Slavery And Southern Honor Essay examples

1658 Words7 Pages
Parallels

To southern men, honor was everything. I dictated their standing in society, whether or not they could own slaves; it basically was a secret caste system. A man held in the highest honor experienced a good life from a social stance in the south. The honor system used in the south was related to the language used by southern gentlemen.# Honor and Slavery by Kenneth S. Greenburg attempts to explain the vernacular and customs used by men in the antebellum south. It would be hard for a person in today's society to understand the way honor was shown; it would have even been a challenge for men living in the Northern United States to understand at that time.# As Greenburg states, "Since the language of honor was the dominant
…show more content…
Greenberg talks about how John invited a man to dinner, only to forget his invitation later. When the man showed up for dinner, John had to refuse him, saying "Sir I am not at home."# This could have easily led to a duel because John was obviously lying to his unintended guest. If the man wanted to accuse John of lying and most likely challenge him to a duel all that he would have had to do was "give him the lie." It was an official way of announcing that another person was without honor because he had just lied.# Being given a lie may not sound serious to someone today but in the Old South it was a very serious accusation and it threatened the integrity of a man. Most would have preferred death to being unmasked and admitting a lie. Jefferson Davis "would kill or be killed rather than accept the affront."# To be unmasked was to have an entire life of lies exposed because it is assumed that most honorable men have lied throughout their lives. P.T. Barnum is another example of the seriousness of lying. The south did not care if his Feejee Mermaid was a fake they only cared that P.T. Barnum was lying to them about it being real.# Often times, lying resulted in a duel. Dueling was considered the proper way for two gentlemen to settle a disagreement and it also proved their honor.# However dueling was not always full of hatred and anger.# Often times duelists would exchange gifts and fire shots in the air, not at
Get Access