I have discovered a Treasure Trove of info through Google books. Google has been scanning old, out of print books for viewing on the internet for a few years now. There are obscure books that you would never imagine have been included in the scanning, but they have been.
For instance, here is one rabbit trail I've followed. My husband has a subscription to "The Chronicle of Higher Education". Occasionally there is an article that he knows I would find interesting and he saves it for me to read. Recently, it was an article called, "Secretive Scholars of the Old South."
The article revealed the existence of a pro-Southern school called "The Abbeville Institute". Now, when I say, "pro Southern", I don't mean pro-slavery, although some of the people they study were pro-slavery. The subjects are fascinating. One is about "Reconstruction", another is about Southern theologians who were pro-South and at least one who defended slavery. The two theologians are James Henley Thornwell and the other was Robert Lewis Dabney. Perhaps both of them were pro-slavery. I don't know as I haven't read enough of their writings yet to determine this, although I know for sure Dabney was pro-slavery. I have always been fascinated by Southern defense of slavery, since it is something I cannot fathom. How could they have been committed, saved Christians, which so many of them were, and believed that slavery was A-OK with God - even a theologian held this belief. These were good Protestant theologians, men who had sound doctrine in most every aspect.....except for slavery. The Abbeville Institute, in being pro-Southern, covers subjects that today are politically incorrect. Today it is totally politically incorrect to say ANYTHING positive about the ante-bellum or just post-bellum South. The fact that they did believe in a true Republic, as opposed to a Democracy, which is what the Founding Fathers had in mind; the fact that the Constitution did NOT forbid secession (I don't believe it did) - all this is discussed at length, and Southern authors are quoted all the way from the late 1700's to today. I was talking to my husband about what I've read, and I think that if the South had rid itself of slavery - not very likely since it's agricultural base was slave-dependent - but let's say it found a way to free the slaves before declaring itself a Confederacy separate from the United States - I think the Lord would have allowed the South to win the war. The only reason the South lost was because they insisted on slavery, which is evil. In any case, this is my opinion at present. With more reading, this could change. I've always thought George Washington's attack on citizens who made their own whiskey from corn and sold it - claiming that only the Federal Government had the right to do that - was completely wrong and unfair (The Whiskey Rebellion).
So, in looking for the first wrong move our Founding Fathers made, the first turn down the wrong path, I'd have to say it was allowing slavery to be accepted in the Constitution - claiming slaves (and thence, giving them and the institution legitimacy) as 3/4 of a person for representative purposes in state government. If only....if only they had stopped that right at the beginning. Can you imagine what our history might have been?
Anyway, I read some of Dabney's writings, all available on Google books, in defense of slavery and found, for myself, the holes in his logic. He wanted to believe it was alright, so he found Scripture to justify himself. It is a trick many people use - make the Scripture fit the purpose they have in mind.
The reason I'm writing this post, though, is not just about having discovered the Abbeville Institute or ante-bellum theologian defenders of slavery - it is because you need not purchase reprints of these writings or even try to locate original volumes. Google has scanned all this and so much is available - all at no cost. This, to me, is the intense blessing of the internet. What I used to have to go to the library and do research to find out, I only need to do a Google search now to come up with all the information I could possibly want or absorb.
Ante-Bellum Southern Authors:
Ante-Bellum Southern Theologians:
This general website about the South has a wealth of references:
The most interesting thing I've read on "The Southern Homefront" so far? The diary of a northern girl who came south to Edisto Island to teach the freed slaves still residing there. You can read it here - it's a quick read and very interesting: