This chapter discusses the long-festering slavery question, which was reaching a glorious, complicated, spectacular, disappointing, and still unpredictable climax. Slaves, soldiers, and civilians were playing large roles in this drama, and much of the discussion remained explicitly or implicitly religious. People continued to debate slavery and freedom in providential if not millennial language, all shaped by battles and alarms. Remarkable, and in some ways revolutionary, change was afoot, often refracted through the lens of faith. Writing after the war, Robert Lewis Dabney predicted that future historians would marvel at how the “the Christianity and philanthropy of our day have given so disproportionate an attention to the evils of African slavery” when so “many other gigantic evils were rampant in this age.” He may have been mystified, but many of his fellow Confederates had thought a good deal about slavery during the war.
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