I don't think that I really got my point across for the state of Kentucky as I did for Louisville I have to say, I have rarely, if ever, been more offended in all my life. Kentucky is the South, has always been the South, and, so help me God, will always be the South. As Southern as Georgia, as someone said! I’m offended as a Kentuckian, as an historian, and as someone who has spent his entire life studying the history and culture of the South. Red-faced angry offended! There shouldn’t even be an argument, though, God help me, I know that there is. When someone can prove to me that the Ohio River has been moved south of Kentucky, as well as the Mason-Dixon line, I might entertain the argument. Until then, I am inclined to believe that anyone who would call Kentucky “Midwestern,” which is offensive to every fiber of my being (did I mention that?), is misinformed and doesn’t know much of what they speak. Truly, you don’t know the South if you don’t find it in Kentucky, and I don’t really care where you claim to be from or know. You can’t pigeon-hole the South! It’s much more than anything you might be inclined to believe. People want to judge every state in the South by the Deep South, I’ve come to believe. Well, the South exists in two (maybe, three) parts: The Deep South and the Upper South (some might add Mid-South, as I note a few of you have). The accents aren’t all identical, but the culture is--or is very well close.
Now, about Louisville. I do see why you’d think it has a Midwestern under-culture, but it is a major city. The same argument, I assure you, can be made of New Orleans, Atlanta, Charleston. Major cities have major immigration, and people from all over the country--and the world--make their homes there. Sad as it is, it has shown its effects on the cities, but I assure you, at Louisville’s core, is the South. It has even been said that during the darkest days of the war, Louisville had more “Johnny Rebs” and “Southern Belles” than the entire state of Mississippi. As an historian, I might be inclined to believe that. Having mentioned Southern Belles, you’d be well advised to note Sallie Ward was a Louisvillian. Her portrait is often named “The Southern Belle.” That is because she was THE Southern Belle in the ante-bellum days. More Scarlett O’Hara than Scarlett herself! Literally, she was considered THE belle of the South! None of that is even mentioning that, as someone else noted, Louisville is a river city, giving it all the more reason to intermingle cultures. Nonetheless, to the trained ear, one can hear the traces of Southern accents in downtown Louisville, and thick as molasses accents among some of the older residence. Step outside the city limits--you can no longer judge the South by its cities. Anyone who lives in a Southern city will note the changes over the years. They’ve become melting pots, good or bad! Oh, and what is Louisville’s nickname? You don’t know? Let me tell you, “Gateway to the South!” That’s a take on its old days as a river port, and its being a Southern city, noted for two great Southern pastimes, horseracing and bourbon!
The Ohio river is a true divider of North and South. Just imagine how it held in cultures before the days of advanced transportation!
I have no desire to get into specifics of “Civil War” loyalties, other than to say a few things, beginning with no state, country, or person, in my opinion, has been more egregiously misrepresented in history than has Kentucky. Kentucky was no more divided than was most of the South, and certainly no more divided than Tennessee and Virginia. History is recorded inaccurate folks. That’s one of the first things one learns as a historian. Part of “to the victor go the spoils” is writing the history, and there’s a very strong argument that Kentucky was a Confederate state, not only because it was considered the Confederacy by the Confederacy following a secession, but also because that secession was reported in Northern newspapers.
If Kentucky had all the soldiers they claim, every man, woman, and child--maybe even horses and cattle--would have had to enlist in one cause of another. Historically, the South’s influences were so strong in Southern Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio than Lincoln feared he was going to have to fight them too. It was also a Kentuckian who defended Atlanta from Sherman!
I would also say that Kentucky’s accent and culture are identical--as is the climate--to Tennessee. That’s been stated time and again by people who are far more qualified than I. The accent is considered predominantly “Mountain South,” moving westward into “Plantation South,” and often a “Delta South” accent along the Mississippi. That goes for both states, though Rand McNally, I believe, published a book of maps aimed at Middle School aged kids, where the states were broken into regions (Kentucky and Tennessee were South), and they called Tennessee the Southern state most similar to the North. By the way, if I were from Tennessee, that would offend me too.
Lastly, I want to thank those of you who have defended Kentucky. I do appreciate your efforts, and, without question, I feel I can speak for the whole of the commonwealth. I agree with Indy, in that I am insulted! Geographically, cultureally, historically,. Kentucky IS Southern. This argument would have gotten you shot 100 years ago!