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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Virginius Dabney, July 31, 1975. Interview A-0311-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Articulation of southern liberalism radicalized Dabney's political ideology in the 1930s

Dabney discusses the purpose of his 1932 book, <cite>Liberalism in the South</cite>, as advancing how liberalism developed in the South since the American Revolution. His authorship of the book helped shape his political philosophy, which was considered radical in the early 1930s.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Virginius Dabney, July 31, 1975. Interview A-0311-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

DANIEL JORDAN:
What was the purpose of the book, Liberalism in the South?
VIRGINIUS DABNEY:
Well, I was very much honored to be asked, and I was going to write it if I possibly could. I was interested in the subject and felt that I could fit into what they wanted me to do. So, I worked on it very hard and it appeared in a couple of years.
DANIEL JORDAN:
But to cover the content, did it have a particular thrust or a particular thesis?
VIRGINIUS DABNEY:
I suppose that the thesis would be that liberal thought was the most important thing that had carried the South forward in the past and would guide it forward in the future.
DANIEL JORDAN:
And you started with the Revolutionary generation and traced the ups and downs of that liberal thought?
VIRGINIUS DABNEY:
All the way down to the 1920's.
DANIEL JORDAN:
Was the book more than just a review of the traditions? Was it also an expression of your opinions at that time?
VIRGINIUS DABNEY:
Yes, it was. It was, in a way, an expression of my philosophy.
DANIEL JORDAN:
Did the book help to shape your philosophy? By being forced to think through the whole sweep of southern liberalism, did it help you to clarify your own values?
VIRGINIUS DABNEY:
Yes, it did very much. I had to think through these issues and principles, in order to set them down on paper, and it helped me to formulate my own creed.
DANIEL JORDAN:
Was there any controversy in the aftermath of publishing it? Were there people who might disagree with what you said in it?
VIRGINIUS DABNEY:
Yes, I can't remember specifically any instances, but I know that at that time I was considered to be a fairly advanced liberal and "pink", as the saying went, and whereas the views that I expressed then were not greatly different from those that I have now, they were pretty far ahead of a lot of people.
WILLIAM H. TURPIN:
For that time.
VIRGINIUS DABNEY:
For that time and that place.