Like Father, Like Son?: The Emotions of White Southern Manhood, Ministry, and Mastery During the Antbellum Sectional Crisis

James Hill "Trae" Welborn III

Associate Professor of History

Georgia College & State University

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James Hill Welborn III, "Like Father Like Son?: The Emotions of White Southern Manhood, Ministry, and Mastery During the Antebellum Sectional Crisis," Journal of Southern Religion (23) (2021):

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All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him. — Matthew 11:27[1]

Walker Brookes was frantic as the summer of 1846 came to a close. During a recent break in his studies at Columbian College in Washington, D.C., he returned home to South Carolina and there confessed to his father, Iveson Lewis Brookes, a Southern Baptist preacher, his regrettable propensity toward “[an] illicit gratification of lust [and] excess of self-abuse [in the] stolen pleasures [of the] solitary vice.” He later professed his extreme anxiety that such indulgences would render him physically and morally deficient for marriage. This anxiety prompted him to seek medical advice when he returned to school, which only amplified his worst fears. Medical professionals and health reformers at the time widely cited blindness, impotence, muscular atrophy, and even insanity as the most probable results of masturbatory indulgence. Burdened with this knowledge of the potential dire straits into which he had so wantonly waded, Walker wrote his father seeking counsel shortly thereafter, in utter despair and drowning in his own self-debasement. Over a decade later in 1859 Reverend Brookes fielded a similarly anxious admission of masturbatory mania from his nephew John M. Carter, who like his older cousin before him was away at college and in the prime of his early manhood.[2]

All three men clearly deemed the issue a spiritual failing with deep spiritual consequences, but each also recognized the secular dishonor implicit in such failings. They understood such dishonor undermined any claims they, as white men, might make to authority in the South’s rigid racial patriarchy, predicated as it was on the legitimacy of those claims and the proper application of that authority. This sense of personal crisis only intensified in the crucible of the sectional crisis between North and South, free-state and slave-state.  Others shared the Brookes family’s concerns regarding southern cultural values, their place in southern society, and the emotional struggles entailed therein. Brookes’s personal friend and professional associate Reverend Basil Manly Sr. and his son, Reverend Basil Manly Jr., drew similar connections between personal and public morality in the South. As fathers and sons, ministers and masters, these men considered it their duty to administer sound moral principles to their families, their flocks, and southern society at large. For these fathers, inculcating their sons in this moral duty assumed primacy in their exercise of that authority. For these sons, the importance of learning and applying these lessons to satisfy both secular and sacred filial duties while also preparing to fulfill paternal, political, and racial expectations in the future seemed paramount.

The emotional biographies of the Brookes and Manly men that follows poignantly illustrates how the distance separating such personal pitfalls and being forced to choose, between the downfall of the entire southern social order or the dissolution of the American Union and civil war, seemed small indeed for these men during the height of the antebellum sectional crisis. These southern fathers’ crusade to prevent the former and either stave off or better prepare for the latter began at home, as they attempted to purge themselves, their households, and especially their sons of vice. Their sons bore the weight of this burden more acutely as they came of age during the height of the sectional crisis. All firmly believed that only in fulfilling their duty to one another as fathers and sons could they confidently assert their white masculine claims to privilege and authority and enact the prerogatives that their privileged and powerful place in the southern social order purportedly demanded of them.[3]

The masculine culture of the Brookes and Manly families’ native South defined those virtues, and it involved two dominant ethics that historians have explored well, though largely independently. The first, masculine honor, prioritized the public recognition and defense of white male claims to reputation and authority; it also, to a perhaps lesser degree, emphasized private self-reflective fantasies of worthiness to claim such honor, and self-castigations for consistent fallings-short. The southern honor code thus sought to maintain order among elite white southern men, that they might then fulfill their duty as masters to uphold the antebellum South’s prevailing racial patriarchy. The second ethic of piety emphasized moral self-reflection and encouraged believers to curb excessive pride and passion and ready themselves for God’s Kingdom, that they might allegedly make good on their paternalistic claims as Christian enslavers.[4]

Honor and piety could pull a man in different directions. Despite its avowed purpose to promote order and preclude violence among elite white men, the honor code generally assumed an unavoidable role for violence within society and sometimes ended at the dueling grounds. Despite the pervasive presence of denominational and sectarian dissension, not to mention common expressions of martial morality, piety ideally ended at the communion table. Piety, to a degree, operated as a check on the more hedonistic and anarchic aspects of honor as perceived by many Protestant evangelicals, just as honor laid claim to a moral and ethical security that softened its roughest potentialities. But a close examination of the emotional experiences of the Brookes and Manly men during the height of the sectional crisis reveals their desire to better define their highly gendered and racialized sectional identity and better secure their ideological footing by more effectively balancing these inter-related and composite cultural values of honor and piety. A conceptual ideal I label “righteous honor” enables a more thorough historical explanation of both the tension and compatibility between these prevailing ideals, one that illustrates how leading white southern men such as Iveson and Walker Brookes and Basil Manly, Sr. and Jr. conceived of the world and their place within it. Righteous honor provides a prism for historians to analyze these perspectives of southern white elite men.  The goal is for this category of analysis to create a better way to comprehend the minds, motives, and methods of many leading white southern men as they made war in defense of their material interests, social structures, and cultural values, first against Indians and Mexicans, then against the American Union itself. It, however, also helps to explain how and why those ideals and those efforts ultimately failed by revealing the simultaneously constructive and destructive potential of both ideology and action in highly individualized yet publicly profound emotional experiences.[5]

Even as expressions of confidence in southern social systems and cultural values came to dominate white men’s public culture during the late antebellum period, privately many men struggled more than ever to live up to these self-confident and self-righteous projections. Men like the Brookes and Manlys knew all too well what vices undermined their claims to righteousness: sensual and sexual lust, alcoholic indulgence, wanton violence, and unrestrained racial exploitation. More than ever, these needed to be conquered: how could the white South hope to do battle with the allegedly heathen North, how could they be prepared for Armageddon, if they could not put their own houses in order? More than ever in the late antebellum period, self-mastery became key to the public culture of the South. And more than ever, the struggle (and prevalent inability) to achieve or sustain that mastery produced a tension, indeed a fury of “righteous violence,” which found its most desperate and ultimately deficient final release in the Civil War. The resulting dynamic constituted righteous honor in thought and action during the era.[6]

These concerns and values clearly lacked universal appeal or adherence, an obvious point when considering those groups consciously excluded and/or relegated to a subordinate status by these cultural values and attendant social hierarchies, namely slaves, free blacks, and women. But even among middling-to-elite white southern men of the era, dissension abounded. Many men simply refused to accept or abide by the prevailing religious moral standards, while others, especially landless, dependent, and otherwise poor whites, found themselves beyond the pale of the prevailing honor code’s consciously selective jurisdiction. All of this dissonance, combined with that among even those most devoted to the strictures of righteous honor, further lengthened the already long odds against which such adherents sought to instill these values and emphasize these concerns within their families and among their peers, not to mention propagate more broadly within southern society.[7]

Certainly, such values promoted by such men proved widely compelling beyond their relatively select peer group due to the considerable power and influence such men wielded in the antebellum South’s racial patriarchy.[8] But that very same power and influence could just as easily spawn various forms and degrees of cultural divergence, even among the upper classes.[9]  The larger significance as emphasized herein, regardless of this dynamic and fluid cultural milieu, rests on the more concerted assertion of such values and concerns by such powerful men during the height of the antebellum sectional crisis. Whether embraced or rejected by white southern men writ large, the increasingly apparent need to align individual identity and collective ideology in the face of both intra-regional threats and external assaults during this extended and evolving crisis gave added impetus to the ideal of righteous honor for many, but also heightened their anxieties over its failures. White southern men and their families need not have wholly aligned themselves to this ideal and its mandates in order to be affected, and such effects had broad consequences that shaped collective identity and regional ideology significantly. In the celebration over its successes, the frustration over its failures, and even the indifference toward both, righteous honor fueled the animosity of the sectional crisis, the eventual outbreak and course of war as well as reactions to its results, and it did so in ways that were at once intensely personal and publicly profound.[10]

In their frank discussion of transgression and its consequences in the late antebellum period, the Reverend Iveson Brookes, his son Walker, and nephew John revealed a conviction shared by many white southern men of a similar station: that self-mastery was the linchpin of individual and collective destiny. All manner of vices—particularly alcohol, gambling, covetousness, and illicit sensual and sexual practices—tempted white southern men for whom the path to sin was always right in front of them. Stills, grog shops, and gambling dens were rife in the South, as were willing or unwilling slave girls. (An unidentified southern merchant interviewed by Frederick Law Olmsted reluctantly admitted that there were but two lads in his small town in Alabama who were not paying the “penalty of licentiousness” (venereal disease) for their conduct with slaves. We “might as well have [our sons] educated in a brothel at once, as in the way they [are] growing up,” he admitted.) But if the temptations were many, the consequences were grave. If white southern men could not control their own physical and emotional urges, how could they answer to themselves much less the North, to say nothing of the Father Almighty? How could they justify the social and political power that secured their peculiar prerogatives in the slave South, prerogatives most believed to be divinely sanctioned?[11]

Reverend Brookes certainly recognized the slippery slope of southern vices and made the connection explicit time and again in his letters of advice to his son and nephew. When first apprised of his son’s depravity, Reverend Brookes tried to be reassuring, and referenced the professional opinion of a Doctor Chapman who had said “that your case has nothing alarming about it and moral treatment is all that is necessary; that you had become unnecessarily alarmed by the misrepresentations of a quack. As to the opinion of the authors you have read differing from that of Doctor Chapman,” Brookes continued, “you will find in those fatal cases that the subjects had long indulged most exceptionally and unnaturally and were perhaps so given over of God to work their destruction with greediness that they could not cease from their wicked acts, some repeating the act not only daily but from 10 to 20 times per day.” He also reminded his son that such had been his own opinion upon their most recent farewell: “I told you that in so young a person who had discovered the wickedness and numerous consequences of such practices, and had abandoned the actual indulgence, restoration would be effected in due time by carefully abstaining from all causes of excitement to these organs. I am still of just the same opinion.” Concerning the prospect of marriage, the elder Brookes assured his son that if he would “simply let yourself alone and attend to your lawful and proper pursuits…in due time you will be relieved and be in a fit condition for marriage … as soon as you will have fixed upon the course you may determine to pursue and be sufficiently matured in judgment and experience to make a wise choice in selecting a partner for life.” [12]

In offering solace for his son’s fears, however, the elder Brookes revealed his own, as well as the tensions that shaped his moral purview. His God wielded both condemnation and compassion with a heavy providential hand; both Old and New Testaments shaped his view of God’s role in human affairs. Judgment was unbending; forgiveness hard to come by. As befitting a man of the cloth, his paternal advice concerning his son’s sinful self-pollution invoked these religious principles. “I tell you, my son, you must look to God as your great Physician” Reverend Brookes advised, for “His grace is the sovereign remedy for the effects of sins and that alone can restrain the corruptions of poor fallen human nature and enable the reformed sensualist to keep his body under. I hope you have learned a practical lesson of experience in reference to lust and you may rest assured that all carnal indulgences turn to excess and are ruinous in their results.” He then warned, “the Devil puts the unwary youth to work in onerous ways, promising him the reward of happiness, but his wages are misery here and eternal death hereafter.  But God’s order is to mortify the members while upon the earth, deny yourself of all ungodliness to worldly lusts, and live soberly, righteously, and Godly in this present life.” “Let not the demon of hell any longer deceive you with his flattering tales” he chided before concluding, “You know those who follow his dictates in the illicit indulgences of the unclean passion must reap a copious crop of misery.”[13]

Indeed, this belief in God’s wrath seemed to set Brookes off, for after assuaging his son’s fears he commenced to admonishing his faults by launching into a general harangue against the vices plaguing all mankind. He warned young Walker that submission to one vice very often resulted in enslavement to all. “No chain is more galling and despotic than that with which the devil binds the unfortunate immoderate” Brookes asserted, and the “indulgence of an appetite for stimulating drinks is no less deceptive [than carnal lust] and in its results equally ruinous to body, mind, and soul.” “My dear boy,” he continued, “resolve deliberately and voluntary to sign the temperance pledge and be a freeman.” Brookes clearly believed that self-pollution of any kind led easily into self-pollution of every kind. All constituted forms of self-enslavement.[14]

Brookes considered gambling equally sinful, deeming it as “demoralizing and fatally ruinous perhaps as any branch of the devil’s services.” “Like all Satan’s plans of destruction,” Brookes cautioned, “the initiatory step is called innocent but the grades are few to the top of this vice.” Singling out chess, dice, cards, and faro as particular pitfalls, Reverend Brookes observed that the gambler, like his archetype the Devil, would, once fallen, “only thenceforth goeth up and down and to and fro seeking whom he may devour.” “My son,” Brookes concluded, “if you have been tempted to engage at any of these usually called innocent games, remember that they are [the] beginning of the worst of vices.”[15]

Walker Brookes earnestly sought to apply his father’s moral teachings but frequently exhibited the anxieties attending the effort. And while his struggle consumed him, it also enveloped his family. Just three years after his bout with self-abuse, his sister Virginia expressed a constant concern over her brother’s tendency toward an unspecified sinfulness. “My darling, my only Brother,” she wrote, “I pass many, many, sad reflections on you. I fear you are too careless about your immortal soul. I beg you, I implore you, to turn from your wicked ways and devote the remainder of your life to the service of God.” She then urged, “let not Satan tempt you to die in your sins. Oh! How long will you be wedded to this world; how long will you find pleasure in its follies.” In another letter she reiterated the theme by declaring, “I hope those admonitions you have so often received will yet profit you and you may not die as one who knows no God, as those who pass through life in prosperity and forget they have a maker.”[16]

Four years later in 1853, Walker, by then married and striving to settle into family life, continued to bemoan his personal failings, and echoed his sister’s earlier assessment of him by admitting to his father, “I have been rather extravagant in my habits [and] am anxious … I am still floundering in [spiritual] darkness.” But he declared himself, “fully resolved with the help of God never to give up prayer again and to read more attentively the Scriptures.” His wife Harriet, however, harbored doubts, which she shared with her father-in-law: “I am more than ever exercised and greatly troubled about my beloved husband’s choosing the God of Abraham and Israel and Jesus as his God. Oh! I see clearly that he has everything to urge and encourage more than ever a Christian course.” She then prayed, “God grant that the solemn warnings of his Providence may melt his heart. God has blessed him in every way all his life.” Harriet’s anxiety over Walker’s continued “floundering” prompted her to implore Reverend Brookes to join her in daily, earnest prayers for her husband’s salvation. “My dear husband appears to be in a troubled state of mind and I notice his constant searching of the sacred scriptures,” she shared before exclaiming, “Oh! I cannot give up his precious soul…Oh! May God set him in the right way and make him a blessing to the church and his family and servants.”[17]

Walker Brookes put himself on the spiritual rack in an attempt to master his bodily urges and emotional desires, but his personal travails became family trials, as his father, sister, and wife fervently tried to hold him accountable. That collective effort to purge the hearth and home of vice and render it the progenitor of virtue might well have been re-enacted many times over across the antebellum South, as middling and elite white southern families stove to purify themselves in order to better defend their society against attack.

Such efforts sometimes even extended beyond the nuclear family. On the precipice of secession and national disunion thirteen years after his son Walker’s travails, Iveson Brookes responded to his nephew John Carter’s very similar masturbatory confessions and exposed an intersectional commonality within his moral vision. He urged upon his nephew many of the same religious principles with much the same tone of reassurance earlier proffered to his son. But he also similarly admonished his nephew for potentially provoking God’s wrath and its dishonorable consequences by asserting that the white man can either master himself or find himself the slave of his desires. “Let your habits be in accordance to health and pure morality and they will prove a great blessing. But if corrupt and unchaste they will prove to be tyrants and will inflict curse upon soul and body,” he intoned. Here Brookes sounded much like any Protestant evangelical Christian anywhere in antebellum America, an intersectional commonality Brookes made explicit when he advised his nephew to read Connecticut Presbyterian Reverend Sylvester Graham’s Lecture to Young Men on Chastity, first published in 1834.[18]

The Reverend Graham had gained national renown during the antebellum period as a moral and dietary reformer and published many of his lectures, none more prominent or provocative than the Lecture to Young Men on Chastity, which outlined the physical and moral causes of youthful lust while proffering various means of abating it. Graham conveyed the import of his undertaking when he declared, “there is no point of morality of more importance. . . . through a fear of contaminating the minds of youth, it has long been considered the wisest measure to keep them in ignorance….so that while parents have been resting securely in the idea of the ignorance and purity of their children, these have been drinking in the most corrupt and depraving knowledge.”[19]

Graham thus laid the onus of social corruption at the feet of neglectful (or naïve) parents and sought to inform both parent and child in the sins of the flesh and instruct them on how to drive out the evil. “In the first place,” Graham continued, “self-pollution is actually a very great and rapidly increasingly evil in our country,” as is “illicit commerce between the sexes… [and] sexual excess within the pale of wedlock,” while “efforts to encourage illicit and promiscuous commerce between the sexes are already very extensive, and are daily becoming more extensive, bold, and efficient.” “Are they who know the truth to hold their peace…and see this destroying flood of error and pollution roll over the earth?” asked Graham before responding, “Humanity, Virtue, Religion answer—‘No!’”[20]

Reverend Brookes’s belief in self-mastery thus exhibited his alignment to an important part of an emerging middle-class conception of masculine morality that crossed the sectional divide. As a slave-owning southern divine, Brookes could invoke the northern-born Reverend Graham’s instructions even in the midst of sectional turmoil because they both believed that irreverent self-pollution begot rampant social corruption and eroded national righteousness. The disparate ends to which Brookes and Graham pursued that end, however, constituted the primary distinction between northern middle-class emphases on masculine self-control and southern masculine mores emphasizing self-mastery. Graham counted many of the most prominent antebellum abolitionists among his closest associates, including William Lloyd Garrison, Theodore Weld, Sarah and Angelina Grimke, Horace Greeley, Arthur and Lewis Tappan, William Goodell, and Joshua Lewis, all of whom became devoted adherents of the “Graham system” of moral reform through dietary restriction. Graham conversed and corresponded frequently with these and other ardent abolitionists, the “Graham boardinghouses and hotels” that emerged as the institutional manifestation of the “Grahamite system” became widely noted as dens of abolitionism, and Graham even contemplated authoring his own political history of American slavery. Though his social reform efforts concentrated most fervently on the alleged sins stemming from unrestrained sexuality and an unrestricted diet, his intimate and longstanding associations with abolitionist advocates suggests that he believed slavery too constituted an indulgence and a sin. Brookes on the other hand believed that slave mastery underlined and demonstrated the white right to rule. Indeed, slaves were slaves in part because they were incapable of mastering themselves.[21]

Whatever reservations Brookes might have harbored for himself, his son, and his nephew concerning their moral righteousness, however, his public defense of chattel slavery deliberately refused to dwell on such vices in order to exalt the alleged virtues of the southern social order as compared to the North. In Brookes’s mind the North had proven itself incapable of self-mastery because its free-labor ideals tended to throw society into flux by promoting competition and upward social mobility as the hallmarks of civilization and progress. This stood in stark contrast to his conception of Southern slavery, with its social hierarchy predicated on white supremacy, as the most effective means of ensuring social stability. From Brookes’s vantage point Northerners so often succumbed to the temptations of lust, avarice, prostitution, and free love that the region seemed a second Sodom and Gomorrah well worthy of southern derision.[22]

The North’s singular hypocrisy in casting aspersions upon southern slavery most galled Brookes as he contemplated the growing sectional divide, however. New Englanders too, so Brookes argued, had “what they modestly call their helps,” people Brookes genuinely believed had been marked out for “a state of slavery, under other names it is true, but for the most part far worse than our state of negro slavery. These [New England servants] all through life are engaged in hard and drudgery service,” he continued, “for which the pittance they get barely affords food and clothes, and often through the freak of the employer, or for their own faults they are turned off, homeless and penniless, finding it difficult without a recommendation to get their heads into a shelter on any terms.” He beseeched anyone to “go look into the back streets and crowded cellars of London, and New York, the metropolitan cities of the old and new world, not to refer you to Boston, and you will see a condition of squalidness, hunger and sickness without medical aid.” Brookes thought it unfathomable that this debased northern society, as he saw it, dared to cast moral judgment on his native South; that Northerners posited their social structure as the high road to moral righteousness, as opposed to the low (southern) road to hellfire and damnation.[23]

Brookes most resented the tendency among even northern ministers to join in the fray, with stones in one hand and the Bible in the other, ready to pillory the South for its peculiar institution: “What the clergy of the North will do with the Bible,” Brookes incredulously observed, “as the text book from which the rule of human duty and obligation should be primarily drawn I cannot conceive.” All of it appeared, ironically given his own delusions regarding the “proper” racialized and gendered social order, a self-righteous delusion to Brookes, and one which threatened to undermine the southern social order where self-mastery stood the best chance of success. The “bright galaxy of talents for which the south has long been, and is now distinguished, give the negative to the defamatory rantings of northern [radicals],” Brookes declared before concluding, “we think that instead of such barbarism [as is alleged by northerners], truth and impartial history must concede to the slaveholding states, the traits of noble-mindedness, kind-heartedness, benevolence, generosity, hospitality, politeness and polish of manners, as characteristic of citizens of the South.”[24]

But such self-righteous delusion cut both ways, and despite such public proclamations of southern superiority, the specter of the North as they imagined it sometimes hit disturbingly close to home for men like Brookes. In discussing his son Walker in correspondence with an old college friend on the eve of southern secession in 1859, Iveson Brookes admitted, “I have long hoped God intends to make a preacher of him but he says he has not received a call to preach… he derived from his grandfather a pretty property and married a Baptist girl of equal estate and is perhaps too much immersed in the world like his father to preach much.” Brookes recognized that any lecture he might give his son, he had already given ineffectually to himself long ago: “On settling and engaging in planting, the devil too readily persuaded me to give up study and recover health by an active life. The result was I became too much engrossed in the finances of the world and my usefulness in the ministry has been greatly cut short.”[25]

The elder Brookes had utilized this confession as a warning for his son to guard against avarice as early as 1848. At that time he had deemed the present state of commerce “truly discouraging” and called “for retrenchment and economy” before admitting that for several years he had “foolishly caught the wild mania for getting rich which so universally prevailed…and [had gone] largely in debt on the credit system.” The father then effectively demanded his son to do as I say and not as I do when he acknowledged that though he had “frequently cautioned [Walker] against extravagance” he now urged him to “retrench from your course of several years passed or you will inevitably find yourself involved in pecuniary matters” as I found myself. “My advice to you,” he finished, “is to set down to your proper course studies making decency rather than show your model of life.” Toward this end Brookes eventually took solace over a decade later in the fact that “[Walker] is an active church member…a deacon, conducts the Sunday school, leads prayer meetings and in absence of their preacher lectures the congregation.” But both their paths to such respectable moral standing proved arduous. By the end of the 1850s they recognized more clearly than ever the very same moral failings in themselves they so vehemently despised when they leered at the North. The very same capitalistic greed that they believed had overrun the North threatened now more than ever to penetrate the South, corrupt its soul, and undermine its claims to mastery.[26]

Reverend Basil Manly Sr. frequently expounded upon similar themes of youthful passion and heedless ambition and the threat they posed to allegedly sanctified southern traits in his sermons, no doubt thinking of his eldest and namesake, Basil Manly Jr., as he proffered moral advice from his Sunday pulpits. In one sermon, the Reverend Manly decreed that “Character depends on purity. Whatever reputation may be gained without it is either the bubble of accidental circumstances, the whitewash of hypocrisy, or the dreadful distinction of devils.” In his view, “remorse of conscience follows the sins of youth on every remembrance,” but purity “stamps character with solid worth.” In quoting the ninth verse of Psalm 119, which asks “wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way?,” Manly answered, “by the way of a young man is meant whatever in him is likely to be affected by purity or impurity, to his principles as well as to his conduct, his character as well as habits…to change his way is to commit and avoid whatever may be considered low and impure.[27]

A proper religious frame of mind, then, constituted “the foundation of all true happiness and success,” and Manly argued in several sermons that this foundation was best laid early in life. “Youth affords advantages for obtaining religion beyond any other period of life. The heart is then tender, the habits unformed, the attention capable of concentration,” he argued, and as such, “those who come to religion late labor under many disadvantages and are wanting in the tender[ness] and beauty of religion, as well as the joy.” But if instilled with an “early piety,” Manly believed the mind “undergoes timely discipline, takes a holy, lovely direction, whence easy and perpetual improvements are made.” Upon that rock, so he thought, the innocent youth should build his faith and practice his piety, and the southern social order could rest assured of its place in the right.[28]

In most cases, Manly did not direct such messages at the youth in his flock. He, like Sylvester Graham, had sense enough to know that parents were more likely to listen and act, and Manly Sr. often wove parenting advice into his sermons. “Parents,” he hectored one Sunday, this concern for the proper moral instruction and deportment of youth “is not without its interest to you. For though you may be gathered to your grave before the evil come on them…does not the apprehension fill you with the deepest anxiety?”[29]  “The character,” Manly Sr. asserted, when cultivated through a religious frame of mind “acquires all the solidarity of confirmed habit, and the young Christian is saved despair of those perpetual backslidings to which some good men are exposed.”[30]

Carnality, obviously, was the besetting sin of youth, but Basil Manly Sr., like his Baptist brother Iveson Brookes, saw in himself and his son countless other failures in the face of temptations that embroiled both individual and public morality in precariousness. Ambition and greed, particularly as they looked North, had become so widely and deeply indulged that Manly Sr. feared for the soul of the nation. “’Seekest thou great things for thyself?” he asked his congregation. “Seek them not;’” “[We must offer] a check to inordinate ambition so common to young minds,” he urged his flock. “That ambition of elevated station is to be distinguished from a desire for true excellence of character. The latter is a most commendable ambition.” “It is a very common temptation,” he continued, as “all young minds are sanguine, romantic,” to “expect and desire something considerable.” But by “seeking great things” in this way, youthful minds pursue “a worse ambition, an ambition of ease and indolence at the expense of God’s cause.” “This should be corrected,” he concluded, so as to “throw into shade all desires after wealth, fame, etc.” for their own sake, and rather promote their achievement according to the designs of Providence.[31]

But behind this mask of self-righteous conviction, Basil Manly Sr. revealed much about his own moral misgivings in attempting to curb them in his son. Like many preachers, Manly Sr. frequently bemoaned his unworthiness for his calling by confessing to his journal: “A cold and dull frame has seized me, and long absence from duty has destroyed my facilities of connection and expression.” He later complained, “thoughts incessantly wandering. I impute the wandering state of my thoughts, which has now become a habitual moral disease, to the hurried and superficial manner in which all my reading and reflection have for some months been conducted… and [to] occupation in worldly things.” “My experience for some months has been very peculiar,” Manly Sr. admitted; “my frames have exhibited almost constant barrenness and destitution, and if a gleam of tenderness has at any time visited me it has been but seldom and momentary.” He worried over this frequently depressed spiritual state precisely because of the awesome responsibility he felt as the head of a burgeoning family, the pastor of a burgeoning church, and a white man in a burgeoning proslavery society. If he, as a minister of the sacred gospels, constantly struggled to uphold the moral tenets of his faith and station how could less pious men be expected to resist the temptations surrounding them within the slave South and bearing down on them from the allegedly hedonistic North?[32]

In a fashion altogether typical of religious clerics, Manly Sr. attempted to salve his fears and answer his own critique by attributing this personal spiritual discomfort to Divine workings. “I think I have been made willing to walk on in darkness if this should be God’s chosen method of bringing souls to the knowledge of the truth,” he suggested before confessing, “I think indeed that my proneness to pride is such that I could not bear both blessings at once, i.e. usefulness and personal comfort.” Similar bouts with a melancholy spiritual state plagued Manly Sr. throughout his life, as he frequently expressed feelings of depression and languidness concerning his spiritual frame of mind. He attributed most of this to his own moral failings and an excessive worldly pride and consciousness.[33]

His awesome responsibility as both a biological and spiritual father only heightened the burden of what he felt to be damning evidence of his personal depravity. He well understood the familial and even sectional consequences of these personal travails. As a moral example for his family and his congregation, he personified the moral standard with which they could and should collectively combat the North. In this light, his personal failings became southern failings, and these southern failings portended the dissolution of the very authority to which he laid claim and upon which southern society itself rested.

Basil Manly Jr. eventually rivaled his father’s renown as a Baptist minister and spiritual leader in the South. Their strikingly similar career paths confirmed their personal similarities, chief among them a constant self-reflection and a cycle of lamentation and recommitment to spiritual betterment. As a young man, Manly Jr. declared his resolve to cultivate his own sense of self-mastery: “The habits I now form, the character I now assume, and the reputation and standing among men I now acquire will be very liable to be permanent. If I can now preserve a manly, mild, honorable, and in a word Christian deportment, if I conduct myself with decency and order and prudence, I shall not only acquire a reputation for being so but will necessarily become of that temper and frame of mind.” And on that foundation Manly Jr. would build his church. To achieve all his spiritual and secular goals, he took his father as his model and prioritized self-mastery in his daily walk and social worldview.[34]

Early in life, however, Manly Jr. recognized the difficulties of upholding the ideals of the moral manhood he, like his father, professed. “Heavenly minded men are indeed rare,” the younger Manly lamented. “[Even] my [own] thoughts…when running in pious channels… on usefulness in the world [frequently stray and] piety becomes like the indistinct flashes and sudden but inconstant gleams of the Aurora Borealis.” “There is nothing that grieves me more than these alternate religious and sinful frames” he asserted. “Not that I dislike the first, but the last, they give me more doubts and fears and anxieties than anything else and drive me sometimes to the very brink of despair.” Manly Jr. most fervently prayed that his religion would bring an end to such self-wrangling; he wanted to surrender himself to control himself; if God would just take the helm, he could revel in a kind of faith that “shall at all times [rule] my affections as well as my reason.” But such capitulation contradicted his acknowledged station and duties on earth, as a son, a fledgling minister, and a white man in a slave society. Only with God’s guidance could he master himself and exhibit the righteous honor required of him as a master of others dependent on his authority in this world.[35]

The vice-ridden temptations threatening to undermine this effort appeared frequently in Manly Jr.’s diary—the place that captured, and sponsored, his spiritual struggles. His father had long kept a diary to give voice to certain thoughts and emotions too honest and self-effacing for public consumption in the South. He confided to his diary as a secret receptacle for those most private of feelings. Basil Manly Jr. followed his father’s example very early in life, and quickly surpassed his father in his devotion to this emotional release. His diary became for him a sort of sacramental ritual in which he confessed and confronted his deepest personal fears and most threatening moral failings. “If now when my mind is, as it were, being molded for life,” he observed while in college, “I throw…dirt chips and trash into the mold, so as to fill it up with anything but the right thing, when it comes into use these sticks and trash will be forever in the way. And what is more, I will know that they have taken the place of more important matters.” And he admitted that he too often, “yielded up myself an easy prey to all kinds of temptations and have lost almost all my self-control.” His diary became the primary place to express his need for self-mastery as well as his persistent failures in achieving it. It chronicled his attempt to be good while also serving as the place to confess consistent shortfalls; it provided him with a certain solace that accompanied such a record of accountability, of learning to fall and to pick himself up again in an endless cycle of despair, regret, and recommitment.[36]

In the sequestered safety of this diary Manly Jr. further confessed, “I have been sadly deficient in private duty…Secret sins have crept in and have met with unrestrained indulgence…I am indeed low down…The older I get and the longer I live the more evidences do I see of the perverseness of my own heart.” “Passions wild and ungovernable course through my mind with a powerful yet unperceived effect,” he later bemoaned; “imagination calls up fanciful scenes of danger, of insult, of temptation, and then all the strong passions … whirl like a tempest within my bosom.” That tempest proved unrelenting, and as frequently as he expressed his belief that “I feel a strong desire to do something in winning souls to Christ” as a minister of the gospel, he also bewailed, “I have backslidden! I have backslidden!”[37]

Such backsliding, as his father had long warned and he himself had consistently worried, imperiled his temporal happiness and spiritual progress. Self-mastery was rooted in unstable ground, and the slightest indulgence of vice and concession to temptation could result in irreparable moral erosion that could destroy his life and condemn his soul. Erosion of this kind—in someone aspiring to save souls and in so doing, to redeem the South in all its peculiarity—would not do and could not be permitted. Knowing that habits formed in youth could prove hard to shake, the burden of this responsibility weighed heavily upon young Manly Jr. as he confronted his own moral misgivings and prepared himself to meet the dual challenges of ministering to the slave South and defending it against aspersions—and alleged corruptions—from the North.

Basil Manly Jr. understood the inherent difficulties of bearing these burdens and meeting these challenges. “How soon, how easily, how imperceptibly does the careless Christian fall!” he deplored; “with what silent, gradual enticements is he lured away from his love! Without alarming him, without shocking him, but with soothing devices and flattering suggestions, the Devil leads him on and causes him to fall.” Like his father, Basil Manly Jr. struggled throughout his life to reconcile his desire for secular success with the demands of his spiritual calling. Both demanded he master himself by curbing his desires and channeling his ambitions toward morally sanctified ends. This effort to effectively exhibit and apply an honorable and pious manhood in his daily walk, to become the man his secular standing and spiritual station decreed, personifies the concept of righteous honor at work during the period. Only then could he speak confidently of the divine sanction attending southern institutions and ward off perceived northern threats. If he failed, southern society might fail with him and follow the North down the benighted path of excessive capitalistic aggrandizement, unchecked greed, and unrestrained passion. Abhorrent as it seemed, such a fate beckoned each time his vices overtook him; each time his morality succumbed to temptation; each time he failed to master his bodily lusts or emotional urges. Such weakness undermined his claims to authority, which endangered the southern social order that very authority purportedly upheld.[38]

Through a powerful combination of self-delusion and obtuseness, many men of Basil Manly Sr.’s generation and social class had sought to somehow quarantine the slave system from itself, and they from it. Their sons’ generation could not afford to play these mental games. The issue became too pressing, too personal, too pivotal for southern sons like Basil Manly Jr. to postpone any longer. They knew and felt that they held slavery’s final fate in their hands and now confronted the crucial moment in determining their destiny. For every good reason, the North and the enslaved themselves saw past temporizing for precisely what it was, and they now sought to precipitate a crisis at once as psychological as material. That privileged white southern men experienced these very personal travails in a time of immense public turmoil drove many in their efforts to place their proclaimed southern virtues on firmer ideological ground. They did so by simultaneously emphasizing their own self-mastery as justification for their enactment of righteous violence, a complementary moral and ethical perspective best captured in the conceptual ideal of righteous honor.

Certainly, such men more often implied that connection than made it explicitly. But the cumulative effect of such implicit convergence becomes quite powerful when considered alongside their more infrequent moments of blunt confrontation. This formulation compellingly suggests the conscious connection these men made between their individual struggles as white men in a slave society and that slave society’s collective struggles to defend itself against outside detractors. For them, slavery posed moral dilemmas but did not come close to qualifying as an immoral sin itself. Rather, their emphasis on white masculine self-mastery as the linchpin of an ideal social order grounded in inherently white supremacist claims to patriarchal prerogative and paternalistic protection enabled them to argue that in performing their secular obligations as slave masters they were fulfilling Divine purposes.

One poignant example of such explicit conflation involved Basil Manly Jr., who in 1844 observed the growing abolitionist “threat” at the heart of national discussions over slavery’s future as a student at the Newton Theological Institute in Massachusetts. “I see that the Christian Reflector, published in Boston, announced a prize…for the best essay on, ‘The Motives Which Should Induce Christians at the South to Make Efforts for the Abolition of Slavery,” he noted before ruminating, “I suppose [the author] intends to circulate it far and wide among us poor benighted Southerners, and thereby rouse us to action.” Manly Jr. then declared ambivalently, “I wish heartily he could. I wish light will spread among us to rouse us to our duty and to cause us, not perhaps to liberate [the slaves] but to send them the word of God and to give them better instruction in the principles of the doctrines of Christ.”[39]

Later that year, Manly Jr. reflected on a trip he had taken with his father the previous spring and one specific conversation they’d had regarding his grandfather, whom his father had described as “a man of such vehemence when he was roused that no one dared meddle with him or could pretend to do anything with him.” He then recounted his father’s admission that “he perceived the same violent terrible spirit encroaching on himself more and more in his later years, [that] when he was younger all this was more restrained but now he could hardly contain himself when anything exciting entered his mind.” Basil Jr. then confessed, “I perceive, I think, the symptoms of the same hereditary malady in myself,” and admitted that this “temper if indulged may lead to an utter ruin of my usefulness and not impossibly to derangement.” He reflected that “while at home, I was compelled to restrain myself and was rather remarkable for staidness and collectedness and quietness in my way of doing things. Yet internally and to myself there were symptoms of the same violence when roused.” He then lamented how many times he’d made such admissions in the pages of his journal, observing that “if this growing habit be not repressed it will take full possession of me.” But Manly Jr. did not and could not go so far as to blame his upbringing in a slave society for encouraging his hot-headedness. Indeed, he managed to draw the opposite conclusion: “I think that having slaves under me, or at least obedient to my orders tended in great measure to reduce this instability, for I find it has risen much since I have been [at the North].” He then explained, “their incapability of resistance and utter subjection made it constantly necessary for me to restrain myself. Here no such necessity for watching and restraint has been impressed on me.”[40]

A decade later in Richmond, Virginia, Manly Jr., by then a leading Baptist minister in that bustling city, publicly acknowledged in a speech how closely his subject of “The South in the Nation” would “come home to every man’s life and daily thoughts” before declaring, “it cannot be disguised either from ourselves or others that the citizens of the Southern states of this Confederacy stand, in a moral position, not only peculiar but isolated and alone.” He then explained what must have been glaringly apparent to his audience after thirty years of political turmoil and the more recent unrest over “popular sovereignty” and slavery in Kansas. “Amid much that we have in common with other nations and with other parts of our own nation,” Manly Jr. explained, “there are some facts in our case, so prominent in their distinctiveness and so influential in their bearing as to mark us for a peculiar destiny. Whatever that destiny may be, it is the part of manliness not to shrink from it.” In playing that “part of manliness,” Basil Manly Jr. and his generation perceived a growing crisis, one they feared would rock them and their society to its core.[41]

Indeed, the trouble for Basil Manly Jr. stemmed from his father’s generation and their grossly indecisive views on southern slavery. They had lamented and wrung their hands and declared slavery “an evil they knew not well how to deal with.” How then was Manly Jr. to convince himself that his traditions, handed down by his father, were sound; that southern slavery as an institution was just, though the southern founders had said that it wasn’t; that he (and other) Christian masters were divinely ordained to shore up what was once understood to be an evil, not by debating its merits (as their fathers’ had done) but by defending them?[42]

Basil Manly Jr. earnestly sought to see himself and his native region in a morally righteous light. He yearned for the moral and ethical fortitude and forbearance he ascribed to Christian men the he might render southern slavery not as a blight upon human history but as the progression of the exalted principles inherited from past generations. Such paternalistic aspirations, he hoped and prayed, might soften the roughest edges of his native South’s peculiar institution and patriarchal order, and in so doing redeem it in the eyes of both his God and his fellow men. He could not deny, however, that the South stood increasingly alone on the planet in this endeavor. “Leaving untouched now all influences which grow out of the general spirit of the age, and all which affect us in common with other portions of our country,” he continued, “I propose to consider the Peculiar Agencies operating on Southern Character,” the foremost among them emanating from “our social constitution…an institution of slavery” by which “we are separated from almost all the civilized world.”[43]

Basil Manly Jr. could never quite admit that maybe the South found itself isolated precisely because it actually stood on the wrong side of history. He sought his solace, the way his father did, in the notion that “the world is thus,” never admitting, “thus have I made the world.” And so, many in his generation lost their grasp on rational logic in ways their fathers had largely avoided. Forced by the sectional tumult that enveloped their generation to confront their inconsistencies, they persistently proved unable to reconcile the ideological and cultural contradictions embedded in their “way of life.” They, therefore, increasingly lashed out at any who pointed out the contradictions. But such defensiveness hardly precluded more private confessions recognizing these inconsistencies. Their inability to wholly ignore these contradictions, despite their best efforts to either explain or reform them out of existence by implicitly casting themselves and their society in the light of righteous honor, only further exposed their faults and failures and intensified their frustrations.[44]

As religious divines the Brookes and Manly men collectively understood and confronted, perhaps more directly than most, the complexities of a self-evident truth: that southern virtue demanded white masculine self-mastery as a prerequisite for effective white supremacy and proper social order. These fathers and sons exhibited the tensions that pervaded conceptions of ideal white southern manhood in the Civil War Era and personified the struggle to uphold the righteous honor they implicitly believed such manhood demanded. By emphasizing self-mastery as the basis of their claims to authority, the Brookes and Manly men vividly illustrated the emotional convergence of personal and public honor and piety, as well as the central role these ethics played in dictating the moral tenets of masculine virtue in the slave South. Threatened at every turn by vice, these men strove to attain the virtues inherent in righteous honor and did so as part of their larger effort to sustain their privileged place in the southern social order. Their particular emotional experience as ministers captured the most explicit merging of these southern values but at least suggest a broader masculine emotional experience of moral tension that enveloped many a minister and master, planter and professional alike during the antebellum era.[45]

But such righteous honor also threatened to delude men like the Brookes and Manlys as to the sanctity of their cause and the wickedness of the North. In their eyes, the North increasingly came to embody the debased results of unrestrained lust and greed; the corruption of true religious faith and piety; the complete loss of honor. Southern righteous honor required constant defense against such corruption and vice. Adherents understood self-mastery as the key to sustaining proper mastery of a slave society, meeting domestic and foreign aspersions against southern institutions with moral certainty. Northern vices would oppress southern virtues if the very southern men invested with supreme authority did not uphold the righteous honor upon which that authority rested. By 1861 the free labor, abolitionist North would become the nagging, infuriating conscience that had to be demonized into the sin itself, and then destroyed. Such views had transformed antebellum sectional difference into irreconcilable sectional discord, producing an apocalyptic vision that ultimately demanded the trial by fire that was the American Civil War.[46]

[1] “The Gospel According to Matthew, Chapter 11, Verse 27,” The Holy Bible, King James Version.

[2] “Iveson Lewis Brookes to Walker Brookes, August 7, 1846;” “Iveson Lewis Brookes to John M. Carter, January 28, 1859,” Iveson Lewis Brookes papers (hereafter ILB)/South Caroliniana Library, University of South Carolina (hereafter USC).

[3] Michael E. Woods, Emotional and Sectional Conflict in the Antebellum United States (New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2014). Wood’s application of “emotions history” to the antebellum U.S. most directly informs the “inner lives/emotional biography” approach outlined here. Other recent works of emotions history focused on the American Civil War Era influential here include: James J. Broomall, Private Confederacies: The Emotional Worlds of Southern Men as Citizens and Soldiers (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2019); Evan A. Kutzler, Living by Inches: The Smells, Sounds, Tastes, and Feeling of Captivity in Civil War Prisons (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2019). The foundation of emotions history lies in the following works: Peter N. Stearns & Carol Z. Stearns, Emotion and Social Change: Toward a New Psychohistory (New York, NY: Homes & Meier Publishers, 1988) and Anger: The Struggle for Emotional Control in America’s History (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1989); Peter N. Stearns and Jan Lewis, eds., An Emotional History of the United States (New York: New York University Press, 1998); Willim M. Reddy, The Navigation of Feeling: A Framework for the History of Emotions (New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2001); Susan J. Matt & Petern N. Stearns, eds., Doing Emotions History (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2013).

[4] For the most pertinent works on southern honor as defined here, see especially: Bertram Wyatt-Brown, Southern Honor: Ethics and Behavior in the Old South (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1982) and The Shaping of Southern Culture: Honor, Grace, and War, 1760s-1890s  (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001); Edward Ayers, Vengeance and Justice: Crime and Punishment in the 19th-Century American South (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1984); Kenneth Greenberg, Honor & Slavery: Lies, Duels, Noses, Masks, Dressing as a Woman, Gifts, Strangers, Humanitarianism, Death, Slave Rebellions, The Pro-slavery Argument, Baseball, Hunting, And Gambling in the Old South (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1996); John Mayfield & Todd Hagstette, eds., The Field of Honor: Essays on Southern Character and American Identity (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2017). For the most pertinent works on southern religion as defined here, see especially: Donald G. Mathews, Religion in the Old South (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1977); Anne C. Loveland, Southern Evangelicals and the Social Order, 1800-1860 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1980); Edward R. Crowther, Southern Evangelicals and the Coming of the Civil War (Lewiston, NY: E. Mellen Press, 2000 Rhys Isaac, The Transformation of Virginia, 1740-1790 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1999 ed); Robert M. Calhoon, Evangelicals and Conservatives in the Early South, 1740-1861 (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1988); John B. Boles, The Great Revival: Beginnings of the Bible Belt (Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 1996 ed.); Christine Leigh Heyrman, Southern Cross: The Beginnings of the Bible Belt (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1997); Cynthia Lynn Lyerly, Methodism and the Southern Mind, 1770-1810 (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1998); Philip N. Mulder, A Controversial Spirit: Evangelical Awakenings in the South (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2002); Monica Najar, Evangelizing the South: A Social History of Church and State in Early America (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2008). For the most pertinent works on southern manhood as defined here, see especially: Craig T. Friend & Lorri Glover, eds., Southern Manhood: Perspectives on Masculinity in the Old South (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2004); Lorri Glover, Southern Sons: Becoming Men in the New Nation (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007); Stephen W. Berry, All that Makes a Man: Love and Ambition in the Civil War South (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2003); Peter S. Carmichael, The Last Generation : Young Virginians in Peace, War, and Reunion (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2005); John Mayfield, Counterfeit Gentlemen: Manhood and Humor in the Old South (Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 2009); Timothy J. Williams, Intellectual Manhood: University, Self, & Society in the Antebellum South (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2014); Ted Ownby, Subduing Satan: Religion, Recreation, and Manhood in the Rural South, 1865-1920 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1990), 167.

[5] Edward R. Crowther, “Holy Honor: Sacred and Secular in the Old South,” The Journal of Southern History 58, no. 4, (1992): 619-636; John Mayfield, “’The Soul of a Man!’: William Gilmore Simms and the Myths of Southern Manhood,”  Journal of the Early Republic 15, no. 3, Special Issue on Gender in the Early Republic, Autumn (1995): 477-500 and Counterfeit Gentlemen; A. James Fuller, Chaplain to the Confederacy: Basil Manly and Baptist Life in the Old South (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2000); Charity R. Carney, Ministers and Masters: Methodism, Manhood, and Honor in the Old South (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2011); David T. Moon, “Southern Baptists & Southern Men: Evangelical Perceptions of Manhood in Nineteenth-Century Georgia,” The Journal of Southern History 81, no. 3, (2015): 563-606;Robert Elder, The Sacred Mirror: Evangelicalism, Honor, & Identity in the Deep South, 1790-1860 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2016).

[6] For related analyses of self-mastery in southern masculine culture, see especially: Heyrman, Southern Cross, 246-250. The most pertinent works to acknowledge the importance of self-control or self-discipline within antebellum southern society and culture are: Ayers, Vengeance & Justice, 27-33;Dickson D. Bruce Jr., Violence and Culture in the Antebellum South (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1979), 8-12, 233-240; Steven M. Stowe, Intimacy and Power in the Old South: Ritual in the Lives of the Planters (Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1987), x-xviii, 1-49.

[7] Charles C. Bolton, Poor Whites of the Antebellum South: Tenants and Laborers in Central North Carolina and Northeast Mississippi (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1994); Jeff Forret, Race Relations at the Margins: Slaves and Poor Whites in the Antebellum Southern Countryside (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2006); Keri Leigh Merritt, Masterless Men: Poor Whites and Slavery in the Antebellum South (New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2017).

[8] Tom Downy, Planting a Capitalist South: Masters, Merchants, and Manufacturers in the Southern Interior, 1790-1860 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2006); Elliot J. Gorn, “’Gouge and Bite, Pull Hair and Scratch’: The Social Significance of Fighting in the Southern Backcountry,” The American Historical Review 90, no. 1, (1985): 18-43; Stephanie McCurry, Masters of Small Worlds: Yeoman Households, Gender Relations, and the Political Culture of the Antebellum South Carolina Low Country (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1995); Williams, Intellectual Manhood.

[9] Ami Pflugrad-Jackisch, Brothers of a Vow: Secret Fraternal Orders and the Transformation of White Male Culture in Antebellum Virginia (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2010); Jonathan Daniel Wells, The Origins of the Southern Middle Class, 1800-1861 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004); Jennifer R. Green, Military Education and the Emerging Middle Class in the Old South (New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2008); Jonathan Daniel Wells and Jennifer R. Green, eds., The Southern Middle Class in the Long Nineteenth Century (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2011).

[10] Bertram Wyatt-Brown, Yankee Saints and Southern Sinners (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1985), 131-213 and The Shaping of Southern Culture, 136-202; Bruce, Violence & Culture, 161-177; John Hope Franklin, The Militant South, 1800-1860 (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2002 ed.); Eugene D. Genovese, The Slaveholders’ Dilemma: Freedom and Progress in Southern Conservative Thought, 1820-1860 (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1992) and Fatal Self-Deception: Slaveholding Paternalism in the Old South (New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2011); Elizabeth Fox-Genovese and Eugene D. Genovese, The Mind of the Master Class: History and Faith in the Southern Slaveholder’s Worldview (New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2005).

[11] Frederick Law Olmsted, Journeys and Explorations in the Cotton Kingdom: A Traveller’s Observations on Cotton and Slavery in the American States, Volume II (London: Sampson Low, Son, and Co., 1861), 229-230. On the primacy of self-mastery in relation to sexual urges see April R. Haynes, Riotous Flesh: Women, Physiology, & the Solitary Vice in Nineteenth-Century America (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2015), 1-55.

[12] “Iveson Lewis Brookes to Walker Brookes, August 7, 1846,” ILB/USC.

[13] “Iveson Lewis Brookes to Walker Brookes, August 7, 1846,” ILB/USC.

[14] “Iveson Lewis Brookes to Walker Brookes, August 7, 1846,” ILB/USC.

[15] “Iveson Lewis Brookes to Walker Brookes, August 7, 1846,” ILB/USC.

[16] “Virginia Brookes to Walker Brookes, July 17, 1849; January 28, 1848;” ILB/USC.

[17] “Walker Brookes to Iveson L. Brookes, November 23, 1853;” “Harriet Brookes to Iveson L. Brookes, April 5, 1853; December, 1853,” ILB/UNC.

[18] “Iveson Lewis Brookes to John M. Carter, January 28, 1859,” ILB/USC.

[19] Sylvester Graham, Lecture to Young Men on Chastity (Boston: George W. Light, 1 Cornhill, 1838 ed.), 9-10. For more on Graham, see: Stephen Nissenbaum, Sex, Diet, and Debility in Jacksonian America: Sylvester Graham and Health Reform (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1980); Jayme A. Sokolow, Eros and Modernization: Sylvester Graham, Health Reform, and the Origins of Victorian Sexuality (Rutherford, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1983). For more on the emerging antebellum reform culture in America, of which Sylvester Graham in particular and many clerics in general played a prominent part, see Robert H. Abzug, Cosmos Crumbling: American Reform and the Religious Imagination (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1994); Richard J. Carwardine, Evangelicals and Politics in Antebellum America (Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press, 1997), xvii-xix, 1-49; T. Gregory Garvey, Creating the Culture of Reform in Antebellum America (Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 2006), 1-73; Haynes, Riotous Flesh; Steven Mintz, Moralists and Modernizers: America’s Pre-Civil War Reformers (Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995); Nissenbaum, Sex, Diet, and Debility in Jacksonian America; Rita Roberts, Evangelicalism and the Politics of Reform in Northern Black Thought, 1776-1863 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2010), 53-102; Timothy L. Smith, Revivalism & Social Reform: American Protestantism on the Eve of the Civil War (Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1980 ed.); Sokolow, Eros and Modernization.

[20] Graham, Lecture to Young Men on Chastity, 20-22. Many historians have noted the cultural commonalities between North and South in the antebellum era, especially with regard to the reform impulse and the economic, social, and political changes that initiated its associated increase in moral concern. For the most relevant of these works, see Richard L. Bushman, The Refinement of America: Persons, Houses, Cities (New York, NY: Random House, Inc., 1993 ed.); Richard J. Carwardine, Evangelicals and Politics in Antebellum America (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1997); Ann Douglas, The Feminization of American Culture (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1998 ed.); Lorien Foote, The Gentlemen and the Roughs: Violence, Honor, and Manhood in the Union Army (New York: New York University Press, 2010); Reid Mitchell, The Vacant Chair: The Northern Soldier Leaves Home (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995), 92-93. For works that emphasize regionally specific reactions to these national social and economic transformations, see Clayton E. Cramer, Concealed Weapon Laws of the Early Republic: Dueling, Southern Violence, and Moral Reform (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Publishing Group, 1999); Kenneth Moore Startup, The Root of All Evil: The Protestant Clergy and the Economic Mind of the Old South (Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 1997).

[21] For the most pertinent analysis of this emerging middle-class culture in the antebellum South, see Jim Broomall, “’We Are a Band of Brothers’: Manhood and Community in Confederate Camps and Beyond,” Civil War History 60, no. 3 (2014): 270-309; Frank J. Byrne, Becoming Bourgeois: Merchant Culture in the South, 1820-1865 (Lexington: The University of Kentucky Press, 2006); Downy, Planting a Capitalist South; Green, Military Education and the Emerging Middle Class; McCurry, Masters of Small Worlds; Amanda Reese Mushal, My Word is My Bond”: Honor, Commerce, and Status in the Antebellum South,” (Ph.D. diss., University of Virginia, 2010); Pflugrad-Jackisch, Brothers of a Vow; Beth Barton Schweiger, The Gospel Working Up: Progress and the Pulpit in Nineteenth-Century Virginia (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000); Wells, The Origins of the Southern Middle Class; Wells and Green, eds., The Southern Middle Class in the Long Nineteenth Century. For the most relevant analysis of the era’s evolving ideals of middle-class masculinity and fatherhood from a broader American and trans-Atlantic perspective, see Stephen M. Frank, Life with Father: Parenthood and Masculinity in the Nineteenth-Century American North (Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998); Robert L. Griswold, Fatherhood in America: A History (New York: Basic Books, 1993); Shawn Johansen, Family Men: Middle-Class Fatherhood in Industrializing America (New York: Routledge, 2001); John Tosh, A Man’s Place: Masculinity and the Middle-Class Home in Victorian England(New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2007). For more on the connections between Grahamism & Garrisonian abolitionism as outlined here, see Abzug, Cosmos Crumbling, 117, 163-182; Nissenbaum, Sex, Diet, and Debility, 1, 14, 140-154; Sokolow, Eros and Modernization; "Letter from Sylvester Graham, Northampton, [Mass.], to William Lloyd Garrison, March 13th, 1849." Correspondence. March 13, 1849. Digital Commonwealth, (accessed August 05, 2020).

[22] Iveson L. Brookes, A Defense of the South.

[23] Iveson L. Brookes, A Defense of the South, 12-18. For more on the broad contours of southern proslavery arguments as they evolved during the antebellum period, see Drew Gilpin Faust, ed., The Ideology of Slavery: Proslavery Thought in the Antebellum South, 1830-1860 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1981); Lacy K. Ford, Deliver Us From Evil: The Slavery Question in the Old South (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2009), 481-534; William W. Freehling,  The Road to Disunion, Volume II: Secessionists Triumphant, 1854-1861 (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2007), 25-58; Larry E. Tise, Proslavery: A History of the Defense of Slavery in America, 1701-1840 (Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 1987).

[24] “Iveson L. Brookes to Bro. James, April 10, 1854;” ILB/USC; Brookes, A Defense of the South, 32-33. Iveson Brookes was not alone among southern clerics in this assessment of the North or his proslavery position. For more on proslavery southern clerics, see John Patrick Daly, When Slavery Was Called Freedom: Evangelicalism, Proslavery, and the Causes of the Civil War (Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 2002); Charles F. Irons, The Origins of Proslavery Christianity: White and Black Evangelicals in Colonial and Antebellum Virginia (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2008), 133-246; James O. Farmer Jr., The Metaphysical Confederacy: James Henley Thornwell and the Synthesis of Southern Values (Macon, GA; Mercer University Press, 1986); John R. McKivigan & Mitchell Snay, eds., Religion and the Antebellum Debate Over Slavery (Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 1998); Mitchell Snay, Gospel of Disunion: Religion and Separatism in the Antebellum South(New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 1993).

[25] “Iveson Lewis Brookes to Brother Creathe, June 13, 1859;” “Iveson Lewis Brookes to Walker Brookes, May 10, 1848,” ILB/USC.

[26] “Iveson Lewis Brookes to Brother Creathe, June 13, 1859;” “Iveson Lewis Brookes to Walker Brookes, May 10, 1848,” ILB/USC. Here Brookes acknowledged, and lamented, the corruptions he believed attendant upon the burgeoning market revolution that was sweeping the American landscape. For more on the effects of the market revolution in the antebellum South generally, see Charles Sellers, The Market Revolution: Jacksonian America, 1815-1846 (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1991). Mayfield & Hagstette, eds., The Field of Honor frames much of its collective analysis within the context of the Market Revolution in the United States, perspectives reflected and extended here in presenting the moralizing impetus in both North and South as emanating from common origins only to emphasize divergent ends, especially with regards to slavery. For more on clerical responses to the market revolution and their effects on prevailing attitudes toward private and public morality, see Fuller, Chaplain to the Confederacy, 254-267; Schweiger, The Gospel Working Up, 4, 11-54; Sellers, The Market Revolution, 202-236; Startup, The Root of All Evil.

[27] Basil Manly Sr., “’Purity in the Young,’ Sermon from Psalms 119, Verse 9, January 4, 1829,” [emphasis his], Basil Manly Sr papers (hereafter BMSr)/James Buchanan Duke Special Collections Library, Furman University (hereafter Furman). For the most thorough account of Basil Manly Sr.’s life and career, especially his southern masculine identity and its evolution during the sectional crisis, see: Fuller, Chaplain to the Confederacy.

[28] Basil Manly Sr., Seek ye First the Kingdom of God;” “’Because Their Heart was Tender,’ Sermon from Chronicles, Chapter 34, Verses 27-28, Undated;” Basil Manly Sr., “’To Be Carnally Minded is Death,’ Sermon from Romans, Chapter 5, Verse 6, Undated,” BMSr/Furman.

[29] Basil Manly Sr., “’Because Their Heart Was Tender,’ Sermon from Chronicles, Chapter 34, Verses 27-28, Undated,” BMSr/Furman.

[30] Basil Manly Sr. Seek ye First the Kingdom of God;” “’Because Their Heart was Tender,’ Sermon from Chronicles, Chapter 34, Verses 27-28, Undated;” Basil Manly Sr., “’To Be Carnally Minded is Death,’ Sermon from Romans, Chapter 5, Verse 6, Undated,” BMSr/Furman.

[31] Basil Manly Sr., “’Seekest Thou Great Things for Thyself?,’ Sermon from Jeremiah, Chapter 45, Verse 5, Undated;” Basil Manly Sr., “’Who is a Wise Man…?,’ Sermon from James, Chapter 3, Verse 13, 1828,” BMSr/Furman. For more on Manly in this paternal role—within his own family, his faith, and his profession, see: Fuller, Chaplain to the Confederacy, 154-211, 228-253.

[32] “Basil Manly Sr. Church Journal, January 28; February 1, 1827, BMSr/Furman.

[33] “Basil Manly Sr. Church Journal, April 7, 1828,” BMSr/Furman.

[34] Basil Manly Jr., “Diary entry, February 2, 1843; August 16, 1840; June 16, 1842,” Basil Manly Jr. papers (hereafter BMJr)/Furman.

[35] Basil Manly Jr., “Diary entry, August 20, 1843; November 15, 1844;” BMJr/Furman.

[36] Basil Manly Jr., “Diary entry, June 7, 1841; July 18, 1841; July 17, 1842; August 5, 1843; May 8, 1842; November 24, 1844,” BMJr/Furman.

[37] Basil Manly Jr., “Diary entry, June 7, 1841; July 18, 1841; July 17, 1842; August 5, 1843; May 8, 1842; November 24, 1844,” BMJr/Furman.

[38] Basil Manly Jr., “Diary entry, June 7, 1841; July 18, 1841; July 17, 1842; August 5, 1843; May 8, 1842; November 24, 1844,” BMJr/Furman.

[39] “Basil Manly Jr. diary entry, October 4, 1844,” Basil Manly Jr. papers (hereafter BMJr)/Furman. For more on this growing southern fear, and northern hope, that southern slavery, if contained, would kill itself with its own inherent maladies, see James Oakes, Freedom National: The Destruction of Slavery in the United States, 1861-1865 (New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2013), 1-83 and especially The Scorpion’s Sting: Antislavery and the Coming of the Civil War (New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, 2014).

[40] “Basil Manly Jr. diary entry, December 22, 1844,” BMJr/Furman. For more on the often tortured logic of southern paternalism, especially in relation to proslavery Christianity as it evolved during the antebellum era see Carmichael, The Last Generation, 59-88; Carney, Ministers and Masters, 114-135; Carwardine, Evangelicals and Politics, 153-159, 255-258, 269-272, 285-292; Genovese and Fox-Genovese, Fatal Self-Deceptionand Genovese & Fox-Genovese, The Mind of the Master Class; Greenberg, Masters and Statesmen: The Political Culture of American Slavery, (Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1985), 85-103; McKivigan and Snay, eds., Religion and the Antebellum Debate Over Slavery; Snay, Gospel of Disunion.

[41] “Basil Manly Jr. lecture before the Richmond Athenaeum, ‘The South in the Nation,’ 1854,” BMJr/Furman.

[42] Genovese, The Slaveholders’ Dilemma. The psychological interpretation ventured here applies a generational perspective to the ideological and identity crisis confronting white southern men during the sectional controversy over slavery that aligns in many respects to that forwarded in Carmichael, The Last Generation. A similar generational and psychological perspective is applied to northern political leaders of the era in George B. Forgie, Patricide in the House Divided: A Psychological Interpretation of Lincoln and His Age, (New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1979).

[43] “Basil Manly Jr. lecture before the Richmond Athenaeum, ‘The South in the Nation,’ 1854,” BMJr/Furman.

[44] For more on the social and political manifestations of this besieged mentality and its increasingly aggressive defensive posture, see especially: Ford, Origins of Southern Radicalism, 99-144; Glover, Southern Sons, 165-179; Greenberg, Masters and Statesmen, 85-103, 107-146; Manisha Sinha, The Counterrevolution of Slavery: Politics and Ideology in Antebellum South Carolina (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2000).

[45] Wyatt-Brown, Yankee Saints & Southern Sinners, 131-213 and The Shaping of Southern Culture, 136-202; Bruce, Violence & Culture, 161-177; Franklin, The Militant South; Genovese, The Slaveholders’ Dilemma; Fox-Genovese and Genovese, The Mind of the Master Class.

[46] Eugene D. Genovese, A Consuming Fire: The Fall of the Confederacy in the Mind of the White Christian South (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2009 ed.); Randall M. Miller, Harry S. Stout, and Charles Reagan Wilson, eds., Religion and the American Civil War (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1998); Randall M. Miller, Both Prayed to the Same God: Religion and Faith in the American Civil War (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2007); George C. Rable, God’s Almost Chosen Peoples: A Religious History of the American Civil War (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2010); C.C. Goen, Broken Churches, Broken Nation: Denominational Schisms and the Coming of the American Civil War (Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1985).