Kentucky Justice, Southern Honor, and American Manhood: Understanding the Life and Death of Richard Reid (Southern Biography Series)

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9780807128572: Kentucky Justice, Southern Honor, and American Manhood: Understanding the Life and Death of Richard Reid (Southern Biography Series)

On April 16, 1884, Kentucky Superior Court Judge Richard Reid visited attorney John Jay Cornelison's office to discuss a legal matter. When he arrived, Cornelison accused the unsuspecting Reid of having injured his honor and then struck him repeatedly with a large hickory cane. He pursued Reid onto the street, where he began to lash him with a cowhide whip. That seemingly minor event in the small town of Mount Sterling became front-page news. The press, both local and national, raised questions regarding Reid's response. Would he react as a Christian gentleman, a man of the law, and let the legal system take its course, or would he follow the manly dictates of the code of honor and kill his assailant?

James C. Klotter crafts a detective story, using historical, medical, legal, and psychological clues to piece together answers to the tragedy that followed. This unfolding drama of an individual versus his surrounding culture reveals much about state, regional, and national temperaments in the late nineteenth century and shows the tensions between traditional southern mores and new secular and commercial forces. It also explores the conventions, values, and confusions of the archaic code of honor that ruled the South and Reid's community in particular.

With commanding prose, Klotter draws the reader into the social and judicial world of post-Civil War Kentucky and into the ageless question of choosing between forgiveness and forbearance or revenge and retribution.

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About the Author:

James C. Klotter is the State Historian of Kentucky and a professor of history at Georgetown College. He lives in Lexington.

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