What shall this land produce?: pastoral and politics in the old South

Grammer, John Miller, Department of English, University of Virginia
Levin, David, Department of English, University of Virginia
Levenson, Jacob, English Language & Lit Dept, University of Virginia
Howard, Alan, Department of English, University of Virginia
Ayers, Edward, Department of History, University of Virginia

The American South seems now a part of the firmament of our national identity. And yet--like the nation itself-it was created, more or less deliberately, at a particular historical moment. The process of its creation was essentially literary; like America itself, the South was written into existence. This study attempts to describe a phase of this process, the period during which the large and expanding geographical area below the Mason-Dixon line, bound together by agriculture and slavery but otherwise quite diverse, became "the South": a place which seemed worth arguing about, worth praising or denouncing, eventually worth fighting for. By considering the careers of five Southerners who concerned themselves with the question of Southern identity--John Taylor, John Randolph, Nathaniel Beverley Tucker, George Fitzhugh, and Joseph Glover Baldwin--I try to trace the central themes of the Southern ideology as it was developed between 1810 and 1861.

I argue that the nearest thing the South had to a common myth of identity was a rather loose cluster of ideas, symbols, prejudices and loyalties which I term "pastoral republicanism." The South, I believe, adapted the political doctrine which J.G.A. Pocock has called "the Atlantic Republican Tradition" to the particular circumstances of their agrarian and slaveholding society. In the process they developed a theory of Southern identity which cast their region as the true America, the section of the country which had preserved, and would continue to preserve, the moral and political virtue represented by the American Revolution. Of course'pastoral republicanism underwent any number of transformations in the South during these years, particularly such transformations as were necessary to adjust it to the needs of a society increasingly dependent upon the institution of slavery. But throughout these years, for all the spokesmen I consider, the South was the refuge from the destructive processes of history idealized in both republican theory and pastoral poetry; it was a symbol of order and permanence in a world of flux and decay.

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PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Taylor, John, 1753-1824, Randolph, John, 1773-1833, Tucker, Beverley, 1784-1851, Fitzhugh, George, 1806-1881, Baldwin, Joseph G., (Joseph Glover), 1815-1864, American literature, Southern States, History and criticism, Politics and literature, United States, 19th century, History, In literature
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