Skip to comments.Facts and Myths - an examination of McPherson's "Causes of the Civil War" essay
Posted on 08/09/2002 3:38:13 AM PDT by GOPcapitalist
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LOL! I'd consider doing it but I'd have to find a publisher willing to take my extreme right wing "non-PC" political views. I'm not sure what subject it would be on, but I have toyed around with the idea of something on the secession winter. I've got an old undergrad thesis on this subject I could probably turn into something but it'd take some work.
Secession ordinances on the other hand were adopted by 11 states, 1 state legislature meeting in exile, 1 state meeting in convention, the tribes of Indian Territory, and the territorial government of New Mexico-Arizona. Though many of them list causes, slavery is barely even mentioned in any of them - often as nothing more than a geographical reference. That goes with full acknowledgement that slavery was indeed an issue, just not the sole issue.
On those four declaration of causes, here is what I can say from researching my own state's declaration. Texas' declaration of causes was nothing more than a non-binding legislative resolution with virtually no effect beyond the chamber in which it was passed. It was adopted separately of the Texas Ordinance of Secession, the actual statute that went before the voters of the state for adoption. The ordinance did not list slavery among any of its causes and had legal, binding status as the official position taken by the state. The declaration of causes lacked any of this, had no legal binding, and was never approved by anyone outside the body that adopted it after the ordinance had already passed. Therefore while each document provides some insight to various positions of those who adopted it, to portray it as an equivalent of a "declaration of independence" style document is wholly inaccurate and misleading.
I researched this extensively a few weeks ago and have posted my findings in a couple of places on FR. Basically what I found about McPherson's political affiliation boils down to the following:
1. He's actively participated and supported the modern Democrat party.
2. He actively campaigned against Bill Clinton's impeachment.
3. He has willingly appeared on an openly marxist talk show from Pacifica Radio with avowed Marxist hosts that is normally reserved for guests such as Noam Chomsky and Angela Davis.
4. He publishes "historical" works online at the World Socialist Web Site, the official publication of the international trotskyite marxist political party.
If you are interested in more, I recently drafted up an overview thoroughly documenting McPherson's radical left activism with links, quotes, sources, and practically everything you need to verify it all. You may find it on FR at the following link - http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/727203/posts?page=160#160
Thank you! That is essentially what I found when I was looking up the history of the Texas articles - they were adopted after secession was passed as nothing more than a non-binding resolution stating a position of the people who signed them and no more.
The actual secession ordinance that went before and was approved by the voters listed several causes for secession basically ammounting to "the yankees have violated the foundation of this government and abused its authority, therefore we reassert our right to self government and withdraw from the union we voluntarily joined." Slavery was not mentioned in this official statutory declaration that was adopted in a landslide by the voters.
Nonsense. Having researched the Texas one, I can speak to it directly. It was nothing more than a non-binding legislative resolution passed after the fact.
The Texas equivalent of the DoI was the legally binding ordinance of secession that stated several causes for secession and enacted it by law upon popular approval of the state's voters. Slavery was not mentioned among any of its causes.
Similarly, the Texas equivalent of the federalist papers would probably be found in the campaign preceding that referendum.
To suggest that the war had _nothing_ to do with slavery is absurd, but so is to suggest it had everything to do with slavery and slavery alone. McPherson does the latter and that is my point of contention - he is engaging in historical inaccuracy. If you are interested in what the southerners themselves said I encourage you to look into a greater sample on the subject. As I noted earlier, only four states adopted non-binding declarations separate from their official acts of secession. The rest either did not formally state causes or included them in their statutory acts of secession, and about the only ones that discuss slavery as a cause in any substantial detail are those four non-binding resolutions.
I encourage you to check out the ordinances of secession. They were passed by South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, North Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Louisiana, Alabama, Texas, Arkansas, and Tennessee. Missouri's legislature passed one in exile after federal troops were dispatched to prevent them from doing so. Kentucky met in a convention and did the same. The territorial government of Arizona also passed one. So did the tribes of Indian Territory, with the most notable being the Cherokee declaration.
If you wish to gain a full picture of the situation you owe it to yourself to examine them all. The issues are very complex and scattered. Arizona, for example, complains of their mail services being neglected and their protection from frontier attacks having been denied by the northern government. The Cherokee declaration focuses on the violation of rights and liberties by the northern government. The Texas ordinance complains of the north's abuse of government power and violation of the social contract. Most of them are online and may be found with a simple search.
The blockade of the South was not about collecting tariffs.
Lincoln explicitly stated revenue collection was his justification for the blockade in his military orders instigating it. That was on April 19th.
But in single geographic references. Referring to the geographical entity of the slave states is a far cry from identifying slavery as some sort of sole cause for action. Try again.
IMHO there are two possible scenarios. The one I tend to think would have happened is that both countries would have emerged in the "big government" direction of what we have now, but at a significantly slower pace. I say this as it is a natural tendency for any government to grow in size over time, often to the point that it parents its own destruction.
The second scenario, to which I believe an argument could be made, is that the south would have grown more slowly just as in the first whereas the north would have quickly turned into a centralized industrial state of big government. But I suppose we'll really never know.
"CAUSES OF THE WAR; CIVIL WAR; CONFEDERACY; DIXIE; EGO POST; MCPHERSON; NOTHING NEW HERE; REBEL RANTINGS; SOUTHRON PROPAGANDA;"
I originally included the first four terms. The rest were added using the "add keyword" feature by a yankee.
If I am not mistaken, I do believe such behavior reasonably qualifies as an abuse of FR. I have little doubt that the "add keyword" function is not intended to be used as an a place to voice political opinion about a thread or to flame the thread's author. The proper place for the former is in the thread, whereas the latter is not proper on FR despite the fact that it does occur.
Needless to say it is typical yankee arrogance rearing its ugly head - unable to debate an issue on its facts and merits, they resort to calling it names.
Great post! Good to see some more of the truth rising to the top of this bucket of "Civil War History" crap that Yankees have been ramming at us for years.
"Mississippi is firmly convinced that there is but one alternative:
This new union with Lincoln Black Republicans and free negroes, without slavery, or, slavery under our old constitutional bond of union, without Lincoln Black Republicans, or free negroes either, to molest us.
If we take the former, then submission to negro equality is our fate. if the latter, then secession is inevitable --- each State for itself and by itself, but with a view to the immediate formation of a Southern Confederacy, under our present Constitution, by such of the slave-holding States as shall agree in their conventions to unite with us." - William L. Harris, December 17, 1860
Mr. Harris was appointed a comissioner to the State of Georgia by Mississippi Governor John J. Pettus. In this capacity he delivered an address to the Georgia General Assembly on the need and reasons for secession.
"What was the reason that induced Georgia to take the step of secession? This reason may be summed up in one single proposition. It was a conviction, a deep conviction on the part of Georgia, that a separation from the North-was the only thing that could prevent the abolition of her slavery. This conviction, sir, was the main cause. It is true, sir, that the effect of this conviction was strengthened by a further conviction that such a separation would be the best remedy for the fugitive slave evil, and also the best, if not the only remedy, for the territorial evil. But, doubtless, if it had not been for the first conviction this step would never have been taken. It therefore becomes important to inquire whether this conviction was well founded." - Henry Benning, February 18, 1861
Mr. Benning was appointed secession commissioner by the governor of Georgia. This quote is from his address to the Virginia secession convention
Brothers notwithstanding, when the Great Britain and the colonies separated they fought one more war, nearly fought several others, and didn't fight on the same side for over 130 years.
Following a Southern military victory don't you think that we would have really, really hated each other? Don't you think that one conflict would have followed another? Don't you think that mistrust and bad feelings couldn't have continued to this day? And since I haven't said a thing about southern accents or southern intelligence you don't mind if I decline your offer to kiss your ass or any other part?
(Don't have time right now to look at all I wrote. I apologize in advance for sounding like an idiot.) As for my comment, I meant that, from what I understand, the South felt that, to paraphrase an example from the movie "Gettysburg" (forgive me), the nation was like a big gentleman's club. If a state didn't like the rules, they could leave. It's a reminder of the questions that arose around the time the Constitution was being written. No northern state, as far as I know, ever talked about secession as a possibility (though I know of at least one border state that seriously tried to secede but was stopped by federal troops).
I think I'll join the discussion again after I've checked out some of the stuff that's already been talked about. Thanks to everyone for the info.
Massachusetts. There was talk of the Northeast seceding because of their opposition to the War of 1812.
I am not from the south.
Seven states had already left the union by the time it passed. It wasn't enough to stop secession or bring any southern states back in. All the border state congressmen, the northern democrats, and several of the northern republicans supported it on the vote. Maryland, Ohio, and Illinois ratified it and West Viriginia voted to support it with their lincoln-backed "legislature in exile."
The one thing that is closest to certainty is that an imperialist exercise of power from North America across an ocean would have been delayed for decades. (the Gulf doesn't count).
This "fact" would have made the history of the 20th century vastly different, and quite probably better.
"But I trust I may not be intrusive if I refer for a moment to the circumstances which prompted South Carolina in the act of her own immediate secession, in which some have charged a want of courtesy and respect for her Southern sister States. She had not been disturbed by discord or conflict in the recent canvass for president or vice-president of the United States. She had waited for the result in the calm apprehension that the Black Republican party would succeed. She had, within a year, invited her sister Southern States to a conference with her on our mutual impending danger. Her legislature was called in extra session to cast her vote for president and vice-president, through electors, of the United States and before they adjourned the telegraphic wires conveyed the intelligence that Lincoln was elected by a sectional vote, whose platform was that of the Black Republican party and whose policy was to be the abolition of slavery upon this continent and the elevation of our own slaves to equality with ourselves and our children, and coupled with all this was the act that, from our friends in our sister Southern States, we were urged in the most earnest terms to secede at once " - John McQueen , February 2, 1861.
Mr. McQueen was appointed a secession commissioner from South Carolina. The quote is from his address to the Texas secession convention
"He claims for free negroes the right of suffrage, and an equal voice in the Government-- in a word, all the rights of citizenship, although the Federal Constitution, as construed by the highest judicial tribunal in the world, does not recognize Africans imported into this country as slaves, or their descendants, whether free or slaves, as citizens. These were the issues presented in the last Presidential canvass, and upon these the American people passed at the ballot-box...Upon the principles then announced by Mr. Lincoln and his leading friends, we are bound to expect his administration to be conducted. Hence it is, that in high places, among the Republican party, the election of Mr. Lincoln is hailed, not simply as a change of Administration, but as the inauguration of new principles, and a new theory of Government, and even as the downfall of slavery. Therefore it is that the election of Mr. Lincoln cannot be regarded otherwise than a solemn declaration, on the part of a great majority of the Northern people, of hostility to the South, her property and her institutions-- nothing less than an open declaration of war-- for the triumph of this new theory of Government destroys the property of the South, lays waste her fields, and inaugurates all the horrors of a San Domingo servile insurrection, consigning her citizens to assassinations, and her wives and daughters to pollution and violation, to gratify the lust of half-civilized Africans. Especially is this true in the cotton-growing States, where, in many localities, the slave outnumbers the white population ten to one. " - Letter of S.F. Hale, Commissioner of Alabama to the State of Kentucky, to Gov. Magoffin of Kentucky
Alexander Stephens, future Vice Presicent of the so-called CSA said that the tarriffs were "just what" the south made them.
Tariffs were not an issue in causing the war. This whole thread is just BS on the part of COPcap.
That's a pretty bold accusation, Walter, for somebody who hasn't even bothered to address one single point raised in this thread. Then again, as the historical record of FR demonstrates your clear affection for evasion tactics, I never expected you would in the first place.
Your attempted equivalence is amusing. There is simply no comparison to be made between Sherman's pillage of the south's major cities and one confederate band's burning of a single hick town in backwoods Pennsylvania. Even if there were, two wrongs do not make a right. Your "both sides did it" argument will not buy you any ground against the inexcusable actions of the northern armies against southern civilians.
You are correct to find an extensive source of information on secession there, simply be mindful that it is a representation of primarily the northern side of the argument. With all due respect to the site's authors, that site is more or less designed to argue for the identification of slavery as the issue, and I believe the site even admits so.
While it is an excellent source of documentation for various pro-slavery arguments, to imply those arguments to represent the entire spectrum of the debate is misleading and incorrect.
Notice that you will not find a number of documents there that are often prominently placed among the secession papers. The Cherokee declaration of causes, which barely even mentions slavery but instead concentrates heavily on northern abuses of the constitution, is not there. Nor is the Arizona secession ordinance, which cites the failure of the yankees to equip their frontier as their cause. Nor are any of the other Indian treaties of alignment with the confederacy as far as I can tell. A couple pro-slavery newspaper editorials are listed, but not the many tariff and pro-secession editorials from the same time. Aside from the Davis farewell and a select few of the big southern speeches, very little is there to represent the southern statements during the winter session of congress in 1860-61. Comparatively, Lincoln's major speeches on slavery are all there (but not the one where he says that tariffs are his top priority of the next congressional session). Nor are the winter session's economic speeches to the Senate and House.
There is no mention of the speech where Senator Wigfall, one of the leading secessionists, took up the secession cause in strictly economic terms. Though few know of the speech itself today, it left at least one linguistic on history which I am sure you can identify. Every school child in America has heard its opening line, "I say that cotton is king, and that he waves his scepter not only over these thirty-three States, but over the island of Great Britain and over continental Europe." But more important than historical catch phrases, the speech directly asked the economic question and on the grounds of the economic question, not the slavery one, concluded "I would save this Union if I could; but it is my deliberate impression that it cannot now be done."
The site similarly neglects the major pro-conciliation speeches made by northerners. On the eve of the first wave of secession, Charles Francis Adams pleaded the cause of conciliation before Congress and essentially layed the blame for the secessionist impulse on an anti-compromise faction of northern radicals. The speech was very famous in its own day and circulated heavily in print outside of congress but has since been rejected.
It is things such as this you should keep in mind when attempting to uncover the spectrum of political opinions on secession. References to slavery are there and find plentiful circulation on the web and in the history books. This should come as no surprise as they give support to what has become the official line of the yankee account of the war as well as the position of political correctness. But as any thorough examination of history will reveal, the record is frequented by other causes than slavery that have since been neglected due to their incompatability with the favored line given by historical frauds such as McPherson.
Blind speculation about what would have happened had slavery not occured is little more than an exercise in foolishness, as we will never know it to be so in light of the fact that history simply did not happen that way.
One could just as easily, and perhaps with greater albeit still flawed accuracy, say that if Abraham Lincoln was never elected, there would have been no war. The situation opens up any number of scenarios - had a democrat been elected in 1860, perhaps there would not have been a war or maybe it would have only been delayed until another Lincoln came along and ran at a later date. Had another Republican than Lincoln been elected in 1860, perhaps he would have engaged in greater willingness to stop secession by legislative or peaceful means. Had the south seceded no matter who were elected, perhaps somebody other than Lincoln would have simply let them go in peaceful coexistance. But since Lincoln was elected and did what he did, we'll never know for sure otherwise.
Although the North was opposed to slavery, and to the spread of the practice into the western states, for them the war was about saving the union. As has been pointed out, when the Union was at stake, abolition went to the back burner, to the consternation of the Radical Republicans.
But slavery is the elephant that came to dinner. Without slavery, there is no war to defend it, no secession, no war to save the union. Whether for economic reasons, or any other.
Absolutely, positively correct. This is what confuses people. They hear that the South seceded to preserve slavery, but then they read Lincoln's statements where he seems to not be overly concerned with ending slavery. This is because he wasn't. The Republican Party was not overly concerned with ending slavery, but the Southern states knew that with Lincoln in office, it would, without a doubt, die a slow but painful death. One reason being, unless they could spread slavery into the Western states, the South would be isolated both socially and economically. Plus, the South would continue to bleed runaway slaves into the North and there would be nothing they could do to get them back since the North was ignoring the laws written to return them to their owners.
Slavery was dead if the South remained a part of the US.
The only reason the Emancipation Proclamation was issued was because Lincoln knew the war was won and there was no way the South could come back into the Union with Slavery still intact. After all, this was the reason they left in the first place.
Ironically, the South sped up the demise of Slavery by seceding from the Union. If they had just stayed, Slavery would probably have continued, (in a diminished form) into the 20th century. As a society, we were probably lucky in the long run that the South sped up the demise of slavery.
So you go to Beuvoir and get a glowing portrait of Jefferson Davis. Big freakin' surprise. What did you expect? What kind of portrayal of Lincoln do you think you'll get at Springfield and New Salem?