Origins of the American Civil War

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Re: Origins of the American Civil War

Postby firechicago » Tue Jan 04, 2011 12:19 am UTC

marky66 wrote:I did not say whether the guy's statement was accurate or not.

It was offered as if it were proof that trumped everything else. I contend that it is not.


Sheesh, this is like arguing with a creationist.

Pot stirring and shit slinging will get you nowhere, except perhaps into trouble.

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This thread has already included direct quotes from two sources clearly showing that secessionist leaders thought of their cause in terms of a defense of slavery. A half-hour's effort could turn up half a dozen more, but until someone actually presents the slightest scintilla of conflicting evidence, I'm pretty comfortable resting on the assumption that these statements are representative of secessionist thought on the causes and aims of secession.

EDIT:

Az is right, that was not a productive comment. What I meant, and would have written had I invested more time, thought and care into this post is this: When one side in a discussion has produced evidence which clearly supports their side, responding with "but that doesn't prove anything" without offering any contrary evidence or argument is not a productive addition to the conversation. It is the type of response I have come to expect from those who are uninterested in actually examining their beliefs in light of the evidence, and it serves to bolster beliefs which are empirically indefensible.
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Re: Origins of the American Civil War

Postby bentheimmigrant » Tue Jan 04, 2011 5:24 pm UTC

It seems to me that the main thrust of the argument against slavery being the cause of the war is more based in an inability, or lack of desire, to comprehend that such a base thing motivated a group of states to secede. But it did. I struggle to comprehend how anti-capitalist sentiment powered the Cultural Revolution in China, but it did. Or how animosity between Catholics and Protestants has kept The Troubles going in Northern Ireland for the last hundred years (or indeed 400, if you like), but it has. Or how white supremacy motivated [insert Godwin invoking sequence of events here], but it did. It would be nice if these things could be explained by decency and rationalism, but they can't. There is established fact, backed by evidence, and there is revisionist history, backed by rhetoric and a desire to bring a sense of chivalry to history. One I support, the other I do not.
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Re: Origins of the American Civil War

Postby firechicago » Thu Jan 13, 2011 3:46 am UTC

bentheimmigrant wrote:It seems to me that the main thrust of the argument against slavery being the cause of the war is more based in an inability, or lack of desire, to comprehend that such a base thing motivated a group of states to secede. But it did. I struggle to comprehend how anti-capitalist sentiment powered the Cultural Revolution in China, but it did. Or how animosity between Catholics and Protestants has kept The Troubles going in Northern Ireland for the last hundred years (or indeed 400, if you like), but it has. Or how white supremacy motivated [insert Godwin invoking sequence of events here], but it did. It would be nice if these things could be explained by decency and rationalism, but they can't. There is established fact, backed by evidence, and there is revisionist history, backed by rhetoric and a desire to bring a sense of chivalry to history. One I support, the other I do not.


Rereading this post in the light of some recent political debates, I think there's another thing going on in the Lost Causers beyond just refusing to believe that something so base motivated their ancestors (not to mention a few of my ancestors.) I think a lot of this brand of history is based around a teleological view of history: the idea that the Great Events of History(tm) need to be About Something. And while I think the Civil War was about slavery, I don't think it was About Slavery, if you catch my drift. Slavery was woven into American life in ways that shaped every aspect of the Civil War, but understanding that takes a lot of time and effort. It's much easier to simply introduce some evidence that some of the belligerents thought something else was important and so the war wasn't About Slavery.

(Sort of like how those on the political right and left find it a lot easier to have a shouting match over whether a campaign flyer proves Sarah Palin wanted Rep. Giffords dead, rather than try to have a conversation about the complicated ways in which an atmosphere of violent political rhetoric might or might not shape the intentions of unstable individuals who are prone to violence for other reasons.)

Also, don't knock revisionism. Revision (literally "looking again") is at the heart of the work of the historian*. If we didn't need to look over our past and reinterpret it in light of new ideas and new evidence, there would be even more unemployed historians. The problem is dishonest revisionism, i.e. revisionism which ignores or fabricates evidence. The problem with the historians of the Lost Cause is that they either ignore evidence like the Cornerstone speech, or they draw upon the most tenuous strands of evidence to create elaborate fantasies about what the war and antebellum life were like. (E.g. the "thousands" of black soldiers who fought for the South, except they actually didn't.) To draw another analogy from the recent news: the problem wasn't that Andrew Wakefield wanted to look at some case studies and see if there might be a link between vaccines and autism, it was that the way that Mr. Wakefield looked at those case studies was incomplete and dishonest.

*To steal another story from David Blight's fantastic course on the Civil War:

Reporter: You've been accused of being a revisionist historian. So when did all this revisionism start?
Eric Foner, eminent historian: Well, really with Herodotus.
Reporter: Do you have his phone number?
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Re: Origins of the American Civil War

Postby Oregonaut » Wed Jan 26, 2011 6:41 pm UTC

Someone in Bodrum, Turkey could likely get you the number of the local visitor's bureau. From there, you could find a plaque, memorial, statue or something.

If you remove slavery from the equation, there likely is no cause to claim federal oppression over. I can't see a simpler way to explain this. Jefferson Davis was staunchly pro-slavery. If I remember my studies correctly, he thought poorly of the "negro", did not like how "uppity" they became. So, president and vice president, the elected representitives of the Confederacy, are both firm in their belief that slavery is an institution intended to be maintained in the South. Welcome to the war, then.

Fast forward to today, one of my "kids" was raised in Georgia, near Roswell. She was raised to call it "the War of Northern Aggression". She was taught all of the apologist rhetoric, argued tooth and nail with me that it was because it was the North telling the South what they could and could not do.

The only argument I had that she could not defeat was that simple.

If there were no slaves, what would we have gone to war over? What heinous act would have driven us to Gettysburg? Andersonville?
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Re: Origins of the American Civil War

Postby pizzazz » Wed Jan 26, 2011 7:13 pm UTC

Oregonaut wrote:Someone in Bodrum, Turkey could likely get you the number of the local visitor's bureau. From there, you could find a plaque, memorial, statue or something.

Eh?
If there were no slaves, what would we have gone to war over? What heinous act would have driven us to Gettysburg? Andersonville?

I don't think invoking the violence of the war itself is the right way to make your point. Once the war was started, neither side was going to back down, because it would be tremendously devestating. The devastation at battles like Gettysburg, Fredericksburg, Cold Harbor, wherever had primarily to do with generals, tactics, and technology. And most of the generals and soldiers were not fighting to end slavery. Whatever the cause, once it started, slavery had nothing to do with the terrible slaughter (which no on could have easily predicted).
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Re: Origins of the American Civil War

Postby Oregonaut » Wed Jan 26, 2011 7:22 pm UTC

Reporter: You've been accused of being a revisionist historian. So when did all this revisionism start?
Eric Foner, eminent historian: Well, really with Herodotus.
Reporter: Do you have his phone number?


Actually it is kind of central to the point. We aren't talking Hatfields and McCoys here.

"They are trying to destroy our way of life" is an effective rallying cry. You'll get me behind that.

"They are taxing our Twinkees too much" is not an effective rallying cry. You won't get me behind that.
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Re: Origins of the American Civil War

Postby bentheimmigrant » Wed Jan 26, 2011 9:28 pm UTC

Bachmann has come out with some interesting theories... Namely that it was the founding fathers (all of them) that believed in the evils of slavery, and worked to see it end. Founding fathers like John Quincy Adams. >.>

There is something very disturbing with this kind of revisionism. Fitting your nation's history into a myth that you want to believe is a great way to create some kind of cult-esque nationalism. And to serve what purpose? Lowering taxes? I'm not one for conspiracies, but there's something sinister about it. There's no way she's actually that stupid, is there?
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Re: Origins of the American Civil War

Postby Oregonaut » Wed Jan 26, 2011 9:31 pm UTC

I think you underestimate the potential of human stupidity. I'm serious when I say that a lot of the education in the south has focused on the fact that the North is responsible for all of mankinds ills, with regards to history.
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Re: Origins of the American Civil War

Postby firechicago » Thu Jan 27, 2011 2:45 pm UTC

pizzazz wrote:
Oregonaut wrote:Someone in Bodrum, Turkey could likely get you the number of the local visitor's bureau. From there, you could find a plaque, memorial, statue or something.

Eh?

It took me a couple readings to figure out what he was referring to, but it was a joke continuing my story about the reporter who wanted to be put in touch with Herodotus. (And by extension believed that historical revision was such a new phenomenon that its founder must still be alive.)

bentheimmigrant wrote:There is something very disturbing with this kind of revisionism. Fitting your nation's history into a myth that you want to believe is a great way to create some kind of cult-esque nationalism. And to serve what purpose? Lowering taxes? I'm not one for conspiracies, but there's something sinister about it. There's no way she's actually that stupid, is there?
Oregonaut wrote:I think you underestimate the potential of human stupidity. I'm serious when I say that a lot of the education in the south has focused on the fact that the North is responsible for all of mankinds ills, with regards to history.

I don't think it's stupidity per se. I think it's a desire to see oneself as being part of some grand and glorious cause that overrides one's willingness to take an honest look at the actual evidence around you. Lots of very smart people, some of them respected historians, were involved in creating and propagating the idea of the Glorious Lost Cause of the Confederacy. Jefferson Davis, Jubal Early and D.W. Griffith all could have run intellectual rings around Michelle Bachmann, but that didn't protect them from their own preconceptions.

You can see the same thing in other abhorrent ideologies. The German Volkisch movement was similarly based on an attempt to impose a unified narrative of a German nation on a hopelessly scattered and disjointed political and cultural history, and it culminated in what was probably the most brutal, violent, evil act in recorded history. But that didn't stop almost every German-speaking intellectual of the 19th and early 20th centuries from participating in or sympathizing with the movement at one point or another.

It just goes to show that intelligence isn't all it's cracked up to be. In fact, without the honesty to re-examine your preconceptions and not to confuse how you think the world should be with how the world actually is, intelligence will often lead you into deeper trouble. Better an honest and humble simpleton than a genius who can't look beyond his own prejudices.
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Re: Origins of the American Civil War

Postby Oregonaut » Thu Jan 27, 2011 3:27 pm UTC

Yeah, he was born in an area of Ancient Greece that is now part of Turkey.
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Re: Origins of the American Civil War

Postby Steeler » Sat Feb 05, 2011 2:22 am UTC

firechicago wrote:*N.B.: The South was the main aggressor against states' rights here. Free states restricted themselves to freeing slaves who managed to make it inside their borders, but the Fugitive Slave Act forced all of the states to actively enforce the institution of slavery, and the logic of Dred Scott would have effectively made all of the states slave states.
On the one hand, you're right. On the other, their behavior seems not unlike modern politicians': to protect/promote some perceived good in the long term, you violate it, or another you also profess to want, in the short term or in another theater. They may have seen violating the other states' rights as the best way to protect theirs.

So "main aggressor" may be going a bit far, but the South definitely wasn't purely devoted to states' rights.
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Re: Origins of the American Civil War

Postby Capt. Obvious » Sat Feb 05, 2011 5:43 am UTC

To revist the entire issue, what does it mean to be "the cause" of something. I mean, no one (and I've been one of the strongest proponents opposing the "slavery caused the Civil War" statement) is claiming slavery was not an issue that helped form the Civil War. But that's the straw man that keeps getting set up.

I claim that Lincoln caused the Civil War because were it not for him, the slavery issue would likely have been resolved in a non-violent way over 50 years. The response is without slavery, Lincoln would not have done what he did.

Things have multiple causes. Obviously slavery was an issue. I claim slavery was not a sufficient issue by itself. Something was going to cause a strong federalist president to do something unpopular at some point.

Oregonaut wrote:If you remove slavery from the equation, there likely is no cause to claim federal oppression over. I can't see a simpler way to explain this.
It's also not relevant. No one claimed that slavery didn't contribute to the Civil War. I and others claim it wasn't "the cause". If X is a jerk because of Y, and person Z reacts to X being a jerk, sure without Y it wouldn't have happened, but without X being a jerk it doesn't either. The North is not pure.
Oregonaut wrote: Jefferson Davis was staunchly pro-slavery. If I remember my studies correctly, he thought poorly of the "negro", did not like how "uppity" they became. So, president and vice president, the elected representitives of the Confederacy, are both firm in their belief that slavery is an institution intended to be maintained in the South. Welcome to the war, then.
And in the North Lincoln was unable to sell it as a pro-abolitionist war, with only two members of his Cabinet favoring the Emancipation Proclamation. A Proclamation he didn't make until the war had been going on for a while as a PR move to keep the fiercely abolitionist British from joining the Confederate side. So, neither the North nor the observer England thought the war was about slavery until a few years into the war? It was a secret only the South knew? Or maybe your cherry-picked quotes aren't the final word.
Oregonaut wrote:
Fast forward to today, one of my "kids" was raised in Georgia, near Roswell. She was raised to call it "the War of Northern Aggression". She was taught all of the apologist rhetoric, argued tooth and nail with me that it was because it was the North telling the South what they could and could not do.
That was a more proximate cause of the war. The North was more aggressively anti-slavery than the South was pro-slavery, and the South responded to that aggression. I reference both Lincoln's aggressive statements and some state's show extradition trials that never exradited escaped slaves.
Oregonaut wrote:
The only argument I had that she could not defeat was that simple.

If there were no slaves, what would we have gone to war over? What heinous act would have driven us to Gettysburg?

That's a horrible argument, and your daughter's inability to respond to it does not speak to its quality.
First, we would have gone to war over something. The supremacy of the federal government had to be established. This was a time when Jefferson (as President) said "eh, this is unconstitutional, but I'll do it anyway", when Jackson said "the Supreme Court has made their decision, now let's see them enforce it", when the government wasn't solid yet. States had nullified laws before, it was only a matter of time before the federal government enforced them by force or the union dissolved.

Second, the battle of Gettysburg wasn't fought over slavery, no matter what Lincoln wrote on a train. The battle of Gettysburg was fought because some guys wanted to steal some shoes.

Much like the far less controversial WWI: You could say it was caused by the assassination of an Arch Duke. You could say it was caused by an overcommitment of Germany to "any action Austria-Hungry could think of". You could say it was caused by the inability of Germany and Russia to communicate quickly enough, or by open-ended alliances between relatives on various thrones. In reality, WWI was an inevitable outgrowth of an increase in offensive capability and the devastating nature of a first-strike.

Similarly, the American Civil War was inevitable. Sure slavery caused the biggest schism, the one that finally was the test case. And it built to war as both sides kept ratcheting up the tension. A cause, sure. But not the cause.
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Re: Origins of the American Civil War

Postby omgryebread » Sat Feb 05, 2011 6:30 am UTC

Capt. Obvious wrote:To revist the entire issue, what does it mean to be "the cause" of something. I mean, no one (and I've been one of the strongest proponents opposing the "slavery caused the Civil War" statement) is claiming slavery was not an issue that helped form the Civil War. But that's the straw man that keeps getting set up.

I claim that Lincoln caused the Civil War because were it not for him, the slavery issue would likely have been resolved in a non-violent way over 50 years. The response is without slavery, Lincoln would not have done what he did.
I'm pretty sure most people are going to say that 50 more years of "resolving slavery" is not cool.

Things have multiple causes. Obviously slavery was an issue. I claim slavery was not a sufficient issue by itself. Something was going to cause a strong federalist president to do something unpopular at some point.
Even if that's true that slavery wasn't a sufficient issue (something I'm far from willing to grant) it's irrelevant. The fact that a federalist president could have done other stuff is also irrelevant. None of them did, so all those things weren't the cause.

And in the North Lincoln was unable to sell it as a pro-abolitionist war, with only two members of his Cabinet favoring the Emancipation Proclamation. A Proclamation he didn't make until the war had been going on for a while as a PR move to keep the fiercely abolitionist British from joining the Confederate side. So, neither the North nor the observer England thought the war was about slavery until a few years into the war? It was a secret only the South knew? Or maybe your cherry-picked quotes aren't the final word.
Secret? Hardly. Ask Mississippi, in "A Declaration of the Immediate Causes which Induce and Justify the Secession of the State of Mississippi from the Federal Union."

Mississippi wrote:In the momentous step which our State has taken of dissolving its connection with the government of which we so long formed a part, it is but just that we should declare the prominent reasons which have induced our course.

Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery-- the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun. These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization. That blow has been long aimed at the institution, and was at the point of reaching its consummation. There was no choice left us but submission to the mandates of abolition, or a dissolution of the Union, whose principles had been subverted to work out our ruin.
Seems that in your declaration of succession, you kinda want to throw out what your causes are. They mentioned slavery in the second sentence. In fact, in all four of the declerations of causes i found (http://sunsite.utk.edu/civil-war/reasons.html) slavery is mentioned in the first few sentences of each, as the first cause.



First, we would have gone to war over something. The supremacy of the federal government had to be established. This was a time when Jefferson (as President) said "eh, this is unconstitutional, but I'll do it anyway", when Jackson said "the Supreme Court has made their decision, now let's see them enforce it", when the government wasn't solid yet. States had nullified laws before, it was only a matter of time before the federal government enforced them by force or the union dissolved.
How does a potential war over another issue later down the line mean that slavery wasn't the cause of this war? I could die by cancer when I'm 70, or someone could shoot me in a year when I'm 21. Pretty sure the potential cancer still means I died of a gunshot wound.

Second, the battle of Gettysburg wasn't fought over slavery, no matter what Lincoln wrote on a train. The battle of Gettysburg was fought because some guys wanted to steal some shoes.


Much like the far less controversial WWI: You could say it was caused by the assassination of an Arch Duke. You could say it was caused by an overcommitment of Germany to "any action Austria-Hungry could think of". You could say it was caused by the inability of Germany and Russia to communicate quickly enough, or by open-ended alliances between relatives on various thrones. In reality, WWI was an inevitable outgrowth of an increase in offensive capability and the devastating nature of a first-strike.[/quote]As blood leaves my body, not enough oxygen reaches my brain. As my brain shuts down, I died. Therefore, I died of brain failure, not a gunshot wound. Despite that the blood left my body through the exit hole.

Similarly, the American Civil War was inevitable. Sure slavery caused the biggest schism, the one that finally was the test case. And it built to war as both sides kept ratcheting up the tension. A cause, sure. But not the cause.
The majority of all the causes stemmed in some way from slavery. The simplest to argue is state's rights. The state rights to keep slaves. I'm not as familiar with other causes that revisionists make, so I can't answer as well, sorry. [/quote]

No one is claiming that the war started because a bunch of northerners got together and decided to outlaw slavery and the south split and the north went to war. It's not that easy, because history isn't that easy. A good history book would take a chapter or several to talk about pre-civil war America and how it ended up in a civil war. A good paragraph answer from a student of that textbook to a question about the major cause of the civil war is going to talk about slavery, with little need to mention other things.

You're expected to take the time to preview your posts and fix your quote tags.

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Re: Origins of the American Civil War

Postby The Great Hippo » Sat Feb 05, 2011 7:50 am UTC

Capt. Obvious wrote:Similarly, the American Civil War was inevitable. Sure slavery caused the biggest schism, the one that finally was the test case. And it built to war as both sides kept ratcheting up the tension. A cause, sure. But not the cause.
Capt. Obvious wrote:I claim that Lincoln caused the Civil War because were it not for him, the slavery issue would likely have been resolved in a non-violent way over 50 years.
The American Civil War was an inevitable result of tensions between two groups of people, but if it weren't for Lincoln it would never have happened? Do you know what 'inevitable' means?
Capt. Obvious wrote:And in the North Lincoln was unable to sell it as a pro-abolitionist war, with only two members of his Cabinet favoring the Emancipation Proclamation. A Proclamation he didn't make until the war had been going on for a while as a PR move to keep the fiercely abolitionist British from joining the Confederate side. So, neither the North nor the observer England thought the war was about slavery until a few years into the war?
For the North, the war was not entirely about slavery. For the South, the war was pretty much entirely about slavery (and all that its federally mandated cessation would imply). Surprise; wars mean different things to different sides.

Regardless: Do you think that when Preston Brooks beat the shit out of Sumner on the Senate floor that he did it over some breech of Senate protocol? That all the southerners who flooded Brooks with support were rallying behind him because he had opposed Sumner's fiery rhetoric favoring interstate taxation laws? No--this war was directly caused by slavery--its profitability, its logistics, its legality, and the federal-versus-states rights issues that it forced to the forefront.

I'll ask you the same question I ask of everyone else who claims that slavery was not the direct and primary cause: If slavery didn't exist, how the fuck would we have ended up in a war? What other issue would have so clearly outlined the struggle between a federal government's rights and a state's rights? What else could Sumner have said that would have inspired Preston Brooks to walk down to the Senate floor and brutally beat him within an inch of his life with a cane?
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Re: Origins of the American Civil War

Postby firechicago » Sat Feb 05, 2011 3:22 pm UTC

Capt. Obvious:

I agree that no one here is arguing that slavery was irrelevant to the Civil War.

I also agree that there is no "one true cause" of the Civil War in the sense you mean, and I don't think that anyone in this thread is making that argument. I'd even go further and submit to you that no event in recorded history, from the time that the first hominid dropped a stone hand axe for a paleontologist to find, up to my decision to eat last night's leftovers for breakfast this morning, has a single cause in the way you mean, and it would be foolish to try and look for one.

Now that we have disposed of arguments that no one is making, let me outline the argument I am making:

When I say "slavery was the cause of the Civil War" I mean two things:

1) Among the many causes of the Civil War, slavery occupies a unique and privileged position. All the other causes have relatively limited explanatory power. Lincoln's alleged radicalism makes sense as an inciting incident, but only in a tense environment already radically polarized. States' rights vs. federal power takes place against a backdrop of regional conflicts and, if taken seriously as a coherent ideological struggle, cuts in ways strangely orthogonal to the actual battle lines that were drawn.

Only slavery and the attitudes and debates that surrounded it, among the myriad causes of the Civil War, cuts across every part of American society and impinges upon any aspect that a historian might want to study. Slavery is the backdrop against which all the other causes play their parts, and without the context of slavery, they do not make any sense. It is impossible to fully and completely understand any aspect of the Civil War without reference to slavery.

2) I reject the school of thought that slavery was only a secondary cause. Those who comprise the "Lost Cause" school of history, from Jubal Early and Jefferson Davis down to the Sons of Confederate Veterans who were the original subject of this thread, by trying to minimize the role of slavery, do history and truth a grave disservice. The stance that slavery was only a secondary cause of the Civil War is associated with all sorts of nasty characters from the "Redeemers" of the 1870's to modern "Christian Identity" groups. In this sense it is like arguing that the holocaust wasn't as bad as mainstream historians claim. There is nothing immoral about the argument itself, but it is well-tread ground, scattered with lies and misinformation by those who would justify the unjustifiable for their own ideological purposes.
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Re: Origins of the American Civil War

Postby Griffin » Sun Feb 06, 2011 1:54 am UTC

I could argue that Slavery was the reason the south seceeded, and Unity was the reason the north went to war over it.

Just ending it at "Slavery was the cause" implied the north, as a whole, believed strongly enough in ending slavery to get in a war over it, which honestly was pretty unlikely. They did believe in a united United States.

Personally I think we should have let them secede, and just reconquered them when they eventually went to war with the USA over us harboring fugitive slaves.
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Re: Origins of the American Civil War

Postby lutzj » Sun Feb 06, 2011 2:27 pm UTC

Griffin wrote:Just ending it at "Slavery was the cause" implied the north, as a whole, believed strongly enough in ending slavery to get in a war over it, which honestly was pretty unlikely. They did believe in a united United States.


Even if slavery was not the greatest single reason for the North to declare war, it was still the main root cause of the conflict. Slavery > Secession > War does not have to imply Slavery > War to be true.
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Re: Origins of the American Civil War

Postby IcedT » Sun Feb 06, 2011 10:02 pm UTC

bentheimmigrant wrote:It seems to me that the main thrust of the argument against slavery being the cause of the war is more based in an inability, or lack of desire, to comprehend that such a base thing motivated a group of states to secede... It would be nice if these things could be explained by decency and rationalism, but they can't.

The rationalism comes from the fact that slavery was the cornerstone of the Southern economy and social order. So the Confederacy was guilty of the cardinal sin of building an entire society on injustice and abuse, but they held on to it so long not out of pure spite towards blacks or Yankees, but to protect their livelihoods. The institution of slavery in the South was 200 years old by that time, so really the worst you can accuse the Confederacy of is lacking the moral courage to destroy their economy and social structure over a matter of principle.
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Re: Origins of the American Civil War

Postby pizzazz » Sun Feb 06, 2011 10:25 pm UTC

There's a reason death certificates have something like 4 separate "Cause of death" entries (of varying specificity and immediacy of the cause).

lutzj wrote:
Griffin wrote:Just ending it at "Slavery was the cause" implied the north, as a whole, believed strongly enough in ending slavery to get in a war over it, which honestly was pretty unlikely. They did believe in a united United States.


Even if slavery was not the greatest single reason for the North to declare war, it was still the main root cause of the conflict. Slavery > Secession > War does not have to imply Slavery > War to be true.


I don't really understand your response, but I think you missed the point. The point was that slavery can not possibly explain the North's entry. It just doesn't work. Whether or not Abraham Lincoln was an abolitionist, the North was only able to go to war for the union of the US. It can't simply be discounted, as it explains the North's actions pretty much in parallel with the South's actions. The South was just louder.
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Re: Origins of the American Civil War

Postby lutzj » Mon Feb 07, 2011 4:32 am UTC

pizzazz wrote:There's a reason death certificates have something like 4 separate "Cause of death" entries (of varying specificity and immediacy of the cause).

lutzj wrote:
Griffin wrote:Just ending it at "Slavery was the cause" implied the north, as a whole, believed strongly enough in ending slavery to get in a war over it, which honestly was pretty unlikely. They did believe in a united United States.


Even if slavery was not the greatest single reason for the North to declare war, it was still the main root cause of the conflict. Slavery > Secession > War does not have to imply Slavery > War to be true.


I don't really understand your response, but I think you missed the point. The point was that slavery can not possibly explain the North's entry. It just doesn't work. Whether or not Abraham Lincoln was an abolitionist, the North was only able to go to war for the union of the US. It can't simply be discounted, as it explains the North's actions pretty much in parallel with the South's actions. The South was just louder.


The North went to war to preserve the union, but that only necessary because of Southern attempts to secede. And those secession movements, in turn, were primarily motivated by tensions over slavery. Therefore, slavery was the ultimate cause of the war.
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Re: Origins of the American Civil War

Postby pizzazz » Mon Feb 07, 2011 5:55 pm UTC

lutzj wrote:
pizzazz wrote:There's a reason death certificates have something like 4 separate "Cause of death" entries (of varying specificity and immediacy of the cause).

lutzj wrote:
Griffin wrote:Just ending it at "Slavery was the cause" implied the north, as a whole, believed strongly enough in ending slavery to get in a war over it, which honestly was pretty unlikely. They did believe in a united United States.


Even if slavery was not the greatest single reason for the North to declare war, it was still the main root cause of the conflict. Slavery > Secession > War does not have to imply Slavery > War to be true.


I don't really understand your response, but I think you missed the point. The point was that slavery can not possibly explain the North's entry. It just doesn't work. Whether or not Abraham Lincoln was an abolitionist, the North was only able to go to war for the union of the US. It can't simply be discounted, as it explains the North's actions pretty much in parallel with the South's actions. The South was just louder.


The North went to war to preserve the union, but that only necessary because of Southern attempts to secede. And those secession movements, in turn, were primarily motivated by tensions over slavery. Therefore, slavery was the ultimate cause of the war.

And the existence of slavery in America was caused by Christopher Columbus's discovery, so it's all Spain's fault. Or maybe Genoa. But then we can blame Rome, which allows us to blame Greece...
See where this is going? Stopping the blame at slavery is arbitrary step backwards in time. All that you can say about slavery--without it there would have been no war, if not for that what was there to fight over, etc--can be applied equally well to the North's decision to go to war. This is because none of those criteria estblish a *sole* cause, because such a concept does not make sense. They can establish *a* cause, but nothing else.

No, slavery was the cause of succession. The North's decision to go to war was not inevitable, and the sucession did not imply war.
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Re: Origins of the American Civil War

Postby Yakk » Mon Feb 07, 2011 6:04 pm UTC

The cause of the war was the air molecules that vibrated when it was first called "war"?
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Re: Origins of the American Civil War

Postby Azrael » Mon Feb 07, 2011 6:27 pm UTC

pizzazz wrote:And the existence of slavery in America was caused by Christopher Columbus's discovery, so it's all Spain's fault. Or maybe Genoa. But then we can blame Rome, which allows us to blame Greece...
See where this is going? Stopping the blame at slavery is arbitrary step backwards in time.

It is perfectly justifiable to follow a cause and effect trace back to a logical stopping point.

If I were to accuse your mother of being a hamster, you were to punch me, and a large brawl started it would be easy to trace the root cause and stop at a logical point. Suggesting that the cause-effect chain extends back farther -- that either my birth, or my exposure to that particular insult, was the cause is entirely nonsensical. Secession caused the war and slavery caused the secession. The chain of cause and effect is clear -- it's immediate, localized and relevant.

Furthermore, you try to suggest that uncertainty of the consequence of an action (i.e. secession) removes accountability for that action. That is ... so obviously false I don't know where to begin. If you drive recklessly, you do not know the eventual consequence, whether it is a ticket, arrest, accident, injury, death, or perhaps nothing at all. Lacking foresight does not mean that whichever outcome actually occurs is not an effect of your driving style. Turning to my previous example I think you've mixed up 'fault' with 'effect'. It's not my fault that you resorted to violence in the face of an insult; breaching the societal and legal norms brings the consequences in both of those realms onto your shoulders. That violence is, however, certainly the effect -- with my insult being the cause.

The best you can argue with your line of reasoning is that the North "shouldn't" have started a war as a result of the South's secession (i.e. it's the North's fault that it turned into a war). However, you'd have to demonstrate that responding to secession with war was outside the societal/legal/historical norms. I doubt you could do so.
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Re: Origins of the American Civil War

Postby lutzj » Mon Feb 07, 2011 8:23 pm UTC

Sidenote: It's "secession," not "succession." I try not to be too pedantic about such things but "succession" almost implies that the CSA wanted to replace the United States.

I might chosen my words poorly earlier; "ultimate cause" could, as others have noted, be applied to just about any earlier event. Tension over slavery (and the associated North/South squabbles over voting rights and taxes) provided the impetus for several states to secede from the Union, and that secession was interpreted as an act of war by the federal government. You can argue that the Union's response to secession was ill-informed, but secession represented the start of the Civil War, and was in turn caused primarily by slavery.
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Re: Origins of the American Civil War

Postby Oregonaut » Mon Feb 07, 2011 8:32 pm UTC

Honestly, I often wonder how true it is that the South would have stopped at replacing the federal government of the USA.

Though yes, secession is the correct term.
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Re: Origins of the American Civil War

Postby Griffin » Tue Feb 08, 2011 2:25 am UTC

Although, wasn't the south also the one to fire the first shots by attacking US armories? So there's actually that, in which case it goes right back to the war being about slavery.
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Re: Origins of the American Civil War

Postby IcedT » Tue Feb 08, 2011 8:10 am UTC

Griffin wrote:Although, wasn't the south also the one to fire the first shots by attacking US armories? So there's actually that, in which case it goes right back to the war being about slavery.
The first shots at Fort Sumter were basically part of a waiting game to see who could be forced to make the first aggressive move- seeing as the South was at a considerable strategic disadvantage, unsurprisingly they lost the waiting game. But secession did make armed conflict virtually inevitable, so the Confederacy is still responsible but not for exactly that reason
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Re: Origins of the American Civil War

Postby EdgarJPublius » Tue Feb 08, 2011 8:32 pm UTC

Southern raised and educated here:

Saying that 'the American Civil War was caused by Slavery' is an oversimplification of both the complex political, economic and ideological issues that lead to Secession and the political, economic and ideological ramifications of slavery in the South.

While it is true that slavery was the main issue that lead to secession (and hence the war), and even very likely that war would not have occurred except for the issue of slavery, many people seem to have forgotten that slavery was not a simple, ideological issue (After all, the racial hierarchy that slavery embodied continued long after slavery ended, even spreading for a time as freed slaves began to compete economically with whites who before had not been directly involved with slavery) but was largely a political and even more importantly an economic issue as well.

Federal policies regarding slaves and slavery largely constituted a direct attack against the economic foundations of the South. Although most Southerns did not own or work directly with slaves, they did rely to varying extents on good and services provided by slaves and on the various economic functions performed by the wealthiest slave owners.
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Re: Origins of the American Civil War

Postby firechicago » Tue Feb 08, 2011 8:42 pm UTC

EdgarJPublius wrote:Federal policies regarding slaves and slavery largely constituted a direct attack against the economic foundations of the South. Although most Southerns did not own or work directly with slaves, they did rely to varying extents on good and services provided by slaves and on the various economic functions performed by the wealthiest slave owners.


Bwah?

What pre-secession federal laws or policies could be construed as anti-slavery or anti-southern? Except of course for values of "anti-slavery" where anything other than a Justice Taney-style "Slavery is allowed everywhere" policy is "anti-slavery."
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Re: Origins of the American Civil War

Postby EdgarJPublius » Tue Feb 08, 2011 10:35 pm UTC

Sorry, I should say positions, not policies.
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Re: Origins of the American Civil War

Postby firechicago » Wed Feb 09, 2011 1:33 am UTC

EdgarJPublius wrote:Sorry, I should say positions, not policies.

I'm still failing to understand what you mean. What federal "positions" were these? It's true that in the 1850's a growing minority of Northern politicians were openly hostile to the institution of slavery, and even more of them saw slave labor and free labor systems as directly in competition, but I don't see how that amounts to a "federal position."

I'm not even sure what the phrase "federal positions" means, if not the laws and policies of the federal government.
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Re: Origins of the American Civil War

Postby pizzazz » Wed Feb 09, 2011 6:38 am UTC

Azrael wrote:
pizzazz wrote:And the existence of slavery in America was caused by Christopher Columbus's discovery, so it's all Spain's fault. Or maybe Genoa. But then we can blame Rome, which allows us to blame Greece...
See where this is going? Stopping the blame at slavery is arbitrary step backwards in time.

It is perfectly justifiable to follow a cause and effect trace back to a logical stopping point.

If I were to accuse your mother of being a hamster, you were to punch me, and a large brawl started it would be easy to trace the root cause and stop at a logical point. Suggesting that the cause-effect chain extends back farther -- that either my birth, or my exposure to that particular insult, was the cause is entirely nonsensical. Secession caused the war and slavery caused the secession. The chain of cause and effect is clear -- it's immediate, localized and relevant.

Trying to reduce the causes of the civil war to such a simple analogy is proposterous and completely ignores every possible argument against your point. You're simply asserting the step that is in contention; namely, that the succession caused the war (with nothing in between, which is an absurd notion; to suggest the South wanted open war is nonsense). This brings me to...
Furthermore, you try to suggest that uncertainty of the consequence of an action (i.e. secession) removes accountability for that action. That is ... so obviously false I don't know where to begin. If you drive recklessly, you do not know the eventual consequence, whether it is a ticket, arrest, accident, injury, death, or perhaps nothing at all. Lacking foresight does not mean that whichever outcome actually occurs is not an effect of your driving style. Turning to my previous example I think you've mixed up 'fault' with 'effect'. It's not my fault that you resorted to violence in the face of an insult; breaching the societal and legal norms brings the consequences in both of those realms onto your shoulders. That violence is, however, certainly the effect -- with my insult being the cause.

I said nothing about accountability, you are the one bringing it in to this discussion. In terms of pure cause and effect, the North's decision to invade is just as much a cause of the war as the secession. If you want to blame the South (it's pretty clear you do), go right ahead, but that's not what the discussion is about.
The best you can argue with your line of reasoning is that the North "shouldn't" have started a war as a result of the South's secession (i.e. it's the North's fault that it turned into a war). However, you'd have to demonstrate that responding to secession with war was outside the societal/legal/historical norms. I doubt you could do so.

I'm not making, or trying to make, any normative claims. Again, you brought in fault and responsibility. The rest of us are discussing causes, and an event can have more than one cause.

Griffin wrote:Although, wasn't the south also the one to fire the first shots by attacking US armories? So there's actually that, in which case it goes right back to the war being about slavery.

The only US armory I can remember being attacked before Fort Sumter was when John Brown lead a slave revolt that attacked Harper's Ferry.
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Re: Origins of the American Civil War

Postby bentheimmigrant » Wed Feb 09, 2011 12:29 pm UTC

Pizzazz, you're going to have to back up any claim that slavery did not cause the Civil War - because plenty of evidence, including the order of events and the public stance of the leaders of the South, have been presented to show that the South believed at the time that it was about Slavery. Let's make this statement clear: The South seceded because of slavery, because they viewed it as the "cornerstone" of their society. The Secession in turn led to the war. It is as clear cut as that. In their articles of secession, the Southern states identified themselves as "slave states". While they were motivated more by economic need than racism, the fact remains that it was a perceived threat to slavery that caused them to try and protect their economies through secession.
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Re: Origins of the American Civil War

Postby Azrael » Wed Feb 09, 2011 1:09 pm UTC

pizzazz wrote:Trying to reduce the causes of the civil war to such a simple analogy is proposterous and completely ignores every possible argument against your point. You're simply asserting the step that is in contention; namely, that the succession caused the war (with nothing in between, which is an absurd notion; to suggest the South wanted open war is nonsense).

I didn't reduce the civil war to that analogy. I was demonstrating that a cause and effect chain can have a logical stopping point, and a point of extrapolation where it breaks down entirely.

Nor am I suggesting that the South wanted an armed conflict. But without secession, there absolutely wouldn't have been one. That's indisputable, and a pretty clear link in causality.

And it's interesting that you claim to have not brought up accountability when your original post is full of the words "blame" and "fault".
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Re: Origins of the American Civil War

Postby The Great Hippo » Wed Feb 09, 2011 11:41 pm UTC

EdgarJPublius wrote:Saying that 'the American Civil War was caused by Slavery' is an oversimplification of both the complex political, economic and ideological issues that lead to Secession and the political, economic and ideological ramifications of slavery in the South.

While it is true that slavery was the main issue that lead to secession (and hence the war), and even very likely that war would not have occurred except for the issue of slavery, many people seem to have forgotten that slavery was not a simple, ideological issue (After all, the racial hierarchy that slavery embodied continued long after slavery ended, even spreading for a time as freed slaves began to compete economically with whites who before had not been directly involved with slavery) but was largely a political and even more importantly an economic issue as well.

Federal policies regarding slaves and slavery largely constituted a direct attack against the economic foundations of the South. Although most Southerns did not own or work directly with slaves, they did rely to varying extents on good and services provided by slaves and on the various economic functions performed by the wealthiest slave owners.
I too am slightly confused as to what the functional difference between a 'federal position' and a 'federal policy' is. Nevertheless: Exactly how is what you're saying a defiance of the statement "The American Civil War was caused by Slavery"? All the factors you're explaining just add nuance to slavery--its logistics, its economical impact, its political overtones--but you're still talking about slavery.

Kind of like how nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution, nothing in the Civil War makes sense except in the light of slavery. Though it wasn't the only issue, it was the most important, and the one with the most overarching impact. I don't subscribe to some ridiculous black-and-white "the Civil War was the war to end slavery" perspective, but one way or another, the institution of slavery is the unquestionable centerpiece of the Civil War.
pizzazz wrote:Trying to reduce the causes of the civil war to such a simple analogy is proposterous and completely ignores every possible argument against your point. You're simply asserting the step that is in contention; namely, that the succession caused the war (with nothing in between, which is an absurd notion; to suggest the South wanted open war is nonsense).
If you want to get tricky about causality, consider this: If Gavrilo Princip hadn't gotten a sudden hankering for a ham sandwich, World War I would have still happened; the causes and effects would just look a little different. But if we didn't have slavery, the Civil War would have in all likelihood never happened--there was no issue equal in both its contentiousness and divisiveness as the South's "peculiar institution".

Tracing causality back deeper and deeper makes our assessment less and less sure; you claim as a counterpoint that if it wasn't for Spain, we wouldn't have slaves; that's not correct. We probably would have had slaves (just wouldn't have been Columbus enslaving them). Part of the reason we talk about slavery as the primary cause of the Civil War is because of its immediate proximity and also because of just how deeply slavery shaped the discourse--how slavery touched pretty much every level of the dispute between the North and the South.

Also, I think you are confusing the word 'blame' with 'cause'. I don't 'blame' slavery for the Civil War, and thereby consequentially the South; I attribute the primary cause of the Civil War to slavery. I don't really think there's much utility to 'blaming' countries for things like this; we can discuss the dubious morality of individual slaveholders and the politicians who supported or enabled slavery, but blaming them for the war seems both unproductive and off-topic.
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Re: Origins of the American Civil War

Postby Capt. Obvious » Thu Feb 10, 2011 12:37 am UTC

omgryebread wrote:Seems that in your declaration of succession, you kinda want to throw out what your causes are. They mentioned slavery in the second sentence. In fact, in all four of the declerations of causes i found (http://sunsite.utk.edu/civil-war/reasons.html) slavery is mentioned in the first few sentences of each, as the first cause.

That site is one of the examples of cherry-picked quotations. Those same four declarations of secession have been brought up a couple of times in this thread. Never mind that those four declarations are out of eleven states. You are outright incorrect.

To choose South Carolina (the originator the movement), the word "slave" and any of its derivatives are used exactly once in the first 15 paragraphs, a reference to South Carolina having not seceded in 1852 merely because the other slaveholding states asked that she not. The majority of uses of the word slave and its derivatives are to delineate the actions of slaveholding and nonslaveholding states.

South Carolina's first cause for secession was that they had a moral right to do so under the reasoning of the Declaration of Independence, and a legal right to under the Constitution without regard for reason. The second cause was a failure of the "nonslaveholding" state to abide by Article 4 of the Constitution and various Acts of Congress.

The third cause is that nonslaveholding states encourage people to kill South Carolina's citizens within her borders and refuse to extradite the murderers.

Another example: Texas lists as it's first cause that its citizens were being denied access to settle federal lands. Including but not limited to a failure of federal officials to protects Texas's citizens in federal territories.

The second cause is that the federal government is inadequately defending Texas from foreign invaders. Namely Mexicans and Indians crossing the border.

The third cause is that non-slave-holding states refuse to obey the Constitution, similar to South Carolina's complaint.

In other words, whatever the motivation of the non-slaveholding states, secession was motivated by a failure of the federal government as a compact.

But to reiterate my point, as the quotation game can go on forever, and I have no desire to (no one is going to deny racists and slave-holders were a big part of the Confederacy!), I appeal instead to what others at the time thought, as demonstrated by their actions.

Southerners thought the war was about getting out of a deal where they were getting screwed. Yes, the Northern states were violating the Constitution because they hated slavery, but many of the Southern state's grievances are actually legit. The federal government should protect the nations borders. Federal law should be respected. Extradition for murders should be allowed.

Northerners thought the war was about preserving the Union. As I stated only two members of Lincoln's own cabinet wanted to pass the Emancipation Proclamation (passed as executive order because it would not pass Congress).

It was passed in large part as a PR stunt, to prevent Britain and France from siding with the Confederacy, by making the war about slavery (both were vehemently anti-slavery). Why did the point need to get made if the Confederacy had already announced the war was about slavery?
The Great Hippo wrote:The American Civil War was an inevitable result of tensions between two groups of people, but if it weren't for Lincoln it would never have happened? Do you know what 'inevitable' means?

Yes. I was blurring various levels of causes. An armed conflict to between several states and the federal government to establish the supremacy of the federal government was inevitable. An armed conflict to resolve the issue of slavery was not. The Northern states pushed the anti-slavery issue through various unconstitutional means, culminating in Lincoln being elected and promising to step it up a notch. This lead to war.
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Regardless: Do you think that when Preston Brooks beat the shit out of Sumner on the Senate floor that he did it over some breech of Senate protocol?

Of course not. Sumner talked shit about Brooks's mama. Well, not his mama, I'm not sure of the relationship (father-in-law?). But it was a personal insult, and Brooks had dueled people over those before. Apparently his friend convinced him that Sumner wasn't even worth dueling; the same friend who held used a gun to ensure no interference in the beating.

The Great Hippo wrote:I'll ask you the same question I ask of everyone else who claims that slavery was not the direct and primary cause: If slavery didn't exist, how the fuck would we have ended up in a war?

A couple of easy options: The advent of WWI, with the federal government wanting to get involved on the British side and various Northern and Midwestern states favoring neutrality or even the Germans. TR busting trust and taking land for the federal government. Almost certainly women's suffrage was controversial.

But I hold it would have been the *currently unpopular* giant federal power debacle: Prohibition.


The OP wanted to know, among other things, what non-racist reason there could be to cause non-slaveholding white Southerners, past and present, to identify with the Confederate cause and Southern culture.

The major chain of causes seems indisputable. War was triggered by secession. Secession was directly triggered by Lincoln's election and his instance slavery be wiped out, and his planned expansion of unconstitutional anti-slavery measures (and constitutional anti-South but unrelated-to-slavery measures designed to put pressure on those states). Secession was indirectly triggered by the South's perception that the Northern states were shirking their obligations under the federal government, fermenting rebellion in the Southern states, using the federal government to put unrelated-to-slavery pressure on the South, and, in Texas's case, refusing to defend against foreign invaders.

Many Southerners believe(d) the South was treated unfairly. Hence, the identification with the Confederate cause absent identification with slavery.
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Re: Origins of the American Civil War

Postby The Great Hippo » Thu Feb 10, 2011 1:59 am UTC

Capt. Obvious wrote:Yes. I was blurring various levels of causes. An armed conflict to between several states and the federal government to establish the supremacy of the federal government was inevitable. An armed conflict to resolve the issue of slavery was not.
This was never an armed conflict to resolve the issue of slavery; not for the majority of the North. Beyond the Emancipation Proclamation, Lincoln did not make this about slaves. In his own words:
    Lincoln wrote:If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union.
I also disagree strongly that if Lincoln was absent from the picture, the war would somehow not have had slavery as a cause or central issue. The source of all this tension we're talking about was a result of the institution of slavery itself.
Capt. Obvious wrote:Of course not. Sumner talked shit about Brooks's mama. Well, not his mama, I'm not sure of the relationship (father-in-law?). But it was a personal insult, and Brooks had dueled people over those before. Apparently his friend convinced him that Sumner wasn't even worth dueling; the same friend who held used a gun to ensure no interference in the beating.
The friend you're speaking of--Laurence M. Keitt, a South Carolina senator--was also a staunch supporter of slavery:
    Laurence M. Keitt wrote:The anti-slavery party contends that slavery is wrong in itself, and the Government is a consolidated national democracy. We of the South contend that slavery is right, and that this is a confederate Republic of sovereign States.
The speech which Sumner gave involved a great number of insults, but what lit the fire under Senator Prescott and Senator Keitt's asses was the demonification of the institution of slavery, and by consequence, the demonification of the South. Which is why so many Southern slave-owners and supporters of slavery rallied so quickly behind them. You don't see this?
Capt. Obvious wrote:A couple of easy options: The advent of WWI, with the federal government wanting to get involved on the British side and various Northern and Midwestern states favoring neutrality or even the Germans. TR busting trust and taking land for the federal government. Almost certainly women's suffrage was controversial.


But I hold it would have been the *currently unpopular* giant federal power debacle: Prohibition.
I ask you for an alternative reason for the war between the South and the North given the absence of slavery, and you give me things that happened over fifty years after the Civil War?

Can you actually give me an issue that, y'know, was probably going on while the major players were alive?
Capt. Obvious wrote:Secession was directly triggered by Lincoln's election and his insistence slavery be wiped out, and his planned expansion of unconstitutional anti-slavery measures (and constitutional anti-South but unrelated-to-slavery measures designed to put pressure on those states).
Emphasis mine. Citation seriously needed.

Lincoln was actually a moderate; he favored preventing the expansion of slavery into additional states of the Union and offering monetary incentives to slave-holders to support the slow dismantling of slavery. He never favored removing slavery where it already existed via use of federal powers (not, at least, politically; there are strong implications that he opposed slavery morally). He thought that removing slavery from states where it already existed was unconstitutional. Hell, he even once defended a slave-holder in court after the guy's slaves managed to escape during a trip to Illinois (Matson vs Rutherford).
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Re: Origins of the American Civil War

Postby Yakk » Thu Feb 10, 2011 2:41 am UTC

Lincoln wanted to outlaw slavery in Federal territories that where not yet states. The slave-state loaded US supreme court had ruled any restriction of slavery as unconstitutional. I think they even ruled that no black person could be a citizen of the US while they where at it.
On March 6, 1857, Chief Justice Roger B. Taney delivered the majority opinion. Taney ruled that:

* Any person descended from Africans, whether slave or free, is not a citizen of the United States, according to the Constitution.

Strict constructionist ho!
# The Ordinance of 1787 could not confer either freedom or citizenship within the Northwest Territory to non-white individuals.

More strict constructionist rulings!
The provisions of the Act of 1820, known as the Missouri Compromise, were voided as a legislative act, since the act exceeded the powers of Congress, insofar as it attempted to exclude slavery and impart freedom and citizenship to non-white persons in the northern part of the Louisiana Purchase.

Oh gosh, what a clear result that follows direction from the constitution's plain text.

Clearly making non-white people (such as free black citizens of northern states) citizens of the USA was something that Lincoln was in favor of. And by the Dred Scott decision, this was unconstitutional.

The slave states had engaged in successful practices limiting the rights of northern states and federal territories to be slave-free. The Lincolns anti-slave position was mainly aimed at allowing northern states to be slave-free, and federal territories to be slave-free.
One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision - BR

Last edited by JHVH on Fri Oct 23, 4004 BCE 6:17 pm, edited 6 times in total.
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Re: Origins of the American Civil War

Postby pizzazz » Thu Feb 10, 2011 5:32 am UTC

I'm just going to address everyone at once, rather than repeat myself quoting everyone. My point is not that slavery didn't cause the civil war. My point is that the civil war had several causes, one of which was the fact that Northerners wanted the union to stay whole (a fact that weighed heavily in Congress for the 50 years prior to 1860 in addition to the decision to go to war).
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Re: Origins of the American Civil War

Postby The Great Hippo » Thu Feb 10, 2011 6:36 am UTC

pizzazz wrote:I'm just going to address everyone at once, rather than repeat myself quoting everyone. My point is not that slavery didn't cause the civil war. My point is that the civil war had several causes, one of which was the fact that Northerners wanted the union to stay whole (a fact that weighed heavily in Congress for the 50 years prior to 1860 in addition to the decision to go to war).
Well, sure. That's true. It's not like sensible historians ignore this, or argue otherwise; yes, the Civil War wouldn't have happened if the North had zero interest in reuniting the Union.

But to gratuitously quote myself, here's the point of contention I think we keep returning to:
The Great Hippo wrote:Kind of like how nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution, nothing in the Civil War makes sense except in the light of slavery.
Do you disagree with this statement? If not, we're basically just quibbling over irrelevant layers of causality.
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