By Hunter Wallace
We have explored Robert Barnwell Rhett here in the past, but I have only made passing references to Louisiana’s great fire-eater, James D.B. De Bow. This looks like it will be an excellent book:
“In the decades preceding the Civil War, the South struggled against widespread negative characterizations of its economy and society as it worked to match the North’s infrastructure and level of development. Recognizing the need for regional reform, James Dunwoody Brownson (J. D. B.) De Bow began to publish a monthly journal—De Bow’s Review— to guide Southerners toward a stronger, more diversified future. His periodical soon became a primary reference for planters and entrepreneurs in the Old South, promoting urban development and industrialization and advocating investment in schools, libraries, and other cultural resources. Later, however, De Bow began to use his journal to manipulate his readers’ political views. Through inflammatory articles, he defended proslavery ideology, encouraged Southern nationalism, and promoted anti-Union sentiment, eventually becoming one of the South’s most notorious fire-eaters …”
De Bow was one of the antebellum South’s leading fire-eaters and its most well known advocate of industrialization.
From the book:
“De Bow became the first Southerner to recognize and promote a comprehensive regional economic and social vision that blended the South’s past with a more diverse future. He foresaw how slavery and plantations could coexist with railroads, factories and cities. He wanted readers to understand that industrialists, merchants, and planters had similar goals and that they all needed to work together to improve the South’s future.”