Presenting many slaveholders as intelligent, honorable and pious men and women, this study asks how people who were admirable in so many ways could have presided over a social system that inflicted gross abuse on slaves. The South had formidable proslavery intellectuals who participated fully in transatlantic debates and boldly challenged an ascendant capitalist ("free-labor") society. Blending classical and Christian traditions, they forged a moral and political philosophy designed to sustain conservative principles in history, political economy, social theory, and theology, while translating them into political action.
Part I. Cradled in the Storms of Revolution: 1. 'That Terrible Tragedy'; 2. The age of revolution through slaveholding eyes; 3. 'The Purest Sons of Freedom'; Entr'Acte: the bonds of slavery; Part II. The Inescapable Past: 4. History as moral and political instruction; 5. The slaveholders' quest for a history of the common people; 6. World history and the politics of slavery; 7. History as the story of freedom; Part III. Ancient Legacies, Medieval Sensibility, Modern Men: 8. In the shadow of antiquity; 9. Coming to terms with the Middle Ages; 10. The chivalry; 11. Chivalric slave masters; 12. Chivalric politics: Southern ladies take their stand; Part IV. A Christian People Defend the Faith: 13. A Christian people; 14. Unity and diversity among the faithful; 15. War over the Good Book; 16. Slavery: proceeding from the Lord; 17. The Holy Spirit in the word of God; 18. Jerusalem and Athens - against Paris; 19. Serpent in the garden: liberal theology in the South; 20. Theopolitics: golden rule, higher law, and slavery; Coda: St. John of Pottawatamie; Part V. At the Rubicon: 21. Between individualism and corporatism: from the reformation to the war for Southern Independence; 22. Past and future Caesars; Epilogue: King Solomon's dilemma.
A Selection of the AAUP for Public and Secondary School Libraries
Choice Outstanding Academic Title 2006
Honorable Mention, Peter Seaborg Award for Civil War Scholarship 2006
"In exploring their terrible and complex subject with honesty and sympathy, the authors have grappled heroically with the ambiguity at the heart of history and in the heart of man."
-The Atlantic Monthly
"Extraordinarily erudite. What is most impressive is the authors' ability to tell us precisely what was meant by the innumerable literary and cultural references found in the writings of the slaveholding intellectuals. They seem to have read all the books that their subjects read and talked about and are thus able to get inside their minds to a remarkable degree."
-New York Review of Books
"This book is one that libraries of colleges offering courses in American history ought to acquire."
-Catholic Library World
"Eugene Genovese and Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, focusing as they should on religion and political thought, have turned their immense learning and acuity to presenting the strongest case possible about the slaveholders intellectual and moral virtues, as well as their enormous failings and tragedies. Historians, including those who do not share the Genoveses's Old South sympathies, will find The Mind of the Master Class a commanding and illuminating book."
-Sean Wilentz, Princeton University
"The strength of the book lies in the Genoveses' depth of research and command of the primary sources. The Mind of the Master Class is an important contribution to southern intellectual history and undoubtedly will be read and debated for years to come."
-Adam L. Tate, Clayton State University, Journal of Social History
"...the Genoveses offer us one more insight into the Southern mind." -Hal Goldman, Historie sociale