Politics and Ideology in the Age of the Civil War

By Eric Foner

Insisting that politics and beliefs needs to stay on the vanguard of any exam of nineteenth-century the US, Foner reasserts the centrality of the Civil warfare to the folk of that interval. the 1st portion of this ebook offers with the explanations of the sectional clash; the second one, with the antislavery circulation; and a last crew of essays treats land and exertions after the struggle. Taken jointly, Foner's essays paintings in the direction of reintegrating the social, political, and highbrow historical past of the 19th century.

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Like his predecessors, Douglas known as for a coverage of “entire silence at the slavery question,” and through the 1850s, as Robert Johannsen has written, his objective was once to revive “order and balance to American politics in the course of the organization of a countrywide, conservative Democratic social gathering. ” finally, Douglas failed—a conventional profession for the Union was once easily impossible within the 1850s—but it's both precise that during 1860 he used to be the single presidential candidate to attract major help in all components of the rustic. 20 it really is, after all, hugely ironic that it was once Douglas’s try and expand the main of renowned sovereignty to territory already certain to loose hard work by means of the Missouri Compromise which ultimately shattered the second one occasion process. we will be able to date precisely the ultimate cave in of that system—February 15, 1854—the day a caucus of southern Whig Congressmen and Senators determined to help Douglas’s Nebraska invoice, although they can have united with northern Whigs in competition either to the repeal of the Missouri Compromise and the revival of sectional agitation. 21 yet inspite of the sectionalization of politics which happened after 1854, Douglas persisted his try to retain a countrywide foundation of occasion festival. in reality, from one attitude of imaginative and prescient, no matter if politics used to be to be nationwide or sectional was once the fundamental factor of the Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858. The Little sizeable provided neighborhood autonomy—popular sovereignty for states and territories—as the one “national” technique to the slavery query, whereas Lincoln tried to spoil this heart flooring and strength a unmarried, sectional 60 solution at the complete Union. there's a universal critique of Douglas’s politics, expressed possibly such a lot persuasively through Allan Nevins, which argues that, as a guy with out ethical emotions approximately slavery, Douglas used to be incapable of spotting that this ethical factor affected hundreds of thousands of northern electorate. 22 This, in my view, is a major false impression of Douglas’s politics. What he insisted was once now not that there has been no ethical query all in favour of slavery yet that it was once no longer the functionality of the baby-kisser to deal in ethical judgments. To Lincoln’s prediction that the country couldn't exist part slave and part loose, Douglas responded that it had so existed for seventy years and will proceed to take action if northerners stopped attempting to impose their very own model of morality upon the South. Douglas’s insistence at the separation of politics and morality was once expressed in his oft-quoted assertion that—in his function as a politician—he didn't care if the folks of a territory voted slavery “up or down. ” As he defined in his Chicago speech of July 1858, prior to the outlet of the nice debates: I deny the perfect of Congress to strength a slave-holding kingdom upon an unwilling humans. I deny their correct to strength a unfastened kingdom upon an unwilling humans. I deny their correct to strength an exceptional factor upon a people who find themselves unwilling to obtain it. . . . it really is no solution to this argument to claim that slavery is an evil and consequently shouldn't be tolerated.

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