William Kauffman Scarborough has produced a work of incomparable
scope and depth, offering the challenge to see afresh one of the
most powerful groups in American history -- the wealthiest southern
planters who owned 250 or more slaves in the census years of 1850
and 1860. The identification and tabulation in every slaveholding
state of these lords of economic, social, and political influence
reveals a highly learned class of men who set the tone for southern
society while also involving themselves in the wider world of
capitalism. Scarborough examines the demographics of elite
families, the educational philosophy and religiosity of the nabobs,
gender relations in the Big House, slave management methods,
responses to secession, and adjustment to the travails of
Reconstruction and an alien postwar world.
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