In 1913, Atlanta was less than fifty years removed from the Civil War. Economic divides and resentments between North and South remained. The siege and burning of Atlanta, Sherman’s March to the Sea, and Reconstruction were bitter memories for many Southerners, and the Southern economy still lagged behind the rest of the country.
People and industry from the North migrated to the South after the Civil War. Many Northerners who came to the South did so for economic reasons, and brought with them capital and experience. Although the money was welcome, Northerners who owned businesses were often resented and deemed “carpetbaggers” and “scalawags.”
Resentment of Northern-controlled industry is exemplified by this quote from the Atlanta Constitution on April 27, 1913, by Dr. Charles Lee: “Our principles were not defeated when we surrendered at Appomattox. . . .There are other enemies, bitter ones, that must be fought—emigration, labor, the double standard of child labor and white slavery. . .” In this historical re-imagining, slavery becomes the crisis of child and female exploitation created by outsiders, but against which native-born white Americans from North and South could ultimately unite.
In Southern states, the Confederacy was cherished and romanticized. Confederate Memorial Day, established in 1874 and observed in Georgia on April 26, annually featured parades with Confederate veterans. In 1913, Georgia’s Confederate Memorial Day fell on a Saturday and a large parade was held in Atlanta to celebrate the holiday.