Creating a history question is a fourth year (Australian “honours,” US “masters”) problem.
A historical question ought to bring theory into intersection with a gap in knowledge into intersection with a gap in literature.
“Debate,” is a pretty poor measure. Historiography documents debates amongst historians. Historians document debates amongst the people and institutions of the past.
Your second attempt at a question is facile because it requests an enumerated list. It wrongly creates a category “the south.” For historians categories have to be one of two things. Categories either have a theoretical basis, which requires a theoretical framework (“rural extraction economy planter bourgeois in a world systems framework”). Or categories need to be found in the documentary record of the past. Here we wouldn’t import a category from the past without saying whose category it is.
Finally, we should be particularly suspicious of declaring descriptive or theoretical categories as agents. Only humans and deliberate associations of humans display historical agency. Other descriptions of groups of people might have behaviour that arises from combinations and conflicts of agents, but they don’t display choice, as these descriptive or theoretical groups emerge in analysis not in self organisation.
This is an even worse flaw in a question if the existence of the category is tenuous, ie: debated or emergent only within a certain analysis. You can get away with a bit of shorthand here, “the proletariat” in a rising condition of class struggle is normally considered as the militant section of the working class whose self-conscious debates have been eliminated from the record as they were oral or recorded with all identification removed due to expected persecution. And even here doing so means you align your project with a strong theoretical tradition and then need to negotiate the limits and difficulties of such a position.
For example, in relation to the ruling vibe in Australia’s long 1950s: “Harold Holt,” was an agent in Australian history; “The Liberal/National cabinet” similarly. However “Nationals voters,” is a description from the time of a non-organised body, and “state dependent squatocracy,” is a contemporary theoretical category which wasn’t self organising at the time for deliberate decision making.
To give and explain an example question covering the above, “Does Foucaults conception of discipline as applied to education explain the State of Georgia’s funding of teacher numbers and teacher selection in public education for black children in the 1920s?”
Theory, evaluation of extent required, a specific actual agent (institution here), a knowable and limited domain (numbers and criteria), a specific subject (Georgian children who were black) and a specific time.
Crafting a question is more than half the battle. Ensuring that it is limited but presents “why” problems is important. In closing, remember that the question needs to animate your historical imagination sufficiently for you to enjoy doing the work. But do try to pick small digestible problems with a clear and easy way to complete your analysis in a timely way.