2. Southern Society: Slavery, King Cotton, and Antebellum America’s “Peculiar” Region

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The Civil War and Reconstruction (HIST 119)

Professor Blight offers a number of approaches to the question of southern distinctiveness. The lecture offers a survey of that manner in which commentators–American, foreign, northern, and southern–have sought to make sense of the nature of southern society and southern history. The lecture analyzes the society and culture of the Old South, with special emphasis on the aspects of southern life that made the region distinct from the antebellum North. The most lasting and influential sources of Old South distinctiveness, Blight suggests, were that society’s anti-modernism, its emphasis on honor, and the booming slave economy that developed in the South from the 1820s to the 1860s.

00:00 – Chapter 1. Introduction: The Southern Memory of the Civil War
14:22 – Chapter 2. Similarities and Differences between the Antebellum North and South
24:44 – Chapter 3. Reputation and Honor — Characteristics of Old South Society
31:27 – Chapter 4. The “Burden” of Southern History
38:15 – Chapter 5. The South’s Cotton Economy
49:57 – Chapter 6. Conclusion

Complete course materials are available at the Open Yale Courses website: http://open.yale.edu/courses

This course was recorded in Spring 2008.