The Mind of the Master Class: History and Faith in the Southern Slaveholders' Worldview

By Miller, Randall M. | The Catholic Historical Review, October 2007 | Go to article overview

The Mind of the Master Class: History and Faith in the Southern Slaveholders' Worldview


Miller, Randall M., The Catholic Historical Review


The Mind of the Master Class: History and Faith in the Southern Slaveholders' Worldview. By Elizabeth Fox-Genovese and Eugene D. Genovese. (New York: Cambridge University Press. 2005. Pp. xiii, 828. $70.00 clothbound; $29.00 paperback.)

One of the most persistent myths about the Old South is that it had no "mind"-that white southerners, as a "conscious minority" besieged by criticism over slavery and living amid their "troublesome property," acted out of passion, fear, anger, and even fury rather than studied philosophies. The myth gained currency because few people outside the South, then and now, took seriously the southerners' proslavery apologies as having any intellectual rigor or moral worth. Whatever "mind" the master class did have supposedly was incapable of thinking beyond defending slavery and one's "honor." In such a world, intellectual pursuits were suspect at best, dangerous at most. Forty years ago Clement Eaton presented the arguments of various southern planters, clergy, writers, and other intellectuals to suggest the Old South had a mind, limited though it was, and more recently scholars such as Drew Gilpin Faust, Jon Wakelyn, and Robert Brugger, among others, in a series of biographical studies and Michael O'Brien in two thick volumes on southern thought discovered an intellectual ferment in the Old South that challenged the myth of the Old South as an intellectual desert. Now, with the publication of their muchawaited magnum opus, Eugene Genovese and the late Elizabeth FoxGenovese have settled the matter. In The Mind of the Master Class, they bring together a lifetime of inquiry to discover the ways in which elite white southerners "reflected on the world they lived in and on the bearing of history and Christian faith on their lives as masters in a slaveholding society" (p. 1). In doing so, they reveal a vibrant and sophisticated southern intellectual life, albeit one that fixated on demonstrating and affirming that the South's slave society, rooted in a corporate patriarchal structure and rural independence, promised the most stable Christian social order known to humankind.

The Genoveses have read all manner of public and private musings of hundreds of southern planters, clergy, novelists, and others engaged in a century of investigation and debate on the nature of social order and obligation, faith, and political economy in and for a slave society. By the Genoveses' reckoning, these earnest southern intellectuals were well versed in Scripture, theology, moral philosophy, classical and medieval history, Enlightenment ideas, the transatlantic revolutionary movements of 1789-1848, cultures across the world, and much more.They read deeply and widely partly out of intellectual curiosity but mostly out of fear. Their intellectual stance was in the end defensive, for they recognized their ways were out of tune with the march of political democracy, theological liberalism, and market capitalism that threatened their world.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Mind of the Master Class: History and Faith in the Southern Slaveholders' Worldview
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.