Slavery, Secession, and Southern History

By Herman, Dan | South Carolina Historical Magazine, April 2002 | Go to article overview

Slavery, Secession, and Southern History


Herman, Dan, South Carolina Historical Magazine


Slavery, Secession, and Southern History. Edited by Robert Louis Paquette and Louis A. Ferleger. (Charlottesville and London: University of Virginia Press, 2000. Pp. 256. $49.95, cloth, $18.50, paper.)

If Robert Paquette and Louis Ferleger had their druthers, Slavery, Secession, and Southern History might well have been titled Roll [on], Genovese, Roll [on]. The ideas of Genovese, Marxist historian turned Catholic conservative, inspire several of the essays in this collection. Among the many plaudits to "Gene," indeed, lies some interesting and varied history, not all of which is Genovesean.

The first section of the book-"Slavery"-begins with an erudite essay (as always) by David Brion Davis, who discusses both masters' attempts to define slaves as bestial and slaves' attempts to define themselves as human. After tracking antislavery sentiment across several centuries, Davis concludes that all the moral currents of European history combined could not have freed American slaves had those slaves not perpetually contradicted the myth of their bestiality.

Nor, contends Robert Paquette, would slaves have resisted their masters so well without the help of slave drivers. Paquette shows that the driver-the black man chosen to supervise other slaves-often became the leader of resistance throughout the Americas. Whereas nineteenth and twentieth-century novelists and historians (whether Caribbean, South American, or North American) have portrayed drivers as sadists, slaves often held drivers in high esteem and looked to them for leadership in times of crisis.

Paquette's thesis is fascinating and well documented but leaves one wondering whether there was a measure of truth in the stereotype. How many drivers, after all, sided in times of crisis not with slaves but with masters? If the answer is "seldom," why have writers and historians so consistently condemned drivers? Should we trace the stereotype to empirical error, or to the contempt that intellectuals (whether abolitionists, apologists, or academics) have felt toward men in the anomolous position of being both leader of slaves and flunky of masters?

Rounding out the "Slavery" section is an essay by Peter Coclanis that employs the economic theory of "information asymmetry" to resolve the question of how the task system of South Carolina and Georgia rice plantations came into existence. In part, the task system-as Ira Berlin and Judith Carney argue-allowed masters to take advantage of their slaves' knowledge of risiculture. The task system also allowed masters-as Ulrich Phillips argued-to live in Charleston and Savannah during the unhealthy season. Coclanis concludes that each of these historians is correct; planters maintained the task system over generations not only because it allowed them to be absentee landlords but also because it motivated slaves, utilized their skills, and maximized profits. One might wonder whether we need economic theory to arrive at this "everybody is partly right" theory; but one might wonder, too, whether Coclanis could have formed his interesting synthesis without the stimulus of theory.

The second section of the book-"Secession"-includes essays by Clyde Wilson, Douglas Ambrose, Drew Gilpin Faust, and Thavolia Glymph. To sum up four profoundly different essays, Wilson concludes that John Calhoun was one of the most disinterested and republican economic thinkers of his day (rather like the disinterested gentry whom the Real Whigs of England had celebrated).

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

Slavery, Secession, and Southern History
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.