The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 87, July 1983 - April, 1984 Page: 231
The following text was automatically extracted from the image on this page using optical character recognition software:
in silence, permitting their spouses to run their lives, name their chil-
dren, and squander their properties almost at will. Marriage alliances
and practices are analyzed minutely, and the linking of cousins as well
as the marriage of brothers to sisters is placed in the context of the
pervading system of honor. All of these relationships created chains of
duty that led not only inward to the father but also outward to the
community concept of primal honor that dominated the thinking of
southern society. The frequent reiteration of the plight of the fe-
male-both before the law and at the court of community custom and
tradition-makes a point, but tends at the same time to overemphasize
the role of woman's dependency. On the other hand, there is con-
tained in Southern Honor an explanation of the Sally Hemings-
Thomas Jefferson alliance that makes sense within the framework of
the code of honor as Jefferson and his descendants knew it.
Wyatt-Brown's analyses of both the "lynching rite" and "insur-
rectionary panic," in relation to blacks and to white deviants from the
norm, are revealing and convincing. Such community actions assured
"familial security and status" (p. 436) and guarded values such as
family purity, which was one of the foundation stones of southern
honor. Most significant action in society that bore upon justice was
effected by the folk or community will of a town or neighborhood. No
one-not even the upper-class planter-was exempt. To illustrate the
point, the author closes this first volume of his projected trilogy on
the role of honor in the South with an astonishing tale that he entitles
"The Anatomy of a Wife-Killing." In this chapter, narrated as a story
the way William Faulkner might have done but without the Missis-
sippian's convoluted style, Wyatt-Brown blends many of the,,themes
that he discussed earlier in the book: vidlince,-family expectations,
male-dominated community life, the importance of folk pressures in
the system of justice, the subjugation of women, and the role of the
sporting planter-become-blackleg. In this penultimate chapter, which
documents not only the system of honor in the South but how that
system was perceived and enforced by community sentiment, blacks
and slavery play almost no role.
In essence, Wyatt-Brown has taken this fascinating segment of
American life and has demonstrated how it worked under everyday
circumstances. His themes and his ideas will provide controversy for
years to come and, probably, a session or two at various southern sym-
posia. In showing that the South marched to a different drummer than
the North, Wyatt-Brown has bolstered the school that maintains south-
Here’s what’s next.
This issue can be searched. Note: Results may vary based on the legibility of text within the document.
Tools / Downloads
Get a copy of this page or view the extracted text.
Citing and Sharing
Basic information for referencing this web page. We also provide extended guidance on usage rights, references, copying or embedding.
Reference the current page of this Periodical.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 87, July 1983 - April, 1984, periodical, 1983/1984; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117150/m1/267/: accessed September 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.