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View Diary: The American System (205 comments)

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  •  I think people are overly harsh on Douglas. (5+ / 0-)

    His overriding concern was trying to keep the two sides from coming to blows, and he had a far better sense than most Northerners that the South wasn't just blustering with its talk of secession.  Even Doris Kearns Goodwin, in the midst of what often verges on a hagiographic treatment of Lincoln, admits that neith he nor Seward thought that the South would actually secede, but Douglas did.  When it became apparent that the South wasn't bluffing, they both balked (Seward, especially), but Lincoln decided things were too far along now to pull back.

    Douglas will never be remembered as a principled opponent of slavery, to be sure, but given that the Civil War killed 600,000 people, one can hardly view his desire to prevent it as wholly ignoble.

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