In Carolina Planters on the Alabama Frontier: The Spencer Robeson-McKenzie Family Papers, author Edward Pattillo collects the documents of the fourth-generation New Englander Elihu Spencer and his family and Southern descendants to form a history of the American nation from the point of view of planters and those they held in slavery. The book follows those families through multiple generations. The volume gives detailed account of a privileged world that was afflicted by constant loss and despair. The families lived as isolated, landed gentry in a society where medical treatment had hardly evolved since the Middle Ages. The institution of slavery brought about the collapse of their world and was poignantly expressed in these letters.