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The New South Post by :bwwhite Category :Essays Author :William Cowper Brann Date :July 2011 Read :3467

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The New South

One of the cardinal faults of the American character is a propensity to brag. Brother Jonathan's egotism long since passed into a proverb. In no section of this land of the alleged free and home of the ism does the blowhard blow longer and louder than in the South. We are the people, the nonpareil; there are none like us beneath the sun! From the empyrean we look down upon common humanity, talk turgid and swell up with the vain glory of a young turkey-cock with his first tail feathers! It were well for us to cease our foolish boasting and con well the stern lessons taught at the cannon's mouth. The first and greatest of these is that only by honest labor, by earnest endeavor, can a people become truly great. The war swept away the curse that was our weakness, negro slavery. It broke in upon our old exclusiveness, shattered the foolish caste that held us in iron thrall, made labor respectable and progress possible. It brought energetic Northern people among us to teach us that the way to greatness lies through the workshop,--to incite us to shake of our indolence and enter the race for preferment. Grant's red- throated batteries did more than break the shackles from the wrists of the blacks; they tore the cursed fetters of caste and custom from the minds of the whites,--a nobler emancipation. They set the heart of southern chivalry to beating with a truer, a stronger life. In the mad tempest of battle the New South was born; the crash of arms was the groans of maternity, the deluge of blood her baptismal rite. From the ashes of desolate homes and ruined cities she sprang phoenix-like, and is now mounting the empyrean with strong and steady wing. The emancipation proclamation was a bow of promise that never again while the world stands and the heavens endure will North and South meet in battle shock; that the greatness of the one shall become the proud heritage of the other; that the grandest section of the American Union shall yet, with God's blessing, produce the greatest people that ever adorned the earth.

The war is long past. We fought and lost. Our triumphant foe extended to us a brother's hand, accorded us the honor due a brave and spirited people. That we should suffer reconstruction pains was to have been expected. That they were unnecessarily severe was due chiefly to the greed of a clique of politicians; partly also to the fact that the North misunderstood us and our black wards, even as we persist in misunderstanding the "Yankee." But no gibbet rose in that storm-swept waste; our very leaders now occupy positions of honor and trust under the flag they defied. Let us not requite the generosity of our erstwhile foes by an attempt to tarnish their well-earned laurels. Rather let us praise and emulate them--strive with them in a nobler field than that of war. When the North and South blend in one homogeneous people, as blend they must, when the blood of the stern Puritan mingles with that of the dashing Cavalier, then indeed will be a nation and a people at which the world will stand agaze; for Northern vigor wedded to Southern blood will

"Strike within the pulses like a god's,
To push us forward through a life of shocks,
Dangers and deeds, until endurance grows
Sinew'd with action, and the full grown will,
Circled through all experience, pure law,
Commeasure perfect freedom."

(The end)
William Cowper Brann's essay: New South

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