Eminent Southrons and Cinematic Slanderrnby John Shelton Reedrn^ELrn( L’rnv ^rnv^^arni ^rn•ss^Ss^rn4 •—• ^ BrnPSrnmrnHgrarntL^uiii 5rn^ v^ §7^3rnSome folks have been kind enough to notice my absencernfrom these pages, and a few have been even kinder and expressedrnregret at it. The fact is that my wife Dale and I arernworking on a book. It will be called J 00J Things EveryonernShould Know about the South, and we hope to have it out beforernthe Atlanta Olympics in 1996. The idea is to remind visitorsrnthat they’ve come to a place with a complex and fascinatingrnhistory and culture. Of course, if we can sell it to even a fractionrnof the two million visitors that are expected, it will do goodrnthings for our bank account, too. Anyway, that’s what I’ve beenrndoing instead of writing for Chronicles, and I thought I’d givernyou a couple of samples, since I don’t have anything else to offerrnthese days.rnFirst, some items about individual Southerners. It turns outrnthat a great many of our 1001 “things” are people—not surprising,rnbecause what’s most distinctive about the South (at leastrnthese days) is Southerners, who tend to be colorful, cantankerous,rnidiosyncratic, engaging folks.rnHere are a baker’s dozen, in more or less chronological order.rnAll the major areas of Southern accomplishment—agriculture,rnsports, food, literature, journalism, the decorative arts, music,rnwar, politics, religion, law—are represented here, one way or another,rnalthough these are not (Lord knows) “representative”rnSoutherners. Some of these folks are well-known, others werernonce, a few never were but wc think they should be. It turns outrnthe examples are multicultural and “gender-balanced,” butrnthat’s an accident.rnElizabeth Lucas Pinckney was the daughter of a British officerrnwho served in the West Indies. Born in 1722, probably inrnAntigua, and educated in England, she was left at age 16 by herrnfather to manage three South Carolina plantations in whichrnhe had interests. Experimenting with indigo, she found a strainrnsuitable to local conditions and learned the technique of producingrndye from it. Her success set off a boom in the crop: byrn1775 indigo made up a third of South Carolina’s exports. Inrn1744 she married into the remarkable Pinckney family of SouthrnCarolina: her sons Charles Cotesworth and Thomas carried onrn]ohn Shelton Reed’s latest book. Kicking Back: Further Dispatchesrnfrom the South (University of Missouri Press), is a collectionrnof essays, most of them originally published in Chronicles.rn1001 Things Everyone Should Know about the Southrnwill be published by Doubleday in the spring of 1996.rnthe family tradition as prominent soldiers and politicians.rnWilliam R. Johnson was a famous horse-race promoter fromrnNorth Carolina, who specialized in intersectional races. In onernof his races the backers of the Southern horse reportedly won $2rnmillion. But Johnson’s best-known promotion came in 1823,rnwhen his syndicate challenged the great northern champion,rnAmerican Eclipse, to a three-heat race at Union Course, LongrnIsland. Recognizing that their horse. Sir Henry, was outclassed,rnthe Southerners ran him all-out in the first heat and won it,rnwhile the northern jockey prudently saved his horse for the lastrntwo heats, which he won from the exhausted Sir Henry. ThernSoutherners lost the $10,000 stake, but won far more fromrnheavy side-bets on the first heat. There’s a metaphor therernsomewhere.rnThomas Day (ca. 1801-1861), a free black cabinetmaker inrnMilton, North Carolina, was the owner of North Carolina’srnlargest antebellum cabinet shop. By 1850, he employed 12 people,rnincluding a number of slaves, and had a capital investmentrnof $15,800. He built custom interiors and furniture for publicrnbuildings (including the Presbyterian church in Milton, ofrnwhich he was a deacon, and the University of North Carolina),rnfor the governor, and for many private houses. He must havernbeen a talented diplomat—he was a trustee of the town bankrnand was so well respected that the North Carolina GeneralrnAssembly passed a special bill to let him bring his wife fromrnVirginia (blacks were not allowed to move across state lines).rnLouis Moreau Gottschalk was America’s first piano virtuosornand the first composer to exploit American ethnic musicalrnstyles. Born in New Odeans in 1829, by the age of 19 he hadrnovercome considerable prejudice (one critic wrote, “An Americanrncomposer, good God!”) to conquer Europe with hisrnplaying, his romantic looks, and his compositions based onrnAfro-American and Creole music. Berlioz and Chopin werernamong his admirers. He had equal success in the United Statesrnand South America (P.T. Barnum offered him a lucrative contract),rnbut his technique deteriorated; by the time of his deathrn(at age 40) he was struggling to make a living. His sentimentalrnpopular pieces were widely played: the Library of Congress hasrn”Last Hope” in 28 editions, including the 1907 Presbyterianrnhymnal. His compositions based on < thnic style., are muchrnmore sophisticated and rhythmically c .j^ilex, and can be delightfulrnevocations of another era.rnLouis Trezevant Wigfall grew up in Edgefield, So Hi Car-rnAUGUST 199.5/25rnrnrn