Title page for ETD etd-05182010-162907

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Cunningham, Geoffrey David
Author's Email Address gcunni1@lsu.edu
URN etd-05182010-162907
Title “You Can Never Convert the Free Sons of the Soil into Vassals”; Judah P. Benjamin and the Threat of Union, 1852-1861.
Degree Master of Arts (M.A.)
Department History
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Cooper, Jr., William J. Committee Chair
Foster, Gaines M. Committee Member
Royster, Charles Committee Member
  • confederate
  • democrat
  • whig
  • secession
  • southern politics
  • jewish
Date of Defense 2010-05-12
Availability unrestricted
As one of the premier legal minds in the Senate, having twice declined presidential nominations to the Supreme Court, Judah Benjamin’s rhetoric contains the South’s most sophisticated and clear-minded legal expositions on constitutional theory, state sovereignty, and republican government since the writings of John C. Calhoun. A well-known moderate, Benjamin’s national political career also reveals the effect of extremism on his own political thinking, while offering a limited perspective into the shifting attitude of the Deep South as well. Benjamin’s judicious speeches counseled northerners that southern views of liberty and sovereignty were inexplicably linked to slavery. With measured rhetoric Benjamin argued that any attempt to regulate slavery not only imperiled southern liberty, but corrupted the original spirit of the Constitution. Beginning in 1856, as a result of the Republican Party’s emergence in national politics, Benjamin increasingly employed strident rhetoric in his speeches which embraced the political logic of secession. With Abraham Lincoln’s election in 1860, Benjamin not only defended secession’s logic, but encouraged its urgent execution.
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