Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/392

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
380
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

lation. If we except Baltimore, Louisville, and St. Louis, neither one of which, is an exclusively Southern city. New Orleans remains even to-day as the only city in the South of over one hundred thousand inhabitants. Neither Richmond, Atlanta, Charleston, Memphis, nor Nashville has a white population of fifty thousand. With these various conditions borne in mind, it is not strange that the talent of the Southern people was exercised in other directions than those of inventions.

The military qualities of Southerners have been demonstrated in every war in which the United States was engaged; and the leadership in the Revolution, the second war with England, the war with Mexico, and on the Confederate side during the civil war, fell to the part of Southern men. Even on the Northern side during the last-named contest numbers of the foremost soldiers and sailors were men of Southern birth, prominent among whom may be mentioned Thomas, Ord, Fremont, Newton, and Farragut. Abraham Lincoln, the head of the civil administration during the same period, was a born Southerner, and Grant was of Southern extraction. In statesmanship the South had held the highest rank always, and under Southern leadership all the additions to the national domain were made. His English ancestry, the republican form of government under which he lived, the call of a new country for political thinkers during its formative period, the passion for governing engendered by the ownership of slaves, and lastly the long antislavery agitation which saturated the atmosphere with politics, all contributed to cause the ambitious Southerner of the past to drift into public life. The descendants of the Jamestown colonists inherited the Anglo-Saxon spirit of adventure which characterized their ancestors, and it is not strange that Virginia led the rest of the States of the Union in the number of her pioneers who settled the West and Southwest. While all this is true, the talents of the South were largely confined to these channels when exerted at all, and the ability of the North, as has been said of it, "sought expression in a wider range of subjects than that of the South." Conditions at the South were not favorable to the growth of literature, art, or invention, and there being no cities of large size, there were hence no common centers of activity, where either literary workers, artists, or scientists could be sure of employment, and be in contact with sympathetic minds following kindred pursuits. Edgar Allan Poe toiled away at Richmond as editor of the Southern Literary Messenger, but was compelled finally to drift northward to maintain a livelihood. William Gilmore Simms, the only man of note in the South, besides Poe, who followed literature as a profession, plodded along in South Carolina among a people who afforded him little encouragement, and his numerous efforts to