Calhoun and Civil War

An interesting video showing John C. Calhoun predicting civil war at a state dinner,  during the Van Buren administration.

During his life time Calhoun often predicted civil war:  “The day that the balance between two sections of the country-the slaveholding states and the non-slaveholding states is destroyed, is a day that will not be far removed from political revolution, anarchy, civil war, and widespread disaster.”

Nothing that happened between 1861-65 would have surprised him, including the defeat of the South.  Calhoun, as misguided as he was in so many ways, had one of the sharpest minds of his generation, and the trends that were leading the country to an internecine conflict were crystal clear to him.  The tragedy for him and for the country is that he did not put his formidable intellect in play to propose a solution, such as gradual compensated emancipation, to the looming national catastrophe.  He was too wedded to the “peculiar institution” for that, and so, in the dread words of Lincoln, “the war came”.

Published in: on March 24, 2010 at 5:10 am  Comments (2)  
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  1. The scene is from Amistad. Interestingly, it is the only scene in the movie in which Calhoun appears.

  2. Thank you Tom. I have seen that movie but it was years ago and I didn’t recall the scene.

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