Liberty And Slavery

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In Liberty and Slavery: Southern Politics to 1860, William J. Cooper Jr. examined the themes that influenced southern politics from the colonial period to the Civil War. Cooper begins in the colonial period, where he outlined the quest for liberty sought by the American colonies. He states that “liberty comprised the central idea of the colonial South” (14). It was this quest for liberty that ultimately led the South to fight for its own independence. In the south, slavery became an issue of liberty. The two concepts became intertwined in such a way that the people could not separate the two. Cooper states on page 267 that “liberty had always meant control of one’s own affairs and institutions, of one’s destiny.” The idea of liberty and slavery had become one and the same argument between the northern and southern states. He also states that “to southerners liberty was never just an abstract concept. It always involved their perception of their self-interest. Most of them were chiefly concerned about their own liberty. Control over one’s own affairs lay at the heart of liberty, of freedom from outside interference.” (15). It was this concern over the “free from outside interference” that was the crux of the matter and ultimately led to the Civil War. For much of the colonial period, southerners did not feel that slavery was threatened. For one, the constitution protected slavery however as time progressed and the slavery discussion began to grow throughout the country, southerners felt their concept of liberty threatened. The majority of Cooper’s sources are primary sources as opposed to secondary sources, which gives the book validity. Cooper’s main types of secondary sources include articles and letters. Cooper makes use of letters as one of his primary sources. His use of letters gave the book an authenticity. Cooper used letters of several influential people
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