‘Not to offend,’ but you are ‘profoundly ignorant’ of South

“Boosters made it clear that the New South could not accept Northern attempts to control, define, legislate, or even narrate activities south of the Mason-Dixon line….

“In July 1884, Robert Bingham, a North Carolina educator, appeared before a Washington, D.C., audience, and proceeded to tell the assembled Yankees precisely how little they knew about Southern race relations. ‘I came here to conciliate, not to offend you, but I tell you that the great mass of your people, however much you think you know about it, are profoundly ignorant of the conditions in the South and of the relations between the races.’

“Even as he pleaded for federal aid to Southern education, Bingham held fast to a central New South mantra: When it came to Southern affairs, particularly racial ones, the North was uninformed, unequipped and unprepared. It should, therefore, be uninvolved: ‘Social relations must be left to take care of themselves in the South.’ ”

— From “Stories of the South: Race and the Reconstruction of Southern Identity, 1865-1915″ by K. Stephen Prince (2014)

 

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