How Much Do You Know About the Old South?


By: Torrance Grey

6 Min Quiz

Image: Niall B

About This Quiz

Everyone has a general idea about what the "Old South" is -- its tree-lined promenades dripping with moss, its old cemeteries, its mouthwatering cuisine ... and its unhappy history of a centuries-long slave trade and the bloody war fought to end it. Americans have a conflicted relationship with the South and its history -- finding slavery, segregation and racism abhorrent, yet considering the Old South, and even the Confederacy,  very romantic. You need only look at the number of books and movies about the Southern side of the Civil War, compared to the Union side, to know this. From "Gone With the Wind" to "Cold Mountain," writers and filmmakers have invariably chosen to focus on the Confederacy, rather than the Union, as the subject of their war stories.

How well do you really know this complicated region and its history? For example, do you know which states are considered to have made up the Old South? (The entire geographic region doesn't fall under that label). Which one was the capital of the Confederate States of America? And which state gave the CSA its first and only president?

If you're ready to explore this part of America's history, we've created this 35-question quiz on the South of the 18th and 19th centuries. Settle in with a glass of sweet tea and try your luck now!

The Old South is also known as the ____ South.

"Antebellum" is Latin for "before (the) war." The Civil War was a major dividing line between old and new ways of life in the region.


What are the Old South states usually called today?

Nowadays, you'll hear references to "the Deep South." Culturally and politically, they are seen as places of conservative values and old-fashioned courtesy.


Which of these is NOT considered a Deep South state?

While designations like "Deep South," "Southwest" and the like are more cultural than geographical, Texas falls into the "Southwest" category. The Deep South states are Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia and sometimes Florida or South Carolina, depending on who you ask.


A large farm in the Old South was called a _______.

The classic name for a large Southern farm was a "plantation." Some are still preserved and can be toured today.


What flower is associated with the Old South?

The magnolia flower and tree are symbolic of the Deep South. It is the state flower of Mississippi and Louisiana, and the state tree of Mississippi.


Which state was not one of the original 13 colonies?

South Carolina was initially "Carolina," being divided into North and South later. Alabama and Mississippi were not part of the original British colonies at all.


Which of these was a major crop in the South?

More than any other crop, the South was known for cotton production. Other significant crops, though, were peanuts and tobacco.


Which of these crops did NOT grow well in the Old South?

Indigo (a plant from which dye is made), pecans and even rice thrived in the Old South. But blueberries are a cold-weather crop, which grow well in Maine and Minnesota.


In 1793, Eli Whitney invented what device critical to the Southern economy?

Cotton can be difficult to process compared to other fibers. The mechanical cotton gin -- there were manual versions before 1793 -- made the process much faster, leading to a boom in cotton production (but also, unfortunately, in demand for slaves).


Which Southern state was the first to ratify the Constitution?

Georgia was the fourth new state overall to ratify. It did so in January 1788.


Which Old South state was the first to send a president to the White House?

Both Carolinas lay claim to Andrew Jackson, who was born in a border region during a time of state-line disputes. Still, he identified as South Carolinian, which is good enough for us!


On what did the plantation system of agriculture rely?

Unlike the industrial North, which had moved to a system of paid immigrant labor (however cheaply paid), the South needed slaves to make its plantations profitable. Abolition was a threat to the Southern way of life, which led eventually to the secession of the Confederate states.


How many states originally seceded from the Union?

These were Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, Louisiana and South Carolina. Later, Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee and North Carolina joined as well.


Who was the president of the Confederate States of America?

Davis was the only president of the short-lived political entity. He later wrote a book about it, called "The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government."


Which state was the first to secede from the Union?

Not surprisingly, it was South Carolina, where anti-abolition sentiment ran high. The state seceded in 1860, just after the election of Abraham Lincoln.


Which state did Jefferson Davis come from?

Davis was born in Kentucky, a state which joined the Confederacy some time after it was founded by the first seven states. But Davis spent much of his adult life in Mississippi as a planter, and married a woman from Natchez, Mississippi.


In which state was Fort Sumter?

There had already been small skirmishes between South Carolina and the federal government. Military cadets at the Citadel opened fire on a U.S. Navy ship several months before the taking of Sumter.


What was the capital of the Confederate States of America?

Montgomery was the initial capital of the Confederate States of America. But it was later moved north, to Richmond, Virginia.


The "March to the Sea," which ravaged Georgia during the Civil War, was conducted by which general?

General Sherman was not a subtle guy. In his march from Atlanta to Savannah, he had his troops tear up railroad tracks, burn buildings and generally make Georgia's infrastructure unusable. This crippled Confederate war efforts and hastened the end of the war.


Which of these groups was similar to the KKK?

The Knights of the White Camellia sprung up shortly after the Civil War. Its aims were to support white control of America and prevent the mixing of the races.


In the South's rigid class structure, the opposite of "poor white trash" was the _______.

It might sound funny to us now, but the good families of the South were indeed called "the quality." You'll run across this term in old novels and movies.


Which of these is not a Native American tribe from the Old South region?

Tribes which predated white settlers in the South include the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Muscogee, and Creek Indians. Many were removed forcibly on the Trail of Tears, another dark episode in U.S. history.


Which literary work is chiefly about the Old South?

America has a romantic fascination with the pre-war South and its way of life. Nothing sums that up more than the popularity of the novel "Gone With the Wind" and its film adaptation.


What border divided, at least theoretically, the North and South?

Mason and Dixon were surveyors who created the line in response to a border dispute in colonial America. It does not run all the way across the United States, but mostly between Pennsylvania and Maryland. Today, it is mostly an idea, "the place where the South begins."


Which of these is not a classic Old South dish?

Never heard of scrapple? Then you're not from the upper Midwest, where it's a labor-intensive dish involving meat (sausage or ham) and cornmeal made into a kind of breakfast meatloaf, then served warm with maple syrup.


Which of these cocktails is iconic to the Old/Deep South?

The mint julep is almost synonymous with the South. Not always the Deep South, either. They're often served on Derby Day in Kentucky, which is somewhat north of the classic "Old South."


The Southern literary style marked by romantic darkness and macabre humor is called _________.

Gothic literature or art is marked by its tendency toward dark topics, doomed romanticism, and offbeat characters. There are strains of Southern Gothic from William Faulkner to Charlaine Harris.


Which city is still known as the "Cradle of the Confederacy"?

Montgomery was the first capital of the Confederate States, hence the nickname. Now, Montgomery is the capital of Alabama.


Which Old South state had (and still has) parishes instead of counties?

Naming conventions aren't the same all over the United States. Louisiana has "parishes," just as four U.S. states call themselves "commonwealths."


Which of these Old South states is named after a king?

Yes, even the Carolinas are named for a king -- Charles II of England. "Carolinus" was the Latinized version of his name, which was well known to educated Englishmen of that era.


Which Old South city is the setting of the 1994 book "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil"?

Savannah is Georgia's oldest city, on the Atlantic coast. "Midnight" is a "nonfiction novel" about a murder there; it was wildly successful back in the 1990s.


The Old South city of New Orleans is known for its celebrations of which day?

Mardi Gras, the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday begins the season of Lent, is celebrated in epic style in New Orleans. "Sin hard, repent hard" could be the city's motto!


Which of these is a nickname for New Orleans?

The "Big Easy" nickname reflects the town's laid-back way of life. You'll also hear the city called "NOLA," and "N'Awlins" (imitating the way locals say it).


Mississippi's style of the blues is named for what geographic feature?

The "Delta" refers to the Mississippi River delta, where it spreads out and creates damp, fertile farmland. And fertile creativity, too, if the "Delta blues" are anything to judge by.


What does Atlanta like to call itself now?

OK, Atlanta is known for being the home of Coca-Cola, and Ted Turner's media empire. It may even be the South's unofficial capital. But Atlanta's primary slogan is "The City Too Busy to Hate," reflecting that it has moved on from its Civil War and Reconstruction days.


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