em thinkers: Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henr)-, George Mason,rnSt. George Tucker, John Randolph, Abel Upshur, John C. Calhoun,rnWilliam Gilmore Simms, Albert Taylor Bledsoe, RobertrnLouis Dabney, Basil Gildersleeve, the Nashville Agrarians,rnRichard M. Weaver, M.E. Bradford, and many others.rnThe cultural elites goerning America today have embracedrnthe very intellectual and spiritual pathologies against which thernSouthern tradition has consistentl) inveighed. It should not bernsurprising, therefore, that this tradition of resistance to modernit)’rnis largely unknown —even to Southern students. YoungrnSoutherners seeking an understanding of their own heritage inrncolleges and universities of the South are likely to find nothing.rnIf their tradition is mentioned at all, it is usually demonized as arnmasked defense of racism.rnThe campaign to eradicate Southern memory has been successful.rnIn less than 40 years, young Southerners liave becomernstrangers in the colleges and universities funded b’ theirrnparents’ tax dollars and by the generous gifts of Southern alumni.rnIn supporting most institutions of higher learning in thernSouth, Southerners are literally funding their own cultural destruction.rnIt is, therefore, necessary to form alternative centersrnof learning which can provide undergraduate and graduate studentsrnof the South, black and white, with a scholarlv understandingrnof what is noble in the Southern tradition and of howrnto extend that tradition into the future. The LS Institute wasrnformed for this purpose, and it seeks to recover speculative insightsrnnot cultivated by the academy today. But it also seeks tornrecover and presen’e the identit}’ of an oppressed and demoralizedrnpeople, and in this it shares a close affinity with the Irishrnhedge schools.rnThe Penal Laws imposed on the Irish people in 1695 wererndesigned by English officials in London and Dublin to extirpaternthe native Celtic language and culture of Ireland. From thern1690’s to the 1840’s, the youth of Ireland received their educationrnin little gatherings that sprang up throughout the country.rnThe- vere taught in abandoned buildings, sod huts, and in thernopen air against the background of large thorn hedges (hencernthe name, “hedge schools”). The schools were illegal, and severernpenalties were imposed on those who associated withrnthem; still, they flourished for a century and a half keepingrnalie die native language, literature, and religion as well as anrnIrish historical self-understanding. The national and culturalrnidentih’ nourished in these schools asserted itself ho cenhiricsrnlater in the formation of the independent Irish Republic.rnA German traveler, Johann Kohl, made this obscration inrnthe early 1840’s: “An Irish hedge school which I visited —one inrnthe pure old national stv’le—enabled me to observe die modernby which, in these remote parts of Ireland, the light of intellectualrncultivation is transmitted. It was, in truth, a touching sight.”rnA traveler in 18^5 remarked on the high qnalih’ of educationrnachieved by some of the hedge schools:rnI invited one of their number [a bov of twelve years] tornread me a passage from the gospel of Saint Matthew. F,videntiyrnthe cliild misunderstood me. He searched in liisrnsatchel until he found his tattered book, stood up, andrnproceeded to read me the account of Christ’s passion inrnGreek.rnThe LS Institute organizes research and publication, holdsrnconferences, and conducts summer schools on ecr- aspect ofrnthe Southern tradition. But tiierc arc also what —following thernIrish example—we call Hedge School Seminars, tvpically heldrnall dav on a Saturday or over a weekend. Participants are providedrnbeforehand with a collection of readings: Jefferson’s KentuckyrnResolutions; tiie Calhoun-Webster debate; efforts b- leadingrnantebellum Southerners to abolish slaer’ gradualh’ byrnjudicial review as well as bv legislation; the “black codes” ofrnNorthern and Western states; die suppressed stor- of black Confederatesrnwho saw the defense of their countr- as a step to ciilrnequalitv; M.E. Bradford’s essavs on Lincoln; and selectionsrnfrom Southern literature, theolog-, and constitutional law. 1 hernseminars are funded and arranged at low cost b- local sponsors.rnAn Institute scholar leads a discussion of the readings and sta’srnas a guest in the home of one of the participants. Hedge SchoolrnSeminars have been held in church buildings, homes, thernbackrooms of a barbecue shack and of a supermarket, in a privaternschool, in an cmptv office of a bank on Saturda, and eenrnin the open air under a palmetto groe — auwhere that spacernpermits.rnHedge School Seminars can be tailored to anv group, fromrnhigh-school students to graduate students to the millions of college-rneducated men and women, working and raising families,rnwho reject the demonization of the South and of tiieir traditionrnbut ha’e been rendered silent.rnThe reigning assumption of neari all American historiograph)rnsince 1865 has been tiie moral proposition that the Unionrnshould have been presen’cd at all costs—even at the expense ofrnover a million-and-a-half men killed, missing, and wounded.rnUntil 1860, secession w as widelv regarded as a right availablernto an American state. Northern abolitionists had argued for 30rnvears that the Norf/i should secede from the Union as the bestrnwa- of putting slaver on the road to extinction. They werernright. Secession was die onlv rational and humane solution tornthe problems facing the federation: the difficult’ of gradualrnemancipation posed b’ state laws that absolutcK prohibited orrnseverel}’ restricted the entrance of free blacks into Western andrnNorthern states; the brutal economic discrimination imposedrnon the South; and the growth of a continental empire that hadrnswollen to ten times its size in onK- 50 ears. To write historvrnfrom the assumption that tiie peaceful dissolution of die Unionrnwas a good thing w ould bring to light an arra}’ of facts, moralrnpossibilities, and spectacular moral losses that have been hiddenrnfrom ‘iew. It also would open up political po.ssibilities thatrntoda are closed off.rnThe United States is the last of the 19tli-ceiitnr- nationalistrnempires (something the Constitution was designed to preventj.rnAnd with the collapse of die Soiet Union, it is the last empirernstill to be engaged in die hubristic 19tli-ccntur project of imposingrnits ision of a uiiiersalist ciilizatioii on die world. Thernguiding assuinptions of .American liistoriograph- (and of Americanrnself-identih) are still rooted in die 19tli-ceiitnr’ idea of arnconsolidated nationalist empire at tiic scrxice of a global liberalism.rnOne hundred and thirtv-fie ears later, we arc in a verrndifferent world, and a paradigm shift in American historiographrnis long overdue.rnThe ci”ic-minded who are concerned about the politicizationrnof higher education should consider di’ertiiig some of tiiernfunds tlic unthinkingh give to mainstream colleges and uni-rnersities to an institute of tiicir choice. It is onh from die bondsrnof friendship, conimunit-, and learning formed in tiicse smallrnindependent gatiierings that cultural renewal is likelv to arise.rnSEPTEMBER 2000/19rnrnrn