Apostles of Disunion Review Essay
Apostles of Disunion is a book written by Charles Dew, published in the year 2001. (Dew) It examines the work of the succession commissioners, who had been sent from the Southern part to other slave towns, in the winter of 1860-1861. These men were charged and accused of defending the withdrawal of other members and urging them not to stick with the union any longer. Most historians didn’t pay attention to these commissioners, and wrote very little about them. They also did not uncover the emotions and motives behind the disunion. Dew was different. He had kept speeches and letters from forty-one of the fifty-two men who served as commissioners, and intended to have their voice heard. All of them were slaves owning politicians, with varying experiences, most being natives of the states to which they were appointed. Through this book, Dew intends to show his readers that they are wrong for believing the popular notion that secession had nothing to do with preserving slavery and racial subordination but to maintain some form of deep commitment to states’ rights. Academic historians had gone to the conclusion that succession was only possible through states’ rights. Apostles of Disunion Review Essay
To prove that slavery had everything to do with the succession, Dew needed to have hard evidence. He needed the testimonies of the commissioners, and instead of repeating what they had said, he let their words speak for themselves. One of the commissioners went by the name of John Smith Preston. He was in uniform during the war years. This is what he had to say;
(Dew) “The object in quitting the Union was not to destroy but to save the principles of the constitution. The Southern states from the beginning of the government had striven to keep it within the orbit prescribed by the constitution and failed. “-page 76
Another commissioner went by the name of Thomas J Wharton. He said;
(Dew) “At no distant day, inaugurate the reign of equality of all races and colors, and the universality of the elective franchise.” Apostles of Disunion Review Essay
Through the words that were spoken by these commissioners, Dew demonstrates that ex-confederates created the whole story that states’ rights were the ones being promoted. Before and during the war, these men had coined messages and arguments for independence and equality regarding racism and slavery. Even so, after the war, they sang an entirely different song. George delivered his famous Cornerstone speech and insisted that the war was a struggle between principles of Federation on one side and centralism or consolidation on the other. On the other hand, after the war Preston defended the Confederacy as a noble and true defense.
In his book, Drew has used various sources for the provision of evidence. These include both primary and secondary sources. An example of a primary source that he used was the letters he wrote to his mother. These he wrote himself, in June 1938. The secondary sources include the letters from the commissioners. That is because this is information that he used, that is not containing his original thoughts. Apostles of Disunion Review Essay
Apostles of Disunion and the people textbook both have one important major thing in common. Both of the authors feel strong about slavery and are determined to take any measures to save the situation. But unlike the civil war in Apostles of disunion, slaves in of the people textbook dealt with things a little bit differently. According to the author;
(Ginsberg) “But most forms of resistance were far less dramatic, far more ordinary and daily, than Douglas’s act of defiance. Feigned illness or ignorance, carelessness, a slow pace of work all of these diminished the power of the master or mistress or driver, forcing him or her to recognize and adjust to the distinctive tempo or personality of the laborer. Field workers carved out implicit understandings with their masters about at least some of the terms of their labor. Task groups who finished early expected to be rewarded with free time.” Page 343
Slave resistance took up very many forms, and in as much as masters and mistresses were always ready enough to punish slaves, the slaves themselves set boundaries too on what punishment to be given. Maybe if this were the case in Apostles of disunion, it would not have reached to the point of a civil war.
The book is intended for people from all walks of life, northerners, southerners, black or white. That is because for people to move forward to a future with a fuller commitment to decency and racial justice, they need to confront the past. Many are times that a country enjoys peace and harmony for a long time, and forget what they had to go through to establish that order. Maybe it’s because they were not there at that time and hadn’t been told about it. But in most cases, a country that is peaceful and doesn’t rush into attacks and war with enemy countries, at some point had to go through a very dark ordeal. This book is for the new generation of people who take what they have for granted. Most wars were fought during the time of their great grandfathers. That is to show them where they have come from regarding economic and human development. Apostles of Disunion Review Essay
One of the aid that the book apostles of disunions contain is an appendix and a minimum of notes. These make the book appealing, especially for classroom use. It’s clear that Drew does not only focus on classroom use but also for general knowledge. It has a clear prose, is jargon free and enough narrative of secession, which is written in a very friendly tone, such that even the beginning students can follow the book. The material is also advanced enough, so as to be able to spark discussion in class among the more advanced students.
There are various people I would recommend reading this book. First people on the list are my fellow age mates, and those slightly younger or older. Most of them do not know what people in the earlier years had to sacrifice to ensure that we are who we are today. They should be able to appreciate these heroes, and also, be proud of being part of the success story. I would also recommend politicians. Many are times they try to force us against each other, without thinking about the consequences. And for the false promises that they make, they should know that there are people who were willing to offer even their lives for the sake of this great country. Schools should also make this book a compulsory read, so that as many students can share in this long success history.
Dew, Charles. Apostles of disunion. Virginia: University Press of Virginia, 2001. Document.
Ginsberg, Benjamin. Of the people textbook. W. W. Norton & Company, 2012. Document.
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