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The Oxford Handbook of Slavery in the Americas

Mark M. Smith and Robert L. Paquette

Print publication date: Sep 2012


Print ISBN-13: 9780199227990
Published to Oxford Handbooks Online: Sep-12
Subject: History, Social and Cultural History, Slavery and Abolition of Slavery
DOI: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199227990.001.0001

Masters
Eugene D. Genovese, Douglas Ambrose

DOI: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199227990.013.0025

Abstract and Keywords


This article focuses on southern slaveholders. Slave ownership in the South
varied considerably, from region to region, from farm to plantation, and
from settled society to frontier. Unlike their counterparts in the British and
French Caribbean, antebellum southern masters tended to be residents
not absentees. Unlike their counterparts in nineteenth-century Cuba and
Brazil, they presided over an American-born slave population since the
mid-eighteenth century. Unlike slaveholding sugar planters throughout the
Americas, few owned more than 100 slaves. Conflicts arose among masters,
who, because of slavery's influence, zealously guarded their liberty and
grew especially touchy on questions of honour. Slave societies, like all social
formations, evolved through time, and masters, as parts of those societies,
changed along with them. In the case of southern slaveholders, the most
important change over time was that from patriarchalism to paternalism.
slaves, slavery, slaveholders, patriarchalism, paternalism

Masters and Slaves


G. W. F. Hegel, in his great set piece on Lordship and Bondage, highlighted
the essential relational character of master and slave. To be a master
requires that another human being be a slave. And, as Hegel asserted,
the master understands himself by and through his slave in an even more
psychological and culturally significant way than the slave understands
himself.1 The relational, in contradistinction to the legal, character of mastery
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helps explain the fundamental distinctiveness of the slaveholders of the


southern United States between the era of the American Revolution and
the culmination of the War for Southern Independence. Nowhere else in
the hemisphere did a slaveholding class possess as much political power,
internal cohesiveness, class confidence, and class consciousness. No other
master class envisioned itself as leading a territorially expansive society that
could provide other modern societies with an example of social relations
that they could emulate to avoid class war and political despotism. Although
the master class of the Old South was neither homogeneous nor free of
contradictions, it displayed impressive ideological and political unity. That
unity grew out of and derived strength from the paternalistic ethos that
functioned as its normative ideal even when it failed to guide actual practice.
Bolstered by their conviction that the masterslave relation provided the only
realistic basis for a Christian, modern, and republican society, they boldly
confronted the rising tide of bourgeois individualism, market relations, and
radical egalitarianism that was engulfing the Western world.
Slavery and the relations that comprised it varied widely throughout the
Western hemisphere, influenced by a number of factors including national
traditions, law, religion, and the personal temperaments of masters. Of
special importance was the staple crop. Sugar, in particular, produced a
culture that owed far less to the national or religious identity of the master
than it did to the crop's specific character. The other important slavegrown
cropsrice, tobacco, cotton, indigoimposed their particular stamp on
the relations between the slaves who produced them and the masters who
commanded their labor. Philip Morgan and other scholars have powerfully
demonstrated that attentiveness to the varying demands of the staples
provides insight into aspects of slavery that range from settlement patterns
to demography to slave culture to the character of the master class in
each slave society. Different slave societies, derived in large part from the
staple produced, produced different types of master classes. Morgan has
also insisted that any attempt to make sense of those slave societies
and the classes within themrequires that scholars be alert to process, to
development, to the changes wrought by time. Slave societies, like all social
formations, evolved through time, and masters, as parts of those societies,
changed along with them. In the case of southern slaveholders, the most
important change over time was that from patriarchalism to paternalism.2

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Patriarchs and Paternalists


The transition from patriarchalism to paternalism varied considerably over
space and time. Historians have carefully pointed out that the two coexisted
not only within the master class, but also within individual masters, and
certain broad developments of the process are clear. From the second half
of the eighteenth century, masters in the Chesapeake region evinced an
attitude toward and treatment of their slaves that marked a significant
departure from previous thought and practice. These departures had
profound implications for slaves, masters, and southern slavery itself.
Paternalism became, for the masters, the basis of their understanding of
themselves, their households, and their distinct social order. It turned a
system based on power into one based on authority, a relation of enemies
into a relation of members of the same family. Moral doubts receded as
Christian masters proudly proclaimed slavery scripturally grounded and
divinely sanctioned.
Patriarchialism featured several attributes that distinguished it from the
paternalism that eventually succeeded it. Philip Morgan has emphasized
three key differences between the two. First, patriarchalism was a more
austere code than paternalism. Patriarchal masters stressed order, authority,
unswerving obedience, and were quick to resort to violence when their
authority was questioned. Paternalist masters, on the other hand, were
more inclined to stress their solicitude, their generous treatment of their
dependents. A second key difference concerned masters' personal
interest in the lives of their slaves. Partriarchalism, Morgan writes, was
a more severe code than paternalism, but it was also less constricting.
Patriarchs tended to pay little if any attention to the domestic lives of their
slaves, being concerned mostly with their labor. Paternalists, however,
often spoke in cloying and claustrophobic terms of their kindness or their
Christian trusteeship toward their slaves. Such kindness, many paternalist
masters concluded, ought to elicit gratitude, and those masters' interest
in the religious lives of the black members of their households led them
to intervene directly in what had been, under patriarchal rule, the slaves'
private realm. Finally, Morgan points out that patriarchs had no illusions
about their slaves' capacity to rebel; slaves remained dangerous aliens,
domestic enemies, controlled primarily by violence and force. Paternalists,
however, notwithstanding persisting fears of the potential violence of slaves,
created the fiction of the contented and happy slave. The paternalist
household would be characterized by sentimental attachments between
authoritative but benevolent masters and subservient but loyal slaves.3
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Several factors contributed to the transition from patriarchalism to


paternalism, chiefly the slaveholding unit's staple crop. The staple affected
the size of the unit, the ratio between slave and nonslave populations, the
wealth of masters, the mix of creole and African slaves, master absenteeism,
and other factors that influenced the character of masterslave relations
and the dynamics of the farm or plantation. It is not surprising that most
historians identify paternalism as developing first in the Chesapeake
region among tobaccoproducing farms and plantations. These units
were considerably smaller than the great sugar estates in the Caribbean
and Brazil, making possible an intimacy of contact between masters and
slaves not easily realized on sugar estates. The majority of slaves in the
Chesapeake resided on units of fewer than forty slaves, and many lived on
farms with fewer than ten slaves. The majority of tobacco masters resided
on their farms and lived among their slaves, again making possible an
intimacy that sugar masters, most of whom did not reside on their estates,
could not achieve. Tobacco imposed fewer severe physical demands on
slaves than did sugar, allowing slaves to survive longer and reproduce.
Tobacco's low profitability, unlike sugar's high profitability, also contributed
to masters' attentiveness to their slaves' physical needs and reproduction.
Masters simply could not afford, as sugar masters could, to purchase new
slaves when their slaves died. Although economic motives may have led
tobacco masters to encourage slaves to form families and have children,
the creolization of the slave population also narrowed the cultural distance
between masters and slaves. Creoles spoke English. They grew up under
the eyes of their masters who could more easily see them as members of
his household than could masters who purchased adult African slaves. The
closing of the African slave trade in 1808 also forced masters to be cognizant
of their slaves' material wellbeing.
The rise of evangelical Christianity, which propelled the transition from
patriarchalism to paternalism, is attracting increasing scholarly attention.
The conversion of slaves to evangelicalism, which began in earnest in
the eighteenth century and continued into the nineteenth, narrowed
further the cultural distance between masters and slaves. A common
religion, notwithstanding considerable differences between white and black
understandings of it, provided both opportunities for collective worship
and a qualified sense of unity. For masters, perhaps the more important
development that accompanied the rise of evangelical Christianity was its
promotion of a Christian slaveholding ethic, which grounded mastery within a
religious framework that both emphasized the divine sanction of slaveholding
and admonished masters to exercise slaveholding in accordance with
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biblical precepts. Masters, more and more ministers declared, possessed


a divine trust, and God would judge them on how well they fulfilled
what he had entrusted to them. The spread of evangelical Christianity
and the slaveholding ethic accelerated the spread of paternalism within
plantation households and contributed decisively to the masters' conception
of themselves as men occupying a station in which Providence has placed
them. That station required them to care for all whom Providence had placed
in their care.4
The transition to paternalism, then, united economics and religion. Reduction
to one or the other distorts the ways in which they complemented each
other. The result was a system of social relations that rested upon duties,
responsibilities, and trusteeship and, thus, differentiated itself from the
patriarchal model from which it evolved. But, however much masters
emphasized the familial, domestic, and sentimental aspects of paternalism,
the system, like patriarchalism, ultimately remained grounded in violence.
Paternalism did not imply kindness, love, and benevolence. It rested on
the threat and actuality of violence, often including meanness and cruelty.
And slaves certainly understood paternalism differently than did their
masters. They consciously and unconsciously transformed paternalism into
a doctrine of protection of their own rightsa doctrine that negated the very
idea of slavery. For masters, however, paternalism, as both the underlying
principle of their social system and the foundation of their selfimage, lay
at the core of the slaveholders' sense of themselves as men who walked
in the ways of the Lord.5 The study of masters has been and continues
to be shaped by the challenges of understanding a historically distinct
class that arose with the expansion of global demand for slaveproduced
commodities and yet developed a worldview that rejected fundamental
aspects of the individualistic, egalitarian, and democratic ethos that
spread throughout the transatlantic world. The masters' understanding of
themselves and the contradictions and dilemmas they endured grew out of
both their immediate contexttheir lives with their slavesand their broader
economic, political, and ideological contexts: their relation to and struggle
with a world increasingly at odds with their vision of a proper Christian social
order.
Paternalism and the Business of Slavery
Like most slave owners throughout history, the slaveholders of the Western
hemisphere engaged in commercial transactions. Europeans brought African
slaves to the Americas to produce staple crops. Slavery thrived in the
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tropical and semitropical regions of the Americas because masters profited


from the managed use of private human property, primarily supervised
in gangs, to produce commodities for a burgeoning number of consumers
with growing incomes on both sides of the Atlantic. Historians have long
debated the relations between capitalism and slavery, whether the two are
in fact compatible, as well as the nature of masters as economic agents
and the ways they differed and did not differ from other economic elites in
the nineteenthcentury transatlantic world. Karl Marx spoke about how the
whirlpool of an international market dominated by the capitalistic mode
of production in western Europe grafted unfree labor systems, including
slavery, onto other parts of the world. Joseph Schumpeter, in a way that
foreshadowed subsequent debates, centered the existence of a capitalist
system on private ownership of nonpersonal means of production.6
However capitalism is defined, the overly simplistic characterization of
masters as either pure capitalists or seigneurial lords will not do. Most
historians now recognize that southern masters demonstrated at times
impressive economic acumen in their utilization of slave labor, in their
adjustments to changing demand for staple crops, and in protecting their
households from the vicissitudes that accompanied participation in long
distance commercial transactions and commodity markets. Yet critical
questions remain: Were southern slaveholders, notwithstanding their
participation in and responsiveness to global markets, in important ways
distinct from those elites from societies in which free labor predominated?
Were they in but not of the transnational, capitalistdriven market system
that increasingly prevailed throughout the transatlantic world? And if they
did differ significantly from elites in free labor societies, what were the
implications of those differences?7
The Georgiaborn historian Ulrich Bonnell Phillips dominated the study of
slavery in the United States during the first half of the twentieth century.
While stressing the paternalistic side of the masterslave relation and
acknowledging shortterm economic benefits from the use of slave labor, he
maintained its longterm unprofitability by wedding the southern economy
to a cotton monoculture and by impeding industrialization. The econometric
study of slavery led by Robert Fogel and Stanley Engerman during the
second half of the century has clearly established that southern slavery was
not unprofitable or irrational in any strict accounting sense, that on average
investment in slaves yielded returns on a par with the best investments in
northern factories. Whether in Mississippi's cotton fields, Jamaica's sugar
plantations, or Brazil's coffee fields, slavebased commercialized agriculture
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yieldedas Adam Smith recognized but failed to explainhigh rates of


economic growth and profits that are generally much greater than those of
any other cultivation that is known either in Europe or America. Inextricably
bound up in the fluctuating world of commodity markets, masters' fortunes
ebbed and flowed depending on a variety of factors, not least of which was
the business acumen of the masters themselves.8 That slavery as a system
proved profitable suggests that masters, as a class, responded rationally
to market fluctuations and other factors that affected profitability. But
market responsiveness and the desire for profit did not, in themselves, make
masters the same as other modern businessmen or slavery simply a variant
of capitalism. Slavery, especially during boom times for certain staples, such
as the late 1850s for cotton, could generate enormous economic growth. But
the masters' tendency to invest their profits primarily in land and slaves
investments that reflected both their business sense and their recognition
of the social value attached to those possessionslimited the possibilities
for economic development. As Peter Parish succinctly states, the combined
forces of cotton and slavery kept not only Southern agriculture but the whole
Southern economy on a straight and narrow path which led to rejection of
other choices, and consequent retardation. The very success (and the profits)
of plantation slavery and cotton cultivation removed any incentive to switch
from agriculture to industrial and urban development.9
In choosing to invest as they did masters clearly demonstrated good, short
term economic sense, even if they contributed to their society's longterm
economic and political disadvantage visvis the North. But economic
choices are never made in vacuums. Relations of production and exchange
anywhere invariably beget ethical dimensions. How property, especially
human property, is legally defined and encumbered dramatically affects how
markets allocate resources. Paternalism shaped the moral economy of the
relations between masters and slaves in the antebellum South, but in ways
understood quite differently by both parties. What masters regarded as theft,
slaves regarded as taking; what masters considered privilege, slaves seized
as right. Antebellum masters committed themselves to slavery because they
believed it to be more than a viable economic system of social relations. It
took into consideration questions of humanity as well as interest; it was not
simply economically rational but also consistent with their understanding
of themselves as Christian, moral paternalists. They defended slavery as
both profitable and humane, and they understood themselves as both
businessmen and paternalists. Abraham became their model slaveholder.
They distanced themselves from early Roman slaveholders whom they saw
as exercising an absolute dominion that Christian slaveholders as a class
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could not tolerate. Indeed, before the War for Southern Independence every
southern state enacted positive law, however erratically enforced, that
attempted to protect slaves against gross abuse. Slaves seized the logic
of paternalism to counter dehumanization and to establish standards that
qualified their bondage and held masters accountable for their actions.
Some historians question whether paternalism and profit seeking were as
compatible as the masters asserted. Richard Follett contends that masters
may have believed the charade of benevolence and kindly paternalism,
but beneath its comforting promise of idealized mastery, paternalism was
a faade for exploitation and a convenient tool for managing labor.The
reciprocity of paternalism provided businessconscious planters with an
ideological vocabulary for negotiating a contractual relationship with slaves
that aided plantation productivity. Paternalism, according to historians such
as Follet, followed from rather than qualified or conflicted with the essentially
economic imperatives of the masters. Although considering themselves
dutiful, responsible, and benevolent guardians of their family black and
white, masters needed to survive in a competitive economic world that only
occasionally allowed a paternalistic polish to a network of coldly rational
economic incentives and to dress exploitation in patriarchal garb.10
Other historians, while not denying that masters exploited slaves (as all
ruling classes extract a surplus product from labor) and frequently behaved
in coldly rational economic ways that placed economic necessity above
benevolence and kindness, nonetheless maintain that paternalism was
much more than a faade for cold economic calculation. Paternalism,
for these historians, flowed from the masterslave relation. It often
complemented the economic impulses of profitseeking masters, but it
limited the logic of profit maximization. Thus, paternalism contributed
not only to the masters' benign concept of themselves, but also to their
conviction that their society was morally superior to free labor society,
in which no paternalistic bond linked employer to laborer. In translating
power into authority, masters deceived themselves. They believed that
slaves accepted the masters' depiction of the masterslave relation as
one of mutual benefit. But to the extent that masters took seriously
their paternalistic obligations they strengthened their belief that slavery
constituted much more than a business operation. Rising slave prices,
which Phillips took as a sign of slavery's economic weakness rather than
its profitability, acted in many cases to reinforce these obligations by
making slave property increasingly valuable. While modern economics might
have allowed southern slaveholders to defend their peculiar institution on
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the narrow ground of profitability and productivity alone, they generally


conceded the argument of free labor's economic superiority to northerners,
preferring instead to build an apology on biblical and sociological grounds.
For selfdeceived but generally honest masters, paternalism left them
psychologically vulnerable, especially when slaves proved less than grateful.
When Edmund Ruffin of Virginia, the militantly proslavery planter and soil
scientist, discerned one such moment of truth in the mass desertion of slaves
from plantations during the waning of the Confederacy, he still retreated
into selfdeception. He interpreted the wartime ingratitude and treachery
of slaves in flight by blaming not slavery, but bluecoated Yankee seducers
and incendiaries. Paternalism also made masters ideologically resistant to
abolitionist condemnations of them as immoral, inhumane brutes; slavery
gave them a model, if not always the practical reality, of social relations with
which they could attack the moral basis of free labor society.
Masters in Modern Society
Slave ownership in the South varied considerably, from region to region,
from farm to plantation, and from settled society to frontier. Unlike their
counterparts in the British and French Caribbean, antebellum southern
masters tended to be residents not absentees. Unlike their counterparts
in nineteenthcentury Cuba and Brazil, they presided over an American
born slave population since the mideighteenth century. Unlike slaveholding
sugar planters throughout the Americas, few owned more than 100 slaves.
Although the percentage of slave owners declined from onethird to one
quarter during the 1850s, the widespread practice of slave hiring allowed
even those who did not own slaves to exercise at least a taste of mastery
over slaves. Conflicts arose among masters, who, because of slavery's
influence, zealously guarded their liberty and grew especially touchy
on questions of honor. The political and social influence of masters as a
class tended to keep them in check. To be sure, dueling survived in the
antebellum South despite legal prohibitions and theological denunciations,
but as a kind of manly, ritualized way of channeling intraclass conflict into
a less destructive form that reaffirmed, in a highly public way, the value
that southern communities placed on courage and habit of command.
On fundamental questions of the maintenance and protection of the
slave regime, masters tended to close ranks. Although never a uniform,
homogeneous body, the master class, especially after 1830, evinced notable
unity on questions of the historical, religious, and social legitimacy of
slaveholding and the willingness to protect the South from hostile political
forces in the North.
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Masters' religious convictions deepened their paternalistic relations to their


slaves. Believing that God had placed slaves in their care, masters often
considered themselves burdened by the responsibilities that accompanied
the private ownership of human beings. After purchasing a female slave,
Eliza Clitherall commented that I henceforth feel it to be my duty as I trust
thro' divine assistance to be enabled to train her, Religiously and usefully
feeling myself responsible for her soul and well doing.11 Clitherall's notion
of training her slave religiously and usefully displays the dual character of
slaves in the eyes of masters. The slave was a soul and a worker, and the
responsible paternalist had to ensure that he attended to both aspects of his
slave's nature. Ministers regularly chastised both themselves and their fellow
masters for failing to fulfill their religious obligations to their slaves. Some,
who argued that masters should avoid breaking up slave marriages and slave
families, struggled to reconcile the claims of their religion with the practical
economic exigencies of slavery. The inability to reconcile the competing
claims of humanity and interest revealed the inescapable dilemma at the
heart of the effort to build a Christian slave society. But however inescapable
the conflict proved, most masters did not succumb to despair or consider
their society evil. They recognized that all social systems remained flawed
and asserted that their slave society, notwithstanding its imperfections,
remained among the most humane, orderly, and progressive societies in the
world. Chancellor Harper of South Carolina succinctly stated, The condition
of our whole existence is but to struggle with evilsto compare themto
choose between them, and so far as we can, to mitigate them. To say that
there is evil in any institution is only to say that it is human.12
Harper's comment reveals one of the most prominent features of the
slaveholders' social thought: suspicion of utopian visions of human
perfectibility. Led by the divines, they maintained a belief in the essentially
fallen character of mankind. Regardless of religious denomination, most
masters accepted the notion of original sin and shaped their social and
political thought accordingly. As James Henley Thornwell, a Presbyterian
minister and the Old South's most formidable theologian, remarked, Slavery
is a part of curse which sin has introduced into the world, and stands in the
same general relations to Christianity as poverty, sickness, disease or death.
In other words, it is a relation which can only be conceived as taking place
among fallen beingstainted with a curse. It springs not from the nature of
man as man, nor from the nature of society as such, but from the nature of
man as sinful, and the nature of society as disordered.13 The acceptance
of human imperfectability made masters virtually Burkean in their suspicion
of and resistance to heavenonearth social schemes emanating from
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Europe and the North that envisioned a world without sin and its social
consequences: slavery, war, government, poverty. This acceptance also
permitted them to live with, however problematically, a social system they
knew to be flawed. Their dislike of abstractions, of the untethered flight
of Reason from history and experience, and their preference for the Is
of established, natural hierarchies over the Ought of radical egalitarian
dreamers fostered a mainstream conservatism political tradition in the South.
The relation of the antislavery Burke to that proslavery tradition deserves
more scholarly attention.
The recognition that earthly perfection remained beyond human realization
did not lead masters into a denial of change or progress or a passive
acceptance of a static world let alone a desire to return to some romanticized
past age. Many slaveholders eagerly and sincerely embraced the
technological and material progress that captivated much of the transatlantic
world in the first half of the nineteenth century. Masters supported, in
general, the expansion of transportation, including canals and railroads.
They enthusiastically followed scientific developments. Many believed that
the advance of industrialism would ameliorate the condition of mankind.
But the masters' embrace of progress, especially the spread of industrial
production and all that accompanied it, had limits.14 Southern intellectuals
recoiled against the utopian visions and fanatical cults, informed by radical
individualist and perfectionist premises, that were sweeping the antebellum
North. In truth, the fabled individualism of white southern adult males
stressed the restrictions imposed by social bonds derived from conscience
and moral responsibility in a Christian community of interrelated and
interdependent, albeit unequal, parts. These limits demonstrate once again
that, however economically rational slaveholders were, they retained certain
principles that made them leery of evaluating economic developments solely
or even primarily by their quantitative material benefits.
Masters had to confront the tension between the material fruits of modern
economic development and the social costs. One telling example of a
spokesman for the master class who understood the logic of modern
economic development but ultimately qualified it because of its moral and
social consequences was Thomas Roderick Dew. President of the College of
William and Mary and professor of several subjects there, including history,
political economy, and moral philosophy, Dew rose to the fore in the defense
of slavery after reviewing the debate in the Virginia legislature about the
future of slavery after Nat Turner's revolt. Dew believed that the great age
of progress that he and his fellow heirs of Western civilization inherited
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resulted from the expansion of individual freedom. Economic advances freed


more and more people from the drudgery of labor, enabling them to devote
leisure time to the cultivation of their talents for the benefit of themselves
and others. Yet Dew's study of classical political economy, premised on
individual freedom, led him to draw back from full acceptance of the progress
that political economy promised. Believing that slavery and other forms of
unfree labor disappeared once the cost of free labor dropped below that
of slave labor, Dew conceived in ways that recall the logic of the iron law
of wages that capitalist development meant that the living standards
of laborers would sink to a subsistence level under a system that offered
little or no protection during the periodic plunges below that level. The
great mass of mankind would have to live not only with poverty and brutal
exploitation but with the threat of starvation.15 This material misery, Dew
feared, would produce social catastrophes. Laborers would never tolerate
such conditions, and the French RevolutionDew died in 1846 and did not
witness the Revolutions of 1848suggested that their insurrection would
be bloody, disruptive, and a prologue to a despotism that would, in turn,
retard or even roll back the progress of civilization. Dew, John C. Calhoun,
George Fitzhugh, and other members of the southern clerisy concluded that
the peculiar combination of capital and labor inherent in slavery would spare
the South from a cataclysmic class struggle that would inevitably undo the
North. Thus, Dew and many southern notables in the generation leading
up to the War for Southern Independence ended by holding up the social
system of the South as a model for a future world order. Only slavery or
personal servitude in some form could guarantee republican liberties for
the propertied, security for the propertyless, and stability for the state and
society.16 Slavery, rather than being a hindrance to progress, would actually
preserve the order necessary for progress to continue. Masters did not seek
to restore a past world; they sought an alternate route to modernity, one
that, through slavery or some form of unfree labor, would preserve the social
order and stability on which liberty for some depended. The only alternatives,
masters increasingly concluded, were anarchy or despotism.
History and its Lessons
Masters' ambivalence toward the modern age made them both proud to
belong to a civilization of enormous, unprecedented wealth and wary of
the ways that economic development obliterated the social bonds that had
provided stability and order. They revealed that ambivalence in the meanings
they derived from their intense and serious study of history. Slaveholders
seeking to build a modern slave society recognized that history provided
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no suitable models or precedents; they were on uncharted ground, forging


a slave society within an industrializing world characterized by bourgeois
individualism and liberal democracy. History could provide, if not exact
precedents, examples of societies grounded in principles that reflected the
continuities of history. Masters viewed history as possessed of both linear
and cyclical dimensions. Change was ever present, but there remained
certain constants, which, if properly understood, ensured stability amidst
the tumult of inevitable change. Masters in an age of revolution came to see
their slave society as a bulwark against leveling tendencies and democratic
excesses that threatened mankind with new forms of despotism.
The slaveholders' study of the Middle Ages demonstrates well both their
appreciation of progress, a linear view of history, and their conviction that
such study revealed the divinely inspired, the permanent, and the admirable
in the medieval legacy.17 In many ways, southern masters were thankful to
live in a modern world that had progressed out of the material and religious
dark ages of medieval Europe. Happy to leave behind the pervasive poverty
of feudal society and the alleged superstition of medieval Catholicism,
southern slaveholders, more so than their bourgeois counterparts in Europe
and the North, nonetheless found much to admire in medieval society.
They respected the aristocratic and chivalric values of gallantry, personal
and family honor, and courage. Although cognizant that their farms and
plantations resembled, in important respects, modern businesses more than
medieval manors, they admired the medieval ideal's disdain for money
grubbing. And although harshly criticizing lords for oppressing their serfs
and other dependents, they saw the relation of lord to serf as, on balance,
morally superior to that of capitalist to wage laborer. As Daniel Hundley
stated in 1860, It may be that the old order of things, the old relationship
between landlord and villein, protected the latter from many hardships
to which the nominal freemen of the nineteenth century are subjected
by the blessed influences of free competition and the practical workings
of the good and charitable and praiseworthy English maxim: Every man
for himself, and the devil take the hindmost.18 As Hundley's sarcasm
demonstrates, masters praised the aspects of medieval society akin to
southern slaveholding society in contrast to the least attractive and most
deleterious features of modern, industrializing, bourgeois society, which was
flourishing in England and the northern United States unreformed by the
welfare state. In the masters' view, their modern slave society preserved
the organic social relations between those who performed and those who
commanded labor. Although modern slaveholders eagerly participated in
market transactions, they believed that their relations with their slaves,
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like medieval lords' relations with their serfs, remained largely insulated
from the heartless machinations of the market. Ultimately, the slaveholders
failed to maintain organic social relations while participating in a volatile
world increasingly dominated by the cash nexus. Yet their social relations
imparted to them a sense of themselves and their society increasingly at
odds with others in that world for which the logic of the market and the sense
of possessive individualism constituted the only acceptable basis of social
organization.
The masters' understanding of history underscores how much their
ideological struggle with their free labor opponents informed and shaped
their social thought, their politics, and their psyches. Michael O'Brien,
among others, has demonstrated that the intellectual worlds of the masters
consisted of much more than defenses of slavery or attacks on capitalism.19
On any number of topics, slaveholding intellectuals expressed views that
had little if any direct or even indirect relation to slavery or the civilizational
struggle between slave and free societies. As a historically specific class,
however, southern masters found themselves engaged in a life and death
struggle against hostile forces that increasingly condemned the foundation
of slave society. Indeed, paternalism accelerated in part to counter the
intensifying assault by a historically unique antislavery crusade that
originated in England and rapidly spread under its auspices throughout the
transatlantic world. Not surprisingly, the struggle intervened into even the
most intimate aspects of life. The Presbyterian Reverend Charles Colcock
Jones of Georgia, the leading exponent of missionary work among slaves,
wrote a letter to his mother Mary Jones, conveying condolences for the death
of one of their slaves. He then turned to the matter of the slave's children,
remarking, There is much to be said, however, that with kind masters the
orphans are always cared for, which is more than can be affirmed of many
poor persons not occupying a similar relation in life. Their children are left
to public charity, which is too often meager and beggarly.20 If masters in
private correspondence with members of their own families engaged in
such ideological pointscoring, one can imagine how extensive was their
engagement in public venues. Masters did not spend every waking moment
thinking about the relative merits of free versus slave society, but the stakes
were too high and the battle spanned too many fronts for them to ignore
the extent to which their beliefs about most matters of social, political, and
religious significance related back to those societies and the social relations
that grounded them.

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The Social and Political Vision of the Master Class


Southern slaveholders in the decades before secession developed and
refined a social vision that put them at odds with the values and vision that
emanated from western Europe and the northern United States. In the first
half of the nineteenth century, slavery spread through the southern United
States within a republican political system that conferred upon slaveholders
formal political power, which they used to protect vital interests.21 The
ambivalent or theoretical antislavery sentiments of some slaveholders in
the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, including such notable
figures as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, faded dramatically
after 1820 as a new generation of southerners recognized that slavery was
not going away and, indeed, was woven into the very fabric of southern
culture and social life. That shift, from the notion of slavery as a temporary
expedient or necessary evil to a positive good, long preceded the
momentous debates about Missouri's admission into the Union. The
rudiments of a paternalist Christian slaveholding ethosvisible in the South
during the eighteenthcentury Great Awakeningsurfaced conspicuously in
Virginia shortly after the American Revolution in response to a resolution of
the Methodist General Conference in 1784 to extirpate the abomination
of slavery. Petitioners to the state legislature countered talk of a general
emancipation by repeatedly referencing the Bible and history in defense of
slavery.22
The elaboration of the proslavery argument in the antebellum period derived
in large part from the masters' response to the growth of antislavery and
abolitionist attitudes and their political expression. Masters sought to defend
themselves from attacks that depicted them as inhumane, sinful, and
retrograde. Their response led them from defense to offense. As the political
crisis of the American union intensified in the 1850s, southern slaveholders
defiantly launched a counterrevolution against secular rationalism, radical
egalitarianism, and majoritarian democracy. They defended hierarchy and
authority in political and social life and ended with one or another version
of slavery in the abstract.23 By abstract they tended to mean general. To
those who argued that slavery violated natural law, southern elites countered
that slavery was a ubiquitous institution in history, that it had originated in
the absence of municipal law, that it had sprung up with the human species
itself, traveling before history with nomads and flourishing afterwards in
some of the world's greatest civilizations. As the Presbyterian Reverend
Benjamin Morgan Palmer, one of the most influential proslavery theologians
in the late antebellum period, insisted, in some one of its many forms,
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servitude is a permanent relation, in all the conditions of human society. In


fathoming the mind of the founding generalization on slavery, Gordon Wood
has, in effect, seized on Palmer's point by asserting that the very ubiquity of
servitude in that patriarchal age tended to blur the conspicuousness of black
slavery, especially in the North.24 Since antebellum masters conceded limits
informed by Christian precepts, community standards, positive law, and
the general progress of humanitythat reined in their private power over
their slaves, servant increasingly replaced slave in antebellum southern
discourse.
Perhaps no aspect of the masters' world revealed more powerfully or
fundamentally their profound differences with free society than religion.
Ostensibly a conflict over whether God sanctioned slaveholding, the
religious debate between slaveholders and free labor advocates extended
well beyond the rather narrow question of the morality of owning slaves.
As both the supporters and opponents of slaveholding elaborated their
biblical and religious arguments, the divide grew wider and deeper. The
masters' religious perspective convinced them not only that slavery was
divinely ordained, but also that opponents of slavery had moved beyond
heresy and toward atheism. The defense of slavery became more than
a defense of property or the means of maintaining superiority over an
inferior race. It became, in a very real sense, a defense of Christianity and
of the unique civilization that Christianity had made possible. Masters thus
understood slavery as the only basis on which Christianity could survive in an
increasingly hostile world.25
Racism had always played a prominent role in the masters' justification
of New World slavery. Throughout the history of slavery in the Americas,
whites regularly expressed the widespread conviction that Negroes
were incapable, without white assistance, of living as civilized human
beings. Thomas R. R. Cobb, the foremost legal scholar of the Old South,
summed up this thinking succinctly: contact with the Caucasian is the
only civilizer of the negro, and slavery is the only condition on which that
contact can be preserved. White masters portrayed themselves as the true
protectors of blacks; to free them and throw them into competition with
racially superior whites would doom them to misery and even extinction.26
Slaveholders selectively appealed to evidence of the condition of free blacks
in the North and elsewhere in the hemisphere to bolster their claims that
emancipation would render the mass of blacks worse off materially and
spiritually. Bolstered by the popular belief that the socalled Curse of Ham
applied to subSaharan Africans, New World masters comforted themselves
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with the notion that God himself intended blacks to be slaves. Of all the
slaveholding classes in the Americas, only those in the antebellum southern
United States embarked on a conscious program of imperialism in attempting
to spread slavery into tropical areas of the hemisphere where it no longer
existed. Southern filibusters William Walker and others seized upon the
secularization of racial thinking by nineteenthcentury ethnologists and
natural scientists to argue for a southernled imperialism in the tropical parts
of the Western hemisphere to extend civilization by regenerating allegedly
inferior races through slavery or one or another form of servitude. Yet,
neither Walker's adventurism nor his pseudoscientific racialist views went
unchallenged by leading southerners, especially by southern divines. The
slave South's expansionist vision deserves and is receiving more attention.
Recent works by historians Robert Bonner and Matthew Pratt Guterl highlight
the cosmopolitan character of southern slaveholders who, notwithstanding
their intense American identity, cast their eyes not only westward to the
Pacific, but southward to the Caribbean and Brazil as they envisioned an
expanding empire of unfreedom.27
At home, the natural fittedness of blacks for slavery allowed masters
to avoid or deflect questions about whether or not nonblacks should be
enslaved. But the masters' belief, as James Henry Hammond famously
stated in his Cotton is King speech in the United States Senate in 1858,
that in all societies there must be a class to do the menial duties, to
perform the drudgery of lifeSuch a class you must have, or you would not
have that other class which leads progress, civilization, and refinement,
necessarily led back to the question of how those who performed the menial
duties ought to relate to the class that leads progress, civilization, and
refinement.28 Most white southerners simply thanked God that he had
provided them with an inferior race specially equipped to do menial labor.
George Frederickson, among other historians, believes that racism was
not only the basis of proslavery, but also the key to the masters' political
and social dominance. Although masters were always a minority of the
white population, and a shrinking minority at that, they maintained their
prominence and support of nonslaveholders in large part because of their
shared commitment to white supremacy.29 No one denies that racism
proved vital to the unification of whites of different classes. Some scholars,
however, question whether masters or, at least, the logic of their proslavery
arguments supported only black slavery. The masters' repeated claim that
slavery provided slaves with better material conditions than free labor did for
wage workers led them to endorse slavery, in some form, as the preferred
condition of working people everywhere.30 Although few went as far as
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proslavery advocate George Fitzhugh and called for the enslavement of


white workers, many others implied that the destructive forces of the free
labor system made some form of unfree labor the only humane solution
for workers who suffered oppression. As Presbyterian minister George D.
Armstrong suggested in his influential The Christian Doctrine of Slavery, It
may be that such a slavery, regulating the relations of capital and labor,
though implying some deprivation of personal liberty, will prove a better
defense of the poor against the oppression of the rich, than the too great
freedom in which capital is placed in many of the free states of Europe at the
present day. Like many masters, Armstrong argued that slavery provided
the remedy to the social question that increasingly plagued free labor
societies: It may be, he wrote, that Christian slavery is God's solution of
the problem about which the wisest statesmen of Europe confess themselves
at fault.31
The masters' endorsement, however implied, of slavery in some form as
the optimal relation between capital and labor represented the logical
outcome of the positive good argument that had been developing for
decades. If slavery promoted the interests of both labor and capital, if it was
sanctioned by the Bible, if it was based on a proper understanding of the
nature and destiny of man, then how could masters not recommend it for all
societies regardless of racial composition or level of economic development?
Yet masters recognized that what they promoted did not resemble what
most people still believed constituted slavery. For generations, southern
slaveholders had differentiated the slavery they practiced from other forms
of slavery, such as that of the Romans. Their Christian sensibilities and
beliefs convinced them that slaves were persons with immortal souls. Their
legal codes and especially their court decisions insisted that slaves were
not subject to the arbitrary will of their masters. Their paternalistic ethos
reminded them of their responsibilities and duties to those placed in their
charge. Thornwell spoke for many southerners when he defined slavery
as the obligation to labour for another, determined by the Providence of
God, independently of the provisions of a contract. Under this definition,
he continued, the right which the master has is a right, not to the man, but
to his labour. Ministers and laymen and women as well often coupled their
definitions of slavery with strict admonitions about the limits of the masters'
authority over the men whose labor they commanded. The apostles had
recognized that slavesbrothers and sisters in Christwere persons with
souls and, as such, possessed of certain rights, which it was injustice to
disregard. It was thus the office of Christianity to protect these rights by
the solemn sanctions of religionto enforce upon masters the necessity,
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the moral obligation, of rendering to their bondmen that which is just and
equal.32 Although Thornwell hoped that the solemn sanctions of religion
would enforce upon masters the necessityof rendering to their bondmen
that which is just and equal, he and others recognized that more than
religious sanctions might be needed to make masters do what they ought.
Public opinion, fraternal correction, and even the law must restrain the
individual master from abusing his Godgiven but qualified authority. Only by
limiting the private power of the master, reformers argued, could the slavery
they practiced be deserving of God's favor and appropriate for adoption by
other societies.
Many ministers and masters, especially in the years leading up to and
extending into the War for Southern Independence, favored laws to limit
private power. Some sought to forbid the sale of slave children away from
their mothers and the dissolution of slave marriages through the sale of one
of the spouses. Some favored more stringent and more vigorously enforced
laws against excessive cruelty by masters upon slaves. Some, especially
among the clergy, wanted to lift the restrictions on slave literacy. Nearly all of
these efforts ended in failure, which did not simply reflect the unwillingness
of masters to acknowledge slave rights or imply a broad rejection of
paternalistic principles. Rather, the desire to reform slavery to make it
conform more fully in practice to the paternalistic, humane, and Christian
social system that its proponents exalted conflicted with the economic
imperatives of a commodityproducing slave society that sought to maintain
a competitive position in a world increasingly dominated by the market. The
masters' inability to make slavery consistent with their avowed principles
reflected less their hypocrisy than the insoluble dilemma that lay at the heart
of their project to construct an organic corporate society adaptable to the
exigencies of the modern world.33
Masters in a World without Slaves
The masters of the Old South risked everything in their bold attempt to
secede from the United States and create an independent slaveholding
nation. Their brief experiment with nationhood demonstrated not only the
weakness of a slave economy at war with an emerging capitalist industrial
power but also the fatal selfdeception of their paternalist beliefs about
their loving and loyal slaves. Paternalism had always meant different
things to masters and slaves, but masters had read slave compliance as
acceptance. The War for Southern Independence revealed painfully and
powerfully how badly masters had misread their slaves. When Union troops
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pushed through the southern states, slaves by the thousands fled their
plantation households for the Union lines, leaving behind masters and
mistresses whose reactions combined feelings of betrayal, shock, and
disbelief. For many masters, the psychological and emotional consequences
of their slaves' actions mattered as much as the defeat of the Confederacy
and the immediate and total abolition of slavery that resulted.34
The war destroyed both slavery and the master class. Although many former
masters in the years after the war were able to resume farming with an
impoverished black labor force, the legal and political changes that the war
ushered in fundamentally altered the relations between those who worked
the field and those who commanded their labor. Historians continue to
debate the nature and character of the postbellum economy, but whatever
continuities some scholars see between the antebellum and postbellum
eras cannot minimize the extent of the changes that masters, as masters,
experienced.35 Economically devastatedeven if still holding more resources
than other black and white Southernersand politically circumscribed
regionally and nationally, masters were no longer masters. The relation
that made them who they were, both individually and as a class, had been
shattered. However qualified the relation of master and slave had been
before the war, the master could still envision himself as having a direct,
noncontractual, personal, and familial relation to his slaves. The master
slave relation had provided the basis for the master's selfidentity and his
understanding of the principles that ought to inform political, social, cultural,
and religious life. The abolition of that relation, not simply of slavery as a
legal institution or form of property, destroyed the masters' society, their
vision for an alternative modern world, and themselves as a historically
distinct class.

Select Bibliography
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Worldcat
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and StanleyEngerman, Time on the Cross: The Economics of American


Negro Slavery. New York: W. W. Norton, 1974.
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FoxGenovese, Elizabeth. Within the Plantation Household: Black and White
Women of the Old South. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press,
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Genovese, Eugene D. Roll, Jordan, Roll: The World the Slaves Made. New
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Notes:
(1.) G. W. F. Hegel, The Phenomenology of Mind, trans. J. B. Baillie (1807; New
York, 1964), 22840.
(2.) See especially Philip Morgan's Slave Counterpoint: Black Culture in the
EighteenthCentury Chesapeake and Lowcountry (Chapel Hill, NC, 1998);
Morgan, Three Planters and their Slaves: Perspectives on Slavery in Virginia,
South Carolina, and Jamaica, 17501790, in Winthrop D. Jordan and Sheila
L. Skemp (eds.), Race and Family in the Colonial South (Jackson, Ms., 1987),
3779; Rhys Isaac, The Transformation of Virginia, 17401790 (Chapel Hill,
NC, 1983); Sidney W. Mintz, Caribbean Transformations (Chicago, 1974).
(3.) Morgan, Three Planters and their Slaves, 3940. See also his Slave
Counterpoint. For other accounts of the transition from patriarchalism to
paternalism, although not necessarily employing those terms, see Willie Lee
Rose, The Domestication of Domestic Slavery, in her Slavery and Freedom,
ed. William W. Freehling (New York, 1982), 1836, and Jeffrey Robert Young,

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Domesticating Slavery: The Master Class in Georgia and South Carolina,


16371837 (Chapel Hill, NC, 1999).
(4.) For some of the recent work on the religious dimension of the transition
to paternalism, see Sylvia R. Frey, Water from the Rock: Black Resistance in
a Revolutionary Age (Princeton, 1993), ch. 8; Douglas Ambrose, Of Stations
and Relations: Proslavery Christianity in Early National Virginia, in John R.
McKivigan and Mitchell Snay (eds.), Religion and the Antebellum Debate over
Slavery (Athens, Ga., 1998), 3567; Charles F. Irons, The Origins of Proslavery
Christianity: White and Black Evangelicals in Colonial and Antebellum Virginia
(Chapel Hill, NC, 2008); and Jeffrey Robert Young (ed.), Proslavery and
Sectional Thought in the Early South, 17401829: An Anthology (Columbia,
SC, 2006).
(5.) Eugene D. Genovese and Elizabeth FoxGenovese, Fatal SelfDeception:
Loyal and Loving Slaves in the Mind of Southern Slaveholders (Cambridge,
forthcoming); Eugene D. Genovese, Roll, Jordan, Roll: The World the Slaves
Made (New York, 1974), 49.
(6.) Karl Marx, Capital: A Critique of Political Economy, 3 vols. (1887;
New York, 1967), i. 236; Joseph Schumpeter, Capitalism, Encyclopedia
Britannica (1946), reprinted in Schumpeter, Essays on Entrepreneurs,
Innovations, Business Cycles, and the Evolution of Capitalism, ed. Richard V.
Clemence (1951; New Brunswick, NJ, 1989), 189.
(7.) For useful works on these debates see Elizabeth FoxGenovese and
Eugene D. Genovese, Fruits of Merchant Capital: Slavery and Bourgeois
Property in the Rise and Expansion of Capitalism (New York, 1983); Fox
Genovese and Genovese, Slavery in White and Black: Class and Race in
the Southern Slaveholders' New World Order (New York, 2008); Raimondo
Luraghi, The Rise and Fall of the Plantation South (New York, 1978); James
Oakes, The Ruling Race: A History of American Slaveholders (New York,
1982); Oakes, Slavery and Freedom: An Interpretation of the Old South (New
York, 1990); and Young, Domesticating Slavery.
(8.) Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of
Nations (Edinburgh, 1827), 159. For Philips's classic presentation of the
economic inefficiency of southern slavery, see American Negro Slavery
(1918; Baton Rouge, La., 1966). For refutations of Philips, see Kenneth
Stampp, The Peculiar Institution: Slavery in the AnteBellum South (New
York, 1956); Robert Fogel and Stanley Engerman, Time on the Cross: The
Economics of American Negro Slavery (New York, 1974); Fogel, Without
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Consent or Contract: The Rise and Fall of American Slavery (New York, 1989);
and Gavin Wright, The Political Economy of the Cotton South: Households,
Markets, and Wealth in the Nineteenth Century (New York, 1978). See also
Mark M. Smith's useful synthesis of the debate, Debating Slavery: Economy
and Society in the Antebellum American South (New York, 1998).
(9.) Peter J. Parish, Slavery: History and Historians (New York, 1989), 59.
See also the classic expression of this conclusion in Lewis Cecil Gray,
History of Agriculture in the Southern United States to 1860 (Washington,
DC, 1933). The recent work of John Majewski further demonstrates that
although individual southerners rationally employed shifting agriculture
in which a substantial portion of acreage rested in prolonged fallow, the
practice for the South as a whole, however, deterred development. The vast
tracks of unimproved land resting in longterm fallow acted as a black hole
that sapped the South's economic vitality. Majewski, Modernizing a Slave
Economy: The Economic Vision of the Confederate Nation (Chapel Hill, NC,
2009), 25.
(10.) Richard Follett, The Sugar Masters: Planters and Slaves in Louisiana's
Cane World, 18201860 (Baton Rouge, La., 2005), 152, 155, 156, 158, 159.
For similar arguments that view paternalism as incompatible with profit
seeking, see William Johnson, Soul by Soul: Inside the Antebellum Slave
Market (Cambridge, 2001); William Dusinberre, Them Dark Days: Slavery in
the American Rice Swamps (New York, 1996); Jonathan D. Martin, Divided
Mastery: Slave Hiring in the American South (Cambridge, Mass., 2004); and
Oakes, Ruling Race.
(11.) Eliza Clitherall Autobiography, 2 April 1853, Southern Historical
Collection, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC.
(12.) William Harper, Memoir on Slavery, in Drew Faust (ed.), The Ideology
of Slavery: Proslavery Thought in the Old South (Baton Rouge, La., 1981),
85. On the often competing claims of humanity and interest within
southern law, see Mark V. Tushnet, The American Law of Slavery, 18101860:
Questions of Humanity and Interest (Princeton, 1980).
(13.) James Henley Thornwell, The Rights and Duties of Masters (Charleston,
SC, 1850), 33.
(14.) Eugene D. Genovese, The Slaveholders' Dilemma: Freedom and
Progress in Southern Conservative Thought, 18201860 (Columbia, SC,
1992).
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(15.) Ibid. 16.


(16.) Ibid. 18. Dew's important works on these questions include his Review
of the Debate in the Virginia Legislature of 1831 and 1832 (Richmond, Va.,
1832) and his posthumously published masterwork, A Digest of the Laws,
Customs, Manners and Institutions of the Ancient and Modern Nations (New
York, 1852).
(17.) Elizabeth FoxGenovese and Eugene D. Genovese, The Mind of the
Master Class: History and Faith in the Southern Slaveholders' Worldview
(New York, 2005), 306.
(18.) Daniel R. Hundley, Social Relations in our Southern States (1860; Baton
Rouge, La., 1979), 134.
(19.) Michael O'Brien, Conjectures of Order: Intellectual Life and the
American South, 18101860, 2 vols. (Chapel Hill, NC, 2003).
(20.) Charles Colcock Jones to Mary Jones, November 22, 1856, in Robert
Manson Myers (ed.), The Children of Pride: A True Story of Georgia and the
Civil War (New Haven, 1972), 266.
(21.) See Don E. Fehrenbacher, The Slaveholding Republic: An Account of the
United States Government's Relations to Slavery (New York, 2001).
(22.) On the development of the proslavery argument, see Larry Tise,
Proslavery: A History of the Defense of Slavery in America, 17011840
(Athens, Ga., 1987); Irons, Origins of Proslavery Christianity; Young (ed.),
Proslavery and Sectional Thought in the Early South; Young, Domesticating
Slavery; Faust (ed.), Ideology of Slavery; Ambrose, Of Stations and
Relations. For the petitions to the Virginia state legislature, see Frederika
Teute Schmidt and Barbara Ripel Wilhelm (eds.), Early Proslavery Petitions in
Virginia, William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd ser., 30 (January 1973): 13346.
(23.) Eugene D. Genovese and Elizabeth FoxGenovese, Fatal SelfDeception.
(24.) Benjamin Morgan Palmer, The Family, in its Civil and Churchly Aspects:
An Essay, in Two Parts (1876; Harrisonburg, Va., 1981), 124; Gordon S. Wood,
Reading the Founders' Minds, New York Review of Books, June 28, 2007.
(25.) For elaboration on these points, see FoxGenovese and Genovese, Mind
of the Master Class and the Religion and Slavery essay in this volume.

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(26.) Thomas R. R. Cobb, An Inquiry into the Law of Negro Slavery in the
United States of America (1858; Athens, Ga., 1999), 51.
(27.) On southern imperialism and expansionism, see Robert E. May, The
Southern Dream of a Caribbean Empire, 18541861 (2nd edn. Gainesville,
Fla., 2002); Robert E. Bonner, Mastering America: Southern Slaveholders
and the Crisis of American Nationhood (New York, 2009); and Matthew
Pratt Guterl, American Mediterranean: Southern Slaveholders in the Age of
Emancipation (Cambridge, Mass., 2008).
(28.) James Henry Hammond, Speech on the Admission of Kansas, U.S.
Senate, March 4, 1858, in Eric McKitrick (ed.), Slavery Defended: The Views
of the Old South (Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1963), 122.
(29.) For George Frederickson's views, see his essays in The Arrogance
of Race: Historical Perspectives on Slavery, Racism, and Social Inequality
(Middletown, Conn., 1988).
(30.) See FoxGenovese and Genovese, Slavery in White and Black; Douglas
Ambrose, Henry Hughes and Proslavery Thought in the Old South (Baton
Rouge, La., 1996).
(31.) George D. Armstrong, The Christian Doctrine of Slavery (1857; New
York, 1969), 134.
(32.) James Henley Thornwell, Rights and Duties of Masters (Charleston, SC,
1850), 24, 19.
(33.) FoxGenovese and Genovese, Slavery in White and Black, 203.
(34.) See Genovese, Roll, Jordan, Roll; Thavolia Glymph, Out of this House of
Bondage: The Transformation of the Plantation Household (New York: 2008);
Harold D. Woodman, New South, New Law: The Legal Foundations of Labor
and Credit Relations in the Postbellum Agricultural South (Baton Rouge, La.,
1995); James Roark, Masters without Slaves: Southern Planters in the Civil
War and Reconstruction (New York, 1978); Jonathan M. Bryant, How Curious
a Land: Conflict and Change in Greene County, Georgia, 18501885 (Chapel
Hill, NC, 1996); Julie Saville, The Work of Reconstruction: From Slave to Wage
Laborer in South Carolina, 18601870 (New York, 1994).
(35.) For discussions of the postbellum southern economy, see Gavin Wright,
Old South, New South: Revolutions in the Southern Economy since the Civil
War (Baton Rouge, La., 1996); Thavolia Glymph and John J. Kushma (eds.),
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Essays on the Postbellum Southern Economy (Arlington, Tex., 1985); Bryant,


How Curious a Land; Woodman, New South, New Law; Scott P. Marler and
Peter Coclanis, The Economics of Reconstruction, in Lacy K. Ford (ed.),
A Companion to the Civil War and Reconstruction (Malden, Mass., 2005);
Gerald David Jaynes, Branches without Roots: Genesis of the Black Working
Class in the American South, 18621882 (New York, 1986).

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