De Bow's Review: The Antebellum Vision of a New South

De Bow's Review: The Antebellum Vision of a New South

De Bow's Review: The Antebellum Vision of a New South

De Bow's Review: The Antebellum Vision of a New South

Excerpt

James Dunwoody Brownson (J. D. B.) De Bow lived a paradoxical life. Born into a middle-class merchant family along the Atlantic coast of South Carolina in 1820, he used his monthly journal, commonly known as De Bow’s Review, to become the chief spokesman for wealthy planters and entrepreneurs in the Old Southwest. Despite living in an agricultural region dominated by plantations and farms, he used his editorial influence to promote urban development and industrialization as key elements for southern economic growth. Although his peers often wrote in sweeping rhetorical flourishes, De Bow relied on statistical analysis and factual writing to inform his readers. His reputation as a passionate southern fire-eater belied his positive feelings about the Union, which lasted until the early 1850s. He supported secession and the creation of a southern nation but rejected both after the Confederacy’s defeat in May 1865. These personal paradoxes have muddled his place in southern history. Ottis C. Skipper, De Bow’s only biographer, referred to him as the “magazinist of the Old South,” while Paul Gaston believed that he served as the first postwar apostle of the New South Creed. Although both descriptions of him are partially accurate, neither places him properly in the broader context of the nineteenth-century American South. De Bow became the first southerner to recognize and promote a comprehensive regional economic and social vision that blended the South’s past with a more diverse future. He foresaw how slavery and plantations could coexist with railroads, factories, and cities. He wanted readers to understand that industrialists, merchants, and planters had similar goals and that they all needed to work together to improve the South’s future. His journal succeeded because he introduced new innovations without ever threatening established . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.