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Happy Time Warp, tyrnn and ceruleanst!

Okay, for some reason LiveJournal thought the day was yesterday, but also thinks it's today. Makes no nevermind to me, have your Forgotten English (© Jeffrey Kacirk) anyway!

A state of being freed from water.
--Rev. John Boag's Imperial Lexicon, c. 1850

Juneteenth Observed
On this date in 1865, slaves in Galveston, Texas, became the last to learn of their newfound freedom; Union soldiers reached the city and read Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, by then two and a half years old. Though Lincoln has received much of the credit for the liberation of American slaves, he could hardly have been characterized as being zealously against this evil, at least before becoming president. In the first of the Lincoln-Douglas debates on August 21, 1858, he remarked, "I have no purpose, either directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery where it exists. I believe I have no right to do so." And even as president four years later, just before the Emancipation Proclamation was issued, he wrote to Horace Greeley, "If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it; if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do that."

That's something that drives me absolutely nuts about the Civil War as it's popularly taught and understood. Ask a dozen people on the street and they'll tell you it was to free the slaves -- but it wasn't about slavery and never was. It was about Federal power vs. State power -- from the government P.O.V. slavery was just a propaganda tool that the average Joe in the northern states would get behind. Sorta like WMDs in Iraq. If you are scared that the country is slouching towards totalitarianism [1], thank Abraham Lincoln, he's the one who laid the groundwork for it.

Of course, the reason slavery worked as a hot-button issue is because it was such an evil (duh), which is why the Civil War is still such a problem. Who do you root for, the Overreaching Government, or the Slavers? I'd say a fair assessment is that we all lost on that one. (Except for the slaves -- at least they got something good out of it! Eventually.)

-The Gneech

[1] Despite the best efforts of the Bush administration, and for that matter the Clinton administration before them, I don't believe we're slouching towards totalitarianism. The U.S. has long had a tendency to swing like a pendulum, going from libertine to puritan and back again, and averaging somewhere in the middle. The key is to try to avoid the evils of either extreme.


Jun. 20th, 2007 12:23 am (UTC)
Yes, I realize that if they had said "no slavery," there never would have been a union in the first place because the southern agricultural industry was already dependent upon slave labor. I'm just saying from a purely moral standpoint, it never should have been started. But that's one of those "if only" arguments that doesn't really go anywhere. It's just that if they had dealt with the issue sooner, maybe it would not have almost destroyed the country and led to so many deaths. But then again, maybe it would.
Jun. 20th, 2007 12:55 am (UTC)
Only about five percent of the slaves went to the US. One subtlety that set us apart from others is that we were geographically large enough and diverse enough to have a major section that depended upon slavery, and another that did not.

It was a much smaller issue, for example, when England ended slavery a couple of decades before; black slaves there were generally the occasional personal servants rather than droves of agricultural workers.

Sadly, there are places that still use the practice, often state-sanctioned as it is in China and North Korea. Allegedly, the current price for a male worker is US$40 in Mali.

===|==============/ Level Head
Jun. 20th, 2007 01:43 am (UTC)
I treated "Texas" above as a monolithic entity. It was not, really, and I've been looking for a reasonable explanation of that. Here's some background -- parts of Texas were certainly pro-Union.

===|==============/ Level Head

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