Fatal Self-Deception

Fatal Self-Deception : Slaveholding Paternalism in the Old South

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Description

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.show more

Product details

  • Electronic book text
  • CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS
  • Cambridge University Press (Virtual Publishing)
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • 1139156829
  • 9781139156820

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.show more

Review quote

'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)show more