Duty to Defend: McNeill Smith and the Education of Southern White Liberalism Public Deposited

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  • February 26, 2019
  • Crook, Katherine
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of History
  • This thesis explores how McNeill Smith navigated the politically charged conservative atmosphere of North Carolina in the 1950s and early 1960s while adhering to his liberal beliefs. Smith stood for many liberal values, including internationalism and disarmament during the Cold War, civil liberties for Communists, and civil rights for African Americans. However, if the lessons of Henry Wallace and Frank Porter Graham taught him anything, Smith understood that he could not openly divulge his liberal and sometimes leftist leanings. Though not running for political office, he faced alienation from his community and even threats should he advocate for issues like free speech for a Communist or integration. Instead, Smith used such tactics as conservative rhetoric, appealing to a latent liberal base, and state’s rights and localism arguments to push for equal civil rights for all North Carolinians.
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  • In Copyright
  • Funding: None
  • Waterhouse, Benjamin
  • Bachelor of Arts
Honors level
  • Honors
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • 75

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