Somedays, I get optimistic and think that it will be possible to reform the anti-intellectualism and utter disregard for civic support for the larger community found in Red States, especially in the South and Appalachia. Then, facts like this one come to light that show just how stubborn these tendencies can be, and how futile an effort like that might be. The roots of these tendencies run very, very deep.
In 1850…Arkansas had 97,402 white persons under twenty, and only 11,050 attending school; while of 210,831 whites of that age in Michigan, 112,175 were at school or college. Last year, Michigan had 132,234 scholars in her public common schools.
In 1850, Arkansas contained 64,787 whites over twenty, – but 16,935 of these were unable to read and white; while, out of 184,240 of that age in Michigan, only 8,281 were thus ignorant, – of these, 3009 were foreigns; while, of the 16,935 illiterate persons of Arkansas, only 37 were born out of that State. The Slave State had only 47,852 persons over twenty who could read a word; while the free State had 175,959.
Michigan had 107,943 volumes in “libraries other than private,” and Arkansas 420 volumes….
From Theodore Parker’s The great battle between slavery and freedom (1856) cited by Razib Khan in a piece providing historical context for In the Land of Self-Defeat: What a fight over the local library in my hometown in rural Arkansas taught me about my neighbors’ go-it-alone mythology — and Donald Trump’s unbeatable appeal.