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Ministers and Masters

Methodism, Manhood, and Honor in the Old South

Charity R. Carney

Publication Year: 2011

In Ministers and Masters Charity R. Carney presents a thorough account of the way in which Methodist preachers constructed their own concept of masculinity within—and at times in defiance of—the constraints of southern honor culture of the early nineteenth century. By focusing on this unique subgroup of southern men, the book explores often-debated concepts like southern honor and patriarchy in a new way. Carney analyzes Methodist preachers both involved with and separate from mainstream southern society, and notes whether they served as itinerants—venturing into rural towns—or remained in city churches to witness to an urban population. Either way, they looked, spoke, and acted like outsiders, refusing to drink, swear, dance, duel, or even dress like other white southern men. Creating a separate space in which to minister to southern men, women, and children, oftentimes converting a dancehall floor into a pulpit, they raised the ire of non- Methodists around them. Carney shows how understanding these distinct and often defiant stances provides an invaluable window into antebellum society and also the variety of masculinity standards within that culture. In Ministers and Masters, Carney uses ministers’ stories to elucidate notions of secular sinfulness and heroic Methodist leadership, explores contradictory ideas of spiritual equality and racial hierarchy, and builds a complex narrative that shows how numerous ministers both rejected and adopted concepts of southern mastery. Torn between convention and conviction, Methodist preachers created one of the many “Souths” that existed in the nineteenth century and added another dimension to the well-documented culture of antebellum society.

Published by: Louisiana State University Press


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pp. c-vi


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pp. vii-viii


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pp. ix-xii

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pp. 1-10

Peter died, and his master converted. For itinerant James O. Andrew, these two events, although seemingly disconnected, had a very direct relationship. After the burial of “old Peter,” a devout Methodist and a loyal slave, his master, H. B. Howard of Wilmington, North Carolina, embraced his former servant’s religion. It happened slowly, almost....

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1. Methodist Manhood

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pp. 11-37

Fellow clergymen and congregants might not have deemed John B. McFerrin an ideal minister. He had a short fuse and a firm belief in discipline that led him to rebuke others with unnecessary severity. Yet the same obstinate and aggressive personality that detracted from his ministry led his friends and followers to call him the ideal man. Born in Rutherford...

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2. The Patriarchy of the Pulpit

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pp. 38-64

Bishop joshua soule fathered many sons. Although these sons called each other “brother,” none of them shared blood relations, and only a few had ever met Soule’s wife, Sarah Allen. In terms of Methodist familial relationships, Soule sired a number of spiritual sons—men who looked to him as their religious patriarch not because he raised them but because...

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3. Southern Honor and the Minister’s Family

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pp. 65-90

Methodist itinerant John Wesley Childs was not a romantic man. In his own mind, he had wooed Martha Rives for several months, and his marriage proposal to her should not have been a surprise. Rives thought otherwise. The couple had met at the house of Rev. John Early, who was an old friend of Childs’s and was also Rives’s...

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4. Children, Obedience, and Authority

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pp. 91-113

"M my child, my child, where are you?” Joseph Travis beseeched the wayward Christian. An itinerant from Virginia, Travis used the image of a lost child to represent the lost soul of the hesitant believer. But the analogy was imperfect. A parent searching for his or her lost child, Travis maintained, should not worry as much as the sinner...

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5. The Spiritual Slave

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pp. 114-135

In 1845, Henry Bascom published a lengthy apologia on Methodism and slavery. Soon to become a bishop in the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, Bascom sought to justify the sectional schism of 1844 and, specifically, to defend the southern Methodist faction. Like his extradenominational and secular counterparts, Bascom argued that slavery benefited the slave in many ways—materially,...

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pp. 136-142

James O. Andrew died at night while his wife, children, and grandchildren were sleeping. After his second stroke had left him partially paralyzed, the bishop knew that he would soon leave his family and friends behind. In the days before his death, he left parting messages for his earthly family and for his spiritual brethren in the Conference. He gave final instructions to the young...


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pp. 143-170


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pp. 171-184


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pp. 185-188

E-ISBN-13: 9780807138878
Print-ISBN-13: 9780807138861

Page Count: 200
Publication Year: 2011