Secession Debated: Georgia's Showdown in 1860

Secession Debated Georgia s Showdown in The critical northern antebellum debate matched the rhetorical skills of Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A Douglas in an historic argument over the future of slavery in a westward expanding America Two ye

  • Title: Secession Debated: Georgia's Showdown in 1860
  • Author: William W. Freehling Craig M. Simpson
  • ISBN: 9780195079456
  • Page: 262
  • Format: Paperback
  • The critical northern antebellum debate matched the rhetorical skills of Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A Douglas in an historic argument over the future of slavery in a westward expanding America Two years later, an equally historic oratorical showdown between secessionists and Unionists in Georgia generated as much popular interest south of the Mason Dixon line, and perhaThe critical northern antebellum debate matched the rhetorical skills of Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A Douglas in an historic argument over the future of slavery in a westward expanding America Two years later, an equally historic oratorical showdown between secessionists and Unionists in Georgia generated as much popular interest south of the Mason Dixon line, and perhaps had an even profound immediate effect on the future of the United States.With Abraham Lincoln s Black Republican triumph in the presidential election of 1860 came ardent secessionist sentiment in the South But Unionists were equally zealous and while South Carolina a bastion of Disunionism since 1832 seemed certain to secede the other fourteen slave states were far from decided In the deep South, the road to disunion depended much on the actions of Georgia, a veritable microcosm of the divided South and geographically in the middle of the Cotton South If Georgia went for the Union, secessionist South Carolina could be isolated So in November of 1860 all the eyes of Dixie turned to tiny Milledgeville, pre war capital of Georgia, for a legislative confrontation that would help chart the course toward civil war.In Secession Debated, William W Freehling and Craig M Simpson have for the first time collected the seven surviving speeches and public letters of this greatest of southern debates over disunion, providing today s reader with a unique window into a moment of American crisis Introducing the debate and debaters in compelling fashion, the editors help bring to life a sleepy Southern town suddenly alive with importance as a divided legislature met to decide the fate of Georgia, and by extension, that of the nation We hear myriad voices, among them the energetic and self righteous governor Joseph E Brown who, while a slaveholder and secessionist, was somewhat suspect as a native North Georgian Alexander H Stephens, the eloquent Unionist whose calm dispassionate approach ultimately backfired and fiery secessionist Robert Toombs who, impatient with Brown s indecisiveness and the caution of the Unionists, shouted to legislators Give me the sword but if you do not place it in my hands, before God I will take it The secessionists Henry Benning and Thomas R.R Cobb as well as the Unionists Benjamin Hill and Herschel Johnson also speak to us across the years, most with eloquence, all with the patriotic, passionate conviction that defined an era In the end, the legislature adopted a convention bill which decreed a popular vote on the issue in early January, 1861 The election results were close, mirroring the intense debate of two months before 51% of Georgians favored immediate secession, a slim margin which the propaganda conscious Brown later inflated to 58% On January 19th the Georgia Convention sanctioned secession in a 166 130 vote, and the imminent Confederacy had its Southern hinge.Secession Debated is a colorful and gripping tale told in the words of the actual participants, one which sheds new light on one of the great and hitherto neglected verbal showdowns in American history It is essential to a full understanding of the origins of the war between the states.

    One thought on “Secession Debated: Georgia's Showdown in 1860”

    1. An amazing book. A series of primary sources composed of speeches and open letters arguing for and against the secession of Georgia prior to the Civil War. It quickly becomes apparent that, though there were other concerns, the fear that slavery would be abolished by the incoming President Lincoln was the engine behind the eventual secession.Surprisingly, Alexander H. Stephens, who would become the eventual Vice President of the Confederacy provided the most eloquent and reasoned defense for Geo [...]

    2. Wonderfully edited and annotated, the book fails to get the fifth star for reasons out of its control: the narrow scope of the debates. These speeches are not heartening. The speakers in favor of secession are in a state of near-delusive hypocrisy concerning slavery and abolition, and the Unionists never once suggest that preserving the Union is more important than preserving slavery. They merely insist talk of secession is premature. In this regard, the secessionists have the upper hand: they c [...]

    3. Only read if you really want to get down to the nitty gritty of Civil War details. I thought it was interesting, but I can't see many others feeling that way.

    4. What's to debate? Southerners, always with the debating, for nothing they have laws and traditions! Just go already! Oy!

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