JS-Kit/Echo comments for article at http://smallestminority.blogspot.com/2007/08/like-hell-it-was.html (38 comments)

  Tentative mapping of comments to original article, corrections solicited.

jsid-1187584804-578571  LabRat at Mon, 20 Aug 2007 04:40:04 +0000

WHICH goddamn Confederate flag? That drives me INSANE, especially with people who profess to have the "real" history on the subject.

I'll spare you the full rant and say I agree very much that the South victorious would have been the worse outcome, and this is with my entire family being deeply Southern and having been bathed in the history of the war by that family from the time I learned to read at a competent adult level on.

jsid-1187585733-578572  Drew458 at Mon, 20 Aug 2007 04:55:33 +0000

LabRat beat me to it. Most folks have the flags confused in their heads.

And I think the only way the South could have ever won was to cause the North to give up the fight. It took Lincoln 3 years to get the War Machine rolling, and he had a bunch of inept generals for a while, but once things got rolling (post Gettysburg) they were unstoppable.

Yeah, that looks like the standard CSA battle flag to me. And I, as a DamnYankee, don't have the slightest issue with that flag. Those guys had damn near nothing and fought like wildcats. That's something to be proud of.

Now the Stars and Bars, or the later Stainless Banner, they would be the national flags I believe, and would represent all the things that the CSA stood for including slavery. So if I MUST take issue with a flag, I'd pick on them. But honestly, that's all 150 years in the past, so give us a break. Who cares? It can't possibly make the smallest difference to anybody.

jsid-1187599885-578579  M.Smith at Mon, 20 Aug 2007 08:51:25 +0000

Check out the book "If the South had won the Civil War" by MacKinlay Kantor. It is a quick read (127 pages) and imagines a world much softer than the one imagined by Harry Turtledove. The basic synopsis goes like this: Grant is killed after falling off a horse, Lee marches onto and captures Washington D.C. Lincoln is captured, the United States surrenders and recognizes the CSA. D.C is given to the CSA and renamed the District of Dixie. The US capitol is moved to Columbus, Ohio. Not long after the Civil War ends Texas and the CSA go their separate ways. So what we view as the USA is made up of three distinct countries, the Republic of Texas, CSA and USA. Kantor imagines a continent where there is no long term animosity. The three countries get along peacefully and trade flourishes. The CSA frees all it's slaves before the turn of the century. All three countries fight the Germans in WWI and all three come together to fight the Germans and Japanese in WWII. The big twist is, the US never buys Alaska from the Russians. So at the end of WWII the Russians start building bases in American Alaska. This is the force behind the popular push for reunification between all three nations. If you pick up the copy with the ISBN 0-312-86949-5 there is an intro by Harry Turtledove. It is definitely worth checking out (the cover price is $9.95).

jsid-1187601921-578580  Scott at Mon, 20 Aug 2007 09:25:21 +0000

Amen. I too, weary of hearing about the poor south. The war was about slavery and only slavery. It was started by the South. It was treason and that treason was committed to support an immoral institution. It was NOT about States Rights, according the official reasons SC did what they did was the northern states DIDN'T adequately enforce a federal law (the fugitive slave act) -- so it was actually AGAINST states rights. If you doubt what I say, google South Carolina declaration of independence and read the damn document.

The war is long over and should be bygones. But SOME in the south just won't let it go. I don't want to beat anyone over the head, but when push comes to shove it just has to be said: the South was WRONG and it's a good they they lost. Good for the North AND good for the South.

jsid-1187609026-578581  Tam at Mon, 20 Aug 2007 11:23:46 +0000

Fort Sumter was not a federal fort, it was a foreign fort. The southern states had seceded; the US was a foreign country and its troops were foreign troops. At that point in history, Washington had no more business in Charleston harbor than did London.

LabRat: The Third National is the official national flag of the Confederacy. Yahoos seem to prefer the Second Navy Jack.

jsid-1187611358-578584  emdfl at Mon, 20 Aug 2007 12:02:38 +0000

Not to pick the nit as it were, but if the war was about "slavery and only slavery", why did Lincoln wait so long before issuing the Emancipation and why did it only apply to slaves being held in the Succesionist states? There were many reasons the southern states saw as justification for succeeding; slavery was down the list a ways.

jsid-1187614424-578586  Ed at Mon, 20 Aug 2007 12:53:44 +0000

Was slavery really the causus belli of the war? Not really. The real root was economic. Tarriffs protected Northern interests while punishing the South. To maintain Northern hegemony in this respect the North had to prevent slavery from migrating into the new states.

The North had no interest in abolishing slavery in the exisiting states (both North and South!) The abolitionist were a very small, but vocal minority.

The Emancipation Proclamation was issued 1/1/1863. West Virginia was admitted to the Union 6/20/1863 AS A SLAVE STATE! The EP only freed slaves in the CSA.

The North agreed to abandon Fort Sumpter, but secretely tried to reinforce. South Carolina did everything she could to avoid shelling. She even gave Anderson one hours notice. There we no casualities and the Federal prisoners were treated kindly.

Even a casual reading of the Constitution will show that sucession from the Union was perfectly legal. The invasion of the South was not. (They threw Marylands legislature in prison for God's sake!)

What would have happened had the South won? I have no idea, other than constitutional government as envisioned by the founders would have lived a little longer.

Recommended reading: The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government by Jefferson Davis.

jsid-1187618141-578590  Lincoln's Ghost at Mon, 20 Aug 2007 13:55:41 +0000

It is interesting to me that people believe over 1.5 million white men enlisted and over 300K white men gave their lives so that they could free blacks.
Do people in the North really buy into that pretentious moral superiority? I guess the victors really do write the history books...

jsid-1187618280-578591  ParatrooperJJ at Mon, 20 Aug 2007 13:58:00 +0000

The war was not about slavery. It was about states' rights. The CSA legally left the US.

jsid-1187622187-578597  Unix-Jedi at Mon, 20 Aug 2007 15:03:07 +0000

Sorry to my fellow Southerners.... But Slavery was the driving force behind the Secession.

Not the war directly.

But the Secession was almost entirely due to slavery, and the approximate 3% of the population that owned slaves. (Clayton Cramer has made some very good analogies between that >5% then, and certain minorities now driving the politics across the whole nation)

Those doing the fighting were, truely, motivated far more by economics, the concept of states rights and stubborness. There was no way that the Union Army could have fought the Rebels had they been "attempting to stamp out slavery". Quite simply, at the start of the war, no one would have fought. It was hard enough to form the Union Armies as it was, forcing a draft, because the war was so unpopular.

There are good points to be made, for instance, as mentioned, the Emancipation Proclaimation specifically exempted Union states. Troubling to the case that Lincoln was against slavery. (He was. But not enough to lose the United States over.)

But for those who would say that the war wasn't about slavery - find me a Declaration of Secession that doesn't directly address that.

GA:Because by their declared principles and policy they have outlawed $3,000,000,000 of our property in the common territories of the Union; put it under the ban of the Republic in the States where it exists and out of the protection of Federal law everywhere; because they give sanctuary to thieves and incendiaries who assail it to the whole extent of their power, in spite of their most solemn obligations and covenants; because their avowed purpose is to subvert our society and subject us not only to the loss of our property but the destruction of ourselves, our wives, and our children, and the desolation of our homes, our altars, and our firesides. To avoid these evils we resume the powers which our fathers delegated to the Government of the United States, and henceforth will seek new safeguards for our liberty, equality, security, and tranquillity.
Miss: Because by their declared principles and policy they have outlawed $3,000,000,000 of our property in the common territories of the Union; put it under the ban of the Republic in the States where it exists and out of the protection of Federal law everywhere; because they give sanctuary to thieves and incendiaries who assail it to the whole extent of their power, in spite of their most solemn obligations and covenants; because their avowed purpose is to subvert our society and subject us not only to the loss of our property but the destruction of ourselves, our wives, and our children, and the desolation of our homes, our altars, and our firesides. To avoid these evils we resume the powers which our fathers delegated to the Government of the United States, and henceforth will seek new safeguards for our liberty, equality, security, and tranquillity.
SC: The Constitution of the United States, in its fourth Article, provides as follows: "No person held to service or labor in one State, under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labor, but shall be delivered up, on claim of the party to whom such service or labor may be due."

This stipulation was so material to the compact, that without it that compact would not have been made. The greater number of the contracting parties held slaves, and they had previously evinced their estimate of the value of such a stipulation by making it a condition in the Ordinance for the government of the territory ceded by Virginia, which now composes the States north of the Ohio River.
TX: She was received as a commonwealth holding, maintaining and protecting the institution known as negro slavery-- the servitude of the African to the white race within her limits-- a relation that had existed from the first settlement of her wilderness by the white race, and which her people intended should exist in all future time.

Read more. Sad, but true.

The Secession was obviously legal and Constitutional. Lincoln broke the spirit and letter of the law in order to smash the US back together.

It's a rare case when the ends actually justify the means, but this has to be the best example.

Yes, looking back, the world would have been a very different place. The South would still be seperated. The-not-impossibility of either total neutrallity or the North and South picking different alliances, presuming WWII occured.

As much as I personally hate to give in to ignorance and myth and hysteria, the Confederate Flag (of any incarnation) is the worst place I'd pick to try and fight it. It gives the wrong impression, it's almost impossible to actually have a factual discussion about the issues with anybody, and it just distracts entirely from any other argument.

Ogre has some good screeds up, and some bad ones, but this is one of his worst.

jsid-1187622809-578600  Ed at Mon, 20 Aug 2007 15:13:29 +0000

The fugitive slave law was part of the compromise of 1850 brokered by Henry Clay and Stephen Douglas. It was actually unnecessary as Article IV, section 2 of the Constitution provides for the return of run away slaves. The North's violation of these provisions was, at best, an irritant to the South. Blockage of the pro-slavery Kansas constitution by Northern congressman lit the fuse that would culminate in the "War of Northern Agression."

The Constitution of the Confederate States of America barred the trade in African slaves. The trade in African slaves was protected in the North until the adoption of the 13th ammendment. Slave trading was big business controlled by certain family's in RI and Mass. The slaves picked up in Africa were sold in the Caribbean as the South had long since outlawed the importation of African slaves.

I don't think anybody here condones slavery in any way shape or form. History, however, does not support the contention that the North occupied the moral high ground in regards to slavery as a institution. Lincoln's sole motivation was preservation of the Union (and Northern hegemony). He was willing to break any law, invade, conquer, and subjugate a people to do it.

jsid-1187623089-578601  Ed at Mon, 20 Aug 2007 15:18:09 +0000

Well said Jedi! You, at least, know a bit of history.

jsid-1187623861-578604  Kevin Baker at Mon, 20 Aug 2007 15:31:01 +0000

Damn, Jedi, I should have had you write my piece.

That was excellent!

jsid-1187624190-578606  Jeff Dege at Mon, 20 Aug 2007 15:36:30 +0000

People forget that the secession happened in two phases. In January, 1861, seven states seceded - South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas.

They did so for one reason - to preserve their ability to extend slavery.

That secession would have stood, had that been all there was. Congress was clearly in favor of recognizing the secession.

But the radicals knew that rump their rump of a confederacy wouldn't succeed. The bulk of the South's population, wealth, shipping, and industry was in Virginia and North Carolina.

South Carolina provoked the war intentionally, by attacking the Union garrison at Fort Sumter, intentionally. Because they hoped that once they were at war with the Union, Virginia and North Carolina would secede as well. As they did - along with Arkansas and Tennessee.

You can make a fair argument that what Virginia did was about States Rights. But what South Carolina did was about slavery, and nothing else. And it was South Carolina that started the war.

jsid-1187625616-578607  Ed at Mon, 20 Aug 2007 16:00:16 +0000

Let's simplify just a little more. Slavery in South Carolina and the existing slave Staes was not threatened. Lincoln's Republican platform guaranteed the institution's preservation in these states.

If the new states disallowed slavery, slave owners and cotton would not move in. This means that the new states congress-critters would support the North. Via tariffs, the North could protect their industries and garner more than their fair share of cotton profits.

The bottom line is the North didn't give a s**t about slavery. Like most of history, it's all about $$$, notwithstanding the lofty rhetoric.

jsid-1187626436-578609  Phelps at Mon, 20 Aug 2007 16:13:56 +0000

The US Civil War was about slavery in the same way that the current war is about oil. Yes, it is a strong factor, but it isn't the reason for the war. Even though it is what we will be teaching teenagers 100 years from now.

jsid-1187627076-578610  Kevin Baker at Mon, 20 Aug 2007 16:24:36 +0000


Yes, it was all about the Benjamins, as Ed said. If the Middle East wasn't sitting on top of an ocean of oil, we wouldn't be there. If slavery hadn't been the sticking point for ratification of the Constitution, we wouldn't have had a Civil War. See Unix-Jedi's comment above. Pay special attention to the declarations of secession, and the monetary excuse given.

jsid-1187636252-578619  Ed at Mon, 20 Aug 2007 18:57:32 +0000

Jeff, that's an interesting contention that the firing on Ft. Sumter was a calculated move on South Carolina's part to force Virginia's hand. Having read all the official correspondence between the parties, I find nothing to suggest that. Maybe you could point me to some suggested reading?

BTW - Virginia's declaration of Secession didn't address the issue of slavery.

jsid-1187638830-578622  LabRat at Mon, 20 Aug 2007 19:40:30 +0000

Nicely said, U-Jedi.

jsid-1187650355-578633  Emeril at Mon, 20 Aug 2007 22:52:35 +0000

Ed, if I remember correctly, it was the Constitution of the United States that outlawed the slave trade, twenty years after its adoption (1789).

(I hear there was some illegal trafficking after this, but I'm not sure to what extent.)

jsid-1187669359-578655  EricWS at Tue, 21 Aug 2007 04:09:19 +0000

The professor wo teaches Southern History at LSU, Gaines M. Foster, asks incoming students to his course that covers the Civil War and its aftermath what the Confederate Battle Flag means to them. At the end of the course he tells the class what percentage said "Heritage", or "Hatred", or whatever. My answer: "Open rebellion against the government of the United States".

I think he spent the rest of the semester trying to figure out if I thought that was a good or bad thing.

Were the seceding states' primarily motivated by the economic remifications of the curtailing or banning of slavery? Yes. Did they have the legal right to secede? Yes. Whatever your postion on the legality of the secession, firing on Fort Sumpter was a causus belli. Either rebels were attacking the legitimate government, or foreign nationals were attacking a US military installation. Now whether the actions of the men in Fort Sumpter before the shelling began were a causus belli themselves....

I have heard people suggest that if the North had not wanted to punish the South, but merely end slavery, they could have simply offered to buy these people, and then free them. Then Southern slave owners would not have been deprived of their "property" without compensation.

jsid-1187698870-578661  Ed at Tue, 21 Aug 2007 12:21:10 +0000

Emeril, you are correct. The constitution outlawed the importation of African slaves in 1808, I believe. This did not end the trade in African slaves by Yankee Traders, they merely sold them in the Caribbean. (Some were illegally traded in Texas and Jim Bowie had a hand in it!) One of the largest slaving vessels in the North was impressed into service of the United States Navy during "The war for Southern Independence". She could hold 930 slaves. I don't remember her name.

There still seems to be much misunderstanding of the Sumter affair. When South Carolina seceded, she asked the US to withdraw her troops garrisoned at Ft. Moultrie. Anderson, instead, spiked the guns at Moultrie and moved to the better ground at Sumter. He had no clear direction from his government because Buchannan washed his hands of the affair and waited for Lincoln to clean it up.

The land occupied belonged South Carolina, not the US government. South Carolina agreed to make an accounting of all US government property and return it to same.

The US (via Secretary of War Staton, [a bastard if there ever was one])told representatives of the CSA that Sumter would be evacuated and all would be well. In the meantime, the CSA supplied Anderson and his men with food supplies as his were running low.

Stanton concocted a scheme to reinforce Sumter. I believe it was commanded by Lincoln's bitter enemy Freemont. There is some controversy as to how much Lincoln knew and whether a message by him scraping the message was received or ignored by Freemont. Bottom line is the reinforcments showed up in the harbor and Beauregard had no option, but to shell. The letters between Beauregard and Anderson are fascinating and full of "flowery politeness."

The picture I get is South Carolina acted unilaterally and in good faith. I do not believe the act was calculated to precipitate the war.

jsid-1187700173-578663  Ed at Tue, 21 Aug 2007 12:42:53 +0000

Article 1 Section 9 US Constitution:

The Migration and Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a Tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.

Article 1 Section 7 CSA Constitution:

The importation of African negroes from any foreign country, other than the slaveholding States of the United States, is hereby forbidden; and Congress are required to pass such laws as shall effectually prevent the same.

As you can see, the US constitution left the legality of the importation of African slaves to the states, the CSA constitution abolished it altogether. At the time of the War, I believe all southern states had banned the importation of African slaves, most of the Northern sates had not.

I wonder why this isn't generally in the history books?

jsid-1187701579-578664  OtherWhiteMatt at Tue, 21 Aug 2007 13:06:19 +0000

Actually, Fort Sumpter was no longer a federal property. It was given to the federal government by South Carolina under Art I, Sec 8 Clause 17

"...to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings;"

Once South Carolina seceded, it reclaimed this land back as South Carolina property. Lincoln actually forced the South's hand- by attempted to resupply Fort Sumpter, he was attempted to keep the property as federal, and actually was invading South Carolina. So while the South fired the first shot, the were only acting in defense of their property.

The North was the agressor. And while one of the reasons of the war was slavery- it was not the main reason. In fact, Lincoln actually proposed an Amendment to the Constitution that would keep slavery legal in the US forever. He (like the rest of the North) hated blacks, and did not care about them. He proposed this amendment to keep the South in the Union, because he wanted to keep the money from the tariffs from the South.

The war was over the structure of the federal government and who was supreme- the states or the federal government. Slavery was just an excuse. But the federal government won- but only by force. Remember- the federal government is actually only an AGENT of the states. It was created by the states with powers delegated by the states.

I believe the world would have been a much better place had the South won. Slavery would have ended eventually (as the economic forces would kill it) and even more importantly, peacefully. Every other country ended slavery peacefully and without the deaths of 650,000 people. Blacks would not have become as hated as they were- as the southerners used them as a scapegoat (especially after the Republicans put blacks in power after the war).

Also, the US would probably not fought any of the wars afterwords- including WWI. And without the entry of the US in WWI, there would have been no Hitler, as the conditions after the world led to the rise of Hitler. No WWI would mean no Soviet Union (as Lenon would not have been able to take power as the war would have ended too soon).

Without WWI and WWII, the Middle East would not be the mess it is, because the British and French would not have split up that area along arbitrary lines, and with that split up different people/religions and put them with their enemies.

In the end, many people would be much better off, and there would be more freedom in the world. Unintended consequences, indeed.

jsid-1187704017-578665  Ed at Tue, 21 Aug 2007 13:46:57 +0000

Interesting speculation Matt. SC did not agree that Sumter was federal property, however:

South Carolina in 1805, by legislative enactment, ceded to the United States, in Charleston Harbor and on Beaufort River, various forts and fortifications, and sites for the erection of forts, on the following conditions, viz.:

"That, if the United States shall not, within three years from the passing of this act, and notification thereof by the Governor of this State to the Executive of the United States, repair the fortifications now existing thereon or build such other forts or fortifications as may be deemed most expedient by the Executive of the United States on the same, and keep a garrison or garrisons therein; in such case this grant or cession shall be void and of no effect."—("Statutes at Large of South Carolina," vol. v, p. 501.)

It will hardly be contended that the conditions of this grant were fulfilled, and, if it be answered that the State did not demand the restoration of the forts or sites, the answer certainly fails after 1860, when the controversy arose, and the unfounded assertion was made that those forts and sites had been purchased with the money, and were therefore the property, of the United States. The terms of the cession sufficiently manifest that they were free-will offerings of such forts and sites as belonged to the State; and public functionaries were bound to know that, by the United States law of March 20, 1794, it was provided "that no purchase shall be made where such lands are the property of a State."—(Act to provide for the defense of certain ports and harbors of the United States.)


jsid-1187711722-578675  Ed at Tue, 21 Aug 2007 15:55:22 +0000

CORRECTION (African Slave Trade):

The US constitution prohibited Congress from barring the importation of African slaves until 1808. I referenced a source which said the US never passed such an ordinance. It appears this is an error and the US did pass such an ordinace Jan 1, 1808.

Mea culpa

jsid-1187728625-578695  Stephen at Tue, 21 Aug 2007 20:37:05 +0000

I _am_ a damnyankee, and I've long held that the War wasn't about slavery. I agree with Phelps:

"The US Civil War was about slavery in the same way that the current war is about oil. Yes, it is a strong factor, but it isn't the reason for the war."

Lincoln declared the emancipation as a _tactic_ to hurt the south long after the war was underway. The south was basically fighting for ideals that today would (ironically) be called "libertarian" -- rebellion against a government that was claiming too much power.

jsid-1187740163-578711  James at Tue, 21 Aug 2007 23:49:23 +0000

Lincoln said very plainly that if he could preserve the Union by abolishing slavery, he would do it, and if he could preserve the Union without abolishing slavery, he would do that, too.

Read the northern papers from about a year after the war started. They are full of abolitionist editorials wondering why the government was blowing a great opportunity to end slavery. They were demanding that the war be made about slavery, both to motivate the northerners and to shame the southerners. One of the points raised again and again was that it was immoral to fight a war for base economic reasons while ignoring an opportunity to correct one the most egregious moral problems of the day. If the war was about slavery and always had been, why was this necessary? Why would they try to convince the people to fight a war to end slavery in the middle of a war started to end slavery?

Due to their population, the North had overwhelming representation in Congress. That is how they got all of those tariffs passed over the strenuous objection of the South. The North could have ended slavery any time it wanted the same way it had been ended everywhere else in the world - by declaring it illegal and paying the slave holders for their slaves. Slavery had been ended peacefully everywhere it had been abolished. Even the most ardent abolitionists weren’t calling for a war to end slavery because it wasn’t necessary. Before the war, they were all engaged in pushing for political solutions – speeches, debates, editorials, etc. No one was willing to start an actual war to end slavery - there wasn’t even a will in the North for the political fight needed to end it.

jsid-1187746466-578722  Kevin Baker at Wed, 22 Aug 2007 01:34:26 +0000

Due to their population, the North had overwhelming representation in Congress.

Yes, and slaves only counted for 3/5ths of a person under the Constitution, and they represented a very large segment of the populations of the Southern states.

jsid-1187748700-578725  James at Wed, 22 Aug 2007 02:11:40 +0000

"Yes, and slaves only counted for 3/5ths of a person under the Constitution, and they represented a very large segment of the populations of the Southern states."

OK... due to the North's *white* population they had overwhelming representation in Congress.

The point was, the North had the votes to end slavery had they chosen to do so. It would have taken a little persuasion and political will, but few in North gave enough of a damn to even try. It wasn't worth it to them.

I really wish the civil war had been about ending slavery. It's about the finest damn reason to start a war I can think of. Unfortunately, it just isn't so. It was about money and power.

jsid-1187749380-578726  Kevin Baker at Wed, 22 Aug 2007 02:23:00 +0000

I really wish the civil war had been about ending slavery.

It wasn't about ending it, it was about preserving it. While you are correct that the North could have voted to end it, it didn't have the will. But the South thought they did, and considered the election of Lincoln proof of it.

jsid-1187783903-578736  Ed at Wed, 22 Aug 2007 11:58:23 +0000

The balance of power in the legislature was pretty evenly split between North and South. The abolitionists were just another minority. There were not nearly enough votes to abolish slavery. Slavery, as an institution, was safe in the existing southern states. Lincoln said so, much to the chagrin of the abolitionists who supported him. This was a major plank in his Republican platform; the South and everybody else know it!

All the debates in Congress leading to the war centered around slavery in the new states, especially Kansas and Nebraska. These debates were couched in the language of "states rights". If slavery were excluded from the new states, the balance of power between the North and South would not be maintained. With the balance of power shifted towards Northern interests, the South feared (rightly) that their slave based agrarian economy would be threatened at some future date.

Kevin's right and much less wordy than I.

jsid-1187798553-578739  Kevin Baker at Wed, 22 Aug 2007 16:02:33 +0000

"Kevin's right and much less wordy than I."

That's the first time EVER someone's said THAT!

jsid-1187840358-578771  Patrick at Thu, 23 Aug 2007 03:39:18 +0000

May I suggest "The Real Lincoln" by Thomas J. DiLorenzo for a rather well-written and researched repudiation of the "we went to war to end slavery" meme. Its a quick but fascinating read -- stuff that you'll NEVER get from any history course.

jsid-1187876418-578773  Kevin Baker at Thu, 23 Aug 2007 13:40:18 +0000


The North did not "go to war to end slavery."

The South went to war TO PRESERVE IT.

There is a distinct and important difference there.

jsid-1187880503-578778  Fodder at Thu, 23 Aug 2007 14:48:23 +0000

On the subject of what might have happened had the war come out differently:

Imagine if the second Confederacy had actually formed and stood? No war, country split three ways, various alliances?

What if both sides had pulled back from war and settled it peacefully? What would the country look like today?

Or how about a third or / and forth party had chosen that time to attack the North or South and won?

The possibilities are endless and fasinating.

jsid-1187897406-578795  Ed at Thu, 23 Aug 2007 19:30:06 +0000

Yes the South "went to war" to preserve slavery, but who started it?

The North was the first to mobilize. The North was first to "seize" Southern property (Sumter, see above). The North was the first to invade (Maryland, (W)Virginia, Kentucky, Missouri).

I seldom indulge in historical speculation because major events hinge on the minutest detail. If the weather were a little different, Sumter might have had an entirely different outcome, or may not have happened at all!

What if there were no slaves at all and cotton was picked by Irish immigrants paid a pittance? The economic situation would have been about the same. Let's even dig up and throw Tip O'Neil into the legislature to stir things up a bit. Would a war costing over half a million lives been fought under these circumstances? I can't convince myself that it would have. I might believe that the South would still secede, but I don't believe the North would have gone to war to prevent it.

jsid-1187989343-578858  markm at Fri, 24 Aug 2007 21:02:23 +0000

If you claim that the South did not secede over slavery, please explain why they seceded in 1861. All those economic issues and tariffs slanted against the south had been ongoing since before Andrew Jackson's Presidency.

What changed in 1860 was quite simply the election of a President pledged, not to abolish slavery, but only to prevent it's extension to new states. THAT was what the first seven states to succeed found intolerable - that their sick system was going into quarantine.

And of course, secession alone couldn't cure that problem. To be able to annex new territories in what was then federal territory, the Confederacy had to fight the federal government and at least do well enough to force a negotiated settlement. Lincoln had neither the votes in Congress to abolish slavery (not that he wanted to - at least, not until the funds could be found somewhere to buy the slaves and ship all the Africans back to Africa), nor to get Congress to authorize starting a war. Without a war, the Confederacy would have been restricted to it's original territories, or to trying to grab off pieces of Mexico and further south, but slavery in the original seven states would have been safe for as long as they could afford it - which wouldn't have been forever, since intensive cotton cultivation wore out the soil, and slavery was definitely not economically competitive at anything that didn't involve hard labor under the semi-tropical sun.

So, my take is that Lincoln maybe indirectly encouraged the federal commander of the fort(s) in Charleston harbor to be a bit of an a**hole, and he definitely saw that the supply ships kept coming so the federal troops _could_ stay there. And North Carolina obligingly started the war - because they also wanted one. And while slavery wasn't the only issue, it was the most important one and the one that pushed most of the south over the edge into secession and then war.

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