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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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1 posted on 10/15/2005 8:38:51 AM PDT by teldon30
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To: teldon30



Reloading...


2 posted on 10/15/2005 8:41:36 AM PDT by SouthernFreebird
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To: teldon30



Reloading...


3 posted on 10/15/2005 8:42:39 AM PDT by SouthernFreebird
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To: teldon30
Well, this ought to bring 'em out of the woodwork. Shame you couldn't have found a way to work Harriet Miers into this as well, you know? :-)
4 posted on 10/15/2005 8:43:32 AM PDT by Jokelahoma (Animal testing is a bad idea. They get all nervous and give wrong answers.)
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To: teldon30

Great post teldon30. This is a bookmark for sure.


5 posted on 10/15/2005 8:44:13 AM PDT by Dawgreg (Happiness is not having what you want, but wanting what you have.)
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To: Jokelahoma

I guess i could have squeezed elitist yankees in there somewhere! ;)


6 posted on 10/15/2005 8:44:38 AM PDT by teldon30
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To: teldon30
For an interesting and (as a Southern Boy) a very depressing book about Confederate military tactics read Attack and Die : Civil War Military Tactics and the Southern Heritage by Grady McWhiney (Paperback)


http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/search-handle-form/103-2194213-4231010
7 posted on 10/15/2005 8:45:45 AM PDT by .cnI redruM (Because change is not something you talk into existence.)
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To: teldon30

Have you ever noticed this?"

These are USSC justices since 1949. The last white protestant southerner appointed appears to be Clark. He was the father of Ramsey Clark btw....(Fortas was from Tennessee but he was Jewish).

Clark, Tom Campbell Texas
Minton, Sherman Indiana
Harlan, John Marshall New York
Brennan, William J., Jr. New Jersey
Whittaker, Charles Evans Missouri
Stewart, Potter Ohio
White, Byron Raymond Colorado
Goldberg, Arthur Joseph Illinois
Fortas, Abe Tennessee
Marshall, Thurgood New York
Blackmun, Harry A. Minnesota
Powell, Lewis F., Jr. Virginia
Rehnquist, William H. Arizona
Stevens, John Paul Illinois
O’Connor, Sandra Day Arizona
Scalia, Antonin Virginia
Kennedy, Anthony M. California
Souter, David H. New Hampshire
Thomas, Clarence Georgia
Ginsburg, Ruth Bader New York
Breyer, Stephen G. Massachusetts


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'.


8 posted on 10/15/2005 8:45:50 AM PDT by gobucks (http://oncampus.richmond.edu/academics/classics/students/Ribeiro/Laocoon.htm)
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To: gobucks

We have a winner!


9 posted on 10/15/2005 8:47:13 AM PDT by teldon30
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To: Jokelahoma

ping to #8...re Miers..


10 posted on 10/15/2005 8:48:32 AM PDT by gobucks (http://oncampus.richmond.edu/academics/classics/students/Ribeiro/Laocoon.htm)
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To: teldon30

Having read "A Stillness At Appomattox", I'm amazed at the ineptness and cowardice of the Union conscript. Several battles seem to have been won by a Union officer rallying the troops at the last moment, when all seemed lost. And most of those officers appear to have come from the MidWest, not the North.


11 posted on 10/15/2005 8:51:23 AM PDT by Fenris6 (3 Purple Hearts in 4 months w/o missing a day of work? He's either John Rambo or a Fraud)
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To: teldon30
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.

Precisely the rules Michael Collins used in the Irish War of Independence!

12 posted on 10/15/2005 8:52:59 AM PDT by Irish_Thatcherite (~~~A vote for Bertie Ahern is a vote for Gerry Adams!~~~)
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To: teldon30

No, the South lost because they couldn't control the borders. ;-)


13 posted on 10/15/2005 8:54:10 AM PDT by Paladin2 (MSM rioted over Katrina and looted the truth)
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To: teldon30

bump


14 posted on 10/15/2005 8:57:47 AM PDT by LongElegantLegs (also enjoy the occasional kick of a puppy.)
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To: Fenris6

Amazing isn't it? The Midwesterners were backwoodsmen, farmers and tough as nails. The "Westerners" got the job done. The Army of the West kept the Union in the War. Grant, Sherman and many other generals were from Ohio and further west.


15 posted on 10/15/2005 8:59:24 AM PDT by CincinnatiKid (Go Thou, GO thou, thy hence and of this world report you will and truly... Jack Kerouac)
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To: teldon30
What makes this guy think its over?

My view is that the Southrens have the Yankees right where they want 'em. Why even the Northerners are fed up with the extra-constitutional overreaching from Washington. This will go down as the greatest rope-a-dope of all time. Look for the occupation of Dixie to end any day now.

16 posted on 10/15/2005 9:00:13 AM PDT by trek
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To: teldon30

South lost the war in the near term but in the long term we have a vibrant South and a decaying North. People are voting with their feet.


17 posted on 10/15/2005 9:00:53 AM PDT by cynicom
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To: teldon30

The author should write a follow-on called "Why the North Lost the Civil War," as it was a war where all the states on both sides lost their states' rights.

Last year I stopped for gas at a little village in NW Pennsylvania, which was manned by an elderly man wearing a re-enactor's Union Infantry cap. Seeing my Texas plates, he said he had visited Texas once, and had helped a young couple with car trouble, who then told him he was a good guy, "even if he was a Yank." After paying him and going to the restroom, I came out as he was waiting on another customer at the register, told him, "The couple was right, you are a pretty good guy for a Yank!" He ignored his new customer and hollered back, "Hey, we won that war, you know!"

I replied, "No, we all lost that one," whereupon the customer jerked his thumb back over his shoulder at me and said, "He's right, Ron!"


18 posted on 10/15/2005 9:06:25 AM PDT by FNU LNU (Nothing runs like a Deere, nothing smells like a john)
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To: teldon30


19 posted on 10/15/2005 9:09:03 AM PDT by Colonial Warrior ("I've entered the snapdragon part of my ....Part of me has snapped...the rest is draggin'.")
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To: Irish_Thatcherite

During Washingtons Presidency he signed an treaty with England that many in the US viewed as simply giving back some of what we fought for during the Revolution, Washingtons view was that it was inevitable that a war between the US an a European power was inevitable, it was best that much like his fighting that the idea wasnt simply to go out and win battles, much like Lee thought, but it was to drag it out until either you have the manpower to win or the will of the enemy dictates that they wont.


20 posted on 10/15/2005 9:10:16 AM PDT by aft_lizard (This space waiting for a post election epiphany it now is: Question Everything)
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To: cynicom

An interesting observation. I live in the Hill Country of Texas and the number of people moving into this area seem to be predominantly from the North, in general, and from the North East specifically. Now, don;t ask where I got that from, my thought springs from what I see every Sunday at my church. I know, it's not scientific but it is what I see.


21 posted on 10/15/2005 9:10:24 AM PDT by Adrastus (If you don't like my attitude, talk to some one else.)
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To: CincinnatiKid

"Westerners" had the most to lose. The low cost or even free lands of the West would have gone to larger slave-holding concerns instead of to individuals. The protectionism favored by Republicans protected Westerners much more than the mostly free-trade Southerners as well.


22 posted on 10/15/2005 9:12:04 AM PDT by SeriousSassy (I know manure when I step in it!)
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To: teldon30

The main reason the South lost was that the Union unintentionally followed Winfield Scott's "anaconda strategy" of slowly choking off their resources and using the Northern industrial might to overwhelm them. Scott (forced to retire due to old age)was strategically superior to anyone else. That includes Robert E. Lee whom I have great admiration for.

BTW, didn't another old guy named Ronald Reagan pursue a similar strategy that led to the collapse of the Soviet Union?


23 posted on 10/15/2005 9:12:22 AM PDT by neocon1984 (end the idiocy of post-modernism)
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To: trek

Just do it - Dixiecrats forever. Who should be our candidate?


24 posted on 10/15/2005 9:13:45 AM PDT by gumboyaya
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To: gobucks


Interesting.


25 posted on 10/15/2005 9:14:36 AM PDT by onyx ((Vicksburg, MS) North is a direction. South is a way of life.)
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To: trek

Darnit,if it wasnt for Hamiltons extra-constitutional program of assumption why we wouldnt be in this mess today, Hamilton and his deficit spending..oh wait this is a civil war discussion .


26 posted on 10/15/2005 9:15:20 AM PDT by aft_lizard (This space waiting for a post election epiphany it now is: Question Everything)
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To: gobucks

Powell was a Virginian.


27 posted on 10/15/2005 9:18:39 AM PDT by RobbyS ( CHIRHO)
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To: teldon30

mark for later


28 posted on 10/15/2005 9:19:32 AM PDT by eyespysomething (What this forum needs is another thread on Miers!)
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To: teldon30

Bookmarking for later! Great article!


29 posted on 10/15/2005 9:21:49 AM PDT by VRWCer (All things work together for good to them that love God. - Romans 8:28)
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To: .cnI redruM
I thought the North won the war because their generals had better whiskey and cigars.
30 posted on 10/15/2005 9:21:54 AM PDT by Enterprise (The modern Democrat Party - a toxic stew of mental illness, cultism, and organized crime.)
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To: CincinnatiKid
Amazing isn't it? The Midwesterners were backwoodsmen, farmers and tough as nails. The "Westerners" got the job done. The Army of the West kept the Union in the War. Grant, Sherman and many other generals were from Ohio and further west.

Perhaps that is because a higher percentage of "Eastern Generals" were political appointees? I'm thinking of Ben Butler, and a whole slew of Union BG's & MG's that represented certain key minority groups (Germans, Irish, Poles, etc.) These officers came from the higher population centers on the (north) eastern seaboard. A lot of them got volunteer appointments from their respective state governors. Very few were worth a d@mn.

31 posted on 10/15/2005 9:22:16 AM PDT by Tallguy
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To: Adrastus

I am a damned yankee by birth, a redneck good ole boy by osmosis. NC in winter, PA in summer.


32 posted on 10/15/2005 9:22:28 AM PDT by cynicom
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To: teldon30

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.

I believe God caused the South to lose because slavery is even worse than the loss of States's rights and the loss of other individual freedoms that the North's win meant for America.

Yes, Big Government is a form of slavery, but the slavery that was practiced in the South was far worse than today's reduced individual freedoms is, even if the South's salvery affected only a portion of the population, while Big Government affects all or us.


33 posted on 10/15/2005 9:24:24 AM PDT by RHS in Fairfield
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To: teldon30
With as many assets as the Confederacy possessed, how could the South possibly have lost?

Lee was doing pretty well until Stonewall Jackson died, and then he lost the battle of Gettysburg.

34 posted on 10/15/2005 9:25:50 AM PDT by Dr. Scarpetta
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To: RHS in Fairfield

salvery = slavery


35 posted on 10/15/2005 9:26:16 AM PDT by RHS in Fairfield
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To: CincinnatiKid
Amazing isn't it? The Midwesterners were backwoodsmen, farmers and tough as nails. The "Westerners" got the job done. The Army of the West kept the Union in the War. Grant, Sherman and many other generals were from Ohio and further west.

You'd be suprised what you can accomplish when you give a group of pissed off millers and lumberjacks rifles.

36 posted on 10/15/2005 9:26:28 AM PDT by Zeroisanumber
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To: RHS in Fairfield

The proper treatment of slaves is in the bible....you may want to rethink that.


37 posted on 10/15/2005 9:26:40 AM PDT by teldon30
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To: Fenris6

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.


38 posted on 10/15/2005 9:26:52 AM PDT by Fee (`+Great powers never let minor allies dictate who, where and when they must fight.)
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To: teldon30
With as many assets as the Confederacy possessed, how could the South possibly have lost?

Assets? No army other than local militias, no navy, very little industrial capacity …
Southerners had little choice. The North invaded; they had to defend themselves. With few exceptions the South remained on the defensive.
39 posted on 10/15/2005 9:27:02 AM PDT by R. Scott (Humanity i love you because when you're hard up you pawn your Intelligence to buy a drink.)
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To: RHS in Fairfield
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.

Impossible for them to accomplish. If Davis had tried (or even if Lee had declared himself dictator and tried) the whole Confederacy would have collapsed into infighting and desertion.

40 posted on 10/15/2005 9:28:26 AM PDT by Zeroisanumber
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To: aft_lizard
"civil war???"

Are you referring to the War of Northern Aggression?

41 posted on 10/15/2005 9:29:17 AM PDT by trek
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To: Fee

Yup. Thats pretty much what "Stillness At Appomattox" taught me. Its the only Civil War "history" I read, and only because its so well-written.

Can I assume its considered "very accurate" by historians.

Oh yeah, the whole "bounty" conscript mess is an embarassment to the North. For all their moral posturing these days, very few wanted to fight for their country back then. The more things change...


42 posted on 10/15/2005 9:31:08 AM PDT by Fenris6 (3 Purple Hearts in 4 months w/o missing a day of work? He's either John Rambo or a Fraud)
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To: teldon30

My dad (A Southerner) used to tell me the reason the South lost the war was the yankees stole all our ammunition and forced us to fight uphill looking into the sun..:)


43 posted on 10/15/2005 9:31:14 AM PDT by GeorgiaDawg32 (Honest officer, I wasn't speeding.....I was qualifying)
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To: R. Scott
Southerners had little choice. The North invaded; they had to defend themselves. With few exceptions the South remained on the defensive.

Yeah! Damnyankees would have stormed out of Fort Sumpter and conquered the whole South if there hadn't been a pre-emptive attack.

44 posted on 10/15/2005 9:31:14 AM PDT by Zeroisanumber
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To: teldon30

To quote the late, great Lewis Grizzard: "We could have whipped the Yankees with cornstalks. Unfortunately the sonsabitches wouldn't fight that way".


45 posted on 10/15/2005 9:31:32 AM PDT by Morgan's Raider
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To: Fenris6
Having read "A Stillness At Appomattox"

One of my all time favorite reads. There's a line about recruits meeting veterans that goes something like , "When who thought they were bold met men who were bold in fact, it put a permanent scare into them." Kind of 'splaines the difference between Weasly Clark and Tommy Franks.

I'm amazed at the ineptness and cowardice of the Union conscript.

Well, there were the bloody anti-draft riots in New York. Apparent the good citizens were "brave" enough for mob violence and I suppose it's not too far fetched to think that a great-great-grandmother of Cindy the Ditch B*tch was there pimping here 'grief' for a son killed at Bull Run.

The author has a real grasp on human nature as well as historical facts.

46 posted on 10/15/2005 9:32:14 AM PDT by tbpiper
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To: gumboyaya
"Who should be our candidate?"

Not sure at this point. Maybe Petrouka. But certainly someone who knows the difference between Antonin Scalia and Harriet Miers when it comes to candidates to serve on the Supreme Court.

47 posted on 10/15/2005 9:32:23 AM PDT by trek
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To: teldon30

Slavery can be a humane and correct element of a society, but only in a monarchy, where every one is a servant of the crown. In such a society slavery is just the most extreme form of servitude. And slavery can only be humane in the case where the monarch is the proverbial Philosopher/King.

In the United States of America, founded as a representative democracy, where all people are endowed with life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness there is no room for slavery.


48 posted on 10/15/2005 9:32:34 AM PDT by RHS in Fairfield
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To: trek

No I am referring to the Civil War, no need to sugar coat it.


49 posted on 10/15/2005 9:33:24 AM PDT by aft_lizard (This space waiting for a post election epiphany it now is: Question Everything)
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To: onyx

It is a reasonable question actually: who was the last white conservative southern protestant appointed to SCOTUS?

Could this be the crux of all the angst against Miers?


50 posted on 10/15/2005 9:34:07 AM PDT by gobucks (http://oncampus.richmond.edu/academics/classics/students/Ribeiro/Laocoon.htm)
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