Date of Award

12-2007

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Legacy Department

History

Advisor

Anderson, Paul C.

Committee Member

Andrew , Rod

Committee Member

Smith , Christa

Abstract

ABSTRACT
The focus of this work is Edgefield County, South Carolina, a small, rural district in the central-southwest portion of the state. Edgefield has proven indicative of Southern society in general and as a case study has allowed historians to make broader generalizations on the development of Southern culture. This work will show how the seemingly oppositional Southern cultural ethics of honor and Protestant Evangelicalism developed simultaneously and coexisted in Edgefield, emphasizing the aspects of each ethic that reinforced and intensified one another, as well as the resulting public perception of the ethics in tandem. The result will reconcile two overarching historical analyses of the South--one based on the ethos of honor and the other on the evangelical ethos--as well as illuminate the maturation of a broad cultural ethic in Edgefield County that at once personified as well as defied religious and cultural development in Southern history at large.
The first chapter will establish the culture of honor as it existed in Edgefield County, and will illustrate the extent to which Edgefield reflected and later epitomized the cultural ethic of Southern honor into which it was born. To achieve this end, Edgefield's founding and cultural maturation will be placed into the prevailing historical analysis of Southern honor. The result will suggest that Edgefield culture was the embodiment of the Southern ethic of honor as well as highlight specific aspects of the ethic of honor which lent themselves to manipulation and incorporation by the other prevailing cultural ethic in the South, evangelicalism.
The second chapter will present this other side of the Southern ethic: Protestant evangelical religion. This chapter will document the extent to which Edgefield identified itself culturally with this Protestant ethic and was pioneering in the establishment of Evangelical religion and the ethical values associated therein in the state of South Carolina. Again the development of Edgefield evangelicalism will be placed into the historical analysis of Southern Protestant evangelicalism at large. The emphasis here will be upon the broader evangelical ethic as it came to be employed and understood in the form of religious revival. The nature of the revival and its effects upon both the evangelical religious ethic and society at large will be the focus. The result will illustrate the prevalence of this ethic in the general culture of Edgefield County and highlight the specific characteristics of the evangelical revival that were receptive and adaptive to notions of Southern honor.
The final chapter will tie these two cultural ethics together by focusing largely on the public mind of Edgefield itself as well as the aspects of each ethic that upheld the other. In this way, broader conclusions regarding the complexity of Southern cultural development will be expounded. The chapter will show how Southern leadership reconciled two seemingly mutually exclusive cultural ethics--both in rhetoric and action--with the ultimate goal of cultural and social stability. At the same time it will highlight unique aspects of Edgefield County with regard to time and place that allow Edgefield to loom large in the historical narrative of South Carolina and Southern regional cultural analysis.

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