". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Intellectual Underpinnings of the Civil War

"... the intellectual underpinnings of the Civil War ..." dere iz any?  O! u meenz such as this example provided by the Senate Historical Office?

On May 22, 1856, the "world's greatest deliberative body" became a combat zone. In one of the most dramatic and deeply ominous moments in the Senate's entire history, a member of the House of Representatives entered the Senate chamber and savagely beat a senator into unconsciousness.

The inspiration for this clash came three days earlier when Senator Charles Sumner, a Massachusetts antislavery Republican, addressed the Senate on the explosive issue of whether Kansas should be admitted to the Union as a slave state or a free state. In his "Crime Against Kansas" speech, Sumner identified two Democratic senators as the principal culprits in this crime—Stephen Douglas of Illinois and Andrew Butler of South Carolina. He characterized Douglas to his face as a "noise-some, squat, and nameless animal . . . not a proper model for an American senator." Andrew Butler, who was not present, received more elaborate treatment. Mocking the South Carolina senator's stance as a man of chivalry, the Massachusetts senator charged him with taking "a mistress . . . who, though ugly to others, is always lovely to him; though polluted in the sight of the world, is chaste in his sight—I mean," added Sumner, "the harlot, Slavery."

Representative Preston Brooks was Butler's South Carolina kinsman. If he had believed Sumner to be a gentleman, he might have challenged him to a duel. Instead, he chose a light cane of the type used to discipline unruly dogs. Shortly after the Senate had adjourned for the day, Brooks entered the old chamber, where he found Sumner busily attaching his postal frank to copies of his "Crime Against Kansas" speech.

Moving quickly, Brooks slammed his metal-topped cane onto the unsuspecting Sumner's head. As Brooks struck again and again, Sumner rose and lurched blindly about the chamber, futilely attempting to protect himself. After a very long minute, it ended.

Bleeding profusely, Sumner was carried away. Brooks walked calmly out of the chamber without being detained by the stunned onlookers. Overnight, both men became heroes in their respective regions.

Surviving a House censure resolution, Brooks resigned, was immediately reelected, and soon thereafter died at age 37. Sumner recovered slowly and returned to the Senate, where he remained for another 18 years. The nation, suffering from the breakdown of reasoned discourse that this event symbolized, tumbled onward toward the catastrophe of civil war.

If anyone could point me in the direction of the intellectual unpinnings for the War of Southern Aggression, I'd be grateful.

This inquiry has been provoked by an example in an article in College and Research Libraries News describing current trends for academic research libraries:

Many digital projects have been funded in part by grants from sources such as the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and the Mellon Foundation, while others are supported in total by institutional funds. Collaborative digitization opportunities abound: member libraries of the Association of Southeastern Research Libraries are creating a digital shared collection of 5,000 items from their rare and special collections that will help explain the intellectual underpinnings of the American Civil War


K. said...

"Surviving a House censure resolution"

You know, a guy can't even defend a relative's honor by sneaking up on someone and beating him half to death without getting almost censured. Those days sure were unforgiving.

If someone took a shot at Obama tomorrow, the right-wing blogosphere would be filled with "I'm against violence, but..." and promote the shooter for president. The Beck/Limbaugh Axis of Evil would declare it a liberal plot because their followers are all for love, but in case it wasn't a liberal, it would be because someone so feared for their country that they felt compelled to act.

Not that I'm an expert, but don't the intellectual underpinnings for the Civil War lie in the Constitution? Otherwise, the CW challenged the white man's historical burden of indolently sipping bourbon on the veranda while taking a break from raping slave women. The Northerners who went south after the war often remarked on the laziness of the white Southerners.

Foxessa said...

Shoot, even a Tex-Mex remarks on that in HBO Treme!

Even I remark upon that, from observation and experience.

Whereas the black Southerners I know are at least as hard working all the time as new immigrants who come here are. And that's damned hardworking.

Myself as a hard working individual? Though I come from an extreme hard work ethic background? Not so much. :)

Love, C.

Foxessa said...

"Not that I'm an expert, but don't the intellectual underpinnings for the Civil War lie in the Constitution? Otherwise, the CW challenged the white man's historical burden of indolently sipping bourbon on the veranda while taking a break from raping slave women."

Um, you forgot to include the intellectual effort of reading Sir Walter Scott and slave management manuals.

You mean that part of the Constitution that ensures the pursuit of happiness?

Love, C.

K. said...

Walter Scott was a killer. I'd rather read the complete works of Virginia Woolf than tackle Ivanhoe again.

You know, having grown up with them, I never did get the myth of Mexican-American laziness. Honest and hard-working, maybe...

Foxessa said...

Many share your feelings about Scott.

Myself I like Scott a lot. Like Dumas -- the fathers of historical fiction. A writer who is interested in publishing popular entertainment has no end of things to learn from them both!

Love, C.