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The North Busy Rewriting History

The following is an excerpt from a 1946 pamphlet dedicated to the Public Schools of North Carolina by the Anson Chapter, United Daughters of the Confederacy in honor of its author, Dr. Henry Tucker Graham of Florence, South Carolina.  Dr. Graham was the former president of Hampton-Sidney College and for twenty years the beloved pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Florence, South Carolina.  Not noted below is the initial Stamp Act resistance at Wilmington, North Carolina in November 1765.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

The North Busy Rewriting History

“There is grave danger that our school children are learning much more about Massachusetts than about the Carolinas, and hearing more often of northern leaders than of the splendid men who led the Southern hosts alike in peace and war. Not many years ago the High School in an important South Carolina town devoted much time to the celebration of Lincoln’s Birthday — while Lee, Jackson, Hampton and George Washington received no mention.

You have all heard of Paul Revere’s ride made famous by the skillful pen of a New England writer. He rode 7 miles out of Boston, ran into a squadron of British horsemen and was back in a British dungeon before daybreak. But how many of you have heard of Jack Jouitte’s successful and daring ride of forty miles from a wayside tavern to Charlottesville to warn Governor [Thomas] Jefferson and the Legislature of the coming of a British squadron bent upon their capture?

You have heard of the Boston Tea Party, but how many know of the Wilmington, North Carolina Tea Party [of 1774]? At Boston they disguised themselves as Indians and under cover of darkness threw tea overboard. At Wilmington they did the same thing without disguise and in broad daylight.

With the utter disregard of the facts they blandly claim that the republic was founded at Plymouth Rock while all informed persons know that Plymouth was 13-1/2 years behind the times, and when its colony was reduced to a handful of half-starved immigrants on the bleak shores of Massachusetts, there was a prosperous colony of 2,000 people along the James [River] under the sunlit skies of the South.

The fact is that New England has been so busy writing history that it hasn’t had time to make it. While the South has been so busy making history that it hasn’t had time to write it.

(Some Things For Which The South Did Not Fight, in the War Between the States.” Dr. Henry Tucker Graham, Pamphlet of Anson County, North Carolina Chapter UDC, 1946)

 

 

The Civil War’s Basic Cause: Sectionalism

In this late 1940 address to the Southern Historical Association, historian Frank L. Owsley (1890-1956) spoke of the sectional cause of the Civil War and the North’s reluctance to allow the South to seek political independence.  Prof. Owsley was born in Alabama, taught at Vanderbilt University and was a member of the Southern Agrarians.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

The Civil War’s Basic Cause: Sectionalism

“Before attempting to say what were the causes of the American Civil War, first let me say what were not the causes of the war.

Perhaps the most beautiful, the most poetic, the most eloquent statement of what the Civil War was not fought for is the Gettysburg Address. That address will live as long as Americans retain their love for free government and personal liberty; and yet in reassessing the causes of the Civil War, the address whose essence is was that the war was being fought so “that government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the earth” is irrelevant.

Indeed, this masterpiece of eloquence has little if any value as a statement of the basic principles underlying the war.

The Civil War was not a struggle on the part of the South to destroy free government and personal liberty, nor on the part of the North to preserve them. Looked at from the present perspective of the worldwide attempt of the totalitarians to erase free governments and nations living under such governments from the face of the earth, the timeworn stereotype that the South was attempting the destruction of free government and the North was fighting to preserve it seems unrealistic and downright silly.

If the destruction of democratic government by the South and its preservation by the North were not the causes of the Civil War, what then were the causes? The surface answer to this question is that in 1861, the Southern people desired and attempted to establish their independence and thereby to disrupt the old Union; and that the North took up arms to prevent the South from establishing this independence and to preserve the Union.

This [Southern] state of mind may be summed up thus: by the Spring of 1861, the Southern people felt it both abhorrent and dangerous to continue to live under the same government with the people of the North. So profound was this feeling among the bulk of the Southern population that they were prepared to fight a long and devastating war to accomplish a separation.

On the other hand, the North was willing to fight a war to retain their reluctant fellow citizens under the same government with themselves.

The cause of that state of mind which we may well call war psychosis lay in the sectional character of the United States. In other words, the Civil War had one basic cause: sectionalism.

Our national state was built, not upon the foundations of a homogenous land and people, but upon geographic sections inhabited severally by provincial, self-conscious, self-righteous, aggressive and ambitious populations of varying origins and diverse social and economic systems; and the passage of time and the cumulative effects of history have accentuated these sectional patterns.”

(The Fundamental Cause of the Civil War, Frank L. Owsley, excerpt, Address to Southern Historical Association, November 8, 1940)

 

 

The Seductive Promises of Demagogues

The late M.E. Bradford understood that the centrality of freedom was the core of Southerners’ insistence on their right to govern their private and local affairs in their own way, and was the same for citizens of all other States. He held that “the only equality Americans can universally approve is accidental, a corollary of liberty or simple equality before the law with limited scope.” Bradford made his readers painfully aware of Lenin’s belief that the only way to make men equal is to treat them unequally.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

The Seductive Promises of Demagogues

“The wrath [Bradford] directed against Lincoln, like the wrath he directed against Julia Ward Howe, the authors of the Reconstruction amendments, Lyndon Baines Johnson, and all those who had imposed the teleological will of an instrumental government and judiciary upon an unsuspecting nation, had little to do with personal animosity.

It stemmed from his indignation against people he viewed as so intellectually blind as to be incapable of understanding the enormity they had wrought or so morally blind as not to care, provided only that they accomplished their immediate ends. Such attitudes, for Bradford, embodied the reverse – indeed the repudiation – of the obligations of stewardship and amounted to the despoiling of the children as well as the desecration of the fathers.

Bradford refused to apologize for the severity of his message – that the Northern victory had extracted a terrible cost from the country and its culture. Rejecting the cult of equality as the opiate of the intellectuals, Bradford rejected the fashionable identification of the Declaration of Independence with the Constitution, referring to “the Great Divide of the War Between the States.”

He explained: “it has been more and more the habit of our historians, jurists, and political scientists to read the Continental Enlightenment, and the Age of Revolution that was its political consequence, back into the beginnings of our national beginnings by way of an anachronistic gloss upon the Declaration of Independence.”

He constantly reminds his readers that the Constitution, not the Declaration, embodies the country’s law, which it exists to articulate and protect. Thus, he argues in an uncharacteristically optimistic vein, the “Constitution makes it difficult or even impossible for us to alter our political identity on whim or when momentarily carried away by the adjuration of demagogues.”

By the time Bradford died [in 1993], he had reason to know that the American political identity he cherished was under formidable assault, primarily at the hands of the Supreme Court justices – those supposed custodians and interpreters of the Constitution itself.

Experience and history taught Bradford, as he believed they had taught the Framers, that in politics one must conjoin the “caution of David Hume and the pessimism of Saint Paul,” especially with respect to the seductive promises of demagogues. In the time of the Framers, as in our own, he insisted, caution and pessimism should lead to a deep mistrust of the myths of equality with which demagogues love to seduce the more gullible of the citizenry, and he approvingly quoted Rufus King of Massachusetts, “the unnatural Genius of Equality [is] the arch Enemy of the moral world.”

(M.E. Bradford’s Historical Vision, EF & ED Genovese; A Defender of Southern Conservatism, M.E. Bradford and His Achievements, Clyde N. Wilson, editor, University of Missouri Press, 1999, pp. 79-82)

Ridding the South of the Incubus

In 1819, Rev. Moses Waddel “was induced to give up his academy business” and take the reins of the University of Georgia. Born in North Carolina, educated in the ministry in Virginia and a preacher in Georgia, he had taught young John C. Calhoun and became the first native-born Southerner to fill the University presidency. It was not unusual then to hear open and reasoned discussion on ending the New England slave trade and repatriating Africans to their homeland.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Ridding the South of the Incubus

“Athens [Georgia] and he Lower South at this time [1810] were in the midst of laying the foundations of that social order and culture, beautiful and polished yet seamy, captivating the elite Englishman and practical Yankee who touched it, the admiration of some, the curse of some . . .

In the excitement of the Federal Constitutional Convention, Georgia had stood for the foreign slave trade, but she no sooner won it than she freely flung it away. In 1819 at a banquet in Athens this toast was drunk: “The [Foreign] Slave Trade – The scourge of Africa; the disgrace of humanity. May it cease forever, and may the voice of peace, of Christianity and of Civilization, be heard on the savage shores.”

At this time the whole subject of slavery was discussed in the Georgia papers with reason and dispassion, and in 1824 the president of the University “heard the Senior Forensic Disputation all day on the policy of Congress abolishing Slavery – much fatigued but amused.” Apparently the students were doing some thinking also.

The trustees, were, likewise not opposed to a possible disposition of slavery, for [Rev. Robert] Finley, whom they had just elected president of the University, had been one of the organizers of the American Colonization Society. He was, indeed, present in Washington at its birth and had been made one of its vice-presidents; and so vital did his work appear to one friend that he later wrote,

“If this colony [Liberia] should ever be formed in Africa, great injustice will be done to Mr. Finley, if in the history of it, his name be not mentioned as the first mover, and if some town or district in the colony be not called Finley.” He, indeed, never lost interest in the project to his dying day – and then it “gave consolation to his last moments.”

The South was genuinely interested in ridding itself of this incubus, realizing, with Henry Clay, that Negroes freed and not removed were a greater menace than if they remained in slavery.”

(College Life in the Old South, E. Merton Coulter, UGA Press, 1983 (original 1928), pp. 27-28)

Feb 18, 2017 - Education, Southern Culture Laid Bare, Southern Educators    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)