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Disunion!The Coming of the American Civil War, 1789-1859$
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Elizabeth R. Varon

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780807832325

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807887189_varon

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The Language of Terrifying Prophecy Disunion Debates in the Early Republic

The Language of Terrifying Prophecy Disunion Debates in the Early Republic

(p.31) 1 The Language of Terrifying Prophecy Disunion Debates in the Early Republic

Elizabeth R. Varon

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter discusses the era of constitution making, which bequeathed to the young nation not only a legacy of compromise and indecision on slavery, but also the beginnings of a discourse in which politicians summoned images of disunion to advance their own regional and partisan agendas. The early years of the republic witnessed periodic appeals to disunion; slavery was often, but not always, the principal source of contention. In 1790, Southern and Northern representatives in Congress clashed over the twin issues of where to locate the capital and whether Congress should assume the Revolutionary War debts of the states. Assumption was a key piece of the fiscal agenda of Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton, whose reputation for brilliance was matched by his reputation for arrogance. In Hamilton's view, the United States should aspire to be a manufacturing and commercial superpower, in the model of Great Britain.

Keywords:   constitution making, legacy of compromise, slavery, images of disunion, partisan agendas, Revolutionary War

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