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10 - The United States “Is”

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 July 2021

Alin Fumurescu
University of Houston
Anna Marisa Schön
University of Houston
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The last chapter discusses the major contentions leading up the civil war, that is, state rights and slavery. The first part focuses once again on the disagreement over the proper definition of the people. On the one hand, excerpts from John Calhoun’s writings demonstrate the Southern emphasis on state rights and his idea of the concurrent majority. On the other hand, Henry Clay’s speech on the Compromise Tariff Bill reveals his dedication to the Union and embrace of compromise as the founding principle of the United States. Daniel Webster’s Constitution and Union Speech gives insight into his controversial support of the Fugitive Slave Act in the name of constitutional obligations. The second part presents the arguments of the moral abolitionists, with excerpts from the American Anti-Slavery Society, William Lloyd Garrison, and Frederick Douglass. In turn, the Southern reactionary defense of slavery is illustrated in selections from George Fitzhugh’s Sociology for the South and Hammond’s “mudsill theory.” The last section of the chapter offers excerpts of Abraham Lincoln’s speeches, exhibiting his political pragmatism on the question of slavery and the maintenance of the Union.

Foundations of American Political Thought
Readings and Commentary
, pp. 359 - 401
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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Suggested Readings

Taylor, John, Arator 13, “Slavery,” and 14, “Slavery, Continued” [1813] in Arator, Being a Series of Agricultural Essays, Practical and Political: In Sixty-One Numbers (Georgetown: J. M. Carter, 1814).Google Scholar
Calhoun, John C., Fort Hill Address, July 26, 1831 (Richmond: Virginia Commission on Constitutional Government, 1967).Google Scholar
Calhoun, John C., A Discourse on the Constitution and Government of the United States (Columbia: Johnston, 1851).Google Scholar
Walker, David, An Appeal, In Four Articles; to the Coloured Citizens of the World, 3rd ed. (Boston: David Walker, 1830).Google Scholar
Leggett, William, “The Question of Slavery Narrowed to a Point” (newspaper editorial, April 15, 1837), in White, L. H. (ed.), Democratick Editorials: Essays in Jacksonian Political Economy by William Leggett (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1984), pp. 224–8.Google Scholar
Beecher Stowe, Harriet, What Is Slavery?” and “Slavery Is Despotism” in A Key to Uncle Tom’s Cabin: Presenting the Original Facts and Documents upon Which the Story is Founded (Boston: John P. Jewett & Co., 1853).Google Scholar
Douglass, Frederick, “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?” (speech before the Rochester Ladies’ Anti-Slavery Society, July 5, 1852), in My Bondage and My Freedom (New York and Auburn: Miller, Orton, & Mulligan, 1855), pp. 441–5.Google Scholar
Douglass, Frederick, “What Is My Duty as an Anti-Slavery Voter?” (essay published in Frederick Douglass’ Paper, April 25, 1856).Google Scholar
Taney, Roger B., Dred Scott v. Sanford (60 U.S. 393; 1857).Google Scholar
Ruffin, Edmund, The Political Economy of Slavery, or, The Institution Considered in Regard to Its Influence on Public Wealth and the General Wealth (Washington, DC: L. Towers, 1857).Google Scholar
Sawyer, George S., “The Relative Position and Treatment of the Negroes” [1858] in Frohnen, B. (ed.), The American Republic: Primary Sources (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2002), pp. 665–80.Google Scholar
De Bow, J. D. B., The Interest in Slavery of the Southern Non-Slave-Holder: The Right of Peaceful Secession. Slavery in the Bible (Charleston: Evans & Cogswell, 1860).Google Scholar

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