Wednesday, January 16, 2013

How slavery undid the wartime Confederacy

With the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation upon us -- and an African-American about to be sworn in again as president of our union -- Washington Monthly has devoted their current issue to the issues the Civil War raised and only partially resolved.  My humble contribution to the effort was this review of a new history that shows how the ideology and institution of slavery crippled the Confederate war effort, and how the war itself undid slavery long before the surrender at Appomatox. (The book is Bruce Levine's The Fall of the House of Dixie: The Civil War and the Social Revolution That Transformed the South.)

Meanwhile, Thom Hartmann has an essay on that's been generating a lot of attention, as it presents a convincing historical argument that the Second Amendment was created at the behest of southern slave owners to maintain slave patrols.  Here's Patrick Henry of Virginia, laying out the need to add explicit protections for "well regulated militias": "If the country be invaded, a state may go to war, but cannot suppress [slave] insurrections [under this new Constitution]. If there should happen an insurrection of slaves, the country cannot be said to be invaded. They cannot, therefore, suppress it without the interposition of Congress . . . . Congress, and Congress only [under this new Constitution], can call forth the militia."

Interesting stuff, and in harmony with the world of the 18th century Deep South and Tidewater portrayed in American Nations.

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