Plain Folk and Gentry in a Slave Society - Cover
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Plain Folk and Gentry in a Slave Society

White Liberty and Black Slavery in Augusta's Hinterlands

278 pages / 5.50 x 8.50 inches / 18 halftones, 3 maps, 29 tables

Southern History

  Paperback / 9780807122655 / April 1998

“A well-polished diamond in the craft and art of writing local history.”—Joel Williamson, author of The Crucible of Race

In this exciting study, J. William Harris explores two great ironies of American history—the South’s commitment to a liberty supported by slavery and its attempt to maintain the status quo with a war that undermined southern society. He examines why white southerners—most of whom did not own slaves—united in a long, bloody war to preserve the institution, arguing that slaveowners relied on an ideology of liberty, a potential for social mobility, and a web of personal relationships between classes to contain white class divisions and ensure control over the black population. The strains of war, Harris shows, dissolved these bonds of community and made Confederate victory impossible, forever changing southern society.

J. William Harris is associate professor of history at the University of New Hampshire and editor of Society and Culture in the Slave South.

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