An Antebellum Social Profile in Black and White "Our Kind of People"
THE REFORMED COMMUNITY in the Carolina low country reflected certain social attributes that marked it as a community and gave it an identifiable character during the years between the Revolution and the Civil War. While it shared with other subgroups of the region many similarities and complex relationships, and while its boundaries as a community were often ambiguous and blurred, it nevertheless constituted a distinct community and its membership portrayed in broad strokes a dominance of certain social characteristics. Members of the community could increasingly speak of "our kind of people" and know that such language was not an illusion but was rooted in social and psychological realitics.1
The social character of the community was both reflected in and shaped by the institutional structures and organizations described in the two preceding chapters. In a similar manner, the community's intellectual life, to be explored in a following chapter, was both a reflection of the community's social character and a force in shaping that character. The community's social character, in other words, was intimately related, in a dynamic and reciprocal fashion, to its institutional life and its intellectual traditions.
In this chapter we focus on the social character of the community itself during this period. What kind of people were "our kind"? What kind of people were nurtured by or attracted to the Reformed community with its colonial history and its particular social organization and intellectual traditions? What was the social location of "our kind of people" in the broader society and what distinctive social characteristics were connected to their various congregations and to the Reformed community as a whole? This chapter seeks to answer these questions first by establishing a social profile of the members and congregations and then by developing a composite picture of the community in black and white.