Fort Sumter and the Impending Crisis: Reason Writers on the Civil War

In the early morning hours of April 12, 1861, Confederate batteries under the command of General Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard opened fire on Fort Sumter in the harbor outside of Charleston, South Carolina. Three days later, President Abraham Lincoln began mobilizing the North for war. “If the shot fired at Fort Sumter ‘was heard round the world,’” observed Ulysses S. Grant in his 1885 Memoirs, “the call of the President for 75,000 men was heard throughout the Northern States.” In addition to requesting those 75,000 state militia volunteers, Lincoln ordered an increase in the size of the regular army, instructed the Navy to erect a blockade of the Confederate coast, and suspended habeas corpus in certain areas—all without seeking the approval of Congress. Meanwhile in Montgomery, Alabama, the provisional capital of the Confederate States of America, Secretary of War LeRoy Pope Walker reportedly bragged, “before the first of May the flag of the Southern Confederacy will wave from the dome of the old Capitol in Washington and within a short time perhaps also from Faneuil Hall in Boston.” And so the war came.

A century and a half later the Civil War continues to fascinate and divide Americans, libertarians included. To mark today’s 150th anniversary of the firing on Fort Sumter and the start of the bloodiest war in American history, Reason presents a selection of our best writing on the Civil War and its legacy:

Southern Nationalism: Exploring the roots of the Civil War. By Charles Oliver.

Blood Money: Gettysburg’s status as a national symbol is inseparable from its commercial success. By Damon Root.

The Confederate Leviathan. By Ronald Bailey.

Dred Scott’s Revenge: By applying positivism instead of natural law, 19th century courts burdened American racial history to this day. By Judge Andrew Napolitano.

The Outsiders: How D.W. Griffith paved the way for Ed Wood. By Jesse Walker.

Wrong Song of the South: The dangerous fallacies of Confederate multiculturalism. By David Beito and Charles Nuckolls.

‘A Glorious Liberty Document’: Frederick Douglass’ case for an anti-slavery Constitution. By Damon Root

Behind the Jeffersonian Veneer: The author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History is no libertarian. By Cathy Young.

Florida’s Forgotten Rebels: Rediscovering the most successful slave revolt in American history. By Amy Sturgis.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Doc S||

    We all know the civil war was started because of jay eee doubleU's. And canadians.

  • dennis||

    I might not agree with everything he has ever written, but Tom Woods is a much better advocate for liberty than Cathy Young could ever dream of being. Oh and before anyone tries any neo-confederate baloney on me, I think that the Confederacy was a criminal enterprise, and that the primary reason for the south's secession was its desire to protect slavery. The North's reasons for fighting had little to nothing to do with slavery until much later. A pox on both their houses, and itchy dandruff on Cathy Young.

  • OO||

    "The North's reasons for fighting had little to nothing to do with slavery until much later."
    _
    so explain the growing abolitionist movement BEFORE the war started including harper's ferry. >history - how's that effing work again?

  • Montani Semper Liberi||

    Urine, explain why the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 still allowed for slaves to be kept in the border states that didn't join the CSA?

    history - how's that effing work again?

    Indeed.

  • OO||

    same as supporting mideast despots...who keep the heat off israel. temp deal w the devil

  • Montani Semper Liberi||

    Yes, because the primary goal was to preserve the union, not to end slavery. Glad you realize that now.

  • OhioOrrin||

    in the border states yes. in the CSA however, it was ALL about slavery

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: OO,

    in the border states yes. in the CSA however, it was ALL about slavery


    You keep conflating the secession with the war. Let me break the news to you, OO: Your unionized, tax-fed leech of a junior high teacher was not the holder of The Only Truth.

  • OhioOrrin||

    within 6 months lincoln was elected, 11 southern states succeeded fm the union, & ft sumtner was fired upon. the "conflation" is historical. it was all about slavery

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: OhioOrrin,

    within 6 months lincoln was elected, 11 southern states succeeded fm the union, & ft sumtner was fired upon. the "conflation" is historical. it was all about slavery


    You're an idiot, OO, you just undermined your own argument: "within 6 months lincoln was elected, 11 southern states succeeded fm the union" < --- That's the secession, not the war.

    "& ft sumtner was fired upon." < --- That had NOTHING to do with slavery; that's nothing more than the Union's "Gulf Of Tonkin Incident" to pick a fight with the seceded states.

  • OO||

    seriously, if we could weaponize ur stupid & target, say tripoli, the rebels would only need to drive around the walking dead loyalists

  • Goalposts||

    in the border states yes. in the CSA however, it was ALL about slavery

    we move like the wind!

  • MJ||

    "...explain why the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 still allowed for slaves to be kept in the border states that didn't join the CSA?"

    Because the Emancipation Proclamation was an executive order, and Lincoln did not believe he had the Constitutional authority to free slaves by such an order in states that were not making war against federal government.

    I do not understand the obsession with Confederate apologists with pointing out that Emanciption Proclamation did not immediately free all the slaves. It was, however, a deft political manuever that did make abolition a union war aim, so it was the important first step in outlawing slavery for good.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: MJ,

    Because the Emancipation Proclamation was an executive order, and Lincoln did not believe he had the Constitutional authority[...]


    HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!!!!!

  • MJ||

    OM, we know you are insane on this subject, no need to demonstate it.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: MJ,

    OM, we know you are insane on this subject, no need to demonstate it.


    The best part of it is that you're talking about what Lincoln believed, without pointing out to a single thing he did to demonstrate he really believed what you allege: He illegally and unconstitutionally suspended Habeas Corpus; he threatened a Supreme Court justice; he jailed a US Senator with NO CAUSE just because he did not agree with him; he sent thousands of dissidents to prison, with no cause, and you have the gall to say he did not "believe he had Constitutional power" to implement an Executive Order? Are YOU KIDDING ME?

  • ||

    The Lincoln brainwashing is deep. I'm descended from generations of Virginians. Turner Ashby is an ancestor of mine. Our take on the war is a little more nuanced then anyone educated in a public school.

    Lincoln was a dictator, and I use in that in the old Roman sense of a man who took all power into his hands for purposes of dealing with a crisis. He flouted the Constitution, invented powers that were not even remotely related his legal authority, throw thousands in jail without trial, tried hundreds more by military court martial in places like Indiana and Ohio. He was an utter bastard and Booth had every right to shoot him. My ancestors in the Shenandoah who watched their homes and fields burn because Lincoln really wanted to win reelection can tell you how wonderful The Great Emancipator was.

    Hell, near a million men were killed or wounded in the Civil War. That's out of a population of 31 million people. For what purpose? To end an institution that was already dying a natural death due to economic pressures. Slavery was not on the increase or in some kind of stable orbit, it was in decline. Prices were rising year by year, while cheap immigrant labor entered the country. The slave trade had been banned decades prior.

    If ending slavery was the goal Lincoln could have passed a law for compensated manumission. It would have been cheaper then the most destructive war in history. Instead Lincoln chose to pick a fight at Fort Sumter. Every other US military outpost was evacuated. The huge Navy yard at Norfolk VA was destroyed to deny it to the CSA, and every other fort was turned over. Except for the fort which represented a major obstacle to one of the major ports of the CSA. So Lincoln held a knife to the throat of the new nation, and they fought back.

    You don't have to be some kind of racist hick to know that Lincoln was an abuser of power and that war was fought for reasons other then the most palatable one offered for the history books.

  • dennis||

    Sure there were abolitionists, but they weren't driving the ship. The North wanted to preserve the Union, their reasons for this varied from decision maker to decision maker, but to claim that abolitionism was even close to being the most important aim for the north is simply wrong. There is certainly no reason to defend the Confederacy, they were racist bastards who wanted to secede for the purpose of maintaining a society based on slavery, but the north weren't much better.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: OO,

    so explain the growing abolitionist movement BEFORE the war started including harper's ferry


    OO, preservation of slavery may have been one of the reasons for the SECESSION, but not for the WAR.

  • OO||

    that's like saying murdering bank robbers were only thieves.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: OO,

    that's like saying murdering bank robbers were only thieves.[sic]


    What?

    Did you take your Thorazine, OO? Maybe you forgot...

  • Doc S||

    While I agree ending slavery was not the only cause for the war, it clearly was a cause for the war.

    Would the secession have occoured if slavery weren't the issue? Would the war have started without the secession? Therefor because of slavery the south seceded causing the north to attempt to "save the union."
    So yes, slavery was a reason for the civil war.

    If you were to steal my kid, and I found out and was infuriated and kill you when i found you would you say that you stealing my kid caused me to murder you?? No, but you would have to say it was one of the reasons for it because were the first never to have happened the second would have had no reason to occour.

  • Otto||

    What Doc S said. Quibble if you want, but absent the slavery issue, there is nor succession nor war.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Doc S,

    While I agree ending slavery was not the only cause for the war, it clearly was a cause for the war.


    Seems like we have a nitwits' convention in our midst today in H&R.

    Doc, the slavery issue was one of the reasons behind SECESSION, but not the war itself. Lincoln wanted to force the seceded states back to the Union - THAT is the casus belli, not slavery.

    Would the secession have occoured if slavery weren't the issue?


    Does it matter? The secession and the war are TWO DIFFERENT occurences, linked but not THE SAME. The war did not begin upon the secession, it began after Lincoln decided to pick a fight with the newly seceded states.

    That unionized, tax-fed leech of a teacher you had in junior high was NOT the holder of the Only Truth, Doc S.

  • MJ||

    "The secession and the war are TWO DIFFERENT occurences, linked but not THE SAME. The war did not begin upon the secession, it began after Lincoln decided to pick a fight with the newly seceded states."

    Of course, one of the issues in dispute was whether a state had a legal ability to secede, so why a state seceded is completely relevent to what the war was about. Lincoln's first priority was keeping the Union as intact as possible, having that as the initial goal of the Union was an easier sell than go full bore "abolition". Recognizing the constraints the political reelities of the day put on the Lincoln administration does not change the fact that the Confederacy's cause was morally tainted from the start.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: MJ,

    Of course, one of the issues in dispute was whether a state had a legal ability to secede


    Yeah, I am sure you obtain membership of any club with the understanding that, the only way to leave it, would be to shoot your way out of it. Makes perfect sense you would doubt the legality of a SOVEREIGN FUCKING STATE to leave a "Union."

    Lincoln's first priority was keeping the Union as intact as possible


    Well, he achieve that, and only took the lives of 600,000+ red blooded Americans and millions in gold of destroyed wealth to achieve that lofty goal. Way to go, Lincoln!!!

  • ||

    OM, only about 350,000 Americans died in the civil war.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: capitol l,

    http://www.civilwarhome.com/casualties.htm

    Glad to know you want to win the Walter Duranty Prize for good boy reporting.

  • ||

    The Union armies had from 2,500,000 to 2,750,000 men. Their losses, by the best estimates:
    Battle deaths: 110,070
    Disease, etc.: 250,152
    Total 360,222

  • ||

    Oh yeah, thanks for the link; it's where I got the above.

    I was off by 10k, though.

  • Old Mexican||

    Hey, Capitol... pssst! Hey! Here's a little secret:

    The Confederates were killed as well, 300,000 of them, and they were just as red-blooded as the Union soldiers.

    You have just won the Walter Duranty Prize for Obfuscation! Congratulations!!!!

  • ||

    No, they were the soldiers of an enemy nation. Sarcasm doesn't change facts.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: capitol l,

    No, they were the soldiers of an enemy nation.


    Fuck you, Capitol l! In that case, Hitler "didn't kill" 20 million Russians because they were just "da enemy"!

  • ||

    Are you stupid or something? I didn't claim that people didn't die, but I do refute the notion that 600k Americans died.

    From your original quote(bold added):

    Well, he achieve that, and only took the lives of 600,000+ red blooded Americans

    Jeeze dude, you act like blockquotes give your argument positional superiority.

  • MJ||

    "Makes perfect sense you would doubt the legality of a SOVEREIGN FUCKING STATE to leave a "Union.""

    If it was that obvious that secession was a legitimate option, no one would have supported Lincoln's war aim to "save the union". While several of Framer's asserted such a right the Constitutional Convention studiously avoided discussing the subject directly as it was an issue that could have destroyed the consensus. Which is why there is no legal provision for a state to leave the Union spelled out in the Constitution. The issue was ignored.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: MJ,

    If it was that obvious that secession was a legitimate option, no one would have supported Lincoln's war aim to "save the union".


    So the legitimacy of an argument is based on its popularity???

    You heard it first here in H&R, folks!!!!!

  • MJ||

    Given that there was and still is no defined legal procedure for secession, the question was at best in ambivalence at the time of the Civil War. So yes, how many people could be persuaded to accept secession as a state right is relevent. As a result of the War, the answer is that no state has a right to secede.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: MJ,

    Given that there was and still is no defined legal procedure for secession[...]


    Given the fact that there was and still is no defined legal procedure to blink... well, you can't blink.

    So yes, how many people could be persuaded to accept secession as a state right is relev[a]nt.


    Yes, fuck that Aristotle, arguing from popularity is da bomb!

  • MJ||

    Which implies there was a convincing Aristotlean logical argument for secession, which you have not demonstrated.

    "Given the fact that there was and still is no defined legal procedure to blink... well, you can't blink."

    Non-sequitor. My blinking has no obvious legal consequences, secession did.

  • Doc S||

    "does it matter?"
    Yes, I contend that it does matter, hence the principle and basis for my arguement. Your opinion is that it doesn't matter which is why we won't see eye to eye on the topic.

    I feel that if an event would never have occoured without the other event happening, that yes it was a cause of the event occouring, not necesarrily THE main cause, but a cuase none the less.
    If I get a deep wound that eventually becomes infected of which the infection results in my death, would it be wrong to say that the wound was a cause of my death? I wouldn't have had the infection without it, regardless of the fact I would eventually have died from something.

    I think you are wrong in asserting that slavery was not AT LEAST an indirect cause for the war.

  • Doc S||

    The point of my illustration with the wound was that although the wound and the infection were "TWO DIFFERENT occourences linked, but not the same" the former requires the presence of the latter to exist at all. Thus, at the heart of the issue it is indeed a cause.

  • Doc S||

    I also understand that whith this logic you could essentially assert that any event could at least in part be a cause for any other event that proceeded it, but as a point, as long as there is true relation between the two I can't say that I disagree with that.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Doc S,

    The point of my illustration with the wound was that although the wound and the infection[...]


    Stop being an ass. Many states have seceded from their unions before and after, with NO war, NO deaths, so don't bring up this false comparison.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Doc S,

    Yes, I contend that it does matter, hence the principle and basis for my arguement.


    But that is the point I am making, Doc: It is IRRELEVANT. Whatever reason a state had to secede is that state's alone. They could have seceded because the North cracked their eggs on the fat end instead of the thinner end, IT WOULD NOT MATTER: THEY HAD THE RIGHT TO SECEDE.

    Your opinion is that it doesn't matter which is why we won't see eye to eye on the topic.


    What does NOT matter is the reason for the secession, as the WAR ITSELF had NOTHING TO DO with slavery. For abolitionists, it may have seem like it was, but for Lincoln and the Republicans, it was all about preserving the Union and levying the Tariff.

    I think you are wrong in asserting that slavery was not AT LEAST an indirect cause for the war.


    I think you're wrong in your assertion that it had ANYTHING to do with the war. How about that?

    Those states could have seceded for WHATEVER REASON; the fact that Lincoln, a war mongerer, was in power, is more important to the cause of the war than slavery.

  • ||

    Shorter OM:

    State's rights > man's rights

  • Fiscal Meth||

    Exactly. When you start defining states as "sovereign", you have to define individuals as fractions of a sovereign unit. I think it's flawed to think of states as units posessing rights. Rights can only apply to the individual.

  • Doc S||

    Re: OM
    "Seems like we have a nitwits' convention in our midst today in H&R."

    "Stop being an ass."

    I enjoy how you begin almost all of your responses to someone who has a different opinioiin than you with a personal attack, it really shows the strength of your arguements, as well as your open mindedness.

    And this is the fault of your reasoning:
    "Whatever reason a state had to secede is that state's alone. They could have seceded because the North cracked their eggs on the fat end instead of the thinner end, IT WOULD NOT MATTER: THEY HAD THE RIGHT TO SECEDE."

    They absolutely had the right to secede, I never said otherwise. AND they COULD have done it for whatever reason they wanted. And if they had done it for another reason BESIDES slavery I would be agreeing with you. But their reason was slavery (among others). So yes their reason for doing so in fact matters a lot because it is in fact a cause of the civil war.

  • Doc S||

    This is about the time where you say "stop wasting my time" in caps implying that I FORCE you to craft a response to someone with a different viewpoint thus doing a large disservice to you and your browsing internet comment sections at work.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Doc S,

    They absolutely had the right to secede, I never said otherwise. AND they COULD have done it for whatever reason they wanted. And if they had done it for another reason BESIDES slavery I would be agreeing with you.


    I like it when you accuse me of being inconsistent and then making this inconsistency. Love it, it's fab-u-lous!

    So yes their reason for doing so in fact matters a lot because it is in fact a cause of the civil war.


    Love your question-begging: "Yes, slavery matters because the war was about slavery!"

    And please, spare me of your false sense of outrage. Instead, spend the time it took you to write this: "I enjoy how you begin almost all of your responses to someone who has a different opinioiin than you with a personal attack[...]" to better inform yourself about your OWN FUCKING HISTORY!

    I am a mere, lowly Mexican, yet I seem to know more about your own history than you. Again, your tax-fed leech of a unionized history teacher only has the will to repeat the same old claptrap about the so-called "Civil War." You should know better.

  • Doc S||

    This discussion does an excellent job of exemplifying the differences of our thinking. You choose a more narrow linear focus, I tend to have a more broad view and look at systems as a whole.

    Neither are wrong, both have their purpose but this sure as hell is a great example of it.

  • Doc S||

    "Re: Doc S,

    They absolutely had the right to secede, I never said otherwise. AND they COULD have done it for whatever reason they wanted. And if they had done it for another reason BESIDES slavery I would be agreeing with you.

    I like it when you accuse me of being inconsistent and then making this inconsistency. Love it, it's fab-u-lous!"

    There is no inconsistency. The statement of yours I would be agreeing with (were slavery not the reason for secession)was in reference to your assertation that slavery played no role in the war, not that they didn't have a right to secession.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Doc S,

    There is no inconsistency. The statement of yours I would be agreeing with (were slavery not the reason for secession) was in reference to your assertation that slavery played no role in the war[...]


    Doc, I didn't say it didn't play a role in the war; go back and read my posts, I have not said that at all. What I have said, as many others have SHOWN, is that Slavery was NOT THE CASUS BELLI, was NOT THE REASON for attacking the Southern States. It was to bring them back to the Union and thus levy the Tariff the Confederate States refused to levy on imports. The war was started because of MONEY, not because of a civil rights issue.

  • Doc S||

    The funny thing is I posted the comment about money being the driver for all of america's history about 5 minutes before this post of yours further down in the comments.

    On topic: Do you agree that my initial statement was correct? "While I agree ending slavery was not the only cause for the war, it clearly was a cause for the war." My initial post stated agreed that slavery wasn't the "casus belli" as you put it, but that it was a cause.

    Does you admitting it "play[ed] a role in the war mean the same as it was A cause for the war? Or is it just a play on wording for the one time I said "played a role" instead of "was a cause in"

    Because your post at 11:06 that implied I am partaking in a nitwit conventions on H&R implies that my statement was incorrect.

    Again, dont take this as a personal attack, it's just a discussion.

  • Doc S||

    actually, nevermind this post. The response is of little consequence to me. Thank you for having the discussion with me, I honestly appreciate it.

  • Abraham Lincoln circa 1862||

    If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that.

  • Otto||

    From the same letter:

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

  • Old Mexican||

    In essence, Lincoln simply spoke from both sides of his mouth. Like Cathy Young said, he was a pragmatist. Whether that should be taken as a compliment to the man or not, is a matter of principle, as in having them or lacking them. I have them, thus I consider the man no better than a louse.

  • Otto||

    I support the legalization of all drugs - on principle. This doesn't mean I would vote against an initiative that legalized only marijuana, because given the political climate, that is the only drug it is currently possible to legalize.

    I agree that Lincoln should be viewed with some skepticism rather than as a great hero. However, skepticism doesn't mean excising part of what he believed.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Otto,

    I agree that Lincoln should be viewed with some skepticism rather than as a great hero. However, skepticism doesn't mean excising part of what he believed.


    The fact that he did not even practice what he believed is a never mind to you? Should we take him at his word, a "do as I say, not as I do" thing?

    I prefer the aphorism "Deeds speak louder than words."

  • JoshINHB||

    Old Mexican
    Natonal Socialists every where on the web on are copying your defense of slavery.

    You're a fucking idiot and a disgrace to free market advocates.

  • Banjos||

    The fact that you believe that OM is somehow defending slavery is a disgrace to libertarians. Fuck, turn in your decoder ring and just go to Huffpo if you want to engage in logical fallacy and evoking emotions to win an argument.

  • Banjos||

    damn, *invoking*

  • Anonymous||

    Liberty is a criminal enterprise.

  • Old Mexican||

    Is that like one of those "LOVE IS" phrases?

  • Anonymous||

    More like those "Freedom is Slavery" posters, actualy, but still with the cutesy drawings of melon-headed yankees doing murder.

  • ||

    I was perusing the Google News yesterday, and there seemed to be about as many stories detailing the "shameful" lack of government funded commemorative extravaganzas as stories about the war itself.

  • Old Mexican||

    Behind the Jeffersonian Veneer: The author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History is no libertarian. By Cathy Young.


    Or, the Pot Calling the Kettle "Black"

    "Much of the book's first half is an apologia for the antebellum South and its cause in the War Between the States (Woods' preferred term).


    Maybe because YOUR 'preferred' term is pretty historically and semantically inaccurate - a 'Civil War' it wasn't.

    Taking the familiar view that the war was fought not over slavery but over competing economic interests, Woods consistently casts the motives of slavery's opponents in the worst possible light: Those who wanted to keep slavery out of the new territories, he claims, mainly wanted to keep those territories all-white.


    Notice how Cathy here slyly conflates the Statehood issue which did have white supremacists undertones, with the abolitionist movement, so as to make Tom Woods' contention that more incidious.

    The abolitionist movement is faulted for "belligerent and vitriolic anti-Southern rhetoric,"


    But that's only because many an abolitionist DID in fact indulge in "belligerent and vitriolic anti-Southern rethoric," which would at least make a few Southerners uneasy about continuing being in the Union. At least.

    while Lincoln is skewered as a power-hungry, racist hypocrite with little interest in freeing the slaves.


    But only because he DID have little interest in freeing the slaves. To say that all through his career he was talking from both sides of his mouth is simply being too kind.

    It is hardly a secret that Lincoln was a pragmatist who favored a gradual emancipation and made the preservation of the Union his top priority[...]


    The man who almost single-handedly sent 600,000 Americans to an early and painfull death is kindly described by Cathy here as a mere "pragmatist." Psha!

    In the Lincoln-Douglas debates, challenged on whether he considered a black woman his equal, Lincoln replied, "In some respects she is certainly not my equal; but in her natural right to eat the bread she earns with her own hands without asking leave of anyone else, she is my equal, and the equal of all others." That's a Lincoln you won't find in The Politically Incorrect Guide.


    And Obama ran as a centrist during his 2007-2008 campaign. That would be the "real" Obama if one went along with Cathy's cues. Seems like she is either being disingenuous or she was really born in 2005 - when she wrote the hit piece on Tom Woods.

  • Old Mexican||

    Sorry, "insidious". We're still using IE7 at the office instead of Firefox...

  • Fiscal Meth||

    OM:

    I know you don't believe this was the case with the Civil War, but do you think the Federal government should have forced the states to ban slavery?

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Fiscal Meth,

    do you think the Federal government should have forced the states to ban slavery?


    No, I do not agree it had such power, and if the Federal Government did not like slavery, it could have perfectly asked the Southern states to "Please leave the Union and go rot somewhere else, we're no longer BFFs." That would have shown a true anti-slavery principle.

    If the FedGov was so hell-bent on ending slavery, why didn't it invade Brazil? At least the British talked the talked and walked the walk, going to war against Sudan and other slaver states (which happened to be also terribly nationalistic and Islamic), but the FedGov even passed the Fugitive Slave Act (before Lincoln, of course) to keep the Southern States happy. Clearly, the FedGov was NOT serious about the slavery issue.

  • Doc S||

    As a history buff you should know this better than most people. Money is historically THE main cause behind everything America's done.

  • Doc S||

    Welp internet ate the rest of my above post, so i'll just leave this one nice and ambiguous

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Doc S,

    As a history buff you should know this better than most people. Money is historically THE main cause behind everything America's done.


    So much for slavery, then...

  • Doc S||

    Once again demonstrating the difference in our views: narrow and linear, vs. broad and system as a whole.

    I've maintained that slavery was A cause for the civil war, not THE MAIN cause, since clearly money is the main cause for most things.

  • Doc S||

    Ignore the above post as well. We've both made our points, good discussion.

  • Fiscal Meth||

    OM

    I'm not much of a scholar of history or law so I won't argue that Lincoln had the legal authority to do what he did or that he did it for the right reasons but I will say that, from my view of the philosophical foundation of the United States, the proper role of the federal government is to ban the initiation of force through the retaliatory use of force against the initiator. This means the Federal government should use force against anyone who takes a U.S. citizen as a slave and, if his state tries to protect his "right" to do so, they should use force against that state as well. If the Federal government tells Texas "you can't do that to U.S. citizens", Texas should not be able to then kidnap those U.S. citizens through seccession and reply "well they're not U.S. citizens anymore, they're Texans now so we can do whatever we want to them."

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Fiscal Meth,

    This means the Federal government should use force against anyone who takes a U.S. citizen as a slave


    First, you're shoehorning the concept of "US Citizen" into the argument. That did not exist before the 14th Amendment; citizens were actually of the State they resided, not "the U.S." Second, once the Southern States became independent (which they were,) their citizens stopped being under the jurisdiction of the FedGov - that is, they would no longer be "US Citizens" even if such a concept existed.

    Third, the slaves were not "U.S. Citizens," but treated as property by the Dred Scott decision (even if you or I do not agree with this,) so clearly, slavery wasn't even a LEGAL justification for the war.

    Your argument is not cogent, Fiscal.

  • Fiscal Meth||

    I realize you're arguing with a lot of people right now, but you don't appear to have read my whole comment. You debunked an argument which you assumed I was making but was not.

  • ||

    The problem with Woods, DiLorenzo, and the other NeoConfederalists is that they can't get over their anti-mercantilist bias. While they will of course admit to the faults of the South and always condemn slavery, the North is still cast as the worst offender of liberty. Pages are written on the mercantilist errors of the North, but nothing on virtually identical economic policies in the South. Yeah, the North blockaded the ports in the South. It was a war, duh! But how many know that the South also blockaded ports in the South!

    What the neo-confederalist economics at LRC don't seem to realize, is that Austrian Economics did not exist in 1861. That certainly wasn't an excuse for government interventionism, but it was hardly an aberrant worldview. The South had far more economic interventions, the chief of which was the collusion with the government that allowed an aristocratic class to own people as slaves!

    I agree with them that the war was unnecessary, and conducted in a particularly harsh manner. But that does not confer any special damnation on Lincoln or the North.

  • creech||

    "The South had far more economic interventions, the chief of which was the collusion with the government that allowed an aristocratic class to own people as slaves!"

    Confederate apologists note, correctly, that very few of the rebel troops owned slaves - as if that someone makes the southron cause worth the courage these soldiers displayed.
    It is worth noting, however, that the Virginia convention that chose secession was made up of appx. 70% slaveholders, when less than 20% of Virginian's owned slaves. Additional,
    it is worth noting that the use of slaves was far more extensive than mere ownership - it has been estimated that some 50-60% of Virginia farmers and merchants rented slaves during the year from those who held a surplus. In fact, there are documented cases of free black farmers in Virginia hiring slaves to help with the harvests.
    Even the purest non-slave owning, non-slave renting southron soldier still
    was fighting for an economy based on slavery. {Much like, for instance, U.S. troops in Korea or Vietnam were fighting the commies while very few actually owned stock in capitalist companies.}

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Confederate apologists note, correctly, that very few of the rebel troops owned slaves

    Might that have had anything to do with this?

    Twenty Negro Law of 1862

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Brandybuck,

    While they will of course admit to the faults of the South and always condemn slavery, the North is still cast as the worst offender of liberty[...] But that does not confer any special damnation on Lincoln or the North.


    Maybe the fact that the North invaded sovereign states; killed, raped and maimed scores of people, and destroyed millions in gold worth of property had something to do with that conclusion - just sayin'.

    What the neo-confederalist economics at LRC don't seem to realize, is that Austrian Economics did not exist in 1861.


    The Austrians did not invent economics, Brandybuck.

  • ||

    A) War is hell, no doubt about it. So why does the LRC give Andy Jackson a pass for his equally hellish military actions? Oh yeah, Andy didn't like central banks...

    B) No they didn't. And there was some significant economic scholarship at the time. But the LRC gang writes as if Lincoln and the Republicans promoted mercantilism due to evil malice. Nonsense. The policies were certainly misguided and erroneous, but they were not intended to be malicious.

    As a student of Buchanan, DiLorenzo should know better. It was not evil men committing evil deeds designed to be evil, but rather good men committing well intentioned policies that had unintended malignant consequences. That would make a far more interesting narrative than the black-vs-white story DiLorenzo presents.

  • dennis||

    I don't doubt that there were good men who supported the war (hell Garrison came around to it and Douglass as well) but I do think that when a politician reaches the point where he closes down opposition newspapers, all benefit of the doubt goes out the window. As for LRC, I may be wrong but I am almost certain that I've seen them rip Jackson a new one over the trail of tears.

  • H man||

    The constitution of the Confederacy for your perusal.

    http://www.filibustercartoons.com/CSA.htm

  • ||

    The most important event of the CW was the death of Johnston at Shiloh, OK? A worried Davis ceded all major strategic decisions to Lee, who was so wrapped up in the cult of Virginia that he neglected the hundreds of square miles in the west (not to mention a total neglect of the Western river network) that could have prolonged the war considerably and potentially forced recognition of the confederacy by European powers.

  • creech||

    Davis and Lee had their major discussions about "the West" in the Winter of 1862-63 and May 1863 after Chancellorsville. Davis wanted Lee to send Longstreet's corps - or at least a division or more - West to defend against Grant's move on Vicksburg. Lee pointed out that it was already too late to keep the trans-Mississippi connected to the rest of the Confederacy and won the argument that it would be best to concentrate in the East and destroy the North's largest and most important army.

  • Jason O.||

    After Chancellorsville: Again, way too late, and these were cursory, pro forma discussions. Davis's protestations to send what a diversionary, rear-guard force belied a short-sighted strategy.

    But what do I know? These were consequential, great men, and I'm just an asshole who reads a lot of CW books and therefore thinks he knows what he's talking about.

  • Jason O.||

    oops, should read: ...send what amounted to a diversionary...

  • creech||

    Me too (read a lot of books). Would probably be a lot of fun discussing "woulda, shoulda, couldas" with you. You in any Roundtables?

  • Amateur Sociologist||

    It's true that Davis neglected the west and that Johnston was a capable commander and his death was a great loss to the south-but I doubt it if really would have made much difference if he had lived, pressed the attack on the first day at Shiloh and driven Grant into obscurity by destroying the Aemy of the Tennessee.

    Scott knew how to defeat the Confederacy early on-and to the extent the Union stuck to his plan the South was doomed. The Union was foolish to continue to throw its forces into the meat grinder in Virginia and give the South the few victories it had. Blockade was used effectively by the Brits against Napolean, and Scott had gone to school on their tactics.

  • ||

    Sorry, but Judge Napolitano's piece is nonsense on stilts.

    Courts are to rule on based on the Constitution and not some natural law philosophy from who knows where. Whose natural law, Judge? Locke's? Rousseau's? Grotius?

    The supreme law of the country is the Constitution and not natural law.

    A law may be unjust or stupid or even evil. But unless it's unconstitutional, judges must abide by it.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Aeropagitica Celebrates,

    The supreme law of the country is the Constitution and not natural law.


    Interesting thing to say when just the 9th Amendment talks about other implied rights retained by the people. I imagine these do not exist unless indicated in the Constitution, if one agrees with your opinion.

  • ||

    Correct: Rights retained by the people and not rights to be determined by judges looking elsewhere. You're confusing "the people" with "the judges". The two aren't the same.

    Judges take an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution. The people don't; they may change the Constitution.

    May a judge based on his or her natural law views decide that Americans have the right to a house and healthcare and a car and cable TV? That is, find a passage in Rousseau's "Social Contract" or "Discourse on Inequality" and say, "Here! There's the right to healthcare and housing and a good job and food and a car!"?

    The problem with "natural law" jurisprudence is that it places no limits on what the judiciary can come up with. I.e., what "source" is this natural law jurisprudence based upon?

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Aeropagitica Celebrates,

    Correct: Rights retained by the people and not rights to be determined by judges looking elsewhere. You're confusing "the people" with "the judges". The two aren't the same.


    I don't think you understand the contradiction you just fell into: "The supreme law of the country is the Constitution and not natural law."
    If a judge is to determine what rights are retained by the people, he has to KNOW THEM. If they are NOT enumerated in the Constitution and the 9th Amendment clearly states that the mere fact they are NOT enumerated shall not be construed to mean they don't exist, then the judge has to rule according to THESE non-enumerated rights. If you say that ONLY the Constitution is the "supreme law of the land," then where do you leave people's non-enumerated (albeit very real and existing) rights?

    Either these rights exist, or they do not and the 9th Amendment is mentioning a fantasy. If they exist, then it is clear judges have to look at Natural Law to KNOW THEM. Otherwise they would all think like the Philsbury Dough Boy-look alike people know as Elena Kagan.

    What the words "supreme law of the land" aludes to is that laws passed by Congress in pursuance of the Constitution supercede any State laws that are pertinent, but that does not mean that the Constitution replaces Natural Law, as the document is clearly written with the implication that Natural Law and people's inherent rights EXIST.

  • ||

    Question: Under natural law jurisprudence as you see it, what is to prevent a judge or court from ruling that based on the natural law writings of Rousseau that the right to property is no longer valid?

    Apparently - correct me if I'm wrong - nothing.

    You seem to be arguing that a judge can look wherever he or she wants when making a ruling. Ignore the Constitution, ignore the laws passed by the people and, based on the natural law views of Plato or Locke make his or her decisions.

    That, my friend, is an invitation to a rule by Hand's Platonic Guardians.

    Very dangerous.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Aeropagitica Celebrates,

    Question: Under natural law jurisprudence as you see it, what is to prevent a judge or court from ruling that based on the natural law writings of Rousseau that the right to property is no longer valid?


    His death?

  • ||

    Okay.

    To repeat myself: judges in America must base their rulings on the Constitution. Not the natural law views of Plato or Aristotle (both of whom believed that slavery was natural) or Rousseau (who believed that the right to property was a violation of natural law).

    If we permit - as Judge Napolitano apparently believes - judges to roam the global landscape of natural law, then that will permit them to rule on anything, in anyway they want. There is no law to anchor them.

    And if we permit judges to ignore the Constitution and use natural law, why not presidents and congressmen too?

    In that case, there will be no limits to what they can do.

    Yeah, pretty much the way it is now but not completely so.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: AC,

    To repeat myself: judges in America must base their rulings on the Constitution. Not the natural law views of Plato or Aristotle[...]


    Nobody said they HAD to rule according to Plato's or Aristotle's views on Natural Law. You're the one thinking they WOULD.

    If we permit - as Judge Napolitano apparently believes - judges to roam the global landscape of natural law, then that will permit them to rule on anything, in anyway they want.


    You mean unlike TODAY?????

    Give me a break, AC. I would hope they would rule according to Natural Law, instead of "whatever makes the State, that feeds me like a dog, happy!"

  • ||

    Nobody said they HAD to rule according to Plato's or Aristotle's views on Natural Law. You're the one thinking they WOULD.

    I cited the most famous natural law philosophers as examples of the danger inherent in that approach.

    If they're not required to use the Constitution, then they may use anything. And everything.

    What limits will there be?

    For someone who is correctly worried about the state abusing its power you seem to have no concern about judges using whatever natural laws they can find to make rulings.

    Judges swear to uphold the Constitution. Period.

    If they look elsewhere, if they look for some natural law basis, they are violating their oaths.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: AC,

    I cited the most famous natural law philosophers as examples of the danger inherent in that approach.


    I contend the danger is unwarranted. Even if one happened to agree with ONE of the philosophers, you would not have a job as a JUDGE for long if you tried to apply something that does not JIVE with people's understanding of their rights. Again, unless a judge had a DEATH WISH, he would not simply agree to make a judgment in favor of plunder, rape or murder, no matter how attractive the Rousseauian position.

    For someone who is correctly worried about the state abusing its power you seem to have no concern about judges using whatever natural laws they can find to make rulings.


    The state is anathema to natural law, no matter the flavor, so I find your contention ridiculous.

  • JoshINHB||

    I contend the danger is unwarranted. Even if one happened to agree with ONE of the philosophers, you would not have a job as a JUDGE for long if you tried to apply something that does not JIVE with people's understanding of their rights. Again, unless a judge had a DEATH WISH,

    So Libertopia ultimately depends upon mob violence.

    Very wise OM,
    NOT

  • Spiny Norman||

    Regardless of the causes or legitimacy or advisability of that war, I do know one thing with certainty: If I had lived in that place and time, I would have lit out for California and never looked back.

  • Banjos||

    +1
    I was think the exact same thing thing earlier today.

  • RyanXXX||

    Karl Marx on the Civil War:
    http://www.marxists.org/archiv...../10/25.htm

    Interesting read I thought I'd share

  • johnl||

    I love that Rand Paul took time out in one of his first presentations to offer a hidden but extended insult to McConnel via Clay, but Rand is wrong about Clay. Anything that delays a civil war is a good thing.

  • IceTrey||

    The Civil War was a fight between the Scots-Irish who settled the south against the hated English who settled the north.

  • lunchstealer||

    H&R Commentariate being stupid as hell about the civil war? Whodathunkit?

  • Apostate Jew||

    Civil War threads are the best! They never get old. I love to read the arguments of libertarians defending slavery which boil down to "slavery's bad but Lincoln's worse!" So convincing.

  • OO||

    unbelievable, even stunning that so-called "libertarians" would defend slavery. american conservatism is bizarrely mutated (as goldwater predicted) & these uncious pretenders, including libertarians, socons, & neocons are the walking dead. where are the paleocons? at least they're conservative isolationists which has a thread back to buckley.

  • ||

    You do recognize there's a difference - several in fact - between conservatives and libertarians?

    And William F. Buckley was never a paleocon.

  • dennis||

    I don't think anyone is saying that Lincoln is worse than slavery. The problem is that one shouldn't have to point out that slavery is one of the ultimate evils ever perpetrated to point out that Lincoln was a monster, that his war was a terrible and unnecessary thing (Saddam Hussein was a bastard, but our method of dealing with him was abominable as well.) I will grant that some libertarians play up the south's alleged virtues based on a couple of pieces of flowery rhetoric, when in practice the Confederacy was less libertarian than the North and not just for the slaves. But this doesn't make their criticisms of Lincoln any less valid.

  • JoshINHB||

    I don't think anyone is saying that Lincoln is worse than slavery.

    Go read Old Mexicans comments then try writing that without laughing.

  • creech||

    Please cite the "libertarians defending slavery?" By definition, this is impossible.

  • ConfederalRepublicBy2030||

    Slavery wasn't even close to being one of the main causes of the War Between the States. This has nothing to do with the fact, however, that defending the abomination that is slavery was an abhorrent and terrible thing to do.

    Coincidentally, however, Abraham Lincoln and his jesters weren't very good people either.

    What bothers me, enrages me, to my very core is when cock-sucking liberal fuckbags deliberately exclude Confederate casualties from their statistics. Fucking die in a pit of camel shit, you sons of bitches.

    Each and every man and woman in the Confederate States of America was an American, slave-holder (immoral) or not. Each and every man and woman in the United States of America, despot (Lincoln (immoral)) or not.

    Americans spent years killing Americans in the bloodiest war in the history of the Republic because a small, collective elite, from both sides, decided war was warranted. How wonderful.

  • ConfederalRepublicBy2030||

    *United States of America was an American, despot ...

  • ||

    LOL at Cathy Long's hit piece against Tom Woods as being part of anyone's collection of "best writing" on anything. It is an amalgam of half-quotes and smears by association that somehow concludes that Lincoln was less a despot than those who usually earn the appellation. If Cathy Long believes that American despotism isn't true despotism, she is the one whose libertarian credentials should be checked. One need not support the ruler of a seceding political jurisdiction or his policies to recognize the right of all to secede, or the right of parties to a particular political compact to withdraw their consent.

    BTW, Tom's colleague, Mark Thornton, along with Bob Ekelund, authored an excellent volume on the economics of the Civil War: http://www.amazon.com/Tariffs-.....0842029613 This book reveals the CSA's suicidal fiscal and trade policies.

  • ConfederalRepublicBy2030||

    Precisely. I honestly don't understand how anybody can justify unequivocally hating either the Union or the Confederacy and absolutely supporting and lionizing the opposite faction. This shit isn't black and white.

  • dennis||

    I wouldn't even phrase it as "the south had a right to secede" as rights belong to individuals, and if one says that the confederacy had a right to secede, then one must point out that the slaves had a right to secede as well, and the slaves seceding would have been far more deserving of applause. I would say rather that the Union had no right to prevent the south from seceding. One should not celebrate the south, but one should rip to shreds the myths about northern virtue.

  • Mdsaf||

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  • Fbgoy||

    Meanwhile in Montgomery, Alabama, the provisional capital of the Confederate States of America, Secretary of War LeRoy Pope Walker reportedly bragged

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