Sunday, February 7, 2010

Slavery Divides Southern Whites

East Tennesseans are well aware that their region was culturally distinctive from the rest of the state.

Oliver P. Temple, a prominent Unionist and Knoxville attorney, observed in 1912 that the "overpowering influence of slavery, [and] the fear of falling under the condemnation of the mighty oligarchy of slaveholders, to some extent paralyzed the minds" of many East Tennesseans.

In their questionnaires Confederate veterans from the region also recognized the social importance of Unionism. As William Morelock pointed out, in upper East Tennessee the classes were "antagonistic at [the] beginning and close of [the] war... The community was divided in Sentiment Federal and Confederate." A Jackson County aristocrat concurred. In his neighborhood "about half of the non-slaveholding class went off with the Federal's and it was several years after the war before harmony was restored."

Fred A Bailey, “Class and Tennessee's Confederate Generation,” The Journal Of Southern History Volume LI, No.1 (February 1985): 46.

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