The Fall and Rise of Southern Presidents: How the Civil War Broke The South

By: Inoljt, 

(Note: I strongly encourage you to click the image links on this post when reading; they're essential to understanding what I'm saying.)

Out of all the regions in the United States, the South probably has the most unique and interesting history. Looking at the geographic origins of each president provides a fascinating proxy of Southern influence in America. To do this, I have compiled a table which lists whether each president had Southern origins or not.

Here are the early years of America:

In this table, Southern is defined as simply the former states of the Confederacy. Presidents with two terms get two entries; those with one term get merely one. It is generally pretty clear whether or not a president had Southern origins; the only two difficult cases are that of President Harry Truman (raised in Missouri) and President George W. Bush (who was born in Connecticut but spent most of his life in Texas).

As the table indicates, Southern presidents dominate the early life of the republic. Four of the first five founding presidents are Southern; their Democratic-Republican Party eventually extinguishes the New England Federalists. Interestingly, it appears that Southern influence was already in decline by the late 1840s; the last three presidents in this list are all non-Southern. By 1860, non-Southern presidents have held control over the country for the longest period since its founding.

The Civil War then utterly annihilates Southern influence:

For a long time after the Civil War, Southerners are unelectable. President Abraham Lincoln’s Vice President Andrew Johnson is the last Southern president for nearly half a century. After President Woodrow Wilson, it’s nearly another half century before the next Southern president.

During this period the Southern vote is uniformly Democratic. Unfortunately for the South, this means that the Democratic Party rarely nominates Southern presidential candidates; it already has the region under its belt. Moreover, and more importantly, Southerners are still tarred by the brush of secession. The northern electorate is extremely reluctant to cast a ballot for a Southerner.

In the modern era, Southern presidents have once again begun appearing frequently:

Four of the last five presidential terms have been controlled by Southern presidents. In the process, the South has closed much of the once vast income gap that existed between itself and the wealthier northern states.

All in all, the Civil War destroyed Southern influence for about a century. The South then regained some of its influence. However, it still has not reached the dominance over the American political system that it had during the antebellum era. Given the way in which America has changed and expanded since the Civil War, it probably never will.




Advertise Blogads