Media: A Catalyst for the War

“But you say I am a thief, because I took the old mare along with me. Have you got to learn that I had a better right to the old mare, as you call her, than Manasseth Logue had to me? Is it a greater sin for me to steal his horse, than it was for him to rob my mother’s cradle, and steal me? . .. Have you got to learn that human rights are mutual and reciprocal, and if you take my liberty and life, you forfeit your own liberty and life? Before God and high heaven, is there a law for one man which is not a law for every other man?

If you or any other speculator on my body and rights, wish to know how I regard my rights, they need but come here, and lay their hands on me to enslave me.. . .” -J.W. Loguen

Although the reasons President Lincoln went to war were initially racially neutral, tension had been building between the North and the South for many years. Contempt for southern slave owners only increased when newspapers like The Liberator began publishing letters and stories of the horrible experiences in the South. J.W. Loguen was a slave who escaped to the North by stealing his master’s horse; He proceeded to go to college and became a minister. After receiving a letter from his former mistress that she demanded compensation for the horse or return to slavery, Loguen openly publishes the letter and his reply to it.

This marks a time when blacks were no longer afraid to voice not only their opposition to slavery, but their defiance. Newspapers like The Liberator helped rapidly spread anti-slavery beliefs because of these firsthand accounts and pushed the North further and further apart. This marked the beginning of a time in which a clear rift existed between the free North and the enslaved South, a time when people felt free to voice their opposition and dislike for the other side. The effect was a building dislike not just for runaway slaves, but for white Northerners as well, which only helped lead the divided nation to war.