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Updated September 13, 2022

Strengthening American Exceptionalism Through Peaceful Revolution

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Strengthening American Exceptionalism Through Peaceful Revolution essay
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International Setting:

  • The general supremacy of Europe’s Old Order was replaced by liberal nationalism following state-building projects in Germany and Italy (Kelly 436).
  •  Confederate leaders utilized the rhetoric of European national self-determination, paralleling that southern whites with Hungarian and Italian nationalists who escaped the Hapsburg monarchy – both were characterized as distinct national minorities oppressed by a hostile and increasingly foreign northern majority (Kelly 438).
  •  Enlightenment ideology regarding natural rights loosened restrictions upon manumission, disappointing relatives who expected inheritance and causing them to hold illegal control, but laws guaranteed minimum legal counsel for these slaves (Boman 406).
  •  The autocratic reaction against liberal nationalism reinforced American exceptionalism and counterrevolutions made Americans prouder of their 1776 peaceful revolution in comparison to Europe’s class turmoil (Kelly 438).
  •  German radicals demanded the end of slavery and equal rights in the Louisville Platform (Kelly 439).
  •  Forty-Eighters linked the secessionist movement led by wealthy southern landholders with counterrevolutions that had crushed their attempt to create a united German republic and they were the earliest white Americans to demand emancipation after Fort Sumter (Kelly 439).

Partisan Strife:

  • The Jackson Resolutions stated that congressmen must united with southerners to fight “anti-slavery fanaticism,” but senator Thomas Benton refused to follow this, causing a split in Democratic Party and ending his thirty-year career (Huebner 19).
  • Vol Holst, a Union partisan suggested that the southern leaders were unrepresentative of the majority of public opinion, creating bitterness regarding such suppression
  • Reconciliations historians suggested that ambitious politicians merely used wartime antislavery activists to inflame public opinion and gain support (Towers 242).
  • Charles Sumner argued that aristocrats secured all political power in slave states, instilling fear in common people that they would suppress revolutions as Europe’s landholding elites had done (Kelly 439).
  • In the Missouri election, the Whig party had a good chance of elected large number of candidates to GA, but Benton Democrats worked with the Whigs to defeat anti-Bentons, creating much bitterness (Huebner 23).

Dred Scott Decision:

  • Francis McIntosh was a free black man who murdered an officer to prevent the arrest of another black man, and was murdred by a mob while awaiting trial for his crime (Boman 418).
  •  Winny v. Whitesides was an early Missouri court case where the court finalized the perspective that Congress had power to prohibit slavery from the territories and that a slave returning to slave soil did not reattach slave status (Boman 408).
  •  The social changes occurring in England during this period were most advanced in the North East and least developed in the slave states, reinforcing slavery as a defining ‘retrograde’ identity of the South (Towers 239).
  •  Supreme Court ruling in Dred Scott hardened antislavery attitudes and caused an extreme increase in antislavery Republican party membership (Finkelman 24).

Expansion Decisions:

  • Whigs feared that the annexation of Texas would lead to war with Mexico, creating further sectional strife (Hueber 18).
  •  The Kansas-Nebraska Act ended American exceptionalism resurgence and the fraudulent elections and bloodshed between antislavery and proslavery forces caused Northerners to believe that “European-style violence” had entered the United States (Kelly 438).
  •  The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ended the Mexican-American War and completed continental expansion of American empire, igniting new controversies about expansion of slavery (Kelly 433).

Economic Interests:

  • The North wanted to keep the Southern market within the same nation, as its tariff-protected goods could be priced above the foreign competition (Liscow 37).
  • The North was fearful of a Southern border through which goods unprotected by tariffs could come into the North, causing domestic products to appear overpriced (Liscow 37).
  •  The war came because both parties viewed it as their least costly alternative (Gunderson 932).
  •  Areas controlled by geological factors were where capitalistic considerations were the strongest (Whig and Republican), and economic change caused confrontational politics (Liscow 38).
  •  The first seven states with highest stake in slavery seceded in response to Lincoln’s election and vested interest in slavery was enough to explain Southern actions, not a contriving minority (Gunderson 922).

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