The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 85, July 1981 - April, 1982 Page: 460
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
of the small mills established along streams to grind grain and saw
lumber, to serve other pioneer enterprises?
These are but small omissions in an otherwise valuable contribu-
tion. This work, in recording what has passed, should assist toward
stabilizing for the future those historic architectural examples that
Austin, Texas EUGENE GEORGE
Dueling in the Old South: Vignettes of Social History. By Jack K.
Williams. (College Station: Texas A8cM University Press, 1980.
Pp. lo9. Preface, illustrations, bibliographic notes, appendix.
Jack K. Williams's book on dueling in the Old South has been aptly
subtitled "Vignettes of Social History." Sparse in analysis and based
heavily on secondary works, the chief virtues of the book are its anec-
dotal accounts of duels and duelists. These anecdotes are often fasci-
nating and occasionally frightening, and they give the reader a good
sense of what dueling, as a practice, was like.
The book is divided into six chapters, each covering a significant
aspect of dueling. After an opening chapter in which he tries to place
the duel within the context of southern society, Williams discusses the
causes of duels, the relationships between dueling and social class, and
the rules and procedures followed in duels. He has a good chapter on
southern opposition to dueling, and concludes with an insightful one
on the reasons for the antebellum persistence of dueling and its post-
Civil War decline-relating both to the changing fortunes of southern
traditions of manliness and of class hierarchy. Finally, although the
text is itself short-only about eighty pages-it is augmented by a
useful reprinting of South Carolinian John Lyde Wilson's important
pamphlet, Code of Honor, a popular "rulebook" covering every aspect
of an affair of honor.
Overall, however, there is a serious problem of perspective in
Williams's treatment of dueling. Early in the book, Williams argues
that, because of the frequency of duels and the prominence of duelists,
the custom was a southern "social institution." In this, he has exagger-
ated the place of dueling in the society. While there are no reliable
statistics on dueling-perhaps there never can be-it is far from clear
that duels were as frequent as Williams suggests. And there is enough
evidence of southern ambivalence, not to mention opposition, toward
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 85, July 1981 - April, 1982, periodical, 1981/1982; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101208/m1/518/: accessed August 18, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.