Major Butler’s Legacy
Five Generations of a Slaveholding Family

Malcolm Bell Jr.

Reviews

"By any measure, Major Butler's Legacy is a wonder . . . Bell uses the Butlers to tell America's story. . . . From the Constitution-maker Pierce Butler himself, through the grandson's generation, which included the great actress Fanny Kemble, down through the great-great-grandson, the famous novelist of The Virginian, Owen Wister, the family occupied center stage of U.S. history for 150 years"
Miami Herald

"Major Butler's Legacy is a great contribution both to our knowledge of the world created by Southern slaveholders and to the much-celebrated but too often obscure legacy of that hot and humid 1787 Philadelphia summer. . . . Bell is everything a popular historian can be: informative, entertaining and a storyteller who makes the tragedy of the past real in the lives of his readers"
Cleveland Plain Dealer


"No Hollywood script could be more dramatic than the saga of the Butlers"
Richmond News Leader

"A life and times family biography . . . While we meet many fascinating members of the Butler family, most striking is the counterpoint of white and black playing out its intricate and contradictory theme in slavery and freedom. Bell's rich account clarifies why the Old South and the New defy easy summary and ensnare our imagination. With the epic sweep of Children of Pride, this is highly recommended for major libraries."
Library Journal

"Author Bell finds this family paradigmatic of that portion of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century southern American society heavily dependent on slavery and dedicated to resisting its abolition. History buffs will lose themselves in these well-ordered, even vigorous pages, as Bell investigates the nature of slave economy via the traits and experiences of the Butlers and pries into the private lives of individual Butler family members and of the slaves themselves."
Booklist

"Drawn from thorough research in primary sources, this is the engaging story of one of America's great plantation families . . . There is rich detail on the lives of slaves, their work, diet, religion, family life, and treatment under plantation managers. The author makes extensive use of family correspondence, journals, diaries, newspapers, wills, documents of agricultural production, slave inventories, and records of black births, deaths, escapes, and punishments. His account includes notes, a good bibliography, and eighty-two pages of records of the Butler family, related figures, and records of slaves and black freemen. Included, too, are some excellent illustrations and photographs of former slaves. Highly recommended."
Choice

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Description

Master of vast rice and cotton plantations in South Carolina and Georgia, delegate to the Constitutional Convention, Major Pierce Butler bequeathed his family and nation a legacy of slavery—an inheritance of immense wealth sown with the seeds of Civil War. In Major Butler's Legacy, Malcolm Bell charts the unfolding of the Butler patrimony, an epic story that reaches from the eve of the Revolution to the first decades of this century and includes in its course such figures as George Washington, Aaron Burr, Fanny Kemble, William Tecumseh Sherman, Henry James, Theodore Roosevelt, and Owen Wister.

Page count: 704 pp.
Illustrated
Trim size: 6.125 x 9.25

Read more about the Butler family at the New Georgia Encyclopedia.

 



Paper
List price: $38.95
978-0-8203-2395-4
1989

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Malcolm Bell Jr. spent eight eight years researching and writing Major Butler's Legacy on retiring as president and chairman of a Savannah bank. He has published articles and books on Savannah and Georgia history, and with his wife Muriel made the photographs for Drums and Shadows (Georgia).