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Social Life in Virginia Before the War [Paperback]

By Thomas Nelson Page (Author)
Our Price $ 8.46  
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Item Number 125255  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   65
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.02" Width: 4.97" Height: 0.25"
Weight:   0.2 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Apr 1, 2004
Publisher   Chapman Billies
ISBN  093921802X  
EAN  9780939218028  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
An essay on plantation life and the Old South as remembered by one of Virginia's finest writers. In the introduction to this volume, Thomas Nelson Page states that his purpose is to correct the picture of Southern life portrayed by Harriet Beecher Stowe and by the post-Reconstruction writings of the 1880s.The result is a charming essay of plantation life. Originally published in 1892 as a chapter in his book The Old South: Essays Social and Political, this edition is a reprint of the edition of 1897, where this essay was published by itself along with it own introduction and illustrations.
Thomas Nelson Page (1853-1922), a native of Virginia, wrote extensively about the Old South, including several novels, and biographies of Robert E. Lee and Thomas Jefferson. From 1913 to 1919, he was US Ambassador to Italy.

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More About Thomas Nelson Page

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Thomas Nelson Page, a native Virginian, wrote extensively about plantation life and the Old South. From 1913 to 1919 he was United States Ambassador to Italy.

Thomas Nelson Page was born in 1853 and died in 1922.

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Product Categories
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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Good, but not great.  May 4, 2001
Introduction: Some may question my favorably reviewing a book which portrays plantation life in less-than-evil terms. The historical record, however, is in fact on the side of the South when it comes to slave/master relations prior to the War Between the States. The racism we see in the South following Reconstruction was simply nonexistent in large measure prior to the war. Many sources, not all of which are Southern sources, reveal a much more racist white population in the North than in the South. It's high time we begin to look beyond the public-school texts (and college secondary sources) on this subject (indeed, in all subjects), and begin embracing the original sources. Time and again New England idealists have been mislead by their own rhetoric, from New England soldiers dismayed that slaves would dare to resist their freedom-giving messiahs to the Great Depression-era writers (see FDR's commissioned "Slave Narratives") equally dismayed that ex-slaves in large number greatly missed Southern slavery and their largely Christian masters. The endearing terms used in the reminiscing of former slaves in "Slave Narratives" about bygone years on the plantation are enough to make a grown man cry. What gives? The historical record gives. Perhaps there's much truth in the old adage: "The winners write the history books." Am I here arguing that the South was sinless and without blame? Certainly not. All I wish is that we stop slandering our ancestors.

"Social Life in Old Virginia Before the War" is a well-written and beautifully illustrated account [originally an essay published in 1892] of a typical plantation in Virginia. Page reveals from memory the various roles within the plantation, from the master all the way to the field workers. The picture he portrays might surprise some. Page says that slaves were never referred to as such, only as "servants"--except in legal documents (p.1). The servants actually relished their roles and took pride in them, often singing joyfully (p.15-6) as they worked and played (and, oh, did they play!). Along with Bridenbaugh (see my review of "Myths and Realities"), Page also dispels the myth of leisure in Virginia (p.20). The plantation life was a busy one for all, but they did make time for play. The servants, if we may go by their living quarters, as described by Page, could hardly be said to be poverty-stricken. How many of us today would mind living in whitewashed cabins surrounded by blooming orchards, flower and vegetable gardens, not to mention the towering oak trees? Doesn't appear too demeaning to me, especially in those days. (For those of you who think "white-washing" represents a sign of abject poverty, I suggest a trip to the Greek Islands, where virtually every building is white-washed and quite beautiful.) As did Bridenbaugh, Page portrays the Virginian gentry as responsible to the "public" in civil service. Interestingly, the black "Mammies" were so trusted by their master and mistress that they carried with them full permission and responsibility to discipline the white children! (p.35-6). So much for the white/black antagonistic relationships described by the fictional writer, Harriet Beecher Stowe. Page offers us a wonderful glimpse into the life of Virginians when he details the yearly Christmas celebrations. This is the time of year when the black servants were married in a beautiful ceremony (which the mistress always lovingly prepared) often inside the mansions. I love humanist-myth-destroying Christian history. This little book is not quite one of them, although it comes close. Page could have said much more, but we all must choose our battles carefully.


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