Did wine end slavery?
Well, possibly a stretch to suggest it, but upon closer inspection, maybe not!
If you’re familiar with Stephen A. Douglas, you might recall that he was (arguably) the primary architect of, and perhaps more importantly, the primary “broker” of, what has come to be known as The Compromise of 1850, a very significant event in the progress towards slavery’s eventual abolishment in this country. The so-called “Compromise” staved off secession and war between the North and the South for many more years, which allowed the North to continue to industrialize (a hugely significant factor as regards the North’s eventual triumph), and also provided for California’s admission to the Union as a “free” state.
And how did Mr. Douglas accomplish this important compromise? Per a fascinating new book by Fergus M. Bordewich entitled America’s Great Debate: Henry Clay, Stephen A. Douglas, and the Compromise That Preserved the Union, it was wine that did it!
Per Bordewich, Douglas relied, for the achievement of his ends, “less on grandiloquence than on tireless, mostly unrecorded negotiations, which were carried out as often as not over copious cups of wine.”
However, history buffs amongst you may recall that Mr. Douglas, courtesy of his overriding faith in the concept of Popular Sovereignty (essentially the idea that “the state” is dependent upon the will of its people; put another way, the idea that citizens should have the right to decide collectively the terms and laws under which they wish to live), would go on to rather sabotage his achievements in The Compromise, by pushing through The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, which regrettably resulted in the return of legal slavery to the area that became Kansas with passage of the act. Mr. Douglas’ abiding faith in Popular Sovereignty essentially backfired in this case, as “the people” went in quite the opposite direction of what might have been hoped for; that is to say, they went “slave” instead of “free.” And while Kansas and Nebraska would both eventually be admitted to the Union as “free” states, the damage, for the time being, was most certainly done.
However, the road to slavery’s end continued!
Passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act led directly to the creation of the Republican Party, who elected their first president in the person of … Abraham Lincoln! The man who presided over the official end of slavery! In fact, it was his debates with Stephen A. Douglas (including the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1868) that Lincoln first and possibly best articulated the stance that would become his crowning achievement, his opposition to slavery.
So, basically, it goes like this.
Wine = Compromise of 1850.
Comprise of 1850 = Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854.
Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 = Birth of Republican Party
Birth of Republican Party = Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln = End of Slavery.
Thus, wine ended slavery.