The Culture of Honor: How Slaveholders Responded to the Abolitionist Mail Crisis of 1835

In the summer of 1835 northern abolitionists mailed over 100,000 anti-slavery newspapers to slaveholders in the South, which led slaveholders to violently prevent the abolitionist sentiment from circulating in their local communities. In analyzing the discourse produced by the crisis, I argue that the slaveholders' expert use of the norms of community obligation, which were supported by the rhetoric of honor, allowed them both to reassert control over the national abolition debate and to retain their local status and privilege.