Originally Posted by portyhead24
But what defines Texan? and for that matter what defines Southern? and where do those characteristics intersect and diverge?
Interesting question! And at least so far as "what defines Southern", there was a good thread on it at one time:
What makes the South "Southern"?
But as to your direct question of the merger/divergence of Texas and the other states which made up the Old Confederacy? I would say -- off the top of my head -- the following (noting that East Texas is an exception, as it is where the Deep South begins):
1. A frontier western culture as opposed to ante-bellum eastern. Ranching, cattle and cowboys.
2. Generally speaking, less of an obscession/identification with "being Southern" than "being Texan." The two connect, of course. Let a "yankee" get obnoxious and bad-mouth the South in Texas, and they will find the fight they are looking for. Which indicates, even if latently, that most Texans feel themselves part of the South in some form or fashion. Or at least instinctively know non-Southerners see it that way and they percieve an attack on the South as an attack on Texas. I don't really know how to explain this one...but I have seen it work before.
3. Topography. Most of Texas doesn't fit that moonlight and magnolias image. Forests of any sort -- while definitely more prevelant than Hollywood westerns present -- are not the general rule in Texas (again, East Texas being the exeption).
4. Size. As "Acidman" (may he RIP), once said: Texas is just TOO DAMN BIG to be truly Southern.
5. Diversity. Unlike most Southern states (Louisiana is a noteable exception with its Cajun/French population), Texas has always had at least a sizeable Mexican and German influence. The former is NOT like that of the true Interior Southwest (which Texas is not part of) , but it exists in a way which it doesn't elsewhere in the South.
1. Settlement patterns: Texas was settled overwhelmingly -- both ante and post-bellum -- by pioneers/adventurers from the American Southeast. Hell, there is an old barb I once read where some wag from Georgia said to some northerner: We Southerners sent our embarrassing and insane kin to Texas...where did you yankees send y'alls?
2. Cotton culture. Texas was very much part of the old Southern "Cotton Belt". For all its iconic legend in movies, it was not cattle but cotton that played the dominant role in state agriculture for many years.
3. Speech -- "Texas tawk" is just one of many sub-varities of what is broadly known as "Southern American English".
4. Religion -- The Southern Baptist Church is easily the largest Protestant denomination in the state.
5. The Confederacy: Even though Texas is not the state in which Confederate traditions have lived most strongly, it was a charter member of the CSA. Confederate Heroes Day is an official state holiday and monuments to the Confederacy exist on almost all county courthouse grounds (even out in El Paso). And quite a few Texas high schools are named after Confederate heroes and adopt the "Rebels" mascot and use "Dixie" as a fight song.
6. Traditions; Tex-Mex is Texican, but most Texas "home cookin" is a direct decendant of those brought by our southeastern antecedents. BBQ, catfish, fried okra, black-eyed peas on New Years Day (particularly noteable), iced tea consumed by the gallons. Family reunions and the notion of the extended family.
7. Self-Identification: THIS one might be the most important of all. Every "scientific" survey ever done indicates that the vast majority of Texans consider themselves to live in the South and be Southerners.
Ok...I am through. If there is anyone out there still awake after reading this long-winded speel of mine, please forgive me for running on so long!