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 Posted: Sun Apr 1st, 2012 11:43 pm
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Texas Defender
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dlaurencerogers-

  Your characterization of 1860 southern society (Or that of a reviewer of your book) seems to be that it consisted mainly of intractable slave-holding duelists. The implication seems to be that it was the unreasonable southerners who were to blame for the war, unlike the virtuous "Apostles of Equality" in the north.

  It is true that the election of Abraham Lincoln led directly to the secession of seven southern states. But it was also a fact that Mr. Lincoln was unwilling to accept secession. The southerners were willing to fight a war to become independent, and Mr. Lincoln was willing to fight a war to prevent them from doing so. It takes two sides who are willing to fight to result in a war being fought.

  By the mid 19th century, there was very little dueling going on anywhere in the U.S. It was outlawed in WDC in 1839, and laws (and their enforcement) varied from state to state. I am unaware of any duels that were actually fought by either Jefferson Davis or Howell Cobb (though Davis was challenged to a duel in 1853 by Judah Benjamin). Earlier in U.S. history when duels were more likely to take place, they occurred in other places besides the south, so attributing it mainly to be a southern tendency seems a stretch.

  The review assails the southerners' inability to compromise. Then it refers to the: "Duelist" Henry Clay. (He fought a duel in 1809 with Humphrey Marshall. Neither man suffered any significant injury). Clay was the famous Kentuckian who served as Speaker of the House and Secretary of State. He was dubbed: "The Great Compromiser" for engineering legislation that put off, but could not prevent the eventual war.


   The statement that southern laws made someone with one drop of black blood: "A slave" is an absurdity. It might have been the attitude of some southerners (as well as northerners) of the day that it made them all black. But if the statement relating to laws was true, then there would have been no free blacks in the southern states.

  In 1860, something like 11% of all blacks were free. The number in the south was about 262,000.  In the Upper South, many free blacks were skilled tradesmen.

  It is also a fact that thousands of black and mixed race people were slaveholders. The largest number of these was in LA, but many more were in places like SC, VA, and MD.

  Only a small percentage of southerners owned slaves. And northern states were certainly not free of slaves in the mid 19th century. Small numbers can be found listed in the 1840 Census in places like NY and PA, as well as CT, IL, IN, IA, NH, OH, RI, WI, and NJ. The last slaves actually freed (after the 13th Amendment was ratified) were in NJ.

  Also mentioned is James G. Birney and the states of AL and KY. By comparison, slaves in AL were freed by the middle of 1865 by military occupation, but in KY some 40,000 were held until after the 13th Amendment was ratified in December of 1865. The institution of slavery actually died outside of the borders of the CSA some six months after the last Confederates in the southern states gave up.

  Its difficult for me to credit the ratification of the 14th Amendment in 1868 to being: "The legacy of the Birneys." There were a lot more people involved than that. Giving them credit for a USSC decision in 1954 is an even greater stretch.

  In addition, I would point out that the black MA regiment that attacked Ft. Wagner was the 54th MA, not the 45th. I am also unaware of any "glorious victories" won by the Union forces in central Florida. (They did do considerable damage to property). The two largest battles that took place in Florida were Olustee, near Lake City, in 1864, and Natural Bridge, near Tallahassee, in 1865. Both were Confederate victories.

Last edited on Mon Apr 2nd, 2012 04:33 am by Texas Defender

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