Looking for some analysis of the following quote on slavery."You can't make soldiers of slaves or slaves of soldiers. And if slaves seem good soldiers, then our whole theory of slavery is wrong"

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles
I also meant to add, the quote is from Howell Cobb, one of the founders of the Confederate States of America and Speaker of the House for the South. He had been a congressman in the US government prior to the war, and was considered one of the main minds...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
I also meant to add, the quote is from Howell Cobb, one of the founders of the Confederate States of America and Speaker of the House for the South. He had been a congressman in the US government prior to the war, and was considered one of the main minds behind the southern philosophy of government and slavery, sort of a James Madison of the South and slavery.
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles
Late in the Civil War, especially during the invasions of Georgia and South Carolina, the South officially considered using slaves as troops.   Truly, this was how desperate their manpower shortage had become by late 1864-1865. The quote suggests that to believe in slavery is to believe in a fundamental inequality between the races that could not be bridged.  So if the South, out of desperation to defend itself, adopted the philosophy that slaves could be made into effective soldiers, then it meant admitting, to themselves and the world, that the theory of inequality on which slavery was founded was flawed.  If that was the case, what, exactly was the Confederacy defending then?   I think it would have been nearly impossible for a pro-slavery southerner to admit, after centuries, that they had been completely wrong on the issue.  It would mean surrendering their identity. 5000 slaves were used as soldiers though, mainly in Georgia to fight against Sherman, but to little effect.
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team