William Alexander Blount, as a child, had experienced the frustrations of poverty and disorder resulting from the Civil War. While steeped in many of the values and traditions of the Old South, Blount was one of the new generation of southern leaders who, after the end of Reconstruction in 1877, strove to modernize the South through industrialization and closer cooperation with northern capitalists. His keen intellect and sharp legal mind served him well as a corporate lawyer for the Louisville and Nashville Railroad in Florida. Blount’s legal career in Pensacola spanned the Bourbon period, roughly from 1877 to 1900, when conservative Democrats controlled Florida’s politics into the early twentieth-century Progressive era. His actions, at times, reflected conservative Bourbon principles and, in other instances, liberal Populist-Progressive ideas and goals. In either role, Blount epitomized the leadership of the New South. Scholars of southern history have devoted considerable attention to describing the men of the New South, sometimes questioning even if the term New South is historically accurate. More studies of prominent, well-respected professionals like Blount possibly can shed additional light on the ongoing controversial subject of whether or not there was continuity or discontinuity in prewar and postwar leadership in the South. Were the leaders of the New South former planters and large landholders, as W. J. Cash and others contend, or were they southern urban merchants and professionals, as C. Vann Woodward and others suggest?
Muir, Jr., Thomas
"William Alexander Blount: Defender of the Old South and Advocate of a New South,"
Florida Historical Quarterly: Vol. 67:
4, Article 6.
Available at: https://stars.library.ucf.edu/fhq/vol67/iss4/6