Sunday, April 03, 2011

Three slaves and the lawyer-general: How slavery really ended in America 

The New York Times Sunday Magazine has a great article this morning about the beginning of the end of slavery in the United States, and how a lawyer-politician turned general out-argued a Confederate colonel and invented the idea that defecting slaves were "contraband of war."


By Blogger TOF, at Sun Apr 03, 09:32:00 AM:

Lawyers take great pride in being able to argue any side of a case. That has both bad and good implications. It implies lawyers are amoral, among other things. But then I probably would like someone like that arguing my case if the time ever came.

All said, I don't think lawyers should be allowed to make law.  

By Blogger Warren Crocker Herrick, at Sun Apr 03, 10:59:00 AM:

The idea of lawyers not being allowed to make law is a great one for several reasons and implies they shouldn't be allowed to run for office.  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Sun Apr 03, 11:32:00 AM:

Romanticized yankee propaganda.

He didn't "out-argue" anyone. He ignored the position of his government, and adopted that of the enemy, purely to justify the seizure of captured property.

General "Spoons" Butler became an infamous looter, stealing slaves not used by enemy forces, civilian silver, bronze castings, currency, and even crop harvests, funneling them to his brother who sold them and ended the war a wealthy man. There are some indications that he coerced Southern women into sex; in private writings he wrote that the Southern women were rejecting their (Northerners) 'advances' and he could rectify this by "making some examples."

A real hero.  

By Anonymous Jrenner, at Sun Apr 03, 12:43:00 PM:

The hero of the New York Times story was a war criminal, by virtue of his order to hang a civilian - William Mumford - in New Orleans. Surely anyone with knowledge of military and common law would have known that this execution was a crime. Other actions while in New Orleans were reprehensible and probably also war crimes.


By Anonymous Boludo Tejano, at Sun Apr 03, 01:22:00 PM:

Ben Butler had at least some of the scoundrel in him: a scoundrel attacking the reprehensible system of slavery. On the other hand, there were people who considered themselves principled persons who defended the reprehensible institution of slavery.

There is romanticized Yankee propaganda, as there is romanticized Confederate propaganda. What is propaganda and what is not propaganda is often an issue of debate.

Life, both past and present, is messy.

Disclaimer: family members lost their lives on both sides of the conflict, from a Confederate colonel to a follower of John Brown at Harper's Ferry.  

By Blogger TOF, at Tue Apr 05, 11:31:00 AM:

Warren Crocker Herrick:

No. Not barred from public office, just barred from offices that make law. Law enforcement is another matter.  

By Blogger mdgiles, at Wed Apr 06, 10:44:00 PM:

Romanticized yankee propaganda.

He didn't "out-argue" anyone. He ignored the position of his government, and adopted that of the enemy, purely to justify the seizure of captured property.

How so? Virginia was in rebellion against the government. The slaves were being used to build fortifications to aid in that rebellion. By both the laws of Virginia and the Constitution of the US, these slaves were property. Why couldn't they be seized? As the article noted, had they been a shipment of muskets, would there have been any question? The South wanted to have it's cake and eat it too. Slaves were 3/5 of a human being being when it came to representation, but property at all other times.  

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