Spanning the era from the American Revolution to the Civil War, these nine path breaking original essays explore the unexpected, competing, or contradictory ways in which southerners made sense of manhood. Employing a rich variety of methodologies, the contributors look at southern masculinity within African American, white, and Native American communities; on the frontier and in towns; and across boundaries of class and age. Until now, the emerging subdiscipline of southern masculinity studies has been informed mainly by conclusions drawn from research on how the planter class engaged issues of honor, mastery, and patriarchy. But what about men who didn't own slaves or were themselves enslaved? These essays illuminate the mechanisms through which such men negotiated with overarching conceptions of masculine power. Here the reader encounters Choctaw elites struggling to maintain manly status in the market economy, black and white artisans forging rival communities and competing against the gentry for social recognition, slave men on the southern frontier balancing community expectations against owner domination, and men in a variety of military settings acting out community expectations to secure manly status. As Southern Manhood brings definition to an emerging subdiscipline of southern history, it also pushes the broader field into new directions. All of the essayists take up large themes in antebellum history, including southern womanhood, the advent of consumer culture and market relations, and the emergence of sectional conflict.
Craig Thompson Friend is an associate professor of history at the University of Central Florida. He is the editor of The Buzzel about Kentuck and the author of a forthcoming book about the Maysville Road in the early American Republic period. Lorri Glover is an associate professor of history at the University of Tennessee. She is the author of All Our Relations.