southern Unionism. Knowing how border-state men reacted to Seward and Adams, or the lack of a reaction, might have underpinned Robinson’s arguments still further, especially since Seward’s call for compromise won him applause from moderates and criticism from the more abolitionist- minded, including his wife. Robinson begins by referring to Clay’s republic, where negotiation and compromise preserved not only the Union but also its greatest blot. He shows that proslavery Unionists saw compromise as the best way for them to save both the country and that institution, and that trying to divide the former ultimately would destroy the latter. Thus, he notes, “Unionists had kept their states in the Union, but the exigencies of civil war had irrevo- cably destroyed proslavery Unionism and Clay’s America” (208). Anyone who wants to understand how the border states were at the center of these changes, and were indeed the vital center of the Civil War, will have to con- sider and contend with Robinson’s work. Michael Green michael green, associate professor of history at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, is the author of Lincoln and the Election of 1860 (Southern Illinois University Press, 2011) and the forthcoming Lincoln and Native Americans.
The Journal of the Civil War Era – University of North Carolina Press
Published: Dec 3, 2018