Thank God for Mississippi

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"Thank God for Mississippi" is an adage used in the United States, particularly in the South, that is generally used when discussing rankings of U.S. states.[1] Since the U.S. state of Mississippi commonly ranks at or near the bottom of such rankings, residents of other states also ranking near the bottom may say, "Thank God for Mississippi," since the presence of that state in 50th place spares them the shame of being ranked last.[2]

Examples include rankings of educational achievement, overall health,[3] the poverty rate,[4] life expectancy, or other objective criteria of the quality of life or government in the 50 states. The phrase is in use even among state government officials[5][6] and journalists,[7][8][9][10] though occasionally with a slight twist.[11][12][13]

Mississippi's poor reputation is such a common trope in American culture that when Mississippi does indeed rank well in something, the phrase "Thank God for Mississippi" may get brought up just to discuss how it does not apply in the given circumstance.[14][15] The saying comes from Mississippi's poor ranking as compared to the other 49 states, not from a global perspective.[16][17]


The saying has been attributed since before the induction of Alaska and Hawaii as states in 1959,[18] and its use, while found throughout the entire country, is especially common in Alabama,[19][20] which shares significant cultural and historical ties with its neighbor and former Mississippi Territory co-constituent Mississippi.[21][22] Its use is also noted in nearby Arkansas and other frequently low-ranking states such as Kentucky, West Virginia and Texas.[23][24][25][26]

The saying has become something of a cliché,[27] and has seen usage across the nation with regard to rankings both serious[28] and trivial,[29][30] and the underlying logic has been extrapolated to other states and even countries.[31]

The growing notoriety of the phrase has led some Mississippians themselves to despise the saying, not because it is false, but because it rings true and puts their state in a bad light. The phrase has been used as an attempt to rally Mississippians towards change.[32]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Key, V. O. Southern Politics in State and Nation. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1949. Print.
  2. ^ "'Thank God for Mississippi' - Church World Service". April 26, 2012. Retrieved May 13, 2013.
  3. ^ "TGFM: La. second unhealthiest state - The Independent Media Group". December 8, 2010. Retrieved May 13, 2013.
  4. ^ Povich, Elaine S. (October 7, 2010). "Arkansas: Battle for the Statehouse, Governor Election - AARP Bulletin". Retrieved May 13, 2013.
  5. ^ "Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe". January 11, 2011. Retrieved May 13, 2013.
  6. ^ "Fiscal Input Report" (PDF). Retrieved May 13, 2013.
  7. ^ "Alabama and Mississippi all alone in food-tax policy". April 30, 2007. Retrieved May 13, 2013.
  8. ^ Budd McLaughlin. "Good news for Alabama business |". Retrieved May 13, 2013.
  9. ^ "Is "Thank God For Mississippi Or Arkansas" Finally Behind Us? On West Kentucky Journal". October 10, 2012. Retrieved May 13, 2013.
  10. ^ Stiglitz, Joseph E. "Joe Wilson does other politically challenged states a favor. - Slate Magazine". Retrieved May 13, 2013.
  11. ^ "Thank god for Mississippi (County). - Free Online Library". August 23, 2004. Retrieved May 13, 2013.
  12. ^ Brantley, Max (April 7, 2011). "Thank God for Mississippi | Arkansas Blog". Retrieved May 13, 2013.
  13. ^ "Congo: Africa's "Thank God for Mississippi"". Radar Online. October 27, 2008. Retrieved May 13, 2013.
  14. ^ Larry J. Sabato and Kyle Kondik and Geoffrey Skelley. "'Thank God for Mississippi!'". POLITICO Magazine.
  15. ^ "Which states are the best (and worst) at vaccinating their kids". The Washington Post.
  16. ^ "WIDESPREAD ECONOMIC GROWTH ACROSS STATES IN 2011" (PDF) (Press release). Bureau of Economic Analysis. June 5, 2012. p. 7. Retrieved December 27, 2012.
  17. ^ Data mostly refers to IMF staff estimates for the year 2014, made in April 2015. World Economic Outlook Database-April 2015, International Monetary Fund. Accessed on 14 April 2015.
  18. ^ Popik, Barry (October 11, 2008). "The Big Apple: "Thank God for Mississippi" ("Thank Heaven for Mississippi")". Retrieved May 13, 2013.
  19. ^ Zengerle, Jason. "Mississippi Is For . . . Education?". New Republic. Retrieved May 13, 2013.
  20. ^ Brooks, Thomas R. "In Alabama: A County of Hope". Washington Evening Star. p. 152. Alabamans have a saying: 'Thank God for Mississippi, or we'd be the poorest state in the nation.'
  21. ^ "Thank God for Mississippi". Capstone Report. Retrieved May 13, 2013.
  22. ^ "Thank God for Mississippi | This Bird's View". February 17, 2011. Retrieved May 13, 2013.
  23. ^ "Letter from the President | Arkansas' Independent Colleges & Universities". March 13, 2012. Archived from the original on June 23, 2013. Retrieved May 13, 2013.
  24. ^ Tim Murphy (February 1, 2011). "West Virginia Legislator Hatches Plan to Secede". Mother Jones. Retrieved May 13, 2013.
  25. ^ "Now in Mississippi: Four S's, Four I's, And a Dollop of P.R". December 3, 2006. Retrieved May 13, 2013.
  26. ^ Cluth, Jack (January 11, 2009). "The (might as well be official) Texas state motto: "Thank God for Mississippi"". What Would Jack Do. Retrieved May 13, 2013.
  27. ^ "Arkansas 4th Most Pro-Life State in the Nation". Family Council. January 25, 2011. Retrieved May 13, 2013.
  28. ^ Cluth, Jack (January 11, 2009). "The (might as well be official) Texas state motto: "Thank God for Mississippi"". What Would Jack Do. Retrieved May 13, 2013.
  29. ^ "What Is the State Motto of New Mexico?". Retrieved May 13, 2013.
  30. ^ "Thank God for Mississippi - Santa Fe - Live, Work, Play, Stay". Santa Fe. August 17, 2012. Retrieved May 13, 2013.
  31. ^ "How the UK compares to other Europeans on poverty". Liberal Conspiracy. January 17, 2013. Retrieved May 13, 2013.
  32. ^ "OPINION: Erase 'Thank God for Mississippi' from Wikipedia".