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THREE SOUTHERN VIEWS OF RECONCILIATION, ECONOMIC RECOVERY AND RACE IN THE NEW SOUTH, 1865-1900: AS SEEN IN THE LIFE AND WORK OF THOMAS NELSON PAGE, JOEL CHANDLER HARRIS AND GEORGE WASHINGTON CABLE (GEORGIA; VIRGINIA)

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posted on 2023-09-06, 02:51 authored by Emily Stenhouse Richardson

Thomas Nelson Page (1853-1923) of Richmond, Joel Chandler Harris (1848-1923) of Atlanta, and George Washington Cable (1844-1925) of New Orleans--three Southern writers of the post-bellum period--had different views of reconciliation with the North, economic recovery and above all, race relations in the post-Civil War South. The essays and fiction of these three writers mirror conflicts within the postwar Southern intellectual community and confirm Allen Tate's theory that intellectuals provided insight into history. This study moves beyond Tate's theory. It reveals how personal experience, including very different social backgrounds and regional milieux molded each writer's attitudes towards Blacks and each writer's expectations of the South's future. Page's ideal for a racially segregated South came from his conservative Virginia heritage; Harris's ambiguous position on Blacks echoed his middle-class Georgia environment; and Cable's liberalism reflected the unusual social structure of New Orleans. Page and Harris envisioned a rural economy dominated by whites, while Cable advocated an urban society with opportunities for Blacks. For these writers, as for many Southerners, identity with the past produced ambivalence. In their fiction, these writers depicted the Old South, while their essays addressed problems, hopes and fears of a new and different South. Page's docile slave of the Old South in his fiction contrasted with a fear of universal suffrage in his essays. Folklore, humor, and animals allow Harris to express his doubts about the advisability of white supremacy and the morality of slavery. In contrast, his essays, attacked racial equality, a notion attractive to many champions of the New South. There was no such ambiguity in Cable's prose. Cable's fiction denounced racism, while extolling the beauty of prewar New Orleans. His essays called for racial equality. These writers portray a South that was suspicious of change--and confused over its future. Page and Harris typify Southerners who, because of their conflicts and preoccupation with racial tensions, often failed to see the possibilities perceived by Cable for a freer and more prosperous society.

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American University

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English

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Ph.D. American University 1987.

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http://hdl.handle.net/1961/thesesdissertations:1729

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application/pdf

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Part of thesis digitization project, awaiting processing.

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