In Apostles of Disunion, Charles Dew’s goal was to explain the actions that caused the south to make the decision to secede which eventually caused the Civil War.
Dew informs us throughout his entire novel that the reason why the south ended up seceding is because of their pro slavery mindset at the time. One of Dew’s many opinions was that if slavery were to not exist, the Civil War would have never happened. In this book slavery is considered the biggest factor of why the Civil War began. Within this book Dew expresses a certain southern pro slavery perspective.
Many examples were used; however, his strongest pieces were speeches by slave owners and the south’s overall loathing of the Republican Party. Dew was very good at explaining how pro slavery southerners used specific tactics to inflict fear upon the community. In order for a union to be created in the south, the southern leaders would ensure that the community feared blacks. Commoners were forced to believe that they would be in danger if blacks were freed.
These scare tactics were so dramatic that it came to making the community believe that the country would not last any longer with the freeing of blacks. Dew provided his readers with a portion of Governor John J. Petus’ speech as well. In his speech he informed the commoners that “Secession was the only way to avoid the blight of Black Republicans politics and free negro morals”(1). Petus’ point that he was trying to make was that if slaves were freed the city would become a place full of awful crimes.
Of course Petus only cared about the money that he made by having slaves; but his speech was intended to scare the community into thinking slavery only exist to keep the community safe and free of criminals. One of the major goals of his speech was to get approval from the south to secede. Another factor that allowed for southern secession was the duties that were placed across the entire south during the time leading up to the Civil War. When Lincoln was elected into office there was an after effect led by South Carolina for the lower south to secede. Commissioners from seceded states dispatched to southern states that had not yet come to a conclusion of the popular issue. The job of the commissioners was to inform the others of why their state had decided to secede while also persuading the other states still debating to follow their actions of secession.
Commissioners were often citizens in their individual state that were very well known. This would allow more of the citizens to be willing to listen to their opinions. Some of these commissioners were known by more states than their own but these commissioners were usually hard working businessman. These commissioners were also usually speaking with instruction form their legislature.
The title of this book is actually a description of the southern commissioners. Many southerners feared Lincoln being elected into office because of the threat that their slavery would be abolished, along with their rights as citizens of the United States. This opinion was very popular amongst southerners.
Southerners did not have any intentions of having their slaves taken away from them so they had meetings to get ready to leave the union. Dew is very good with giving examples of these specific actions that take place in this piece of history. For example, John Archer Elmore, a commissioner of Alabama, gave a speech to South Carolina’s commission. His speech included “The election of Lincoln was an avowed declaration of war upon the institutions, the rights of the south”(Page 27). Judge William Harris was offered as another example for his speaking to the Georgia General Assembly. His famous words were “Every other issue paled in comparison to the Republican threat to the south’s racial order”(Page 29). Dew uses the quotes to ensure that his readers understand the attitude of the southerners in this pre Civil War time period. To southerners, Lincoln’s main goal in office was to get rid of slavery.
Slavery was an ongoing debate between the north and the south for a very long time. The southerners were very devoted to having slaves and they felt threatened that the northerners would take away this huge piece of their lives. Many devoted southerners would give speeches to other legislatures that contained reasons for why the south should secede from the union. These speeches were very passionate because the southerners were trying to persuade many people. They were filled with many different emotions in order to address the overall importance of slavery. Slavery meant a very great deal to people in these southern communities. When the southerners were speaking to other commissions, their goal was to evoke fear in the southern people in order to ensure that they would be willing to stand up against the seemingly corrupt government. In the author’s writing, he is very astonished with what he uncovered.
His analysis came to the conclusion that republicans were deeply related to abolitionists and were a threat to racial supremacy. Republicans placed a specific danger on white supremacy which was not pleasing to southerners. Another conclusion that Dew stumbled upon was the prediction of a race war.
Dew ultimately believes that racial issues is one of the main reasons for disagreement within the country. Apostles of Disunion by Charles Dew is a short book with great detail that does a great job of explaining why the south ultimately decided to secede from the north which eventually led to the very well known Civil War. Dew was very informative of his many opinions on why the south could have seceded but he has one main focus of why the south seceded that he made evident. Throughout this book, Dew truly believes that the number one reason for the occurrence of the Civil War is because of slavery existing.
This is all history so we will never know the exact cause of the Civil War; however, Dew does inform the readers very well of his own hypothesis.