Tappan Thompson,1 the author of Major Jones's courtship; and Harry Stillwell Edwards, the author of Two Runaways and other stories. In the same section were born the two poets Francis O. Ticknor,2 author of Little Giffen of Tennessee, and Sidney Lanier.3 Middle Georgia was also before the war the most democratic part of the slaveholding states, a circumstance not without its influence upon the development of Harris's genius.
‘The sons of the richest men,’ he tells us,4 ‘were put in the fields to work side by side with the negroes, and were thus taught to understand the importance of individual effort that leads to personal independence. It thus happened that there was a cordial, and even an affectionate, understanding between the slaves and their owners, that perhaps had no parallel elsewhere. The poorer whites had no reason to hold their heads down because they had to work for their living. The richest slave owners did not feel themselves above those who had few negroes or none. When a man called his neighbor ‘Colonel,’ or ‘Judge,’ it was to show his respect, nothing more. For the rest, the humblest held their heads as high as the richest, and were as quick, perhaps quicker, in a quarrel.’Young Harris owed little to the schools but much to a country printing office and to a large library in which it was his privilege to browse at will. At the age of twelve he read one morning the announcement that a new newspaper, The Countryman, was to be started a few miles from Eatonton. The editor, Joseph Addison Turner, the owner of a large plantation and many slaves, was a man of sound but old-fashioned literary taste and wished his paper to be modelled after The spectator of Addison and Steele. This announcement kindled the ambition of young Harris, who was already familiar with the best literature of Queen Anne's time and to whom the very name Spectator recalled days and nights of indescribable delight. He applied at once for the vacant position of office boy, received a favourable answer, and devoted the rest of his life to journalism in his native State. The duties of his new position were not onerous, and he found time, or took time, to hunt foxes, coons, opossums, and rabbits