the South. How easy for us to go to Russia and drop a tear of sympathy over the persecuted Jew. But a step across Mason’s and Dixon’s line will bring us upon a scene of horrors before which those of Russia, bad as they are, pale into insignificance! No irresponsible, blood-thirsty mobs prowl over Russian territory, lashing and lynching its citizens.
  • In all of the sanctimony about protecting the rights of minorities, let us understand fully that the bill is aimed at what has become the most despised and mistreated minority in the country—namely, the white people of the Southern States. The approach is more subtle and hypocritical in this bill, but its purposes are identical with those that prompted Charles Sumner, Thaddeus Stevens, and Ben Wade in the reconstruction legislation of the 1860's. Mr. President, the people of the South are citizens of this Republic. They are entitled to some consideration. It seems to me that fair men should recognize that the people of the South, too, have some rights which should be respected. And though, Mr. President, we have failed in this fight to protect them from a burgeoning bureaucracy that is already planning and organizing invasion after invasion of the South, preceded by thousands of young people who have been recruited in the greatest crusade since the Children's Crusade of the Middle Ages, our failure cannot be ascribed to lack of effort. Our ranks were too thin, our resources too scanty, but we did our best. I say to my comrades in arms in this long fight that there will never come a time when it will be necessary for any one of us to apologize for his conduct or his courage.
    • Richard B. Russell Jr., as quoted in Stathis, S. W. 2009. Civil Rights Act of 1964 ∗ 1964 ∗. In: 2009. Landmark Debates in Congress: From the Declaration of Independence to the War in Iraq, Washington, DC: CQ Press. pp. 377-386
  • We shall laugh to scorn your power that now holds the South in awe;
    We shall trample on your customs, we shall spit upon your law;
    We shall outrage all your temples, we shall blaspheme all your gods.-
    We shall turn your slavepen over the plowman turns the clods!.
    • Covington Hall, "Us the Hoboes and Dreamers" (1912), Rebel Voices: An IWW Anthology, p. 260
  • I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. And some of you have come from areas where your quest -- quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends. And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal." I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today! I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of "interposition" and "nullification" -- one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today! I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; "and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together." This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.
  • For one hundred years, southern politics had remained frozen in time. The Democratic Party had been the party of John Caldwell Calhoun, the Yale-educated South Carolinian who fought in the decades leading up to the Civil War for the southern plantation/slave-owning way of life under the banner of states' rights. To white southerners, the Republican Party was the hated Yankee party of Abraham Lincoln that had forced them to release their Negro property. After Reconstruction, neither party had much to offer the Negroes, so for another century white southerners stayed true to their party and the Democrats could count on a solid block of Democratic states in the South. The point George Wallace was making in his independent run for president was that southern Democrats wanted something different from what the Democratic Party was offering, even though they were not going to become Republicans. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina was expressing the same idea as early as 1948 when he ran against Truman as the candidate for president for a party significantly named the States' Rights Party.
  • Southern man better keep your head.
    Don't forget what your good book said.
    Southern change gonna come at last
    Now your crosses are burning fast.
    Southern man.

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