Southern Women & The Indispensable Myth

How the mistress of the plantation became a slave

“WE’RE USED to living around ‘em. You Northerners aren’t. You don’t know anything about ‘em.” This is or was the allpurpose utterance of white Southerners about blacks. Everybody from Jefferson Davis to Strom Thurmond has said it, in some version, at one time or another. Turned on its obverse, the old saw means, “You can’t know how bad they are.Read more »

The Man In The Middle


Wise planters of the ante-bellum South never relaxed their search for talent among their slaves. The ambitious, intelligent, and proficient were winnowed out and recruited for positions of trust and responsibility. These privileged bondsmen—artisans, house servants, foremen—served as intermediaries between the master and the slave community; they exercised considerable power; they learned vital skills of survival in a complex, often hostile world.Read more »

John Faulkner’s Vanishing South

John Faulkner, like his more famous brother William, was a novelist, but he was also a painter. During the decade before his death in 1963 he painted a series of oils and water colors that he called “Scenes of the Vanishing South,” portraying his home town of Oxford, and Lafayette County, Mississippi. Some were painted from his memory of his boyhood, and others from the daily life of Beat Two, the hilly northeast sector of the county that is the scene also of most of his fiction.Read more »

There Was Another South

Was the old South solidly for slavery and secession? An eminent historian disputes a long-cherished view of that region’s history

The stereotype of the South is as tenacious as it is familiar: a traditionally rebellious region which has made a dogma of states’ rights and a religious order of the Democratic party. Here indeed is a monotonous and unchanging tapestry, with a pattern of magnolia blossoms, Spanish moss, and the inevitable old plantations running ceaselessly from border to border. To this depiction of almost willful backwardness, add the dark motif of the Negro problem, a few threads of poor white, and the picture is complete.

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