Archive from February, 2017

The Good Life in the South

Author Donald Davidson wrote of the decline of Northern cities committed to progress and the past resistance of Southern cities like Charleston and Savannah to the relentless march of industrial capitalism. But, he observed the ruins all around us as “the ruins of societies no less than the ruins of cities. Over the ruins stream mobs led by creatures no longer really human – creatures who, whether they make shift to pass as educators, planners, editors, commissars, or presidents . . .” lead the way on the path to destruction.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

The Good Life in the South

“Continuity of family, of family life, and family position – irrespective of economic status – was in fact a great distinction of Charleston among old American cities; for elsewhere that continuity had been generally broken by one cause or another. With this continuity Charleston had a stability that expressed itself in the pattern of its streets and the conservatism of its architecture. The map of Charleston in 1948 was not substantially different from the map of Charleston two centuries before.

If John Stuart, whom George III in 1763 appointed superintendent of Indian affairs in the South, could have returned in 1948 to seek his home, he would have found it at 106 Tradd Street, just where he built it in 1772 – for a brief occupancy, as it happened, since the Revolution ejected him, as a Tory, rather speedily from his new house.

The secret of Charleston’s stability, if it was any secret, was only the old Southern principle that material considerations, however important, are means not ends, and should always be subdued to the ends they are supposed to serve, should never be allowed to dominate, never be mistaken for ends in themselves.

If they are mistaken for ends, they dominate everything, and then you get instability. You get the average modern city, you get New York and Detroit, you get industrial civilization, world wars, Marxist communism, the New Deal.

Historians, noting that the antebellum South was in a sense materialistic, in that it found ways of prospering from the sale of cotton and tobacco, and relied heavily upon slave labor, have had the problem of explaining why that same South developed a chivalrous, courteous, religious, conservative and stable society quite different from that which obtained in the also materialistic, but more industrialized, rational, idealistic, progressive North.

The planters’ “aristocratic” leadership was the result, not the cause, of a general diffusion of standards of judgment that all the South, even the Negro slaves, accepted a basic principle of life. Mr. Francis Butler Simkins, in his book The South Old and New, has taken securer than the average historian when he notes that the South at the outbreak of the Civil War was almost the only true religious society left in the Western world.

That old, religious South set the good life above any material means to life and consistently preferred the kind of material concerns that would least interfere with and best contribute to the good life. Its preferred occupations were agriculture, law, the church and politics – pursuits which develop the whole man rather than the specialist, the free-willed individual rather than the anonymous unit of the organized mass.

[With] reference to material means of existence, such as money, one could clinch the discourse by pointing out the traditional attitude of the Southern Negro toward work and wages. If you paid the Negro twice the normal wage for a day’s work, you did not get more work from him – that is to say, more devotion to work within a given period, with increased production as the result. Not at all.

The Negro simply and ingeniously worked only half as many days or hours as before – and spent the rest of the time in following his conception of the good life: in hunting, dancing, singing, social conversation, eating, religion, and love. This well-known habit of the Negro’s, disconcerting to employers and statisticians, was absolutely correct according to Southern principles.

The Negro, so far as he had not been corrupted into heresy by modern education, was the most traditional of Southerners, the mirror which faithfully and lovingly reflected the traits that Southerners once all but unanimously professed.

That had been the idea in Charleston too. It was what Mr. Simkins in his book, perhaps being misled by his historical predecessors, had called the “country gentleman” idea. But Charleston, which had always been urban, always a town or a city of counting-houses, warehouses, factors, bankers, financial agents, and the like, was not a city of country gentlemen, exactly.

It had agreed with the country gentleman and with others of every sort, including the Negro, on letting the relationship between work, wages and life be determined by the metaphysical judgment indicated above. That was what made Charleston Charleston and not “The Indigo City” or something of the kind.”

(Still Rebels, Still Yankees, and Other Essays, “Some Day in Old Charleston,” Donald Davidson, LSU Press, 1957, excerpt, pp. 221-224)

 

Southern Statesmen Save the Union

The final breakup of the union of States in 1861 was preceded by over 80 years of conflict and compromise, and it was Southern statesmen who most often tried valiantly to save the confederation of the Founders. Just as colonial New England frequently antagonized England with its independently-minded maritime fleet, it often threatened secession and independence from the United States as it viewed its own interests as paramount to any other.  The infamous Hartford Convention of New England Federalists seriously entertained secession in late 1814, and espoused States’ rights doctrines.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Southern Statesmen Save the Union

“The period from the ratification of the treaty of peace to the adoption of the Constitution has been called the critical period of American history; and the first year of that period was scarcely less critical than the last, the year in which, to use a familiar evangelistic expression, the Constitution was hair-hung and breeze-shaken over the bottomless pit.

It is scarcely to be doubted that at that time [1784] the New Englanders in particular seriously contemplated the dissolution of Congress and the abandonment of the union of the thirteen States.

At such a time, when the bands of union were slipping, the centrifugal forces were everywhere running amuck, it was Thomas Jefferson who conceived the idea that the preservation of a “visible head” of the government was of supreme importance, lest, with the disappearance of even a symbol of the union, all faith and hope in a more perfect union should likewise perish; and it was the Southern members of Congress, nobly aided by Pennsylvania alone, who strove with might and main to combat the threatened peril.

Again, when men of the North would have hog-tied and bound the West and have delivered it into permanent subjection to the East, it was Southern statesmen, more than any others, who strove to establish the principle that the West should be carved into self-governing States, having equal rights in the union with the original thirteen.

Once more, in that long and hard-fought contest over the free navigation of the Mississippi River, when the North would have sold that American birthright for a mess of Spanish turnip greens and them frostbitten, it was Southern statesmen who saved the West to itself and to the nation.

During the contest over the navigation of the Mississippi . . . the forces of disunion again began slithering through the East. In the late summer of 1786 [James] Monroe was alarmed to discover that, in the very shadow of Congress, an intrigue was asquirm, the design of which appeared to be the disruption of the existing union and the creation of a Northern confederation that would extend, if possible, as far southward as the Potomac.

The scheme may have died a-borning . . . At all events there are grounds for suspicion that it was the same infant, waxed a bit stronger, that was exhibited at Hartford in 1814.”

(Southern Statesmen and the Confederation, Edmund Cody Burnett, North Carolina Historical Review, Volume XIV, Number 4, October 1937, NC Historical Commission, excerpts, pp. 357-359)

 

Feb 20, 2017 - Newspapers, Prescient Warnings, Propaganda    Comments Off on Who Controls the Press?

Who Controls the Press?

Andrew Steuart was an Irishman brought from Pennsylvania by a committee from North Carolina, and who established his press in Wilmington before the Revolution. He was named “printer to His Majesty in this Province” in 1763 by Royal Governor Arthur Dobbs, but lost his appointment three years later after printing political tracts against the British Stamp Act. Steuart had discovered who actually controlled the press.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Who Controls the Press?

“To ask “who says” is to wonder who controls the press. Although the immediate answer would seem to be the printers who compiled the newspapers, the question is complicated by pressures upon the men who decided what and what not to print.

At times, especially in the earlier colonial period, material might be sufficiently scarce to preclude much choice, and printers printed virtually everything available. But increased trade, better communications, and the intensifying prerevolutionary debate permitted – in fact, demanded – greater selectivity and by the 1760s printers were regularly postponing or excluding items on the basis of length, character, or political priorities.

Ironically, the increased freedom of choice involving sensitive materials imposed constraints of its own. Like Linus in the comic strip “Peanuts,’ many printers learned that “life is full of choices, but you never get any.”

Referring to himself in the third person, Andrew Steuart, who published the North Carolina Gazette at Wilmington, expressed the essence of the resulting dilemma when he asked, “What part is he now to act?”. . . Continue to keep his Press open and free and be in Danger of Corporal Punishment, or block it up, and run the risque of having his Brains knocked out? Sad Alternative.”

Ironically, once again, navigating the tricky political waters between Scylla and Charbdis was usually more difficult for men whose monopoly of local printing would superficially appear to have placed them in a strong position.”

(The Last of the American Freemen, Robert M. Weir, Mercer University Press, 1986, excerpt, pp. 163-164)

John Laurens, South Carolina Emancipator

Though John Laurens intention to emancipate and arm African slaves was intended to blunt the actions of Lord Dunmore’s Virginia emancipation proclamation of 1775 which fomented race war, which Lincoln later copied, South Carolina had earlier considered arming slaves for community defense. This shows too that using slaves as armed combatants with freedom as a reward predates the War Between the States, and an inevitable strategy, both offensive and defensive, given the great numbers of Africans brought to North America by British and New England slave ships.

Bernhard Thuersam www.Circa1865.com

 

John Laurens, South Carolina Emancipator

[Laurens] fought in the Battle of Brandywine, was wounded at Germantown, and spent the winter of 1777-1778 at Valley Forge on Washington’s staff. At Monmouth the following summer he escaped unscathed when his horse was shot from under him . . . during the late summer of 1778 he had served as liaison officer between the French and American commands during the joint attack on Rhode Island. His linguistic ability made him popular with the French officers and useful to Washington who spoke no French at all.

Nevertheless, Laurens was able to prevail upon his commander to send him back to South Carolina where he hoped to raise and lead a regiment of blacks against the British in the South. Early in 1778 John Laurens broached the matter to his father, who was then president of the Continental Congress. “I would solicit you to cede me a number of your able-bodied men slaves, instead of leaving me a fortune,” he wrote.

Formed into a unit and trained, they might render important service during the next campaign, he argued. What is amazing about his plan, though, is not merely that he was willing to surrender a large part of his inheritance in order to augment the Continental Army — practically everything he did during the Revolution testifies to his willingness to sacrifice his own private interest in favor of the general welfare. Nor is it even that he was willing to arm the slaves — South Carolinians had considered that step during earlier emergencies.

Rather, the astonishing aspects of his proposal are its candor, its boldness and its lager purpose. Service in the revolutionary army would be a stepping-stone to freedom — “a proper gradation between abject slavery and perfect liberty,” which would not only prepare a slave to take his place in free society but also establish his claim to it. In short, his was a clever and far-reaching plan for the gradual abolition of slavery.

A year later, after the fall of Savannah, however, the obvious need for additional manpower led Congress to urge the Southern States to enlist three thousand blacks, who would be freed at the end of the war.”

(The Last of American Freemen, Robert M. Weir, Mercer University Press, 1986, excerpts, pp. 90-94)

 

Feb 18, 2017 - Education, Southen Educators, Southern Culture Laid Bare    Comments Off on Southern Contributions to Philosophy

Southern Contributions to Philosophy

Author Henry C. White of the University of Georgia relates below that: “Deep thinkers were the men of the plantations; wide readers, keen observers and profound reasoners.” Not accustomed to widely publish their thoughts on great philosophical topics, their views were usually “disseminated through oral discussion with friends and neighbors and hospitably-received visitors from abroad upon the great patriarchal estates, by voluminous correspondence, by family teaching, and in the schools and colleges . . . manned by instructors of the same modest and retiring type.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Southern Contributions to Philosophy

“And yet, if the aim of the highest philosophy be the apprehension of the fundamental and eternal principles of governing right living and determining the relations of man to God, his neighbor and Nature, the ideals of conduct exemplified by the men of the South in their individual lives and their social relations, born of their close observation and thoughtful reasoning and commended to their children and their immediate communities, must have had an influence upon current local thought and upon the development of the communal life even greater than that which would have been afforded by technical investigation and publication, no matter how profound.

It is not contended, by any means, that exemplary living was universal throughout the South, nor is it denied that its peculiar social institutions involved something of evil to all concerned and something of injustice in the classification of peoples’ consequent thereon.

But all observers are agreed that, from its early settlement to the time when its intellectual energies were absorbed in the great political disputes which led to the War of Secession, the thought of the South and its communal spirit were directed and dominated by the quiet and profound thinkers of the great plantations and the superb examples of ethical living which they afforded.

Perhaps, therefore, the noteworthy and peculiar contribution of the South to philosophy in its early history was the creation and the fine effort at realization of high ideals of human conduct based upon the essential and immutable principles of truth, equity and justice.

The great teachers of the schools and colleges of the South of the period, many of whom, after the fashion of the times, were clergymen as well, held to these ideals and exalted them in the estimation of their pupils and thus, although contributing but little to the literature of philosophy, they impressed upon the community at large a truly philosophic mode of thought which subsequently became creative and now bids fair to become highly and richly productive.

The various philosophical movements in America became sectionalized in their broader aspects, the North standing for idealism, while the South stood for materialism and the middle West for the philosophy of common sense. [The] earlier writers of the South were some whose works are worthy to rank as original and valuable contributions to the technical literature of philosophy.

The Essays, Moral and Philosophical, of the brilliant and versatile George Tucker (1775-1861), the biographer of Thomas Jefferson and for many years professor of philosophy at the University of Virginia, contain, among many other reflections which are valuable, a treatment of the Will which is strikingly original and suggestive.

Other native materialists of the South [were] Joseph Buchanan (1785-1812) . . . another early materialist was Thomas Cooper (1758-1840) . . . another was Frederick Beasley (1777-1845), who was born in North Carolina . . . John Berry Gorman (1793-1864) of South Carolina . . . Thomas Lanier Clingman (1812-1897) of North Carolina . . . Another type of contribution of this period which should be taken into account . . . is furnished by writers of the character of Joseph LeConte and Nathaniel Southgate Shaler, some of whose works are more philosophic than scientific.”

(The South’s Contributions to Philosophy, Henry C. White, The South in the Building of the Nation, Volume VII, Southern Publication Society of Richmond, 1909, excerpt, pp. 261-265)

Southern Manners and Personal Integrity

Antebellum Southern concepts of manners and personal honor set a very high standard in education with the logical expectation that this would result in a more enlightened society and government.  Even code duello was seen to have a “decorous influence” on manners, as it made men careful in their conduct toward each other through personal honor and accountability.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Southern Manners and Personal Integrity

“[The official historian of the University of Virginia noted that the bulk of pre-Civil War graduates] . . . were of “the planting class.” Analysis of their post-college careers and modes of life led him to say that they were men who “kept alive in their country homes that loyal devotion to family, that chivalrous respect for womanhood, that considered tenderness for weakness, that high recognition of the claims of hospitality, that reverence for religion, and that quick sensitiveness upon all questions of personal integrity and honor, which they had inherited from their fathers.”

The cult of manners in the Old Dominion was so intertwined with the concepts of personal honor and integrity that all appeared part of a single theme. The diary notes of a young Virginian, attending VMI, contained the following passage, inserted as a kind of conclusion to the entries for the year 1842. It was set off in quotation marks:

“Among the many branches of education, that which tends to make deep impressions of virtue ought to be a fundamental object in a well-regulated government. For depravity of manners will render ineffectual the most salutary laws; and in the midst of opulence, what other means to prevent such depravity, but only a virtuous discipline?”

In this climate of opinion, with its emphasis on manners and personal integrity, the famous “Honor System” of American academic life first appeared. The founders were two professors at the University of Virginia; George Tucker, romantic litterateur before his appointment to the chair of moral philosophy; and his relative, Henry St. George Tucker, distinguished jurist before settling at Charlottesville as a teacher of law.

Judge Tucker submitted the epochal resolution to the faculty in 1842 that, at all future written examinations, the students should certify on their honor the receiving of no improper assistance. Later, this pledge was extended to include the imparting as well as the accepting of aid.

While visiting Richmond in 1853, Frederick Law Olmsted observed the importance of the cult of manners there. He added this observation to his travel diary, “In manners, I notice that between man and man, more ceremony and form is sustained in familiar conversations than well-bred people commonly use at the North.”

(Romanticism in the Old South, Rollin G. Osterweiss, LSU Press, 1971, excerpt, pp. 87-88)

Southern Democrats Betrayed by Their Party

Frustrated at the drift of FDR into state-socialism and use of communist-dominated labor unions to buy votes for his fourth term – as he had done for his third term — Southern congressmen like Josiah Bailey (1873-1946) of North Carolina threatened a new party grounded in constitutional principles – the States Rights Democratic party, or “Dixiecrats.” The Sidney Hillman noted below was a communist labor organizer who helped FDR gain the governorship of New York, and he was brought on board in 1932 to accomplish the same on a national level. One of Bailey’s best-known quotes is: “Since we humans have the better brain, is it not our responsibility to protect our fellow creatures from, oddly enough, ourselves?”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Southern Democrats Betrayed by Their Party

“What’s wrong, Senator [Josiah] Bailey [of North Carolina] demanded, with being a “Southern” Senator or a “Southern” Democrat? [He] pointed out that the Southern States had cast their electoral votes for the Democratic candidate for President, election after election, often when they stood absolutely alone and when there was nobody else in the electoral college to vote for him. But, he warned, there can be an end of that sort of thing!

“There can be an end of insults,” he said, “there can be an end of toleration, there can be an end of patience. We can form a Southern Democratic Party and vote as we please in the Electoral College, and we will hold the balance of power in this country. We can throw the election into the House of Representatives and cast the votes of sixteen States.

We have been patient. We were tried. But, by the eternal gods, there are men in the South, and women too, who will not permit men in control of our party to betray or to insult us in the house of our fathers.

We will assert ourselves – and we are capable of asserting ourselves – and we will vindicate ourselves, and if we cannot have a party in which we are respected, if we must be in a party in which we are scorned as “Southern” Democrats, we will find a party which honors us, not because we are Southerners, and not because of politics, but because we love our country and believe in the Constitution from which it draws its life, day by day, as you, sir, draw your breath from the atmosphere round about you.”

To be sure, national managers of the Democratic Party were mildly disturbed by the Bailey speech, but not for long. It may have been a coincidence, of course, but it is a fact that early in January, 1944, about a month after the Bailey speech was delivered, Governor [J.M.] Broughton of Bailey’s own State of North Carolina told the country in a radio broadcast that while there was “great political turmoil” in the Southern States, all of them would be found in the Democratic column as usual in the Presidential election of 1944. But the “insults” of which Senator Bailey complained didn’t end and the “betrayals” continued.

[On July 7 -1943], the executive board of the Congress of Industrial Organizations, a new labor body popularly known as the CIO . . . decreed that every Senator and Representative who had voted for the Smith-Connally bill should be defeated for re-election. And to undertake this job it created the CIO Political Action Committee.

At that time the labor leader who was closer to President Roosevelt than any other was Russian-born Sidney Hillman. Hillman had held various federal offices under the New Deal . . . His relations with Roosevelt were direct and intimate. This is of significance, because Sidney Hillman was chosen to be the Chairman of the CIO Political Action Committee. The object of the CIO-PAC at the outset was frankly that of electing a Congress that would follow the labor-union “line” and also elect President Roosevelt to a fourth term.

“We have in this country,” said Senator Bailey, “a well-organized, well-financed movement of the left-wing of American labor to capture the Democratic Party by infiltration. They propose to nominate the President for a fourth term. And they are noisy about it. They propose to defeat any Senator or member of the House [of Representatives] who does not bow to their policy of coercing the working men of America.”

(The South’s Political Plight, Peter Molyneaux, Calhoun Clubs of the South, 1948, excerpt, pp. 4-17)

Feb 18, 2017 - Antebellum Economics, Southern Culture Laid Bare, Southern Patriots    Comments Off on Jubal Early and the Goddess of Liberty

Jubal Early and the Goddess of Liberty

West Point cadet Jubal A. Early was nineteen years old when he wrote the following letter to his father in 1835, begging for permission to join the Texans in their fight for independence from Mexico. He would hold the same opinion of combatting tyranny in what he viewed to be Northern tyranny in the War Between the States — and continuing unabated after the War.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Jubal Early and the Goddess of Liberty

“The Texans are bound by every principle of self-preservation and are justified by the natural law of rights, as well as by precedent, to declare their independence and to resist the attempt which is being made to annihilate them. And we of the United States are called upon by every principle of humanity, by our love of liberty and our detestation of oppression, to go to the succor of our countrymen and aid in overwhelming the tyrant.

Shall we shed tears over the fate of Greece and Poland, yet see our countrymen slaughtered with indifference? The respect we entertain for our forefathers of the Revolution forbids it.

The gratitude we owe another country for espousing our cause imperiously commands us to espouse that of the oppressed. The cause of the Texans is more justifiable than was ours. We resisted the usurpation of our lawful government. They are resisting the tyranny and cruelty of [a] usurped government.

Liberty has been driven from the old world and its only asylum is in the new. It is the imperious duty of every one, who in this fair land has received it and its principles unsullied from his ancestors, to extend its dominion and to perpetuate its glorious light to posterity.

How can this be done if tyranny more despotic than that which exists in Europe is allowed to exist in our own confines? In succoring the Texans we should consider that we extend the sway of the goddess we worship, that we secure to their progeny the benefits of which we are so tenacious, and secure to the oppressed freemen of other countries an asylum which our own country will, ere long, not be able to afford them . . .

The great end of all education is to expand the mind and gain a knowledge of human nature. What is more calculated to expand the mind than the espousing of and working in the cause if liberty? What better book in which to study human nature than such a variety of characters as I would be constantly thrown with?

All things cry out to me to go [to Texas]. Oh, my dear father, will you not give me permission? Do not think that my resolution has been taken unadvisedly, and do not smile at my aspirations. I do not believe that I shall become a Bonaparte or [Simon] Bolivar, but he who never aspires, never rises. I have confined this letter to one subject because my whole soul is taken up with that subject.”

(Lt. Gen. Jubal Anderson Early, CSA, Narrative of the War Between the States; Da Capo Press, 1989 (original 1912), excerpt, pp. 471-472)

Southern Democrats Defend the Constitution

Only four years after Senator Josiah Bailey’s spoke on the floor of the United States Senate below, Southern Democrats were forming their own Democratic Party dedicated to lost Jeffersonian principles. FDR had already corrupted many Democrats who supported his socialist New Deal policies and a proposed “Federal” ballot which would overthrow a State’s authority of holding elections.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Southern Democrats Defend the Constitution

“On the second anniversary of Pearl Harbor – December 7, 1943 – Senator Josiah Bailey of [Warrenton] North Carolina, exasperated at frequent contemptuous references to “Southern” Democrats by national party leaders and disturbed over a decided anti-Southern trend in the Democratic Party, stood on the floor of the United States Senate and, in a blistering speech, warned the aforesaid Democratic leaders that there was a limit to what the South would stand from them.

At the same time, he outlined a course by which Southern Democrats could break off relations with the national party and bring about a situation in which the South would hold the balance of power in American politics.

Another presidential election was approaching and already there was a definite movement to “draft” President Roosevelt for a fourth term. For many days the Senate had debated a measure that proposed to empower the federal government to hold Presidential and Congressional elections among the men and women of the armed forces, using a federal ballot.

This measure was introduced by a Democrat and was being supported by Democrats and the Roosevelt administration, in spite of the obvious fact that it denied the fundamental Democratic Party doctrine that elections may be held only by authority of State governments and that under the Constitution the federal government has absolutely no authority to hold elections. But the most vigorous opposition also came from Democrats, principally Southern Democrats. It resulted in a notable debate on constitutional principles such as seldom been heard in Congress.

The Senate rejected this federal ballot proposal . . . But this did not prevent Senator Joseph Guffey of Pennsylvania from charging, in a newspaper statement, that the federal ballot had been defeated by an “unholy alliance” of Southern Democrats and Northern Republicans. Guffey designated Senator Harry F. Byrd of Virginia as the Democratic leader of “the most unpatriotic and unholy alliance that has occurred in the United States Senate since the League of Nations for peace of the world was defeated in 1919.”

Senator Byrd took care of Guffey on the morning of that December 7th by giving the Pennsylvania Senator a thorough verbal skinning. It was about as neat a dressing down as could be administered within the rules of the Senate. But Guffey’s references to “Southern” Democrats had angered Senator Bailey.

What’s wrong, Senator Bailey demanded, with being a “Southern” Senator or a “Southern” Democrat? “I would remind these gentlemen who speak of us as “Southern” Democrats,” he said, “these Democrats, these high lights of the party, these beneficiaries of our victories during the last ten years – I would remind them that Southern Democrats maintained the Democratic Party and kept it alive in all the long years of its exile, when it had no place in the house which our fathers had built, when it was not permitted to serve around the altars which our forefathers had made holy.”

(The South’s Political Plight, Peter Molyneaux, Calhoun Clubs of the South, 1948, excerpts, pp. 1-4)

The Old Lady of Broad Street Versus FDR

By 1936, Franklin Roosevelt’s Democrat Party had become a virtual duplicate of the Communist Party USA with a near-identical platform, and supported by communist labor and black voting blocs. The old Southern Democratic traditions were thrust aside and the seeds of the “Dixiecrat” party were sown as FDR used his power to unseat opponents. Charleston editor William Watts Ball rose to the occasion.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

The Old Lady of Broad Street Versus FDR

“[South Carolinian James] Byrnes found further cause for disagreement with [President] Roosevelt during the Congressional elections of 1938; he did not approve of Roosevelt’s attempt to unseat conservative Southern Democrats who had not supported New Deal legislation in the Senate. Some of the President’s closest advisors thought it unwise for him to dare intervene in Southern politics.

But Roosevelt would not be deterred; he undertook a “purge” trip through the South . . . [and] visited South Carolina. Since Olin Johnston had been invited to ride on the presidential train, it was obvious that Roosevelt favored Johnston for the [Senate] seat held by “Cotton Ed” Smith, presently running for reelection. Roosevelt had picked

Johnston and [News and Courier editor] Ball observed, “If the president can elect Mr. Johnston US Senator from South Carolina he can elect anybody . . . Northern Negro leaders were the masters of the national Democratic party. A vote against Smith was a victory for Walter White and the NAACP.”

Ball observed [that there] was a need for an independent Jeffersonian Democratic party in national affairs . . . to that end, on August 1 [1940] more than two hundred delegates convened at the South Carolina Society Hall in Charleston to organize the State Jeffersonian Democratic party. Almost simultaneously, “Time” magazine printed a picture of the “New Deal-hating” Ball and reported his support of [Republican Wendell] Wilkie as indicative of anti-Roosevelt rumblings in the normally Democratic Southern press.

[Ball wrote to his sister that] Election returns are coming in . . . the election of Wilkie would give me a surprise. I have no faith in “democracy” (little “d”) and the government of the United States has placed the balance of power in the hands of mendicants. I suppose the inmates of any county alms house would vote to retain in office a superintendent who fed them well and gave them beer. As for South Carolina, the South, it is decadent, spiritless; it is not even a beggar of the first class.

And in good health and bad, Ball maintained his unfaltering crusade against the New Deal. “Never was deeper disgrace for a country, in its management, than the disgrace of waste and corruption the last eight and a half years. I would not say there has been stealing, not great stealing, but the buying of the whole people with gifts and offices has been the colossal form of corruption . . . the American symbols are the night clubs of New York, the playboys and playgirls of Hollywood and the White House family with its divorces and capitalization of the presidential office to stuff money into its pockets.”

[Ball’s] News and Courier adhered steadfastly to its traditional policies: States rights; tariff for revenue only; strict construction of the Constitution; a federal government whose duties were confined to defending the republic against attack and to preserving peace and free commerce among the States. Fazed neither by depression nor by war, the “Old Lady of Broad Street” persisted in her jealousy and suspicion of all governments that set up welfare, do-good and handout agencies.

Ball claimed not to dislike [Roosevelt aide Harry] Hopkins, but [regarded] him as the embodiment of the fantastic in government: a man who “on his own initiative never produced a dollar,” a welfare worker who now was the greatest spender of the taxpayers’ money.”

(Damned Upcountryman, William Watts Ball, John D. Starke, Duke University Press, 1968, excerpts, pp. 151-201)

 

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