Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture

The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture: Volume 2: Geography

Copyright Date: 2006
Pages: 248
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture
    Book Description:

    The location of "the South" is hardly a settled or static geographic concept. Culturally speaking, are Florida and Arkansas really part of the same region? Is Texas considered part of the South or the West? This volume ofThe New Encyclopedia of Southern Culturegrapples with the contestable issue of where the cultural South is located, both on maps and in the minds of Americans.Richard Pillsbury's introductory essay explores the evolution of geographic patterns of life within the region--agricultural practices, urban patterns, residential buildings, religious preferences, foodways, and language. The entries that follow address general topics of cultural geographic interest, such as Appalachia, exiles and expatriates, Latino and Jewish populations, migration patterns, and the profound Disneyfication of central Florida. Entries with a more concentrated focus examine major cities, such as Atlanta, New Orleans, and Memphis; the influence of black and white southern migrants on northern cities; and individual subregions, such as the Piedmont, Piney Woods, Tidewater, and Delta. Putting together the disparate pieces that make up the place called "the South," this volume sets the scene for the discussions in all the other volumes ofThe New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture.

    eISBN: 978-1-4696-1654-4
    Subjects: Population Studies, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xvi)

    In 1989, years of planning and hard work came to fruition when the University of North Carolina Press joined the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi to publish theEncyclopedia of Southern Culture. While all those involved in writing, reviewing, editing, and producing the volume believed it would be received as a vital contribution to our understanding of the American South, no one could have anticipated fully the widespread acclaim it would receive from reviewers and other commentators. But theEncyclopediawas indeed celebrated, not only by scholars but also by popular audiences with...

    (pp. xvii-xx)

    The past 20 years have been some of the most tumultuous in the cultural history of the South. For almost a century and a half the region was largely cut off from the mainstream of cultural life in America. Few outsiders came to this economic backwater. For the first century few left. The region stewed upon its own history and cultural roots to create the most distinctive regional subculture in America. The 1930s brought the beginning of the great diaspora from the region; but the insular life within the region was intensified, if anything, by these movements. America’s post–World...

    (pp. 1-34)

    The South stretches more than 1,200 miles westward from the Atlantic Ocean to create the largest of the American landscape regions. Isolated from the mainstream of American cultural and economic life through much of the 19th and most of the 20th centuries, the people of this sprawling region created a distinctive way of life and landscape. Though the South was recognized as a distinct American economic and political region from colonial times, its unique character did not mature until the 19th century. Colonial housing, town patterns, general material culture, and even diet were all largely transplanted from Europe and were...

  6. African Origins Populations. See Ethnicity, Patterns in Agricultural Regions
    (pp. 35-41)

    Agriculture dominated the economic and social life of the South from its beginnings until well into the 20th century. The demands of this activity were responsible for both the very best and the very worst elements of the region’s cultural evolution and shaped most aspects of its social life. Today, the rural South may be divided into three quite distinct agricultural regions, with only vestiges of the powerful cotton and tobacco belts that once defined much of its life still remaining (Map 4).

    LOWLAND SOUTH. The agrarian Lowland South is characterized by islands of specialized farming amid a sea of...

  7. Appalachia
    (pp. 42-45)

    Appalachia is a single place in the minds of those who do not live there. Indeed there is some correlation between image and reality—a rugged landscape, poverty, physical isolation, mental isolation. There are, however, also significant regional differences within Appalachia. Misunderstanding derives from the very rugged beauty of the land, which has meant that generations of families have lived nestled in coves and small valleys with few visitors, much less new unrelated residents. The very closeness of the rugged landscape gave residents a sense of security until they were literally driven to move, and then only reluctantly. Residents did...

  8. Central Florida, Disneyfication of
    (pp. 45-49)

    Since 1970, the population of central Florida has exploded, and, as a result, its ever-expanding built environment has expanded over former agricultural scrublands. With the creation of Walt Disney World (opened to the public on 1 October 1971) some 24 miles west of the formal city limits of Orlando, this city has since stretched itself into a regional metropolis, the center of which cannot easily be discerned. Indeed, Orlando is not really a city anymore, or at least anything recognizable as such. Rather it is a veritable archipelago of more or less metropolitanized places, or urbanized bits, only loosely connected...

  9. Crime and Violence
    (pp. 49-55)

    Throughout its history, the South has been labeled a violent region with persistently high rates of homicide. The concept of Southern Violence Syndrome (SVS) is corroborated in research by scholars from many disciplines, including sociologists and criminologists. The reasons cited are varied, with explanations including transference of cultural and behavioral traits to the new world, the existence of a code of honor, and a fascination with guns. Although it is unclear at what point in history an SVS actually developed, the earliest records showed a regional difference in homicide even in the 1800s.

    Since the 1930s, the FBI’s statistics have...

  10. Ethnic Geography
    (pp. 55-58)

    Many of the social systems and distinctive elements of culture that vary within the South and that collectively help distinguish the region can be explained on the basis of ethnicity. Ethnic geography explores the spatial aspects of ethnicity. Place is an important component of ethnicity, and ethnic groups exhibit territorial patterns of organization by clustering in defined areas. Ethnic groups in the South are distributed in spatial units that range from a few relatively large regional concentrations, including Mexican Americans along the borderlands of Texas, Cubans in south Florida, and Cajuns in southern Louisiana, to numerous small rural and urban...

  11. Ethnicity, Patterns in
    (pp. 58-62)

    Permanent European and African habitation began in the South in the 17th century. Most of the region had been lightly settled with a variety of Amerindian peoples prior to that time, but through a combination of disease, removal, and genocide, the vast majority of these peoples were gone by the middle of the 19th century. Some diffuse elements of this earlier culture were absorbed into the larger traditional southern culture, most notably in the use of a variety of semi-indigenous crops, some specialized buildings, and the use of existing primary route ways, but in the larger scheme of things only...

  12. Expatriates and Exiles
    (pp. 62-69)

    Basil Ransome, a character in Henry James’sThe Bostonians(1886), left his native South after the Civil War and headed for New York City “with fifty dollars in his pocket and a gnawing hunger in his heart.” He exemplified what Thomas Wolfe described as the southerner consumed by an “eternal wandering, moving, questing, loneliness, homesickness.” The uprooted southerner, Wolfe’s Ismael, has been a culturally important figure since the Civil War. Despite the notable southern attachment to localism, mobility has also been a characteristic of 20th-century southerners, but perhaps because of the power of memory and of place, emigrant southerners have...

  13. Foodways, Geography of
    (pp. 69-72)

    The mechanisms of the natural environment and the historical processes of culture link food to place. Together, ecology and culture account for the diversity of foodways in the South. Early settlers carried with them knowledge, practice, and predisposition concerning food. Those traditions were usually derived from Europe, but they were also filtered through other parts of the New World such as Acadian Canada. Native Americans provided new culinary inspiration and strategies. African Americans, in slavery and freedom, blended African food preferences, techniques, and even vocabulary with those of the predominantly European agricultural and urban populations.

    For settlers, the South’s new...

  14. Hispanic/Latino Origins Populations
    (pp. 72-76)

    Hispanic/Latino populations are exploding across the states of the South. Headlines in local publications from South Carolina to Georgia to Tennessee report “Hispanic Culture Woven into Carolina Tapestry,” “Political Parties Seek Share of Hispanic Voters,” “Construction Industry Owes Hispanic Employees for Boom.” Stories reveal the opening of new Hispanic groceries, the rise of predominantly Hispanic churches, the formation of new Latin soccer leagues, the founding of Spanish-language newspapers, and the creation of new radio stations that broadcast in both English and Spanish. The expansion of Hispanics to the region is part of a larger Latino diaspora that is spreading across...

  15. Indians and the Landscape
    (pp. 76-78)

    The southern American Indians at the time of the Europeans’ arrival represented a population of about one million. These Indians spoke distinct languages of the Algonkian, Iroquoian, Siouan, Yuchean, Muskogean, Tunican, and Caddoan stocks. A short list of the better-documented tribes speaking those languages includes the Powhatan, Shawnee, Tuscarora, Cherokee, Catawba, Yuchi, Choctaw, Seminole, Natchez, Tunica, Chitimacha, and the Natchitoches. After decimation by European diseases and forced movement west by secretly arranged treaties and violent expulsions, the Indian population in most of the South vanished. Although today their numbers in the region have grown to almost 195,000, this is a...

  16. Industrial Regions
    (pp. 79-86)

    Throughout its history, southern manufacturing has undergone several significant changes in its structure and composition. In 1972, for example, one in five members of the southern workforce found employment in manufacturing. By 2000 the proportion of those employed in the region’s factories had fallen to 11 percent. Over the same period, however, manufacturing as a whole grew in size and witnessed the simultaneous decline of its traditional industries and the rise of more advanced capital- and knowledge-intensive forms of manufacturing. These structural changes have been accompanied by a commensurate spatial reorganization that has taken place in and around the region’s...

  17. Jewish Origins Populations
    (pp. 86-90)

    American Jewish history is often said to commence with the migration of 23 Jews from Brazil to New Amsterdam in 1654. Yet much of the early history of Jews in the United States is not a history of the Northeast but of the South. The earliest synagogues were found not only in New Amsterdam, Newport, and Philadelphia, but also in Savannah, Charleston, and New Orleans. The first known Jew in North America was Joachim Gaunse, a mining technologist from Prague, who settled for one year (1585) at Roanoke Island, Va., to serve as a metallurgist in the colony founded by...

  18. Land Division
    (pp. 90-92)

    Different survey systems were used in the American South, including the metes and bounds system, the state rectangular systems, the French long lot system, and the U.S. township and range system. Each of these helped shape the distinctive physical and cultural landscape of the South.

    The metes and bounds survey system was introduced from Europe. It used natural boundary markers such as trees, streams, rocks, and other features. Very few of the areas where it was employed were surveyed before settlement. It created a series of very irregular and unsystematic landholding patterns. Surveyors made every effort to lay out these...

  19. Land Use
    (pp. 92-94)

    In its most general form, land use in the South may be viewed from the perspective of an Upland South and a Lowland South. The Upland South includes much of the Appalachian Highland and the Ozark-Ouachita Highland. These hilly-to-mountainous areas with steep slopes and poor soils have rarely supported an intensive and profitable agriculture. The predominant land-use pattern has been that of small, independently owned and operated farms on which woodlands and pastures served as low-quality grazing space for small livestock herds. Such limited farming enterprises, even with their provisional crops, have provided a meager living. Often the owners of...

  20. Language Regions
    (pp. 94-100)

    Within a national language, regional dialects reflect social experience in the context of land forms. The comparatively recent settlement of the Western Hemisphere by Europeans provides a powerful illustration of the taking of new-found lands. The North American example demonstrates settlement processes, routes of interior migration, political structure, reactions to climate and physical geography, the emergence of cultural centers, the development of urban social structures through sociolinguistic complexity, and the reorganization of urban societies under the pressure of large numbers of recent immigrants.

    Of the four major language regions of American speech—Northern, Southern, Midland, and Western—none offers more...

  21. Log Housing
    (pp. 100-103)
    M. B. NEWTON JR.

    Until the arrival in the backcountry South of central Europeans after 1723, notched-log construction was not popular in the region. A few log houses may have survived from the Swedish settlement in the Delaware Valley, but the distinctive traits of that area did not become those of the southern log-building tradition. The log buildings of the South were of either British or central European plan and were executed with central European techniques.

    Pioneer German and Scots-Irish settlers in the backcountry built houses much like those in the Old World. Even today, a few directly transplanted German log houses dot the...

  22. Migration, Black
    (pp. 104-108)

    To black southerners, migration has symbolized both the limitations and the opportunities of American life. As slaves, many suffered forced migration and the heartbreak of separation from family and community. As freed men and women they seized upon spatial mobility as one of the most meaningful manifestations of their newly won emancipation. Subsequently, black southerners sought to better their conditions by moving within the rural South, to southern cities, and finally to northern cities in a frustrating quest for equality and opportunity. Simultaneously, white southerners acted to restrict such movement, because, until the mechanization of cotton agriculture, black geographic mobility...

  23. Migration Patterns
    (pp. 108-111)

    The historical and geographical dimensions of southern culture are partly the product of human migration. Migration streams have brought to the South a mix of peoples, spawning a unique cultural milieu. The variation of culture within the region is the product of an intricate pattern of migration streams within its boundaries. Migration has also brought many aspects of southern culture to other parts of the United States.

    By 1700 the most populous of the European settlements along the Atlantic shore of North America were in the Chesapeake region. During the next century additional footholds gained prominence, especially Charleston, and the...

  24. Plantation Morphology
    (pp. 111-113)

    The southern plantation symbolizes large-scale agricultural operations and landscapes and contrasts with the smaller family farm in the South. Whether the site of sugarcane, cotton, rice, indigo, or tobacco production, the southern plantation has left its mark on the landscape.

    For nearly two centuries the characteristics of traditional plantations included large, level fields extending over hundreds, even thousands, of acres. Plantations were located primarily in the flat terrain of the Atlantic and Gulf coasts and Mississippi floodplains or in the rolling fields in the Upland South. A web of ditches, canals, and field roads was etched into the landscape. Centrally...

  25. Population
    (pp. 113-117)

    In 2000, 84,283,000 persons lived in the 11 former states of the Confederacy, as shown in Table 4. This number is a 19.1 percent gain since 1990, when 70,774,000 lived in the region, and a 94.0 percent gain since 1960, when the population was 43,436,000. At the time of the first census in 1790, the South’s population of 1,454,000 was 37.0 percent in 1930. It has since rebounded, rising to 27.1 percent in 1980 and 30.0 percent in 2000.

    For more than a century after initial settlement, the South was less a destination than a point of origin for migrants....

  26. Religious Regions
    (pp. 117-121)

    Viewed from a national perspective, the South is remarkably homogeneous in its religion. Protestantism predominates, and, in the majority of counties, Baptists and Methodists together account for nearly all the church affiliation. This is true for black and white southerners alike. The region is further distinguished by having high rates of church membership in comparison with other sections of the country. Within the general uniformity of southern religion, however, a degree of diversity exists that is worthy of attention.

    The dominance of Baptist groups is perhaps the most striking feature of southern religion. They predominate in most counties, reaching maximum...

  27. Retirement Regions
    (pp. 121-125)

    There were 35 million persons over 65 in the United States in 2001, and it is estimated that there will be about 70 million by 2010. Most of these will remain in their communities. Increasing numbers will not. The impact of those who choose to relocate after retirement has been significant upon the areas where they have tended to concentrate, both in the South and elsewhere. The affluent have long relocated to more salubrious climes after retirement, but the practice has rapidly expanded to all but the least economically well-off since the end of World War II. Whether it is...

  28. Rice Plantations
    (pp. 125-129)

    Early English settlement of colonies along the southeastern coastline of North America centered on the search for the commodity that could generate the greatest profit. The identification of that crop initiated a period of rapid population and economic expansion and did much to establish the enduring social character of the area. For the Chesapeake Bay that commodity was tobacco. For the lowlands between the Cape Fear River in North Carolina and the Altamaha and Satilla rivers in Georgia, and especially along the South Carolina coast between Georgetown and Charleston, those core products were indigo and, most importantly, rice. Opinions differ...

  29. Roadside
    (pp. 129-133)

    Donald Davidson wrote inThe Attack on Leviathan(1938) that southern cities reflecting “the finest flavor of the old regime” could not be reached except by passing “over brand-new roads where billboards, tourist camps, filling stations and factories broke out in a modernistic rash among the water oaks and Spanish moss.” Davidson saw the roadside in the South as a prime symbol of the evils of modernization, which were destroying the best of the region’s agrarian tradition.

    The automobile indeed reshaped the southern roadside in the 20th century, promoting Americanization and standardization through billboards, service stations, fast food restaurants, trailer...

  30. Southwest
    (pp. 133-139)

    The term “Southwest” has long been used popularly and by scholars to refer to a major subregion of the South. The Old Southwest of the early 19th century included lands recently opened to white settlement—Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, Arkansas, and Louisiana. By the 1840s the Southwest included Texas. With the acquisition and settlement of land reaching to southern California, the “Southwest” grew to the west, but the relationship of this land to the South was increasingly unclear.

    The problems in defining the Southwest are important ones to understanding the complexities of southern culture and its cultural boundaries. Until recently,...

  31. Sports, Geography of
    (pp. 139-142)

    A trio of national games clearly dominates the South. Football is the premier sport, but baseball and basketball are also played, enjoyed, and in some places avidly followed. The best gauges of a sport’s grip on an area are per capita involvement and the number of high-quality performers originating locally. The per capita production of major college and professional football (NFL) players has been calculated for the period 1990–2004 in order to identify regional differences. The geographic origins of major league baseball players and collegiate basketball players have been charted for the same period.

    The relative importance of baseball,...

  32. Towns and Villages
    (pp. 142-146)

    Early urban communities in the South were not founded by investors or entrepreneurs as they had been in New England and New York, nor were they created by government-subsidized railroads as in much of theMidwest andWest. Rather, towns and villages that formed across much of the frontier South as service centers for a primarily agrarian clientele evolved out of transplanted European tradition and law. The plantations of the Tidewater colonies produced cotton, tobacco, and other commodities on a commercial scale, but their proprietors preferred to trade directly with Caribbean or European markets. Consequently, the market town did not develop early...

  33. Acadian Louisiana
    (pp. 147-153)

    Frenchmen from west-central France crossed the North Atlantic to become Acadians living on the far eastern margins of 17th-centuryNouvelle France. Caught up in their tragic diaspora,le grand dérangement, many Acadians became Cajuns in the 18th century and created a new homeland,Nouvelle Acadie, in south Louisiana. In both places, Acadia and south Louisiana, these French-speaking people created homelands by imposing their culture traits over time onto the landscape and by modifying their ways of living to accommodate foreign physical environments and interaction with other peoples. In both places, these Francophones bonded to one another and to their lands,...

  34. Atlanta
    (pp. 153-156)

    Atlanta today is part aging southern gentlewoman, part hip-hop princess, and part Yankee. The city has not a single identity but three major strands derived from historical experiences and recent aspirations. For many, the image of Atlanta is linked to the Old South, depicted in Margaret Mitchell’sGone with the Wind. The imprint of this Atlanta is still visible, though the long-abandoned textile mills are being converted to in-town loft housing, and even Margaret Mitchell’s house has burned twice and now is only a reconstruction. The traditional downtown, with its stately gold-domed capital, is still the seat of political power,...

  35. Birmingham
    (pp. 156-157)

    Sited in the last vestige of the Ridge and Valley Province of the Appalachian mountain system, Birmingham, Ala., is situated in Jones Valley between Red Mountain to the south and Sand Mountain to the north. The valley is named after John Jones, a rough character of some notoriety, who established the first settlement in 1815. Between 1815 and 1820, numerous families made their way into the valley between Red and Sand mountains, many giving their names to settlements that now form a number of the independent municipalities making up the Birmingham Metropolitan Standard Area (MSA) — McAdory, Tarrant, Roebuck, Wood (Woodlawn),...

  36. Black Belt
    (pp. 157-158)

    The Black Belt region, also called the Black Prairie, extends 300 miles across central Alabama and northeast Mississippi and into Tennessee. It is flat land, 20 to 25 miles wide, and lies within the Gulf South’s Coastal Plains, from 200 to 300 feet below the uplands that are north and south of the region. The dark soil for which the Black Belt was named was once famous for its richness and the abundant cotton produced in it. Cotton was, in fact, the main cash crop from the 1820s until early in the 20th century, when losses from the boll weevil...

  37. Carolina Lowcountry
    (pp. 158-161)

    The southeastern coast from North Carolina to Georgia rises barely above sea level. Often land’s edge is identified by a narrow sandbar that may be miles from the mainland; in other places, such as Myrtle Beach, that sandbar is pushed up against the mainland. Near or far, the southeastern Atlantic littoral is a zone of sand and water in motion, constantly being carried south by the coastal countercurrent but settling and resettling between the sandbars and rivers draining the interior. The larger sandbars, the barrier islands, are unstable, sliced by inlets, and prone to radical changes during major storms. Marshland,...

  38. Cherokee Settlement
    (pp. 161-163)

    The Cherokee nation, located in eastern Tennessee, the western Carolinas, northeastern Alabama, and northern Georgia, was one of the last important American Indian strongholds in the eastern United States in the early 19th century. The direct impact of its historical presence is confined to a few historic sites and buildings scattered throughout its home region and the small Qualla Reservation in North Carolina. Its influence on contemporary rural Appalachian settlement landscape, however, continues. Cherokee settlement patterns provide a case study of Indian influence on the South.

    The Cherokee were divided into four culturally distinct communities on both sides of the...

  39. Cotton Gins
    (pp. 163-165)

    Cotton gins once were common features on the landscape across much of the Lowland South. The demise of cotton in areas where it was king and the replacement of many small gin plants by a few large ones in areas where cotton continues to be an important crop have resulted in the dramatic decrease in the number of cotton gins in the South. The number declined from 30,000 in 1990 to less than 10,000 in 1945. In 2002 only 739 active cotton gins remained in the southern states. However, the average number of bales processed per cotton gin increased from...

  40. Courthouse Square
    (pp. 165-168)

    Comparatively few towns developed in the South, because from the days of earliest settlement the region’s largely rural residents traditionally resented towns and those living in them. South-erners believed that local government should be local, and southern states have the smallest counties in the nation. The establishment of a seat of local government thus became the single most important force in town creation in the region prior to the railroad era. Founding new communities at sites near the access center of the counties as they formed further allowed local officials to sell building lots to raise funds for the construction...

  41. Cuban Settlement
    (pp. 168-169)

    Cuban Americans represent the third largest group of Latin American origin living in the United States, being exceeded in number only by Mexican Americans and Puerto Ricans. Currently, about 1.2 million Cubans live in the United States, 67 percent of whom are in the state of Florida. Very few Cubans live in other southern states (even in Florida they account for only about 5 percent of the state’s population), but their importance is magnified because they are heavily concentrated in the metropolitan area of Miami, where over 650,000 persons of Cuban descent live. In Dade County (metropolitan Miami), about 60...

  42. Delta
    (pp. 169-171)

    The Yazoo Mississippi Delta is not the true delta of the Mississippi River, but the fertile alluvial plain shared by the Mississippi and Yazoo rivers. It is 160 miles long and 50 miles wide at its widest and encompasses all of 10 Mississippi counties and parts of 8 more. Distinguished by its flatness and its fertility, the Delta was even better defined by its late-developing plantation economy and the distinctive society that that economy nurtured.

    Destined to become the richest agricultural region in the South, the Delta was only sparsely settled in 1860 and still not far removed from the...

  43. Faulkner’s Geography
    (pp. 171-173)

    Most of William Faulkner’s works are set in Yoknapatawpha County. Yoknapatawpha is a fictional place inhabited by fictional persons, but Faulkner integrated it into a geographical setting that included prominent actual places. Yoknapatawpha County is in north-central Mississippi, 70 miles south of Memphis, Tenn. Faulkner thought of Yoknapatawpha as having the same geographical position as the real Lafayette County, Miss., and the geography of the fictional place is based heavily on the geography of that county. Like Lafayette County, Yoknapatawpha County is drained in the north by the Tallahatchie River and in the south by the Yoknapatawpha, the fictional name...

  44. Georgia Land Lottery
    (pp. 173-174)

    The land-lottery system used to distribute Georgia public lands to citizens of the state after 1803 was unique and, although little known outside the state, brought about considerable change in the method of land occupation and settlement. Instead of pioneers moving into former Indian territories and claiming vacant land almost at random, orderly land acquisition was achieved after 1803. The new lands were systematically surveyed and mapped by the state prior to their occupation by settlers.

    The Headright Land Act of 1783 proved to be a reasonable method of dispensing public lands to Georgia’s citizens until 1789. From 1789 to...

  45. Little Dixie
    (pp. 174-175)

    The establishment of “dixies” beyond the boundaries of the South itself in the 19th century was a phenomenon rich with meaning. The idea of a “Little Dixie“ located outside the geophysical South echoes important themes in cultural history. Although there are “dixies” in Utah, Wyoming, Oklahoma, southern Illinois, and Indiana, and probably elsewhere, the best known of these islands of southern culture is Missouri’s “Little Dixie” folk region.

    Little Dixie is a cultural region in northern Missouri (significantly not in the Ozarks in the southern part of the state) composed of eight counties and a vague zone of transition in...

  46. Mason-Dixon Line
    (pp. 176-176)

    “An artificial line . . . and yet more unalterable than if nature had made it for it limits the sovereignty of four states, each of whom is tenacious of its particular systems of law as of its soil. It is the boundary of empire.” Writing his history of the Mason-Dixon line in 1857, James Veech portrayed the wellfounded anxiety of the day: the fear that the horizontal fault between slave and free territory was about to become an open breach. Although the Mason-Dixon line was long associated with the division between free and slave states, slavery existed on both...

  47. Memphis
    (pp. 176-178)

    Overlooking the Mississippi River, Memphis, Tenn., is located on the Fourth Chickasaw Bluff, some 60 feet above the river, and occupies one of only a few sites in the lower Mississippi Valley where the meandering Mississippi abuts a bluff. This site offered protection from flooding and was good for trade and defense. From the mid-16th century until the late 18th century the site was periodically occupied by the Spanish, the French, and the British. Despite these intrusions, the area was effectively within the domain of the Chickasaw Indians until cession to the United States in 1818. Founded in 1819. Memphis...

  48. Mills and Milling
    (pp. 178-180)

    Southern gristmills were generally small, custom-grinding operations scattered liberally across the landscape. Their service area was small, and frequently they were built where water could easily be diverted or impounded to power a water wheel.

    The southern mill was usually a frame structure of one or two stories and had one or two runs of stones (a pair of grinding stones). Some of the larger mills that ground both corn and wheat had three runs, with one devoted to grinding wheat for flour. The earliest mills were occasionally log and closely resembled the Norse mill of central and northern Europe....

  49. Nashville
    (pp. 180-182)

    Halfway between Memphis and the Smoky Mountains, Nashville, Tenn., has historically exhibited characteristics of both the Lowland and the Upland South. The city is situated on the banks of the Cumberland River and emerged like many other frontier cities as a trading post but also as the urban focal point of the agriculturally fertile Nashville Basin. The city did not lose centrality with changing modes of transportation; instead, it became a hub of the Louisville and Nashville Railroad, a company that wielded enormous influence in the city at the turn of the 20th century.

    The favorable location spurred further economic...

  50. New Orleans
    (pp. 182-184)

    French colonists founded New Orleans in 1718 as a key link in a vast territorial arc stretching from the St. Lawrence River to the Gulf of Mexico. The city defended against English intrusions and controlled resource exploitation throughout its hinterland. Despite situational advantages, the city occupied an inhospitable floodplain site. Regularly washed by high waters, the nascent colonial entrepôt gradually filled its grid street pattern following construction of protective levees.

    Lacking precious minerals, the colony had an ample quantity of pestresistant cypress timber that emerged as the first important export commodity. During the French and Spanish periods (1699–1803), rice...

  51. Northern Cities, Blacks in
    (pp. 184-187)

    The most distinctive feature of black life in the South in the first half of the 20th century was the crystallization of a distinct African American nationality. The sense of identity among the masses of black people based on a shared culture and common experiences in institutions such as churches provided the matrix sustaining life in the South and laying a foundation that was later transferred to newer settings in the North and West. Pushed by the ravages of the boll weevil, floods, unemployment after the collapse of an exploitative tenancy-sharecropping system, and surging racism, black people were eager to...

  52. Northern Cities, Whites in
    (pp. 187-188)

    During the decade following World War II, social scientists in the North Central Census states became aware of the numbers of working-class white southerners who had migrated to northern cities during the war. Studies of this migrant stream revealed many similarities to earlier immigrants from Europe who had become ethnic minorities. People from particular states or counties often moved to certain cities such as Detroit, Flint, and Chicago. They concentrated in low-rent areas accessible to factories or transportation lines, developing neighborhood institutions and networks.

    In such locales, “southern culture,” derogatory labels—“hillbillies” and “rednecks”—and unfavorable stereotypes were most evident....

  53. Ouachitas
    (pp. 188-190)

    The Ouachitas, also called the Ouachita Mountains, are a region in west-central Arkansas and east-central Oklahoma. A part of the Central Uplands physiographic region, the Ouachitas are one of the few east-west–aligned upland areas in the United States. Formed by tremendous pressure as the Llanoria plate pushed north against the horizontal layers of sedimentary rocks, the Ouachitas were raised into folded ridges alternating with long valleys.

    The Ouachitas have several subdivisions, including the Fourche Mountains, the Central Ouachitas, and the Athens Piedmont Plateau in Arkansas. The San Bois, Windy Stair, and Kiamichi mountain subdivisions are found in Oklahoma. The...

  54. Ozarks
    (pp. 190-192)

    The Ozarks region is a mid-continent upland region noted for its physical beauty and often associated with stereotypical images of hillbillies and poverty-induced backwardness, on the one hand, and rugged, frontierlike individualism, on the other.

    Spanning an area of about 40,000 square miles (roughly the size of Ohio), the Ozarks cover most of the southern half of Missouri and northwestern and north-central Arkansas, as well as much smaller portions of northeastern Oklahoma and southeastern Kansas. Geographers divide the region into four major subdivisions—the Boston Mountains, the St. Francois Mountains, the Springfield Plain, and the Salem Plateau—along with a...

  55. Piedmont
    (pp. 192-193)

    The Piedmont region extends from the Hudson River to central Alabama, bordering on the Blue Ridge and Appalachian mountains, and ranges from 10 to 125 miles in width. Although it is part of the Appalachian highlands, the Piedmont landscape is rolling but not mountainous. Its relatively infertile soil discouraged settlers until the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The region has been known predominantly as an agricultural region, although it developed industries such as textiles and furniture making in the 19th century. The development of the southern Piedmont (extending to Birmingham, Ala.) has been shaped by the iron and coal...

  56. Piney Woods
    (pp. 193-195)

    The piney woods, or Pine Belt, of the Southeast is a vast region of forestland stretching through nine southern states from the Carolinas through Georgia and into Texas. The land of the ‘‘pine barrens’’ is not particularly well suited for agriculture, but the heavy rainfall and long, warm, sunny summers provide ideal conditions for the rapid growth of pines. The most important species of pine found in the region are the shortleaf, longleaf, loblolly, and slash. The heaviest and strongest of these, the southern longleaf yellow pine, is the most popular among timber growers.

    The piney woods has been the...

  57. Primogeniture
    (pp. 195-195)

    Legally defined, primogeniture means the right of the eldest son to inherit, to the exclusion of younger sons, the estate of his family because of his seniority of birth. In Europe the practice was long included in so-called entail laws, which limit the inheritance of property. These ancient European practices had virtually no impact on the landholding patterns that emerged in the South. Although southern colonial history dates back to Jamestown, the medieval concept of one great landed aristocracy in the southern colonies passing down vast domains to their eldest son is false. In fact, ambitious sons interested in land,...

  58. Richmond
    (pp. 195-199)

    Richmond began as a small trading port in colonial Virginia and evolved into the state capital, a major industrial city, the second capital of the Confederate States of America, and eventually a modern city in the New South. The settlement arose in the falls region of the James River, once a borderland between the Tidewater’s Powhatan Confederation and the Monacan Indians to the west. Virginia’s Indians shared the resources of the falls, mining the rock outcroppings for tools and harvesting the runs of migrating shad. An inland trade developed first with native groups and eventually with European and enslaved African...

  59. Sea Islands
    (pp. 199-200)

    The area known as the Sea Islands, or the Lowcountry, includes the entire southeastern coastal region together with the adjacent islands extending from southern North Carolina to Florida. Apart from the inhabited and arable lands, the islands consist of brackish and salt marshes, beaches, and wooded areas. Some of the better-known islands are Johns, James, and Wadmalaw (the so-called Bible Islands) near Charleston, S.C.; Edisto, where there is a palm-lined beach; and Ladies and St. Helena islands near Beaufort, S.C., where Penn Center, founded as a school for the islanders near the end of the Civil War, is located. Daufuskie...

  60. Sugar Plantations
    (pp. 200-201)

    Traditionally large agricultural enterprises with landholdings ranging from 200 to 8,000 acres, sugar plantations are devoted to the planting, cultivation, and harvesting of sugar cane and the processing of cane juice into brown sugar and molasses. Sugar plantations have been a distinctive part of the southern landscape since the mid-18th century. They originated in New Orleans in 1742. By 1806, 75 enterprises were dispersed along the Mississippi River to Baton Rouge. By 1844 some 464 French-and Anglo-American–owned sugar plantations of 200 acres or more had made appearances along the Mississippi River and westward into south-central Louisiana along the alluvial...

  61. Tidewater
    (pp. 201-202)

    The Tidewater coastal region extends from Delaware to northeastern Florida and from northwestern Florida to the Mississippi Delta. It is a low, flat, sandy or swampy area that enjoys abundant rainfall and a long, warm growing season. The Tidewater is known particularly for its agriculture, forest industries, commercial fishing and oystering, and military installations. It is also attractive to millions of tourists. The Outer Banks, a chain of islands off the North Carolina coast, is the site of a rapidly developing tourist industry that features theWright Brothers National Memorial and many public recreational areas.

    The term ‘‘Tidewater’’ is often used...

    (pp. 203-204)
  63. INDEX
    (pp. 205-224)