Lecture 2: Virginia and the Cavaliers

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    Hi Dr. McClanahan,

    In your video lecture of “Virginia and the Cavaliers”, you state that “Virginians liked to have money but they hated to handle it and loved to show it off” (30:10). Would you please expand a bit on that idea? Is that to say that the Cavaliers were less interested in having things such as gold and silver coins than they were in having large expensive items (like huge plots of land) that they could easily show off to others?




    Good question. Generally, the gentlemen of cavalier society did not want to be seen as money grubbing merchants. They were gentlemen in the old sense, i.e. a landed aristocracy, who did not “participate” in commerce. As for the displays of wealth, yes, land could be used to display wealth and power, but it even went to little things like having ornate capitals on balustrades to demonstrate that they owned the home debt free. Ostentatious displays of wealth were quite common among the cavalier elite.


    Thanks for the prompt response Dr. McClanahan!


    I really enjoyed this lecture. I’ve already purchased the book “The Language of the American South” and I’m planning on using a ton of this stuff to change around my lectures next year in AP US history. Thanks!


    Very good lecture. I wanted to understand this correctly, are you saying that the “southern drawl” is proper English coming from the culture in southern England?

    I never thought of reading Shakespeare with my southern accent. That’s awesome.

    Culture, I think is very neglected in history class (or maybe I didn’t pay close enough attention because of the boring fact memorization). These cultural understandings put everything in a better perspective because you can see the how and why of human action that led to the events that happened.


    Yes, that is what I am saying. Reading Shakespeare with your Southern accent would be the proper way to read it. I would highly recommend DHF’s Albion’s Seed. I included it on the reading list and at over 900 pages, it is only a little light reading.


    I had my first Aha! moment during this lecture. I began my earliest education in Massachusetts and often wondered why we were instructed that Plymouth obtained all the significant “firsts” of the colonies. Especially when I finished my public education in VA and found that those teachings were false. Thanks for pointing out the “revisions” to public education that took place after the civil war!


    Are there any examples of this “traditional” southern accent? Is this similar to what we have today? For some reason I think of Val Kilmer in Tombstone playing Doc Holiday. His accent seems to come to mind. Do I have this correct?


    The “traditional” Southern accent depended on place. Do not look to current Hollywood.

    Here are a couple of good videos with traditional southern accents:

    (Not Clete, but the interviewees): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vbZ3XzT-WGM


    Interesting. I’ve actually never hear this kind of dialect, even down here in the Savannah area, where I live. I do hear much of the southern accent out in the country area, heading towards Macon though. I’d really like to research more about southern accents.

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