Manifestations of Southern Superiority
This idea that Caucasians couldn’t even compare themselves sprang from the understanding that African Americans were a subservient race. This idea was held by many people at the time and manifested itself in different ways. For example, in A Fool’s Errand Tourgee describes a political meeting in which both African Americans and whites were in the audience. Though both groups were present Tourgee makes sure the reader understands that the African Americans did not actively participate in the discussion. “It was noticeable that none of the colored people joined in this demonstration … what was termed "respectable society" had long ago shut its doors in their faces; and it was by no means to be expected that the respectable white people of any county would seek to have their declarations confirmed by the testimony of an inferior race, whose evidence, at best, would have to be taken with many grains of allowance” (Item 588). Thus, the inferiority of the African American race demonstrated itself here by them not even attempting to become involved in conversation because they knew their comments would fall upon the deaf ears of individuals who didn’t take their statements with any credibility. Tourgee makes a point to note that the southern feeling of superiority towards African Americans was exhibited in very drastic ways throughout the time surrounding the Civil War. It was not merely something they believed and occasionally expressed, it manifested itself through many groups. In An Appeal to Caesar Tourgee argues about the significance of the Ku Klux Khan in acting as an organization that showed the attitude of white southerners that African Americans should act subservient. “The Ku Klux Klan, composed of the very best of the white people from Virginia to Texas … organized into a band of regulators to make the colored people ‘behave themselves,’ in the old-time sense of the term ; that is, as slaves and inferiors should ‘behave’” (Item 580). Organizations such as the Klu Klux Khan can be utilized as a lens in which to see the active ways that white southerners not only believed they were superior but actually made conscious efforts to get African Americans act as inferior. It is even through the assertion that they know the best way for freedmen to act that the reader can see their level of supremacy. Lastly, this sheds light on the same idea that though slavery had been eradicated legally, white southerners still believed they held control over former slaves and in many ways were successful at actually holding power over these individuals.