Thursday, January 22, 2009

Michel Chevalier on Northerners and Southerners

At the risk of offending my readers south of the Mason Dixon line (and relatives in North Carolina), I can't resist relating another anecdote from Marc Egnal's Clash of Extremes: The Economic Origins of the Civil War. Illustrating one view of the "distinct work habits" and "approaches to entrepreneurial activities" of Northerners and Southerners, Professor Egnal quotes from observations by "Michel Chevalier, a French official who came to America in the 1830s to study public works:"
In a village in Missouri, by the side of a house with broken windows, dirty in its outward appearance, around the door of which a parcel of ragged children are quarreling and fighting, you may see another, freshly painted, surrounded by a simple, but neat and nicely whitewashed fence, with a dozen of carefully trimmed trees about it, and through the windows in a small room shining with cleanliness you may espy some nicely combed little boys and some young girls dressed in almost the last Paris fashion. Both houses belong to farmers, but one of them is from North Carolina and the other from New England.

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