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The U.S. South and Europe

The U.S. South and Europe: Transatlantic Relations in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries

Cornelis A. van Minnen
Manfred Berg
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 316
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    The U.S. South and Europe
    Book Description:

    The U.S. South is a distinctive political and cultural force -- not only in the eyes of Americans, but also in the estimation of many Europeans. The region played a distinctive role as a major agricultural center and the source of much of the wealth in early America, but it has also served as a catalyst for the nation's only civil war, and later, as a battleground in violent civil rights conflicts. Once considered isolated and benighted by the international community, the South has recently evoked considerable interest among popular audiences and academic observers on both sides of the Atlantic.

    In The U.S. South and Europe, editors Cornelis A. van Minnen and Manfred Berg have assembled contributions that interpret a number of political, cultural, and religious aspects of the transatlantic relationship during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The contributors discuss a variety of subjects, including European colonization, travel accounts of southerners visiting Europe, and the experiences of German immigrants who settled in the South. The collection also examines slavery, foreign recognition of the Confederacy as a sovereign government, the lynching of African Americans and Italian immigrants, and transatlantic religious fundamentalism. Finally, it addresses international perceptions of the Jim Crow South and the civil rights movement as a framework for understanding race relations in the United Kingdom after World War II. Featuring contributions from leading scholars based in the United States and Europe, this illuminating volume explores the South from an international perspective and offers a new context from which to consider the region's history.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-4319-4
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [v]-[vi])
  3. The U.S. South and Europe: An Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)
    Cornelis A. van Minnen and Manfred Berg

    The U.S. South has always been a distinctive region: not only in the eyes of Americans from other sections of the United States but also in the perception of many Europeans. Once considered as the epitome of isolation and backwardness, the South has recently evoked considerable interest among popular audiences as well as among academic observers on both sides of the Atlantic. One reason why the South captivates national and international attention is its stunning economic development. In 1938 President Franklin D. Roosevelt famously called the region “the Nation’s No. 1 economic problem.” In 1994 New York Times journalist Peter...

  4. 1 Southerners Abroad: Europe and the Cultural Encounter, 1830–1895
    (pp. 15-32)
    William A. Link

    With the transportation revolution rendering world travel a more common experience, during the last half of the nineteenth century greater numbers of Americans, southerners among them, visited Europe. Tourism by southerners was not new, but by the late 1840s, the economics and technology of travel had changed significantly. Steam-powered paddleboats, which also relied on sail power, were followed by the advent of screw propulsion after the Civil War, offering relatively cheap, safe, and fast service across the Atlantic. The Grand Tour became no longer the exclusive domain of southern white males. As travel became faster and more accessible, a greater...

  5. 2 Alexis de Tocqueville and Three German Travel Accounts on the Antebellum South and New Orleans
    (pp. 33-50)
    Thomas Clark

    In the German author Thomas Meinecke’s 1996 novel The Church of John F. Kennedy, a feverish Pynchonesque German American pastiche set in the Deep South, one finds the following paragraph:

    On the trip across country roads Assmann recalled scenes from a number of movies, in which deviously planted traffic diversion signs hinted at evil chainsaws and troughs of blood. Alligator heads, which were occasionally seen rising above murky waters, dragged the travelers’ imagination into the innermost, most impenetrable of swamps, where they saw their own bodies dangling from giant cypresses. In the mudholes of Louisiana, Wenzel began to explain, behind...

  6. 3 The German Forty-Eighters’ Critique of the U.S. South, 1850–1861
    (pp. 51-72)
    Daniel Nagel

    The history of immigrants is often complex, confusing, and even contradictory. Groups that may seem to be united by a single language and culture are often divided along regional, religious, cultural, or political lines. This was certainly the case with the one million German immigrants who came to the United States during the 1850s. They varied in many ways, not the least of which was their attitude toward slavery and southern slaveholders.

    As Andrea Mehrländer has recently pointed out, many German immigrants who settled in the South fully embraced its distinctive culture, including the “peculiar institution.”¹ However, not all German...

  7. 4 “In the Days of Her Power and Glory”: Visions of Venice in Antebellum Charleston
    (pp. 73-86)
    Kathleen Hilliard

    On the last morning of his visit to Venice in 1837, James Hammond climbed the steps of the campanile in Piazza San Marco. Looking over the “ancient” city, the South Carolina politician and slaveholder recalled all he had seen over the past four days—the Rialto Bridge, the Ducal Place, the Arsenal, the Bridge of Sighs, the tombs of Canova and Titian, splendid St. Mark’s itself. He found the city “unique and interesting,” “old and cultured.” Yet the arresting vista vexed him. Venice’s “fall,” he noted, “like that of Tyre does indeed stain the pride of glory and bring into...

  8. 5 Elizabethan Dreams, Victorian Nightmares: Antebellum South Carolina’s Future through an English Looking Glass
    (pp. 87-104)
    Lawrence T. McDonnell

    Galloping horsemen, gleaming armor, a pale moon rising over a distant castle: such symbols seemingly befit the midlands of medieval Britain better than those of antebellum South Carolina. But when “Black Hawk,” “Grey Eagle,” “Red Rover,” “Blue Ranger,” “Thundergust,” and “Wildfire” welcomed their friends to a Christmas Eve gathering of the “Nighthawks of the Congaree” at their “Hole in the Wall” haunt in 1847, this was the imagery they adopted.¹ The Nighthawks promised carnival—“The first shall be last, and the last shall be first!”—but whether they were college students or rural planters’ sons, a regular club where young...

  9. 6 Slavery or Independence: The Confederate Dilemma in Europe
    (pp. 105-124)
    Don H. Doyle

    Henry Adams had observed the Confederate agents at work in London throughout America’s Civil War while he served as personal secretary to his father, the U.S. minister to Britain. “The Southern secessionists were certainly unbalanced in mind,” he wrote in his autobiography; they were “haunted by suspicion, by idées fixes, by violent morbid excitement; but that was not all. They were stupendously ignorant of the world.”¹ Adams was a bit unfair, but there was an unusual strain of delusion, even madness, that ran through southern diplomacy from beginning to end, a stubbornness of mind and a certain petulance that did...

  10. 7 The Lynching of Southern Europeans in the Southern United States: The Plight of Italian Immigrants in Dixie
    (pp. 125-144)
    Stefano Luconi

    The literature on lynchings in the U.S. South has developed significantly in the last couple of decades. As studies in this field have grown in number, in the efforts to overcome the black-versus-white divide underlying U.S. history, scholarly attention has focused not only on African Americans but also on members of other minorities, like Hispanics and Syrian Americans, who fell victim to the same excruciations.¹

    Against such a backdrop, the following pages revisit the case of Italian Americans’ lynchings in the South and reassess in particular to what extent the perception of this immigrant group as ethnically and even racially...

  11. 8 Southern Politicians, British Reformers, and Ida B. Wells’s 1893–1894 Transatlantic Antilynching Campaign
    (pp. 145-164)
    Sarah L. Silkey

    As the United States and Great Britain grew closer together at the end of the nineteenth century, British social leaders placed pressure on their American counterparts to uphold common social, economic, and political standards. While minor deviations might be forgiven, American leaders needed to demonstrate the general respectability of American society in order to be treated as trusted business partners. The issue of American lynching, therefore, became increasingly problematic during the 1890s as the obvious disparity between British images of American lynching as “frontier justice” and the harsh reality of southern attacks on African Americans increased. Ida B. Wells’s 1893-94...

  12. 9 Transatlantic Fundamentalism: Southern Preachers in London’s Pulpits during World War I
    (pp. 165-180)
    William R. Glass

    In 1911, Rev. A. C. Dixon left the famous pulpit of the Moody Church in Chicago, founded by the late nineteenth-century evangelist Dwight L. Moody and in some ways the Vatican of American nondenominational evangelicalism, and moved his ministry to an equally esteemed, conservative platform in London: the Metropolitan Tabernacle, a church led for nearly forty years by Charles Haddon Spurgeon. Two years later, another American preacher assumed the pastorate of Christ Church, a congregation that combined evangelical preaching from the pulpit with a variety of social programs intended to meet the needs of its community. In his first sermon,...

  13. 10 Europeans Interpret the American South of the Civil War Era: How British and French Critics Received The Birth of a Nation (1915) and Gone With the Wind (1939)
    (pp. 181-204)
    Melvyn Stokes

    Since World War I, the market for films in Europe has been dominated by films produced in the United States. This has often been seen as exemplifying a process of “Americanization” in which American ideas, culture, values, and lifestyle have spread across the globe. Yet “America” on film is very much a generalized construct on the part of non-Americans. American films have often foregrounded diverse cultural and ethnic differences and regional diversities. One of the most obvious expressions of the latter has been the ways in which the South has been represented in the movies as a very distinctive region....

  14. 11 Gunnar Myrdal and Arthur Raper in the Jim Crow South
    (pp. 205-222)
    Louis Mazzari

    A unique relationship between two social scientists, collaborating at the start of World War II, provides a view of a particular intersection between Europe and the American South during a time of great crisis and change in both—a relationship that developed substantial and lasting benefits for both, pushing a wedge into southern race relations at a time of ferment and offering lessons about the resiliency of American democracy to a gravely imperiled Europe and an uncertain postwar world.

    In the mid-1930s, race in America was so highly charged an issue that, when the Carnegie Corporation decided to fund an...

  15. 12 Explaining Jim Crow to German Prisoners of War: The Impact of the South on the World War II Reeducation Program
    (pp. 223-242)
    Matthias Reiss

    During the first half of the twentieth century, service in the armed forces was “a common form of popular mobility and the only form of mass travel the masses could afford.”¹ For millions of soldiers in World War II, serving in uniform meant going to places few had ever been to—or sometimes even heard of—before. For many German soldiers, sailors, and airmen, the travel experience continued after they fell into enemy hands. By the end of the war, German prisoners of war (POWs) were interned all over the world, from Siberia to California and Great Britain to Australia....

  16. 13 Britain, the American South, and the Wide Civil Rights Movement
    (pp. 243-264)
    Clive Webb

    Here are two incidents that seem familiar to any student of the civil rights movement. First, white police officers use dogs to dispel black people from the streets in a city where racial confrontation has attracted international media attention. Second, demonstrators gather in the nation’s capital in support of “Jobs and Freedom” for African Americans. To most readers, these snapshots appear to describe respectively the civil rights demonstrations that occurred during May 1963 in Birmingham, Alabama, and the March on Washington that took place three months later. In the context of this essay, however, they refer to events on the...

  17. 14 Resisting the Wind of Change: The Citizens’ Councils and European Decolonization
    (pp. 265-282)
    Daniel Geary and Jennifer Sutton

    “Will Western Europe Be Driven Out of Africa?” So worried Medford Evans in a 1978 article in the Citizen, the official publication of the leading white segregationist organization, the Citizens’ Councils of America (sometimes known colloquially by its original name, the White Citizens’ Councils). Evans quoted the 1910 edition of the Cambridge Modern History, which claimed that the “colonies of France, Britain, Portugal, Germany, and Italy” had made Africa an “annex of Europe.” “There is no indication,” Evans reflected, “that the learned historian had any idea that fifty years later—that is, in 1960, the African possessions of those West-European...

  18. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 283-284)
  19. List of Contributors
    (pp. 285-290)
  20. Index
    (pp. 291-308)
  21. Back Matter
    (pp. 309-310)