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Michael Neylon Dissention and Disagreement of the Antebellum and Civil War The Civil war had many controversies and topics for which were being fought. The Republicans in the north had disagreements, while the South launched into secession because of its dissenting Democrats. The more democratic method of displaying differences came out as the victor, showing disagreement as a healthier and different meaning then dissent. Douglas and Lincoln had disagreements over slavery in their debates for senator of Illinois, but they were not ignorant enough to be so bold to dissent from each other. In the presidential race, Douglas’ popular sovereignty may have been an underhanded attempt at gaining southern support, but he was not at will to stay loyal to that policy if it risked dissent. By the end of the campaign, Douglas knew he would lose but only hoped to gain southern support for Lincoln by campaigning for him; however, nine southern states omitted his name from their ballots, as a display of their dissent. “A liberal society…is killed by dissension.” This came to light when South Carolina could not tolerate the differences so much that they seceded. The nation had broken apart and only a war could save the Union. The minority in the South during its dissent with the Nullification Crisis and “Exposition and Protest” that were ignored by Northern centralized government were now finally being heard in the worst way possible. This secession led to the “quarrel” and not a simple “argument” that Boorstin points out as a difference between the two terms. The dissent was foreshadowed by the sectionalist sentiments in Congress when Brookes and Sumner had a “quarrel” over northern and southern topics. “Dissent means originally to feel apart from others” as sectionalism broke down the party system because of the Wilmot Proviso that led to opposing parties of the North vote against their own parties in the South. That was a true example of dissent over the topic of expansion of slavery. The “disagreement [that] is the life blood of democracy” on the same subject was between the Free Soil Party and abolitionists. They both had a common goal in preventing the spread of slavery, but for very different reasons. The abolitionists and radical Republicans took a moral stance


Michael Neylon against slavery, while the Free Soil Party was anti-black and did not want the presence of African –Americans to spread. That was truly democratic in that argument, where the Constitution was still honored, and not betrayed or changed like the dissenting group of secessionists did to divide the nation. Oregon made a state constitution that outlawed slavery and the presence of blacks all together. George Bush was a prominent free-black man who felt he had been secluded, so he left the state, which really hurt Oregon when they wanted him to stay. He could not tolerate the indifference so he dissented, rather than stand up to the law and fight for his right which the state respected. That would have driven a democracy there, rather than swiftly ending a chance at a liberal society in Oregon. “Disagreement produces debate, but dissent produces dissension.� That debate is in good health to improve the society for the majority, but when there is dissent, all attempts at a democratic solution are abandoned and that dissent becomes the cancer that can kill the society. If someone has a strong stance against something, at any level of importance, they should attempt to fight for a compromise so democracy can prevail. An ignored, or improper use of tactics, can lead to a worsened condition.

Boorstin Essay  

Dissention and Disagreement

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