Fatal Self-Deception : Slaveholding Paternalism in the Old South
Slaveholders were preoccupied with presenting slavery as a benign, paternalistic institution in which the planter took care of his family and slaves were content with their fate. In this book, Eugene D. Genovese and Elizabeth Fox-Genovese discuss how slaveholders perpetuated and rationalized this romanticized version of life on the plantation. Slaveholders' paternalism had little to do with ostensible benevolence, kindness and good cheer. It grew out of the necessity to discipline and morally justify a system of exploitation. At the same time, this book also advocates the examination of masters' relations with white plantation laborers and servants - a largely unstudied subject. Southerners drew on the work of British and European socialists to conclude that all labor, white and black, suffered de facto slavery, and they championed the South's 'Christian slavery' as the most humane and compassionate of social systems, ancient and modern.
- Electronic book text | 256 pages
- 23 Nov 2011
- CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS
- Cambridge University Press (Virtual Publishing)
- Cambridge, United Kingdom
Table of contents
1. 'Boisterous passions'; 2. The complete household; 3. Strangers within the gates; 4. Loyal and loving slaves; 5. The blacks' best and most faithful friend; 6. Guardians of a helpless race; 7. Devotion unto death.
About Eugene D. Genovese
Eugene D. Genovese is a retired professor of history. He served as chair of the Department of History at the University of Rochester and taught at other institutions. He also served as president of the Organization of American Historians and of The Historical Society and he was a member of the Executive Council of the American Historical Society. He is the author of nine other books, most recently Miss Betsey: A Memoir of Marriage. Elizabeth Fox-Genovese (1941-2007) was Eleonore Raoul Professor of Humanities at Emory University, where she was founding director of Women's Studies. She served on the Governing Council of the National Endowment for the Humanities (2002-7). In 2003, President George W. Bush awarded her a National Humanities Medal; the Georgia State Senate honored her with a special resolution for her contributions as a scholar, teacher and citizen of Georgia; and the fellowship of Catholic Scholars bestowed on her its Cardinal Wright Award. Among her books and published lectures are The Origins of Physiocracy: Economic Revolution and Social Order in Eighteenth-Century France; Within the Plantation Household: Black and White Women of the Old South; Feminism without Illusions: A Critique of Individualism; and Marriage: The Dream that Refuses to Die.
'Fatal Self-Deception is a captivating read because it exposes the psyche of what is arguably one of the most curious characters in American history - that of the slaveholding master. While Genovese and Fox-Genovese never defend the behavior of these men, they allow readers a glimpse into the convoluted ideologies that contributed to the founding of the American nation.' Emma Heishman, GRAAT Online (graat.fr)