For a Kinder, Gentler Society
And the War Came:
The Slavery Quarrel and the American Civil War
  • Donald J. Meyers
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And the War Came:. The Slavery Quarrel and the American Civil War
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Race relations in the United States rest on a very stony foundation. This detailed account of slavery, from Jamestown through the Civil War, discusses the economic importance of slave labor (in the North as well as the South), its impact on the political dynamics of the Civil War, and the moral dilemmas slavery posed.
 
This is the background story that still informs relations between black Americans and whites to this day.

About the Author

Donald J. Meyers holds a degree in Social Sciences from Georgetown University. He served as a Naval Officer aboard a destroyer in the Korean War, and later became a vice-president of General Electric Co. A passionate student of American History, his research for this work included regional archives, historical libraries and period newspapers.

About the Book

Donald J. Meyers traces slavery’s impact on economics and politics from Jamestown through the Civil War. This American crisis unfolds through the written and spoken words of the participants, representing every...

Donald J. Meyers traces slavery’s impact on economics and politics from Jamestown through the Civil War. This American crisis unfolds through the written and spoken words of the participants, representing every level of a society whose leadership originally postponed, then procrastinated and eventually failed to resolve a moral issue, creating a political impasse which intensified the passions that fueled the war.

When the war came, both sides were shocked by its ferocity and duration.

Anti-slavery leaders faced a moral and political challenge. In championing a union of states that sought independence from the motherland; to achieve union and independence, they had to compromise on slavery for the time being. In a lively narrative spiced with eye-witness accounts and letters from townsfolk and soldiers, North and South, and personal comments from slaves, an American drama unfolds. The debate over slavery in America began as early as the Jamestown Settlement, with pragmatic considerations always coming out ahead of moral considerations. This conflict which threatened to keep the Colonies from coming together in the first place, continued into the next century, fueling divisions between different regions and different interest groups and, ultimately, sowing distrust and animosity that helped lead to the Civil War.

Giving an account of slavery in America from the earliest colonies to and through the Civil War, Meyers explains its economic importance (in the North as well as the South), its impact on the political dynamics of the Civil War, and the dilemmas it posed. Fending off attacks from Great Britain and shoring up the foundations of a shaky new nation, placing the unified strength of the nation ahead of moral concerns that they hoped would be resolved in due course, America's leadership postponed an early head-on confrontation; the unresolved quarrel fermented until it became a crisis.

Delaying tactics like the Missouri Compromise deferred the confrontation for decades, while the ardent and relentless campaign of John Quincy Adams and other abolitionists fought to galvanize Congress and the public to bring slavery to an end. When the war did come, both sides were shocked by its ferocity and duration. The gore and the gallantry that characterized the war stand forth. President Lincoln is shown as a steadfast manager biding his time, facing personal as well as political challenges and patiently maneuvering, despite the vilification heaped upon him by his dissatisfied countrymen, until he and his generals Grant and Sherman managed to save the republic.

Divisions still exist in the "United" States, between different regions, different interest groups, and — according to many —. between whites and blacks. The violence now is more often economic than physical, but distrust and animosity are still
with us.


Introduction

While her friends cheered the bombardment of federal Fort Sumter, from the rooftops of Charleston’s fashionable Battery, Mary Chesnut confided her anxiety to her diary that April morning in 1861, the day of our national watershed.

...

While her friends cheered the bombardment of federal Fort Sumter, from the rooftops of Charleston’s fashionable Battery, Mary Chesnut confided her anxiety to her diary that April morning in 1861, the day of our national watershed.

“And so we fool on, into the black cloud ahead of us.”1 Mary was the wife of James Chesnut, who had recently resigned as United States Senator from South Carolina. Now he was a staff officer serving Confederate General Beauregard, commander of the Charleston garrison. The cannonading was a rash act, hastily choreographed by the fledgling Confederate Government in Montgomery, Alabama.

At 4:30 in the morning of April 12, 1861, in the charming and historical city of Charleston, South Carolina (where Charlestonians like to say that the Ashley and the Cooper Rivers come together to form the Atlantic Ocean), soldiers proclaiming allegiance to the State of South Carolina were under the command of General Gustave Pierre Toutant Beauregard, recently Superintendent of West Point, the toast of this fair town, dapper, debonair, a “fox-faced” Creole from Louisiana, who had brought a servant with him from Louisiana just to wax his mustache every day. They arched a cannonball high in the air in the direction of “their” fort, Sumter, which was occupied by United States troops under the command of Major Robert Anderson, son of a Revolutionary War officer who had once been under a bombardment of his own, in this very city, by the British. The son, a West Point graduate, a native of Kentucky, a man of Southern antecedents, had married a woman from Georgia, and was a slave-owner and Southern sympathizer...but on this night he would be loyal to his uniform, to his flag and to the tall, homely, lonely, brooding man in Washington.

As that war-birthing cannonball reached its apogee and began its graceful fall, cheered wildly by scores of defiant, confident Charlestonians, Mary Chesnut fell to her knees. Her husband, the Colonel, as instructed by Beauregard, had given the order to fire the signal shots to begin the bombardment.

News of the firing on Fort Sumter reached California by Pony Express on April 24. Many Army officers stationed there would become prominent in the war. Each declared his choice, North or South, held last-minute parties, swore undying friendship to one another and left to face each other on the battlegrounds. Many Southern people thought there would be no war, or that, if one came, it would be of short duration. Any decent Southerner knew that one Southerner could lick ten Yankees. As has been observed, “The worst wars usually happen because one power believes it can advance its objectives either without a war at all or at least with only a limited war that it can quickly win — and, consequently miscalculates.”



Pages 296
Year: 2005
LC Classification: E441.M56
Dewey code: 306.3'62'0973—dc22
BISAC: HIS036050
BISAC: SOC501000
Soft Cover
ISBN: 978-0-87586-358-0
Price: USD 22.95
Hard Cover
ISBN: 978-0-87586-359-7
Price: USD 28.95
eBook
ISBN: 978-0-87586-360-3
Price: USD 22.95
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