Dark Bilious Vapors

But how could I deny that I possess these hands and this body, and withal escape being classed with persons in a state of insanity, whose brains are so disordered and clouded by dark bilious vapors....
--Rene Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy: Meditation I

Home » Archives » December 2005 » A peek into the mind of the Civil War South

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12/08/2005: A peek into the mind of the Civil War South

BoingBoing links to a UNC transcription of a schoolbook from the Civil War South, The Geographical Reader, for the Dixie Children.

"Lesson X. Races of Men" is exactly what you would expect from that period, but I found this passage from quizzes at the end of the book rather surprising:

     Q. How do the Indians live?

     A. By hunting and fishing.

     Q. Where did they once live?

     A. In all America.

     Q. What has become of them?

     A. The white people drove them away and took their lands.

     Q. Are they all gone?

     A. A few of them live in some places but do not seem much happy.

     Q. Was it not wrong to drive them away and take their lands?

     A. It was, and God will judge the white man for it.

     Q. May not some of the wars we have had, have been such judgments?

     A. Very likely.

That's not a sentiment I would have expected a Southerner of the period -- and an apologist for racism, slavery, and secession -- to express.

Later the author, Marinda Branson Moore, almost has a crucial insight into the real cause of the war.

     Q. If the people of the United States had always elected good men for rulers what would have been the result?

     A. We should have had no war.

     Q. Why?

     A. Because every man would have been willing to treat others justly, and there would have been no cause for war.

     Q. Are these judgments for our sin alone?

     A. They are partly for our sins, and partly for the sins of our forefathers.

So close, and yet so far.

Brock on 12.08.05 @ 07:25 PM CST

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