In her Preface Maria McIntosh identifies herself as a daughter of the South anxious to play the conventional role of a woman: "If . . . the author has been led unwillingly within precincts which others have made an arena of controversy, she has not entered armed for combat, but, relying upon the privileges accorded to her sex by the chivalry of every age, she stands between the contending parties, bearing the olive-branch, and desiring only to pour balm into the wounds given by more powerful hands." The "contending parties" are not just Northern abolitionists and Southern slaveholders, but specifically Stowe and her detractors. McIntosh's claim is to represent the virtues of both northerners and southerners, in their respective social systems, though she presents the "South" as a cultured and generous aristocracy and the "North" as commercial and materialist.|
The novel's plot follows from this difference; as one character puts it: "Southern improvidence yields a good crop to Northern capital and thrift" (see Chapter 20). The death of Col. Montrose, the indebtedness of his son and the Panic of 1837 threaten to impoverish the novel's central characters, though extraordinary efforts are made to protect the family's slaves from any suffering.
Most of the novel is set in coastal Georgia. There is a lot of good in all the characters we meet there, except Uriah Goldwire, a usurer backed by Northern financiers. The other villains in the piece are met at an abolitionist rally in Boston (in Chapter 26). The novel got many favorable reviews on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line, and according to a 10 March 1853 Appleton advertisement, sold over 8000 copies within its first weeks of publication.
As with other "Anti-Tom" novels, it's interesting to note how similar McIntosh's emphases often are to Stowe's, including the pervasive religiosity and the depiction of an "uncle" figure, in this case "Daddy Cato." Stowe's narrator tells us on her first page that Haley, the slave-trader, is not "strictly speaking" a gentleman; McIntosh's narrator lets us know that even the slaves know better than to call Goldwire a gentleman.
By Maria J. McIntosh (New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1853)
Wright American Fiction Project, Indiana University Library.
From VOLUME I:|
From VOLUME II: