The Union on Trial: The Political Journals of Judge William Barclay Napton, 1829-1883

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University of Missouri Press, 2005 - 631 páginas
Spanning some fifty-four years, The Union on Trial is a fascinating look at the journals that William Barclay Napton (1808¿1883), an editor, Missouri lawyer, and state supreme court judge, kept from his time as a student at Princeton to his death in Missouri. Although a northerner by birth, Napton, the owner or trustee of forty-six slaves, viewed American society through a decidedly proslavery lens. Focusing on events between the 1850s and 1870s, especially those associated with the Civil War and Reconstruction, The Union on Trial contains Napton's political reflections, offering thoughtful and important perspectives of an educated northern-cum-southern rightist on the key issues that turned Missouri toward the South during the Civil War era. Although Napton's journals offer provocative insights into the process of southernization on the border, their real value lies in their author's often penetrating analysis of the political, legal, and constitutional revolution that the Civil War generated. Yet the most obvious theme that emerges from Napton's journals is the centrality of slavery in Missourians' measure of themselves and the nation and, ultimately, in how border states constructed their southernness out of the tumultuous events of the era. Napton's impressions of the constitutional crises surrounding the Civil War and Reconstruction offer essential arguments with which to consider the magnitude of the nation's most transforming conflict. The book also provides a revealing look at the often intensely political nature of jurists in nineteenth-century America. A lengthy introduction contextualizes Napton's life and beliefs, assessing his transition from northerner to southerner largely as a product of his political transformation to a proslavery, states' rights Democrat but also as a result of his marriage into a slaveholding family. Napton's tragic Civil War experience was a watershed in his southern evolution, a process that mirrored his state's transformation and one that, by way of memory and politics, ultimately defined both. Students and scholars of American history, Missouri history, and the Civil War will find this volume indispensable reading.

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The Making of a Southerner
1
18291857
81
18621867
185
18681871
291
18721883
427
Address To the People of the United States July 1855
559
Biographical Information on Naptons Children
572
Missouri Supreme Court Justices during
574
Missouri Governors
576
Missouri Senators
578
US Representatives from Missouri
580
Presidential Candidates
585
Bibliography
587
Index
601
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Página 449 - Congress, banishing all feeling of mere passion or resentment, will recollect only its duty to the whole country; that this war is not waged, upon our part, in any spirit of oppression, nor for any purpose of conquest, or subjugation, nor purpose of overthrowing or interfering with the rights or established institutions of those states; but to defend and maintain the supremacy of the Constitution, and to preserve the Union, with all the dignity, equality, and rights of the several states unimpaired...
Página 83 - Were I to assign to this term a precise and definite idea, I would say, purely and simply, it means a government by its citizens in mass, acting directly and personally, according to rules established by the majority...
Página 168 - That the Constitution confers upon Congress sovereign power over the territories of the United States for their government and that in the exercise of this power it is both the right and the duty of Congress to prohibit in the territories those twin relics of barbarism, Polygamy and Slavery.
Página 93 - Equal and exact justice to all men, of whatever state or persuasion, religious or political; peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none; the support of the State governments in all their rights, as the most competent administrations for our domestic concerns and the surest bulwarks against antirepublican tendencies; the preservation of the General Government in its whole constitutional vigor, as the sheet anchor of our peace at home and safety abroad...
Página 30 - Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church : and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
Página 449 - Congress, banishing all feelings of mere passion or resentment, will recollect only its duty to the whole country; that this war is not waged upon our part in any spirit of oppression, nor for any purpose of conquest or subjugation, nor purpose of overthrowing or interfering with the rights or established institutions of those States, but to defend and maintain the supremacy of the Constitution and to preserve the Union, with all the dignity, equality, and rights of the several States unimpaired;...
Página 194 - I have voluntarily given no aid, countenance, counsel, or encouragement to persons engaged in armed hostility thereto; that I have never sought nor accepted nor attempted to exercise the functions of any office whatever under any authority or pretended authority in hostility to the United States...
Página 84 - ... society; and this is all the laws should enforce on him; and, no man having a natural right to be the judge between himself and another, it is his natural duty to submit to the umpirage of an impartial third. When the laws have declared and enforced all this, they have fulfilled their functions; and the idea is quite unfounded, that on entering into society we give up any natural right.
Página 83 - On this view of the import of the term republic, instead of saying, as has been said, ' that it may mean any thing or nothing,' we may say with truth and meaning, that governments are more or less republican, as they have more or less of the element of popular election and control in their composition : and believing, as I do, that the mass of the citizens is the safest depository of their own rights, and especially, that the evils flowing from the duperies of the people, are less injurious than...

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Christopher Phillips is an educator, a freelance writer, and the founder of the non-profit Society for Philosophical Inquiry.

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