Abstract

In 1913 Clarence Hamilton Poe, editor of the agricultural journal the Progressive Farmer, launched an unsuccessful campaign to segregate North Carolina's countryside. Poe was driven by the desire to help struggling white farmers, and he believed that the segregation of the countryside was necessary for these farmers to acquire land and build tightly knit rural communities. He had been introduced to the notion that the countryside could be segregated by Maurice Smethurst Evans, an influential white South African politician and author who had played an important role in shaping the pre- Apartheid system of segregation in South Africa. In exploring why Evans's ideas appealed to Poe, this essay illuminates the goals and international roots of rural segregationist ideology in the American South. Rural segregationist thinking, which historians have not yet fully engaged, was quite different from the strain of Jim Crow in circulation in cities.

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NOTES

1. Poe hoped that anyone troubled by the implications of a policy separating blacks from whites —to American democracy or the southern economy—would be reassured to hear that a similar policy had been enacted in South Africa. Poe,
“Land Segregation Policy Adopted in British South Africa,”
Progressive Farmer
,
Jan.
2
,
1915
,
19
.
2. For other considerations of Poe's segregation campaign, see, for example, Jack Temple Kirby,
“Clarence Poe's Vision of a Segregated ‘Great Rural Civilization,’”
South Atlantic Quarterly
68
(Winter
1969
):
27
38
; Jeffrey J. Crow,
“An Apartheid for the South: Clarence Poe's Crusade for Rural Segregation,”
in
Race, Class, and Politics in Southern History: Essays in Honor of Robert F. Durden
, ed. Jeffrey J. Crow et al. (
Baton Rouge
:
Louisiana State University Press
,
1989
),
216
59
. Kirby uses Poe's segregation campaign to show that “there was an agrarian progressivism in the South … which tried to solve social as well as economic problems; that Poe … attempted to carry segregation as a reform to rural areas; and finally, that … Poe's campaign failed” (
27
28
). Crow presents Poe as “no ordinary southern Progressive” in that “his racial views placed him in the vanguard of Anglo-American theorists who were designing and justifying a rigid system of apartheid in South Africa and the American South” (
218
).
3. Marilyn Lake and Henry Reynolds,
Drawing the Global Colour Line: White Men's Countries and the International Challenge of Racial Equality
(
Cambridge
:
Cambridge University Press
,
2008
),
2
.
4. Maurice S. Evans,
Black and White in the Southern States: A Study of the Race Problem in the United States from a South African Point of View
(
1915
; repr.,
Columbia
:
University of South Carolina Press
,
2001
),
x
xi
; Evans,
“International Conference on the Negro: Report of the African Society's Representative, Mr. Maurice S. Evans, C. M. G.,”
Journal of the Royal African Society
11
(
July
1912
):
416
29
.
5. Evans,
Southern States
,
x
xiii
; Evans,
“Present Position of Native Affairs in the Union of South Africa: A Plea for the Scientific Study of Race Relations,”
Journal of the Royal African Society
12
(
July
1913
):
343
47
,
351
52
; Evans,
Black and White in South East Africa: A Study in Sociology
(
London
:
Longmans, Green
,
1916
); Saul Dubow,
Racial Segregation and the Origins of Apartheid in South Africa, 1919–1936
(
London
:
Macmillan
,
1989
),
6
,
26
.
6. David Welsh,
The Roots of Segregation: Native Policy in Colonial Natal, 1845–1910
(
Cape Town
:
Oxford University Press
,
1971
),
7
30
; Shula Marks,
“Natal, the Zulu Royal Family and the Ideology of Segregation,”
in
Segregation and Apartheid in Twentieth-Century South Africa
, ed. William Beinart and Saul Dubow (
London
:
Routledge
,
1995
),
94
96
.
7. John Lambert,
Betrayed Trust: Africans and the State inColonialNatal
(
Pietermaritzburg
:
University of Natal Press
,
1995
),
1
3
.
8. Evans,
Southern States
,
xvi
; George Fredrickson,
The Arrogance of Race: Historical Perspectives on Slavery, Racism, and Social Inequality
(
Middletown, Conn.
:
Wesleyan University Press
,
1988
),
260
; John W. Cell,
The Highest Stage of White Supremacy: The Origins of Segregation in South Africa and the American South
(
New York
:
Cambridge University Press
,
1982
),
214
15
,
220
24
; Edgar H. Brookes,
White Rule in South Africa, 1830–1910: Varieties in Governmental Policies Affecting Africans
(
Pietermaritzburg
:
University of Natal Press
,
1974
),
7
.
9. Evans,
Southern States
,
xxv
,
4
,
15
; W. E. B. Du Bois,
The Souls of Black Folk
(
1903
; repr.,
Oxford University Press
,
2007
),
8
.
10. Evans,
South East Africa
,
6
7
.
11. Ibid.,
15
,
228
; Thomas Jefferson,
Notes on the State of Virginia
(
1782
; repr.,
Chapel Hill
:
University of North Carolina Press
,
1955
),
162
63
.
12. Evans,
South East Africa
,
155
.
13. Ibid.,
160
61
,
207
.
14. Ibid.,
207
208
; Jefferson,
Notes
,
164
65
.
15. Thomas Jefferson to John Holmes,
Apr.
22
,
1820
, in
TheWorks of Thomas Jefferson, 12 vols.
, ed. Paul Leicester Ford (
New York
:
G. P. Putnam's Sons
,
1905
),
12
:
159
; Jefferson to Jared Sparks, Feb. 4, 1824,
Works
,
10
:
289
93
; Evans,
South East Africa
,
209
10
. White South Africans worried how industrialization might transform the social order, fearing that a large black proletariat might become radicalized, as had happened in other industrializing nations. Dubow,
Racial Segregation
,
7
10
.
16. Evans,
South East Africa
,
200
202
,
17
,
325
26
,
310
,
182
,
151
53
.
17. Ibid.,
314
20
.
18. Evans,
Southern States
,
xxvi
,
270
. Evans's work recalled not only Jefferson but also Englishman James Bryce, who depicted America's experiment with interracial democracy as a failure. Bryce argued that African Americans were “unfit” for political rights. He believed that racial homogeneity was necessary for democracy to succeed, an argument used to justify segregation in the United States and South Africa. The discussion of Bryce in Lake and Reynolds,
Drawing
,
49
74
. Poe dedicated his book
Where Half the World is Waking Up: The Old and the New in Japan, China, the Philippines, and India, Reported with Especial Reference to American Conditions
(
New York
:
Doubleday, Page
,
1911
) to Bryce.
19. Evans,
Southern States
,
257
58
,
270
; Evans,
“International Conference,”
423
.
20. Cell,
Highest Stage
,
194
95
.
21. Ibid.,
192
93
; Harvey M. Feinberg,
“The 1913 Natives Land Act in South Africa: Politics, Race, and Segregation in the Early 20th Century,”
International Journal of African Historical Studies
26
:
1
(
1993
):
66
70
; P. L. Wickins,
“The Natives Land Act of 1913: A Cautionary Essay on Simple Explanations of Complex Change,”
South African Journal of Economics
49
(
June
1981
):
107
; George M. Fredrickson,
White Supremacy: A Comparative Study in American and South African History
(
Oxford
:
Oxford University Press
,
1981
),
242
.
22. Feinberg,
“1913 Natives Land Act,”
82
83
,
105
107
; Timothy J. Keegan,
Rural Transformations in Industrializing South Africa: The Southern Highveld to 1914
(
London
:
Macmillan
,
1987
),
183
84
; Harold Wolpe,
“Capitalism and Cheap Labour Power in South Africa: From Segregation to Apartheid,”
in
Segregation and Apartheid
,
60
90
; Harvey M. Feinberg and Andre Horn,
“South African Territorial Segregation: New Data on African Farm Purchases, 1913–1936,”
Journal of African History
50
(
Mar.
2009
):
41
.
23. Mark Schultz,
The Rural Face of White Supremacy: Beyond Jim Crow
(
Urbana
:
University of Illinois Press
,
2005
),
5
6
,
66
69
. For histories of urban segregation, see, for example, C. Vann Woodward,
The Strange Career of Jim Crow
(
New York
:
Oxford University Press
,
1974
); Howard N. Rabinowitz,
Race Relations in the Urban South, 1865–1890
(
New York
:
Oxford University Press
,
1978
); Thomas W. Hanchett,
Sorting out the New South City: Race, Class, and Urban Development in Charlotte, 1876–1975
(
Chapel Hill
:
University of North Carolina Press
,
1998
).
24. Poe,
“Great Rural Civilization in North Carolina,”
July
31
,
1913
, box 12, Poe Papers, North Carolina State Archives, Division of Archives and History, Raleigh, NC (hereafter Poe Papers).
25. Poe,
“Plain Talk on an Ugly Subject,”
Progressive Farmer
,
Feb.
7
,
1914
,
175
;
“The Chances of the Landless Man,”
Progressive Farmer
,
May
28
,
1910
,
453
; E. C. Branson,
“Get Land and Hold to it Like Grim Death: That is the Advice that Should be Given Every White Tenant Farmer in the South—Danger of Great Estates, Absentee Landlordism, and a Dangerous Excess of Negro Tenants—Will the South Awake?”
Progressive Farmer
,
May
28
,
1910
,
457
; A. H. Shannon,
“Segregation and Amalgamation,”
Progressive Farmer
,
Feb.
21
,
1914
,
253
.
26. The Progressive Farmer had fewer than five hundred subscribers when Leonidas Polk founded it as a Populist organ in 1886. Poe began his editorship in 1899. It expanded under his direction, buying up smaller newspapers and putting out five editions for different parts of the South. By 1930 the Progressive Farmer, after merging with Atlanta's Southern Ruralist, had a circulation exceeding one million. That year, the Progressive Farmer was the farm journal with the largest circulation in the world. Poe,
“The Progressive Farmer: 1886–1926: Something about Its History and Its Ideals,”
Progressive Farmer
,
Feb.
13
,
1926
,
193
; Joseph A. Coté,
“Clarence Hamilton Poe: Crusading Editor, 1881–1964”
(
PhD diss.
,
University of Georgia
,
1976
),
2
; Crow,
“Apartheid for the South,”
218
19
;
Progressive Farmer is Now Largest in theWorld,”
reprint from
Raleigh News and Observer
,
May
18
,
1930
, Poe Papers.
27. Robert C. McMath Jr.,
American Populism: A Social History, 1877–1898
(
New York
:
Hill and Wang
,
1993
),
51
52
; Poe,
“Can the Little Farmer Survive? Or are We Headed for Corporation Farming with Hireling Cultivators?”
Progressive Farmer
,
Aug.
15–31
,
1931
,
532
33
.
28. Poe,
My First 80 Years
(
Chapel Hill
:
University of North Carolina Press
,
1963
),
56
67
; Joseph A. Coté,
“Clarence Hamilton Poe: The Farmer's Voice, 1899–1964,”
Agricultural History
53
(Winter
1979
):
30
41
; Kirby,
“Clarence Poe's Vision,”
28
.
29. Tillman argued that “amalgamation is the hope and ultimate purpose of the Negroes, the obliteration of the color line; and many white men, too many, oblivious to their duty to their race and caste, are voluntary criminals in this regard, while, thank God, our white women prefer death to such a fate.” Crow,
Apartheid for the South
,
240
.
30. Poe,
“The Negro Problem in Two Continents,”
Progressive Farmer
,
July
6
,
1912
,
755
56
.
31. Ibid.
32. Ibid.,
756
.
33. A. O. Murphey,
“Segregation Necessary to Develop Good Farming and White Farmers,”
Progressive Farmer
,
Dec.
6
,
1913
,
1,277
; Poe,
“Editorial Comment”
and W. M. Webster,
“Wants to Go with the Negro,”
Progressive Farmer
,
Nov.
8
,
1913
,
1,171
.
34. Poe,
“A South-Wide Campaign for Racial Segregation,”
Progressive Farmer
,
Aug.
2
,
1913
,
845
.
35. Poe,
“Which is the Handicapped Race?”
Progressive Farmer
,
Aug.
7
,
1915
,
734
.
36. Woodward,
Strange Career
,
101
; Kirby,
“Clarence Poe's Vision,”
31
32
; Crow,
Apartheid for the South
,
229
.
37. Poe,
“Racial Segregation Necessary to Education and Co-operation,”
Progressive Farmer
,
Aug.
9
,
1913
,
865
.
38. In the words of the amendment: “We hereby petition to have this district set apart in future for the exclusive ownership, use and occupancy of the white race except that rights of persons who have already bought or leased shall not be destroyed, nor any man prevented from having laborers, croppers or tenants of a different race.” Poe,
“Education, Cooperation, Legislation,”
Progressive Farmer
,
Mar.
6
,
1915
,
231
; Poe,
“Education, Cooperation, Legislation,”
Progressive Farmer
,
Feb.
20
,
1915
,
181
.
39. Poe,
“Education, Cooperation, Legislation,”
Progressive Farmer
,
Feb.
20
,
1915
,
181
,
177
.
40. Poe,
“Education, Cooperation, Legislation,”
Progressive Farmer
,
Jan.
30
,
1915
,
97
.
41. In 1870 1,628 black North Carolina farmers owned $658,500 of land, an average of $404 each; in 1910 20,707 black farmers owned $22,810,089 of land, averaging $1,102 each. Loren Schweninger,
Black Property Owners in the South, 1790–1915
(
Urbana
:
University of Illinois Press
,
1990
),
175
76
,
183
; Evans,
Southern States
,
98
99
.
42. Webster,
“Wants to Go with the Negro,”
Progressive Farmer
,
Nov.
8
,
1913
,
1,171
.
43. Kirby,
“Clarence Poe's Vision,”
36
37
.
44. Crow,
Apartheid for the South
,
256
; Jack Temple Kirby,
Rural Worlds Lost: The American South, 1920–1960
(
Baton Rouge
:
Louisiana State University Press
,
1987
),
236
.
45. O.,
“Many Large Landowners Blind to their own Interests,”
Progressive Farmer
,
Dec.
6
,
1913
,
1,277
.
46. Poe,
“Suffrage Restriction in the South; Its Causes and Consequences,”
North American Review
175
(
Oct.
1902
):
543
.