Clayton Rand was the editor of several Mississippi newspapers and author of a range of books, including an autobiographical account of his newspaper work, Ink on My Hands. Born in Wisconsin on 25 May 1891, he moved with his family to Bond, Mississippi, in 1899 when his father decided to pursue work in the timber industry. He attended Meridian Male College and Mississippi A&M before earning a law degree from Harvard University. He moved to Neshoba County in 1918 and bought an interest in the local newspaper, the Neshoba Democrat. In the 1920s Rand helped start the DeKalb Independent and the Tunica Times, and in 1925 he sold those newspapers and bought the Dixie Press in Gulfport. He later founded Gulfport’s Mississippi Guide.
Rand saw himself as a fighting newspaperman, writing editorials critical of local government inaction and corruption, poor health and garbage services, and the Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s. He initially welcomed the New Deal but quickly turned against it. In a 1936 book, Abracadabra, he denounced the “New Steal” for undermining people’s character by paying them through government programs. Rand wrote a syndicated column, “Crossroads Scribe,” in which he offered pithy criticisms of government and modernity from the point of view of what he saw as the high character of small-town Americans.
While he frequently criticized local towns and their leaders, Rand was also a booster. In the 1930s he wrote promotional and tourist publications for Gulfport and other sites on the Gulf Coast. He also began writing short biographical stories of southern leaders as newspaper columns, and in 1940 his press, the Dixie Press, published sixty-five of the sketches in Men of Spine in Mississippi. Emphasizing the personal achievements of his subjects, Rand began with explorers in the Spanish, French, and English periods and then concentrated on political leaders, also mentioning some lawyers, frontiersmen, journalists, and a few educators and ministers. Two of the “men of spine,” Greenwood LeFlore and Pushmataha, were American Indians. In 1961 Rand expanded his approach to include the entire region in Sons of the South, an “inspiring story of a superior breed of stalwarts . . . inscribed to mark the Civil War Centennial” and to “enrich the lives” of its readers. Again, virtually all of the men of note were white southerners, although Booker T. Washington was included. In 1966 Jackson’s State Line Productions published a manual for schoolteachers who wished to assign the book in conjunction with a filmstrip designed for classroom use.
Along with his work as editor and columnist, Rand became a popular conservative public speaker from the 1940s through the 1960s. He died on 26 February 1971.
- Charles P. Lowery, in Lives of Mississippi Authors, 1817–1967, ed. James B. Lloyd (1981)