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"The 'Other' Side of the Slavery Question" Topic

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Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP03 Oct 2021 3:28 a.m. PST

Has anyone seen or read this book on the British 'defense' of the institution of slavery?

The Interest: How the British Establishment Resisted the Abolition of Slavery.

How the British Establishment Resisted the Abolition of Slavery

"For two hundred years, the abolition of slavery in Britain has been a cause for self-congratulation – but no longer."

"In 1807, Parliament outlawed the slave trade in the British Empire, but for the next quarter of a century, despite heroic and bloody rebellions, more than 700,000 people in the British colonies remained enslaved. And when a renewed abolitionist campaign was mounted, making slave ownership the defining political and moral issue of the day, emancipation was fiercely resisted by the powerful 'West India Interest'. Supported by nearly every leading figure of the British establishment – including Canning, Peel and Gladstone, The Times and Spectator – the Interest ensured that slavery survived until 1833 and that when abolition came at last, compensation was given not to the enslaved but to the slaveholders. Worth £340.00 GBP billion in today's money, this was the largest pay-out in British history before the banking rescue package of 2008, incurring a national debt that was only repaid in 2015 and entrenching the power of slaveholders and their families to shape modern Britain."

"Drawing on major new research, this long-overdue and ground-breaking history shows that the triumph of abolition was also one of the darkest episodes in British history, revealing the lengths to which British leaders went to defend the indefensible in the name of profit."

And the English settlers were the ones who bought the first slaves in Jamestown in 1619…not yet Americans…

noggin2nog03 Oct 2021 3:46 a.m. PST

No "news" in that – the payments to compensate slave owners were laid out in the Slavery Abolition Act 1833, Section XXIV. The important item is that slavery was abolished – it took the USA a Civil War, 3% of their population as casualties and $5.2 USD billion financial cost(1865 value, equivalent to $87 USD billion today)to reach the same point.

Personal logo David Manley Supporting Member of TMP03 Oct 2021 5:28 a.m. PST

Major new research that uncovers something that has been public knowledge since 1833 :)

doc mcb03 Oct 2021 5:29 a.m. PST

Wouldn't have been so "easy' (it wasn't) had the southern slave states still been colonies.

advocate03 Oct 2021 9:50 a.m. PST

Probably true Doc. Best argument for the AWI I've come across. :)

dantheman Supporting Member of TMP03 Oct 2021 9:53 a.m. PST

There was a movie called ‘Amazing Grace' about Wilberforce and the abolition of slavery. The actor that played Horacio Hornblower in the series was Wilberforce. Another major character in the movie was Ban Tartleton who opposed Wilberforce in the Parliament.

doc mcb03 Oct 2021 11:23 a.m. PST

Lots of might-have-been including no cotton gin and no Nat Turner. Slavery was falling into disfavor in the south prior to 1830. The Colonization Society (Liberia) was widely supported, both parties and all sections. But the devil was in the game.

Personal logo Silurian Supporting Member of TMP03 Oct 2021 1:54 p.m. PST

Yeah, not exactly new, and not exactly a surprise. Like everyone was going to go "oh, alright then!"
Still a triumph.

Personal logo Silurian Supporting Member of TMP03 Oct 2021 1:57 p.m. PST

Since the numbers of slaves increased steadily from about 0.5 million in 1780 to about 4 million in 1860, it's hard to see how slavery was falling into disfavor in the south during this time.

Tortorella Supporting Member of TMP03 Oct 2021 2:40 p.m. PST

The South was a wealthy region in 1860, based on the slave economy. I don't think slavery was falling into disfavor. Reading the various secession declaration documents or Stephens Cornerstone speech makes it difficult to imagine that disfavor had been in the works for 30 years, at least to any meaningful extent. As Stephens said, slavery was the foundation.

I don't think the Colonization Society was widely supported. It was certainly not a success. Was it not strongly attacked by abolitionists, and seen by some in the South as a way to get rid of freed blacks who were thought to be instigators of slave revolt? It really did nothing to change slavery or avert the war. An interesting but minor bit of history.

John the OFM03 Oct 2021 2:56 p.m. PST

Lots of might-have-been including no cotton gin and no Nat Turner. Slavery was falling into disfavor in the south prior to 1830. The Colonization Society (Liberia) was widely supported, both parties and all sections. But the devil was in the game.

It didn't take Eli Whitney to invent the cotton gin. It was simply waiting for someone to invent it. I believe his patent was disputed, there were so many options. Savvy manufacturing and advertising also helped.
"Falling into disfavor…" do you have any scientific polls to back that up? Or was it merely obscure editorialists with a conscience moaning?
Nat Turner's wasn't the only rebellion either.

As for shipping freed slaves back to Africa, I would be curious about how that was to be financed, and run. Would the same ships as used on the Middle Passage be used? With the same accommodations?
Who would pay for it?
How many slaves were there?
How would the slave owners be compensated, and who would pay for that?
How many slaves were there to be freed and shipped back?
Would the infamous laws that defined a single drop of Black blood be instituted? (Those laws were greatly admired by Hitler and Himmler, by the way…)
Would ALL freed slaves be required to be sent back? At the point of a bayonet?

As for the Federal Government paying these expenses, how was that money to be raised? It took a Constitutional amendment to adopt the Income tax in 1913. Excise taxes? Extremely unpopular.
I know! How about renewing the slave trade, but with tariffs?

No. Sending freed slaves back to Africa was a fantasy and economically unviable. Or maybe abolitionists could hold a lottery.
Silly pipe dream.

I realize that SOME slaves were "repatriated" to Liberia. But they were few in number and formed a separate ruling class that still persists.

Personal logo Parzival Supporting Member of TMP03 Oct 2021 4:13 p.m. PST

So you can't see how in eighty years a population could increase by 8x with no effective birth control?
Let's say the slave population was even split male and female, and the birth rate was only at true-replacement rate of 2 children (very low in any primitive culture). That means in one generation the population has increased by 500,000 slaves. The next generation then increases another half a mill. If twenty years is a generation, then in 80 years— 4 generations— the size of the population has increased to 2.5 million. And that's at an absurdly low birth rate for the time. If anything, the numbers would be doubled or tripled, if not more. Looking at it, it's actually amazing that the slave population was so low by 1860. Yes, infant mortality was high, as was child mortality, death in childbirth, and general death all around, so that keeps the numbers lower, but even so, having only 4 million slaves after 80 years with a starting population of half a mill is indeed "fading,"
You also seem to ignore that slavery in America was already on the way out for the Northern states.

Vermont abolished slavery and declared automatic emancipation for adult slaves (21 and up for men, 18 and up for women) in its constitution of 1777, in the middle of the AWI!
The State of Pennsylvania formally abolished slavery in 1780 (though the law was written as a gradual process).
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts effectively established full-blown emancipation and abolition with their constitution of 1780, backed up by subsequent state court decisions in 1781-1783. By 1790 there were NO slaves recorded in the state census for Massachusetts!
In 1784 Connecticut passed a law to gradually abolish slavery, though the structure was so written that it would not wind up with full emancipation until 1848– but it had set the ball rolling.
The US Congress outlawed slavery in the Northwest Territory in 1787.
The US Congress, urged on by Thomas Jefferson, outlawed the international slave trade in 1806, the law taking effect in 1807– notably before the British Parliament's own act
And these are not the only abolition laws and efforts put into place in America long before 1860 and the US Civil War! Heck, even the US Civil War is evidence itself— given that over HALF of the United States were OPPOSED to slavery and were themselves Free States where slavery had literally been abolished for decades! The United States of America acted to end slavery, and it was the Stars & Stripes that flew over the effort to do so— it certainly wasn't the flag of any other nation in the world (who, in all their piety, continued to do business with and support the slave states during the latter's rebellion against the US Constitution and US law— and I use those terms as a proud Southerner, well aware of other situations behind the war).

Facts like this always seems to get overlooked in the popular modern-day condemnation of the USA— everybody sings the praises of Great Britain and Mexico, etc., but significant abolition efforts had already occurred in the United States of America before much of the rest of the world took action!

So, yes, the practice was "fading" in the US as a whole, and the bulk of the population (the Northern states) were actively demanding abolition in the various new territories opening up, into which they were the primary source of settlers. It should be remembered that Lincoln was a known abolitionist who won election to the Presidency for the most part based on his opposition to slavery and a clear desire on the part of his voters to kill the practice once and for all (not that he actually was taking any action on that point at the time). The mere threat of that was enough to send the slave owners into apoplexy, because they now realized they were outnumbered, and therefore their practice of slavery (and the source of their wealth) was doomed. Slavery was lying on its deathbed in America, waiting merely to be sloughed off into the coffin. The shame of it was, had the South converted to a wage-based economic structure, they probably would have undergone an enormous economic boom— well-paid workers work harder, increase productivity, and benefit their society from their own income. A slave buys nothing, and his owner buys as little as possible on his behalf. A free worker buys clothes, food, housing, luxury goods, leisure activities, entertainment— things a slave owner would never buy— and pays taxes, too, enriching his community even as he enriches himself. Slavery was and is an idiotic economic system; only fear and misplaced, short-sighted greed kept it in place, in the South or anywhere else.

doc mcb03 Oct 2021 6:10 p.m. PST

There were more anti-slavery groups active in the south than in the north, before 1833, and the possibility of state action towards gradual emancipation. For example: link

John the OFM03 Oct 2021 6:24 p.m. PST

They weren't very effective, were they? grin
And they had nil political power.

I'm willing to concede numbers of groups. I have no idea.
But what did they accomplish, compared to the power of abolitionist groups in the North? Nothing.

rmaker03 Oct 2021 9:16 p.m. PST

I suggest all of you read "The Road to Disunion" by William Freehling.

And the South wasn't all that wealthy, but was, in fact heavily debt-ridden.

Old Contemptible03 Oct 2021 10:19 p.m. PST

The fact that the Southerners were willing to succeeded and fight a civil war to keep slavery is proof enough. Conservatively speaking, 600,000 soldiers lost their lives in the Civil War, two percent of the American population at the time. Twenty percent of all Southern white men of military age died in the War.

The slave trade was a major industry in the South. In 1860 the estimated value of all the slave property in Virginia alone was more than $300 USD million dollars (in 1860 money). Fortunes were made in the slave trade.

Without the slave trade the economic impact on the South would be catastrophic (as it turned out it was). No wonder every Southern Succession Convention named the possible abolition of slavery was the reason for succession. Read the CSA Constitution, read Stephens' Foundation Speech.

The Cotton Gin ironically lead to an increase in the number of slaves in the South. The increased demand for slaves resulted in slavery raising from around 700,000 slaves in the years before its invention to nearly double that in the next two decades. Any hope that abolitionists had for a reduction or cessation of slavery ended with that machine.

Old Contemptible03 Oct 2021 10:52 p.m. PST

There were southern abolitionist organizations after the Revolutionary War in Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware. South of these states, organizations with an abolition mission seemed incapable of organizing. Several factors led to their demise. The 1791 slave revolts in Haiti and the ever present economic factors of free labor and the money to be made in the trade. After 1800 there were few anti-slavery voices in the south, especially the deep South. Not a healthy position to take.

Au pas de Charge04 Oct 2021 6:31 a.m. PST

There were more anti-slavery groups active in the south than in the north, before 1833, and the possibility of state action towards gradual emancipation. For example: link

I would never doubt that most people in the South were no more racist than anywhere else but the powerful worked around the clock to make sure the movement towards justice was quashed.

Personal logo Parzival Supporting Member of TMP04 Oct 2021 8:00 a.m. PST

Old Contemptible, you neglect to recognize that some 100,000 Southern men served in the Union Army, coming from significant areas throughout the South which were opposed to secession. The largest contingents came from Tennessee, North Carolina, and Virginia (including what would become the new state of West Virginia), but significant troops were raised in all Southern states except South Carolina.
Note that these were pure volunteers, not draftees— the CSA established a draft early on in the war, as did the North, so it's not really possible to know how many Southerners under arms did so willingly, much less out of any desire to defend slavery. In any case, consider what those 100,000 men would have meant for the Southern war effort— that number might well have turned the tide of the war (and quite possibly did— in favor of the Union!).

The "Solid South" is a myth. There never was a monolithic point of view in support of slavery, especially among the marginalized, rural white population who owned few if any slaves. But they had little public voice in the debate— but when the war came, they voted with their feet (and in many cases their horses' hooves) to walk over to the Union side.

John the OFM04 Oct 2021 8:49 a.m. PST

Similar conflicts between the gentry on the coast and the "backwoods" can be seen in the Regulator movement and even in the American Revolution.
The Regulators, who coincidentally owned few slaves, felt that they were oppressed by the government of North Carolina. This culminated in the Battle of Alamance, which immediately preceded the War.
Similarly, many of the same folks became Loyalists. Ironically, this gave us Jacobite exiles fighting for Hanoverian King George. If the coastal elite were Whigs, then they were Tories. Simple as that. And that gives a pretty good indication of how they felt treated by the gentry. This lead to the disaster at Moore's Creek.
Resentment burns deep, and this can partially explain the 100,000 Southerners joining the Union army. Again, opposition to the coastal elite, who were coincidentally slave owners.

Hey! I have a great idea! Let's drag WARGAMING into this thread on an alleged wargaming site. I ran a very fun Wargame loosely based on Widow Moore's Creek Bridge! I used modified Sword and the Flame rules, with both sides given "things they can do" the night before the battle.
And Alamance is on my list too. I just need to paint a bunch of FIW British (with some ‘45 Brits thrown in to bulk up the army). Oh, I have militia. Believe me.

Now back to our regular programming of Lost Cause special pleading.

doc mcb04 Oct 2021 8:55 a.m. PST

Forrest MacDonald said (in E PLURIBUS UNUM) that the ex-Regulators "were loyal to a king who, for all they knew, might only have been a rumor."

doc mcb04 Oct 2021 9:03 a.m. PST

Parzival, yes, and otoh places like southern Illinois were rife with Copperheads.

I always open my lectures on slavery this way: we are dealing with a human institution that lasted two and a half centuries, involved tens of millions of people, and was subject to more than a dozen sets of laws (primarily the states). Slavery was different on large plantations versus small farms; in the upper south versus the lower; in southern cities vs rural areas; and in 1800 versus 1850. It is exceedingly difficult to make ANY valid generalization beyond the most obvious (slavery is evil because one human should not own another) because the exceptions often outnumber the rule. "Was it illegal to teach a slave to read?" That cannot be answered except by specifying a year and a state. Asking "what was it like to be a slave?" is like asking "what is it like to be a woman?"; the range of possible answers is so wide that no single answer can suffice. It is COMPLICATED.

doc mcb04 Oct 2021 9:12 a.m. PST

I would never doubt that most people in the South were no more racist than anywhere else but the powerful worked around the clock to make sure the movement towards justice was quashed.

Yes, except I'd say everyone at this point was racist; white superiority was assumed as obvious and also regarded as scientific. The average northerner was not an abolitionist, but a "free soiler" who wanted the west free of slavery and also of Africans. "Justice" was the concern of very few.

doc mcb04 Oct 2021 9:17 a.m. PST

And the South wasn't all that wealthy, but was, in fact heavily debt-ridden.

Well yes, exactly like the US today: very wealthy and with a staggering debt. Slavery (or, primarily, single-crop agriculture, especially of a crop that exhausts the soil) produced great wealth and also kept the south undeveloped and relatively poor. And MOST SOUTHERNERS KNEW THAT.

July 8 1862
Table-talk to-day: This war was undertaken by us to shake off the yoke of foreign invaders. So we consider our cause righteous. The Yankees, since the war has begun, have discovered it is to free the slaves that they are fighting. So their cause is noble. They also expect to make the war pay. Yankees do not undertake anything that does not pay. They think we belong to them. We have been good milk cows – milked by the tariff, or skimmed. We let them have all of our hard earnings. We bear the ban of slavery; they get the money. Cotton pays everybody who handles it, sells it, manufactures it, but rarely pays the man who grows it. Second hand the Yankees received the wages of slavery. They grew rich. We grew poor. The receiver is as bad as the thief. That applies to us, too, for we received the savages they stole from Africa and brought to us in their slave-ships. As with the Egyptians, so it shall be with us: if they let us go, it must be across a Red Sea – but one made red by blood.

Chesnut's diary

John the OFM04 Oct 2021 9:18 a.m. PST

How many Copperheads went south to join the Confederate army?

doc mcb04 Oct 2021 9:33 a.m. PST

None, as far as I know; Lincoln arrested them all. Estimates of arrests made under the suspension of habeus corpus range from about 13,000 to about 38,000.

Tortorella Supporting Member of TMP04 Oct 2021 11:08 a.m. PST

The old Chestnut chestnut! " Yankees do not undertake anything that does not pay" Yes we do. A lot of things, like fighting the British or saving the Union. We are nothing special, but we do not deserve the Chestnut spin.

In 1961, Bruce Catton said, "under everything else, the war was about Negro slavery…it was about freedom." And he had talked to actual Union veterans in Michigan when he was young.

There is no way to spin or undo all of this.

There were a lot of Copperheads. No way Lincoln arrested them all. They did engage in suspected treasonous activity. Lincoln could not have them promoting desertion from the army, or planning to set free Confederate prisoners, meeting with Confederates, etc. But no way would they have fought in the Rebel army.

The army voted Lincoln back in 1864 to finish the war.

John the OFM04 Oct 2021 11:22 a.m. PST

Well, doc, if 100,000 Southerners enlisted in the Union army, and no Copperheads enlisted in the Confederate army, the comparison is kind of like apples and bricks. Irrelevant.

Is this the kind of academic rigor you insist on in your classes?

Personal logo Parzival Supporting Member of TMP04 Oct 2021 12:23 p.m. PST

Actually, John, it is relevant at least as a comparison of known dissenters as a percentage of the population, regardless of actual military service for the "enemy" side or not.

So in the much less populated South, you have 100,000 men who left their homes, went North, joined the Union Army and proceeded to fight for what they believed in— and who knows how many stayed behind and acted as partisans, or weren't able to leave?

But in the far more populated North, you have at most about a third of that number engaged in the reverse activity. So in other words, the malcontents of the North were a minor percentage, whether involved in the war effort or not, whereas in the South the percentage opposed to the Confederacy was significantly great indeed!

doc mcb04 Oct 2021 12:37 p.m. PST

My point is simply that neither side was all that united. It is not a "rigorous" point, but decidedly lackadaisical.

There are good reasons why Lincoln, as shrewd a politician as has ever existed, made the war initially one to preserve the Union. It DID, as Chesnut observed, become a war against slavery, and of course Lincoln was glad of that. But the north was far from united against slavery, and primarily opposed the expansion of slavery into the west. The northern public would never have countenanced a bloody war JUST to free slaves. However much later generations insist on seeing it so. Consider the history of mob violence against abolitionists in the north. Northerners knew how much of their own prosperity depended on southern cotton and slave labor, and were as automatically devoted to white supremacy.

The book is OP, and very much a 60's Vietnam era analysis, but Gentlemen of Property and Standing by Leonard Richards

is a good discussion of why there was so much mob violence against abolitionists in the north (Lovejoy being the most famous but far from the only example).

doc mcb04 Oct 2021 1:05 p.m. PST

The "Solid South" is a myth. There never was a monolithic point of view in support of slavery, especially among the marginalized, rural white population who owned few if any slaves. But they had little public voice in the debate— but when the war came, they voted with their feet (and in many cases their horses' hooves) to walk over to the Union side.

This is a good example of a true statement of which the opposite is at least as true, or rather more so. "The marginalized, rural white population who owned few if any slaves" also happens to describe the Confederate infantry. "Why are you fighting us?" "Because you are HERE."

Tortorella Supporting Member of TMP04 Oct 2021 1:30 p.m. PST

I think Blatthar says that about forty percent of the ANV came from slave holding households. Some less well off soldiers likely saw slaves as a sign of affluence and a way to get ahead. A substantial number of slaves generally marched with the ANV. I am not sure what anyone thinks of Blatthar or whether I have got this quite right.

Nobody is saying that anything about this is cut and dried, and there are always exceptions, but I think it is pretty clear in general that slavery caused the war, that the south supported it and the north did not.

It happened, you can't really spin it too much, and we all own it in some fashion or other.

doc mcb04 Oct 2021 2:57 p.m. PST

"Dr. McBride, tell me in one sentence what caused the Civil War."

"Well Suzie, the Civil War was caused by the unwillingness or inability of the northern and southern states to resolve peacefully within the federal union the issue of the expansion of slavery into the western territories."

John the OFM04 Oct 2021 3:21 p.m. PST

You're making it sound like it's a disagreement over railroad track gauges.

Tortorella Supporting Member of TMP04 Oct 2021 4:05 p.m. PST

This was not some sort of discussion or disagreement as you would normally use the word. It tore the nation apart over the years and the South eventually took the ultimate step to keep slavery going.

Read the articles of secession. For most states the first sentence or two will tell you enough.

Slavery was horrible – once also legal in the north, and the war was horrible. It is more of a nightmare than some warm, hazy recollection of heroes. Too many dead. It just keeps bad feelings going on both sides to try and spin it. We are way past blame. It belongs to our story. It is what it is. It is not a put down of anyone here now. It's our history and we share it and learn from it, shine a light and move ahead.

doc mcb04 Oct 2021 4:28 p.m. PST

John, no, that is silly.

Tort, of course I have read the articles of secession. They are political documents written by politicians. There are other documents written by politicians (starting with Lincoln) that give a different reason for the war. The south could have protected slavery where it existed by accepting the Corwin Amendment as Lincoln urged them to do in his first inaugural. It refused, because their concern was with the west.

Slavery was horrible. Slavery was horrible. Slavery was horrible! So was our bloodiest war. So was our bloodiest war. So was our bloodiest war! How many times must one say it? It is indeed our story, and the story is a tragic and complicated one, not some morality play or western where you can tell the good guys from the bad by the colors of their hats and the horses they are riding. Warm hazy recollection my ass.

Tortorella Supporting Member of TMP04 Oct 2021 4:42 p.m. PST

I said bad feelings on both sides…. Doc I apologise if I sounded personal. I said it's not a put down of anyone here now. I am as frustrated as you are, if for different reasons. I hope we can agree to disagree.

John the OFM04 Oct 2021 5:08 p.m. PST

You're making it seem like a silly political dispute that those Damyankees were too stiff necked to act like Gentlemen.

If you've read the various Articles of Secession, then you know it was all about PRESERVING SLAVERY.
Stop acting like there is blame on both sides.

doc mcb04 Oct 2021 5:17 p.m. PST

There was blame on both sides. Explain the south's rejection of the Corwin plan. Why should I give greater weight to one set of documents over others which are contemporary, at least as important, and say something different?

Tort, next time I use my definition -- which is precisely crafted -- I'll add some emoties showing sorrow and outrage and other suitable emotions. :)

doc mcb04 Oct 2021 5:20 p.m. PST

So do we think Lincoln knew what the war was about?

Executive Mansion,
Washington, August 22, 1862.

Hon. Horace Greeley:
Dear Sir.

I have just read yours of the 19th. addressed to myself through the New-York Tribune. If there be in it any statements, or assumptions of fact, which I may know to be erroneous, I do not, now and here, controvert them. If there be in it any inferences which I may believe to be falsely drawn, I do not now and here, argue against them. If there be perceptable in it an impatient and dictatorial tone, I waive it in deference to an old friend, whose heart I have always supposed to be right.

As to the policy I "seem to be pursuing" as you say, I have not meant to leave any one in doubt.

I would save the Union. I would save it the shortest way under the Constitution. The sooner the national authority can be restored; the nearer the Union will be "the Union as it was." If there be those who would not save the Union, unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause. I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors; and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views.

I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official duty; and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men every where could be free.

A. Lincoln.

Au pas de Charge04 Oct 2021 5:51 p.m. PST

"Dr. McBride, tell me in one sentence what caused the Civil War."

"Well Suzie, the Civil War was caused by the unwillingness or inability of the northern and southern states to resolve peacefully within the federal union the issue of the expansion of slavery into the western territories."

Assuming "Suzie" represents a member of the general public and not an American history scholar, why is this subtlety of expansion of slavery vs plain vanilla slavery important?

And about Lincoln's letter to Greeley, are we to assume Lincoln was sincere about the contents but the Southern States' articles of secession were all in secret society code? That they said "Slavery" but really meant "Western Expansion Slavery" (Slavery 2.0) or "Tariffs" but were too polite to be specific?

It would've been interesting if the Corwin Amendment had been accepted and ratified. Would it be preferable to the Civil War?

doc mcb04 Oct 2021 6:23 p.m. PST

As to the South accepting Corwin, it becomes, doesn't it, a matter of moral calculus. A war that kills 600,000 is a great evil. Slavery was a great evil. Was the first the ONLY WAY to eliminate the second? Not in a worldwide context. Many in both north and south believed slavery had to expand or die. Would a peaceful abolition, say thirty years later have been better? Reasonable people may have different answers to that.

As to Lincoln's statements: they were political documents written for public consumption. So were the secession declarations. They each and all ought to be interpreted in the same spirit (cynically, literally, or however) in all cases.

As to my sentence, I want to Suzie to understand that reality is complex, and that complex events have multiple complex causes. "Multiple causation" was a principle of history when I was in grad school fifty years ago, and I assume it still is. But somehow we've fooled ourselves into thinking that our most horrendous and monumental event was all because of one thing. Convenient to a lot of people who want history to be simple, and a club with which to beat their enemies, but it isn't the truth.

John the OFM04 Oct 2021 6:31 p.m. PST

The Corwin Amendment was rejected, or ignored, on both sides. Probably "ignored" is more relevant. Its intent was to render the Federal Government irrelevant.
It seems to me that the 14th amendment pretty well scuppered that idea.

Doc, you're clutching at straws, trying to assign blame to both sides.
The avowed intent of the seceding states was to PRESERVE AND EXPAND SLAVERY. It's right there in their secession resolutions.
You keep shouting that slavery was/evil. Good. Yet you also keep trying to defend the Confederacy with a faux "all are to blame" sophistry.

Lincoln's letter to Greeley can be considered disingenuous. Indeed, a President's primary responsibility is to preserve the Union.
Ahem. >>cough cough<<
Yet, his true feelings are well known.

doc mcb04 Oct 2021 7:01 p.m. PST

Ignored by being referenced by Lincoln in what he probably considered his most important speech ever?

John, I have always found you a subtle thinker, but on this you are being stubbornly myopic. To the extent the war was about slavery, the Confederacy was wrong and I am glad they lost. The word "slavery" IS in my sentence. (I'm also glad the Union held.)

But there were other things involved, including the rise of mutually reenforcing paranoias, the breakdown of EVERY national organization including the churches, and some JUSTIFIED southern outrage about how their section was milked by the rest of the nation while being condemned for how they produced the wealth that was milked.

And isn't the thing we are most concerned about, and most happy to see disappearing, racism? If THAT is the big moral issue, surely the north is as guilty as the south? (Though it is facile and simplistic to judge our ancestors for not holding our enlightened values -- though those values developed in some large part out of their own tragic experiences,)

The north mostly regarded blacks as inferior, The Abolitionists mostly did not (at least in potential) but were a tiny minority, some of whom became terrorists. Even during Reconstruction a lot of the northern public supported harsh treatment of the rebels and thought it a suitable punishment to force the southern whites to treat the freedmen as their equals. (All honor to the northern school marms who went south during Recon.) Northern support for Reconstruction, never THAT strong, dwindled in the face of the new immigration into the north from southern and eastern Europe, which created a non-WASP underclass that the north believed needed to be controlled -- just as the south controlled the freedmen.

I will put it a simply as I can: the south being wrong does not make the north right. Those who require a southern scapegoat for NATIONAL sins should examine their own motives.

John the OFM04 Oct 2021 7:07 p.m. PST

Doc, you're just embarrassing yourself.
Stop with the insulting "Oh, you disappoint me" nonsense. Like you're the distinguished Professor, and I'm a student you used to think was promising.

Tortorella Supporting Member of TMP04 Oct 2021 7:59 p.m. PST

We dont require anything like a scapegoat. I have already said we all own what happened, I don't need to win, beat someone with a club. I don't need you to express you own outrage about slavery. I get it. But I disagree with the direction you take in explaining the cause of the war.
Lincoln's letter to Greely is hardly comparable to the southern Declarations of Independence, forming a new nation based on preserving slavery, which followed the US election of a man widely considered the anti slavery president by the South. Others, including the North, did business with the south, indirectly supporting slavery. But the articles make clear that slavery was the foundation of the new nation. And the shots were fired.

Old Contemptible04 Oct 2021 10:07 p.m. PST


The majority of the Union regiments raised in the Confederacy were African American. White regiments were raised too but not near as many as Black regiments.

This usually happened after Union armies had occupied parts of a Confederate State. As before the war many Southerners who fought for the Union supported slavery but did not support succession. Delaware, Maryland and Kentucky remained in the Union as slave states.

By the end of the war there were more African Americans serving in the Union Army than there were soldiers in all the Confederacy. I fail to see how this is relevant to the number of abolitionist societies in the South before the war

Old Contemptible04 Oct 2021 10:16 p.m. PST

I think this entire discussion has gone on long enough. What we have here are the "lost cause" arguments. It is an attempt to rehabilitate the Confederacy.

In reality, the arguments being made are an elaborate and intentional effort on the part of Southerners to rationalize the secession and the war itself.

Unfortunately, skillful propagandists have been so successful in promoting this romanticized view that the "Lost Cause" has assumed a life of its own. Misrepresenting the war's true origins and its actual course, the myth of the "Lost Cause" distorts our national memory.

Personal logo Parzival Supporting Member of TMP04 Oct 2021 11:02 p.m. PST

Good grief. *I* am certainly not trying to put forth a "Lost Cause" argument, and I don't think anyone else is either, nor do I think anyone is trying to "rehabilitate the Confederacy." It is pure sophistry to assert such. It is neither wrong nor rehabilitating to assert that wars can have many causes, or to suggest that not all motivations involve either the worst nor best of those causes.

As for my statement, the 100,000 men I am referring to were not black soldiers, nor freed slaves; they were white Southerners who held the Union to be sacrosanct and essentially indivisible, on which argument I think they were correct. I cannot know how many were or weren't also opposed to slavery (though many were). In saying so, I am certainly not trying to redeem the South, but rather to correct a misunderstanding of history.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP05 Oct 2021 2:09 a.m. PST

Old Contemptible +2-well said and I am in complete agreement with your excellent points.

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