Masters of Small Worlds: Yeoman Households, Gender Relations, and the Political Culture of the Antebellum South Carolina Low Country
In this innovative study of the South Carolina Low Country, author Stephanie McCurry explores the place of the yeomanry in plantation society--the complex web of domestic and public relations within which they were enmeshed, and the contradictory politics of slave society by which that class of small farmers extracted the privileges of masterhood from the region's powerful planters. Insisting on the centrality of women as historical actors and gender as a category of analysis, this work shows how the fateful political choices made by the low-country yeomanry were rooted in the politics of the household, particularly in the customary relations of power male heads of independent households assumed over their dependents, whether slaves or free women and children. Such masterly prerogatives, practiced in the domestic sphere and redeemed in the public, explain the yeomanry's deep commitment to slavery and, ultimately, their ardent embrace of secession.By placing the yeomanry in the center of the drama, McCurry offers a significant reinterpretation of this volatile society on the road to Civil War. Through careful and creative use of a wide variety of archival sources, she brings vividly to life the small worlds of yeoman households, and the larger world of the South Carolina Low Country, the plantation South, and nineteenth-century America.
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Alexander Lawton antebellum period antebellum South Barnwell District Beaufort District Black Black Swamp Branch Baptist Church Carolina Low Country Carrigan Census Charleston Mercury Christian Claim coastal Columbia common congregations cotton Darlington District December Diary elite evangelical Family Papers farm Federal Manuscript Census ﬁelds freemen Gavin gender Grimball Gum Branch History husband James Henley Thornwell James Henry Hammond Kelly labor land Lawton lowcountry lowcountry yeomen male Marlboro District masters Methodist middle country militia ministers nonslaveholders November Nulliﬁcation Nullifiers October Old South Orangeburg Origins of Southern percent Peter’s Parish Petigru plantation planter political culture politicians Population Porcher Presbyterian Church proslavery relations republican rice Robert Barnwell Rhett Samuel K SCCR secession slaveholders slavery slaves social South Carolina Low Southern Radicalism Steven Hahn Sumter District Swamp Thornwell tion Tuten Unionists University Press Upcountry wealth yeoman farmers yeoman households yeomanry yeomanry’s yeomen and planters York