Sunday, February 5, 2012

Interesting quote from a new acquisition

I recently got Harry Byrd and the Changing Face of Virginia Politics 1945-1966 from the library book sale. My great-grandad, chairman of the Arlington County School Board, clashed with the Byrd machine over desegregation back in the fifties. So the first thing I did was go back to the index and look for references to that. There was a brief mention of the incident (without mentioning my great-grandad), and then a longer discussion of the relationship between Arlington County and the rest of the state. I found this particularly funny:

"In the same way many 'old' Virginians disdained the newcomers who inhabited the northern Virginia suburbs. Marshall Fishwick, a student of the commonwealth's mind and culture, caught this attitude when he constructed a typical conversation with that most Virginian of all Virginians - the Virginia Lady: 'Next you'll lambast the Byrd machine' [the Lady remarks to her guest]. 'There isn't a state in the Union as basically satisfied with the way it's being run as Virginia. Don't all the country people like Mr. Byrd?' 'Yes, but the cities don't. Up around Arlington -- ' 'That's not Virginia. Virginia starts at Fredericksburg. We ought to lop off those northern counties and give them to the Yankee bureaucrats who live there. People in real cities, like Richmond and Danville and Petersburg - the ones that amounted to something in General Lee's day - are very content with Mr. Byrd. And so am I.'"

You actually hear this. I definitely heard it from people at William and Mary from other parts of the state - that Northern Virginia isn't "really" Virginia. John McCain's campaign advisor famously blurted out that Northern Virginia was distinct from "real Virginia".

But here's what I love about this passage - the line: "People in real cities, like Richmond and Danville and Petersburg - the ones that amounted to something in General Lee's day"

And where, pray tell, was General Lee from????

He lived in Arlington House, located in Arlington County, Virginia!

You've heard of "more Catholic than the pope"? Well this fictional character is "more Virginian than General Lee".

Kind of like that other Virginia general, George Washington. I bet regularly railed against those northern Virginians from his home in Alexandria (right next to Arlington and Washington, for those of you who don't know the geography).


  1. "He lived in Arlington House, located in Arlington County, Virginia!"

    But clearly they mean those places are *no longer* real Virginia, right? Since the expansion of the federal government, and the suburbization of the north. I don't think they mean that in 1860 that wasn't real Virginia.

  2. Completely unrelated and apologies for self-promotion, but I've a new post here on the myth of Hayek's prediction of the Great Depression:

    I hope people will find it interesting.


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