“History does not repeat itself, but it often rhymes.” Attributed to Mark Twain
Americans at their best are a pragmatic “can do” folk, be it “Yankee ingenuity” or good old fashioned “get ‘r done.” We are at our worst when we stray from this pragmatic bent into the misty fields of sacerdotal ideology, which is to say when we ascribe to our pet ideologies a sacred nature, and confer a sainthood, or at the very least, a priestly ordination upon our favored ideologues. In the antebellum period, abolitionist ideology exercised over the course of time a profound effect upon the Yankee mind. More and more northerners, even those whom the abolitionists annoyed, came to accept the idiocy of the “slave power conspiracy.” For the innocent and uninitiated, this conspiracy theory asserted that southern slaveholders were planning to use the powers of the federal government to expand slavery into the territories and throughout the Union. Once this was accomplished, free white labor would be degraded, and the stout wheat farmers of the Midwest would find themselves enslaved. Of course this was nonsense.
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