Southern History Series: Ulrich B. Phillips on The Central Theme of Southern History

In his famous 1928 article “The Central Theme of Southern History” for The American Historical Review, the Georgia historian Ulrich B. Phillips argued that the determination of the White people of the American South that Dixie shall remain “a White Man’s Country” is the defining theme of Southern history:

“Yet it [the South] is a land with a unity despite its diversity, with a people having common joys and common sorrows, and, above all, as to the white folks a people with a common resolve indomitably maintained – that it shall be and remain a white man’s country. The consciousness of a function in these premises, whether expressed with the frenzy of a demagogue or maintained with a patrician’s quietude, is the cardinal test of a Southerner and the central theme of Southern history.”

I’ve always thought it was helpful to look at Southern politics, history and culture in that way. I admire Phillips’ candor in cutting through all the bullshit and just getting to the heart of the matter. Why not just admit that we are and want to remain a Western Christian European country?

We are not in the final analysis mere liberal abstractions. Those have been set aside on countless occasions since the beginning of the Union. From a historicist perspective, we are an offspring of Great Britain planted in the southeastern United States, and if we are honest with ourselves we are comfortable with that and would like to continue being that in the future. It’s nothing against anyone else. On the contrary, it is natural for any organism to want to survive and reproduce itself.

Note: In Southern History Series: German Romanticism’s Impact on the Antebellum South, we saw that the Romantic idea of “progress” was more about growth of the nation and individual in self-awareness of its own particular heritage than universal extension of liberal abstractions.

About Hunter Wallace 9618 Articles
Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Occidental Dissent

18 Comments

  1. The problem then, as now, was/is outside interference.

    No such condition exists in any other ostensibly independent and sovereign nation on earth.

    I don’t think that the counties of East Anglia conspire to deny independent and local government to the other counties of England.

    Nor do I believe that the states of Germany collude to deny Bavarians the benefits of a stable, predictable and unimpeded state government, controlled exclusively by and for Bavarians. Or elections free of outside subversion and interference.

    • “No such condition exists in any other ostensibly independent and sovereign nation on earth.”

      That’s because the South is unlike any other place, James. It defined itself with race-based slavery and went to war to defend the definition. There is nothing else like it. Mr. W.’s use, in the present post, of the phrase “Western Christian European country” notwithstanding, it is not a part of Western Civilization, as I have said here, at Occidental Dissent, more than once. Southerners made their choice–a unique one–well more than a century ago. There’ll be no walking it back.

      • “No such condition exists in any other ostensibly independent and sovereign nation on earth.”

        I meant the U.S., as a whole, Mr B.

        • I knew that, James–or at least, I think I understood you. My point was that you can’t compare the situation of the South within the United States to that of Bavaria within Germany or to any other region within any other country. The South is unique. It is fossilized resentment–resentment trapped in amber. Nominally part of the United States, it is, in sentiment, merely lodged within the United States. Western Civilization–by which I mean the white race–might survive, even prevail, but the South will never again be part of it. That question was settled in 1865.

  2. England is really the only part of Northwestern Europe that doesn’t get much snow. I was in Cambridge about 10 years ago when they got maybe 3 inches and it shut everything down. The early settlers probably really enjoyed the warmer weather in the South compared to Britain. Virginia must have seemed like paradise.

  3. I’ve been recently reminded that almost all of the US was ethnic enclaves: Irish or Polish neighborhoods, for example, not “White” ones. It’s a mistake to allow ourselves to be renamed and grouped into a mass defined by color, especially when most of us aren’t white in skin tone. Once you agree to become part of a herd, you can then be more easily shepherded where the elites want you to go. A major part of our unhappiness comes from the elites bringing in outsiders into our neighborhoods without our permission. In the past, it was “blacks” from the south coming to the north. Then it was Mexicans, Vietnamese and Hmong, and finally Somalis. No one ruling over us ever asked us; they just did it. We politely adjusted and moved to the suburbs, for the most part. There are few places to move away to, anymore. I wonder when or if people will rise against this unnatural forcing together of groups. Or if or when the elites will ever pay for their crimes against us.

  4. HW, speaking of Florida do you consider it to be a Southern state, or merely a Yankee outpost? The only native Floridians I can think of would be the band members from Lynyrd Skynyrd.

      • Present! All my people on my mother’s side are of Anglo and Scotch-Irish ancestry and from Georgia way way back into the early 1800s and half on my dad’s side are too, though my paternal grandmother’s family are later arrivals from southern Germany. Mom’s family on both sides is all in North Florida, and my dad’s is from Central Florida but moved north to get away from the Disney World sprawl in the ’60s. South Florida is a part of the Caribbean and Latin America at best and a colony of New York/izrull at worst, but North Florida is in Dixie.

  5. Phillips doesn’t go back to the fact that White Englishmen in Colonial America had decided in the 17th Century that they would not be the political equals of the Negro or the Indian. Which was the system of the Holy Catholic King of Spain, and the Holy Catholic Church!

    • Coulter’s ancestry is half-Northern and half-Southern, I’m pretty sure–like that of Mary Tyler Moore.

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