Lest We Forget


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I built this presentation around my Master\'s Thesis and Alfred Nixon and delivered to various organizations.

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Lest We Forget

  1. 1. “ Lest We Forget” Alfred Nixon: Southern Progressive, Public Historian, and Preserver of Lost Cause Tradition Nixon Family Homeplace, Triangle (Lincoln County), NC
  2. 2. “ Lest We Forget” <ul><li>Southern Progressive </li></ul><ul><li>Promoted sectional reconciliation, integration, diversified agriculture (industrial and commercial exhibitions), educational and social reform </li></ul><ul><li>New Middle Class member </li></ul><ul><li>Pace of industrialization in the South quickened during the 1880s, and new cotton market centers introduced new town culture. In new centers, professionals became more influential. Railroads opened these groups to national communication networks. </li></ul><ul><li>Lost Cause Loyalist </li></ul><ul><li>Championed states rights, defended actions in 1861-65, honored Civil War veterans, and did not emphasize the issues behind the conflict but the experience of battle that both North and South had shared. The Lost Cause did not signal the South’s retreat from the future but it eased the region’s passage through a particularly difficult period of social change. Many of the values it championed helped people adjust to a new order – it supported the emergence of the New South </li></ul>United Confederate Veterans, Lincolnton
  3. 3. “ Lest We Forget” <ul><li>Born in Triangle (Lincoln County) in 1856 to Robert and Millie Womack Nixon, of German and Scots-Irish Stock, the eldest of thirteen children. </li></ul><ul><li>Began keeping a diary in 1877 and continued until 1899 </li></ul><ul><li>Father was a farmer, blacksmith, carpenter, cobbler, and a mason. </li></ul><ul><li>From a young age showed an interest in politics, history, freemasonry, and community. </li></ul><ul><li>Attended local schools – Rock Spring Seminary. Received a scholarship under tutelage of D. Matt </li></ul><ul><li>Thompson to attend UNC Chapel Hill </li></ul><ul><li>(1879-1881). </li></ul><ul><li>Diaries during this period detail </li></ul><ul><li>activities as a school teacher, </li></ul><ul><li>student, mason, and community activities </li></ul>Robert and Millie W. Nixon family, ca. 1866
  4. 4. “ Lest We Forget” <ul><li>Public historians (Alfred Nixon) in the South from the last quarter of the </li></ul><ul><li>nineteenth century through the first quarter of the twentieth century </li></ul><ul><li>framed and preserved local identity and tradition to provide a sense of </li></ul><ul><li>connectivity with the American pioneer ideal, community, and family. </li></ul><ul><li>They served as mediators between the preservation of history and the </li></ul><ul><li>inevitable forces of modernity. </li></ul>A. Nixon on the steps of First Baptist Church of Lincolnton, ca. 1922
  5. 5. “ Lest We Forget” Class of 1880, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
  6. 6. “ Lest We Forget” <ul><li>Taught school during summers off from Chapel Hill </li></ul><ul><li>Developed strong relationship with Professors at Chapel Hill showing interest in literature, geology, history, economics, and politics </li></ul><ul><li>One of few to attend college from rural eastern Lincoln County </li></ul><ul><li>Wrote various speeches on transportation, ethics, and historical figures while at Chapel Hill </li></ul><ul><li>Became Sheriff of Lincoln County in 1884 </li></ul>
  7. 7. “ Lest We Forget” <ul><li>During 1880s and 1890s became involved in local politics, fraternal organizations, and religious groups </li></ul><ul><li>Wrote various articles for local newspaper on political matters, family histories, and Memoriams on affluent white men and women. </li></ul><ul><li>Kept abreast of state and national events through newspaper subscriptions and correspondence </li></ul><ul><li>Attend expositions: R.E. Lee Monument Dedication, Kings Mountain Anniversary, Mec Dec Day Celebrations and Cotton States Exposition in Atlanta in 1895 </li></ul>Diaries end in 1899 as he takes positions as Clerk of Court and he begins to write more speeches, addresses, and participate in dedications, commencements
  8. 8. “ Lest We Forget” <ul><li>Involved with local and state Confederate Veterans from 1885 from death in 1924 </li></ul><ul><li>Honorary member of Southern Stars Chapter, Lincoln County, North Carolina </li></ul><ul><li>Recorded the lives of veterans from the Lost Cause in rosters, biographies, and Memoriams </li></ul><ul><li>Collected artifacts and objects from local veterans during and after reunions, commemorations, and vistitations </li></ul>
  9. 9. “ Lest We Forget” <ul><li>Nixon as Ethnographer </li></ul><ul><li>Propagated belief that his people (Germanness and Scots-Irish) maintained a hearty and pioneer spirit and nature, and resourcefulness </li></ul><ul><li>Nixon as Historian </li></ul><ul><li>Wrote history based on “family tradition” </li></ul><ul><li>Why? </li></ul><ul><li>Turn of the century efforts on state and national levels to research, write, preserve history </li></ul><ul><li>(N.C. Literary & Hist. Assn – 1900, N.C Historical Comm. – 1903, Folklore Soc. –1903, N.C. Comm. Jamestown Exp.- 1907) </li></ul>
  10. 10. “ Lest We Forget” <ul><li>American Hist. Assn. – 1884; Southern Historical Soc. – 1896 </li></ul><ul><li>Collected, preserved, presented history and forces of modern world through writings, photographs, manuscripts, correspondence, and 3-D objects </li></ul><ul><li>Preserve vestiges of past while accepting the forces of modernity </li></ul><ul><li>“ A people who forget their dead deserve themselves to be forgotten” </li></ul>