1993 Mayflower Cup for Nonfiction award, Society of Mayflower Descendants in the State of North Carolina
Link’s analysis of the response of rural southern communities to reform efforts establishes a new social context for southern progressivism. He argues that the movement failed because a cultural chasm divided the reformers and the communities they sought to transform. Reformers were paternalistic. They believed that the new policies should properly be administered from above, and they were not hesitant to impose their own solutions. They also viewed different cultures and races as inferior.
Rural southerners saw their communities and customs quite differently. For most, local control and personal liberty were watchwords. They had long deflected attempts of southern outsiders to control their affairs, and they opposed the paternalistic reforms of the Progressive Era with equal determination. Throughout the 1920s they made effective implementation of policy changes difficult if not impossible. In a small-scale war, rural folk forced the reformers to confront the integrity of the communities they sought to change.