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Michael Martin

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W.E.B. DuBois’s Selective Moral Outrage

In March of 1928, W.E.B. DuBois published a short essay attacking the character of Robert E. Lee in a publication created by DuBois called The Crisis. This magazine was also the official publication of the NAACP, which was also co-founded by DuBois, and (according to their November 1910 premier issue) had the expressed goal of setting forth “those facts and…
Michael Martin
June 2, 2022
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Rage Against the [Industrial Food] Machine

In the rural Virginia town of Swoope, near the Shenandoah Valley, Joel Salatin practices common sense and ecologically sustainable agriculture on his farm, Polyface. In the wake of a COVID-19 pandemic that has drastically changed food distribution networks and disrupted the entire supply chain of the country, farming methods like Salatin’s have become increasingly desirable as we approach a dystopian…
Michael Martin
March 1, 2022
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The South and “Red Flag” Laws

These days, we see many politicians pushing relentlessly for gun control. In the wake of recent mass shootings, several so-called “conservatives” have shown their true colors by demonizing gun owners and misrepresenting the facts on the issue. Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina called critics of red flag laws “libertarians” and stated that “the Second Amendment is not a suicide…
Michael Martin
October 3, 2019
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Strom Thurmond, the “Dixiecrats,” and Southern Identity

This essay was presented at our 2019 Summer School on The New South. James Strom Thurmond, or Strom, was born on December 5, 1902 in Edgefield, South Carolina. This historic county was also the home of Francis Hugh Wardlaw, the author of the South Carolina Ordinance of Secession, and Preston Brooks, who caned Charles Sumner in 1856. These three are…
Michael Martin
August 21, 2019
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Show Me Where the Statue Hurt You

I attended a protest to tear down the John C. Calhoun monument in Charleston on May 16, 2019. This event was being hosted by “The Independent Media Institute,” and consisted of “artists” explaining how the monument is a symbol of white supremacy to them. Almost two years ago, in August of 2017, I attended a similar protest put on by…
Michael Martin
May 23, 2019
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Truman and Treason?

Most people believe the novel 1984 by George Orwell was about some futuristic dystopia. Published in 1949, the story reflected the fear of what the world could be like under totalitarian government. The main character in the story, Winston Smith, works in the Records Department of the “Ministry of Truth” as a reviser of historic records. Thought police, misleading language,…
Michael Martin
May 9, 2019
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Strom’s Advice

Strom Thurmond was born in Edgefield, South Carolina, in 1902 and lived to be over 100 years old. He grew up in a time when the average person knew how to live off the land and he learned the values of health and fitness early on when he attended Clemson College, which was a military school at the time. Strom…
Michael Martin
April 5, 2019
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Is Opposition to Trump “Satanic?”

On a February 2017 episode of televangelist Pat Robertson’s “The 700 club,” a viewer sent in the following question about dissent: “Why do so many hate President Trump and say everything he does is bad? I voted for him and believed he would make ‘America Great Again,’ and he has already in many ways. So what is your answer as…
Michael Martin
March 8, 2019
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Black Southerners in American Wars

President Trump recently used his executive powers to designate a national monument to honor African Americans’ role as soldiers during the War Between the States. The monument will be a 380-acre site in Kentucky to commemorate Camp Nelson, which was one of the largest recruitment stations for the United States Colored Troops. The unfortunate reality is that the monument will…
Michael Martin
December 12, 2018
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Lessons in Conservatism from Andrew Johnson

Andrew Johnson was born into poverty in rural North Carolina. His father died after saving some town locals from drowning and left the family to fend for themselves in a two-room shack. A young Andrew began working as a tailor’s apprentice and developed an appreciation for the laboring class early on. Johnson was poorly educated and learned how to write…
Michael Martin
December 6, 2018
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Charleston’s Faulty “Contextualization”

I grew up in Summerville, South Carolina, just a few miles from historic Charleston. This quiet little town is separated from the Holy City by some plantations, swamps, and marsh but shares the same fascination with local history. Folklore states that Summerville is the birthplace of sweet tea, the source being a newspaper article from 1890 that lists the menu…
Michael Martin
November 7, 2018
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Was the Old South Feudal?

Was the Old South Feudal? Eugene Genovese wrote several works on antebellum slavery that essentially argued the Old South was neither feudal nor capitalist. His book Fruits of Merchant Capital: Slavery and Bourgeois Property in the Rise and Expansion of Capitalism and earlier writings on slave economies postulated that the Southern mode of production was pre-capitalist and utilized a type…
Michael Martin
October 24, 2018
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The Old South’s Poor Whites

There was a time, before universal white male suffrage and the closing of the frontier, when the poor whites of the South were considered shiftless and without caste. If we were to look at the South as a hierarchical system, it could be argued that the poor whites were a kind of pariah. There’s a common misconception that all whites…
Michael Martin
October 11, 2018
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Was Jesse James a Southern Robin Hood?

There is a dichotomy to how people view Jesse James. While some have viewed him as a murdering thief, others have argued that he was like a modern-day Robin Hood. To really understand the man requires an examination of his life and an honest analysis of the events that shaped him in Missouri. WHO WAS JESSE JAMES? Jesse James was…
Michael Martin
September 27, 2018
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Calhoun and Modern Economics

Much of John C. Calhoun’s criticism stems from his 1837 speech in the Senate where he stated slavery was “a positive good.” This quote is often paraded as evidence of Southern racism and is used in attempts diminish Calhoun’s legacy. Quite possibly no other politician, aside from Lincoln, is so often misrepresented and misunderstood. The reason is that nowadays, we…
Michael Martin
September 6, 2018
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Revisiting the “Cornerstone Speech”

Most mainstream historians point to the “Cornerstone” speech by Alexander Stephens as the clearest piece of evidence that slavery and white supremacy alone were the reasons for Southern secession. After all, most transcriptions show Stephens having stated that the Confederate government was founded on the “great physical, philosophical, and moral truth” of white superiority. A major quote that the historians…
Michael Martin
August 27, 2018
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The Sounds of the Mississippi Delta and Appalachia

Because we live in such a hurried time, we hear countless “noises” but have little time to appreciate actual “sounds.” Sound is a sensation that you can feel, not just something you can hear. To understand this idea, consider how some musicians have actually played concerts for the deaf, who cannot hear the music but still feel the vibrations. These…
Michael Martin
August 16, 2018
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The Attack on “Dixie” in Sports and Music

Sound was the first victim of the attack on southern heritage. In October 1971, the University of Georgia’s “Dixie Redcoat Marching Band”  dropped the word “Dixie” from its name and discontinued playing the song “Dixie” after the National Anthem. Many people, even to this day, will argue that “Dixie” was played and perpetuated to uphold white supremacy. But the tradition…
Michael Martin
June 22, 2018
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The Sensory Poetry of Dubose Heyward

Dubose Heyward once described himself as a “synthetic Charlestonian.” Having been part French Huguenot and part English Cavalier, he was a direct descendant of South Carolina’s Thomas Heyward Jr., a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Born in Charleston in 1885, he was a major part of the Southern Literary Renaissance and wrote extensive poetry and fiction. Southern identity came…
Michael Martin
May 3, 2018
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Southern Themes in The Outsiders

S.E. Hinton published The Outsiders in 1967 at the age of eighteen. It’s a coming of age story that is widely read within schools and takes place in Oklahoma in 1965. The novel focuses on two rival groups, the Greasers and Socs, who are divided by their social status. The Greasers are described as wilder, having longer hair, and being…
Michael Martin
April 20, 2018
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Reconsidering William Jennings Bryan

When William Jennings Bryan died in 1925, H.L. Mencken wrote a scathing eulogy stating: “There was something peculiarly fitting in the fact that last days were spent in a one-horse Tennessee village, and that death found him there. The man felt home in such scenes. He liked people who sweated freely, and were not debauched by the refinements of the…
Michael Martin
April 4, 2018
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Killed for the Flag

Anthony Hervey was born in Water Valley, Mississippi in 1965. He grew up in Oxford, served in the military for a short period, then went on to the University of Mississippi, where he studied sociology and Afro Studies. He then traveled to London, England where he studied Race & Ethnicity at the University of London and served as an intern…
Michael Martin
February 2, 2018
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“Chesty” Puller and the Southern Military Tradition

Lewis Burwell Puller is a Marine Corps legend and American hero. Nicknamed “Chesty” for his burly physique, he was one of the most combat-hardened leaders in military history and saw action in Haiti, Nicaragua, WWII, and Korea. The winner of five Navy Crosses and many other medals, he will always be remembered as a fierce warrior and proud patriot. One…
Michael Martin
January 19, 2018
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The North and Hitler

In 1933, General Smedley R. Butler blew the whistle on an attempt by American fascists to overthrow president Franklin D. Roosevelt. In this speech he detailed the following: “I appeared before the congressional committee, the highest representation of the American people, under subpoena to tell what I knew of activities which I believed might lead to an attempt to set…
Michael Martin
January 11, 2018
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Cane Fighting

For five days in May, 1856, Charles Sumner delivered a speech entitled The Crime Against Kansas. For those five days, he continuously slandered South Carolina and its senator, Pierce Butler. Regarding South Carolina, Sumner stated: “If we glance at special achievements, it will be difficult to find anything in the history of South Carolina which presents so much of heroic…
Michael Martin
November 29, 2017
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American History Textbooks vs. Reality

Donald Trump made the following statement at a recent rally in Phoenix, Arizona on August 22: “In the proud tradition of America's great leaders, from George Washington -- please, don't take his statue down, please. PLEASE! Does anybody want George Washington's statue? No. Is that sad? To Lincoln, to Teddy Roosevelt, I see they want to take Teddy Roosevelt's down,…
Michael Martin
October 20, 2017
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Understanding the War on Monuments

Agitation, Abstraction, Disruption, Distraction… These words are the most primal reasons that southern, and arguably mainstream American, history is under attack throughout the country. On August 16, 2017, I attended a protest to remove the John C. Calhoun monument in Charleston, South Carolina. While I was at this protest, I gained a lot of insight on how these “protestors” think…
Michael Martin
September 8, 2017