Catalogue


Apostles of disunion : southern secession commissioners and the causes of the Civil War /
Charles B. Dew.
imprint
Charlottesville : University Press of Virginia, 2001.
description
x, 124 p. ; 24 cm.
ISBN
0813920361 (alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
series title
imprint
Charlottesville : University Press of Virginia, 2001.
isbn
0813920361 (alk. paper)
catalogue key
4356945
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
About the Author
Author Affiliation
Charles B. Dew is W. Van Alan Clark Third Century Professor in the Social Sciences at Williams College.
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2001-09-01:
Serious students of the American sectional crisis will appreciate Dew's reiteration of the 1860-61 remarks of secession commissioners to public officials in other Southern states on the brink of deciding whether to depart or remain in the federal Union. A larger group of scholars will marvel at the audacity of the author and cover jacket promotional blurbs asserting that this miniscule volume (83 small pages of text) has at long last settled the matter that the preservation of slavery and white supremacy was the chief motivation of secessionist Southerners, not states' rights. Most Americans understood this fully in 1860 and few reputable scholars have argued differently in the past century. Useful to Civil War specialists mainly for its historiographic value. R. A. Fischer emeritus, University of Minnesota--Duluth
Reviews
Review Quotes
Charles B. Dew offers a penetrating and incisive evaluation of secessionist ideology, with a clear eye to the priority of race over issues of constitutional rights. The principal source on which the book is built certainly appears neglected to me, and the source is worthy of exploitation: we have an opportunity here to see what Southerners said to each other and not what they said primarily to the North or to the world.
Dew has produced an eye-opening study....So much for states' rights as the engine of secession.
"Dew has produced an eye-opening study....So much for states' rights as the engine of secession." -- James McPherson, The New York Review of Books
This incisive history should dispel the pernicious notion that the Confederacy fought the Civil War to advance the constitutional principle of states' rights and only coincidentally to preserve slavery.
"This incisive history should dispel the pernicious notion that the Confederacy fought the Civil War to advance the constitutional principle of states' rights and only coincidentally to preserve slavery." -- The New York Times Book Review
"Charles B. Dew offers a penetrating and incisive evaluation of secessionist ideology, with a clear eye to the priority of race over issues of constitutional rights. The principal source on which the book is built certainly appears neglected to me, and the source is worthy of exploitation: we have an opportunity here to see what Southerners said to each other and not what they said primarily to the North or to the world." -- Mark E. Neely, Jr., author of The Fate of Liberty: Abraham Lincoln and Civil Liberties and Southern Rights: Political Prisoners and the Myth of Confederate Constitutionalism
This item was reviewed in:
New York Times Book Review, April 2001
Choice, September 2001
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Publisher Fact Sheet
In the inflammatory rhetoric of men dispatched to preach the secessionist cause, Charles Dew finds the true causes of the civil war & its legacy of racism in contemporary America.
Main Description
In late 1860 and early 1861, state-appointed commissioners traveled the length and breadth of the slave South carrying a fervent message in pursuit of a clear goal: to persuade the political leadership and the citizenry of the uncommitted slave states to join in the effort to destroy the Union and forge a new Southern nation. Directly refuting the neo-Confederate contention that slavery was neither the reason for secession nor the catalyst for the resulting onset of hostilities in 1861, Charles B. Dew finds in the commissioners' brutally candid rhetoric a stark white supremacist ideology that proves the contrary. The commissioners included in their speeches a constitutional justification for secession, to be sure, and they pointed to a number of political "outrages" committed by the North in the decades prior to Lincoln's election. But the core of their argument--the reason the right of secession had to be invoked and invoked immediately--did not turn on matters of constitutional interpretation or political principle. Over and over again, the commissioners returned to the same point: that Lincoln's election signaled an unequivocal commitment on the part of the North to destroy slavery and that emancipation would plunge the South into a racial nightmare. Dew's discovery and study of the highly illuminating public letters and speeches of these apostles of disunion--often relatively obscure men sent out to convert the unconverted to the secessionist cause--have led him to suggest that the arguments the commissioners presented provide us with the best evidence we have of the motives behind the secession of the lower South in 1860-61. Addressing topics still hotly debated among historians and the public at large more than a century after the Civil War, Dew challenges many current perceptions of the causes of the conflict. He offers a compelling and clearly substantiated argument that slavery and race were absolutely critical factors in the outbreak of war--indeed, that they were at the heart of our great national crisis.
Unpaid Annotation
In the inflammatory rhetoric of state-appointed commissioners dispatched to preach the secessionist cause, Charles Dew finds what he maintains are the true causes of the Civil War and its legacy of racism in contemporary America.
Main Description
In late 1860 and early 1861, state-appointed commissioners traveled the length and breadth of the slave South carrying a fervent message in pursuit of a clear goal: to persuade the political leadership and the citizenry of the uncommitted slave states to join in the effort to destroy the Union and forge a new Southern nation.Directly refuting the neo-Confederate contention that slavery was neither the reason for secession nor the catalyst for the resulting onset of hostilities in 1861, Charles B. Dew finds in the commissioners' brutally candid rhetoric a stark white supremacist ideology that proves the contrary. The commissioners included in their speeches a constitutional justification for secession, to be sure, and they pointed to a number of political "outrages" committed by the North in the decades prior to Lincoln's election. But the core of their argument--the reason the right of secession had to be invoked and invoked immediately--did not turn on matters of constitutional interpretation or political principle. Over and over again, the commissioners returned to the same point: that Lincoln's election signaled an unequivocal commitment on the part of the North to destroy slavery and that emancipation would plunge the South into a racial nightmare.Dew's discovery and study of the highly illuminating public letters and speeches of these apostles of disunion--often relatively obscure men sent out to convert the unconverted to the secessionist cause--have led him to suggest that the arguments the commissioners presented provide us with the best evidence we have of the motives behind the secession of the lower South in 1860-61.Addressing topics still hotly debated among historians and the public at large more than a century after the Civil War, Dew challenges many current perceptions of the causes of the conflict. He offers a compelling and clearly substantiated argument that slavery and race were absolutely critical factors in the outbreak of war--indeed, that they were at the heart of our great national crisis.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Introductionp. 1
Slavery, States' Rights, and Secession Commissionersp. 4
The First Wavep. 22
The South Caroliniansp. 37
The Alabamiansp. 51
The Mission to Virginiap. 59
Conclusion: Apostles of Disunion, Apostles of Racismp. 74
Documentsp. 83
Notesp. 105
Indexp. 119
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

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