Chandra Manning, "The Order of Nature Would Be Reversed: Slavery and the North Carolina Gubernatorial Election of 1864" (2008)
Scholar Chandra Manning examines the North Carolina gubernatorial election of 1864 between incumbent Zebulon Vance and William W. Holden, local owner of the Raleigh Weekly Standard. As Manning discusses, Holden looked to be a sure win within the state, as many North Carolinians grew weary of the war and looked for peace, with Holden being a leader of the peace movement. Manning points out how many citizens grew tired of the poor treatment from Confederate central government. For instance, “President Jefferson Davis’s administration seemed to neglect North Carolina when it declined to commit troops or resources to resisting the Union occupation of parts of the state’s coastal plain in 1862.” (Manning 2008, 104) Although Vance recognized the displeasure of his citizens, he was often unable to resolve their anger.
But as the election neared, while North Carolinians disliked the poor treatment by the Confederate government, they feared changes to the current racial structure in society, which clearly had whites at the top. As Manning argues, “Vance’s campaign and election matter because they highlight the role of racial fear in suppressing disaffection, in smoothing the tensions inherent in Confederate patriotism.” (Manning 2008, 118) Vance also reminded citizens and soldiers, “that a faulty Confederacy was still better than reunion, because the Union would destroy the racial order that protected soldiers’ families and defined their identities as white men.” (Manning 2008, 118) Manning uses a wide variety of sources from soldiers’ letters and family members’ letters to newspaper articles and political speeches to support her argument. Manning effectively shows that while many white North Carolinians did want peace, the fear of losing racial supremacy in the peace effort caused many to back away, offering another reason why many supported the war effort.
Chandra Manning, “The Order of Nature Would Be Reversed: Slavery and the North Carolina Gubernatorial Election of 1864,” In North Carolinians in the Era of the Civil War and Reconstruction, edited by Paul Escott (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2008).
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