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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Virginia Foster Durr, March 13, 14, 15, 1975. Interview G-0023-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

The romanticized myth of slavery as told by whites in the New South

Durr's grandfather opposed the Civil War on political grounds despite being a wealthy slave owner. Believing the South would lose, he never invested in Confederate bonds, making him one of the few plantation owners to still have money at the end of the war. After the end of the conflict, his family embraced the myth of the Old South, even claiming that their loyal slaves chose to remain because they had been treated so well.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Virginia Foster Durr, March 13, 14, 15, 1975. Interview G-0023-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

Now my grandfather opposed the Civil War. He was a Whig and by that time he had become quite prosperous and he thought they should settle the slave issue the way that they had in England, by the government buying up the slaves and recompensing the owners. He hated William Loundes Yancey who he thought was a firebrand and was plunging the South into war. So, he was opposed to the Civil War and he found a substitute, he didn't go to the war, which was a great disgrace in those days. I never heard that until I was older. He bought a substitute and sent him to the war because he didn't believe in the war. But two sons died in the war, so I was told.
Now, how old was your father during the war?
He was born, I think, either the last year of the war or right after the war. Not only did my grandfather not go to the war, he didn't buy Confederate bonds. You see, in those days, they shipped their cotton through Mobile to Liverpool and the factors in Liverpool were the ones that would make the settlements. So, he told them in Liverpool to keep the money. When the war was over, he was one of the few men in that part of Alabamathat had any money, any gold. The Confederate money had gone to absolutely nothing. So, he prospered considerably after the Civil War and they lived in great style and he bought up all the lands of these poor fellows that had invested in Confederate bonds. My recollection is that when I first remeber the plantation, they owned about 35,000 acres of land, which was a lot of land.
Did your grandfather have slaves?
Oh heavens, yes.
What happened to them?
Well, all I ever heard was that the slaves were so loyal that "old Mose" hid the silver andtook the horses into the swamps and all loved him dearly. I was brought up, you see, on the romantic tradition of the slave system being benevolent.