The Root of All Evil
The Protestant Clergy and the Economic Mind of the Old South

Kenneth Moore Startup


"A significant contribution to our understanding of the religious experience in the Old South and of the regional culture generally."
—Eugene D. Genovese, author of The Southern Tradition: The Achievement and Limitations of American Conservatism

"Given the centrality of religious writings to antebellum southern readers, it is remarkable that this body of literature has had to wait until now to receive such an analysis."
—David Moltke-Hansen, Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

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In The Root of All Evil Kenneth Moore Startup looks to the sermons and writings of Protestant clergy to better understand the driving forces behind the antebellum southern economy. During this period of unprecedented American expansion, he finds, clerics of all denominations on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line displayed a remarkable unanimity in their condemnation of mammonism--the open pursuit of wealth, conspicuous consumption, lack of charity, and contempt of honest labor. This trend, the clergy argued, was diverting both North and South from their best interests and would ultimately destroy the nation. The Root of All Evil represents a challenge to any notion of an economically disinterested southern mind and culture by revealing an Old South in line ideologically with the mainstream of nineteenth-century capitalism, and also provides useful insights into southern religious life.
Page count: 232 pp.
Trim size: 6 x 9


List price: $46.95

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Kenneth Moore Startup is a professor of history and academic dean at Williams Baptist College in Walnut Ridge, Arkansas.