The Etiquette of Race Relations in the South: A Study in Social Control

By Bertram Wilbur Doyle | Go to book overview

CHAPTER X
ETIQUETTE RESTORED

A NEW period in race relations was inaugurated in the early eighties by the restoration of southern whites to political power and by the establishment of a hands- off policy adopted by the North and the Republicans with regard to the so-called "race problem" in the South. 1 At the same time, however, the South was faced with the grave problem of re-establishing peace and harmony between the races. Contacts between the groups no longer, except in rare instances, existed on the basis characteristic of slavery. Yet, co-operation had to be maintained if the two races were to live together in security. In other words, social control needed to be re-established in the new order.

It was natural, and hence not unexpected, that the South would revert to the ante-bellum code as far as possible. 2 For patterns of behavior, hitherto regulating the contacts of the races, had been fixed in habit and custom, and persons had come to expect and to accept those observances as just, right, and proper. Hence, even though the basis of ceremonial control underlying the relative peace of slavery was, perhaps, not at the time understood, it was nevertheless felt that the antebellum system of relations was a good one.

Moreover, the racial code was bound up with the bitter political struggle, in which the North, through the Civil Rights bills 3 had sought to impose its own mores upon the South. It was at least logical to assume that, if the moral order of the South had been disturbed by political action and legislative enactment, it could by these same means be re-established. Hence, when the South realized that political power was actually restored, a veritable deluge of legislation ensued looking to

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