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The Yankee’s Lee


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The Yankee’s Lee

By David Bovenizer January 19, 2022

This essay was originally published in the First Quarter 1992 issue of Southern Partisan.

 A Review of: General Robert E. Lee and Civil War History (UNC Press, 1991) by Alan T. Nolan

 When Frank Owsley sought from among the vast number of interpretations of the cause of the war of 1861 for the principal cause, he defined it as “egocentric sectionalism.” Not slavery, not economics, not confusion about the meaning of the Constitution or the proper relationship of the states to each other and the Federal government, but pernicious pride.

 In examining the language of the most vocal Northern crusaders and the most extreme of the Southern defenders in the decades prior to the war, Owsley found a “coarse and obscene” assault by abolitionists on the very integrity of Southern society and institutions. The self-styled Southern fire-eaters responded, of course, but even their “language of insult…was…urbane and restrained” in comparison to “that’ of the Abolitionists. ” Thus, he concluded, “in language of abuse and and insult was jettisoned the comity of sections. And…peace between sections as between nations is placed in jeopardy when one section fails to respect the self-respect of the people of another section.”

 In seeking both to define the impetus of Lee Considered and also to review its arguments, implications, and failings, one is compelled to meditate upon the whole tragic course of events—and of the “language of abuse” which precipitated the events—with which the Southerners of 1860 had to contend. Owsley, in surveying the period, located in “egocentricism” the “kind of sectionalism which destroyed unity and divided the nation.”    :snip: https://www.abbevilleinstitute.org/the-yankees-lee/

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