This article originally appeared in American Conservatism: An Encyclopedia (ISI Books). It is reprinted by permission of the publisher.
Southern conservatism, as opposed to the generic American variety, is a doctrine rooted in memory, experience, and prescription rather than in goals or abstract principles. It is part of a nonnegotiable Southern identity with what it is prior to what it means. Not the consequence of dialectics or reasoning, it emerges from a historical continuum engendered by a recognizable people who have, over a long period of time, a specific set of experiences.