The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 87, July 1983 - April, 1984

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

meticulously. In addition to public records such as those contained
in the General Land Office, he has assembled a considerable number
of memoirs, county histories, and other sometimes obscure writings.
These are used primarily to provide biographical information on those
who received land grants in the early days of the Robertson Colony.
The volume should be very useful to genealogists who are interested
in that period and that section of Texas.
Lamar University ADRIAN N. ANDERSON
Southern Honor: Ethics and Behavior in the Old South. By Bertram
Wyatt-Brown. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1982. Pp.
xxi+597. Preface, notes, index. $29.95.)
Bertram Wyatt-Brown, professor of history at Case-Western Reserve
University, has written an extraordinary book. His task, in brief, has
been to recreate the notion of honor which, he convincingly maintains,
rested at the heart of southern society prior to the American Civil War.
This honor was, he felt, an all-pervasive but still elusive concept,
which had its origins in pre-Homeric Greece and which dominated
Indo-European thought until the eighteenth century. In countries and
areas where secular and urban pressures mounted, the code of honor-
rural, patriarchal, and family oriented-had all but become extinct by
the early years of the 18oos. Such was true in the North, save for its
most isolated regions, but not so in the South, where, if anything, the
old code remained dominant until seriously challenged in the 185os.
Wyatt-Brown hints that the decline of the system of honor in the
South and the aggravated feelings that accompanied this phenomenon
helped materially to lead the South to secession-an intriguing theme
the author promises to explore in another volume. Apparently the
thesis will be that it was in defense of its code of honor and not pri-
marily for slavery that the South fought. For this reason Wyatt-Brown
does not put slavery at "the center of Southern concern" (p. xii), a
welcome interpretation surely for those saturated by several genera-
tions of books that have said little else.
Southern Honor deals extensively with family life and the various
relationships that evolved in the South. Many of these relationships
became implicit in the system of honor as practiced in the slave states.
Society was a patriarchy from top to bottom; the reader is treated to
visions of innumerable pained but righteous females, from the emi-
nent Mrs. Mary B. Chesnut on down. Normally these women suffered


Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 87, July 1983 - April, 1984. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed April 19, 2014.