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Decades of Bigotry in the South: ‘The House of Lords’ on the Triumph of the Racial Right

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Politics has its centre of gravity away from the Washington Beltway.

One might even go so far as to say it has a center point in the South.

This is not surprising. The strongest force governing the American South is the faith of its citizens that the world would be better off without slavery.

George Washington may have believed — as he frequently confided in letters and later in his diary — that the South was better off with slavery, that in its primitive form it made America more racially and sexually competitive than no slavery at all, but that historical perspective becomes moot with the revelation that the North was hostile to slavery.

With this most-frequently-discussed political paradox— North against South — on which to base a fresh republic’s economic, political and cultural wellbeing, this important and illuminating book by H.W. Brands documents the fact that Southern society has been altogether different from the North.

Eddie Dukes, for instance, stated in 1912 that, “I think that here is some of the seed of racism which has been sewn up by slavery. Some might even say that this is part of the general Southern attitude to negroes. It does have a long memory and a lust to spread it around the world.”

As founder of the Southern Republican Conference, Lloyd Woodard insisted that, “all Negroes have it in common with the Ku Klux Klan as an extension of their white society.”

D. Scott Ferguson, author of The House of Lords (1975), was at first surprised by the state of opinion among his southern colleagues: “They feared being called ‘misguided’ for the simple reason that they were not helping George Washington in his struggle.”

The book includes a few essays by the authors, writing about the example they have helped set. But Brand’s own work and example bring to light the historical and cultural consequences of “Redeeming Slavery,” from the growing American conservative movement toward what both the Mailer and Brand see as central to the current immigration crisis: the emotional identification of America with the new non-white elites the United States produces.

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