The blog for Charlsie Russell's Loblolly Writer's House. Love and romance, sex, violence, mystery, suspense, and happily ever after from the deepest of the Deep South. Subjects include writing, independent publishing, book marketing, and history.
Get Charlsie Russell's Books At These Online Stores
One of the most onerous (and by way of enactment, offensive)
programs the “progressive” usurpers implemented in the South was that of public
education. It was a proven program in New England, the rest of the North was
taking it up, and in order for the backward South to be “proper” Americans, their betters in the North expected Southerners to accept it as a price for re-entering the Union. Indeed, Southerners, given their ignorance, should consider themselves honored to be blessed with the beneficent guidance of the North’s expertise on matters of public education. Yes, that is sarcasm you’re reading in my words.
There were a number of problems with enacting the program the North expected (at least those up there pushing the program).
One, it was very expensive and the “overhead” for it was purchased in the North
at the expense of the already tapped-out Southern taxpayer. Much has been said
about the South’s resistance to public education during this time—the primary assumption being Southerners didn’t want the Negro educated. Well, I won’t argue that one point, but I sure the devil will put it in proper context.
The South had major priorities for its money in the aftermath of a devastating
war, and spending money on “bones” cast to a polity being manipulated against her
taxpayer wasn’t how Southerners wanted it spent, particularly when the spending was done in a prodigal manner by self-aggrandizing people who were not representative of said taxpayer.
Two, public education was used by “enlightened” spirits to
prove what wonderful things integration could accomplish for both races in the South—this from the mouths of many of the “movers and shakers” in the North. This
is downright belittling, folks—to be used for social experimentation by
assuming people who had little knowledge of the Negro or for that matter, the
white Southerner. Shoot, they might as well have used us both for medical
research considering the value put on our intelligence. As of 1868, blacks and
whites in the South had, on many levels, been intimately integrated for two and
a half centuries, and both races were capable of deciding how and where to mix if they so desired.
Three was the curriculum. Don’t be misled. We are not
talking simply reading, writing, and arithmetic—we’re talking indoctrination to
a centralized state—“Union”. Odes to the glory and the bright, arrogant future of
a forcibly unified, consolidated state under the benevolent guidance of a wise
central power dominated by the intelligently superior North was not to Southern
taste—certainly not then, and it still repulses this Southron today. But that
was the vision of those strong proponents of public education in the North. To
the more fanatical of those people up there, in the wake of victory and the
destruction of the state right’s doctrine, public education was the “sure-fire”
way to create one, gigantic homogeneous nation, where faith and allegiance were
offered first and foremost to the general government. To oppose a national
system of public education in the minds of those people was treason.
[There was resistance to such heterodoxy in the North, too, but opponents there
were in a better position to fight back.] The vanguard of indoctrination
believed it could force public education (as it conceived it to be) on the
politically impotent South. Besides, the South was where the proven traitors
resided, and Southerners needed that patriotic understanding imposed on them so much more than those
resisting north of the Mason-Dixon Line.
Supposedly, there had been no congressional guidance
regarding this public education system, but there was plenty of influence and
lobbying to the “right” men, who had been “placed” in Congress. It is telling
that the first head of the school system in “reconstructed” Tennessee was John
Eaton, Jr., who started his career in education as a school principal and later became the Superintendent of Public Education in
Toledo, Ohio. He resigned the latter position to attend Andover Theological Seminary. Ordained a
minister in 1861, he enlisted as a chaplain with the 27th Ohio Regiment of
Volunteers. In 1862, when both men were in Tennessee, then Major General Ulysses S.
Grant placed Eaton in charge of incorporating contraband slaves into the Union
war effort. In November of 1863, Grant appointed him Superintendent of Negro
affairs for the Department of the Tennessee. In 1863 he was also promoted to
colonel of the 9th Regiment of Louisiana Volunteers (Negro), which became the
63rd Regiment of Colored Infantry—this was all occurring in the area of
Vicksburg. In 1865 Eaton was promoted to brevet brigadier general. In his management
of Negro “contraband” and the establishment of the loyal farms during the
occupation of the Mississippi River areas in Mississippi and Louisiana from
1863 on, Eaton set the precedent for what became the Freedmen’s Bureau. He
served as the assistant commissioner of that bureau between March and December
1865 at which time he resigned his commission and settled in Memphis, Tennessee
where from 1866-1869 he served as editor of the Memphis Daily Post (or the Memphis Morning Post) a Republican paper. In 1867, he was elected as
Tennessee’s superintendent of public instruction on the Republican ticket
(Brownlow’s administration). In 1869, after the “redeemers” dismantled the
fiefdom he’d built in Tennessee, Eaton moved to Washington, D. C. where in 1870
his old friend, now president, Ulysses Grant appointed him the second United
States Commissioner of Education.
Back in Tennessee, the new constitution (1870), written to
replace the “reconstruction” constitution framed under Brownlow, outlawed mixed
schools. Tennessee, which before 1869 had stood as the shining example of what Republican
Reconstruction could accomplish in the South, by 1870 was an example of what
Republican tyranny had wrought once a proud people were able to throw off the
Uh-oh, time for Congress to revise the requirements in the
Reconstruction Acts, and the still “unreconstructed” states would feel the
impact. But Republican Reconstruction in the South could not be forged by
unconstitutional legislation—it could only be prolonged and harmful for all
In the North, the traitorous bogyman to the “indoctrinated
state” was the parochial school system—and the controversy of religion in
public schools. The Catholic Church wasn’t ready to lower religious
education of its children to the standard of a public school system, and
Catholics were fed up paying taxes to a school system it didn’t use. Parochial
schools were demanding their share of the “school fund” and they’d teach their
kids as they saw fit. Ah, but the fomenters of “Union” didn’t want two
systems—it wanted one to teach all our children to worship at the altar of the
Federal government and a united nation. For further reading on the public
school issue in the North, I refer the reader to Religion, Race, and Reconstruction by Ward M. McAfee, which was my
source. I imagine there are others.
The collapse of the great Republican example in Tennessee
impacted directly the outcome of the Radical/conservative struggles in
Virginia, Texas, and Mississippi. Virginia was a fait accompli with Grant’s
(and Lee’s) discreet backing of the conservative candidate, Gilbert C. Walker—a Northerner favored by
the state’s old-line Whigs and toward whom the Democrats leaned as the lesser
of two evils (see Bob Pollock’s Yesterday...and Today post of 3 February 2015 regarding my remarks on Grant and Lee). During his campaign, Walker had made an issue of disapproving
the unpopular public education plan outlined in the new constitution—placed
there, as was the case in Mississippi, by the Radicals composing the state
constitutional convention. Oh my, oh my. Everyone was paying attention to these
events—guess somebody should have informed President Grant that Walker presented a
threat to the Radicals before word got out that Grant found him preferable to
the “Radical” candidate.
Enter the senior senator
from Massachusetts, Charles Sumner. He’ll tell him, by George! [A little play on George Boutwell, Sumner’s House colleague from Massassachusetts and by then, Grant’s Treasury Secretary.]
They’ll both tell him—set that soldier straight as to what a Republican president is supposed to be doing—next time and thanks for reading,