The two cents I always toss in at a time like this is this:
‘The South’ didn’t secede. Two waves of southern states did. The first wave left quite precipitously. The second wave — composed mostly of states that voted for the Constitutional Union ticket, a party established for no other reason than to save the union — departed only after it had become clear that Lincoln intended to overturn secession in the Deep South by force.
States like Virginia and North Carolina had a practical interest in at least taking their chances if they were destined to host the battlefields on which Union and Sesesh troops clashed. But beyond that, one must not pretend that the exit of the Upper South transpired for anything like the ‘reasons’ that provoked the Cotton States. Yes, there were slaves in all the slave states. But the whole storyline was different…radically different.
It’s quite simple, from where I’m pondering, to agree that the Deep South was rather reckless and quite racist, whereas the Upper South was significantly less so, and significantly better off in the sympathy department. In fact, I think the distinction — which usually goes completely ignored — is a vital one to a sound understanding of American history.
Down from the soapbox I go.
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