“It is out of fashion these days to look backward rather than forward,” the poet John Crowe Ransom wrote almost thirty years ago. “About the only American given to it is some unreconstructed Southerner, who persists in his regard for a certain terrain, a certain history, and a certain inherited way of living.”
Ransom made the remark in an essay composed for a book about the South called I’ll Take My Stand. The backward-looking Southerner, he said, “feels himself in the American scene as an anachronism, and knows he is felt by his neighbors as a reproach.”
Though the States that constitute the region known as the South have changed considerably since Ransom and eleven other Southerners published their symposium in 1930, his observation is still generally t rue. More than any other region of the United States, the South tends to think about its history, and to live with less regard for the future than for the immediate present, and to do things in certain ways because that is the way such things have always been done before. And, more than any other American region, the South is scolded for being backward and living in the past, without proper regard for progress.
Southerners, except perhaps for some North Carolinians and most Texans, are usually willing to admit this. Even today they will stand in front of a sleek plate-glass store window or a gaudy motel and they will talk about a “Southern way of life,” and by that they will mean a kind of relaxed, easy-going acceptance of things, with plenty of time for leisure and with considerable family and social life. And despite the fancy window displays and the motels, they are generally correct.
There is a Southern way, a style of its own, and though the motor court and Chambers of Commerce and the hundreds of new industrial installations seem to belie it, the way of life still hangs on. It is an exasperating way of life at times, especially when there is work to be done, and yet it is the best thing about the South, and in the long run it counts for more than all the economic expansion so talked about today.
The Southern way of life is now being threatened, as it has not been threatened since the Civil War. I am not now talking about segregation, or integration, or creeping socialism, or anything so topical as that. I am talking about the quality which makes a region a region, instead of a colorless, standardized set of people and places. The South is in danger today of losing its most precious possession, that regional quality, and the enemy is just as much within as without. So subtle is that enemy and so apparently natural and inevitable, that it is mostly not even recognized for being an enemy. Instead it is being greeted with enthusiasm by the very people who should be most suspicious of it.
To understand the South, and to see why modernity is its most deadly enemy, it is necessary first to understand what constitutes the South. For before one can decide what is worth keeping about the South, and how best to defend it, one must know what is being defended. And here the explanation lies in the past as well as in the present, for the South is what it is today because of what happened to it in the past.
One of the most overworked cliches about the South is that which involves Gracious Living. “We don’t have too much money,” the catch-phrase goes, “but we know how to live,” and the Southern Chambers of Commerce have been tireless in proclaiming that in the South the living is easy and the hospitality and charm abundant. One grows weary of such constant prattle, and yet there is some truth in the boast. The Southern community has had to learn to live graciously; there has never been too much else to do. The South has rarely had the opportunity to accomplish very much in a materialistic sense; history and climate have seen to that. It has never been much on pioneering, and it has seldom had much room in its makeup for the pioneering spirit of America. Early in its history its frontier became stable. Until quite recently, life for most Southerners has been the business of learning to exist as comfortably and as happily as possible on what was available.
All this has created a sense of the past, an awareness of history. It is seldom something conscious; the Southerner does not go around toting history books. Yet it is there, as it is perhaps not there in, say, New York City or Chicago or Detroit. I doubt, for example, that the resident of Manhattan thinks of his community in terms of history. He thinks of it, from what I can tell, in terms of its material existence, or in terms of the future as it may be affected by the present. Now of course this attitude is itself the product of history. The history of New York City is a history of change, of expansion. Buildings rise and fall; families emerge from the millions of population, then disappear. One must search long and hard for traces of the city of a hundred years ago. Civil War New York has for all intents and purposes been obliterated from the face of the earth. New York is peculiarly a place of the moment; its whole imposing record of success is predicated upon its unparalleled ability to adapt itself to current opportunities and needs. Its welfare has always depended upon its freedom from the restraining and hampering weight of custom. This has been what several hundred years of American history have demanded of New York as the price of leadership, and New York has been able and willing to pay precisely that price—to think in terms of the immediate situation, and to encumber itself with as little historical consciousness as possible.
But the history of the South has been different from New York’s. The South has had to find “success” in fields other than the immediately practical aims of material prosperity, economic power, or business leadership. Its history has required of it other goals. So that what has constituted success for the South has not been what New York (or Chicago or Detroit) has considered success.
Where New York has been commercial and industrial, the South has been primarily agrarian. Where New York has expanded, the South has been contained. Where New York has been able to achieve varieties of attainments, the South has had to concentrate on a relatively few activities. Thus where New York has found it most to its advantage to be as adaptive and receptive as possible to new situations, the South has found it most profitable to be able to draw maximum benefit from what it has, since it is all that the South has and has been likely to be all it could expect.
To illustrate this proposition, let me take for an example one aspect of human life—leisure. What is impressive about New York City, what for a hundred years has made it a mecca for the visitor from the hinterlands, is the variety of leisure activities available within it. Contrast this with the opportunities existing in a typical Southern community, and of course this contrast is the more true the smaller the community is. Except for a few cities which in the North would be at best only medium-sized cities, the South has been predominantly a region of towns, villages, and small cities.
The inhabitant of this typical small Southern community finds his choices of recreation limited. It is necessary for him to seek in intensity what is not possible in variety. He must choose his recreation and master it. And where people are concerned, he has no easily accessible group of thousands of persons within the radius of a few blocks. He must get to know and enjoy almost everyone in his community, because by the very nature of small town life he is thrown in with them day after day, at work and at play.
The Southern community is therefore likely to be a much more tightly-knit affair, much more an organic unit, than any Northern metropolis. One has only to examine the society pages of a Southern daily or weekly newspaper to see the range of church, fraternal, and social activities constantly taking place. The local church provides not only a place of worship; it is the scene of numerous other activities. Civic clubs, fraternal orders are well patronized. The roster of organizations whose weekly programs are listed in almost every Southern newspaper is close to incredible, considering the size of the communities involved.
All this may be true, of course, of small communities in the Midwest and the North no less than in the South. The difference lies in the fact that in the South, unlike most other regions, the chief social emphasis still rests upon small cities and towns. They do not exist as auxiliaries to metropolises; they dominate the region’s cultural life. Until recently the Southern small town and city has not been an industrial center for which the surrounding countryside acts as feeder of produce and raw materials, so much as a kind of cultural and social seat for the activities of the countryside. Small town and rural life in the South has not developed in terms of dependence upon metropolitan manufacturing centers. And thus to a degree far beyond the life of small towns in other regions, Southern life has developed a distinctive ordering characteristic—a pervading historical sense.
It is easy to see why the emphasis on community, and on the complex social fabric embodied therein, would be conducive to an intensified awareness of the past. The tightly-knit sense of clan and family, which is the woof and warp of the South’s complex social fabric, would tend naturally to embrace the past, the ancestral. Family history is traceable in the South, since the region has existed in much the same shape and size for so long a period of time with comparatively little flux and change. And family history can be so clearly tied in with political and social history, that a sense of one involves a sense of the other. Thus an interest in the Civil War, for example, not only involves sectional patriotism; it involves family history. For a community with bases so complex and so firmly placed as that of a Southern town, the awareness of history is the only logical ordering device.
The function of the historical sense, however, is not entirely or even primarily one of a mere ordering device for social relationships. It serves an equally useful role for the individual. It is the historical sense which in the South makes the individual identity, the sense of individuality, possible.
This is because the history of the South is one which, for better or worse, has seldom permitted much emphasis on doing. The South has seldom afforded its people much in the way of materialistic accomplishment (one excepts the North Carolina multi-millionaire and the Atlanta and Birmingham industrialist from this generalization). It has seldom provided for very long periods of time the kind of expanding economy possible in a metropolis like New York. Save for brief periods during the flush frontier times of the 1820’s and 1830’s in the Cotton belt, the atmosphere of boom has been generally absent from the South until very recently.
Even that symbol of antebellum elegance and material welfare and comfort, the cotton planter, possessed no easily manipulated, easily convertible medium of enterprise. Plantation life, whether with ten or two hundred slaves, was a relatively contained affair. The plantation represented an enormous investment in property, land and labor both, with very little conversion value. And if this were true of the most imposing symbol of Southern material affluence, the plantation, how much more true it has been of the small farm, the merchant, the dweller in the small, relatively static Southern town or city. Take a city such as my own home town of Charleston, South Carolina, for example. In the course of 140 years, from 1790 to 1930, its population increased less than four times. Compare that with any Northern city, and one can see the difference. Boston, for example, increased more than 120 times, Philadelphia more than 67 times, New York more than 300 times during that period. Property values, investment capital, per capita earnings tell a like story. Where industrial capitalism has been dynamic and expanding in the North, providing the citizen an active economic field for his energies, in the South the economic life, with certain exceptions such as Birmingham or Atlanta, has been contained, limited.
What this has meant, among other things, is that there has been relatively little opportunity until recently for the Southerner to derive any solid sense of personal creativeness out of commerce, industry, business activity. To achieve a sense of identity, of worth, the individual Southerner has been forced to look elsewhere than at the doing of things. There have been relatively few things, and not too much to do about them. Instead, the Southerner has concentrated on being.
The emphasis has been on personality, on one’s existence as a recognizable individual in a social fabric designed above all to provide for the individual identity. The late John Peale Bishop has written that “There is even today among the poorest Southerners a self-respect, a sense of their worth as men, regardless of what they have done or accumulated, that sets them apart from the more successful American who is lost without his bankbook and recognizes no price but that of achievement.” It is in the field of leisure, of community activities and social life, that the Southerner has looked for his triumphs, and these are activities encompassing individual rather than mass identity. John Crowe Ransom wrote that “the arts of the section, such as they were, were not immensely passionate, creative, and romantic; they were the eighteenth-century social arts of dress, conversation, manners, the table, the hunt, politics, oratory, the pulpit. These were arts of living and not arts of escape; they were also community arts, in which every class of society could participate after its kind. The South took life easy, which is itself a tolerably comprehensive art.”
Social life—not the occasional exclusive cocktail party, but the going and coming of a complex activity—has always been important to Southern community life. It is not confined to a privileged social class; it exists on all levels and in all circles. Economics has comparatively little to do with it; the hardware clerk is very likely to be a member of the town’s oldest family, and an extremely eligible bachelor among the best social set. Particularly is this true among the smaller towns. This is not to deny for a moment that there are strata and classes and social levels: Mrs. Ravenel and Judy O’Grady do not go to the same church or wedding reception, but it would not occur to either of them to look down upon or up at the other for economic reasons. There is a kind of social tolerance in the Southern community that makes class not so much a matter of economic limitation as of personal description. It is precisely this distinction that the outsider coming to live in the South has the hardest time understanding.
I have tried to show how the Southern social and community organization is naturally favorable to a consciousness of history and of the past. However, I do not wish to imply that for the Southerner, history is merely something that grows out of these factors, and that any history would do as well. It is the particular history of the South that has been so important in making it what it is.
What is different in the history of the South, what distinguishes it from the history of the rest of the United States, is that it is a history of defeat. The South was beaten in war and occupied by enemy troops; alone of American regions, the South has a Lost Cause.
The shock of the Civil War is the paramount historical fact about the South. It is the memory of the Civil War that more than anything else distinguishes the South from other areas of the country. Before the war the South was agrarian; the War fixed that way of life upon it irrevocably, stripping it of what capital goods it possessed, reducing it to a status of colonial dependency upon the Northeast. Before the war the South sometimes tended to vote as a unit on certain issues; the War welded it into a Solid South that acted and thought as one on all things. Before the War the South tended to think of itself as a conscious minority within the Union; the War institutionalized that relationship, making it possible for the North to treat it first as a conquered province and thereafter as a colonial tributary.
Upon the mind of the South (and there is a Southern state of mind, although it does not necessarily involve an addiction to catfish or lynching), the war’s impact was devastating and lasting, and it was followed by the act of Reconstruction. The South learned from the Civil War something that most Americans have never had to learn: That defeat is possible, that it is possible to do one’s best and to lose. The devastation of the War in the South (twenty years after Appomattox there were ruins in the centers of many Southern cities), the loss of the finest men, the anguish of defeat and of having to eat one’s own words, the swift and cataclysmic disappearance of slavery with the millions of dollars of investment it involved—all this came about in four years. Then followed a decade of Reconstruction, of living as a conquered people under military occupation. When finally the troops were removed, what was left was an exhausted, impoverished region lacking the capital required to make its way in what was now definitely an industrially oriented Union, struggling to wrench a living from the soil, and nursing the memory of a desperate fight lost irretrievably.
“For thirty years,” Richard M. Weaver has written, “the atmosphere was so suffused with the sense of tragedy and frustration that it was almost impossible for a Southern man to take a ‘normal’ view of anything.” Walter Hines Page, in his thinly disguised autobiographical novel, described “Nicholas Worth’s” view of the South on a trip home in the 1880’s:
It occurred to me for the first time that this region is yet a frontier —a new land untouched except by pioneers, pioneers who had merely lingered till they thought the land worn out and who thought that their old order of life—now destroyed by Time’s pressure of which war was the instrument—had been the crown of civilization. Here was poverty—a depressed population, the idle squalor of the Negro now that slavery was relaxed, and the hopeless inertia of the white man who had been deadened by an old economic error.
Page exaggerated, perhaps; but not too much. Many accounts of visitors to the South after the war paint a similar picture. The South was in a state of shock, physically and psychologically. Memories of the War pervaded everything. Fortune, fame, valor, dead parents and friends and family and lovers, all these lay in the past, come and gone with one historical event. The image of the Confederate soldier was everywhere. To quote Nicholas Worth again as he described the veterans of the War who dominated Southern life for four decades after Appomattox, who held the political offices as well as social distinction, “their speech was in a vocabulary of war; their loyalties were loyalties, not to living ideas or duties, but to old commanders and to distorted traditions. They were dead men, most of them, moving among the living as ghosts; and yet, as ghosts in a play, they held the stage.”
Page of course had an axe to grind; he was all for Progress, and he wanted the South to throw off what he considered the shackles of history, and so he both exaggerated and deprecated the Confederate tradition in the South. But if wrong in his analysis of what that memory of the War meant, he was accurate in his evaluation of its pervading influence.
In the twentieth century the South began to “rejoin the Union.” It became industrialized to a much greater extent than ever before. Improving communications and transportation began breaking down its isolation, and an era of general economic prosperity permitted the South to begin catching up with the rest of the nation—which she is still busy doing. Gradually the old Confederates died off, and a great war in which the South fought on the side of the Union and as part of it destroyed much of the old feeling of hostility. Though politically there continued to be a Solid South, and though economically the South was still less healthy than the country as a whole, the South was no longer a region significantly apart from the rest of the United States.
But by this time the South’s historical sense had long since become firmly imbedded in its consciousness. The social organization, the sense of family, had combined with the historical past of the region to create a place and people with a strongly traditional cast of mind. Decades of things as they are, remaining as they are, changing in no appreciable respect, had built in the Southern mind a strong inbred conservatism. Years of material deprivation had inculcated a strong reliance upon a way of life which, though far from shunning material advantage, tended to value material commodities as accessories, and not as the be-all and end-all. A society widely conscious of history, devoted to the familial and regional past, tending to think in terms of the individual rather than along lines of class—this was still the South, Years and years of enforced stasis had built into the Southern mentality a skepticism of change, a strong inclination to let things be.
It should be emphasized that this is by no means an unmixed blessing. The disinclination to look ahead and prepare for inevitable change has caused much difficulty and travail in the South, especially in recent years as the twentieth century’s third and fourth decades brought much adjustment in Southern life. The resistance that much of the rural South offered during the 1920’s and 1930’s to the introduction of modern farming methods is an example. Because farming had been done in certain ways for generations, Southern farmers faced the increasingly commercialized American economy with a stubborn determination not to give ear to all the talk of conservation, soil replenishment practices, crop diversification and the like that the young agricultural agents were mouthing. Because farmland had always been burned over each year, they wanted to keep right on doing it. Only by the hard lesson of worsening economic deprivation were they made to see that there was something to be said for the new way of doing things, and that the boys from the A&M school did know something about making a crop, after all.
The foremost example of the paralyzing effects of this Southern habit of worrying for the present day alone, of course, is the Negro issue. One has only to read the racial arguments offered by Southerners for the past 150 years to realize that they have neither changed, nor yielded, despite the manifest fact that the African slaves brought over from the jungles in the eighteenth century have been changing, learning, growing. What was adequate in 1870 is not adequate in 1957. Had the Southerner been willing, in the 1910’s, the 1920’s, the 1930’s, to adjust his thinking to the Negroes’ growing development and to make the necessary accommodations, a situation need never have arisen where a Supreme Court could declare that “separate” and “equal” were contradictory terms.
My own conviction is that though Negroes have suffered for want of decent educational, health, and economic and political treatment, their main grievance is not primarily based on these things. Rather, it is the insult to their pride that most rankles. It is the hundred little things, mass humiliations, that are intended primarily to remind “Them” that they are Inferior. It is the knowledge that in the eyes of the white man who governs their region, even the best and finest that their race produces is in essential things equated with the meanest and most wretched. Because Roosevelt Jones kills and has venereal disease, the refined, well educated wife of the Professor of Drama at the Negro college cannot eat dinner at the local restaurants. There were jeers expressed when a psychology professor at the University of Virginia recently declared that the stigma of complete segregation was largely responsible for the high incidence of schizophrenia in Negro mental cases. On the face of it, the statement does seem absurd. Yet when one examines the writings of so many of today’s Negro novelists and poets, one may wonder. The psychic wound of second class status pervades their writings to an extent that it impedes the white reader’s aesthetic credibility.
Persons familiar with the history of the Negro in the United States know that in the latter half of the nineteenth century and well into the twentieth, there was a controversy between the supporters of the views held by Booker T. Washington and those typified by W. E. B. DuBois and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. It was Washington’s thesis that the Negroes should strive not for political and social equality, but should bend their efforts toward educating themselves and improving their economic lot. When the Negroes had made themselves economically indispensable to the South, and had elevated their educational and social standards to the level of the best elements of the white race, Washington maintained, then political and social equality would follow automatically. With his hand extended for a symbol, he told a predominantly white audience at the Atlanta Exposition of 1897 that “In all things that are purely social we can be as separate as the fingers, yet one as the hand on all things essential to mutual progress.” The followers of DuBois and the N.A.A.C.P. held that the Washington policy was unrealistic and involved acquiescence in a status of permanent inferiority. It would be nice to believe that the South accepted Washington’s doctrine, which in essence was that of separation with equality. But the South did not do so. No one can realistically maintain that the “separate but equal” doctrine was seriously followed by the Southern States in the long years that followed. Instead, Southerners looked the other way, temporized, persisted in ignoring the Negroes’ steady progress. By refusing to grant deserving, elevated Negroes any more essential social and cultural position and status than the most primitive, benighted specimens of the race, the South helped to build up a situation in which “separation” and “equality” became for practical purposes mutually exclusive terms. There was no room at the top for Negroes who could reach the top. The South threw Negroes into the arms of the agitators of the N.A.A.C.P.
With reasonable foresight, with the willingness to recognize the necessity for change when the necessity plainly existed, with acceptance by thinking Southerners of a responsibility for helping to lead those who needed leadership, the South might have avoided or greatly mitigated the impact of an issue which in the sixth decade of the twentieth century threatens to destroy its schools, divide its people, and create bitterness and hatred that may be generations in the undoing.
Vexing as such issues are, they are only aspects of the larger, over-all problem that confronts the South today. That problem is: How can a region retain the values of a traditional social order, based upon the individual and the community and ordered by a strong historical sense of life, in a modern, increasingly industrial and urban world ? For the South is confronted with that world. It has in truth begun finally to “rejoin the Union,” and that means full participation in a society of cities, of industrial plants, of mass media and mass pursuits, organized for efficiency and bigness, and based not on intensity but on variety, not on individuality but on mass goals.
The problem is a very real one for the South. Take the average small Southern town where suddenly a large factory is erected, promising employment to a goodly number of townsfolk. What then? Incomes go up, new inhabitants arrive by the droves, townsfolk get well-paying jobs, marginal farmers leave the farm to work at the plant. Property values rise, chain stores expand, the demand for consumer goods grows mightily. The factory payroll vastly increases the cash money in circulation, and this affects the entire economy of the town and the surrounding countryside.
But what of the effect on the small town’s life, and on the necessarily strong reliance upon individuality and private satisfactions that had always prevailed? The factory works regular hours, its employees perform routine tasks on an assembly line. They become cogs in what for all the efforts at good employee relationships is still an impersonal industrial machine. Gone is the time when a man could close up shop and go fishing. Gone is the time when a man knew everybody in town, and was known by everybody. The pace of life quickens, becomes more standardized. Conformity becomes the norm. The advent of cash money, the possibility for the first time of business gain, tends to weaken the old reliance on the non-economic, personal values. Gone is the lazy, unhurried tranquillity of small Southern town life, with its personal values, its habitual individualism, its easy-going tolerance of the eccentric, the character, the recluse. Gone, in short, is the small town Southern life as it used to be. In its place is the increasing standardization, the stepped-up tempo, the enforced conformity of modern industrial life, which measures its days by factory whistles and its nights by television channel changes.
All over the South this process is taking place, as Southern industrial development increases, as factory after New England factory transfers its operations South. Mile upon mile of suburban development mushrooms about the Southern cities, those once settled, relatively static communities. Small towns become thriving large towns, large towns become cities, factories spring up everywhere. The rural agrarian character of the South as it was for a hundred years is changing. The values that the South held are threatened by new, urban values. What has been distinctive and Southern about the South threatens to disappear, and the South threatens to become a thriving but undistinguished replica of the North and West, dependent upon the national industrial economy as never before. Factory badges, union cards, television antennae, hardtop convertibles, supermarkets and shopping tenters, row upon row of almost identical ranch homes in almost identical housing projects, become the monotonous characteristics of the new South.
It must be granted that from this onset of modernity, the South has much to gain as well as to lose. Consumer goods in themselves are no evil. Better roads, better schools, better homes, better and more varied diet, better health facilities certainly represent no setback to the Southern people. The tenant farmer who trades a precarious, hand-to-mouth existence in a wretched shack for a suburban home of his own and the chance to educate his children and keep them healthy and well, cannot be persuaded that the coming of industrialism to the South is an unfortunate thing. The material gains of an industrialized area do not of themselves constitute a menace. The menace of an industrial South comes from the destructive impact of material gains on what was distinctive and desirable about Southern life before the factories came. Not in the material artifacts of industrialism, but in what they represent, is where the threat to the South lies.
History and economic necessity forced certain virtues upon Southern life. Through no fault of its own, the South evolved a civilization that did not place its reliance upon the material goods of life, but upon the values of individuality, self-reliance, the community arts, a life which did not allow getting and spending to interfere with leisurely, relaxed living. The way of life which permitted a man to enjoy himself, to know the satisfaction of being something more than a cog in a machine—at its typical best this was the attainment of civilization in the South. At its heart was an historical sense of life, an instinctive realization that man was not a creature of chance and the moment. It was a life that emphasized the right relationship of man to nature and the essential dependence of man on nature. It was a life of the spirit as well as the flesh, which provided in its makeup for recognition of the values of the spirit. It was a life of stasis, of acceptance, not one of restlessness and doubt. This is the life that is threatened by the coming of industrialism to the South, and these are the values that the dominance of the industrial community most menaces.
If these values are to be preserved, then the South must find a way to reconcile them with the new order, and to preserve their spirit while the material world changes. The South must find a way to control industrialism, to admit it only on the South’s own terms. It must accept the factory, but not allow it to dominate its life. It must find a way to integrate industrial civilization into its communities without destroying the time-honored fabric of the community’s life.
It is no easy task. Working against a successful outcome is that characteristic ingrained in Southern life, an almost inevitable product of that life—the willingness to ignore practical problems requiring common effort, planning and foresight, in favor of a concentration on personal, inner satisfactions alone. The Southerner is habitually averse to long-range planning. He is temperamentally opposed to the kind of necessarily abstract analysis that would permit him to work out a long range solution. Yet this is what the South must do, if it is to survive in anything like its present form.
It must overcome its reluctance to mapping out a plan of action, and must work out a considered scheme whereby it will admit industrialism, but only such industrialism as it will need. It must force itself to think in terms of the future, and in terms of eventual rather than immediate advantage. It must be willing to sacrifice present material gains for future spiritual happiness. Where it must adjust its ways to the demands of modernity, it must do so with as good grace as possible. Where it must stand firm for what it believes, it must do so with tenacity and conviction. Above all, it must do what it has never done before—sit down and think out its course, prepare for the future without waiting until the next crisis is upon it.
To do this is difficult. It is also most un-Southern. It may be that it will prove impossible to do. It may be that the very qualities which have made Southern life what it is, contain in this age of greater and greater urbanization the seeds of their own destruction. But if the South believes in its traditional way of life, and if it wishes to preserve in American life a region where the individual, the historical and the spiritual are cherished over the mass, the moment and the material, it must rise to the occasion. At midcentury the South faces its greatest challenge.
This essay was originally published in The Lasting South (Regnery, 1957).