I don't want to lose sight, however, of an important stand that flawed people took in the election of 1860. In that year, we had a four-way race for president. The candidate who carried the north did so on a platform promising to prohibit slavery in the territories of the west, where slavery did not exist. The candidate who carried the south promised to end any restriction on the spread of slavery in the west. The candidate who carried the north won. And the war came.
|from The Washington Post|
In a narrow sense, we can see much racism in the decision made by those voters in the north in 1860. They weren't calling for the immediate abolition of slavery. Some might have believed that cutting off its expansion would eventually end the institution, others might not have thought that far ahead. Some might have voted because they thought the ending of slavery was a matter of justice for the black man, but probably more voted because they saw slavery as something getting in the way of the white man's pursuit of happiness. The motives of those voters, however, is fairly inconsequential. The consequential matter is the result of their decision: setting in motion a chain of events that ended the institution of slavery. The ending of that institution is progress in the name of racial justice, however imperfect the process and intentions of its authors may have been.