‘God’s highest creation’ made safe in textbooks

“Upward sweep of the Fundamentalist wave from the steppes of Texas toward the line of the Potomac, as revealed by a dispatch from Raleigh, home of the Hon. Josephus Daniels:

” ‘The North Carolina State Board of Education, headed by Governor Cameron Morrison, today voted to ban from the list of biologies to be adopted by the State high schools all books which in any way intimate an origin of the human race other than that described in the Bible.

” ‘ “Evolution,” said Governor Morrison, “means progress, but it does not mean that man, God’s highest creation, is descended from a monkey or any other animal. I will not allow any such doctrine or intimation of such doctrine to be taught in our public schools.” ‘ ”

— From H.L. Mencken’s fledgling American Mercury (April 1924)


‘The natural habitat of the North Carolina Babbitt’

“Industrial progress in North Carolina is primarily of the Piedmont. Cotton and tobacco factories dot this section, and from it comes most of the new noise.

“The Piedmont is the natural habitat of the North Carolina Babbitt. Over it the boosters swarm.

“But from the point of view of charm, the Piedmont is the state’s most barren region. It is loud-mouthed and bustling, and only too much like a displaced section of the Middle West. Its aim is to become indistinguishable from Michigan. God willing, that high aspiration will probably be achieved within the next 10 years.”

— From “North Carolina” by Raleigh newspaperwoman  Nell Battle Lewis in the American Mercury (May 1926)


The making of ‘The Mind of the South’

“At Wake Forest [W. J. Cash] became… a fan of H. L. Mencken, the acerbic Baltimore journalist who’d derided the South as ‘the Sahara of the Bozart’….  He wanted to write for Mencken’s magazine, American Mercury.  In 1929 [it] published his Menckenesque dismantling of U.S. Sen. Furnifold Simmons…. ‘the stateliest Neanderthaler who ever cooled his heels on a Capitol Hill desk’….

“Other articles in the Mercury would follow, including an indignant portrayal of Charlotte as a citadel of bigotry and Babbitry, besotted by Presbyterianism and in love with Duke Power Co., a city where life for many consisted of ‘a dreary ritual of the office, golf and the church’ that is ‘unbearably dull even for Presbyterians.’

“Cash’s 1929 article ‘The Mind of the South’ attracted the interest of  the Knopf publishing house. Cash told Blanche Knopf of his plans to expand it into a book [not published until 1941] with the thesis that ‘the Southern mind represents a very definite culture, or attitude towards life, a heritage, from the Old South, but greatly modified and extended by conscious and unconscious efforts over the last hundred years to protect itself from the encroachments of three hostile factors: the Yankee Mind, the Modern Mind, and the Negro.’
“The salient characteristic of the Southern mind, Cash argued, ‘is a magnificent incapacity for the real, a Brobdingnagian talent for the fantastic’ — a mind, in short, that is wholly unadjusted to the demands of the modern world.”
— From remarks Sunday by Ed Williams, retired editor of the editorial pages of the Charlotte Observer, at the induction of W. J. Cash into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame
Also inducted: Walter Hines Page, Allan Gurganus, Robert Morgan and Samm-Art Williams.