This is a review of the book titled an apostle of Disunion was written by Charles Dew. The book published in the year 2001. Dew is an American professor of history and is a respected scholar at Williams College. He completed his Ph.D. degree at John Hopkins University after which he became a distinguished scholar of American History. American history scholars have deeply written about American history and in most cases, it elicits debate among scholars themselves and the students of history. Charles Dew is a native of Florida and has a deep understanding of American history and shares his thoughts through published works for the benefit of his students and future generations.
CENTRAL THESIS AND ARGUMENT
The books give Americas history during the period before the civil war, during the civil war and during the reconstruction period.The central thesis o these book refutes what the secessionists had claimed that they had constitutional issues that had made them rebel against the north. Dew argues that the southern secessionists wanted to break away from the Union because they felt that with the election of Abraham Lincoln, the north would help end slavery. The argument of Dew was that the secession of the south was caused by their fear that slavery would end which would affect their way of life in the farming communities (Woods 421). The commissioners involved in the secession propaganda from the south pretended to raise constitutional issues in their secession propaganda but the silent message in their speeches was about slavery. The fear that slavery would end made the southern states want to form their own union away from the north whom they felt were affecting their love for slavery. Dew argues that the racist fears and slavery were the main reason why the southern states were rebelling against the northern states that were more industrialized compared to the southern states that still depended on large-scale farming as an economic activity (Dick 12).
The audience for this book was the students of history, the students because he was a professor of history and other scholars in general. The civil war history and the history during the reconstruction period added to the period before the civil war has for a long time not been properly narrated. Dew who is a native of the south wanted to give a clear picture of why the southern states were seceding for the benefit of his students, scholars and future American generations (Dew 4). Dew expected that his book would elicit debate on the history of the secession politics as other scholars reviewed his work.History is part of the society and a society that does not know where it is coming from does not know where it is going. Dew is a professor of history wanted to share his thoughts about the war against slavery and why the southern states were fighting against the northern states in a critical and well-researched manner so that the American students of history and scholars can understand the truth that the secessionists were hiding while advocating for formation of a union of the southern states confederate (Woods 415).
OBJECTIVE OF THE THESIS
The objective of Dew's book was to help Americans understand their history in a more factual manner as opposed to understanding it from the biased perspectives of the north and the south affiliated scholars. His book aimed to critically look at America's most important history when civil war happened. He helps the reader understand why the southern propagandists such as Commissioner Anderson were hell-bent on advocating for southern states secession from the north. Dew informs the reader that the southern states were dominated by white supremacy and slave labor (Dew 5). This was in contrast with the more influential northern states that had already been industrialized and believed in free labor. Dew informs the reader of the positions taken by southern states commissioners by looking at their speeches used to spread the secession propaganda. Dew's achievement in writing this book was that he managed to deconstruct the southern state's perspective of why they were seceding from the Union. He informs the reader of the two mains reasons which were white supremacy ideology and abolition of slavery (Woods 420).
THE BOOK'S EFFECTIVENESS
Dew was effective in his analysis of historical events before the civil war. The fact that he is a native of the south made his historical perspective more popular. Other scholar s had attempted to write the history of secession politics but slightly biased depending on their origin. For a long time, the southern and northern native scholars tended to write the secession history in a biased manner each favoring their own sates. It is important to note that Dew based his historical perspective and argument on speeches and political activities of southern states commissioners who took it upon themselves to spread the propaganda of southern states secession (MONROE 81). Dew managed to deconstruct the southern propaganda that did not openly attribute the abolition of slavery as their main reason for seeking for secession leading to the world's most brutal civil war in history. Dew is effective in informing the history students and history scholars that the apostles of disunion were the reason why the civil war happened after the election of Abraham Lincoln. They felt that abolition of slavery institution would affect their agricultural production and did not want free labor in which they would be expected to pay for the services offered by the slaves in their farms. The slaves would work at will and not through coercion. Using effective skills and his use of primary sources in the analysis of the secession on propaganda gives the authenticity that any scholar would need for his scholarly works (Barnhart 372).
Charles Dew's Apostles of Disunion book is short and well researched. It is detailed and full of factual information that discredits the confederate bent scholar's history. It is worthy to note that Dew presents himself as the son of the south and hence he is not biased in any way as a result of any northern state affiliation. The book became popular among history students and scholars because of Dew's well-informed analysis and his emphasis on using primary sources as opposed to the more biased historical sources. However, critics argued that Dew focus on slavery and racisms was narrow and he should have focused on the bigger issue that had an impact on the union of the states and the economic prosperity of the south. Dew managed to elicit healthy debate that would help make America great again by dealing with the underlying issues of slavery, social class and the economic impact of the abolition of slavery in the southern states that were more agricultural.
Barnhart, Terry A. "Apostles of the Lost Cause: The Albert Taylor Bledsoe-Alexander Hamilton Stephens Controversy." The Georgia Historical Quarterly 96.4 (2012): 371-412.
Dew, Charles B. Apostles of Disunion: Southern Secession Commissioners and the Causes of the Civil War. University of Virginia Press, 2017.
Dick, Jim. "Book Review: Charles B. Dew. Apostles of Disunion: Southern Secession Commissioners and the Causes of the Civil War. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2001." Saber and Scroll 1.2 (2012): 12.
MONROE, DAN. "Lincoln President-Elect: Abraham Lincoln and the Great Secession Winter, 1860-1861." (2010): 81-87.
Woods, Michael E. "What Twenty-First-Century Historians Have Said about the Causes of Disunion: A Civil War Sesquicentennial Review of the Recent Literature." Journal of American History 99.2 (2012): 415-439.
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