Honor and Slavery: Lies, Duels, Noses, Masks, Dressing as a Woman, Gifts, Strangers, Humanitarianism, Death, Slave Rebellions, the Proslavery Argument, Baseball, Hunting and Gambling in the Old South by Kenneth S. Greenberg (Paperback, 1997)
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- DescriptionThe horable men who ruled the Old South had a language all their own, one comprised of many apparently outlandish features yet revealing much about the lives of masters and the nature of slavery. When we examine Jefferson Davis's explanation as to why he was wearing women's clothing when caught by Union soldiers, or when we consider the story of Virginian statesman John Randolph, who stood on his doorstep declaring to an unwanted dinner guest that he was t at home, we see that conveying empirical truths was t the goal of their speech. Kenneth Greenberg so skillfully demonstrates, the language of hor embraced a complex system of phrases, gestures, and behaviors that centered on deep-rooted values: asserting authority and maintaining respect. How these values were encoded in such acts as se-pulling, outright lying, dueling, and gift-giving is a matter that Greenberg takes up in a fascinating and original way. The author looks at a range of situations when the words and gestures of hor came into play, and he re-creates the contexts and associations that once made them comprehensible. We understand, for example, the insult a navy lieutenant leveled at President Andrew Jackson when he pulls his se, once we understand how a gentleman valued his face, especially his se, as the symbol of his public image. Greenberg probes the lieutenant's motivations by explaining what it meant to perceive oneself as dishored and how such a perception seemed comparable to being treated as a slave. When John Randolph lavished gifts on his friends and enemies as he calmly faced the prospect of death in a duel with Secretary of State Henry Clay, his generosity had a paternalistic meaning echoed by the master-slave relationship and reflected in the pro-slavery argument. These acts, together with the way a gentleman chose to lend money, drink with strangers, go hunting, and die, all formed a language of control, a vision of what it meant to live as a courageous free man. In reconstructing the language of hor in the Old South, Greenberg reconstructs the world.
- Author(s)Kenneth S. Greenberg
- PublisherPrinceton University Press
- Date of Publication13/10/1997
- SubjectRegional History
- Place of PublicationNew Jersey
- Country of PublicationUnited States
- ImprintPrinceton University Press
- Content Note12 halftones
- Weight28 g
- Width152 mm
- Height229 mm
- Spine15 mm
- Format DetailsTrade paperback (US)
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