Becoming Southern

Becoming Southern : The Evolution of a Way of Life, Warren County and Vicksburg, Mississippi, 1770-1860

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Mississippi represented the Old South and all that it stood for perhaps more than any other state. Christopher Morris takes a close look at one of those "typically" southern communities, Jefferson Davis's Warren County, the northern-most of the five old river counties located in the state's southwestern corner. By exploring Warren County's history Morris traces the evolution of Old South society from its pioneer origins to its end at the onset of the Civil War. This is a study of a society's development, a snapshot of the people and their community in crisis and demonstrates the significance of change over time in the antebellum more

Product details

  • Hardback | 278 pages
  • 163.8 x 242.8 x 24.9mm | 602.15g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • halftones, line figures, tables
  • 0195083660
  • 9780195083668

Back cover copy

Mississippi, perhaps more than any other state, epitomized the Old South and all it stood for. Yet, at one time, this area had more in common with newly settled northwest territories than it did with older southeastern plantation districts. This book takes a close look at a "typical" Southern community, and traces its long process of economic, social, and cultural evolution. Focusing on Jefferson Davis's Warren County, Morris shows the transformation of a loosely knit Western community of pioneer homesteaders into a distinctly Southern society. This region was first settled by farmers and herders; by the turn of the nineteenth century, the wealthiest residents began to acquire slaves and to plant cotton, hastening the demise of the pioneer economy. Gradually, farmers began producing for the market, which drew them out of their neighborhoods and broke down local patterns of cooperation. Individuals learned to rely on extended kin-networks as a means of acquiring land and slaves, giving tremendous power to older men with legal control over family property. Relations between masters and slaves, husbands and wives, and planters and yeoman farmers changed with the emergence of the traditional patriarchy of the Old South; this transformation created the "Southern" society that Warren County's white residents defended in the Civil War. Drawing on wills, deeds, and court records, as well as manuscript materials, Morris presents a sensitive and nuanced portrait of the interaction between ideology and material conditions, challenging accepted notions of what we have come to understand as Southern more

Review quote

Christopher Morris displays the enviable ability to combine analytical sophistication and detailed analysis of local sources with a strong narrative and appropriate generalisations * American Studies Today * A valuable source for students of all aspects of antebellum southern life * American Studies Today *show more

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