Saturday, March 21, 2009

Paul Escott

From Kerry M. King's interview with Paul Escott, Reynolds Professor of History at Wake Forest University, about his new book 'What Shall We Do with the Negro?': Lincoln, White Racism, and Civil War America:

Where did the title come from?

It was taken from a headline that appeared in the New York Times in 1862. Once slavery became a target of the Northern war effort, the question arose in all sorts of publications. It was the major question that the war posed for North and South. The title is historically accurate, but it has raised hackles even though it's a quotation from the time. One potential reviewer refused to read the book because he was offended that that question was used in the title.

What was the Times' answer?

The Times was closely connected with the Lincoln administration, so the Times was more important than other newspapers. The Times said that freed slaves should stay in the South, so there would be little change in their status. On voting rights, the Times said it was as bizarre and ridiculous to let slaves vote as it would be to let women and cretins vote.

How would Lincoln have answered the question, what should we do with the slaves?

Earlier in the war, he...[read on]
Read the complete Q & A.

--Marshal Zeringue