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American History : Colonial


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While it is important to consider style when writing an essay, one also needs to consider the content as well.  This essay appears to have numerous contextual issues as noted by one of our readers.  See below...


Feudalistic Culture In the Southern Colonies

When the Anglicans, or Cavaliers, came from England to settle the southern colonies of North America, they brought with them many of the same customs that they had formerly used. Their ways, unlike those of the Puritans and Protestants settling the northern colonies, were very feudalistic because of the true feudalistic society which they had left in England. The Anglicans' feudalistic customs instituted in the New World affected every aspect of the society, including the economy, politics, and social system.

The economy of the South was extremely feudalistic. Just as in a genuine feudal society, the southern colonies had a mercantile economy while the rest of the colonies were industrialized. A mercantile economy is one in which the majority of the working population is made up of businessmen. More importantly however, in the South, only a small number of people, the planter class, actually owned all the land, and the rest of the population lived on it. Land meant power, and the individuals who had had land and power in England also had it in America. Because feudalism cannot exist without abundant free labor, those of the powerful planter class had many serfs. The feudal hierarchical arrangement of the southern colonies' economy was simply the Anglicans' way of transporting their previous feudal culture to the New World.

Social aspects of the southern colonies, too, closely resembled feudalistic ways. In England, the Anglicans were a society of classes and hierarchy; however in the New World, a Democracy was established, thus abolishing classes. Because of these new rules, the southern colonists became a society of deference, or internalized class system. An internal class system is one that is not in the form of a law, but is implied among those of such a society. People respected whom they were taught were their "betters", and ignored or degraded those below them. The planter class was also very religiously conservative. They were Anglicans, the lower class was either Baptists or Methodists, and there was no intention of changing that. Such religious conservatism was also found in Feudal society, and it signified stagnant, anti-progressive culture. The South's strong military tradition was also similar to that of Feudalism in the sense that nearly everyone who was physically capable would join the military. Finally, the planter class was very anti-Capitalist. This meant they wanted rank to be based on land and money, not on merit, as was the surrounding Capitalist culture. The planter class simply did not want to be forced to become businessmen in order to achieve greatness, and they liked the idea of material wealth bringing power. Feudalism showed extremely strong signs of existence in the South's social system.

Politics in the South were also quite feudalistic. Although there was not a well developed political culture, it was apparent that people did not favor independent rule as they did up north. People liked having a central ruler govern their community. Each southern colony had a colonial legislature and a royal governor from England, which, of course, were dominated by the planter class. Few well-known rulers emerged from the South, however, because of the feudalistic desire there to maintain the status quo. All remained stagnant, and no new political ideas developed.

In the New World, the Cavaliers from England established a very feudalistic society. They chose to re-establish the type of culture which they had left in England, and thus became the stagnant culture they were until the late 1800s. Culture is a very powerful phenomenon; those who adapt to a specific culture will then try to recreate it in a new and unfamiliar place, just as the Anglicans did in the New World.


"I just read your article about feudalism in the South. Being a Southerner and having researched my family and others back to the early 1700's by performing pure research -- (this means reading news papers of the day, looking at congressional records, census records,court records,period documents and military records not reading someone's interpretation of the facts) -- I find the out and out lies you have posted to be very appalling and offensive. If you were to really do some serious research you will find many of the big mega plantations were owned by Northerners or people from the North who migrated to the South. Just take a visit to Natchez,Ms and tour the homes there and you will find that most of the people who owned them were absentee landlords living in New York and Philadelphia. A look into the history of New York will reveal that New York and Boston were both built on slave labor.  Only 7% of the people in the South owned slaves in 1860 and within that group, 50% resided in the Northern states. This may explain why many in the planter class opposed seceding and why Grant did not burn Natchez. Most people in the Antebellum South were of the Yeoman class and being of Celtic decent were fierce, proud and independent. Remember that these people were the true original Rednecks.  I have known quite a few Rednecks in my time and have never known one to back down nor have anything but contempt for a rich man. I can tell you that these people did not take any flack from anyone -- let alone a rich planter.  Most ignored politics until politics got in their way.  When this came about they fought.

The only time the South came close to what your writer describes, was during and after Reconstruction. This was a time when the South was ruled with an iron fist by the Federal government and ex-Union soldiers. After Reconstruction many once prosperous people were reduced to share cropping.  This was solely because of the policies laid out by Reconstruction overlords."



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