The Good, The Bad and The South
Southern society and culture held many actions and achievements in high regard and of course held others with low regard and utter disdain. Success in politics, societal status, land ownership, wealth and family ties are those at the top of the pedestal of southern society and thus the most sought after components of life for any antebellum southern citizen. Those held with disrespect include family problems/conflicts, sexual harassment, unionist/submissionist political views and disrespect towards others in general. James Henry Hammond was one peculiar individual who represents both sides of this spectrum. He was an antebellum southern man who experienced both successes in southern society but also committed deeds that led to humiliation among South Carolina society during some parts of his life. Hammond thus gives the image of a man who represents both the best and the worst components of antebellum southern society.
Hammond was born to Elisha and Catherine Hammond in 1807, and from this moment on, Hammond believed his father lived “for me & in me” (Faust pg. 7) Elisha Hammond expected great things to come from his first born and constantly pressured him to attain success in his life. “More than half of the young men raised in the southern states are sooner or later ruined by disapation but this,” Elisha solemnly intoned, “I trust will not apply to you” Preaching such as this was daily for the young Hammond living with his father in the early 19th century. It instilled in him a fear of failure that stayed with him even as he became an older man. When he lost the gubernatorial election for South Carolina in 1840, there is no doubt of his father’s preaching affecting his deep disappointment in himself at having lost a contest of any sort.
Elisha’s confidence in the boy was well placed however. He was admitted junior class standing at South Carolina college when he was just 16 years old. Hammond graduated fourth in his class of...