No Compromise! The Story of the Fanatics Who Paved the Way to the Civil War

Excerpt

This is a book about fanatics, about the handful of men North and South who fostered hatred between the two sections of the country, who magnified everything that might lead to misunderstanding, blocked every effort at compromise, and finally drove a reluctant people into a war they did not want to fight. As soon as Fort Sumter was fired on and the nation was committed to war, their work was done. Rhett and Yancey, the Southern fire-caters who preached secession long before it became a respectable doctrine, were excluded from any share in the affairs of the Confederacy. Perhaps that is why the rising tide of Civil War books has swept around them, leaving them high and dry. Another ferocious fire-eater, Edmund Ruffin, the agricultural expert, fought in the Confederate ranks during the war, and finally died by his own hand in 1865 rather than live in a Yankee-dominated Virginia. John Brown, the greatest artist in antislavery propaganda of them all, died on the scaffold in 1859. Garrison, who did more than any one man to teach the North to hate slaveholders as well as slavery, was repudiated by the Republican party. Wendell Phillips, the incomparable orator -- "an infernal machine set to music," as a Southern editor described him -- played no part in the war except to abuse Lincoln for not emancipating the slaves sooner.

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