Separate and Unequal: Public School Campaigns and Racism in the Southern Seaboard States, 1901-1915

By Louis R. Harlan | Go to book overview

CHAPTER I
The Uses of Adversity: An Introduction

INTRODUCTION of the Northeastern public school into the South was an important war aim of the North in the Civil War and found its place in the postwar Reconstruction program. The public school was to have a dual purpose -- to stand in loco parentis for the freed Negro and to act as an entering wedge of the New Order, a means of bringing the conquered white people into ideological harmony with the victors. At the end of the tragic internecine conflict, the humanitarians sought to justify the breakdown of democracy and the resort to violence by a radical reconstruction of Southern society on the ruins of the slave-plantation economy. At the same time, during the war and the Reconstruction period, men moved by considerations of political and economic power were interested in harnessing the Industrial Revolution to reward their section and themselves. The Schoolma'am and the Carpetbagger rode into the South together, Yankees both, one to uplift, the other to exploit. Though the Carpetbagger often spoke of developing the country, he was primarily concerned with the opportunities available in a colonial area. The Northern teacher in the South, on the other hand, modeled her program after that of the Massachusetts town public school, which had developed in an area of high population density and expanding industry. The Schoolma'am's ideal, though not impossible, was difficult of attainment in the South.

It was clear by 1900, thirty years after the state school systems were created in the South, that the Massachusetts school existed

-3-

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