The south used to vote Democrat. Now it votes Republican. Why the switch? Was it, as some people say, because the GOP decided to appeal to racist whites? Carol Swain, Professor of Political Science at Vanderbilt University, explains.
In 1805 there were just over one million slaves worth about $300 million; fifty-five years later there were four million slaves worth close to $3 billion. In the 11 states that eventually formed the Confederacy, four out of ten people were slaves in 1860, and these people accounted for more than half the agricultural labor in those states. In the cotton regions the importance of slave labor was even greater. The value of capital invested in slaves roughly equaled the total value of all farmland and farm buildings in the South.
.. Looking at Figure 1, it is hardly surprising that Southern slaveowners in 1860 were optimistic about the economic future of their region. They were, after all, in the midst of an unparalleled rise in the value of their slave assets.
.. The Northern states also had a huge economic stake in slavery and the cotton trade. The first half of the nineteenth century witnessed an enormous increase in the production of short-staple cotton in the South, and most of that cotton was exported to Great Britain and Europe. Figure 2 charts the growth of cotton exports from 1815 to 1860. By the mid 1830s, cotton shipments accounted for more than half the value of all exports from the United States. Note that there is a marked similarity between the trends in the export of cotton and the rising value of the slave population depicted in Figure 1. There could be little doubt that the prosperity of the slave economy rested on its ability to produce cotton more efficiently than any other region of the world.
.. The income generated by this “export sector” was a major impetus for growth not only in the South, but in the rest of the economy as well. Douglass North, in his pioneering study of the antebellum U.S. economy, examined the flows of trade within the United States to demonstrate how all regions benefited from the South’s concentration on cotton production (North 1961). Northern merchants gained from Southern demands for shipping cotton to markets abroad, and from the demand by Southerners for Northern and imported consumption goods. The low price of raw cotton produced by slave labor in the American South enabled textile manufacturers — both in the United States and in Britain — to expand production and provide benefits to consumers through a declining cost of textile products. As manufacturing of all kinds expanded at home and abroad, the need for food in cities created markets for foodstuffs that could be produced in the areas north of the Ohio River. And the primary force at work was the economic stimulus from the export of Southern Cotton. When James Hammond exclaimed in 1859 that “Cotton is King!” no one rose to dispute the point.
.. One “economic” solution to the slave problem would be for those who objected to slavery to “buy out” the economic interest of Southern slaveholders. Under such a scheme, the federal government would purchase slaves. A major problem here was that the costs of such a scheme would have been enormous. Claudia Goldin estimates that the cost of having the government buy all the slaves in the United States in 1860, would be about $2.7 billion (1973: 85, Table 1). Obviously, such a large sum could not be paid all at once. Yet even if the payments were spread over 25 years, the annual costs of such a scheme would involve a tripling of federal government outlays (Ransom and Sutch 1990: 39-42)! The costs could be reduced substantially if instead of freeing all the slaves at once, children were left in bondage until the age of 18 or 21 (Goldin 1973:85). Yet there would remain the problem of how even those reduced costs could be distributed among various groups in the population. The cost of any “compensated” emancipation scheme was so high that even those who wished to eliminate slavery were unwilling to pay for a “buyout” of those who owned slaves.
.. Beard and Hacker focused on the narrow economic aspects of these changes, interpreting them as the efforts of an emerging class of industrial capitalists to gain control of economic policy. More recently, historians have taken a broader view of the situation, arguing that the sectional splits on these economic issues reflected sweeping economic and social changes in the Northern and Western states that were not experienced by people in the South. The term most historians have used to describe these changes is a “market revolution.”
.. In 1860 6.1 million people — roughly one out of five persons in the United States — lived in an urban county. A glance at either the map or Table 2 reveals the enormous difference in urban development in the South compared to the Northern states. More than two-thirds of all urban counties were in the Northeast and West; those two regions accounted for nearly 80 percent of the urban population of the country. By contrast, less than 7 percent of people in the 11 Southern states of Table 2 lived in urban counties.
.. In the South, the picture was very different. Cotton cultivation with slave labor did not require local financial services or nearby manufacturing activities that might generate urban activities. The 11 states of the Confederacy had only 51 urban counties and they were widely scattered throughout the region. Western agriculture with its emphasis on foodstuffs encouraged urban activity near to the source of production. These centers were not necessarily large; indeed, the West had roughly the same number of large and mid-sized cities as the South. However there were far more small towns scattered throughout settled regions of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan than in the Southern landscape.
.. Settlement of western lands had always been a major bone of contention for slave and free-labor farms. The manner in which the federal government distributed land to people could have a major impact on the nature of farming in a region. Northerners wanted to encourage the settlement of farms which would depend primarily on family labor by offering cheap land in small parcels. Southerners feared that such a policy would make it more difficult to keep areas open for settlement by slaveholders who wanted to establish large plantations. This all came to a head with the “Homestead Act” of 1860 that would provide 160 acres of free land for anyone who wanted to settle and farm the land. Northern and western congressmen strongly favored the bill in the House of Representatives but the measure received only a single vote from slave states’ representatives. The bill passed, but President Buchanan vetoed it.
.. Southerners, with their emphasis on staple agriculture and need to buy goods produced outside the South, strongly objected to the imposition of duties on imported goods. Manufacturers in the Northeast, on the other hand, supported a high tariff as protection against cheap British imports. People in the West were caught in the middle of this controversy. Like the agricultural South they disliked the idea of a high “protective” tariff that raised the cost of imports. However the tariff was also the main source of federal revenue at this time, and Westerners needed government funds for the transportation improvements they supported in Congress.
.. In 1834 President Andrew Jackson created a major furor when he vetoed a bill to recharter the Second Bank of the United States. Jackson’s veto ushered in a period of that was termed “free banking” in the United States, where the chartering and regulation of banks was left entirely in the hands of state governments. Banks were a relatively new economic institution at this point in time, and opinions were sharply divided over the degree to which the federal government should regulate banks. In the Northeast, where over 60 percent of all banks were located, there was strong support by 1860 for the creation of a system of banks that would be chartered and regulated by the federal government. But in the South, which had little need for local banking services, there was little enthusiasm for such a proposal.
.. They see the economic conflict of North and South, in the words of Richard Brown, as “the conflict of a modernizing society”
.. James McPherson, argues that Southerners were correct when they claimed that the revolutionary program sweeping through the North threatened their way of life
.. Most writers argue that the decision for war on Lincoln’s part was not based primarily on economic grounds. However, Gerald Gunderson points out that if, as many historians argue, Northern Republicans were intent on controlling the spread of slavery, then a war to keep the South in the Union might have made sense. Gunderson compares the “costs” of the war (which we discuss below) with the cost of “compensated” emancipation and notes that the two are roughly the same order of magnitude — 2.5 to 3.7 billion dollars (1974: 940-42). Thus, going to war made as much “economic sense” as buying out the slaveholders.
.. the only way that the North could ensure that their program to contain slavery could be “enforced” would be if the South were kept in the Union. Allowing the South to leave the Union would mean that the North could no longer control the expansion of slavery anywhere in the Western Hemisphere
the South is a shame-honor culture, and one where people are deeply rooted in a sense of family and place — for better or for worse. Might it be that non-Southerners, for cultural reasons, simply cannot understand why it’s difficult for Southerners to execrate their ancestors, even if their ancestors did bad things?
.. The researcher discovered that rock music is extremely repetitive, lyrically speaking. Gladwell says that this makes sense: because everybody is from somewhere different, you have to write in cliché, or you’ll lose people.
.. Southern white people are a people of loss, and traditionally an agrarian people. Their Scots-Irish cultural heritage imbues them with a deep sense of pride and loyalty to family and place.
.. Unlike crops, animal herds are much more vulnerable to theft. A herdsman could lose his entire fortune in one overnight raid. Consequently, martial valor and strength and the willingness to use violence to protect his herd became useful assets to an ancient herdsman. What’s more, a reputation for these martial attributes served as a deterrent to would-be thieves. It’s telling that many of history’s most ferocious warrior societies had pastoral economies. The ancient Hittites, the ancient Hebrews, and the ancient Celts are just a few examples of these warrior/herder societies.
.. These rough and scrappy Scotch-Irish immigrants not only brought with them their ancestors’ penchant for herding, but also imported their love of whiskey, music, leisure, gambling, hunting, and…their warrior-bred, primal code of honor. Even as the South became an agricultural powerhouse, the vast majority of white Southerners – from big plantation owners to the landless — continued to raise hogs and livestock. Whether a man spent most his time working a farm or herding his animals, the pastoral culture of honor, with its emphasis on courage, strength, and violence — characterized by an aggressive stance towards the world and a wariness towards outsiders who might want to take what was his — remained (and as we will see later, continues even to this day).
.. While both the North and the South saw the war in terms of honor, what motivated the men to fight differed greatly. In the North, volunteers joined the cause because of more abstract ideals like freedom, equality, democracy, and Union. In the South, men grabbed their rifles to protect something more tangible — hearth and home — their families and way of life. Their motivation was rooted in their deeply entrenched loyalty to people and place.
.. I am not ready to make for the preservation of the Union save that of honor.” Lee did not favor secession and wished for a peaceable solution instead; but his home state of Virginia seceded, and he was thus faced with the decision to remain loyal to the Union and take up arms against his people, or break with the Union to fight against his former comrades. He chose the latter. Lee’s wife (who privately sympathized with the Union cause) said this of her husband’s decision
.. In a traditional honor culture, loyalty to your honor group takes precedence over all other demands — even those of one’s own conscience.
.. The North’s cause was right, but even if I knew nothing of the history, I can feel in my bones the mandate to fight on the side of one’s people.
.. Southerners see him as a tragic figure: a good man who fought in a bad, doomed cause, from a sense of loyalty to his people.
.. Northerners think they’ve found us out when they point out that we are the most religiously observant region of the country, but also the most morally unruly (to put it delicately). “Hypocrites!” they say. We just shrug. We see no contradiction there.
.. even though Northern iconoclasts are morally and historically correct to judge the Confederate cause wicked, they would do well to understand that the fact that we white Southerners feel a visceral sense of piety towards our ancestors does not mean that we hold them blameless. They would also do well to understand that they are asking us to despise our family and our homeland to prove to them that we are morally acceptable.
That’s not going to happen.
“There’s a deep fascist streak in politics now. Ironically, the fascism of today marches under the banner of anti-fascism, and it claims the moral credibility of anti-fascism,” D’Souza said. “In other words, it tries to take all the odor of fascism – stained as it is with the Holocaust, Auschwitz – and project it onto Trump and on the right.”
“This is a massive historical deception. That’s the Big Lie at its core,”
.. D’Souza saw the election of former President Barack Obama as the tipping point for left-wing fascism.
.. “When Obama came in with his sort of Alinskyite sensibility, and Hillary, of course, having the same, a kind of gangsterism came into American politics.” he continued, “a gangsterism that said things like, ‘Let’s deploy the IRS against our opposition. Let’s wiretap using the FBI. Let’s try to put our opponents in prison.’ This is sort of fascist behavior, and this is the kind of thing that I don’t think – I mean, Jimmy Carter would not have dreamed of it. Neither would JFK or Truman.”
.. D’Souza said the left was driven to embrace these tactics by “the glimpse of being able to establish exactly what the fascists always wanted: a complete centralized state.”
.. “Remember, for example, that with the NSA today there are surveillance technologies that were completely unavailable to Mussolini in the 20s or Hitler in the 30s,” he pointed out. “So in a sense, true fascism, full-scale fascism, is more possible today than it was in the twentieth century.”
“This is sort of the leftist objective. Now, they thought that they were almost there – and then, out of nowhere, comes this bizarre guy Trump, and he sort of turns the tables. He takes over, and they’ve suddenly lost all three branches of government, and they can’t believe it. This is the fury out of which they’re striking back,” he said.
.. “Now, I’m not comparing the left to the Nazis of Auschwitz,” he added. “But I am comparing them to the early Nazis, and, in fact, I would insist that the history of the Democratic Party – look at its 150-year history of racism, slavery, segregation, Jim Crow, the Ku Klux Klan. This history is actually more reminiscent of Nazism than of, say, Mussolini-style fascism.”
.. “Mussolini didn’t actually have concentration camps,” he elaborated. “He didn’t persecute the Jews in the systematic fashion Hitler did. He didn’t have segregation. Mussolini’s fascism, in a sense, was much less racist. So if you want to compare racism, you’ve got to compare the Democratic Party with the Nazis – both those groups imbued, over most of their history, with deep racism.”
.. Kassam proposed that much of this truth has been hidden by rebranding left-wing heroes of the past, such as Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger’s transformation from eugenicist to “women’s health” pioneer.
“Margaret Sanger’s basic premise was eugenics,” D’Souza agreed. “More children from the fit and less from the unfit. She was in support of fairly extreme measures, including segregation and then, notoriously, forced sterilization in order to deprive lower-class and uneducated women of the chance to reproduce. She was very explicit about that.”
“Now, when the Nazis did it in 1933, Margaret Sanger gave speeches praising it. She said, ‘Look, the Nazis, the Germans, are ahead of us. We’ve got to catch up to them.’ This is the actual Margaret Sanger, but it’s not the Margaret Sanger you’ll find in Planned Parenthood brochures,” he said.
.. “Number one, I notice that the Republicans very rarely answer the accusations that are made against them,” D’Souza replied. “For example, all Trump needs to say is something like, ‘Hey, guys, it’s very interesting you call me a fascist. First of all, you guys slay me on every existing platform. I turn on the TV, comedians are ridiculing me. The media is blasting me. Hollywood people are railing. If I was really a fascist, do you think I would allow that to happen? Do you think Mussolini would allow the radio in Rome to be blasting him? No, he’d send some people over. They’d shut down the radio station. That would be the end of that.’”
“Real fascism doesn’t tolerate that kind of dissent,” he noted. “The pervasiveness of it is clear proof that Trump is not an authoritarian; he’s not a fascist.”
.. The guys, for example, who wrote the Nuremberg laws, the senior Nazi officials, are literally standing there and debating these laws holding in their hand the blueprints of Democratic laws of the Jim Crow South. And they’re basically saying, ‘All we need to do, in effect, is cross out the word black and write in the word Jew, and we’re home free.’ Literally, the Nuremberg laws were not parallel to, they were based upon – they were directly derived from – Democratic laws formed in America, in the South,” he said.