Raleigh sees the light (and doesn’t like it)

“In 1932 the Junior Chamber of Commerce proposed that Raleigh adopt daylight saving time. A hearing was held, supporters attended in force and city commissioners voted unanimously in favor of DST — to take effect only two days later. No other locality south of Baltimore had taken this step.”

“State government, however, rejected DST outright. Federal offices also remained on standard time, as did colleges, hotels, trains, airlines, and other enterprises catering to people from out of town. The News & Observer declared the city had been ‘two-timed.'”

“Confusion mounted, protests were raised, and commissioners quickly ordered another hearing. This time the preponderance of speakers called for repeal. Commissioners switched back to standard time that very night at midnight, only four days after daylight saving had begun.”

–Condensed from “Seize the Daylight: The Curious and Contentious History of Daylight Saving Time” by David Prerau

Dare Stone revisited: Not a hoax after all?

“In 1937 a stone with several lines of inscription carved into it was found by Louis Hammond, who said he was just a tourist from California. While looking for hickory nuts off U.S. 17, he had found the stone in the woods near Edenton, not far from the Chowan River, about 65 miles west of Roanoke Island. Seemingly carved at the behest of Eleanor White Dare, daughter of Governor White, it told of a horrific Indian attack in 1591 that wiped out most of the Lost Colony, including Virginia Dare, first English child born in North America.

“Scholars have dismissed the stone as a forgery, but a closer look shows it might well be what it purports to be: a last message from Eleanor Dare and the Lost Colony…. It tells a credible story that coincides with the sources left about the Lost Colony.”

— Condensed from “The 1937 Chowan River ‘Dare Stone’: A Re-evaluation” by David La Vere, professor of history at UNC Wilmington, in the North Carolina Historical Review (July 2009).

R.I.P, newsprint? How great a loss?

“It made me furious, it filled me with both hatred and pity, and it made me ashamed. Some one of us should have been there with her! I dawdled in Europe for nearly yet another year, held by my private life and my attempt to finish a novel, but it was on that bright afternoon that I knew I was leaving…

“I could, simply, no longer sit around in Paris discussing the Algerian and the black American problem. Everybody else was paying their dues, and it was time I went home and paid mine.”

—Writer James Baldwin, recalling his reaction to seeing in the news kiosks along Boulevard Saint-Germain the image of Dorothy Counts being spat on as she entered Harding High School in Charlotte in 1957. (Observer photographer Don Sturkey’s negatives from that day belong to the North Carolina Collection.)

As someone who began work for newspapers in the lead-type era, I have to wonder: Would Baldwin have been so viscerally moved by seeing Counts’ image online?

Did Dr. Leuchtenburg just say “Eureka!”?

“I was doing research at a Florida library in the papers of a former United States senator. The papers were on microfilm, and I cranked the machine wheel hour after hour to find that apparently every extant document had been faithfully filmed but that they consisted only of tedious transcript records of rivers and harbors legislation. Then, abruptly, I came upon a…note to the senator:  ‘If you don’t come across with the money, I’m telling your wife everything.'”

–William E. Leuchtenburg, Kenan professor emeritus of history at UNC Chapel Hill, recalling (in a 2003 address) a memorable moment of microfilm serendipity.

Watch Winston-Salem grow (sorry, Charlotte)

“The spirit of growth was so pervasive that the motto of Winston-Salem during the early years of the 1900s was ’50-15,’ or 50,000 inhabitants by 1915. That goal was nearly met, for by 1920 the population was 48,375—a 113 percent increase from the population of Winston and Salem in 1910…From about 1915 to 1930, Winston-Salem was the largest city in North Carolina.”

–From From Frontier to Factory: An Architectural History of Forsyth County by Gwynne Stephens Taylor (1981).

The loathsome Mr. Lincoln (part 2 of 2)

” ‘He insults every white man by making negroes their equals,’ shouted the Wilmington Journal, ‘and sits at Washington joking over the downfall of a Republic ruined by his vile attempt to carry out the disgusting and beastly doctrine of a miscege nation.’

“The Charlotte Whig…  reported ominously that ‘as soon as Lincoln had sent a message recommending his subordinates to employ persons of African descent as laborers, all the white waiters at Willard’s Hotel were discharged, and black ones took their place.’

“The [Raleigh] Standard could see in the [Emancipatioin] Proclamation only ‘one of the most monstrously wicked documents that ever emanated from human authority….It would consign the whites and the blacks of the North American continent to one common ruin….It would extinguish the black race in less than ten years.’

“In the opinion of the State Journal, ‘ ‘Lincoln’s proclamation…has not freed a slave…but it has declared publicly the savage intentions which had hitherto stamped themselves secretly on the conduct of the war.… It whets the knife and places it in the hand of the slave whom it urges to murder the innocent maiden and imploring child….’ ”

— From “Malice Toward One: Lincoln in the North Carolina Press” by Richard Bardolph (Lincoln Herald, Winter 1951)

The loathsome Mr. Lincoln (part 1 of 2)

“….The epithets ranged from mere familiar cognomens intended to bring him into contempt, like ‘Abraham,’ ‘Uncle Abe’ (cf. ‘Adolf,’ ‘Uncle Joe’) and ‘Old Abe’ to names carrying with them the imputation of meanness of character, physical ugliness, despotic pretensions: ‘The Criminal,’ ‘The Perjurer and Murderer,’ ‘The Widow-Maker,’ ‘Lying Fiend,’ ‘Vulgar Buffoon,’ ‘The Illinois Blackguard,’ ‘Vulgar Imitator of Royalty,’ ‘the detestable, drunken, would-be tyrant at Washington,’ ‘The Northern Ape,’ ‘The Monster,’ ‘The Baboon,’ ‘The Gorilla,’ ‘Fanatic Abe,’ ‘His Sable Excellency,’ ‘The Usurper,’ ‘The Tyrant,’ ‘The Despot,’ ‘King Abe’ and ‘Abraham the First, King of the Northern Nation.’

“Many editors… used the epithet without mentioning his name at all. When the Raleigh Register, for example, announced ‘Another Proclamation From the Tyrant,’ or when the Raleigh Standard called for recruits to ‘drive the hirelings of the Northern Ape back from…sacred soil,’ no further identification seemed necessary.”

— From “Malice Toward One: Lincoln in the North Carolina Press” by Richard Bardolph  (Lincoln Herald, Winter 1951). Tomorrow’s excerpt addresses how the press depicted Lincoln and race.

Footwear for Southerners of all kinds

“The South is hypersensitive to criticism which emanates from the outside, and professional Defenders-of-the-South never fail to take advantage of every opportunity to aggravate this unfortunate psychopathic condition.

“Symptomatic of this was the reaction which followed the remark by Frances Perkins that a ‘social revolution would take place if shoes were put on the people of the South.’  ‘Why, even the mules of the South wear shoes!’ indignantly rejoined Senator [Josiah] Bailey of North Carolina.

“‘There is a considerable colored population in the South who would regard it as a distinct punishment to be required to wear shoes,’ added Senator Duncan Fletcher of Florida.”

[from Southern Exposure by Stetson Kennedy (1946)]

(This episode goes unmentioned in Kirstin Downey’s just-published The Woman Behind the New Deal: The Life of Frances Perkins, FDR’S Secretary of Labor and His Moral Conscience.)