A world turned upside down : the Palmers of South Santee, 1818-1881 /
edited by Louis P. Towles.
Columbia : Published by the University of South Carolina Press in cooperation with the Caroline McKissick Dial South Caroliniana Library Endowment Fund and the South Caroliniana Society, c1996.
xi, 1067 p. : ill., maps ; 24 cm.
More Details
Columbia : Published by the University of South Carolina Press in cooperation with the Caroline McKissick Dial South Caroliniana Library Endowment Fund and the South Caroliniana Society, c1996.
general note
Includes index.
Maps on lining papers.
catalogue key
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 1997-05:
The ordeal of the Palmer family of South Carolina demonstrates the human side of the riches to rags story that befell many Southerners as a result of their gamble for independence in the Civil War. The book includes scores of letters from the Palmer family correspondence that provide fresh insight into the lives and business practices of the South Carolina antebellum aristocracy, the implications of war for these people, and their efforts to confront the challenges resulting from defeat. In addition to numerous photographs scattered through the book and a "Cast of Characters" following the epilogue that includes brief biographical sketches, both of which help to personalize the major players associated with the letters, each section of the book includes an introduction that places the correspondence in proper context. Although the parade of letters gathered in this well-organized volume may provide tedious reading for general readers and undergraduates, graduate students and serious researchers will undoubtedly find it a valuable resource tool. S. C. Hyde; Southeastern Louisiana University
This item was reviewed in:
Reference & Research Book News, May 1996
Choice, May 1997
Reference & Research Book News, August 1997
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Unpaid Annotation
A remarkable chronicle of one family's thirty-year plummet from prominence to poverty.
Unpaid Annotation
A remarkable chronicle that features one family's thirty-year plummet from prominence to poverty, A World Turned Upside Down follows the trials of the nineteenth-century planters that once dominated the southern banks of South Carolina's Santee River. Voluminous, literate, and rich in detail, the Palmer family letters and journal entries serve as a sustained narrative of the economic pressures and wartime tragedies that shattered the South's planter aristocracy. The Palmer papers offer insight into every aspect of daily plantation life: education, religion, household management, planting, slave-master relations, and social life. While the antebellum writings reveal the reinforcement of rigid attitudes about social, economic, political, and religious concerns, the wartime correspondence depicts the deterioration of those attitudes and of the Palmers' lifestyle. The letters tell of women sewing clothing for themselves and for soldiers, sending provisions to the troops, and "making do" with meager resources. The papers also describe problems facing the family patriarch - shortages, inflated Confederate currency, directives from the Confederate Congress on what to plant, and requisitioned labor - as he managed the plantations without the help of his sons and nephews. In addition to overwhelming material concerns, the Palmers chronicle the emotional impact of wartime casualties and of God's seeming indifference to the South and, more specifically, to the planters. At the close of the Civil War, the Palmers had no cash, horses, mules, seed, or human labor but plenty of debt, and their letters tell of unprofitable years of contract labor, experiences with sharecropping, and holdings that nevermatched prewar productivity. Of particular interest, they discuss the desertion and loss of slaves, the difficulties of adjusting to Reconstruction, the search for nonagricultural employment, and changes in the family's val

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