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William Kauffman Scarborough has produced a work of incomparable scope and depth, offering the challenge to see afresh one of the most powerful groups in American history -- the wealthiest southern planters who owned 250 or more slaves in the census years of 1850 and 1860. The identification and tabulation in every slaveholding state of these lords of economic, social, and political influence reveals a highly learned class of men who set the tone for southern society while also involving themselves in the wider world of capitalism. Scarborough examines the demographics of elite families, the educational philosophy and religiosity of the nabobs, gender relations in the Big House, slave management methods, responses to secession, and adjustment to the travails of Reconstruction and an alien postwar world.
Jonathan Daniel Wells and Jennifer R. Green provide a series of provocative essays reflecting innovative, original research on professional and commercial interests in the nineteenth-century South, a place often seen as being composed of just two classes -- planters and slaves. Rather, an active middle class, made up of men and women devoted to the cultural and economic modernization of Dixie, worked with each other -- and occasionally their northern counterparts -- to bring reforms to the region. With a balance of established and younger authors, of antebellum and postbellum analyses, and of narrative and quantitative methodologies, these essays offer new ways to think about politics, society, gender, and culture during this exciting era of southern history. The contributors show that many like-minded southerners sought to create a "New South" with a society similar to that of the North. They supported the creation of public schools and an end to dueling, but less progressive reform was also endorsed, such as building factories using slave labor rather than white wage earners. The Southern Middle Class in the Long Nineteenth Century significantly influences thought on the social structure of the South, the centrality of class in history, and the events prior to and after the Civil War.
Focusing on the master-slave relationship in Louisiana's antebellum sugarcane country, The Sugar Masters explores how a modern, capitalist mind-set among planters meshed with old-style paternalistic attitudes to create one of the South's most insidiously oppressive labor systems. As author Richard Follett vividly demonstrates, the agricultural paradise of Louisiana's thriving sugarcane fields came at an unconscionable cost to slaves. Thanks to technological and business innovations, sugar planters stood as models of capitalist entrepreneurship by midcentury. But above all, labor management was the secret to their impressive success. Follett explains how in exchange for increased productivity and efficiency they offered their slaves a range of incentives, such as greater autonomy, improved accommodations, and even financial remuneration. These material gains, however, were only short term. According to Follett, many of Louisiana's sugar elite presented their incentives with a "facade of paternal reciprocity" that seemingly bound the slaves' interests to the apparent goodwill of the masters, but in fact, the owners sought to control every aspect of the slaves's lives, from reproduction to discretionary income. Slaves responded to this display of paternalism by trying to enhance their rights under bondage, but the constant bargaining process invariably led to compromises on their part, and the grueling production pace never relented. The only respite from their masters' demands lay in fashioning their own society, including outlets for religion, leisure, and trade. Until recently, scholars have viewed planters as either paternalistic lords who eschewed marketplace values or as entrepreneurs driven to business success. Follett offers a new view of the sugar masters as embracing both the capitalist market and a social ideology based on hierarchy, honor, and paternalism. His stunning synthesis of empirical research, demographics study, and social and cultural history sets a new standard for this subject.
This volume of The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture offers a timely, authoritative, and interdisciplinary exploration of issues related to social class in the South from the colonial era to the present. With introductory essays by J. Wayne Flynt and by editors Larry J. Griffin and Peggy G. Hargis, the volume is a comprehensive, stand-alone reference to this complex subject, which underpins the history of the region and shapes its future. In 58 thematic essays and 103 topical entries, the contributors explore the effects of class on all aspects of life in the South--its role in Indian removal, the Civil War, the New Deal, and the civil rights movement, for example, and how it has been manifested in religion, sports, country and gospel music, and matters of gender. Artisans and the working class, indentured workers and steelworkers, the Freedmen's Bureau and the Knights of Labor are all examined. This volume provides a full investigation of social class in the region and situates class concerns at the center of our understanding of Southern culture.
The Old South has traditionally been portrayed as an insular and backward-looking society. The Old South's Modern Worlds looks beyond this myth to identify some of the many ways that antebellum southerners were enmeshed in the modernizing trends of their time. The essays gathered in this volume not only tell unexpected narratives of the Old South, they also explore the compatibility of slavery-the defining feature of antebellum southern life-with cultural and material markers of modernity such as moral reform, cities, and industry. Considered as proponents of American manifest destiny, for example, antebellum southern politicians look more like nationalists and less like separatists. Though situated within distinct communities, Southerners'-white, black, and red-participated in and responded to movements global in scope and transformative in effect. The turmoil that changes in Asian and European agriculture wrought among southern staple producers shows the interconnections between seemingly isolated southern farms and markets in distant lands. Deprovincializing the antebellum South, The Old South's Modern Worlds illuminates a diverse region both shaped by and contributing to the complex transformations of the nineteenth-century world.
A hundred years after the Civil War, Professor Scarborough wrote this comprehensive analysis of antebellum plantation positions and roles, focusing on the relationship between planter and overseer, overseer and slave, and planter and slave.
For a generation, scholarship on the Reconstruction era has rightly focused on the struggles of the recently emancipated for a meaningful freedom and defined its success or failure largely in those terms. In The Ordeal of the Reunion, Mark Wahlgren Summers goes beyond this vitally important question, focusing on Reconstruction's need to form an enduring Union without sacrificing the framework of federalism and republican democracy. Assessing the era nationally, Summers emphasizes the variety of conservative strains that confined the scope of change, highlights the war's impact and its aftermath, and brings the West and foreign policy into an integrated narrative. In sum, this book offers a fresh explanation for Reconstruction's demise and a case for its essential successes as well as its great failures. Indeed, this book demonstrates the extent to which the victors' aims in 1865 were met--and at what cost. Summers depicts not just a heroic, tragic moment with equal rights advanced and then betrayed but a time of achievement and consolidation, in which nationhood and emancipation were placed beyond repeal and the groundwork was laid for a stronger, if not better, America to come.

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