Don't Shoot the Messenger

Aashi Mital  
“Don’t shoot the messenger!”
Within the pages of Apostles of the Disunion, Charles B. Dew attempts to uncover the truth as to why the south seceded from the Union. Historians have, indeed, come to a general consensus that slavery was a contributing factor, however, there is still a debate as to how extensive a role it played in secession, particularly in comparison to the issue of states’ rights, which the south claims was the sole reason behind the parting of ways. The author goes beyond common knowledge and examines this dispute from the southern point of view. In order to achieve this goal, he uses a unique angle often times ignored by historians: the secession commissioners. By using the words of those sent to persuade the southern states into leaving the Union, Dew wishes to create a mentality that allows his audience to establish the real reasoning behind the south’s secession. It is beyond blatantly evident through the author’s work, along with the utterances of the south’s own representatives, that slavery and fears based on this issue were the main incentives behind the south breaking away from the nation.
Dew refutes the argument made by southerners, as well as present day neo-confederates, that slavery was not the key factor behind secession. These commissioners were simply men who were appointed to specific states with the intention of convincing them to withdraw from the Union. Throughout the southern states, all of these men were unified in their messages of slandering the north for treating their southern brothers with nothing but degradation and humiliation. The notion of blaming the north became a staple only second to slavery. Time and time again, as Dew follows the path of these apostles, slavery is the central theme in each of the commissioners’ speeches. For instance, when asked why Georgia should secede, Commissioner Benning replies, “It was a conviction, a deep conviction on the part of Georgia, that separation from the...