William Henry Seward 's Speech

1733 Words Oct 10th, 2016 7 Pages
In 1858, William Henry Seward presented a speech in Rochester, New York in front of a large group of mostly northern Americans. In this speech, Seward outlined that if the union was to stay, existing divisions had to be resolved somehow. Meaning that all of America would inevitably have to become either entirely slave, or entirely free (Seward, 1858). A similar tone could be seen when Abraham Lincoln, speaking of a policy of abolition, stated, “Under the operation of that policy, that agitation has not only, not ceased, but has constantly augmented. In my opinion, it will not cease, until a crisis shall have been reached, and passed. ‘A house divided against itself cannot stand.’ I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free” (Lincoln, 1858). At the time that these sentiments were uttered, there was no doubt in the minds of Americans that the conflict that was happening was inevitable; however, several twentieth century authors and historians began to argue that the war could have been completely avoided if diplomatic methods had been employed. Men such as Avery O. Craven and James G. Randall in the argued that no war can be justified and that the blame for starting that conflict can rest on the shoulders of both northern and southern extremists. Those extremists, Craven argued, were the reason that any debate was struck at all, and blew the entire argument way out of proportion (Cummins & White, 1979). Was the civil war truly an…
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