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Old 09-01-2007, 01:41 PM
 
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What is it, that makes the South "Southern"?

Another way to put it is, what subjective or objective criteria is it which would make no one exclude Mississippi or Alabama from the South, yet debate the status of say, Texas, Florida, Virginia, or even Arkansas?

As a native Texan who not only embraces "Southern studies" as an avocation, but considers myself every bit as Southern as anyone in the Deep South, this question is one I have always pondered over.

Historically speaking, today's Deep South states have no more claim to the appellation "Southern" than does Texas (or any of the other above mentioned states). For many, many years after the War Between the States, the South was simply understood to mean those that made up the Old Confederacy (and often embraced Kentucky as well). Distinctions between which were "more Southern" were not made for quite a while. Texas and Virginia were the South equally with Georgia and South Carolina. It was unquestioned fact.

BUT...as time when on (and I have my own thoughts on why, which I will share later), the definition seemed to "evolve" to the point that, nowadays, some in the Deep South feel they are the ONLY Southerners, and can exclude states which traditionally belonged, with confidence. Why for instance, would Mississippi be undeniably Southern while Texas is debatable, even though both fought equally hard and long and devoted in the Confederacy?

I don't make that observation in a note of bitterness at all, but as one truly interested in WHY it is so?

I might add that this topic is mainly intended as one for Southerners to speak on, but of course not limited to those from outside the region. In fact, outsider input might be informative/insightful as well.

Soooo, without further ado...what characteristics make the South Southern?

Last edited by TexasReb; 09-01-2007 at 02:11 PM..
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Old 09-01-2007, 02:06 PM
 
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My mother and her family all Texan, and she always referred to herself and to Texas as the South. But did differentiate it from the Deep South. She was an old Dixiecrat, voted Democrat. But the party back then is not recognizable now, sadly. They were all hard working, proud, pioneering and self reliant types, never took "charity". All smokers and drinkers (bootleggers), but also went to church and were "religious" folks. Very generous and friendly, would gladly give the shirts off their backs for family as well as strangers. Very good cooks, made plenty for everyone, you never got up from the table "hungry", and it would have been a big shame not to have enough food for guests. Had strict values and a moral code which guided their lives, and passed it down to their progeny, even though not always "law abiding".

So, I agree, we are very much part of the South and southern traditions. However we also had Mexico to contend with and more flags flew under Texas, don't know if that has made any difference. Our state history is very unique and particular, compared to the rest of the southern states. The Deep South just basically can claim the Confederate flag? Don't know for sure.
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Old 09-01-2007, 02:51 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lilypad View Post
My mother and her family all Texan, and she always referred to herself and to Texas as the South. But did differentiate it from the Deep South. She was an old Dixiecrat, voted Democrat. But the party back then is not recognizable now, sadly. They were all hard working, proud, pioneering and self reliant types, never took "charity". All smokers and drinkers (bootleggers), but also went to church and were "religious" folks. Very generous and friendly, would gladly give the shirts off their backs for family as well as strangers. Very good cooks, made plenty for everyone, you never got up from the table "hungry", and it would have been a big shame not to have enough food for guests. Had strict values and a moral code which guided their lives, and passed it down to their progeny, even though not always "law abiding".

So, I agree, we are very much part of the South and southern traditions. However we also had Mexico to contend with and more flags flew under Texas, don't know if that has made any difference. Our state history is very unique and particular, compared to the rest of the southern states. The Deep South just basically can claim the Confederate flag? Don't know for sure.
Thank you for a VERY astute and articulate reply, lilypad! The experience you describe was very much like my own. And it is Southern. And I especially think you are onto something when you mention the different flags over Texas as perhaps being one source of our "difference" with the other states of the Old Confederacy.

But as to the intended primary topic of the thread (what makes the South "Southern"), you noted some relevent things, such as a growing up experience that embraced family and church (even if they took that snort on Saturday night in "dry" counties! LOL). And of course, hospitality.
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Old 09-01-2007, 03:24 PM
 
Location: Richmond
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I think its the vibe of a place that makes it Southern. Something in the air. Of course there are obvious things too- slower place of life, sweet tea in the restaurants, kudzu, people who are keen on their ancestors during the War of Northern Agression....

Each southern area has their own brand of Southern, but somehow its all connected.

Richmond has that southern feel most definitely. So does Nashville, Charleston, Savannah, etc

Each place is different though. Someone once wrote there are "many Souths". I think thats true . The South is big enough to have sub regions.

Just as the North as New England- the South has Texas and Louisiana.

ETC.
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Old 09-02-2007, 08:54 PM
 
Location: Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex
1,297 posts, read 3,683,375 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vasinger View Post
I

Each southern area has their own brand of Southern, but somehow its all connected.

Each place is different though. Someone once wrote there are "many Souths". I think thats true . The South is big enough to have sub regions.
This is a good way to put it, vasinger. And there are also subregions in other regional areas of the country. I've heard of some very "elitist" Southerners who don't consider most of the South, the "South", not even what you would think of as the "Deep South". They think the "Old South" is all that counts. Very snobbish and close-minded, IMO. This Old South only consists of the southern portions of Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina, if I remember correctly. But by their criteria even THEY wouldn't be considered Old South since there's no such thing anymore unless they are living on plantations with slaves, God forbid! But they are extremists.

And TexasReb, you're right. There were no distinctions as to "Southernness" in the old Confederacy. I think what characterizes the South are maybe some small things as well as major. Obviously, all the states in the Confederacy is one example. That is the BIGGEST one. All those states considered themselves and each other Southern because of common heritage, values and way of life. There is also the similar accent and the similar food which helps with identification.

So we have these examples which, of course, are just some of the distinguishing characteristics and not limited to this list:

1. Membership in Old Confederacy
2. Common heritage
3. Values
4. Way of life
5. Accent
6. Cuisine

And I've never understood the debate over the states you mentioned, Texas, Florida, Virginia or Arkansas. Texas was settled by Southerners and was one of the first seven original members of the Confederacy; Florida is Southern except for maybe pockets of retirees, Miami, etc., Arkansas - well, I don't get that one, they've always seemed Southern to me, I've known a few Arkansans. And Virginia??? The capital of the Confederacy? Robert E. Lee's home? There's never been a question in my mind about Virginia's status. Maybe there are pockets of it like with Florida where natives are in danger of becoming outnumbered. That exists here where I live in the Dallas and Fort Worth area. It makes me very sad when I'm in some restaurants or stores or wherever and the Southern accents are in the minority!!!
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Old 09-02-2007, 09:40 PM
 
Location: Phoenix metro
20,005 posts, read 65,476,597 times
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Seriously... mods? Can we PLEASE get a forum for just Southern threads? I mean really, they take up most of the General Board anyways. Better hurry up and give em their own board before they secede from C-D.


j/k
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Old 09-02-2007, 10:18 PM
 
10,167 posts, read 15,829,401 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve-o View Post
Seriously... mods? Can we PLEASE get a forum for just Southern threads? I mean really, they take up most of the General Board anyways. Better hurry up and give em their own board before they secede from C-D.


j/k
Why does this bother you, Steve? You don't have to read them.
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Old 09-02-2007, 10:28 PM
 
Location: Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex
1,297 posts, read 3,683,375 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve-o View Post
Seriously... mods? Can we PLEASE get a forum for just Southern threads? I mean really, they take up most of the General Board anyways. Better hurry up and give em their own board before they secede from C-D.


j/k
LOL!!!!!!!!!!

I'm sorry! Steve-O has been a contentious bone with some of us but I thought this was hilarious! Must admit, good one, Steve-O!
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Old 09-02-2007, 11:26 PM
 
Location: Haddington, E. Lothian, Scotland
748 posts, read 536,228 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve-o View Post
Better hurry up and give em their own board before they secede from C-D.


j/k
I thought that was the desired outcome all along?

Yes please, give the southerners a place to crow to each other about how great it is that they lost a war, eat greasy food and sit indoors all day.
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Old 09-03-2007, 12:20 AM
 
10,167 posts, read 15,829,401 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FistFightingHairdresser View Post
I thought that was the desired outcome all along?

Yes please, give the southerners a place to crow to each other about how great it is that they lost a war, eat greasy food and sit indoors all day.
Sit indoors all day? You were doing good before you said that. Actually, on summer evenings, when the locusts start to sing to each other and the lightning bugs come out and put on a fireworks show, we like to sit out on the front porch!

Lost the war? Yeah, I guess that it true. But fact is, when all is added up, our boys wore out themselves whippin' the yanks.
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