The Triumph of the South
Robert W. Patton and the ACIN
There is a blind Samson in this land
Shorn of his strength and bound in bonds of steel
Who may, in some grim revel, raise his hand
And shake the pillars of this common-weal
Till the vast temple of our liberties
A shapeless mass of rubbish lies.1.
—Spirit of Missions
They [southern Episcopalians] still refuse to permit any criticism of the action of the white South toward Negroes and they are determined to pretend that Southern civilization in its attitude toward black folk is the best in the United States if not in the world.
—W. E. B. Du Bois 2.
Five months after Samuel H. Bishop's sudden death, the trustees of the ACIN invited Robert W. Patton, a forty-five-year-old white Episcopal priest from Virginia, to serve as “special agent” for a period of six months.3 This initial appointment, presumably a trial period for both Patton and the ACIN, developed into a twenty-six-year tenure that would make Patton the longest-serving director of the institute. A native southerner, he referred to his early years in Virginia as one of his qualifications for heading the Episcopal Church's educational work among blacks, recalling, “Before and during the war between the States my mother, like many other devoted Churchwomen, conducted a school for Negro youth on our plantation in Virginia. Born less than____________________