Among regional landed elites in the Western World of the mid-1800s, the two most formidable were the owners of slave plantations in the Southern states of the U.S. and the proprietors of manorial estates in the provinces of Prussian East Elbia.
Masters and Lords surveys the economic, social, and political histories of the two classes from the seventeenth and sixteenth centuries respectively, and pays particular attention to Southern planters during the secession crisis of 1860-61 and to Junkers during the revolutionary crisis of 1848-49. In the process, Bowman grapples with such ambiguous and contentious concepts as capitalism, conservatism, and paternalism.
Despite very different labor systems, antebellum planters and contemporaneous Junkers alike presided over landed estates that functioned as both autocratic political communities and agricultural enterprises exporting valuable commodities to industrializing England. This book also highlights important geographic, demographic, and political contrasts between the American South and East Elbia as regional societies. Bowman concludes that the crucial distinction between the two landed elites is to be found in the Junkers' militarist and estatist monarchism versus the planters' libertarian but racist republicanism.
A compelling work in comparative history, Masters and Lords will appeal to all those interested in Southern history, European history, agricultural history, and slavery.
"Buttressed by impressive research in both American and German sources, filtered through an eclectic variety of theoretical perspectives, this is a long-awaited book of big arguments and broad comparisons. If it does not always persuade, it challenges easy assumptions, transforms debate, and broadens our historical vision on virtually every page....Even those unconvinced by [Bowman's] claims will be impressed by the full and evenhanded treatment he accords
contrary views....Masters and Lords is a refreshing, intelligent, provocative study all nineteenth-century southern and German historians will want to examine."--Georgia Historical Quarterly
"Thoroughly researched, well-written and carefully argued..."--American Studies
[A] thorough and thoughtful analysis..."--The Virginia Magazine
"Masters and Lords is the product of more than fifteen years of research and reflection....As a work of comparative history, it ranks with the most distinguished studies...Prodigiously researched in both southern and German sources and carefully positioned within a myriad of competing interpretations, Bowman's monograph cannot help but impress readers as a deeply learned and immensely thoughtful book."--Journal of Southern History
"[A] carefully crafted and judiciously argued comparative study..."--American Historical Review
"Masters and Lords is a carefully crafted comparison of southern planters to East Prussian Junkers."William and Mary Quarterly
"Bowman is to be congratulated for a fine work of comparative analysis. Praise is also due for a well-written book-something which is even rarer in our discipline these days than comparative history."--German Studies Review
"This is an interesting and thoroughly researched book that contains many thoughtful explorations of important issues."--Journal of Social History
"Professor Bowman has provided us with a fine work of true comparative history....Professor Bowman is to be congratulated."--Louisiana History
"[A] fine book....[a] meticulously researched and clearly presented discussion worth reading and pondering. He succeeds admirably in his goal of presenting a comparative history that enlarges our understanding of both societies."--Journal of Interdisciplinary History
"Students of the comparative history of bound labor systems have long awaited the appearance of Shearer Davis Bowman's Masters and Lords....Masters and Lords...commands attention. No student of the antebellum United States or nineteenth-century capitalism should miss this important book."--The Journal of American History
"A fine study"--The Historian