Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Southeastern State Study for Fourth-Graders

I was staring at the screen, trying to find the right phrases for an old project I'm revising -- a play based on the book of Esther which I wrote at the ripe age of 16, to be finished by Monday so my brother can announce casting to his youth group for a summer performance -- when I registered that the baby's babbling was coming from an unusual location. I ran up the stairs and there, around the landing, on the 15th step, was 9 month old Pog holding onto the railing and looking unsure whether he should keep ascending the last two steps or just throw himself down.

"Baby, hi! Hi, baby!" I said, picking him up. "Hello! How did you get up here?"

"Mam," he said, and spit up all down my front, cleverly avoiding his bib.

This child and his death wish notwithstanding, I have to have this play finished by Monday because I have another project due by the end of April. I'm going to write a textbook, a state study for fourth-graders on the Southeastern states (former Confederacy minus Missouri, minus Texas, plus Maryland and Delaware), 25,000-30,000 words. The outline is due at the end of the month. That would be in a week and a half, during which time we'll trust that Pog doesn't choose to go down the basement stairs and learn to operate the table saw.

I'm putting together my list of topics to cover in a history of this region, for this age, and while I still have concentrated reading to do, I've been discussing with Darwin and scribbling ideas. This textbook is for a Catholic publisher, and while it is not intended to be "Catholicky", I don't need to shy away from Catholic contributions to the development of the South.

Here's my list of topics, not organized into a narrative structure. Some obviously need more words than others, but it seems that these should at least be touched on.

Indian Tribes and Settlements
The Spanish mission at St. Augustine
Spanish Florida
The Indians of the Southern states
English Settlements and how they differed from the northern settlements
Maryland, the Catholic colony
Indentured servants and the first slaves
Farming and backwoods
Mason-Dixon Line
Virginia and the Founding Fathers
Revolutionary War
French Louisiana and the Louisiana Purchase
The Cherokee and the Trail of Tears; Seminole Wars in Florida
Tobacco, Cotton, Sugar: Plantations and the agricultural economy of the South
Confederacy and Border States
Civil War: North vs. South
War Zones and Reconstruction: Carpetbaggers, Scalawags, and the Klan
Jim Crow
Poverty and Public Works
Electricity, TVA
Civil Rights Movement
The South Becomes Cool: the rise of air conditioning, new industry, population growth

Knowing that we have an erudite readership, I welcome your input. What's the most important thing you think fourth-graders should know about their Southern state? Feel free to add details even if I've already touched on a topic.


Foxfier said...

You hit the two big ones I'd focus on-- farming/natural resources and how air conditioning changed things.

The Chief is about half a year older than Pog, and has discovered scooting backwards down the stairs on his belly is the most awesome thing EVER.

Problem: he is not allowed on the stairs, because he stands up and then falls over backwards a lot.....

Patrick said...

I would consider a section on Appalachia. It was primarily settled by Northern Irish and Scotch people, who distrusted upper class and the government. They also never saw a war they couldn't get behind. One of my favorite books on American sociology and demography is "American Nations" by Colin Woodward. He even teases out a distinction of the types of Southern settlers between Jamestown and those in the Deep South.

Kelly said...

The importance of Bardstown, Ky as one of the original four diocese created by the Vatican. This was due to it's location as the "jumping off point" for further travel west. Also, the Nativist Bloody Monday riot in Louisville Ky. Kentucky actually had a higher Catholic population prior to that time, but there was a huge exodus after the riot to cities like Cincinnati, St. Louis, or Chicago because Catholics didn't feel safe.

John Biddle said...

Do you cover Southern music? Jazz, country, bluegrass, early rock and roll, old time....

On the topic of "the South becomes cool":

AC changed quality of life in the South to be sure, but a series of economic studies over the past decade did not find any evidence that it influenced migration patterns.That doesn't mean of course that there was no influence, but it probably means that it wasn't that big compared to other factors. Counter-intuitive, but (full disclosure) my father did the studies, so I'm inclined to trust them. If you are interested I can send you the papers and you can decide for yourself how to address the issue.

I assume migrations into the south are covered in that section. It might be worth mentioning migrations out. I'm thinking in particular of the dust bowl (Okies and Arkies) to California, Blacks to the industrial cities of the North, and Appalachians to Baltimore and the Midwest. This tended to export southern cultural, culinary, and musical forms and changed the cultures of the regions where the migrants settled. Think of Motown, or Merle Haggard and Buck Owens and the "Bakersfield Sound" in country music. These migrations also set the stage for the sun belt phenomenon, as many of the migrants to the South already had family ties.

mrsdarwin said...

John, thank you. I'd be delighted to know more!

Anonymous said...

Something about the history of Revivals in America and how it helped form religious identity in the South. Also, the development of the Bible Belt.

I couldn't find a better list than this in my limited googling:

When I did my thesis on Bishop Fenwick, I read his extensive description of a revival he attended during the Second Great Awakening. He was not a fan. I'll send it to you.

-Your brother Will

mrsdarwin said...

Thanks, bro. That would be fab.

TheOFloinn said...

My wife's ancestry is instructively Southern. On one line, they were Choctaws. (Why doe the Cherokees get all the press? she asks.) Another, the Hammontrees, were apparently a French Huguenot transplanted to England who showed up in Tidewater Virginia, where he was fined 200# of tobacco for being unable to present a certificate proving attendance at church for the previous month. This is what having an Established Church meant. So he moseyed on west. Descendants showed up at Valley Forge, crossed the Mountains into East Tennessee, fought with Andy Jackson alongside the Choctaws, Cherokees, and White Stick Creeks against the Red Stick Creeks at Horseshoe Bend. (The Choctaw chief said that if he'd known what was coming later, he'd have shot Jackson himself that day. And my wife always skipped Jackson when she taught elementary school.) Later, alongside most of East Tennessee, they fought for the Union. (There were dang few slaves up in them high-up hills; but there were those they called "free persons of color.") This gave them the exquisite pleasure of being called "rebels" by the Confederates and being hanged from railroad bridges. After the War, her ancestors headed West in a covered wagon to Arkansas and thence to the Territories (now Oklahoma) where they eventually settled.

Another passel of ancestors showed up in Hardin Co. KY, where they were neighbors of Thomas Lincoln (and his son Abraham) and migrated with him to Indiana (where property deeds were more secure) and thence to Missouri (while the Lincolns went to Illinois) and then to the Territories. Another family came by way of Tennessee to Texas' Red River Valley, across the river from Choctaw Nation. They acquired property in the Nation and were recognized by Choctaw courts as citizens, though this was thrown out by US courts (which were trying to minimize the number of Indian citizens).

When she was a child, my wife could only use "white" drinking fountains and other facilities, since Jim Crow was enforced in Oklahoma. Oddly, Indians were considered "white."

Anyway, that whole narrative cuts right across many of the topics you are considering; so if you are interested, give me a heads up and I'll let you know whatever I have scrounged.

mrsdarwin said...

O'Floinn, thank you! Your wife's history here is probably more interesting than any individual chapter I'll write. The length of the textbook combined with the amount of territory involved means I have to take a pretty general view of the region's history, but for myself I'd be delighted to hear more. The stories of individual American families are so fascinating; they often can't be tucked neatly into the traditional historical narrative.

Seems like a person could write a terrific children's history book by following one family like this through the big dates and movements. Alas, I'm not sure that my textbook will be that book.

TheOFloinn said...

Perhaps a tidbit or two, esp. the unexpected: e.g., southerners who fought for the Union.

Jenny said...

Seconding OFloinn's comment about Southerners fighting for the Union, East Tennessee was a Union stronghold. They played large role in keeping Tennessee in the Union for longer than they might have and getting TN to rejoin before the official Reconstruction period began. I am fairly sure that TN was the only Confederate state to avoid Reconstruction policy. I think?

Banshee said...

Don't forget the surprising amount of immigration that went direct to the South. There were tons of Germans who immigrated to Texas for example (who often supported the Union and got persecuted by it, only to later be persecuted as too German, often by the same folks turned Wilsonians during WWI).

It has been pointed out that almost every Catholic in Birmingham AL has Maronite Catholic relations, just because so many Lebanese Catholics moved there during mining days. (And that's why Fr. Mitch Pacwa at EWTN is biritual.)