After only eighteen years of non-interference , there were already indications of melioration , though `` in a slight degree '' , to be sure .
There were more indications by the mid-twentieth century .
I leave it to the statisticians to say what they were , but I noticed several a few years ago , during an automobile ride from Memphis to Hattiesburg .
In town after town my companion pointed out the Negro school and the White school , and in every instance the former made a better appearance ( it was newer , for one thing ) .
It really looked as if a change of the sort predicted by Booker T. Washington had been going on .
But with the renewal of interference in 1954 ( as with its beginning in 1835 ) , the improvement was impaired .
For over a hundred years Southerners have felt that the North was picking on them .
It's infuriating , this feeling that one is being picked on , continually , constantly .
By what right of superior virtue , Southerners ask , do the people of the North do this ? ?
The traditional strategy of the South has been to expose the vices of the North , to demonstrate that the North possessed no superior virtue , to `` show the world that '' as James's Christopher Newman said to his adversaries ) `` however bad I may be , you're not quite the people to say it '' .
In the pre-Civil War years , the South argued that the slave was not less humanely treated than the factory worker of the North .
At the present time , the counter-attack takes the line that there's no more of the true spirit of `` integration '' in the North than in the South .
The line is a pretty good one .
People talk about `` the law of the land '' .
The expression has become quite a cliche .
But people can't be made to integrate , socialize ( the two are inseparable by Southern standards ) by law .
I was having lunch not long ago ( apologies to N. V. Peale ) with three distinguished historians ( one specializing in the European Middle Ages , one in American history , and one in the Far East ) , and I asked them if they could name instances where the general mores had been radically changed with `` deliberate speed , majestic instancy '' ( Francis Thompson's words for the Hound Of Heaven's Pursuit ) by judicial fiat .
They didn't seem to be able to think of any .
A Virginia judge a while back cited a Roman jurist to the effect that ten years might be a reasonable length of time for such a change .
But I suspect that the old Roman was referring to change made under military occupation -- the sort of change which Tacitus was talking about when he said , `` They make a desert , and call it peace '' ( `` Solitudinem faciunt , pacem appellant '' .
Moreover , the law of the land is not irrevocable ; ;
it can be changed ; ;
it has been , many times .
Mr. Justice Taney's Dred Scott decision in 1857 was unpopular in the North , and soon became a dead letter .
Prohibition was the law of the land , but it was unpopular ( how many of us oldsters took up drinking in prohibition days , drinking was so gay , so fashionable , especially in the sophisticated Northeast ! !
) and was repealed .
The cliche loses its talismanic virtue in the light of a little history .
The Declaration of Independence says that `` governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed '' .
The phrase `` consent of the governed '' needs a hard look .
How do we define it '' ? ?
Is the consent of the governed a numerical majority ? ?
Calhoun dealt with this question in his `` Disquisition On Government '' .
To guard against the tyranny of a numerical majority , Calhoun developed his theory of `` concurrent majority '' , which , he said , `` by giving to each portion of the community which may be unequally affected by the action of government , a negative on the others , prevents all partial or local legislation '' .
Who will say that our country is even now a homogeneous community ? ?
That regional peculiarities do not still exist ? ?
That the Court order does not unequally affect the Southern region ? ?
Who will deny that in a vast portion of the South the Federal action is incompatible with the Jeffersonian concept of `` the consent of the governed '' ? ?
Circumstances alter cases .
A friend of mine in New Mexico said the Court order had caused no particular trouble out there , that all had gone as merry as a marriage bell .
He seemed a little surprised that it should have caused any particular trouble anywhere .
I murmured something about a possible difference between New Mexico's history and Mississippi's .
One can meet with aloofness almost anywhere : the THIDIU viewpoint , It Doesn't Affect Us ! !
Southern Liberals ( there are a good many ) -- especially if they're rich -- often exhibit blithe insouciance .
The trouble here is that it's almost too easy to take the high moral ground when it doesn't cost you anything .
You've already sent your daughter to Miss X's select academy for girls and your son to Mr. Y's select academy for boys , and you can be as liberal as you please with strict impunity .
If there's no suitable academy in your own neighborhood , there's always New England .
New England academies welcome fugitives from the provinces , South as well as West .
They may even enroll a colored student or two for show , though he usually turns out to be from Thailand , or any place other than the American South .
It would be interesting to know how much `` integration '' there is in the famous , fashionable colleges and prep schools of New England .
A recent newspaper report said there were five Negroes in the 1960 graduating class of nearly one thousand at Yale ; ;
that is , about one-half of one per cent , which looks pretty `` tokenish '' to me , especially in an institution which professes to be `` national '' .
I must confess that I prefer the Liberal who is personally affected , who is willing to send his own children to a mixed school as proof of his faith .
I leave out of account the question of the best interests of the children , the question of what their best interests really are .
I'm talking about the grand manner of the Liberal -- North and South -- who is not affected personally .
If these people were denied a voice ( do they have a moral right to a voice ? ?
) , what voices would be left ? ?
Who is involved willy nilly ? ?
Well , after everybody has followed the New England pattern of segregating one's children into private schools , only the poor folks are left .
And it is precisely in this poorer economic class that one finds , and has always found , the most racial friction .
A dear , respected friend of mine , who like myself grew up in the South and has spent many years in New England , said to me not long ago : `` I can't forgive New England for rejecting all complicity '' .
Being a teacher of American literature , I remembered Whittier's `` Massachusetts To Virginia '' , where he said : `` But that one dark loathsome burden ye must stagger with alone , And reap the bitter harvest which ye yourselves have sown '' .
There is a legend ( Hawthorne records it in his `` English Notebooks '' .
And one finds it again in Thomas Nelson Page ) to the effect that the Mayflower on its second voyage brought a cargo of Negro slaves .
Whether historically a fact or not , the legend has a certain symbolic value .
Complicity is an embarrassing word .
It is something which most of us try to get out from under .
Like the cowboy in Stephen Crane's `` Blue Hotel '' , we run around crying , `` Well , I didn't do anything , did I '' ? ?
Robert Penn Warren puts it this way in `` Brother To Dragons '' : `` The recognition of complicity is the beginning of innocence '' , where innocence , I think , means about the same thing as redemption .
A man must be able to say , `` Father , I have sinned '' , or there is no hope for him .
Lincoln understood this better than most when he said in his `` Second Inaugural '' that God `` gives to both North and South this terrible war , as the woe due to those by whom the offense came '' .
He also spoke of `` the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years in unrequited toil '' .
Lincoln was historian and economist enough to know that a substantial portion of this wealth had accumulated in the hands of the descendants of New Englanders engaged in the slave trade .
After how many generations is such wealth ( mounting all the while through the manipulations of high finance ) purified of taint ? ?
It is a question which New Englanders long ago put out of their minds .
But didn't they get off too easy ? ?
The slaves never shared in their profits , while they did share , in a very real sense , in the profits of the slave-owners : they were fed , clothed , doctored , and so forth ; ;
they were the beneficiaries of responsible , paternalistic care .
Emerson -- Platonist , idealist , doctrinaire -- sounded a high Transcendental note in his `` Boston Hymn '' , delivered in 1863 in the Boston Music Hall amidst thundering applause : `` Pay ransom to the owner and fill the bag to the brim .
Who is the owner ? ?
The slave is owner , And ever was .
Pay him '' ! !
It is the abstractionism , the unrealism , of the pure idealist .
It ignores the sordid financial aspects ( quite conveniently , too , for his audience , who could indulge in moral indignation without visible , or even conscious , discomfort , their money from the transaction having been put away long ago in a good antiseptic brokerage ) .
Like Pilate , they had washed their hands .
But can one , really ? ?
Can God be mocked , ever , in the long run ? ?
New Englanders were a bit sensitive on the subject of their complicity in Negro slavery at the time of the drafting of the Declaration of Independence , as Jefferson explained in his `` Autobiography '' : ``
The clause reprobating the enslaving the inhabitants of Africa was struck out in complaisance to South Carolina and Georgia , who had never attempted to restrain the importation of slaves , and who on the contrary still wished to continue it .
Our Northern brethren also I believe felt a little tender under those censures ; ;
for though their people had very few slaves themselves , yet they had been pretty considerable carriers of them to others '' .
But that was a long time ago .
The New England conscience became desensitized .
George W. Cable ( naturalized New Englander ) , writing in 1889 from `` Paradise Road , Northampton '' ( lovely symbolic name ) , agitated continuously the `` Southern question '' .
It was nice to be able to isolate it .
New England , as everyone knows , has long been schoolmaster to the Nation .
There one finds concentrated in a comparatively small area the chief universities , colleges , and preparatory schools of the United States .
Why should this be so ? ?
It is true that New England , more than any other section , was dedicated to education from the start .
But I think that something more than this is involved .
How did it happen , for example , that the state university , that great symbol of American democracy , failed to flourish in New England as it did in other parts of the country ? ?
Isn't it a bit odd that the three states of Southern New England ( Massachusetts , Connecticut , and Rhode Island ) have had state institutions of university status only in the very recent past , these institutions having previously been A & M colleges ? ?
Was it supposed , perchance , that A & M ( vocational training , that is ) was quite sufficient for the immigrant class which flooded that part of the New England world in the post-Civil War period , the immigrants having been brought in from Southern Europe , to work in the mills , to make up for the labor shortage caused by migration to the West ? ?
Is it not ironical that Roger Williams's state , Rhode Island , should have been the very last of the forty-eight to establish a state university ? ?
The state universities of Maine , New Hampshire , And Vermont are older and more `` respectable '' ; ;
they had less immigration to contend with .
A Yale historian , writing a few years ago in The Yale Review , said : `` We in New England have long since segregated our children '' .
He was referring not only to the general college situation but more especially to the preparatory schools .
And what a galaxy of those adorns that fair land ! !
I don't propose to go into their history , but I have one or two surmises .
One is that they were established , or gained eminence , under pressure provided by these same immigrants , from whom the old families wished to segregate their children .
In the early days of a homogeneous population , the public school was quite satisfactory .