The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 53, July 1949 - April, 1950 Page: 95
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rights was in harmony with the spirit of America in the two
decades before the Civil War. Democracy was in the air-democ-
racy and the gospel of work.
But over all the nation hung a Damoclean economic anachron-
ism-slavery. Slavery, itself, formed the foundation of a way of
life. While the rest of the nation either moved westward or be-
came industrialized, the South continued its cultivation of cotton
with the aid of slave labor. Slavery, ideally suited to monocul-
ture in the South, had gradually become abhorrent to many
people in the North, under the lashing of the abolition societies
and the press. Slavery was a moral wrong, a social injustice which
should be done away with. These sentiments acted as a battle
cry to the ever more suspicious South. Such opinions offered
confirmation of the fear that the North would do anything in its
power to stunt or abolish the South's primary economic prop.
From the realm of the stump speaker and newspaper column,
the issue of slavery moved to the halls of Congress. Slavery be-
came a political bugaboo-it crept into almost every debate and
certainly most arguments. Slavery to the South represented its
one ancient custom and tradition which remained relatively in-
violate in the face of the new industrialism of the North. If
slavery should be limited or abolished, many thought that the
South would go with it. To the defense of the system which had
now been glorified into a divine right, the South rallied its ablest
men, and on that battle line they staked their fortune.
By 1850 a definite crisis had arisen in national affairs, and it
seemed that there was little to prevent disruption of the Union.
The South's old policy of nullification had been revived and to
this was added the constitutional doctrine of secession. The osten-
sible issue was the admission of slave or free states. Behind all
the frenzy and agitation stood far more fundamental reasons. By
I850 certain definite breaks had begun in the national cultural
fabric. The North and the South were drifting in different direc-
tions. Immigrants, machines, and the westward mania, all tended
to give the North different sets of values, tastes, and cultural aims
But this cleavage had not yet reached the breaking point, and the
people, who wanted above all else the settlement of the touchy
admission problem and a return of calm and normal business
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 53, July 1949 - April, 1950, periodical, 1950; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101126/m1/115/: accessed October 19, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.