The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 74, July 1970 - April, 1971 Page: 274
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
after the Civil War designed to industrialize, diversify, modernize,
and urbanize the South. Perhaps most important, however, is Gaston's'
attempt to evaluate the role and significance of the age-old human
trait of mythmaking, a process that is recognizable to any student
of the southern mind. In confronting grim and historic realities
that have been decidedly "un-American" southerners have rejected
many of such basic national myths as innocence and omnipotence
but have persistently replaced them with their own. As a defeated
people plagued with long acquaintance with poverty, southerners
have erected elaborate myths to confound their adversaries, to as-
suage their own guilt, and to provide themselves with psychological
underpinning in a hostile and insecure world. Everyone knows about
the Old South myth and the reasons for its elaboration, but Gaston
has provided an immense service in demonstrating that the New
South idea was just as mythical and has been just as persistent.
The New South creed was formulated by men like Henry Grady,
Richard Edmonds, and Walter Hines Page who envisioned a pros-
perous, progressive, and racially harmonious South working within
the mainstream of national life, a vision based on business growth.
In appealing for northern investments and southern solidarity, the
New South propagandists found that it was far easier to secure the
former than the latter, and that, in fact, agricultural values were
much more deeply rooted in southern culture than even the most
hopeful businessman suspected. The southern society proved to be
highly resistant to the appeals of the urban-industrial complex, and
in trying to build a strong and independent South the New South
advocates contributed toward making the region a colonial appendage
of the North.
Gaston has ably described the manner in which the New South
movement assumed the aspects of mythology. Ironically, Henry Grady
and his cohorts exploited the memory and image of the Old South,
while at the same time proposing a rapid move toward a new and
presumably superior society. After all was said and done, the New
South remained primarily a dream, and any reality it may have
assumed was in the minds of the propagandists, many of whom con-
vinced themselves that the dream had come true. As the dream
became myth, the thin veneer of modernism was stripped from the
propagandists and most of them, with a few notable exceptions such
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 74, July 1970 - April, 1971, periodical, 1971; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101200/m1/286/: accessed October 20, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.