Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Could the Civil War Have Been Avoided?
Discovery News ^ | October 15, 2002 | Jennifer Viegas

Posted on 10/20/2002 8:01:28 PM PDT by Aurelius

The Civil War could, and probably should, have been avoided, according to a new book authored by four Southern historians.

In the recently published "This Terrible War: the Civil War and its Aftermath," the authors weighed the war's brutality against its benefits. They came to the conclusion that the bloodshed was not "inevitable" and that slavery was not the key issue of the war.

In fact, the book says, slavery was in its waning days and was used as a propaganda tool by both North and South to stir up the public's emotions. The American Civil War, also called the War of Secession, was fought from 1861 to 1865. Eleven seceding states in the south waged battle with the Federal government, represented by the North.

At issue were opposing socioeconomic and political interests. The North was mostly industrial, and individual families operated the majority of its farms. The agrarian South, by contrast, relied upon large plantations that used slave labor.

While the death toll of the war is presumed to be much greater, military casualties were reported at a minimum of 623,000 dead, and a minimum of 472,000 wounded. Civilian deaths from sickness, exposure or imprisonment are estimated in the tens of thousands.

"The war was caused by political miscalculation, exaggerated rhetoric, public paranoia, and distorted popular fears in both North and South of the intentions of the either section, what one historian long ago called 'hyperemotionalism,'" said Daniel Sutherland, professor of history at the University of Arkansas and one of the book's authors.

"Even after secession, many Americans — not just Lincoln — did not think war inevitable, and they were genuinely surprised — not to say shocked and dismayed — when hostilities did come."

Sutherland told Discovery News that the real issue of the war was not slavery, but rather "the expansion of political power and maintaining the political balance of Congress through the addition of new representatives and senators."

He explained that both the northern and southern states wished to extend control over territories in the newly opened West. Slavery became a tool for either side attempting to gain control, as territory then was marked as either "slave" or "free." Only abolitionists, who were in the minority both before and during the war, viewed the issue in terms of racial injustice.

"Could (the) territorial issue have been settled without resorting to war? Of course," said Sutherland. "Could compromise have led to the end of slavery? Probably not, but remember that this was not the issue. Southerners feared it might become the issue — part of the exaggerated fears and unreasonable assessment of the other side — but it was not part of the public political debate."

Sutherland and his colleagues claimed that even if the South had been allowed to extend slave labor into the unorganized territories to the West and Southwest, slavery would have failed because these regions could not support staple plantation crops, such as cotton. According to the book, with or without war, economics, land and weather considerations would have limited slavery.

If not for the inflammatory rhetoric from both sides surrounding the issue of slavery — still an emotional topic today — the original secession dispute could have been resolved in a political forum by, for example, dividing up the land evenly, redistributing congressional seats or other legal measures, according to the book.

Paul Anderson, assistant professor of history at Clemson University, agrees with many of the book's theories and commented, "This book's greatest strength is that it deals with the terrifying messiness of the war, and the war's failure to answer some of the most important questions that it raised. Many of the supposed certainties in the war's legacy were more hollow than we like to think. The book is a welcome if disturbing and sometimes bitter commentary on that."

Anderson believes that slavery may have reached its natural limits in this country, but not necessarily abroad.

"Plenty of slaveholders had their eyes on other places — Cuba, South America — where there was no doubt slavery would and could flourish," said Anderson. "If they maintained parity in the Union, they might (have) eventually (been) able to secure these places through future expansion."


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS:
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-5051-100101-141 next last

1 posted on 10/20/2002 8:01:28 PM PDT by Aurelius
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: billbears; stainlessbanner; bjs1779; H.Akston; rustbucket; GOPcapitalist
BUMP
2 posted on 10/20/2002 8:04:28 PM PDT by Aurelius
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Aurelius
Another name for the hostilities is/was THE WAR BETWEEN THE STATES. This was the "Southern" name and describes a constitutional issue. Can a state leave at will that which it joined at will?
3 posted on 10/20/2002 8:08:31 PM PDT by Blake#1
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Aurelius
Thanks for the bump.

I'll patiently await the Wlat brigade's arrival. Maybe the Abratollah Jaffa can sick his mullahs on yet another book they've never read...or even better, maybe "Noam" McPherson will weigh in! ROTFLOL!

4 posted on 10/20/2002 8:10:13 PM PDT by GOPcapitalist
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Aurelius
Sutherland and his colleagues claimed that even if the South had been allowed to extend slave labor into the unorganized territories to the West and Southwest, slavery would have failed because these regions could not support staple plantation crops, such as cotton. According to the book, with or without war, economics, land and weather considerations would have limited slavery.

I have always maintained this premise. I lived on Aruba. It happens to be the only island in the Caribbean to have not been a slave island--and for the same reason. The land and weather conditions--mainly the lack of fresh water--made agriculture on a scale requiring the use of slaves unprofitable. Actually, the Spanish took the indiginous Arawak Indians from Aruba to Hispanola and used them as slaves.

5 posted on 10/20/2002 8:16:24 PM PDT by Pushi
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Blake#1
I like "War of Northern Agression" better.
6 posted on 10/20/2002 8:17:20 PM PDT by Pushi
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: Aurelius
It's an interesting Constitutional and academic point. They're still fighting in the Balkans about where exactly Alexander the Great hails from.
7 posted on 10/20/2002 8:20:58 PM PDT by Prodigal Son
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Aurelius
My theory is that the war is the fault of George Rogers Clark. If he hadn't taken Kaskaskia, Cahokia, and Vincennes with a handful of Virginians, the US/Canadian border would have been the Ohio River, all westward expansion would have been south of the Ohio River, and New England, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania would not have had sufficient resources to fight the rest of the country.
8 posted on 10/20/2002 8:21:20 PM PDT by DeaconBenjamin
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Aurelius
In a true "civil war", one or more factions attempt to overtake the existing government.

The southern states were not trying to overtake the US government. It simply wanted to secede and form its own government.

A more accurate name for The Civil War would be The Second American Revolution.

9 posted on 10/20/2002 8:30:31 PM PDT by Texas Eagle
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Aurelius
Sutherland told Discovery News that the real issue of the war was not slavery, but rather "the expansion of political power and maintaining the political balance of Congress through the addition of new representatives and senators."

The "addition of new representatives and senators" and thus the balance of power in Congress was determined by whether new territories were admitted as free states or slave states. The whole debate was over SLAVERY.

Sure there were economic hardships forced upon the South, but to state that maintaining an equal electoral representation of slave states in the Union was not based on maintaining slavery is revisionism.

10 posted on 10/20/2002 8:38:46 PM PDT by adakotab
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Aurelius; WhiskeyPapa; Non-Sequitur; Ditto
This is an old view. It had its heyday in the 1920s and 1930s. The lost generation of WWI believed all wars the products of madness or of conspiracy, all evil, stupid and avoidable. The demands of reunification had led to a deemphasis of divisive issues and a distaste for abolitionists. The romantic view of Southern culture was riding high. The presumed horrors of Reconstruction had obscured those of slavery and racial oppression. And during the Depression there was plenty of reason for disliking Northern capitalists and industrialists.

Was the war avoidable? The Kansas-Nebraska Act was a malicious stupidity that opened settled questions, but even in its absence, one can imagine that the annexation of Cuba or Central America might have played a similar role in inflaming regional tensions. One can see too, that the demands for the return of fugitive slaves had a similar effect. Was it inevitable that some Southerners would demand expansion of slavery to the territories from which it had been excluded? Would, even in the absence of Stephen A. Douglas, violence between settlers from different regions have broken out in Kansas? It's certainly a possibility. And indeed, conflict was more likely than that things would simply have gone on placidly.

The argument that slavery had "natural limits" has long been discredited. The limits of cotton production were not those of slavery's possible expansion. The talk in Charleston and New Orleans was of using slave labor in mining in the West. If the political will existed and legal mechanisms were in place slavery could have taken in the Southwest or on the plains of Kansas. And of course slaveholders from the American South aimed at expansion to Central America, Mexico and the Antilles.

Theories of inevitability have a reputation for barbarism. They insult our belief in the effectiveness of human action. Words like "brute" or "blind" often procede "inevitable." There are always contingent factors that could have been different. And one can't prove in advance that anything is inevitable. It's only in retrospect that things are seen as being "inevitable." But a case for a war's inevitability and irrepressibility can be made, that is, if any conflict has ever been inevitable, the Civil War was a good candidate.

Perhaps there was a temporal window, a period in which war could and would happen. If sectional war could have been avoided between, say,1800 or 1820 and 1900 or 1920 or 1950 it wouldn't have happened. But our perception of what that window would have been is influenced by what actually happened, so we can't determine what that window would have been. And, chances are, if you have a period of a century in which war could likely happen, it probably will.

Had there been a national consensus in all sections solidly behind union or behind an orderly national dissolution of the union, perhaps war could have been avoided. But it was in the nature of country half-slave and half-free that such a consensus couldn't be reached. The fact that we were so much one country and one culture, whose substantial divisions involved slavery, made things harder to arrange than they would have been were we truly distinctive nationalities.

11 posted on 10/20/2002 8:46:25 PM PDT by x
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Aurelius
yes.
12 posted on 10/20/2002 8:59:17 PM PDT by wardaddy
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: x
"The fact that we were so much one country and one culture, whose substantial divisions involved slavery, made things harder to arrange than they would have been were we truly distinctive nationalities."

I could not disagree more. I think that the cultural differences between North and South which were present independently of slavery would have been enough to warrant a separation even had slavery not existed.

Similarly, the best solution for the "red-blue" separation manifested in the 2000 election would be, as Walter Williams has suggested, for the two groups to divide up the country between them and set up separate governments.

13 posted on 10/20/2002 9:11:34 PM PDT by Aurelius
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: Texas Eagle
For those who lived in the Border States and the Upper South it most assuredly was a Civil War. Armed bands fought over who would control Missouri, Kentucky and Maryland. The fate of Unionist strongholds in West Virginia and East Tennessee was also at issue and passionately contested.

Every Southern State except South Carolina had regiments in the Union Army. And there was strong pro-Confederate sentiment on the Northern bank of the Ohio. There were rebel contingents or would-be contingents in Southern Ohio and talk of detaching Southern Illinois and joining it to the Confederacy. New York City talked of seceding, and other regions or municipalities might have joined it. Texas saw Confederate suppression of unionist sympathizers, and even Mississippi had guerrilla warfare.

Things might have looked differently in Maine or South Carolina, but for many Americans it clearly was a "civil war." Given the passions of the time, there was no way of cleanly dividing state from state or unionist region from secessionist area. Fighting was the result of mixed populations with differing sentiments.

Of course, if the "Civil War" is objectionable we could always go back to the war's original official designation: "The War of the Rebellion." Perhaps "The War of Secession" might be a possibility.

14 posted on 10/20/2002 9:15:25 PM PDT by x
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: x
What the south was attempting to do was not all that different from what the colonies were attempting to do. The colonists were not attempting to overthrow the Crown, they just wanted to form their own country.

The War of the Rebellion or The War of Secession would be apt monikers. I guess you couldn't really call it The Second American Revolution unless it worked.

15 posted on 10/20/2002 9:21:46 PM PDT by Texas Eagle
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: Aurelius
I could not disagree more. I think that the cultural differences between North and South which were present independently of slavery would have been enough to warrant a separation even had slavery not existed.

Such as?

The fact that there may have been other differences isn't at issue. Whether they were fought about or worth fighting about is much less clear.

And, of course there are two approaches involved. One looks at the many differences and takes them as all valid. The other approach sees some differences as superficial and others as more basic or essential or lying at the root of the others. Do you take Southern and Northern self-definitions at face value or are you looking for reasons and more essential causes? Each approach has its advantages and disadvantages.

One problem with the "cultural differences" approach is that sometimes one doesn't go deeply enough. Did cultural differences in 1840 or 1940 make separation a good choice? You may think so, but most Americans in those years wouldn't have agreed. Why was 1860 different? Why was separation so much a topic of heated discussion then, rather than in other years.

You may find that separation or secession is always a good idea, but that only reflects your own subjective preferences. And of course, a preference for dissolution of nations can also be applied to states and other communities. Looking at the other side of the coin, the things we have in common, is also important.

16 posted on 10/20/2002 9:30:11 PM PDT by x
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: x
Strange. My reply to your post 11 has never appeared. I'll try again.

...we were so much one country and one culture...

I don't agree with this assessment.

I suspect you are familiar with the book, Albion's Seed, by David Hackett Fischer. It discusses four distinct cultures or folkways of English-speaking peoples that had settled into different regions of the US by the time of the Revolutionary War: (1) Puritans to Massachusetts, (2) Royalist elite and indentured servants to Virginia, (3) the North Midlands and Wales to the Delaware Valley, and (4) North Britain and northern Ireland to the Appalachian backcountry.

The book points out that these groups shared many things in common but differed in many ways, including conceptions of order, power and freedom.

Georgia-born Mrs. rustbucket calls our years in the North our foreign assignment. North and South are two different cultures.

17 posted on 10/20/2002 9:44:16 PM PDT by rustbucket
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: Aurelius
It was the South, fired on Fort Sumter, held a league with muslim slave traders, and whose leaders were not held as traitors afterward. Sure it could have been avoided.
18 posted on 10/20/2002 9:56:05 PM PDT by onedoug
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: rustbucket
But Ulstermen who went to New Hampshire or New York or Pennsylvania ended up very different from those who went to Virginia or South Carolina. As did Anglicans in New York and Virginia. Some of the early Georgians came from the same areas of England and backgrounds as New Englanders who had come a century earlier, but their descendants would be very different indeed.

Fischer's book is good and well worth reading. But the question isn't just why areas were different in their origins, but why some areas did and others didn't grow closer together later on. Quakers and Puritans hated each other in the 17th century, but such animosity wasn't a factor 200 years later. It's possible to speculate about what would have happened if Puritans had landed in Virginia and Cavaliers in New England. Things would have been quite different.

Massachusans and Alabamans or Mississippians and Vermonters always seem to end up on opposite sides of political questions, but why, at this one point in our history did separation become a live consideration, and not at other times?

19 posted on 10/20/2002 10:04:42 PM PDT by x
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 17 | View Replies]

To: Aurelius
The Civil War could, and probably should, have been avoided, according to a new book authored by four Southern historians.

The First World War could, and probably should, have been avoided, according to several dumb asses with nothing better to do than attempt to convince other dumb asses that their hind sight is 20/20.

The Second World War could, and probably should, have been avoided, according to several dumb asses with nothing better to do than attempt to convince other dumb asses that their hind sight is 20/20.

The Korean War.......

My revisions of history would have A) Gen. Patton: 1) leading the North (yes, I know, his “thing” was armor. It’s his concept of war that stands before others’.), 2) leading the Allies in WW1, 3) “finish” WW2. B) Let Doug do the ChiCom’s like he wanted to. B probably would have been a moot point had A (3) happened.

No, I see much better looking ahead than behind.

I just could not resist the could / should have part of this lame attempt to make a point.

History is just that - history. One needs to be mindful of the lessons, but don't second guess it.

LVM

20 posted on 10/20/2002 10:11:40 PM PDT by LasVegasMac
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: x
But Ulstermen who went to New Hampshire or New York or Pennsylvania ended up very different from those who went to Virginia or South Carolina. As did Anglicans in New York and Virginia. Some of the early Georgians came from the same areas of England and backgrounds as New Englanders who had come a century earlier, but their descendants would be very different indeed.

Good point. But Ulstermen who moved to those areas were moving into areas dominated by another British culture (or Dutch culture in the Hudson Valley, etc.). I don't know that the Ulstermen formed a majority in these areas. Perhaps they did in some local areas, such as southern Pennsylvania (half of them probably moved South along the Great Wagon Road to the Carolinas and Georgia).

Subsequent generations of the Scotch-Irish probably assimilated somewhat into the dominant local culture, whatever it happened to be. (To the extent that we Scotch-Irish can ever assimilate into another culture.)

Georgians were a blend of cultures also, including debtors from English prisons, Salzburgers from Austria (not in favor of slavery), Irish immigrants, and people moving down from points north, even New England.

Perhaps the Puritans mellowed and became somewhat more tolerant 200 years after branding, whipping, and jailing Quakers and Baptists during the early years of the Massachusetts colony. (Imagine my horror to discover that I had a Puritan ancestor who served in a witch trial.)

The Puritan mindset of self-proclaimed superiority and moral scold persisted for eons -- what was it that used to be said about the Boston Brahmans -- the Lowells speak only to the Cabots, and the Cabots speak only to God?

21 posted on 10/20/2002 10:49:31 PM PDT by rustbucket
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 19 | View Replies]

To: Aurelius
The real question is Can the next civil war be avoided.
22 posted on 10/20/2002 11:01:13 PM PDT by WhirlwindAttack
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: rustbucket
Boston certainly does have a reputation for arrogance, but similar haughtiness has also been attributed to the planters of the Tidewater and South Carolina. Boston isn't and wasn't the rest of New England, which might look arrogantly superior to outsiders, but was rather egalitarian when seen from within. Curiously, to Jefferson and Madison, New England looked like the deep South does to many Northerners now: dogmatically religious and closed off from external and liberal influences.

One can study American regional culture forever. But it's only half the story. The other half is what brings us together and keeps us together. Had the nation split in 1861, it might well have gone on to split again over the sort of city/country divisions which occur in virtually all countries without always becoming embittered. Whether anything much is gained by the process that couldn't be achieved through political action in a united nation is another question.

23 posted on 10/20/2002 11:29:58 PM PDT by x
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 21 | View Replies]

To: Aurelius
Fort Sumter is about as convincing as Hitler's move on the Polish radio station. Lincoln was adamant about preserving the Union at any price. Suspending the Constitution sure falls under the any price category.
High chicanery was typical in Congress for several months leading up to the war. Wait a minute...Byrd...Daschle...NOooo!
24 posted on 10/21/2002 12:21:41 AM PDT by NewRomeTacitus
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Aurelius
I could not disagree more. I think that the cultural differences between North and South which were present independently of slavery would have been enough to warrant a separation even had slavery not existed.

Asa you know, George Washington said otherwise.

"One people, one people, one people" is a constant refrain in the early years of the nation. It was only after the slave power decided slavery MUST be preserved that you see an attempt to discredit this idea, which culminated in the split of the Democratic Party in 1860.

Walt

25 posted on 10/21/2002 3:32:00 AM PDT by WhiskeyPapa
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

bump
26 posted on 10/21/2002 3:35:31 AM PDT by Non-Sequitur
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 24 | View Replies]

To: Aurelius
One people:

"In this battle of giants the most imposing of them all was Daniel Webster, of Massachusetts, the best speaker of his day. He it was who stated the case for the Union and refuted the case of South Carolina in one of the most famous of American speeches.

His words enshrined the new feeling of nation-wide patriotism that was gathering strength, at least in the North. They show that New England in particular was moving away from the sectional views which had prevailed in 1812.A broader sense of loyalty to the Union was developing. "It is to that Union," Webster declared in the Senate, "we owe our safety at home, and our consideration and dignity abroad. It is to that Union that we are chiefly indebted for whatever makes us most proud of our country. That Union we reached only by the discipline of our virtues in the severe school of adversity. It had its origin in the necessities of disordered finance, prostrate commerce, and ruined credit. Under its benign influences these great interests immediately awoke, as from the dead, and sprang forth with newness of life. Every year of its duration has teemed with fresh proofs of its utility and its blessings; and although our territory has stretched out wider and wider, and our population spread farther and farther, they have not outrun its protection, or its benefits. It has been to us all a copi- ous foundation of national, social and personal happiness.

I have not allowed myself, Sir," he went on, "to look beyond the Union, to see what might lie hidden in the dark recess behind. I have not coolly weighed the chances of preserving liberty when the bonds that united us together shall be broken asunder. I have not accustomed myself to hang over the precipice of disunion to see whether, with my short sight I can fathom the depth of the abyss below: nor could I regard him as a safe counsellor in the affairs of this government, whose thoughts should be mainly bent on considering not how the Union may be best preserved, but how tolerable might be the condition of the people when it should be broken up and destroyed.

While the Union lasts we have high, ex- citing, gratifying prospects spread out before us, for us and our children. Beyond that I seek not to penetrate the veil. God grant that in my day at least that curtain may not rise! God grant that on my vision never may be opened what lies behind! When my eyes shall be turned to behold for the last time the sun in heaven, may I not see him shining on the broken and dishonoured fragments of a once glorious Union; on states dissevered, discordant, belligerent; on a land rent with civil feuds, or drenched, it may be, in fraternal blood!

Let their last feeble and lingering glance rather behold the gorgeous ensign of the Republic, now known and honoured throughout the earth, still full high advanced, its arms and trophies streaming in their original lustre, not a stripe erased or polluted, not a single star obscured, bearing for its motto no such miserable interrogatory as "What is all this worth?, nor those other words of delusion and folly, 'Liberty first and Union afterwards,' but everywhere, spread all over in characters of living light, blazing on all its ample folds, as they float over the sea and over the land, and in every wind under the whole heavens, that other sentiment, dear to every true American heart—Liberty and Union, now and for ever, one and inseparable! -—-

On the Indiana frontier a young man was moved by this speech. His name was Abraham Lincoln.

--A History of the English Speaking Peoples, Vol IV, P. 141 by Winston Churchill

27 posted on 10/21/2002 6:01:03 AM PDT by WhiskeyPapa
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: onedoug; PirateBeachBum
The Union administration knew full well what it was doing.

The aggressor in a war is not the first who uses force, but the first who renders force necessary.

28 posted on 10/21/2002 6:02:35 AM PDT by stainlessbanner
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

To: shuckmaster
Dixie Ping!!!
29 posted on 10/21/2002 6:14:42 AM PDT by TomServo
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: x
Boston certainly does have a reputation for arrogance, but similar haughtiness has also been attributed to the planters of the Tidewater and South Carolina.

I hadn't thought about it before, but your observation is correct. I went to high school in Savannah, where even second-generation Savannians had a hard time being considered anything but outsiders. Your “dogmatically religious” comment is correct too.

I forgot to respond to your earlier question about why secession occurred in 1861 and not earlier or later. Some have attributed this to the aggitation of the abolitionists, which started around the 1830s and increased into the 1860s. This aggitation helped polarize the country and may have been what pushed us over the edge.

The nullification situation over tariffs was almost enough to cause South Carolina to break away in 1832-33. But it wasn't, and they didn't. The North nullified the runaway slave part of the Constitution during the 1850s, probably in part due to the abolitionists, and this contributed to increasing sectional animosity and secession.

30 posted on 10/21/2002 9:23:32 AM PDT by rustbucket
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 23 | View Replies]

To: stainlessbanner
The aggressor in a war is not the first who uses force, but the first who renders force necessary.

So what was it about Sumter that rendered force necessary? The Davis regime knew what was going on. They knew what firing on the fort would do. Yet they did it gladly, choosing combat over negotiation.

31 posted on 10/21/2002 9:39:35 AM PDT by Non-Sequitur
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 28 | View Replies]

To: stainlessbanner
"...the first who renders force necessary."

To end slavery was moral cause enough.

32 posted on 10/21/2002 12:29:54 PM PDT by onedoug
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 28 | View Replies]

To: Aurelius
The War of the 1860s took a terrible toll on America. The lives lost and the bodies maimed were but the immediate physical result. But the longer term aspects are perhaps even worse.

In that terrible clash of one-time comrades in a nobly conceived Federation, the American people as a whole lost sight of the spirit and concept that went into the original plan of our Union. Had we kept to the spirit of 1787, there would have been no conflict; and neither the North, South, East or West, neither Massachusetts nor Virginia and South Carolina, need ever have felt threatened or compromised by their associations with one another.

It was in a decline in the popular understanding of what was really involved and achieved during the period between 1775 and the retirement of Washington in 1797, that the clash became inevitable. And it was a tragedy presaging the effects of the still greater decline in that understanding that has steadily preceded since the 1860s--the decline that has brought us to the days of Bill Clinton, situational ethics and the acceptance of the big lie and the politics of the thirty second sound-bite.

My prayer has always been that we may somehow reverse that decline in understanding--and still find within our body politic the will to restore the Republic, we once had. I have been deliberately general in my comments here; but those who understand the original principles and spirit of our Federal Union, will understand my point. Those who do not, will think me merely pontificating ex cathedra pronouncements.

William Flax Return Of The Gods Web Site

33 posted on 10/21/2002 12:52:43 PM PDT by Ohioan
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: rustbucket
Abolitionists certainly shook up the slaveholders. In return, Southerners demanded greater protection for slavery and more slave states. This shook up Northerners in turn. It was a vicious cycle. But I wouldn't stop the train of causation with the abolitionists.

The founders, some prominent Virginians in particular abhorred slavery and wanted to end it eventually. The word is that abolitionists and slave rebellions so frightened the Virginians that they rejected abolitionism. There is some evidence for this.

But look at things the other way around. There's no evidence that, in the absence of any Northern abolitionists, Virginia actually would have abolished slavery any time soon. Votes would have been closer, and Southern abolitionist societies wouldn't have died off as soon, but it's likely that emancipation would have remained a distant prospect for Virginians, ever put off into the future, as the end of segregation was forever post-poned in the 20th century.

Northern states had abolished or were abolishing slavery. England had abolished it. France was abolishing it. Some kind of abolitionist movement in the North, but concerned with Southern slavery, was probably inevitable once people had come to think of slavery as wrong. With things changing elsewhere, either Southerners or Northerners would ask, why slavery remained in the American South. My bet is that eventually a Northern abolitionist movement would naturally have developed if Southerners didn't abolish slavery themselves.

Most Northerners weren't abolitionists. It was always a minority movement, but the violent return of runaways did shock Northerners, turning some citizens into abolitionists and many more into free soilers.

It may be that organized abolitionism crossed thresholds that made things more impassioned. For example instead of small groups of slaves making their way to freedom and being taken back to bondage, there were more slaves coming, and a publicity machinery to publicize their recapture. So emotions get taken to a higher pitch. But I'm skeptical about abolitionism being a cause and not an effect of other circumstances. I don't know how one could scientifically decide such a question.

And South Carolinians never showed even the limited degree of enthusiasm for abolitionism that Virginians did. Northern abolitionists may have made South Carolinians or Mississippians more passionate, but didn't turn them away from any plans to get rid of slavery.

I think we can see how things fit together and one thing led to another, but it's hard to see how the war could have been avoided. When you get regions becoming self-conscious and expansive, if their civilizations are different enough, they may be on a collision course.

34 posted on 10/21/2002 9:12:06 PM PDT by x
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 30 | View Replies]

To: LasVegasMac
"History is just that - history. One needs to be mindful of the lessons, but don't second guess it."

But sometimes the lesson is that what happened could and should have been avoided. You have correctly identified several instances, but apparently don't recognise them as such.

It is almost a cliche to quote Santayana:

"Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it."

But the repeated failure to learn from history has been the greatest tragedy of the last 150 years.

35 posted on 10/22/2002 8:26:55 AM PDT by Aurelius
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 20 | View Replies]

To: WhiskeyPapa
" 'One people, one people, one people' is a constant refrain in the early years of the nation."

"Ein Volk. ein Volk, ein Volk" was a constant refrain of Adolf Hitler. He used this concept, which existed only in the abstract and not in reality, to justify making aggresive war on an independent nation, just as was done on our continent 80 years earlier.

36 posted on 10/22/2002 8:33:46 AM PDT by Aurelius
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 25 | View Replies]

To: Aurelius
" 'One people, one people, one people' is a constant refrain in the early years of the nation."

"Ein Volk. ein Volk, ein Volk" was a constant refrain of Adolf Hitler. He used this concept, which existed only in the abstract and not in reality, to justify making aggresive war on an independent nation, just as was done on our continent 80 years earlier.

Maybe he read the words of Washington, Jay, Marshall, Jackson, Webster and others, because they all said it too.

I saw this really interesting program on the History Channel the other night called, as I recall, "Rome's Lost Legions" about the destruction of 3 legions in 6 or 7 A.D. According to the show, Rome had a tenuous grip on Germany that they lost when Armenius (sp) crushed the 20,000 Romans. The point was, no Armenius -- no Charlemagne, no Louis XIV, no Napoleon, no Kaiser Bill, and no Hitler. The archeology was very interesting also.

Walt

37 posted on 10/22/2002 12:35:00 PM PDT by WhiskeyPapa
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 36 | View Replies]

To: x
I agree that resolving cause and effect can be difficult. The abolitionists succeeded in polarizing the country and some of them advocated dissolution of the Union:

Resolutions of the American Anti-Slavery Society:

Resolved, that secession from the United States government is the duty of every Abolitionists, since no one can take office, or deposit his vote under its constitution without violating his anti-slavery principles, and rendering himself an abettor to the slaveholder in his sin.

Resolved, That the abolitionists of this country should make it one of the primary objects of this agitation, to dissolve the American Union.

Of course, the abolitionists were reacting to the moral evil of slavery, so one can argue that slavery was the real cause of secession more than the abolitionists were. I don't dispute that slavery was a major reason, perhaps the major reason, for secession.

Perhaps the ultimate cause of the eventual secession of the South was the joining together in the first place of two such disparate cultures. They were like oil and water in a way. As you said, if their civilizations were different enough, perhaps they were on a collision course.

Such a Union was doomed to fail unless a Solomon could be found, one wise enough to negotiate the end of slavery without ruining the Southern economy. We didn't find him.

Perhaps the abolitionists did at one point advocate a negotiated end to slavery with economic compensation to the slaveholders but had given up hope of ever achieving it. I'm sure there were some recalcitrant slaveholders who wouldn't go for such things.

To the extent that abolitionists started agitating, going to extreme measures like John Brown, and helping slaves to escape, they were acting against a peaceful negotiated end to slavery. Thus they share some blame for the WBTS. There is enough blame to go around for that. Slaveholders share in the blame too.

With slavery ending elsewhere in western civilization as you point out, I believe slavery would have eventually ended in the South. This is simply a belief on my part, perhaps an optimistic one. It might have taken 30-40 years for slavery to end, but it eventually would have. Perhaps the introduction of better farming methods, gasoline tractors, the introduction of industry to the South, or that missing Solomon-type leader would have accomplished it.

38 posted on 10/22/2002 12:44:44 PM PDT by rustbucket
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 34 | View Replies]

To: Aurelius
"Ein Volk. ein Volk, ein Volk" was a constant refrain of Adolf Hitler. He used this concept, which existed only in the abstract and not in reality, to justify making aggresive war on an independent nation, just as was done on our continent 80 years earlier.

My other point about Armenius went down the memory hole.

The show on the History Channel made the point that Armenius tried to united the German tribes. He was a strong and obviously successful leader -- he was only 25 when he crushed the Romans in the black forest. But about ten years later he was murdered.

The German tribes never coalesed into a nation, never were a big player in European affairs, were always, as Churchill said, "either at your throat or at your feet."

In short, they were the precursors of the good ol' CSA.

Walt

39 posted on 10/22/2002 1:41:42 PM PDT by WhiskeyPapa
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 36 | View Replies]

To: rustbucket
With slavery ending elsewhere in western civilization as you point out, I believe slavery would have eventually ended in the South. This is simply a belief on my part, perhaps an optimistic one. It might have taken 30-40 years for slavery to end, but it eventually would have. Perhaps the introduction of better farming methods, gasoline tractors, the introduction of industry to the South, or that missing Solomon-type leader would have accomplished it.

The Nazis used slave labor quite effectively.

There might still some form of second class citizenship for blacks if the Slave Power had its way.

Walt

40 posted on 10/22/2002 1:46:02 PM PDT by WhiskeyPapa
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 38 | View Replies]

To: WhiskeyPapa
There might still some form of second class citizenship for blacks if the Slave Power had its way.

There was second-class citizenship for blacks when I was growing up. I remember back of the bus, back of the theater, water fountains for coloreds, restaurants not serving blacks, separate colored waiting rooms in doctors' offices, a black guy with a masters degree taking the trash out of our offices, and run down public school facilities.

I remember blacks having to prove they could read in order to vote. (Actually, that may not be such a bad thing for everyone, regardless of color.)

Those were the good old boy days of control by the Democrat Party, worthless scum that they were/are.

41 posted on 10/22/2002 4:34:51 PM PDT by rustbucket
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 40 | View Replies]

To: GOPcapitalist
"Wlat" the ne0-yankee's ne0-yankee? Wlat, who has won the victory over his local self, and loves Central Brother??
LOL!

Federalist 39 Dittos

42 posted on 10/22/2002 7:47:10 PM PDT by H.Akston
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: WhiskeyPapa
There might still some form of second class citizenship for blacks..."

Wait - blacks never had the "power" (your favorite word) to pull off a slave revolt. According to what you said in that other thread "there is no such thing as rights", "everything must be bought and paid for", blacks still don't have the right to liberty, according to what you said about the right to revolution.

43 posted on 10/22/2002 8:00:45 PM PDT by H.Akston
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 40 | View Replies]

To: rustbucket
All the mistreatment of blacks is rooted in the unconstitutional tyranny of Reconstruction and Yankee military rule. It's revenge, it may not be the Christian thing to do, but it's understandable, when the horrors of Reconstruction are reviewed and learned, as they must be, with individual effort, in this reconstructed world we live in.
44 posted on 10/22/2002 8:06:25 PM PDT by H.Akston
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 41 | View Replies]

To: rustbucket
Certainly without John Brown there would have been less secessionist sentiment. What were largely abstract and theoretical questions became very concrete with his attempt to touch off a slave revolt. It was much easier to get majorities for secession after his action, even though the Upper South rejected secession up until the beginning of hostilities.

The thing about the abolitionists is just how much effect such a small group could have. I don't know about the statistics, but most Northerners weren't abolitionists. Without Brown, Northerners could have convinced Southerners that abolition and slave revolts were't coming any time soon. After Brown it was impossible to do so.

You could say that the militant abolitionists killed off gradual compensated abolition. The other side of the coin is that the absence of a real program of gradual compensated emancipation created militant abolitionism.

One way of looking at Garrison's abolitionism is that it was abolitionism for a democratic, not to say demagogic, age. The older gradualists came from a more aristocratic and republican environment and didn't have much visible success in the South. The younger generation would use the new popular press to agitate and organize (though this could be seen as a return to the tactics of the revolution). A great success by the earlier gradualists could have frustrated the militant younger generation, but those older gradual abolitionists were probably thrown off balance by Garrison's rising generation.

The colonies really didn't interact with each other that much. They were insular and more isolated from each other. To the degree that they weren't completely self-reliant or self-sufficient, they were trading with England and the West Indies, much more than with each other.

Bringing the colonies together in one country probably did put us well on the way towards sectional conflict. Railroads and the new lands west of the Appalachians and Mississippi helped to create a country, but one by-product was that the growing together of sections made us more aware of the differences between us.

Some have seen the agricultural-industrial conflict as that between the old colonial model of production of raw materials for the global market and the new national model of workshops and factories producing finished goods for the home and foreign markets. The tragedy is that the new states didn't bring the old ones together, but helped to pull them apart.

Slavery probably would have been abolished when it was no longer profitable. Probably around the turn of the century, or perhaps by the 1930s. Possibly a compensated emancipation would be followed by colonization or peonage. Abolition might have come near the turn of the century and been followed by some mixture of bondage and nominal freedom that would have endured until mechanical cotton pickers took off. But of course people couldn't have forseen this at the time of the Civil War.

It's hard to think that the USA or CSA could have kept slavery for a century or half-century longer than we did. But our timeline for abolition has been influenced by what actually happened here in the 1860s, so one could expect that Brazil and Cuba might have kept slavery longer if we did too. MacKinley Cantor's fantasy of a victorious Confederacy spontaneously abolishing slavery after the war is too romantic and sentimental.

Things always seem inevitable or fated in retrospect. One could imagine a great national leader who might have prevented war and brought emancipation peacefully. We might then have looked at things very differently. But it wasn't to be. Maybe one reason was that we didn't have any strong external enemies to unite against. Consequently national sentiment declined in the Deep South. And soon enough we had found enemies to unite against -- in each other.

45 posted on 10/22/2002 8:58:03 PM PDT by x
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 38 | View Replies]

To: H.Akston
All the mistreatment of blacks is rooted in the unconstitutional tyranny of Reconstruction and Yankee military rule.

I wouldn't say that all mistreatment of blacks stems from it, but there certainly was heartfelt resentment by Southern whites of Reconstruction and Yankee military rule.

In Texas, after being voted out of the governership by a 2-to-1 margin, armed Radical Republicans seized the basement of the capitol building and the mayor of Austin to try to hold on to power by force. There is an interesting 1889 account of this 1873 event at Radical Republican Power Grab -- scroll down to the bottom of the first column on page 302.

In this case, I would have sided with the Democrats. But that was then and this is now.

46 posted on 10/22/2002 9:07:05 PM PDT by rustbucket
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 44 | View Replies]

To: Aurelius
Does anyone have more information on the Ft. Sumter history? I've been led toward the suspicion that the Southern force situated on the shore was purposely mislead into aggressive action by a purposeful feint from the Union.
47 posted on 10/23/2002 7:55:16 PM PDT by NewRomeTacitus
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: NewRomeTacitus
I don't know of any action by the Union other than trying to resupply the fort. The Union did this knowing that South Carolina had previously fired on a ship sent to resupply the fort back in January and drove it away. Check out the published communications between Charleston and Confederate Headquarters in Montgomery:

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/737289/posts?page=385#385
48 posted on 10/23/2002 8:48:52 PM PDT by rustbucket
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 47 | View Replies]

To: NewRomeTacitus
Here is another old post. Lincoln sent down 6 vessels of war with his resupply ship. The weather was too bad for them to get into Charleston harbor while Fort Sumter was under fire. It looks like Lincoln was prepared to blast his way in or fight any attempt to stop the resupply, but the weather worked against him.

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/737289/posts?page=467#467
49 posted on 10/23/2002 9:02:59 PM PDT by rustbucket
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 47 | View Replies]

To: Aurelius
The real issue then and now was slavery, and whatever it was then, that is what it is now, and the institution needed to be destroyed, by force of arms if necessary. And it WAS necessary. Period. Thus whether or not the war COULD have been avoided, it should NOT have been avoided.
50 posted on 10/23/2002 9:05:57 PM PDT by Torie
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]


Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-5051-100101-141 next last

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.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson