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Geographically, the Old South is a subregion of the American South, differentiated from the "Deep South" as being the Southern states represented in the original thirteen American colonies, as well as a way of describing the former lifestyle in the Southern United States. Culturally, the term can be used to describe the antebellum period.
The story of the "Old South" is the story of the slave plantations, its origins, its expansion, its pervasive influence on the region we know as the American South. Pre-Civil War Americans regarded Southerners as a distinct people, who possessed their own values and ways of life. During the three decades before the Civil War, popular writers created a stereotype, now known as the plantation legend, that described the South as a land of aristocratic planters, beautiful southern belles, poor white trash, faithful household slaves, and superstitious fieldhands. This image of the South as "a land of cotton where old times are not forgotten" received its most popular expression in 1859 in a song called "Dixie," written by a Northerner named Dan D. Emmett to enliven shows given by a troupe of black-faced minstrels on the New York stage.
The "Old South" is usually defined in opposition to the Deep South including Alabama, Louisiana, South Carolina and Mississippi, and it is also further differentiated from the inland border states, including the Upper South states of Kentucky and West Virginia, as well peripheral southern states of Florida and Texas.
The "Old South" also refers to the tradition of Southerners voting the Democratic ticket. During the Reconstruction period after the Civil War, many Democrats lost their ability to vote. This led to a Republican South until 1877, when southern Democrats returned to power. Recently this Democratic dominance has eroded, yet the South maintains its conservative stance. The majority of the Southern population now identifies with the Republican party. The 2014 mid-term elections consisted of numerous competitive tickets, many in the South, such as the United States Senate elections in Kentucky and Georgia, which the Democrats hoped to win, leading some to believe that the Democrats' strategy of maintaining their legislative victories, as well as future Presidential elections, is to revive the Old South.
- Antebellum era
- American gentry
- New South
- Deep South
- Upper South
- Southern Colonies
- Border States
- Solid South
- Documenting the American South. A digital publishing initiative that provides numerous documents and information about the South of the United States before and after the American Civil War.
- Jekyll Island Club - Victorian Playground of Northern Industrialists in the Old South
- Southern Arts Federation
- Smith, Mark M., "The Old South" (Malden, Mass: Blackwell Publishers, 2001).