Slaveholders that created the “slave power” behind the Confederate States of America neglected the political and social places of white women and blacks to their peril. These neglected groups took advantage of the new necessities of wartime to develop, expand and exert their influence.
The Civil War resulted in a radical reshaping and restructuring of Southern society, sparking a revolution that began as an effort to conserve rather than to create. The opposite took place. The war led to the alteration or elimination of accepted Southern social, economic and political principles in favor of a more centralized nation.
Slavery gave the South a social system and a civilization with a distinct class structure, political community, economy, ideology, and set of psychological patterns and that, as a result, the South increasingly grew away from the rest of the nation and from the rapidly developing sections of the world.
The pre-Civil War South is typically portrayed as monolithic culture filled with a romanticized plantation lifestyle is not the accurate portrayal (i.e. the South was not full of white, pristine tranquil plantations, refined southern gentlemen nicknamed “colonel” and charming southern belles who sipped mint juleps in dresses in gardens all day, etc.) To the contrary, the old South is a slow, inevitably evolving diverse civilization.
Solomon Northup achieves something quite profound in this book. The narrative shows how a simple economic institution, backed by law and religion, enforced by those seeking to profit from it, can quickly become rationalized and passed down from generation to generation as a cultural norm.
The institution of slavery is the inhibitor of civilization and modernization in the South. It slows the progress of education, morality, community, social mores, customs, culture, infrastructure, economic advances, wages and labor practices. It however, promotes destitution, waste and abuse.
American Revolutionaries in the Making: Political Practices in Washington’s Virginia (Charles S. Sydnor, University of North Carolina Press, 1952). 1. Thesis: Despite the somewhat questionable atmosphere of voting and politics, Virginia’s environment fostered and promoted the most qualified persons to…