An American Epoch: Southern Portraiture in the National Picture

An American Epoch: Southern Portraiture in the National Picture

An American Epoch: Southern Portraiture in the National Picture

An American Epoch: Southern Portraiture in the National Picture

Excerpt

This story spans four generations of southern Americans whose changing cultures have provided the most dramatic episodes in our national history, whose backgrounds and experiences comprehend all of the basic elements in the architecture of modern civilization. It is part of a continued story of the South of which some episodes will be presented in vivid portraiture; others in statistical and cultural analyses. As such it is first of all an American story and reflects primarily an American epoch and secondarily a southern epic, reminiscent of regional struggle and the march of new generations.

The part which the South has played in the development of America is important, but the part which it is yet to play should be much more important. The part which it is to take in the cultural development of the United States is significant to the South, but far more significant to the Nation. Thus, it appears that the release of the South from undue inhibiting forces, the development of its vast resources, and the elimination of its excessive social waste, constitute not only one of the most interesting and important, but also one of the most critical and problematical, adventures in American life of the twentieth century. The timeliness of the challenge appears in the revival of interest in the romantic Old South, in the critical appraisal of the realistic New South, in the growing interest in the study of American history and civilization, in the increasing regional emphasis on social study and public policy, and in the intellectual tension of the American people directed toward the search after social and literary values.

The first of the four generations whose region and culture are portrayed in this book was typified by John Washington Southern and Major Thomas Leaven, the Uncle John and the old Major of this book, with their families and neighbors, bear-

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