Defining Appalachia


Here’s the map of Appalachia which can be found in John Alexander Williams’ book, Appalachia: A History:

Note: The orange counties are the Appalachian “core,” which are commonly included in almost all definitions of Appalachia, and the yellow counties are the ones included in the official Appalachian Regional Commission definition.

Contrary to myth, Williams says in the introduction that the most prosperous period in Appalachian history relative to the rest of the United States was the “classical period” – which lasted from about 1760 through 1860 – when the region was defined by Scots-Irish yeoman farmers who maintained a “farm-and-forest economy.”


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  1. What kills this region is brain drain. Luckily, they have been counterbalancing that with relatively high birth rates; could be higher though.

  2. I’m surprised that the author didn’t include the Northeast corner of Alabama in his “core”area. It sure feels like you are in Appalachia both geographically and culturally when you’re there. Far western Maryland too.

  3. “East Tennessee voted 2-to-1 against secession.”

    And sent dozens of regiments to fight for the Union. The most Eastern congressional districts in Tennessee have sent Whigs and Republicans to Washington continuously since Tennessee became a state. I have documented this before. It brought on a mini-Civil War redux immediately after Appomattox and also resulted in the disfranchisement of Confederates after the war, the formation of the Klan in Western Tennessee, and the imposition of a Republican government in Tennessee which saved the state from the depredations of Reconstruction.

    The fundamental reasons for all of this had its roots in the geographic topology and settlement patterns of the region. The rich alluvial lands near the Mississippi River were ideal for plantation agriculture while the mountains of Appalachia were populated by ornery Scotch-Irish mountain dwellers who owned few if any slaves and who had no great love of the plantation owning elites.

    We’ve been over this many times here, and there will be howls of protests that the current residents of the “core” Appalachians are true Southrons but the brother against brother stories of the same family fighting on different sides in the Civil War mostly came from West Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee.

  4. That’s pretty much accurate.

    I’ve been reading a book about this that describes the “civil war,” that is, partisan warfare on the homefront, in Kentucky and Tennessee at length:

    Sister States, Enemy States: The Civil War in Kentucky and Tennessee

    It’s true that East Tennessee was the anti-Confederate stronghold. West Tennessee and Middle Tennessee sided with the Confederacy.

  5. In East Tennessee, the people who sided with the Union tended to be those who were the least integrated into the Southern market economy. This had nothing to do with plantation slavery in the river valleys hundreds of miles away. It was caused by the rugged topography of the region which has always and still does make transportation there difficult.

    OTOH, around 1/3 of East Tennessee sided with the Confederacy, and these people were overwhelmingly those who lived in the Great Valley that ran through East Tennessee and connected the region to Georgia and Virginia. Those who lived along the railroad and who were economically tied to the prosperity of the South as a whole tended to be pro-Confederate.

  6. The hillbillies may have been “pro-slavery” but very few of them owned even one slave.

    As to The Great Valley and the Appalachians, it is one of the true physical treasures of North America and a strong and convincing argument for a restrictionist immigration policy along with strict environmental protection laws. I have spent many a day hiking and fishing its environs in my youth and consider the coal companies mountain top removal a heart-breaking environmental abomination just as much as I consider my adopted state of Oregon’s policy of clear cutting in the Coast Range and the crude cattle and sheep ranching techniques that caused desertification of the Great Basin areas of the state evils of equal consequence.

    No real White man can morally support these “libertarian” rapes of our natural environment and must realize that the Republican and Libertarian Parties are no longer any true friends. Just as the Southern Agrarians knew, a rebirth of Southron culture should be conservationist in the nature of its agricultural techniques.

    The right wing parties of Europe often have a strong environmentalist streak. One of the ways into the political hearts of the White middle class is through environmentalism and this should include safe thorium reactors for energy and pipelines rather than railroad tank cars for moving petroleum and natural gas.

  7. “The guy with the chihuahua in Murfreesboro was with a leftwing group called United Mountain Defense”

    I’ve often thought that the activist right should study the political techniques of both Lenin, Hitler, and Saul Alinsky. Co-opt your enemies whenever possible rather than fighting them tooth and nail. Politics is an art not a science. It takes a flexible attitude depending on the particular circumstances in addition to a deft touch.

    This not to say violence should necessarily be eschewed when it is appropriate and productive.

  8. I went to a seminar in Sweden conducted by a SWPL who pointed out that fascism is rooted in a sort of 19th century granola “life reform”

    Indeed, something we might call Hippie today.

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