American History09 Oct 2007 08:32 pm
A new edition of The Intellectual Devotional, this time with a focus on American History, will be available online and in stores on October 16. (Click here to pre-order your copy.) As the release date approaches, “The Devoted Intellect” blog will introduce and expand on material from that book. Today’s entry on “Slavery” draws from the “Rights & Reforms” section of the American History edition.
One of the oddest things about the American Civil War was the reaction around the world. Leftists in Great Britain, for instance, often attacked the Union with far more vehemence than they expended on the Confederacy. As one pair of columnists put it at the time, “While they insult the free states of the North, they anxiously defend themselves against the suspicion of sympathizing with the slave states of the South.” Why did so many British liberals attack the North? For a simple reason: they believed that Lincoln was a hypocrite who didn’t actually care about slavery. He, and the North in general, was fighting the war for power and money. If he really cared about slavery, why not just separate from the South altogether?
The pair who wrote the words above agreed, at least in part. Lincoln didn’t care about slavery. In fact, he didn’t realize how important slavery was to the conflict he was leading. But whether he realized it or not, slavery was exactly what the American Civil War was about. If Lincoln was going to win the war, he had no choice but to emancipate the slaves and fire the generals who were only half-heartedly leading the Union troops (because they sympathized with the South). They wrote those words in 1861, when none of this was clear. Three years later, everything they predicted came true. Say what you will about Marxism, Marx and Engels were brilliant journalists.
Read all of their articles on the American Civil War here.
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