Colin Woodard Quotes
“Since 1877 the driving force of American politics hasn’t primarily been a class struggle or tension between agrarian and commercial interests, or even between competing partisan ideologies, although each has played a role. Ultimately the determinative political struggle has been a clash between shifting coalitions of ethnoregional nations, one invariably headed by the Deep South, the other by Yankeedom.”
“A state is a sovereign political entity like the United Kingdom, Kenya, Panama, or New Zealand, eligible for membership in the United Nations and inclusion on the maps produced by Rand McNally or the National Geographic Society. A nation is a group of people who share—or believe they share—a common culture, ethnic origin, language, historical experience, artifacts, and symbols.”
“The Borderlander’s combative culture has provided a large proportion of the nation’s military, from officers like Andrew Jackson, Davy Crockett, and Douglas MacArthur to the enlisted men fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq. They also gave the continent bluegrass and country music, stock car racing, and Evangelical fundamentalism.”
“On September 29, as they closed on her at the Capes of Virginia, Blackbeard donned his new, terrifying battle attire. He wore a silk sling over his shoulders, to which were attached “three brace of pistols, hanging in holsters like bandaliers.” Under his hat, he tied on lit fuses, allowing some of them to dangle down on each side of his face, surrounding it with a halo of smoke and fire. So adorned, a contemporary biographer reported, “his eyes naturally looking fierce and wild, [that he] made altogether such a figure that imagination cannot form an idea of a fury from Hell to look more frightful.”
“The goal of the Deep Southern oligarchy has been consistent for over four centuries: to control and maintain a one-party state with a colonial-style economy based on large-scale agriculture and the extraction of primary resources by a compliant, poorly educated, low-wage workforce with as few labor, workplace safety, health care, and environmental regulations as possible.”
“But what would cause Yankeedom eventually to be so loathed by the other nations was its desire—indeed, its mission—to impose its ways on everyone else. For the Puritans didn’t merely believe they were God’s chosen people, they believed God had charged each and every one of them to propagate his will on a corrupt and sinful world.”
“Deep Southerners assumed Appalachia would rally to the Confederacy because of a shared doctrine of white supremacy. Instead, Borderlanders did as they always had: they took up arms against whatever enemy they felt was the greatest threat, and fought ferociously against them. To the planters’ shock, most Appalachian people regarded them as a greater threat to their liberty than the Yankees.”
“The emigrants aboard the Mayflower of the West were typical. On arrival in eastern Ohio, they founded the town of Marietta, and happily imposed taxes on themselves to fund the construction and operation of a school, church, and library. Nine years after their arrival, they founded the first of the Yankee Midwest’s many New England–style colleges. Marietta College was headed by New England–born Calvinist ministers and dedicated to “assiduously inculcating” the “essential doctrines and duties of the Christian religion.”
“There is no question that the Deep South seceded and fought the civil war to defend slavery. And its leaders made no secret of this motive. Slavery they argued Ad nauseam was the foundation for a virtuous biblically sanctioned social system superior to that of the free states. When 19th century deep southerners spoke of defending their “traditions”, “heritage”, and way of life they proudly identified the enslavement of others as the center piece of all three. Indeed, many of their leaders even argued that all lower class people should be enslaved regardless of race for their own good.
In response to Yankee and midland abolitionist the Deep South’s leaders developed an elaborate defense for human bondage. James Henry Hammond, former governor of South Carolina, published a seminal book arguing that enslaved laborers where happier, fitter and better looked after than their free counter parts in Brittan and the North, who were ruthlessly exploited by industrial capitalists. Free societies were therefore unstable as there was always a danger that the exploited would rise up creating a fearful crisis in republican institutions. Salves by contrast were kept in their place by violent means and denied the right to vote, resist or testify, ensuring the foundation of every well designed and durable republic.
Enslavement of the white working class would be in his words a most glorious act of emancipation. Jefferson’s notion all men are created equal, he wrote, was ridiculously absurd. In the deep southern tradition, Hammond’s republic was modeled on those of ancient Greece and Rome. Featuring rights and democracy for the elite, slavery and submission for inferiors. It was sanctioned by the Christian god whose son never denounced the practice in his documented teachings. It was a perfect aristocratic republic, one that should be a model for the world.
George Fitzhugh endorsed and expanded upon Hammond’s argument to enslave all poor people. Aristocrats, he explained, were really the nations Magna Carta because they owned so much and had the affection which all men feel for what belongs to them. Which naturally lead them to protect and provide for wives, children and slaves. Fitzhugh, whose books were enormously popular declared he was quite as intent on abolishing free society as you northerners are on abolishing slavery.”
“By the end of his presidency—and the sixteen-year run of Dixie dominance in Washington—income inequality and the concentration of wealth in the federation had reached the highest levels in its history, exceeding even the Gilded Age and Great Depression. In 2007 the richest tenth of Americans accounted for half of all income, while the richest 1 percent had seen their share nearly triple since 1994.8”
“Other sovereign democratic states have central governments more corrupted other than our own, but most can fall back on unifying elements we lack: common ethnicity, a shared religion, or near-universal consensus on many fundamental political issues. The United States needs its central government to function cleanly, openly, and efficiently because it's one of the few things binding us together.”
“If Lutherans, Calvinists, or Methodists had sought to bring people closer to God by eliminating the upper levels of ecclesiastical hierarchy (archbishops, cardinals, and the Vatican), these new evangelicals took things several steps further, removing the middle ranks almost entirely. People were to contact God directly and personally, and would become born again when they did so. They were to seek their own path to the divine, guided by one or more trailblazers who allegedly enjoyed unusually good communication with their maker.”
“Government, New Englanders believed from the beginning, could defend the public good from the selfish machinations of moneyed interests. It could enforce morals through the prohibition or regulation of undesirable activities. It could create a better society through public spending on infrastructure and schools. More than any other group in America, Yankees conceive of government as being run by and for themselves. Everyone is supposed to participate, and there is no greater outrage than to manipulate the political process for private gain. Yankee idealism never died.”