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 Posted: Tue Feb 26th, 2013 02:52 pm
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Texas Defender
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MildMan-

  Very well. Here, then, is the: "Last word." In the first posting on this thread, I explained the reasons why more people have studied Mr. Lincoln than have Mr. Davis, which you have repeated.

  In the almost 150 years since Mr. Lincoln was assassinated, he has been canonized, while Mr. Davis has been villainized. My view is that both were complex men, and neither should be placed on the extreme end of the stick as either a saint or a scoundrel. But, in this case, it is a simplistic view of history that has won out.

  It is very easy for you to moralize about the institution of slavery in the 21st Century. You are correct in saying that some in the north in the 19th Century risked all to try to end slavery. But even though the abolitionist movement grew in strength starting in the 1830s and more so in the 1840s and 1850s, the abolitionists represented only a small percentage of the northern population.

  In 1860, most in the north tended to be indifferent about the plight of slaves, wherever they might be. Even during the war in 1862, when the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation was written, the idea that the war would be fought to end slavery wasn't popular. Newspapers, both foreign and domestic lashed out against it. The Republicans took large losses in the November election. The stock market went down. Some Union troops protested and others deserted, because the idea of them risking their lives to free the black man was repugnant to them.

  To his critics, Mr. Lincoln cynically answered that if they didn't want to fight for the black man, they could fight: "Exclusively to save the Union." (See his letter to James Conkling, often linked to on this forum). Mr. Lincoln admitted that the Emancipation Proclamation was a war measure meant to weaken the CSA's ability to continue the struggle. But in the past 150 years, the document has been elevated to some kind of holy missive, which at the time, Mr. Lincoln admitted that it was not.

  You say that slavery was a : "Bad idea, " but it was one that was practiced in human societies for thousands of years. (And continues to be in some areas of the world). In America, it had its origins some 240 years before the outbreak of the Civil War. It can be said that it was a bad idea from a moralistic standpoint, and I certainly won't dispute that. But in some places, it was a good idea from an economic standpoint, which is why it continued.

  I would say again that most people in the north in 1860 were quite willing to see the institution of slavery continue where it already existed. Mr. Lincoln could never have raised an army to invade the southern states if the war had been presented as a war to end slavery in America. Indeed, that was not his objective.

  It was Mr. Lincoln's objective always to preserve the Union. It was this that was his achievement, and his impact on history. But all these years later, most people still know little about what his thoughts were at the time, or the methods he employed to obtain his objective.

  Similarly, few people know very much about the thoughts and struggles of Mr. Davis. They know little about all of his service to the United States, only that he was the President of the CSA, which is portrayed as an evil entity. Sadly, most people in this country know very little of its history, or the complexities involved in the era of the Civil War. They can only see those times in terms of: "Black and white."

Last edited on Tue Feb 26th, 2013 03:01 pm by Texas Defender

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