Romance and Realism in Southern Politics

By T. Harry Williams | Go to book overview

Foreword

THOREAU ONCE WROTE THAT POLITICS IS "THE GIZZARD OF society, full of grit and gravel, and the two political parties are its opposite halves, which grind on each other." The Sage of Walden Pond gave politics the function of simplifying the issues so that the truth might be separated from the chaff and made more digestible to the people. In the South, one of the few areas where both gizzards and politics are enjoyed with great zest, no such function of simplification is evident. Southern politics is a morass of paradoxes, ambiguities, and incredible situations.

Those outside the South need only a limited vocabulary to describe Dixie politics; such words as Solid South, carpetbagger, white primary, poll tax, literacy test, filibuster, and Southern demagogue seem to cover the situation neatly. Students of the South, however, find many complexities beneath the surface. For example, the area, although tending to eschew idealism for the "practical" in politics, has produced the greatest liberal idealist in American political life--Thomas Jefferson. Although the South seems to lag behind in social action, the greatest political radical among the Presidents was a Southerner, Andrew Jackson. Although the South is said to be conservative in economic matters, it has sent to the Senate such liberals as Estes Kefauver, Lister Hill, Claude Pepper, and

-ix-

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Romance and Realism in Southern Politics
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Foreword ix
  • Preface xi
  • Lecture One - The Distinctive South 1
  • Lecture Two - The Politics of Reconstruction 17
  • Lecture Three - The Politics of Populism And Progressivism 44
  • Lecture Four - The Politics of the Longs 65
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