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Jefferson Davis: The Essential Writings
|Title||Jefferson Davis: The Essential Writings|
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|Last Modified||Thomas Walker - March 02, 2012 09:50am|
|Description||The Confederacy may have lost the Civil War, but its self-justifications remained influential for generations afterward, and this useful collection of writings by its leader and spokesman sums up its worldview. Cooper (Jefferson Davis, American) gathers over 200 pieces from Davis's long career as a planter, soldier, politician and Confederate President, including letters to family and friends, addresses to the U. S. and Confederate Congresses, military communications from the Mexican and Civil Wars and Davis's unrepentant post-war elegies for the Lost Cause of states' rights. The prolix, rambling Davis is not a great rhetorician, but the well-chosen assortment of writings illuminates consistent themes in pro-slavery apologetics. Davis paints slavery as a benevolent paternalism that spreads Christianity, stimulates the economy and lowers the price of cotton goods; most importantly, it ensures the dignity and equality of whites by reserving menial positions to blacks. His Civil War communiqués harp on Yankee barbarism and the South's desperate shortages of manpower and supplies; towards the end, with Southern armies melting away, he calls for Southern women to urge men to fight and shun those who didn't. Davis even made plans to recruit slaves to the army by offering them freedom, thus broaching the very social revolution he had spent his life trying to forestall. Unfortunately, Cooper provides no explanatory notes except for those that identify people mentioned in the text, so some documents, especially those about family matters, remain opaque. But patient readers will be rewarded with an eye-opening look at the debacle and reconstruction of Confederate ideology. |
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