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in the old stock and out of the richness and grandeur of the old South thru the travail of the changing years the New South is born. She stands with open arms and gives the warmest welcome and offers the richest opportunities to strangers from all lands and especially to the sons of the North who wish to come to find a home. And they are coming by the hundreds and thousands, buying farms, building factories, directing and developing industries, and furnishing a supply of superior labor. Let them come in increased numbers for their good and for ours! We fear no strangers for, as Thomas Nelson Page says of the South, “There is something in the air which charms all who come within her borders.” “Let men but breathe the air of the South and they are Southerners forever.” When men become Southerners they are no less Americans and especially so now, for the New South is filled with the spirit of nationalism-not a new spirit but a revival of the spirit of the Old South, of Washington and Madison, of Marshall, of Jefferson and Jackson. The spirit of sectionalism has passed. A significant thing occurred in New Orleans and in other cities of the South ten days ago. Lincoln's birthday was celebrated by the closing of the banks and the cessation of business by the commercial exchanges. The spirit of nationalism shines with undimmed splendor in the galaxy of southern ideals.
The political rather than the commercial and industrial aspects of society have been emphasized in the Southland. The average Southerner is likely to be considerably interested in politics, and politics play a large part in community life. The southern youth is taught that it is his duty to take an active part in politics and he is instructed in the party principles from boyhood. Rhetoric and oratory are natural concomitants of this emphasis on politics, and the ability to make a rousing speech dealing in generalities is of more importance than an ability to present the detailed facts or make a scientific research and exposition.
In no field has the South achieved more than in the realms of its educational ideals. The story of the rise of our present-day ideals needs not to be rehearsed by me, for the ideals are best seen in what has been done and is being done. Educational ideals are being made real at a greater rate in the South than elsewhere. The marvelous achievement of the schools of the South, when all the facts are kept in mind, is a theme every southern man delights to discuss. The facts of educational achievement and progress have been ably presented to you today by the state superintendent of this state. It is therefore not necessary for me to dwell on our educational ideals. I need but reiterate that a system of free public schools open to all, of whatever race, and giving to each the amount and kind of education best suited to his nature and needs, is the ideal of the people of the South.
The people of the Southland believe that this life is worth living and that one should take time for enjoyment; time for social intercourse, for feast days and festivals; that one should be happy and whole-hearted and not permit the pressure and grind of wealth-getting to crush all the brightness and sweetness out of life. With this ideal goes emphasis on excellence of manners and a warmth of hospitality unsurpassed. The Southerner knows how to select a good dinner and he has sense enough to take time to enjoy it. He is a master of the art of conversation; he loves music and art and all other means of wholesome enjoyment. If he lacks somewhat in persistence, in application to business, he possesses the grace of living and the ability to enjoy the good things of earth.
This meeting, I am told, is to be one of hope, of optimism, for the recounting of the good that has been done rather than for the parading of faults and failures. This being true, it is not becoming that I should mention our mistakes and shortcomings. The people of the Southland make no claim to perfection, for failures and shortcomings are many, but we know you will draw over them the mantle of charity and hold to us the hand of a brother to aid us to overcome them.
While the war between the states was a physical defeat for the South, in many respects it was a spiritual victory. It saved to the nation the principle of local self-government and the indestructibility of the states. The South has developed the individual as a bulwark against the centralizing tendencies of the North and so contributed one of the two essential elements in social progress. It has held fast the graces and virtues of the individual and produced the man of worth as complementary to the captain of industry. In many ways the South has perpetuated and developed the ideals needed by our country in its proud course at the head of the nations of the earth in establishing a world peace and brotherhood of man in a true democracy.
Thru the ages past till now the star of empire has taken her course westward. The circuit of the earth is now complete and around the shore of the Pacific the civilization of the Western world has met that of the Orient. In the meantime man had conquered the equator and marked out a new course for the progress of that star. The opening of the Canal will put the South on the highroad of the world whether east and west or north and south. The mighty Father of Waters courses his way southward and calls the commerce of the world to ride on his bosom. Millions of fair acres of inexhaustible richness lie waiting a tenant. Hospitable doors stand wide to welcome strangers. The tide of immigration has already set in, and the industrial development of the South is at hand. Southward the star of empire takes her course, and, with wealth created adequate to meet the needs for the development of her ideals, the Southland will come into the heritage that a prodigal nature has left her in store.
C. THE GLORY OF ITS CHILDREN
LAWTON B. EVANS, SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS, AUGUSTA, GA. So long have speakers been accustomed to apologize for conditions in the South, to explain why they are not better, to deplore the lack of educational interest among the people, that one has naturally come to expect, upon any occasion when the educational interests of the various parts of our country are under consideration, to see a self-satisfied smile of glorious achievement from the East, to hear a roar of exulting greatness from the West, and a meek apology from the South.
But now the South needs no longer to apologize. The record of its growth and achievement in every particular of commercial, agricultural, industrial, and educational enterprise is at once a source of pride to its citizens and of gratification to its friends. The difference between ten-cent cotton and thirteen- to fifteen-cent cotton has meant a difference of one hundred and seventy-five millions of dollars in favor of the southern farmer. The increase of the number of cotton mills in the south, the increase in the output of coal and pig iron, the growth of the fruit and vegetable industry, all have so greatly increased in the last few years, that the wealth of the South is now to be taken into account.
A capitalist of a western city recently said in my hearing at a dinner that time was when the South clamored to borrow money at any rate, but now the southern farmer and manufacturer not only did not need to borrow money, but actually had money to lend.
The improvement in agricultural conditions in the South is one of the most hopeful signs of its prosperity. With the coming of the rural mail delivery, the extension of the long-distance telephone system, the improvement of country roads, and the possibility of the motor-driven wagon, the southern farmer finds himself in daily contact with market reports, in instant communication with commercial centers, and with easy means of delivering his products. In the state of Georgia as many as five thousand miles of improved rural roads have been built in the past few years, reducing the cost of hauling from twenty-three cents per ton per mile to nine cents. What is true of Georgia is true the South over.
We still invite our friends to come and spend their millions in the South. The water power going to waste sings its song to the cotton field along its banks and prophesies of still another mill before the season is over; the breeze shakes the pine forests and they murmur of ship timber and naval stores; the birds call from truck farm to peach orchard; and the coal turns over in its bed and says to the iron sleeping by its side, Let us be up, for the long, dreary night is over and it is now the broad daylight of prosperity in the South.
And for all this possibility of a greater South, we are now rearing a generation of children whose eyes are no longer set back to the past glories of their
fathers, but whose minds take hold of the present, and whose eyes behold the future, and whose hands are trained to skilled labor.
The latest available statistics furnish some interesting facts about the distribution of children. Where the population is the densest the percentage of school children is the smallest. In the North Atlantic states, where the population is 130 to the square mile, the school population is 24.4 per cent. In the Southern states generally, where the population is about 30 to the square mile, the school population is 32.8 per cent. In the North generally one-fourth of the population is of school age. In the South generally nearly one-third of the population is of school age. Rhode Island, having 407 persons to the square mile, has 23.5 per cent of them of school age, less than one-fourth. South Carolina, having 44 persons to the square mile, has 34.6 per cent of them of school age, over one-third.
I believe it can be safely assumed that, family for family, there are more children around the hearthstone of a southern home, especially if that home is a cabin, than there are in a nursery of a northern home, especially if it is a brownstone front. Henry Grady said somewhere that the farmer's home was as full of children as the nests were of birds, and if I should be asked to say what is the glory of the children about which I am supposed to speak, I should answer that the greatest glory is that there are so many of them.
Eliminating the city child, whose problem is practically solved everywhere, we address ourselves to the rural child of the South. They constitute about 85 per cent of all the children and are concerned with the main industry of the South. They are the farmers' children. We live on what they raise in the fields, and as they prosper or decline, we improve or fail. Consequently, the thought of the South is turning strongly toward agricultural education in the country schools. We are now inducing the farmers' boys
. to stay on the farm and be good farmers instead of going to town to be poor lawyers and worse politicians. Therefore we note the great increase of agricultural colleges in the South. In Georgia one has been built in each Congressional district; Alabama has made noted progress in the same direction. The state colleges of agriculture are campaigning by pamphlets, field agents, reports, by demonstration work, exhibition trains, and farmers' institutes, until the country boy now begins to feel that he also must go to college, and that there is a college for him also.
In the schools of my county, I am now sending to the state college of agriculture to get principals for the consolidated rural schools, instead of as heretofore to the state university, and I find that they are no longer insisting on Latin, Greek, and the history of the Egyptians, but turn their pupils to cotton, corn, and the history of the Texas boll weevil. If the agricultural college will hereafter provide principals for rural schools, it will go a long way toward solving the agricultural education of the rural child.
The organization of boys' corn clubs has been a great stimulant. Some
of the results have been remarkable. In Mississippi one thousand boys were organized into clubs and each planted his acre on his father's farm. The government furnishes the seed, the farmer furnishes the land and the tools and the boy, the merchants furnish the prizes, and Nature does the rest. One boy raised 120 bushels of corn on his acre, where the average yield had been 14 bushels. Another boy in South Carolina broke the world's record for boys by raising 228 bushels on his acre, which was more than many farmers around him did on ten acres. To say that there are fifty thousand boys in the South today interested in increasing the corn yield per acre and setting a new standard of cultivation is not to exceed the facts. It is an exceeding glory to the southern boy that he holds the record for corn, good old corn:
Heap high the farmer's wintry hoard!
Heap high the golden corn!
From out her lavish horn! In the rural districts the schools are being consolidated, and pupils are being hauled in wagons to the central schools of high grade. We have come to the just conclusion that a one-room schoolhouse is a failure, but that a three- or four-room house, graded, with a library, agricultural laboratory, experimental garden, kitchen, and sewing-room, with an up-to-date principal who knows his business and loves the country, is a success.
And so there is a readjusting of ideals of the pupils and practice of the teaching forces. We no longer are educating statesmen and candidates for president, but are educating farmers and their wives.
Now let me approach the subject about which there is much yet to be done, and that is the child of the mill. It seems that every section has some such problem. The sweat shops of the East Side and Hester Street, the district messenger-service, the cash-boy service, the child in the mines of Pennsylvania, the child in the southern mill, all cry out to us for help. It seems that we cannot hide the innocents where the hungry hounds of modern commerce will not trail them. It seems that we cannot place them where the bloody fangs of the dividend-maker will not fasten upon their hearts and fatten upon their lives. The nation over, the children cry for protection against their parents, and their would-be employers. Therefore the extension of child-labor laws prohibiting the employment of any child who is under twelve years of age is to be greatly urged. Such laws do now exist in many of the southern states, but since it is of no public interest whether they are enforced or not, and since it is of interest for parent and employer to disregard such laws, I greatly fear the benefit is more imaginary than real.
The cure is to be found in compulsory education, which not only saves a child from the curse of an employer, but also from the slavery of his own parents. It makes but little difference to a child whether he slaves for
. another, or for his own father. It makes a vast difference to him whether