The Negro and the Nation: A History of American Slavery and Enfranchisement

By George S. Merriam | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXII
HOW THEY DIFFERED

IF the typical Secessionist and the typical Unionist, as just described, could rally a united South and a united North to their respective views, there was no escape from a violent clash. Whether the two sections could be so united each in itself appeared extremely doubtful. But below these special questions of political creed were underlying divergences of sentiment and character between North and South, which fanned the immediate strife as a strong wind fans a starting flame. There was first a long-growing alienation of feeling, a mutual dislike, rooted in the slavery controversy, and fed partly by real and partly by imaginary differences. Different personal and social ideals were fostered by the two industrial systems. The Southerner of the dominant class looked on manual labor as fit only for slaves and low-class whites. His ideal of society was a pyramid, the lower courses representing the physical toilers, the intermediate strata supplying a higher quality of social service, while the crown was a class refined by leisure and cultivation and free to give themselves to generous and hospitable private life, with public affairs for their serious pursuit. He regarded the prominence of the laboring class in Northern communities as marking the inferiority of their society, and in the absorption of the wealthier class in trade he read a further disadvantage. The virtues he most honored were courage, courtesy, magnanimity,--all that he delighted to characterize as "chivalry." He was inclined to consider the North as materialistic and mer

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