Secession would force the Confederacy to become intellectually self sufficient

Secession would force the confederacy to become

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Secession would force the Confederacy to become intellectually self- sufficient. ‘‘Self-dependence’’ was the watchword of cultural nationalists as they called on southerners to support the cause with their pens and their wallets as well as their rifles. ‘‘We are about to take our destiny into our own hands—to throw ourselves upon our own resources—to assume the place of a Nation among the powers of the earth,’’ the Southern Cultivator declared in January 1861. ‘‘We shall be at liberty, and in a position, to develope our re- sources , to foster our industries; and to elevate and improve our people.’’ ≥π No distinction was made here between agricultural, industrial, and intellectual resources. The production of native books and periodicals was hailed as no less vital to the cause than the production of gunpowder. In order for the Confederacy to survive as an independent nation, not just during the war but in the future, it would have to become a whole country, not just a one- dimensional agricultural region. From a cultural perspective, this vital need for autonomy meant that ‘‘it is time for us to patronize our own newspapers, our own schools and colleges, our own institutions of every kind, and to leave our enemies and traducers to the devices and desires of their own hearts,’’ soon-to-be Confederate general Daniel Harvey Hill explained in the pages of the North Carolina Presbyterian . ≥∫ ‘‘We have played squire to the North Knights of the quill, long enough,’’ Southern Field and Fireside de- clared. ‘‘From this time, we must foster Southern publications, encourage the development of Southern talent, and furnish the means, at home, for the expression of Southern mind, or sink below the level to which we have been accustomed to feel ourselves entitled.’’ ≥Ω Much of this rhetoric was not new. Southern thinkers had been decrying the South’s dependence on the North for decades. Numerous attempts had been made and innumerable appeals to the public had been issued to encourage the development of an indigenous southern literature. During the 1840s, and especially the 1850s, a group of committed southern cultural national- ists had published journals, held conventions, written books, and founded schools, all in an effort to alert the southern public to the dangers of their intellectual dependence and the need for a uniquely southern culture. ∂≠ Al- though these thinkers did manage to produce a fair body of writing and at- tract some historical attention, they failed to generate much interest among
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22 NOW Is the Time their own people. For the most part, they were a loosely connected group of alienated southern writers and editors who wrung their hands and cried into the void about the failure of southern society to appreciate and support them.
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  • Spring '16
  • English, Southern United States, Confederate States of America, cultural nationalists, intellectual independence

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