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Sunday, September 8. 2019
The Civil War is perhaps the most misunderstood event in the history of the United States while ironically, appears to be the single historical event most Americans believe they fully comprehend...
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Everything I know about the Civil War is that going into it we had a federal government and coming out we had a national government. Lincoln's assertion that the states had no right to leave the union was contrary to the Declaration of Independence, the Constitutional theory of divided sovereignty and plain common sense - exactly equivalent to King George III's assertion that the colonies had no right to declare themselves independent of England in 1776. It's no coincidence that the matter of who was right in both cases wasn't settled by rational debate but by force of arms.
I think you're making the same mistake Clark does in his article. Secession and revolution are two different things. Many at the time made this distinction. Andrew Jackson, in his response to the threat of secession of South Carolina over the tariff in the early 1830s, does the same. (As he put it, looking at secession in the same light as revolution was a "confounding of terms.") The right to revolution is always retained by a free people but Jackson (and Lincoln and Robert E. Lee and many others) saw secession as illegitimate. And importantly, the right to revolution should only be invoked if the "abuses and usurpations" (as Jefferson put it) of the ruling authorities are of sufficient severity and duration. Apparently, southern leaders did not think they could make the moral case for revolution or they assuredly would've made it.
Your Revolutionary War and your Civil War were both rebellions.
The key difference is that the latter rebellion failed.
A Marxist interpretation of the causes of the Civil War. Was the long running dispute over tariffs a contributor? Certainly. But the even longer running argument over the expansion of slavery into new states was of greater import.
The tariff question could be ameliorated. Jackson’s threats to South Carolina were followed by a new tariff law reducing the onerous rates and buying some political peace.
The expansion of slavery was the issue that stoked the fire that ignited the fuse of the Civil War.
I went into first grade in 1940 and learned all about the Civil War during my public school career. It was about states rights, not slavery. As my generation dies off completely, there only be the very odd odd-ball who understands that.
The history of the depression, our participation in WWII, the post war years, etc. is a polar opposite of what's become "common knowledge."
Too bad because those who don't learn from that past are condemned to repeat it and that ain't good.
Those who know little about the Civil War believe it was about slavery. Those who know a little more believe that it was about economics, state's rights, and sovereignty. Those who really dig in and learn find out it was about slavery after all. Lincoln's motive was preserving the Union at first. Not surprising, as no nation has willingly tolerated secession by any of its parts, and smaller and smaller Americas were going to be bullied one by one by European powers. Only later did he decide slavery was the key issue. That was largely true of the Northern states as well, concerned mostly at first for "The Union, forever! Hurrah, boys Hurrah!" At the end it was about kicking slavery down for good.
Jefferson Davis knew it was all about slavery right from the start and said so, and most of the states seceding mentioned the preservation of slavery right in their announcements of secession. I'm thinking they might know their own minds on this, not requiring moderns to interpret their motives for them.
I've been hearing for years that it was about something else, anything else. The Port of New Orleans. Protecting black people from the oppressive northern factories and exploitation. I don't believe it.
I read a book sometime ago, The Civil War in the United States, written in 1908 by two British military instructors at Sandhurst military academy. It was primarily a work of military history but the introduction was about the causes and background and made some interesting points about the South and slavery. The authors pointed out that abolition would have directly affected a relatively small number of people namely plantation owners. Abolition ought to have improved the position of many southern workers who would not then have to compete against a pool of labour which was unpaid and therefore beyond cheap. And yet there was support for the war from all levels of society in the South. It is unconvincing therefore to argue, or assert, say the authors, that was the war was just about slavery.
All that would be needed is for the powers-that-be to persuade the rest of the people that the war was really about defense against Northern imposition and aggression. And they had the newspapers.
"It is always stubbornly and stupidly repeating that men fight for material ends, without reflecting for a moment that the material ends are hardly ever material to the men who fight. In any case no man will die for practical politics, just as no man will die for pay." -- Chesterton
What could motivate the non-slave-owners? Fear. Will liberated slaves make distinctions when taking revenge? Distrust. "Our system works OK, who are you to monkey with our system?" -- The revolutionary war wasn't so terribly long ago then.
And yet there was support for the war from all levels of society in the South. It is unconvincing therefore to argue, or assert, say the authors, that was the war was just about slavery.
Support for the war from non-slaveowners in the South doesn't necessarily mean that their support for the war had nothing to do with slavery.
Some have pointed out that many poor Southern whites hung onto the hope that they could raise their station in life and become wealthy slaveowners.
Which could help explain why someone who doesn't own slaves would fight a war to preserve slavery.
A further point is that for poor whites, the slave status of blacks insured that poor whites wouldn't be at the bottom tier of society. Which is why a poor white would fight in a war to maintain slavery.
There were many causes of the Civil War. It is not possible to narrow it down to just one. One usually not mentioned is the name calling and insults hurled back and forth by all sides. Which at some point become "Fighting Words".
But if the war wasn’t over slavery, what then?
This is far from the first time that MF has pushed the narrative that the Civil War wasn't about slavery- or that slavery was but one of many reasons for the war.Accordingly, this is far from the first time I linked to Confederate States of America - Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union. In the South Carolina secession document, there are EIGHTEEN instances of the root "slav"- slaves,slavery, etc. There is not one instance of "tariff." That tells me rather succinctly that the main theme of the Civil War was slavery. If slavery was the main theme of the document issued by the first state to secede, that is prettey good evidence to me that the Civil War was about slavery.
We affirm that these ends for which this Government was instituted have been defeated, and the Government itself has been made destructive of them by the action of the non-slaveholding States. Those States have assume the right of deciding upon the propriety of our domestic institutions; and have denied the rights of property established in fifteen of the States and recognized by the Constitution; they have denounced as sinful the institution of slavery; they have permitted open establishment among them of societies, whose avowed object is to disturb the peace and to eloign the property of the citizens of other States. They have encouraged and assisted thousands of our slaves to leave their homes; and those who remain, have been incited by emissaries, books and pictures to servile insurrection.While Lincoln repeatedly stated that he wouldn't try to eliminate slavery where it was then currently existing, he and the Republicans were dead set against expansion of slavery. The South saw the future. If slavery couldn't expand, slaveowning states would increasingly become a minority. Immigration and industrialization would mean the South would fall farther behind. The South used to control national politics. It was becoming apparent this soulc no longer be the case. The election of Lincoln reiterated that point.
For twenty-five years this agitation has been steadily increasing, until it has now secured to its aid the power of the common Government. Observing the forms of the Constitution, a sectional party has found within that Article establishing the Executive Department, the means of subverting the Constitution itself. A geographical line has been drawn across the Union, and all the States north of that line have united in the election of a man to the high office of President of the United States, whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery. He is to be entrusted with the administration of the common Government, because he has declared that that "Government cannot endure permanently half slave, half free," and that the public mind must rest in the belief that slavery is in the course of ultimate extinction.
This sectional combination for the submersion of the Constitution, has been aided in some of the States by elevating to citizenship, persons who, by the supreme law of the land, are incapable of becoming citizens; and their votes have been used to inaugurate a new policy, hostile to the South, and destructive of its beliefs and safety.
On the 4th day of March next, this party will take possession of the Government. It has announced that the South shall be excluded from the common territory, that the judicial tribunals shall be made sectional, and that a war must be waged against slavery until it shall cease throughout the United States.
The guaranties of the Constitution will then no longer exist; the equal rights of the States will be lost. The slaveholding States will no longer have the power of self-government, or self-protection, and the Federal Government will have become their enemy.
I had family on both sides. Yeoman farmers on both sides.One one side a wealthy slaveholder whose son became a Confederate Colonel and died in the conflict. On the other side, a member of John Brown's crew who was killed at Harper's Ferry.
From the link:
Adding further confusion are the numerous accounts from contemporary newspapers from the North, South, and Europe — all of which tell the tale of a “tariff war,” not the popularly-held notion that the Civil War was a “war against slavery.”Yes, there was a lot of disagreement between North and South on tariffs on imported industrial goods. As I previously pointed out the South Carolina secession document had no instance of "tariff," but 18 examples of the root word "slav."
That indicates to me that regional disagreements over tariffs- while they existed- had little to do with why the South seceded.
The Venezuelan journalist Carlos Rangel had an interesting point about the North-South disagreement on tariffs. Rangel pointed out that there was support in both North and South, for the 1816 Tariff. Many in the South believed that with the advantages of more abundant water power in the Fall Line to the Piedmont compared to water power in New England, coupled with lower transport costs for cotton, the South had an advantage over New England in the operation of textile mills. That didn't turn out to be the case. Result: the South changed its mind on tariffs. From Rangel's book, page 194-195: The Latin Americans: their love-hate relationship with the United States.
The conditions and the development of the Spanish American world invite, as already mentioned, certain parallels with the American South. These two slave societies have interpreted their history in a similar way; or rather, they have required the same self-justification. In 1816, the fledgling North American republic imposed tariffs to protect the development of its budding industry against the massive influx of English manufactured imports, The most ardent among the protectionists were the Virginians and the North and South Carolinians, who felt that with their inexpensive cotton and cheaper manpower, the Southern states would become textile producers able to rival Manchester.Rangel also pointed out that Southern protests against tariffs, crying that the agricultural South was exploited by the industrial North, anticipated later Marxist arguments that the industrial North was exploiting the agricultural South/Third World.
Barely fifteen years after Southern Congressmen such as Calhoun and Lowndes of South Carolina had established themselves as effective spokesmen for tariffs on goods bought from Great Britain, the South began its subsequent failure [to industrialize] by charging that protectionism had been invented by the North as a means of enriching itself at the expense of the South. Southern leaders stirred up their audiences by claiming that of every hundred bales of cotton sold in Boston or New York, forty had been stolen from the South. The argument became more heated, and the North found itself charged with having accumulated capital in the late eighteenth century and early nineteenth by defrauding the South through financial trickery. One contemporary writer says "When they (the Southerners)see the flourishing villages of New England, they cry, 'We pay for all this.' "A myth was manufactured that attributed Northern prosperity to the South's paralysis, and vice versa. Southerners went to war in 1860 quite convinced that if they succeeded in breaking their dependence on the North, not only would they prosper miraculously; the abhorred Yankees, deprived of raw materials and the southern market for their manufactured goods, would be condemned to an economic crisis as well.
Thus, well before the birth of Hobson, Hilferdig, and Lenin, the 'Third World' arguments had been invented by Southern slaveholders.
I purchased the book in Venezuela in the original Spanish version: Del Buen Salvaje al Buen Revolucionario. (From the Good Savage to the Good Revolutionary.) The title rather changed in translation.
I respect your scholarship, Gringo, but don't follow the path of slavery being the cause of the Civil War. Slaves were expensive; only large plantation owners producing huge crops of cotton, tobacco, sugar cane and rice could afford to manage the cost, and that was about 8% of the Southern population. Slaves could not be monetized either, thus the practice was doomed as far as the Banksters were concerned.
My read is the financiers wanted an excuse to divide and conquer -- as usual -- to buy up assets pennies on the dollar using slavery as the public propaganda (what else is new?), but squeezing the agricultural states with tariffs. My southern relatives had mostly moved to Texas by that time and were well out of the slavery contingent except for two that had accompanied my g-g-g-grandmother to help her tend the 10 children produced every two years. They stayed with the family until their deaths as valued members of the household.
Her oldest sons fought and died in that war in objection to a federal government that knew nothing about the obstacles they faced on the frontier and had no intention of sharing the tariff wealth with those who created the product. Lincoln's Greenbacks totally upset the Banksters plan to financially ruin the rebels; thus -- as usual for any president messing with the money -- assassination.
Consider this: We are going through the same machinations now as the globalist banks throw a temper tantrum over Trump bringing solvency back to Main Street vs. Wall Street. The banks/Wall Street have caused chaos in our country and not a one has spent a day in prison for extraordinary havoc upon the very middle class that made this country a beacon for those seeking freedom to succeed.
History should teach us a lesson, no?
I am reminded of Shelby Foote's anecdote about the captured Confederate soldier. His Union captors asked him, "Why are you fighting?" The reply" "Because you're here."
Those fighting the Civil War had multiple reasons for doing so.Nonetheless, slavery was the leading reason. Those who set the Civil War in motion- the secessionists in South Carolina clearly stated that for them, slavery was the overwhelming reason. Recall that Confederate guns firing on Fort Sumter in Charleston SC triggered Lincoln's call for troops.
Perusal of the Georgia Document of Secession also indicates that slavery was the reason for secession.
Slavery may not have been the reason for many troops who saw them selves as defending their homeland, but the slave-holding secessionists got the ball rolling.
Absent slavery, there would have been no Civil War.
Slaves were monetised, in that they were sold at high prices from gentler slaveries in Virginia and Maryland to brutal ones in Mississippi, because the money was so damn good.
One wonders whether slavery would have just died on the vine were it not for the cotton gin.
re One wonders whether slavery would have just died on the vine were it not for the cotton gin.
As a kid that is what I read, that slavery was on the way out until the invention of the cotton gin.
Was the Civil war fought because of slavery?
One should ask oneself, would there have been a civil war without slavery?
You might not dream of ever owning a slave yourself, and still be dead-set against freeing the slaves belonging to others. In both North and South there was nearly universal hostility to the black race, and very little appetite for sharing citizenship with them.
I think we all tend to forget now and again how hard life was back then. The author speaks a little of it but mostly in material notions. It was hard all way round, for very many, hardscrabble times. Men were meaner and women were tougher. It is likely true the war was about slavery but I think it just as likely that what motivated many was being pushed around and told what to do by a far away elite living the good life. But, maybe I'm just projecting.
Slaves were monitized. Often they were an owner's main source of wealth. It wasn't unusaul to be cash poor and have a large wealth of slaves. Cash was raised by selling slaves or renting them out. They were mortgaged for loans.
I guess y'all jest don't git it. If you buy a mule to increase your profits, are you going to beat it to death for getting ornery after that beating?
There is no denying that slavery in the South was a bad way of making a new country survive -- the Brits made fortunes off the process long after they supposedly made it illegal, but using it as an excuse for the global financiers greed is a sell-out for the continuing slave wages that are used to manipulate economies right now. Old techniques still thriving to take down nations.
The American experience it but a blip on the history of making slaves out of conquered people. Better question to ask is "why is this an issue now?" when the details suggest a variety of perspectives?
Slavery was the only thing the South would secede to protect.
Succession was the only thing the North would go to war to prevent.
The Revolutionary war was because of taxes.
The Civil War was about slavery.
WWI occurred because of a spiderweb of alliances.
WWII occurred to stop the Holocaust.
Everyone knows these things to be true, so how could they possibly be wrong?
I would say that #1, #3, and #4 are wrong, and also not what most people would say. Some people would say each, but not most. And pretty easily refuted in all cases as well.
History is written by the victors and their allies.
It was a confluence of things. For one, the import of Dredd Scott was that with Southerner slave holders being able to bring their slaves into Free States and reside unmolested, slavery was de facto being expanded into the Free States.
But in addition to the tariff issue, which impacted areas like NY City, there was the influx of radical pietism west of Boston into Ohio, and the upper Midwest. These were the "Damn Yankees" you hear about. Their view was that slaves could not freely accept God and Jesus Christ due to their condition. Pietists believed in the "emotional conversion" as opposed to the liturgical denominations such as Puritans, Calvinists, etc. The radical pietist is where we get the raiding "brimstone" preacher attacking slave owners in movies and such.
It would be hard to sustain support for a war over taxation, but using the Midwest pietist righteous fervor... but that came later when freeing the slaves also prevented any negotiated peace.
But we can see from here that Lincoln, at least publicly, asserts that slavery hadn't been expected to be altered at the start of the war.
When the war began, three years ago, neither party, nor any man, expected it would last till now. Each looked for the end, in some way, long ere to—day. Neither did any anticipate that domestic slavery would be much affected by the war. But here we are; the war has not ended, and slavery has been much affected—how much needs not now to be recounted. So true is it that man proposes, and God disposes.--Address at a Sanitary Fair, Abraham Lincoln, Baltimore, MD, April 18, 1864
As we can see domestic slavery was not expected to be affected at wars start.
I read, but cannot now find the reference, that the cotton boom was making the big plantation owners rich--but that they were also often in debt because they were trying to expand. And that the boom showed signs of being a bubble.