I always get a kick out of the people who find my blogging to be offensive based on the fact that I am not native to the South. A couple of days ago I noticed a comment on another blog, which referred to me as “Kevin the Carpetbagger”. Of course, I am not offended by the label because it reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of the history of the region as well as a simple mind. In his discussion of the economic, social, and cultural differences between the northern and southern sections of the states in the Deep South, Marc Egnal quotes John Calhoun:
Our State was first settled on the coast by emigrants principally from England, but with no inconsiderable intermixture of Huguenots from France. The portion of the State along the falls of the rivers and back to the mountains had a very different origin and settlement. Its settlement commenced long after, at a period, but little anterior to the war of the Revolution, and consisted principally of emigrants who followed the course of the mountains, from Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia & North Carolina. They had very little connection, or intercourse for a long time with the old settlement on the coast.
Such a view stands in sharp contrast with the static and monolithic view of the South that continues to hold sway for so many. Unfortunately, these are the very same people who claim to defend the heritage of the South against what they perceive to be outside influence. But what exactly are they defending? Even Calhoun understood that the boundaries of the Southern states were porous and that diversity ruled when he penned these thoughts in 1846. How many white Southerners today would have been deemed “carpetbaggers” by earlier generations? Who, if anyone, has a monopoly on Southern identity? How does one even go about demarcating such a boundary? All of us who live in “the South” can trace our family histories back to a carpetbagger. I am proud to join the long list of carpetbaggers who moved to the South at various points in the past. We have a rich heritage indeed.