Emancipating Slaves, Enslaving Free Men: A History of the American Civil War

Emancipating Slaves, Enslaving Free Men: A History of the American Civil War

by Jeffrey Hummel
     
 

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This book combines a sweeping narrative of the Civil War with a bold new look at the war’s significance for American society. Professor Hummel sees the Civil War as America’s turning point: simultaneously the culmination and repudiation of the American revolution.
While the chapters tell the story of the Civil War and discuss the issues raised in… See more details below

Overview

This book combines a sweeping narrative of the Civil War with a bold new look at the war’s significance for American society. Professor Hummel sees the Civil War as America’s turning point: simultaneously the culmination and repudiation of the American revolution.
While the chapters tell the story of the Civil War and discuss the issues raised in readable prose, each chapter is followed by a detailed bibliographical essay, looking at all the different major works on the subject, with their varying ideological viewpoints and conclusions.
In his economic analysis of slavery, Professor Hummel takes a different view than the two major poles which have determined past discussions of the topic. While some writers claim that slavery was unprofitable and harmful to the Southern economy, and others maintain it was profitable and efficient for the South, Hummel uses the economic concept of Deadweight Loss to show that slavery was both highly profitable for slave owners and harmful to Southern economic development.
While highly critical of Confederate policy, Hummel argues that the war was fought to prevent secession, not to end slavery, and that preservation of the Union was not necessary to end slavery: the North could have let the South secede peacefully, and slavery would still have been quickly terminated. Part of Hummel’s argument is that the South crucially relied on the Northern states to return runaway slaves to their owners.
This new edition has a substantial new introduction by the author, correcting and supplementing the account given in the first edition (the major revision is an increase in the estimate of total casualties) and a foreword by John Majewski, a rising star of Civil War studies.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this insightful treatment of the Civil War (addressing the causes, the war itself and Reconstruction), Hummel's text argues against the thesis that armed confrontation was inevitable. "As an excuse for civil war," he says, "maintaining the States territorial integrity is bankrupt and reprehensible. Slavery's elimination is the only morally worthy justification." But slavery, he suggests, was on its way out in any case. Not only was it a political liability, but the institution's many-faceted costs (social cost, enforcement, uprisings, mistreatment) outweighed any profits. If, after decades of unsuccessful compromise, the North had recognized the South's revolutionary right to self-determination and had let the Gulf states secede, slavery would have succumbed in the border states. Hummel goes on to argue, as have many others before, that after a devastating war and the disappointment of Reconstruction, a federal government that once interfered only a little in the affairs of individual states "had been transformed into an overbearing bureaucracy that intruded into daily life with taxes, drafts, surveillance, subsidies and regulations." Hummel, a professor of history and economics at Golden Gate University in San Francisco, quotes David H. Donald, saying, "Before the Civil War, many politicians and writers referred to the United States in the plural"i.e., the United States are, a grammatical agreement no longer used after 1865. With its insightful analysis (not to mention the extensive bibliographical essays that elaborate each chapter), Emancipating Slaves, Enslaving Free Men will supply both the academic and Civil War buff with an added perspective on the causes and consequences of the Civil War. (Aug.)
Library Journal
Hummel (history and economics, Golden Gate Univ.) presents some uncomfortable truths for both sides of the Civil War. For the South, Hummel builds a case that the war was indeed about slavery. For the North, he shows that a war to preserve the union was morally bankrupt and that freeing the slaves was the only justifiable reason for fighting. Yet Hummel demonstrates that even a war for such a noble cause was probably unnecessary, since slavery was politically doomed in an independent South. Hummel also illustrates some of the cost of the war, such as Lincoln's suppression of political opposition, the closing of dissenting newspapers, and the creation of big government under Republicans Lincoln, Johnson, and Grant. Here, Hummel steps on some toes. A worthwhile purchase for public and academic libraries.Robert A. Curtis, Taylor Memorial P.L., Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio
From the Publisher
"With its insightful analysis (not to mention the extensive bibliographical essay that elaborates each chapter), Emancipating Slaves, Enslaving Free Men will supply both the academic and the Civil War buff with an added perspective on the causes and consequences of the Civil War." — Publishers Weekly

"Hummel . . . presents some uncomfortable truths for both sides of the Civil War. For the South, Hummel builds a case that the war was indeed about slavery. For the North, he shows that a war to preserve the union was morally bankrupt and that freeing the slaves was the only justifiable reason for fighting. Yet Hummel demonstrates that even a war for such a noble cause was probably unnecessary, since slavery was politically doomed in an independent South. Hummel also illustrates some of the cost of the war, such as Lincoln's suppression of political opposition, the closing of dissenting newspapers, and the creation of big government under Republicans Lincoln, Johnson, and Grant. Here, Hummel steps on some toes." — Library Journal

". . . a lucid, edifying account of the Civil War era. Mr. Hummel has an impressive command of the relevant contemporary literature. His interpretations are thoughtful, often provocative, always well worth considering. Civil War buffs will want this book on their shelves." — Kenneth M. Stampp, author of The Peculiar Institution

"Even veteran students of the conflict will find much to challenge their thinking in this forcefully argued and clearly written study." — Gary W. Gallagher, Professor of American History, Penn State University

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780812698442
Publisher:
Open Court Publishing Company
Publication date:
11/18/2013
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
448
Sales rank:
1,125,483
File size:
1 MB

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