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Old 02-09-2017, 03:27 AM
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Default Book Review: Varon's "Disunion! The Coming of the American Civil War"

Book Review: Varon's "Disunion!"
(Apollonian, 8 Feb 17)

Book Review: "Disunion! The Coming of the American Civil War," by Elizabeth R. Varon, UNC Press, Chapel Hill, 2008, 455 pp, xii, 347 p. text, notes, index, is interesting, creditable example of history of period leading to American "Civil War" (War of Northern Aggression) fm pt. of view of gross "feminist," moralist-Pharisaist, giving excellent example of the (pathetic) mental workings of these sort. For many if not most of the actual facts reported seem to be accurate, and these mostly well sourced and referenced. It's actually good, at least informative for some facts, to hear fm the abolitionist pt. of view for their accounting of things through the yrs, and for this Varon seems to do fairly good scholarly job, dumb as she is otherwise for typical crass and brainless moralism.

Thus Varon founds her thesis upon idea of "disunion," not necessarily secession, and shows how this disunion theme is bandied about by the various sides and factions in north and south. And of course, Varon assumes the usual intellectualist style for her history, but doesn't consider it necessary to present essence of the "Civil war" conflict, which was the "compact" theory of John C. Calhoun and Thomas Jefferson vs. the one featured ultimately by Lincoln, but was specifically formulated in the beginning (in 1830s) by Sup. ct. Justice, Joseph Story, to effect Union was product of the whole people who then supposedly delegated powers to the states--which was preposterous, and known to be so, BUT was sufficient for purposes of war and conquest by Northern powers, never forget.

For note the economic/sociologic circumstances, the north prosperous and bustling, busy expanding to the newly-won territories of the West, ready and willing to carry on a grim war of conquest over the south on the side.

And when one considers the millions of casualties, esp. by South--a million dead each for both whites and blacks, even if deaths delayed and caused by wounding and maiming--one sees the practical worth of mere intellectual victories, as for the "compact" theory. Thus the Confederate firing on Ft. Sumter was un-wise on part of leader, Jeff. Davis, just as then Conf. Sec. of State, R. Toombs, had warned, the firing only thereupon playing into hands of Lincoln and co. to make disastrous, horrendous war, establishment of present monstrous, satanic, genocidal empire.

So was it un-wise to precipitate the war when the Conf. army wasn't even sufficiently armed w. rifles, w. no navy, etc., basic defenses non-existent, as at Ft.s Henry and Donelson. Thus the North was enabled to steadily ramp-up overwhelming pressure and force against the Confederacy, the southern resources exhausted and ground-down. The war was lost by 1863, and Davis should have sued for peace then, at least for sake of the people. Pt. is Davis and Confederates should have delayed long as possible to arm, gain a naval force and foreign allies, and might well have prevented such fatal, horrible war.

Author Varon thus builds her interesting historical account fm abolitionism, including variations upon that basic, abolitionist, theme, including the "heroic" efforts of various authors, like Harriet Beecher Stowe ("Uncle Tom's Cabin"), and blacks, like Harriet Tubman who ran part of the "underground railroad," to the founding of the parties which arose, including the Whigs, forerunners of eventual Republicans, the "Liberty" anti-slavery party, the Free Soil Party, and then finally the Republicans, the latter a tremendously successful sectionalist party which won many seats in Congress and several states even at their first Pres. election in 1856.

Additionally Varon covers important subjects like the court cases of the "Amistad" slave ship of 1839 and other cases too, esp. regarding the Fugitive Slave provision in the Const. which quite and evermore offended states of north when the Fed. gov. stepped in to over-rule state laws and provisions which provided for procedures slave owners were required to follow in order to carry off their escaped slaves. Fact is these Fugitive Slave laws and provisions were evermore impossible for practical enforcement in the north, and served as perfect, and ironic examples of nullification by the northern states despite all efforts of the Fed. gov.

But things came to a head regarding the state of Texas and then ensuing war w. Mexico of 1846-8. For that's when Wilmot placed his famous "Proviso" that slavery would not be allowed in any of the newly conquered land. Varon laments that Wilmot was actually anti-black and wanted the new land to be open exclusively to white "free labor." The next round struck w. the infamous "Dred Scott" decision of US Sup. ct. when it held that slavery could not be limited by mere Congressional law, that the Const. protected it even in the territories.

Then there was the great Kansas turmoil when the slave power sought unsuccessfully to establish Kansas as slave state. Finally, there was the great John Brown raid at Harper's Ferry, Brown financed and backed by New England conspirators which conspirators were allowed to escape. Stage was thus set for southern secession w. Lincoln's victory in 1860, the Democrats deliberately sabotaged for unity by southern activists.

So Varon's work is interesting, even notable for integration of legitimate history even w. her putrid moralism, including ignoring of the most incisive subject, the actual rights of the states as regarding secession and nullification.
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