States’ Rights and Slavery

Patrick Nielsen Hayden notes how the South in the 19th century paid only lip service to states’ rights when it came to fugitive slaves:

But claiming to be coerced while actually practicing coercion is a dark art that Southern racists have refined on for over 150 years. The Confederacy’s central claim was that the North was attempting to force change on them—but the central fact of American politics from the Mexican War to 1861 was the remorseless struggle of slaveowners to force Americans outside the South to enforce their “rights.” Whether Americans in Minnesota and Michigan and Maine wanted to or not.

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