As a young man, Hammond had a passionate love affair with another young gentleman, Thomas Jefferson Withers (1804 – November 7, 1865). Their correspondence reveals the playful nature of their relationship. A letter from Withers to Hammond dated May 15, 1826, includes the line: “I feel some inclination to learn whether you yet sleep in your Shirt-tail and whether you yet have the extravagant delight of poking and punching a writhing Bedfellow with your long fleshen pole—the exquisite touches of which I have often had the honor of feeling?” The letter is signed “With great respect I am the old Stud, Jeff.”
The letters, which are housed among the Hammond Papers at the South Caroliniana Library, were first published by researcher Martin Duberman in 1981, and are remarkable for being rare documentary evidence of same-sex relationships in the antebellum United States.
Stern, Keith (2009-09-01). Queers in History: The Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Historical Gays, Lesbians and Bisexuals (Kindle Locations 5897-5904). Perseus Books Group. Kindle Edition.
Secret and Sacred: The Diaries of James Henry Hammond, a Southern Slaveholder by James Henry Hammond
Paperback: 380 pages
Publisher: University of South Carolina Press (October 1, 1997)
Amazon: Secret and Sacred: The Diaries of James Henry Hammond, a Southern Slaveholder
Long encrusted in myth and legend, the planter aristocracy of the ante-bellum South has been depicted by a host of historians, economists, psychologists, novelists, dramatists, and moviemakers. Each has presented an interpretation of his or her own choosing. Now Carol Bleser brings us a remarkable set of diaries that allows one prominent planter and slaveholder to speak as himself and for himself. It affords a look at a vanished era unparalleled in its intimacy and candor.
James Henry Hammond, virtually a character out of a Faulkner novel, was a poor boy, who married into wealth and then fought and struggled to make his South Carolina plantations and slaveholdings among the largest of the South. An articulate intellectual active in politics as a Congressman, U.S. Senator, and South Carolina governor, he became a leading spokesman for the Cotton Kingdom in the last years before the Civil War. He dominated his family, sexually violated his young nieces (causing a scandal that nearly wrecked his career), and fathered children by his slaves. And all the while, he kept his "secret and sacred" diaries, almost all of which survived and have been sequestered in archives until now. Spanning the critical years from 1841 to 1864, these diaries have been masterfully edited by Bleser, who preserves their historical validity so that Hammond's unvarnished voice speaks out clearly on everything from his personal travails to the turbulent politics and key personalities of his age. More importantly, she has gracefully explicated Hammond's background and smoothed the way for the general reader so that the diaries read like a novel, sweeping through the drama and ultimate disaster of the Old South. What emerges is a vivid portrait of a man whose wealth and intellect combined to make him an important Southern leader but whose deep character flaws kept him from the true greatness to which aspired.
Anyone seeking to understand the crisis facing the Union, the nature of the Old South, the institution of slavery, and the aggrandisement of the planter class will have to read these diaries, which Louis Rubin describes in his foreword as "unique among all the historical works ever published about the Old South."
Intimate Matters: A History of Sexuality in America by John D'Emilio & Estelle B. Freedman
Paperback: 466 pages
Publisher: University of Chicago Press; 2nd edition (February 28, 1998)
Amazon: Intimate Matters: A History of Sexuality in America
The first full length study of the history of sexuality in America, Intimate Matters offers trenchant insights into the sexual behavior of Americans, from colonial times to today. D'Emilio and Freedman give us a deeper understanding of how sexuality has dramatically influenced politics and culture throughout our history.
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