Augustus Baldwin Longstreet Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

ph_0111207198-Longstreet.jpg Augustus Baldwin Longstreet Published by Salem Press, Inc.

Augustus Baldwin Longstreet belonged to a New Jersey family that, late in the eighteenth century, had migrated to Augusta, Georgia, where he was born. Like his friend John C. Calhoun, he attended Yale and the Litchfield Law School in Connecticut. He practiced law and entered politics after his marriage in 1817 to Frances Eliza Parkes, of Greensboro, North Carolina. Georgia Scenes, his most famous work, appeared, under the pseudonym Timothy Crabshaw, in the Milledgeville Southern Recorder and in his newspaper, the Augusta State Rights Sentinel, which he founded in 1834 and edited until 1836. He endorsed Calhoun’s nullification doctrines and wrote fiercely in defense of slavery, appealing to scriptural warrant. He was a devout Methodist. After his ordination, he served as the president of Emory College, Oxford, Georgia (1839-1848), of Centenary College (1849), of the University of Mississippi (1849-1856), and of South Carolina College, later the University of South Carolina (1857). Although he welcomed secession, he was unprepared for the Civil War when it came; he appears to have been much chastened by the time it ended.{$S[A]Crabshaw, Timothy;Longstreet, Augustus Baldwin}

Edgar Allan Poe, reviewing Georgia Scenes in the Southern Literary Messenger, praised its vigor and realism. Certainly the work, with its picturesque and humorous portrayal of the coarseness and starkness of the lives of poor southern whites in the eighteenth century, heralded a new era in American letters. Stories such as “Georgia Theatrics,” “The Horse-Swap,” and “The Fight” depicted a frontier setting of fights, duels, races, drunkenness, and gambling. The influence of this work is apparent in the strain of frontier humor that runs through the writings of Mark Twain and William Faulkner.


(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Augustus Baldwin Longstreet was born in Augusta, Georgia, on September 22, 1790. He was graduated from Yale and from the Litchfield Law School, then widely considered the finest in America, and returned to Augusta in 1814. He became a successful lawyer and subsequently a judge. He left the bench, became a farmer, and, a little later, a newspaper editor. It was during this period that he published, first periodically and then in book form, his Georgia Scenes (1835). In 1838, Longstreet became a professing Christian and a most active Methodist minister; the next year he was appointed the first president of Emory College, a Methodist institution, and in following years he served as president of Centenary College in Louisiana, the University of Mississippi, and the University of South Carolina. Longstreet died July 9, 1870, and was buried in Oxford, Mississippi.