American Mobbing, 1828-1861: Toward Civil War

By David Grimsted | Go to book overview

PART II
The South

Asserting Mastery, Terrorizing Doubt

Memory believes before knowing remembers. Believes longer than recollects, longer than knowing even wonders.

-- William Faulkner, Light in August

The [slaveholder's] creed . . . is reiterated all the oftener and more loudly from a lurking doubt of its perfect truth. The slave owner defends his position ostensibly against the Abolitionist, but in reality against his inner self.

-- James Stirling, Letters from the Slave States

When truth and justice are more than hollow words, the idea of honor is such as to exclude all fear, except of wrong-doing. Where the honor is to be derived from present human opinion, there must be fear, ever present, and perpetually exciting to or withholding from action. . . . I doubt whether they can even conceive of a state of society, of its ease and comfort, where no man fears his neighbor, and it is no evil to be responsible for one's opinions.

-- Harriet Martineau, Society in America

And plunged them down
Straight into his own eyeballs, crying, "No more,
No more shall you look on the misery about me,
The horrors of my own doing. . . .
From this hour, go in darkness!" And as he spoke,
He struck at his eyes--not once, but many times;
And the blood spattered his beard,
Bursting from his ruined sockets like red hail.

-- Sophocles, Oedipus Rex

-83-

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