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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Jonathan Worth Daniels, March 9-11, 1977. Interview A-0313. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Reasons for Daniels's father's opposition to black political power

Daniels explains his father's fears about black domination stemming from Reconstruction-era racialized politics. Daniels's grandmother's experiences as Wilson, North Carolina, postmistress heightened his father's anti-black sentiments.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Jonathan Worth Daniels, March 9-11, 1977. Interview A-0313. 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

JONATHAN WORTH DANIELS:
Never ridden a horse. So he led the parade in a little surrey. [Laughter] Wilson was no horseback riding place much, and they were poor people. His father was killed on a ship full of non-combatants by some irregular Texas troops when he was going back to Washington. And all through my father's life there were certain people who tried to stigmatize him by saying that his father was a buffalo. A buffalo, as you know, was the same as a copperhead in the North. And some years later we had some stories about some people down in eastern North Carolina, which were not very kind stories in the sense that , and the family found a document showing that Josephus Daniels, Sr. had been given a pass to trade within the occupied zone, to try to prove that he . But a great many of his friends and his mother's and father's friends came forward and said he was not an active buffalo. She became postmistress in Wilson, however, because she was the only literate white person they could find who hadn't given aid or comfort to the Confederacy, and served that for many years. In fact, unconsciously, I think that may have entered into my father's strong feeling about black domination in the South at one time. He began to edit, as a young man, a very violent Democratic newspaper in Wilson. And at that time there was a black congressman.
CHARLES EAGLES:
George White?
JONATHAN WORTH DANIELS:
I think so, but you'll have to check that. Who got father's mother removed as postmistress. And he had to go to White to try to get her reinstated; I don't think White ever did. Remember in that period of his boyhood Vance was campaigning against Settle for governor in eastern North Carolina. And he got up to speak, and there was just a vast crowd of blacks. And Vance said, "I feel like a grain of rice in a bushel of rat turds." [Laughter]