Nat Turner's 1831 slave insurrection made Virginia's Southampton County notorious. Gradually, however, the bloody spectacle receded from national memory.

Although the timeless rhythms of rural life resumed after the insurrection, Southampton could not escape the forces of change. From the Age of Jackson through to secession, wartime, and Reconstruction, it shared the fate of the Old South. Many who had witnessed the insurrection lived to see Tuner's cause triumph as war destroyed the slave system, inaugurating an intense struggle to shape the new postwar order.

Old Southampton links local and national history. It explains how partian loyalties developed, how white democracy flourished in the late antebellum years, how secession sharply divded neighborhoods with few slaves from those with large plantations, and how, following emancipation, former slaves challenged the prerogatives of former slaveholders.

Crofts draws on two volumnious diaries and other rich records, plus rare poll lists that show how individuals voted. He vividly re-creates the experiences of planters and plain folk, slave owners and slaves, the powerful and the obscure.

This deft combination of political and social history is must reading for anyone interested in the Old South and the Civil War era.