1850—AVERTING WAR IN CALIFORNIA. I posted here about revisionist views of the Civil War, and whether the most important issue was the preservation of the Union or the future of slavery. I have come to realize—long after my high school history classes—that had the Union not been preserved, the two countries would likely have fought a series of land wars, with slavery serving as a flashpoint. David S. Reynolds had a review in the Wall Street Journal (April 22) of AMERICA’S GREAT DEBATE by Fergus M. Bordewich which makes my image of the land wars much more vivid. Bordewich writes about the Compromise of 1850, which delayed the Civil War by 10 years. What struck me was this passage from Reynolds: “The source of the conflict was the question of what to do with the vast expanse of territory that the U.S. had won in its war against Mexico, a swath of land stretching from Texas to current-day Utah and west to the Pacific. For Southern extremists, this territory raised the bright possibility of a powerful western slave empire….” Before Henry Clay and Stephen A. Douglas fashioned the compromise, there were Southern states preparing to send troops to Texas. My image of the land wars that were averted now includes battle after battle on the Western frontier. If this alternative history was mentioned in my history textbooks, I missed it.

This entry was posted in History, Politics. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.