Merchant Culture in the South, 1820-1865
Publication Year: 2006
Published by: The University Press of Kentucky
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This project started as a seminar paper at the University of Georgia, developed into a dissertation at Ohio State University, and is now a book. Over that time I had the good fortune to meet numerous individuals who encouraged my love of history while at the same time challenging many of my assumptions about the past. Numan V. Bartley, Emory M. Thomas...
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In the summer of 1862 Jorantha Semmes wrote a letter expressing her war weariness to her husband Benedict Semmes, a Confederate officer. Responsible for the care of their five children in Federally occupied Memphis, Tennessee, Semmes told her husband, “I am tired of this separation.” His absence had left her bereft of “all gaiety of heart.” Caring...
1. Merchant Culture and the Political Economy of the Old South
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This chapter explores how commerce distinguished southern merchant families and their culture in the antebellum South. In part, this comparative history examines the various social classes that composed southern society. The measure of merchant families’ experience can be taken only in relation to that of their economic and political neighbors, particularly...
2. The Antebellum Merchant in Southern Society
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The business activities that ordered the internal lives of merchant families also helped fashion their public identity. Buying, selling, and investing made merchant families conspicuous in the antebellum South. Every day merchants had to perform before an audience. Whether selling goods to a reluctant customer, mollifying a nervous creditor, or simply attending...
3. The Merchant Family in the Antebellum South
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The family was the center of southern merchant culture. The ties between husband and wife, parent and child, brother and sister provided the ultimate foundation for merchant values. While the political economy of the antebellum South circumscribed merchant culture, family defined it. Household relations affirmed the bourgeois and conservative ideals that...
4. Secession, Merchant-Soldiers, and the Civil War, 1860–1863
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The election of 1860, secession, and the rise and fall of the Confederate States of America wreaked havoc upon the lives of thousands of southern merchants and their families. War changed business patterns, threatened the safety of homes, and called men away from their families to take up arms for their new nation. This turmoil left its mark on merchant culture...
5. Merchants and Their Families in the Confederacy, 1861–1863
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The effect of the Civil War on the southern commercial population transcended the number of merchants who served and died while fighting for the Confederacy. The war also radically altered the lives of families, friends, and business associates who lived on the home front. Confederate citizens endured material deprivation, loss of independence to a swelling...
6. The Merchant Family and the Fall of the Confederacy, 1864–1865
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The perils confronting white Southerners mounted as Confederate armies suffered reverses on the battlefield. By late 1863 what little had remained of normal existence on the southern home front had come to an end as casualties, material deprivation, and invading Federal armies challenged the faith of even the most stalwart Confederate partisan. During the travails...
Conclusion: Merchant Culture in the Slave South and Beyond
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Becoming Bourgeois: Merchant Culture in the South, 1820–1865 has investigated two related questions in the history of the antebellum and Confederate South. First, what identities and roles did merchants embrace in that society? Second, what do the activities and popular images of the merchant class reveal about the nature of southern society as a whole? Answering...
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Page Count: 308
Publication Year: 2006
Series Title: New Directions in Southern History