Prior to Southern secession in 1860-61 and the subsequent military invasion and conquest by the United States, the South was the northernmost region of a Caribbean plantation civilisation that stretched from northern Brazil and the Guianas all the way to the Chesapeake Bay area. Many Southerners of the nineteenth century thought of this civilisation as a Golden Circle. Much of what we recognise as Southern culture was actually developed on the island of Barbados and then brought to South Carolina by British-Barbadian settlers. The plantation civilisation of the Caribbean spread across the Lower South to Texas and northward into the Upper South. While the South was a less extreme form of Caribbean civilisation (with smaller plantations, fewer slaves per slave owner and a much larger White population, which included White lower and middle classes), the Caribbean civilisation nevertheless brought tremendous prosperity to the South (which in 1860 was well above the average per capita wealth of the United States, as documented below). Hunter Wallace at Occidental Dissent underlines the value and importance of the Caribbean prior to emancipation in a recent review of David Brion Davis’ book Inhuman Bondage: The Rise and Fall of New World Slavery:
Far from being part of the “Third World,” the Caribbean was once the richest region in the Americas thanks to sugar and slavery, and was considered vastly more important by the European imperial powers than their North American colonies. The Dutch gave up New York for Suriname. The French gave up Canada to keep Guadeloupe and Martinique. The British even abandoned Philadelphia during the American Revolution to invade St. Lucia and to defend Jamaica.
The American Revolution of 1776 divided the Caribbean civilisation, severing the mainland South from the West Indies and uniting agriculturally-oriented Southerners with financially and industrially-oriented New Englanders in a Union that was to prove fatal to the South’s social order and economy (not to mention a quarter million Southern lives). That revolution also cut in half the number of slaves in the British Empire and put the British on the road to emancipation, a policy which they in turn pressured other European imperial powers to adopt. This was the first of two great, destructive revolutions of the era.
Shortly thereafter, the colony of Saint-Domingue was destroyed in a French Revolution-inspired slave revolt. In the following century, so too was the wealth and influence of rest of the Caribbean civilisation destroyed by equality. Once-thriving lands throughout the region were reduced to impoverished backwaters. In some of these places the process was largely peaceful while in other places it was violent and bloody. The end result though was generally the same: disorder, White genocide and/or emigration and poverty.
SOUTHERN DESTRUCTION & POVERTY
In the Southern States, equality and poverty were brought about through outside intervention. When Southerners seceded in 1860 they possessed a wealthy, influential society based on agriculture, a plantation economy and a classical order that rejected equality and democracy. However, in four years the United States military was able to destroy most of that wealth. The US did so by looting and then burning down twenty-one cities and towns (as well as a great number of farms and plantations) in South Carolina, for example, and killing as many as 21,000 people (a third of the State’s young adult White male population). One in fourteen White South Carolinians were killed by the United States (one in nineteen White Southerners in general were killed). This was destruction on a massive scale from which (coupled with exploitative policies which discouraged Southern economic growth) the State was unable to recover for a century to come. Even after South Carolinians overthrew the US military-supported Reconstruction government in the revolution of 1876, poverty remained a major problem. Dr Walter Edgar writes about the severity of post-war poverty in the South on pages 427-428 of his book South Carolina: A History: pages 427-428
Prosperity… was something unknown to the vast majority of South Carolinians. It made little difference if one were a former planter or a former slave. Per capita wealth increased from $295 in 1870 to $297 in 1880 but represented only a fraction of the wealth held before the Civil War [sic]. In 1860 South Carolina’s per capita wealth (with slaves included as part of the population) had been $864, well above the national [sic] average of $608. In 1880 the national [sic] per capita wealth was $870, nearly three times the state average.
The state’s economy was a shambles. Daughters of the old elite were happy to earn $4.22 for a six-day week in Charleston shops. Their daily wages (70¢) were only a little more than what their grandfathers had paid a field hand to chop cotton on his day off. …In 1890 sharecroppers probably made $50 for a year’s hard work. And more than likely, at year’s end they were paid either in kind or in scrip to be redeemed at the landlord’s store.
Destruction, poverty and exploitation are what ‘reunion’ with the North inside the United States meant to Southerners. The per capita wealth in the Palmetto State in 1870 was roughly one third what it had been in 1860, a third of State’s young adult White male population was dead and twenty-one cities and towns were burned down. One of the popular names in the United States for the war against the South was the ‘brother’s war’ and the North claimed the Union was ‘one nation indivisible’ but what sort of people do such a thing to their brothers and countrymen rather than let them go their own way?
COMPLETING THE DESTRUCTION OF THE CARIBBEAN CIVILISATION
With the conquest of the independent South in 1865, all that remained of the Caribbean civilisation which less than a century before had been the most prosperous region of the Americas and one of the richest places in the world, was Brazil. A few thousand Southerners actually relocated to Brazil at the invitation of Emperor Dom Pedro II, preferring to start over abroad than live under US rule in a conquered South. In 1888 slavery was abolished in Brazil and support for republicanism grew, culminating in the overthrow of the monarchy the following year. Equality and democracy had prevailed, leaving in their wake destroyed, impoverished plantation societies throughout the region.