Like most historians mcpherson recognizes abraham

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Like most historians, McPherson recognizes Abraham Lincoln as the man at the center of the debate over slavery and the true nature of the Constitution. Long before he became president, Lincoln said, “I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with slavery
CHAPTER 10 Section 10.1 The Threat of Secession in the States where it already exists.” On the sur- face, this statement sounds mild, even concilia- tory. But if taken in the context of the times, Lin- coln’s words seemed to signal that he intended to correct the course of his nation’s history. The first generation of Americans had pushed the elimination of slavery into the future, hoping it would die out, whereas the second generation had compromised on the issue, believing this was the only way to hold the United States together. But now in this third generation, Americans must take a stand against slavery, first and foremost by banning its future growth into the territories. No one could be certain what would become of slav- ery once this ban took effect. But many hoped it would foster a new birth of freedom (McPherson, 1988, pp. vii–xi). 10.1 The Threat of Secession D iehard supporters of slavery, known as Southern Fire-Eaters , openly talked of seceding from the Union if the federal government placed any constraints on the institution. They were cheered on by apologists, who argued that God had created slavery, as evidenced by the many instances of slavery in the Old Testament, and therefore it was a “positive good” and not a “necessary evil” (Fitzhugh, 1857, p. xiii). Contemporary Arguments for Slavery Popular Southern magazines such as Debow’s Review portrayed slave masters as paternal figures who watched over a hierarchical society in which every man, woman, and child— white and black—accepted his or her station in life. Fathers ruled the family, wives served their husbands, and slaves did the bidding of their masters. Perceived as less advanced than whites, the assumption was that blacks appreciated slavery as a way to civilize them- selves under the care of superior whites. In his book Cannibals All! or, Slaves without Masters , published in 1857, writer George Fitzhugh compared the idyllic Southern society with the chaos of contemporary capi- talism. He argued that the workers of factories in the North, who usually endured long hours under harsh conditions for low wages, were exploited far more than slaves on Southern plantations, where blacks worked under kindly masters who also provided for their basic needs of food, shelter, and spiritual guidance. Convinced that slavery must be protected at all costs, Southern legislatures outlawed the teaching of reading or writing to blacks, banned all discussion of abolition, and even prohibited the manumission of slaves. There was even talk of reopening the Atlantic slave trade in order to increase slave ownership among whites (McPherson, 1988, pp. 93–103).

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