I am a huge fan of well-known people that take the time to respond thoughtfully to a seemingly unimportant stranger. So, I had a question about a source in Thomas Woods book The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History. I obtained his email and asked the following question:
On page 50 of the book there is a box that says "What the Press Said." In it there is a quote as following:
"[It was] merely an incident of the real controversy...[for] possession of the Federal Government is what both North and South are striving for."
-The New York Times in its description of slavery, 1854
When I try to find this source online, all I get is this page: http://www.nytimes.com/1860/07/04/news/the-slavery-question.html
If you read it, there is no mention of the first part of the quote in the article only the second part followed by "and the leading motive of the South is a determination to regard Slavery as their paramount interest, and its protection and perpetuation as their settled policy."
Something is definitely fishy. I tend to trust you far more than I do the New York Times, so I am wondering if I have not found the source you were referring to or if the NYT changed it?
He then graciously responded with:
Mr. Morr:For your service to me Tom, I will recommend your latest book Nullification to everyone I know.
Grr. This just calls to mind the struggles I had with the publisher during the editing of that book. They wanted to substitute a different box for the one I had, so they chose this. I did not catch that they actually got the date partially wrong; I was referring to three NYT columns, one from 1854 and two from 1860 (May 30 and July 4). It is Eric Foner himself, an extremely pro-Lincoln and pro-Union historian, who notes the significance of the Times' concession: "The New York Times went so far as to claim that slavery itself was 'merely an incident of the real controversy,' since 'possession of the Federal Government is what both North and South are striving for.' In this it was only echoing the views of Webster and other northern Whigs of the 1840s who had opposed the annexation of Texas and the Mexican War on the grounds that any addition of slavery territory and subsequent admission of slave states would upset the balance of sectional power in the South's favor." (Foner, Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men: The Ideology of the Republican Party Before the Civil War, p. 192.)