Dixie’s Victory

The old Confederacy got only as far north as Pennsylvania, but its great-grandchildren have captured America’s culture. Joshua Zeitz looks at sports, entertainment, and religion to show how.

About 60 years ago, in July 1942, a 35-year-old coal miner from East Kentucky named Jim Hammittee packed up his belongings and traveled with his wife to Detroit, where he found work in a roller-bearing plant. “When I first came there, we only planned to stay till the war was over and then we’s moving back South,” he later recalled. “But by the time the war’s over in 1945, we had pretty well adjusted and accepted that way of life as the way we wanted to live. So we settled down....” The Hammittees raised three children in the Detroit suburbs.Read more »

The Road To Modern Atlanta

THE VISITORS WHO COME HERE FOR THE OLYMPICS this summer won’t find Tara. What they will find is a city facing an unusual—and sometimes painful—past with clarity of vision and generosity of spirit.

 

When the olympians fly into Atlanta, the first sign of the city they will see from the air is not the skyline of proud towers, shimmering in the humidity, but Stone Mountain, the immense dome of granite sixteen miles to the east. Even from a mile in the air they will be able to see clearly the three huge figures carved into the face of the rock: Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Stonewall Jackson. Read more »

Mammy Her Life And Times

BORN IN SLAVERY AND RAISED IN ITS PAINFUL AFTERMATH TO BECOME ONE OF THE MOST POWERFUL AMERICAN ICONS, SHE HAS BEEN MADE TO ENCOMPASS LOVE AND GUILT AND RIDICULE AND WORSHIP —AND STILL SHE LIVES ON

On Highway 61, just outside of Natchez, Mississippi, stands Mammy’s Cupboard, a thirty-foot-high concrete figure of a black woman. For years she was a famous landmark, staring with electric eyes from beneath a pillbox cap, wearing earrings made of horseshoes, and holding a tray. Under Mammy’s red brick skirts, punched with arched windows, Mrs. Henry Gaude operated a small restaurant, its dining room supported inside with cypress beams recovered from a cotton-gin house.Read more »

Selling Poor Steven

The struggles and torments of a forgotten class in antebellum America: black slaveowners

In the 1640s John Casor was brought from Africa to America, where he toiled as a servant for a Virginia landowner. In 1654 Casor filed a complaint in Northampton County Court, claiming that his master, Anthony Johnson, had unjustly extended the terms of his indenture with the intention of keeping Casor his slave for life. Johnson, insisting he knew nothing of any indenture, fought hard to retain what he regarded as his personal property.Read more »

The Word Is ‘Slaves’: A Trip Into Black History

Deep South states are taking the lead in promoting landmarks of a three-hundred-year heritage of oppression and triumph—and they’re drawing visitors from around the world

Kate is waiting for us by the kitchen garden. Her owner, Benjamin Powell, has warned us that she “often has a case of the grumps,” so we approach her cautiously. I am with a class of fourth graders from Nashville, Tennessee, and together we are taking a trip back to 1770, the year at which time has stopped in Colonial Williamsburg. Despite the difference in our ages, the children and I have things in common: we are white, and we have never met a slave before. Read more »

The Conversion Of Harry Truman

“I think one man is just as good as another,” he said, “as long as he’s honest and decent and not a nigger or a Chinaman.” Yet Truman broke with his convictions to make civil rights a concern of the national government for the first time since Reconstruction—and in so doing he changed the nation forever.
 

Harry Truman approached national politics with divided memories and diRead more »

Legacy Of Violence

Sociologists continue to be vexed by the pathology of urban violence: Why is it so random, so fierce, so easily triggered? One answer may be found in our Southern past.

A jostle, a slightly derogatory remark, or a potential weapon in the hands of an adversary means something to many poor blacks and whites it does not mean to the middle and upper classes, some criminologists argue. “A male is usually expected to defend the name and honor of his mother, the virtue of womanhood … and to accept no derogation about his race (even from a member of his own race), his age, or his masculinity,” write the sociologists Marvin Wolfgang and Franco Ferracuti.

 
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The Charleston Inheritance

In the quiet luxury of the historic district, a unique form of house plan—which goes back two hundred years—is a beguiling surprise for a visitor

Charleston is and always will be a small town, the citadel of a “hereditary Nobility,” as its founders willed it to be. In its early days Charleston was a walled city, and in some sense it has continued as such, though the walls long ago vanished. The boundary markers of historic Charleston today are, in addition to its implacable sense of self, the Ashley and the Cooper rivers, which meet at the tip of the Charleston peninsula, and Broad Street, the third side of the triangle.Read more »

A Confederate Odyssey

All this Florida boy wanted to do was rejoin his regiment. Instead they drafted him into the Confederate secret service.

A FTER HE WAS MUSTERED out of his beaten army in 1865, Charles Hemming went west to Texas and a highly successful career as a banker. But he never forgot the men he served with, and in 1898 he came home to raise a Confederate monument in Jacksonville. A few years later, still full of thoughts of the conflict in which he played so strenuous a role, he set down the long and fascinating account from which this article is drawn. This previously unpublished memoir was sent to us by Hemming’s granddaughter, Lucy W. Sturgis. Read more »

Painting The Southland

Most surveys of American painting begin in New England in the eighteenth century, move westward to the Rockies in the nineteenth, and return to New York in the twentieth. Now we’ll have to redraw the map .

TAKING STOCK of painting in the South in 1859, a critic for the New Orleans Daily Cresent concluded glumly, “Artist roam the country of the North, turning out pictures by the hundred yearly, but none come to glean the treasures with which grand and beautiful country of the South and its peculiar life abound.” The reason many artists stayed away was that throughout the eighteenth century and well into the nineteenth, the region’s poor roads, widely scattered population, and almost entirely agricultural economy Read more »