The University Press of Kentucky

New Directions in Southern History

Peter S. Carmichael, Michele Gillespie, & William A. Link

Published by: The University Press of Kentucky

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New Directions in Southern History

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Becoming Bourgeois

Merchant Culture in the South, 1820-1865

Frank J. Byrne

Becoming Bourgeois is the first study to focus on what historians have come to call the “middling sort,” the group falling between the mass of yeoman farmers and the planter class that dominated the political economy of the antebellum South. Historian Frank J. Byrne investigates the experiences of urban merchants, village storekeepers, small-scale manufacturers, and their families, as well as the contributions made by this merchant class to the South’s economy, culture, and politics in the decades before, and the years of, the Civil War. These merchant families embraced the South but were not of the South. At a time when Southerners rarely traveled far from their homes, merchants annually ventured forth on buying junkets to northern cities. Whereas the majority of Southerners enjoyed only limited formal instruction, merchant families often achieved a level of education rivaled only by the upper class—planters. The southern merchant community also promoted the kind of aggressive business practices that New South proponents would claim as their own in the Reconstruction era and beyond. Along with discussion of these modern approaches to liberal capitalism, Byrne also reveals the peculiar strains of conservative thought that permeated the culture of southern merchants. While maintaining close commercial ties to the North, southern merchants embraced the religious and racial mores of the South. Though they did not rely directly upon slavery for their success, antebellum merchants functioned well within the slave-labor system. When the Civil War erupted, southern merchants simultaneously joined Confederate ranks and prepared to capitalize on the war’s business opportunities, regardless of the outcome of the conflict. Throughout Becoming Bourgeois, Byrne highlights the tension between these competing elements of southern merchant culture. By exploring the values and pursuits of this emerging class, Byrne not only offers new insight into southern history but also deepens our understanding of the mutable ties between regional identity and the marketplace in nineteenth-century America.

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Blood in the Hills

A History of Violence in Appalachia

edited by Bruce E. Stewart

To many antebellum Americans, Appalachia was a frightening wilderness of lawlessness, peril, robbers, and hidden dangers. The extensive media coverage of horse stealing and scalping raids profiled the region’s residents as intrinsically violent. After the Civil War, this characterization continued to permeate perceptions of the area and news of the conflict between the Hatfields and the McCoys, as well as the bloodshed associated with the coal labor strikes, cemented Appalachia’s violent reputation. Blood in the Hills: A History of Violence in Appalachia provides an in-depth historical analysis of hostility in the region from the late eighteenth to the early twentieth century. Editor Bruce E. Stewart discusses aspects of the Appalachian violence culture, examining skirmishes with the native population, conflicts resulting from the region’s rapid modernization, and violence as a function of social control. The contributors also address geographical isolation and ethnicity, kinship, gender, class, and race with the purpose of shedding light on an often-stereotyped regional past. Blood in the Hills does not attempt to apologize for the region but uses detailed research and analysis to explain it, delving into the social and political factors that have defined Appalachia throughout its violent history.

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Bloody Breathitt

Politics and Violence in the Appalachian South

T.R.C. Hutton

The notorious conflict between the Hatfield and the McCoy families of West Virginia and Kentucky is often remembered as America's most famous feud, but it was relatively brief and subdued compared to the violence in Breathitt County, Kentucky. From the Reconstruction period until the early twentieth century, Breathitt's 500 square miles of rugged upcountry land was known as "the darkest and bloodiest of all the dark and bloody feud counties" due to its considerable number of homicides, which were not always related to the factional conflicts that swept the region.

In Bloody Breathitt, T. R. C. Hutton casts a critical eye on this territory for the first time. He carefully investigates instances of individual and mass violence in the county from the Civil War through the Progressive era, exploring links between specific incidents and broader national and regional events. Although the killings were typically portrayed as depoliticized occurrences, Hutton explains how their causes and implications often reflected distinctly political intentions. By framing the incidents as "feuds," those in positions of authority disguised politically motivated murders by placing them in a fictive past, preventing outsiders from understanding the complex reality.

This meticulously researched volume offers the first comprehensive narrative of the violence in this infamous Kentucky county, examining Breathitt's brutal history and its significance to the state, the South, and the nation. While the United States has enjoyed unparalleled longevity as a republic, Hutton's timely study reminds readers that the nation's political stability has had a tremendous cost in terms of bloodshed.

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Bluecoats and Tar Heels

Soldiers and Civilians in Reconstruction North Carolina

Mark L Bradley

Though the Civil War ended in April 1865, the conflict between Unionists and Confederates continued. The bitterness and rancor resulting from the collapse of the Confederacy spurred an ongoing cycle of hostility and bloodshed that made the Reconstruction period a violent era of transition. The violence was so pervasive that the federal government deployed units of the U.S. Army in North Carolina and other southern states to maintain law and order and protect blacks and Unionists. Bluecoats and Tar Heels: Soldiers and Civilians in Reconstruction North Carolina tells the story of the army’s twelve-year occupation of North Carolina, a time of political instability and social unrest. Author Mark Bradley details the complex interaction between the federal soldiers and the North Carolina civilians during this tumultuous period. The federal troops attempted an impossible juggling act: protecting the social and political rights of the newly freed black North Carolinians while conciliating their former enemies, the ex-Confederates. The officers sought to minimize violence and unrest during the lengthy transition from war to peace, but they ultimately proved far more successful in promoting sectional reconciliation than in protecting the freedpeople. Bradley’s exhaustive study examines the military efforts to stabilize the region in the face of opposition from both ordinary citizens and dangerous outlaws such as the Regulators and the Ku Klux Klan. By 1872, the widespread, organized violence that had plagued North Carolina since the close of the war had ceased, enabling the bluecoats and the ex-Confederates to participate in public rituals and social events that served as symbols of sectional reconciliation. This rapprochement has been largely forgotten, lost amidst the postbellum barrage of Lost Cause rhetoric, causing many historians to believe that the process of national reunion did not begin until after Reconstruction. Rectifying this misconception, Bluecoats and Tar Heels illuminates the U.S. Army’s significant role in an understudied aspect of Civil War reconciliation.

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The Civil War Guerrilla

Unfolding the Black Flag in History, Memory, and Myth

edited by Joseph M. Beilein Jr. and Matthew C. Hulbert

Most Americans are familiar with major Civil War battles such as Manassas (Bull Run), Shiloh, and Gettysburg, which have been extensively analyzed by generations of historians. However, not all of the war's engagements were fought in a conventional manner by regular forces. Often referred to as "the wars within the war," guerrilla combat touched states from Virginia to New Mexico. Guerrillas fought for the Union, the Confederacy, their ethnic groups, their tribes, and their families. They were deadly forces that plundered, tortured, and terrorized those in their path, and their impact is not yet fully understood.

In this richly diverse volume, Joseph M. Beilein Jr. and Matthew C. Hulbert assemble a team of both rising and eminent scholars to examine guerrilla warfare in the South during the Civil War. Together, they discuss irregular combat as practiced by various communities in multiple contexts, including how it was used by Native Americans, the factors that motivated raiders in the border states, and the women who participated as messengers, informants, collaborators, and combatants. They also explore how the Civil War guerrilla has been mythologized in history, literature, and folklore.

The Civil War Guerrilla sheds new light on the ways in which thousands of men, women, and children experienced and remembered the Civil War as a conflict of irregular wills and tactics. Through thorough research and analysis, this timely book provides readers with a comprehensive examination of the guerrilla soldier and his role in the deadliest war in U.S. history.

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Cowboy Conservatism

Texas and the Rise of the Modern Right

Sean P. Cunningham

During the 1960s and 1970s, Texas was rocked by a series of political transitions. Despite its century-long heritage of solidly Democratic politics, the state became a Republican stronghold virtually overnight, and by 1980 it was known as “Reagan Country.” Ultimately, Republicans dominated the Texas political landscape, holding all twenty-seven of its elected offices and carrying former governor George W. Bush to his second term as president with more than 61 percent of the Texas vote. Sean P. Cunningham examines the remarkable history of Republican Texas in Cowboy Conservatism: Texas and the Rise of the Modern Right. Utilizing extensive research drawn from the archives of four presidential libraries, gubernatorial papers, local campaign offices, and oral histories, Cunningham presents a compelling narrative of the most notable regional genesis of modern conservatism. Spanning the decades from Kennedy’s assassination to Reagan’s presidency, Cunningham reveals a vivid portrait of modern conservatism in one of the nation’s largest and most politically powerful states. The newest title in the New Directions in Southern History series, Cunningham’s Cowboy Conservatism demonstrates Texas’s distinctive and vital contributions to the transformation of postwar American politics.

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Cultivating Race

The Expansion of Slavery in Georgia, 1750-1860

Watson W. Jennison

From the eighteenth century to the eve of the Civil War, Georgia’s racial order shifted from the somewhat fluid conception of race prevalent in the colonial era to the harsher understanding of racial difference prevalent in the antebellum era. In Cultivating Race: The Expansion of Slavery in Georgia, 1750–1860, Watson W. Jennison explores the centrality of race in the development of Georgia, arguing that long-term structural and demographic changes account for this transformation. Jennison traces the rise of rice cultivation and the plantation complex in low country Georgia in the mid-eighteenth century and charts the spread of slavery into the up country in the decades that followed. Cultivating Race examines the “cultivation” of race on two levels: race as a concept and reality that was created, and race as a distinct social order that emerged because of the specifics of crop cultivation. Using a variety of primary documents including newspapers, diaries, correspondence, and plantation records, Jennison offers an in-depth examination of the evolution of racism and racial ideology in the lower South.

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De Bow's Review

The Antebellum Vision of a New South

John F. Kvach

In the decades preceding the Civil War, the South struggled against widespread negative characterizations of its economy and society as it worked to match the North's infrastructure and level of development. Recognizing the need for regional reform, James Dunwoody Brownson (J. D. B.) De Bow began to publish a monthly journal -- De Bow's Review -- to guide Southerners toward a stronger, more diversified future. His periodical soon became a primary reference for planters and entrepreneurs in the Old South, promoting urban development and industrialization and advocating investment in schools, libraries, and other cultural resources. Later, however, De Bow began to use his journal to manipulate his readers' political views. Through inflammatory articles, he defended proslavery ideology, encouraged Southern nationalism, and promoted anti-Union sentiment, eventually becoming one of the South's most notorious fire-eaters.

In De Bow's Review: The Antebellum Vision of a New South, author John Kvach explores how the editor's antebellum economic and social policies influenced Southern readers and created the framework for a postwar New South movement. By recreating subscription lists and examining the lives and livelihoods of 1,500 Review readers, Kvach demonstrates how De Bow's Review influenced a generation and a half of Southerners. This approach allows modern readers to understand the historical context of De Bow's editorial legacy. Ultimately, De Bow and his antebellum subscribers altered the future of their region by creating the vision of a New South long before the Civil War.

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Entangled by White Supremacy

Reform in World War I-era South Carolina

Janet G. Hudson

Despite its significance in world and American history, the World War I era is seldom identified as a turning point in southern history, as it failed to trigger substantial economic, political, or social change in the South. Yet in 1917, black and white reformers in South Carolina saw their world on the brink of momentous change. In a state politically controlled by a white minority, the war era incited oppositional movements. As South Carolina’s economy benefited from the war, white reformers sought to use their newfound prosperity to better the state’s education system and economy and to provide white citizens with a better standard of living. Black reformers, however, channeled the feelings of hope instilled by a war that would “make the world safe for democracy” into efforts that challenged the structures of the status quo. In Entangled by White Supremacy: Reform in World War I–era South Carolina, historian Janet G. Hudson examines the complex racial and social dynamics at play during this pivotal period of U.S. history. With critical study of the early war mobilization efforts, public policy debates, and the state’s political culture, Hudson illustrates how the politics of white supremacy hindered the reform efforts of both white and black activists. The World War I period was a complicated time in South Carolina—an era of prosperity and hope as well as fear and anxiety. As African Americans sought to change the social order, white reformers confronted the realization that their newfound economic opportunities could also erode their control. Hudson details how white supremacy formed an impenetrable barrier to progress in the region. Entangled by White Supremacy explains why white southerners failed to construct a progressive society by revealing the incompatibility of white reformers’ twin goals of maintaining white supremacy and achieving progressive reform. In addition, Hudson offers insight into the social history of South Carolina and the development of the state’s crucial role in the civil rights era to come.

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Family or Freedom

People of Color in the Antebellum South

Emily West

In the antebellum South, the presence of free people of color was problematic to the white population. Not only were they possible assistants to enslaved people and potential members of the labor force; their very existence undermined popular justifications for slavery. It is no surprise that, by the end of the Civil War, nine Southern states had enacted legal provisions for the "voluntary" enslavement of free blacks. What is surprising to modern sensibilities and perplexing to scholars is that some individuals did petition to rescind their freedom.

Family or Freedom investigates the incentives for free African Americans living in the antebellum South to sacrifice their liberty for a life in bondage. Author Emily West looks at the many factors influencing these dire decisions -- from desperate poverty to the threat of expulsion -- and demonstrates that the desire for family unity was the most important consideration for African Americans who submitted to voluntary enslavement. The first study of its kind to examine the phenomenon throughout the South, this meticulously researched volume offers the most thorough exploration of this complex issue to date.

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