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A Place for the Negro in the Agrarian Scheme: Robert Penn Warren's Contribution to I'll Take My Stand

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Robert Penn Warren's first published essay was "The Briar Patch,"" his contribution to I'll Take My Stand. That famous symposium offered a critique of industrialism and a defense of ""the Southern way of life."" Twelve essays on various topics by twelve different authors followed a joint ""Statement of Principles"" which served as the introduction to the volume and was to provide the thematic unity to the otherwise independent essays. Warren's assignment was to deal with the role of blacks in an agrarian society. Warren himself later repudiated ""The Briar Patch"" as a more or less traditional defense of Southern segregation. At the time the essay was submitted, however, Donald Davidson had seen it as a progressive deviation from the traditional ""Southern way of life"" and attempted to exclude it from the collection.

In this essay, I will first provide a detailed reading of ""The Briar Patch"" and then will place Warren's essay within the context of the overall plan and argument of I'll Take My Stand. I will conclude with brief remarks on the wider implications of Warren's essay, concerns which resurfaced in Warren's later writings.


""The Southern people are not actually united on anything these days—except the Negro question,"" Donald Davidson wrote to Allen Tate in October 1929.1 Davidson and Tate had been discussing the possible subjects and authors to be included in a symposium defending the rural South against the industrial North, and against those Southerners who sought to bring about a ""New South"" through industrialization.2 In any such defense of the South, the ""Negro question"" would be a crucial issue, especially if Davidson's sense of a Southern consensus on race were correct.

Among the names under consideration for participation in the symposium was that of Robert Penn Warren, who had been a ""fugitive"" along with Tate and Davidson during their student days at Vanderbilt University.3 On an early table of contents prepared by Tate, Warren's name appeared next to two topics, ""The Southern Way of Life"" and ""Religion and Aristocracy in the South."" Tate's stated preference was to have Warren write on ""The Southern Way of Life.""4 Davidson finally prevailed upon Warren to accept the assignment on race, writing to him that ""It's Up To You, Red, to prove that Negroes are country folks ... 'born and bred in a briar-patch.'""5

Warren wrote and submitted his essay while a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford. When Davidson read Warren's article, however, he was ""shocked,"" claiming that ""The Briar Patch"" had ""progessive implications"" and that ""the ideas advanced about the negro don't seem to chime with our ideas as I understand them.""6

Two assumptions underlie Warren's argument in ""The Briar Patch."" First, regardless of how blacks came to America, or how oppressed they were once brought to America, America is the contemporary home of the descendants of the slaves. Both blacks and whites must come to terms with the implications of this fact. Second, blacks and whites share a basic interest in how society develops, and their fates are inextricably linked together.

Warren maintains that the current problems confronted by Southern blacks date to the aftermath of the Civil War and Reconstruction. Although Warren does not use this language, his understanding of blacks in the aftermath of the Civil War is shaped by the belief that slavery kept blacks in perpetual childhood. With emancipation, perpetual children were immediately granted the rights of adults. At the conclusion of Reconstruction blacks had freedoms they knew not how to exercise, and which would be taken from them in the post-Reconstruction era.7

The negro was as little equipped to establish himself in [the post-Reconstruction South] as he would have been to live again, with spear and breech-cloth, in the Sudan or Bantu country. The necessities of life had always found their way to his back or skillet without the least thought on his part.... He did not know how to make a living, or, if he did, he did not know how to take thought for the morrow.8

His brief ascension to political power during Reconstruction ""did little to remedy the negro's defects in preparation."" What training he received during this period perhaps made matters worse, for ""it was a training in corruption, oppression, and rancor.""9 The brief period in which blacks were ""used as an instrument of oppression solved nothing."" Even worse, however, this brief period of political ascension ""sadly mortgaged his best immediate capital ... the confidence of the Southern white man with whom he had to live.""10

Between two ""extremes of prejudice""11 stood ""a more realistic view that the hope and safety of everyone concerned rested in the education of the negro.""12 Warren acknowledged that this would be a very slow road to travel, not only because of racial prejudice, but also because the South had traditionally spent little on education in general. The major question Warren addresses in his discussion of education is the type of education that blacks should receive. In simplified terms, the argument was between academic and vocational education. ""For what is the negro to be educated? It is a question that must be answered unless one believes that the capacity to read and write, as some believed concerning the franchise, carries with it a blind magic to insure success.""13

Warren comes down squarely on the side of vocational education,14 quoting Booker T. Washington on the issue. Warren characterizes Washington as recognizing that most blacks would have to live off of their own labor, and ""that little was to be gained by only attempting to create a small group of intellectual aristocrats in the race.""15 Warren maintains that vocational training remains the most urgent need in black education.

In arguing for vocational education for blacks Warren makes two important points that need to be underlined. First, Warren maintains that the argument for vocational education he has just made ""applies equally well to the problem of white illiteracy in the South and elsewhere."" Warren's position on vocational education for blacks is therefore a specific application of a more general argument he would make relating to the appropriate type of education for American society in general. Second, Warren's argument for vocational education, which is directed toward the mass of Southern blacks, is not intended to deny the importance of higher education for blacks. Warren asserts that ""everyone recognizes that there is a need for negroes in the professions, especially medicine and teaching.""16 Note that here Warren omits the law, which might be seen as the crucial profession for blacks, given his emphasis on equality before the law later in this essay.


Warren argues that the theoretical argument for black higher education is undermined ""if at the same time a separate negro community or group is not built up which is capable of absorbing and profiting from those members who have received this higher education."" Without a strong black community in the South capable of supporting a professional infrastructure, educated blacks will ""leave the South to seek [their] fortune elsewhere."" Such an eventuality would have two serious consequences, according to Warren: the loss of black role models in the South and a loss of understanding of the southern situation on the part of a relocated black leadership.17

At this point Warren moves into a more general discussion of the requirements for the development of strong black communities. He approaches this topic through a discussion of why educated blacks have moved from the South, and notes that the most common reasons for this movement are a lack of opportunity and discrimination. Warren collapses these two issues into the single question of equality. While acknowledging that equality is a complicated question, Warren thinks it can be untangled.

Warren, either optimistically or naively, writes, ""The simplest issue, and probably the one on which most people would agree, is that of equal right before the law."" Justice before the law, so often unavailable to the black, ""is the least he can demand for himself or others can demand for him."" Warren bemoans the existence of both racial and economic discrimination, but suggests that racial justice may be more achievable than class justice. Warren then underlines the broader social importance of racial equality before the law, without spelling out the implications of his comment. ""The matter of political right carries repercussions which affect almost every relation of the two races,"" he writes, but then concludes by reiterating that ""the least that can be desired in behalf of the negro is that any regulation shall apply equitably to both him and the white man.""18

Beyond this strict legal equality, other aspects of equality ""are more subtle and confused."" The lack of opportunity for educated blacks, for example, can mean two different things (or, as Warren notes, it can mean both). Does the black professional ""simply regret ... that his negro clientele will be small and many of its members too poor to pay him a living commensurate to his talents and training? Or does he protest the fact that the white man will seek out another white man—a man whose professional abilities may possibly be inferior"" to his own? The same alternative positions present themselves when we raise the question of social discrimination: ""Does he simply want to spend the night in a hotel as comfortable as the one from which he is turned away, or does he want to spend the night in that same hotel?"" 19 Warren's questions foreshadow the civil rights debate that would dominate national politics three decades later.

Warren accepts as the reasonable answer to both of these sets of questions the first alternative, the alternative that recognizes the doctrine of ""separate but equal."" Warren's solution to lack of opportunity and social discrimination is the development of an economically independent black community, ""a race group that will support and demand such services as [the black professional] can offer."" Warren recognizes that this approach will be seen as treason by both black and white ""radicals"" who demand complete social equality immediately. For these radicals, ""to simply look forward to a negro society which can take care of all the activities and needs of its members is a feeble compromise."" At this point Warren again quotes Booker T. Washington in support of his position.20

The question of industrial development stood at the heart of agrarian concerns, if not at the heart of Warren's essay. The agrarians of I'll Take My Stand were motivated both by their opposition to the ""industrial gospel"" and by their belief that ""the culture of the soil is the best and most sensitive of vocations.""21 Applying both the positive and negative elements of the agrarian position to the question of black society, Warren offers a two-fold argument: industrial development is not a panacea for the black community and agriculture provides the surest means to black self-sufficiency.

As characterized by Warren, the advocates of the ""New South"" argued that the development of industry is ""the factor which would make the Southern negro's economic independence possible"" and will ""strike off the shackles and lift the negro from his state of serfdom, ignorance, and degradation.""22 Pointing to the black experience in the North, Warren suggests that the belief that industrial development will lead to black self-sufficiency entails an ""exorbitant act of faith"" in industrialism, a faith not warranted by the black experience in northern industry.23 Northern blacks, rather than being economically independent, are ignored until they are needed to replace striking white workers. ""It is an old situation in the North where the negro, cut off from the protection of unions in time of peace, made an ideal scab in time of trouble."" There is no reason to believe that as the South industrializes blacks as ""a race of potential scabs"" won't be used to keep white workers in line.24 There is also no reason to believe that blacks will benefit from this industrialization.

Warren maintains that efforts toward industrialization and the development of organized labor in the South will encounter white resistance at two levels. At the elite level there is a native and ""naïve distrust of most types of organization.""25 This distrust applies to both labor and capital, but would certainly fuel opposition to the development of a strong labor movement. Equally important is the attitude of ""poor whites"" that see themselves threatened if blacks become economically independent. The danger from the white lower classes stems from the willingness on the part of these whites to use violence against individual blacks who are seen as potential threats.26

Warren writes that the only way to avoid racial violence under the conditions of increased industrialization in the South is in the recognition that ""the fates of the 'poor white' and the negro are linked in a single tether. The well-being and adjustment of one depends on that of the other."" White labor can attempt to retard the development of black labor through intimidation or violence. Or white labor can learn ""that color has nothing to do with the true laying of a brick and that the comfort of all involved in the process depends on his recognition and acceptance of the fact.""27

Unless white labor learns this lesson, industry will play black labor off against white labor to the detriment of both. A peaceful solution to changing labor conditions brought about by industrial expansion ""will demand tact on the part of the employer, judgment and patience on the part of both the negro and white workman, effective legislation, and the understanding by the ordinary citizen.""28 Warren does not answer the crucial question of whether Southern reserves of tact, judgment, patience and understanding are adequate to handle the inevitable stresses created by industrial growth.

Warren concludes his discussion of industrialization by adding that there is one final lesson that must be learned by the white laborer if these changes in the labor market are to occur peacefully. ""What the white workman must that he may respect himself as a white man, but if he fails to concede the negro equal protection, he does not properly respect himself as a man.""29 Warren is not optimistic that this lesson will be learned easily.

Having dealt with industrialism and the demands that it would place on Southern society, Warren then turns to a defense of rural life as offering blacks the best opportunity for economic independence and development of strong communal structures. Warren argues that, by ""temperament and capacity,"" the southern black belongs in the small town or on the farm. A return to rural life will provide the blacks with ""the status of a human being who is likely to find in agriculture and domestic pursuits the happiness that his good nature and easy ways incline him to as an ordinary function of his being.""30


Warren argues that a move toward the land will provide the ""readiest and probably surest way for the greater number of the negroes to establish themselves."" In addition to providing for financial independence, such a move would save blacks from the ""formalized and impersonal"" group relations of the city. There is more opportunity for contact between the races in a rural setting, and this contact allows for the development of personal relations that transcend race.31 Warren in fact maintains that ""the rural life provides the most satisfactory relationship of the two races which can be found at present.""32

The movement of blacks into agriculture, however, raises again ""the difficulty of competition between the two races,"" which again raises the question of racial violence. Warren thinks that in a rural setting the issue is ""more readily ponderable,"" but he offers no plan to deal the type of violence he emphasized in talking about urban competition. Warren seems to portray rural whites as having more patience, prudence, and good will toward blacks than their urban counterparts. In fact, racial violence in the South was as likely to be found in rural areas and small towns as in urban industrialized areas.33

Ultimately Warren lays down a challenge to Southern whites, and this challenge was, intentionally or unintentionally, aimed directly at his agrarian brothers. ""If the Southern white man feels that the agrarian life has a certain irreplaceable value in his society, and if he hopes to maintain its integrity in the face of industrialism or its dignity in the face of agricultural depression, he must find a place for the negro in his scheme.""34

In keeping with the theme of the symposium, Warren proposes that that place is the agrarian society, and he identifies a number of issues to be addressed if the movement of blacks into agriculture is to be successful. Agricultural education is a necessity, and blacks must ""receive equal consideration"" in cooperative and protective efforts. More generally, the conditions necessary for the development of the black community must be recognized and respected. Whites must understand that the black community ""must have such roots as the white society owns."" Warren concludes with the claim that ""the chief problem for all alike is the restoration of society at large to a balance and security which the industrial regime is far from promising to achieve.""35


Warren challenged the defenders of the agrarian life to ""find a place for the negro in his scheme."" I have shown above how Warren met his own challenge. In this section I will briefly survey the treatment of race in the other contributions to I'll Take My Stand in order to situate Warren's argument within the context of the entire symposium. Whether one treats I'll Take My Stand as a set of practical proposals for political and social reform or as an expression of moral and artistic vision, it is legitimate to ask if agrarianism has anything of importance to say regarding race relations and racial justice.

The ""Statement of Principles"" which opens the collection perhaps sets the tone for the entire work. It states that the essays included in the collection ""all tend to support a Southern way of life against what may be called the American or prevailing way.""36 While the racial mores of the South might be thought to be a part of the ""Southern way of life"" the agrarians intend to defend, there is no mention of race relations in the ""Statement of Principles"" at all. The only use of the word ""race"" in this ""Statement"" occurs in its final paragraph:

For, in conclusion, this much is clear: If a community, or a section, or a race, or an age, is groaning under industrialism, and well aware that it is an evil dispensation, it must find the way to throw it off. To think that this cannot be done is pusillanimous. And if the whole community, section, race, or age thinks it cannot be done, then it has simply lost its political genius and doomed itself to impotence.37

The agrarians saw industrialism as the great enemy to the good life, in part because of its impact on labor. The ""Statement of Principles"" says this: ""The first principle of a good labor is that it must be effective, but the second principle is that it must be enjoyed. Labor is one of the largest items in the human career; it is a modest demand to ask that it may partake of happiness.""38 Labor that can be ""enjoyed"" and that can lead to ""happiness"" is thus a part of living a full human life. The final passage from the ""Statement of Principles"" quoted above invokes the image of Hebrews in bondage toiling under tyrannical pharaohs when it speaks of ""a race groaning under industrialism."" John Crowe Ransom refers to ""the new so-called industrial 'slavery'"" in his essay, and he does not intend the phrase to be taken ironically.39 What is ironic is that a work motivated by a fierce desire for protecting the traditions of personal and community liberty should take such a nonchalant attitude toward real slavery and its aftermath.

Except for Warren's essay, those which touch on race do so only incidentally, and in most case they refer back to the history of slavery in the antebellum South. In his opening essay John Crowe Ransom writes, ""Slavery was a feature monstrous enough in theory, but, more often than not, humane in practice; and it is impossible to believe that its abolition alone could have effected any great revolution in society.""40

The most extensive discussion of slavery in I'll Take My Stand besides that offered by Warren is found in Frank Owsley's ""The Irrespressible Conflict,"" which treats race primarily in terms of the history of slavery and its abolition. Owsley agrees with Warren that efforts at colonization as a way to eliminate the racial problem were generally opposed by blacks.41 Owsley argues that ""Slavery was no simple question of ethics; it cut across the categories of human thought like a giant question mark. It was a moral, an economic, a religious, a social, a philosophical, and above all a political question.""42 The irrepressible conflict of his title, however, was not between the forces of slavery and the forces of freedom, but ""between the industrial and commercial civilization of the North and the agrarian civilization of the South.""43 Despite an absence of focus on it, an insight into the agrarians' view of the contemporary race question can be gleaned from Owsley's essay. He says that there is an explanation for slavery ""which the North has never grasped—in fact, never can grasp until the negro race covers the North as thickly as it does the lower South.""44 Blacks were imported into the Southern Colonies in such numbers that whites feared for their racial integrity. The blacks brought into the colonies ""were cannibals and barbarians, and therefore dangerous.... Even if no race wars occurred, there was dread of being submerged and absorbed by the black race.""45

This view of blacks as barbarians, and the attendant fear that it generated, appears to be the operative view of at least some of the agrarians. Andrew Lytle in his symposium contribution ""The Hind Tit"" argues in similar fashion that long after the conclusion of the Civil War, the ""menace of the free negro"" helped to insure that farmers would give their allegiance to leaders who had left the countryside to enter industry and urban life.46 Ransom too alludes to the problem of the ""professional demagogue"" without explicitly raising the question of race.47

The essay on education, written by John Gould Fletcher, parallels Warren's argument for vocational education for blacks. ""Although there is no doubt that the negro could, if he wished, pass easily through the high school and college mill,"" under present circumstances it would be a waste of time.48 Far better to support blacks at ""Tuskegee and the Hampton Institute, which are adapted to the capacity of that race and produce far healthier and happier specimens of it than all the institutions of 'higher learning' that we can ever give them.""49

Finally, in ""Whither Southern Economy?"" Herman Clarence Nixon points toward the need for agricultural education if blacks are to thrive. Nixon notes that agriculture, especially the production of cotton, has been the chief economic activity of Southern blacks since the end of the Civil War. These blacks (and those who exploit them) have been primarily responsible for ""overemphasizing a commercialized cotton production and delaying a wholesome agricultural diversification"" in the South.50 Nixon praises Booker T. Washington for ""the persistency with which he urged his people to get more land and to keep it and to grow something besides cotton.""51


None of the other authors in I'll Take My Stand sought to ""find a place for the negro in his scheme."" As Louis Rubin observes, ""Generally the black man in I'll Take My Stand is viewed as a kind of peasant, an element in southern society fitted to be the hewer of wood and drawer of water, and one that can be accommodated within an Agrarian dispensation without too much adjustment.""52 Virginia Rock concludes, ""Those who did take cognizance of the race question in their essays would not have aroused the ire of Southern traditionalists.""53

Warren's essay itself, however, did arouse the ire of Donald Davidson and other agrarian traditionalists. Warren's essay ""shocked"" Davidson, who wrote to Tate that ""[i]t hardly seems worthy of Red, or worthy of the subject.""54 Davidson complained that Warren's essay was not ""closely related to the main theme of our book"" and ""makes only two or three points that bear on our principles at all."" Davidson then comes to the nub of his criticism: ""It goes off on a tangent to discuss the negro problem in general (which I take it, is not our main concern in the book).... Furthermore, the ideas advanced about the negro don't seem to chime with our ideas as I understand them.""55 After polling Tate, Lyle Lanier, John Crowe Ransom, and Frank Owsley, Davidson made some editorial changes to the essay but it remained in the collection.56

There are many reasons why Davidson might have been upset by Warren's essay. As Louis Rubin notes, ""Only Warren's essay faced the fact that the black man had much to gain, in the way of economic and educational opportunity, from the coming of industrialism.""57 Warren also admitted the possibility that industrialism might make a contribution to the development of the South if it came ""in the role of the citizen and not of the conqueror.""58 This softness on industrialism undoubtedly was one of the ""progressive"" strains of the essay that troubled Davidson. The central issue, however, was Warren's discussion of ""the negro problem in general"" with its emphasis on the importance of strong black community life and equal treatment before the law. Among the changes favored by Davidson were modifications intended to make clear that the black communities spoken of were to be separate from white communities.59 Perhaps Davidson would be inclined to agree with Paul Conkin's observation that ""The presence of this essay thus early revealed the one time bomb lurking beneath the seeming consensus in I'll Take My Stand—race.""60


Warren's essay is not so much an argument for segregation as it is a recognition that segregation is the social framework within which action must take place. Warren certainly accepts the outlines of the segregated society which already existed as the basis for his analysis: ""Let the negro sit beneath his own vine and fig tree.""61 Warren does seem to accept the distinction between political discrimination and social discrimination as delineated by the Supreme Court, and therefore he accepts the doctrine of ""separate but equal"" as a legitimate rule for social life. As Warren said later, he saw no possibility of the system of segregation being ended. ""The image of the South I carried in my head was one of massive immobility in all ways, in both its virtues and vices—it was an image of the unchangeable human condition, beautiful, sad, tragic.""62

That stated, it must be immediately noted that Warren does not simply accept all discriminatory acts as inevitable and legitimate. Warren argues for the absolute importance of equal treatment before the law for blacks, for the importance of black self-sufficiency and control of their own communities. Warren recognizes the human (and not merely legal) equality of blacks when he argues that ""this negro community must have such roots as the white society owns.""63 Warren argues that in the marketplace, color is not important for success but that ability and performance are the keys to economic success. He challenges white laborers to show respect for themselves as men by acknowledging the legal equality of blacks and eschewing violence. He challenges the white intellectual who seeks to defend the ""Southern way of life"" to ""find a place for the negro in his scheme."" The essay, in passing, also stresses that legal equality ""carries repercussions which affect almost every relation of the two races"" without delineating those repercussions.64 While it would be pushing the point to argue that ""The Briar Patch"" is a direct attack on the ""Southern way of life"" when it comes to race relations, it would also be a mistake to read the essay as an unthinking defense of segregation. Louis Rubin, Jr., offers the nuanced conclusion that ""The Briar Patch"" was ""implicitly disruptive of the southern racial status quo.""65


Warren would return to the issues raised in ""The Briar Patch"" later in his career. Racial identity and race relations are major concerns in two of Warren's novels, Band of Angels and Flood, and in a book-length poem, Brother to Dragons. He also dealt with these questions in three works of social criticism, Segregation: The Inner Conflict of the South, The Legacy of the Civil War, and Who Speaks for the Negro? In Who Speaks for the Negro? Warren was critical of ""The Briar Patch,"" characterizing it as ""a cogent and humane defense of segregation.""66 While Warren moves beyond the position articulated in ""The Briar Patch"" in these later writings, the germ of his later criticism is found even in this early essay. In addressing the questions of equality and self-respect as these arose in a consideration of race, Warren took the first steps on a long journey that ended with a sophisticated critique of segregation and race relations in American life. This was a journey that many of Warren's agrarian brethren were unwilling to make.

Steven D. Ealy
Liberty Fund, Inc.


  1. The Literary Correspondence of Donald Davidson and Allen Tate, edited by John Tyree Fain and Thomas Daniel Young (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1974), 237.
  2. Donald Davidson, ""'I'll Take My Stand': A History,"" American Review V (Summer 1935), 301-304.
  3. Paul Conkin, The Southern Agrarians (Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press, 1988), 19-22, 58-61.
  4. The Literary Correspondence of Donald Davidson and Allen Tate, 232-33.
  5. Quoted in Conkin, 72.
  6. The Literary Correspondence of Donald Davidson and Allen Tate, 251.
  7. Robert Penn Warren, ""The Briar Patch,"" I'll Take My Stand (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1930; Harper Torchbooks, 1962), 246-248.
  8. Ibid., 247.
  9. Ibid., 248.
  10. Ibid.
  11. The extremes were those who believed that ""the immediate franchise carried with it a magic which would insure its success as a cure-all and fix-all for the negro's fate"" and ""the group in the South whose prejudice would keep the negroes forever as a dead and inarticulate mass in the commonwealth."" Ibid.
  12. Ibid., 249.
  13. Ibid.
  14. Note that Warren thinks this issue is of far broader application than just for blacks. He writes, ""In the lowest terms the matter is something like this: are most negroes to be taught to read and write, and then turned back on society with only that talent as a guaranty of their safety or prosperity? Are some others, far fewer in number, to be taught their little French and less Latin, and then sent packing about their business? If the answer is yes, it will be a repetition of the major fallacy in American education and of one of America's favorite superstitions."" Ibid., 250
  15. Ibid.
  16. Ibid., 251.
  17. Ibid., 251. Again note that Warren emphasizes the similarity of blacks to others, rather than differences. He writes, ""Moreover, the leader himself loses his comprehension of the actual situation; distance simplifies the scene of which he was once a part, and his efforts to solve its problems are transferred into a realm of abstractions. The case is not dissimilar to that of the immigrant labor leader or organizer who has in the past left the life he understood and come to this country whose life he did not wholly understand. Both have shown a tendency toward the doctrinaire."" Ibid., 251, 252. Warren may be thinking of W. E. B. DuBois. See William Bedford Clark, The American Vision of Robert Penn Warren (Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 1991), 29.
  18. ""The Briar Patch,"" 252.
  19. Ibid., 252-254.
  20. Ibid., 253, 254.
  21. ""Statement of Principles,"" I'll Take My Stand, xx, xxix.
  22. ""The Briar Patch,"" 255.
  23. While Warren does not have this ""exorbitant faith"" in industrialism, note that he is not as totally critical as are some of his agrarian compatriots. Warren writes, ""Possibly industrialism in the South can make some contribution to the negro's development, just as to the development of the section, but it will do so only if it grows under discipline and is absorbed into the terms of the life it meets. It must enter in the role of the citizen and not of the conqueror-not even the role of the beneficent conqueror."" Ibid., 255, 256.
  24. Ibid., 256, 257.
  25. Ibid., 257.
  26. Ibid., 258, 259.
  27. Ibid., 259, 260.
  28. Ibid., 260.
  29. Ibid.
  30. Ibid., 260, 261.
  31. ""But in all cases—owner, cropper, hand—there is the important aspect of a certain personal contact; there is all the difference in the world between thinking of a man as simply a negro or a white man and thinking of him as a person, knowing something of his character and his habits, and depending in any fashion on his reliability."" Ibid., 262.
  32. Ibid., 261, 262.
  33. Ibid., 263. See the chapter entitled ""The Grid of Violence"" in Pete Daniel, Standing at the Crossroads: Southern Life in the Twentieth Century (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996), 50-71. Donald G. Nieman, ed., Black Freedom/White Violence 1865-1900 (New York: Garland Publishing, 1994), collects more that twenty studies on racial violence. As a young child Warren had heard of a local lynching, so he knew directly of small-town racial violence. See Robert Penn Warren, Who Speaks For the Negro? (New York: Random House, 1965), 11, 12.
  34. ""The Briar Patch,"" 263.
  35. Ibid., 264.
  36. ""Statement of Principles,"" xix.
  37. Ibid., xxx.
  38. Ibid., xxii.
  39. John Crowe Ransom, ""Reconstructed But Unregenerate,"" I'll Take My Stand, 23.
  40. Ibid., 14.
  41. Frank Owsley, ""The Irrepressible Conflict,"" I'll Take My Stand, 78.
  42. Ibid., 76.
  43. Ibid., 74.
  44. Ibid., 68.
  45. Ibid., 77.
  46. Andrew Nelson Lytle, ""The Hind Tit,"" I'll Take My Stand, 215.
  47. John Crowe Ransom, ""Reconstructed But Unregenerate,"" 24.
  48. John Gould Fletcher, I'll Take My Stand, 119
  49. Ibid., 121.
  50. Herman Clarence Nixon, ""Whither Southern Economy?,"" I'll Take My Stand, 190.
  51. Ibid.
  52. Louis D. Rubin, Jr., The Wary Fugitives: Four Poets and the South (Baton Rogue: Louisiana University State Press, 1978), 232.
  53. Virginia J. Rock, ""The Making and Meaning of I'll Take My Stand: A Study in Utopian-Conservatism, 1925-1939"" (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Minnesota, 1961), published by University Microfilms, 1961, 303.
  54. The Literary Correspondence of Donald Davidson and Allen Tate, 251.
  55. The Literary Correspondence of Donald Davidson and Allen Tate, 251. Davidson bemoans the ""progressive implications"" of Warren's piece and then continues, ""I simply can't understand what Red is after here. It doesn't sound like Red at all—at least not the Red Warren I know. The very language, the catchwords, somehow don't fit. I am almost inclined to doubt whether RED ACTUALLY WROTE THIS ESSAY!"" This letter, dated July 21, 1930, has been severely edited as printed in The Literary Correspondence of Donald Davidson and Allen Tate; for a more complete version that contains specific examples of Davidson's concerns, see Rock, 263, 264.
  56. Rock, 262-267.
  57. Rubin, 233.
  58. ""The Briar Patch,"" 256.
  59. Rock, 266. Rock concludes that, ""In point of view as well as style, the published essay appears to be Warren's."" (267)
  60. Conkin, 72, 73.
  61. ""The Briar Patch,"" 264.
  62. Robert Penn Warren, Who Speaks for the Negro?, 12.
  63. ""The Briar Patch,"" 264.
  64. Ibid., 252.
  65. Rubin, 233.
  66. Robert Penn Warren, Who Speaks For the Negro?, 11.