Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)




Scott R Nelson

Committee Member

Christopher Grasso

Committee Member

Brett Rushforth

Committee Member

Robert F. Foster

Committee Member

Laura Edwards


This work unearths the dark work of John Haywood (1762–1826), an overlooked Tennessee historian and judge who provided foundational historical and legal arguments for the Confederate nation. Published in 1819, his apocalyptic Southern history, The Christian Advocate, simultaneously justified Indian Removal and simplified white Southerners’ claims of title to land. He thus became the first thinker to give Southerners a sense of place in the deep history of the South; the first to convince them they belonged where they lived. andrew Jackson, for example, memorized passages from the Christian Advocate to convince himself: Southern Indians are the armies of Gog and Magog mentioned in the Book of Revelation; their ancestors massacred the mysterious, slaveholding mound-builders who inhabited the South prior to European contact; and they are waiting on the frontier to annihilate emerging Christian plantations in the young states of Mississippi and Alabama. While writing The Christian Advocate, Haywood used his position on the Tennessee Supreme Court to weave its logic into the property laws that became models for those of Mississippi and Alabama. His rulings assured planters that they should not “dread” violating “elder titles” in their sleep, or fear having some future judge determine they did not have a right to their land. By removing demonic Indian murderers, planters were restoring civilization to the Devil’s wilderness, an act that would bring about a New Jerusalem. By 1861, Haywood had given historians such as William Gilmore Simms and politicians such as Alexander Stephens something vital: historical arguments justifying the Confederate nation and its slaveholding theocracy. In overlooking Haywood and his influence, historians have missed a bizarre (to us) but nonetheless crucial link between historiography and the emergence of the Confederacy.



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