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The last chapter of Inhuman Bondage focused on the sequence of events during the Civil War, the build up to the Emancipation Proclamation, the immediate aftermath of the Emancipation Proclamation, and the state of the country after the war.
A major theme of this week’s reading that grabbed my attention was the state of denial that the South entered following their defeat to the North. Davis describes how the Southern people entered into a “dreamland of denial” where they held onto their “wartime triumphs and heroism” and claimed that the Union’s victory was not because of its military strength but because of a larger army and greater pool of resources (303). Davis also compares the post-Civil War South to the state of France in 1870 and Germany in 1918 because the South clung to the belief that their borders and territories would remain intact. More importantly, the war-ravaged South assumed that it would recover from the destruction it had experienced and “resume their former place in the Union as equal partners (with the North)” (303). Overall, Davis does an exceptional job illustrating the angst and frustration that plagued the South but he takes it one step further when he says that those hard feelings motivated the South to establish a land of white supremacy in the future.
An additional aspect of the reading that I found particularly interesting was how Davis shared his final thoughts on the emancipation of the slaves and Lincoln’s reelection. Davis said that “In retrospect…Lincoln and his commitment to slave emancipation were saved by a stunning military victory and a massive soldier vote for the Republicans” (321). To me, Davis essentially said that Lincoln was indeed very committed to a Union victory, an emancipation of the slaves, and continuing to be the President. However, I also interpret Davis’s comments to mean that Lincoln was only able to accomplish such feats with the help of Ulysses S. Grant, the tremendous support of the Union army, and some flat out luck. To an extent, I agree with Davis’s comments. President Lincoln and the Union army were quite close to losing the war, the election, and the country but were ultimately able to win thanks to some good fortune.
Lastly, I would like to address the actions of the North following their victory in the Civil War. As EVFARESE said, the North did show significant mercy on the South by allowing them to recover from the damage that they endured from the war. The Union could have easily decided to deliver a knock-out blow to the South and completely destroy the possibility of another threat. However, the North enabled the South to recuperate from the conflict and begin the lengthy process of reconstruction.