The Indicted South
Publication Year: 2014
Published by: The University of North Carolina Press
Title Page, Copyright Page
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My list of debts both large and small is as long as one would expect. It takes a village not only to raise a child but also to write a book. And to do both simultaneously requires a troop of mentors, friends, and family. I am lucky that many of you are all three. I am thankful to Steve Hoelscher for his patience, encouragement...
Introduction: The Anatomy of Inferiority
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In February 1950, Eleanor Roosevelt visited the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and made several speeches on campus. When she returned to New York, her trip served as the subject of her syndicated column, “My Day,” which she tirelessly produced six days a week from 1935 to 1962, pausing only to...
Part I: The Long Shadow of Scopes
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For six days in July 1925, the Scopes Evolution Trial, held in Dayton, Tennessee, captured the attention of the nation, and the world for that matter, and defined the white South for a new generation of Americans. The state of Tennessee had outlawed the teaching of evolution in the Butler Act passed earlier that year...
1. The Triptych of the Twenties: Bryan, Darrow, and Mencken and What They Meant to the White South
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Journalist H. L. Mencken, attorney Clarence Darrow, and politician and activist William Jennings Bryan had known of each other long before the 1925 Scopes Evolution Trial. At times, their opinions, their causes, even their politics were in sync; however, in the aftermath of World War I, they would find themselves on...
2. Tennessee vs. Civilization: Scopes Takes on a Southern Accent
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Most scholarly assessments of the Scopes Trial focus primarily on the debate between religion and science, pinpointing this historical moment as the final triumph of modernism. Although the significance of southern evangelical Christianity remains critical in every account, the larger sectional conflict between...
3. Reactionary Fundamentalism: The Founding of William Jennings Bryan College
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Until the Scopes Trial erupted on the world stage in July 1925, criticism of backwater religion seemed almost clichéd to educated urban dwellers in the North. Even Woodrow Wilson claimed that he could not believe that there was anyone by the 1920s who still questioned evolution. For the citizens of Dayton...
Part II: The Writer as Southerner
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When journalist H. L. Mencken, upon observing the Scopes Evolution Trial, described the South as the “bunghole of the United States, a cesspool of Baptists, a miasma of Methodism, snake-charmers, phony real-estate operators, and syphilitic evangelists,”1 he did more than insult the religious faithful of Dayton, Tennessee...
4. Fugitives Captured: The Wasteland of Southern Identity
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For the Fugitive poets of Nashville, Tennessee, the experience of white southern identity began in the wake of the “cold Civil War,”1 when the Dayton evolution trial, according to Donald Davidson, “broke in upon our literary concerns like a midnight alarm.”2 During adolescence, acknowledged Allen Tate, “we knew we...
5. A Knock at Midnight: The Agrarian Plea for the South
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The national and international denunciation of the South during the Scopes Trial and the negative associations of white southern identity that followed activated a collective response from southern writers, including John Crowe Ransom, Robert Penn Warren, Allen Tate, and Donald Davidson, who could no...
6. The Not So New Criticism: Reconfigured, yet Unregenerate
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Just as the Fugitives had transformed themselves in an effort to cope with the criticism of both a lack of southern art and an abundance of southern fundamentalist religion, the Agrarians undertook a second metamorphosis in the aftermath of the criticism that befell their political efforts. In a letter to Tate...
Part III: The Amassment of Resistance
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Perhaps the most well-known and well-documented criticism of the South accompanied the civil rights movement, which permanently altered the southern landscape and dominated the political environment of the 1950s and 1960s. World War II, which had increased the economic production of the South...
7. Black, White, Gray, and Brown: The Old Dominion Confronts Integration
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The centuries-old practice of subjugating one race and proclaiming the superiority of another sensitized many white southerners to accusations that they were, themselves, inferior to liberal-minded Americans (both self-proclaimed and authentic civil rights supporters). Moderate Mississippi journalist Hodding...
8. Byrd Watching: The South on the National Stage
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The celebration by liberals that followed the announcement of the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka decision filled newspapers at home and abroad, and most assuredly reached powerful conservatives like Virginia senator Harry F. Byrd. One of the most disturbing aspects of the Supreme Court ruling for men like...
9. Excursion into Fantasy: The Doctrine of Interposition
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James J. Kilpatrick, editor of the Richmond News Leader, was well aware of the expanding civil rights coverage in the fall of 1955. As a well-read man of letters, Kilpatrick, not a native southerner, recognized how the South was being portrayed as a region. Though staunch segregationists, such as the Defenders of...
Epilogue: The Politics of Inferiority: Conservatism, Creationism, and the Culture Wars
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Journalist and radio announcer W. E. B. Debnam lashed out at the liberal media and the Supreme Court following the Brown verdict handed down in May 1954. “There’s a lot of propaganda being dished out in the press and on the radio and on television and from the pulpit,” he complained, “to the effect [that] anybody...
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Publication Year: 2014