Sunday, October 23, 2005

I and Thou and the Civil War

Storm Over Texas is based on the hypothesis that 'passions unleashed during the political process of bringing Texas into the Union released forces that eventually led to the Civil War.' Inter alia, it is also the early history of the Democratic and proto-Republican parties. But it is more fascinating than that. From the ascension of the Democrat Pierce to the presidency and his passive-aggressive betrayal of his supporter, Van Buren's, suggestion for Secretary of State to the refusal to work with Stephen Douglas, it is a story of the narcissism of southern Democrats, a refusal to appropriately respect and value Democrats outside the region. It is tempting to see this as associated with a corrupting effect on I-Thou relations of slavery though certainly not all slaveholders, for example Robert Waller of Mississippi, who is often in the story, showed this. If anyone knows where I can find more on the story of Thomas Jefferson seeing a 'fireball in the night' over the Missouri situation I would be interested. 'Dance with the one who brung you,' was Sam Houston's now hackneyed way of attempting to get this ethical problem addressed.


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