In this carefully crafted work, Jeffrey Young illuminates southern
slaveholders' strange and tragic path toward a defiantly sectional
mentality. Drawing on a wealth of archival evidence and integrating
political, religious, economic, and literary sources, he chronicles
the growth of a slaveowning culture that cast the southern planter
in the role of benevolent Christian steward--even as slaveholders
were brutally exploiting their slaves for maximum fiscal gain.
offers a surprising answer to the
long-standing question about slaveholders' relationship with the
proliferating capitalistic markets of early-nineteenth-century
America. Whereas previous scholars have depicted southern planters
either as efficient businessmen who embraced market economics or as
paternalists whose ideals placed them at odds with the
industrializing capitalist society in the North, Young instead
demonstrates how capitalism and paternalism acted together in
unexpected ways to shape slaveholders' identity as a ruling elite.
Beginning with slaveowners' responses to British imperialism in the
colonial period and ending with the sectional crises of the 1830s,
he traces the rise of a self-consciously southern master class in
the Deep South and the attendant growth of political tensions that
would eventually shatter the union.