The Slaveholding Republic: An Account of the United States Government's Relations to Slavery
Many leading historians have argued that the Constitution of the United States was a proslavery document. But in The Slaveholding Republic, one of America's most eminent historians refutes this claim in a landmark history that stretches from the Continental Congress to the Presidency of Abraham Lincoln. Fehrenbacher shows that the Constitution itself was more or less neutral on the issue of slavery and that, in the antebellum period, the idea that the Constitution protected slavery was hotly debated (many Northerners would concede only that slavery was protected by state law, not by federal law). Nevertheless, he also reveals that U.S. policy abroad and in the territories was consistently proslavery. Fehrenbacher makes clear why Lincoln's election was such a shock to the South and shows how Lincoln's approach to emancipation, which seems exceedingly cautious by modern standards, quickly evolved into a "Republican revolution" that ended the anomaly of the United States as a"slaveholding republic." "Advances our knowledge of the critical relationships of slavery to the American government, placing it in perspective and explaining its meaning.... One could hardly ask for more."--Ira Berlin, The Washington Post
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This book is essential for anyone trying to understand the federal government’s approach to slavery, both before and after the Civil War. In this detailed and masterful review of every Congressional action related to slavery from the foundation of the new nation up through Reconstruction, Fehrenbacher makes several contentions. One is that the Constitution itself was neutral on the question of slavery. Two is that the Southerners needed federal protection for their institution, so that contrary to being “states rightists” on this issue, they were strong nationalists. Three is that “the policy of the federal government down through the years…had been predominantly supportive of slavery.” Four is that Lincoln’s election was seen at the time as deeply revolutionary, in spite of Lincoln’s professed cautious and centrist attitudes, because of the fear that Republicans, unlike earlier parties, would no longer kowtow to the South and allow the federal government to continue to support slavery as in fact it always had. And finally, Fehrenbacher observes that on a meta level, a deep racism permeated the nation from the very beginning, which acted against any meaningful effort to put reins on slavery. In fact, even many antislavery activists, from abolitionists to Free-Soilers to Republicans, were more concerned with white rights than with black wrongs. Two contradictions characterized the slavery discussion at the nation's founding. One was the Declaration of Independence, with its noble sentiments expressing the belief that all men are created equal. The other was the treaty of peace with Great Britain, which contained a clause explicitly identifying slaves as a form of property (for which Americans wanted compensation to the extent that Britain provided a promised freedom and emigration to those who fought with her against the colonies). Regarding the Declaration of Independence, there is much to be said in favor of the argument made by Lincoln’s rival, Steven Douglas, that when the Founders wrote “we the people” they were referring to white propertied men like themselves. And in fact, most of them owned slaves, so how could they mean otherwise? Yet, Lincoln was able to punch a logical hole in this argument. In 1858 he noted: “Where will it stop? If one man says it does not mean a Negro, why may not another say it does not mean some other man?” [This became painfully evident in the 1896 Supreme Court case Plessy v. Ferguson, which established the “separate but equal doctrine.” Homer Plessy was not allowed to sit in the “white”section of the train even though he was only one-eighth black, and literally could not be physically distinguished from a white person in any way.] As for the treaty with Britain that marked the end of America’s colonial period and the beginning of the United States, a great deal of chauvinistic rivalry and leftover resentment from the war helped to exacerbate differences between the parties. Moreover, many ex-colonists, in particular Virginians with their plantation lifestyles, were deeply in debt. George Washington, as President, was adamant that slaveholders be compensated for their losses; he himself was one of those who lost “property.” After the Revolution, America “energetically pressed” the claims of slaveholders against Britain through its principal spokesmen, John Adams, Gouverneur Morris, John Jay, and Thomas Jefferson. Other issues relating to slavery bedeviled the country from its outset. Fehrenbacher notes that in 1780, slaves composed one-sixth of the population. Those formulating the Constitution needed to come up with an acceptable plan to assess the wealth represented by their labor. The “three-fifths compromise” (i.e., that each slave counted for three-fifths of each free white person) had no racial meaning, according to Fehrenbacher. Rather, it reflected the belief that slaves were less productive than free persons and thus ought to be counted fractionally as indicators as wealth. [Southerners knew full well that free blacks who...
Review: The Slaveholding Republic: An Account of the United States Government's Relations to SlaveryUser Review - Goodreads
The review found under the following link http://sums up my impression of Fehrenbacher's book as well. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in this subject.
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The Slaveholding Republic: An Account of the United States Government's ...
Don E. Fehrenbacher
No preview available - 2001
William J. (William James) Cooper - The Slaveholding Republic: An ...
The Slaveholding Republic: An Account of the United States Government's Relations to Slavery. By Don E. Fehrenbacher. Completed and edited by Ward M. mcafee ...
muse.jhu.edu/ journals/ civil_war_history/ v048/ 48.1cooper.html
Don E. Fehrenbacher. The Slaveholding Republic: An Account of the ...
Don E. Fehrenbacher. The Slaveholding Republic: An Account of the United States Government’s. Relations to Slavery. Completed and edited by Ward M mcafee. ...
www.h-net.org/ reviews/ showpdf.cgi?path=73411015347997
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The Slaveholding Republic: an Account of the United States Government's Relations to Slavery. Journal of Southern History, November, 2002 by kr Constantine ...
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| Review | Journal of Gilded Age and Progressive era, 7.1 | The ...
2 Don E. Fehrenbacher, The Slaveholding Republic: An Account of the United States Government's Relations to Slavery, comp. and ed. Ward M. mcafee (New York, ...
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Prologue: Selected Articles
... The Slaveholding Republic: An Account of the United States Government's Relations to Slavery, completed and edited by Ward M. mcafee (2001), pp. ...
www.archives.gov/ publications/ prologue/ 2003/ spring/ amistad-2.html
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Gilder Lehrman Center | 2001 Frederick Douglass Prize
(New York, October 31, 2001) — David Blight's celebrated new study, Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory, has won the third annual $25000 ...
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CIVIL WAR ERA STUDIES
TEXTS. CIVIL WAR ERA STUDIES. CWES 205 – INTRODUCTION TO THE CIVIL WAR ERA. Tuesdays & Thursdays 10.00 am - 11.20 am. Weidensall 302 ...
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