241 CHRONICLESndeprecated it, McWhiney believes thendistinctiveness of the South is in itsnredneckery, so to speak, and he givesnthat phenomenon historical depth bynan examination of similarities and continuitiesnranging over many centuriesnof Celtic Britain and the AmericannSouth — similarities in customs, attitudes,nrecreation, social roles, ideas ofnfamily and individual honor, combativeness,nand skepticism of progress innits urbanized, puritanical form. Thenmarshaling of the evidence for similaritynand continuity, ranging over millennianbut concentrated in the 18th andn19th centuries, is the core of the book.nExplanations of Southern distinctivenessnhave been one of the mostncreative fields of American historicalnwriting, calling forth the ingenuitynof U.B. Phillips, C. Vann Woodward,nDavid M. Potter, ProfessornMcWhiney’s mentor Francis ButlernSimkins, and a host of others.nMcWhiney’s is the best explanationnbecause it is the most inclusive. Itncovers the greatest time period and thenlargest range of phenomena.nU.B. Phillips’s postulate of whitensupremacy as the central theme ofnSouthern history can be seen herenfrom its positive side, as the Southerner’snassertion and protection of his ownnidentity among the peoples of thenworld. Those who before, during, andnafter the Civil War thought that whatnthey regarded as the violence andnunprogressiveness of the South was anproduct of slavery will, if they arenhonest, have to explain why nearlynidentical characteristics appeared withnthe Celt in ages and climes far from thenAfrican bondsman of the antebellumnSouth.nAs with any work of history, it isnpossible to pencil in a few reservationsnat the margins. What is described is anvery real historical phenomenon. Tonlabel it “Celtic,” however, perhaps raisesnmore questions than it answers, andnrequires a considerable exegesis. Anothernreservation I have is that thendescription of the Celt and the crackernrelies necessarily and primarily on thenobservations of unsympathetic outsiders,nresulting inevitably in a negativenstereotyping which the author acceptsna little too readily at face value.nSuch descriptions often tell us morenabout how the modernizing, urbanizing,npuritan observer thought thannabout what the Celt-cracker was reallynlike. The puritan is by his very natureninterested in condemning. He drawsnmuch of his sense of identity andnimportance from what he rejects, fromnfeeling himself better than others. Thencracker, on the other hand, simplynwants to be himself. He is hardly awarenof the puritan’s existence until directlynthreatened.nTo say that the cracker is lazy ornviolent is to make a partisan valuenjudgment, not an objective description.nThe cracker does not lack concepts ofnwork, law and order, and propriety. It isnjust that his concepts are different, andnadapted to a different situation. Tonunderstand him better, one will have tongo to Celtic and Southern literaturenand song.nWe crackers do have our virtues.nThe American frontiersman and thencrackers are synonymous. We havencertainly provided more than our fairnshare of the loyalty that has sustainednAmerican society in crisis — the kindnof loyalty that goes into combat withoutnthought of profit and without neednof folderol about saving the world forndemocracy. It is not for nothing thatnthe British referred to the American airnarm in World War II as the “RoyalnTexas Air Force,” and that the Japanesenshouted “To Hell with RoynAcuff!” before a charge. They knewnwho their real enemy was. It is alsontrue, I think, that us crackers havenprovided nearly all of the color andncreativity of American speech and literature.nBilly Faulkner was one of ournboys, just to name the head of a longnlist. Without us crackers, Americannspeech would be the flattest, dullest,nand least interesting of any knownnvariety of that magnificent tongue,nEnglish.nMy last and largest reservation isnthat, while Cracker Culture goes a longnway toward defining one aspect of thenidentity of the South, it does not quitenfinish the job. In a way. Cracker Culturenis an improvement on the old storynof explaining the Civil War as a contestnof Roundheads and Cavaliers, substitutingnthe cracker for the Cavalier.nHowever, the essential point about thenOld South, it seems to me, is that itnwas a highly viable synthesis of bothnthe cracker and the Cavalier. Havingnestablished the descent and the importancenof the cracker culture,nnnMcWhiney needs next to examine thensynthesis. Both components — in distinctionnfrom the puritan — preferrednhonor to utility.nWashington, Jefferson, and Lee, afternall, were not crackers, though theynwere heroes to nearly all Southerners.nJohn C. Calhoun, William CilmorenSimms, and Jefferson Davis were notncrackers either, though all of them hadnCeltic fathers. They were a synthesis ofnwhat the Celt had brought to the Southnand of the Cavalier inheritance of thenSouthern colonial tidewater—a synthesisnthat has remained characteristicninto much later times. (I think of HarrynByrd, Richard Russell, and SamnErvin.)nI hasten to assure you that I amnaware that historians long ago provednthat the “Cavalier South” was a fraud,nthat most Southerners were not descendednfrom dukes and earls and didnnot live in tidewater mansions.nStill, it is a matter of record that ansubstantial portion of the early settlersnof Virginia, and to a lesser extent thenother Southern colonies, were youngernsons of the gentry and higher bourgeoisienof England (something that can benof little interest to a society that pridesnitself of being made up of the wretchednrefuse of the earth). But, of course,nnobody ever did think that most Southernersnwere descended from Royalistnnobility, except for romancers whosenworks were mainly read by Northernnmatrons, and unimaginative historiansnlooking for a straw man to knock down.nThe idea of the Southern Cavalier andnthe Northern Roundhead was notnmeant as a photographic reality onneither side, but as a metaphor forncertain values and principles and tendenciesnin conflict.nHaving given us the cracker in hisnfull glory, McWhiney ought now tondescribe for us the process of amalgamationnbetween the cracker and thatneven earlier Southern culture, that colonialntidewater whose social idealsnwere determined not by the Celticnfringe but by the gentry ethics andnideals of the Southern English counties.nThe distinctive elements of thenSouthern accent also came more from,nthis source than from the Celts (or thenAfricans). All the real authorities agreenon this.nThe synthesis of cracker and Cavaliernculture has had many results, onen