May 21, 2011
"NO SUCH THING AS A GENTLE VERSION OF BONDAGE"
Adam Goodheart, 1861: The Civil War Awakening (New York: Knopf, 2011) ("This book . . . tells a story foreshadowing things to come. It is not a Civil War saga of hallowed battlefields drenched in blood, much less of which general's cavalry came charging over which hill. It is a story, rather, of a moment in our country's history when almost everything hung in the balance." "It is a story of how some people clung to the past, while others sought the future; how a new generation of Americans arose to throw aside the cautious ways of its parents and embrace the revolutionary ideals of its grandparents. The battleground of that struggle was not one orchard or wheat field, but the quickly growing country itself." Id. at 22. "And yet Hampton's picturesque, shabby-genteel exterior hid far shabbier, and far less picturesque, realities under its surface. One visiting Northerner, asking an elderly slave if she had a 'good' master, was assured that the man was 'a kind--werry kind massa!' And then she added: 'Why, bless de Lor' . . . he nebber put wires in his cowhides in all his life!' The woman, of course, was making a larger point: a whip without metal wires woven into it is still a whip. There was no such thing as a 'good' slaveholder; no such thing as a gentle version of bondage." Id. at 306.).