There are many faces of The South. The popular media image of a Southerner is some combination of NASCAR, “professional wrestling”, ball caps advertising Redman chewing tobacco, and pickup trucks flying a “rebel flag”. In other words – “redneck”. That is a stereotype promoted by the media; unfortunately, many Southerners have adopted that stereotype as their own. While we certainly have no authority to define Southern culture, that is not what we are about. Here at The Southern Agrarian, we take our inspiration from the original Southern Gentleman – Robert E. Lee.
Although the War for Southern Independence is clearly the defining moment in our history, it is still only a few short years in what really makes up The South. The South did not die in 1865. We are not going to focus on the war, or even on history, but rather on the broader issues of Southern culture during the Antebellum period – the Golden Era of The South – and how it still relates to Southerners today.
We specify the Southern Gentleman and Southern Lady as opposed to the simple terms of “gentleman” or “lady”. There is a difference. The word “gentleman” is also used for the English tradition of the gentleman. That is largely determined by birth and the English nobility structure. The Southern Gentleman, on the other hand, has no formal connection to the family one was born into other than the fact that the characteristics of a Southern Gentleman are usually passed down from one generation to the next in families that value those characteristics. One can overcome the place and circumstances of his birth and be a Southern Gentleman by making the decision to follow that path. The “Southern” in Southern Gentleman refers to the warmth and traditions of Southern culture, but is it also very much a place. It is hard to imagine a Southern Gentleman in Boston or New York City.
Living life as a Southern Gentleman is really more of a journey than a destination. It is something we strive for in our daily living, but it is a goal that we never truly attain. Even Robert E. Lee surely had days when he must have shaken his head and wondered how he could have acted so badly. No one is a Gentleman all the time, no matter how hard we try. Southern Gentleman is a title that must be conferred by others and not by oneself. Like true nobility, being a Southern Gentleman is determined by actions – not by birth.
That which makes The South such a beautiful culture is sadly missing in today’s “politically correct,” multi-cultural world. It takes a conscious effort to recover that lost culture and way of life. The Southern Agrarian is where you’ll find those who try to live life with the quiet dignity that the title Gentleman or Lady calls for, while sinking our roots deep into our native Southern soil. The goal of The Southern Agrarian is to remind you and those around you that The Lost Cause was an ideal worth fighting for – and worth making a part of our lives today.