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Crisis of Fear: Secession in South Carolina…

Crisis of Fear: Secession in South Carolina

by Steven A. Channing

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    The secessionist impulse : Alabama and Mississippi in 1860 by William L. Barney (Muscogulus)
    Muscogulus: This book builds on Channing's thesis, finding evidence supporting a similar analysis of 1860 secession politics in the Deep South states of Alabama and Mississippi.

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This is a scholarly analysis of the political and social events leading to the secession of South Carolina from the United States after the election of Lincoln as president. It focuses on the years from 1850 through 1860. The author paints a vivid picture of the South Carolina society and economy during this period, with myriad examples. He emphasizes the enormous white fear of negroes as the force behind very many social phenomena of the time. He follows this discussion with an exhaustive account of political happenings and opinions in the state during the period, ending with the secession convention in December, 1860. He explores in detail the roles of politicians, editors, slaveholders, Unionists, and the electorate in slowly bringing about near universal support for secession. He concludes that secession was a revolution, not of reason, but "of passion, and the passion was fear."

The research is formidable. The style is straightforward and a little dry. I found the book hard going, but my gain in knowledge rewarded the effort. The work is a prime example of how a historian can nail down his theories and opinions with facts and quotations, page by page, until his view seems panoramic and his conclusions unassailable. ( )
  anthonywillard | May 5, 2015 |
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