Military Education and the Emerging Middle Class in the Old South

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This book argues that military education was an important institution in the development of the southern middle class as a regional group and as part of the national middle class in the late antebellum years. It explores class formation, professionalization, and social mobility in the 1840s and 1850s, using this data to define the middle class on a national level, while also identifying regionally specific characteristics of the emerging southern middle class. Green argues that the significance of antebellum military education is, first, that it illuminates the emerging southern middle class, a group difficult to locate and differentiate; second, it offered social stability or mobility; finally, it explicitly linked middle-class stability or mobility to the ongoing national professionalization of teachers. Ultimately, these schools demonstrate that educational opportunity and reform took place in the antebellum South and that schooling aided southerners in social mobility.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Jennifer Green’s smart new book, Military Education and the Emerging Middle Class in the Old South, puts social class front and center on the southern history table. Her deeply researched examination of the complex ways white southern men used military schooling to advance their social and economic status presses us to fundamentally re-think our understanding of southern class formation and the role of national networks of professionalization in that process. This well-written volume strikes a fine balance between establishing the importance of military education in the Old South and highlighting its critical role in the development of a southern middle class, and is a welcome and important contribution to all studies on social mobility.”
-Michele Gillespie, Wake Forest University

"In this book, Jennifer Green offers historians of the Old South—and scholars of class and social mobility generally— an intelligent and persuasive account of a largely unexplored aspect of southern history: the activities, profiles, and importance of military cadets. Green's decision to use the military schools as an avenue through which to explore the sometimes vexing and always slippery question of class formation is ingenious and effective."
-Mark M. Smith, University of South Carolina

“Jennifer R. Green illuminates an understudied aspect of the antebellum South: the military colleges that served as pathways to social networks and business connections for young southern men in the 1840s and 1850s. If this was all the book represented it would be an important enough contribution. Her study, however, offers the field much more. She uses military colleges to explore important questions that remain hotly contested among historians, including those surrounding the social structure of the Old South, the role of education and other reforms in modernizing the region, and the meaning of southern manhood. With compelling analysis and painstaking research, Green contributes significantly to the growing field of studies on the southern middle class, opens new territory in regard to the study of education in the region, and adds fresh perspectives to the analysis of gender, culture, and the military. She demonstrates convincingly that a middle class not only existed in the nineteenth-century South, but that it played a central role in the life of the region.” -
-Jonathan Daniel Wells, University of North Carolina at Charlotte

"...Green has produced an impressive work that explores a unique way of looking at the tradition of southern military school education." -Rod Andrew, Jr., Virginia Magazine

"A superb analysis of military education in the Old South. Recommended." -Choice

"This well-written and nicely produced book is welcomed and warmly recommended to those with an interest in the complicated social divisions among antebellum southern whites."
Journal of Southern History, Tim Lockley, University of Warwick

"Green has convincingly demonstrated that it is time to reconfigure our thinking about Southern society to include an emerging middle class with the long-recognized trinity of planters, poor whites, and slaves."
Register of the Kentucky Historical Society, Harry S. Laver, Southern Louisiana University

"...engaging, well documented, and original." -Jeffrey Thomas Perry, H-Education

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521894937
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 9/15/2008
  • Pages: 314
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Jennifer R. Green is associate professor of history at Central Michigan University. Her dissertation, completed at Boston University, won the Claude A. Eggertsen Best Dissertation Prize from the History of Education Society. She has published articles in the Journal of Southern History, Journal of the Historical Society, and the collection Southern Manhood, and presented at major conferences. She was the recipient of a Teaching American History grant for 2004-2007.

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Table of Contents

1. Introducing the emerging southern middle class; 2. 'The advantage of a collegiate education': military education funding; 3. 'Your duty as citizens and soldiers': military education discipline and duty; 4. 'Honor as a man': manhood and the cultural values of the emerging southern middle class; 5. 'Practical progress is the watchword': military education curriculum; 6. Professions and status: middle-class alumni stability and mobility; 7. Networks of miltary educators; 8. Classifying the middle class.

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