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Henry Hughes and proslavery thought in the Old South

Author: Douglas Ambrose
Publisher: Baton Rouge : Louisiana State University Press, ©1996.
Series: Southern biography series.
Edition/Format:   Print book : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary:
In this biography of the proslavery ideologue Henry Hughes (1829-1862), Douglas Ambrose offers a compelling examination of the life and writings of an intriguing antebellum thinker. Hughes occupied a distinct position among southern advocates of slavery in that his defense of the practice was only one piece of his larger vision for a new social order he called "warranteeism." Influenced by the new field of  Read more...
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Named Person: Henry Hughes; Henry Hughes; Henry (Soziologe) Hughes
Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Douglas Ambrose
ISBN: 0807120804 9780807120804
OCLC Number: 35029674
Description: xiv, 226 pages ; 24 cm.
Contents: The origins of the sociologist, 1829-1848 --
The maturation of the sociologist, 1848-1853 --
The Treatise on sociology: slavery, warranteeism, and the state --
Warranteeism and free labor: households, families, and markets --
The sociologist confronts the world, 1854-1862.
Series Title: Southern biography series.
Responsibility: Douglas Ambrose.
More information:

Abstract:

In this biography of the proslavery ideologue Henry Hughes (1829-1862), Douglas Ambrose offers a compelling examination of the life and writings of an intriguing antebellum thinker. Hughes occupied a distinct position among southern advocates of slavery in that his defense of the practice was only one piece of his larger vision for a new social order he called "warranteeism." Influenced by the new field of sociology, Hughes set down in the Treatise his concept of warranteeism, which prescribed a powerful, authoritarian state that guaranteed the subsistence of the laboring classes through tight control of all social and labor relations. According to Hughes, warranteeism embodied the logical development of slavery in the modern world, the highest stage of socially responsible labor relations. Laborers would no longer be slaves, the personal property of individual masters, but "warrantees." Slaveholders would become "warrantors," charged by the state with providing for the laborers assigned to work in their households. This highly regulated, "progressive" society would eliminate want and, consequently, chaos, crime, and eventually even disease. Hughes sharply contrasted the security of warranteeism with the uncertainties and miseries that bedeviled market-based free-labor societies, notably the North, which he predicted would inevitably collapse. Hughes' plan was fraught with inconsistencies, a result of the tension between forming an abstract sociological model and simultaneously defending an existing society that was unevenly informed by capitalist elements. Although his ideas never gained wide acceptance during his short lifetime, they foreshadowed the modern authoritarian state and reveal the sophistication of southern intellectual life, even in such a stereotypically provincial place as Mississippi. However disquieting Hughes' thought may be to many today, it illuminates a powerful tendency in modern social and political theory.

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