Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Book Snippets: "Battle Cry of Freedom" - Pro-War, Pro-Horsemen

I've been reading James M. McPherson's "Battle Cry of Freedom" (Oxford UP, 1988) as a review to begin my sesquicentennial homework. I'm only a couple of chapters in, and it's great. In the second chapter, he overviews the impact of the Mexican War: in the late 1840s and 1850s, the political parties divided along sectional lines over whether to allow slavery to expand into into the territory acquired in the war. The Whigs had opposed the war, and broke up in the domestic aftermath of the conflict. Here's McPherson citing a Whig congressman ironically expressing his feelings on the Mexican War:
"Mr. Polk's War" evoked opposition from Whigs in Congress, who voted against the resolution affirming a state of war with Mexico in May 1846. After the Democratic majority passed this resolution, however, however, most Whigs supported appropriations for the armies confronting enemy forces. Having witnessed the disappearance of the Federalist party after it opposed the War of 1812, a Whig congressman said sardonically that he now favored "war, pestilence, and famine." (47)
Like any patriotic and loyal American, he favors the war. As he favors the plague, the famine, and the death. Brilliant.

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