JOURNAL OF THE EARLY REPUBLIC (Fall 2011) Brothers of a Vow: Secret Fraternal Orders and the Transformation of White Male Culture in Antebellum Virginia. By Ami PflugradJackisch. (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2010. Pp. 181. Cloth, $39.95.) Reviewed by Kevin Butterfield Brothers of a Vow is a tightly written and thought-provoking book about the men who became Odd Fellows, Freemasons, and Sons of Temperance in antebellum Virginia. In five short chapters, Ami Pflugrad-Jackisch manages--by means of thorough research, incisive engagement with the latest scholarship, and persuasive explanations of causes and effects--to make the case that fraternal organizations allowed working- and middleclass men to come together and to assert a wholly new kind of masculine respectability and white male civic brotherhood. She argues, persuasively, that the language of brotherly love and male equality so ubiquitous in the fraternal orders held great appeal for men seeking to navigate the uncertainties of a society increasingly divided by economic interest and party allegiance. Moral integrity, not economic success or social prominence, was the marker of a worthy member. And that standard for membership allowed men in Virginia, whether propertied slaveholders or not, to construct and to lay claim to a new standard
Journal of the Early Republic – University of Pennsylvania Press
Published: Aug 11, 2011
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