Cracker Culture: Celtic Ways in the Old South

By Grady McWhiney | Go to book overview

I
Settlement

HISTORIANS, in their much-argued efforts to determine the extent to which the antebellum North and South were similar or different,1 have paid too little attention to the abundant observations of contemporaries. Most of the people who traveled in antebellum America--Northerners, Southerners, and Europeans--concluded. that the South and the North were significantly different places with incongruous inhabitants and cultures. "Thus far all is new, all is strange," a young New Yorker wrote during a visit to the southern United States in 1843-44. His first impression--that in the South he was among foreigners--never altered. "Life here is so different from that at the north," he declared. "I felt . . . that I was indeed a stranger in a strange land." A Southerner, in turn, spoke of the northern United States as a "strange land" that he could never understand; another Southerner called the North "a totally foreign country," and a third wrote from Boston in 1854: "I long to return to the South. Kind as many persons have been to me here, I am not at home. I feel as an alien." An Englishman noted: "one could scarcely fail to remark how essentially the characters of the Northern and Southern people differ." Southerners, said a Scot, "are quite a distinct race from the 'Yankees.'" "The manners and habits of Northerners," insisted another foreigner, "are strikingly distinct

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1
On this continuing dispute, see such recent works as James M. McPherson , "Antebellum Southern Exceptionalism: A New Look at An Old Question," Civil War History 29 ( 1983), 230-44; Forrest McDonald and Grady McWhiney , "The South from Self-Sufficiency to Peonage: An Interpretation," American Historical Review 85 ( 1980), 1095-1118; Edward Pessen, "How Different from Each Other Were the Antebellum North and South?" ibid. 1119- 49; Thomas B. Alexander, Stanley L. Engerman , Forrest McDonald, Grady McWhiney , and Edward Pessen, "Antebellum North and South in Comparative Perspective: A Discussion," ibid. 1150- 66; Forrest McDonald, Grady McWhincy , and Edward Pessen, "Communications," ibid. 86 ( 1981), 243-45.

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Cracker Culture: Celtic Ways in the Old South
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents ix
  • Illustrations xi
  • Preface xiii
  • Prologue xxi
  • I - Settlement 1
  • II - Heritage 23
  • III - Herding 51
  • IV - Hospitality 80
  • V - Pleasures 105
  • VI - Violence 146
  • VII - Moral 171
  • VIII - Education 193
  • IX - Progress 218
  • X - Worth 245
  • XI - Collision 268
  • Appendix - Sources on the Origins of Surnames 273
  • Index 278
  • About the Author 291
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