The Civil War wasn't about slavery

Discussion in 'History Forum' started by JGrubbs, Jan 11, 2006.

  1. JGrubbs

    JGrubbs
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    THE PROBLEMS THAT LED TO THE CIVIL WAR are the same problems today ---- big, intrusive government. The reason we don't face the specter of another Civil War is because today's Americans don't have yesteryear's spirit of liberty and constitutional respect, and political statesmanship is in short supply.

    Actually, the war of 1861 was not a civil war. A civil war is a conflict between two or more factions trying to take over a government. In 1861, Confederate President Jefferson Davis was no more interested in taking over Washington than George Washington was interested in taking over England in 1776. Like Washington, Davis was seeking independence. Therefore, the war of 1861 should be called "The War Between the States" or the "War for Southern Independence." The more bitter southerner might call it the "War of Northern Aggression."

    History books have misled today's Americans to believe the war was fought to free slaves.

    Statements from the time suggest otherwise. In President Lincoln's first inaugural address, he said, "I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the states where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so."

    During the war, in an 1862 letter to the New York Daily Tribune editor Horace Greeley, Lincoln said, "My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and it is not either to save or destroy slavery." A recent article by Baltimore's Loyola College Professor Thomas DiLorenzo titled "The Great Centralizer," in The Independent Review (Fall 1998), cites quotation after quotation of similar northern sentiment about slavery.

    Lincoln's intentions, as well as that of many northern politicians, were summarized by Stephen Douglas during the presidential debates. Douglas accused Lincoln of wanting to "impose on the nation a uniformity of local laws and institutions and a moral homogeneity dictated by the central government" that "place at defiance the intentions of the republic's founders." Douglas was right, and Lincoln's vision for our nation has now been accomplished beyond anything he could have possibly dreamed.

    A precursor for a War Between the States came in 1832, when South Carolina called a convention to nullify tariff acts of 1828 and 1832, referred to as the "Tariffs of Abominations." A compromise lowering the tariff was reached, averting secession and possibly war. The North favored protective tariffs for their manufacturing industry. The South, which exported agricultural products to and imported manufactured goods from Europe, favored free trade and was hurt by the tariffs. Plus, a northern-dominated Congress enacted laws similar to Britain's Navigation Acts to protect northern shipping interests.

    Shortly after Lincoln's election, Congress passed the highly protectionist Morrill tariffs.

    That's when the South seceded, setting up a new government. Their constitution was nearly identical to the U.S. Constitution except that it outlawed protectionist tariffs, business handouts and mandated a two-thirds majority vote for all spending measures.

    The only good coming from the War Between the States was the abolition of slavery. The great principle enunciated in the Declaration of Independence that "Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed" was overturned by force of arms. By destroying the states' right to secession, Abraham Lincoln opened the door to the kind of unconstrained, despotic, arrogant government we have today, something the framers of the Constitution could not have possibly imagined.

    States should again challenge Washington's unconstitutional acts through nullification. But you tell me where we can find leaders with the love, courage and respect for our Constitution like Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and John C. Calhoun.

    Source: Walter Williams
     
  2. Major B

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    The problem with the Williams piece you quote, and with your basic assertion is this: there was no one single reason for the conflict between the states, and there was no one single cause for the war. There was also no one single motivation for the men who enlisted to fight in the Union and Confederate armies. There was, however, one overriding issue, without which there would have been no war: slavery.

    There were many issues: tariffs, states' rights, the fleshing out of the spoils of manifest destiny in the West and Southwest, whether the nation would be agrarian or industrial, and so one, but there was one overriding reason: slavery.

    Slavery was the issue undergirding the nullification controversy.

    Slavery is what drove the bitter statehood fights, such as bloody Kansas.

    Political opposition to slavery coalesced in the formation of the Republican Party.

    Opposition to slavery was NOT the motivation for many union soldiers, but it was the motivation for many more, my Great Grandfather among them. A Virginian by birth, a Kentucky farmer and surveyor by choice, he was religiously opposed to slavery, and slavery was the motivation for many like him.

    There was great opposition to the fugitive slave law, which was widespread in the North, and which fed radical abolitionist feelings.

    The Dred Scott Decision (like Roe V. Wade) tended to polarize the two main sides in the slavery debate.

    Uncle Tom's Cabin, by Harriet Beecher Stowe, whether one agrees with its depiction of southern slave life or not, inflamed passions on both sides of the Atlantic. Upon meeting Stowe during the war, Lincoln said, "So, this is the little lady who wrote the book that started this great big war." I believe it is demonstrable that the propaganda message of "Cabin" was a strong influence on European governments to stay out of the conflict.

    There was a violent and gross overreaction of the Cotton States by seceding upon the ascension of Lincoln. Lincoln was a minority president in control of neither house of Congress, and probably could not have achieved any of his anti-slavery aims, even the mildest ones.

    There was a gross overreaction by Lincoln to the attack on Fort Sumter, which pushed four more states into seceding.

    I could go on and on, but it is simplistic and wrong to say "The Civil War wasn't about slavery," as much as it would be to say that "The Civil War Was ONLY about slavery."

    Having said the above, however, without the emotional, overriding, single issue of slavery, there is no way that the other issues would have resulted in Civil War. If the South and North had put together a gradual emancipation compromise of some kind in 1852 (for instance, buying the liberty of the slaves, which would have amounted to a mere fraction of the war's cost), there would have been no war. That eventuality was unthinkable--because the radical leaders of the South had no intention of giving up their economic stranglehold on the Blacks, free and slave, and on the white yeoman farmers and wage earners. The greatest economic oppression was not North to South, but it was the oppression of the South by the South's elite.
     
  3. JGrubbs

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    We will have to agree to disagree, I believe the War would have been fought, even if slavery were not an issue, the majority in the South didn't own slaves, and many in the North did! Lincoln was a dictator who ignored the US Constitution to invade the Southern states, he eventually used the issue of slavery as a way to "justify" this invasion.

    Here is a great eBook titled "What They Didn’t Teach You About the Civil War"

    http://www.daveblackonline.com/civilwarbook.PDF
     
  4. Major B

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    I do a little New Testament Greek, while this professor does a little history. Greek is his business, History is mine. I bow to his understanding of Koine, but his article, which has ONLY one viewpoint of source, is, as historical analysis, unbalanced. Again, to say that slavery had nothing to do with the causes of the Civil War is simplistic at best. Lincoln was shrewd, and the southern politicians were dull-witted on this matter.

    Everything this professor says about Lincoln, etc., is true, but it is only part of the truth, and a partial truth masquerading as a complete truth is an untruth.

    38% of the Southern population were slaves, and a bit more than 1% were free blacks, a few of which owned other blacks. Around 36% of the Southern population (the majority of the white population) were slave owners, though most were yeoman farmers living on the brink of economic oblivion, who owned a small number of slaves. Approximately 1700 wealthy families owned the largest portion of the slaves, and they controlled the Southern economy for their own benefit, much as the northern industrial interests exercised economic control over the North for their own benefit. Rich people ALWAYS exercise economic control for their own benefit. The only economic system worse than that is where ignorant bureaucrats and apparatchiks exercise economic control for obscure political and social ends.

    There were a few slave owners in the North (mainly the border states), constituting around 1.5% of the white population. Most owned only a few slaves. Lincoln was careful not to meddle with the border states slaves and owners, because he did not want to lose their support. The border states, if added to the South, would have given the South a big boost, in horses, men, and industry.

    There were certainly a relatively small number of southern blacks who fought for the confederacy. There were tens of thousands who fought for the Union.

    There are certainly a lot of misunderstandings about the war, but this article fights distortion with distortion.

    It appears romantic, the southern cause, but it was lost from the beginning. As Shelby Foote (certainly no Yankee) said, the North fought the whole war with one hand tied behind its back. As the fictional character Rhett Butler said, the South had only slaves and arrogance to fight with, and too much of both.

    The South's arrogance and bellicosity led to the South losing 60% of its wealth. Arguably, some parts of the South (LA, ARK, and MS) have never fully recovered from the desvastation.
     
  5. Brother James

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    Check out the thread on the Hampton Roads peace conference. It deals with this issue.
     
  6. Gunther

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    Grubby, which document is the law of the land?

    If you can correctly answer that one, try telling me if it is a federal document or not.

    Then, tell me if the states must bow to the document.

    [Totally unnecessary comments deleted.]

    [ January 17, 2006, 07:45 AM: Message edited by: Phillip ]
     
  7. JGrubbs

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    Gunther,

    I don't think I have had the pleasure of meeting you before. Are you calling me stupid??

    When you ask "which document is the law of the land?", are you referring to the US Constitution?

    Do you actually have any valid input into the discussion or are you simply asking questions and launching personal attacks?
     
  8. Vikingas

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    More facts:

    at this time in Lithuania - Poland started 1861 uprising for independence from Russia.
    Russia lost its Crimean war (1854-56) paying some 'contributions' for UK, France, and Turkey. Russian was on the edge of bankruptcy ... and then N. Americans come to help by buying Alaska from Russia (7.5 bil. $) and sailing treaty (including military support). 6 or more Russian ships come to help to fight south....
    Why? Because South was supported by UK and FR... . Some European interest....
    It's piece of forgotten history.
    I published analysis of 1862-64 uprising in Lithuania-Poland, sadly, in Lithuanian l. Here:
    http://www.lietuvos.net/istorija/1863/

    p.s. so Americans are indebted for Lithuanians and polish people for having Alaska ;) And 100% all wars about business, maybe just 2-5% of all wars where about Human Rights.
     
  9. Major B

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    No european nations officially supported the South. UK and France would have like to, but many of their people were influenced against slavery by "Uncle Tom's Cabin," a very influential piece of propaganda, and after the South lost the battles of Antietam and Gettysburg, they did not want to back a loser.

    We did not buy Alaska until 1867, two years after the war.

    We did not spend 7.5 Billion dollars, but 7.2 MILLION dollars.

    If any Russian ships took place in the blockade they were superfluous, as the Union Navy had plenty. I would love to see documentation of that for curiousity's sake, however.
     
  10. Vikingas

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  11. Vikingas

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  12. Vikingas

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    but 7.2 MILLION dollar - agree, sorry for my EN.
     
  13. larry9179

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    I'm a Civil War buff and I agree with the claim that the Civil War was not fought over slavery but over states rights. Slaves were owned only by wealthy whites. Most Southerners did not own and did not fight to protect wealthy white's rights to own slaves. They fought for the same reason that Robert E. Lee fought for Virginia - for their homes. The notion that another state or a federal government could come onto their soil and tax, confiscate and destroy their livelihood brought old and young to the Confederate army.

    Slavery was on its way out. England had been encouraging the United States to end slavery ever since England gave up their slaves. The difference is that what took over a thousand years in Europe took only about a hundred in the U.S.

    Slavery was an issue in the War because it was political in nature, not because it was vital to the South's ability to function. It's the same as saying the war in Iraq is over oil rather than over terrorism. If you don't like the administration, you claim it's over oil, conveniently forgetting the attacks on 9/11. After only a hundred years as free colonies, most states had issues with a federal government that would be able to over-rule the will of the states and its citizens. There was a lot of disagreement about how much representation Southern states could expect with the majority of the population living in the northern half of the country.

    Blacks who were freed by Lincoln found that they were worse off on their own because the federal government gave them nothing. Lincoln himself said that he would leave slavery intact if it would keep the country united. The hearts of people, especially a defeated people were turned against blacks. It might have taken longer had the abolition came out of cultural enlightenment, but a lot of the hatred and racism we know today may have been lessened had people's hearts been changed before they were forced.

    God did not create mankind to rule over other mankind. The sin of thousands of years of slavery is as much against God as it is against the victims. There's no denying America's past treatment of African-Americans. But it's the black leadership today that are enslaving blacks by reminding them of past wrongs and giving them a victim mentality. As long as people see themselves as victims they empower others and limit themselves. The past can't be changed, and need not be forgotten, but it must be let go of if one is to realize their potential and purpose in life. Alan Keyes, J.C. Watts, Colin Powell, Condoleeza Rice, Booker T. Washington, George Washington Carver and many others have grown from adversity while the majority of America's blacks have succumbed to hopelessness and bitterness because leaders like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton want to keep them in the past. Fortunately there is a growing number of black conservatives who are shrugging off the hatred and excuses and are making their own way. As Morgan Freeman said recently - "...there is no ''White history month,'' and says the only way to get rid of racism is to ''stop talking about it.'' The actor says he believes the labels ''black'' and ''white'' are an obstacle to beating racism.
    ''I am going to stop calling you a White man and I'm going to ask you to stop calling me a Black man,'' Freeman says.

    Amen.
     
  14. superdave

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    Like today, politicians were too stupid to understand various points of view, and were battling over the same issues that had been fought since the start of the constitutional convention. Whether there would be protections for individual and states rights, whether we would be a collection of strong states (as our name implies) or a strong federalized government. The constitution and the bill of rights were designed to prohibit government, both state and federal from having certain powers that were determined to be at odds with the ideals that our founders developed.

    Just as there was no one reason the colonies chose to throw off the oppression of the English Monarchy, there was not one issue that lit the fires of secession in the south, and the cries of preserving the union in the north. Slavery was a convenient moral high ground that Lincoln exploited mercilessly, but it wasn't the issue until he issue the Emancipation proclaimation. Before that the war was about (in the North) preserving the union. the South didn't want to preserve slavery per se, they wanted to preserve the right to practice it if they so chose, without the interference of other states or the federal government. The difference while narrow, is significant.
     
  15. Johnv

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    If that's true, then why did Jefferson Davis say that if an abolitionist president were elected, that he would call for secession? Also of note is that most of the states that seceded did so relatively soon after Lincoln was elected.

    While it's true that the Civil War wasn't solely about slavery, it's revisionist history to say it wasn't about slavery.
     
  16. Major B

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    An amusing story about Russia and the US is the story of Cassius Clay--not the 20th century boxer also known as Muhammed Ali, but the original, (VERY original) Kentucky statesman by that name.

    http://www.ket.org/trips/whitehall/clay_3.htm

    What the short biography above does not show is that Clay's second recall as ambassador to Russia (1863-69) took place because he had killed several Russian noblemen in duels, and "they were running out of foolish princes."

    Clay, a frontiersman and knife fighter from of old, was sly and cunning--if he had a difference with a Russian nobleman, he would trick the russian into challenging him to a duel, then Clay would have the right to choose the type of weapon for both to use, and he always picked Bowie knives instead of sabers or foils. Naturally, the noblemen had no clue about how to fight with the frontier knife.

    Clay was also a strict opponent of slavery.
     
  17. larry9179

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    Read some of the letters written by the soldiers who fought for the South in the war and you'll see what they were fighting for - the right to govern themselves. Slavery was a political angle; just like liberals using oil as the excuse we're in Iraq. It had nothing to do with terrorist bombings or continual shooting by Iraqis at our planes after the first Gulf War.

    History is someone's opinion of what happened, and sometimes those opinions bear little semblance to what really happened.
     
  18. RockRambler

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    Talking about the Civil War without taking into account the part that slavery played in leading up to it; that's like saying that Rock Hudson died of pneumonia without mentioning he suffered from the AIDS virus.
     
  19. JGrubbs

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    I don't think anyone denies that slavery was an issue in the War Between the States, but to say that it was the only issue the South wanted to leave the Union is simply wrong. The South would have left the Union had slavery not been an issue, and Lincoln still would have ignored the Constitution and invaded the South.

    Yes slavery was an issue, but the majority in the South didn't own slaves, and many like Jackson and Lee were opposed to the institution of slavery, but still fought for the South.
     
  20. RockRambler

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    That sentiment JGrubbs I can agree with. I think if slavery had NEVER existed in this country, from the founding on, there would not have been Civil War. Once part of the nation was slave and another part non-slave, then I think it was inevitable that it would be the powder keg that sparked the debate over states rights.
     

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