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Like a Great Feudal Landlord: How Architecture and Slavery Created the World of the Upcountry Planter

By author: Heidi Amelia-Anne Weber
Product Code: HH1017
ISBN: 9780881468229
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The Southern Greek Revival plantation house is one which has drawn attention in history and fiction. Yet, the symbolism and meaning of these homes, particularly those of the Upcountry planters, is often overlooked. Behind the construction, maintenance, and decoration of such grand residences was the use of slave labor. Greek Revival architecture, although used throughout the United States, had particular appeal to many Upcountry planters for several reasons. For one, it represented a renewal of the ideals embodied by the ancient Greeks, who firmly adhered to a division of society as well as the need for and use of slavery. Additionally, the Upcountry cotton planter of the nineteenth century sought to differentiate himself from the planters of the previous generation, who used the Federal style of architecture. With the prosperity generated from cotton cultivation, the Upcountry planters from Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina saw in their Greek Revival plantation house a lasting legacy to their power and societal status. Today, it is hard to comprehend how pillars of communities and leaders in the nation rationalized holding people in bondage. Most who cultivated great wealth in the Southern states were able to do so due to the labor of their slaves. These Upcountry planters, who were not as acclaimed as their Lowcountry counterparts, used their financial successes from growing cotton to build Greek Revival mansions to display their status. The muted voices of the slaves who enabled the planters to live in these homes are articulated here, as well as the exploration of the dramatic changes brought about by the Civil War.
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Reviews

Review by: Charles Crawford, professor of History, The University of Memphis - December 15, 2021
Just when it seems that surely another fascinating study cannot be written about the great American Iliad of the Civil War, a volume like this appears. It takes us into the past world in which the powerful class who led the South into this doomed war lived. All who seek to understand how this class lived should read this book.
Review by: Douglas Cupples, adjunct professor of History and Political Science, Christian Brothers University - December 15, 2021
The desire to display personal wealth through magnificent architecture is timeless and cross-cultural. In the nineteenth-century antebellum American South, Upcountry planters displayed their wealth in land and property (often slaves) by building magnificent Greek Revival homes on their plantations. Heidi Weber presents a penetrative and interpretive view of the rise of that wealth and its loss as the War Between the States destroyed the labor system upon which it depended. The post war ruined plantation homes were more emblematic of the Lost Cause than the defeated armies

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