Physically, many of the cities of the South were destroyed, as were many plantations. This was sometimes as a result of battles and sometimes, as in the case of General Sherman's march through Georgia, the result of deliberate policy meant to break the will of the rebels. A city such as Savannah, Georgia, which was not destroyed, still gives a flavor of the Old South with its houses and churches built around squares.
Economically, much of the South had a difficult time recovering from the war. States such as Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama remain near the bottom of the United States economy. Even before the war, however, the South was lagging economically; the South possessed very few factories and was based on an agricultural economy dependent on slave labor. As a result, it was not able to produce the wealth of the industrial North. Southern leaders banked on either a very short war or backing by the British, as they knew they lacked the capacity to wage a long conflict independently. When the end came, the effects of losing the war, such as physical destruction and shattered psyches, exacerbated the problems posed by economic recuperation.
Socially, the freeing of the slaves and the attempts during Reconstruction to offer blacks political and economic benefits threatened to upend the South's racist culture. However, the rise of the Ku Klux Klan and a changing political climate in Washington allowed the white population to quickly regain dominance and oppress blacks freely. Blacks stayed at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder and were sharply segregated from whites. Supreme Court decisions, such as Plessy v. Ferguson, legally enshrined the doctrine of "separate but equal," although, in reality, life was racially separate and unequal. The South also developed a nostalgic culture that romanticized the antebellum world, including slavery, the Confederacy, and Southern courage during the Civil War.
Politically, the South became determined to uphold white supremacy and voted Democrat for 100 years, that is, until President Johnson supported voting rights for blacks. Democratic presidents such as Franklin Delano Roosevelt were hesitant to directly endorse black rights for fear of alienating white Southern voters.