The Rhetoric of Insurrection and Fear: The Politics of Slave Management in Confederate Georgia

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Abstract

Since overseers "over eighteen and under thirty-five" were now liable to be drafted into the army, it meant that "the peace and safety of helpless women and children must be imperiled for want of protection against bands of idle slaves, who must be left to roam over the country without restraint." The increasing power of the central government and of individual Confederate states, as well as the burdens of service and sacrifice these governments required from civilians, led to an unprecedented increase in letters to government officials and leaders seeking "protection" from the demands of war. Reflecting this desire for protection, ordinary white men and women in Georgia flooded Governor Brown with correspondence. The array of complaints was vast and included everything from the high price of food to Confederate taxes and neighbors using grain for distilling whiskey instead of making flour. An examination of all these letters, however, indicates that, despite some initial concerns, real servile insurrection fears were rare. (The volume of overall incoming correspondence to the governor was about the same for each of these years.) Like the "ripe" insurrection climate stemming from the 1860 election and secession crises, the governor's incoming correspondence indicates something similar arising after the outbreak of war.
Original languageEnglish
Article number56
Pages (from-to)237-266
Number of pages30
JournalJournal of Southern History
Volume89
Issue number2
Early online date25 Apr 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2023

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