Academic journal article Military Review

Slavery and the American West: The Eclipse of Manifest Destiny and the Coming of the Civil War

Academic journal article Military Review

Slavery and the American West: The Eclipse of Manifest Destiny and the Coming of the Civil War

Article excerpt

SLAVERY AND THE AMERICAN WEST: The Eclipse of Manifest Destiny and the Coming of the Civil War by Michael A Morrison. 396 pages. University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill. 1997. $49.95.

Michael A. Morrison posits that, from as early as the American Revolution, Northerners and Southerners held differing views of what the Revolution meant in terms of freedom, independence and self-government. The differences manifested themselves in the slavery question-especially so as Americans began to move west. Would slavery be restricted in the newly opened territories or would it be permitted? That single question led to the growth of sectionalism; tore apart the Whig Party, then the Democratic Party; gave rise to the Republican Party, which the South defined as abolitionist; and finally, led to secession and war.

Morrison does not deny slavery was the central issue leading to the Civil War. However, he expands the issue to encompass other historians' arguments as to what it was about slavery that led to war. Did free and slave states differ over the issue's moral question? Was slavery really an economic issue? Was expansion an integral part of the problem or was it peripheral? Did Congress have the constitutional authority to intervene in a territory's decision as to whether it would enter the Union as either a slave or free state? …

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