How to…Defend Your Honor!

Hanging with my Homie at the Hermitage

Hey Y’all,

From time to time on The South Will Blog Again we will be featuring guest bloggers who are experts on certain topics. This week I’m honored to welcome Andrew Jackson the 7th president of the United States. “Old Hickory” will be discussing “How to Defend your Honor”, something every Southerner should know how and be prepared at a moment’s notice to do. President Jackson is no stranger to “honor defending” as he has survived over 17 duels, 27 feuds, 74 brawls, and 478 “cuss fights” (and has even survived to live over 250 years). So without further ado….

–  Southern Blogger

Thanks S.B.,

Now…notice I didn’t say “S.O.B.”…I said “S.B.” for “Southern Blogger”. If I had said “S.O.B.” well…we would’ve had us a problem…a problem with honor violatin’. Now even though it would have made for a great demonstration, I happen to like Southern Blogger and there’s no need to needlessly get into a feud (even though I would win). I rather liked that Choosin’ Barbecue piece and would like to see him continue writing.

Now I’m rather new to this whole bloggin’ sphere so you’re gonna have to forgive me…I’ve only gotten into the whole social media thing about three years ago (Thanks to Henry Clay) so this is new for me. I love the chance to talk about my favorite thing in the world…puttin’ down fee simple, knock-kneed, scalawaggin’, mugwumpin’, poltroons. In other words, defending my honor. Even though I’m an expert in this field, with a little practice, and my advice, you too can cane any dune bug, and win you a duel any time.

(Disclaimer: Since dueling is officially illegal in 49 states, Southern Blogger does not recommend you take all of President Jackson’s subsequent advice literally.)

So, if you follow my steps, you too will know how to defend you honor.


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When "duel" rhymes with "jewel" you know the man is serious!

Poltroons like to run their mouths. They do so because they think they can get away with it. Now I’m an avid follower of politics, and I have to say that in your time “poltroonery” may be at an all-time high. Now you might say “well, Andy we don’t have honor defenders in our day like yourself”. Hogwash!!!!

One of my favorite challenges of all-time occurred in your generation. During the 2004 presidential election, a TV poltroon, Chris Matthews, was flapping his jaws and being rather belligerent about “answering questions”. Well now, nothing would make me madder than a cornered possum on whiskey than a rascal asking me to answer the question but then not letting me answer it.

Well the target in question, a U.S. Senator from Georgia, Zell Miller (a true Jacksonian Democrat if I saw one) wasn’t about to let Chris’ gums keep on flapping without a proper response. He told this poltroonish pundit that he “wish we lived in the days when you could challenge a person to a duel”. Now due to legal interference, he couldn’t SAY he wanted to duel, just imply it. But the message was sent, and the loud pundit responded with a nervous chuckle. That my friends, is a back down. And let me add that Sen. Miller pronounced “duel” properly, as in rhymes with “jewel”. Anyone who pronounces the word like that definitely has been in one.

But what if a poltroon won’t shut his mouth…what then?


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Be cautious when describing South Carolina's bedroom habits!

Now friends, not every foe is worthy of a duel. Sometimes certain opponents are so fiendish they deserve a good whoopin’. Take the case in point of one Charles Sumner.

Now Sumner, he was a smart man, a little too smart for his own good. He was a Harvard man, a true Brahmin, and quite the wordsmith when he laid into his opponents. Except this one time he chose the wrong opponent. Long story short, in 1856, Sen. Sumner was attacking the State of South Carolina and its Senator, his former friend, Andrew Butler. He referred to South Carolina as a “harlot” and attacked Butler when the man wasn’t present.

Those were fighting words.

Calling the state of South Carolina a whore in any age is a bad idea. And laying into someone, when they can’t defend themselves is poltroonery of the highest order.

Well, in the House of Representatives Butler had a cousin (South Carolinians always have cousins readily available) named Preston Brooks. He carefully analyzed the situation (in the 32 seconds he went from red hot to white hot anger) and decided Sumner wasn’t worthy of the “field of honor”. He took his walking stick, walked over to the Senate chamber, and broke his cane on Senator Sumner’s forehead…repeatedly.

Problem solved. But what if the opponent is of a higher caliber? (get it?)


When attempting to shoot someone, remember to be polite about it!

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Just because your blood is boiling and your honor is at stake doesn’t mean you can forget your manners. In fact, when issuing a formal challenge it is of the upmost importance to remember your raisin’. After all, honor is at stake.

Personally, I like to keep my challenge letters pretty simple and direct…firm BUT polite. Always address the challenged party by their proper name and title, NOT what you really think of them (there’ll be time for that). Remember anyone being issued a formal challenge is at least worthy enough of the field of honor, so you should address them properly.

At the same time, you ain’t writing a love letter so keep it simple and to the point. If you haven’t issued a formal challenge before I can help you. I have written hundreds of them and have one here for you to look at. I can’t remember who it was to, there’s been so many.

Good luck with all that fuss…I’ve always found the shooting much easier than the writing part anyhow….which brings us to…


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This cartoon is NOT approved by Dan Jones and Pete Boone.

If you’ve reached this point, congratulations, you have truly found a worthy foe (usually). Since dueling etiquette is as intricate as wedding etiquette it’s important to follow good advice. First, you need to properly follow the “Code Duello”. I keep a copy of Emily Post’s “Guide to Dueling”, third edition, with me.

Following the proper Code means you must have a second. Your second is like your best man at a duel. He should be a friend, but a friend that knows what he’s doing. Seconds arrange the details like the time, place, form of combat, and other sundry rules.

Once you’ve reached the field of honor the rest is up to the participants. An apology might be issued by the offending party. In that case you should accept. Anyone who shows up to the field of honor in the first place may be a poltroon, but not a cowardly one. You may also decide to waste your shots or some other arrangement whereby honor is kept, but you both walk away (I found those very disappointing).

In the end, you may find that the best course of action is to duel it out. Good luck! Stand your ground and keep a steady eye!

Like this picture here. Now one look at this “bear” and I’d have personally gone the cane route. But Colonel Reb (a close friend of mine) had too much honor for that. Despite the grave insult this Bear did him (a couple of Poltroons replaced the Colonel as the Ole Miss mascot with this rascal) , the Colonel gave him the ultimate honor of meeting in the field. Either that or he knew that was the only way to get rid of the mugwump.

Best wishes dear readers, and thanks again S.B. for the opportunity.

–   Andrew Jackson

Thanks President Jackson! That was great, if not somewhat illegal, advice. I hope y’all now understand the importance of honor and how to maintain it. Next week we have another guest blogger from history, as General Robert E. Lee will teach us HOW TO WIN A CIVIL WAR BATTLE.

Until next time y’all,

Southern Blogger


8 Comments on “How to…Defend Your Honor!”

  1. Mark Arduini says:

    Well done, sirs!

    For those who are interested, the Matthews/Miller exchange can be watched here.

    A poltroon, indeed.

  2. Thank you,

    I forwarded your message to President Jackson, since he’s new to all this and he replied…

    “Well thank you Mark. It appears you agree with me that the skullduggery and perferdity of Mr. Mathews deserved a proper response. I’m glad you posted the link for the world to see him in all his infamy, I’m glad well informed readers such as yourself enjoyed my humble little essay and now know how to proceed when confronted with poltroonarious fiends.

    your humble obedient servant,”

    A. Jackson

  3. Too funny. One of my favorite history articles talked about nose pulling and how that could lead to some dueling. I think you probably know that one! Great post!

  4. JHW says:

    Great post! An entertaining read on an often-neglected historical topic. The Kenneth Greenberg article referenced above is an excellent view into this all-to-common 19th Century Southern phenomenon. Also interesting are works by historians Bertram Wyatt-Brown (Southern Honor, 1982) and Elliot Gorn (“Gouge and Bite, Pull Hair and Scratch”, 1985). Enjoyed the post, from one honor-bound Southron to another.

  5. Thanks JHW,

    I first read Wyatt-Brown as an undergrad at Ole Miss ten years ago or so. Our class also discussed Preston Brooks and then erupted into cheers. “Hit him again!”

    I got into dueling history in my museum career a few years later, and then became a Jackson fan subsequently. When recently back in graduate school, I read Wyatt-Brown again, then proceeded to explain to some…err “northern types” all about the code duello.

    I don’t know if they could tell when I was serious or joking. Frankly I can’t always tell either. That’s why satire is such a nice cover 😉 I might have even challenged a poltroonish classmate from Jersey. Honor…we still have it down here, that’s for sure.

    Thanks for the compliments and for visiting my site!

    Warmest Regards,


  6. […] our old friend Andrew Jackson? He had some great advice a few months back about defending personal honor. You see my friends President Jackson was (and remains) one of the world’s greatest duelists. He […]

  7. […] may remember President Jackson from an earlier piece I did called “How to Defend Your Honor“. It was quite fascinating to hear the intricate details on how to properly, professionally, […]

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