“The Compromise of 1877 ended Reconstruction, sealed the alliance between Northern and Southern conservatives and ratified the shifting emphasis of Northern policy from the political and missionary to the economic and exploitative…..
“Northern capital could not have moved so swiftly through the South had it not been for the collaboration of Southern business elites. The men who ‘redeemed’ state governments from carpetbag rule were eager to play the role of junior partner in the lumbering, railroad, textile and other industries….
“Their rhetorical devotion to the ‘Lost Cause’ and the supposed glories of the old order were the syrup that made the medicine of modernization go down. As early as the summer of 1877, when railroad strikes threatened to rip the Northern class structure apart, Southern publicists saw their opportunity. The Raleigh Observer addressed the ‘panic-stricken, mob-ridden States of the North,’ promising that ‘Money invested here is as safe from the rude hand of mob violence as it is in the best U.S. bond.’ ”
— From “Rebirth of a Nation: The Making of Modern America, 1877-1920” by Jackson Lears (2009)
On this day in 1833: The Star and North Carolina Gazette newspaper quotes the New York Evening Star’s praise of Gov. David Swain’s recent address to the legislature:
“The spirit of frankness with which Gov. Swain impugns the torpid inaction of the legislative deliberations of the State for the last half century induces us to imagine he is disposed to countenance the pleasant sarcasm with which North Carolina has been alluded to as the Rip Van Winkle State, that has not yet awoke.”
This is perhaps the earliest in-state reference to the “Rip Van Winkle” label. “During the first half of the nineteenth century,” historian William S. Powell will write, “North Carolina seemed unaware of much that was going on anywhere, even within its own boundaries.”
On this day in 1838: English actress Frances Anne “Fanny” Kemble, traveling by stagecoach from Philadelphia to Georgia, records her impressions:
“North Carolina is, I believe, the poorest state in the Union. . . . The few detached houses on the road were mean and beggarly in their appearance; and the people whom we saw when the coach stopped had a squalid, and at the same time fierce air. . . .
“A custom prevalent in North Carolina [is] the women chewing tobacco, and that, too, in a most disgusting and disagreeable way, if one way can be more disgusting than another. They carry habitually a small stick . . . in their glove, or their garter string, and, whenever occasion offers, plunge it into a snuffbox, and begin chewing it. The practice is so common, that the proffer of the snuffbox, and its passing from hand to hand, is the usual civility of a morning visit among the country people. . . . ”
Several new titles just added to “New in the North Carolina Collection.” To see the full list simply click on the link in the entry or click on the “New in the North Carolina Collection” tab at the top of the page. As always, full citations for all the new titles can be found in the University Library Catalog and they are all available for use in the Wilson Special Collections Library.
On this day in 1929: Touting his program to make N.C. agriculture more diverse and self-sufficient during the coming hard times, Gov. O. Max Gardner invites newspaper editors to a “Live at Home” dinner at the Executive Mansion.
Among menu items: oysters from Hyde County, scuppernong juice from the Coastal Plain Test Farm at Willard, ham from Caledonia prison farm, cheese from Kraft in West Jefferson, peach conserve from home demonstration clubs in Moore County, ice cream from N.C. State and cigarettes from R.J. Reynolds, Liggett & Myers and American Tobacco.
“Page Putnam Miller, director of the National Coordinating Committee for the Protection of History, pointed out that in 1993 only 3 percent of the 2,000 national historic landmarks in the United States focused on women….
“According to a 1995 study by the Colorado Historical Society, ‘No markers interpret women or women’s experience in Colorado,’ no woman is the subject of Colorado’s 13 biography markers and no marker ‘interprets women even in a general sense.’
“Some states do better. North Carolina marks more women, including recent history makers like Rachel Carson, author of ‘Silent Spring,’ the book that triggered the environmental movement….”
— From “Lies Across America: What Our Historic Sites Get Wrong” by James W. Loewen (2007)
Where can you find North Pole resident Santa Claus fraternizing with a lion and a puma? Only on this souvenir decal from Santa’s Land Park and Zoo in Cherokee, NC.
The undated decal, our December Artifact of the Month, gives us Santa-as-cultural-icon, as opposed to Santa-as-symbol-of-Christmas. Aside from Mr. Claus, nothing in the image is remotely Christmas-y. And the park itself is open throughout most of the year but not during the winter holidays.
While the park’s opening date is elusive, the decal’s graphics and this postcard from Flickr user Jacob…K indicate that Santa’s Land has been around for several decades.
The amusement park at Santa’s Land offers innocent fun like the “Rudicoaster” — a roller coaster that approximates the experience of riding in a sleigh pulled by Rudolph. But Santa’s Land’s zoo has been in the news recently, due to complaints from Cherokee tribal elders over the park’s treatment of its captive bears.
This travel decal is one of many from the Lew Powell Memorabilia Collection, which is rich with wonderful North Caroliniana. Stay tuned: In the coming year we’ll launch a digital collection featuring a selection of items from this collection.
“The price African American owners of property along bodies of water (or places that would become bodies of water) paid for the South’s ‘progress’ in the decades following the death of Jim Crow was, quite often, their land….
“The U.S. Corps of Engineers began drawing up plans for the creation of Jordan Lake, which would control flooding and provide the water necessary to accommodate the region’s projected population growth — along with expensive, waterfront property to house its most affluent migrants — and catapult the poor, rural county from the tobacco belt into the Sunbelt.
“‘I’ll never forget,’ [Edna] Cole recalls, ‘a man came to my dad’s with a briefcase and telling him that Jordan Lake was going to come and part of the land in Chatham County was going to be used as a flood area and some of it was going to be for wildlife…. And he took the briefcase out and showed him some of the things that was going to happen and told my father that, you know, if he didn’t sell it, they would take it anyway.’ Seeing little option, Edna advised her elderly father to sell the man 22.5 acres of their farmland for $5,000. Jordan Lake was completed in 1982.
” ‘In later years we found out that this man was not from the Corps at all, but he had inside information about what the progress was or when it was going to happen.’ Through examining courthouse records, Cole learned that [he] later sold the Coles’ farm to the Corps for twice the amount he paid.”
— From “The Land Was Ours: African American Beaches from Jim Crow to the Sunbelt South” by Andrew W. Kahrl (2012)