Sitting in Darkness:  New South Fiction, Education,

And the Rise of Jim Crow Colonialism, 1865-1920

by Peter Schmidt

Complete Notes and Discussion for Chapter Seven

(Ingraham and Holley)

Supplementing the print edition of this book

 

1.  Cable’s John March, Southerner (1895) has been read by Butcher as an anti-racist novel consistent with Cable’s essays criticizing the New South’s racial order (see especially 114-25).  I think Butcher makes a decent case, but in the end I disagree. I believe instead that the novel’s position towards both its hero and the New South is extremely muddled and contradictory, perhaps as a result of Cable’s own mixed feelings toward the region in which he no longer felt welcome.  Butcher feels John March is re-educated away from his typically New South prejudices over the course of the book, but I do not see convincing evidence of this.  From the very start, March is extremely disdainful of black schools and black leaders, for instance, and never renounces such views.  Harris’ Gabriel Tolliver: A Story of Reconstruction (1902), like Page’s Red Rock, treats the black school as a site for fomenting  violence and black racial hatred.  But Harris, typically, remains ambivalent about New South dogma about black monstrosity.  Tolliver as a hero is sometimes drawn more toward black cultural spaces than white ones (see, for example, the scene in which he hides underneath the school-house with Tasma Tid), even though at the end of the novel he ascends to power within the white New South hierarchy.  Both these novels deserve new interpretations within a New South historical context.

2.  On the Documenting the American South database, Bond and Free is listed under “Grace Lintner,” a character in the novel who is the supposed author of the text, not Ellen Ingraham, its actual author.  For other Southern responses to Tourgée before Harris, Page, and Dixon, including William Royall, J. H. Ingraham (no relation to Ellen M. Ingraham), and N. J. Floyd, see Gross, Tourgée 84-86.  For a general discussion of the “plantation school,” see MacKethan. 

3.  Bond and Free 286.  For more on the relevance of “free labor” ideology to the postwar period, see Chapter Six.  As a heroine, Ingraham’s Letitia to some degree follows in the footsteps of some independent-minded heroines in prewar Southern fiction, such as Caroline Hentz’s Eoline (1852), whose title character flees her plantation home and an arranged marriage to become a teacher.  Eoline eventually returns to the plantation to resume her rightful place at the top of the social hierarchy.  See Karen Smith’s discussion of Eoline, which suggests that by having her heroine be a teacher on the path to becoming mistress of a plantation, Hentz is pushing for a broader notion of acceptable women’s responsibilities and identity (54).  Such an expansion is part of the agenda of Ingraham’s Bond and Free as well, even though Letitia is not, strictly speaking, a teacher; she hires one.   But her path to becoming mistress of a plantation is certainly as extraordinary as Hentz’s heroine’s.  Incidentally, immediately after the War, Southern planters were sometimes blamed by Southerners for causing the South’s poor level of social and economic development, including  its lack of a public education system.  One such example is D. H. Hill, an ex-Confederate general who published The Land We Love magazine in North Carolina in the late 1860s.  Hill was an early advocate of widespread educational reform for whites, stressing the value of practical, not scholastic, education.  For more on Hill, see Gaston 29-30.  In Ingraham’s Bond and Free, she suggests that planters were generally ignorant on matters of education, with her heroine Letitia the glorious exception.

4.  Quotations from American Freedman and Flake’s Bulletin (February 10, 1867) are drawn from Bentley, 176 and 181 respectively.

5.  The mother of Oscar and Letitia Templeton was an octoroon and their marriage was recognized in New Orleans but not in their home state of Virginia.  Unlike in Child’s novel Romance of the Republic (1867; discussed in Chapter One), in Bond and Free the father apparently makes a will legally freeing his children, but his evil half-brother ignores it.

Ingraham’s Letitia associates her black blood with sin, hardly an unusual reaction for the period, given attitudes toward miscegenation.  What is far more intriguing, however, is that she also suggests traces of blackness can somehow be miraculously extinguished over a period of several generations, so that even though she is the daughter of a woman with one-eighth “black” blood, she now believes that not one drop of “blackness” remains in her to be passed on to her children.  The heroine’s concluding meditation is worth quoting for its immaculately contorted logic and its Biblical metaphor of cleansing:  “You can never realize how dreadful once seemed to me the thought of entailing upon children any trace of African descent, nor my happiness now in believing that in our family it is extinct.  Even after this lapse of years, my mind will sometimes revert to the period when the transgressions of the fathers were visited upon me as a representative of the third and fourth generations, and my heart overflows with gratitude toward the love of a Saviour, whose blood ‘cleanseth us from all sin.[’]  Is not that a beautiful picture?” (286-87).  From the context, it is not at all apparent that Ingraham means for the reader to see her heroine’s conclusions as naïve or incorrect.

6.  Anderson, Education of Blacks in the South 22, citing Alvord 13.

7.  For a fine analysis of Waterbury’s text in the larger context of postwar ambivalence regarding black freedom, see Saidiya Hartman, 161-63 and 177-78. 

8.  For an expert recent analysis of this topic, see Paul Kramer, “Making Concessions: Race and Empire Revisited at the Philippine Exposition, St. Louis, 1901-05.”  Good study has been done on the matters of fairs or “world expositions,” empire, industrial capitalism, and the uses of spectacle, including well known books by Robert Rydell and Alan Trachtenberg, but here I would like to make special note of Timothy Mitchell’s “Orientalism and the Exhibitionary Order.”  See also Rydell, “Rediscovering,” who reproduces a stereoptic photograph of the Igorot Filipino village at the St. Louis fair (58-59).  Such photos were widely sold as Fair souvenirs.  In this one, ten Filipino men stand in the foreground wearing little clothing, while behind them on a row of benches sit white women spectators in voluminous skirts, blouses and hats.

9.  Photographs of the “Igorot Village,” including of Igorots voting, were extensively distributed as publicity for and souvenirs from the St. Louis Fair.  Sources for the facts about the Philippine Reservation include an online site set up by the St. Louis Public Library [http://slpl.org/slpl/interests/article240114133.asp]; Rydell; and Clevenger.  For the specific photograph of voting reproduced here, the URL is http://exhibits.slpl.lib.mo.us/lpe/data/lpe240023338.asp?Image=56593673, accessed October 25, 2006.  Thanks to the St. Louis Public Library for permission to reproduce this photograph.  Also relevant is Vergara’s broader history of representations of the Philippines in colonial discourse.