Skip to comments.The Great Civil War Lie
Posted on 06/11/2013 4:48:08 AM PDT by iowamark
Civil War buffs have long speculated about how different the war might have been if only the Confederacy had won formal recognition from Britain. But few recognize how close that came to happening and how much pro-Southern sympathy in Britain was built on a lie...
Early British support for the South was further buttressed by something as mundane as a protective tariff the Morrill Tariff approved by Congress on March 2, 1861. This new tariff, passed to protect American infant industries, also unwittingly gave rise to a troublesome myth of mounting trans-Atlantic proportions.
The tariff had been opposed by many Southern legislators, which is why it passed so easily once their states seceded. But this coincidence of timing fed a mistaken inversion of causation among the sympathetic British public secession allowed the tariff to pass, but many in Britain thought that the tariff had come first, and so incensed the Southern states that they left the union.
Nor was this a simple misunderstanding. Pro-Southern business interests and journalists fed the myth that the war was over trade, not slavery the better to win over people who might be appalled at siding with slave owners against the forces of abolition...
Why was England so susceptible to this fiction? For one thing, the Union did not immediately declare itself on a crusade for abolition at the wars outset. Instead, Northern politicians cited vague notions of union which could easily sound like an effort to put a noble gloss on a crass commercial dispute.
(Excerpt) Read more at opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com ...
Heavy spin. Thos gullible, unsophistated yahoos over there in the British Empire were easily fooled by the sneaky Americans.
There was a significant economic component to the WBTS in addition to slavery (and slavery was wrapped up in the economics as well). Lincoln—a man who was not exactly as enlightened in his opinions about blacks as his hagiographers have made him out to be—was very shrewd in issuing the Emancipation Proclamation and pushing the issue of slavery back to the forefront. Abe wasn’t the secular saint he’s been turned into since 1865, but he was a very smart man and a very sharp politician, whatever else those of us down here in Dixie may think about him.
Abolition was an economic sanction. Take the tractors from the farms. Note that the Emancipation Proclamation (1863) not only came years later, but only addressed the issue in the South, which had already seceded.
Hardly the way to treat any alleged primary reason for war.
NYT is spinning the Civil War 150 years after the fact.
More mud from the liberal pig pen.
The initial reaction in the United States was to rally against Britain, threatening war; but President Abraham Lincoln and his top advisors did not want to risk war. In the Confederate States, the hope was that the incident would lead to a permanent rupture in Anglo-American relations and even diplomatic recognition by Britain of the Confederacy. Confederates realized their independence potentially depended on a war between Britain and the U.S. In Britain, the public expressed outrage at this violation of neutral rights and insult to their national honor. The British government demanded an apology and the release of the prisoners while it took steps to strengthen its military forces in Canada and the Atlantic.
After several weeks of tension and loose talk of war, the crisis was resolved when the Lincoln administration released the envoys and disavowed Captain Wilkes's actions. No formal apology was issued. Mason and Slidell resumed their voyage to Britain but failed in their goal of achieving diplomatic recognition.
I’ve often wondered if europe did not have a vested interest in the US breaking up in general. For obvious reasons.
Harry Turtledove writes some interesting “alternate history” books about this period where the south does win autonomy. Interestingly, it results in a lot of border skirmishes as the two countries move west. Also, as the French and British become allies of the south, the Germans become allies of the north. This leads to an American front in WWI.
Basically, Turtledove makes the argument, over and over in his books, that larger countries result in less wars.
South Carolina before the war between the states was paying a significant part of the federal budget, far more than say Massachusettes, in excise taxes. This caused those in South Carolina to begin a secession movement as early as 1835 in its legislature. This was not a slavery issue, rather, the northern states getting a free ride on the back of the southern coastal states to which they dictated tax policy. The south was not industrialized and was never going to be due at the time to power and raw materials issues. Lastly, Britain long earlier, circa 1810, had outlawed the slave trade and slavery in 1833 so they had little vested interest in supporting a slave based economy, their interest in supporting the south had to do with regaining control of the industrializing US. Any view of history beyond that is revisionist at best IMO.
Comedy. I am sure the NYT would agree with that poppycock.
In the Napoleonic Wars and the War of 1812 the imports and tariff taxes in the United States plummeted and the Congress in 1812 brought back the excise tax on whiskey to partially compensate for the loss of customs/tariff revenue. Within a few years customs duties brought in enough federal income to again abolish nearly all federal taxes except tariffs. When the United States public debt was finally paid off in 1834 President Andrew Jackson zeroed out the excise taxes and reduced the customs duties (tariffs) in half.
Excise taxes stayed essentially zero till the American Civil War brought a need for much more federal revenue.
The NYT, stirring the chaldron of liberal swill.
It would not have made a bit of difference.
Very satisfying indeed.....proud to be among ya.
The Confederate “ambassador” to the Court of St. James’s never even met formally with the Prime Minister or the Foreign Secretary. He later gave up in disgust and returned to Richmond, as did the legate to the French court. While the latter had been received more cordially, a dreaded alliance between the French and the Confederacy never emerged.
1. The U.S. had fought two major wars with the British, the only two major wars we had fought. The Mexican-American War not being a threat to our survival. Thus, the British considered us, and we considered them, to be high on the list of potential enemies.
2. We were an economic and naval challenger to Britain. Intelligent leaders in Britain would have realized that by 1860, we were actually eclipsing them, and becoming the most powerful nation on Earth.
3. There were still territorial issues between the UK and the US. Although not mainly resolved by 1860, they were still fresh in everyone’s minds.
The normal inclination would have been to promote the weakening of the United States by encouraging civil war. This is what they did.
The involvement of the Royal Navy would have been helpful for the South, but British troops on U.S. soil would have had a galvanizing effect in the North (and negative effect in the South) far more detrimental to the South's cause than any military benefit from their participation.
The British public was very antislavery, which would have created problems for them at home.
That said, no one should discount the effect of commerce and trade. Britain needed raw cotton for its mills and the South had it. This made it well worth encouraging the South to maintain those relationships, but apparently not a strong enough motive to send warships to break through the naval blockade.
“The Great Civil War Lie “
The title is complete!
The truth is and has always been obvious for all those capable of understanding.
Correct, my error, I was referring to tariffs.
Comedy. I am sure the NYT would agree with that poppycock.
I only read two and a half of the books and got tired of feeling like I was being strung along. His book, “Guns of the South” is, in my opinion, his best alternate history book. A bunch of german racists from South Africa in 2035 go back in time to just after Gettysburg and supply Lee with 100,000 AK 47’s and the training needed. His knowledge of Civil War history really enhances the story. I highly recommend it.
We’ve never had a civil war in this country.
We’ve had two wars for independence from a centralized governing authority.
One win, one loss.
He takes the series into World War II with the Confederacy being run by a Hitler-like individual named Jake Featherstone and the South something akin to Nazi Germany, complete with gas chambers for the black population. I think that Turtledove goes a bit off the deep end with that kind of alternate history. It was interesting to see a young Jimmy Carter killed off by black resistance fighters though.
And just think . . . today’s Neo-Confederates are protectionists (and pacifists).
“The tariff had been opposed by many Southern legislators, which is why it passed so easily once their states seceded. “
Either they did or they didn’t. If they did then Lincoln committed acts of war against a sovereign nation. That statement, alone, says someone is acknowledging that the southern States did secede and votes were held in the US congress with such acknowledgment.
Lotta things go by phony names...that Con-Con, for instance, was a coup d’etat, to overthrow our first constitution, the AOC....and things like that never really ended...
It's hard to view it as a coup d'etat when all the states voted for the legislation that authorized it in the first place.
If that were true, then didn't the Confederacy commit the first act of war by firing on Sumter?
Yeah. I had most of the “great war” series in hard back and was building up a collection of all his stuff when I got halfway through the alien invasion during WWII series and realized I simply was not enjoying the books and I was offended about being strung along.
I sold them ALL at a used book store. It’s the one in Black Diamond next to the restaurant. One of our favorites. I still have a $7 credit there but, being in Kentucky now, I don’t expect to use it much...
But Guns of the South IS a really good read. Lots of interesting action, facts and twists.
“then didn’t the Confederacy commit the first act of war by firing on Sumter?”
Not when the US government was fortifying the fort in preparations to fire on the South. Not to mention that wasn’t the only thing going on at the time. I know your knowledge of the period is extremely limited and those other events are beyond your scope of reasoning. That is obvious since all you ever bring up is Sumter.
The Troy landed gentry were Pro-Southern since they viewed the Southern landed “aristocracy” as their kin. Just as the South had their battles against the Industrial North the Tories were fighting the middle/commercial classes represented by the Liberal coalition.
One of the reasons the British did not try to break the Union blockade was because the British wanted to have the option of using blockade if they were involved in a war.
not so hard when ya consider that “we the people” bs was only the signers to the preamble to our present constitution...many of the delegates to the con-con wouldn’t hold still for what was going on in old phils and went home...we the people were the remainder of the delgates/signers.
see edrivera.com a disbarred lawyer and constitutional scholar teaching “wee the folks” online now...
then several..no, many more libertarian (small l)writers...but most pc folks won’t listen to them...everyone has their own level of pc, of course...
Just Plain Dick
You make some great points, but as in all things historical, there are many complications. The tax (mostly via tariffs) problem was of course rooted in the constitutional compromise that allowed slavery and counted slaves at 3/5 their numbers for apportionment of both taxes and representation. Without this SC would not have enterred the union in the first place, and the South would not have enjoyed a near lock on the early Presidencies. Not hard to understand SC’s dissatisfaction when northerners began to press for abolition almost immediately after ratification, and the tariff rates continued to rise, protecting northern industrialists at southern expense, bleeding the south of hard money (leaving its capital bound up in land and slaves, discouraging industrial investment, and inceasing dependency on Northern finance).
Britain did have a major vested interest and role in the expansion of slavery in the US, through creating a market for cotton, the milling of which was a prime element driving Britain’s industrial revolution. SC’s dedication to expanding slavery into the West was driven to a great extent by slaveholders’ desire to relocate or sell their large surplus of slaves into areas with soils not yet exhausted by tobacco and cotton. Such export became profitable because of British demand for cotton. British interest in the Southern cause diminished due to an economic downturn, a large backstock of cotton, and alternative sourcing, right at the time the Confederacy was seeking support.
With a strong basis in the sovereignty of states, the South discovered that a Confederacy, i.e., confederated sovereign states, are at their least efficient in fighting a national war. The strong Federal Union was ironically made stronger by the Confederate defection, starting a trend away from states' rights and toward an ever more powerful central government.
When the main stated reason for the War quickly switched from "Preserving the Union," to "Freeing the Slaves," the issue of states' rights got lost along the way. Unanswered: Does a sovereign state have the right to leave the Union?
The north went to war to defend the union and ended up saving the slaves. The south went to war to save slavery and ended up losing everything.
Your logic does not hold.
The north went to war to secure a tier of states it could continue to treat as a second-class source of raw materials for its own mill industry. Threats to end slavery were threats of economic sanctions. Tariffs were designed to force trade with the North and hamper industrialization in the South to preserve the status quo. The cause was economic in nature.
False altruism might make for nice fairy tales, but it was all about the money.
Slavery was the primary reason for the slave power to pretend to secession.
Union was the primary reason for the US to oppose secession.
At the end of the war, slavery was dead. The slave power lost. Anyone sad about that?
Sumter was a US fort, had been fortified by the US, and was built using southern labor with stone from NY and MA on a shoal. It was never part of SC land.
Pretending that ‘they was gonna hit me first’ didn’t work in 4th grade, and it doesn’t work now.
The insurrection wanted a war to get Virginia, the largest slave state, to join the insurrection. That part of the southern insurrection strategy worked.
The ‘winning the war that they started’ part: not so much.
But the ramifications of that loss extended far beyond the end of slavery and we will see those issues again. Our Federal Government was supposed to be a Federal Government (very limited in power) while the State Governments were supposed to have more power. Instead, we now have a National Government, and the States have been stripped of much of their power. That is regrettable, as the National Government imposes one-size-fits-all standards where one size doesn't fit, while the states have become rubber stamps for the National Government.
Slavery depended on new land, because slaves had to be kept ignorant to remain slaves. Old farms became unprofitable except as a place to breed slaves. Example: Arlington Va.
Closing the territories to slavery would have killed slavery, by reducing demand for slaves, dropping the price.
The south started the war, and attempted to invade the territories, to the extent they could. They had tried to start the war in Kansas, in an attempt to corruptly install a slave constitution. They were stopped. They started the war at Ft. Sumter to induce Virginia to join their insurrection.
Then lets work together to reduce federal power to the limits appropriate to it.
Perhaps begin by shutting down the departments of Education, Labor, and Agriculture, all fields well known to the founders, and all fields where congress has no enumerated powers.
Actually the logic is self-evident.
Lincoln said that although he would resist the expansion of slavery into the territories he understood that (irrespective of his feelings regarding the institution) slavery was sanctioned by the constitution. His stated intention was to maintain the union as it was.
The notion that anyone sought to “secure a tier of states” is utter nonsense. The idea that the souths’ failure to industrialize was founded in anything other than sloth is ludicrous. “The cause was economic in nature.” Yes - the economics of slave labor.
Excise was minimal.
The South's failure to diversify was its own fault.
But they weren't. They were simply manning their post.
Not to mention that wasnt the only thing going on at the time. I know your knowledge of the period is extremely limited and those other events are beyond your scope of reasoning.
Well then by all means please educate this poor, unworthy Yankee and tell me what else was going on?
As I admitted, I meant to say tariffs, not excise taxes as someone also noted.
As far as being “anachronistic”, I stand by my assertion, the war was over money much more than slavery. In fact, there would probably have been no shooting had the union simply let the states go or sought redress through the courts rather than pushing them into a shooting war by enforcing the tariff collections. It was only after 7 states seceeded that Lincoln called up an army (illegally) without congressional support which forced 4 more states to leave too.
Winners write the history books.
That concept died long before Lincoln. Virtually every president from Washington to Jefferson and Jackson on through Polk consolidated power. Washington sent troops into Pennsylvania to suppress rebellion. Jefferson doubled the size of the country. Jackson told South Carolina, "If one drop of blood is shed in opposition to the law, I will hang the first man I can lay my hands on from the first tree I can find." Polk started a war with Texas and almost started one with the UK. Lincoln didn't expand the power and scope of the federal government any more than many of his predecessors had.
That is regrettable, as the National Government imposes one-size-fits-all standards where one size doesn't fit, while the states have become rubber stamps for the National Government.
The blame for that lies more with the Roosevelts, Wilson, LBJ, and his successors than with Abraham Lincoln.
Losers write excuses explaining why they started their war and why they subsequently lost it.
If it were not for the southern colonies during the Revolution, there would have been no United States.
It was a shooting war because Confederates shot at a federal fort and then followed up by invading Kentucky.
I did not say there was violence about the collection of tariffs, just that the union fortified all important port entries like to Charleston which was a major financial provider.
No argument, the south fired first, in april, after providing orders to leave. In actually, the first shots were fired in January at a supply ship trying to supply the fort.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.