Monday, December 27, 2010

E.J. Dionne Even Manages To Mangle The Civil War

On the occasion of the onset of the Civil War's 150th Anniversary Year, noted liberal hack historian E.J. Dionnne of the Washington Post takes to his editorial perch to lecture the rest of us on the Civil War.  Here's Dionne presenting us with Civil War "fact":

"But our conversations, like so many about the war, focused on people and battles, not on why the confrontation happened in the first place. There remains enormous denial over the fact that the central cause of the war was our national disagreement about race and slavery, not states' rights or anything else."

Really E.J.?  Just slavery?  Then why did the Civil War not break out when the slave trade was Constitutionally outlawed in 1808?  Why did it not break out at the time of the Missouri Compromise?  The Kansas Nebraska Act?  The Compromise of 1850?  The Civil War was kept in check because the political systems at the time of these great compromises was resilient enough to accommodate them.  By the election of 1860, that system had lost its resilience.  Was the Civil War caused by slavery?  Of course.  Was it caused only by slavery?  Not by a long shot.

I defer to noted Civil War historian President Abraham Lincoln when I think about why the Civil War was waged. 

"I would save the Union. I would save it the shortest way under the Constitution. The sooner the national authority can be restored; the nearer the Union will be "the Union as it was." If there be those who would not save the Union, unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause. I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors; and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views.  I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official duty; and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men everywhere could be free." 


Mudge said...

If you are going to criticize EJ for his inaccuracies, you have to get the name of the conflict correct in the first place.

War of Northern Aggression.

"The Hammer" said...

Slavery was an institution that would have fallen from its own weight in another thirty years or so regardless of the outcome of the war. As a young man de Toqueville's description of crossing the border between Kentucky and Ohio made a deep impression upon me. In Kentucky there was very little innovation and efficiency due primarily to slavery. Manual labor was considered, well not to use their term but "slave work". In Ohio everything was buzzing because it was a free economy with a vibrant labor market.
The point being, slavery may have been good for the big plantation owners, but for the common man down South, it was a ruinous institution.
Oh yeah, Mr. Dionne is practicing revisionist history as all liberal are wont to do.

Mark Gorenflo said...

It is telling though that President Lincoln could only save the Union by freeing all the slaves.

The Conservative Wahoo said...

Telling and important--but not complete.

Political compromise held the "wolf by its ears" for 70 years. It then broke down under the weight of POWER--jealousy among the states as to who had it and who didn't.

"The Hammer" said...

It's also important to remember the secessionists had every right to leave the Union. As good few States, before ratifying the Constitution, made clear their right to leave if things didn't work out (including as I recall New York and Rhode Island). So Lincoln in fact fought an illegal war.

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