The Myth of the Lost Cause: Revealing the Truth About the Civil War

The Lost Cause of the Confederacy, or simply the Lost Cause, is an ideological movement that describes the Confederate cause as a heroic one against great odds despite its defeat. Read a book excerpt: https://amzn.to/2RzkM8M

The ideology endorses the supposed virtues of the antebellum South, viewing the American Civil War as an honorable struggle for the Southern way of life[1] while minimizing or denying the central role of slavery.

The Lost Cause ideology synthesized numerous ideas. Lost Cause supporters argued that slavery was not the main cause of the Civil War, and claimed that few scholars saw it as such before the 1950s.[2] In order to reach this conclusion, they ignored the declarations of secession by the seceding states, the declarations of congressmen who left Congress to join the Confederacy, and the treatment of slavery in the Confederate constitution.[3] They also denied or minimized the wartime writings and speeches of Confederate leaders in favor of postwar views.[4] (See Cornerstone Speech.) Supporters often stressed the idea of secession as a defense against a Northern threat to their way of life and said that the threat violated the states’ rights guaranteed by the Constitution. They believed any state had the right to secede, a point strongly denied by the North. The Lost Cause portrayed the South as more adherent to Christian values than the allegedly greedy North. It portrayed slavery as more benevolent than cruel, alleging that it taught Christianity and “civilization”. Stories of “happy slaves” were often used as propaganda in an effort to defend slavery. These stories would be used to explain slavery to Northerners. Many times they also portrayed slave owners being kind to their slaves. In explaining Confederate defeat, the Lost Cause said that the main factor was not qualitative inferiority in leadership or fighting ability but the massive quantitative superiority of the Yankee industrial machine.[5] At the peak of troop strength in 1863, Union soldiers outnumbered Confederate soldiers by over two to one, and financially the Union had three times the bank deposits of the Confederacy.[6]

Critics of the ideology have stated that white supremacy is a key characteristic of the Lost Cause narrative.[7] Supporters typically portray the Confederacy’s cause as noble and its leadership as exemplars of old-fashioned chivalry and honor, defeated by the Union armies through numerical and industrial force that overwhelmed the South’s superior military skill and courage. Proponents of the Lost Cause movement also condemned the Reconstruction that followed the Civil War, claiming that it had been a deliberate attempt by Northern politicians and speculators to destroy the traditional Southern way of life. In recent decades Lost Cause themes have been widely promoted by the Neo-Confederate movement in books and op-eds, and especially in one of the movement’s magazines, the Southern Partisan. The Lost Cause theme has been a major element in defining gender roles in the white South, in terms of honor, tradition, and family roles.[8] The Lost Cause has inspired many prominent Southern memorials and even religious attitudes.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lost_Cause_of_the_Confederacy

How & Why Germans Bought Hitler’s Pitch

This clip from a 1 hour PBS television documentary I made called ” How Hitler Lost the War.” The film takes a unique point of view. Rather than talking about who won the war, my colleagues and I explored what Hitler did that helped lose Germany the war. Although it happened so long ago, it is still a frightening story. Some of the interviews I conducted in this segment were fascinating to me and I hope they are to you as well.
Created using

35th Portier Lecture: “White Trash: The 400-Year History of Class in America”

14:10 / 50:16
Transcript

00:17
well thank you very much for that warm
00:20
welcome and I also really want to extend
00:23
my appreciation to the history
00:25
department for inviting me here this is
00:28
a wonderful place to give a lecture as
00:30
you can tell from the title I’m not
00:33
going to be able to tell you everything
00:34
that’s in my book it covers a lot so
00:37
what I’m going to try to do tonight is
00:39
give you a series of snapshots what I
00:42
see as important threads and themes for
00:45
understanding a concept that all of us
00:49
know people still use but we often don’t
00:54
know where it really comes from and why
00:56
it’s so prevalent and the big point that
00:58
I want to point out is that we have to
01:01
understand that in America we do have a
01:03
class system we’ve always had a class
01:05
system and we often don’t connect it to
01:08
British understandings of rural Society
01:12
and that’s actually where white trash
01:14
comes from I’d like to begin tonight
01:21
with the film that we all know to kill a
01:26
mockingbird the plot centers on a
01:29
moralistic lawyer Atticus Finch who
01:33
refuses to perpetuate the racial double
01:35
standard he agrees to defend an
01:39
african-american Tom Robinson on the
01:43
charge of raping a poor white girl
01:45
Mayella Ewell the Court finds Robinson
01:49
guilty but everyone knows he is innocent
01:52
an honorable hard-working family man
01:54
Robinson stands well above the degraded
01:57
eul’s his poor white accusers the
02:01
Shapley attired mela is cowled by her
02:04
bully of a father a scrawny man and
02:06
overalls devoid of either merit or
02:09
morality
02:12
he’s Bob Ewell his full name is Robert
02:16
Elio and as you can guess he’s not an
02:20
heir of one of the aristocratic families
02:23
of the Old South as Harper Lee describes
02:26
them in the novel of which the classic
02:28
film was based the ules were members of
02:32
the terminally poor those whose status
02:35
could not be altered up or down by any
02:40
economic shift not even the depression
02:43
in which the story is set the ules live
02:49
behind the town dump which they comb
02:52
through regularly they had congenital
02:55
defects and hookworm their Shack look
03:00
like and this is how Harper Lee
03:01
described it a playhouse of an insane
03:04
child no one knew how many children live
03:08
there some thought 9 others 6 to the
03:11
town of Makem Alabama the Ewell children
03:14
were simply dirty faced ones at the
03:16
window when any one passed southerners
03:20
and others too called such people white
03:23
trash the ules are not bit players in
03:27
our country’s history and their history
03:29
opens in the 1500s not the 1900s it
03:32
starts with British colonial policies
03:35
dedicated to resettling the poor
03:37
decisions that left a permanent imprint
03:40
on America and on the structure of
03:42
classes first known as waste people and
03:46
later white trash marginalize Americans
03:49
were stigmatized for their inability to
03:51
be productive their failure to own
03:53
property their unhealthy children their
03:57
lack of any sense of uplift on which the
03:59
American Dream is predicated it’s
04:02
contrary to the national credo but the
04:05
truth is that Americans are quite
04:07
comfortable rationalizing economic
04:10
inequality they have naturalized poverty
04:14
determining that it’s something beyond
04:16
human control by this measure poor
04:19
whites were classified as a distinct
04:22
breed
04:23
I’m going to return to that theme over
04:24
and over again the importance of
04:26
breeding in other words breeding was not
04:30
just about the cultivation of social
04:32
manners or skills that’s merely one
04:34
definition it was all about something
04:37
more sinister and imposed inheritance
04:40
the language of class that early
04:43
Americans embraced was a composite of
04:45
English attitudes toward vagrancy as
04:48
well as a transatlantic fixation on
04:51
animal husbandry demography and pedigree
04:55
yes the poor were once described as
04:58
waste and inferior animal stocks in the
05:01
colonial imagination we prefer to
05:04
believe all that has changed but well
05:07
into the 20th century sterilization of
05:10
the breeding poor struck many even
05:13
professionals as a rational solution to
05:16
an old problem
05:17
so let’s not displace colonial history
05:20
too easily for centuries the worst
05:23
classes were regarded as extrusions of
05:26
the least in Hannibal inhabitable land
05:29
scrubby barren swampy wasteland and all
05:35
that still relates to home ownership and
05:37
the rich and poor neighborhoods of today
05:40
the poor have been with us the white
05:43
poor been with us in various guises as
05:46
the names given across the centuries a
05:49
test and this isn’t even all of the
05:52
names that have been used at different
05:54
historical time periods to describe poor
05:57
whites the first one as I mentioned is
05:59
waste people Rascals did you know the
06:02
word rascal actually comes from the
06:04
meaning trash rubbish off scourings
06:07
lubbers Hillbillies low Downers trailer
06:10
trash what I’ve also discovered in
06:13
writing this book is that even though is
06:15
I’m going to talk about this we like to
06:17
imagine these people as marginalized and
06:19
visible in fact they’ve often been
06:21
pushed front and center in America’s
06:24
most formative events from Western
06:27
expansion to the Civil War and
06:29
reconstruction and FDR’s New Deal and
06:32
LBJ’s Great Society
06:35
now throughout time
06:37
they’ve been blamed for many things
06:39
they’ve been blamed for living on bad
06:42
land as though they had other choices
06:45
they’ve been called slothful rootless
06:49
vagrants and it’s assumed that they’re
06:52
physically scarred just as their
06:54
surroundings were the worst aid clay and
06:58
turned yellow wild in the muck and their
07:01
necks were burnt reddened by the hot Sun
07:03
their ilk loathed meanly fed children
07:06
sentenced future generations to
07:09
permanent defectiveness now all these
07:12
things are going to explain where they
07:14
come from and how they’re used in
07:16
different time periods and we may think
07:19
that these themes don’t exist anymore
07:21
but in fact today’s trailer trash our
07:24
scene is yesterday’s vagrants on wheels
07:27
an updated version of Opie’s and
07:29
jalopies and Florida crackers in their
07:32
rude carts now while America likes to
07:36
think that the American Revolution
07:38
enable us to break free from aristocracy
07:42
and inherited class stations the truth
07:45
is different English ideas about class
07:50
and poverty never really disappeared
07:54
think of this point of comparison
07:57
Jefferson’s yeoman democracy fantasized
08:00
a fertile country supporting hearty
08:03
independent farm families yet what
08:08
happens when the yeoman fails and what
08:12
about those who never achieve economic
08:14
independence now as I said it begins in
08:19
the 1500s it was Richard heckling the
08:24
Elizabethan promoter of colonization who
08:27
first employed the term waste people to
08:31
describe the expendables that could be
08:33
literally dumped in the new world in his
08:37
1584 discourse of western planting he
08:40
hoped to persuade the queen of the
08:42
merits of colonization Hakluyt called
08:46
America
08:47
not terra firma firma but a waste firm
08:52
the American landscape though we’d never
08:55
seen it was described as an unproductive
08:58
terrain that could only be improved by
09:01
turning the waste firm into one giant
09:05
workhouse filled with all the idle drags
09:08
drawn from English society ex-soldiers
09:11
orphans children of the wandering of
09:14
wandering beggars criminal criminals
09:16
debtors vagrants and if they were lucky
09:20
enough to survive these idols might be
09:23
recycled and sent off to fight in
09:25
English wars now the group that the
09:29
British and the English hated the most
09:33
were vagrants they were idle folk
09:38
analogize to weeds stifling healthy
09:41
growth in a garden they wandered the
09:43
countryside detached from the economy
09:46
much like the wasteland left fallow and
09:49
untilled so they were rounded up some
09:53
were branded put into work houses
09:58
children were actually taken off the
10:01
streets and sold as indentured servants
10:04
too cruel masters in America they were
10:09
also notably referred to as the off
10:12
scourings and I’m going to see it use
10:14
that term again it’s a rather unpleasant
10:17
term which refers to fecal waste and so
10:26
does the quote that I have there
10:31
now this notion of waste in all its
10:34
various manifestations persisted Abigail
10:37
Adams dismissed the poor and landless as
10:41
rubbish so did Thomas Jefferson who
10:45
proposed that a few promising
10:47
impoverished white boys might be quote
10:50
raped from the rubbish and given an
10:52
education but his bill drafted in 1779
10:57
failed in the Virginia legislature the
10:59
ruling elite had little desire to raise
11:02
up even a few wastrels as for the
11:06
language of human stocks
11:08
it wasn’t Eat Pray Love but it was eat
11:14
graze and breed whether on two or four
11:17
legs political rithmetic pre Darwin
11:23
proposed a means to calculate human
11:26
productivity Benjamin Franklin was an
11:30
early proponent who compared human
11:33
patterns of migration and fertility to
11:36
that of ants and pigeons the unsettled
11:39
frontier land was a lure to families he
11:42
argued like ants to a honeypot
11:45
overcrowding in pigeon boxes and the
11:47
experiment that he did meant that the
11:49
weak would have to move on
11:51
Franklin’s demographic argument
11:54
constituted an early form of survival of
11:56
the fittest
11:57
those who bred large families and toil
12:00
long were rewarded why the isle do idle
12:03
would have to either keep moving or die
12:06
off and as you can guess Franklin had no
12:08
sympathy for the poor whatsoever even
12:11
though he did not come from an elite
12:12
family breeding was at the heart of the
12:18
domestic slave trade and Jefferson
12:20
coldly admitted that female slaves were
12:23
good investment to his mind free white
12:27
women were breeders too in a series of
12:30
letters that he changed with John Adams
12:32
in 1813 he argued that humans were
12:35
animals guided by the overriding impulse
12:38
of sexual desire lust however if it was
12:42
tempered by reason among them
12:44
gifted he argued was producing what he
12:47
called a fortuitous concourse of
12:50
breeders this model of breeding
12:55
generated for Jefferson an accidental
12:58
aristocracy of talent class division
13:01
arose through natural selection superior
13:05
men were supposed to marry for more than
13:07
money they would consciously and
13:09
unconsciously choose mates with
13:13
favorable traits it was all a matter of
13:16
probability
13:17
now the question neither Jefferson or as
13:20
calculating colleagues never answered
13:22
was this what happened to those outside
13:24
the talented rational elite what future
13:29
I rated the concourse of breeders living
13:31
on the bottom layer society no matter
13:33
how one fin finesse it rubbish produced
13:36
more rubbish now Jefferson like Franklin
hoped the poor would be drawn into the
western territories so this is why our
western territories were like the
colonies for the British they were to
drain away the poor and the waste
what
also became prevalent in Jefferson’s
theory and proved to be long-lasting in
justifying why the United States was
truly a promised land was the idea that
horizontal mobility would substitute for
upward mobility that means moving across
the land was the alternative to actually
moving up the social ladder and this
theory is important because it laid the
foundation for America’s myth of a
classless exceptional society but if we
think about that logically and if we
think about that as historians this
theory was flawed from the get-go the
West was never an open space land
speculators and powerful men always had
the advantage in person purchasing the
best land Western land wasn’t free and
the poor rarely had the funds to buy the
parcels sold by the federal government
instead they invaded public lands as
trespassers and the government often had
to physically remove them
they became the dominant class of the
early Republican antebellum period that
you’ve never heard of America’s version
of English vagrants squatters and
crackers now the legendary Davy Crockett
believe it or not was a outspoken
advocate of squatter’s rights that’s the
real Crockett not the legend the legend
as you see here taken from his the
popular sort of comic exaggerated
version of Crockett and who the stories
15:33
he told portrayed him as a corn cracker
15:36
which is a variation it’s the Kentucky
15:38
variation of cracker now what’s funny
15:42
about Crockett is that he also claimed
15:45
the legendary version and based on the
15:47
stories that he told claimed that one of
15:50
the many excellent powers that he had
15:53
what he had the ability to squat down
15:56
lower than any man now that may sound
15:58
strange we can understand him claiming
16:00
to be Superman and jump as high as he
16:02
possibly could and he claimed that he
16:04
could do all these magical things but
16:06
this illusion is particularly important
16:08
because he’s referring to his own
16:09
squatter past and as we know the idea of
16:13
being a squatter is not simply simply
16:17
something to celebrate the word squat
16:20
and squatting carried more than one
16:22
desperate disreputable meaning the term
16:26
suggested spilling out across the land
16:28
and it also had other more unpleasant
16:32
allusions to waste but it also had a
16:35
significant legal meaning in the British
16:39
law which we inherited squatting was the
16:43
opposite of standing to have legal
16:46
standing and legal standing also was
16:49
part of a legal principle the English
16:51
legal principle that justified claims to
16:54
sovereignty and also justifies the right
16:57
to the land to have standing the word
17:02
right itself comes from the root that
17:05
means to stand
17:07
recked so it’s important that we
17:10
visualize what these words mean now the
17:16
cracker that determine all heard of
17:18
what’s interesting is cracker gets
17:20
associated with the southern back
17:22
country and quite early in the 1760 a
17:25
British officer in the Carolinas
17:27
described crackers as idle stragglers
17:30
vagabonds worse than Indians who are
17:32
constantly changing their place of abode
17:35
the word cracker migrated all the way
17:38
from Virginia to Florida along with the
17:41
roving migrating rural poor now why the
17:45
name cracker what does that really mean
17:48
where does that come from well they were
17:50
called cracking traders before the
17:52
Revolution because they were described
17:54
as noisy braggarts prone to lying and
17:57
vulgarity in English one could crack a
18:01
jest crude Englishmen cracked wind fire
18:05
crackers gave off a stench and were loud
18:07
and disrupted Laos cracker referred to a
18:11
licensed lovingly fellow and another
18:14
significant connection was the adjective
18:16
crack-brained which was the English
18:19
slang for idle headed again reminding us
18:22
that the poor always idle and this is a
18:24
kind of recurrent obsession for the
18:26
English and for American colonists
18:30
squatters and crackers weren’t yeoman
18:32
they weren’t peasants they weren’t
18:34
tenants cracker women were looked at as
18:38
barely being women at all
18:39
they were mocked as Haggard lean dirty
18:42
ugly and toothless
18:49
whose arune’s a variation on mixed waste
18:54
quadrants was a word coined to describe
18:58
Indiana squatters dozen of dirty yellow
19:02
urgence and that word Hooser
19:06
no linguistic knows where it comes from
19:09
they have no idea they can’t figure it
19:11
out they may have been hunters and crude
19:21
farmers but the main attribute of
19:23
squatters and crackers which they both
19:25
shared was their constant movement there
19:27
even was a cracker dictionary that was
19:31
published in the 1830s they began to
19:33
identify and collect and identify their
19:36
distinctive patois and that’s
19:38
interesting because in the 30s it’s the
19:39
same time the English start to study
19:42
cockney so this is kind of the American
19:45
version of cockney and it included the
19:49
verb absquatulate which is a word I love
19:52
and try to use it whenever you can in
19:54
the future because it’s got squat right
19:56
in it it’s like such a great word which
19:59
meant the definition was to mosey or to
20:02
abscond both options are possible that
20:08
meant they were either on the slow road
20:10
to nowhere or on the run like an abscond
20:13
Aksarben now what’s interesting about
20:16
squatters is they were the majority of
20:19
the population in Kentucky in the 1790s
20:21
and they remained 35 to 40 percent of
20:26
the population in Tennessee Alabama
20:30
and elsewhere in the southwest as late
20:32
as the 1850s and that’s important
20:35
because these people are prevalent
20:36
they’re everywhere and they become in
20:40
certain places later in California
20:41
political force but this also points to
20:46
the fact that the whole safety valve
20:47
theory didn’t really work in the Old
20:50
South for example as one scholar has
20:52
carefully studied the numbers then the
20:55
number of landless poor whites grew at
20:58
astonishing rates even with out
21:01
migration
21:03
so it’s not surprising that by the 1840s
21:06
there’s a dramatic shift away from
21:09
talking about squatters and crackers and
21:11
that could be in the old northwest that
21:13
could be in the backcountry in the
21:15
southwest and they begin to focus on
21:17
what is now known as white trash and
21:20
white trash begins to be specifically
21:24
identified as a southern phenomenon and
21:26
on top of that they begin to describe
21:30
them as quote a curious species of
21:33
southerners noted for their yellow
21:35
parchment skin color their children’s
21:39
shocking white hair resembling that of
21:41
an albino to top it off clay eating poor
21:45
whites were condemned for their sickly
21:48
and abnormal children described as
21:50
shrunken and wrinkled looking like old
21:53
lonesome cadaverous dwarfs the tallow
21:57
face Gentry as one Kansas newspaper
21:59
mockingly labeled them routinely stuffed
22:03
their infants mouths with clay so by the
22:06
1840s white trash have now become
22:11
clinical specimens belonging to an
22:14
inferior breed now like breeds like a
22:22
saying that was taken directly from
22:24
animal husbandry served as the guiding
22:28
principle for these damming portraits
22:30
the wealthy South Carolinian Mary
22:33
chesnut described a local woman she knew
22:36
as a perfect specimen of the sandhill
22:39
tacky race now tacky again another word
22:42
maybe you haven’t heard of tacky was a
22:44
degenerate breed of horse that lived in
22:47
the Carolina marshlands chestnut went on
22:52
to describe that she looked the part and
22:54
here you have her colorful language her
22:57
skin was yellow and leathery
22:59
even the whites of her eyes were bilious
23:02
in color
23:03
she was stumpy strong and lean hard
23:07
featured horny fisted alabama daniel
23:13
Hundley published a fairly important
23:16
book
23:16
on Southern society in 1860 all about
23:20
class and he divided the white classes
23:22
into a descending order of bloodlines
23:24
he had the cavalier gentry at the top
23:28
anglo-saxons filling the middle and
23:30
yeoman classes and those he called
23:33
southern bullies in white trash sat at
23:36
the bottom these lowest trace their
23:41
lineage and this is what he argued trace
23:43
their lineage to convicts and indentured
23:46
servants of Jamestown
23:47
they were the be Feld heirs of poor
23:50
vagrants the rubbish from the back
23:53
alleys of old London the vagrant stain
23:56
was now congenital in the blood now it’s
24:01
not surprising given as we’ve seen that
24:04
the question of white trash is becoming
24:07
more prominent it also is moving to the
24:10
center of politics and it plays a rather
24:13
significant role at the center of the
24:15
sectional crisis when we look at the
24:18
civil war and the debates leading up to
24:20
it and during the Civil War what we find
24:23
is that Lincoln’s Republican Party
24:26
insisted that slavery should not be
24:29
allowed to spread West because it
24:31
threatened free labor among the poorest
24:33
poor white men now future Confederates
24:37
responded with a strident defense of
their slave and class system like James
Henry Hammond of South Carolina
more and
more of the southern elite held the
class subordination was natural and that
Jefferson’s this is what he wrote
Jefferson’s all men are created equal
was his Hammond existed a ridiculously
absurd concept
now Hammond was South
Carolina’s leading pro-slavery
intellectual he also coined the term mud
sill and mud sill is an interesting term
because it served all the purposes to
both attack the north to defend slavery
as well as hold up the class hierarchy
in the south it was mud still democracy
that the Confederacy described as it
against the north in 1861 southerners
mocked the mudsill Union Army as a foul
collection of urban roughs Prairie dirt
farmers greasy mechanics and unwashed
immigrants President Jefferson Davis
called the Union Army in one of his
major speeches our favorite word again
the off scourings of the earth now this
mud cell term came from Hammonds 1858
speech and he was arguing that what was
essential to the southern structure of
society was the fixed nature of class
identity in all societies he said there
must be a class to do the menial duties
to perform the drudgery of life
and he
insisted that those with fewer skills
lower order of intellect they should
form the base of every civilized nation
every advanced society
had to exploit its petty labors the
working poor that wallowed in the mud
allowed for superior class to emerge on
top
and that one that emerged on top was
the true society that embodied all
26:39
civilization progress and refinement in
26:43
Hammonds mine menial laborers were
26:45
almost literally mud cells stuck in the
26:48
mud or perhaps a metaphor quicksand if
26:51
all societies had their mud sails
26:53
Hammond argued the South had made the
26:56
right choice in keeping black slaves in
27:00
the lowest station and he defended this
27:03
on racial terms he went on to argue and
27:06
this is just as important in his case he
27:08
argued that the white mud sills of the
27:11
North that the north he went to he
27:14
argued that the North had had to base
27:16
their own kind and he said that the
27:19
white mud sills of the North were quote
27:21
of your own race you are brothers of one
27:24
blood from Hammonds perspective the
27:28
North’s flawed labor system had
27:31
corrupted democratic politics
27:33
discontented White’s
27:34
had been given the vote and being the
majority it was only a matter of time
before these poor northern one
SILS orchestrated a class revolution
destroying what was left of the union
and as you can guess the Confederate
elites were equally afraid of their own
white trash that they might be tempted
by the democratic processes process
promises and join the revolt now what’s
interesting about the Civil War it’s not
surprising that from the union’s
perspective and from the perspective of
Republican politicians that they would
want to exploit the class divisions
between the planter elite and poor
whites in general Grant said summation
the war was fought to liberate not only
slaves but non slaveholders
those
families exiled to poor land who had few
opportunities to better themselves they
too needed emancipation he insisted and
he used the precise term poor white
trash when he described their pre-war
subservience to the planter aristocracy

it’s also not surprising that Abraham
Lincoln would be crowned the president
of the mud sills his humble Kentucky
birthplace made him white trash in the
eyes of many southerners and his chosen
residents in Illinois made him a prairie
mud sill
but what’s so interesting and
this is sort of about the power of
language Union soldiers turned the
invective on its head deciding to wear
the mud sealed label as a badge of pride
and made it a rallying cry for northern
style democracy
now what’s happened by
the Civil War and continues in
reconstruction is that the way white
trash is being used has been highly
politicized it is not only talking about
us a distinct group of people but it is
also defending two different economic
29:31
systems as they are being contrasted the
29:33
north and the south it’s also not
29:37
surprising that this battle over classes
29:41
would also reaandtim we would begin to
29:48
see the term redneck this is the first
29:52
time that we see redneck become a more
29:55
popular concept and it’s closely
29:58
identified with the new democratic
30:01
demagogues of the south South Carolina’s
30:03
Ben Tillman Arkansas is Jeff Davis and
30:06
Mississippi’s James of ornament now in
30:12
the 1890s using the same old theory
30:16
that’s associated with white trash it
30:18
was assumed that rednecks were
30:21
associated with the swamps rednecks
30:24
could also be found in the mill towns
30:26
and the descriptions sounds a lot like
30:29
Bob Ewell they were described as
30:31
described as the man in overalls a
30:32
heckler played over dollies and was
30:35
periodically even elevated to the state
30:37
legislature one guy wrencher a vardaman
30:40
Ally claimed the name for himself
30:43
railing on the floor of the Mississippi
30:45
House about his long red neck now
30:50
vardaman if you think Trump is wild
30:54
vardaman outdid him in lightyears
30:58
Bornmann democracy no matter how dirty
31:01
belonged to the people and the people
31:03
had the right to say whatever they felt
31:05
there was no limits friends and foes
31:09
alike called him the white chief partly
31:13
for his white garb but the main reason
31:16
was for his role as one critic called
31:18
him as being a medicine man a witch
31:22
doctor
31:23
literally who knew how to enflame his
31:26
lowdown tribe of white savages now
31:30
Florida man was the consummate show man
31:32
he rode to his Senate Victor in 1912
31:35
quite literally on the back of an ox
31:38
Vorderman
31:39
did all he could to drum up class
31:41
resentments and his people kind of drove
31:48
the previous southern elite made them
31:51
quite fearful of the power that he
31:54
represented and basically dismissed that
31:57
as people who mistake cunning for
32:00
intelligence people who go to revivals
32:02
and
32:03
fights and then fornicate in the bush
32:04
bushes afterwards and this is his line
32:07
up there they were undiluted
32:09
anglo-saxons and that’s actually a
32:11
really important concept to think about
32:13
there’s he’s again and this is a
32:16
consistent theme it’s as if they’re an
32:18
uninvolved people that have been trapped
32:21
in a time a way of behavior and haven’t
32:25
changed but it’s also important to see
32:28
how he’s connecting that with
32:30
anglo-saxons he also was afraid of them
32:34
because he saw them as the sovereign
32:36
voter and this is why vardaman was
32:40
powerful and threatening vermin also
32:43
went after the sitting president at the
32:45
time who was harvard-educated President
32:48
Theodore Roosevelt and he actually
32:52
attacked Roosevelt for his breeding he
32:56
back went and said that Roosevelt had a
32:59
bit of the puppet him and he argued this
33:03
based on medieval medical theory that
33:06
his mother Roosevelt’s mother had seen a
33:08
dog while she was you know why Theodore
33:13
was inside of her was in her womb and
33:16
somehow part of that pup influenced him
33:19
now Voorman when he was challenged and
33:22
said this is obnoxious
33:23
you should apologize well of course he
33:27
said I’ll apologize to the dog but not
33:30
to Roosevelt so this should give you a
33:32
sense of the flavor of the times now
33:34
what we have to remember is that
33:36
Roosevelt himself also bought into
33:39
certain racial theories and theories
33:41
about breeding
33:42
he believed that racial traits were
33:45
carried in the blood and conditioned by
33:47
the experience of one’s ancestors
33:49
Roosevelt argued that it was the 19th
33:52
century frontier experience that
33:54
transformed white Americans into a
33:56
superiors stock except that is white
34:00
Southerners who had taken the wrong turn
34:03
on the evolutionary ladder using bombast
34:07
to conceal unhealthy traits in a letter
34:10
to Owen Wister
34:11
who was author of the heroic novel The
34:13
Virginian
34:14
Roosevelt concluded the Confederates and
34:17
their heirs had contributed very very
34:19
little toward anything of which
34:21
Americans are now proud for him the VAR
34:24
demons might be a nuisance but their
34:26
days in evolutionary terms were numbered
34:30
now the reason that Roosevelt could be
34:33
so confident is that he was unabashedly
34:36
a eugenicist he used the bully pulpit in
34:41
his office as early as 1903 to insist
34:45
that women have a critical civic duty to
34:47
breed a generation of healthy and
34:49
discipline children worried about race
34:52
suicide as he put it he recommended that
34:55
women of anglo-americans stock have four
34:58
to six children enough so the race shall
35:00
increase and not decrease in 1913 he
35:05
wrote supportively to the leading
35:06
eugenicist
35:07
of the day Charles Davenport that it was
35:11
the patriotic duty of every good citizen
35:14
of superior stock to leave his or her
35:17
blood behind degenerate he warned must
35:22
not be permitted to reproduce their kind
35:26
now often today when we think about the
35:29
eugenics movement we think it’s just a
35:31
minority of people well in fact everyone
35:33
bought into eugenics in by the 1920s it
35:37
was called the eugenic mania and it
35:40
swept the nation eugenic courses were
35:44
offered were added to college curricula
35:48
fitter family contests at state fairs
35:52
gave out medals to winners like
35:56
well-bred prize bulls defectives and the
36:01
unfit were sterilized by 1931 27 States
36:06
had sterilization laws on the books now
36:10
the major target of you Genesis was the
36:14
poor white woman
36:16
Davenport felt that the best policy was
36:19
to quarantine dangerous women like
36:22
cattle during their fertile years how
36:26
this policy prescription led to
36:27
sterilized
36:28
mission is rather more calculated
36:30
interested politicians and eager
36:32
reformers concluded that it was cheaper
36:35
to operate on women than to house them
36:37
in asylums for decades southern New
36:40
Genesis in particular argued that
36:42
sterilization helped the economy by
36:46
sending women back into the population
36:48
safely neutered but still able to work
36:52
at menial jobs now that should perk up
36:56
your ears a little bit one of the
36:59
leading advocates of this was Albert
37:01
pretty who called poor white Virginians
37:04
the shiftless ignorant and worthless
37:06
class of anti-social White’s of the
37:09
south and he was the superintendent of
37:12
the colony for epileptics and
37:14
feeble-minded in Lynchburg Virginia he
37:17
is important because he helped shape the
37:20
legal test case for sterilization a case
37:23
that went to the Supreme Court in buck V
37:25
Bell in 1927 carry buck
37:32
who’s over here on this side had been
37:36
chosen for sterilization on the order of
37:39
pretty because she was one of that
37:42
worthless class of southern whites she
37:45
wasn’t a word his perfect specimen of
37:47
white trash while Carrie buck was the
37:50
plaintiff her mother and daughter were
37:53
on trial to carry tested at the quote
37:58
moron level and her mother slightly
38:01
lower according to the highly biased
38:03
experts her illegitimate child examined
38:07
at 7 months was termed feeble-minded now
38:11
how did they draw these conclusions but
38:13
what they really relied on the experts
38:15
relied on what were pedigree charts
38:17
just like breeding charts for animals
38:19
this is was kind of the major to love
38:21
you Genesis and they claim that their
38:24
pedigree chart proved both degeneracy
38:27
and sexual deviance Carrie’s mother had
38:31
been a prostitute and Carrie had been
38:34
raped by the nephew of her adoptive
38:37
parents
38:38
her rapist went unpublished unpunished
38:41
and yet she was sterilized Chief Justice
38:46
Oliver Wendell Holmes offered a
38:48
revolutionary decision in Buffy Bell
38:50
which gave the state the power to
38:53
regulate the breeding of its citizens he
38:57
believed the pedigree could be used to
39:00
distinguish worthy citizens from waste
39:02
people three generations of imbeciles
39:05
was enough he insisted sterilization was
39:08
a civic duty saving the nation from
39:11
being quote swamped with incompetence
39:13
and notice he used the word swamped he
39:16
also echoed exactly what the English had
39:19
argued in the 1600s that the unfit would
39:24
either starve or be executed for some
39:27
crime so sending them to be sterilized
39:30
was as humane as being sent to the
39:33
colonies was centuries before now it was
39:38
not until after World War two that the
39:40
United States finally had a stable and
39:42
large middle class and politicians began
39:44
to sing the praises that capitalism was
39:47
a source of a class of society yet amid
39:50
the rapid rise of home ownership own
39:52
ownership of the suburb and suburbs in
39:55
this 1950s and 1960s the latest in
39:58
Carter an incarnation of American dream
40:00
a controversial housing option emerged
40:04
the Trailer Park as the civil rights
40:07
movement grew segregation was more than
40:10
strictly a racial issue zoning laws made
40:13
it inevitable that housing would adhere
40:15
to a class delineated geography now the
40:19
trailer is a conflicted American
40:23
cultural symbol it can represent
40:26
untethered freedom or a tin can a small
40:29
cheap confined way of life at its worst
40:33
the trailer park is associated with
40:34
Liberty’s dark side a deviant dystopian
40:37
wasteland on the fringes of the
40:39
metropolis trailer-trash was first
40:43
identified in the southern war camps of
40:46
Mississippi and Alabama in World
40:49
war two and one of those war camps was
40:51
right here in Mobile the term circulated
40:56
nationally in the 1950s as similar
40:59
enclaves formed around the country in
41:01
four of Arizona as this Hillis FATA
41:03
graph shows trailer-trash suddenly
41:06
became acquainted with squatters they
41:08
were found in weedy errors and some
41:11
without houses right in the front yard
41:13
in the late 50s more mobile homes were
41:17
built than prefabricated homes yet
41:21
municipalities continued to look down on
41:23
them in 1962 in an important New Jersey
41:27
court case the majority ruled that a
41:29
rural Township could prohibit trailer
41:32
parks within its limits quote trailer
41:35
dwellers had become a recognized class
41:38
one subject to discrimination owners of
41:42
mobile homes were now classified under
41:45
the law as quote Footloose Footloose
41:49
nomadic people migratory poppers
41:53
they were vagrants once more by 1968
41:57
only 13% of mobile home owners held
42:00
white-collar jobs a sizable percentage
42:03
of those who lived in the poorer trailer
42:05
parks came from rural mainly southern
42:08
areas families that could not afford to
42:11
buy a new trailer we’re buying or
42:13
renting depreciated that is secondhand
42:16
third-hand trailers a new used market
42:25
for trailers had emerged what to
42:27
sociologists called hillbilly havens
42:30
that cropped up on the periphery of
42:32
cities in the Sunbelt the Midwest and
42:34
elsewhere scattered along highways often
42:37
near railroad tracks rundown trailer
42:39
parks were barely distinguishable from
42:41
junkyards trailer trash would become
42:44
America’s Untouchables now despite the
42:47
automatic assumption class has never
42:49
been simply about income or financial
42:53
worth alone it has been fashioned in
42:55
bodily terms dirty feet and tallow faces
42:59
remain
43:00
signs of delinquency and depravity to
43:04
live in a shack a hovel a shebang or in
43:08
shed town or in a trailer park is to
43:10
live in a place that never acquires the
43:12
name of home as transitional spaces
43:15
unsettled spaces they contain occupants
43:18
who lack the civic markers of stability
43:20
predict productivity economic value and
43:24
human Worth and our devalued urban
43:27
spaces or have become modern-day
43:29
wastelands we also really have never had
43:33
a democracy in this country I’m sure
43:36
that’s not shocking to everyone here but
43:38
what’s interesting is that it was an
43:40
Australian observer in 1949 who noted
43:44
that Americans tolerate huge disparities
43:47
in wealth but they require of their
43:50
political figures to use Democratic
43:53
state craft and what that means what
43:56
they want from their Democratic leaders
43:57
is to give them high sounding rhetoric
43:59
and they also want their political
44:02
leaders to dress down to pretend to be
44:05
one of them and you may not have thought
44:08
that this is something this isn’t just a
44:09
new phenomena but it’s actually a note
44:11
of a much older phenomenon
44:14
today we have politicians who dress down
44:17
to go to barbecues head out head out to
44:21
hunt game they are seen wearing blue
44:23
jeans this is something that Jimmy
44:25
Carter was known for was wearing blue
44:27
jeans camouflage cowboy hats bubble caps
44:31
all in an effort to come across as
44:33
ordinary people but presidents and other
44:36
national politicians are anything but
44:38
ordinary people after they are elected
44:41
disguising that fact is the real
44:43
camouflage that distorts the actual
44:46
class nature of state power but real
44:50
white trash Bubba’s raise different
44:52
fears in his run for the office run for
44:55
the office of the presidency William
44:57
Jefferson Clinton enemies were ruthless
45:00
in painting him as white trash unworthy
45:03
of the highest office he was considered
45:06
a popper compared to the Republicans
45:08
beloved Prince Ronald Reagan he embodied
45:12
certain stereotypes his cholesterol rich
45:14
dining habits and the grinning still
45:17
campaigning Clinton was photographed
45:19
with a mule named George Arkansas was
45:23
ranked 47th in per capita income in 1992
45:27
and it’s legacy is a state scarred by
45:29
redneck B’nai teenis lingered on Clinton
45:33
I know you young people probably don’t
45:36
remember any of this
45:37
Clinton actually drew on the ghost of
45:40
Elvis and Elvis was a Mississippi
45:43
sharecropper son able to shed a lot of
45:46
the toxic meaning of white trash and be
45:48
considered cool so claim Jew and Elvis
45:50
to help get elected by swinging his way
45:53
into office by playing the Heartbreak
45:56
Hotel on his saxophone for the Arsenio
45:59
Hall Show and he invoked all during the
46:01
campaign kept invoking Elvis all over
46:04
again and actually what yes yes and it
46:14
made you know it made the Republicans
46:18
furious throughout the whole thing
46:20
now the attacks on Clinton considered
46:23
continued after his inauguration in 1994
46:26
journalist Phil Maxwell Florida an
46:28
african-american said he thought he knew
46:30
why it was Clinton’s earthiness his
46:33
southern Asst was seen as being bred
46:35
into him by his mother Virginia
46:36
she had published a memoir and her story
46:39
was grim her mother was a drug addict
46:41
her childhood was one of deprivation she
46:44
had been beaten by one husband and she
46:46
was married four times
46:47
her appearance borrowed from trailer
46:49
trash and this is how Maxwell described
46:52
she had a skunk stripe in her hair
46:54
elaborate makeup colorful outfits and a
46:58
racing form in hand in the eyes of his
47:01
enemies said Maxwell Clinton was his
47:03
mother’s son a kind of bastard breed
47:06
that fell short of representing quote
47:09
the right pedigree for US president not
47:13
surprisingly the malonic oh la Monica
47:16
Lewinsky impeachment scandal fit this
47:18
profile of reducing Clinton’s life to a
47:21
pulp fiction story about trailer trash
47:24
special prosecutor ken starr’s famous
47:27
report mentioned sex 500 times high
47:32
crimes and misdemeanors was equated with
47:35
lower-class lewdness now today of course
47:41
we have reality TV an industry in white
47:46
trash voyeurism relying as well on the
47:49
vaudeville tradition a commentator
47:52
remarked on the popular duck dynasty set
47:55
in Louisiana all the men looked like
47:58
they stepped out of a hatfield-mccoy
48:00
conflict to smoke a corncob pipe and
48:04
exactly that’s where they got their look
48:05
from giving up their polo shirts and
48:08
their golf clubs the Robertson men were
48:10
kissing cousins of the comic Ritz
48:14
brothers in the 1938 Hollywood film
48:18
Kentucky moonshine
48:20
now we today are no less consumed with
48:24
pedigree than any time before computer
48:27
dating finds class-specific partners Ivy
48:32
Leaguers register at good genes calm to
48:35
find appropriate matches the very
48:38
inventor of computer dating in 1956 got
48:43
his start as a leading authority on
48:45
eugenics and nothing at sociologists
48:50
tell us is a better predictor of a
48:51
person’s success in 2015 than your class
48:55
background now duck dynasty may be a
48:59
cheap and only slightly less scripted
49:01
remake of The Beverly Hillbillies but
49:03
its attempt at humor mask the anxiety
49:06
viewers have on their over their own
49:09
dubious pedigree it also gives the false
49:12
message that redneck roots are no longer
49:15
a barrier to advancement when in fact
49:18
the class divide only grows wider white
49:22
my point of all weddings what I’m trying
49:24
to point out here is that white trash is
49:26
a central if disturbing thread in our
49:28
national narrative the very existence of
49:31
such people both in their visibility and
49:33
attempts to mask them and make them
49:35
invisible is proof that Americans aside
49:38
obsesses over the mutable layer labels
49:41
we give to neighbors we wish not to
49:43
notice they are not who we are but they
49:47
are who we are and have been a
49:50
fundamental part of our history whether
49:52
we like it or not thank
50:02
you
50:13
you

Abolitionist Cassius Clay Was One Of The Toughest Politicians Ever

So who was the original Cassius Clay? The simple answer is that he was a prominent abolitionist politician in the mid-1800s. He served in the Kentucky House of Representatives and was appointed ambassador to Russia by Abraham Lincoln.

But that’s not the whole story. Known as the Lion of White Hall – Cassius Clay was named after the estate and plantation he owned and grew up on – he was also one of the toughest politicians ever to walk the halls of Congress. He won duel after duel, and his physical exploits are legendary. Not only that, but he was also an open and vocal advocate for the abolition of slavery in the 1840s, in Kentucky of all places.