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“Although the institution of slavery is to be condemned, because it deprives the slave of everything except his bread and butter, and clothing, and shelter in winter, it merits more decided condemnation on another ground. It deprives the POOR WHITES of the South of every aspiration which appertains to anything nobler than their bodies. It deprives them of the exercise of their intellects, of schools, education and culture, no less than of the bread of themselves and their children. I am more opposed to the institution on this ground than on any other, because it is our own race, THE WHITE RACE, which is here TRAMPLED upon”

“As a general rule, poor white persons are regarded with less esteem and attention than negroes, vast numbers of the former are infinitely worse off, a cunningly devised mockery of freedom is guaranteed to them, and that is all. To all intents and purposes they are disenfranchised, and outlawed”


(Hinton Rowan Helper, “Compendium of The Impending Crisis of the South”; 1859)

Poor whites faced diminishing fortunes in the era of Reconstruction…

Their antebellum heritage of poverty, ill health, and isolation worsened in the years after the war…

The Antebellum South, also known as the antebellum era was a period in the history of the Southern United States from the late 18th century (1783) until the start of the American Civil War in 1861…

It was characterized by the rise of abolition and the gradual polarization of the country between abolitionists and supporters of slavery…

A Freedmen’s Bureau agent in South Carolina described the poor whites in his area as “gaunt and ragged, ungainly, stopping and clumsy in build”

They lived a marginal existence, hunting, fishing, and growing corn and potato crops that, as a North Carolinian put it, “come up puny, grow puny, and mature puny”

Many poor white farmers, in fact, were less productive than so called black sharecroppers…

“Negro slaves” and so called black European American indentured servants and sharecroppers had more liberties and more opportunities than their poor Caucasian counterparts…

It’s been asserted that the Civil War started for the sole purpose of establishing an aristocracy for poor Caucasians…

We’re also told that around this time, these poor Caucasians began expressing themselves through organizations on the basis of the Masonic order (KKK)

In part because their lives were so hard, poor whites persisted in their belief in “white superiority”

Many poor whites, therefore, joined the KKK and other southern white terror groups that emerged between 1865 and 1868…

The first Klan was founded in Pulaski, Tennessee, on December 24, 1865, by six former officers of the Confederate army shortly after the Civil War, during the Reconstruction of the South…

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