Deep South is a cultural and geographic subregion in the Southern
United States. Historically, it was differentiated as those states
most dependent on plantations and slave societies during the
pre–Civil War period. The
Deep South is commonly referred to as the
Cotton States, given that the production of cotton was a primary
3 Major metropolitan areas
3.1 Metropolitan areas
6 See also
8 Further reading
The location of the Black Belt (sociological sense) in the United
The term "Deep South" is defined in a variety of ways:
Most definitions include the states Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas, South
Carolina, Mississippi, and Louisiana.
Texas is also included, due to its history of slavery and as being
a part of the Confederate States of America. The eastern part of the
state is the westernmost extension of the Deep South.
Arkansas is sometimes included or else considered "in the
Peripheral or Rim South rather than the Deep South."
The seven states that seceded from the United States before the firing
Fort Sumter and the start of the American Civil War, and were
originally form the Confederate States of America. Ultimately the
Confederacy included eleven states. In order of secession they are:
South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and
Texas. The first six states to secede were those that held the largest
number of slaves.
A large part of the original "Cotton Belt". This was considered to
extend from eastern
North Carolina to
South Carolina and through the
Gulf States as far west as East Texas, and including those parts of
Tennessee and eastern
Arkansas in the Mississippi
embayment. Some of this is coterminous with the Black Belt,
originally referring to upland areas of
fertile soil, which were developed for cotton under slave labor. The
term came to be used for much of the Cotton Belt, which had a high
percentage of African-American slave labor.
Though often used in history books to refer to the seven states that
originally formed the Confederacy, the term "Deep South" did not come
into general usage until long after the Civil War ended. Up until that
time, "Lower South" was the primary designation for those states. When
"Deep South" first began to gain mainstream currency in print in the
middle of the 20th century, it applied to the states and areas of
Georgia, southern Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, north Louisiana, and
East Texas, all historic areas of cotton plantations and slavery. This
was the part of the South many considered the "most
Later, the general definition expanded to include all of South
Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana, and often
taking in bordering areas of
East Texas and North 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
South Carolina west into East Texas, with extensions
north and south along the Mississippi".
Houston is the largest city
Deep South region.
Major metropolitan areas
Metropolitan areas with more than 1,000,000 people:
Houston–The Woodlands–Sugar Land, TX CSA
Atlanta–Athens–Clarke–Sandy Springs, GA CSA
Birmingham–Hoover–Talladega, AL CSA
Jacksonville-St. Marys-Palatka, FL-GA CSA
New Orleans–Metarie–Hammond, LA–MS CSA
Memphis–Forrest City, TN–MS–CSA
Greenville–Spartanburg–Anderson, SC CSA
Census Population Ancestry Map, with African-American ancestry in
In the 1980 census, of those people who identified solely by one
European national ancestry, most European Americans identified as
being of English ancestry in every Southern state except Louisiana,
where more people identified as having French ancestry. A
significant number also have Irish and Scots-Irish ancestry.
With regards to people in the
Deep South who reported only a single
European-American ancestry group in 1980, the census showed the
following self-identification in each state in this region:
Alabama – 857,864 persons out of a total of 2,165,653 people in the
state identified as "English," making them 41% of the state and the
largest national ancestry group at the time by a wide margin.
Georgia – 1,132,184 out of 3,009,484 people identified as "English,"
making them 37.62% of the state's total.
Mississippi – 496,481 people out of 1,551,364 people identified as
"English," making them 32.00% of the total, the largest national group
by a wide margin.
Florida – 1,132,033 people out of 5,159,967 identified "English" as
their only ancestry group, making them 21.94% of the total.
Louisiana – 440,558 people out of 2,319,259 people identified only
as "English," making them 19.00% of the total people and the
second-largest ancestry group in the state at the time. Those who
wrote only "French" were 480,711 people out of 2,319,259 people, or
20.73% of the total state population.
Texas – 1,639,322 people identified as "English" only out of a total
of 7,859,393 people, making them 20.86% of the total people in the
state and the largest ancestry group by a large margin.
These figures to do not take into account people who identified as
"English" and another ancestry group. When the two were added
together, people who self identified as being of English with other
ancestry, made up an even larger portion of southerners. South
Carolina was settled earlier than those states commonly classified as
the Deep South. Its population in 1980 included 578,338 people out of
1,706,966 people in the state who identified as "English" only, making
them 33.88% of the total population, the largest national ancestry
group by a large margin.
The map to the right was prepared by the
Census Bureau from the 2000
census; it shows the predominant ancestry in each county as
self-identified by residents themselves. Note: The
Census said that
areas with the largest "American"-identified ancestry populations were
mostly settled by descendants of colonial English and others from the
British Isles, French, Germans and later Italians. Those who are
African-descended tended to identify as African American, although
many of historically mixed-race families also have ancestors of
British Isles or Northern European ancestry.
As of 2003[update], the majority of African-descended Americans in the
South live in the Black Belt counties.
From the 1870s to the early 1960s, conservative whites of the Deep
South held control of state governments and overwhelmingly identified
as and supported the old version of the Democratic Party. The most
powerful leaders belonged to the party’s moderate-to-conservative
wing. The Republicans also controlled many mountain districts on the
fringe of the Deep South.
At the turn of the 20th century, all of the Southern states, starting
Mississippi in 1890, passed new constitutions and other laws that
effectively disenfranchised the great majority of blacks and sometimes
many poor whites as well. Blacks were excluded subsequently from the
political system entirely. The white Democratic-dominated state
legislatures passed laws to impose white supremacy and Jim Crow,
including racial segregation of public facilities. In politics the
region became known for decades as the "Solid South": while this
disenfranchisement was enforced, all of the states in this region were
one-party states dominated by white Southern Democrats. Southern
representatives accrued outsized power in the Congress and the
national Democratic Party, as they controlled all the seats
apportioned to southern states based on total population but
represented only the richer subset of their white populations.
During this same period, the number of lynchings of blacks by whites
reached a peak in the region; the most deaths annually were in the
years shortly before the turn of the century, when economic problems
and stress were high in the region.
Major demographic changes ensued in the 20th century; during the two
waves of the Great Migration, a total of six million African Americans
left the South for opportunities in the North, Midwest and West Coast.
In some areas, white migration increased into the South, especially
since the late 20th century. Beginning with the Goldwater–Johnson
election of 1964, a significant contingent of white conservative
voters in the
Deep South stopped supporting national Democratic Party
candidates and switched to Republicans. They still voted for many
Democrats at the state and local level into the 1990s.
The Republican Party in the South had been crippled by the
disenfranchisement of blacks, and the national party was unable to
relieve their injustices in the South. During the
Great Depression and
the administration of Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt, some New Deal
measures were promoted as intending to aid African Americans across
the country and in the poor rural South, as well as poor whites. In
the post-World War II era, Democratic Party presidents and national
politicians began to support desegregation and other elements of the
Civil Rights Movement, from President Harry S. Truman's desegregating
the military, to John F. Kennedy's support for non-violent
protests. These efforts culminated in Lyndon B. Johnson's
important work in gaining Congressional approval for the Civil Rights
Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965. Since then, upwards of
ninety percent of African Americans in the South and the rest of the
nation have voted for the Democratic Party, including 93 percent
for Obama in 2012 and 88 percent for Hillary Clinton in 2016.
White southern voters consistently voted for the Democratic Party for
many years, in order to hold onto
Jim Crow Laws. Once Franklin Delano
Roosevelt came to power in 1932, however, the limited southern
electorate found itself supporting Democratic candidates who
frequently did not share its views.
The weird thing about
Jim Crow politics is that white southerners with
conservative views on taxes, moral values, and national security would
vote for Democratic presidential candidates who didn’t share their
views. They did that as part of a strategy for maintaining white
supremacy in the South. (Yglesias 2007).
One opinion piece attributed the political and cultural changes, along
with the easing of racial tensions, as the reason why southern voters
began to vote for Republican national candidates, in line with their
political ideology. Since then, white Southern voters have voted
for Republican candidates in every presidential election except in the
1976 election when Georgia native
Jimmy Carter received the Democratic
nomination, the 1980 election when Carter won Georgia, the 1992
Arkansas native and former governor
Bill Clinton won
Georgia and Louisiana, and Arkansas, and the 1996 election when the
incumbent president Clinton again won
Louisiana and Arkansas. In 1995,
Newt Gingrich was elected by representatives of a
Republican-dominated House as Speaker of the House.
Since the 1990s the white majority has continued to shift toward
Republican candidates at the state and local levels. This trend
culminated in 2014, when the Republicans swept every statewide office
in the region midterm elections. As a result, the Republican party
came to control all the state legislatures in the region, as well as
all House seats that were not representing majority-minority
Presidential elections in which the
Deep South diverged noticeably
Upper South occurred in 1928, 1948, 1964, 1968, and, to a
lesser extent, in 1952, 1956, 1992, and 2008. Former
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
Black Belt (U.S. region)
^ Fryer, Darcy. "The Origins of the Lower South". Lehigh University.
Retrieved 30 December 2008. [unreliable source?]
^ Freehling, William (1994). "The Editorial Revolution, Virginia, and
the Coming of the Civil War: A Review Essay". The Regeneration of
American History. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 10.
ISBN 978-0-19-508808-3. Retrieved 2008-12-30.
^ a b "Deep South". The Free Dictionary. Retrieved 2007-01-18.
^ a b Neal R. Pierce, The
Deep South States of America: People,
Politics, and Power in the Seven States of the
Deep South (1974), pp
^ Williard B. Gatewood Jr.; Jeannie M. Whayne, eds. (1996). The
Arkansas Delta: Land of Paradox. University of
^ Diane D. Blair; Jay Barth (2005).
Arkansas Politics and Government.
U of Nebraska Press. p. 66.
^ a b John Reed and Dale Volberg Reed, 1001 Things Everyone Should
Know About the South, Doubleday, 1996
^ The Encyclopedia of Southern History. Edited by David C. Roller and
Robert W. Twyman. Baton Rouge:
Louisiana State University Press, 1979
^ Moskin, Julie (2004-06-18). "An Obscure
Texas Celebration Makes Its
Way Across the U.S." The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-04-28.
^ "The World Celebrates Freedom". Juneteenth.com. Retrieved
Census Bureau Regions and Divisions with State FIPS Codes" (PDF).
US Census. December 2008. Archived from the original (PDF) on
2013-09-21. Retrieved December 24, 2014.
^ Grady McWhiney, Cracker Culture: Celtic Ways in the
Old South (1989)
^ David Hackett Fischer, Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in
America (1989) pp 605–757.
^ Frank D. Bean; Gillian Stevens. America's Newcomers and the Dynamics
of Diversity. p. 213. doi:10.7758/9781610440356.
ISBN 978-1-61044-035-6. JSTOR 10.7758/9781610440356.
^ Michael Perman, Pursuit of unity: a political history of the
American South (U of
North Carolina Press, 2010).
^ 6 J. Morgan Kousser, The Shaping of Southern Politics: Suffrage
Restriction and the Rise of the One-Party South, 1880–1910 (Yale UP,
^ Michael Perman, Struggle for mastery: Disfranchisement in the South,
1888–1908 (U of
North Carolina Press, 2003).
^ Gabriel J. Chin & Randy Wagner, "The Tyranny of the Minority:
Jim Crow and the Counter-Majoritarian Difficulty,"43 Harvard Civil
Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review 65 (2008)
^ Richard M. Valelly, The Two Reconstructions: The Struggle for Black
Enfranchisement University of Chicago Press, 2009, pp. 146-147
^ Earl Black and Merle Black, The rise of southern Republicans
(Harvard University Press, 2009).
^ Harvard Sitkoff, "Harry Truman and the Election of 1948: The Coming
of Age of Civil Rights in American Politics." Journal of Southern
History 37.4 (1971): 597-616
^ Mark Stern, Calculating visions: Kennedy, Johnson, and civil rights
(Rutgers UP, 1992).
^ Brad Lockerbie, "Race and religion: Voting behavior and political
Social Science Quarterly 94.4 (2013): 1145–1158.
^ Tami Luhby and Jennifer Agiesta, "Exit polls: Clinton fails to
energize African-Americans, Latinos and the young" CNN Nov, 9, 2016
^ Yglesias, "Why did the South turn Republican?", The Atlantic
^ Opinion: "It's Not Dixie's Fault", The Washington Post, 17 July 2015
^ "Demise of the Southern Democrat is Now Nearly Complete". The Sydney
Morning Herald. 12 December 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-13.
^ Charles S. Bullock III and Mark J. Rozell, eds. The New Politics of
the Old South: An Introduction to Southern Politics (2009)
Brown, D. Clayton. King Cotton: A Cultural, Political, and Economic
History since 1945 (University Press of Mississippi, 2011) 440 pp.
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
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
Deep South (2007)
Regions of the United States
District of Columbia
Minor Outlying Island
E N Central
W N Central
E S Central
W S Central
Slave and free states
Red states and blue states