Freedom of Thought in the Old South

By Clement Eaton | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XI
THE DECLINE OF SKEPTICISM

SKEPTICISM, by which is meant an attitude of doubt toward revealed religion, is an achievement of the intellectual aristocracy. The masses may temporarily be irreligious, as in the South following the Revolution, but they could not properly be called skeptical. Eventually they gravitate to a religion that satisfies their emotions. The skepticism of the Southern aristocracy in the post-Revolutionary period was a transitory stage, rootless, an echo of the age of reason in Europe. Consequently, the erasure of deism and skepticism from the South could be accomplished in a single generation. By 1830 it was practically complete. The epitaph of an era of religious liberals and skeptics was recorded by Benjamin F. Perry, editor of the GreenvilleMountaineer, who wrote in his diary in 1832 that the man who boasted of his infidelity was either a fool or a scoundrel. "No one," he wrote, "should repose confidence in the honor or integrity of him who boldly proclaims his irreligious notions. It is true we cannot control our opinions, but we may always suppress them when they are prejudicial to our country or society."1 This sweeping indictment of skepticism represented the voice of the common man in the villages of the South.

Thomas R. Dew, President of William and Mary College, expressed the aristocratic view of skepticism in an article for the Southern Literary Messenger. "Avowed infidelity," he reported, "is now considered by the enlightened portion of the world as a reflection both on the head and heart. The Humes and Voltaires have been vanquished from the field, and the Bacons, Lockes, and Newtons have given in their adhesion. . . . The argument is now closed forever, and he who now obtrudes on the social circle his infidel notions, manifests the arrogance

____________________
1
Benjamin F. Perry Diary ( 1832), p. 36.

-280-

Notes for this page

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 ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

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

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Freedom of Thought in the Old South
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

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?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 343

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, 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." (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

    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.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    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.