Thank God for Mississippi

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"Thank God for Mississippi" is a common adage 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 (or stereotypically) ranks near or at the bottom of such rankings, residents of other states ranking near the bottom may proclaim, "Thank God for Mississippi," since the presence of that state in 50th place spares them of the shame of finishing in last place.[2] Examples include rankings of educational achievement,[3] overall health,[4] the poverty rate,[5] life expectancy or other objective criteria of the quality of life or government in the fifty states. The phrase is in use even among state government officials[6][7] and journalists,[8][9][10][11] though occasionally with a slight twist.[12][13][14] 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.[15][16]


The saying has been attributed since before the induction of Alaska and Hawaii as states in 1959,[17] and its use, while found throughout the entire country, is especially common in Alabama,[18][19] which shares significant cultural and historical ties with its neighbor and former Mississippi Territory co-constituent Mississippi.[20][21] Its use is also noted in nearby Arkansas and other frequently low-ranking states such as Kentucky, West Virginia and Texas.[22][23][24][25]

The saying has become something of a cliché,[26] and has seen usage across the nation with regard to rankings both serious[27] and trivial,[28][29] and the underlying logic has been extrapolated to other states and even countries.[30]

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". 2012-04-26. Retrieved 2013-05-13. 
  3. ^ "The State of South Carolina verse Education". 2009-05-14. Retrieved 2013-05-13. 
  4. ^ "TGFM: La. second unhealthiest state - The Independent Media Group". 2010-12-08. Retrieved 2013-05-13. 
  5. ^ Povich, Elaine S. (2010-10-07). "Arkansas: Battle for the Statehouse, Governor Election - AARP Bulletin". Retrieved 2013-05-13. 
  6. ^ "Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe". 2011-01-11. Retrieved 2013-05-13. 
  7. ^ "Fiscal Input Report" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-05-13. 
  8. ^ "Alabama and Mississippi all alone in food-tax policy". 2007-04-30. Retrieved 2013-05-13. 
  9. ^ Budd McLaughlin. "Good news for Alabama business |". Retrieved 2013-05-13. 
  10. ^ "Is "Thank God For Mississippi Or Arkansas" Finally Behind Us? On West Kentucky Journal". 2012-10-10. Retrieved 2013-05-13. 
  11. ^ Stiglitz, Joseph E. "Joe Wilson does other politically challenged states a favor. - Slate Magazine". Retrieved 2013-05-13. 
  12. ^ "Thank god for Mississippi (County). - Free Online Library". 2004-08-23. Retrieved 2013-05-13. 
  13. ^ Brantley, Max (2011-04-07). "Thank God for Mississippi | Arkansas Blog". Retrieved 2013-05-13. 
  14. ^ "Congo: Africa’s "Thank God for Mississippi"". Radar Online. 2008-10-27. Retrieved 2013-05-13. 
  15. ^ Larry J. Sabato and Kyle Kondik and Geoffrey Skelley. "‘Thank God for Mississippi!’". POLITICO Magazine. 
  16. ^ "Which states are the best (and worst) at vaccinating their kids". The Washington Post. 
  17. ^ Popik, Barry (2008-10-11). "The Big Apple: "Thank God for Mississippi" ("Thank Heaven for Mississippi")". Retrieved 2013-05-13. 
  18. ^ Zengerle, Jason. "Mississippi Is For . . . Education?". New Republic. Retrieved 2013-05-13. 
  19. ^ 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.' 
  20. ^ "Thank God for Mississippi". Capstone Report. Retrieved 2013-05-13. 
  21. ^ "Thank God for Mississippi | This Bird's View". 2011-02-17. Retrieved 2013-05-13. 
  22. ^ "Letter from the President | Arkansas' Independent Colleges & Universities". 2012-03-13. Archived from the original on June 23, 2013. Retrieved 2013-05-13. 
  23. ^ Tim Murphy (2011-02-01). "West Virginia Legislator Hatches Plan to Secede". Mother Jones. Retrieved 2013-05-13. 
  24. ^ "Now in Mississippi: Four S's, Four I's, And a Dollop of P.R". 2006-12-03. Retrieved 2013-05-13. 
  25. ^ Cluth, Jack (2009-01-11). "The (might as well be official) Texas state motto: "Thank God for Mississippi"". What Would Jack Do. Retrieved 2013-05-13. 
  26. ^ "Arkansas 4th Most Pro-Life State in the Nation". Family Council. 2011-01-25. Retrieved 2013-05-13. 
  27. ^ Cluth, Jack (2009-01-11). "The (might as well be official) Texas state motto: "Thank God for Mississippi"". What Would Jack Do. Retrieved 2013-05-13. 
  28. ^ "What Is the State Motto of New Mexico?". Retrieved 2013-05-13. 
  29. ^ "Thank God for Mississippi - Santa Fe - Live, Work, Play, Stay". Santa Fe. 2012-08-17. Retrieved 2013-05-13. 
  30. ^ "How the UK compares to other Europeans on poverty". Liberal Conspiracy. 2013-01-17. Retrieved 2013-05-13.