Academic journal article The Arkansas Historical Quarterly

Missouri's Confederate: Claiborne Fox Jackson and the Creation of Southern Identity in the Border West

Academic journal article The Arkansas Historical Quarterly

Missouri's Confederate: Claiborne Fox Jackson and the Creation of Southern Identity in the Border West

Article excerpt

Missouri's Confederate: Claiborne Fox Jackson and the Creation of Southern Identity in the Border West. By Christopher Phillips. (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2000. Pp. xv, 342. Preface, abbreviations, epilogue, bibliography, acknowledgments, index. $29.95.)

What determines regional identity? Is it climate, geography, or culture? Christopher Phillips argues in Missouri's Confederate: Claiborne Fox Jackson and the Creation of Southern Identity in the Border West that it is none of these things. Phillips maintains that regional identity is at its heart political, especially in the American South, where a distinctly southern identity developed in response to northern attacks upon the institution of slavery. His vehicle for developing this thesis is a biography of the Confederate governor of Missouri, Claiborne Fox Jackson.

Missouri's Confederate follows Jackson's family from the backwoods of Virginia to the Bluegrass of Kentucky before "Claib" Jackson came in the 1820s to the Boon's Lick area, astride the Missouri River in north central Missouri. Boon's Lick was suited to the cultivation of tobacco, hemp, and cotton. Due to the climate, however, tobacco never dominated Missouri's economy the way it did other states.' Because the area did not have a "southern" climate, the residents of Boon's Lick were forced to diversify their agriculture. Slavery's presence was felt in Boon's Lick, but never in the form of the large plantations that dominated the deep South. Still, despite its small scale, Missourians embraced slavery.

Phillips explains that in the American West, " a celebration of democratic ideals set loose a peculiarly American psychosis of liberty-particularly within the mentalite of westerners" (p. 45). Control was a significant aspect of the emerging western persona, and in this instance, Phillips speaks of the domination of other men. …

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