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1831, Year of Eclipse by Louis Masur Essay

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The number of anthropologists, philosophers, and literary writers who portrayed their vision of America’s future includes many people. Louis Masur and George Orwell are two such literary writers who fit this group. They attempted to project the future of our American nation based on the current actions. Masur saw a trend, a path that was unavoidably steering in a particular direction. The analytical energies put into studying Louis Masur’s works are vast. I will review 1831, Year of Eclipse by Louis Masur and add some clarity to the reasoning behind the development and proof of his attempts at foreshadowing where the American nation was headed.

Masur stated that 1831 marked the year in which America was transformed from a post- revolutionary republic into a democratic nation. The incidents and state-of-mind of our wobbly nation, in 1831, created the scaffold for reactive behavior that would lead to the catastrophic—yet necessary—outbreak of the U.S. Civil War thirty years later.

Masur created a sense of foreboding.

And how could he not? The state of civil unrest in our nation, at the time, was teeming with hostility as the North was, very clearly, in a face-off against the South. The issue of slavery, obviously, was the catalyst highlighting the fragility of a nation that was just over 50 years old. Part of the trials behind Masur’s thesis and the on-going development of his publication, were also linked to the prevailing image of the soon-to-come solar eclipse.

The year of 1831 was more of a window of opportunity and a spot to view his on-going research of America’s turmoil instead of a time for Masur to join forces and advertise his premonitions. The eclipse of the sun prevailed on February 12, 1831 and received all the media hype that was available in that era. Some literary presenters and political strongmen at the time chose to use the shadow of the sun as a metaphor or omen-like prophecy of the times to come. Yet, at the time, Masur took this opportunistic moment in history and made a parallel link. He likened the storming eclipse of our planet’s closest star as a metaphor to the gathering protests over slavery, abolition, taxation, rights of state, and even religious arguments. Masur, in fact, wasn’t the only one who saw the inevitability of Civil War due to the anguish over slavery. Alexis de Tocquieville was another person who perceived the war on the way.

Masur was a firm believer in the possible realization of the question at hand: can the United States survive as a nation? Masur offered the reader witty, intellectual methods in his writings regarding the troubles facing government officials and leaders of state. To say, hypocrisy was prevalent in this era of political, social, and developing democracy is an understatement. Most of Masur’s argument surrounded the issue of slavery and equality; for this was, without a doubt, the main thrust of civil unrest. Here are a few examples of issues Masur discussed in his publication:

Virginia’s white representation of people displayed bitterness over the white women murdered during the slave revolution. They did, however, according to historical records, praise the Lord that rape wasn’t an issue during the killings. Secondly, once the revolt was squashed, some Southerners wanted to control any future revolt by instilling fear and terror in any revolutionary slaves. As an aside, isn’t it ironic—and sad—that today’s terrorism has caused worldwide fear, the same fear people of the South wanted to instill upon the slaves? We can view this ridiculous attempt at controlling slaves that were already under animal-like control as a precursor to tiny cells of Taliban terror, right within the walls separating the North and the South of the early 19th century.

Masur went on to state how the fury of hypocrisy in our nation of civil unrest led the Southern doctrine to lie. Imagine that. The Southerners made claims that the slaves were actually content, and even loyal, to their slave owners.  There was more rage in the separation of people as Northern newspaper editors and the North-People, in general, were annoyed by William Lloyd Garrison’s radical abolitionist newspaper, The Liberator. Yet, just as is the case in the impact of 21st century media, this fierce resistance only improved newspaper circulation. The people wanted to hear about the ‘dirt.’

The fragility of our nation was further unhinged by certain southern states taking pride in the doctrine of nullification. This, in turn, led to the federal government losing power to interfere with slave trade. However, one of the pinnacles toward the start of the war occurred when Garrison began to advertise the U.S. constitution as an “agreement in hell.”

In closing, the breadth of Masur’s writings were simply a method for this well-organized, well-researched, and prolific writer to create and advertise what was actually going in the south, and how political unrest and a separation of state was clouding the vision of the governing body. This was not the means toward developing a free nation, as prescribed in the U.S. constitution by our founding Fore Fathers. He used wit and did not hide or gloss over the details. He was not developing a thesis simply for the sake of telling a story. His pride and dire concern over the fate of the ground he walked on needed a voice of reason. His book 1831, Year of Eclipse was the driving force, and the voice of reason, behind his means of preparing the people for the onslaught that was to come.

SOURCES
Masur, Louis, 1831, Year of Eclipse. New York : Hill and Wang, 2001.

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1831, Year of Eclipse by Louis Masur. (2017, Apr 30). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/1831-year-of-eclipse-by-louis-masur-essay

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