‘A native North Carolinian,’ uncharitably viewed

On this day in 1865: Sidney Andrews, Southern correspondent for the Boston Daily Advertiser and the Chicago Tribune during the early days of Reconstruction, sums up his observations of North Carolina:

“Spindling of legs, round of shoulders, sunken of chest, lank of body, stooping of posture, narrow of face, retreating of forehead, thin of nose, small of chin, large of mouth — this is the native North Carolinian as one sees him outside the cities and large towns.

“There is insipidity in his face, indecision in his step, and inefficiency in his whole bearing. His house has two rooms and a loft, and is meanly furnished – one, and possibly two, beds, three or four chairs, half a dozen stools, a cheap pine table, an old spinning-wheel, a water-bucket and drinking gourd, two tin washbasins, half a dozen tin platters, a few cooking utensils, and a dozen odd pieces of crockery. Paint and whitewash and wall-paper and window-curtains are to him needless luxuries.

“His wife is leaner, more round-shouldered, more sunken of chest, and more pinched of face than her husband. He ‘chaws’ and she ‘dips.’ The children of these two are large-eyed, tow-headed urchins, alike ignorant of the decencies and the possibilities of life. In this house there is often neither book nor newspaper; and, what is infinitely worse, no longing for either. The day begins at sunrise and ends at dark; its duties are alike devoid of dignity and mental or moral compensation. The man has a small farm, and once owned six or eight Negroes.

“How the family now lives, the propping hands of the Negroes being taken away, is a mystery, even if one remembers the simple cheapness of mere animal life.”