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Southern Honor in the 1800s

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Mandy Smithjohnsonnn

on 10 June 2016

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Transcript of Southern Honor in the 1800s

In the South in the 1800s, plantation elites' positions in society were dictated by their ability to adhere to cultural honor codes. White males structured their lives around proving dominance over their dependents—whether that be slaves, white women, or children—as well as their peers. Because of the patriarchal nature of society, women derived their honor from chastity and domesticity. Female honor was especially important because it was a source of honor for men, as well as Southern society as a whole. Because of their importance, these strict honor codes created standardized behavioral ideals.
The Development of White Male Honor
Growing up with slaves
See parents abusing slaves
More belligerence
Slaves the same age as kids
Women in power over men
no more submission after 8 years old
White Male Code of Honor
Why Honor Was Important
“A man's public image and social standing were indivisible from that of his family and southern society did not separate individual behavior from communal reputation”
Amanda Van Dyck, Sophie Mann-Shafir, Celia Silver
Southern Honor in the 1800s
Where Women Got Their Honor
A Diary From a Teenage Boy
A Primary Source
How Honor Culture affected ANTEBELLUM Plantation elites and those around them
Honor –> social standing
Reflects on man
Reflects on community
1. A reputation for honesty/integrity
2. Reputation for courage/strength
3. Self-sufficiency, patriarchal power over dependents
4. Willingness to use violence to protect honor

Lynch Law: honor in the law
Law was interpreted with honor in mind
Not an individual action
Used when the normal legal procedures seemed inadequate
Community mobs
Acceptance of Violence
More commonly accepted than in the North
35 (recorded) murders but only 8 convictions in Kentucky from 1835 until 1838
Violence Against Slaves
Perceived relationship between slaves and masters
Willingness to work and honor
Desire to seem amiable
"Boys you can joke and carry on in a pleasant manner with me but insult me not for I will not take one even from my brother."

"When I met S.M. by the power of Moses I shall give him a whipping or get one myself for I will take an insult from no one."

Duel about honor
political attacks and defeat
prove leadership
no intention to kill
Sumner of MA insulted Brooks's relative, Andrew Butler for being pro-slavery
Brooks defended the reputation of his family
"You've libeled my state and slandered my white-haired old relative, Senator Butler, and I've come to punish you for it."
he was re-elected (SC)
why female honor was important
lynch law
protecting white females from black male sexuality
"In the past, southern honor was historically viewed as a male concept that was based on men‘s reputations and their capacity to defend it. Since women,
as the weaker sex, did not have the ability to physically confront attacks on their honor
they were linked to the code through their male family members and
men were given the task of protecting the female reputation
. This relationship between male and female images made
men‘s honor vulnerable to the actions of women,
particularly sexual improprieties. Victoria Bynum asserts that it was a husband‘s duty to protect his wife from immorality. Southern men, therefore, named chastity as the central element in female honor."
1. Provided honor in the home
Primary source: Dissertation on the Characteristic Differences between the Sexes, and on the Position and Influence of Woman in Society, No. III, 1835

Female actions were controlled and policed by males
Forced most women to marry
Example: Laura Wirt Randall
Separate spheres to give refuge for men from impurity of wider world
Portrait of Angelica Singleton Van Buren

by Henry Inman (1842)
Prejudice over legality
Racism in police brutality, crime conviction, prison sentencing
e.g. Michael Brown, Eric Garner
killed by policemen who were not charged
Angelica Singleton Van Buren --> First Lady in 1839
Father-in-law was widowed
Needed a woman for honor of the house, entertainment, etc.
Bust of Martin Van Buren
Act of "artistic diplomacy"
Male is
Wearing white dress
purity & elegance
Widely known as
"a lovely, charming belle"
Still hanging in the White House
Women are meant to play roles like housekeeper and hostess

Most historians think male and female spheres were fundamental to Southern society, but have different reasons for their formation
Thomas Dewey and Brenda Stevenson say bc of differing natural abilities of the sexes
Catherine Clinton said bc of changes in the position of women in society
Elizabeth Fox-Genovese said they = a mechanism to separate the upper and lower classes, bc lower class women couldn't afford to stay inside the home
We think that it is because of honor.
Laura Wirt Randall
Daughter of US Attorney-General
Born in September 1803
Her honor came from her conformity to stereotypes and ideals
She tried to fight off the predetermined role and cretae her own identity
BUT her father made her marry and forced her to become stereotypical Southern woman
Unhappy, forced marriage
"It will never do for me to be married"
(no picture of Laura Wirt Randall, but here's a picture of her father (who forced her to marry))
The POLITICIZING of Reproductive Rights
Tuesday, January 6th:
Five turkeys drowned and buried all of them in one hole.

Sunday, February 14th:
Went Hunting today killed two deer forty ducks by dinner time. Had a chill in the afternoon.

Sunday, February 22nd:
Went to Church went to sleep text was good sermon fine. Killed an owl.

Thursday, January 15th:
Dreadfully in love with Miss F love not reciprocated but think it will be.

Monday, January 26th:
I will be doggon my skin if Miss F. is not the prettiest and loveliest girl in the world she has promised me this day to be my wife.

Wednesday, February 4th:
It is strange that I am so beautiful and so full and so full of fun that on the ladies catalogue I should stand No. 1.

Monday, February 16th:
I and some young ladies went fishing platform fell in, and the ladies and I all fell in the water together. Happy time.

Tuesday, February 17th:
Was accused of having broken down the platform and was wrongfully scolded for it by the old folks. This evening received an apology for scolding and I’m at the boat.
Even today, many states and conservatives are working to take over women's reproductive rights, such as forcing women to go through childbirth.

This relates to female actions being policed and controlled by males.
First pair of pants
"Slavery and the plantation lifestyle were defined by a hierarchy that configured the plantation owner as an exemplar of moral and social virtue, and also positioned wealthy plantation owners as makers of written—and unwritten—law."
-Nicholas Alexander Salvo
Bucknell University
Honor codes taking precedence over legal system
2. Maintain racial superiority of the ruling class
“Since plantation men considered women‘s
a paramount element of southern society they assigned it
as the most important characteristic of female honor
. Dew‘s thoughts on female chastity reflected the plantation community‘s belief that
the necessity for white men to retain absolute authority included the regulation of the sexual and reproductive behavior of women
The racial purity of the white ruling class within the biracial South depended on the control of procreation.
Thus, the male code of honor assigned the custody and the protection of feminine fidelity to men and led to the designation of chastity as the central feature of female morality and honor. However,
the preservation of the white race and its supremacy
was only one part of the rationale behind the significance of women‘s conduct." -Brenda Lee Faverty (Historian, Secondary source)
2. Counteract male impurity (male sex with female slaves)
1. Racial purity
Interesting double standard (Especially considering that a lot of white male sex with female slaves was probably rape)
"18C American Women." : American Women & Children by the Beardsley Limner (active between 1785-1805). N.p., n.d. Web. 08 June 2016.
"Canefight! Preston Brooks and Charles Sumner." Ushistory.org. Independence Hall Association, n.d. Web. 08 June 2016.
Clinton, Catherine. The Plantation Mistress: Woman's World in the Old South. New York: Pantheon, 1982. Print.
Dew, Thomas Roderick. "Dissertation on the Characteristic Differences between the Sexes, and on the Position and Influence of Woman in Society, No. III." Dissertation on the Characteristic Differences between the Sexes, and on the Position and Influence of Woman in Society, No. III. Making of America Journal Articles, n.d. Web. 08 June 2016.
"Emmett Till." Bio.com. A&E Networks Television, n.d. Web. 08 June 2016.
Faverty, Brenda Lee. "Honor and Gender in the Antebellum Plantation South." Diss. Kent State U, n.d. Web.
Freeman, Joanne B. "Dueling as Politics: The Burr- Hamilton Duel." The New-York Journal of American Politics (n.d.): n. pag. Alexander Hamilton Exhibition. Web.
"History of American Women." Angelica Van Buren. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 June 2016.
"Honor In The American South | The Art Of Manliness." The Art of Manliness. N.p., 25 Nov. 2012. Web. 08 June 2016.
"In the Late 1800s and Early 1900s, Boys Were Often Dressed as Girls with Pictures to Prove It." HeraldCourier.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 June 2016.
"Inside the Conservator's Studio." : August 2012. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 June 2016.
Kloss, William. "Treasures of the White House: Angelica Singleton Van Buren." WHHA. The White House Historical Association, n.d. Web. 08 June 2016.
"Sally Hemings Photo." N.p., n.d. Web.
Salvo, Nicholas Alexander. "Casualty, Causality And Chivalry: The Myth Of Chivalry And Racial Violence In Southern Literature." Thesis. Bucknell University, 2014. Bucknell Digital Commons. Web.
"Tag Archive." Austenonly. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 June 2016.
"2.7 Southern Honor." Southern Honor. Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel HIll, n.d. Web. 08 June 2016.
Wyatt-Brown, Bertram. Southern Honor: Ethics and Behavior in the Old South. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.
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