Chapter 9: Society: The Social Aggregate

One of the main points this chapter tries to make is the difference between different regions of the state. The backcountry was an area of lawlessness – men of property were the law against rustlers and thieves. The lowcountry, however, was the richest society in colonial America at the time (214). This was, of course, in terms of the minority white population that ran the larger plantations – “at least 50 percent of the wealth in the area was owned by the richest 10 percent of the population” (214).

Career income varied, but a renowned lawyer would be rather well-off, as would a doctor; a planter, however, could make next to nothing or be one of the richest in the land. Merchants were known to have done the best. As is the case today, however, many people believed that majority of the population was rather well-off, when the case was, in reality, that most of the wealth lied in a miniscule percentage.

It is interesting to note, however, that inward skirmishes were seen as a rare kind of fallacy – “the hypocrisy of common politeness was almost essential for survival, while threats to the security of the colony increased the importance of internal solidarity” (218). In other words, there were too many external issues for colonists to be concerned about petty issues occurring within their walls. This reference to the “hypocrisy of common politeness” just might explain where the origin of the ever-lovable “back-handed compliment” lies.

It is also an interesting detail in reference to the justice system at the time that Carolinians were notably less in favor of the death penalty than those of England – however, in certain cases, violence was not put aside. In the case of the Dutartes of Charles Town, the son-in-law, after being pursued by the magistrate, killed the captain of the local militia company – in turn, three of the family were killed. This is an interesting form of policy considering that these there may not have entirely been part of the crime.

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