By Ritchie Devon Watson Jr.
While consultant Preston Brooks of South Carolina savagely caned Senator Charles Sumner Massachusetts at the flooring of the U.S. Senate on might 21, 1856, southerners considered the assault as a effective confirmation of southern chivalry, northerners as a affirmation of southern barbarity. Public opinion used to be equally divided approximately three-and-a-half years later after abolitionist John Brown's raid at the Federal arsenal at Harper's Ferry, Virginia, with northerners crowning John Brown as a martyr to the reason for freedom as southerners excoriated him as a realization enthusiast. those occasions opened American minds to the prospect that North and South could be incompatible societies, yet a few of Dixie's defenders have been keen to move one step further--to suggest that northerners and southerners represented not only a "divided humans" yet scientifically specified races. In Normans and Saxons, Ritchie Watson, Jr., explores the advanced racial mythology created via the higher sessions of the antebellum South within the wake of those divisive occasions to justify secession and, finally, the Civil warfare. This mythology forged southerners as descendants of the Normans of eleventh-century England and hence additionally of the Cavaliers of the 17th century, a few of whom had come to the hot global and populated the southern colonies. those Normans have been hostile, in mythic phrases, by way of Saxons--Englishmen of German descent--some of whose descendants made up the Puritans who settled New England and later fanned out to populate the remainder of the North. the parable drew on nineteenth-century technology and different assets to painting those as separate, warring "races," the aristocratic and speeding Normans as opposed to the typical and venal Saxons. in line with Watson, southern polemical writers hired this racial mythology as a justification of slavery, countering the northern argument that the South's odd establishment had mixed with its Norman racial composition to supply an boastful and brutal land of oligarchs with a second-rate tradition. Watson reveals facts for this argument in either prose and poetry, from the literary effect of Sir Walter Scott, De Bow's assessment, and different antebellum southern magazines, to fiction by means of George Tucker, John Pendleton Kennedy, and William Alexander Caruthers and northerly and southern poetry through the Civil conflict, specifically within the works of Walt Whitman. Watson additionally strains the continued effect of the Norman as opposed to Saxon delusion in "Lost reason" inspiration and the way the parable has affected rules approximately southern sectionalism of today.Normans and Saxons offers a radical research of the ways that fantasy eventually helped to persuade american citizens that neighborhood adjustments over the problem of slavery have been manifestations of deeper and extra profound alterations in racial temperament--differences that made civil conflict inevitable.
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Extra resources for Normans and Saxons: Southern Race Mythology and the Intellectual History of the American Civil War (Southern Literary Studies)
Davis warned the Senate that the legislation was but part of a larger northern scheme that effectively represented a declaration of war upon the southern way of life. “A large part of the non-slaveholding states,” he asserted, “have declared war against the institution of slavery. ”16 For Davis the Compromise was no compromise at all. Its aim was not the balancing of sectional interests but the annihilation of southern interests. Jefferson Davis’s dire conclusions may have seemed paranoid to many northerners, but they reflected the state of mind of many southerners in 1850.
A large part of the non-slaveholding states,” he asserted, “have declared war against the institution of slavery. ”16 For Davis the Compromise was no compromise at all. Its aim was not the balancing of sectional interests but the annihilation of southern interests. Jefferson Davis’s dire conclusions may have seemed paranoid to many northerners, but they reflected the state of mind of many southerners in 1850. The sense of desperation that Charles Sydnor described as part of the south- Race Mythology, Science, and Southern Nationalismâ•… 27 ern mentality in the 1830s became much more pronounced in the acrid aftermath of the Compromise of 1850.
In the opinion of Emerson, they constituted two hostile communities, one barbaric and the other civilized. Conversely, in the assessment of the southern essayist for the DeBow’s Review they were regions fated by their contrasting Puritan and Cavalier inheritances to eternal hatred and conflict. Taylor brilliantly summarizes the state of the American mind on the eve of the Civil War: By 1860 most Americans had come to look upon their society and culture as divided between a North and a South, a democratic, commercial civilization and an aristocratic, agrarian one.