Surrounded by a ring of fire, the scorpion stings itself to death. The image, widespread among antislavery leaders before the Civil War, captures their long-standing strategy for peaceful abolition: They would surround the slave states with a cordon of freedom. They planned to use federal power wherever they could to establish freedom. For their part the southern states fully understood this antislavery strategy. They cited it repeatedly as they adopted secession ordinances in response to Lincoln's election.
The consensus view of the Civil War - that it was first and foremost a war to restore the Union, and an antislavery war only later when it became necessary for Union victory - dies here. James Oakes’s groundbreaking history shows how deftly Lincoln and congressional Republicans pursued antislavery throughout the war, pragmatic in policy but steadfast on principle. In the disloyal South the federal government quickly began freeing slaves, immediately and without slaveholder compensation, as they fled to Union lines.
"game changer. excellent history of antislavery pol"