Life in the South During the Civil War

Life in the South During the Civil War - coverLife in the South During the Civil War

Submitter: I found this gem of a book on a shelf in the Juvenile Non-Fiction of our Public Library. There are so many bad things about this book, including that it thankfully never gets checked out. “The Way People Live Series focuses on pockets of human culture. . . .each book. . .attempts to show an honest and compete picture of a culture removed from our own by time or space.” This book is one of the most white-washed books I have ever seen. This book paints a completely different picture of the civil war and slavery than I learned about in school and have read about since. I’ve attached some pictures of passages from the books. There were so many to choose from, I tried to get the ones that really stood above the rest.

Holly: I don’t know about the whole book, but the passages here seem to tell the story of slavery, not the story of life during the Civil War. Does it talk about the war in other passages? Does it talk about black soldiers in the Civil War, or is the war information all from a white perspective too?

Life in the South During the Civil War - slave drivers

Life in the South During the Civil War - houseboy or house girl

Life in the South During the Civil War - the "fortunate" few

Life in the South During the Civil War - The Lord's Simple Needs



  1. “Reigning justly, wisely, paternally and firmly over all his children”—I see your point, submitter. And I notice the list ignores any reference to some of the slaves being their master’s literal children.

    1. My guess is the photo was chosen to set the mood for the book’s Lost Cause propaganda

  2. “The planter defined ‘children’ broadly: … not only the little ones whom he had fathered by his wife, but also his wife, [other of their white blood relatives living with them, any hired hands, slaves] and all their children”.: For that last, read “children ole massa fathered by the slave women”. The biggest whitewash (pun not intended, but yeah, truly appropriate) since Tom Sawyer sandbagged his pals into helping him paint the fence !

  3. If plantation owners really did view themselves that way it’s correct to state that they did. It’s not a white wash, but a view of a society as it was. History should certainly state opinions that were held at the time, and allow them to stand as they appeared at the time. The reader should make their own judgements about whether they agree or not. I’d want to look at the source material.

  4. Historian chiming in:
    IF (and I repeat, IF) this material is presented in the PROPER perspective–as the way things were said and written *at the time,* and set withing that specific context, with citations of the source materials and a thorough explanation of that purpose in the introduction, then this becomes an extremely valuable, and rapidly disappearing, look into that era. It need not “defend” it while presenting it, just show the view of that “side” of the equation.
    Far too often, in the interest of advancing “political correctness” and other socio-political agendas, such material is being eradicated from the face of the earth. Eventually, we run into the “those who don’t study history are condemned to repeat it” conundrum.

  5. It says they envisioned themselves as just rulers, not that they really were. I’d have to see the whole book before making a judgement here.

    1. Precisely. If the book had been written a few decades earlier, it would have said the masters were wise, just, et cetera. And the word “lucky” would not have been put in sarcastic quotation marks.

  6. To be truly useful, this book should include more on what the slaves thought of their condition. And such thoughts are available; there are more than a few court documents, for example, in which slaves tried to sue for freedom. Not to mention the writings of Fredrick Douglass and quite a few others.

    I think one of the disturbing things about it is the giving of slave testimony in “dialect,” where no such effort is made to mimic the speech of whites.

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