Browsing "Southern Conservatives"

Taxes Only for Public Objects and Ends

In May of 1882 Delaware’s Senator Bayard recalled the meaning of the Mecklenburg Resolves and warned against the continuing expenditure of public tax dollars on projects unrelated to a strictly “public objects and ends.” Americans then were witnessing a federal government, unrestrained since 1861, complicit in subsidies to private businesses and pursuing vast imperial ambitions.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Taxes Only for Public Objects and Ends

“The commemorative celebration of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence took place at Charlotte on May 20th [1882]. The streets were fairly decked with flags and banners, filled with citizen soldiers in bright uniforms, and at least 20,000 people from the surrounding country.

Governor [Thomas] Jarvis and his staff, Senators Vance, [Matt] Ransom, Wade Hampton and [Thomas] Bayard were present. The Mecklenburg Declaration was read by Senator Ransom, and Senator Vance introduced the orator of the occasion, Thomas F. Bayard of Delaware. The address was enthusiastically received, especially the sentiments contained in the following extract:

“I wish I could impress upon you gentlemen, and not upon you only but upon our fellow-countrymen everywhere, the fatal fallacy and mischief that underlies and inheres to every proposition to use the money of the people — drawn from them by taxation, the powers of the government, the force of their government, under any name or pretext — for any other than really public objects and ends.

I include the maintenance of the public honor, dignity, and credit, the protection of American citizenship everywhere, among the just objects for the exercise of governmental powers; but I wish to deny . . . the rightfulness of involving the welfare and happiness of the 50,000,000 men, women, and children of the country, whether by laying taxes upon them which are not needed for the support of their government, or paying bounties and subsidies to maintain lines of private business which are too unskillfully or unprofitably conducted otherwise to sustain themselves, or promising the presence of our fleets or armies, or risking the issue of peace or war, or shedding the blood of our soldiers and sailors in aid of schemes of private greed or personal ambition under the guise of claims foreign or domestic.”

(North Carolina, Appleton’s Annual Cyclopedia, 1882, New Series Vol VII, D. Appleton and Company, 1883, page 634)

New England Rebels and Tyrants

Admiral Raphael Semmes wrote in the immediate postwar that “Constitutions are made for the protection of minorities,” that “they naturally cling to the guarantees and defences provided for them in the fundamental law; it is only when they become strong” and become majorities “that their principles and their virtues are really tested.” He was referring to New England which when in the minority was firmly for States’ rights, but in 1860 when it became the majority, became strongly nationalist and embarked on a path to subjugate the South.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

New England Rebels and Tyrants

“The American Constitution died of a disease that was inherent in it. It was framed on false principles inasmuch as the attempt was made, through its means of binding together, in a republican form of government, two dissimilar peoples, with widely dissimilar interests.

Monarchical governments may accomplish this since they are founded by force, but republican governments never. The secession of the Southern States was a mere corollary of the American proposition of government; and the Northern States stultified themselves, the moment they started to resist it. The consent of the Southern States being wanted, there should have been an end of the question.

If the Northern States were not satisfied to let them go, but entertained, on the contrary, a desire to restrain them by force, this was a proof that those States had become tired of the republican form and desired to change it.

So loth was the South to abandon the Union that she made strenuous efforts to remain in it, even after Mr. Lincoln had been made president in 1860. In this election that dreaded sectional line against which President Washington had warned his countrymen in his Farewell Address, had at last been drawn . . . There had at last arisen a united North, against a untied South.

[Lincoln’s election] was purely geographical; it was tantamount to a denial of the co-equality of the Southern States with the Northern States, since it drove the former out of the common Territories. In both houses of Congress the Northern faction which had so recently triumphed in the election of their president, was arrayed in hostility to the South, and could not be moved [to compromise] an inch. Rebels, when in a minority, [New Englanders] had become tyrants now that they were in a majority.

Nothing remained to the South, but to raise the gauntlet which had been thrown at her feet. The federal government which had been established by our ancestors had failed of its object. Instead of binding the States together, in peace, and amity, it had, in the hands of one portion of the States, become an engine of oppression of the other portion. It so happened, that the slavery question was the issue which finally tore them asunder, but . . . this question was a mere means, to an end.

[That] end was empire . . . in this hemisphere, the drama which had so often been enacted in the other, of the more powerful nation crushing out the weaker.

The war between the American sections was but the prototype of many other wars, which have occurred among the human race. It had its origin in the unregenerated nature of man, who is only an intellectual wild beast, whose rapacity has never yet been restrained, by a sense of justice. The American people thought, when they framed the Constitution that they were to be an exception to mankind, in general.

History had instructed them that all other peoples, who had gone before them had torn up paper governments, when the paper was the only bulwark that protected such governments, but then they were the American people, and no such fate could await them.”

(Memoirs of Service Afloat During the War Between the States, Raphael Semmes, 1868, LSU Press, 1996, excerpts, pp. 53-70)

 

Generations Living Off Future Generations

Jefferson wrote in 1792: “As the doctrine is that a public debt is a public blessing, so they think a perpetual one is a perpetual blessing, and therefore wish to make it so large that we can never pay it off.” Prior to 1861 it as common for American presidents to view that indebting future administrations was both immoral and unconscionable.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Generations Living Off Future Generations

“On September 6, 1789, Jefferson admonished James Madison from Paris that the country should get straight, “at the threshold of our new government,” how we are to keep the debt from destroying the democracy. Jefferson’s premise, which he believed to be “self-evident,” is that one generation cannot – either morally or in fact – bind another.

It follows that “No generation can contract debts greater than may be paid during the course of its own existence.” The “earth belongs in usufruct [trust] to the living . . . [T]he dead have neither powers nor rights over it.” If one generation can charge another for its debts, “then the earth would belong to the dead and not to the living generation.”

Jefferson continued: “The conclusion then, is, that neither the representatives of a nation, nor the whole nation itself assembled, can validly engage debts beyond what they can pay in their own time.”

Madison wrote back that he generally agreed but thought debt was justifiable if it built a project that benefited the future taxpayer – a useful bridge, for example. Jefferson answered that the power to borrow was too dangerous to allow exceptions – any exception would expand or destroy the prohibition.

Madison’s argument seemed plausible, but Jefferson’s camel’s-nose-under-the-tent concern was right. No government will stay within Madison’s exception. World War II, the last time this country could make any kind of legitimate case for a benefit to future generations, was in fact financed 47 percent by pay as you go taxes, which provided $137 billion out of a total cost of $304 billion.

Jefferson could not get his 1798 amendment adopted, but the country got more chances to adopt Jeffersonian principles in 1994, 1995, and 1996 when Sen. Sam Nunn (D., GA) proposed a Balanced Budget Amendment. At the time, the national debt was large (about four trillion dollars) but could have been dealt with. It was not yet a perpetual debt.

Senator Nunn called his legislation the “Jefferson Amendment.” It required that Congress balance expenses with revenues [and] the public constantly supported Nunn’s amendment by 75-percent margins. But he was defeated by the Clinton Cabinet, which argued that the economy would crash if the federal government couldn’t borrow.

A New York senator said the amendment’s passage could “lead to the devastation of the banking industry.” With the defeat of the Nunn Amendment, the boat sailed for the Republic.”

(Just One More Thing, William J. Quirk, Can the Republic Be Restored?, Chronicles, May 2009, pg. 15)

Common-Sense Agrarian

Tom Watson of Georgia was old enough in 1863 to see Yankee prisoners on trains, and his father and two uncles served in defense of the American Confederacy. He remembered his grandfather’s plantation as belonging to another world, “a complete social and industrial organization, almost wholly sufficient unto itself,” and the old agrarian traditions of his childhood held sway for all his days.  He attacked those wanting to increase military appropriations for being “Afraid of your own proletariat. You are afraid of the dissatisfied workman, thrown of work by these soulless, these heartless, these insatiable trusts and combinations of capital . . .”

Watson was elected senator from Georgia in September 1920, and fought tirelessly against Woodrow Wilson’s League of Nations.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Common-Sense Agrarian

“The first subject on which the new Senator delivered himself at any length was the proposed treaty with Columbia, intended to conciliate that country for the Panama affair by the payment of $25,000,000. Republican senators, rallying to the defense of [Theodore] Roosevelt, had opposed the treaty as proposed by the Wilson administration.

Now that Roosevelt was dead . . . even [Henry Cabot] Lodge had reversed himself to support the treaty . . . [and] let the cat out of the bag by his statement: “We must not only enlarge our trade, but we must enlarge our source of supply of oil wherever it is possible to do so, and we cannot do it if we take the position that it is a sin for Americans to make money and that those who are engages in foreign investment and foreign commerce are to be punished instead of sustained.”

“Mr. President, are we the agents of Standard Oil Company – that and nothing more?” asked Watson. “When did that infant, protected in all its roots and branches, need our assistance in securing access to foreign oil fields?” He intimated that all the fine talk about Pan-American brotherhood turned his stomach. “Let us confess what we are doing – that we are here to buy property for the Standard Oil Company.”

If the country was in such need of oil, why did we cut ourselves off from the richest oil fields in the world – those of Soviet Russia.? “Because we did not like their form of government.” Did the senators like the form of government in Columbia any better? “What is it, by the way? “Despotism tempered by assassination.”

[Senators] who professed to be horrified at Red atrocities met with his ridicule. “Where is the consistency,” he asked, “of staying in a state of war, or at least non-intercourse, with a great nation which has always been our friend and at the same time handing out food to them as objects of charity? First we destroy their commerce and then try to replace it by gifts, by doles of food.” We had no more right to dictate Russia’s form of government than we had to dictate Germany’s.

He quoted a speech of [Daniel] Webster’s advocating recognition of Greece. “Let us not affect too much saintliness,” he admonished. “Are our skirts entirely clear of wrong in Hawaii, the Philippines, and in Santo Domingo?”

In a different connection, but in the same trend, he said: “We are hereditary revolutionists. We are so from instinct, history and tradition. We are so by sentiment.” Whence, then, all this outcry against revolutionists.”

[On questions of foreign policy Watson opposed] anything that remotely smacked of the [Woodrow Wilson’s] League of Nations, which, he said, was as much like the Holy Alliance of the nineteenth century “as two black cats are like one another.”

His most conspicuous fight was waged against the ratification of the Four-Power Treaty upon insular affairs in the Pacific. He denounced it as in reality an alliance with the dominant imperialist powers, designed to promote imperialism, and to draw the United States into the web of foreign rivalries, if not into the League itself.”

(Tom Watson, Agrarian Rebel, C. Vann Woodward, Oxford University Press, 1979, pp. 477-479

When Conservative Statesmen Walked the Earth

The Southern Dixiecrat movement was greatly the result of the communist-dominated labor union infestation of FDR’s Democrat party from 1936 onward. FDR’s labor advisor was Sidney Hillman, Russian refugee from the 1905 revolution who as a radical labor organizer in New York City, earlier delivered communist votes to Roosevelt for governor. In 1936 Hillman formed the CIO and the first political action committee, CIO-PAC, with the intention of funneling labor money directly to FDR’s reelection campaigns. Roosevelt’s 1940 running mate, Henry Wallace, saw nothing wrong with communism and the Southern Democrats had had enough. Hillman’s CIO spawned the Highlander Folk School in Tennessee, a communist labor-organizing training facility attended in the mid-1950’s by M.L. King and Rosa Parks.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

When Conservative Statesmen Walked the Earth

“From the outset of his administration, the central theme of the [Virginia Governor William] Tuck tenure was hostility to organized labor. In his first message to the General Assembly, the new governor denounced public employee unions, and the legislators responded by declaring public employee collective bargaining to be contrary to the public policy of Virginia.

When employees of the Virginia Electric and Power Company threatened a strike in the spring of 1946, Tuck declared that a state of emergency existed, and mobilized the unorganized State militia, and threatened to induct 1,600 of the utility’s employees. The next year he convened a special session of the General Assembly and secured passage of two additional measures: one permitting State seizure of strike-plagued utilities, and another outlawing compulsory union membership (the “Right to Work Law”).

Across the nation a rash of postwar strikes caused the organized labor movement’s popularity to plummet. President Truman in 1946 vetoed legislation designed to curb union power, and that move, in combination with concessions made by the administration in order to end a United Mine Workers strike, brought the new President widespread criticism.

Senator [Harry F.] Byrd and the State’s conservative Democratic congressmen spent much of their reelection campaigns in 1946 pillorying organized labor; Eighth District Congressman Howard W. Smith, for example, assailed the Congress of Industrial Organizations’ political action committee (“CIO-PAC”) as a “new swarm of carpetbaggers who are invading the Southern States [and] are impregnated with communism.”

The ever-widening gulf between Senator Byrd and the national Democratic Party was the principal reason for the [Virginia] Republicans high hopes. Byrd supported Franklin Roosevelt for President in 1932, but he quickly became disenchanted as the new President repudiated the conservative thrust of his 1932 platform and embarked on a broad new social agenda.

When Roosevelt’s ill-fated “court-packing” plan was advanced in 1937, Byrd and other Southern Democrats joined with the Republicans to defeat it, thereby giving birth to the conservative coalition that would remain a formidable force within the Congress for decades. It was President Truman, however, who most infuriated Byrd.

Like most of his Southern colleagues, the Virginia senator initially greeted Harry Truman’s ascension to the Presidency in April 1945 with favor. Truman, after all, was the son of a Confederate soldier, and his Missouri accent fueled the feeling among Southerners that one of their own was finally in charge. In fact, Truman owed his spot on the national ticket in 1944 to Southern party leaders who had insisted that Roosevelt jettison liberal Vice President Henry Wallace as the price of their continued support.

[After Truman] attempted to breathe new life into FDR’s New Deal coalition, the President proposed a variety of liberal initiatives in his State of the Union message. The President’s initiative brought a sharp and swift denunciation from Virginia’s senior senator. “[Taken] in their entirety,” declared Byrd, “[the Truman civil rights proposals] constitute a mass invasion of States’ rights never before even suggested, much less recommended, by any previous President.”

The senator’s disdain for Truman was surpassed, perhaps, only by that of Governor Tuck. On February 25, 1948, the governor went before the General Assembly to denounce the Truman civil rights program and to propose a measure of his own for dealing with the President. The Tuck “ballot bill” would keep the names of all presidential candidates off of the November ballot in Virginia. Instead, only the parties would be listed . . . [to] keep Truman from getting Virginia’s electoral votes . . . In Washington, Senator Byrd took to the floor to strongly endorse the Tuck bill and commend it to his Southern colleagues.”

(The Dynamic Dominion, Realignment and the Rise of Virginia’s Republican Party Since 1945, Frank B. Atkinson, George Mason University Press, 1992, pp. 20-22)

 

 

Truman the Prisoner of Socialist Planners

Author John T. Flynn wrote in 1949 of the communist takeover of the Democrat Party, which was fairly complete in 1936 as FDR’s labor friend Sidney Hillman formed the first political action committee, CIO-PAC, to funnel labor unions funds into his political campaign. By the early 1940’s Southern Democrats had enough of party communists and railed at FDR’s running mate in 1940, Henry Wallace, who was very friendly with the Soviets. Thus came the Dixiecrat Party.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Truman the Prisoner of Socialist Planners

“The country recently witnessed a struggle in the United States Senate around a proposal of the president to put federal force behind the guarantee of what is called “civil rights.” Few of those who read of the filibuster conducted by the Southern Democratic senators understood the real purpose behind this bill.

Ostensibly it was to give our Negro citizens equality of rights of various kinds with their white brethren. But the real objective was little discussed and even less perceived by the casual newspaper reader.

Of course the problem of the Negro and his position in the South and, for that matter, in the North, is a perpetual irritant. It is not easy to square the discriminations against the Negro with a number of the most rapturously repeated phrases in accepted national philosophy. There are some aspects of the question that ought to be kept in mind.

First of all, the lurid and sensational stories about lynchings and hatreds and suppressions and oppressions have been outrageously exaggerated. It is a fact that almost all of the publicity about the outrages against Negroes in the South has originated in the propaganda agencies of the communist trouble-makers.

Why is the communist so deeply stirred about the Negro? Is he trying to correct injustices suffered by the Negro in order to improve his lot here and make him love America more? We know that the communist has one supreme interest and that is to excite and stimulate the hatreds of every class in the country.

Sooner or later this country must face the problem of the Negro. It is simple enough in New York. It is not so simple in Mississippi, where the Negroes almost equal the whites in number, or in Georgia, where Negroes outnumber whites in probably half the counties in the State.

White supremacy is a phrase encrusted with unpleasant connotations in the North. But in hundreds of Southern counties where Negroes outnumber whites the people are sure that if the Negroes voted there would be not white supremacy but Negro supremacy. In light of our professed beliefs about the rights of man, however, it is not an easy matter for our people to face up to this problem squarely.

One day an educated Negro population, rather than the poor cornfield worker and the illiterate serving man, will confront the people of the country. Time, education on both sides of the color line, patience, understanding, may lead us to a happier relationship. But one thing is certain. There is no spot for the trouble-maker, the revolutionist, the communist bent on mischief, on division and disturbance.

The problem was thrown into the Senate in 1949 by [Democrat President Harry Truman]. I have, I believe, made it clear that the President is the prisoner of the socialist planners among his supporters, who elected him and who could break him pathetically tomorrow if it suited their purpose. It was in obedience to their imperious demand that this hurry-up solution of the Negro problem in the south has hurled into the Senate.

Now what was their purpose? Was it love for the Negro? Was it a wish to advance his position? Not at all. The purpose was entirely a part of the effort of these socialist planners to solve the great crucial political problem which confronts them. The Negro is merely to be one of the tools in the job.

[The Republican Party after 1865 has sewn up the black vote] But with the advent of the New Deal and the distress among the Northern and Southern Negroes and the great streams of relief money at the disposal of Democratic politicians, the Negro was brought en masse into the Democratic fold. This, however, hardly describes the performance perfectly.

The depression and the rise of the communist and New Deal socialist wing in New York, with Harry Hopkins sitting at the cashier’s window, made it possible for the socialist wing of the Democratic-Red alliance to capture Negro votes. Today [1949] the socialist movements have that vote in their bag. And they believe they can do the same thing with the Negroes in the South if they can get the vote for them.”

(The War on the South, The Road Ahead to Socialism, America’s Creeping Revolution, John T. Flynn, Devin-Adair Company, 1949, pp. 98-100)

Why the Museum of the Confederacy Exists

The documents and presentations at the time the Museum of the Confederacy was created in Richmond clearly define why it exists and in whose memory it is dedicated. The clear intent was that “their immortal deeds and the evidences of their achievements will be preserved in the old home of the President of the Confederacy, where they will remain throughout generations and for all time.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Why the Museum of the Confederacy Exists

“The Davis Mansion Formally Thrown Open for the Reception of Relics

THE BATTLE ABBEY OF THE CONFEDERATE STATES

An Institution to Preserve the Record of the Deeds of Our Soldiers

The dawn of February 22, 1896 was auspicious — assuredly, in the historic city of Richmond. Old Sol rose in all the vaunted splendor of Italy’s skies. All nature was calm and serene. Who will say that it was not the approving smile of the Lord of hosts upon the truly reverential efforts of our most excellent women in the perpetuation of the truth–the treasuring of evidence and of memorials of the righteousness of the grandest struggle for constitutional right which has ever impressed the page of history?

A representative building of the period in Richmond, the most happy probably in the exemplification of intellectual worth, of social grace and substantial comfort, was the residence of the Chief Magistrate of the Confederate States, whilst they blazed into undying glory. This memorable edifice, the patient, devoted women of Richmond undertook to restore enduringly to its original conditions of form, with the sacred purpose of dedicating it to the preservation of the materials of history and hallowed memorials of Southern heroism and sacrifice.

The natal day of Washington was happily chosen for the opening of the building as the Confederate Museum, and to commemorate the formation of an institution for the preservation of the records of glorious deeds of the Southern sons who went forth to battle in defense of honor, truth and home; and the foundation of a permanent repository for the relics of the war between the States.

The former home of Jefferson Davis, the President of the Confederate States, is a most appropriate place for the location of the Confederate Museum. Situated in the very heart of the capital of the Confederacy, the institution is where it will inspire the pride and interest of every Southern man, woman and child, and will be accorded the loving and tender watchfulness of a fond and patriotic people.

When the City Council gave the Jefferson Davis Mansion to the Confederate Memorial Literary Society for a museum, that organization undertook a high and noble work, the consummation of which on yesterday was a brilliant climax to five years of undaunted energy expended in getting the building into proper condition for the change from a public school-house to a place for the reception of Confederate relics and records. The ladies of the Society have done their work well. The old soldiers may pass away, but their immortal deeds and the evidences of their achievements will be preserved in the old home of the President of the Confederacy, where they will remain throughout generations and for all time.

Virginia Governor O’Ferrall: 

“I think I can say boldly that the bloody strife of 1861 to 1865 developed in the men of the South traits of character as ennobling and as exalting as ever adorned men since the day-dawn of creation. I think I can proclaim confidently that for courage and daring chivalry and bravery, the world has never seen the superiors of the Southern soldiers. I think I can proclaim triumphantly that, from the South’s beloved President, and the peerless commander of her armies in the field, down to the private in her ranks, there was a display of patriotism perhaps unequalled (certainly never surpassed) since this passion was implanted in the human breast.”

General [Bradley T.] Johnson’s Address:

“To-day commemorates the thirty-fifth anniversary of the inauguration of the last rebel President and the birthday of the first. It commemorates an epoch in the grandest struggle for liberty and right that has ever been made by man. It celebrates the baptism of a new nation born thirty-five years ago to-day. I believe our first and most sacred duty is to our holy dead, to ourselves, and to our posterity.

It is our highest obligation to satisfy the world of the righteousness of our cause and the sound judgment with which we defended it. And we injure ourselves, we impair the moral of our side by incessant protestations of our loyalty to the victor and continuous assertions of respect for his motives of forgiveness, for his conduct, and of belief in the nobility of his faith.

There never can be two rights, nor two wrongs — one side must be right, and therefore, the other is, of course, wrong. This is so of every question of morals and of conduct, and it must be pre-eminently so of a question which divided millions of people, and which cost a million of lives. The world is surely coming to the conclusion that the cause of the Confederacy was right. Every lover of liberty, constitutional liberty, controlled by law, all over the world begins to understand that the past was not a war waged by the South in defense of slavery, but was a war to protect liberty, won and bequeathed by free ancestors.

Virginia never seceded from the Union. She resisted invasion of rights, as her free ancestors for 800 years had done with arms and force. Before the ordinance of secession was voted on, Virginia was at war with the Northern States, and all legal connection had been broken with them by their own act in the unlawful invasion of her soil. It is this constant and growing consciousness of the nobleness and justice and chivalry of the Confederate cause which constitutes the success and illuminates the triumph we commemorate to-day. Evil dies; good lives; and the time will come when all the world will realize that the failure of the Confederacy was a great misfortune to humanity, and will be the source of unnumbered woes to liberty.

There were more rebel brigadiers killed in battle for the Confederacy than in any war that was ever fought. When such men and women have lived such lives, and died such deaths in such a cause, their memories will outlast time. Martyrs must be glorified, and when the world knows and posterity appreciates that the war was fought for the preservation and perpetuation of free government, of government by the people, for the people, and to resist government by force against the will of the people, then the Confederacy will be revered like the memories of Leonidas at Thermopylae, and Kosciusco and Kossuth, and all the glorious armies of martyrs.

Our memorial will be here in Richmond . . . it is a memorial of no “Lost Cause.” [We] were right, immortally right, and [the] conqueror was wrong, eternally wrong. The great army of the dead are here, the sentiment of the living is here, the memories of the past are here, the monuments of the future will be here. The memorial of the Confederacy is here, not built by hands — made by memory and devotion! What else could it be?”

(Excerpted from the Southern Historical Society Papers, Dedication of the South’s Museum, Volume XXIII, R. A. Brock, Editor, 1896, pp. 354-372)

 

Will the South Survive?

Southern States seem to be outbidding each other on how many tax dollars can be given away to big business or Hollywood and calling the extortion “economic incentives” —  thinking that somehow it is the duty and obligation of government to create employment for all. The current onslaught against the South has brought the social equality-greeting “you guys,” dinner is now called “lunch,” and supper is referred to as “dinner.” The book below can be ordered from www.dogwoodmudhole.com.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

 Will the South Survive?

“The Tullahoma local newspaper reported that the town was trying to pass liquor by the drink laws to woo “up-scale” restaurants to locate themselves at the interstate interchanges. Such new South boosterism has made heavy inroads into local culture.

New South boosterism began in the nineteenth century with Henry Grady, editor of the Atlanta Constitution newspaper. Boosters and their legislation promised that all the South needed was to give up everything that makes us the south and become just like the North, and we would all be happy and wealthy (nobody mentions boring).

A Chamber of Commerce might conclude that we need to entice more national chains to establish prosperity, but chains and industry move elsewhere, leaving behind unemployment, a victim mentality, and no lasting prosperity. I call this kind of approach, “homo economicus” anthropology. It reduces everything – and every man – to a question of money.

One hundred and twenty years later, the promised still haven’t been fulfilled. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry, or puke, but I am pretty sure that passing liquor-by-the-drink laws will not bring economic nirvana to Tullahoma. When you make a bargain to sell your soul, first make sure that the devil can pay.

Will boosterism finally gobble up the South? On the surface, the homogenization of culture that come with the local economy relying on big business and chain stores means we are steadily being de-Southernized. The whole effect is to homogenize and standardize the landscape. That seems to be proceeding fast, while the people themselves seem unchanged. What’s happening to the roots of Southern culture is anybody’s guess. On the outside the country here is peaceful, pleasant, friendly, independent and helpful, but at the same time there’s that welfare mentality, some very fat people, and loads of government economic intervention.

The courthouses at the heart of each county tell this story of the South eloquently. Giles County 1910 courthouse retains the integrity of the South’s past. In Lawrenceburg sits a hideous 1960s “Modern” courthouse. In Waynesboro looms a 1970s tenement-style concrete slab. In Winchester squats a blocky 1936 “American fascist” look that would gladden the heart of any fascist or Soviet architect.

Gone are the stately courthouses, the statues of soldiers holding muskets and facing north, symbols of the community’s continuity and long life, and with them fast disappears our local history.

Nevertheless, many of these counties have attracted back-to-the-land, simple-life people, and their roots are permanent so they will recreate permanent prosperity. The land is rich, the people true, the leadership clueless. I could move elsewhere, but Tennessee is my home. Our family could do a lot worse than finding itself at home here.

Perhaps the fate of the Magic Road says it all. The State is turning Highway Sixty-four into a four-lane, bypassing exquisite little villages like McBurg and big towns alike. I know it’s faster, but God help me, I do love the old road better.”

(At Home in Dogwood Mudhole, Vol. 1, Franklin Sanders, Four Rivers, Inc. pp. 37-39)

South Regards Itself as Unbeatable

Southerners in early 1861 exhibited the same intense desire for political independence and fighting spirit as their revolutionary fathers. Though Russell did not fully know at the time why his country would not come to the aid of the Confederacy, after September 1863 it had more to do with hostile Russian fleets in Northern ports and threats against British shipping.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

South Regards Itself as Unbeatable

“[William H. Russell’s] Diary is as rich in historical value as in interest, which is saying much. His energy and reputation at first carried him everywhere, and his courage made him signally outspoken. In New York, where Mayor Fernando Wood and half the press were opposed to the war, he was shocked by the apathy and want of patriotism . . . The pages of the Herald and several other journals were filled with the coarsest abuse of the Great Rail Splitter, but contained not a word to encourage the government in any decided policy. In Washington the correspondent found much bustle and nervousness, but complete uncertainty.

When he saw the District of Columbia militia and volunteers drilling before the War Department Building, he set them down as a sorry crowd. “Starved, washed-out creatures most of them, interpolated with Irish and flat-footed, stumpy Germans.”

Crossing to the South, the correspondent found a far more belligerent spirit than among the Northerners. At Norfolk a crowd was yelling “Down with the Yankees! Hurrah for the Southern Confederacy!” and threatening the frigate Cumberland. On the Wilmington [North Carolina] quay there were piles of shot and shell, which a resident identified as “anti-abolitionist pills.” All along the way in the Carolinas he found Confederate flags whipping in the breeze, troops waiting for the train, and an excited buzz about Fort Sumter, which had just been captured.

At Charleston the fury, the animosity, and the eagerness for war astounded him. He went out to Morris Island, where there was a camp, full of life and excitement. Tents were pitched everywhere, the place was full of tall, well-grown young men in gray, and the opening of hostilities had plainly put everyone in high spirits:

“But secession is the fashion here. Young ladies sing for it; old ladies pray for it; young men are dying to fight for it; old men are ready to demonstrate it. The founder of the school was St. Calhoun. Here his pupils carry out their teaching in thunder and fire. States’ Rights are displayed after its legitimate teaching, and the Palmetto flag and the red bars of the Confederacy are its exposition.

The utter contempt and loathing for the venerated Stars and Stripes, the abhorrence of the very words United States, the immense hatred of the Yankees on the part of these people cannot be conceived by anyone who has not seen them. I am more satisfied than ever that the Union can never be restored as it was, and that it has gone to pieces, never to be put together again, in its old shape, at all events, by any power on earth.”

At Pensacola, Mobile, and New Orleans he was struck by the same intense fighting spirit, reporting that “as one looks at the resolute, quick, angry faces around him, and hears but the single theme, he must feel that the South will never yield to the North, unless as a nation beaten beneath the feet of a victorious enemy.”

The South regarded itself as unbeatable. But from one other belief, the belief that England would intervene, Russell strongly dissented. “Why, I expect, sir,” one Charleston merchant told him, “that if those miserable Yankees try to blockade us, and keep you from our cotton, you’ll just send their ships to the bottom and acknowledge us.” Russell said no.”

(America Through British Eyes, Allan Nevins, Oxford University Press, 1948, pp. 217-218)

The Wise But Unschooled Uncle Remus

The antebellum plantation culture informally educated the African workers in European trades and agriculture, customs and traditions; the postwar Southern economy needed people informally schooled in the useful arts of agriculture and mechanics, and little if any use for workers with advanced university degrees and speaking Latin or Greek. Thus Booker T. Washington’s method was far more acceptable and productive than DuBois’ method of political agitation.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

The Wise But Unschooled Uncle Remus

“Southern historians, trapped by the belief that education is a cure-all, have exaggerated the accomplishments of formal schooling. They like to prove that Sir William Berkeley was inaccurate when he said that there were no free schools in seventeenth-century Virginia. They are dazzled that today we have “a triumphant “progressive” education which progresses even faster than the North.” They gloss over the defects of our much-praised educational system.

The historians would be wise to admit the defects of Southern education as measured by the proclaimed goals of American public schools; indeed they might be skeptical of these goals. They might admit that Berkeley was not a complete fool when he inveighed against schools and presses.

In New England the Prussian-type school was loaded with antislavery sentiments and with notions of social reform repulsive to a region of Christians not dominated by hopes of earthly perfection. The leveling tendencies of the new schools ran counter to the Old South’s conception of hierarchy. Their content was more suited for those who need guidance in town life than for a people whose chief task was to subdue a wilderness and to establish farms.

Someone should tell that the South’s resistance to formal schooling did not grow out of laziness or stupidity. Their resistance was vital part of the region’s attempt to survive as a social and cultural entity. The South unconsciously fought against the idea that the school be allowed to iron out provincial differences in order to make the Southern States into undifferentiated units of the republic.

Southerners have preserved their folkways and ancestral superstitions. Thereby they have avoided the fate of the people of Hawaii, a people who have deliberately escaped their ancestral heritage in order to become Americanized through the public schools. Such a people lack creative originality.

Our chroniclers of the past should quit being ashamed of the cloud of illiteracy which once hung over their province. They should wake up to the fact that Uncle Remus was among the wisest Southerners. They have stressed to such a degree the benefits of the schools that they have neglected the triumphs of informal training outside the school.

This informal education was good because it was useful. Our colonial and frontier ancestors put the art of subduing the wilderness first; they learned to use the ax and the rifle extremely well. With some justice they regarded formal education as an adornment of the upper classes.

The dark spot on Southern civilization of denying formal education to the slaves can be wiped out by an understanding of what was accomplished in the so-called school of the plantation in which the barbarian captive of Africa was Anglicized. This was a type of training more effective than anything the South had experienced since.

The slave was so well inoculated with Anglo-American culture that almost all elements of his African background disappeared. The Negro imbibed the rich heritage of European folklore and became so skilled in English handicrafts and in the intricate practices of plantation agriculture that he was perhaps better educated in the industrial arts than those Negroes who had lived since the time of Booker T. Washington.

(Tolerating the South’s Past, Francis Butler Simkins, Address in Columbia, South Carolina, November 12, 1954, The Pursuit of Southern History, George Tindal, editor, LSU Press, 1964, pp. 319-320)