In The Man Who Saved the Union: Ulysses Grant in War and Peace by H.W. Brands ©2012, General William Sherman is quoted describing the Southern middle class of the 19th century:
“They will want the old political system of caucuses, legislatures, etc., to amuse them and make them believe they are real sovereigns; but in all things they will follow blindly the lead of the planters.”
That’s interesting. So the middle class thought they had political power, but in fact all power rested with the wealthy plantation owners.
What strange and unique times these people lived in!