Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013 by

Respectable and Disreputable: Leisure Time in Antebellum Montgomery by Jeff BentonJeff Benton, known for his “Montgomery Portraits” features in the Montgomery Advertiser, has written another; this time, it’s a portrait of how antebellum Montgomerians spent their leisure time. Benton’s new book is Respectable and Disreputable: Leisure Time in Antebellum Montgomery, available now. Benton is also the subject himself of a recent feature in the Advertiser.

Though “leisure time” is often a foreign concept in the modern world, the antebellum Montgomerians faced a real cultural shift in determining how to spend their time now that rising prosperity meant they no longer always had to work for food, writes Allison Griffin in the feature on Benton and his book in the Advertiser, “Lives of Leisure.” The antebellum Montgomerians considered not only how to spend their time, but also what activities were “respectable” for the burgeoning middle class.

Benton tells Griffin that this new middle class were “work-oriented, moral, and very interested in respectability.” While they might often emulate the activities of the upper class, there were certain forms of entertainment, like dancing, that the upper class enjoyed and the middle class eschewed. The middle class’s struggle to determine how to spend their leisure time was in fact a struggle to decide how to define themselves.

Read more about Jeff Benton and Respectable and Disreputable from the Montgomery Advertiser.

Skip Tucker and Stonewall Jackson at the Battle of Chancellorsville

Jeff Benton signs Respectable and Disreputable:
Leisure Time in Antebellum Montgomery

at the Capitol Book and News bookstore, October 22, 2013.

Jeff Benton’s exploration of antebellum Montgomery follows his previous three books about Montgomery and Alabama. He is a retired Air Force colonel who has taught history and English at the University of Maryland Far East Division, The Citadel, the Air War College, and across Alabama. Benton edits local history titles for NewSouth Books.

Respectable and Disreputable is available from NewSouth Books, Amazon, or your favorite bookstore.