Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS: http://ethos.bl.uk/OrderDetails.do?uin=uk.bl.ethos.511462
Title: Performances of honour : manhood and violence in the Mississippi slave insurrection scare of 1835
Author: Plath, Lydia
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2009
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Abstract:
In early July, 1835, rumours of a slave insurrection swept central Mississippi. Deviant white men, with bad characters and dishonourable motives, were—or so the residents of the small towns along the Big Black River in Madison County believed—plotting to incite the slaves to rebellion so that during the resulting panic they could rob the banks and plunder the cities. These rumours were entirely unfounded, but within a few weeks, groups of white citizens calling themselves ‘committees of safety’ had examined and tortured an unknown number of men (both white and black) whom they thought to be involved in the conspiracy, and by the end of July about a dozen white men and around twenty or thirty slaves had been put to death in Mississippi. As a moment during which white men not only articulated their notion of what it meant to be a ‘man,’ but also demonstrated and violently enforced it, the insurrection scare is an opening, a window, into the lives of men in the antebellum South. Through this window, we can see how Southern white men conceived of their identity as white men and constructed a notion of manhood—one of honour—to which all white men, regardless of class, could aspire. While Northerners emphasised restraint, and inner feelings of honour, Southern manhood was defined almost entirely by public display. Honour had to be performed. Further, because all white men could attempt to give a performance of honour, there existed in the South a sense of equality amongst all white men—a herrenvolk democracy—despite the vast differences in wealth and status that existed. African Americans, on the other hand, could make no claims to honour in the eyes of white men because to have honour was to have power.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council (Great Britain) (AHRC) ; Economic History Society (EHS) ; Royal Society (Great Britain) (RS) ; University of Warwick. Dept. of History (UoW)
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.511462  DOI: Not available
Keywords: F001 United States local history
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