Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Slavemaster President

Expand Messages
  • Ken S
    Today, between a plane ride and a ferry ride, I had a chance to read the first half of William Dusinberre s book Slavemaster President . The first half of the
    Message 1 of 2 , May 3, 2006
    • 0 Attachment
      Today, between a plane ride and a ferry ride, I had a chance to read
      the first half of William Dusinberre's book "Slavemaster President".
      The first half of the book chronicles Polk's life as a plantation
      owner and in particular the manner in which he treated his slaves. I
      was fascinated by the detail that the author was able to give about
      the slaves Polk owned, the manner in which they were treated, very
      detailed information and statistics about their mortality rates, the
      frequency of runaways, and the ineffective result that various forms
      of disciplines had.

      I always have trouble when historians make judgements as opposed to
      giving the reader the facts and leaving the judgement up to the
      reader. This author seems to be saying that Polk wasn't the best
      owner and he wasn't the worst. He wasn't cruel, at least not
      relative to many other owners, although his slaves ran away more
      frequently than most other owners and were frequently whipped for
      it. Because Polk was away either being Governor or President,
      discipline was left at the discretion of his various "overseers" but
      he tended to support their discretion when it came to firm
      discipline. He appears to be inconsistent in this regard however.
      The impression I got (or perhaps the impression the author wishes to
      convey) is that Polk was first and foremost a businessman, a
      capitlist, and he showed his slaves benevolence whenever there was
      some business advantage to doing so.

      Polk, according to the author, was always careful to hide his
      activities as slaveowner from the public eye so as to be able to
      sucessfully ride the fence on the issue of slavery and thereby
      garner support both from the north and the south. Depending on what
      judgement one wishes to pass, he was either a pragmatist or a
      hypocrite, not unlike practically every president on one issue or
      another.

      I'm looking forward to the second half of his book because the
      author analyses how Polk's policies may have contributed to the
      civil war.

      Having spent the past couple of days at the Presidential Libraries
      and Museums of Presidents Nixon and Reagan, I tend to believe that
      most presidents are neither Gods nor monsters. Rather, they inherit
      difficult problems for which there are no easy answers, only easy
      criticisms. While slavery may be easily seen today as abhorrent, I
      wonder what our viewpoint would be if this was 1844 and we were all
      raised seeing it as an accepted part of everyday life.

      As always, your polite comments are welcomed.
    • Evelyn Radecke
      Dear Ken, I agree with you thoroughly. Evelyn ... read ... President . ... I ... the ... forms ... but ... to
      Message 2 of 2 , May 4, 2006
      • 0 Attachment
        Dear Ken,

        I agree with you thoroughly.

        Evelyn

        --- In James_K_Polk_Appreciation@yahoogroups.com, "Ken S"
        <rule62ken@...> wrote:
        >
        > Today, between a plane ride and a ferry ride, I had a chance to
        read
        > the first half of William Dusinberre's book "Slavemaster
        President".
        > The first half of the book chronicles Polk's life as a plantation
        > owner and in particular the manner in which he treated his slaves.
        I
        > was fascinated by the detail that the author was able to give about
        > the slaves Polk owned, the manner in which they were treated, very
        > detailed information and statistics about their mortality rates,
        the
        > frequency of runaways, and the ineffective result that various
        forms
        > of disciplines had.
        >
        > I always have trouble when historians make judgements as opposed to
        > giving the reader the facts and leaving the judgement up to the
        > reader. This author seems to be saying that Polk wasn't the best
        > owner and he wasn't the worst. He wasn't cruel, at least not
        > relative to many other owners, although his slaves ran away more
        > frequently than most other owners and were frequently whipped for
        > it. Because Polk was away either being Governor or President,
        > discipline was left at the discretion of his various "overseers"
        but
        > he tended to support their discretion when it came to firm
        > discipline. He appears to be inconsistent in this regard however.
        > The impression I got (or perhaps the impression the author wishes
        to
        > convey) is that Polk was first and foremost a businessman, a
        > capitlist, and he showed his slaves benevolence whenever there was
        > some business advantage to doing so.
        >
        > Polk, according to the author, was always careful to hide his
        > activities as slaveowner from the public eye so as to be able to
        > sucessfully ride the fence on the issue of slavery and thereby
        > garner support both from the north and the south. Depending on what
        > judgement one wishes to pass, he was either a pragmatist or a
        > hypocrite, not unlike practically every president on one issue or
        > another.
        >
        > I'm looking forward to the second half of his book because the
        > author analyses how Polk's policies may have contributed to the
        > civil war.
        >
        > Having spent the past couple of days at the Presidential Libraries
        > and Museums of Presidents Nixon and Reagan, I tend to believe that
        > most presidents are neither Gods nor monsters. Rather, they inherit
        > difficult problems for which there are no easy answers, only easy
        > criticisms. While slavery may be easily seen today as abhorrent, I
        > wonder what our viewpoint would be if this was 1844 and we were all
        > raised seeing it as an accepted part of everyday life.
        >
        > As always, your polite comments are welcomed.
        >
      Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.