Why The Sentimentality Toward The South?

A. Roy

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Many interesting comments here! I moved back to North Carolina, where I grew up, about 15 years ago, after living in the Northeast for about 30 years. I admit that I do like being called 'sweetie' or 'hon' in a restaurant or store, having people call me 'sir' and holding the door for me. But realistically, I've encountered many friendly, kind people in the North and many rude people here. I enjoy the country and terrain here in the South, but I also love the country in Vermont, where I lived for 15 years.

So I'm not sure that I think there's anything essentially distinct about about the South and its land and culture that provokes sentiment for me. I think that the sentimentality I feel for the South has more to do with living here during my impressionable youth -- spending so much time with my parents and brother, making my first friends and enemies, roaming the countryside and woods and splashing around in creeks, falling in love for the first time (well, falling in love lots of times), as well as getting in fights and occasionally being brutalized. All of these experiences, positive and negative, have gotten tied into my emotional being, so I associate all of that experience with living in the South. These seem like the kinds of experiences that could tie anyone to their place of origin.

Roy B.
 

Fairfield

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These seem like the kinds of experiences that could tie anyone to their place of origin.
By coincidence, this morning's local paper has a repeat of a column by the late George Smith on being/becoming a Mainer. It includes such things as:

Start using phrases such as "wicked good" and "my car [etc.] just got all stove up".
Go to the dump empty--and come home with a full load.
Attend 4 yard sales each year and buy useless items at each.
Wear a Red Sox t-shirt.
Write letters to the editor of the local newspaper.
Greet all passers by.
Complain about the weather every day.
 

Punxsy

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Joined
Aug 5, 2018
While I think farming is a very respectable profession, I've never desired to be one. Turning back the clock to a simpler time would take away the computers I use daily, the books I read daily (there would still be books but far fewer and mostly without the amount of resources for research available now), and most of my past and present hobbies. Someone who loves hunting and fishing or handcrafts, and lives without air conditioning, is going to yearn for a simpler time far more than I ever would.

Pride holds no appeal to me. It's frequently stubborn, foolish, and irrational.

Southern honor might have appealed to me in the past, but knowing it was a shell of hypocrisy means It does not.

Most Americans love their underdogs, but I don't. Sometimes underdogs deserve to lose.

I've never been the rebellious type so that holds no appeal to me other.

Almost everyone wants a tribe and to be part of a group identity. They want to feel they belong. For some, that's the South.



All my direct ancestors in the last 200 years were born south of the Mason-Dixon Line yet I was never raised with any sense of Southern pride, heritage, or identity. I was simply raised as an American.

While I think farming is a very respectable profession, I've never desired to be one. Turning back the clock to a simpler time would take away the computers I use daily, the books I read daily (there would still be books but far fewer and mostly without the amount of resources for research available now), and most of my past and present hobbies. Someone who loves hunting and fishing or handcrafts, and lives without air conditioning, is going to yearn for a simpler time far more than I ever would.

Pride holds no appeal to me. It's frequently stubborn, foolish, and irrational.

Southern honor might have appealed to me in the past, but knowing it was a shell of hypocrisy means It does not.

Most Americans love their underdogs, but I don't. Sometimes underdogs deserve to lose.

I've never been the rebellious type so that holds no appeal to me other.

Almost everyone wants a tribe and to be part of a group identity. They want to feel they belong. For some, that's the South.



All my direct ancestors in the last 200 years were born south of the Mason-Dixon Line yet I was never raised with any sense of Southern pride, heritage, or identity. I was simply raised as an American.
Amen.
 

Punxsy

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On Southern prewar homogeneity, how often would a man who would fight as a private have dinner with a man who would fight as an officer?
 

thomas aagaard

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Nov 19, 2013
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Denmark
On Southern prewar homogeneity, how often would a man who would fight as a private have dinner with a man who would fight as an officer?
very rarely. The old south was a stratified society. Just like much of the north (east) was.
The further west the less this was the case.
 

Gene

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Apr 13, 2017
Location
Fredericksburg, Virginia
One of the things I’ve always been curious about (at least in my own experience) during my research of the CW is the persistent feeling of sentimentality I have for the South. I don’t understand why, as I live in SoCal and have never visited, much less lived in the South.

Is it the old agrarian society that brings up images of a simpler life? The fact that the Confederacy was the underdog yet still managed to beat up their opponent before finally being overwhelmed? The sense of southern pride and honor?

Hope this makes sense!
I don't know that I would call it sentimentality, but, rather, a genuine attachment to the South and pride in its history. Given its climate and lack of industry, it had - and has - accomplished a lot. The "blot" on its historic record is slavery, but slavery was certainly not its invention, not the only place it was practiced, nor even its most egregious practitioner. Don't get me wrong, I do not support slavery - we know today that slavery is evil, but that time period was one of transition in the West - where the anti-slavery movement was born. Slavery has a world-wide history, and still exists today in many parts of the world. It had been growing in disfavor in the West for decades, and would likely have been negotiated out of existence in the South, as it had been elsewhere, with a real leader in the White House.

Unfortunately, we had Lincoln. Lincoln and the Republican party had campaigned, not on ending slavery in the US, but on preserving the Union against Southern voices calling for secession. Neither slavery nor secession were illegal in 1860, so, when Lincoln was elected, several states in the South seceded - it was, as they saw it, their right.

While slavery was certainly a cause of secession, it was not, as many surmise, the cause for the Civil War. And here lay another reason for Southern pride - Lincoln, with no legal basis, and based solely on his campaign promise and personal beliefs, decided that the Union must be preserved by force - he would not negotiate, he did not hesitate - he maneuvered the South into "firing the first shot" (ever hear of the Gulf of Tonkin Incident) and, once done, immediately called for troops to enforce his personal beliefs. He was able to do this because his party controlled both houses of Congress, and, when he did so, this action caused other states, Virginia among them, to also secede rather than participate in what they believed was an illegal and unjustified invasion of their sister Southern states.

It is highly unlikely that war would have resulted had Lincoln not ordered the Northern invasion of the South. The South, for their part, and given Lincoln's oft repeated views, was ready, and resisted the invasion. Those who fought for the South were not, therefore, fighting to preserve slavery, but were defending themselves from an invading Northern army, not sent to free the slaves, but to preserve the Union by force. This and related actions by Lincoln were far more tyrannical than presidential, and the South, despite the great numerical and resource advantages of Lincoln's North, fought back long and hard, and is well worthy of Southern pride.
 

DanSBHawk

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Location
Wisconsin
I think a case could be made that the sentimentality for the south and "southern pride" is based on myths passed down from generation to generation, which are either historically false or at least twisted. And I think popular culture has reinforced those myths with movies, books, etc.

In other words, the historical south that is sentimentalized, or romanticized, or idealized, never really existed as advertised.

But like every other region, it feels like home to many people and that is the only attachment that matters.
 

Fairfield

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Neither slavery nor secession were illegal in 1860, so, when Lincoln was elected, several states in the South seceded - it was, as they saw it, their right
Actually, I don't believe that the Constitution permits unilateral secession although there are sections that reject it: The Constitution depends upon "perpetual union" -- to which the South was in agreement with as late as 1851: "Resolved, further, That, in the opinion of this Convention, the asserted right of secession from the Union on the part of a State or States is utterly unsanctioned by the Federal Constitution, which was framed to "establish" and not to destroy the Union of the States, and that no secession, can, in fact, take place without a subversion of the Union established, and which will not virtually amount in its effects and consequences to a civil revolution." ( Mississippi Convention of 1851) [emphasis is mine].

Article 1, section 10: "No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation".

President Lincoln rejected the legality of secession--and Robert E. Lee wasn't in favor of it either.
It is highly unlikely that war would have resulted had Lincoln not ordered the Northern invasion of the South.
I've always found it useful to construct a timeline.


Perhaps southern sentimentality--like New England sentimentality and midwestern sentimentality and western sentimentality, etc.--isn't based on politics but on personal attachment. The old lines: "...This is my own: my native land".
 

Viper21

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I think a case could be made that the sentimentality for the south and "southern pride" is based on myths passed down from generation to generation, which are either historically false or at least twisted. And I think popular culture has reinforced those myths with movies, books, etc.

In other words, the historical south that is sentimentalized, or romanticized, or idealized, never really existed as advertised.

But like every other region, it feels like home to many people and that is the only attachment that matters.
Come on man....! Y'all don't have a Waffle House, or a Cracker Barrel, in Wisconsin...! That alone makes the South better, & more sentimental :laugh:
 

Viper21

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Whahh? We do have Cracker Barrel!
I couldn't find one on their website.

enhance.jpg
 

Cycom

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Come on man....! Y'all don't have a Waffle House, or a Cracker Barrel, in Wisconsin...! That alone makes the South better, & more sentimental :laugh:
Never heard of Waffle House. Looks like their selection of food is comparable to Denny’s. I assume it’s better? (though really anything is better than Denny’s)
 

Viper21

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Never heard of Waffle House. Looks like their selection of food is comparable to Denny’s. I assume it’s better? (though really anything is better than Denny’s)
I'll take an All Star, over a Grand Slam every time :wink: Honestly, I haven't eaten at a Denny's in well over a decade, maybe longer. IHOP pretty much made Denny's invisible to me.
 

Gene

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Actually, I don't believe that the Constitution permits unilateral secession although there are sections that reject it: The Constitution depends upon "perpetual union" -- to which the South was in agreement with as late as 1851: "Resolved, further, That, in the opinion of this Convention, the asserted right of secession from the Union on the part of a State or States is utterly unsanctioned by the Federal Constitution, which was framed to "establish" and not to destroy the Union of the States, and that no secession, can, in fact, take place without a subversion of the Union established, and which will not virtually amount in its effects and consequences to a civil revolution." ( Mississippi Convention of 1851) [emphasis is mine].

Article 1, section 10: "No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation".

President Lincoln rejected the legality of secession--and Robert E. Lee wasn't in favor of it either.

I've always found it useful to construct a timeline.


Perhaps southern sentimentality--like New England sentimentality and midwestern sentimentality and western sentimentality, etc.--isn't based on politics but on personal attachment. The old lines: "...This is my own: my native land".
Fairfield, there was indeed great debate and varied opinions on secession, but no legal determination. In fact, secession had been seriously considered by other groups of states from time to time before the war. For example, New England during the War of 1812, William Lloyd Garrison called for New England secession again in 1844, and the New England Anti-Slavery Convention supported secession as well.

My point is that secession was not illegal before the Civil War, and Lincoln therefore had no legal basis for enforcing his Union preservation views, especially by force of arms, and especially without first trying every other avenue for peaceful resolution. Further, his quick resort to force did not give cooler heads a chance to gain a footing. His precipitous action forced many to make decisions based, not on the merits of secession or even slavery, but, like Lee, in clear loyalty and duty to defend their native states. Lincoln's actions really gave them no choice.

Lincoln and his party were therefore directly responsible for the war, and the over 1 million American casualties (including about 700,000 deaths) and the untold destruction done by his invading armies.

I do very much agree with your last statement - Southerners were, and many are, still very attached to their "native land." And, when invaded, could truly have done none other than fight.

As regards others' discussion of the South's mythic romanticism, as with any people, or even individuals, there's always a tendency to "remember the good times," just as it is the tendency of others to focus on the bad times. The truth, here as elsewhere, undoubtedly lies somewhere inbetween.
 

Viper21

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As a reminder, discussion of Secession is restricted to, the Secession forum dedicated to the discussion of that topic. You can find that forum here ---> SecessionTalk

The specific site rule (found here --> Forum Wide Restricted Topics) states:

"SECESSIONS DISCUSSIONS are RESTRICTED to the Secession Forums, all such discussions MUST be posted in those designated forum areas!"

Please take discussions of secession there, & refrain from posting those discussions in this thread, or other threads outside of that forum. Thank You.
 

Cavalier

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Jul 20, 2019
Not a Southerner or a Confederate sympathizer really, but I have always admired the sentimentality Southerners seemed to have for their home and their roots.

However, I can't stand their weather. I enjoy the winter too much I guess.

John
 

lurid

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Jan 3, 2019
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:

I was talking about New Yorkers who moved to the south, not the one's who never left for more than 2weeks. I hope you folks get to vote for your leadership like the rest of the USA does, it's called democracy. Ah, you great weather theory is not convincing to me because I am from Pennsylvania and that weather is the same as NY's, and both never reached the threshold of decent.
 
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