Themes in American History: Capitalism, Slavery, Democracy

“The Revolution of 1860” by James McPherson

In the book “The Revolution of 1860by James McPherson, wrote about different types of abolitionists, comparing and contrasting them for believing in the end of slavery and in freedom. John Brown is willing to sacrifice his life for slaves. Willing to fight for their freedom, putting his time to think about plans to make this work. Even though it didn’t work as he planned, there were many people on his side. Frederick Douglass was one of the people who refused to participate in this Revolution. Although, John Brown was waiting for him to join he refused thinking it was a suicidal plan “never get out alive” (205). Not wanting to help them get their freedom, excepting the law and injustices. “Is predestined, as it began in blood, so to end,”(204). John Brown was willing to spend his valuable time and money, travel to the east, gain money for this event. He tries so hard to gain supporters but ended up gaining fewer people than he needed, counting 11 white people that were part of this secret group, John Brown was selected as the new commander in chief. But after all of this, he didn’t back off on his plan. Most white people or even most abolitionists are not willing to go this far for a “mere” slave. This event also made me realize that after all of the sacrifices people did nothing hasn’t changed, still, now there are problems with colored people. The only difference there is they have a little more freedom, but still, the government as as if they care but treats them as nothing. Kill innocent people, arresting them for “feeling” they are treating them, using their powers to shut us down. It’s like history repeats itself again, but in different ways to not let the black people have their freedom.

One thought on ““The Revolution of 1860” by James McPherson”

  1. I sympathize with and share the sense of outrage and despair you express at the end, but I would never want you to come away from this class with the conclusion that “nothing changed.” In 1859, the year of Brown’s raid, the Chicago Tribune (an antislavery newspaper) predicted that “no man now living will see the end of slavery.” Yet, by 1865 it had been completely destroyed and abolished, even if former slaves were prevented (but after another long and violent struggle) from attaining true freedom. Then things got worse during the era of Jim Crow and lynch laws; but then things started to change again with the Civil Rights Movement/Black Freedom Struggle of the 1950s–60s. And so on, until today.

    It might be more helpful, then, to think about the idea of progress in history as being more of a back-and-forth, rather than a linear progression. As far as how that progress is achieved, McPherson describes two very different approaches to “revolution” in this chapter: which one was ultimately more successful?

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