The Old South's Last, Desperate Stand
Continued from previous page
Just as white Southerners today are gerrymandering congressional districts and contemplating gerrymandering the Electoral College to compensate for their dwindling numbers, so the outnumbered Yankees of the North sought to dilute the political influence of European “ethnics” in the early 1900s. When the 1920 census revealed that largely European urbanites outnumbered mostly old-stock Anglo-American rural voters, Congress failed to reapportion itself for a decade, because of the determination of small-town Anglo-Americans to minimize the power of “white ethnics.”
By the 1970s, the social divisions among old-stock Anglo-Americans and the “white ethnics” had faded to the point that most white Americans in the North had ancestors from several Western European nationalities. Similarly, the trans-racial melting pot in the U.S. will probably blur or erase many of today’s racial differences by the middle of the 21st century.
But the old-stock Yankees in the Northeast and Midwest did not accept their diminished status in their own regions without decades of hysteria and aggression and political gerrymandering. The third and final defeat of the white South, its demographic defeat, is likely to be equally prolonged and turbulent. Fasten your seat belts.
Michael Lind is the author of Land of Promise: An Economic History of the United States and co-founder of the New America Foundation.