Thursday, September 13, 2007

1850 vs. 1860

I mentioned that I'm re-reading Mills Thornton's Power and Politics in a Slave Society. If I weren't so lazy, I'd tell you how unfair my earlier semi-review of the book was. But since I am lazy, I'll content myself with my favorite quote so far. As you'll see, Professor Thornton does not think the south was ready for revolution in 1850. I enjoy the lines because Professor Thornton backs them up and because the first sentence is laugh-out-loud funny:
It has been the fashion among some students of the Crisis of 1850 to pretend that a listener, if sufficiently attentive, can hear the thunder of the guns at Gettysburg in the debate over the Georgia Platform. The sounds which reach the present writer's ears, however, only emphasize that the decade which intervened between 1850 and 1860 was marked by the creation of very new social conditions, in Alabama as elsewhere. The electorate accepted in 1860 what it had rejected in 1850, not merely because affairs had taken a more serious turn at Washington but also because the voters were residents of a new world, which made new demands of them and to which they were compelled to offer new responses.

You just can't beat insights -- and writing -- like that.

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