View from train, 1861: Pull the curtains — please!

“For ‘the first time in the States,’ wrote English correspondent William Howard Russell as his train crossed into North Carolina in 1861, ‘I noticed barefooted people’ and ‘poor broken-down shanties or loghuts’ filled with ‘paleface… tawdry and ragged’ women and ‘yellow, seedy-looking’ men.”

— From “Fateful Lightning: A New History of the Civil War & Reconstruction” by Allen C. Guelzo (2012)

Nor does the view seem to have improved much by 1865. 

At least Frederick Law Olmsted, in his 1856 classic “A Journey in the Seaboard Slave States,”  had blamed the “ignorance and torpidity” of North Carolinians on poor soil and inadequate roads and schools, rather than on “any innate quality of the popular mind.”


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