The Story of the USA – North and South

Read and listen and write your answers in the comments section at the bottom of the page.

The Civil War

The story of the USA is a long and complicated story. The story has many chapters and many themes. One of the important events in the history of the United States is the Civil War. Did your country ever have a civil war?


England had a civil war in the 1600s.

There was an earlier civil war which was called the War of the Roses. It is mentioned in this conversation about football.

Do you see any relationship between historical allegiance to football teams and historical allegiance to different political organizations?

The American Civil War lasted from 1861 until 1865.

You can see images from a re-enactment of the American Civil War on this Youtube video:

The Battle of Gettysburg

The Battle of Gettysburg was an important battle in the history of the American Civil War. The North (the Union) wore blue uniforms. The South ( the Confederates) wore gray uniforms. It was war between the blues and the greys.

You can read history and see historical photographs on this video about the History of the Civil War:

The North was called “The Union”.

The South was called “The Confederacy” or “The Confederates”

The next video is a history of the war with audio:

Listen for these phrases:

the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860

the abolition of slavery

eleven states left the union

Lincoln called for a blockade of the coastline

with great enthusiasm

the Confederate capital at Virginia

with a massive army

a daring campaign

the outskirts of Richmond

in the west

the bloodiest day of the Civil war

the Emancipation Proclamation

the struggle to end slavery

Federal Armies

Ulysses S. Grant captured two key forts.

its largest city

Union forces

the life of Stonewall Jackson

a six week siege

a whole confederate army

dramatic victories

the armies of the South had to be destroyed

He lost seven thousand men in an hour.

In 1865 Sherman carried his war of terror north

Lee was forced to surrender

The number of Americans who died in the war ..

a cluster of member states…

A U.S. Politician

Even today the Civil War is a hot topic and sometimes a divisive topic. Watch this video of an American politician talking about the Civil War and Abraham Lincoln:

Listen for these phrases:

I was intrigued by your comments

should never have gone to war

six hundred thousand Americans died

we’d still have slavery!

slavery was phased out

do like the British Empire did

every other country got rid of slavery without a civil war

that sounds like a reasonable approach

The USA has Several Distinct Regions

The United States is a very large and very diverse nation. It is like many countries in one. There are distinct regions. The Northeast part is called New England. Boston and New York are in the Northeast. People in the Northeast are sometimes called “yankees”.

The Northwest is newer and has a different culture. Seattle and Oregon are in the Northwest. It is mountainous and there are forests. Cowboys and loggers and marijuana farmers and Microsoft and Starbucks and Boeing are in the Northwest. There are also grizzly bears and other varmints.

The Midwest is the farming belt. The great American actor, Marlon Brando came from Nebraska in the Midwest. A lot of it is flat cornfields with European immigrants from Germany and the Netherlands and Sweden and Denmark and Norway.

California and the Southwest
have a lot of Mexican and Spanish influence. The native American desert cultures are in the Southwest. Many people in the South and the Southwest can speak Spanish better than they are able to speak English. Are you able to get by in Spanish?

The South

The South is another major region. It includes places that used to be French and Spanish like Florida and Louisiana. It also includes Texas and Mississippi States like Tennessee. Kentucky and Alabama are in the South. The historical figure Roy Bean from the Paul Newman movie was from the South.

The American Civil war was fought between the North and the South. When was it?


There are important cultural differences between the northern part of the US and the southern part of the US.
There are important cultural differences between the northern and southern parts of the US.
There are important cultural differences between many parts of the US.
There are important cultural differences between some parts of the US within the same city.


Choose one region from these and read about the cities and people and culture of that area.:

New England- The Northeast
The Midwest
The Northwest
California and the West
The Southwest
The South

Mega Cities

New York
Los Angeles
San Francisco

The US has mega cities which are like a microcosm of the world. Sometimes you can find people from all over the world in one city. Each neighborhood is like a different country. That makes it hard to generalize, but lets try to say some things about the South.

Southern Culture

The south is warmer. On the map the South is closer to the equator so it is warmer. That means different climate and weather, different plants and animals, different food and different clothes.

Do you think that people from warmer climates have warmer personalities?

The South was sometimes called “Dixieland”

I wish I was in the land of cotton.

Look away!

I wish I was in Dixie!

Hooray! Horray!

The South had an agricultural base with cotton fields and a lot of slaves and slave owners. This was a whole culture in itself. The Civil War was fought over slavery.

You can see the influence of slavery in music. The slaves and freed slaves developed gospel singing, soul music, jazz, blues, and rock`n`roll.

Check out this video of a guy playing blues guitar and singing the hobo blues:

I left home that morning.

You know he (is) trying.

Even today there are more black people in the South than there are in the North.

The South is closer to Mexico so there are also more Mexicans and more Spanish speaking people.

Hillbilly Music also comes from the South. Listen to this video of hillbilly music from the Hillbilly Gypsies:

(I have been) working on the railraod
(and I have been) saving all I can

Honey Babe! I am bound to ride.

I am going to Atlanta just to look around.

Things don’t suit me.

I am gonna find another town.

Southern Accent

You can hear a song about yankees (people from the north) and the southern accent in this youtube video:

There is a southern accent in the place where I come from. The young ‘uns call it “country”. The yankees call it “dumb”. I got my own way of talking but everything is done with a southern accent where I come from.


young ‘uns
young ones
young people
young folks

I got my own way of doing things
I have my own way of doing things

People speak with a different accent in the South. Hillbillies are simple country folk. Are you able to make out the accents in this video:

my grandbaby

I don’t know but she is pretty close to two months … about two months.

How old is she?

How old were you?


Don’t be a smart-ass with him now, Honey.

How long have you guys been married?


Have you killed any snakes this year, Loretta?

with a lawnmower

right in this yard?

Yeah I killed one about two weeks ago when I mowed up here.

At the corner of the building there I killed one.
He poked his head up and i whacked it off.

How many beers you had today?

You got some beer in there?

Try this one:

The Idea of Cultural Difference

There are cultural differences between the north and the south in the United States of America. There was a war between the north and the south. Howabout your country? Is it unified? Is it homogenous? Are there separate ethnic areas? Is your country like more than one country mixed into one? Is there a difference between people from the north and people from the south … or between people from the east and people from the west? Write and tell us about it in the “comments” section below.


Let’s take this idea of cultural differences and develop it a little further. Are you familiar with a region where there is one political unit but there is more than one culture?


Ireland consists of two countries. The people in the south are mostly catholic and they are citizens of the Republic of Ireland.

The north belongs to the United Kingdom. There are cultural and political differences between the north and the south.

You can study the geography of Ireland by looking carefully at the piece of bacon in this youtube video. Listen to the Irish accents:

Ok. What we are looking at the moment is …a map of Ireland as represented by a piece of bacon.

you can see the border

can you point Sligo out ..

and Cork?

Cork is down here

and Limerick?

just over here

slap bang in the middle

somewhere in the middle

what do you call it?

wow! ..that is so nice!


Yugoslavia used to be one big country after the war bit it broke up into several different countries. There are differences of language and religion among the people in each country. What are the names of the countries that belonged to former Yugoslavia?

South Africa

South Africa had a policy of separate development or “apartheid” which segregated blacks and whites regardless of their geographical origin.


After the period of colonialism, Vietnam was divided during the wars with the French and the Americans. For some years North Vietnam and South Vietnam were separate countries but they were unified in 1975 at the end of the Vietnam War. When did the Vietnam war start?


Korea has been divided into north and south since the fifties. When was the Korean war?


Germany was formerly divided into east and west:

North and South India

The people of northern India speak a broadly similar group of languages that are related to Hindi: Bengali, Nepali, Bihari, Himachali etc.

The people of southern India speak languages from a different family of languages:
Telegu and Tamil.


The Bengali people speak the Bengali language but they have been divided into two groups and two nations on account of their religious faith. The people of West Bengal State in India are mostly Hindus.

The people of Bangladesh are mostly Muslims.

Israel and Palestine

The people of Israel and Palestine live in the same place but they have different rules about how to live and their is strife and tension. Is peace possible and how can it be achieved?


China has many ethnic minorities. They are officially recognized in the constitution. Taiwan and China have political differences which are rooted in the events after the Chinese Revolution of 1949 when the old government of China fled to Taiwan. How are the mainland Chinese and the Taiwanese Chinese different from a cultural point of view?



Broadly speaking there are differences between northern Europe and southern Europe. The people in the north speak Germanic languages and eat different food and speak and act differently to the people in the south who speak Latin languages and eat differently and have a different temperament.

There also cultural differences between eastern and western Europeans. Many eastern Europeans speak Slavic languages. Western Europeans speak Germanic languages.


In Japan there are some cultural and linguistic differences between people who come from Tokyo and people who come from Osaka then again people who come from Nagasaki and again people who come from Okinawa.

What is the situation in your country? Are there are regional differences? How are the people different from each other?