Sen. Fulbright on Southern Poverty
Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas advised his fellow congressmen from the North as to why the South lagged behind in economic development and education, and the reason for this. Fulbright was a signatory of the Southern Manifesto of March 12, 1956 that denounced what was viewed as unconstitutional actions of an activist and legislation-enacting Supreme Court, and all advised legal means of resistance.
Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com
Senator Fulbright on Southern Poverty
“From 1946 when the Senate first dealt with Harry Truman’s proposed Fair Employment Practices Commission, (FEPC) and on through a series of filibusters and bitter civil rights contests, Fulbright has been prominent among the Southern bloc. He has been a leader in debate and strategy; he has spoken out as strongly and frequently as any other Southerner.
More than most, he has addressed himself to the South’s unique problems — poverty, ignorance, disease, lack of economic opportunities. He has tried to place these problems in historical perspective, and in that sense can he himself best be understood.
The historical facts of slavery, the Civil War, Reconstruction and its bitter aftermath, crippled the South. The South WAS treated like a conquered territory; it WAS exploited; it DID become ever more insulated and removed from the mainstream of American life. Its fears, frustrations and antagonisms are without parallel in the American experience.
In common with other Southern politicians, Fulbright has been frustrated in attempting to effect change. With his own business background and intimate knowledge of financial conditions in Arkansas, he particularly has resented the domination of outside economic interests — Northern economic interests.
Once, when opposing the routine appointment of a Philadelphia banker to the Federal Reserve Board, he gave a revealing glimpse into his own attitudes:
“The people of the North are extremely solicitous of our welfare and progress,” he said. “They assure us that if we furnish better schools and abolish poll taxes and segregation, strife will cease and happiness [will] reign. They are critical of our relative poverty, our industrial and social backwardness, and they are generous in their advice about our conduct.
Their condescension in these matters is not appreciated . . . because these people . . . have for more than a century done everything they could to retard the economic development of the South.
It is no secret that the South was considered like a conquered territory after 1865. Since that time, the tariff policy and freight rate structure were designed by the North to prevent industrial development in the South; to keep that area in the status of a raw material producing colony. Above and beyond these direct restrictions, the most insidious of all, the most difficult to put your finger on, is the all-pervading influence of the great financial institutions and industrial monopolies.
These influences are so subtle and so powerful that they have in many instances been able to dominate the political and economic life of the South and West from within those States as well as from Washington.”
From his first moment in Congress . . . [Fulbright] has fought for passage of a federal aid to education bill . . . [as he believed] that the best hope for amicable race relations lies in improving education.
“It is paradoxical,” he once said, “that Southern educational systems should be expected to produce well-rounded, broad-minded, and wholly dispassionate individuals whose well-developed intellectuals can suddenly reject lifelong patterns of conduct. This is a high standard to expect for schools without adequate facilities — stemming from a tax base incapable of producing sufficient revenue. Southern States — and particularly my own — have made valiant efforts in recent years to devote greater portions of their resources to education, but . . . only since the 1930’s has the South begun to share in the prosperity and affluence of America.”
(Fulbright, The Dissenter, Johnson and Gwertzman, Doubleday & Company, 1968, excerpts, pp. 148-150)