The Indicted South: Public Criticism, Southern Inferiority, and the Politics of Whiteness

The Indicted South: Public Criticism, Southern Inferiority, and the Politics of Whiteness

The Indicted South: Public Criticism, Southern Inferiority, and the Politics of Whiteness

The Indicted South: Public Criticism, Southern Inferiority, and the Politics of Whiteness

Excerpt

A constant assault from without, an indictment of every aspect of their civiliza
tion, was the burden under which Southerners lived for more than a century
(as if defeat and poverty and failure were not enough), and it is little wonder
that such a legacy created men and women who sought to justify their past and
their tradition.
—Fred Hobson, Tell about the South: The Southern Rage to Explain

Despite the crucial roles of prominent southerners in securing America’s in
dependence and drafting its fundamental documents of state, with the infant
nation’s literary and publishing core already fixed firmly in the Northeast, it
was hardly surprising that, even in its embryonic phase, the dominant vision
of American character emphasized northern sensibilities and perceptions. One
of these perceptions, and a difficult one to dismiss, was that the major impedi
ment to constructing an inspiring and credible identity for a nation supposedly
committed to the principles of liberty, equality, and democracy was a southern
economy, society, and culture shaped and sustained by human bondage. As the
leaders of the young republic struggled to gain the acceptance and respect of
other nations, northern architects of national identity soon realized that their
vision of America would not only be much simpler to construct but also much
easier to look at and far more emphatic and unequivocal in meaning if they sim
ply focused on what they saw, or sometimes chose to see, in the states above
the recently drawn Mason-Dixon line.
—James C. Cobb, Away Down South: A History of Southern Identity

Why do they live there. Why do they live at all.
—Shreve McCanon to Quentin Compson in William Faulkner, Absalom,
Absalom!

In February 1950, Eleanor Roosevelt visited the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and made several speeches on campus. When she returned to New York, her trip served as the subject of her syndicated column, “My Day,” which she tirelessly produced six days a week from 1935 to 1962, pausing only to mourn the death of her husband. In the piece devoted to her Carolina sojourn, Roosevelt discussed her southern roots. Her grandmother had been a member of the Bulloch family from Georgia, and although she described her southern . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.