Important, overlooked quote

ronbutters at AOL.COM ronbutters at AOL.COM
Fri Sep 2 23:27:23 UTC 2011

>From the point of view of the South, the War Between the States was of course motivated in great part by the seeming economic necessity of maintaining slavery. That doesn't mean it was ONLY about maintaining slavery, even for the South. And from the point of view of the rest of the country, the Civil War was first and foremost about maintaining the Union. Why else would Lincoln have waited so long to issue the Emancipation Proclamation?

This interesting quotation is no more significant than a host of other racialist statements issuing from various quarters in the USA in the mid-19th Century. Even Lincoln tended to believe in the inferiority of members of the "race" who were most frequently enslaved in North America. True, there was considerable agreement in the North that it was unseemly--and perhaps even immoral--to buy and sell human beings and (particularly) sell children away from their parents. To be able to brand human beings with branding irons. To make it illegal to teach certain people to read and write. But, on the whole, the notion of "racial equality" was not very popular in the USA in the 19th century, nor is it thoroughly and totally accepted by a HUGE (if, one hopes, diminishing) number of "white" people today.

Not that this thread has anything whatever to do with American Dialects.

Sent from my iPad

On Sep 2, 2011, at 12:06 PM, Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM> wrote:

> Obviously there are a million important quotations that haven't made it into
> YBQ, but the following is so historically significant that I was amazed not
> to find it in either YBQ or the 16th ed. of Bartlett's.
> What makes it significant is that it was uttered by an important American
> politician in a position to know exactly what he was talking about:
> 1861 Alexander H. Stephens, Vice-President of the Confederate States of
> America, speech in Savannah, Ga., March 21, in Marion Mills Miller, ed.,
> _Great Debates in American History_  (N.Y.: Current Literature) V 290:
> “Our new government…rests upon the great truth that the negro is not equal
> to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his
> natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first in the
> history of the world based upon this great physical, philosophical and moral
> truth. This truth has been slow in the process of its development, like all
> other truths in the various departments of science. It is so, even among us.
> Many who hear me, perhaps, can recollect well that this truth was not
> generally admitted, even within their day."
> So Veep Stephens boldly refutes the, er, belief that Secession and the Civil
> War weren't "about slavery."  Seems pretty important to me.
> JL
> --
> "If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

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