WHEN IN THE COURSE OF HUMAN EVENTS by Charles Adams

WHEN IN THE COURSE OF HUMAN EVENTS

Arguing the Case for Southern Secession
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KIRKUS REVIEW

From Adams (Those Dirty Rotten Taxes, 1998), a selectively argued, sometimes absurd polemic against Abraham Lincoln and the Union.

Abraham Lincoln assumed in the Second Inaugural Address that his audience knew that slavery `was, somehow, the cause of the war.` Adams disagrees: brushing aside massive historical evidence to the contrary (including the observations of northern and southern contemporaries) and relying heavily on British rather than American writers about the war, Adams asserts that the slavery was a non-issue devised as a pretext to justify Lincoln's unconstitutional `assault` on the South. He argues instead, with extraordinarily slender evidence, that the preservation of taxes and revenues from the South were somehow the cause of the war. Validly, though not particularly controversially, Adams argues against the Lincoln administration's suspension of habeas corpus and its practice of suppressing dissent in the North, although he fails to discuss the Confederacy's attitudes toward internal political dissent. Less reasonably, Adams excoriates Lincoln for not observing constitutional niceties in 1861 with a hostile southern army nearby (arguing that Lincoln had no authority to do anything more than call Congress into session), and he appears to go well beyond historical evidence in attributing the entire war to northern contentiousness about the low southern tariff. Adams grounds his argument for the legitimacy of southern secession in the language of the Declaration of Independence, ignoring the fact that no southern state except Texas had ever been independent and that millions of slaves were not consulted in the southern ordinances of secession. Finally, he renders an absurd, quibbling attack on Lincoln's Gettysburg Address: among other objections, he feels the American Revolution did not establish the US as a `new nation, conceived in liberty` and that US national existence and democracy were not at stake in the Civil War.

The world will little note nor long remember this poorly reasoned, quarrelsome little tract.

Pub Date: March 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-8476-9722-3
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 2000