Essay: History Analogy

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History Analogy

There were two sets of conflicts that revolved around freedom. One was the freedom of the United States from her colonial masters and another was the freedom of the slaves and the non-whites in the U.S. Within that there are three distinct periods that are relevant to this day. Taking the rights of the colored people as the basis of research, the struggle of the recognition of their rights came from the presidency of Lincoln. Before that slavery was the way of life, and the southern states that depended heavily on agriculture had to depend on slaves for almost free labor. Thus the freedom from slavery - abolition of slavery prompted the civil war. That was the first occurrence of conflict which we see in the history of the progress of equality in the U.S.

Far removed from the times of Lincoln there was another type of discrimination that was almost slavery, the racial segregation of blacks and denial of privileges. The second conflict that came was different from the slavery but equally important. The civil war resulted from the emancipation from slavery. The second was the subsequent consideration of the colored peoples as second class citizens for which the struggle had been continuing for over two hundred years. The analysis of the periods during the civil war thus affords a contrast to the later developments in the issue.

The Analogy

In this paper the compromise of 1850 and the fiery debates between Lincoln and Douglas which led to the Civil War and the War of 1812 have to be seen in detail. This then will be contrasted with the later civil struggle by Martin Luther King. The model that stands out for comparison is the history of Virginia colony.

There are many historians who are now trying to analyze the cause of the civil war. For example one reason has been cited that the causes of the Civil War was the refusal of Northerners to allow white Southerners to secede in the winter and spring of 1860-61 a view forwarded by Hummel. (Pressly, 2000)

The problem of slavery caused the white Southern population to become secessionists. There are three sets of events that have to be considered in detail to see how the vents developed. The first therefore is the consideration of slavery. The question thus asked in retrospect would be was the emancipation of slaves such an important issue that would set the state at civil war? Thus the fundamental issue is if the question of slavery was important enough to create the civil war, and what was the basis of Abraham Lincoln standing for abolishing it and why the antagonists took up arms against the issue. Primarily it was a conflict of the right and powers of the Federal government and the states and territories. (Jaffa, 1959)

The principle of popular sovereignty was the basis of the democratic union of states. Thus it implied that each political community, state or territory, formulated its own laws for the territory and this was seen as a major element of the Constitution, and strangely the pall bearer of slavery Douglas, espoused the cause of political freedom for all humanity. However the contrast view of Lincoln that a free government with slavery is impossible became the focal point of contention. In principle the American principle was that there was no possibility of one human governing another without other's consent is the cornerstone of democracy. Thus according to Lincoln slavery by itself stood against this doctrine, and the slavery can be easily extended to enslave white people too. Enslavement of Negroes that might not also, with equal force, is used to enslave white men. (Jaffa, 1959)

Though the question of sovereignty of states was seen to be the main matter, it was also political and was the theme between the contending parties. Politically it was also a tussle between the Republicans and the Democratic Party. The Republican Party supported the rule that the federal government can decide the slavery question for the people of the Territories and the new States. The Democrats hold at the time that it is the people in each State, and each Territory who shall decide the question of slavery for the state. This question seriously divided the American Colonies and the estrangement of the colonies from the British Government was also on account of this question. Firstly the British efforts to legislate for the colonies were rebuffed by some states and as early as 1699; the Colonial legislature of Virginia passed a law that imposed penalties on slaves brought. The state of Virginia was not averse to African slavery; nevertheless the act was passed as a policy matter and for the safety of the settlement. (Jaffa; Johannsen, Robert; Lincoln; Douglas, 1959)

The second aspect that was fundamental to the issue was based on the Christian thinking of equality. Christian percepts could not admit slavery because it was against the morals. Thus the clergy who supported the abolition of slavery came into conflict with the state. We may note that the power of the clergy was also a cause for the liberation of the colored people. Huston (1997) cites the effects of the clergy and religion in forming opinions that led to the abolition of slavery. For example it is shown that the New England and Chicago ministers against the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854 were one such telling movement. It is to be noted that Senator Stephen a. Douglas's response illustrates, a religious division between Democrats and their opponents which shows that the Democratic Party played politics and was not based on moral or economic ideals. (Huston, 1997)

The exchange between the religious dogmatists and Douglas in 1854 showed that there existed at the time two separate views on the state and democracy. The religious persons like the ministers believed that the divine dictum was present which the government ought to follow. Huston (1997) calls this 'Democracy by Scripture.' The famous of the thinkers Harriet Beecher Stowe organized an ecclesial resistance in the North to protest the plan of Douglas for the organization of the Nebraska territory. These persons also advanced a moral argument against slavery. This brought to the fore the difference between God's law and civil law. The abolitionists of slavery thus were also the ministers who opined that the civil law is subject to God's law; and thus legislation must not overrule the rule in the Bible. (Huston, 1997)

Though in principle this was not admitted it has political overtones. One of the causes that have recently been cited for the Civil war was Douglas's opposition of the clergy in 1854. It is argued that the stand of the senator provoked and was a cause in the Civil War. On the other hand Lincoln argued that it is the majority, who would make laws, and a democratic government thus could not make slaves of a minority and thus African people also were part of the human existence and therefore the part of the democracy. On the other hand Douglas argued that America and American government must benefit only the European people. He had a racial slant in believing that African-Americans were inferior. This prompted him to exclude them from being considered as humans as is evident from the speeches during the election of 1860. (Huston, 1997) Onwe should remember that Douglas however believed in the slave power. This caused the failure of the Missouri Compromise earlier. The Thirteenth Amendment to the constitution made freedom a reality for slaves. However until recently the Negro community was 'free but a slave'. This can be illustrated in observing the Virginia state. The state has a very long history of passing laws targeted at slaves and later against the Negro people. (Wynes, 1961)

With regard to the progress in Virginia, the state was hostile to the Negro who had no chance of social equality. With total Southern opposition, the amendments like the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments did not provide the Negro in Virginia any equal protection under state laws or permit him to vote. Thus by the end of 1800s and beginning of 1900 the state of Virginia denied privileges of the Negro and refused the right to vote. The social relations between the races from 1870 to 1900 showed that the Negroes who demanded equal treatment in "hotels, restaurants, theatres, and bars, and even on the railroads" suffered only on the Rail roads wherein the Negroes mingled with the whites. (Wynes, 1961)

The history of the slavery and legislation to keep the community as slave in perpetuity in Virginia is illustrative. Virginia has a long history of establishment of slavery in the seventeenth century. The original colonists did not want to enslave the colored people. It became a later part of custom, and subsequently law. Thus the Indian was destroyed, the African became a slave. In Virginia the slave system was established in 1660s and 70's. Virginia and Maryland legislated to keep the Negroes as slaves.… [END OF PREVIEW]

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