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I thought your article was a brilliant précis of the dominant military, legal, and moral issues in the War.
It made me for the first time consider how my ancestors would have responded to some of the questions you raised.
One side of my family were major slave breeders, as Brown would describe it. Living ten miles upstream from Harper’s Ferry, I am sure they were interested in his activities and trial.
If I had been in their shoes, I would have resisted confiscation of what was mine by law and precedent. The moral issue, then, would have been cloudy to me as it was to my ancestors, but then, if a moral argument was made, and it was enhanced with just compensation, my family would have abandoned that odious industry.
Someday I will have to research this, but anyway you probably know more about this than I. In Russia, when the serfs were freed, the owners, I think, were compensated. This new and liquid asset financed an agricultural boom that made Russia a major exporter of grain before WWI.
Lastly, on the origin of racial strife and the rise of the Klan, I suggest this was a contributing feature. More Confederate POW’s died than Union POW’s, even though the North was a land of plenty with no shortages. Andersonville was an abomination, but the people outside the prison had little more than the prisoners within.
Black troops were well represented as guards in Union prisons. POW’s were murdered and abused by black guards. I suppose there were a few slave-owning grandees and probably even a few who owned and used the lash. But I speculate 90% of the prisoners did not come from slave-holding families. Before they enlisted, few of the prisoners had ever traveled 50 miles from their birthplace. Great portions of the South had few slaves, and some of those prisoners before the War had never seen a Negro, and many only a few.p>When those prisoners were released, they came home with details of murder and abuse. br> — W.N. Dunning br> Throwleigh Farm br> Boyce, Virginia /p>
All good points and well stated. Re: your main points about the mistreatment of white Confederate prisoners by black guards, this is well documented, I believe. But the astounding mistreatment of blacks, military and civilian, by some (not all ) Confederate soldiers is also well documented, alas.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?