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The Shaping of Southern Culture: Honor, Grace, and War, 1760s-1880s

The Shaping of Southern Culture: Honor, Grace, and War, 1760s-1880s

by Bertram Wyatt-Brown

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Extending his investigation into the ethical life of the white American South beyond what he wrote in Southern Honor (1982), Bertram Wyatt-Brown explores three major themes in southern history: the political aspects of the South's code of honor, the increasing prominence of Protestant faith in white southerners' lives, and the devastating impact of war,


Extending his investigation into the ethical life of the white American South beyond what he wrote in Southern Honor (1982), Bertram Wyatt-Brown explores three major themes in southern history: the political aspects of the South's code of honor, the increasing prominence of Protestant faith in white southerners' lives, and the devastating impact of war, defeat, and an angry loss of confidence during the post-Civil War era.

This eloquent and richly textured study first demonstrates the psychological complexity of race relations, drawing new and provocative comparisons between American slave oppression and the Nazi concentration camp experience. The author then reveals how the rhetoric and rituals of honor affected the Revolutionary generation and--through a study of Andrew Jackson, dueling, and other demonstrations of manhood--how early American politicians won or lost popularity. In perhaps the most subtle and intriguing section of the book, he discloses the interconnections of honor and religious belief and practice. Finally, exploring the effects of war and defeat on former Confederates, Wyatt-Brown suggests that the rise of violent racism following the Civil War had significant links to the shame of military defeat and the spurious invocation of religious convictions.

Editorial Reviews

Civil War Book Review
A compelling work. By illuminating the complex soul of an era and its people, Wyatt-Brown offers a case study about human nature. But this should be expected of any masterful study of history.
Wyatt-Brown has done what most historians dream about doing: produce a graceful, thoughtful, and important book. His Shaping of Southern Culture significantly contributes to our understanding of how honor animated behavior and helped create a southern ideology.
Peter Kolchin
Building on ideas developed in his highly acclaimed book Southern Honor, Wyatt-Brown's essays are thought-provoking and clearly argued and display strong thematic unity. They should be of unusual interest to all students of southern history.
From the Publisher
A compelling work. By illuminating the complex soul of an era and its people, Wyatt-Brown offers a case study about human nature. But this should be expected of any masterful study of history. (Civil War Book Review)

Wyatt-Brown has done what most historians dream about doing: produce a graceful, thoughtful, and important book. His Shaping of Southern Culture significantly contributes to our understanding of how honor animated behavior and helped create a southern ideology. (H-South

Building on ideas developed in his highly acclaimed book Southern Honor, Wyatt-Brown's essays are thought-provoking and clearly argued and display strong thematic unity. They should be of unusual interest to all students of southern history. (Peter Kolchin, University of Delaware)

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The Shaping of Southern Culture
Honor, Grace, and War, 1760s-1890s

By Bertram Wyatt-Brown

University of North Carolina Press

Copyright © 2001 The University of North Carolina Press.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 0807825964


Let fame, that all hunt after in their lives,
Live regist'red upon our brazen tombs,
And then grace us in the disgrace of death;
When, spite of cormorant devouring Time,
Th'endeavor of this present breath may buy
That honour which shall bate his scythe's keen edge
And make us heirs of all eternity.
—William Shakespeare, Love's Labours Lost, 1:1:1-7

Honor has caused more deaths than the plague.
—Julian Pitt-Rivers

On 12 April 1865 the task of receiving the surrender of Major General John B. Gordon's Confederate troops fell to Major General Joshua L. Chamberlain, serving under Ulysses S. Grant. The commander of the Union armies had ordered that there be no untoward demonstration of victory that might embarrass the defeated foe. Rather, Grant had in mind as solemn a show of respect as seemed fitting. The youthful Chamberlain was eager to comply. The dramatic scene that followed, beginning at nine o'clock in the morning, epitomized many of the concerns of this book.

    From the hilltop where the Rebel soldiers stood, they could see the Appomattox Courthouse below. Without stirring drums, blaring trumpets or any music whatsoever, the defeated soldiers—lice-ridden, gaunt, emotionally drained—fell into line. The surrendering units moved forward "with practiced ease in the old route step," according to one description. Chamberlain ordered his subordinates, as he later recounted, to have their men reach "the position of 'salute' in the manual of arms as each body of the Confederates passed us." He did not command the officers to bark: "present arms." Inappropriately, that order would have signified "the highest possible honor to be paid even to a president."[1] Instead, it was the "carry arms" command, with the weapon "held by the right hand and perpendicular to the shoulder." Chamberlain signaled the bugler as Gordon, Robert E. Lee's subordinate, arrived opposite himself. While the martial notes filled the air, the Union ranks came to "'attention,'" Chamberlain recalled. There rang out the crisp, chunky noise of the soldiers' hands as they grasped musket stocks in unison.

    According to Chamberlain, General Gordon, young, slim, and chivalric, rode at the head of his troops. "His chin drooped to his breast, downhearted and dejected in appearance almost beyond description." But responding to the bugle and the "snap of arms" echoing down the lines, the Rebel commander touched "his horse gently with his spur, so that the animal slightly reared, and as he wheeled, horse and rider made one motion, the horse's head swung down with a graceful bow and General Gordon dropped his sword point to his toe in salutation." Chamberlain ordered all the Federals to follow the procedure of the first ranks as the men in homespun gray began their sad work. "Bayonets were affixed to muskets, arms stacked, and cartridge boxes unslung and hung upon the stacks." The war-weary Rebels ceremoniously draped their old and tattered battle flags on the piles of weapons or spread them reverently on the ground. "Some of the men who had carried and followed those ragged standards through the four long years of strife," Chamberlain remarked, "rushed, regardless of all discipline from the ranks, bent about their old flags, and pressed them to their lips with burning tears."[2]

    The ritual of surrender and sober celebration of victory that the ceremony expressed was deeply embedded in martial honor—what the soldiers of both sides considered to be the code's highest form of sanctification. Chamberlain understood perfectly. In a Boston newspaper in 1878, he explained, "Whatever was surrendered and laid down, it was not manhood, and not honor. Manhood arose, and honor was plighted and received." The allusion to a marital love pledged and ratified by formal tie was appropriate to the reuniting of the temporarily separated sections. General Lee's men, Chamberlain asserted, knew that their simple ethic required them not to betray the rules of their parole. Never again were they to take up arms against the United States. "They are men of honor, and they meant it, and their word of honor is good," the Union general had then affirmed. In laying down their arms and pledging themselves loyal citizens once more, the Union general claimed, the men had also surrendered the ideal as well as the institutional existence of slavery. "God, in His providence, in His justice, in His mercy, in His great covenant with our fathers, set slavery in the forefront, and it was swept aside as with a whirlwind, when the mighty pageant of the people passed on to its triumph."[3]

    Chamberlain's introduction of divinity into his recollection was most fitting even if he identified God's divine plan with emancipation, a proposition that few white Southerners would have countenanced. Despite the military foundation of the rites near the Virginia courthouse, the religious component must always figure in determining the course of regional identity and history, particularly in a work of this nature. Ironically, indeed tragically, the same honor which the general from Maine and the general from Georgia had so elegantly acknowledged in their liturgy of capitulation also sustained the cause of white superiority and the imperative of black submission. Chamberlain overlooked that vital point in his postwar expression of sectional reconciliation, a popular undertaking in the 1870s and 1880s. For at least half a century, the Old South has been largely defined almost exclusively by the adherence of its white loyalists to slavery and racial sanction. In all other respects it was merely a replication of the North. The historian James Oakes has gone so far as to maintain that in the South, "except for its defense of bondage, the slaveholders' ideology was strikingly similar to the Republican party ideology of the 1850's."[4] John C. Calhoun and most others would have heartily denounced such a claim.

    The preeminence of race domination in Southern life—whether in the form of bondage or the postemancipation forms of race proscriptions—cannot be gainsaid. For that reason, the book begins with aspects of African American bondage. Yet, as a cultural determinant, two other factors apart from white hegemony contributed to that preeminence. These were, first, an adherence to the code of honor; and second, a commitment to evangelical faith. This book proposes honor as the ethic which white Southerners believed supported the other two pillars of their society: white supremacy and Christian faith.

    In Southern Honor: Ethics and Behavior in the Old South (1982), I offered a lengthy definition of that elusive topic, not to be repeated here. At the time that volume appeared, the concept of honor required close investigation. The venerable ethic was not then part of contemporary academic or popular conventions. Since 1982 manliness and masculinity have assumed historiographical prominence. The reader might wonder why these terms are not employed here, particularly since honorableness remains more elusive, complicated, and easily misconstrued. Indeed, according to one scholar, manliness had already become the preferred designation by the end of the nineteenth century. Then the word masculinity, practically unheard-of before, dominated the discourse and became the fashionable term. Meantime honor all but disappeared linguistically, except in military circles, the monitoring of college examinations, and the accepting of checks. That shift, it has been argued, symbolized the embourgeoisement of the concept.[5] But scholars who currently use the term masculinity are most often referring to Northern, possibly New England, usages. The distinction between Northern and Southern versions will become clearer in this work. Despite the prevailing mode, I still prefer the term honor. It stresses the division of the sexes and the expectations of not just brave but right behavior as perceived by the community involved, regardless of the standards we might nowadays apply to the past.

    Anyhow, from 1760 to 1890 (and even beyond), Southern honor embraced hierarchy—especially about race—which the word manliness or masculinity cannot convey. Oddly, as we will see, slavery was sustained by notions of honor. Lynch law carried similar messages of honor and shame, purity and degradation just as Blut und Ehre, the Nazi slogan of blood and honor served to justify the enslavement and even annihilation of a European race. At the same time, honorableness concerned reputation for integrity and also responsibility for meeting conventional expectations. In conforming to the language of the era under discussion, however, I am by no means advocating an uncritical approach to the ways that the ethic of white, male, hierarchical honor was applied or even understood.

    With concern for the second element, grace, that appears in the subtitle, scholars of Mediterranean concepts of honor—Julian Pitt-Rivers in particular—have come to realize that honor and spiritual benediction are more closely linked than they had imagined when first embarking in the 1960s on explorations of the ethic in Mediterranean societies.[6] Playing on the irony of their juxtaposition, Shakespeare recognized such a connection in his play Love's Labours Lost, as the opening epigraph reveals. Grace and honor are conjoined in his difficult but significant rendering. They are distinguishable but finally cannot be separated altogether. In its most essential meaning, of course, grace is the gift of mercy and forgiveness that God affords his sinful, wretched human creatures. As used in these pages, grace must be treated in this light but also as the sacred element in the concept of honor—God's conferment upon those who claim to honor Him and yet pursue matters of war, community, governance, and daily routine certain of their state of grace.

    Surprisingly, honor, when coupled with grace, may even amalgamate with the passion of Christian love. That is a strong statement. It might seem to defy the previous definitions of honor. Do we not know this form of honor when we see it? Honor may stimulate self-sacrifice even to the point of death. In American wars, we signify respect by the conferring of the highest medal that a republic can confer. A classmate at St. James School near Sharpsburg, Maryland, won the Congressional Medal of Honor posthumously for valorous conduct in the Korean War. He had saved his squad from being overrun by Chinese soldiers, but a mortar shell killed him before he could carry a wounded comrade to safety. To die for one's friends should be so rewarded with the nation's most distinguished medal.

    There are also unwarlike expressions of honor as well—the decision to defy conventional prejudice of one sort or another and stoically undergo the stigma of shame, however long it may last. Some element of grace or striving for a higher goal must be present, it seems to me, in acts of justice or mercy that include honor but go beyond its secular meanings of status, fame and reputation. In our own day some Southern judges—Frank Johnson of Alabama, for instance—underwent such an ordeal during the backlash of the civil rights era. In crises of great magnitude or in decisions that transcend the ordinary, grace and honor may become one. Such courage was also present in the life and death of the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.

    Regrettably, however, both honor and grace or, more accurately religious preconceptions, can harmonize in a most tragic way. Throughout the era of slavery, Christians, reading the Book of Genesis, were certain that God, had placed through Noah a "curse" upon his obnoxious son Ham and Ham's descendants, a malediction against those of Negro blood. Justifications for slavery flowed from that source. As Stephen R. Haynes sees the issue, we have generally failed to recognize the religious component in American white racism. Because they take a secular approach, most historians have ignored that element, just as they have often missed its connection with the ethic of honor. All mankind, traditional Calvinists maintained, were marked by Adam's Original Sin. It therefore followed that the curse against Ham imposed "Original Dishonor," to use Haynes's phrase, upon the black race and consigned all of such color to perpetual bondage. Looking upon the nakedness of his father, the patriarch, Ham had violated God's laws and shamed the old man, for which indiscretion punishment had to be exacted. The honor of God, the honor of the patriarchal order, which Noah represented, required stern vindication. In this light, honor and grace—as opposed to shame and dis-grace—were linked in advancing the religious proslavery argument and in the bedrock of Southern white folk tradition about race as well.[7]

    At the same time, honor and grace may wear different and equally tragic masks. Grace can descend from the empyrean heights and be mistaken for the will of a misguided but determined community. The words of a presiding clergyman or the prayers of rioters often invoked the grace of God as the fires of an earthly hell licked at the quivering flesh of a black victim in a post-Civil War lynching. The witnesses to such traumatic scenes were certain that the act they performed was sanctioned by Holy Writ and had the blessing of a righteous God. In Morganton, North Carolina, in 1889, prayers of the mob executioners went heavenward, one might say, as two blacks met their doom in the rising flames.[8]

    The spiritual aspect of honor is not easily described in historical terms. Yet we must acknowledge that a domain quite outside modern experience does exist. In this situation, logic and consistency have to surrender to utter bafflement and disgust. Can we truly understand how anyone, past or present, could seek a vindication of ideals by sacrificing some vulnerable creature, allegedly inferior?—And do so in the name of honor and grace? Yet, as if the relationship of those concepts were not already complex enough, the two principles can be poles apart. Christian orthodoxy has always related honor to a guiltless conscience—purity of soul. For the Church Fathers, only in worship of God could the believer find true honor. In this sense honor and grace become separable. Southern white Christians did not always recognize that polarity.

    Few words are needed to explain the centrality of war in the Southern mentalit‚. By war is meant the American Revolution, the second war with England, in which Andrew Jackson played his famous role, and, above all, the Civil War. The role of honor in that last encounter has been almost overlooked. To be sure, historians when quoting contemporary fire-eaters often choose those passages referring to the Southerners' sense of insult over Charles Sumner's notorious speech in May 1856, John Brown's raid or Abraham Lincoln's election. The South went to war to vindicate its collective notion of honor because its Northern critics had so maligned, as they saw it, the holding of slaves and intended still greater aggressions against it. In the fighting of the war, honor more than "duty," or duty construed as honor, prompted Confederate enlistments and even death in battle. In the almost unimaginable disaster of Lee's surrender both grace and honor were the victims. God had clearly withdrawn divine favor and at the same time, the vulgar, godless Yankees had tossed Confederate aspirations in the dust. The result was a common phenomenon, the development of a myth of heroism and glory in the very midst of defeat and humiliation.

    Former Confederates were suddenly a "lost people." They were not to blame. Instead, like the Old Testament Israelites, they deemed themselves to be victims of forces beyond their control. The ancients had felt the wrath of a God who loved them but had momentarily deserted them because of their sins. Yet Jehovah's mercy and justice would return to save His Chosen People. The same reaction can be seen in the recent Serbian response to Kosovar resurgence and the Serbian glorification of the ancient battlefield on the field of blackbirds, which the Christians lost to the Muslim Turks in 1389. But similarly observable in the former Yugoslavia was the scapegoating of vulnerable minorities. The bitter desire to blame a weaker element for defeat could become a rationale for atrocities of unspeakable proportions.[9]

    Predictably, in the American South the targets of such a lashing out were the freed people. As beneficiaries of Union occupation during and just after the war, they seized the opportunity for freedom to their owners' astonishment and despair. Such a turn of events shifted the center of honor's gravity. In a crude sense, it moved from the duel to the democratic mob of lynchers. The vows to protect white womanhood and to cleanse the body politic of black men's corruption and supposedly outrageous presumptions of equality took on a sacred and honorable mien. That transition did not occur immediately after Appomattox but developed in the so-called Redeemer period with the overthrow of Republican Reconstruction.[10]

    Thus if honor often presented two faces—magnanimity and vengeance—so too did grace. It could sustain a people's faith in a forgiving Lord. Yet it also might be invoked to promote hatred and punishment with the intention of allegedly purifying a fragile and suspicious community. By such means, horrifying evils were supposed to be eliminated. That, I contend, was the legacy of Confederate defeat in the violence of racism that followed that humiliation. What could have been more appropriate than the incantation of the word "Redemption" to identify the restoration of white hegemony over the supposed evils of a black presence in politics? It must have seemed to that generation and to several that followed as if Jesus Christ had come down from the Cross to applaud their delayed but glorious and honorable victory of white supremacy.

    In light of my stress on the connection of honor with grace, and also with regard to the addition of war as a major component of Southern white memory and pride, this study might well be considered a sequel to Southern Honor: Ethics and Behavior in the Old South, published by Oxford University Press in 1982. Some important themes were missing from that volume, most especially the political features of the ethic as well as the role of religion in Southern life. Moreover, in Southern Honor I had sought only to explore the ethical rules of the slave South, with few references to later developments. The Civil War with its enormous and almost permanent effect on the Southern white psyche during and even long after that conflict found no place in an already lengthy volume. This work seeks to rectify those omissions.

    Under the title of "Race and Politics," the first section consists of three chapters. In Chapter 1, "Dignity, Deception, and Identity in the Male Slave Experience," I reexamine Stanley Elkins's provocative comparison of African American enslavement and the Nazi concentration camps. By no means, though, should it be read as an endorsement of his overly simplified typologies. In contrast to the rest of the text, this reconsideration of the Elkinsian thesis deviates from the almost exclusive study of white Southern patterns and conventions from the Revolution to the close of the nineteenth century. Yet it does suggest how whites continued to retain hegemony over black destiny from the era of the Middle Passage to the inhuman racism of Jim Crow and the rule of the lynch mob. Simultaneously the chapter seeks to illuminate the place of dignity and honor in African American life. Nobility of character and sturdy self-identification were possible even under the direst forms of slavery. Nonetheless, I propose, the psychological costs of oppression must be confronted as well. That result should never be seen as a stigmatizing mark on any race whatsoever. Rather, oppression may function in some but not all cases to distort the ethical and psychological sensibilities of slave owners and their subordinates.

    The second chapter, "Honor, Dread of Enslavement, and Revolutionary Rhetoric," demonstrates the salience of honor in the American Revolutionary South. This topic has been almost totally neglected in historical scholarship. The third, "Andrew Jackson's Honor," discusses through the role of the Tennessee hero the imprint of a violent and hierarchical notion of honor on the political life of the region throughout the years of the Early Republic. Since issues of race cannot be omitted from any consideration of Southern history, the third chapter deals with an aspect of slave life seldom treated—the diverse psychological and social effects of oppression upon the male victim of the system.

    Chapters 4, 5, 6, and 7 form a natural coherence regarding the role of the church in Southern life before the Civil War under the second subheading of "Grace: Southern Religion in Transition." Chapter 4, "Religion and the Unchurched in the Old South," addresses the relationship of honor to the Old and New Testaments. In addition, it reveals the tensions between the pious elements of a community and the truculently nonchurchgoers. An adoption of recent theological interpretations, which link honor to the Scriptures, sheds fresh light on how the white South accepted the moral prescriptions of Christianity while adhering to the sometimes contrary impulses of the ancient ethic. The Primitive Baptist phenomenon in Chapter 5, "Paradox, Shame, and Grace in the Backcountry," discloses how even in that very plain-spoken sect—a Southern version, one might say, of Quakerism—the imposition of shame on community and church dissidents was played out in the ethical scheme of things. In Chapter 6, "Modernizing Slave-Owning Rhetoric," I argue that at the core of the proslavery argument was its basis in biblical literalism but not without gradual modifications from secular influences. Chapter 7, "Church, Honor, and Disunion," relates church leadership to the crisis of secessionism, with some urbane and highly influential authorities very doubtful about and even hostile to the prospect of separation and inevitable bloodshed.

    Placed under the final subheading of "War and Aftermath," Chapters 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12 examine the effect of disunion, war, defeat, and slave liberation on the mentality of those engaged and on the lives of those who inherited the legacy of the Confederate generation. Chapter 8, "Shameful Submission and Honorable Secession," explains how the secession movement was a culmination of political concepts of honor. In the sectional conflict, both sides defined that ethic according to separate understandings. Yet in the South vindicating an intense if not fanatical sense of honor was uppermost in the minds of disunionists. They argued that failure to answer the insult of Northern moral criticism and especially the election of an antislavery president meant a loss of collective manhood and a feminization of the Southern spirit. In Chapter 9, "Innocence, War, and Horror," the issue of just how hard did Johnny Reb fight reaches the conclusion that he performed for the most part in a most exemplary fashion under unimaginably trying circumstances. There were, however, high psychic prices for sustaining that level of valor, which not all Rebels were willing to pay. The immediate aftermath of the failed struggle resulted in a profound sense of anguish and humiliation, as recounted in Chapter 10, "Death of a Nation." "Honor Chastened," which is Chapter 11, proposes that the depressive character to which so many former Rebels, penurious and sometimes maimed in mind and body, partially makes hollow the boosterism and sense of progress that Southerners, especially middle-class city dwellers, liked to imagine. Finally, Chapter 12, "Honor Redeemed in Blood," connects the shame of defeat in war and economic stagnation in peace with the scapegoating of the liberated race in ways sometimes beyond rational comprehension. The last four chapters have not appeared in print before. With only one exception, all the others, previously in print, were thoroughly recast with the inclusion of additional data. In most instances, expanded interpretations have been provided. All of the older material has been brought up to date in recognition of the progress made over the last twenty years or more in understanding Southern history.

    Finally, it should be pointed out that this book is mostly about men. The almost exclusive preoccupation with issues in which the male sex was the principal force is most evident in Chapter 1, "Dignity, Deception, and Identity in Male Slave Psychology." To have included female slave responses to their plight would have overburdened an already lengthy investigation. Moreover, slave women faced dilemmas and impositions peculiar to their sex, rape and even lesser forms of sexual coercion being obvious concerns. The psychological effects of overlordship upon African American women need to be more thoroughly examined than they have been so far, but that is a task not appropriate for this enterprise. In any event, physical vulnerability placed women at a great disadvantage whereas male slaves had to be carefully watched for signals of rebellion, flight, or disruptive conduct and compelled to act in appearances of unmanliness and compliance. Furthermore, in the first chapter this approach conforms to the general character of the book, which privileges men engaged in action and expression.

    I make no apology for choosing this course. A full half of Southern Honor was devoted to the role of women, children, and family households. These subjects were once overlooked in Southern historical scholarship. Instead, The Shaping of Southern Culture is almost exclusively concerned with the world of public performance, where men took the dominant roles. We deal with them in matters of governance, religious leadership, and war.

    In many respects the people of the nineteenth-century South shared a common appreciation for the ancient ethic with other contemporary social orders in other parts of the world. The historian Thomas W. Gallant, for instance, has noted that in nineteenth-century Greek society "for a man, honor equated to public, collective recognition that he was in control of those things that mattered most: women, property, and prowess."[11] Add ownership over slaves and post-Civil War dominion over free African Americans to the equation, and the statement well applies to the white male South with which this work is almost wholly concerned.

    In sum, The Shaping of Southern Culture is intended to illuminate matters of ethics that require further investigation.[12] The study of honor, past and present, along with that grand, ambivalent, and mysterious theme of grace, offers promising harvests of meaning for the future.


    1. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, "Bayonet Forward": My Civil War Reminiscences (Gettysburg: Stan Clark Military Books, 1994), 236; Alice Rains Trulock, In the Hands of Providence: Joshua L. Chamberlain and the American Civil War (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1992), 302.

    2. Chamberlain, "Bayonet Forward," 236.

    3. Quoted in Trulock, In the Hands of Providence, 303.

    4. James Oakes, The Ruling Race: A History of American Slaveholders (New York: Norton, 1982), 227. For a fine historiographical treatment of slavery as the sole distinction of Southern culture, see Peter Kolchin, "American Historians and Antebellum Southern Slavery, 1959-1984," in A Master's Due: Essays in Honor of David Herbert Donald (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1985), 87-111.

    5. The literature on American manhood, particularly with regard to mid- and late nineteenth century worries about reinvigorating manly behavior to counteract allegedly effete tendencies in the urban and bourgeois world of Northern business and intellect. Yet the connection of that so-called "crisis" with issues of honor, which cover more than just virility alone, has been largely ignored. See Gail Bederman, Manliness and Civilization: A Cultural History of Gender and Race in the United States , 1880-1917 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995), esp. 16-20; E. Anthony Rotundo, American Manhood: Transformations in Masculinity from the Revolution to the Modern Era (New York: Basic Books, 1993), which identifies New England habits as national; David Leverenz, Manhood and the American Renaissance (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1989); J. A. Mangan and James Walvin, eds., Manliness and Morality: Middle-Class Masculinity in Britain and America, 1800-1940 (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1987); Paula Baker, "The Domestication of Politics: Women and American Political Society, 1780-1920," American Historical Review 89 (June 1984): 620-47; and Baker, The Moral Framework of Public Life: Gender, Politics, and the State in Rural New York, 1870-1930 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991).

    6. Julian Pitt-Rivers, "Honor and Social Status," in Honour and Shame: The Values of Mediterranean Society, ed. Jean Georges P‚ristiany (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1966), 19-77; and Pierre Bourdieu, "The Sentiment of Honour in Kabyle Society,"191-241; see also Contributions to Mediterranean Sociology; Mediterranean Rural Communities and Social Change: Acts of the Mediterranean Sociological Conference, Athens, July 1963, ed. Jean Georges P‚ristiany (Paris, The Hague: Mouton, 1968).

    7. See Stephen R. Haynes, "The Genesis of Race: Noah's Curse and the Biblical Imagination," a work soon to appear. I am indebted to the author for allowing me to refer to his fascinating text.

    8. Leon Litwack, Trouble in Mind: Black Southerners in the Age of Jim Crow (New York: Vintage, 1999), 297.

    9. See Ren‚ Girard, Violence and the Sacred, trans. Patrick Gregory (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1972).

    10. Meantime, the women took on the purifying duty of promoting the Lost Cause Legend, a topic which is given in the last pages less play than it perhaps deserves. Some of the ideas in this paragraph were inspired by the work of Alice Freifeld, Nationalism and the Crowd in Liberal Hungary, 1848-1914 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000), pp. 379-80 in MS.

    11. Thomas W. Gallant, "'We're All Whores Here': Women, Slander, and the Courts in a Nineteenth-Century Greek Town," a chapter from his forthcoming Experiencing Dominion, kindly lent by the author.

    12. See the appendix for a review of the literature on the subject of honor.

Excerpted from The Shaping of Southern Culture by Bertram Wyatt-Brown. Copyright © 2001 by The University of North Carolina Press. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
Combines conceptual verve, relentless investigative energy, intellectual power, and willingness to rethink earlier ideas and conclusions in light of the work of others.--Civil War History

Building on ideas developed in his highly acclaimed book Southern Honor, Wyatt-Brown's essays are thought-provoking and clearly argued and display strong thematic unity. They should be of unusual interest to all students of southern history.--Peter Kolchin, University of Delaware

An engaging and challenging series. . . . While honor remains at center stage, Wyatt-Brown perceptively explores its relation to such matters as grace and war. . . . The most interdisciplinary southern historian of his generation, Wyatt-Brown draws heavily upon anthropology, theology, and psychology for his analyses, giving his work a rare intellectual resonance. But the breadth of his reading in other disciplines is more than matched by the depth of his research in historical sources.--Journal of Southern History

Those familiar with the concept of honor will want to explore the themes and questions raised here. Those new to the subject will find a useful introduction to a complex subject. If the mark of a great historian is not only the answer he provides but also the new questions he raises, then this book is a confirmation of Wyatt-Brown's influence on a generation of historians.--Journal of American History

One of the book's great virtues is that it carries the analysis of honor through the Civil War and beyond with an emphasis on the emotional and psychological dimensions. With his usual wide-ranging use of anthropology and literature, Wyatt-Brown probes the darkest recesses of southern minds.--Georgia Historical Quarterly

Wyatt-Brown has done what most historians dream about doing: produce a graceful, thoughtful, and important book. His Shaping of Southern Culture significantly contributes to our understanding of how honor animated behavior and helped create a southern ideology.--H-South

Wyatt-Brown's work has compelled cultural, social, and intellectual historians to take honor as seriously as the southerners he studies. This latest work adds significantly to the debate about the nature and meaning of southern honor.--Journal of the Early Republic

A compelling work. By illuminating the complex soul of an era and its people, Wyatt-Brown offers a case study about human nature. But this should be expected of any masterful study of history.--Civil War Book Review

Meet the Author

Bertram Wyatt-Brown is Richard J. Milbauer Professor of History at the University of Florida. His books include Southern Honor: Ethics and Behavior in the Old South and The House of Percy: Honor, Melancholy, and Imagination in a Southern Family.

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