Today the Civil War started 150 years ago

Today, April 12, is the 150th anniversary of the fall of Ft. Sumter, which officially began the Civil War in 1861.

Civil War Trust: Civil War Sesquicentennial Home.

That’s really not long ago, in historical terms.  The lifetime of two old men.  What a tragedy, certainly the lowest point of American history.  With what zeal Americans on both sides slaughtered each other.  Our bloodiest war was with each other.  What a scandal was slavery in this land of the free, and what a sacrifice it took to end it.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Cincinnatus

    I’ll just go ahead and start us off with the inevitable:

    You mean the War of Northern Aggression, don’t you?

  • Cincinnatus

    I’ll just go ahead and start us off with the inevitable:

    You mean the War of Northern Aggression, don’t you?

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    Ah man, Cincinnatus, you beat me to it.

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    Ah man, Cincinnatus, you beat me to it.

  • Booklover

    Continuing with the statements of the last two post-ers, there are those who agree with the point of view of Dr. Veith’s last sentence, and there are those who do not:

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig2/miller1.html

  • Booklover

    Continuing with the statements of the last two post-ers, there are those who agree with the point of view of Dr. Veith’s last sentence, and there are those who do not:

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig2/miller1.html

  • Dennis Peskey

    Perhaps I missed something in my early history classes. I was convinced the Civil War began due to the dispute of State’s rights verses a Federal Government. The issue of slavery was not a fundamental cause at the onset of the conflict.
    Pax,
    Dennis

  • Dennis Peskey

    Perhaps I missed something in my early history classes. I was convinced the Civil War began due to the dispute of State’s rights verses a Federal Government. The issue of slavery was not a fundamental cause at the onset of the conflict.
    Pax,
    Dennis

  • Mockingbird

    In other news, today is also the 50th anniversary of human space flight. So you may combine that high with your low.

  • Mockingbird

    In other news, today is also the 50th anniversary of human space flight. So you may combine that high with your low.

  • Richard

    Dennis,
    How do you account for this language from the VICE-PRESIDENT of the CSA, Alexander Stephens:
    “The new constitution has put at rest, forever, all the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institution of African slavery as it exists amongst us, and the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization. This was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution. Jefferson in his forecast, had anticipated this, as the “rock upon which the old Union would split.” He was right. But whether he fully comprehended the great truth upon which that rock stood may be doubted. The prevailing ideas entertained by him . . . were that the enslavement of the African was in violation of the laws of nature; that it was wrong in principle, socially, morally, and politically. . . . Those ideas, however, were fundamentally wrong. They rested upon the assumption of the equality of races. This was an error. It was a sandy foundation, and the government built upon it fell when the “storm came and the wind blew.”

    Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its corner- stone rests upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first in the history of the world based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth. . . . Many governments have been founded upon the principle of the subordination of certain classes of the same race; such were and are in violation of the laws of nature. Our system commits no such violation. With us, all of the white race, however high or low, rich or poor, are equal in the eye of the law. Not so with the negro. Subordination is his place. He, by nature, or by the curse against Canaan, is fitted for that condition which he occupies in our system . . . . I have been asked, what of the future? It has been apprehended by some that we would have arrayed against us the civilized world. I care not who or how many they may be against us, when we stand upon the eternal principles of truth, if we are true to ourselves and the principles for which we contend, we must triumph.”

  • Richard

    Dennis,
    How do you account for this language from the VICE-PRESIDENT of the CSA, Alexander Stephens:
    “The new constitution has put at rest, forever, all the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institution of African slavery as it exists amongst us, and the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization. This was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution. Jefferson in his forecast, had anticipated this, as the “rock upon which the old Union would split.” He was right. But whether he fully comprehended the great truth upon which that rock stood may be doubted. The prevailing ideas entertained by him . . . were that the enslavement of the African was in violation of the laws of nature; that it was wrong in principle, socially, morally, and politically. . . . Those ideas, however, were fundamentally wrong. They rested upon the assumption of the equality of races. This was an error. It was a sandy foundation, and the government built upon it fell when the “storm came and the wind blew.”

    Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its corner- stone rests upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first in the history of the world based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth. . . . Many governments have been founded upon the principle of the subordination of certain classes of the same race; such were and are in violation of the laws of nature. Our system commits no such violation. With us, all of the white race, however high or low, rich or poor, are equal in the eye of the law. Not so with the negro. Subordination is his place. He, by nature, or by the curse against Canaan, is fitted for that condition which he occupies in our system . . . . I have been asked, what of the future? It has been apprehended by some that we would have arrayed against us the civilized world. I care not who or how many they may be against us, when we stand upon the eternal principles of truth, if we are true to ourselves and the principles for which we contend, we must triumph.”

  • DonS

    Dennis @ 4: I think it would be fair to say that slavery was at the root of the states’ rights issues that were the cause of the Civil War. However, the initial points of conflict were whether slavery would be permitted in new states and southern states extraditing runaway slaves from northern states. Emancipation of slaves in southern states was not at issue until the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1862, which was actually a desperation ploy by Lincoln after the Union was decimated in the Battle of Antietam and had no assurance it would win the war.

  • DonS

    Dennis @ 4: I think it would be fair to say that slavery was at the root of the states’ rights issues that were the cause of the Civil War. However, the initial points of conflict were whether slavery would be permitted in new states and southern states extraditing runaway slaves from northern states. Emancipation of slaves in southern states was not at issue until the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1862, which was actually a desperation ploy by Lincoln after the Union was decimated in the Battle of Antietam and had no assurance it would win the war.

  • Porcell

    Cincinnatus, at one: You mean the War of Northern Aggression, don’t you?

    Actually, it was The Civil War which in Lincoln’s initial view involved defending the Constitution against the secessionist South, though in the end it not only saved the Union but ended slavery.

    The terrible blood and treasure spent turns out to have been well worth it. Lincoln emerged from the war as our greatest president.

  • Porcell

    Cincinnatus, at one: You mean the War of Northern Aggression, don’t you?

    Actually, it was The Civil War which in Lincoln’s initial view involved defending the Constitution against the secessionist South, though in the end it not only saved the Union but ended slavery.

    The terrible blood and treasure spent turns out to have been well worth it. Lincoln emerged from the war as our greatest president.

  • The Jones

    If the Civil War wasn’t about slavery, then what was it about? If the civil war was about States’ Rights, then what rights were the states worried about defending?

    Just read the declarations of secession from all the Confederate states. Every one of them mentions slavery. Here’s a rather direct line from Mississippi’s declaration of Secession:

    “In the momentous step which our State has taken of dissolving its connection with the government of which we so long formed a part, it is but just that we should declare the prominent reasons which have induced our course. Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery– the greatest material interest of the world.”

    …..Yeah. I have a hard time saying this war was not about slavery.

  • The Jones

    If the Civil War wasn’t about slavery, then what was it about? If the civil war was about States’ Rights, then what rights were the states worried about defending?

    Just read the declarations of secession from all the Confederate states. Every one of them mentions slavery. Here’s a rather direct line from Mississippi’s declaration of Secession:

    “In the momentous step which our State has taken of dissolving its connection with the government of which we so long formed a part, it is but just that we should declare the prominent reasons which have induced our course. Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery– the greatest material interest of the world.”

    …..Yeah. I have a hard time saying this war was not about slavery.

  • Cincinnatus

    The Jones@9 and others:

    Historically and theoretically speaking, I think it’s fair to say that the Civil War was indeed fought over that thing called “state’s rights.” Slavery was a proxy for state’s rights. Unfortunately, it’s not fair to say that slavery was the only proxy–otherwise, the dispute would be meaningless (i.e., “the Civil War was about state’s rights, but the only state right in question was slavery, therefore the Civil War was about slavery). In reality, the Southern States were, in addition to slavery, concerned about tariffs, imports/exports, congressional representation, immigration, and the supremacy of the federal government over state sovereignty. Slavery was, at best, tangentially related to the first two questions, at least, which were, at the outset, tremendously important and controversial issues. In fact, slavery only became a central concern of the war very late in its prosecution. Quoting random luminaries from either side is dispositive: that x confederate believes the War was about slavery doesn’t make it so; Robert E. Lee didn’t think it was, after all. He was a fairly prominent figure in the Confederacy, by the way.

    For the moment, though, I’ll not take a side on this question; my first comment, PORCELL, was facetious (though I fail to see how the fact that Lincoln became our ‘greatest president’ justifies the Civil War and vindicates the progressive North).

  • Cincinnatus

    The Jones@9 and others:

    Historically and theoretically speaking, I think it’s fair to say that the Civil War was indeed fought over that thing called “state’s rights.” Slavery was a proxy for state’s rights. Unfortunately, it’s not fair to say that slavery was the only proxy–otherwise, the dispute would be meaningless (i.e., “the Civil War was about state’s rights, but the only state right in question was slavery, therefore the Civil War was about slavery). In reality, the Southern States were, in addition to slavery, concerned about tariffs, imports/exports, congressional representation, immigration, and the supremacy of the federal government over state sovereignty. Slavery was, at best, tangentially related to the first two questions, at least, which were, at the outset, tremendously important and controversial issues. In fact, slavery only became a central concern of the war very late in its prosecution. Quoting random luminaries from either side is dispositive: that x confederate believes the War was about slavery doesn’t make it so; Robert E. Lee didn’t think it was, after all. He was a fairly prominent figure in the Confederacy, by the way.

    For the moment, though, I’ll not take a side on this question; my first comment, PORCELL, was facetious (though I fail to see how the fact that Lincoln became our ‘greatest president’ justifies the Civil War and vindicates the progressive North).

  • http://www.cyberbrethren.com Rev. Paul T. McCain

    The latest issue of the Smithsonian has a great article on the bombardment of Fort Sumter and the events leading up to it.

    It is really sad, and very discouraging, to read people, still to this day, trying to make the Civil War appear to be merely a squabble over states right.

    The issue of slave ownership and use was at the heart of the disputes leading to the Civil War.

    I grew up in the part of the Deep South that witnessed the most brutal forms of chattel slavery: the work in the deep pine forests of northwest Florida, drawing lumber and turpentine out of the forests, and making salt from ocean water.

    The Civil War was a tragic necessity.

    We do history no service, or the memory of none of the people involved, by trying to paper over the reality of slavery and its essential connection to the conflict between the states.

  • http://www.cyberbrethren.com Rev. Paul T. McCain

    The latest issue of the Smithsonian has a great article on the bombardment of Fort Sumter and the events leading up to it.

    It is really sad, and very discouraging, to read people, still to this day, trying to make the Civil War appear to be merely a squabble over states right.

    The issue of slave ownership and use was at the heart of the disputes leading to the Civil War.

    I grew up in the part of the Deep South that witnessed the most brutal forms of chattel slavery: the work in the deep pine forests of northwest Florida, drawing lumber and turpentine out of the forests, and making salt from ocean water.

    The Civil War was a tragic necessity.

    We do history no service, or the memory of none of the people involved, by trying to paper over the reality of slavery and its essential connection to the conflict between the states.

  • Richard

    Amen, Pastor McCain, and amen! Thank you for your witness. you notice how I re-produced the speech of the Vice President of the CSA at the beginning of the Civil War, who spoke about what the war was really about–and there are still people who talk about how states’ rights was the cause. Makes you wonder why we brush this off.

  • Richard

    Amen, Pastor McCain, and amen! Thank you for your witness. you notice how I re-produced the speech of the Vice President of the CSA at the beginning of the Civil War, who spoke about what the war was really about–and there are still people who talk about how states’ rights was the cause. Makes you wonder why we brush this off.

  • The Jones

    Cincinnatus @10,

    I find this a little strange: “Quoting random luminaries from either side is dispositive: that x confederate believes the War was about slavery doesn’t make it so; Robert E. Lee didn’t think it was, after all. He was a fairly prominent figure in the Confederacy, by the way.” First, bringing up the Secession documents of all the states which seceded is not “quoting random luminaries” from the South. It is giving the reasons for which the South (as a whole) SAID it was seceding. The next phrase however, is you quoting one random luminary to prove your point.

    The secession was not about those things IN ADDITION to slavery. Secession was about this things AS THEY RELATED to slavery. You say that slavery was only tangentally related to imports, exports, and tariffs. Not really. The South depended on slavery to grow and harvest cotton, which they exported.

    The tariffs thing was about the North protecting its manufacturing. That one might be tangential, but I’ve never seen it cited as a reason for secession. I’ve also never seen imports and exports given as a major reason for the civil war. The Southern States always cited their Constitutional right to slavery, and the status of the states as sovereign states despite the Constitution. To prove me wrong on these, please show me one case where a southern state said it seceded because of tariffs or imports or exports. A link or citation would be appreciated.

  • The Jones

    Cincinnatus @10,

    I find this a little strange: “Quoting random luminaries from either side is dispositive: that x confederate believes the War was about slavery doesn’t make it so; Robert E. Lee didn’t think it was, after all. He was a fairly prominent figure in the Confederacy, by the way.” First, bringing up the Secession documents of all the states which seceded is not “quoting random luminaries” from the South. It is giving the reasons for which the South (as a whole) SAID it was seceding. The next phrase however, is you quoting one random luminary to prove your point.

    The secession was not about those things IN ADDITION to slavery. Secession was about this things AS THEY RELATED to slavery. You say that slavery was only tangentally related to imports, exports, and tariffs. Not really. The South depended on slavery to grow and harvest cotton, which they exported.

    The tariffs thing was about the North protecting its manufacturing. That one might be tangential, but I’ve never seen it cited as a reason for secession. I’ve also never seen imports and exports given as a major reason for the civil war. The Southern States always cited their Constitutional right to slavery, and the status of the states as sovereign states despite the Constitution. To prove me wrong on these, please show me one case where a southern state said it seceded because of tariffs or imports or exports. A link or citation would be appreciated.

  • Mockingbird

    Pr McCain,

    I don’t think anyone here has said it was “merely” about states rights. I think the point was being made that there were other factors; that as it is wrong to say the war was only about states rights it is just as wrong to say it was only about slavery.

    I had the privilege of studying the “War Between the States” growing up in Texas, then the “Civil War” when I went to college up north. Getting both perspectives is a healthy thing, which I think is all that some are trying to accomplish here.

  • Mockingbird

    Pr McCain,

    I don’t think anyone here has said it was “merely” about states rights. I think the point was being made that there were other factors; that as it is wrong to say the war was only about states rights it is just as wrong to say it was only about slavery.

    I had the privilege of studying the “War Between the States” growing up in Texas, then the “Civil War” when I went to college up north. Getting both perspectives is a healthy thing, which I think is all that some are trying to accomplish here.

  • DonS

    As I pointed out @ post 7, the confusion on this issue arises because of terminology. Yes, certainly, the derivation of the Civil War was slavery. No doubt about it. The South was angry that it was losing the ability to expand slavery beyond its borders, and was having increasing difficulty retrieving its escaped slaves from non-slaveholding states. It considered the failure of northern states to return its slaves and those who were assisting their escape to be a violation of the Constitution under the full faith and credit clause.

    BUT, the emancipation of slaves in the seceded states was not an issue until the Emancipation Proclamation.

  • DonS

    As I pointed out @ post 7, the confusion on this issue arises because of terminology. Yes, certainly, the derivation of the Civil War was slavery. No doubt about it. The South was angry that it was losing the ability to expand slavery beyond its borders, and was having increasing difficulty retrieving its escaped slaves from non-slaveholding states. It considered the failure of northern states to return its slaves and those who were assisting their escape to be a violation of the Constitution under the full faith and credit clause.

    BUT, the emancipation of slaves in the seceded states was not an issue until the Emancipation Proclamation.

  • http://www.cyberbrethren.com Rev. Paul T. McCain

    The South was angry that the economic system of the South, which rested squarely on the backs of millions of slaves, was being threatened. And that is a double shame.

  • http://www.cyberbrethren.com Rev. Paul T. McCain

    The South was angry that the economic system of the South, which rested squarely on the backs of millions of slaves, was being threatened. And that is a double shame.

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    Is it irreverent that the title brought to my mind an image of Walter Mitty on the deck of gambling boat? “Fawt Sumtuh’s been fyed upon; my regimunt leaves at dawn…”

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    Is it irreverent that the title brought to my mind an image of Walter Mitty on the deck of gambling boat? “Fawt Sumtuh’s been fyed upon; my regimunt leaves at dawn…”

  • Richard

    The quote I gave at #6 was by ALEXANDER STEPHENS, in his role as VICE PRESIDENT of the Confedererate States of America soon after he became VP; Stephens was NOT a “random luminary” from one side. And he was NOT a crazy the way some of the Southern fire-eaters were; he fought against seccession until the last. Stephens was clear what the war was about. Read it again.

  • Richard

    The quote I gave at #6 was by ALEXANDER STEPHENS, in his role as VICE PRESIDENT of the Confedererate States of America soon after he became VP; Stephens was NOT a “random luminary” from one side. And he was NOT a crazy the way some of the Southern fire-eaters were; he fought against seccession until the last. Stephens was clear what the war was about. Read it again.

  • Mockingbird

    By “double shame” I take it you mean the North shares in the blame, since they were willing to compromise on the issue several times (beginning with the Declaration of Independence).

    No one here has said slavery was not evil, or that it was not an issue. No one has even said that it wasn’t the major issue or the catalyst. But the fact that most people in the South did not own slaves and yet were still willing to fight should tell us there was more to the war than slavery.

  • Mockingbird

    By “double shame” I take it you mean the North shares in the blame, since they were willing to compromise on the issue several times (beginning with the Declaration of Independence).

    No one here has said slavery was not evil, or that it was not an issue. No one has even said that it wasn’t the major issue or the catalyst. But the fact that most people in the South did not own slaves and yet were still willing to fight should tell us there was more to the war than slavery.

  • Richard

    Mockingbird,

    BUT they were fighting for a system which was by its economic nature FOUNDED and perpetuated by slavery. We can’t avoid this.

  • Richard

    Mockingbird,

    BUT they were fighting for a system which was by its economic nature FOUNDED and perpetuated by slavery. We can’t avoid this.

  • Mockingbird

    Richard,

    I agree.

  • Mockingbird

    Richard,

    I agree.

  • http://www.cyberbrethren.com Rev. Paul T. McCain

    As an aside, did ya’ll know that the first shots of the Civil War were NOT fired at Sumter, but in Pensacola, Florida? Fort Pickens, held by union forces, exchanged shots with a fort across the bay that had been captured by confederate troops, happened before Sumter. I was born and raised in Pensacola, Florida.

  • http://www.cyberbrethren.com Rev. Paul T. McCain

    As an aside, did ya’ll know that the first shots of the Civil War were NOT fired at Sumter, but in Pensacola, Florida? Fort Pickens, held by union forces, exchanged shots with a fort across the bay that had been captured by confederate troops, happened before Sumter. I was born and raised in Pensacola, Florida.

  • Cincinnatus

    I love Civil War threads. They descend so quickly into self-righteousness and moral absolutes. If only you all had been around to sweep away the fog of war, which apparently seemed so thick at the time that even Lincoln professed ignorance as to which side in the war God “favored.”

    Look, so far, no one has said that the Civil War was “merely” about states’ rights. I, for one, am attempting to point out that, in fact, a complex of contentious issues spawned Civil War, and that saying the War was about slavery and only slavery is equally reductionist, particularly when slavery was merely a proxy for states’ rights–or vice versa. At the very least, both questions were of dire importance.

    Which is why I am shocked that “states’ rights” and “merely” are found in the same sentence (Paul McCain@11). As if localism and state sovereignty is a mere quibble, a trifle that ought not concern us enlightened nationalists! Are there any real conservatives left?

  • Cincinnatus

    I love Civil War threads. They descend so quickly into self-righteousness and moral absolutes. If only you all had been around to sweep away the fog of war, which apparently seemed so thick at the time that even Lincoln professed ignorance as to which side in the war God “favored.”

    Look, so far, no one has said that the Civil War was “merely” about states’ rights. I, for one, am attempting to point out that, in fact, a complex of contentious issues spawned Civil War, and that saying the War was about slavery and only slavery is equally reductionist, particularly when slavery was merely a proxy for states’ rights–or vice versa. At the very least, both questions were of dire importance.

    Which is why I am shocked that “states’ rights” and “merely” are found in the same sentence (Paul McCain@11). As if localism and state sovereignty is a mere quibble, a trifle that ought not concern us enlightened nationalists! Are there any real conservatives left?

  • http://www.cyberbrethren.com Rev. Paul T. McCain

    “Cincinnatus”

    I challenge you to demonstrate the manly honor demonstrated by troops on both sides of the war who squared up against one another, right out in the open.

    If you expect me, and others, to take you seriously, then identify yourself by name, sir. Step out from the “fog” of cowardly anonymity and take your seat at the men’s table of conversation.

  • http://www.cyberbrethren.com Rev. Paul T. McCain

    “Cincinnatus”

    I challenge you to demonstrate the manly honor demonstrated by troops on both sides of the war who squared up against one another, right out in the open.

    If you expect me, and others, to take you seriously, then identify yourself by name, sir. Step out from the “fog” of cowardly anonymity and take your seat at the men’s table of conversation.

  • Cincinnatus

    Paul@24: Huh?

    Here I was gearing up to provide a small dissertation on why the Civil War did not solve the question of slavery but forever foreclosed the question of state sovereignty when you confront me with an insult.

    First, are you questioning the honor, courage, and “manliness” (your word) of those who fought on either side? Seriously? Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson were automatically cowards because they chose what, in your eyes, is the “wrong” side? General Sherman was a civil and honorable saint because his cause was “right”? Not to mention the millions of common soldiers on both sides who exhibited varying degrees of courage. I don’t even know what to say if this is your argument. It’s patently absurd.

    Second, what, really, does my, erm, “cowardly anonymity” have to do with anything, in particular the topic at hand? I suppose I could go by “Rob” on this blog, but that is, in my opinion, boring, so, like many other of your interlocutors (who are apparently not “cowardly” because they agree with you), I choose a sufficiently simple and memorable avatar. Big deal (?). I lack credentialed titles that would enable me credibly to deploy extensive monikers like yours, and my full name is too long.

  • Cincinnatus

    Paul@24: Huh?

    Here I was gearing up to provide a small dissertation on why the Civil War did not solve the question of slavery but forever foreclosed the question of state sovereignty when you confront me with an insult.

    First, are you questioning the honor, courage, and “manliness” (your word) of those who fought on either side? Seriously? Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson were automatically cowards because they chose what, in your eyes, is the “wrong” side? General Sherman was a civil and honorable saint because his cause was “right”? Not to mention the millions of common soldiers on both sides who exhibited varying degrees of courage. I don’t even know what to say if this is your argument. It’s patently absurd.

    Second, what, really, does my, erm, “cowardly anonymity” have to do with anything, in particular the topic at hand? I suppose I could go by “Rob” on this blog, but that is, in my opinion, boring, so, like many other of your interlocutors (who are apparently not “cowardly” because they agree with you), I choose a sufficiently simple and memorable avatar. Big deal (?). I lack credentialed titles that would enable me credibly to deploy extensive monikers like yours, and my full name is too long.

  • http://www.cyberbrethren.com Rev. Paul T. McCain

    I simply ask you to comport yourself as a man of integrity and participation in this conversation under your real name and identity. Do that and I will take much more interest in what you have to say.

  • http://www.cyberbrethren.com Rev. Paul T. McCain

    I simply ask you to comport yourself as a man of integrity and participation in this conversation under your real name and identity. Do that and I will take much more interest in what you have to say.

  • Simone

    I just knew the comment section would be interesting on this post!

  • Simone

    I just knew the comment section would be interesting on this post!

  • Cincinnatus

    In short, I’d like to stick to the facts and have an interesting historic0-theoretical discussion about a significant event in our nation’s formation (and, perhaps, deformation). But I suppose that is asking for too much when the topic is the Civil War unless one is talking to disinterested scholars.

    Paul, feel free to address me “Rob”, but I’m not changing my recognizable avatar to suit your idiosyncratic and irrelevant notions of what constitute bloggish “honor.” Meanwhile, I think you ought to pen an equally full-throated letter to James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay, demanding that they “comport themselves as men of integrity.”

    I suppose, as your own here Lincoln is reputed to have said, you can’t please all of the people all of the time…

    ANYWAY, the Civil War was superfluous except as a question of state sovereignty because the institution of slavery in the South would have disintegrated of its own accord due to its insustainability within a few decades. Discuss.

  • Cincinnatus

    In short, I’d like to stick to the facts and have an interesting historic0-theoretical discussion about a significant event in our nation’s formation (and, perhaps, deformation). But I suppose that is asking for too much when the topic is the Civil War unless one is talking to disinterested scholars.

    Paul, feel free to address me “Rob”, but I’m not changing my recognizable avatar to suit your idiosyncratic and irrelevant notions of what constitute bloggish “honor.” Meanwhile, I think you ought to pen an equally full-throated letter to James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay, demanding that they “comport themselves as men of integrity.”

    I suppose, as your own here Lincoln is reputed to have said, you can’t please all of the people all of the time…

    ANYWAY, the Civil War was superfluous except as a question of state sovereignty because the institution of slavery in the South would have disintegrated of its own accord due to its insustainability within a few decades. Discuss.

  • Dan Kempin

    “the manly honor demonstrated by troops on both sides of the war who squared up against one another, right out in the open.”

    Another great lesson of the civil war: It turns out that the manly honor of squaring up, in the open, against mass produced rifled muskets and good quality manufactured powder was quite foolish.

    The civil war was the mother of many inventions, including trench warfare.

  • Dan Kempin

    “the manly honor demonstrated by troops on both sides of the war who squared up against one another, right out in the open.”

    Another great lesson of the civil war: It turns out that the manly honor of squaring up, in the open, against mass produced rifled muskets and good quality manufactured powder was quite foolish.

    The civil war was the mother of many inventions, including trench warfare.

  • Cincinnatus

    Dan: Yes, it is, I suppose, a great tragedy that the United States invented “modern warfare,” including the concepts of trench warfare, mass conscription, total war (Sherman’s march, etc.)–tactics that proved to be quite popular on the Continent in the succeeding century.

  • Cincinnatus

    Dan: Yes, it is, I suppose, a great tragedy that the United States invented “modern warfare,” including the concepts of trench warfare, mass conscription, total war (Sherman’s march, etc.)–tactics that proved to be quite popular on the Continent in the succeeding century.

  • http://www.cyberbrethren.com Rev. Paul T. McCain

    Suit yourself.

    I choose not to engage in discussions about issues like this with people who do not have enough courage of their convictions to identify themselves.

  • http://www.cyberbrethren.com Rev. Paul T. McCain

    Suit yourself.

    I choose not to engage in discussions about issues like this with people who do not have enough courage of their convictions to identify themselves.

  • Cincinnatus

    Well, glad that’s settled. Can we please return to topics of interest now?

    p.s. Paul: You are no longer permitted to cite the Federalist Papers, the works of “George Eliot,” certain books of the Bible, many works of Soren Kierkegaard (a Lutheran!), and a host of other prominent literature that was composed anonymously for one reason or another. I’ll honestly never understand the (arbitrary and only occasional) obsession certain individuals have with anonymity when it suits their purposes. It’s an enormous red herring, and, in this case, a pitiable distraction from the real questions at hand. It’s not as if I or anyone else has been inciting flame wars (well, ok, my first comment was inflammatory, but in what I hope was a critically provocative way); I’m not trolling or hurling random offensive insults.

  • Cincinnatus

    Well, glad that’s settled. Can we please return to topics of interest now?

    p.s. Paul: You are no longer permitted to cite the Federalist Papers, the works of “George Eliot,” certain books of the Bible, many works of Soren Kierkegaard (a Lutheran!), and a host of other prominent literature that was composed anonymously for one reason or another. I’ll honestly never understand the (arbitrary and only occasional) obsession certain individuals have with anonymity when it suits their purposes. It’s an enormous red herring, and, in this case, a pitiable distraction from the real questions at hand. It’s not as if I or anyone else has been inciting flame wars (well, ok, my first comment was inflammatory, but in what I hope was a critically provocative way); I’m not trolling or hurling random offensive insults.

  • Dan Kempin

    That is very true, Cincinnatus. (I presume after the Roman hero, though I have never asked.)

    In some ways the Civil war was a rehearsal for the first world war, establishing everything from the importance of rail transport, to artillery, fortification, manufacturing, demographic study, (Lincoln’s “terrible arithmetic”) and, dare I say it, the importance of strategic alliance. It could be argued that this failure was the doom of both Germany and the Confederacy.

  • Dan Kempin

    That is very true, Cincinnatus. (I presume after the Roman hero, though I have never asked.)

    In some ways the Civil war was a rehearsal for the first world war, establishing everything from the importance of rail transport, to artillery, fortification, manufacturing, demographic study, (Lincoln’s “terrible arithmetic”) and, dare I say it, the importance of strategic alliance. It could be argued that this failure was the doom of both Germany and the Confederacy.

  • Cincinnatus

    Dan: I don’t think either Germany (certainly not Germany!) or the Confederacy failed to master the tactics of modern warfare. The Confederacy, after all, invented the steel-plated warship, and both Lee and Jackson in particular were brilliant generals whose very modern combat techniques very nearly won the war during the Shenandoah campaign.

    The doom of both Germany and the Confederacy was very simple: a lack of the necessary industrial resources to prolong a modern war. Gone were/are the days when a king could send an expeditionary force of his chosen knights to conquer a foreign land. Modern war implicates the entire industrial apparatus at all stages–and the South quite simply did not have an apparatus of sufficient extent.

  • Cincinnatus

    Dan: I don’t think either Germany (certainly not Germany!) or the Confederacy failed to master the tactics of modern warfare. The Confederacy, after all, invented the steel-plated warship, and both Lee and Jackson in particular were brilliant generals whose very modern combat techniques very nearly won the war during the Shenandoah campaign.

    The doom of both Germany and the Confederacy was very simple: a lack of the necessary industrial resources to prolong a modern war. Gone were/are the days when a king could send an expeditionary force of his chosen knights to conquer a foreign land. Modern war implicates the entire industrial apparatus at all stages–and the South quite simply did not have an apparatus of sufficient extent.

  • Dan Kempin

    Wow, I can’t keep up with you guys! I should make it clear that my post at #33 was a response to Cincinnatus at #30.

  • Dan Kempin

    Wow, I can’t keep up with you guys! I should make it clear that my post at #33 was a response to Cincinnatus at #30.

  • Dan Kempin

    “Rob,” (easier to type, if less fun), #34,

    I don’t diminish the contribution of either side. The south, and Longstreet in particular, were the innovators of fortification. The Germans were, let’s face it, superior in everything at the beginning of WWI. Except diplomacy. My argument is that they ended up on the losing side of attrition because they were out-maneuvered politically from the outset. They ended up fighting the whole world–and still almost won.

  • Dan Kempin

    “Rob,” (easier to type, if less fun), #34,

    I don’t diminish the contribution of either side. The south, and Longstreet in particular, were the innovators of fortification. The Germans were, let’s face it, superior in everything at the beginning of WWI. Except diplomacy. My argument is that they ended up on the losing side of attrition because they were out-maneuvered politically from the outset. They ended up fighting the whole world–and still almost won.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Paul said (@31):

    I choose not to engage in discussions about issues like this with people who do not have enough courage of their convictions to identify themselves.

    Except that’s clearly not true. You only decided to take umbrage with this issue of “cowardly anonymity” at comment #24 — your fourth comment on this thread.

    By the time you wrote that, this thread had received comments from Cincinnatus, Dr. Luther in the 21st Century, Booklover, Dennis Peskey, Mockingbird, Richard, DonS, Porcell, The Jones, and John. Of those — given that Cincinnatus’ own revealing that his real first name is “Rob” has been deemed insufficiently identifying by you — only one commenter’s handle (Dennis Peskey) would seem to avoid being labeled as “cowardly” by you.

    Where, one wonders, is your similar ire at Dr. Luther in the 21st Century? Or Booklover? Mockingbird? Porcell? To say nothing of the first names, however real, behind which people also hide like cowards?

    It is hard to not conclude that your beef is with the content of Cincinnatus’ argument, and not with his chosen handle.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Paul said (@31):

    I choose not to engage in discussions about issues like this with people who do not have enough courage of their convictions to identify themselves.

    Except that’s clearly not true. You only decided to take umbrage with this issue of “cowardly anonymity” at comment #24 — your fourth comment on this thread.

    By the time you wrote that, this thread had received comments from Cincinnatus, Dr. Luther in the 21st Century, Booklover, Dennis Peskey, Mockingbird, Richard, DonS, Porcell, The Jones, and John. Of those — given that Cincinnatus’ own revealing that his real first name is “Rob” has been deemed insufficiently identifying by you — only one commenter’s handle (Dennis Peskey) would seem to avoid being labeled as “cowardly” by you.

    Where, one wonders, is your similar ire at Dr. Luther in the 21st Century? Or Booklover? Mockingbird? Porcell? To say nothing of the first names, however real, behind which people also hide like cowards?

    It is hard to not conclude that your beef is with the content of Cincinnatus’ argument, and not with his chosen handle.

  • Booklover

    It is tragic that the moral travesty of slavery wasn’t dealt with before the eruption of the Civil War, even though there were plenty of opportunities to do so.

    We can look back upon the blindness of these people, who were content to live in a culture which accepted such moral delinquency, something which WE would never do. . .

    And if we don’t look into the incinerators of any major U.S. city, we can keep believing that we hold a better moral stance than those in the past.

    By the by, I don’t think it’s necessary in a worldwide blog to divulge one’s name. I am the only one in the world with my name, and prefer not to advertise it, even though it is fairly easy to look up.

  • Booklover

    It is tragic that the moral travesty of slavery wasn’t dealt with before the eruption of the Civil War, even though there were plenty of opportunities to do so.

    We can look back upon the blindness of these people, who were content to live in a culture which accepted such moral delinquency, something which WE would never do. . .

    And if we don’t look into the incinerators of any major U.S. city, we can keep believing that we hold a better moral stance than those in the past.

    By the by, I don’t think it’s necessary in a worldwide blog to divulge one’s name. I am the only one in the world with my name, and prefer not to advertise it, even though it is fairly easy to look up.

  • Dennis Peskey

    Just mentioned the mere (?) fact that my public school education in the 50′s stressed state’s rights as an issue for the cause of one civil war – sure didn’t mean to start another. How about something related, yet a trifle bit humorous. Does this quote sound familiar:

    “Any Act by the Congress of the United States, Executive Order of the President of the United States of America or Judicial Order by the Judicatories of the United States of America which assumes a power not delegated to the government of the United States of America by the Constitution for the United States of America and which serves to diminish the liberty of the any of the several States or their citizens shall constitute a nullification of the Constitution for the United States of America by the government of the United States of America.”

    The representative authority which passed this declaration was the sovereign State of Georgia. Lest I be accused of tormenting all civil war buffs, I’ll disclose the date: April 1, 2009 (and no, this was not an April Fools joke). For more info, see http://blogs.ajc.com/jay-bookman-blog/2009/04/16/georgia-senate-threatens-dismantling-of-usa/.

    Now back to the regularly scheduled civil war (complements our host, Dr. Veith). I did not mean to deny the central position the issue of slavery occupied leading up to the civil war. But I do realize there are two entirely different views for the reason and the conflict.

    Before any shots were fired at Ft. Sumter, seven southern states had already issued declarations of succession from the Union. President Lincoln had offered two seperate resolutions attempting to encourage the southern slave-holding states to remain in the Union. The south had good reason to fear the intrusion of the northern states into their economy; their agrarian economy was intimately tied to slave labor. There was more than one voice shouting from the northern regions for an end to slavery.

    But the record of the north – it’s history tells a different story. If the north went to war to oppose slavery, speak to me of the five Union-affiliated states which permitted slavery (Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland, Delaware and West Virginia). Neither the Federal government (nor any of these aforementioned state governments) make any attempt to remove slavery from these states.

    Then there’s that whole Emancipation Proclamation facade. It sure sounded good, didn’t it. But the proclamation did exempt the five slave-holding Union states; the proclamation also made exception for the State of Tennessee (which, by now, was in federal hands) and the City of New Orleans and 13 parishes of the State of Louisana (which were under federal control). In fact, Pres. Lincoln made the proclamation public in Sept. 1962 – yet it would not take effect until Jan 1, 1963. Pres. Lincoln hoped to encourage some of all of the southern states to rejoin the Union with the assurance this proclamation would not be binding on Union states. So much for slavery. To add to the question nature of the slave claim, recall President Lincoln in his Gettysburg Address referenced one of his favorite lines taken from Thomas Jefferson (All men are created equal). Let’s not forget President Jefferson was a slave owner when he penned that line. That’s about the sum of my knowledge concerning the civil war other that it was the first war in history where artillery surpassed all other means of death (I’m an old artilleryman – it’s kinda like our coming out blast).
    Pax,
    Dennis

  • Dennis Peskey

    Just mentioned the mere (?) fact that my public school education in the 50′s stressed state’s rights as an issue for the cause of one civil war – sure didn’t mean to start another. How about something related, yet a trifle bit humorous. Does this quote sound familiar:

    “Any Act by the Congress of the United States, Executive Order of the President of the United States of America or Judicial Order by the Judicatories of the United States of America which assumes a power not delegated to the government of the United States of America by the Constitution for the United States of America and which serves to diminish the liberty of the any of the several States or their citizens shall constitute a nullification of the Constitution for the United States of America by the government of the United States of America.”

    The representative authority which passed this declaration was the sovereign State of Georgia. Lest I be accused of tormenting all civil war buffs, I’ll disclose the date: April 1, 2009 (and no, this was not an April Fools joke). For more info, see http://blogs.ajc.com/jay-bookman-blog/2009/04/16/georgia-senate-threatens-dismantling-of-usa/.

    Now back to the regularly scheduled civil war (complements our host, Dr. Veith). I did not mean to deny the central position the issue of slavery occupied leading up to the civil war. But I do realize there are two entirely different views for the reason and the conflict.

    Before any shots were fired at Ft. Sumter, seven southern states had already issued declarations of succession from the Union. President Lincoln had offered two seperate resolutions attempting to encourage the southern slave-holding states to remain in the Union. The south had good reason to fear the intrusion of the northern states into their economy; their agrarian economy was intimately tied to slave labor. There was more than one voice shouting from the northern regions for an end to slavery.

    But the record of the north – it’s history tells a different story. If the north went to war to oppose slavery, speak to me of the five Union-affiliated states which permitted slavery (Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland, Delaware and West Virginia). Neither the Federal government (nor any of these aforementioned state governments) make any attempt to remove slavery from these states.

    Then there’s that whole Emancipation Proclamation facade. It sure sounded good, didn’t it. But the proclamation did exempt the five slave-holding Union states; the proclamation also made exception for the State of Tennessee (which, by now, was in federal hands) and the City of New Orleans and 13 parishes of the State of Louisana (which were under federal control). In fact, Pres. Lincoln made the proclamation public in Sept. 1962 – yet it would not take effect until Jan 1, 1963. Pres. Lincoln hoped to encourage some of all of the southern states to rejoin the Union with the assurance this proclamation would not be binding on Union states. So much for slavery. To add to the question nature of the slave claim, recall President Lincoln in his Gettysburg Address referenced one of his favorite lines taken from Thomas Jefferson (All men are created equal). Let’s not forget President Jefferson was a slave owner when he penned that line. That’s about the sum of my knowledge concerning the civil war other that it was the first war in history where artillery surpassed all other means of death (I’m an old artilleryman – it’s kinda like our coming out blast).
    Pax,
    Dennis

  • Cincinnatus

    To add to the difficulty, Dennis, it’s fairly well-known that Lincoln himself was what we would today call a damnable “racist”: he himself wanted the slaves (or former slaves) to be forcibly gathered up and shipped back to Africa, believing them incapable of participating peaceably in American democratic culture, if not objectively inferior to those of European extraction.

    Also, he was a raving nationalist, which is my fundamental problem with Lincoln.

  • Cincinnatus

    To add to the difficulty, Dennis, it’s fairly well-known that Lincoln himself was what we would today call a damnable “racist”: he himself wanted the slaves (or former slaves) to be forcibly gathered up and shipped back to Africa, believing them incapable of participating peaceably in American democratic culture, if not objectively inferior to those of European extraction.

    Also, he was a raving nationalist, which is my fundamental problem with Lincoln.

  • Richard

    Cincinnatus,

    At least Lincoln didn’t want to keep his fellow man in slavery. You couldn’t say that about the leaders of the South, could you? Give me a Lincoln any time. Thomas Krannawitter of Hillsdale College has written a tremendous book exploding some of the hateful myths about Lincoln, “Vindicating Lincoln.”

  • Richard

    Cincinnatus,

    At least Lincoln didn’t want to keep his fellow man in slavery. You couldn’t say that about the leaders of the South, could you? Give me a Lincoln any time. Thomas Krannawitter of Hillsdale College has written a tremendous book exploding some of the hateful myths about Lincoln, “Vindicating Lincoln.”

  • Cincinnatus

    Richard@41, it’s not really a “hateful myth” because it’s, well, true as his own words in numerous speeches testify. I never said that his racism made him morally better or worse than many Southern leaders, though it’s probably uncontroversial to claim that, within the American context and the values we hold dear, Lincoln eventually assumed the moral high ground on the question of slavery.

    But the fact that Lincoln as an individual was “righter” on that question than some (not all) Southern leaders is really not a very good rubric for unraveling the vast panoply of complex moral, political, and social questions that came together in the Civil War.

    Again, since when was state sovereignty a petty issue? When did conservatives give up their affection for localism, regionalism, (Southern!) virtue, agrarianism, skepticism of progressivism and an overbearing federal government, and other elements of the conservative disposition? These were all live issues in the Civil War, too, and to claim simplistically that the North was completely and unquestionably “correct” is to consign a good number of important values to the dustbin of history.

  • Cincinnatus

    Richard@41, it’s not really a “hateful myth” because it’s, well, true as his own words in numerous speeches testify. I never said that his racism made him morally better or worse than many Southern leaders, though it’s probably uncontroversial to claim that, within the American context and the values we hold dear, Lincoln eventually assumed the moral high ground on the question of slavery.

    But the fact that Lincoln as an individual was “righter” on that question than some (not all) Southern leaders is really not a very good rubric for unraveling the vast panoply of complex moral, political, and social questions that came together in the Civil War.

    Again, since when was state sovereignty a petty issue? When did conservatives give up their affection for localism, regionalism, (Southern!) virtue, agrarianism, skepticism of progressivism and an overbearing federal government, and other elements of the conservative disposition? These were all live issues in the Civil War, too, and to claim simplistically that the North was completely and unquestionably “correct” is to consign a good number of important values to the dustbin of history.

  • Jimmy Veith

    To Dennis Pesky @ 39. You stated:

    “Then there’s that whole Emancipation Proclamation facade. It sure sounded good, didn’t it. But the proclamation did exempt the five slave-holding Union states; the proclamation also made exception for the State of Tennessee (which, by now, was in federal hands) and the City of New Orleans and 13 parishes of the State of Louisiana (which were under federal control).”

    You failed to mention that the legal authority under the United States Constitution for the Emancipation Proclamation was the President’s authority as the commander-in-chief. Lincoln realized that many slave owners were going to war while forcing their slaves to stay on their plantations and generate income to prosecute the war. Freeing the slaves under the Emancipation Proclamation was an act done to help the North win the war. This was the legal justification. This is the reason the Emancipation Proclamation did not apply in the Union states and the parts of the country in Union control. It could not be justified from a legal standpoint. It took a constitutional amendment to abolish slavery for the entire country.

    I don’t mean to suggest that Lincoln was not repulsed by the immorality of slavery. He clearly was, and I think that most Lincoln scholars would agree that the abolition of slavery became his ultimate goal as the war progressed.

    Back to the larger point. Slavery was clearly the fundamental cause of the civil war, and a “scandal” in this land of the free as my big brother rightly stated.

    Thank you Richard @ 13, for your quote from the Vice President of the CSA, Alexander Stephens. There is no better quote to refute the revisionist history that views the civil war as the “War of Northern Aggression”.

  • Jimmy Veith

    To Dennis Pesky @ 39. You stated:

    “Then there’s that whole Emancipation Proclamation facade. It sure sounded good, didn’t it. But the proclamation did exempt the five slave-holding Union states; the proclamation also made exception for the State of Tennessee (which, by now, was in federal hands) and the City of New Orleans and 13 parishes of the State of Louisiana (which were under federal control).”

    You failed to mention that the legal authority under the United States Constitution for the Emancipation Proclamation was the President’s authority as the commander-in-chief. Lincoln realized that many slave owners were going to war while forcing their slaves to stay on their plantations and generate income to prosecute the war. Freeing the slaves under the Emancipation Proclamation was an act done to help the North win the war. This was the legal justification. This is the reason the Emancipation Proclamation did not apply in the Union states and the parts of the country in Union control. It could not be justified from a legal standpoint. It took a constitutional amendment to abolish slavery for the entire country.

    I don’t mean to suggest that Lincoln was not repulsed by the immorality of slavery. He clearly was, and I think that most Lincoln scholars would agree that the abolition of slavery became his ultimate goal as the war progressed.

    Back to the larger point. Slavery was clearly the fundamental cause of the civil war, and a “scandal” in this land of the free as my big brother rightly stated.

    Thank you Richard @ 13, for your quote from the Vice President of the CSA, Alexander Stephens. There is no better quote to refute the revisionist history that views the civil war as the “War of Northern Aggression”.

  • Mike S.

    “The American Civil War”
    “The War Between the States”
    “The War of Northern Aggression”
    “The War of Southern Rebellion”
    Pick you title but they all lead to one thing, a tragic period in US History that split a nation, states, and even families. It saw the horros of modern war only hinted at by the European powers at the Crimea. Large armies moving across the countryside saw greater death brought on by disease than combat.
    Years of compromise to try to avoid the inevitable followed by years more of struggling to decide what to do with a populace so recently freed of slavery. While the first African-American congressman would serve during this period, it would also see the rise of groups like the KKK and “Jim Crow” laws. It would be another 100 years after the final shot of the war before real integration would take place.
    So much sacrifice to move forward for freedom and equality and uphold the ideal of the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal.”

  • Mike S.

    “The American Civil War”
    “The War Between the States”
    “The War of Northern Aggression”
    “The War of Southern Rebellion”
    Pick you title but they all lead to one thing, a tragic period in US History that split a nation, states, and even families. It saw the horros of modern war only hinted at by the European powers at the Crimea. Large armies moving across the countryside saw greater death brought on by disease than combat.
    Years of compromise to try to avoid the inevitable followed by years more of struggling to decide what to do with a populace so recently freed of slavery. While the first African-American congressman would serve during this period, it would also see the rise of groups like the KKK and “Jim Crow” laws. It would be another 100 years after the final shot of the war before real integration would take place.
    So much sacrifice to move forward for freedom and equality and uphold the ideal of the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal.”

  • SKPeterson

    Let’s face it, neither side comes off as riding the moral high horse.

    The North, under the Whigs, who morphed into the Republicans, basically kept the South in a subordinate state through the imposition of punitive tariffs on agricultural goods, the South’s primary exports. These tariffs were then “invested” by the government in improving Northern industrial and transportation infrastructure. The North also repeatedly denied credit for capital investment in the Southern states so as to maintain their regional advantage. So, Southern owners of agricultural firms, i.e., the plantation owners, sought as firms still do today, to control one of their largest expenses: labor. Slaves are pretty much the lowest cost labor you can obtain, other than your kids and if you want to entrench slavery as an institution build up the sorts of tax and spend policies advocated by the Whigs.

    Now, most of the Southerners recognized slavery as immoral, and lets also acknowledge that most Southerners were not slave owners, but mostly small farmers. But, when pressed to the wall by circumstance or politics, one can begin to rationalize all sorts of despicable behavior, which is what the Southerners did. Eventually, you get the fireeaters in South Carolina and the statements of Alexander Stephens. Also, as the war progressed, the CSA government began to diverge from its own states rights and individual liberties rhetoric and pursued policies inimical to personal economic and political freedoms.

    For its part, the North learned a few good lessons in defeating the South and administering the states after the war’s end: Sherman, Sheridan, Custer and the others were able to use those tactics on the Native American populations of the Great Plains and Southwest. Try reading some of Sherman’s views on the Indians. He puts the sentiments expressed by Stephens to shame, essentially coming up with “the only good injun is a dead injun” policy for westward expansion.

    Finally, all of the apologists for both sides always ignore this one stubborn historical question: Why was the United States the only Western nation that had to fight a war to end slavery?

    That speaks more to the desire to have a fight and impose one’s will on another and excuse it with high sounding rhetoric than it does to defending or promoting any ideals of liberty, abolition, or states rights.

  • SKPeterson

    Let’s face it, neither side comes off as riding the moral high horse.

    The North, under the Whigs, who morphed into the Republicans, basically kept the South in a subordinate state through the imposition of punitive tariffs on agricultural goods, the South’s primary exports. These tariffs were then “invested” by the government in improving Northern industrial and transportation infrastructure. The North also repeatedly denied credit for capital investment in the Southern states so as to maintain their regional advantage. So, Southern owners of agricultural firms, i.e., the plantation owners, sought as firms still do today, to control one of their largest expenses: labor. Slaves are pretty much the lowest cost labor you can obtain, other than your kids and if you want to entrench slavery as an institution build up the sorts of tax and spend policies advocated by the Whigs.

    Now, most of the Southerners recognized slavery as immoral, and lets also acknowledge that most Southerners were not slave owners, but mostly small farmers. But, when pressed to the wall by circumstance or politics, one can begin to rationalize all sorts of despicable behavior, which is what the Southerners did. Eventually, you get the fireeaters in South Carolina and the statements of Alexander Stephens. Also, as the war progressed, the CSA government began to diverge from its own states rights and individual liberties rhetoric and pursued policies inimical to personal economic and political freedoms.

    For its part, the North learned a few good lessons in defeating the South and administering the states after the war’s end: Sherman, Sheridan, Custer and the others were able to use those tactics on the Native American populations of the Great Plains and Southwest. Try reading some of Sherman’s views on the Indians. He puts the sentiments expressed by Stephens to shame, essentially coming up with “the only good injun is a dead injun” policy for westward expansion.

    Finally, all of the apologists for both sides always ignore this one stubborn historical question: Why was the United States the only Western nation that had to fight a war to end slavery?

    That speaks more to the desire to have a fight and impose one’s will on another and excuse it with high sounding rhetoric than it does to defending or promoting any ideals of liberty, abolition, or states rights.

  • Cincinnatus

    I think SKPeterson’s has been the most helpful and instructive comment thus far.

    In short, attempting to conceptualize the Civil War as a Manichean battle between the wicked, slave-holding South and the virtuous, free North is a gross oversimplification of the highest order. But victors write the history, after all, and the vision of the Civil War as a single-minded crusade to eradicate bondage and inequality in the land of freedom and equality does fit our dominant narrative quite well, does it not? But that conception is little more than a nice story for summarizing the War to children.

    The only thing I would quibble with, SKPeterson, is your contention that the United States “had” to fight the Civil War to end slavery. While one ought not dwell too much on hypotheticals, many have credibly hypothesized that the “peculiar institution” of slavery in the South would have collapsed of its own accord within a few short decades of the 1850s had it been permitted to run its course. That’s a discussion I’m ready to have on a more detailed and factual basis, but for now I’ll merely broach the speculative argument. Like most of America’s wars, it is, in my opinion, safe to conclude that the Civil War, too, was tragically superfluous. The question of slavery was decided years before the first shot was fired; as I said, the only real question the War settled was the question of state sovereignty vis-a-vis the federal government–and the answer we ended up with was the wrong one (also in my opinion).

  • Cincinnatus

    I think SKPeterson’s has been the most helpful and instructive comment thus far.

    In short, attempting to conceptualize the Civil War as a Manichean battle between the wicked, slave-holding South and the virtuous, free North is a gross oversimplification of the highest order. But victors write the history, after all, and the vision of the Civil War as a single-minded crusade to eradicate bondage and inequality in the land of freedom and equality does fit our dominant narrative quite well, does it not? But that conception is little more than a nice story for summarizing the War to children.

    The only thing I would quibble with, SKPeterson, is your contention that the United States “had” to fight the Civil War to end slavery. While one ought not dwell too much on hypotheticals, many have credibly hypothesized that the “peculiar institution” of slavery in the South would have collapsed of its own accord within a few short decades of the 1850s had it been permitted to run its course. That’s a discussion I’m ready to have on a more detailed and factual basis, but for now I’ll merely broach the speculative argument. Like most of America’s wars, it is, in my opinion, safe to conclude that the Civil War, too, was tragically superfluous. The question of slavery was decided years before the first shot was fired; as I said, the only real question the War settled was the question of state sovereignty vis-a-vis the federal government–and the answer we ended up with was the wrong one (also in my opinion).

  • Jimmy Veith

    To SKPeterson @ 45.
    “Why was the United States the only Western nation that had to fight a war to end slavery?”

    Good question. I can think of two reasons.

    First, the United States was the only Western Country where slavery was legal in one half of the country and illegal in the other half. The other Western nations had one rule of law that governed the entire country. For example, when it was outlawed in England, it was outlawed everywhere in England. Our federal system of states rights allowed slavery to exist in part of the country and not the other. As a result, the country evolved into two separate political and economic systems.

    The southern half of the country that had a climate to support plantations of cotton and tobacco became dependent on slave labor and developed an entire culture that was vastly different than the northern half of the country that was more dependent on manufacturing. (Although, much of the manufacturing was dependent on obtaining raw materials such as cotton that was grown in the South. So the North should share some blame for benefiting indirectly from slave labor.) The expansion of slavery to the western states was viewed as a threat to the balance of power that one region would have over the other. This would ultimately lead to civil war.

    Second, the other Western nations did not need to have slavery within their own boarders. Under the system of colonialism, they could reap the benefits of slavery; ie, access to raw materials produced by slaves, such as cotton, tobacco, sugar, etc.’, without having to see the cruelty of slavery first hand. Out of sight, out of mind. They could pretend to be morally superior while pursuing economic policies that promoted slavery off shore.

    If you suggest by your question that the civil war was a result of an aggressive federal government overstepping its bounds, and that slavery would have ended on its own if the federal government had properly recognized the rights of the states, then I strongly disagree. Slavery may have ended on its own in the mid 1900’s if it was not for the civil war, but as far as I’m concerned, it did not end soon enough. The Southern states had no constitutional authority to succeed from the Union, and Lincoln was correct in defending the Union and adopting policies that eventually lead to the passage of the 13th amendment to the Constitution. For this reason, I believe that Lincoln is and will probably always be, our greatest President.

  • Jimmy Veith

    To SKPeterson @ 45.
    “Why was the United States the only Western nation that had to fight a war to end slavery?”

    Good question. I can think of two reasons.

    First, the United States was the only Western Country where slavery was legal in one half of the country and illegal in the other half. The other Western nations had one rule of law that governed the entire country. For example, when it was outlawed in England, it was outlawed everywhere in England. Our federal system of states rights allowed slavery to exist in part of the country and not the other. As a result, the country evolved into two separate political and economic systems.

    The southern half of the country that had a climate to support plantations of cotton and tobacco became dependent on slave labor and developed an entire culture that was vastly different than the northern half of the country that was more dependent on manufacturing. (Although, much of the manufacturing was dependent on obtaining raw materials such as cotton that was grown in the South. So the North should share some blame for benefiting indirectly from slave labor.) The expansion of slavery to the western states was viewed as a threat to the balance of power that one region would have over the other. This would ultimately lead to civil war.

    Second, the other Western nations did not need to have slavery within their own boarders. Under the system of colonialism, they could reap the benefits of slavery; ie, access to raw materials produced by slaves, such as cotton, tobacco, sugar, etc.’, without having to see the cruelty of slavery first hand. Out of sight, out of mind. They could pretend to be morally superior while pursuing economic policies that promoted slavery off shore.

    If you suggest by your question that the civil war was a result of an aggressive federal government overstepping its bounds, and that slavery would have ended on its own if the federal government had properly recognized the rights of the states, then I strongly disagree. Slavery may have ended on its own in the mid 1900’s if it was not for the civil war, but as far as I’m concerned, it did not end soon enough. The Southern states had no constitutional authority to succeed from the Union, and Lincoln was correct in defending the Union and adopting policies that eventually lead to the passage of the 13th amendment to the Constitution. For this reason, I believe that Lincoln is and will probably always be, our greatest President.

  • Jimmy Veith

    To Cincinnatus @ 46.
    You stated: “The question of slavery was decided years before the first shot was fired;”. Can you tell me then when the question of slavery was decided?

    I think your statement is simply not true. You are entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts. The question of slavery for the entire country was decided once and for all when the 13th amendment became the law of the land, on December 6, 1865.

  • Jimmy Veith

    To Cincinnatus @ 46.
    You stated: “The question of slavery was decided years before the first shot was fired;”. Can you tell me then when the question of slavery was decided?

    I think your statement is simply not true. You are entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts. The question of slavery for the entire country was decided once and for all when the 13th amendment became the law of the land, on December 6, 1865.

  • steve

    I don’t know what the states’ rights argument gains anyone. On a side note, I find it very sad, indeed, that the Governor of California picks this week to begin his hyperbolic tirade comparing the current divisions in California, and the country, to those leading up to the Civil War.

    Fear-mongering at its finest. Clearly the answer is to raise taxes.

  • steve

    I don’t know what the states’ rights argument gains anyone. On a side note, I find it very sad, indeed, that the Governor of California picks this week to begin his hyperbolic tirade comparing the current divisions in California, and the country, to those leading up to the Civil War.

    Fear-mongering at its finest. Clearly the answer is to raise taxes.

  • Cincinnatus

    Jimmy and steve: I plan to respond more thoroughly later today, but, steve, are you serious when claiming that you “don’t know what the states’ rights argument gains anyone”? Really? As I repeated earlier, I’m baffled that so many on this generally conservative blog consider states’ rights such a trifling concern.

  • Cincinnatus

    Jimmy and steve: I plan to respond more thoroughly later today, but, steve, are you serious when claiming that you “don’t know what the states’ rights argument gains anyone”? Really? As I repeated earlier, I’m baffled that so many on this generally conservative blog consider states’ rights such a trifling concern.

  • http://www.cyberbrethren.com Rev. Paul T. McCain

    An interesting comment was posted to my blog site on this subject:

    From the Declaration of the ‘Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union’:

    “The General Government, as the common agent, passed laws to carry into effect these stipulations of the States. For many years these laws were executed. But an increasing hostility on the part of the non-slaveholding States to the institution of slavery, has led to a disregard of their obligations, and the laws of the General Government have ceased to effect the objects of the Constitution. The States of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa, have enacted laws which either nullify the Acts of Congress or render useless any attempt to execute them. In many of these States the fugitive is discharged from service or labor claimed, and in none of them has the State Government complied with the stipulation made in the Constitution. The State of New Jersey, at an early day, passed a law in conformity with her constitutional obligation; but the current of anti-slavery feeling has led her more recently to enact laws which render inoperative the remedies provided by her own law and by the laws of Congress. In the State of New York even the right of transit for a slave has been denied by her tribunals; and the States of Ohio and Iowa have refused to surrender to justice fugitives charged with murder, and with inciting servile insurrection in the State of Virginia. Thus the constituted compact has been deliberately broken and disregarded by the non-slaveholding States, and the consequence follows that South Carolina is released from her obligation.”

    James Loewan notes that while we have been taught that ‘states rights’ is the real reason behind succession, isn’t it interesting that the major complaint in this document is that other states are exerting their own political prerogatives contra the fourth article of the Constitution concerning slavery and that the federal government was not intervening to exercise authority over these states? SC has the right to leave the union because the federal government has not brought these anti-slave states into line, but those states do not have the right to pass laws which are not in accordance with the fourth article of the Constitution. I am not suggesting a hypocrisy here, as the logic is consistent on the part of SC – Loewan’s point is simply that the sovereign “right of states” over against the federal government as some sort of sacred and pure principle, never to be violated, is obviously not the issue here. If SC has the right to leave the constitution and the union, then presumably the states that passed laws which SC believed to be in violation of the fourth article were free to do that as well. The SC argument seems to suggest that these states do not have the right to act in a manner that violates the SC interpretation of compliance to the fourth article, but this would seem to be undermined by the stress SC puts on the sovereignty of the states. A sovereign state can break contracts with other states. It can refuse to continue to comply with them. It is also worth noting that the one gripe SC offers in this document pertains to slavery. If states’ rights were the issue behind succession, it would seem the one and only category of rights SC is concerned with has to do with the institution of slavery.

    - From http://fwd4.me/zYw

  • http://www.cyberbrethren.com Rev. Paul T. McCain

    An interesting comment was posted to my blog site on this subject:

    From the Declaration of the ‘Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union’:

    “The General Government, as the common agent, passed laws to carry into effect these stipulations of the States. For many years these laws were executed. But an increasing hostility on the part of the non-slaveholding States to the institution of slavery, has led to a disregard of their obligations, and the laws of the General Government have ceased to effect the objects of the Constitution. The States of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa, have enacted laws which either nullify the Acts of Congress or render useless any attempt to execute them. In many of these States the fugitive is discharged from service or labor claimed, and in none of them has the State Government complied with the stipulation made in the Constitution. The State of New Jersey, at an early day, passed a law in conformity with her constitutional obligation; but the current of anti-slavery feeling has led her more recently to enact laws which render inoperative the remedies provided by her own law and by the laws of Congress. In the State of New York even the right of transit for a slave has been denied by her tribunals; and the States of Ohio and Iowa have refused to surrender to justice fugitives charged with murder, and with inciting servile insurrection in the State of Virginia. Thus the constituted compact has been deliberately broken and disregarded by the non-slaveholding States, and the consequence follows that South Carolina is released from her obligation.”

    James Loewan notes that while we have been taught that ‘states rights’ is the real reason behind succession, isn’t it interesting that the major complaint in this document is that other states are exerting their own political prerogatives contra the fourth article of the Constitution concerning slavery and that the federal government was not intervening to exercise authority over these states? SC has the right to leave the union because the federal government has not brought these anti-slave states into line, but those states do not have the right to pass laws which are not in accordance with the fourth article of the Constitution. I am not suggesting a hypocrisy here, as the logic is consistent on the part of SC – Loewan’s point is simply that the sovereign “right of states” over against the federal government as some sort of sacred and pure principle, never to be violated, is obviously not the issue here. If SC has the right to leave the constitution and the union, then presumably the states that passed laws which SC believed to be in violation of the fourth article were free to do that as well. The SC argument seems to suggest that these states do not have the right to act in a manner that violates the SC interpretation of compliance to the fourth article, but this would seem to be undermined by the stress SC puts on the sovereignty of the states. A sovereign state can break contracts with other states. It can refuse to continue to comply with them. It is also worth noting that the one gripe SC offers in this document pertains to slavery. If states’ rights were the issue behind succession, it would seem the one and only category of rights SC is concerned with has to do with the institution of slavery.

    - From http://fwd4.me/zYw

  • Richard

    Cincinnatus

    No one on this blog said that “states’ rights is a trifling concern.” However, a couple of us are concerned that we don’t distort our past just to make a political point. Read the primary documents, including what Pastor McCain posted above.

  • Richard

    Cincinnatus

    No one on this blog said that “states’ rights is a trifling concern.” However, a couple of us are concerned that we don’t distort our past just to make a political point. Read the primary documents, including what Pastor McCain posted above.

  • Cincinnatus

    Actually, Paul McCain did say that it would be execrable to depict the Civil War as a “mere squabble” over states’ rights. He said it, I didn’t.

    Meanwhile, I have a response coming, but, though Civil War buffs are infamous for lacking proper social obligations and sensibilities, both of mine are intervening with my ability to compose an extended treatise on the nature and causes of the American Civil War for the benefit of five or six blog readers.

  • Cincinnatus

    Actually, Paul McCain did say that it would be execrable to depict the Civil War as a “mere squabble” over states’ rights. He said it, I didn’t.

    Meanwhile, I have a response coming, but, though Civil War buffs are infamous for lacking proper social obligations and sensibilities, both of mine are intervening with my ability to compose an extended treatise on the nature and causes of the American Civil War for the benefit of five or six blog readers.

  • Stephen

    The various sentiments on both sides are complex. That is true. Not every Unionist was an abolitionist. That would be a caricature. And not every southerner believed in slavery. Likewise, not every southerner was a Confederate, nor was every Northerner for ending slavery.

    However, the last sentence in post #51 seems to get it correct:

    “If states’ rights were the issue behind succession, it would seem the one and only category of rights SC is concerned with has to do with the institution of slavery.”

    That would be true for the south in general. At base, slavery was the engine of the southern economy and hence, its agrarian way of life. Slaves were the property of concern. Not only did the south want to maintain this way of life, but was trying to expand slavery further as more states were being added to the Union. Moral concerns aside, and there were those too on many levels, the only states rights concern underneath it all was the slavery upon which the south built itself.

    So yes, it was about states rights . . . to own and trade and expand the institution of slavery. The south still has difficulty looking at that squarely. I know. I’m a Texan.

  • Stephen

    The various sentiments on both sides are complex. That is true. Not every Unionist was an abolitionist. That would be a caricature. And not every southerner believed in slavery. Likewise, not every southerner was a Confederate, nor was every Northerner for ending slavery.

    However, the last sentence in post #51 seems to get it correct:

    “If states’ rights were the issue behind succession, it would seem the one and only category of rights SC is concerned with has to do with the institution of slavery.”

    That would be true for the south in general. At base, slavery was the engine of the southern economy and hence, its agrarian way of life. Slaves were the property of concern. Not only did the south want to maintain this way of life, but was trying to expand slavery further as more states were being added to the Union. Moral concerns aside, and there were those too on many levels, the only states rights concern underneath it all was the slavery upon which the south built itself.

    So yes, it was about states rights . . . to own and trade and expand the institution of slavery. The south still has difficulty looking at that squarely. I know. I’m a Texan.

  • Richard

    I think Stephen said it well. I wonder how our African-American brothers and sisters in Christ react to discussions like this one where some of us question whether a war which had the consequence of abolishing slavery was a justifiable one. Just wondering.

  • Richard

    I think Stephen said it well. I wonder how our African-American brothers and sisters in Christ react to discussions like this one where some of us question whether a war which had the consequence of abolishing slavery was a justifiable one. Just wondering.

  • Wayne Almlie

    I disagree that we needed the civil war. Britan didn’t need a civil war to end slavery. How come we were the only ones who needed a civil war to end slavery? The civil war ended slavery sooner, but at what cost? I doubt that slavery would have lasted much longer even without the war. And if we would have ended slavery peaceably like Europe did maybe we would not have had a 100 + year battle on the civil rights front. The battle should have been waged on an appeal to the conscience and with the Gospel like it was in England rather than with the sword.

  • Wayne Almlie

    I disagree that we needed the civil war. Britan didn’t need a civil war to end slavery. How come we were the only ones who needed a civil war to end slavery? The civil war ended slavery sooner, but at what cost? I doubt that slavery would have lasted much longer even without the war. And if we would have ended slavery peaceably like Europe did maybe we would not have had a 100 + year battle on the civil rights front. The battle should have been waged on an appeal to the conscience and with the Gospel like it was in England rather than with the sword.

  • Joanne

    A Tale: We came to the New World from the British Isles, some from England and some from the horrors of religeous wars in Ireland. Some of us came to Virginia and to Bermuda around 1650. Later some came to Barbados, but all of us were in Virginia by 1750 and most of us were in the Carolinas by the Revolutionary War. Our particular branch was in South Carolina in 1800 but in south-central Mississippi along the flood plain of the Pearl River by 1820. Today, we’re in Louisiana and lots of other places.
    We bought Africans at the first opportunity way back in the 17th century and have had them in our homes and on our fields, in small numbers, up until the 21st century. My baby pictures have black people in them as a common thing. Africans were a daily fact of domestic life.
    So I ask different questions. Were you a good master? Did you bring your slaves to Christ and keep them in church on Sundays? What would it be like to own someone? To go to the reading of a will and to walk home owning 20 people you’d never laid eyes on?
    The plantation managers drove the labor gangs, they cracked whips to keep the men in line. In the 1920s, my mother had 2 uncles who did that. The family stories of that are not the least bit romantic, but the uncles were proud to keep order and to get work done. This was out on the flat, open Louisiana Delta, just across the Missisippi River from the Mississippi Delta. Machines do all that work now.
    I think the problem that American Southerns get into is that they don’t progress morally the way certain other cultures do. One would have to say that morality on slavery changed in Massachusetts between 1650 and 1850, did it not, but not so much in Georgia. One would also say that the morality of being in Society and having a servant class changed in Pennsylvania between 1850 and 1960, but not so much in Louisiana. The South gets set with a certain set of morals and wants to ride on into the sunset with them, but the modern world is always looking for a better way. Sigh. So, the big question is, what’s the next big moral development that we Southerners are going to miss and again become the butt of the world?

  • Joanne

    A Tale: We came to the New World from the British Isles, some from England and some from the horrors of religeous wars in Ireland. Some of us came to Virginia and to Bermuda around 1650. Later some came to Barbados, but all of us were in Virginia by 1750 and most of us were in the Carolinas by the Revolutionary War. Our particular branch was in South Carolina in 1800 but in south-central Mississippi along the flood plain of the Pearl River by 1820. Today, we’re in Louisiana and lots of other places.
    We bought Africans at the first opportunity way back in the 17th century and have had them in our homes and on our fields, in small numbers, up until the 21st century. My baby pictures have black people in them as a common thing. Africans were a daily fact of domestic life.
    So I ask different questions. Were you a good master? Did you bring your slaves to Christ and keep them in church on Sundays? What would it be like to own someone? To go to the reading of a will and to walk home owning 20 people you’d never laid eyes on?
    The plantation managers drove the labor gangs, they cracked whips to keep the men in line. In the 1920s, my mother had 2 uncles who did that. The family stories of that are not the least bit romantic, but the uncles were proud to keep order and to get work done. This was out on the flat, open Louisiana Delta, just across the Missisippi River from the Mississippi Delta. Machines do all that work now.
    I think the problem that American Southerns get into is that they don’t progress morally the way certain other cultures do. One would have to say that morality on slavery changed in Massachusetts between 1650 and 1850, did it not, but not so much in Georgia. One would also say that the morality of being in Society and having a servant class changed in Pennsylvania between 1850 and 1960, but not so much in Louisiana. The South gets set with a certain set of morals and wants to ride on into the sunset with them, but the modern world is always looking for a better way. Sigh. So, the big question is, what’s the next big moral development that we Southerners are going to miss and again become the butt of the world?

  • Richard

    Wayne,

    You need to read some good books of history on the pre-Civil War period. Analogies between Britain and America during that period are totally inappropriate. Different situations and sectional moods. Waging the battle on “an appeal to the conscience” was totally fruitless for a whole bunch of reasons.

  • Richard

    Wayne,

    You need to read some good books of history on the pre-Civil War period. Analogies between Britain and America during that period are totally inappropriate. Different situations and sectional moods. Waging the battle on “an appeal to the conscience” was totally fruitless for a whole bunch of reasons.

  • The Jones

    SKPeterson,

    You said a few comments back in post 45: “The North, under the Whigs, who morphed into the Republicans, basically kept the South in a subordinate state through the imposition of punitive tariffs on agricultural goods, the South’s primary exports. These tariffs were then “invested” by the government in improving Northern industrial and transportation infrastructure.”

    Article I Section 9: “No Tax or Duty shall be laid on Articles exported from any State.”

    Because of this legal fact, your statement there doesn’t make much sense.

  • The Jones

    SKPeterson,

    You said a few comments back in post 45: “The North, under the Whigs, who morphed into the Republicans, basically kept the South in a subordinate state through the imposition of punitive tariffs on agricultural goods, the South’s primary exports. These tariffs were then “invested” by the government in improving Northern industrial and transportation infrastructure.”

    Article I Section 9: “No Tax or Duty shall be laid on Articles exported from any State.”

    Because of this legal fact, your statement there doesn’t make much sense.

  • Cincinnatus

    The Jones:

    Yes, there seems to have been a bit of a misstep above–but SKPeterson was correct in spirit. The South was, in the 1850s, deeply concerned about punitive tariffs that the North had levied on European industrial imports in order to protect Northern industrial enterprises. While this greatly aided economic development in the North, it devastated the South, who, due to its agrarian economy, was forced to import many of its industrial goods. Worse, as SKPeterson accurately pointed out, most of the funds collected from these tariffs were re-invested in the North to underwrite her industrial development and modernized infrastructure, even though a majority of these funds were derived at the great expense of the Southern states and, of course, their citizens, slave-owners or not (and, before the income tax, you’ll recall that tariffs were the primary source of federal revenue). One might analogize the situation to the contemporary complaints of California, New York, and other wealthy states, many of whose federal taxes are funneled to other poorer states, representing a net loss to California’s, etc., economy. The antebellum scenario, however, was of course much more punitive and much more contentious.

    In short, the tariff issue was not directly related to the question of slavery, and it was in fact tremendously important nevertheless. I do not deny the pivotal centrality of slavery in the array of causal factors that engendered Civil War, but it is also quite safe to say that the South had legitimate reasons to resent the North, its fiscal appropriations, and its industrialization. In short, sectionalism shouldn’t be underestimated, and one can imagine how the average Southerner might feel about being coercively forced to fund Northern economic development.

  • Cincinnatus

    The Jones:

    Yes, there seems to have been a bit of a misstep above–but SKPeterson was correct in spirit. The South was, in the 1850s, deeply concerned about punitive tariffs that the North had levied on European industrial imports in order to protect Northern industrial enterprises. While this greatly aided economic development in the North, it devastated the South, who, due to its agrarian economy, was forced to import many of its industrial goods. Worse, as SKPeterson accurately pointed out, most of the funds collected from these tariffs were re-invested in the North to underwrite her industrial development and modernized infrastructure, even though a majority of these funds were derived at the great expense of the Southern states and, of course, their citizens, slave-owners or not (and, before the income tax, you’ll recall that tariffs were the primary source of federal revenue). One might analogize the situation to the contemporary complaints of California, New York, and other wealthy states, many of whose federal taxes are funneled to other poorer states, representing a net loss to California’s, etc., economy. The antebellum scenario, however, was of course much more punitive and much more contentious.

    In short, the tariff issue was not directly related to the question of slavery, and it was in fact tremendously important nevertheless. I do not deny the pivotal centrality of slavery in the array of causal factors that engendered Civil War, but it is also quite safe to say that the South had legitimate reasons to resent the North, its fiscal appropriations, and its industrialization. In short, sectionalism shouldn’t be underestimated, and one can imagine how the average Southerner might feel about being coercively forced to fund Northern economic development.

  • Dennis Peskey

    To Richard (#6 and Jimmy Veith #43)
    Now that I’ve finished reading Vice-President Alexander Stephen’s Cornerstone Address in it’s entirety, I should first like to thank Richard for this homework assignment. I should also like to commend you for your editing abilities – unfortunately, the segment(s) you offered have undergone certain revision from the original document.

    VP Stephen’s presented six main points in this address. He began with the recognition of its authority in agreement with the Magna Carta and introduced a subtle, but important point. This new constitution deprived any citizen of life, liberty or property. If this sounds familiar, its the actual quote from the French Revolution, not the plagiarized version penned by Thomas Jefferson (someday, I should like to have one of his supporters explain to me what business the federal government has in my pursuit of happiness).

    The second point he stressed was the removal of class interests, duties and tariffs. For those who wish to view his entire line of reasoning, the address link is: http://teachingamericanhistory.org/library/index.asp?documentprint=76

    In the third place, Stephens then directs his wrath against the power of Congress (i.e. Federal) to regulate commerce to the detriment of his home State of Georgia and the south as a whole. The merits of his argument linger today in the halls of our Congress and is worthy of our consideration.

    Point four praises the inclusion of cabinet ministers and heads of departments in the legislative debate process in both Houses (Senate and Representative). How ironic we in the LC-MS just booted our Synodical Treasurer out of the governing body of our Synod – proof that Lutherans truely know how to sin boldly.

    I just gotta love point five – the office of the Presidency shall be extended to six years with a limit of one term only. Where was this man when all those people assembled in Philadelphia to write the original Constitution.

    Finally, we come to the sixth and last point; or as VP Stephens began this section, “But not to be tedious in enumerating the numerous changes for the better, allow me to allude to one other though last, not least.” At the beginning of this post, I alluded to Richard’s ability to edit VP Stephens address. To grasp the entirety of Richard’s quotation, I printed out his quote along with the complete section of VP Stephens address. Using twelve point arial font, Richard snipet printed half a page; the original presentation took two and one-half pages. While I admit to being tempted to rebuke for sins of omission as well as commission, I do not believe Richard’s selection misleads nor alters the truth of what VP Stephens presented.

    The problem is what is left out – the reasoning behind the remarks. VP Stephens fully embraced the institution of African slavery. But, did this not conflict with his openning praise of this new constitution’s guarantee of life and liberty. NO, not when the third leg is added – property. The guarantees applied only to white human beings. Stephens argues against the northern abolitionist’s fanaticism; “Their conclusions are right if their premises were. They assume that the negro is equal, and hence conclude that he is entitled to equal privileges and rights with the white man. If their premises were correct, their conclusions would be logical and just but their premise being wrong, their whole argument fails.”

    VP Stephens cites both natural law and the Creator in justifying this position. What has been omitted is his denounciation of all slavery systems which involve the white race, calling these a “violation of nature’s law”. But the enslavement of the negro race was “in conformity with the ordinance of the Creator. It is not for us to inquire into the wisdom of His ordinances, or to question them.”

    Make no mistake, when the Declaration of Independence was penned, the “all men created equal” did not include negros, nor indians, nor asians, etc. The distortion of the biblical truth of creation brings many woes. What does God say – He created Adam and Eve; not black and white, brown or yellow. How many got off the Ark? Noah, his three sons and the four wifes. How long did the cleansing righteousness of the flood last. Slavery can best be abolished with a proper understanding of the Bible and creation; the right’s of States verses a federal government is another mess of our making. If we first choose to serve our neighbor, we might not need neither a State nor Federal government. I think that’s called “paradise”!
    Pax,
    Dennis

  • Dennis Peskey

    To Richard (#6 and Jimmy Veith #43)
    Now that I’ve finished reading Vice-President Alexander Stephen’s Cornerstone Address in it’s entirety, I should first like to thank Richard for this homework assignment. I should also like to commend you for your editing abilities – unfortunately, the segment(s) you offered have undergone certain revision from the original document.

    VP Stephen’s presented six main points in this address. He began with the recognition of its authority in agreement with the Magna Carta and introduced a subtle, but important point. This new constitution deprived any citizen of life, liberty or property. If this sounds familiar, its the actual quote from the French Revolution, not the plagiarized version penned by Thomas Jefferson (someday, I should like to have one of his supporters explain to me what business the federal government has in my pursuit of happiness).

    The second point he stressed was the removal of class interests, duties and tariffs. For those who wish to view his entire line of reasoning, the address link is: http://teachingamericanhistory.org/library/index.asp?documentprint=76

    In the third place, Stephens then directs his wrath against the power of Congress (i.e. Federal) to regulate commerce to the detriment of his home State of Georgia and the south as a whole. The merits of his argument linger today in the halls of our Congress and is worthy of our consideration.

    Point four praises the inclusion of cabinet ministers and heads of departments in the legislative debate process in both Houses (Senate and Representative). How ironic we in the LC-MS just booted our Synodical Treasurer out of the governing body of our Synod – proof that Lutherans truely know how to sin boldly.

    I just gotta love point five – the office of the Presidency shall be extended to six years with a limit of one term only. Where was this man when all those people assembled in Philadelphia to write the original Constitution.

    Finally, we come to the sixth and last point; or as VP Stephens began this section, “But not to be tedious in enumerating the numerous changes for the better, allow me to allude to one other though last, not least.” At the beginning of this post, I alluded to Richard’s ability to edit VP Stephens address. To grasp the entirety of Richard’s quotation, I printed out his quote along with the complete section of VP Stephens address. Using twelve point arial font, Richard snipet printed half a page; the original presentation took two and one-half pages. While I admit to being tempted to rebuke for sins of omission as well as commission, I do not believe Richard’s selection misleads nor alters the truth of what VP Stephens presented.

    The problem is what is left out – the reasoning behind the remarks. VP Stephens fully embraced the institution of African slavery. But, did this not conflict with his openning praise of this new constitution’s guarantee of life and liberty. NO, not when the third leg is added – property. The guarantees applied only to white human beings. Stephens argues against the northern abolitionist’s fanaticism; “Their conclusions are right if their premises were. They assume that the negro is equal, and hence conclude that he is entitled to equal privileges and rights with the white man. If their premises were correct, their conclusions would be logical and just but their premise being wrong, their whole argument fails.”

    VP Stephens cites both natural law and the Creator in justifying this position. What has been omitted is his denounciation of all slavery systems which involve the white race, calling these a “violation of nature’s law”. But the enslavement of the negro race was “in conformity with the ordinance of the Creator. It is not for us to inquire into the wisdom of His ordinances, or to question them.”

    Make no mistake, when the Declaration of Independence was penned, the “all men created equal” did not include negros, nor indians, nor asians, etc. The distortion of the biblical truth of creation brings many woes. What does God say – He created Adam and Eve; not black and white, brown or yellow. How many got off the Ark? Noah, his three sons and the four wifes. How long did the cleansing righteousness of the flood last. Slavery can best be abolished with a proper understanding of the Bible and creation; the right’s of States verses a federal government is another mess of our making. If we first choose to serve our neighbor, we might not need neither a State nor Federal government. I think that’s called “paradise”!
    Pax,
    Dennis

  • Richard

    Dennis,

    Glad to have been a help to you! Sounds like you had fun with your homework! Stephens was really an interesting guy, historically–a Whig (in the South!) who resisted seccession until the last. Apparently he weighed something like 90 lbs–people thought he would blow away; he was a brilliant thinker. I’m sure he was right to denounce all slavery systems–but he couldn’t see the slavery his system supported. Would that he had had the wisdom of a Wilberforce, who did not use God’s “ordinances” to excuse injustice.
    PAX,
    Richard

  • Richard

    Dennis,

    Glad to have been a help to you! Sounds like you had fun with your homework! Stephens was really an interesting guy, historically–a Whig (in the South!) who resisted seccession until the last. Apparently he weighed something like 90 lbs–people thought he would blow away; he was a brilliant thinker. I’m sure he was right to denounce all slavery systems–but he couldn’t see the slavery his system supported. Would that he had had the wisdom of a Wilberforce, who did not use God’s “ordinances” to excuse injustice.
    PAX,
    Richard

  • Carl Vehse

    Those interested in Florida’s claim about the starting location of the Civil War may want to read “Civil War Operations in and Around Pensacola“, by Edwin C. Bearss, Florida Historical Quarterly, Vol. 36 No. 2 (Oct. 1957), pp. 125‑165.

  • Carl Vehse

    Those interested in Florida’s claim about the starting location of the Civil War may want to read “Civil War Operations in and Around Pensacola“, by Edwin C. Bearss, Florida Historical Quarterly, Vol. 36 No. 2 (Oct. 1957), pp. 125‑165.

  • SKPeterson

    Cincinnatus – thanks for your correction regarding tariffs. I was thinking of the Tariff of Abominations, but I’ve been reading a lot on the tariffs imposed on the colonies in the aftermath of the French and Indian War, and there’s nothing like uneditable posts to let one’s sloppy thinking be displayed for electronic eternity.

    But, the argument does still hold. The South DID advocate for slavery under the guise of state’s rights and it has had the pernicious effect of ipso facto discrediting a rather creditable political theory.

    I will also posit this to those who denigrate state’s rights: if they do not exist, then by what right was the lawful authority of the King of England usurped by those same states? And, if the Declaration of Independence is an article that establishes legitimate reasons for insurrection, rebellion, and the parting of ways between Crown and colony, how and why did we make Washington, D.C. more powerful than the King? Finally, what if Texas, which did not have many slaves, decided to free them and then sue for its own independence from the CSA? Would their bid for independence from both the USA and the CSA also be illegitimate? What if they asked to be a Crown protectorate?

  • SKPeterson

    Cincinnatus – thanks for your correction regarding tariffs. I was thinking of the Tariff of Abominations, but I’ve been reading a lot on the tariffs imposed on the colonies in the aftermath of the French and Indian War, and there’s nothing like uneditable posts to let one’s sloppy thinking be displayed for electronic eternity.

    But, the argument does still hold. The South DID advocate for slavery under the guise of state’s rights and it has had the pernicious effect of ipso facto discrediting a rather creditable political theory.

    I will also posit this to those who denigrate state’s rights: if they do not exist, then by what right was the lawful authority of the King of England usurped by those same states? And, if the Declaration of Independence is an article that establishes legitimate reasons for insurrection, rebellion, and the parting of ways between Crown and colony, how and why did we make Washington, D.C. more powerful than the King? Finally, what if Texas, which did not have many slaves, decided to free them and then sue for its own independence from the CSA? Would their bid for independence from both the USA and the CSA also be illegitimate? What if they asked to be a Crown protectorate?

  • Jimmy Veith

    I am confused.

    I thought that people who call themselves “conservative” revered the Constitution and insisted on its strict construction. Where in the Constitution does it give States the right to succeed from the Union? Wasn’t Lincoln, who was sworn to defend and protect the Constitution, correct when he refused to recognize the legality of the confederacy?

    I also thought people who call themselves “conservative” reject the concept of “moral relativism”. (Although I am not a conservative, I also share this view.) Why can’t we just admit that those who fought on the side of the confederacy, regardless of their motives, were actually defending the institution of slavery and were just wrong for doing so?

  • Jimmy Veith

    I am confused.

    I thought that people who call themselves “conservative” revered the Constitution and insisted on its strict construction. Where in the Constitution does it give States the right to succeed from the Union? Wasn’t Lincoln, who was sworn to defend and protect the Constitution, correct when he refused to recognize the legality of the confederacy?

    I also thought people who call themselves “conservative” reject the concept of “moral relativism”. (Although I am not a conservative, I also share this view.) Why can’t we just admit that those who fought on the side of the confederacy, regardless of their motives, were actually defending the institution of slavery and were just wrong for doing so?

  • Cincinnatus

    Jimmy:

    Many are the varieties of conservatism. The world isn’t black and white.

    Accordingly, revering state sovereignty is a classically conservative proposition. Nor does the “Constitution” have anything to do with it. The Constitution was a compact into which the several states (not the people!) entered voluntarily, and prior to the Civil War, it was assumed by many, if not most, that they could just as freely and voluntarily exit the contract. State sovereignty, after all, precedes, both logically and temporally, the sovereignty of the federal government, and while the State governments possess general jurisdiction, any powers possessed by the federal government have only been delegated from the States. As SKPeterson said, it’s a valid and, these days, unfortunately underrated political theory in itself. More to the point, Jimmy, there is no provision in the Constitution stipulating that states can’t withdraw from the contract should they see fit. The only reason the question of secession is considered “settled” today is because Lincoln forbade any states from exiting the contract at the point of a gun–not a typically American sentiment, and not something that most of the Founders (especially those from Virginia and New York, for example) would never have envisioned. Lincoln fought the war to “preserve” (i.e., force) the Union, not to end slavery, and not to further some high moral vision of American equality, etc.

    As to your last paragraph, in which you demand that we “just admit that whose who found on the side of the confederacy . . . were actually defending the institution of slavery and were just wrong for doing so,” that’s just simplistic and silly. As several commenters have insisted over and over, the motives for secession and for the Civil War in general were diverse and complex. So were the individual personal motives for fighting. Sure, many (but probably not most) confederate soldiers were fighting explicitly to defend the institution of slavery. But many of them–and probably most in this case–were literally fighting to defend their homes and their livelihoods (by which I do not mean something coextensive with or dependent upon slavery). They had legitimate fears, and legitimate cause to take up arms for the CSA: a quick read of letters and other written testimonies of the time from common folk–the ones who actually served as infantrymen, the ones who actually had to leave their homes to die–testifies to this fact: their lands were literally being invaded by a hostile military force engaging in the modern tactics of total war (the Union states have never experienced invasion, much less defeat, something Flannery O’Connor notes with significance), their homes threatened, their families and livelihoods and stake. Sherman’s March proves that these fears were legitimate. This was especially true in the Shenandoah Valley, where portions of my family have resided since the 1700′s and where the most significant campaigns of the entire war were fought. In this Valley, there were comparatively few slaves; most residents were small homesteaders and family farmers who, as I said, were fighting just to preserve their livelihoods, to defend what was quite literally their country, in a deeply personal, physical, and local sense. To write all these folks off as “morally wrong” because their side also defended slavery is morally and intellectually dishonest and niggardly. This wasn’t Nazi Germany during WWII, where one would find it virtually impossible to discern any pure motives for siding with Germany. The reasons for choosing the Confederacy were many, and not a few of those reasons were actually admirable, even noble.

    Yes, the South, as Flannery O’Connor notes, is haunted even today by its crimes and by its sins, which are many and great. But the tragedy of the South is double-sided: with that “peculiar institution” died also American regionalism, the last vestiges of states’ rights, the agrarian life, a more limited conception of constitutional and federal authority, an alternative economic structure founded upon localism and agrarianism rather than exorbitant urbanism and industrialism, serious political theories of communalism and public virtue, and a host of other wonderful things that had equal claim to space in the American tradition. It’s deeply regrettable that we’ve lost all these things, regrettable that we exalt those as unblemished heroes who annihilated these things, and regrettable that some of us can’t disaggregate in our minds these things from the separate crime of slavery.

  • Cincinnatus

    Jimmy:

    Many are the varieties of conservatism. The world isn’t black and white.

    Accordingly, revering state sovereignty is a classically conservative proposition. Nor does the “Constitution” have anything to do with it. The Constitution was a compact into which the several states (not the people!) entered voluntarily, and prior to the Civil War, it was assumed by many, if not most, that they could just as freely and voluntarily exit the contract. State sovereignty, after all, precedes, both logically and temporally, the sovereignty of the federal government, and while the State governments possess general jurisdiction, any powers possessed by the federal government have only been delegated from the States. As SKPeterson said, it’s a valid and, these days, unfortunately underrated political theory in itself. More to the point, Jimmy, there is no provision in the Constitution stipulating that states can’t withdraw from the contract should they see fit. The only reason the question of secession is considered “settled” today is because Lincoln forbade any states from exiting the contract at the point of a gun–not a typically American sentiment, and not something that most of the Founders (especially those from Virginia and New York, for example) would never have envisioned. Lincoln fought the war to “preserve” (i.e., force) the Union, not to end slavery, and not to further some high moral vision of American equality, etc.

    As to your last paragraph, in which you demand that we “just admit that whose who found on the side of the confederacy . . . were actually defending the institution of slavery and were just wrong for doing so,” that’s just simplistic and silly. As several commenters have insisted over and over, the motives for secession and for the Civil War in general were diverse and complex. So were the individual personal motives for fighting. Sure, many (but probably not most) confederate soldiers were fighting explicitly to defend the institution of slavery. But many of them–and probably most in this case–were literally fighting to defend their homes and their livelihoods (by which I do not mean something coextensive with or dependent upon slavery). They had legitimate fears, and legitimate cause to take up arms for the CSA: a quick read of letters and other written testimonies of the time from common folk–the ones who actually served as infantrymen, the ones who actually had to leave their homes to die–testifies to this fact: their lands were literally being invaded by a hostile military force engaging in the modern tactics of total war (the Union states have never experienced invasion, much less defeat, something Flannery O’Connor notes with significance), their homes threatened, their families and livelihoods and stake. Sherman’s March proves that these fears were legitimate. This was especially true in the Shenandoah Valley, where portions of my family have resided since the 1700′s and where the most significant campaigns of the entire war were fought. In this Valley, there were comparatively few slaves; most residents were small homesteaders and family farmers who, as I said, were fighting just to preserve their livelihoods, to defend what was quite literally their country, in a deeply personal, physical, and local sense. To write all these folks off as “morally wrong” because their side also defended slavery is morally and intellectually dishonest and niggardly. This wasn’t Nazi Germany during WWII, where one would find it virtually impossible to discern any pure motives for siding with Germany. The reasons for choosing the Confederacy were many, and not a few of those reasons were actually admirable, even noble.

    Yes, the South, as Flannery O’Connor notes, is haunted even today by its crimes and by its sins, which are many and great. But the tragedy of the South is double-sided: with that “peculiar institution” died also American regionalism, the last vestiges of states’ rights, the agrarian life, a more limited conception of constitutional and federal authority, an alternative economic structure founded upon localism and agrarianism rather than exorbitant urbanism and industrialism, serious political theories of communalism and public virtue, and a host of other wonderful things that had equal claim to space in the American tradition. It’s deeply regrettable that we’ve lost all these things, regrettable that we exalt those as unblemished heroes who annihilated these things, and regrettable that some of us can’t disaggregate in our minds these things from the separate crime of slavery.

  • Jimmy Veith

    To Cincinnatus
    “there is no provision in the Constitution stipulating that states can’t withdraw from the contract should they see fit.”

    “Withdrawing” from a contract is a breach of the contract. I don’t see how you can argue in good faith that succession was not a violation of the United States Constitution. Now you could argue that succession was justified by some higher moral law, just as the Declaration of Independence was an act done in a manner consistent with “natural law“. The Declaration of Independence was a violation of British Law, although I believe it was justified.

    So what is the “higher” moral law that justified succession? Despite revisionist history, it was absolutely clear at the time. The confederate states wanted to preserve the institution of slavery, and to spread the institution of slavery to the territories in the West. Do you seriously believe that this cause represents a “higher” moral law that justified succession?

    To say that the cause of the confederacy was simply to preserve states rights is to ignore the hypocrisy that the argument had at the time. What about the right of northern states to refuse to honor the fugitive slave laws? Didn’t they have the right to do that, as sovereign states? Yet, at the time, those trying to justify succession argued that they should withdraw from the Union because the federal government refused to return their “property”, when they escaped to the North in an attempt to gain their freedom.

    I realize that the vast majority of those who fought on the side of the Confederacy were not slave owners. And I do not question their personal bravery, and the fact that they may have been motivated by a belief that they were defending their homeland. However, anything done to protect and preserve the institution of slavery was simply wrong.

  • Jimmy Veith

    To Cincinnatus
    “there is no provision in the Constitution stipulating that states can’t withdraw from the contract should they see fit.”

    “Withdrawing” from a contract is a breach of the contract. I don’t see how you can argue in good faith that succession was not a violation of the United States Constitution. Now you could argue that succession was justified by some higher moral law, just as the Declaration of Independence was an act done in a manner consistent with “natural law“. The Declaration of Independence was a violation of British Law, although I believe it was justified.

    So what is the “higher” moral law that justified succession? Despite revisionist history, it was absolutely clear at the time. The confederate states wanted to preserve the institution of slavery, and to spread the institution of slavery to the territories in the West. Do you seriously believe that this cause represents a “higher” moral law that justified succession?

    To say that the cause of the confederacy was simply to preserve states rights is to ignore the hypocrisy that the argument had at the time. What about the right of northern states to refuse to honor the fugitive slave laws? Didn’t they have the right to do that, as sovereign states? Yet, at the time, those trying to justify succession argued that they should withdraw from the Union because the federal government refused to return their “property”, when they escaped to the North in an attempt to gain their freedom.

    I realize that the vast majority of those who fought on the side of the Confederacy were not slave owners. And I do not question their personal bravery, and the fact that they may have been motivated by a belief that they were defending their homeland. However, anything done to protect and preserve the institution of slavery was simply wrong.

  • DonS

    Cincinnatus @ 66: That is about as eloquent a summary of the issue as I have seen.

    Jimmy @ 67: ““Withdrawing” from a contract is a breach of the contract.” How can you say this, as a lawyer? Most contracts permit termination. The action of withdrawal is only a breach if it violates a term of the contract. Cincinnatus’ argument is that the Constitution, in its pre-Civil War state, had no provision which precluded secession, at least in the view of the southern states. Lincoln and the North disagreed, and they had the bigger guns and greater manpower. If the matter had been decided in a court of law rather than on the battlefield, the result may have been different.

  • DonS

    Cincinnatus @ 66: That is about as eloquent a summary of the issue as I have seen.

    Jimmy @ 67: ““Withdrawing” from a contract is a breach of the contract.” How can you say this, as a lawyer? Most contracts permit termination. The action of withdrawal is only a breach if it violates a term of the contract. Cincinnatus’ argument is that the Constitution, in its pre-Civil War state, had no provision which precluded secession, at least in the view of the southern states. Lincoln and the North disagreed, and they had the bigger guns and greater manpower. If the matter had been decided in a court of law rather than on the battlefield, the result may have been different.

  • Jimmy Veith

    To DonS. “Most contracts permit termination. The action of withdrawal is only a breach if it violates a term of the contract.” This argument actually supports my position.

    I agree that if a contract has a provision that allows a party to withdraw from its terms, then a party could withdraw without violating the terms of the contract. However, the United States Constitution is not one of those contracts that “permit termination”. Therefore, succession was an illegal act under the United States Constitution. If the confederate states wanted to withdraw from the Union legally, they should have proposed an amendment to the Constitution. Rather than doing so, they chose to blockade a federal owned facility at Fort Sumpter to starve out the soldiers. When they learned that Lincoln was going to send an unarmed ship to re-supply the Fort, they decided to fire the first shot and attacked the Fort before the ship arrived. They began the war with an act of violence for the ultimate purpose of preserving and expanding the institution of slavery.

    My point is this. There are times when one can justify violating the laws of the land when there is a higher moral law which compels one to do so. In my view, this was done with the signing of the Declaration of Independence, and with acts of civil disobedience during the Civil Rights movement. However, the fact remains that the cause of the south was to preserve and expand the institution of slavery. This is not just my opinion but an historical fact. If you argue that the cause of slavery was justified in the eyes of the Southerners, and they believed they were fighting for a right and just cause, and therefore it was OK, then you are preaching “moral relativism”. I believe that slavery is a sin, and a violation of God’s moral law, then, now and for all times.

  • Jimmy Veith

    To DonS. “Most contracts permit termination. The action of withdrawal is only a breach if it violates a term of the contract.” This argument actually supports my position.

    I agree that if a contract has a provision that allows a party to withdraw from its terms, then a party could withdraw without violating the terms of the contract. However, the United States Constitution is not one of those contracts that “permit termination”. Therefore, succession was an illegal act under the United States Constitution. If the confederate states wanted to withdraw from the Union legally, they should have proposed an amendment to the Constitution. Rather than doing so, they chose to blockade a federal owned facility at Fort Sumpter to starve out the soldiers. When they learned that Lincoln was going to send an unarmed ship to re-supply the Fort, they decided to fire the first shot and attacked the Fort before the ship arrived. They began the war with an act of violence for the ultimate purpose of preserving and expanding the institution of slavery.

    My point is this. There are times when one can justify violating the laws of the land when there is a higher moral law which compels one to do so. In my view, this was done with the signing of the Declaration of Independence, and with acts of civil disobedience during the Civil Rights movement. However, the fact remains that the cause of the south was to preserve and expand the institution of slavery. This is not just my opinion but an historical fact. If you argue that the cause of slavery was justified in the eyes of the Southerners, and they believed they were fighting for a right and just cause, and therefore it was OK, then you are preaching “moral relativism”. I believe that slavery is a sin, and a violation of God’s moral law, then, now and for all times.

  • Stephen

    I think Jimmy has got you both.

  • Stephen

    I think Jimmy has got you both.

  • Cincinnatus

    No he doesn’t, Steven. Both his major points in his last comment are absurd:’

    1. There was no one cause of the Civil War. Yes, slavery was tremendously important. But so were punitive tariffs (entirely unrelated to slavery!), regionalism (entirely unrelated to slavery!), state sovereignty (entirely unrelated to slavery!), and a few other highly important questions. The Civil War was a kind of second American Revolution, and a professor once told me that all revolutions have at least three major motives: economic, religious, and constitutional. This is no more true than in the Civil War, and not all those three categories can be traced back to slavery.

    Elsewhere, Jimmy, you’re distorting my argument. I never said that “the cause of slavery was justified in the eyes of the Southerners” and that they “thus believed they were fighting for a right and just cause.” You added a premise inappropriately. In fact, I said that many confederate soldiers were fighting for reasons–right and just causes–that were entirely unrelated to slavery in the first place. As I’ve repeated ad nauseum, the South had more causes than merely preserving slavery. Some of those causes were, in fact, good and noble.

    2. Your argument about contracts is ludicrous. Remember my point about the States possessing preceding sovereignty and general jurisdiction? That’s important. The States didn’t cede over their sovereignty when they agreed to the Constitution, nor did they cede over a right to leave the contract or to permit the federal government to compel perpetual participation in the contract. It had always been assumed by many that the contract was voluntary. Visions of eternal Union, etc., didn’t come along till much later, and these visions certainly weren’t shared by all until Lincoln invented trench warfare to make sure everyone agreed.

    Think about this, Jimmy: would you ever argue that the United States has no right to leave NATO? That if we, for instance, failed to see the utility of NATO or disagreed with NATO’s policies, we still couldn’t leave? That if we tried to leave and reclaim elements of our national sovereignty, the other NATO nations could band together and attack us with military force to compel our perpetual participation in NATO? Prior to the Civil War, making an argument that the federal government could crush attempts at state secession would be like saying that the United States can never leave NATO or the UN. Of course, in 1869, the Supreme Court ruled that no state has the right to secede unilaterally from the Union, but a) that was a classic case of judicial activism and b) the question was kind of moot at that point.

  • Cincinnatus

    No he doesn’t, Steven. Both his major points in his last comment are absurd:’

    1. There was no one cause of the Civil War. Yes, slavery was tremendously important. But so were punitive tariffs (entirely unrelated to slavery!), regionalism (entirely unrelated to slavery!), state sovereignty (entirely unrelated to slavery!), and a few other highly important questions. The Civil War was a kind of second American Revolution, and a professor once told me that all revolutions have at least three major motives: economic, religious, and constitutional. This is no more true than in the Civil War, and not all those three categories can be traced back to slavery.

    Elsewhere, Jimmy, you’re distorting my argument. I never said that “the cause of slavery was justified in the eyes of the Southerners” and that they “thus believed they were fighting for a right and just cause.” You added a premise inappropriately. In fact, I said that many confederate soldiers were fighting for reasons–right and just causes–that were entirely unrelated to slavery in the first place. As I’ve repeated ad nauseum, the South had more causes than merely preserving slavery. Some of those causes were, in fact, good and noble.

    2. Your argument about contracts is ludicrous. Remember my point about the States possessing preceding sovereignty and general jurisdiction? That’s important. The States didn’t cede over their sovereignty when they agreed to the Constitution, nor did they cede over a right to leave the contract or to permit the federal government to compel perpetual participation in the contract. It had always been assumed by many that the contract was voluntary. Visions of eternal Union, etc., didn’t come along till much later, and these visions certainly weren’t shared by all until Lincoln invented trench warfare to make sure everyone agreed.

    Think about this, Jimmy: would you ever argue that the United States has no right to leave NATO? That if we, for instance, failed to see the utility of NATO or disagreed with NATO’s policies, we still couldn’t leave? That if we tried to leave and reclaim elements of our national sovereignty, the other NATO nations could band together and attack us with military force to compel our perpetual participation in NATO? Prior to the Civil War, making an argument that the federal government could crush attempts at state secession would be like saying that the United States can never leave NATO or the UN. Of course, in 1869, the Supreme Court ruled that no state has the right to secede unilaterally from the Union, but a) that was a classic case of judicial activism and b) the question was kind of moot at that point.

  • Jimmy Veith

    You stated: “It had always been assumed by many that the contract was voluntary. Visions of eternal Union, etc., didn’t come along till much later, and these visions certainly weren’t shared by all until Lincoln invented trench warfare to make sure everyone agreed.”

    This statement is not historically accurate. President Andrew Jackson, (one of my least favorite Presidents, and a slave owner himself), did at least do one good thing for the country. He preserved the Union in face of the threats of succession from South Carolina. Even he believed that succession was illegal and not allowed under the constitution.

    Well this has been a great discussion. I am about to embark on a six hour trip to Houston. I do hope that others will continue this discussion during the day, and I will check back late tonight. Goodbye for now.

  • Jimmy Veith

    You stated: “It had always been assumed by many that the contract was voluntary. Visions of eternal Union, etc., didn’t come along till much later, and these visions certainly weren’t shared by all until Lincoln invented trench warfare to make sure everyone agreed.”

    This statement is not historically accurate. President Andrew Jackson, (one of my least favorite Presidents, and a slave owner himself), did at least do one good thing for the country. He preserved the Union in face of the threats of succession from South Carolina. Even he believed that succession was illegal and not allowed under the constitution.

    Well this has been a great discussion. I am about to embark on a six hour trip to Houston. I do hope that others will continue this discussion during the day, and I will check back late tonight. Goodbye for now.

  • Stephen

    Cinncinatus

    I think your #2 point is exactly why there was war – to settle the matter, both on this issue and the issue of slave expansion to new territories that went back and forth with things like the Kansas-Nebraska act. It is why, in my state of Texas for instance, men like Sam Houston, a former rabidly racist Whig, was a staunch Unionist and lived in the capital city during the war.

    Assumed by “many” or assumed by “some” I guess I don’t know the details and admit my ignorance. I think your point about regionalism is a fair one. Lincoln was feared and hated because the south knew he threatened their way of life, which, as I said, was built on slavery. They knew that the north had it in for this “economic edge” that the south had. They had been trying to prevent its expansion.

    So, it seems to me that sovereignty would never come up if the institution of slavery did not need to be protected so dearly. fortunes and an entire way of life depended on it. A similar resistance rose up in the 50s and 60s during civil rights for similar reasons, and resentment towards the feds resurfaced then as well. A way of life was threatened and needed to change and the white south liked it the way it was. It served their purposes.

  • Stephen

    Cinncinatus

    I think your #2 point is exactly why there was war – to settle the matter, both on this issue and the issue of slave expansion to new territories that went back and forth with things like the Kansas-Nebraska act. It is why, in my state of Texas for instance, men like Sam Houston, a former rabidly racist Whig, was a staunch Unionist and lived in the capital city during the war.

    Assumed by “many” or assumed by “some” I guess I don’t know the details and admit my ignorance. I think your point about regionalism is a fair one. Lincoln was feared and hated because the south knew he threatened their way of life, which, as I said, was built on slavery. They knew that the north had it in for this “economic edge” that the south had. They had been trying to prevent its expansion.

    So, it seems to me that sovereignty would never come up if the institution of slavery did not need to be protected so dearly. fortunes and an entire way of life depended on it. A similar resistance rose up in the 50s and 60s during civil rights for similar reasons, and resentment towards the feds resurfaced then as well. A way of life was threatened and needed to change and the white south liked it the way it was. It served their purposes.

  • Dennis Peskey

    Jimmy – Might I inquire as to the nature of this “God” and what moral law deemed slavery a sin? I would caution against a hasty response which rewrites what Christians call The Holy Bible. You may want to review the Book of Philemon (unless your prepared to follow the example of Thomas Jefferson and literally cut out those portions of the Bible which offend your sensibilities.) I would also encourage you to read the address of Vice-President Stephens (link provided in post 61); he strongly opposed slavery – for white men. The slavery he defended was for a “race” which was considered created subordinate to the white race. Stephens wrote; “Many governments have been founded upon the principle of the subordination and serfdom of certain classes of the same race; such were and are in violation of the laws of nature. Our system commits no such violation of nature’s laws.”

    The apology you are seeking is not found in God’s moral law nor the natural law he instituted in men, nor will you find any verses in the Holy Bible supporting your contention of slavery being a sin. Where Stephens argument (and the South’s acceptance of forced servitude, aka slavery) is found in the term “race”. This is where the “sin” lies – an artificial construct of differentiation which is totally lacking in Biblical support. God created mankind (humans) – some big, some small; some male, some female; some “white”, some “black”. We are all equal in His sight. To argue one is less in God’s sight due to human conventions (be they economical, social, political – whatever) is to violate God’s word. Had someone the courage to properly proclaim God’s word concerning Genesis at our countries’ founding, this whole issue would not exist. When we mess with God’s Word, all we end up with is a mess. The “wrong” is not found in the institution of slavery; the wrong is most definitely in how we fail to love (and recognize) our neighbor. Finally, I rejoice and join with St Paul in declaring myself a slave for Christ. He is my Lord and master and I am perfectly comfortable with this.
    Pax,
    Dennis

  • Dennis Peskey

    Jimmy – Might I inquire as to the nature of this “God” and what moral law deemed slavery a sin? I would caution against a hasty response which rewrites what Christians call The Holy Bible. You may want to review the Book of Philemon (unless your prepared to follow the example of Thomas Jefferson and literally cut out those portions of the Bible which offend your sensibilities.) I would also encourage you to read the address of Vice-President Stephens (link provided in post 61); he strongly opposed slavery – for white men. The slavery he defended was for a “race” which was considered created subordinate to the white race. Stephens wrote; “Many governments have been founded upon the principle of the subordination and serfdom of certain classes of the same race; such were and are in violation of the laws of nature. Our system commits no such violation of nature’s laws.”

    The apology you are seeking is not found in God’s moral law nor the natural law he instituted in men, nor will you find any verses in the Holy Bible supporting your contention of slavery being a sin. Where Stephens argument (and the South’s acceptance of forced servitude, aka slavery) is found in the term “race”. This is where the “sin” lies – an artificial construct of differentiation which is totally lacking in Biblical support. God created mankind (humans) – some big, some small; some male, some female; some “white”, some “black”. We are all equal in His sight. To argue one is less in God’s sight due to human conventions (be they economical, social, political – whatever) is to violate God’s word. Had someone the courage to properly proclaim God’s word concerning Genesis at our countries’ founding, this whole issue would not exist. When we mess with God’s Word, all we end up with is a mess. The “wrong” is not found in the institution of slavery; the wrong is most definitely in how we fail to love (and recognize) our neighbor. Finally, I rejoice and join with St Paul in declaring myself a slave for Christ. He is my Lord and master and I am perfectly comfortable with this.
    Pax,
    Dennis

  • PinonCoffee

    “The lifetime of two old men” — over Christmas break, my dad and husband went and investigated an obscure Civil War battlefield out in Kentucky. The man who owned the place told them a story that his grandfather told him. His grandfather had been just a boy when the battle happened and had helped carry away the dead and wounded.

    It does bring it close to home!

  • PinonCoffee

    “The lifetime of two old men” — over Christmas break, my dad and husband went and investigated an obscure Civil War battlefield out in Kentucky. The man who owned the place told them a story that his grandfather told him. His grandfather had been just a boy when the battle happened and had helped carry away the dead and wounded.

    It does bring it close to home!

  • DonS

    Jimmy @ 69: As you, a fellow attorney, know, the law of contracts does not permit the assumption that contracts are of indefinite term. In the absence of a specific termination clause or stated term, they are presumed to be terminable by either party upon reasonable notice to the other party.

    Now, one should not take the analogy of contract law too far in this case. I believe that many states, prior to the Civil War, would have regarded the Constitution as being somewhat like a treaty between sovereign entities, the several states. However, sovereigns are always free to withdraw from treaties, as you also know. This is the point that Cincinnatus was making.

    The Union disabused the southern states of the notion that they could withdraw, not on the basis of law or logic, but at the point of a gun. That is all I am saying.

  • DonS

    Jimmy @ 69: As you, a fellow attorney, know, the law of contracts does not permit the assumption that contracts are of indefinite term. In the absence of a specific termination clause or stated term, they are presumed to be terminable by either party upon reasonable notice to the other party.

    Now, one should not take the analogy of contract law too far in this case. I believe that many states, prior to the Civil War, would have regarded the Constitution as being somewhat like a treaty between sovereign entities, the several states. However, sovereigns are always free to withdraw from treaties, as you also know. This is the point that Cincinnatus was making.

    The Union disabused the southern states of the notion that they could withdraw, not on the basis of law or logic, but at the point of a gun. That is all I am saying.

  • DonS

    PinonCoffee @ 75: My great grandfather was born in 1868, and died in 1969, at the age of 100 years, eight months. I had the privilege of knowing him for the first ten years of my life. When I think back on that now, I am amazed to find that I knew a man personally who was born during Reconstruction, now nearly 150 years ago.

  • DonS

    PinonCoffee @ 75: My great grandfather was born in 1868, and died in 1969, at the age of 100 years, eight months. I had the privilege of knowing him for the first ten years of my life. When I think back on that now, I am amazed to find that I knew a man personally who was born during Reconstruction, now nearly 150 years ago.

  • DonS

    Ahhh, somehow I missed Cincinnatus’ comment @ 71, where he also brings up the treaty issue I raised above @ 76. As usual, he stated the point very well.

  • DonS

    Ahhh, somehow I missed Cincinnatus’ comment @ 71, where he also brings up the treaty issue I raised above @ 76. As usual, he stated the point very well.

  • Stephen

    Pastor Pesky,

    With all due respect to your office – really? I thought we are in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves. If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves. What’s with this boast about being a slave to Christ? How do you do that? Paul boasted of his weakness. I too confess, through faith, that Jesus is my Lord, but I am enslaved by sin. Thank God for Christ who made himself nothing and became a slave (Philippians).

    I think what you say about slavery “not being a sin” is to make some kind of distinction without any difference. Paul does not deal with institutions so much as he does relationships, and defines them in terms of Christ. Obedience and love to each other is his concern. What he says to slaves he also says to slave owners. Those relationships are redefined. Reading 1 Peter all the way through is a good example. the fact that they are still referred to as slaves does not mean that their status before God and within their community of believers did not change in a significant way. So why does that mean that institutionalizing the subjugation of human beings is then not a sin simply because we cannot find it on a list in the bible? This seems to be what you suggest. If this were the case, the bible would be irrelevant in a whole range of situations. Love your neighbor as yourself. The whole of the law is love. I desire mercy. and when were the patriarchs in bible ever shining examples of anything other than our own need to continually repent?

    I’m always amazed when I hear, on the one hand, how this nation was founded on Christian virtues, and then on the other, how it wasn’t. This argument is employed when it is useful. Here you seem to say that we missed some piece of biblical knowledge at the founding. That may or may not be true, but then this presumes that reason will always choose the correct path when grace is available to guide it. Had we known better, we would have made better choices. That is pure liberalism in its most contemporary form. Sin is simply about using reason to control our baser instincts with higher, perhaps even divine, knowledge.

    Tell me again how enslaving others is not sin. This is exactly what the abolitionists (Wilberforce for instance) understood. It is a violation of the entire second table of the commandments.

    Like John wrote “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”

  • Stephen

    Pastor Pesky,

    With all due respect to your office – really? I thought we are in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves. If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves. What’s with this boast about being a slave to Christ? How do you do that? Paul boasted of his weakness. I too confess, through faith, that Jesus is my Lord, but I am enslaved by sin. Thank God for Christ who made himself nothing and became a slave (Philippians).

    I think what you say about slavery “not being a sin” is to make some kind of distinction without any difference. Paul does not deal with institutions so much as he does relationships, and defines them in terms of Christ. Obedience and love to each other is his concern. What he says to slaves he also says to slave owners. Those relationships are redefined. Reading 1 Peter all the way through is a good example. the fact that they are still referred to as slaves does not mean that their status before God and within their community of believers did not change in a significant way. So why does that mean that institutionalizing the subjugation of human beings is then not a sin simply because we cannot find it on a list in the bible? This seems to be what you suggest. If this were the case, the bible would be irrelevant in a whole range of situations. Love your neighbor as yourself. The whole of the law is love. I desire mercy. and when were the patriarchs in bible ever shining examples of anything other than our own need to continually repent?

    I’m always amazed when I hear, on the one hand, how this nation was founded on Christian virtues, and then on the other, how it wasn’t. This argument is employed when it is useful. Here you seem to say that we missed some piece of biblical knowledge at the founding. That may or may not be true, but then this presumes that reason will always choose the correct path when grace is available to guide it. Had we known better, we would have made better choices. That is pure liberalism in its most contemporary form. Sin is simply about using reason to control our baser instincts with higher, perhaps even divine, knowledge.

    Tell me again how enslaving others is not sin. This is exactly what the abolitionists (Wilberforce for instance) understood. It is a violation of the entire second table of the commandments.

    Like John wrote “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”

  • Cincinnatus

    Hmm…I was expecting this discussion to go the way of defending/attacking slavery itself.

    Anyway, I’ll actually agree with Dennis here: I have trouble deeming the institution of slavery itself immoral. It is, after all, cited (even approvingly!) in the Bible. It’s been a given in nearly all cultures in all ages, and I’m inclined to agree with Aristotle and many other thinkers that some form of slavery is natural and essential for the proper functioning of any society. Even the United States–cleansed as it was of its iniquities by the Civil War!–has merely replaced one form of slavery with another (undocumented workers, anyone? Alternatively one could argue that our luxuriant economy is subsidized and enabled by a slave class that labors overseas, out of sight and mind); the distinction is merely statutory and semantic. Anyhow, I’m not a moral progressive: I don’t believe that all cultures that preceded ours were morally benighted and that we have learned something of which they were ignorant.

    The problem with antebellum slavery wasn’t, despite what many radical abolitionists of the time claimed and what orthodox egalitarian Americans claim today, that the very institution of slavery is immoral or violates, in Jimmy’s terms, some “higher law” (much less God’s law). The problem with antebellum American slavery is that it was, as Dennis notes, founded upon a repugnant racial distinction that categorized a certain class of human beings as literally inferior and sub-human based upon an arbitrary classification. Perhaps more importantly, the institution of slavery is in insoluble contradiction with certain American principles: the liberty all citizens, a fundamental conception of equality, equal protection of the laws, etc., etc. One could perhaps argue that not everyone in America is entitled to be a citizen and thus to the privileges and immunities attendant thereto, but that argument is really a nonstarter. The point is that slavery as practiced in America was wrong for legal and accidental reasons, not essential reasons. For the record, then, as an American, I am against the institution of slavery in our borders, especially race-based slavery. It had to go, though I dispute the necessity of a war that killed 600,000 to get rid of it.

    Thus, Steven, I really don’t know what your reference to the Ten Commandments, the Gospel, etc., has to do with it. Stripped of its vicious racial features, there’s nothing particularly horrendous about the status of being a slave. In Rome, for instance, slaves were often richer than their masters and often more competent and accomplished, and they could earn their freedom. Slavery is merely a particular social arrangement that, while incompatible with American principles of governance, is not prima facie wrong. In Greece and most other pre-modern cultures, it was simply expected (and not resented) that those defeated in war would thenceforth serve as slaves to the victors. It beats being slaughtered or imprisoned as in our modern forms of total war, doesn’t it?!

    Anyway, I’ve said enough scandalous things for now. American ears are very sensitive and prone to easy offense. I would dispute, as I have all along, your contention @73, Steven: the point is precisely that the South had complaints about state sovereignty preceding and apart from slavery. Tariffs and executive authority were but two of those complaints. But you’re right: one should not underestimate the importance of the question of slavery in motivating the South’s anger. But then again, I don’t think such underestimation is our current problem. The entire point of this discussion has been tease out the other pearls of American political theory that are utterly and tragically lost when we depict the South as uniformly evil and uniformly concerned with the singular issue of slavery.

  • Cincinnatus

    Hmm…I was expecting this discussion to go the way of defending/attacking slavery itself.

    Anyway, I’ll actually agree with Dennis here: I have trouble deeming the institution of slavery itself immoral. It is, after all, cited (even approvingly!) in the Bible. It’s been a given in nearly all cultures in all ages, and I’m inclined to agree with Aristotle and many other thinkers that some form of slavery is natural and essential for the proper functioning of any society. Even the United States–cleansed as it was of its iniquities by the Civil War!–has merely replaced one form of slavery with another (undocumented workers, anyone? Alternatively one could argue that our luxuriant economy is subsidized and enabled by a slave class that labors overseas, out of sight and mind); the distinction is merely statutory and semantic. Anyhow, I’m not a moral progressive: I don’t believe that all cultures that preceded ours were morally benighted and that we have learned something of which they were ignorant.

    The problem with antebellum slavery wasn’t, despite what many radical abolitionists of the time claimed and what orthodox egalitarian Americans claim today, that the very institution of slavery is immoral or violates, in Jimmy’s terms, some “higher law” (much less God’s law). The problem with antebellum American slavery is that it was, as Dennis notes, founded upon a repugnant racial distinction that categorized a certain class of human beings as literally inferior and sub-human based upon an arbitrary classification. Perhaps more importantly, the institution of slavery is in insoluble contradiction with certain American principles: the liberty all citizens, a fundamental conception of equality, equal protection of the laws, etc., etc. One could perhaps argue that not everyone in America is entitled to be a citizen and thus to the privileges and immunities attendant thereto, but that argument is really a nonstarter. The point is that slavery as practiced in America was wrong for legal and accidental reasons, not essential reasons. For the record, then, as an American, I am against the institution of slavery in our borders, especially race-based slavery. It had to go, though I dispute the necessity of a war that killed 600,000 to get rid of it.

    Thus, Steven, I really don’t know what your reference to the Ten Commandments, the Gospel, etc., has to do with it. Stripped of its vicious racial features, there’s nothing particularly horrendous about the status of being a slave. In Rome, for instance, slaves were often richer than their masters and often more competent and accomplished, and they could earn their freedom. Slavery is merely a particular social arrangement that, while incompatible with American principles of governance, is not prima facie wrong. In Greece and most other pre-modern cultures, it was simply expected (and not resented) that those defeated in war would thenceforth serve as slaves to the victors. It beats being slaughtered or imprisoned as in our modern forms of total war, doesn’t it?!

    Anyway, I’ve said enough scandalous things for now. American ears are very sensitive and prone to easy offense. I would dispute, as I have all along, your contention @73, Steven: the point is precisely that the South had complaints about state sovereignty preceding and apart from slavery. Tariffs and executive authority were but two of those complaints. But you’re right: one should not underestimate the importance of the question of slavery in motivating the South’s anger. But then again, I don’t think such underestimation is our current problem. The entire point of this discussion has been tease out the other pearls of American political theory that are utterly and tragically lost when we depict the South as uniformly evil and uniformly concerned with the singular issue of slavery.

  • DonS

    Well, I am not going to defend the southern American style of slaveholding practiced prior to Reconstruction, involving the kidnapping of people against their will and without remuneration, chaining them in hellish conditions on slave ships to bring them to America, cruel beatings, human trade, destroying family units, etc. That is obviously indefensible, regardless of the racial component, which made it even worse. Indentured servitude of the type I believe is referenced in the Bible as slavery, is a different matter, however. I’m not sure I see why folks should not be permitted to sell their services for a period of time as an indentured servant to erase a debt, or for whatever other reason, as long as the master is humane and fair in the treatment of that servant. I wouldn’t engage in it, but I’m not sure it is inherently immoral. Again, as in all things human, and not expressly prohibited in Scripture, whether a particular arrangement is sin is an individual, not blanket, matter.

  • DonS

    Well, I am not going to defend the southern American style of slaveholding practiced prior to Reconstruction, involving the kidnapping of people against their will and without remuneration, chaining them in hellish conditions on slave ships to bring them to America, cruel beatings, human trade, destroying family units, etc. That is obviously indefensible, regardless of the racial component, which made it even worse. Indentured servitude of the type I believe is referenced in the Bible as slavery, is a different matter, however. I’m not sure I see why folks should not be permitted to sell their services for a period of time as an indentured servant to erase a debt, or for whatever other reason, as long as the master is humane and fair in the treatment of that servant. I wouldn’t engage in it, but I’m not sure it is inherently immoral. Again, as in all things human, and not expressly prohibited in Scripture, whether a particular arrangement is sin is an individual, not blanket, matter.

  • Cincinnatus

    DonS: Agreed. I should have mentioned that slavery as practiced in America was also wrong because of its inextricable element of–indeed, its foundations in–brutality.

  • Cincinnatus

    DonS: Agreed. I should have mentioned that slavery as practiced in America was also wrong because of its inextricable element of–indeed, its foundations in–brutality.

  • SKPeterson

    Several Northern states also threatened to secede from the Union over the enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Act. They argued that they should not be compelled to recognize runaway slaves as chattel property, but should be allowed to recognized them as persons under their own laws and thereby under the protection of the laws of the state. I think we can all relish the irony of the Southern states willing (ab)use of federal power to enforce their property claims under the FSA, but blanching when the abolitionist shoe was on the other foot.

    Between the opposition to the Fugitive Slave Act, the Tariff of Abominations, and the defense of slavery, the arguments for state’s rights and the legality of secession were widely recognized, although obviously not universally accepted.

    Interestingly enough – these competing moral and economic issues between the states may soon play out in the realm of homosexual marriage. Many states feel that they should not be compelled to recognize marriages illegal under their own laws, just as Northern states chafed at being compelled to return runaways to slave owners. Thank Lincoln and the Radical Republicans whenever your state is forced to legally recognize something deemed illegal in the state because of federally enforced reciprocity.

  • SKPeterson

    Several Northern states also threatened to secede from the Union over the enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Act. They argued that they should not be compelled to recognize runaway slaves as chattel property, but should be allowed to recognized them as persons under their own laws and thereby under the protection of the laws of the state. I think we can all relish the irony of the Southern states willing (ab)use of federal power to enforce their property claims under the FSA, but blanching when the abolitionist shoe was on the other foot.

    Between the opposition to the Fugitive Slave Act, the Tariff of Abominations, and the defense of slavery, the arguments for state’s rights and the legality of secession were widely recognized, although obviously not universally accepted.

    Interestingly enough – these competing moral and economic issues between the states may soon play out in the realm of homosexual marriage. Many states feel that they should not be compelled to recognize marriages illegal under their own laws, just as Northern states chafed at being compelled to return runaways to slave owners. Thank Lincoln and the Radical Republicans whenever your state is forced to legally recognize something deemed illegal in the state because of federally enforced reciprocity.

  • Stephen

    Certainly we are having a problem with a definition in terms. The kind of slavery practiced in the American south and that which was happening in St. Paul’s day were of a different type. The relationship between master and slave were of a different sort, as has been described here. The scriptures take it a step further though. Jesus shows us that the entire law on earth has to do with love for neighbor. Slave owners in the US who baptized their own slaves were compelled to see their slaves in a different light as did the abolitionists. So this reassessment of the slave as a human being happened on many levels. That was what I mean to invoke. It may be that a war was not necessary but awar was what we got and the slavery that WE had was evil. American slavery was indeed a grave sin in the way DonS described, perhaps not prima facia, but to suggest otherwise is to gloss over that fact. And furthermore, to also suggest that the scriptures do not speak to this sin is also to make them irrelevant, not just for the enslavement of human beings in the common way that this is understood, but for a lot of other things as well.

    I’m still trying to understand what was at stake legally. Texas became a state uniquely through a treaty because it was the only state that was first a republic. That is all very interesting. Does anyone have the actual wording of the documents handy?

    However, I still say that at base, the south wished to protect its way of life which was, in fact, supported in large measure by the institution of slavery. The further fact that they sought to expand slavery into new territories bears this out I think. Both sides used legislative measures to gain the upper hand, but slavery was the underlying source of contention that the south did not only wish to maintain, but further. And it was wickedness and brutality, plain and simple.

  • Stephen

    Certainly we are having a problem with a definition in terms. The kind of slavery practiced in the American south and that which was happening in St. Paul’s day were of a different type. The relationship between master and slave were of a different sort, as has been described here. The scriptures take it a step further though. Jesus shows us that the entire law on earth has to do with love for neighbor. Slave owners in the US who baptized their own slaves were compelled to see their slaves in a different light as did the abolitionists. So this reassessment of the slave as a human being happened on many levels. That was what I mean to invoke. It may be that a war was not necessary but awar was what we got and the slavery that WE had was evil. American slavery was indeed a grave sin in the way DonS described, perhaps not prima facia, but to suggest otherwise is to gloss over that fact. And furthermore, to also suggest that the scriptures do not speak to this sin is also to make them irrelevant, not just for the enslavement of human beings in the common way that this is understood, but for a lot of other things as well.

    I’m still trying to understand what was at stake legally. Texas became a state uniquely through a treaty because it was the only state that was first a republic. That is all very interesting. Does anyone have the actual wording of the documents handy?

    However, I still say that at base, the south wished to protect its way of life which was, in fact, supported in large measure by the institution of slavery. The further fact that they sought to expand slavery into new territories bears this out I think. Both sides used legislative measures to gain the upper hand, but slavery was the underlying source of contention that the south did not only wish to maintain, but further. And it was wickedness and brutality, plain and simple.

  • Cincinnatus

    By way of clarification, the reason Southern states wished to expand slavery into new territories was not a form of sick imperialism (we must expand our slave empire!) but a desperate attempt to maintain parity in Congress with the North–so that, yes, they could preserve their way of life which, yes, was supported in some measure by slavery.

  • Cincinnatus

    By way of clarification, the reason Southern states wished to expand slavery into new territories was not a form of sick imperialism (we must expand our slave empire!) but a desperate attempt to maintain parity in Congress with the North–so that, yes, they could preserve their way of life which, yes, was supported in some measure by slavery.

  • Stephen

    Cinncinatus,

    Yes, preserve their way of life. That is it exactly. So we agree. And who were the wealthiest southerners who had the most political influence? Slave owners. There were cooler heads in the south who sought a compromise solution, some of them had fortunes dependent upon slaves. But these voices were drown out by the slave-holders whose fortunes were built and maintained by slavery. I don’t disagree that there was political jostling going on, and lots of it. Missouri Compromise, Kansas-Nebraska, etc. Or even that the North had indentured servitude of a sort. But the southerners who could not imagine a south without slavery insisted on preserving it to the point of wedging it into new territories SO THAT it could be maintained indefinitely. They had no intention of seeing it dissolve or come to and end. They were ready to send ships back to Africa.

    I agree we have modern forms of slavery. If I knew all the ins and outs of where my cheap t-shirts came from I would likely be appalled. I’m not quite sure what to do about that. Do you really want to talk about slavery? I have heard all the arguments you make in some form or another – it was really about states rights (to have slaves) it was really about economics (to own slaves) and on and on, slavery, slavery, slavery. These arguments come up again and again and as far as I can see the justification for them goes back to protecting the institution of slavery. And yet what no one really wants to talk about is slavery. It seems southerners want to preserve some little slice of something that says “we weren’t that bad.” Yes we were.

    I’m a southerner. I am suspicious of Yankees actually. They usually talk too fast and they treat me like I am stupid. And they are just as racist as anyone else. But I think southerners have an opportunity that we keep missing when we refuse to talk about what really matters. Joanne’s post @57 is an example.

  • Stephen

    Cinncinatus,

    Yes, preserve their way of life. That is it exactly. So we agree. And who were the wealthiest southerners who had the most political influence? Slave owners. There were cooler heads in the south who sought a compromise solution, some of them had fortunes dependent upon slaves. But these voices were drown out by the slave-holders whose fortunes were built and maintained by slavery. I don’t disagree that there was political jostling going on, and lots of it. Missouri Compromise, Kansas-Nebraska, etc. Or even that the North had indentured servitude of a sort. But the southerners who could not imagine a south without slavery insisted on preserving it to the point of wedging it into new territories SO THAT it could be maintained indefinitely. They had no intention of seeing it dissolve or come to and end. They were ready to send ships back to Africa.

    I agree we have modern forms of slavery. If I knew all the ins and outs of where my cheap t-shirts came from I would likely be appalled. I’m not quite sure what to do about that. Do you really want to talk about slavery? I have heard all the arguments you make in some form or another – it was really about states rights (to have slaves) it was really about economics (to own slaves) and on and on, slavery, slavery, slavery. These arguments come up again and again and as far as I can see the justification for them goes back to protecting the institution of slavery. And yet what no one really wants to talk about is slavery. It seems southerners want to preserve some little slice of something that says “we weren’t that bad.” Yes we were.

    I’m a southerner. I am suspicious of Yankees actually. They usually talk too fast and they treat me like I am stupid. And they are just as racist as anyone else. But I think southerners have an opportunity that we keep missing when we refuse to talk about what really matters. Joanne’s post @57 is an example.

  • Dennis Peskey

    Stephen (post#79) Two thousand years ago, Rome ruled most of what they believed was the world. It was a roman law that a soldier of Rome could require (impress, enslave – choose your verb) citizens of occupied territories to carry the soldier’s equipment and pack for one mile. It helped keep the soldiers fresh during long marches; the chosen population had no say in this matter.

    Along came a rabbi from Nazareth who preached a rather lengthy and well-remembered sermon on the side of a hill in Galilee. During the course of this sermon, he stated, “And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.”(Matt 5:41) Do you think the crowd’s response was “good idea” or “are you insane.” This rabbi is teaching the people they should double the roman requirement of involuntary servitude. I really believe not too many embraced this teaching; I would probably have walked out of that sermon shaking my head in disbelief.

    Part of the difficulty in discussing our Civil War is the complexity of the issues involved. The only certainty I can clearly state is all who were involved were sinners. Your mention of the second table of the Law is most applicable here – particulary the commandment to honor your father and mother. Luther’s explanation of this commandment (large catechism) shows an understanding of application not only to parents, but to authorities as well (which is in accord with the teachings of Jesus, Peter and Paul).

    Since the fundamental problem of American slavery has been covered by Cincinnatus and DonS, I shall try to limit my response to your queries. Your post (#79) showed comprehension of the institute of slavery during Jesus time and thereafter. Neither Jesus nor any of the apostles rendered judgment on a social status, slave or free, rich or poor, etc. Judgement was rendered on how we treated our neighbor – regardless that he be roman centurion, pharisee, hebrew or samartian.

    Our understanding of the institution of slavery is colored (no pun intended) by the events of 1860. It is very difficult for us to proclaim we have become “slaves to God” (Rom 6:22). Paul teaches we are either slaves to sin or slaves of righteousness. We neither speak nor think that way in our society; we choose the brevity of “slavery is evil (aka, sinful)” without acknowledging the historical practice in context. (see Romans, chapters 6-8)

    Earlier, the question was raised whether the Civil War was indeed necessary. Today, it is convenient to attribute the demise of American slavery to the Union’s success. But I find myself wondering, what if we had taken VP Stephens up on his suggestion to discuss the succession of the seven southern states in Congress before the Union decided to reinforce Ft. Sumter.

    I should like to have confronted Stephens on the floor of the House and challenged him to show me biblical support for blacks being less than human. I should like to have heard his defense of the treatment of southern slaves. I would remind him he would not treat his cattle nor his horses with the venom unleashed upon these people. Perhaps we could have secured the proper rights and treatment for all people, permitted American slavery to reach a more gracious death, avoided the deaths of thousands on both sides and managed to maintain states’ rights as envisioned by the framers of our constitution. Perhaps.

    Pax,
    Dennis (PS – I’m but a simple layman – but thanks for the compliment)

  • Dennis Peskey

    Stephen (post#79) Two thousand years ago, Rome ruled most of what they believed was the world. It was a roman law that a soldier of Rome could require (impress, enslave – choose your verb) citizens of occupied territories to carry the soldier’s equipment and pack for one mile. It helped keep the soldiers fresh during long marches; the chosen population had no say in this matter.

    Along came a rabbi from Nazareth who preached a rather lengthy and well-remembered sermon on the side of a hill in Galilee. During the course of this sermon, he stated, “And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.”(Matt 5:41) Do you think the crowd’s response was “good idea” or “are you insane.” This rabbi is teaching the people they should double the roman requirement of involuntary servitude. I really believe not too many embraced this teaching; I would probably have walked out of that sermon shaking my head in disbelief.

    Part of the difficulty in discussing our Civil War is the complexity of the issues involved. The only certainty I can clearly state is all who were involved were sinners. Your mention of the second table of the Law is most applicable here – particulary the commandment to honor your father and mother. Luther’s explanation of this commandment (large catechism) shows an understanding of application not only to parents, but to authorities as well (which is in accord with the teachings of Jesus, Peter and Paul).

    Since the fundamental problem of American slavery has been covered by Cincinnatus and DonS, I shall try to limit my response to your queries. Your post (#79) showed comprehension of the institute of slavery during Jesus time and thereafter. Neither Jesus nor any of the apostles rendered judgment on a social status, slave or free, rich or poor, etc. Judgement was rendered on how we treated our neighbor – regardless that he be roman centurion, pharisee, hebrew or samartian.

    Our understanding of the institution of slavery is colored (no pun intended) by the events of 1860. It is very difficult for us to proclaim we have become “slaves to God” (Rom 6:22). Paul teaches we are either slaves to sin or slaves of righteousness. We neither speak nor think that way in our society; we choose the brevity of “slavery is evil (aka, sinful)” without acknowledging the historical practice in context. (see Romans, chapters 6-8)

    Earlier, the question was raised whether the Civil War was indeed necessary. Today, it is convenient to attribute the demise of American slavery to the Union’s success. But I find myself wondering, what if we had taken VP Stephens up on his suggestion to discuss the succession of the seven southern states in Congress before the Union decided to reinforce Ft. Sumter.

    I should like to have confronted Stephens on the floor of the House and challenged him to show me biblical support for blacks being less than human. I should like to have heard his defense of the treatment of southern slaves. I would remind him he would not treat his cattle nor his horses with the venom unleashed upon these people. Perhaps we could have secured the proper rights and treatment for all people, permitted American slavery to reach a more gracious death, avoided the deaths of thousands on both sides and managed to maintain states’ rights as envisioned by the framers of our constitution. Perhaps.

    Pax,
    Dennis (PS – I’m but a simple layman – but thanks for the compliment)

  • Richard

    Re:
    Alexander Stephens. It’s interesting to note that Stephens actually led a movement with his fellow Georgians to have Georgia secede FROM THE CONFEDERACY. He was upset at the CSA conscription, suspension of habeas corpus (yes, Lincoln was not the only one who did this), and centralization of the CSA. This is the type of nonsense a literal insistence on states’ rights would have led to–maybe twenty sovereign states.

  • Richard

    Re:
    Alexander Stephens. It’s interesting to note that Stephens actually led a movement with his fellow Georgians to have Georgia secede FROM THE CONFEDERACY. He was upset at the CSA conscription, suspension of habeas corpus (yes, Lincoln was not the only one who did this), and centralization of the CSA. This is the type of nonsense a literal insistence on states’ rights would have led to–maybe twenty sovereign states.

  • Cincinnatus

    Steven: Why is that nonsense? Why is one (very powerful) sovereign state better than twenty?

  • Cincinnatus

    Steven: Why is that nonsense? Why is one (very powerful) sovereign state better than twenty?

  • Cincinnatus

    sorry, directed at Richard*

  • Cincinnatus

    sorry, directed at Richard*

  • Richard

    By the way, the story of Stephens exemplifies why comparing our Union to contract law and some type of inherent right to withdraw from it whenever a party wants to does not make any sense at all. Lincoln had the better argument that it destroys the very concept of government.

  • Richard

    By the way, the story of Stephens exemplifies why comparing our Union to contract law and some type of inherent right to withdraw from it whenever a party wants to does not make any sense at all. Lincoln had the better argument that it destroys the very concept of government.

  • Cincinnatus

    Richard, answer my question: Why is it nonsense? No one thus far has argued that any ole’ group of like-minded individuals has the right to declare itself sovereign and violently withdraw from its neighbors. The States are and were universally recognized as sovereign entities. Their sovereignty, as I said, preexisted that the federal government, and still logically precedes that of the federal government. They entered voluntarily into a compact for mutual defense, etc., with what many understood as a synonymous right to withdraw at any time. The only thing that quashed this idea was an assertion of military force by the national government under Lincoln. No one is arguing that, say, Alleghany County, Virginia could withdraw from Virginia and the United States and declare itself sovereign–maybe it could, but it would be constitutionally problematic: local municipalities in the United States are not sovereign.

    But states are. Why can’t they secede? And why would it be absurd if some did? Why would smaller groupings of states–or, heck, even 50 individual sovereign states–be nonsense? The strong national union of the 50 several states isn’t the only conceivable arrangement of sovereign states on the North American continent. The thirteen sovereign nations that emerged victorious from the American Revolution decided to enter a compact because it seemed advantageous and prudent at the time–and in many ways, it probably remains so–but few, if anyone, purposed to forge an eternal and inviolable Union.

  • Cincinnatus

    Richard, answer my question: Why is it nonsense? No one thus far has argued that any ole’ group of like-minded individuals has the right to declare itself sovereign and violently withdraw from its neighbors. The States are and were universally recognized as sovereign entities. Their sovereignty, as I said, preexisted that the federal government, and still logically precedes that of the federal government. They entered voluntarily into a compact for mutual defense, etc., with what many understood as a synonymous right to withdraw at any time. The only thing that quashed this idea was an assertion of military force by the national government under Lincoln. No one is arguing that, say, Alleghany County, Virginia could withdraw from Virginia and the United States and declare itself sovereign–maybe it could, but it would be constitutionally problematic: local municipalities in the United States are not sovereign.

    But states are. Why can’t they secede? And why would it be absurd if some did? Why would smaller groupings of states–or, heck, even 50 individual sovereign states–be nonsense? The strong national union of the 50 several states isn’t the only conceivable arrangement of sovereign states on the North American continent. The thirteen sovereign nations that emerged victorious from the American Revolution decided to enter a compact because it seemed advantageous and prudent at the time–and in many ways, it probably remains so–but few, if anyone, purposed to forge an eternal and inviolable Union.

  • DonS

    Richard @ 91: Well, that is your opinion. But, on the flip side, by unilaterally prohibiting states from exiting the union while not honoring the bargain for a LIMITED federal government, it is easy to see how the federal government has not dealt in good faith with the several states, and completely justified their fear and reluctance in agreeing to the union in the first place. A good (actually, great) argument can be made that we would not be in the horrible economic fix we are in if the states had a legitimate opportunity to withdraw from the union for failure of the federal government to respect the Tenth Amendment and to respect the fact that it was granted only limited rights and authority.

  • DonS

    Richard @ 91: Well, that is your opinion. But, on the flip side, by unilaterally prohibiting states from exiting the union while not honoring the bargain for a LIMITED federal government, it is easy to see how the federal government has not dealt in good faith with the several states, and completely justified their fear and reluctance in agreeing to the union in the first place. A good (actually, great) argument can be made that we would not be in the horrible economic fix we are in if the states had a legitimate opportunity to withdraw from the union for failure of the federal government to respect the Tenth Amendment and to respect the fact that it was granted only limited rights and authority.

  • DonS

    What I forgot to say in my comment @ 93 is that it was a very bad thing for limited government that the states effectively lost all leverage against the omnivorous federal government (to borrow a term from another thread) in the wake of the Civil War.

  • DonS

    What I forgot to say in my comment @ 93 is that it was a very bad thing for limited government that the states effectively lost all leverage against the omnivorous federal government (to borrow a term from another thread) in the wake of the Civil War.

  • Cincinnatus

    Hey, and whatever happened to nullification? Oh right, Lincoln quashed that one as well. Seems like it could have come in handy for conservatives in relation to recent debates surrounding healthcare mandates, homosexual marriage (and forced interstate reciprocity), abortion legislation, etc.

  • Cincinnatus

    Hey, and whatever happened to nullification? Oh right, Lincoln quashed that one as well. Seems like it could have come in handy for conservatives in relation to recent debates surrounding healthcare mandates, homosexual marriage (and forced interstate reciprocity), abortion legislation, etc.

  • Stephen

    “The thirteen sovereign nations that emerged victorious from the American Revolution decided to enter a compact because it seemed advantageous and prudent at the time–and in many ways, it probably remains so–but few, if anyone, purposed to forge an eternal and inviolable Union.”

    That’s a stretch and a half. Which one of those “sovereign nations” had it’s own constitutional government or had even made an attempt to create one on its own? As I recall, that all took place with the 13 of them TOGETHER working things out and deciding to stick together or hang separately. They knew full well they were going to try to create something out of the colonies, some kind of republic that was in their best interests and not that of an aristocracy. That was the idea at least. Now you are rewriting history. The only state that was ever a separate republic with its own constitution and government was Texas.

  • Stephen

    “The thirteen sovereign nations that emerged victorious from the American Revolution decided to enter a compact because it seemed advantageous and prudent at the time–and in many ways, it probably remains so–but few, if anyone, purposed to forge an eternal and inviolable Union.”

    That’s a stretch and a half. Which one of those “sovereign nations” had it’s own constitutional government or had even made an attempt to create one on its own? As I recall, that all took place with the 13 of them TOGETHER working things out and deciding to stick together or hang separately. They knew full well they were going to try to create something out of the colonies, some kind of republic that was in their best interests and not that of an aristocracy. That was the idea at least. Now you are rewriting history. The only state that was ever a separate republic with its own constitution and government was Texas.

  • Cincinnatus

    Are you serious Stephen? Each of the thirteen original colonies possessed a written Constitution and a fully functional, separate, sovereign republican government nearly a decade prior to the drafting of the Constitution–in fact, they were separate and sovereign even before the Articles of Confederation! Where did you learn your history, sirrah? The Treaty of Paris was signed in 1783. Do you think the thirteen states/republics were simply anarchic lands with no governments until the ratification of the Constitution in 1791? Sheesh. That’s one reason that the Constitution officially recognizes the enduring sovereignty of the states and guarantees each state a separate, republican form of government. I can assure you that essentially none of the thirteen original states would have signed on to the Constitution if it had not preserved their sovereignty (it was a narrow enough game as it was: New York and Virginia only barely ratified the document).

    After the establishment of the United States in 1791, Texas is the only state to have been incorporated into the United States after having been an independent and sovereign republic. All other states that have been inducted into the Union aside from the original 13 + Texas were carved out of United States territories that had always been administered by the federal government or by foreign powers. Again, sheesh.

  • Cincinnatus

    Are you serious Stephen? Each of the thirteen original colonies possessed a written Constitution and a fully functional, separate, sovereign republican government nearly a decade prior to the drafting of the Constitution–in fact, they were separate and sovereign even before the Articles of Confederation! Where did you learn your history, sirrah? The Treaty of Paris was signed in 1783. Do you think the thirteen states/republics were simply anarchic lands with no governments until the ratification of the Constitution in 1791? Sheesh. That’s one reason that the Constitution officially recognizes the enduring sovereignty of the states and guarantees each state a separate, republican form of government. I can assure you that essentially none of the thirteen original states would have signed on to the Constitution if it had not preserved their sovereignty (it was a narrow enough game as it was: New York and Virginia only barely ratified the document).

    After the establishment of the United States in 1791, Texas is the only state to have been incorporated into the United States after having been an independent and sovereign republic. All other states that have been inducted into the Union aside from the original 13 + Texas were carved out of United States territories that had always been administered by the federal government or by foreign powers. Again, sheesh.

  • Cincinnatus

    Fun fact, just to prove my point: Massachusetts boasts the oldest continuously operative written constitution of a sovereign state in the entire world. It was ratified in 1780, soon after MA declared independence from Britain.

  • Cincinnatus

    Fun fact, just to prove my point: Massachusetts boasts the oldest continuously operative written constitution of a sovereign state in the entire world. It was ratified in 1780, soon after MA declared independence from Britain.

  • Stephen

    Dennis

    “I should like to have heard his defense of the treatment of southern slaves.”

    Go to an archive in the south somewhere and read some letters and newspapers from the period. They are chock full of every kind of defense of the institution of slavery. It was debated all over the country. It was an institution. You don’t have institutions without lots of apologetics for them existing in the forms that they do, and this one had been around for quite some time as we all know. Every state that seceded had a convention and voted. The wealthy slave-holders had political sway. And they weren’t always even a majority. Their opponents, some of them their own friends who tried to dissuade them, lost out.

    Then go read the Ordinances of secession and their causes. On almost the first line of these causes is slavery. Slavery drove the whole thing, but southerners held on tight to it because they could not see any other way to run their lives without it. If we asked Americans to give up everything made by poor people who live in shacks with no running water and work in unsafe conditions overseas – if all those thing evaporated right now – we would demand they be returned. That is what the south was facing, or so they felt. Some int he south thought there might be a peaceful way through that would be a compromise, but the slaveholders were dug in and had too much clout.

    But others want to talk about whether or not states had a legal right to secede and on what grounds. Then the other question is, it seems to me, did the institution of slavery have the right to exist in this country at all. The south itself made the basis for everything on preserving slavery. So then, is it or is it not about slavery? They (we) weren’t going to be talked out of it.

  • Stephen

    Dennis

    “I should like to have heard his defense of the treatment of southern slaves.”

    Go to an archive in the south somewhere and read some letters and newspapers from the period. They are chock full of every kind of defense of the institution of slavery. It was debated all over the country. It was an institution. You don’t have institutions without lots of apologetics for them existing in the forms that they do, and this one had been around for quite some time as we all know. Every state that seceded had a convention and voted. The wealthy slave-holders had political sway. And they weren’t always even a majority. Their opponents, some of them their own friends who tried to dissuade them, lost out.

    Then go read the Ordinances of secession and their causes. On almost the first line of these causes is slavery. Slavery drove the whole thing, but southerners held on tight to it because they could not see any other way to run their lives without it. If we asked Americans to give up everything made by poor people who live in shacks with no running water and work in unsafe conditions overseas – if all those thing evaporated right now – we would demand they be returned. That is what the south was facing, or so they felt. Some int he south thought there might be a peaceful way through that would be a compromise, but the slaveholders were dug in and had too much clout.

    But others want to talk about whether or not states had a legal right to secede and on what grounds. Then the other question is, it seems to me, did the institution of slavery have the right to exist in this country at all. The south itself made the basis for everything on preserving slavery. So then, is it or is it not about slavery? They (we) weren’t going to be talked out of it.

  • Richard

    Actually, nullification was opposed by just about every President, including Lincoln. And when South Carolina tried to secede earlier, the state found itself violently opposed by another southerner, Andrew Jackson, who threatened to march in himself and start hanging people. Lincoln is just a convenient whipping boy for some.
    Any, by your argument, Cincinnatus–why couldn’t municipalities secede? Do you see where your arguments lead to?

  • Richard

    Actually, nullification was opposed by just about every President, including Lincoln. And when South Carolina tried to secede earlier, the state found itself violently opposed by another southerner, Andrew Jackson, who threatened to march in himself and start hanging people. Lincoln is just a convenient whipping boy for some.
    Any, by your argument, Cincinnatus–why couldn’t municipalities secede? Do you see where your arguments lead to?

  • Stephen

    Cinncinatus

    Is it correct to call them “sovereign nations” when they were still British subjects? That is what I meant. I didn’t mean they had no form of independent government at all, but the way you used that term seemed to excise the fact that they were under British rule prior to the Revolution. In my view, you want to push the idea of sovereignty over the edge to the point where states owe no allegiance to the nation at all. In the way I was describing them they were not yet a nation. That is what emerged from the War of Independence.

    Anyway . . . all about how we define terms I guess.

  • Stephen

    Cinncinatus

    Is it correct to call them “sovereign nations” when they were still British subjects? That is what I meant. I didn’t mean they had no form of independent government at all, but the way you used that term seemed to excise the fact that they were under British rule prior to the Revolution. In my view, you want to push the idea of sovereignty over the edge to the point where states owe no allegiance to the nation at all. In the way I was describing them they were not yet a nation. That is what emerged from the War of Independence.

    Anyway . . . all about how we define terms I guess.

  • Stephen

    Cinncinatus -

    So now backing up. . . you’re telling me that the 13 colonies never intended on creating a nation, that that was all something they cooked up after the war? Is that what you are saying? What they were really after was their own individual sovereignty and then later it occurred to them to get together. If so, this is a new thought. Tell me more.

  • Stephen

    Cinncinatus -

    So now backing up. . . you’re telling me that the 13 colonies never intended on creating a nation, that that was all something they cooked up after the war? Is that what you are saying? What they were really after was their own individual sovereignty and then later it occurred to them to get together. If so, this is a new thought. Tell me more.

  • Stephen

    I realize they drew up state constitutions in their own interests, but this would mean that they did so, at least in some cases, without intending to join in a larger union with the other colonies, even after fighting beside them against the British. Interesting . . .

  • Stephen

    I realize they drew up state constitutions in their own interests, but this would mean that they did so, at least in some cases, without intending to join in a larger union with the other colonies, even after fighting beside them against the British. Interesting . . .

  • Cincinnatus

    Stephen: No, it’s not about how we define terms. As of 1776, the several states were no longer British territories. They were sovereign nations, and they were not united under or subject to a higher sovereign entity. This condition lasted until 1791–15 years. It’s a big deal.

    Richard: Why couldn’t municipalities secede? Well, perhaps they could, but not under the current constitutional regime. Local entities in the United States are not sovereign. They can be dissolved by the state governments at will; they are legal fictions in the fullest sense of the word. They cannot secede from any constitutional agreement; they are not party to any constitutional agreement. The states are sovereign, and they are preexisting and voluntary parties to a compact which, until the Civil War precluded the question, could theoretically have seceded from or absolved the compact. My “logic,” which has thus far remained strictly within the boundaries of discourse set by our current Constitution, does not lead to a chaotic situation in which anyone who pleases can declare a hostile sovereign state. Both the state and the federal governments are authorized to suppress such “rebellions,” for better or worse (indeed, a rebellion of this sort was the original impulse for discarding the Articles and replacing them with the stronger national government provided by the Constitution). Until Lincoln took up arms to quash the “rebellion” of the confederacy, few would have equated the (potentially peaceful) secession of a sovereign state and the violent revolt of a mountainous district in the Pennsylvania frontier.

    But let’s go there. I asked earlier why secession would be absurd, as you put it. You keep asserting that such a thing would be “nonsense,” but you’ve provided no reason why this must be so. What if, say, California decides it is tired of subsidizing poverty in other states (it pays more in taxes to the federal government than it receives), cannot afford the healthcare mandate and all the other onerous obligations the federal government has forced upon it, and would, in general, be able to govern itself better as a sovereign and independent nation–it is, after all, bigger than many nations in the UN, and its economy would be something like the 8th largest in the world were it figured separately. Why would that be absurd? Maybe not desirable for the rest of the United States, but I can’t see how it would either be nonsensical or even unconstitutional! I’d like to see your logic here.

    As a localist and fan of the city-state model myself, I don’t even see why it would be intrinsically absurd for small units of government to secede, but let’s stick to states for now–since they do, after all, possess actual sovereignty and a possible case both practical and legal for seceding.

  • Cincinnatus

    Stephen: No, it’s not about how we define terms. As of 1776, the several states were no longer British territories. They were sovereign nations, and they were not united under or subject to a higher sovereign entity. This condition lasted until 1791–15 years. It’s a big deal.

    Richard: Why couldn’t municipalities secede? Well, perhaps they could, but not under the current constitutional regime. Local entities in the United States are not sovereign. They can be dissolved by the state governments at will; they are legal fictions in the fullest sense of the word. They cannot secede from any constitutional agreement; they are not party to any constitutional agreement. The states are sovereign, and they are preexisting and voluntary parties to a compact which, until the Civil War precluded the question, could theoretically have seceded from or absolved the compact. My “logic,” which has thus far remained strictly within the boundaries of discourse set by our current Constitution, does not lead to a chaotic situation in which anyone who pleases can declare a hostile sovereign state. Both the state and the federal governments are authorized to suppress such “rebellions,” for better or worse (indeed, a rebellion of this sort was the original impulse for discarding the Articles and replacing them with the stronger national government provided by the Constitution). Until Lincoln took up arms to quash the “rebellion” of the confederacy, few would have equated the (potentially peaceful) secession of a sovereign state and the violent revolt of a mountainous district in the Pennsylvania frontier.

    But let’s go there. I asked earlier why secession would be absurd, as you put it. You keep asserting that such a thing would be “nonsense,” but you’ve provided no reason why this must be so. What if, say, California decides it is tired of subsidizing poverty in other states (it pays more in taxes to the federal government than it receives), cannot afford the healthcare mandate and all the other onerous obligations the federal government has forced upon it, and would, in general, be able to govern itself better as a sovereign and independent nation–it is, after all, bigger than many nations in the UN, and its economy would be something like the 8th largest in the world were it figured separately. Why would that be absurd? Maybe not desirable for the rest of the United States, but I can’t see how it would either be nonsensical or even unconstitutional! I’d like to see your logic here.

    As a localist and fan of the city-state model myself, I don’t even see why it would be intrinsically absurd for small units of government to secede, but let’s stick to states for now–since they do, after all, possess actual sovereignty and a possible case both practical and legal for seceding.

  • Cincinnatus

    Stephen, as to your historical question: no, the thirteen colonies did not declare independence from Britain under the understanding that they would then unite as a unified nation. They declared themselves to be thirteen separate and sovereign nations, which is understandable, since they occupied a vast territory and possessed incredibly diverse interests.

    During the Revolution, they formed a Continental Congress to manage a unified military effort against Britain (which included coining a common currency, which was incredibly debased and possibly pointless). This was, of course, prudent, but it was also understood to be temporary. The Continental Congress wasn’t sovereign. Some states seldom or never showed up at its sessions (this was also true of the Constitutional Convention).

    After the way, the states–again, sovereign and independent–consented (some reluctantly) to establish a national government (that would not compromise individual state sovereignty!) for the purposes of defense, international diplomacy, and interstate trade. This, again, was quite prudent, given the individual weakness of several of the states, and given that several European powers were gazing hungrily at North America hoping to jump in where Britain had been driven out.

    Later, after the Articles of Confederation proved to be too weak to prevent anarchy in North America (though I’m rather a fan of the Articles myself), the states consented (even more reluctantly) to draft a new Constitution that would provide for a stronger national government. Setting aside the problems I have with the Constitution, the point is that nowhere was the individual sovereignty of the states–which, as you can see, preceded the sovereignty of the national government–compromised or abolished. And, though certain visionary founders predicted and advocated a perpetual union, at no point did the thirteen individual states unanimously envision that they would be united as a single nation on a permanent basis–not until the Constitution itself was ratified in 1791, after much dispute and several narrow votes.

    And even then, a substantial number of the states believed that they still possessed the right to secede from the union if they deemed necessary, and not all such claims had something to do with slavery.

  • Cincinnatus

    Stephen, as to your historical question: no, the thirteen colonies did not declare independence from Britain under the understanding that they would then unite as a unified nation. They declared themselves to be thirteen separate and sovereign nations, which is understandable, since they occupied a vast territory and possessed incredibly diverse interests.

    During the Revolution, they formed a Continental Congress to manage a unified military effort against Britain (which included coining a common currency, which was incredibly debased and possibly pointless). This was, of course, prudent, but it was also understood to be temporary. The Continental Congress wasn’t sovereign. Some states seldom or never showed up at its sessions (this was also true of the Constitutional Convention).

    After the way, the states–again, sovereign and independent–consented (some reluctantly) to establish a national government (that would not compromise individual state sovereignty!) for the purposes of defense, international diplomacy, and interstate trade. This, again, was quite prudent, given the individual weakness of several of the states, and given that several European powers were gazing hungrily at North America hoping to jump in where Britain had been driven out.

    Later, after the Articles of Confederation proved to be too weak to prevent anarchy in North America (though I’m rather a fan of the Articles myself), the states consented (even more reluctantly) to draft a new Constitution that would provide for a stronger national government. Setting aside the problems I have with the Constitution, the point is that nowhere was the individual sovereignty of the states–which, as you can see, preceded the sovereignty of the national government–compromised or abolished. And, though certain visionary founders predicted and advocated a perpetual union, at no point did the thirteen individual states unanimously envision that they would be united as a single nation on a permanent basis–not until the Constitution itself was ratified in 1791, after much dispute and several narrow votes.

    And even then, a substantial number of the states believed that they still possessed the right to secede from the union if they deemed necessary, and not all such claims had something to do with slavery.

  • Stephen

    Cinncinatus

    Thanks. I was stewing over all that. I admit to getting chronology mixed up in my head. I’m not a linear thinker. But I had never thought about the colonies not imagining a new nation after the war as a sort of guaranteed necessity and that it would be permanent. That is where I am stuck and I would like to know more about that. I’ve heard you state that a few times now but it seems more like and assumption rather than something documented. Is it? How do we know that “most” or “some” expected that if the day came, they would be able to withdraw from the union? In what sense was that fixed, or was it just and assumption, something of a complicated gentleman’s agreement of some sort. That part I don’t get.

    And then the other part is “if, if, if” as I keep saying, the bottom line was in fact slavery for the south, did it really justify secession. I guess we could say they are two different things, but if an institution exists in a nation that is unjust, then a nation has the right to see to it that it comes to an end. Things were moving in that direction. The election of Lincoln was a sure sign to the south that this was so. Does sovereignty in that case take precedence? I wouldn’t think so, in the same way that if some other nefarious sort of thing were going on in a state and it needed to end (like repression of voting rights!) the feds have the right to step in and the states do not have the right to secede, even if it hurts their economy and way of life.

  • Stephen

    Cinncinatus

    Thanks. I was stewing over all that. I admit to getting chronology mixed up in my head. I’m not a linear thinker. But I had never thought about the colonies not imagining a new nation after the war as a sort of guaranteed necessity and that it would be permanent. That is where I am stuck and I would like to know more about that. I’ve heard you state that a few times now but it seems more like and assumption rather than something documented. Is it? How do we know that “most” or “some” expected that if the day came, they would be able to withdraw from the union? In what sense was that fixed, or was it just and assumption, something of a complicated gentleman’s agreement of some sort. That part I don’t get.

    And then the other part is “if, if, if” as I keep saying, the bottom line was in fact slavery for the south, did it really justify secession. I guess we could say they are two different things, but if an institution exists in a nation that is unjust, then a nation has the right to see to it that it comes to an end. Things were moving in that direction. The election of Lincoln was a sure sign to the south that this was so. Does sovereignty in that case take precedence? I wouldn’t think so, in the same way that if some other nefarious sort of thing were going on in a state and it needed to end (like repression of voting rights!) the feds have the right to step in and the states do not have the right to secede, even if it hurts their economy and way of life.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    This is an interesting discussion. I am sort of torn.

    On the one hand we have Cincinnatus, sort of beseiged on all sides by poeple who disagree with him. His point really is about the legalities. Was it legal for the North to prosecute the war. was it legal for the south to do what they did. I find that that those questions really have alot of merit and relevance for today. Which is his point: Some unwise and uncertain precedents were established which we still suffer from today. So he is saying basically that the ends, which I am supposing he agrees with, did not justify the means employed. I agree with his assessment there.

    Now on the other hand…..

    Families were being separated by being sold. Or killed. or…. whoa. And…. slavery was based on race. There IS a definitional problem as both Stephen and Mr Peskey pointed out. Slavery circa biblical times was nothing like slavery in the usa by any definition one could chose. And even today, I am not sure that any museum could or would show the terrors of slavery. It was in many ways worse than the hollocaust in that it was fully institutionalized and integrated into society as the “norm.” I don´t think any of us can truly imagine.

    Ok… so today, we invaded iraq on the justification that Saddam Hussein was a monstrous individual. And we are opposed to the individual “sovreignty” of gays and lesbians in their choices to pursue a family and “marriage” according to their own definition.

    These are good conversations to have. they keep us all honest.

    I am not at all sure by the way that just because slavery was tolerated in the NT and that paul sent slaves back to their masters that that means that the Bible morally either condoned or approved of slavery. After all, women were treated exactly as chattel. I am not sure anyone would really want to defend that practice along those lines and arguments today!

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    This is an interesting discussion. I am sort of torn.

    On the one hand we have Cincinnatus, sort of beseiged on all sides by poeple who disagree with him. His point really is about the legalities. Was it legal for the North to prosecute the war. was it legal for the south to do what they did. I find that that those questions really have alot of merit and relevance for today. Which is his point: Some unwise and uncertain precedents were established which we still suffer from today. So he is saying basically that the ends, which I am supposing he agrees with, did not justify the means employed. I agree with his assessment there.

    Now on the other hand…..

    Families were being separated by being sold. Or killed. or…. whoa. And…. slavery was based on race. There IS a definitional problem as both Stephen and Mr Peskey pointed out. Slavery circa biblical times was nothing like slavery in the usa by any definition one could chose. And even today, I am not sure that any museum could or would show the terrors of slavery. It was in many ways worse than the hollocaust in that it was fully institutionalized and integrated into society as the “norm.” I don´t think any of us can truly imagine.

    Ok… so today, we invaded iraq on the justification that Saddam Hussein was a monstrous individual. And we are opposed to the individual “sovreignty” of gays and lesbians in their choices to pursue a family and “marriage” according to their own definition.

    These are good conversations to have. they keep us all honest.

    I am not at all sure by the way that just because slavery was tolerated in the NT and that paul sent slaves back to their masters that that means that the Bible morally either condoned or approved of slavery. After all, women were treated exactly as chattel. I am not sure anyone would really want to defend that practice along those lines and arguments today!

  • Stephen

    If Frank is right and Cinncinatus is saying that the ends, which were finally good ones, did not justify the means, which were agreeably horrifying, then I am in agreement with that. Was it legal for the south to secede? If, at base, slavery was what they were defending, I have to say no. So then, was it justified for the north to prosecute a war to keep the union together? After this discussion, I am less than sure. If it were to happen today, I would say yes. If a state were to secede because it desired to continue carrying on a practice upon which its economy depended that was corrupt, the union would have good reason to take some kind of police action to prevent it from secession it seems to me. Such corruption would nullify the grounds upon which the secession was based.

    So, in the case of our own country in the 19th c., if the justification for an act so severe as secession is at best controversial and problematic if not outright morally criminal, which seems to be the extremes that were debated at the time, then even back then I think the south was not justified in leaving the union. However, I have to admit to being less certain now. I would like to know more about the terms upon which states entered into a contract with the union beyond what others here have said the assumptions were. Just how sovereign is sovereign? What did that mean then? What should it mean? I got confused when Cinncinatus used the term “nation” to describe states in the colonies rather than the union that was formed from them. Clearly there is confusion about what kind of sovereignty one has/had in this country. Cinncinatus seems to think it was rather absolute. But then how can that be if there was a union?

    It is a hairy proposition to judge the past by the values of the present. But I think we can do so, and that we need to, with a certain amount of circumspection and care about our judgments. If we couldn’t then in the same way the past would have no ability to speak to our time. The bible itself, it seems to me, would be irrelevant if we were to take a hands off approach to the past. No one has advocated that here as far as I can tell, so I think it is safe to say that the slavery we had the the US for hundreds of years was flat wrong. Cinncinatus disagrees that it was the bottom line for everything that drove the south to secede. I, on the other hand, see it everywhere when I peel back the layers. I admit to learning a thing or two about the complexities, but I still stand by that. It seems like that is where the discussions always end up – it was about slavery when you get to the bottom of it/it was not about slavery but more complex than that. I admit that the north was not so noble in its pursuits to dominate the south, but neither was the south in what it wished to protect.

    Where I am from, Texas, is something of a good laboratory for what happened it seems to me. West Texas was mostly Indian territory at the time and had yet become the great cattle country it would be. “The Valley” as it is called in the southeast is where a lot of the cotton was and still is grown. Loyalties to the south were geographic and economic. The Texians that were aligned with the Union were from New England and Europe and were mostly lawyers, bankers and merchants and those aligned with the Confederacy were plantation owners. Most of them owned slaves, some as a matter of course and others as a matter of necessity. The Unionists tried to walk a fine line. They even feared Lincoln and saw him as a radical to some degree. But they still tried to work for a settlement. Yet the land owners had a vested interest in maintaining the status quo, and they had the most wealth and influence across the board. They were the earlier settlers from Tennessee and Kentucky. All of them had fought together for Texas Independence, which makes it even more gut-wrenching.

    Anyway, it’s a sad, and certainly complex, story. We should never stop talking about it and arguing about its meaning. I feel like I am faced with some kind of paradox to be proud as a Texan and yet serious about the history of slavery and racism in the south, to look at it squarely and without denying its cost. Just like the things going on in Africa now and the legacy of colonialism there, I see the legacy of slavery still being played out in the south in a complex kind of ingrained set of pathologies. Agree or disagree on whatever level you like, the work I do involves understanding and working among those “lines” of division, either real or perceived, that still exist, as well as ones that are being newly created. They are extremely sad and frustrating, especially when it seems like all it would take is for someone to decide to change and they don’t do it. They are stuck in a self-perception that is historically based. How do you help people with that? Jesus said the truth will set you free, but there is a difference between the facts and what they mean. The disagreements and emphasis continue regarding meaning, and who it is that is recounting the facts. Too postmodern?

    Cinncinatus, please forgive me if I mis-characterize your position. Frank, we went to war with Iraq based on falsehoods. Don’t you remember State of the Union, UN speeches, yellow cake, aluminum tubes, Valerie Plame and Scooter? Not saying Sadaam wasn’t a very bad man. The reason you gave was the one they eventually thought up. And yes, is a woman sovereign over her body, parents over their children, etc. What does that all mean?

  • Stephen

    If Frank is right and Cinncinatus is saying that the ends, which were finally good ones, did not justify the means, which were agreeably horrifying, then I am in agreement with that. Was it legal for the south to secede? If, at base, slavery was what they were defending, I have to say no. So then, was it justified for the north to prosecute a war to keep the union together? After this discussion, I am less than sure. If it were to happen today, I would say yes. If a state were to secede because it desired to continue carrying on a practice upon which its economy depended that was corrupt, the union would have good reason to take some kind of police action to prevent it from secession it seems to me. Such corruption would nullify the grounds upon which the secession was based.

    So, in the case of our own country in the 19th c., if the justification for an act so severe as secession is at best controversial and problematic if not outright morally criminal, which seems to be the extremes that were debated at the time, then even back then I think the south was not justified in leaving the union. However, I have to admit to being less certain now. I would like to know more about the terms upon which states entered into a contract with the union beyond what others here have said the assumptions were. Just how sovereign is sovereign? What did that mean then? What should it mean? I got confused when Cinncinatus used the term “nation” to describe states in the colonies rather than the union that was formed from them. Clearly there is confusion about what kind of sovereignty one has/had in this country. Cinncinatus seems to think it was rather absolute. But then how can that be if there was a union?

    It is a hairy proposition to judge the past by the values of the present. But I think we can do so, and that we need to, with a certain amount of circumspection and care about our judgments. If we couldn’t then in the same way the past would have no ability to speak to our time. The bible itself, it seems to me, would be irrelevant if we were to take a hands off approach to the past. No one has advocated that here as far as I can tell, so I think it is safe to say that the slavery we had the the US for hundreds of years was flat wrong. Cinncinatus disagrees that it was the bottom line for everything that drove the south to secede. I, on the other hand, see it everywhere when I peel back the layers. I admit to learning a thing or two about the complexities, but I still stand by that. It seems like that is where the discussions always end up – it was about slavery when you get to the bottom of it/it was not about slavery but more complex than that. I admit that the north was not so noble in its pursuits to dominate the south, but neither was the south in what it wished to protect.

    Where I am from, Texas, is something of a good laboratory for what happened it seems to me. West Texas was mostly Indian territory at the time and had yet become the great cattle country it would be. “The Valley” as it is called in the southeast is where a lot of the cotton was and still is grown. Loyalties to the south were geographic and economic. The Texians that were aligned with the Union were from New England and Europe and were mostly lawyers, bankers and merchants and those aligned with the Confederacy were plantation owners. Most of them owned slaves, some as a matter of course and others as a matter of necessity. The Unionists tried to walk a fine line. They even feared Lincoln and saw him as a radical to some degree. But they still tried to work for a settlement. Yet the land owners had a vested interest in maintaining the status quo, and they had the most wealth and influence across the board. They were the earlier settlers from Tennessee and Kentucky. All of them had fought together for Texas Independence, which makes it even more gut-wrenching.

    Anyway, it’s a sad, and certainly complex, story. We should never stop talking about it and arguing about its meaning. I feel like I am faced with some kind of paradox to be proud as a Texan and yet serious about the history of slavery and racism in the south, to look at it squarely and without denying its cost. Just like the things going on in Africa now and the legacy of colonialism there, I see the legacy of slavery still being played out in the south in a complex kind of ingrained set of pathologies. Agree or disagree on whatever level you like, the work I do involves understanding and working among those “lines” of division, either real or perceived, that still exist, as well as ones that are being newly created. They are extremely sad and frustrating, especially when it seems like all it would take is for someone to decide to change and they don’t do it. They are stuck in a self-perception that is historically based. How do you help people with that? Jesus said the truth will set you free, but there is a difference between the facts and what they mean. The disagreements and emphasis continue regarding meaning, and who it is that is recounting the facts. Too postmodern?

    Cinncinatus, please forgive me if I mis-characterize your position. Frank, we went to war with Iraq based on falsehoods. Don’t you remember State of the Union, UN speeches, yellow cake, aluminum tubes, Valerie Plame and Scooter? Not saying Sadaam wasn’t a very bad man. The reason you gave was the one they eventually thought up. And yes, is a woman sovereign over her body, parents over their children, etc. What does that all mean?


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