Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts




In 1903 John Spencer Bassett, a young history professor at Trinity College, took to his pen to produce, "Stirring up the Fires of Racial Antipathy," a bold article intended to provoke discussion about southern race relations. An intense public backlash followed, nearly costing Bassett his job . The event, known as the "Bassett Affair," made national headlines. Many scholars have referenced the "Bassett Affair" as a triumph for academic freedom or as a part of a larger story about southern dissent. The 1903 controversy, however, was just one episode in the story of this iconoclastic historian. Delving into Bassett's personal correspondence, published works, and speeches, this thesis chronicles Bassett's personal experience, his mentors and interlocutors, and the context in which he lived. The result is an illuminating narrative of how this "objective" historian sought to change the way southerners viewed their own past and present.

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