En el sur circulaba la idea de que la génesis de esa nación se remontaba a los normandos, cuyos descendientes, los cavaliers, se habían afincado en la bahía de Cheasapeake; los yankees, en cambio, descendían de los serviles anglosajones, quienes fueran conquistados por la estirpe normanda de Guillermo en 1066.
One conspicuous example of ethnic nationalism in American history - Confederate nationalism - has escaped...the attention of almost all other historians, although it was a subject of intense discussion among its leading advocates at the time. They portrayed Southern whites as a distinct "race" separate from the "Yankee race"....
By 1860 the notion had taken hold in the South that Southern whites, at least those in the planter class, were descended from the English Cavaliers, who in turn were descended from the Norman conquerors, while "Yankees" were descended from the Puritan Roundheads, who in turn traced their descent from the Anglo-Saxons, who were conquered by the the Normans in the eleventh century. One of the fullest expressions of this idea appeared in the leading magazine for Southern writers two months after the start of the Civil War. This conflict, declared the anonymous author, was
"a contest of race...between the North and the South.... The people of the Northern States are more immediately descended of the English Puritans
constituted, as a class, the common people of England...and are directly descended of the ancient Britons and Saxons.... The Southern States were settled and governed...by...persons belonging to...that stock recognized as Cavaliers...directly descended from the Norman Barons of William the Conqueror, a race distinguished, in its earliest history, for its warlike and fearless character, a race, in all time since, renowned for its gallantry, its chivalry, its honor, its gentleness, and its intellect.... The Southern people come of that race."
The South's foremost writer on political economy, James B.D. DeBow, subscribed to this Norman-Cavalier thesis had helped popularize it in his influential journal, DeBow's review, He justified secession on the ground of irreconcilable ethnic differences between Northern and Southern whites. "The Cavaliers, Jacobites, and Huguenots who settled the South, naturally hate, contemn, and despise the Puritans settled the North," declared DeBow. "The former are master races, the latter, a slave race, the descendants of the Saxon serfs." The Confederacy was now achieving its "independent destiny" by repudiating the failed experiment of civic nationalism that had foolishly tried in 1789 to "erect one nation out of two irreconcilable peoples."
Si bien, como revela el trabajo etnográfico de David Hacket Fischer, las identidades regionales se corresponden más o menos con estereotipos definidos por el origen geográfico, social y cultural de los inmigrantes, parece difícil creer que la raza sureña sea mejor, ni mucho menos que vaya a serlo por tener un componente celta-normando.
En fin, pensamientos de una época. Hoy son locos, por aquél entonces eran cuerdos.