Over half a century ago, as my parents purchased World Book Encyclopedia set that came with Childcraft books for kids, I started my own quest of what the Abbeville Institute calls, as its mission, to:
preserve and present what is true and valuable in the Southern tradition
I did not know this at the time. The only reason I chose researching the “Southern tradition” when I was a young child was the fact that I was born in Columbus, GA back when they still had white drinking fountains, and black drinking fountains. I know just being born on land that happens to be south of the Mason-Dixon line does not make one a “Southerner”, just the fact I was born in Muscogee County within a few miles of the Chattahoochee River made me want to learn all I could of that region, its people and their history..
So starting when I was 6 or 7 and continuing into high school when I could go to the library and read all about the South, its culture, its quest for independence in 1775 and again in 1860 and the predominant aspect that set it apart from the rest of the nation, its connection with the land, and with kin. As the Internet developed, Amazon Kindles were manufactured, I have continued this research in the last couple decades.
Today’s installment of the Abbeville Institute daily educational e-mail brought me to a new place in my research journey. You see, for all these years I thought it was just because I am a rebel at heart, or sometimes being able to see ahead with a prophetic eye (not foretelling, but forth-telling) or maybe the fact that I tend to align myself with the underdogs in life, that these were the reasons I stayed in touch with my “southern research” and seeing value in much of the Southern traditions. But today, I saw something that I don’t think I understood before, it was the agrarian view of life that attracted me at my core to stay attached to how the South responded to the world around them through the centuries since a ship first landed at Jamestown in 1608.
Here is the paragraph that made the light bulb turn on:
In 1787, Patrick Henry warned Virginia and the South about the danger of forming a union with the people of New England. Patrick Henry predicted that the North, being the numerical majority, would control the Federal Government and use the Federal Government to extract tribute (taxes in the form of tariffs) from the South. Patrick Henry was joined by other Southerners, such as George Mason and Rawlins Lowndes who warned of the danger of a union with the North. From its very beginning, the United States has been a nation divided. The division was not one of slave states vs. non-slave states but a division between a commercial society vs. an agrarian society.
Agrarian societies, in my humble opinion, know intimately well the realities of nature in this world and how broken it really is. One could plant a crop one year with the timing perfect and yet see the crops be decimated before harvest time. Alternatively, one could sow a crop in all the wrong ways and reap a bountiful harvest. Being agrarian, in my own opinion, keeps one humble, and keeps one from thinking that one could improve on nature to the point of perfection.
I look around today at the progressives, left-collectivists (as well as those on the other side of the aisle, so-called conservatives, neo-cons, right-collectivists) and know that they probably have never farmed a day in their life. These people, born into an urban or suburban setting only know how to idealize how everything can be fixed, in their utopian view for “free” based on their own shallow notion of where security and wealth come from. Government tends to be their god.
Alternatively, those who can tell the difference between capitalism and crony capitalism, between creating value honorably verses buying a monopoly via lobbyist actions in DC, know that there is a difference between labor, fiat money and wealth, values and a generational legacy to hand down.
This article also points out the heartache all honest businessmen and entrepreneurs have in the current climate, that was the case even back in the 1800s:
In 1828, Missouri Senator Thomas H. Benton declared that the Federal Government’s tariff policy was forcing Southerners to pay 75% of the Federal revenue used to support the government. He lamented, “This is the reason why wealth disappears from the South and rises up in the North. Federal legislation does all this.” 
In an 1828 letter to Daniel Webster, Abbott Lawrence of Massachusetts advocated a proposed tariff bill because “This bill if adopted as amended will keep the South and West in debt to New England the next hundred years.” As Patrick Henry had warned and Senator Benton noted, the agrarian South was being exploited by the commercial North—a Northern commercial and financial crony capitalist society that could not exist without the steady inflow of revenue gained from protective tariffs.
Massachusetts historian Charles Bancroft admitted this harsh fact ten years after the North’s conquest of the South, “While so gigantic a war was an immense evil; to allow the right of peaceable secession would have been ruin to the enterprise and thrift of the industrious laborer, and keen-eyed businessman of the North. It would have been the greatest calamity of the age. War was less to be feared.” Follow the money, and you will discover the real reason for war.
Being exploited for other’s gain is never a good feeling. The ability of parasites both in industry and in government to siphon off one’s wealth and makes it that much more difficult to put profits away for future capital expenditures means that everyone is working harder for less realized credit. It does seem at times that the deck is stacked against the entrepreneur, not just the broken world part, but a government entity and all their regulations (federal, state, local) that sucks life out of …. life.
Here is a final quote from this article, one that shows not unlike those in the South after their attempt for independence failed, we too are in fact these days subjects, not citizens. We are tax slaves on the government plantation:
Confederate President Jefferson Davis explained the motive for Northern invasion of the South, “The lust for empire impelled them [Northerners] to wage against their weaker neighbors [Southerners] a war of subjugation.” Senator Joseph Lane of Oregon in 1861 warned Congress that the Federal Government was becoming an aggressive empire. The London Telegraph in 1866 observed that while the United States “may remain a republic in name, but some eight million of the people [Southerners] are subjects not citizens.”
So yet again there are forces in this land that are ripping people apart. The majority think this is a right or left problem, and that if we get government right, and get the right people elected, all will be well. But at our core, those that are critical thinkers know this all sounds very hollow. We know that it is not the takers that find truth and honor in this broken world, but the givers, those who sacrifice for their kids, grand-kids, family and friends to make this journey a more pleasant one.
Again, the land has a lot to do with this process, and in these days when so many are generations away from the land we tend (myself included) to take nature and the Creator of that nature for granted.
I guess I am coming to the age where I see that more clearly every day, just to watch ducks and geese in a pond for 10, 20 or 30 minutes observing their journey as the weather changes. These days it seems that we have to intentionally carve out time to enjoy this earth, but in my own mind, there are rewards in that that far outweigh that time on social media or in front of a television.
Not sure what the path forward is, but getting back to nature and self-sufficiency seems to be part of the formula. No answers here today, just a lot of questions.