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No Peace without Victory

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Introduction

This work aims at emphasizing that most times peace can only occur if any one of the warring parties becomes the victor. This statement can be proved by the facts from the AHA presidential address “No Peace without Victory of 1861 and 1865” by 2003 association president, James M. McPherson. This address was made at the 18th American association meeting. It was held on January 3rd 2004 in Washington.

Authors Background

The author of this article “No Peace without Victory”, James McPherson is also known as George Henry Davis, a professor of American History at John Hopkins University back in 1986 since 1962.He has a PhD degree from the same university. He is the author of fourteen books that mainly focus on the American Civil War. These books include:

  • Reconstruction
  • Including Battle Cry of Freedom
  • For cause and Comrades

He has served as the president of the American Historical Association, Protect Historic America, and the Society of American Historians.

The Presidential Address Thesis

Despite all efforts of different parties in any conflict, peace can only be achieved when one of the parties involved in the conflict claims victory over the other or the other cannot further endure effects of the conflicts and thus have to accept the stipulated terms.

For example, the American Civil War could not end by merely negotiations to come to peace for the issues which caused the war in the first place included; uniting of the states and disuniting of the same, setting free the slaves against continuing with the slavery trend.

The speech shows that for the last two centuries, countries have found it hard to end any given conflict. It becomes difficult to attain this peace when the confrontation entails a change in how the enemy runs its policies.

Biased or Unbiased Author

In my opinion, James McPherson is biased since he states that peace can only be realized through victory after two parties go into war.

This forces him to justify himself by describing the different wars that have occurred in the last two decades and by going deeper into details on the beliefs and the demands of parties involved in such conflicts; for example, he uses wars such as the American Civil War, Napoleonic Wars, etc. He convinces us that he truly believes that for peace to prevail there must be a victory by showing us that peace could not be negotiated to bring the American Civil War to an end because the problems which caused it could not be solved in other way rather than engaging in a war. The author lists these issues such as unity of the states against the breaking away of the already united states, and freeing the slaves against continuing with the trend. These issues could not be negotiated for peaceful co-existence, hence war was the only way which could be used to put the American Civil War to an end, though multiple efforts to attain it through negotiations formal or informal failed which were carried through the following stages.

  • Mediation by foreign states.
  •  Informal contacts.
  • Multi-formal conversations.

Focusing on the World War I, the conflict he says only came to an end when emperor Napoleon Bonaparte was forced to retreat again. In the American War, he emphasizes why both sides feared any change in the administration would have led to losing the battle which would have blemished the associate states of America from the world’s face.

Utilization of the Materials Available to the Author

I would agree with the author on how he used the information from the sources available to him. The author quotes many of the remarks made by most of the parties involved in the different conflicts in the last two decades. He uses sources such as

  • The World - It was a democratic paper and he quotes how the secretary of the Navy, Gideon Welles, felt about the huge death of all the soldiers in the American Civil War. He uses this newspaper to describe the failure which the readers felt was brought to them by Lincoln.
  • The New York Herald - He quotes the fragment of the article on the optimistic awaiting of the war’s end and how the people could not await their worries and suffering brought by the war being a thing of the past. He goes further to use this paper to show how Lincoln had entered an agreement which it likened with agreeing to commit to his own death by forging ahead with the war against slave trade. By the end of May 1864, the headlines in the New York Herald suggested how the people felt about the war coming to an end finally. Its editor, Horace Greeley, headlined its front pages that those against the union had been defeated and no longer to be presented.
  • The New York Times - The author uses this source to remind us how high the hopes were for the war coming to an end by the defeat of the rebels by the end of May 1864.
  • The London Newspaper “The Times”-The author shows us how the paper was used to call for peaceful solution to the American Civil War in order to stop deaths occurring from the war.
  • The Morning Post – In spite of the fact that it was not a fully authorized periodical of the Prime Minister Palmistries government, the author uses it to highlight how the union had recognized its independence.
  • The New York World Newspaper - He uses this newspaper to show his biasness towards the belief that peace only can be attained via victory by showing us how Lincoln claimed that war was the only way to end slavery against the wills of the Europeans.

The Source(s) of Information over Used by the Author

In this article, the author relies heavily on The New York Herald, Basler, and The New York Times which he quotes severally to emphasize on his belief that peace can only be brought into existence by victory. He heavily invests on The New York Times Newspaper to describe and point out the stages of the American Civil War and the effects from it in the end. He also uses it to show the anticipation of the people to see the end of the war by end of May 1864.

Trustworthiness of the Sources of Information by the Author

The sources of information used by the author in writing are highly credible. They refer to what actually was written and spoken by various participants of the conflicts that were experienced in the past. These include letters written by the leaders to their fellow leaders, for example, the letter by Palmerston to Rusell, October 2, 22, 1862 Rusell papers quoted in Ephraim Douglas Adam; Clement C. Clay to Judah P. Benjamin August 11, 1864, in war of the rebellion, official records of the union and confederate Armies; Greeley to Lincoln, July 7, 1864, Lincoln papers, etc.

In writing he includes use of collected works, for example, The collected works of Lincoln White house, The complete Civil War Diary of John Hay, and Basler collected works of Lincoln. Also he uses a vast number of journals, for example, Journals of Josiah Gorgas, 1857-1878, Sarah Woofolk, ed.

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