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06.01.09 Kvach, John F., De Bow’s Review: The Antebellum Vision of a New South, published in 2013

About the Author

John F. Kvach, Ph.D., is currently an Associate Professor of History at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, Alabama.  Besides teaching a wide variety of courses in American and Public History, he founded and currently directs UAH’s Public History Program.  Dr. Kvach earned his B.A. and M.A. in History and Public History from the West Virginia University.  Afterwards he worked for the National Park Service and the National Library of Medicine as well as other public and private museums and archives.  After another six years as instructor and administrator at Howard Community College in Columbia, Maryland, he earned his PH.D. at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville in2008. He is also the author of numerous articles, conference papers, book chapters, and a theater script.


Brownson (J. D. B.) De Bow was born in 1820 along the Atlantic coast of South Carolina.  Though his personal life was rather tragic, he was a very energetic individual with great curiosity who interacted well with all types of people, and traveled extensively in the then United States. In the decades leading up to the War Between the States, De Bow, began in 1846 publishing a monthly journal to offer guidance and encouragement toward a stronger future for the South. De Bow collected a tremendous amount and range of information.  This he offered to his many readers in the Southern states, and some readers outside the South.  The author has been able to re-create a list of nearly 1500 of De Bow’s subscribers, and many of those names will be familiar to the reader with some knowledge of Southern states history.    De Bow’s journal originally spoke particularly to planters and entrepreneurs of the Old South.  The publication promoted modern farming methods, and diversification of crops.   De Bow proclaimed the advantage of small factories close to the plantation and farm.  He promoted planned urban developments and railroads. He advocated investments in schools, libraries, and other cultural resources.  As war loomed closer on the horizon, the articles on sectionalism and slavery became more numerous.  The politics of the times is covered briefly, primarily as it relates to the subjects of De Bow’s journal.

This is a well-written book that reads easily.  The book includes several tables that are very helpful.  Extensive notes at the back of the book offer documentation and additional comments for those who want more data.  There is also a well-done Bibliography as well as a helpful Index. I highly recommend this book!


This book is available in both hardback and electronic form from Amazon and from The University Press of Kentucky.  Used copies available through Amazon.


Further Information

You may want to explore De Bow’s Review on the internet.  We suggest the complete text of Debow’s Review from 1846 to 1869.  You can read any article published on any issue through the link below:

This reviewer is especially interested in the writings of agriculturalist Edmund Ruffin, who was both a pioneer soil scientist and a prominent defender of Southern culture.  Without a doubt, De Bow’s Review was a major influence on the agriculture and political thinking of thousands of prominent men in the Southern States.