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Title: Southern Strategies: The Politics of School Desegregation and the Nixon White House
Authors: Weinryb Grohsgal, Dov
Advisors: Wilentz, Robert S
Kruse, Kevin M
Contributors: History Department
Keywords: busing
civil rights
southern strategy
Subjects: American history
Public policy
American studies
Issue Date: 2013
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: "Southern Strategies: The Politics of School Desegregation and the Nixon White House" challenges the conventional wisdom about the presidency of Richard M. Nixon. Traditionally, the "southern strategy" and the scandal of Watergate have defined the scholarship of the Nixon presidency. Both accounts focus on the role of conservatives in the White House who urged Nixon to exploit racial tensions and the increasing cultural divide among Americans to stay in power. However, this project shows that contradictory views--both liberal and conservative--framed the decision-making process inside the Nixon administration. This project shows how policy was made in the Nixon White House--piecemeal, with an eye to short-run political advantage, and in struggle. More than any other topic, domestic or foreign, the internal battles over desegregation demonstrated the tensions in the Nixon White House. While the current historiography generally assumes that the administration followed the so-called "southern strategy" of stonewalling desegregation in hopes of winning the votes of racist whites, White House aides actually disagreed on how the administration should approach both the policies and politics of civil rights. In a larger sense, this project dissects the ways in which the White House, Congress, and the judiciary intersected with both entrenched and moving bureaucracies and activist organizations to negotiate the terms of desegregation. In addition, as this project will make clear, the meaning of desegregation changed in the 1960s and 1970s. For a time, it meant something concrete: the end of a legally mandated dual school system. Eventually, as its meaning became increasingly contested, it emerged as a wedge between Americans who saw a future in which whites and blacks were represented equally in the country's educational institutions and those who did not. Nixon attempted to appease all sides of the desegregation issue--as he called it, "a middle ground"--and his decisions were always made only after a full consideration of the impact of policies on his popularity and political prospects. The result was a record of substantive achievements, as evidenced in the end of the South's dual school system, in addition to pronounced failures in promoting racial equality.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:History

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