A Trace of the Development of Southern Nationality

A Trace of the Development of Southern Nationality
na·tion·al·ism (n sh -n -l z m, n sh n -)
1. Devotion to the interests or culture of a particular nation.
2. The belief that nations will benefit from acting independently rather than collectively, emphasizing national rather than international goals.
3. Aspirations for national independence in a country under foreign domination.
The first successful colony in the future U.S.A was Jamestown, founded in 1607. The group was made up of townsmen and adventurers more interested in finding gold than farming. It was not long, however, before a development occurred that revolutionized Virginia\'s economy. In 1612 John Rolfe began cross-breeding imported tobacco seed from the West Indies with native plants and produced a new variety that was more pleasing to Europeans. Within a decade it had become Virginia\'s chief source of revenue. This established the south as a primarily agricultural region. In the south, the first blacks were brought to Virginia in 1619, just 12 years after the founding of Jamestown. Initially, many were regarded as indentured servants who could earn their freedom. By the 1660s, however, as the demand for plantation labor in the Southern colonies grew, the institution of slavery began to harden around them, and Africans were brought to America in shackles for a lifetime of involuntary servitude. In contrast to New England and the middle colonies were the predominantly rural southern settlements: Virginia, Maryland, North and South Carolina, and Georgia. By the late 17th century, Virginia\'s and Maryland\'s economic and social structure rested on the great planters and the small farmers. The planters of this region, supported by slave labor, held most of the political power and the best land. They built great houses, adopted an aristocratic way of life and kept in touch as best they could with the world of culture overseas. At the same time, small farmers, who worked smaller tracts of land, sat in popular assemblies and found their way into political office. Their outspoken independence was a constant warning to the more powerful of planters not to encroach too far upon the rights of free men.
No pertinent differences arose between this era and the aftermath of the Revolutionary War. It was at this time however that the greatest dissention began to arise between the two regions and differences other than slavery and economy arose. These differences lay in the political and social standing on the creation of a new united government. The articles of confederation were the first manifestation of these differing beliefs. The 18th-century statesmen who met in Philadelphia at the Federal Convention were believers in the concept of balance of power in politics. These influences led to the decision that three equal and coordinate branches of government should be established. Legislative, executive and judicial powers were to be so well balanced that no one could ever gain control. The delegates agreed that the legislative branch, like the colonial legislatures and the British Parliament, should consist of two houses. On these points there was unanimity within the assembly. But major differences arose as to the method of achieving them. Representatives of the small states, like New Jersey, for instance, objected to changes that would reduce their influence in the national government by basing representation upon population rather than upon statehood, as was the case under the Articles of Confederation. On the other hand, representatives of large states, like Virginia, argued for proportionate representation. Northerners wanted slaves counted when determining each state\'s tax share, but not in determining the number of seats a state would have in the House of Representatives. According to a compromise reached with little dissent, the House of Representatives would be assigned according to the number of free inhabitants plus three-fifths of slaves. Many more compromises were made during this time. All of these compromises, however fair, increased a sense of separation between the North and South, with the obvious effect of instilling a sense of nationality in the Southern states.
When the time came to ratify the Constitution, many new problems arose. In Virginia, the ‘Antifederalists’ attacked the proposed new government by challenging the opening phrase of the Constitution: "We the People of the United States." Without using the individual state names in