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Saber and Scroll

Abstract

During the 1841-42 Dorr Rebellion, Southerners spoke out against Thomas Dorr and his supporters, seemingly in opposition to their stated belief in states’ rights. This lack of support indicates that Southerners had little concern for the rights of states unless they were Southern states and were in agreement with them regarding slavery. They did not support the rebellion because many Southerners saw it as a threat to slavery and Southern life in general, and therefore, whatever states’ rights issues were involved became non-important. Opposition to Dorr was less about states’ rights and more about fears that its ideas could be translated to Southern society and lead to black majoritarian rule. Many historians describe the division between Dorr supporters and non-supporters as an example of party politics, with each party claiming that the rebellion supported their party’s platform. This paper argues that the split was less about party politics and more about sectional differences.

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