Placing class rather than race or gender at the center of this comparative study of North and South, Kilbride exposes the close connections that united privileged southerners and Philadelphians in the years leading to the Civil War. He finds that the bonds between these similarly educated and socialized groups to be so durable that they resisted sectional warfare. Kilbride notes that southern planters were drawn particularly to Philadelphia because of its proximity to the South and perception of the city as being untainted by northern radicalism. In addition, Philadelphia possessed well-regarded schools, prestigious intellectual societies, historical landmarks, and fashionable shopping districts. In the city's parlors, ballrooms, and classrooms, privileged northerners and southerners forged a republican aristocracy that ignored the Mason-Dixon line.
"Focusing on Carolina planter families like the Izards and Manigaults and their relations with upper-crust Philadelphians, Daniel Kilbride shows how conservative women and men bridged sectional lines, using reactionary politics, exclusive education, and polite social rituals to construct a distinct aristocratic identity." - Cynthia A. Kierner, author of Scandal at Bizarre"