Southern Saints and Sacred Honor: Evangelicalism, Honor, Community, and the Self in South Carolina and Georgia, 1784-1860 Open Access

Elder, Robert Oliver Garrison (2011)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/gb19f6000?locale=en
Published

Abstract


This study focuses on overlooked connections between the traditional honor culture
of the South and the rise of evangelical Christianity in the region in the late-eighteenth
and nineteenth centuries. Historians have argued that it was only as evangelicals
moderated their early opposition to the southern shibboleths of honor and slavery that
evangelical religion flourished in the South. But this study argues that the interaction
between evangelicalism and honor was not as simple as an arc running from early
opposition to eventual accommodation. In 1780 as well as 1860 evangelicals critiqued
some of the behaviors associated with honor, but from the beginning evangelicals also
engaged the discourse of honor and shame to tell their sacred story. Furthermore, from
the movement's earliest period evangelicals drew from the same cultural wellsprings that
nourished the traditional culture of the South to sustain their communities and enforce
their vision of Godly order. Thus this study examines important strands of historical
continuity that bound evangelical beginnings and eventualities together in the South.
Just as it shaped southern life in general, honor intersected nearly every facet of the
evangelical experience. Early evangelical ministers preached the gospel of a God who
was jealous of his honor but let his son be shamed for the sake of sinners. Many
preachers laid claim to the status of honorable men as orators, while the duties of office
exposed them to the acclaim and obloquy of their communities. Evangelical churches
used the power of communal opinion to shape behavior, and evangelical rituals and
church discipline became sites of communal judgment that significantly influenced the
balance of honor and shame in the local community. For women, church discipline
largely repeated and reinforced the mandates of female honor, while for slaves rituals
signifying their spiritual rebirth and social inclusion as members of the church were
important symbols that offset the social death and dishonor of slavery. Meanwhile, white
men struggled, at times successfully, to balance the demands laid on them by their honor
and their religion.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Introduction 1

Chapter 1. 'True Honor Comes From God Alone': Evangelicalism and the
Language of the Alternative Community in the Deep South 18

Chapter 2. 'In the publick manner': Honor, Community, Discipline, and
the Self in the Local Church 62

Chapter 3. Dual Citizens and a Twice Sacred Circle: Men, Women, and
Honor in the Local Church 137

Chapter 4. Social Death and Everlasting Life: Slave Identity, Honor,
Ritual, and Discipline in the Deep South 201

Chapter 5. "A Voice at its Full Thunder": Evangelical Oratory, Honor, and
the Self 242

Chapter 6. 'An Everlasting Name': Ambition, Fame, Duty, Death, and the
Evangelical Ideal 297

Epilogue: 'He was the only man in South Carolina who could have
achieved that thing': James Henley Thornwell and the
Guardhouse Riot at South Carolina College 354

Bibliography 368

About this Dissertation

Rights statement
  • Permission granted by the author to include this thesis or dissertation in this repository. All rights reserved by the author. Please contact the author for information regarding the reproduction and use of this thesis or dissertation.
School
Department
Degree
Submission
Language
  • English
Research field
Keyword
Committee Chair / Thesis Advisor
Committee Members
Last modified

Primary PDF

Supplemental Files