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First published in 1889 as Prosperity of the South Dependent on the Elevation of the Negro, the passionate tract reads as though it were written yesterday and some of the prophetic warnings are today's headline news. Southerner Blair skipped the heart and aimed at the pocketbook. He urged the elevation of the Negro on economic grounds and early chapters are replete with statistics and charts showing just how poor the South stayed after the Civil War. Blair argued for the full education of the Negroes so that they could become ""Wealth Producers"" for the region that would otherwise move forward only at the rate of its ""lowest caste"". Blair's book went almost unnoticed in the wave of anti-Negro propaganda and legislative repression that swept the South in the 1890's. Blair warned of violence that would result from a course of half-freedom and half-measures in education, for both the North and the South. Late in life, he reversed himself and left an unpublished manuscript repudiating the findings of this book. In his excellent preface, C. Vann Woodward discusses the personal and public factors that influenced Blair's about-face. Mr. Woodward has rescued from oblivion a curious document -- a left-over from a period of Southern liberality and open debate on matters of race.

Pub Date: March 5th, 1964
Publisher: ittle Brown