Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name




Committee Chair

Crothers, A. Glenn

Author's Keywords

Albert Taylor Bledsoe; proslavery theory; secession; Whig; intellectual history; antebellum


Bledsoe, Albert Taylor, 1809-1877; Slavery--Southern States--Justification; Southern States--Intellectual life--19th century; Secession--Southern States


This thesis explores the life and career of Albert Taylor Bledsoe, a conservative Whig intellectual and proslavery theorist. It seeks to understand an apparent contradiction in Bledsoe's public comments regarding slavery and secession. Bledsoe lived in a socially and politically dynamic world. His comments on slavery must be understood in the different political contexts in which they were made. This thesis explores those contexts and illuminates Bledsoe's desire to preserve social hierarchies and maintain public order, which Bledsoe believed necessary to secure liberty and equality among white men. The same concerns informed Bledsoe's shift toward secession. Bledsoe remained a Unionist through the 1860 election, believing both the Democratic fire-eaters and the Republicans represented radicalism and threatened public order. After the election of Lincoln with only northern votes, however, Bledsoe embraced secession as the only means to preserve the racial hierarchies upon which he believed a morally ordered society was built.