I'm so relieved that the world is ending May 21. No more national debt, no more birther conspiracy theories, no more royal weddings....
But it's amazing how many freeway billboards I've seen advertising the end of the world! (It's a better marketing plan that Atlas Shrugged got.) Where does the money cone from? And what goes through your mind to make you think it's mire important to donate money to such a cause than to, say, disaster relief in Haiti or Japan or Alabama?
I just wanted to say that I've been enjoying your series on the reasons for the Civil War very much. It saddens me, though, that this is not merely an academic debate. Behind the questionable arguments and scholarship of men like Hummel lies the real belief that the Confederacy was right. It doesn't happen often, but I am always stunned when I run into someone in person who carries those views. It just shows that the Founders' work is not ever really finished.
The Freeman’s April issue is devoted almost entirely to the Civil War, mashing together reputable historians like Burton Folsom with fakes like Joseph Stromberg. Most interesting, however, are two articles by Jeffrey Rogers Hummel, author of Emancipating Slaves, Enslaving Free Men. Hummel is at least a competent historian, but he still makes bad legal and philosophical arguments.
The anti-modernists coalesce. Kirkpatrick Sale, proud lunatic luddite, has posted a remarkable commentary in defense of the Confederacy, arguing that secession in the defense of chattel slavery was “in the grand old American tradition,” and that the south was not the aggressor, but the victim, in 1861. Let’s look at his three arguments, in ascending order of outlandishness.
“The American ‘Revolution,” Sale writes, “was, in fact, a war of secession – 13 colonies breaking away from the British Empire – not a war of conquest, and most of the Founding Fathers understood that to be a given right when they created the Articles and then the Constitution.” This is false. The American Revolution was not an act of secession, but of revolution—hence the name. The distinction between revolution and secession is crucial. Revolution is the natural right to break the law and overthrow a government whenever a long train of abuses evinces a design to reduce the people under absolute despotism. Secession is the idea that a state has the legal authority unilaterally to leave the union. The leaders of 1776 never claimed their acts were legal; they said that they were choosing to break the law, and that their doing so was justified by a higher principle—namely, by the defense of the inalienable rights that belong to all individuals. It was the right to throw off a government which becomes destructive to the individual rights it is created to protect that they articulated in the Declaration. They did not say that a group of people who wish to continue violating individual rights with impunity may disregard the constitutional order so as to perpetuate their oppressive institutions. It was their grandchildren in the Confederacy who made that assertion, all the while denouncing the Declaration of Independence as an untruth. The American Revolution is poor evidence for Sale’s contention that the slave power rebellion was somehow in keeping with the American tradition.
I've written to you on this subject before, but, as it's a pet topic of mine and given the anniversary that's just past (and some of the attendant arguments I've had to engage in over the last few days), I just had to tell you again after reading your recent anti-CSA articles: superb. You nail it every time. Really, an absolute pleasure to read.
As a comment to your recent blog posts "Springtime for Jeff Davis and the Confed'racy" it might be relevant to state that within the coalition which constituted the Republican Party, there was a minority of (classical) liberal free traders, many with a background in the Democratic Party or the Free Soil Party, like Charles Sumner. As you know, many of these, including Sumner and other important figures like Carl Schurz and Charles Francis Adams left the party (some of them temporarily) in 1872 to form the Liberal Republican Party, and many of these people (not Sumner who had died) also joined the "Mugwump" bolt in 1884 to support Grover Cleveland instead.
However, I read that there were free trade Republicans who were not satisfied with Horace Greeley (who also was a protectionist) as the presidential candidate in 1872, and some I expect were suspicious of the coalition with the Democratic Party. In American Passages by Edward L Ayers et al, there's a quote: ""That Grant is an Ass no man can deny", said one Liberal Republican, "but better an Ass than a mischievous idiot.""
It's also important to point out that the important English free traders and laissez-faire liberals Richard Cobden and John Bright supported Lincoln and the Union, although they had reservations about his economic policy.
Just learned this on SGUthe other day. President John Tyler, born in 1790; who corresponded with Thomas Jefferson; became president on the death of William Henry Harrison; the Dark Horse Democrat, loyal servant of the slave power, who seized Texas to help expand the peculiar institution.... Has two living grandsons.