Beyond Parochialism: Southern Progressivism, Prohibition, and State-Building

By Szymanski, Ann-Marie | The Journal of Southern History, February 2003 | Go to article overview

Beyond Parochialism: Southern Progressivism, Prohibition, and State-Building


Szymanski, Ann-Marie, The Journal of Southern History


BEGINNING IN THE 1940s, STUDENTS OF SOUTHERN REFORM MOVEMENTS generally argued that southern Progressivism was a regional by-product of the Populist revolt and its disruptive impact on the southern political system. In some of these accounts, the agrarian radicalism of the 1890s exerted a strong influence on the development of Progressivism; in others, Progressivism emerged as a mild alternative to Populism, achieving prominence after the decline of the farmers' movement. (1) In still other narratives, revisionist scholars have maintained that the South's reform efforts after 1900 are best understood as an outgrowth of the region's conservative political traditions. Though varied, most of these chronicles concur with Dewey W. Grantham's assertion that "southern progressivism was largely an indigenous phenomenon." (2)

Conversely, recent scholars often emphasize the role of the northern-based, national Progressive movement in shaping its "less advanced" southern counterpart. For example, Paul Harvey argues that southern religious Progressives borrowed organizational models and reform ideas from the North, only to find "that the tradition of localism in southern life presented a major obstacle to their visions." Likewise, George H. Gilliam suggests that national experts from regulatory, trade, and industry associations provided invaluable assistance to the inexperienced officials of Virginia's State Corporation Commission, who needed informed analyses of detailed statistical and financial information to regulate railroad rates effectively. Meanwhile, other scholars contend that the southern movement for the improvement of public schoolhouses grew out of northern efforts to improve public education in the South, and that the region's Progressive women "looked to the North" for female models of progress, such as Hull House. (3)

The most sweeping statement of this theme is William A. Link's The Paradox of Southern Progressivism, 1880-1930, which underscores the critical importance of northern-based national reformers, experts, and patrons in stimulating several southern reform campaigns and state-building efforts after 1900. Drawing on both his own research and that of like-minded scholars, Link argues that the South's crusades for the enactment and implementation of prohibition, education reform, hookworm eradication, child labor laws, and woman suffrage would not have occurred in the absence of these national influences. Hampered by a culture that valued localism and community power, southern reform efforts promoted coercive state action after outside pressure groups had actively encouraged such interventionist policies in the region. For example, Link maintains that the National Child Labor Committee propelled the South's drive for state child labor laws and factory inspections; similarly, in his view, northern philanthropists played a crucial role in orchestrating southern school reform and expanding the educational bureaucracy. In short, Link implies that southern Progressivism was heavily reliant on national leaders, resources, and strategies but that it contributed little to the development of reform and state-building elsewhere in the nation. (4)

Through an examination of the prohibition movement, this study argues that Link and other scholars have overestimated the unique character of the South while underestimating the impact of southern Progressivism on national reform campaigns and state-building efforts after 1900. (5) Specifically, this article will demonstrate that southern reformers were fully capable of devising governmental solutions to perceived problems and of providing policy templates for the more "enlightened" regions of the country. Above all, it will suggest that southern parochialism--far from being a deterrent to centralized policies--also served as a catalyst for these policies.

Before considering national Progressivism's influence on the South and vice versa, one should consider the suitability of prohibition as an appropriate case for this exercise. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Beyond Parochialism: Southern Progressivism, Prohibition, and State-Building
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    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.