Why The Sentimentality Toward The South?

RobertP

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Nov 11, 2009
Location
Dallas
When I think of southern culture the first people who come to mind are Robert Johnson, BB King, Al Green, Little Richard, James Brown and those who made it up to Chicago like Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Willie Dixon and Buddy Guy.

And Elvis. And Steve Cropper.

I think courtesy in white southern culture springs from a culture of violence and seems a product compulsion rather than consideration. I think the common passive-aggressive behavior also springs from an undercurrent of violence.
I dunno, Tom, a Culture of Violence is usually the first thing that comes to mind when the I think about Chicago.
 
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nc native

Sergeant
Joined
Aug 30, 2011
Location
NC Piedmont
When I think of southern culture the first people who come to mind are Robert Johnson, BB King, Al Green, Little Richard, James Brown and those who made it up to Chicago like Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Willie Dixon and Buddy Guy.

And Elvis. And Steve Cropper.
Music is another part of Southern culture that most people appreciate and love. Besiides the Blues, Rock, Country, Bluegrass and Gospel can all trace their roots to the South. It's almost fair to say that many of the musical genres that Americans are familar with today would be in non existence if the South wasn't around.
 
Joined
Sep 17, 2011
Location
mo
I would think the better question would be why isn't there much sentimentality or romanticism towards the North?

I look at the US as 3 distinct regions, North, South, and West, I would say the Midwest is a fourth region but not as distinctly it's own, it's more a combination of the other three.

But would say it's never appeared to me the North is as high as the other two regions in sentimentality or romanticism of the either the old south or the old west.
 
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Georgia Sixth

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Dec 14, 2011
Location
Texas
I think the real genius of the founders of the current U.S. Constitution is that they realized this and attempted to construct a structure with enough "give" to it that it could handle both centralizing and decentralizing forces. (One could note, validly, that they did not find the perfect solution to said problem, Exhibit A being the war we all study here... but I think a measure of credit is due them for grasping the situation and *trying* to allow for it.)

I think you're correct, Mark. The ying and yang principle applies to much of life. Both opposites are needed but keeping the balance is difficult indeed. The balancing act set up by the Founders worked for 80 years but events overwhelmed it eventually. First, the cotton gin transformed the cotton industry into an economic and financial powerhouse globally. It made "assets" in slave labor more valuable than ever...think of it as a bull market with the dividends going higher and higher. Those with large holdings weren't about to toss them away. Second, in the generation leading up to the war, we had a massive immigration (primarily Germans) into the northern states who had never lived in a society which made accommodations for slavery and so were totally repulsed by its presence here. They were absolute abolitionists and would become the base of the new Republican Party. They gave the GOP instant punch in elections. This wave was so huge that by the time of Fort Sumter, the largest circulation newspaper in the USA was in German. So you had two powerful currents -- one financial, the other demographic -- that were taking the nation into opposite directions simultaneously. Lastly, add the extremist views on both ends of this divide -- abolitionists like Garrison who'd rather shred the Constitution than see slavery continue a year more and slave apologists who not only wanted to take slavery into the Western states but into Latin America...by force! The calm voices in the middle were drowned out by the enraged shouting from both ends. Sound familiar?
 

Irishtom29

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Joined
Jul 21, 2008
Location
Kent, Washington
I dunno, Tom, a Culture of Violence is usually the first thing that comes to mind when the I think about Chicago.

First things that come to my mind are high wages and good working conditions. But there's lots of violence in Chitown, no doubt. But in the ethnic neighborhoods I grew up in and lived in there was little and a heightened sense of honor with an outlet in violence isn't a background of common culture, nor are guns and macho displays.

I lived in San Antonio for awhile, just recently left it.
 

Mark F. Jenkins

Colonel
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Mar 31, 2012
Location
Central Ohio
Second, in the generation leading up to the war, we had a massive immigration (primarily Germans) into the northern states who had never lived in a society which made accommodations for slavery and so were totally repulsed by its presence here. They were absolute abolitionists and would become the base of the new Republican Party. They gave the GOP instant punch in elections.

Sound familiar?

Extremely familiar-- those Germans you are talking about were my mother's family! XD And at least one of my great-great-grandfathers was in a German-speaking company in his regiment...
 

thomas aagaard

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 19, 2013
Location
Denmark
Oh I was just avoiding commenting on something I don't know. English literature concerning Schiswig-Holstein, along with the Danish army is tough to come by.
It was also my impression. :smile:
And I understand, I would like to know a lot more about the war in Italy in 1859, but it is not a war one just easily find books about in English.

One of my preferred books on the 2nd Sleswig waris actually in english.
"Bismarks First war" by Michael Embree.
It is rather new and its objective. And it is well written and managed to focus on the most important parts and cover the war well in 350 pages.
 
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Cycom

Sergeant
Joined
Feb 19, 2021
Location
Los Angeles, California
You have sentimental feelings for the south because you are viewing it from a literary sense and not from a practical sense. You should just read Hellen Keller books if you are looking for southern sentimental value, or collect up your stuff and leave God's country and come down here and experience it for yourself. The south is peachy, the only problem with it is that it is full of southerners :smile:.


Maybe the weather has something to do with it? The north and Midwest have the worst weather in the country. I'm quite sure if the politics were not so bad out west that would be the preferred place to be, it always was until the liberals took over. I live in the south and I'm wondering what is so romantic about it? The majority of us come down because our companies set up shop here because southern politicians know what it takes to make their state's grow, like giving crazy economic incentives for companies. For every southern owned company I'll name three companies from the north that are in the south, and I'll name two from the west. Maybe people are sentimental over a job or the weather but I assure you after living here northerners and west coasters do not feel sentimental or romanticized over the south, especially the west coasters.

I have talked to west coasters and they're just glad that they are not getting raped financially anymore, like paying $20,000 for property tax, and that's the tip of the iceberg. But they miss the perfect weather, the beautiful scenery, awesome beaches, but they rather be in a pestilential swamp with the average heat index in the summer is over 100, and a pace so slow that it could drive a snail insane because they are sentimental for the south. Nonsense. New Yorkers feel the same, they're are glad that they are actually not getting ripped off anymore, and that the weather is better than NY, but that is it.

The OP feels that way from reading a book, which is not real life application, so take it with a grain of salt. Is there one northerner or west coaster on this board that lived in the south that feels this sentimental vibe? I doubt that you will find one that actually lived in the south that actually experienced the south that feels that way, just people who fantasize about it after reading some mystical narrative. The south is a fun place, but it has its pros and cons just like everywhere else. Of course, southerners are going to exaggerate it because they exaggerate, I know that because I'm married to one. LOL
Respectfully, you are assuming much from my OP. I’m looking at the issue with both a literary & practical sense. My responses which followed showed that. I can restate it here: my romanticism for the South is tempered by the stain of slavery.

I’ve read through some outstanding responses from both sides, but even those sentimental ones don’t discount the problem of slavery. Your other opinions about the weather and the slow pace of life are yours alone and I don’t think justify the sentimentality some feel (or not) for the region. For example, I’m ambivalent toward Southern California weather and it really does nothing to change that my first generation roots here in the U.S.

Regarding that my comments are influenced by “reading a book,” which one would that be and where did I mention it? It’s likely you’re referring to some other person.

edit: looks like you’re referring to Shelby Foote’s The Civil War. My mistake. A fantastic history which is giving me a factual taste for that time and place. About 1/5 of the way in so far...just incredible facts not tainted by any overt sentimentality.
 
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lupaglupa

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Forum Host
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Apr 18, 2019
Location
Upstate New York
New Yorkers feel the same, they're are glad that they are actually not getting ripped off anymore, and that the weather is better than NY, but that is it.
Uh - no. Trust me that lots of us New Yorkers love our state and are proud that it provides excellent services to all its residents. We get to vote on our leadership here and we choose the folks that run the state the way we like - nobody is forcing us to have the government we have, we support it by large margins. And honestly, the weather is great. We get four full seasons and all of them provide us opportunities to kvetch :wink:
 

Cycom

Sergeant
Joined
Feb 19, 2021
Location
Los Angeles, California
Uh - no. Trust me that lots of us New Yorkers love our state and are proud that it provides excellent services to all its residents. We get to vote on our leadership here and we choose the folks that run the state the way we like - nobody is forcing us to have the government we have, we support it by large margins. And honestly, the weather is great. We get four full seasons and all of them provide us opportunities to kvetch :wink:
Disagree. You guys have awful weather. Went there as a teenager over the winter. Absolutely miserable! Amazing pizza on every street corner, though.

Take this with a grain of salt, however. We Southern Californians are weaklings when it comes to weather. Anything below 55 triggers complaints from us.
 

Desert Kid

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Dec 3, 2011
Location
Arizona
My introduction to "The South" as a young tot in the 1990s was The Nashville Network, and the spiffy programs it had on it like The Dukes of Hazzard, The Grand Ole Opry, and NASCAR.


My grandma coming from an old school Southern family (I have Tennessee, Kentucky and Texas roots on mom's side), and stories of her then-unnamed Confederate ancestors certainly helped with that bias.
 

NedBaldwin

Major
Joined
Feb 19, 2011
Location
California
I would think the better question would be why isn't there much sentimentality or romanticism towards the North?

I look at the US as 3 distinct regions, North, South, and West, I would say the Midwest is a fourth region but not as distinctly it's own, it's more a combination of the other three.

But would say it's never appeared to me the North is as high as the other two regions in sentimentality or romanticism of the either the old south or the old west.
maybe you don’t get out enough

In Plymouth Massachusetts they built a temple like structure around a rock on the beach where Miles Standish is supposed to have put his foot when he came ashore. We would go on field trips there in elementary school. seems weird to obsess over a rock, but Mass-holes are an odd lot and you all are welcome for Thanksgiving 😂

In Boston there is a 200 foot tall monument to a battle we lost but because we shot a lot of brits that day we romanticize that we were bad *****

The south has the trail of tears (sad). we had the freedom trail and said we were the cradle of liberty

the quintessential New England town got so romanticized people keep trying to copy its look

Romanticism in US literature? We got that too - Whitman, Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, Dickinson, Cooper, Poe

no other city can rival the romanticism we felt over fenway park

the only thing we really lacked was a home grown music cultural like the way the south had blues, jazz and country
 

Viper21

Brigadier General
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Rockbridge County, Virginia
When speaking to someone I'm not on familiar terms with, I still often refer to them as "sir" or "ma'am". I wonder sometimes what those 20 year old cashiers at the grocery store think of that! :D
Same here..! I went to the dentist today. When the 26yr old assistant asked me to follow her back, I responded, "Yes Ma'am." She smiled, & was very friendly. That's normal etiquette, & manners, where I live. Especially if I don't know you personally, it's definitely "sir" or "ma'am". A far cry from the greetings used in NYC.... :laugh:

I'm on the same page as you & Rebforever about our affection for "The South". I imagine a good chunk of it is simply because it's home. Maybe it's genetic, maybe it's environmental, I don't know. I just know, I've been through 42 of the 50 states, lived in 4, & have traveled all over North America, & the Caribbean. No place feels like home more than Virginia. I've just always felt like I was a part of VA. It's hard to explain to folks that don't feel a connection to a place, or have a defined regional identity.

That's not to say I haven't enjoyed lots of other places. I have. I could live in rural Texas, & perhaps a few other places but, none would ever feel like home.

Worth mentioning, of all the places I've traveled, & as proud a Virginian as I am, I don't think there's a people in America more proud of their regional identity than Native Texans. I doubt you could find a state, that has more state flags flying than Texas. While many Texans will welcome you into their state, they'll never consider you an equal if you aren't a Native Texan :cool: I would also bet, you'll find more folks who reside in Texas, that consider themselves Texans first, Americans second, than you will find in other states.... just sayin.
 

Fairfield

Sergeant Major
Member of the Month
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Dec 5, 2019
I responded, "Yes Ma'am." She smiled, & was very friendly. That's normal etiquette, & manners, where I live.
Manners and normal etiquette--as with so many other things--are relative. "Ma'am" is the proper address for the Queen, not for strangers. One doesn't hear that form of address in New England any more than "Your Lordship".
 

Cycom

Sergeant
Joined
Feb 19, 2021
Location
Los Angeles, California
No place feels like home more than Virginia. I've just always felt like I was a part of VA. It's hard to explain to folks that don't feel a connection to a place, or have a defined regional identity.
Having never felt any real regional identity, this answer is quite helpful...and even though I can’t empathize, I can understand the sentiment.

I’ve always been envious (just a tad) of people that have this defined regional/cultural identity. I think it adds many positive attributes to the individual. Fortunately, I am proud to be an American first and foremost!
 
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