Southern Agrarianism and the culture of the Old South

Purity, Symbols, and Flags

I sought a flag to follow, A cause for which to stand.
I sought a valiant leader Who could my love command.
I sought a stirring challenge, Some noble work to try.
To give my life fulfillment, My dreams to satisfy.
— John W. Peterson
— From the hymn titled “A Flag to Follow”

For centuries, people have followed not a colorful piece of cloth on a pole, but a flag – a symbol of what they believe and support. Men have died in battle carrying the flag of their people, and others pick up the fallen flag and carry it onward – sometimes to die themselves. They do that, not for a mere piece of cloth on a pole, but for what they and their brothers-in-arms are fighting for. Their flag is the symbol of that “cause for which to stand.”

There is no “official” flag of the Southern Agrarians, but we have chosen the Second National Confederate flag – also known as the Stainless Banner – as the symbol of who we are and what we stand for. At this point, a bit of Stainless Banner history is in order:

  • It was approved by the Confederate Congress on May 1, 1863.
  • The first recorded use was on May 12, when it was used to drape the coffin of Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson.
  • The Savannah Morning News promoted it as “The White Man’s Flag”, but that never caught on. It became known as the “Stainless Banner”.
  • It was replaced by the Third National flag in 1865; the Second National could be mistaken as a flag of surrender on the battle field when there was no wind.

There are two design elements in this flag, and both are emblematic of Southern Agrarianism: the Southern Cross in the upper left corner, and the field of pure white. The Southern Cross has its roots in Christianity, which was – and in most of the rural South still is – a very powerful cultural and spiritual force. The field of white symbolizes purity. Southern Agrarianism, at its deepest levels, embraces purity of body, purity of mind, purity of spirit, and purity of blood (family lineage) – all of this wrapped up in the agrarian life rooted deep in Southern soil.

On a practical level, what does that purity mean? Here are some examples:

  • A rejection of that which pollutes the body – alcohol and other drugs, gluttony, body graffiti (tattoos, piercings, etc.).
  • A rejection of the crude and profane language that has become so commonplace today.
  • A rejection of pornography and sexual degeneracy.
  • Eating real food instead of the chemical concoctions now sold as “food”.
  • Embracing the rural and rejecting the urban.
  • Embracing tradition and rejecting modernity.

Is this a list of requirements? Does this mean that to be a Southern Agrarian, one must agree to and adhere to these principles? No, of course not. These are goals to strive for; it is what we aspire to be, knowing that we are bound to fail at times; knowing that there will be some who may never have the strength to overcome habits and addictions. It is, in the words of John W. Peterson, “a stirring challenge. Some noble work to try. To give my life fulfillment. My dreams to satisfy.” Let’s give it our best.


  1. Heather

    Welcome back, Mr. Mcgehee! I am so glad you’re are writing again, you have been missed. And I enjoyed this blogpost, especially the part where you describe purity as it relates to Southern Agrarianism. Would that more people would strive for these goals, especially when I think about the filth that comes out of certain peoples mouths. And the eating of real food, as opposed to chemicals. Thank you very much for this post, we need thoughts like these now more than ever. I hope you continue sharing your thoughts with us.

    • Stephen Clay McGehee

      Thank you, ma’am! To give credit where credit is due: it was your recent email that inspired me to start writing again. May God continue to bless you.

  2. Lisa Hopper

    Yay! I was beginning to wonder what had happened to you. It is so sad to look around us today and see our way of life in jeopardy. People mistakenly equate the word “southern” with racism, which is as far from the truth as it can be. When I say that I am southern, that simply means I was born and raised in the heart of the heart of Dixie, remembering the old ways of living which includes courtesy, good manners, respect for those who have gone before me, hard work and the hope that God will not remove His protective hedge from this nation so that my grandchildren may grow up in a free country. God Bless!

    • Stephen Clay McGehee

      Thank you, ma’am! You are right on target. We are accused of hatred by those who do not understand our deep love for our own people. They do not understand that courtesy, good manners, and respect for others makes us who we are; it has been generations in the making.

  3. Alice Scott

    It’s nice to see the Southern Agrarian again!

    • Stephen Clay McGehee

      Thank you, ma’am. So many times I have wanted to get back to writing, but other things always seemed to take priority. On the good side, though, often that “priority” was enjoying some Grandpa Time… Grandpa Time

      • Richard Smith

        Thank you for sharing this photo, Stephen. This is what I think of when I think of “…purity of blood” – the heart of the southern tradition.

        • Stephen Clay McGehee

          Exactly right. We are just one link in a chain extending many generations back – and future generations going forward, whose links are still being forged. We have an obligation – a sacred duty – to honor those who brought us this far.

          The need to reproduce is built into our DNA, and a big part of that is carrying on the family line, and not radically altering the family line we inherit.

          “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.” (Exodus 20:12)

          Others will disagree, but I believe that keeping the blood line pure is a big part of “Honour thy father and thy mother”.

  4. peter S. Kelley

    Good to see you on line again.

    • Stephen Clay McGehee

      Thank you, sir!


    Wonderful you are back!!!!

    • Stephen Clay McGehee

      Thank you, ma’am!

  6. Sandra Artus

    Very happy to see your email as I have missed your writings. I much appreciate the sentiments despite the fact that I live in the north and that is where my blood is from, I still take comfort and am encouraged . I thank the Father for you.

    • Stephen Clay McGehee

      Thank you, Sandra!

  7. Fugitive Agrarian

    Thank you for including us in the email list for the link. We appreciate your articles. Bonnie Blue was about the only other flag I paid much attention to beyond our typical battle flag. You’ve given us yet another to venerate. We had seen some stuff on GAB and knew you were still kicking, but weren’t sure how high. Now we figger it must be pretty high to keep up with that grand baby. We praise the Lord you’re well and back to this venue.

    • Stephen Clay McGehee

      Great to hear from you again! Thanks for checking in.

  8. Douglas Morgan

    Excellent thoughts. Thank you for posting.

    • Stephen Clay McGehee

      Thank you – looking forward to getting regular posting started back up again.

  9. Patrick Thompson

    Thank you for this posting! I love everything to do with our traditional Southern culture, it’s preservation and staying close to our Southern soil. I could not agree more with keeping our blood line pure as honoring those who went before us. It is a part of wonderful heritage! Keep up the great work of educating and encouraging!

    • Stephen Clay McGehee

      Thanks for the feedback, Patrick. We have an incredible heritage to build upon, and we have an absolute sacred duty to honor and maintain it. “Political correctness” or “Cultural Marxism” has no place in our world, and certainly not on The Southern Agrarian. That said, we also have an obligation to respect others, and help them where we can – but OUR people always come first, as we expect others to put their people first.

  10. Joe Putnam

    Hello Stephen,
    Great to see a post from you again! I had always wondered why you used the 2nd national flag instead of the battle flag, and now I know why. I may have to get one someday.

    • Stephen Clay McGehee

      Great to hear from you, Joe!
      If you like The Southern Agrarian, you’ll probably also like Joe’s blog at

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