The Corner

Prejudice, Lincoln, The Civil War

Re: Lincoln and the Civil War: In his second inaugural, Lincoln, looking back on the origins of the almost-concluded war, said, “One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the Southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was, somehow, the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuaate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union, even by war; while the government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it.”

Re: prejudice, and what it might have seemed like in this country to a man of Reagan’s age, see the essay in Terry Teachout’s latest book on a lynching, in 1942, in his hometown of Sikeston, Missouri (a state which did not join the Confederacy, though some of its citizens wished to). Through the forties, race riots referred to those occasions when whites, often workers alarmed by the competition of non-unionized blacks, rampaged through black neighborhoods. John’s memory of racial tensions between G.I.’s in Britain during WWII only confirms the point.


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