Reconstruction was but the first large-scale social engineering effort by the Northern coalition. When Yankee teachers became disillusioned with the slow pace of their efforts to educate and uplift former slaves in the Deep South and Tidewater, many turned their attention to Appalachian whites, who were seen as people much like their “forefathers on the bleak New England shore.” Borderlanders began to enter popular consciousness in the North in the 1880s and 1890s, when a series of literary and scholarly articles appeared painting them as a people marooned in an eighteenth-century time warp, consumed by feuds and fixated on witchcraft and other superstitions. Studies falsely proclaimed that the Appalachian people spoke Elizabethan English and were “uncontaminated with slavery.” The Yankee-born president of Kentucky’s Berea College, Congregational minister William Goodell Frost, committed to bringing the “saving elements” of modern civilization to Appalachia, which would turn it into “the New England of the South.” Hundreds of Yankee-run freedmen’s schools were constructed across the region through the 1930s. By the eve of World War II the effort had lost its momentum—and had been forced out of parts of the southern mountains—but the region remained a place of abject poverty.
American Nations. (p. 279)
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