About the Map
To provide some sense of where the editorials included in this site were
published, and some measure of the positions they represented, staff developed
a six stage taxonomy to classify where the editorials sit on the trajectory
toward war. For the purposes of this pilot test, we use a seven stage
color scheme, with three stages for Southern editorials
and three stages of Northern editorial opinion,
converging toward a common color (red) in
favor of military action.
The categories are differentiated as follows:
Taxonomy for Southern Editorials
1) Common Interests: A position of commonality or
common interests. Obviously, at the point at which the site begins,
very few of the newspapers were espousing a sense of commonality, but
a few, like the New Orleans
Daily True Delta highlighted common interests in opposing the
march toward secession.
2) Conciliation: This category reflects the opinions
of those who described a defined but possibly reconcilable sense of
difference between the two regions. I differentiate the True Delta's
position from those in the second category, reflected in early editorials
in the Richmond Enquirer
and through much of the period by the newspapers in Kentucky. These
papers espouse a clear difference between the two sections, but nevertheless
suggest the possibility of conciliation to ameliorate the differences.
This category covers a fairly wide range of opinions that were hostile
to the North, but reluctant to advocate formal division.
3) “Irreconcilable Differences”: This
category indicates newspapers that declared the cultural, political,
or economic differences were sufficiently hard to merit a political
separation of the slave-holding states from the Union. A number of papers
spend time on the cusp of this third category, weighing whether the
Constitution or other authorities in American history (particularly
the American Revolution) validated secession. We keep them in the category
2, until they declare the need for formal separation.
4) Endorsement of military action: The decision to
separate from the Union was not (at east overtly) viewed as the same
as taking up arms against the Union. We reserve this final category
to register when particular newspapers took the next step, and declared
themselves in favor of taking up arms against the Union.
Taxonomy for Northern Editorials
Unlike the Southern editorials, there is far greater diversity among
the Northern editorial writers, up to and beyond the commencement of hostilities.
In cities like New York, for instance, a number of newspapers maintained
a staunch pro-Southern position (to the point of suggesting the City secede
from the Union) beyond the end of our coverage. Nevertheless, the key
measure in this taxonomy, is the editorials stance toward preservation
of the Union. The taxonomy for the Northern editorials follows a similar
four stage system:
1) Pro-Southern: A clear sympathy for the Southern
position on slavery and dissolution of the Union. This reflects the
position of paper like the Washington
States and Union and the New
York Daily News, which are essentially indistinguishable from
the views espoused by Southern editorial writers.
2) Conciliation: This indicates papers espousing
some concern about dissolving the Union, but still accept Southern grievances
and and blame the Republican Party for precipitating sectional conflict.
A paper like the Cincinnati
Daily Enquirer, is thus included here, because it rejects secessionist
arguments, even as they fulminate against the Republican party for precipitating
3) Union without compromise: This reflects a strong
pro-Union view, which demands the need for a hard line against the seceding
states but stops short of demanding the use of armed force. This is
evident fairly early on in papers like the New
York Daily Tribune, which took an anti-slavery line, and the
Illinois State Journal,
which took a pro-constitution line.
4) Endorsement of military action: As in the Southern
categories, the critical difference between stage 3 and 4 is the point
at which they declare the need to take up arms and defend the interests
of their section.