Defining The Southern Gentleman

Since the The Southern Gentleman is what Confederate Colonel is about, I guess it’s appropriate to try to define what that means. Before we start with that though, it’s good to point out that the title of “Southern Gentleman” should be thought of as a goal, and not a destination. I suspect that even Robert E. Lee would have seen room for improvement in his own life. It’s kind of like growing up – even though I’m in my 50’s, I still see myself growing and maturing. We never really “arrive” at that destination.

Here is what I found in the book, 1001 Things Everyone Should Know About The South:

Daniel Hindley was a Harvard-trained lawyer from Alabama who wrote on the subject in 1860. He described the Southern Gentleman as having “a natural dignity of manner” and “the utmost self-possession – that much coveted savoir faire, which causes a man to appear perfectly at home, whether it be in a hut or a palace.” He is “remarkably easy and natural, never haughty in appearance, or loud of voice – even when angry rarely raising his voice above the ordinary tone of gentlemanly conversation.”

I like that part about “in a hut or a palace”. It makes the point that being a Southern Gentleman has absolutely nothing to do with wealth. Any Southerner who has paid any attention to such things has met men with dirt and grease under their fingernails and grease-stained cloths, who are truly Southern Gentlemen. At the same time, there are plenty of “wannabes” who think that having money somehow qualifies one as a Southern Gentleman. The only association between Southern Gentleman and wealth is that the qualities that make one a Southern Gentleman are the same qualities of responsibility, duty, and the absolute drive to do what is right, that is valued in any society. In most situations, that translates into a higher salary or other financial compensation.

About Stephen Clay McGehee

Born-Again Christian, Grandfather, husband, business owner, Southerner, aspiring Southern Gentleman. Publisher of The Confederate Colonel and The Southern Agrarian blogs. President/Owner of Adjutant Workshop, Inc., Vice President - Gather The Fragments Bible Mission, Inc. (Sierra Leone, West Africa), Webmaster - Military Order of The Stars and Bars, Kentucky Colonel.
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4 Responses to Defining The Southern Gentleman

  1. I work with just such a gentleman. When I met him, I just knew he was different. He is not loud and boisterous like the other men I am around. He speaks to the women and men in such a calm fashion. He isn’t into showing off, bragging, or needing his ego stroked. He has a certain confidence. I really can’t find the words to exactly describe it, but I think “Southern Gentleman” captures it. I very much enjoy talking with him. It is just so natural and comfortable.

    I think the “wannabes” think that you can be a gentleman through actions, like opening a door, etc, and still be a loud, egotistical person. That doesn’t cut it. To me, it seems like it is more of a state of mind. You either have it or you don’t. And men can still be quite dominant and leaders without raising their voice. Firmness is the key.

  2. Jesse says:

    The southern gentleman does have wealth, his family, his morals, his proof of his hard work and labor. These things cant be bought.

  3. Georg T Gordon says:

    I am originally from Canada and continually strive to be a Southron Gentlemen. It is not easy considering all that confronts us. A Southron Gentleman just is. Opening doors, addressing ladies as Ma’am, and being gentle of speech is not all. Being a Southron Gentleman is a way of life.

  4. “A way of life” is exactly it. That is just who we are and the way we live. We work at it until it just becomes a part of us. It does, however, take work. The world we live in constantly mocks and ridicules that which is good, and high-profile role models are almost non-existent today. Even if the only influence we have is on our own families, that is all the motivation we need.

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