So, you’re having a slow day?
Something that people always ignore when they open up these discussions are the economies involved and the reasons events occur. In the 19th Century, the north was a manufacturing economy. They had the raw materials necessary and the factories that enabled them to produce as much as they needed.
The south had an agricultural economy. Unlike the north, when the south needed to produce more food, they had to plant more land or obtain more cattle. If they plant more land, they need more hands to work the land.
Since there were no federal crop subsidies to enable farmers to be paid for crop losses, etc., southern farmers had few options to increase production and increase revenue.
We also forget that wages were incredibly low in those days. It was common that the average wage was around $10 to $20 per month. The farmers in those days lived on the edge of poverty. Any bad crop or bad season could spell the end for them. Without crop subsidies from the government (as they have today) and crop insurance, things were pretty tight.
The same was not true for the north. Manufacturers could increase production when necessary and, if the price of the raw materials increased, that price increase got passed along to the consumer, just as today.
But, there is another piece that the anti-slavery crowd ignores and that is that farmers were largely prohibited from raising prices without government permision. So, their hands were tied. To increase production they had to plant more land which took more hands. To increase prices, they had to get government permission.
In order to meet these requirements, they couldn’t afford to pay their field hands. If they did, the price of produce, even bread, would have skyrocketed beyond what anyone could afford.
So the only other option was slaves. Before I go any further, allow me to explain that I am neither condoning nor justifying slavery. My point is to explain why they were needed and why, when notherners began pushing for the abolition of slavery, the south felt threatened. Their very way of life and livelihood was being threatened. This is what brought us to secession and the whole Civil War.
It is also important to note that the Founders established the Constitution on the basis of the balance of power. The balance of power is visible throughout the Constitution including the 3 branches, different responsibilities, etc. While secession was not codified in the Constitution, it was acknowledged by several of the Founders in the Federalist Papers as another measure available to the states to maintain the balance of power against a strong central government.
The Second Amendment was about both defending the country as well as maintaining the balance of power so that the government would not be the only entity with the means to either defend the country or wage war. And, secession was another part of that balance of power.
History is great and I love history because it teaches us so much. However, you cannot study historical records in a vacuum, nor can you ignore the various stresses present on a society. When we read historical documents, we must read them in the context of the day, not as abstract things that say “x and such”. The documents often shed light on the WHAT of an historical event, but not the WHY. The WHY of an event is the reason that the historical document exists.
So, you may want to re- re- re- re- re-fight the Civil War ad infinitum on the basis of the historical records but, if you fail to understand the prevailing pressures of the day, you fail to understand what history has to teach us.
The north was fighting for a principle that history teaches us was, ultimately, the right one. However, they way they chose to go about it was the wrong approach. The south was fighting for its very life and, as biologists have long told us, the will to survive is the strongest will we have.
If you get to this point, you will undoubtedly blather on about how I am actually defending slavery and the south was just trying to maintain slavery because all southerners are inherently evil bastids. And, if you respond that way, we will not have had a civil discourse and, once again, another individual will have failed to learn what history has to teach us by taking events out of context.
To paraphrase a famous American: I'm having more fun than a man should allowed to have. ;-)
DustyMoment: "Something that people always ignore when they open up these discussions are the economies involved and the reasons events occur."
Ante-bellum economics have been much discussed on these Free Republic Civil War threads.
On this I follow the work of James Huston's book "Calculating the Value of the Union".
Huston presents data from the 1860 census and argues that the South in general, and the Deep South especially, was far more prosperous on average than were their Northern cousins, or than most histories portray.
The reason is simple: the dollar value of slaves had increased steadily all during the 1800s, and by 1860 represented nearly half of all Southern wealth, and about 20% of all wealth in the United States.
So, in minds of average ante-bellum Southerners slavery was not just a way of life, it was also the greatest economic wealth creator ever invented.
So, in especially the Deep-South, where half of all families owned slaves, they were not even going to allow discussion of topics like abolition.
DustyMoment: "The farmers in those days lived on the edge of poverty."
That is true of all farmers at all times in history.
Even today, with all sorts of government give-away programs, every year there are fewer and fewer farmers, with bigger and bigger farms operating on smaller and smaller margins.
DustyMoment: "The same was not true for the north."
At the time of the US Civil War, between 25% and 50% of all northerners (depending on which state) lived on small subsistence farms, with substantially lower standards of living than a typical Deep-South farmer.
Northerners who lived in cities and worked in factories also endured living conditions certainly no better than average white Southerners.
Of course, if you wish to compare large Northern factory owners to large Southern plantation owners and ask which was better off... the answer is, there were far more plantation owners than large factory owners.
DustyMoment: "But, there is another piece that the anti-slavery crowd ignores and that is that farmers were largely prohibited from raising prices without government permision."
Whoever told you that was seriously pulling your leg, FRiend.
There were no Federal price controls in the 1850s, and any state rules were certainly intended to benefit the ruling slave-holders.
DustyMoment: "Before I go any further, allow me to explain that I am neither condoning nor justifying slavery."
Perish the thought!
DustyMoment: "While secession was not codified in the Constitution, it was acknowledged by several of the Founders in the Federalist Papers as another measure available to the states to maintain the balance of power against a strong central government."
All Founders' documents, without exception, treat their new Union as a "compact" like a good marriage, to be "perpetual", "more perfect" and dissolved only under conditions of mutual consent, or from "oppression" and "usurpations" amounting to the same thing.
None wrote that secession "at pleasure" (meaning for no material reason) was acceptable.
DustyMoment: "...secession was another part of that balance of power."
But only as a result of mutual consent or some material breach of contract like "oppression" and "usurpation", neither of which happened in 1860.
DustyMoment: "The north was fighting for a principle that history teaches us was, ultimately, the right one. However, they way they chose to go about it was the wrong approach."
The Union slowly geared up for war in 1861 because the Confederacy provoked, then started and formally declared war on the United States, on May 6, 1861.
The Confederate President Jefferson Davis was a brilliant military leader (certainly in his own mind), who had graduated from West Point, served in the Mexican War and as US Secretary of War.
In 1861 the Confederacy could find nobody better trained to lead them to military victory.
By stark contrast President Lincoln had no serious military experience, and for years could not find Union generals up to the task of fighting and winning battles.
So Union armies often floundered under poor leadership, before Lincoln could slowly, slowly sort out real generals from the pretenders.
DustyMoment: "If you get to this point, you will undoubtedly blather on about how I am actually defending slavery and the south was just trying to maintain slavery because all southerners are inherently evil bastids."
Nobody here defending Abraham Lincoln and the United States Constitution understand where all such cr*ppola comes from.
We're not putting it out.
All we're hoping to do is keep the facts straight, and let the chips fall wherever they may, FRiend.