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Deep South

The states in dark red compose the Deep South today. Adjoining areas of East Texas, North Florida and the Florida Panhandle are also considered part of this subregion. Historically, these seven states formed the original Confederate States of America.

The Deep South is a descriptive category of the cultural and geographic subregions in the American South. Historically, it is differentiated from the "Upper South" as being the states which were most dependent on plantation type agriculture during the pre-Civil War period. The Deep South was also commonly referred to as the Lower South or the Cotton States.[1][2]

Today, the Deep South is usually delineated as being those states and areas where things most often thought of as "Southern" exist in their most concentrated form.[3]



The term "Deep South" is defined in a variety of ways:

  • Most definitions include the states of Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina.[4][5]
  • The seven states that seceded from the United States before the firing on Fort Sumter and the start of the American Civil War, and originally formed the Confederate States of America. In order of secession they are: South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas. Due to the migration patterns of the last half-century, some areas of Florida and Texas are often no longer included under the term. However, there are certain parts of these states, such as East Texas, the Florida Panhandle, the First Coast, and North Central Florida that retain cultural characteristics of the Deep South.
  • A large part of the original "Cotton Belt", generally extending from eastern North Carolina to South Carolina and through the Gulf States as far west as East Texas, and including those parts of western Tennessee and eastern Arkansas in the Mississippi embayment.[6]


Although often used in history books to refer to the seven states which originally formed the Confederacy, the term "Deep South" was not actually coined until long after the conflict had ended. Prior to the Civil War, "Lower South" was the usual designation used to refer to the said states. When "Deep South" first made its appearance in print "during the second third of the twentieth century" it originally applied to the states/areas of Mississippi, north Louisiana, southern parts of Alabama and Georgia, and northern Florida. This was the part of the South considered to be the "most Southern" of all.[7]

Later, the general definition expanded to include the whole of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina, often taking in bordering areas of East Texas and the original inclusion of 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 Carolina through South Carolina west into East Texas, with extentions north and south along the Mississippi." [6]


For a long time, the Deep South overwhelmingly supported the Democratic Party as a legacy of the rival Republican Party's beginnings as a Northern organization responsible for the American Civil War, which devastated the economy of the Old South. However, since the 1964 presidential election[8] along with the Civil Rights Movement, the Deep South has tended to vote Republican in presidential elections, except in the 1976 election when Georgia native Jimmy Carter received the Democratic nomination. Since the 1990s there has been a continued shift toward Republican candidates in most political venues; another Georgian, Republican Newt Gingrich, was elected Speaker of the House in 1995. Presidential elections in which the region diverged noticeably from the Upper South occurred in 1928, 1948, 1964, 1968, and, to a lesser extent, in 1952, 1956 and 2008. Arkansan 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 primary in Mississippi).

See also

  • Bible Belt
  • Black Belt (U.S. region)
  • Solid South


Further reading

  • Brown, D. Clayton. King Cotton: A Cultural, Political, and Economic History since 1945 (University Press of Mississippi, 2011) 440 pp. isbn 978-1-60473-798-1
  • Davis, Allison. Deep South: A Social Anthropological Study of Caste and Class (1941) classic case study from late 1930s
  • Dollard, John. Caste and Class in a Southern Town (1941),classic case study
  • 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 politicas and issues, state by state
  • Rothman, Adam. Slave Country: American Expansion and the Origins of the Deep South (2007)

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