[Marxism] The Nation Magazine and Reconstruction
lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Dec 13 07:40:57 MST 2012
I thought your research on the Nation Magazine's posture toward Radical
Republicanism and Thaddeus Stevens was most useful. Four years ago I
wrote an article on the magazine taking a close look at its politics
from that period until the mid-20th century. In my view the magazine
often took reactionary positions on race despite its tendency to be
viewed as an anti-racist bastion.
Just one year after The Nation began publishing, Godkin admitted that he
had veered so far from the original abolitionist intentions of the
investors that he was "afraid to visit Boston this winter, lest the
stockholders of The Nation should lynch me." Ironically, it was lynching
in the South and other assaults against blacks that Godkin grew inured
to. Just as President Andrew Johnson began to sabotage efforts at
Reconstruction in the South against the objections of Radical
Republicans and open the door to KKK lynch mobs, Godkin rushed to defend
Johnson. When attempts to oust the racist President Johnson failed,
Godkin pronounced this as a vindication of the law.
As the 1870s began, Godkin openly broke with the Radicals, assailed
carpetbaggers, and called for the restoration of white power in the
South. In an 1874 editorial he advised The Nation's readers that he
found the average intelligence of blacks "so low that they are slightly
above the level of animals." He longed for the return of southern
conservatives to power in 1877 eagerly, writing Harvard professor
Charles Eliot Norton and fellow adversary of democratic rule that "I do
not see . . . . the negro is ever to be worked into a system of
government for which you and I would have much respect." Suffice it to
say that people such as E.L. Godkin, Charles Eliot Norton, and Allan
Nevins were virtual symbols of American liberalism for over 100 years.
The only reason that their polite (and not so polite) racism has become
antiquated is that black people themselves would not tolerate it.
More information about the Marxism