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Why the South lost the Civil War
http://fredericksburg.com/ ^ | 10/15/2005 | NED HARRISON

Posted on 10/15/2005 8:38:50 AM PDT by teldon30

SOON AFTER THE end of the Civil War, as the Confederates streamed home after four bitter years of fighting, a Virginia soldier was heard to say, "They never whipped us, Sir, unless they were four to one. If we had anything like a fair chance, or less disparity of numbers, we should have won our Cause and established our independence."

That defiance, along with the question of why they "whipped us," have continued to this day. Two points stand out: The first is that the war lasted as long as it did, and the second is that the South lost.

That long-ago Virginia veteran expressed the feelings of the entire South: With as many assets as the Confederacy possessed, how could the South possibly have lost?

Its advantages were enormous, starting with a gigantic and contiguous land mass that stretched east to west from the Atlantic to the far reaches of Texas; and south to north from the Gulf of Mexico up to the Ohio River. It was all Confederate, the whole 750,000 square miles of it, a land brimming with natural resources.

The South controlled mile after mile of seacoast, perfect as a source of food; as well as dozens of harbors and coves and inlets and bays and riverbanks, ideal for smuggling and evading the Union blockade they knew was coming. The South also had a dedicated and devoted population that believed passionately in the righteousness of their Cause.

They knew they were facing huge odds--but they looked to their own ancestors, their own fathers and grandfathers, who had fought the British, the mightiest power in the world at the time, and had won their freedom. Why not a second time against a similar oppressor? They even thought they could fight the same war--they could fight defensively, as had the Colonists, knowing that the Union, as the British, would have to invade and occupy, and then destroy their will to resist in order to claim victory.

It didn't work out that way--and over the next several columns, we are going to talk about the reasons the South lost the Civil War. Of course, there is a corollary: If we try to find out why the South lost, we can also learn why the North won.

Truth be told, experts seldom agree on a single reason; they generally list about six overall concepts.

1. The fundamental economic superiority of the North.

2. A basic lack of strategy in the way the South fought the war.

3. The inept Southern performance in foreign affairs.

4. The South did not have a dominating civilian leader.

5. The Confederate Constitution put too much emphasis on individual and states rights and did not stress the responsibilities of the individual or the state to the federal government.

6. Abraham Lincoln.

I'll discuss each of these reasons in upcoming columns, but I am interested in what you think. If you have thoughts about why the South did not win its independence, please mail or e-mail your own reasons about why the South lost--or the North won. I'll print as many opinions as I can.

Confederate President Jefferson Davis and Gen. Robert E. Lee should have known how to fight a winning war of independence. Both were West Point graduates, and had studied how Gen. George Washington had won the Revolutionary War simply by not losing it. It was the best example of the strategy a weaker enemy is forced to use when he fights a larger, better-armed enemy with incomparably better resources, better finances and an ability to prolong a war indefinitely.

Gen. Washington's Rule No. 1: Husband your resources and avoid losing the war.

No. 2: Avoid head-to-head battles that use up your manpower, your most precious asset.

No. 3. Prolong the war.

No. 4. Hope that the enemy would grow heartily sick of the casualties in a war that never seems to end.

There were some other Gen. Washington rules:

No. 5. The Revolution would continue as long as he had the Continental Army, which was the only real power he had.

No. 6. Thus, do not risk the army except in the most dire emergency or when the odds are heavily in your favor.

No. 7. Do not risk the army to defend territory because it is the army that the British have to subdue, not geography.

No. 8. Remember that most of the fighting will be in your territory in geography you know best. Frustrate the British by raids, continual skirmishing, and capturing their supplies, always staying just beyond their ability to defeat you.

These were the rules for victory, and yet neither Davis nor Gen. Lee adopted this "fight-the-war-not-to-win-it-but-to-avoid-losing-it" strategy, even though they knew it was a tried and true road to independence.

Why? Their own ancestors had shown that it worked. In modern times, we have seen it work, too: In World War II, the Russians traded space for time until they could build up their own war-making capability and then go on the offensive.

In the Vietnam War, Ho Chi Minh used it all too well. That war lasted from 1954 to 1975. Ho understood that in order to win a war against more powerful enemies (France, the United States), you have to follow certain rules to lead more powerful enemies into giving up the struggle.

The Vietnam War was a conflict that for us seemed to have no end. Ho's delaying tactics eventually worked: America got sick of a never-ending war that appeared to produce nothing but casualties, and so we made peace with an enemy that had but a fraction of our power. We were the more powerful combatant, yet we gave up the struggle.

The Confederacy never even tried to follow Washington's precepts. Part of the reason is the nature of Southern men. It went counter to the Southern psyche, which was the "attack" strategy for winning any battle. The Confederacy's high command followed their West Point training of "charge" to defeat their enemy. They were convinced that "aggressive attack" was the best and really the only way to win a war.

Could the Washington precepts have worked in the Civil War? We will never know how it would have worked out, but it could not have turned out any worse for the Southern Cause.


TOPICS: Miscellaneous; US: Virginia
KEYWORDS: americanhistory; civilwar; dixie; southernvalor
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To: teldon30
SOON AFTER THE end of the Civil War, as the Confederates streamed home after four bitter years of fighting, a Virginia soldier was heard to say, "They never whipped us, Sir, unless they were four to one.

The first known example of the southron myth machine at work.

151 posted on 10/15/2005 11:08:43 AM PDT by Non-Sequitur
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To: teldon30

All good and accurate reasons why the south lost the war of Yankee Aggression.


152 posted on 10/15/2005 11:11:06 AM PDT by Leatherneck_MT (3-7-77 (No that's not a Date))
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To: aft_lizard; Dawgreg
To quote Webster:

Civil War: War between geographical sections or political factions of the same nation. {emphasis mine}

To call the conflict a civil war is to presuppose the outcome. The right of the southern States to secede and form the Confederacy was the central question being contended between the parties. Calling the War Between the States a "civil war" is done to hide the true causes of the war. Its just one of many ways modern elites poke southerners in the eye.

But I will admit that it is wisely, if unfortunately, written that the victors write the history.

153 posted on 10/15/2005 11:12:00 AM PDT by trek
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To: gobucks

Isn't her hearing scheduled to begin on Novemeber 7, 2005?

The democrats would like nothing more than to delay it in the hope that they win a senate majority. IF that happens, say hello to Alberto Gonzales because he'd be the best we could do.


Thanks for all of your information. An eye opener and like you said "sheesh, this was so obvious all along."


154 posted on 10/15/2005 11:12:17 AM PDT by onyx ((Vicksburg, MS) North is a direction. South is a way of life.)
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To: trek
You must be the product of a government school.
Slavery was not the cause of the war. Lincoln himself said as much.

Care to quote Lincoln? And can you tell me just which 'states rights' were being violated?

"My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. 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 shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause."
The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln edited by Roy P. Basler, Volume V, "Letter to Horace Greeley" (August 22, 1862), p. 388.

emphasis mine.

So? Emphasis or not, Lincolns words above do not support your theory that "Slavery was not the cause of the war." It merely says that, to Lincoln, preserving the union was paramount. He does not address the cause.

And I see you are unable to answer my other question.

You must be the product of a government school.

155 posted on 10/15/2005 11:12:56 AM PDT by faireturn
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To: Wolfstar

Thank you for that link and for your brilliant posts. I will pour over it while I eat my lunch.


156 posted on 10/15/2005 11:13:06 AM PDT by onyx ((Vicksburg, MS) North is a direction. South is a way of life.)
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To: RHS in Fairfield
IMHO: The South was correct on all points, except one. If the South would have freed the slaves before or during the war, they would have had plugged the leak that eventually sunk the cause.

If the south had freed their slaves before the war then there wouldn't have been a rebellion to begin with.

157 posted on 10/15/2005 11:13:58 AM PDT by Non-Sequitur
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To: gobucks

You're welcome. :-)


158 posted on 10/15/2005 11:14:40 AM PDT by Wolfstar (The reactionaries' favorite short list are all judges GWB appointed to the appellate bench.)
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To: cynicom; Dawgreg

http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1861/us-civil-war/


159 posted on 10/15/2005 11:15:13 AM PDT by SeriousSassy (I know manure when I step in it!)
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To: cynicom

"Karl Marx was an enthusiastic supporter of Lincoln, he even had spies serving in the Northern Army."

Please. Source?


160 posted on 10/15/2005 11:16:11 AM PDT by gobucks (http://oncampus.richmond.edu/academics/classics/students/Ribeiro/Laocoon.htm)
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To: Fee
That is progress for the North. In the first two years of the war, if Lee can get the Union army to start running, the conscript soldier usually kept running. Gettysburg (1863) was the first battle in the Eastern Theater that the Union soldiers ran, but stopped and rallied.

The problem with this theory is that conscription in the North didn't start until late summer of 1863, and was pretty much a failure. Only about 6% of the Union Army was made up of conscripts. By 1865, on the other hand, about a quarter of the confederate army were draftees.

161 posted on 10/15/2005 11:16:34 AM PDT by Non-Sequitur
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To: onyx

You're welcome. Speaking of lunch, it's nearly 11:30 here. Time for me to go get something productive done with this Saturday. ;-)


162 posted on 10/15/2005 11:17:02 AM PDT by Wolfstar (The reactionaries' favorite short list are all judges GWB appointed to the appellate bench.)
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To: Dr. Scarpetta
I've read that Lincoln was angry that Meade didn't pursue Lee and allowed him to get away from Gettysburg. As a result, we had two more years of war.

An accurate statement. But in fairness to Meade, I can't think of a single time where Lee pursued a defeated Union army either.

163 posted on 10/15/2005 11:21:25 AM PDT by Non-Sequitur
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To: tbpiper
Well, there were the bloody anti-draft riots in New York.

If you get a chance, read The Gangs of New York by Herbert Asbury. The major "anti-draft" riot in NYC was actually an excuse for the gangsters who ran the poor parts of town to attempt to take and ransack the whole city.

164 posted on 10/15/2005 11:21:58 AM PDT by Zeroisanumber
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To: trek
Tariffs that enriched Northern merchants at the expense of Southerners galvanized opposition to the Union much more than the right of rich plantation owners to hold slaves.

OK, so what was it that the south was importing in such massive quantities that the tariffs unfairly impacted them?

165 posted on 10/15/2005 11:22:40 AM PDT by Non-Sequitur
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To: tertiary01
Don't forget that the US treasury had received an infusion of that evil gold from the California Gold Rush, allowing purchase of foreign goods and services previously not available.

The California gold rush peaked 12 years before the beginning of the rebellion. They were called '49rs', remember?

166 posted on 10/15/2005 11:26:44 AM PDT by Non-Sequitur
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To: Texas Songwriter
Paul Johnson, in A History of the American People", affirms the fact that slavery was always a contentious issue from the time of the original colonies.
He also asserts that the south would have won the War of NOrthern Aggression had the gin and harvester been deveoped just a decade or two earlier, thus enabling the South to develope its economy to a greater extent.
With mechanization, the proslavery proponents would have not held tightly to he notion of 'chatel' slavery as it was the singular blot on American idealism.

Had the South had 20 years to developes its infrastructure and economy, there is little doubt that the south would have prevailed, according to Paul Johnson.

Had the South had 20 years to develop its infrastructure and economy, and started to abandon slavery, what reasons would there have been to rebel? --- According to Paul Johnson, what was the basis for the rebellion?

167 posted on 10/15/2005 11:29:02 AM PDT by faireturn
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To: trek
Its just one of many ways modern elites poke southerners in the eye.

Do you "Rebels" want an apology from the federal government and an "interpretative and contemplative" display at the Smithsonian done by revisionist, socialist, history professors to tell your side? Sure sounds like it.

168 posted on 10/15/2005 11:30:20 AM PDT by elbucko
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To: trek
Civil War: War between geographical sections or political factions of the same nation. {emphasis mine}

OK, how about a rebellion, which Merriam-Webster defines as "open, armed, and usually unsuccessful defiance of or resistance to an established government"? That more accurate?

169 posted on 10/15/2005 11:31:03 AM PDT by Non-Sequitur
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To: Morgan's Raider

I undersdtand that he did not scout the battle field as he often did, but relied on other pairs of eyes.


170 posted on 10/15/2005 11:34:20 AM PDT by RobbyS ( CHIRHO)
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To: TR Jeffersonian

wbts ping


171 posted on 10/15/2005 11:41:04 AM PDT by kalee
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To: freedumb2003

You are correct!


172 posted on 10/15/2005 11:41:57 AM PDT by Irish_Thatcherite (~~~A vote for Bertie Ahern is a vote for Gerry Adams!~~~)
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To: Morgan's Raider
I've read that General Lee was suffering from dysentery during the Battle of Gettysburg - not good in July heat. He was probably dehydrated )(which can manifest itself into heart problems).

Lee's health at Gettysburg was no better and no worse than it had been 8 weeks earlier at Chancellorsville.

173 posted on 10/15/2005 11:42:07 AM PDT by Non-Sequitur
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To: Gandalf_The_Gray

I'm more of a Lincoln man than a Davis man!


174 posted on 10/15/2005 11:43:00 AM PDT by Irish_Thatcherite (~~~A vote for Bertie Ahern is a vote for Gerry Adams!~~~)
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To: gobucks

If you do not want to be compared to Farrakhan, you should not think and act like him, which you are.

When you smear dozens of sincere principled conservatives as anti-southern evangelical bigots, you are acting like Farrakhan, who smeared whites as somehow scheming to flood New Orleans to kill black people. It would be bad enough for you to smear one person in this way, but you manage to smear every conservative with a principled concern about a candidate with no documented judicial philosophy.

Both your theory and Farrakhan's, involve hallucatinatory, slanderous allegations of bigotry. Both theories serve only to forment hatred.

What would you think if someone alleged that Bush nominated Mier's precisely because she was a southern Evanglical SMU grad like his wife? Discriminating in favor of these things? It's a mirror image of your argument, quite ugly isn't it? Hallucinating discrimination, and impugning the motives of others, is a terrible thing.


175 posted on 10/15/2005 11:44:05 AM PDT by Mount Athos
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To: gobucks

Numerous references in history...Just google marx lincoln and you will find lots of information.


176 posted on 10/15/2005 11:49:26 AM PDT by cynicom
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To: Fee
That is progress for the North. In the first two years of the war, if Lee can get the Union army to start running, the conscript soldier usually kept running. Gettysburg (1863) was the first battle in the Eastern Theater that the Union soldiers ran, but stopped and rallied.

Surely you jest.

For starters, the Union didn't institute a draft until the summer of '63. The early war Yanks were all volunteers. The confederates had a draft from the fall of '61 forward, and it was a great advantage because it stabilized their order of battle and enabled them to keep veteran units up to strength. The Yanks, on the other hand, bled their veteran outfits white while the politicians back home raised brand new units that had to climb an entirely unnecessary learning curve. Think what it meant for whole regiments -- whose men had been in the army all of two weeks, had never fired their weapons, and barely knew the manual of arms -- to be thrown into places like the East Woods and the Miller Cornfield at Antietam. The insanity of the personnel system is not a reflection on the men.

That said, the only example of a Union army collapsing in defeat was First Manassas, where a force of 90 day militia -- whose march discipline was very poor on the trek out from Washington -- dissolved into straggling on the way back. Btw, that force, untrained though it was, still very nearly won the battle. It executed a long and tiring flank march, broke the initial confederate position, and very nearly stormed the second before the fortuitous arrival of reinforcements squarely on their flank forced them to withdraw. Even then, they were not broken on the battlefield; they simply lost organization on the march back to Washington, which was unpursued because the equally raw confederates were just as disorganized in victory.

What other examples of "running conscript Yanks" do you want to propose? Chancellorsville? Sure, the 11th Corps broke, having been flanked and being in an entirely untenable position. But if you think the Yanks didn't rally, you've never walked Hazel Grove and seen the back-to-back gun emplacements. Joe Hooker lost that battle, not his troops; aside from the 11th Corps, whose misdeployment left it no chance at all, the Yanks stood their ground at every turn.

Fredericksburg? There was nothing at all wrong with the Yanks who walked up Marye's Heights. There was a lot wrong the the commanders who ordered them to.

Antietam? Yanks won that one, sort of.

Seven Days? Apart from Gaines Mill, Lee lost every battle and McClellan withdrew after every Union victory.

Valley Campaign? The confederates won that through marching more than fighting. Jackson had the only good map of the Valley and the federals he opposed, while outnumbering him in the aggregate, were drawn from three separate military divisions (the Valley being a transitional zone on the federal organizational map), had three separate chains of command and lines of supply, and never managed to cooperate.

Western Theater? There the federal commenced to win early and often, which is why the West is such a perfect counterpoint to the war in Virginia -- and why it tends to be ignored by Lost Cause mythologists.

Now, to answer the question posed by the thread. The confederates, informed by the example of the Revolution, thought the sheer size of the South would defeat any federal attempts at occupation and control, provided the Southern population remained resolute. They might have been right 50 or 100 years earlier, but they reckoned without the railroad and the telegraph, which gave the Yankee invaders strategic mobility, logistical staying power, and command and control over continental distances. New ballgame.

177 posted on 10/15/2005 11:50:56 AM PDT by sphinx
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To: Non-Sequitur

The Gold Rush peaked in the mid 1850's, but hard rock mining took up the slack and gold mining continues to this day. 100 million (in 1860 dollars) in gold went to the Feds just from my little area of the Sierras.


178 posted on 10/15/2005 11:51:26 AM PDT by tertiary01 (For every Act of God, the Libs will demand a human sacrifice.)
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To: cynicom
If you are a student of history...Karl Marx was an enthusiastic supporter of Lincoln, he even had spies serving in the Northern Army.

Marx's admiration for Lincoln was not reciprocated, and isn't surprising. Would you expect Marx to side with the slave owners?

179 posted on 10/15/2005 11:52:14 AM PDT by Non-Sequitur
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To: tertiary01
The Gold Rush peaked in the mid 1850's, but hard rock mining took up the slack and gold mining continues to this day. 100 million (in 1860 dollars) in gold went to the Feds just from my little area of the Sierras.

True, but there is nothing to suggest that there was a sudden burst in gold output in California that helped pay for the war.

180 posted on 10/15/2005 11:53:59 AM PDT by Non-Sequitur
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To: teldon30
Why the South lost the Civil War

Lee didn't listen to Longstreet at Gettysburg?

181 posted on 10/15/2005 11:57:58 AM PDT by Mike Darancette (Mesocons for Rice '08)
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Comment #182 Removed by Moderator

To: gobucks; Congressman Billybob
Great question. What are the names off hand of who you would suggest?

Congressman Billy Bob. At least we know his judicial philosophy.

183 posted on 10/15/2005 12:00:20 PM PDT by LexBaird (tyrannosaurus Lex, unapologetic carnivore)
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To: Mount Athos

"Miers has no documented judicial philosophy history of advocating that the constitution be interpreted as written."

You'd love to see this be the requiring precedent for all nominees. You'd love it.

Confess MA. You just a plain vanilla legalist. ALL GOP nominees would be strict legalists, like you, if you had your way. Correct?

Political appointments to the SCOTUS, an established long tradition, by the GOP and Demoncrats, would be forever verboten in accordance with you view, yes?


184 posted on 10/15/2005 12:01:18 PM PDT by gobucks (http://oncampus.richmond.edu/academics/classics/students/Ribeiro/Laocoon.htm)
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To: cynicom

I noticed as soon as I did, someone did above my post. Another reason why public school is absolute malnourishment of the mind.

Its what they refuse to teach you that causes the most harm.


185 posted on 10/15/2005 12:02:45 PM PDT by gobucks (http://oncampus.richmond.edu/academics/classics/students/Ribeiro/Laocoon.htm)
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To: Non-Sequitur

What other industries were putting millions into the treasury and gold reserves in the 1850's?


186 posted on 10/15/2005 12:07:02 PM PDT by tertiary01 (For every Act of God, the Libs will demand a human sacrifice.)
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To: tertiary01
What other industries were putting millions into the treasury and gold reserves in the 1850's?

Government reveunes during that period came almost exclusively from tariffs. So the import market was putting the millions in.

187 posted on 10/15/2005 12:10:45 PM PDT by Non-Sequitur
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To: gobucks

The history of stealth "trust me" candidates with no documented judicial philosophy, has been really horrific for Republicans.

Whenever another such candidate comes along, it is really predictable and ordinary for conservatives to be very concerned.

Note that one doesn't need to have been a judge, to express a judicial philosophy. A political appointment would be fine, go throw Santorum in there, he doesn't have a prayer of reelection anyway, and he does have a clearly documented judicial philosophy.


188 posted on 10/15/2005 12:11:20 PM PDT by Mount Athos
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To: Non-Sequitur

I'm sorry, I omitted the metal products from mining of the Comstock Lode which allowed further reserves to be used as collateral for financing of the Civil War.


189 posted on 10/15/2005 12:13:59 PM PDT by tertiary01 (For every Act of God, the Libs will demand a human sacrifice.)
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To: Mount Athos

Bottom line, you'd outlaw 'undocumented' nominess. Noted.


190 posted on 10/15/2005 12:14:50 PM PDT by gobucks (http://oncampus.richmond.edu/academics/classics/students/Ribeiro/Laocoon.htm)
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To: Non-Sequitur

So how were the goods being purchased? With hot air or fiat money?


191 posted on 10/15/2005 12:15:56 PM PDT by tertiary01 (For every Act of God, the Libs will demand a human sacrifice.)
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To: gobucks

Any candidate who lacks a documented history of advocating a conservative judicial philosophy, to be specific. It doesn't have to be extreme or strict. Just something. Bush bypassed a very large pool of candidates that have this history, for one particularly lacking in it. Thus setting off alarming visions of Souter in a wide swath of conservatives.


192 posted on 10/15/2005 12:19:12 PM PDT by Mount Athos
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To: SevenDaysInMay
You forgot the Bilderbergs, the Bavarian Illuminati, and the Aliens!

What about the Aliens?


193 posted on 10/15/2005 12:23:41 PM PDT by Zeroisanumber
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To: LexBaird
Get real. My philosophy may be acceptable, but I am too old, too cantankerous, and have too many rough edges, to ever be considered to wear a black robe. Let's get some reality into the equation. LOL.

Congressman Billybob

Latest column: "Media Forget History of American Constitution When Reporting on Iraq's"

194 posted on 10/15/2005 12:25:16 PM PDT by Congressman Billybob (Quoted by Rush, again, this Thursday. Hoohah.)
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To: tertiary01
So how were the goods being purchased? With hot air or fiat money?

Cash.

195 posted on 10/15/2005 12:27:12 PM PDT by Non-Sequitur
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To: Mount Athos

Bravo


196 posted on 10/15/2005 12:31:14 PM PDT by teldon30
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To: Non-Sequitur

Most import were industrial goods. At the time northern manufacturers were at a significant competitive disadvantage to British and other European manufacturers. They used the power of the Federal Government to levy onerous tarrifs on these imports. This profited merchants and manufacturers in the north at the expense of largely poor farmers in the south (most of whom owned no slaves).


197 posted on 10/15/2005 12:47:39 PM PDT by trek
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To: elbucko
Actually I would be more than satisfied with an end to the demonization of southern culture. The Saint Andrews cross is not a symbol of slavery or an insult to blacks. And, a better treatment of the causes of the civil war in the government schools would be warranted as well. Just a little closer adherence to the actual history of the country would suffice.

This how bad it is. The schools celebrate Cinco de Mayo to make the illegal aliens happy. But if you mention Jefferson Davis or Robert E. Lee in a government school you are condemned to a re-education class or expelled for insensitivity.

198 posted on 10/15/2005 12:53:33 PM PDT by trek
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To: faireturn
Lincoln's quote speaks for itself.

But I see I struck a nerve with the government school crack. So in the spirit of comity that fills us all on this forum (we are all on the same side you know) I apologize and take it back.

199 posted on 10/15/2005 1:01:42 PM PDT by trek
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To: gobucks
Meirs is a white protestant southerner. This is the real reason, just like all the reasons associated with why the South was defeated, that you don't see much discussion in the MSM about why she is so hated by 'Conservatives'.

Ding! Ding! Ding! Thanks for the research.

200 posted on 10/15/2005 1:18:47 PM PDT by SandwicheGuy
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