Random House's College Dictionary defines a traitor as "a person who betrays his country by violating his allegiance." A soldier who changes sides in a war is assuredly "violating his allegiance” which is among the most egregious actions a soldier can do. A traitor is often not trusted by his new nation nor allowed to return to his old one, paying a high price for his defection. Yet, even in the passionate fight of brother against brother of the Civil War, many soldiers forsook their nation and became traitors. Their story, however, was not one of evil intent as presumed by the label. For most, the choice was one of survival due to the inhumane conditions these so-called traitors endured—often for more than a year—in prisoner of war camps in both the North and South.
The Framers did not abandon fairness with the Electoral College. The Constitution created a republic, not a democracy. The federal government divided the country into factions that worked against each other but created greater liberty for all. Majorities in legislation and presidential elections were only achievable when diverse factions agreed which decreased the chances that minority factions could be oppressed. A presidential candidate with fewer electoral votes could therefore be preferred because what mattered for governing successfully was an agreement by the public on the legitimacy of that president. That legitimacy was achieved when all factions believed they had a voice in the process.
God's Will: Proslavery, the Bible, and Preserving the Patriarchal Social Order of the South, 1831-1861
ABSTRACT: Few issues in American history perplex the twenty-first century mind more than a people going to war to defend their ability to keep other people in bondage. Hundreds of thousands of white Southerners fought in the Civil War for their freedom to deny black slaves from being free. “Many scholars have felt uncomfortable contending with zealous defenses of a social system that the twentieth century judges abhorrent...” explains Drew Gilpin Faust. There is a tremendous volume of scholarship focused on the abolitionists who argued for manumission. Former slaves Frederick Douglas and Sojouner Truth, preacher William Channing, publisher William Lloyd Garrison, and novelist Harriet Beecher Stowe are just some of the many well-known abolitionists in history books on the period leading up to the Civil War. Very little is known, however, about the proslavery voices on the other side of the debate. South Carolina Senator John C. Calhoun, Professor Thomas Roderick Dew, Baptist minister Thornton Stringfellow, and essayist Louisa S. McCord were just some of the many writers and orators across the South defending slavery with as much vigor as their counterparts to the north were attacking it. Recently, historians have shifted from considering proslavery ideology “as evidence of moral failure and more as a key to wider patterns of beliefs and values.” In this wider context, the reasons for white Southerners’ proslavery ideology and the arguments they used that so convinced them to go to war over it, can provide a deeper understanding of the causes of the seminal event in American history and, perhaps, get at the roots of racial inequity that continues today.
Evaluating a Primary Source: The South Vindicated from the Treason and Fanaticism of the Northern Abolitionists by William Drayton, 1836.
ABSTRACT: Beyond affirming James M. McPherson in Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era, Drayton’s words offered more depth. His fury with abolitionists was clear as he called them “fanatics…to whom the tranquilizing chair or strait jacket is the only effective argument.” Reading Drayton’s words brought forth the zeal of his belief in sustaining slavery, something not as clear in a couple sentences from McPherson.
ABSTRACT: Until the middle of the 20th century the history of one half of the human experience, Women’s History, had been largely ignored so uncovering it required innovative methods and an interdisciplinary approach which led historiography to new ways of encountering the past and empowered changes in American society. With inspired tenacity historians, mostly women, located primary sources, filled in gaps by analyzing data and untangled the effects on women in traditional periods of history. The result was an enviable scholarship and greater societal equality. Women’s history, however, was criticized by some for over-reaching with quantitative analysis and “unpatriotic” revisionism while others argued their subjects were too narrowly focused.
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