Becoming Bourgeois is the first study to focus on what historians have come to call the ""middling sort,"" the economic group falling between yeoman farmers and the planter class that dominated the antebellum South. At a time when Southerners rarely traveled far from their homes, these merchants annually ventured forth on buying junkets to northern cities. The southern merchant community promoted the kind of aggressive business practices that proponents of the ""New South"" would later claim as their own. Frank J. Byrne reveals the peculiar strains of modern liberal-capitalist and conservative thought that permeated the culture of southern merchants. By exploring the values men and women in merchant families espoused, Byrne not only offers new insight into southern history but also deepens our understanding of the mutable ties between regional identity and the marketplace in nineteenth-century America.