Frank Lawrence Owsley

Frank Lawrence Owsley

Frank Lawrence Owsley

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Frank Lawrence Owsley (January 20, 1890 – October 21, 1956) was an American historian who taught at Vanderbilt University for most of his career, where he specialized in southern history and was a member of the Southern Agrarians.

Life and career

Born in rural Alabama, he attended Auburn University for his undergraduate degree. He earned his Ph.D. in history at the University of Chicago in 1924 under the tutelage of William E. Dodd. Owsley specialized in Southern history, especially the antebellum and Civil War eras.

He argued in his dissertation State Rights and the Confederacy (1925) that the Confederacy "died of states' rights". Owsley held that during the Civil War, key Southern governors resisted the appeals of the Confederate government for soldiers. His book King Cotton Diplomacy (1931) is a study of Confederate diplomacy.

As an active member of the Southern Agrarians group based in Nashville, Owsley contributed "The Irrepressible Conflict" to the manifesto I'll Take My Stand (1930). In this work, he described "half-savage blacks . . . some of whom could still remember the taste of human flesh and the bulk of them hardly three generations removed from cannibalism." Frank L. Owsley. "The Irrepressible Conflict," in I'll Take My Stand (Nashville, 1930), 62 He lashed out at the North for what he alleged were attempts to dominate the South spiritually and economically....
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