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Bathed in Blood

Hunting and Mastery in the Old South

Nicolas W. Proctor

Publication Year: 2002

Nicolas Proctor argues in Bathed in Blood that because slaves frequently accompanied white hunters into the field, whites often believed that hunting was a particularly effective venue for the demonstration of white supremacy. Slaves interpreted such interactions quite differently: they remained focused on the products of the hunt and considered the labor performed at the behest of their owners as an opportunity to improve their own condition. Whether acquired as a reward from a white hunter or as a result of their own independent—often illicit—efforts, game provided them with an important supplementary food source, an item for trade, and a measure of autonomy. By sharing their valuable resources with other slaves, slave hunters also strengthened the bonds within their own community. In a society predicated upon the constant degradation of African Americans, such simple acts of generosity became symbolic of resistance and had a cohesive effect on slave families.

Published by: University of Virginia Press

Title Page

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Copyright Page

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Contents

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pp. vii-

List of Illustrations

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pp. viii-

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-xi

First I would like to thank the earnest white-haired gentleman on the upstairs porch of Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi, who misheard me. He and I spent the better part of an afternoon discussing various kinds of hives and flowers...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-4

The hunt, like the church, courthouse, and family, played an integral role in the society and culture of the Old South. Regardless of color or class, southern men hunted; they shot, trapped, and ran their dogs after a great variety of animals...

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Chapter 1: Game, Landscape, and the Law

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pp. 5-36

One of the central motifs of hunting in the South is the hunter’s quest for plentiful game. Some of the earliest European settlers along the southeastern coast of North America worried that the supply of desirable game in the area was already diminishing...

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Chapter 2: Hunters at Home and in the Field

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pp. 37-60

In the early eighteenth century, most of those who hunted did so out of necessity. Shooting and trapping game for provisions and exchange helped men fulfill their role as providers, but as settlement expanded, technology improved, and the number...

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Chapter 3: Hunting and the Masculine Ideal

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pp. 61-75

Set apart from the everyday world but still intimately associated with it, the hunt created a stage for the performance of an evocative drama of white manhood. Thus it provided fertile ground for antebellum authors to create a varied but coherent...

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Chapter 4: Finding Peers: The Criteria of Exclusion

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pp. 76-98

Hunters, looking for comradeship and validation of their masculinity, often hunted in groups. Hunting companions provided an appreciative audience for a hunter’s demonstration of prowess, self-control, and mastery. Hunters, therefore...

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Chapter 5: The Community of the Hunt

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pp. 99-118

When white hunters chose their companions from the pool of possible associates, they created and refined their personal image of masculinity.When hunters banded together into a fraternity, they combined these individual notions...

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Chapter 6: Slavery, Paternalism, and the Hunt

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pp. 119-143

Slaves and slaveholders hunted together throughout the antebellum South. Unlike the adventures of Huck and Jim, these hunts rarely created an atmosphere of egalitarian camaraderie, nor did the usual absence of women create the opportunity...

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Chapter 7: Slave Perceptions of the Hunt

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pp. 144-168

When whites portrayed huntsmen in their hunting narratives, they sought to strengthen the association between themselves and a masculine ideal grounded in white supremacy and black dependence. Slaves saw things quite differently...

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Epilogue

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pp. 169-173

Once the Civil War began, southern hunters carried on as best they could.Whether as soldiers or noncombatants, they continued taking the field throughout the war. The promise of fresh meat, marketable hides, and momentary distraction...

Notes

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pp. 175-196

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 197-215

Index

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pp. 217-220


E-ISBN-13: 9780813921747
E-ISBN-10: 0813921740
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813920870
Print-ISBN-10: 0813920876

Page Count: 220
Illustrations: 8 b&w illus.
Publication Year: 2002

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Subject Headings

  • Hunting -- Social aspects -- Southern States -- History.
  • Hunting -- Psychological aspects -- Southern States -- History.
  • Hunting -- Philosophy -- Southern States -- History.
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