Date of Award

8-2012

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Legacy Department

History

Advisor

Anderson, Paul C

Committee Member

Burton , Orville V

Committee Member

Moore , Rachel M

Abstract

The traditional historiography of the American South presents the New South creed as a vision emphasizing national reconciliation based upon the advancement of Southern commerce and industry. In addition, scholars broadly define New South spokesmen as men who came to maturity after the Civil War and did not involve themselves in state or national politics. An examination of Major Edward Austin Burke, however, reveals that at least one pivotal New South booster was a Confederate veteran and leading political figure; it also suggests the presence of an international component inherent in the New South paradigm of the 1880s. It is the argument of this thesis that increased commercial ties with the Americas was an inseparable part of the New South creed, and that this component was used as a fundamental means to reconcile North and South in imperial pursuits.
This study analyzes Burke's rise to Democratic party boss of Louisiana, his ascension as a leading New South spokesman, and his transformation into the embodiment of a commercial and industrial 'neo-filibuster' - defined here as New South ideologues who became the imperialist vanguard of an American, and not a partisan, South. The neo-filibusters were different from their antebellum forbears, but also different from Confederate expatriates who emigrated to Latin America immediately after defeat in the Civil War. Still, those expatriates who left the South after defeat are an effective counterpoint for later neo-filibusters. Those who impetuously left the South between April 1865 to December 1868 sought to live in isolation while endeavoring to reconstruct the Old South in a new environment. Despite their motivations, this work suggests that Confederate expatriates nonetheless strengthened the ties between the South and the Americas in important ways.
The thesis also argues for a certain continuity of economic vision between the Old and New Souths. A significant number of antebellum Southerners, exemplified by J.D.B. DeBow, favored industrial pursuits, state activism and internal improvements. Their motivation for modernization, however, was to bolster the 'peculiar institution' of slavery and strengthen a regional way of life. New South spokesmen such as Burke shed the allegiance to slavery, which allowed for a nationally espoused ideal of Southern commercial and industrial progress.
The examination of Burke's residence in Honduras as a neo-filibuster from 1889 until his death in 1928 places the history of the American South in a broad international context. Instead of staging ersatz invasions or vainglorious coup d'Žtats, neo-filibusters like Burke were part of the larger nineteenth century international trend of imperialism - control through capital investment and exploitative political influence in underdeveloped countries.

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