Despite the majority opinion held in both the North and South that slavery could never flourish in the areas that sparked the most contention from to the Mexican Cession, Oregon, and Kansas-politicians in Washington, especially members of Congress, realized the partisan value of the issue and acted on short-term political calculations with minimal regard for sectional comity. War was the result.
Including select speeches by Lincoln and others, "The Fate of Their Country" openly challenges us to rethink a seminal moment in America's history. Michael F. Holt teaches at the University of Virginia.
In this brilliant, original, and succinct study, Holt demonstrates that secession and war did not arise from two irreconcilable economies any more than from moral objections to slavery: shortsighted politicians were to blame. Rarely looking beyond the next election, the dominant political parties used the emotionally charged and largely chimerical issue of slavery's extension westward to pursue the election of their candidates and settle political scores, all the while inexorably dragging the nation toward disunion.
Despite the majority opinion held in both the North and South that slavery could never flourish in the areas that sparked the most contention from to the Mexican Cession, Oregon, and Kansas--politicians in Washington, especially members of Congress, realized the partisan value of the issue and acted on short-term political calculations with minimal regard for sectional comity.
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Complete with a brief appendix of excerpted writings by Lincoln and others, "The Fate of Their Country" openly challenges us to rethink a seminal moment in America's history. A thought-provoking book. Holt's] writing is interesting and pleasant to read. He has boiled the issues down and makes the overall issue easy to understand and the events themselves clear and concise.
This study] quickly defines how politics impacted the national attitude. Freehling, author of "The South vs. A] commendable effort. To the core narrative the author has appended eight important primary documents, each helpfully introduced; these include letters and speeches by such key actors as Cass, Clay, Seward and Lincoln, as well as two Whig Presidents, Zachary Taylor and Millard Fillmore, whose roles in the late antebellum drama Holt is uniquely equipped to evaluate. There is no better introduction to the intricate yet explosive politics of the s.
A skilled political historian, Michael Holt focuses on the decisions that political leaders made, their arousal of the most divisive passions, and their loss of control of a system present in American life. Silbey, author of "Martin Van Buren and the Emergence of American Popular Politics"" " "While modern historians often focus on the activities of marginalized groups that lacked true political power, the well-respected Holt reaffirms the importance of politics and politicians as he re-examines the often studied coming of the Civil War. This short volume reiterates a thesis Holt offered earlier in "The Rise and Fall of the American Whig Party," which declares that the war resulted from a series of political decisions and actions relating to the extension of slavery rather than moral or social differences over slavery.
And the autonomous family and church, pillars of the black community that emerged during Reconstruction, remained vital forces in black life, and the springboard from which future challenges to racial injustice would emerge. Described by his detractors as simply having lost the appetite for the fight, in truth he must have had a clear enough memory of what chattel slavery had been like not to confuse it with subjection.
The oppressed—blacks on their land, Jews in their shtetl—can build cultural fellowships that ease their burden and point a path out. The enslaved—blacks in the cabins, Jews in the camps—have no plausible path at all. It is at once not enough of a difference and all the difference in the world. Du Bois tries strenuously to fit the story of the end of Reconstruction into a Marxist framework: the Southern capitalists were forcing serfdom upon their agricultural laborers in parallel to the way that the Northern ones were forcing it on their industrial workers.
His effort is still echoed in some contemporary scholarship. But an agricultural class reduced to serfdom is exactly the kind of stagnant arrangement that capitalism chafes against. Sharecropping is not shareholding.
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In truth, sharecropping, coupled with a cotton monoculture, was a terrible model for economic development, and, indeed, left the South long impoverished. The motives of the South were, as Du Bois eventually suggests, essentially ideological and tribal, rather than economic. It reflects the permanent truth that all people, including poor people, follow their values, however perverted, rather than their interests, however plain.
William W. Freehling's 'The South vs. the South': An Analysis
There is no shortage of radical egalitarian thought at the time, coming from figures who were by no means marginalized. When the right side loses, it does not always mean that the truth has not been heard. We are too inclined to let what happens next determine the meaning of what happened before, and to suppose that the real meaning of Reconstruction was its repudiation. It can be helpful to expand the historical scale just a tad.
Although the failure of the Republic to sustain its ideals is appallingly self-evident, elections involving millions of people were held routinely, if imperfectly; venal bosses like Boss Tweed, instead of sending on power to his son, were tried and imprisoned; Jews worshipped freely; freethinkers flourished; immigrants settled; reformers raged against corruption, and, in a few key cases, won their battle; dissent, even radical dissent, was aired and, though sporadically persecuted was, on the whole, heard and tolerated.
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No arrangement like it had ever been known before on so large a scale in human history. But, compared with the entirety of human history before, it was, in its way, quite something. What is true and tragic is that the black population benefitted least of all from these institutions. Yet the same more than flawed institutions, in turn, enabled freed slaves, as Foner maintains, to build the social capital that would allow them to find ways around the supremacists. How did that happen?
Athletics because it was the one place, he says, where blacks and whites directly butted heads, and blacks won. Every life of a great jazz musician shows us both—social sadism beyond belief to be endured, but also social networks of support, filled with intimately collaborative and competitive relationships, artists both supporting and outdoing one another—the creation of the great cutting contest that E. Gombrich long ago identified as the core engine of artistic progress. In the town where the white mob had lynched blacks to end their freedom, the black victims had improvised institutions to enable it.
Sustaining traditions were available, at a price. The moral arc of the universe is long. Eight years of Obama may be followed by eight of Trump, but the second cannot annihilate the first. Imagery can indeed have agency, but this takes actors—bad actors who weaponize the imagery.
The South vs. The South: How Anti-Confederate Southerners Shaped the Course of the Civil War
Patterns of oppression can be held in place only by oppressive people. This is why the greatest divide among historians is between the academics who tend to see people as points of compressed social forces and those popular historians, chiefly biographers, who see the actors as nearly the whole of the story.
The academics study the tides of history, while the popular historians go out fishing to find and tag the big fish that presumably make the ocean worth watching. The tidalists have the tenure, but the fishermen sell all the books. Gates, who is expert at both, catching fish while seeing tides, leaves us with a simple, implicit moral: a long fight for freedom, with too many losses along the way, can be sustained only by a rich and complicated culture. Resilience and resistance are the same activity, seen at different moments in the struggle.
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