The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 78, July 1974 - April, 1975 Page: 493
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county histories; Part Two, studies of particular plantations; and Part
Three, investigations of slavery in towns and cities. Together these essays
provide reasonably broad coverage, both chronologically and geographically,
of the antebellum South. It is interesting to note that virtually all of the
plantation studies were done before 1950. Have all extant plantation records
been exploited, or is there less willingness to study the planter elite in an
age of civil rights and history "from the bottom up"? On the other hand,
the oldest of the town histories dates to 1962. Urban slavery much like
urban history in general is only now becoming a major field of investiga-
Collectively, these essays demonstrate the great variety of the southern
slavery experience. The "peculiar institution" was simply not the same,
either in its practice or its impact on those involved, from the Charleston
District of South Carolina (Ulrich B. Phillips) to Winn Parish, Louisiana
(John Milton Price), to Athens, Georgia (E. Merton Coulter), to the
Peach Point plantation near Brazoria, Texas (Abigail Curlee). The demon-
stration of this obvious but often-forgotten point is a primary contribution
of these essays.
At the same time, the diversity of slave society as described in these essays
constitutes the greatest difficulty with this book. Ideally, local studies lead
toward more effective generalization or at least toward more precise com-
parisons of the experiences of various areas. The problem here is that each
essay not only deals with slavery in a different setting; each also tends to
focus on a somewhat different interpretive point. For example, U. B. Phil-
lips sought an appreciation of an entire social structure in the Charleston
District and emphasized the racial aspects of slavery. James C. Bonner em-
phasized the importance of the nonslaveholding poor whites and yeoman
classes in Hancock County, Georgia. John M. Price raised an interesting
question concerning Winn Parish, Louisiana, by pointing out that the area
had many slaves and slaveholders and yet generally opposed secession and
war. These essays (and the others in this collection) do not readily come
together to contribute to a coherent view of the slaveholding South because
they do not focus on a common interpretive point. We can hardly blame
the authors; local history is not organized to provide a systematic body of
work employing similar methods and dealing with similar interpretive ques-
tions. But we can question the editors for not making more of an effort to
bring the essays together. Each essay has an introduction, but in general
these tend to divert the reader's attention to a variety of matters rather
than to clarify the essay's contribution to an overview of slavery in the
South. Perhaps the editors should have written a lengthy introductory note
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 78, July 1974 - April, 1975, periodical, 1974/1975; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117149/m1/553/: accessed November 20, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.