Emilia Gay Griffiths Means
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The leisure class in the Antebellum South, viewed through the exploits of yet another colorful Louisiana politician.
Henry Watkins Allen, second Confederate governor of Louisiana, was thirty-two years old when in 1853 he began his ioumey through the South as "Guy Mannering". Although he was a recent widower, he was a carefree individual with a penchant for poker, humor, and pretty faces. His 1853 journey provided Allen with ample opportunity to pursue each avocation. A prominent member of the Baton Rouge Porcupine Benevolent Association for the Benefit of Orphans and Widows, a fraternal poker club, Allen broke the monotony of his journey with numerous games of chance. These card games are reported in Allen's inimical lighthearted style. Indeed, Allen's sense of humor seems to have sustained him in several perilous interludes during the journey.
Allen's many humorous anecdotes, however, belie the literary and historical significance of his travel account. His letters reveal the hopes and aspirations of the South's planter class on the eve of the Civil War. Allen also offers his personal assessment of many of the leading Southern politicians of his day, including Robert Toombs, Alexander Stephens, and Henry Stuart Foote, whom he encountered in the course of his travels. The future governor also offers detailed descriptions of life in the Louisiana plantation belt during "high water," as well as the panic spawned by the terrible yellow fever epidemic of 1853.
Center for Louisiana Studies
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Library of Congress: 85-71607
Book Publisher: Center for Louisiana Studies
No. of Pages: 75