Chapter Fifteen


There was to be no tropical paradise readied for
blessed sinners, no gold nuggets along the paths.
The Virginia Company, essentially a corporate board of
well-connected Dissenters sweetened by members
of the nobility and venture capitalists, obtained the dream-charter of
multi-national corporations from the Crown.
To remind you, it was given a two-hundred-mile stretch of the
Atlantic Coast and inland for a hundred miles and
full powers of economic development of every
conceivable kind, together with all powers of
government over the inhabitants of the area, and
tax forgiveness for a number of years.
It was too good to be true.

Dissenters had a strong voice for a while
but then were turned out - in fact, the whole
company was dissolved in 1624 for behaving corruptly.
But a few years later, the Dissenters came into power in
England and the King's clique was evicted. The results
were strange, for a gang of the King's cavaliers took up
refuge in Virginia, while the Commonwealth government
replaced the Royal Governor. The situation changed
again with the restoration of the monarchy under
Charles II, and Virginia carried on as
a royal colony, but still and always with its House
of Burgesses that claimed and received legislative powers,
subject to gubernatorial and royal approval.

Every effort has been made by historians to discover the
true nature of these first inhabitants, without complete success.
Some have claimed that there were as many as
15% gentlemen in the arrivals of the first
half century, but gentlemen and gentry were words covering many
pretensions and offenses. And some question exists as to
how many of the gentry fled elsewhere
as soon as the nature of the country was disclosed to them.
The first boats docking in the inlets of Chesapeake
Bay have been mentioned: leaders & workers to begin with
(a number of "idle and dissolute adventurers,
attracted solely by the hope of speedy fortune"
as part of what Captain John Smith of the first
successful beachhead also listed as "poor gentlemen,
tradesmen, serving-men, and libertines").

These were succeeded by similar arrivals, and the special
loads of the first slaves in a Dutch boat,
then a boatload of women and children of
the streets, then a shipment of convicts.
Succeeding years brought their several thousands,
1622, 1277 passengers; 1625, 1202
passengers, 1628, 3000; 1629, between 4 and 5000;
1630, 2500; 1634, 5119; 1649, 15,000 plus 300 slaves.
The passengers might be divided into
those who paid their way and those who didn't.

Given the circumstances, those who paid
deserved to be called gentlemen. The rest were indentured
servants ( bondsmen or White slaves in fact) for a
limited number of years. These were probably the
basis for a two-class system, though with later arrivals
the class system got more complicated. Only one
bondsman out of that large majority succeeded in
becoming civically prominent in Virginia in the seventeenth
century, Adam Thoroughgood (a Puritan pseudonym,
possibly). Some experts adjudge that five of six
arrivals during the first thirty years
died in short order. In 1649
there lived only about 15,000 Whites and
300 Blacks in Virginia, but the number of livestock was
20,000 and of horses 200.

The Company was distressed by so many deaths and
at the number of arrivals who lacked every resource -
skills, money, physical capacity, or material goods -
and who "..greatly hindered the Progresses of that noble Plantation..."
It distributed a bulletin in 1622
"for prevention of the like disorders hereafter, that no man suffer,
either through ignorance or misinformation..."
Perusal of this list of about one hundred items
gives us roughly and remarkably the same list as
one would put together today for a long stay
in a lonely stretch of the Rocky Mountains:
pickaxes, grindlestones, "nailes of all sorts to the
value of" two pounds sterling,
"One long peece, five foot or five and a halfe,
neere {narrow?] Musket bore," and
"Sixty pound of shot or lead, Pistoll and Goose shot,..
Two bushels of Oatemeale, One gallon of Aquavite,
One gallon of Oyle, Two gallons of Vinegar...,
One Rug for a bed 8 s. [shillings]
which the bed serving for two men..",
numerous canvas things, four pairs of shoes,
the usual few basic tools, a pot, kettle and
frying pan, "spoones of wood," etc.
in all estimated to weigh half a ton, with the
suggestion that if a party of half a dozen is attempting the
passage they bring a tent, fishhooks and lines, and
several pigs.

All of this was estimated to cost 20 pounds,
including 6 pounds for the boat passage - one way.
Anybody who manages this all is given 50 acres of land
upon arrival with another fifty acres at some future date.

One cannot read through the document without assigning
its creation to some land-locked clerk in England dreamily
imagining the perfect safari for the equally imaginary
self-financing gentleman adventurer.
Two hundred years later, he would send the gentleman
emigrant to the Army and Navy Store in London,
which was set up for such a clientele.
The absence of any medicine save Aquavite is notable;
about a third of the passengers would die before their time,
of fever or malnutrition or infected wounds.

The Virginia Colony had to make do with what the upper
classes and Scrooge's clerk and public health authorities
would call "people of the poorer sort."
Historians, giving up the old tradition of
calling them cavaliers and gentry, have promoted
them to people of the "middling class" or "yeomanry."
Sir Josiah Child, a man of vast experience and wealth,
writing in 1693, would put it differently:

Virginia and Barbados were first peopled by a sort of loose
vagrant People, vicious and destitute of means to live at home, (being
either unfit for labour, or such as could find none to employ themselves
about, or had so misbehaved themselves by Whoreing, Thieving, or
other Debauchery, that none would set them on work) which Merchants
and Masters of Ships by their Agents (or Spirits, as they were called)
gathered up about the Streets of London, and other places. cloathed
and transported, to be employd on Plantations; and these I say were
such, as had there been no English foreign Plantation in the World,
could probably never have lived at home to do Service for their
Country, but must have come to be hanged or starved, or dyed
untimely of some of those miserable Diseases, that proceed from want
and Vice; or else have sold themselves for Soldiers, to be knockt on the
Head or starved in the Quallerels of our Neighbours, as many
thousands of brave English men were in the low Countries, as also in
the wars of Germany, France, and Sweden, etc. or else if they could,
by begging, or otherwise, arrive to the Stock of 2 s6 pd. to waft them
over to Holland, become Servants to the Dutch, who refuse none.

But the principal growth and encrease of the afore-said
Plantations of Virginia and Barbados happened in, or immediately
after our late Civil Wars, when the worsted party, by the fate of War,
being deprived of their Estates, and having none of them ever been
bred to labour, and others made unfit for it by the lazy habit of the
Soldiers life, there wanting means to maintain them all abroad with his
Majesty, many of them betook themselves to the afore-said Plantations,
and great numbers of Scotch Soldiers of his Majesty's Army, after
Worcester Fight, were by the then prevailing Powers voluntarily sent in thither.

Another great swarm, or accession of new Inhabitants to the afore-said
Plantations, as also to New-England, Jamaica, and all other his
Majesties Plantations in the West-Indies, ensued upon his Majesties
Restauration, when the former prevailing part being by a divine Hand
of Providence brought under, the Army disbanded, many Officers dis-placed,
and all the new purchasers of publick Titles, dispossest of their

pretended Lands, Estates, etc. many became impoverished, destitute of
employement; and therefore such as could find no way of living at
home, and some which feared the re-establishment of the Ecclesiastical
Laws, under which they could not live, were forced to transport
themselves, or sell themselves for a few Years, to be transported by
others to the foreign English Plantations: The constant supply that the
said Plantations have since had, hath by such vagrant loose People, as
I before-mentioned, picked up, especially about the Streets and
Suburbs of London, and Westminster, and by Malefactors condemned for
Crimes, for which by the Law they deserved to dye and some of those
People called Quakers, banished for Meeting on pretence
of Religious Waorship.

Sir Josiah concludes that whatever had been the case,
Plantations or no, England would have lost all these people
- and all for the better.

Counting the early immigrants as the first generation,
the third political generation, within a century, that is,
saw a class system formed up.
We mean by this a system of groups having more or less
fixed life-chances at obtaining our half-dozen major
desiderata of existence. (In the several parentheses
that follow, I have placed a guess of the percentage of the
total population attained by each group over the
whole South as of the middle 1700's,
including in each the women and children belonging to the group.)
These consisted, then, of a group of large planters,
with ever-larger holdings, owning hundreds of acres at
the least and an increasing number of slaves. (under 1%)
The second class would consist of small farmers
operating what we would call family-sized farms. (10%)
A third class would be the professionals, the
merchants and the factors who managed the sales and purchases of the
planters. (2%) A fourth class would be the
Black freedmen whose occupations would give them
a certain independence.(2%)

Then would come a White poor class,
living by manual labor or tenantry of a farm. (20%)
African-Americans, many of them first generation
Americans, would constitute a class which, though every
attempt was made to set it apart, seeped over the
edges of several other classes (30%).
Next we would discover a class of bound servants;
although from several points of view, planters preferred
Black slaves to White covenanters, ship
masters could make money by fitting as many of
these as possible to fill out their cargoes (10%).

Both the poor free Whites and the White
covenanters were supplemented then by men and
women who were convicted by English courts and transported,
again a transaction pleasing to the shipping interests and
local authorities of England (5%).
The leading colonists hardly complained of the practice
until the eve of the Revolution; until they were
comfortably established, faux de mieux, they invited
as many bodies as could be brought over.

Finally there were the numerous Indian tribes,
retrenching but often formidable (20%).
Possibly , women might be considered as a class in
themselves, as they related to each of the above elements.
(They would not yet equal half the population;
they would be a minority among the poor White,
bound servants, Blacks, and convicts.)

We can set the population of the South in this period
at about a million souls.

The ten thousand planters would by this time,
four political generations from Jamestown,
have acquired larger homes than they lived in even over
the past generation. Instead of two to five rooms in
all -- with outbuildings for washing and toilet,
for servants, slaves, relatives, livestock, special
workers such as candle makers, shoemakers, and
storage, all looking together like an adobe village of
Mexico or of Russian serfs before 1860,
their house would have had additions, sprouted columns, and been
landscaped. They would have acquired furniture of some
elegance from the North or abroad. One planter
could only know a few others, of course,
for we are talking of an area of about
1500 miles by 70 miles.
And it would be easy to understand how any typical planter
would probably be a big shot in his locale.

Chances are high that a given planter would be growing
tobacco, rice, sugar, or long-stapled cotton.
He would own upwards of 500 acres and thirty slaves.
He owned two or three pairs of shoes, his slaves
went barefoot. He would be overjoyed in the next social
generation to hear of the invention by Eli Whitney
of the contraption called the "cotton gin,"
that could comb the seed even out of short-stapled
cotton many times faster than a human could do it.
This could stimulate a huge planting of cotton,
for all of which there seemed to be an ever-expanding and
never-ending demand at the textile mills of
Britain, and, if not there, elsewhere.

Rarely had an elite developed, achieved such heights, and
degenerated in so short a time. The planter was often busy
ordering his help about and deciding what purchases
to make of land, slaves, and goods from abroad.
Still he had so much personal help that
he also had leisure and enjoyed it to the utmost.
This, from all we can make out, consisted, in
their order of preference: social drinking and partying; riding;
hunting; sex, flirtation and sexual harassment;
gambling at dice and cards or anything at all;
horse-racing; politics and quarreling; and, though it hardly is
preferred at all, religious gatherings.

More often than most social types, the planter was personally
generous, affectionate and not money-minded. Very few had
intellectual interests, and he hardly treated the teacher of his children
more respectfully than his shoemaker. As plantation culture
moved west, there were thrown up more opportunistic and
speculative types, planters became more mercenary,
less cultured and more grimly determined to
keep the slave system going.

The planter hobnobbed with other planters,
a few nearby suppliers of professional, political,
material, and financial services, his family, and
his dependents - overseers, servants and slaves. He had
little in common with his counterparts of the Yankee and
Pluralist elites to the North and even less with the
frontier types. He was political and belonged to the
"Old Boy School of Politics," expecting
that he could obtain whatever he needed for himself
of government from his pals, or himself as member of the colonial
assembly or an acquaintance among the
Councillors of the Governor.

Legislation was not at all feared by him as a rule,
for it would almost always be in his interest and
one of the never-ending string of regulations and constraints
directed at the other classes of the population,
without exception, one should stress. He had as great a
faith in laws and rules (for others) as the
Puritan masters of Massachusetts.

He was ready to accept corruption in government
and practice the same. The reason for this,
contrary to its reason at other times and places,
was in large part because it was the simplest and ordinary way
to get things done. English laws affecting his
interest adversely were promulgated from time to time,
but he ignored them, paid to disobey them, or
disobeyed and let the officials try to catch him and
put him through a friendly court to his disadvantage.
None of the terrible penalties attending the misbehavior
of other orders was applied to him, except for
heinous crime, such as sadistic physical abuse and
repeated attempted rape of a slave who was his daughter.

Corruption, as here implied, was business as usual
in Old Virginia. Captain Samuel Argall
rode his boat into Point Comfort as the newly appointed
Governor of Virginia a few years after the first settlement,
but before long he was accused by persons he had cheated in the
Virginia Company of having amassed 80,000 pounds sterling.
This was the time of Pocohontas the happily
kidnaped Indian Princess, and the invention of Bourbon Whiskey.
It was also the time of the great Indian massacre of
Europeans, disposing of 400 of the
all too few invaders in a single day.

In 1623, an even more important "First"
occurred when King James, who had virtues as well as
grave faults, by-passed the House of Commons, 49 of whose
members had been reputedly given free stock
in the Virginia Company, and set up a Royal Commission of
Inquiry into the affairs of the Virginia Company. Led by a
Justice Sir William Jones of the Court of Common Pleas,
a report after five months of hearings castigated the
Company, and in the following year the Court of
Kings Bench transferred the Company's charter to the King.
However, as an old expression goes,
"The conductor may change in name,
but the music is always the same."

Women of the Southland followed the bi-racial model,
the same as affected males. I have already pointed to the
distinctive character of Black women, to their unusual
independence before and during slavery,
in the tribal and slave households. White women of the
South came early under retarding pressures. They were almost
entirely illiterate and gained literacy much later than
the men and in smaller proportions.
They became planters' wives, plantation managers' wives,
farmers' (yeomen's, peasants') wives, the wives of
poor Whites, the wives of professional and mercantile types, and
perpetual servants, and in all cases more securely bound
than in the northern American sub-cultures.

Culturally deprived in a large sense, they had
two areas where they might develop an unusual outlook:
one, but confined to the wealthier class, was learning the
arts and skills of the slaves and a century later
learning the arts of interior decoration, music,
painting, poetry and literature, where, over time and with the
destruction of the social system, they might take charge of the
muses and accomplish a modest something of
originality in literature and drama overall.

The second was in relation to Black women, where the
caste system had to give way to regular contact on
matters of hygiene, child development, kitchen
and household management. In this latter connection,
the most bound females in America met with the singularly
liberated ones. In consequence, Southern White women were
highly developed by, but less fixated by, the slave system than
their White consorts. Because the plantation system was a
hacienda system, that is, a work-residence complex,
larger farms and plantations (hardly
distinguishable except in proportion of
work performed by slaves) afforded opportunities in
household management of considerable scope, and
involved large familial and social networking.

Where the planter male is assigned a powerful role generally
and has ample leisure, he will not need
the strong-armed, rough-cut female partner usually found
in agricultural settings, as was typical of Northern areas.
(Comparison with similar classes in the haciendas of Spanish,
Portuguese and French plantation cultures is suggested.)

The cult of femininity and beauty was supposed to
obsess the women of the Southern planter-professional-
managerial class. The myth of the Southern "belle" -
beautiful, well-spoken, courteously mannered,
socially omnicompetent - was bandied about
South, North and Europe.

We may accord some validity to the belief, and seek reasons.
For one thing, the upper-class roles just described act to
create beauty of the type described. And, by imitation of
the upper class, the cult of beauty and therefore
beauty itself may have introduced the "belle" to lower
and broader social reaches. "Beauty is as beauty does."

Perhaps, inasmuch as Southerners came from the more mixed royalist
English types (Norman, Celtic, Saxon), as against the Dissenters
(more likely to be Saxon), a certain beauty would have often accrued.
French Huguenots descended upon the Southern shores in some numbers;
there might have been a beauteous element coming from the gracile
Latin type therein. There may also have occurred some small
admixture of Indian and Negro genes, especially in earlier freer times
and in the poorer classes, although such mixed types were likely to
follow the frontier. Too, the early arrivals included many women of the
streets - a great many, to believe certain writers. These have always
been on the average prettier girls to begin with than the average
"virtuous" female, and therefore more likely to be led astray and, if
poor, better able to earn money on the basis of their looks. Their
descendants would carry their beauteous genes. Besides these
potentiators, the "belle," if numerous and persisting as a type, had to
depend upon and emerge from her own social and
psychological role-playing.

Families were set up in haste very often. Over half the population had
to ask someone else for permission to marry. Fornication was even
more common than to the North (except for Delaware and Maryland.)
Nearly a third of all first birthings occurred from pre-nuptial
pregnancies. Illegitimate births were common - although the concept
legally existed among whites only; it was assumed by them that Blacks
were naturally promiscuous. Women bondservants were punished
cruelly - by public whipping and added terms of compulsory service
(when the master felt aggrieved). Adultery, common among men, was
disallowed and often punished under the law among women. Prudery
was less evident in the South than in the North; the climate invited
nakedness for one thing.

In most of seventeenth century Maryland, for instance, in a colony that
had turned from Catholic to Protestant by immigration and revolt, the
women came or were collected from all over England. The vast
majority (75%) were indentured or otherwise indebted to work.
Fearful though they might be of the New World, they might at least (or
was it a good?) count upon a man and marriage forthwith; the ratio of
men to women was three to one.

An ordinary problem of the White planter's woman was her man: he
was frequently a philanderer. Nor were his sexual tastes confined to his
class, who were all too few, all too similar. It was the servant girl or
the African girl who caught his eye. Evidence of this type of behavior
comes not only from the few diaries and letters that have come down
to us, but from some social statistics. Most notorious of sexual
pursuers was the author of the famous William Byrd diaries,
of a family standing early and long in Virginia elite annals. He seems to
have set upon any girl who moved across his field of vision. And to
hear him out, his circle of acquaintances was playing the same
"tally-ho." Intercourse on demand, or call it rape.

A figure of 50,000 is often used to estimate the number of mixed
Afro-American ancestry in 1750. This is far too small a figure. The U.S.
Census of 1850 will give 500,000, ten times as many. And this is
believed by experts to be half the true number. I guess it to be 1.5
million - 500,000 correctly assessed, 500,000 who were not
recognized because counted as Blacks by the census caller, and
500,000 who were passing as Whites and Indians.

About half the Eur-Africans and free Afro-Americans, between whom
there is a high correlation, lived in or in connection with "The Big
House," the central structure of the plantation where dwelled the
master and his immediate family. They were household slaves or in
some cases free servants, and in many cases they were related by blood
to other residents of the house, but required to play the role of slaves,
such as not joining the guests at formal dinners and denying any blood
relationship with the members of the European household.

The illegal sexual intercourse represented by the number of
Eur-Africans is extensive. For every survival of birthing there would
have been required probably some fifty copulations, which would have
amounted to about 175,000,000 Eur-African sexual acts in the
two-decade biological generation ending in 1850. Southerners often
realized this, and the thought drove some of them wild, because they
were Puritanical, sexually deprived, and fiercely racist -- with this last
reason relating precisely to the oncoming wave of privileged and
well-connected Eur-African Americans. The agitation would be
particularly of the class of poorer Whites, who had no slaves,
and their womenfolk.

(Their imaginings were not too bizarre; slaves have
sometimes risen high because they were more to be
trusted than the free men of the society. Slaves rose to top
Ottoman circles when the now-Turkey was the
greatest and a highly civilized power in the world.
In Northern India the heads of six Muslim
dynasties had been slaves.)

No elite can afford for very long to defy the public opinion of the
lower classes. Thus it was that the planter class and its upper class
associates of the service class could not but bow to the clamor for
strict laws against miscegenation, even while the laws would be
observed in the breach. The interracial sex conduct of the upper classes
moved down through the ranks of the smaller farmer-slaveholders,
and excited both envy and consequent rapist tendencies
throughout the male White population. This, too, the planters
endeavored to stop, but trapped by their own practices, they could
only bring about a hypocritical system of justice,
one law for the rich and another for the poor.

The bi-racial culture as a whole entertained high constitutional law in
the abstract but a low regard for justice and the law in everyday life.
Considering the origins of the people, that found them often at odds
with the system of civil and criminal justice in Europe and the earliest
colonial practice, their later attitude toward law and justice,
conditioned by the continuing inequalities both formal and informal,
was bent toward lawlessness and violence.

Practically everyone who has studied the South, and by every
methodology, has attested to a much higher penchant there to the use
of personal and collective force, lawful (proper force) or unlawful
(violence), for the resolution of individual and social conflict. From the
very beginnings of colonization rates of violence and crimes of
property were higher, much higher than in Europe, even higher than in
England, Scotland and Ireland, that had especially high rates already
explained in terms of the disorders and internecine wars of the century
before and after the waves of emigration occurred. Besides the reasons
just adduced, racial in nature and by the class origin of settlers, there
were reasons that shall be taken up in the next chapter,
on frontier culture.

Southern culture began immediately in 1607 to
suppress freedom of thought, speech, press, and
action and never gave up controls of wide sections of
freedom. To speak of liberty in the South would be ridiculous.
Even North and West there were many limitations on
liberty until the 1970's. Personal
liberty in America enlarged in proportion to the
growth in national power over the states.

No less and more than their American cousins to the North, Southern
Americans tore up the land and decimated the species. The newcomer
- call him and her by name, by class, by ethnic origin, call them
"pioneers," or "forefathers" or "invaders" - it would take eighteen
biological generations to change environmental attitudes, which
meanwhile would infect with the inconscient practices of biocide all
who intermingled with them and came afterwards.

The plantation crops were hard on the soils. Valuable minerals were
leached out without replacement. Improper crop rotation was
common. The clearing of timber, partly for firewood,
partly burnt to clear land for planting, partly for construction of
buildings and boats, and finally for export abroad - all without
thought of replacement - got rid of most of the valuable timber in the
first six political generations.

To obtain new soils for the voracious crops, the planters and farmers
went upland and west, pursuing the same practices as they went,
stopping only when they had achieved Eastern Texas. Grave political
problems ensued with the incorrigible practices, which moved the
population, instead of caring for its resources where they stood.
Families, slave and free, were broken up casually
to follow the human locusts.

Talk of the small independent farmer or yeoman, as
historians please to do, deserves a horse-laugh,
then as now. Uninterruptedly the independent farmer, the
family-sized farm, was pushed into the boondocks and mountains, the
children scattering to the winds upon coming of age.
Factories and home industries did begin to operate and
sell to the market in the South. It was not originally and
always completely rural, with each plantation
constituting a self-sufficient economy. As soon as
people could get away from this system they did. The
plantations and centers of settlements without owners both
deserve to be lumped together in counting the village life of the South.
What happened to the villages and the industrial processes needs to be
told in a later context.

We would not wish to turn away from the planter and, indeed, all
social life without resuming the subject of drug consumption. I have
spoken enough about the miseries of early American life to let the
reader understand an apology that I would like to make for the
consumption of alcohol and tobacco. Both commodities make life for
the nonce tolerable. In moderation, they are not harmful. They were
not harmful then, when a person drank down a shot of whiskey before
heading out for a day's hard work on a wet dawn, and when he drank
beer or wine or even rum with his dinner. And a glass of beer or
wine, even two, for a wedding or at a funeral, seems beyond reproach.
That is not what we are discussing.

We are contemplating whole classes of people, men three times more
than women, who had a powerful whiskey or rum when they
awakened, another at breakfast, a third or beer at midmorning, more at
dinnertime and afterwards. We speak of 20% over the whole period -
perhaps a quarter million of the million adult White males who lived at
the time of the Revolution - who were drunks in this sense or worse,
often incapacitated for the performance of their duties. The Blacks,
forbidden alcohol on pain of whipping or starving, could not so easily
succumb. The Indians did, with dreadful effects, as recounted earlier.
The British population and its descendants might have drunk
and smoked themselves into extinction were if not for the greedy
corporate staff back in England who were continually shipping over
new cargoes of unfortunates.

Alcoholism was and is, of course, a symptom of heavy despair and
misery, social as well as individual. The alcoholism rate in the Soviet
Union, always bad under serfdom and Czarism, jolted up by terrible
warfare, increased under communism until, in retrospect, it would
appear to have been a barometer of the collapsing of the regime, and
when communism gave way to capitalism even more persons were
driven to drink.

Visitors from Europe or Latin America were surprised and shocked by
the heavy drinking going on everywhere and at all times; the American
Anglican minister of the South was notoriously bibulous. Nor was he
encouraged to be sober or solemn, considering the lawlessness and
immorality ( by his professed standards), of his parishioners (the more
wealthy and influential of whom appointed and paid him).

When a delegation sought help from Attorney General Seymour in
1692 to obtain a charter for the College of William and Mary, intended
to prepare clergy for the salvation of souls, he exclaimed,
"Souls! Damn your souls! Grow tobacco."
Most Southern planters, and many others,
liked their priests this way. Less than 20% of
Southerners attended church services regularly
before the Revolution. Yet it would not be long
before the South, notably influenced by the
Great Awakening of the mid-eighteenth century,
would become more and more devoted to
revivalism and evangelism.

With huge areas of fat soils and a large, reliable
work force, the Southern colonies grew a special sub-culture and
with this a special speech, humor, religion, dance, music,
ways of dealing with people, attitude to law and order, an outlook on
the rest of the country and on the world at large. When Southern
Editor Cash wrote his famous 1940 book
on The Mind of the South, he declared,
"Negro entered into white man as profoundly
as white man entered into Negro,
subtly influencing every gesture, every word,
every emotion and idea, every attitude."

In all of the regards I had just named,
African-Americans have been a primary creator and receptor.
The African was so Southern that even
Southerners descended from the few early survivors seemed
un-Southern by comparison.

The European elite of the bi-racial culture set itself impossible tasks,
especially considering its lackadaisical characterology.
One was to maintain a "pure" blood line of the motley crowd from
Europe in a society that was composed 42% of a
motley crowd from Africa and an unknown but motley
host of Indian tribes. This madness practically
destroyed the nation as well as the South and still
contains that fearful potential.

Another madcap idea was to suppress Christian and really all religion
among African-Americans. Christianity was a religion suited to equals:
"All of God's children are equal," etc. News of conversions of
Indians, East Indians, Africans, in place, plus all the slaves and Indians
of Hispanic America would carry the idea that all or some were going
to heaven. One would think that the elite could not be so megalomanic
to think otherwise, but many did. They could only expose the
contradictions of their personal behavior with their beliefs by joining
the Blacks together with them in a church; so they felt and it was so,
of course. But there was an overwhelming need for
religion among the African-Americans and many devout
clergymen and planter wives heard a call to be missionaries.

There was to be no African-American church, South or North,
save a solitary congregation, until the Revolution,
although African-Americans were fed into the churches as
second-class converts throughout the colonial period and
even thereafter practically everywhere in America. Except in
the totally African-American sects and branches of Christianity,
which were expanded in due course.

When they came in, African-Americans had to leave much of their
ritual and conduct at the doors. Their thoughts could not be
suppressed, of course, but some religious vigor was lost. Most were
unhappy in the Anglo-Christian congregations. Outside of Christian
churches and even Christianity, they had been developing spirituals,
chants, modes of singing and dancing sacrally. The Whites watched
them from time to time, as impressed as they were scornful.

What they could not realize was that Africa was entering their culture
perforce, a universalized African set of superstitions, gods,
ceremonials, magic, poetry, music, and dance. They did not realize that
before their very eyes, a gigantic amalgamation of
disparate African and Caribbean cultures was taking place;
nor did they appreciate the extent to which a new kind of
Christian thinking and role-acting was developing.

As they joined Christianity, the African-American fervor, their
religious superstitions, their magic, their gestures and dances, their
songs squeezed through the arches with them. Liturgically they
represented the most striking development since the Latin Mass
reached its fulfillment in the Late Middle Ages. So stiff was American
Protestantism and so imitative of this stiffness was American
Catholicism that much of the originality
and quality of the African-American religious
ceremonialism had to be abandoned as
heathen survivals - as if much of Christianity were not a
survival from paganism and heathenism.

It has long been considered that American country music
survived the overseas passage from Scottish and English villages to
blossom once again in the backs and hills of America.
A movement has sought to recapture the purity of the original.
Generations passed before the search for purity
(which had a racist tinge to it)
merged into a search for creativity.

African-American dancing combined elements from ancestral Africa,
from the Caribbean and from the plantation slave quarters, and a beat
and music, and all three tended to infiltrate and be captured by
European song and dance forms. The roots of the greatest American
contribution to music and dance were thus in the slave quarters,
sometimes imitated demurely or
"for fun" by plantation and other Whites.

The White elite also had the weird concept
of maintaining slaves in some kind of celibacy
except on the occasions when the masters needed to breed them.
This was attempted and stud farms for humans were advertised.
But the masters had too obvious a contradiction on their hands;
people, even slaves, were not horses.
Furthermore, it became obvious that the Europeans had to play the
husband's role or turn it back to the slaves on a disorganized basis.
Hence, more and more, the masters came to separate young girls and
boys and recognize couples, to the point, when associated with the
need of planters' wives and disemployed clergymen for a raison d'etre,
that marriage according to Christian principles was invited and
sanctified. No promises could go along with marriage and the "until
death do you part" phrasing had to be dropped, because families could
be torn apart by irritable masters, bankruptcy proceedings, and estate
disposition - not to mention a disharmony of the married couple.

Who taught whom Southern English dialect will be argued for a long
time. Long ago become the subject of table talk and farce, it has only
recently become a scholarly and political question. American
historians, although they are skittish around the so-called value-free
sociology of elites, will fall into naive elite theory in due course. They
will take for granted that whoever runs the society runs its language
and everything else. Not so. The elite is especially vulnerable to the
language of the masses, witness the way in which Teutonic forms
recaptured the English language from the
Norman French, until the language of Shakespeare and
science reversed the trend.

Bantu immigrants and their descendants coined an American dialect
called Gullah, using many African words, syntax, and intonations,
ecumenicalizing English and several African languages. The
Gullahphones were and are located on islands
off of the Carolinas. They cannot be understood by an
untrained American from elsewhere.

More general is the Southern sub-culture's dialect itself. An outside
American can understand it rather easily nowadays because of
television, the movies, and the high mobility of Americans, including
Southerners. Understanding did not come easily between 1680,
perhaps, and 1920. These were the periods of
growing apart from somewhat common roots and
developing along different lines and in isolation,
both of Whites and Blacks, until the advent of the motor car, the radio,
industrial demands for Southern labor,
national wars of grand scope, national universities, and
television. All of these familiarized the nation with
Southern speech forms, both Black and White.

There is a possibility in unrecorded history that historians should
attend to. The underground communication system of African-American
slaves may have been more effective, continuous and
universal than among Southern Whites. Slaves were frequently
transferred by sale, by family divisions of the masters, and by achieving
freedom; they were not fixed and culturally static.

One has only to see how dance forms of the Caribbean are repeated in
Arkansas and Virginia to appreciate that language could proceed
readily by the same means and lines of dance diffusion. One will
recall, too, that masters and overseers frequently, even regularly,
traveled with their slaves, and that the slaves had ample opportunity to
communicate with others, as well as with free men along the route and
at the meeting places of the masters.

The very fear that the Eur-Americans had of slave
revolts betokened an awareness of how, sometimes
eerily, slaves in one part of the country
knew what was happening that
had to do with slaves across the country.

Language is transacted like business and disease; it is catching and
transactional, effective as it goes along. And the elite would talk more
like the slaves than would the sub-elite and hoi polloi. This is because
the common people of the free classes are constantly aware and
suspicious of the potential influence of the slaves upon the upper class,
and reject slave influence, believing that they can thus cut these
influences of language or of any other kind
on the way up the social ladder.

But they cannot. For there are good sociological and psychological
reasons for an elite to listen to the most deprived section of the
population; there is no threat to be perceived there,
unless one is excited into panic by the poor Whites,
who are much more ready than the top elite to see
a slave revolt where there is none, or even
perceive it earlier when it happens than the top elite,
out of their very paranoia.

In time, the developing language of the South, with its soft accents,
lilt, and modulation, seeming absence of rage and aggression, and
politeness of expression, cannot have come from the poorer White
classes, but must have come from the willingness to please and
meekness, willy-nilly, of the slave, and gone directly into the minds and
speech, first of the planter class, and then worked its way around and
down. Southern manners and demeanor, that were so remarked and
appreciated by many people as a contrast to the ever-harsher and more
nasal tones of Northerners, were quickly lost in the free Northern
African-American, who believed that he could get along faster if he
demonstrated his no-nonsense, rough-spoken equality to the
Whites whom he encountered.

In some cases the free African-American tried also to recapture his
African name or an unmistakable version of it. Here, too, the planter
had insisted that his slaves bear a Christian name of his the planter's
choice, and not only that, but bear the family name of the planter,
although commonly the slave was given no family name officially until
the occasion arose, as it did upon liberation.
Thus came Blacks to be called by French names
in Louisiana and British names elsewhere. (The situation was
comparable to that in Western Europe, when family names became
convenient and required by law and were called "sons of" or named by
place of origin, lords of the manor, objects and biota.)

But the freed slaves faced White opposition and scorn in many official
quarters when they attempted to assume African roots or names for
themselves. Name-restoring bureaus were not established to help out.
Much later, African Muslims, so-called, rendered their names in
Arabic, hardly historical or even deserving, for the largest most
enduring region of slavery was Islamic. (The Black Muslim
movement in America succeeded greatly -
anti-white, anti-feminist, anti-drugs, orderly - and
marched nearly a million supporters around Washington, D.C.
in October 1995.) Champion boxer Cassius Clay
became Muhammad Ali as a clear act of defiance of nomenclature that
had been derived from an age of helplessness in creating one's identity.
He received jeers from the press and boxing fans and
attempts were made often to continue his old name,
but he persisted and won out.

At the same time, with wider knowledge and research, a large variety
of African names and roots became available, and a few bold African-Americans
decided to add this way of capturing comfortably their
antecedents. Thus, Stokeley Carmichael, a champion of Afro-American
civil rights, changed his name to Kwame Toure. Leroi Jones, a leading
spokesman for Black artists in the 1960's and 1970's changed
his name to Amiri Baraka. The President of the National
Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
in 1999 was named Kweisi Mfume

The half-million Africans who landed in the continental United States,
plus perhaps another half-million Europeans whose genes became part
of the mix, produced today's thirty million African-American
population who are in some part African. (This may be compared with
the seventeenth century Puritan migration to Massachusetts of some
20,000, whose descendants in some part may reach about one-third the
number; these had a longer breeding period and have mixed even more
with other groupings.)

South Carolina received 91,591 Africans between 1700 and 1808
(official figures: smuggling brought in many more until 1865); in the
process, they became the majority element in the State. Most came
from Senegal and Gambia, the Mandes, and from Angola and Zaire
(using today's names), these being of one of the major Bantu cultures,
Bakongo, Ovimbundu, and Luba Lunda.

The Bantu alone may have constituted half of the original source of
African-Americans, as many as all Americans wholly or in part of
Italian and French origin taken together. Before the great urban
migrations of the twentieth century, three major Bantu centers existed,
the Sea Islands, the Virginia Tidewater, and the
New Orleans area.

In Louisiana, whereas the Bantu shone in folklore and the arts
generally, religion (the Voodoo cult) was Dahomean. In the matter of
musical instruments alone, there, the Bantu produced new types of
drums, the diddley bow, the mouth bow, quills, washtub bass, jugs,
gongs, bells, rattles, ideophones, and the five-stringed harp. The Bantu
also added many words to the American language and hundreds of
place names, the best of cuisine of American origin (united with the
French Creole cooking), iron-working techniques, rice cultivation, and
folklore of wide scope. Dance and musical forms were forcefully
introduced and became finally the American (and world) artistic
vanguard of the twentieth century.

The Mande people of Senegal and Gambia, speaking a score of related
languages, were the heaviest contributors to skilled trades and
household management in South Carolina and throughout the South
generally. Again, their folklore was rich, some of which has gone into
and out of the American mainstream: for instance, Brer Rabbit, Sis'
Nanny, and other animal and trickster stories; these often carried an
ironic vein critical of the White population.

Bi-racial slave culture began with a variegated string of boats from
England, received at its edges on the frontiers groups of Germans,
took in individuals of some consequence from time to time, such as
wandering Jews and French Huguenots, but by the receipt of large
numbers of Africans as slaves, became in many regards a bi-racial
culture. By "bi-racial" is meant a culture containing two distinctive
but inter-dependent sub-cultures, each feeding the other along the
whole range of values at stake in society.

In our judgement, the culture was based upon immoral premises
racially, economically, and philosophically. Its appealing aspects were
accidental, peripheral, and/or tinctured with tragedy and melancholy.
Still they account for much of the greatness of American culture today.
But the territorial and demographic success of the bi-racial culture in
expanding over much of the United States signaled and
indicates, not a national good, but national troubles.

A word of genealogical perspective would not be amiss at this point. It
has been shown that, statistically, the average French person has
inherited the genes of Charlemagne from eight sources. Using the same
method of demographic computation, the average French person
would have roughly the same number of genes coming by way of any
ninth century prolific Frankish camp follower.

By 1776 a typical American
had as many of the genes of a convict and prostitute
in her as genes of a proper Puritan or any other early class
she might have preferred. For every nice and proper person of that
time, there was living a smuggler, a prostitute , a murderer, a convict,
a slave driver, a slave trader or mariner, or a hopeless drunkard.
Double the ratio for sadistic wife or child abuser or heavy drinker.
Triple it for illiterates. Quintuple it for hereditary slaves and
bonded slaves.

The Southerners' bi-racial culture contained in it
the means of taking over an exorbitant amount of the land and
a large portion of the popular mind and imagination. It has been
the source in scope and intensity of perhaps 90% of the
invidious and persistent religious, ethnic, and racial prejudice of the
country as a whole. The Southern population had the least auspicious
beginnings of the three major cultures. It was constituted by the most
deprived and depreciated of all major immigrations that have occurred
from 1607 to the present time. It suffered
later a devastating war that reduced all of its
achievements and value ratings without exception, and then
worsened even this position by a guerrilla war of a
hundred years against Afro-Americans and Northern
interests, until finally, overtaken by external economic and
demographic forces, it accepted an ambiguous truce or
surrender. But we have much yet to say about
such matters in chapters yet to come.