Identifier

etd-05182010-162907

Degree

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

History

Document Type

Thesis

Abstract

As one of the premier legal minds in the Senate, having twice declined presidential nominations to the Supreme Court, Judah Benjamin’s rhetoric contains the South’s most sophisticated and clear-minded legal expositions on constitutional theory, state sovereignty, and republican government since the writings of John C. Calhoun. A well-known moderate, Benjamin’s national political career also reveals the effect of extremism on his own political thinking, while offering a limited perspective into the shifting attitude of the Deep South as well. Benjamin’s judicious speeches counseled northerners that southern views of liberty and sovereignty were inexplicably linked to slavery. With measured rhetoric Benjamin argued that any attempt to regulate slavery not only imperiled southern liberty, but corrupted the original spirit of the Constitution. Beginning in 1856, as a result of the Republican Party’s emergence in national politics, Benjamin increasingly employed strident rhetoric in his speeches which embraced the political logic of secession. With Abraham Lincoln’s election in 1860, Benjamin not only defended secession’s logic, but encouraged its urgent execution.

Date

2010

Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Cooper, Jr., William J.

Included in

History Commons

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