The Path to Petersburg, Coming Next Month to ABC

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Quote of the day:

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We need better intelligence. If we had better intelligence in the Civil War we'd be quoting Jefferson Davis, not Lincoln.

That's Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Georgia) in a closed-door Armed Services Committee meeting, according to Roll Call (excerpted here by the Raw Story). Chambliss' office claims he said "If Gen. JEB Stuart had had better intelligence, we'd all be meeting in Richmond right now," which actually is a little different, leaving out the implied "if ONLY" tone of the first statement. More evidence (if any was needed!) of the need to repeal Godwin's Law and avoid these meddlesome Southerner-sounds-like-he-misses-slavery moments.

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  1. More worrisome is that either way he is implicitly comparing us with the losing side.

  2. Pickett’s Charge had little to do with intelligence. 🙂

  3. Sounds to me like an innocent, yet failed attempt to be pithy. Nothing to see here…please disperse.

  4. It appears the good senator is saying that poor intelligence is a good thing. Fascinating.

  5. Either that or he wishes the South would’ve won-neither option makes me comfortable.

  6. Nothing to see here

    Yet again we see that anytime anybody says “Nothing to see here,” there is definitely something to see here. Chambliss says, “If we had better intelligence,” meaning we are the confederacy. The scandal of the year? Probably not. Thing that makes you go hmm? Absolutely.

  7. Tim,

    Being from Georgia, would ‘we’ have to be the confederacy? What other side was Georgia on? Anyway, I don’t excuse the wierd tone.

  8. Actually, if the South had won the Civil War, the Northerners could still meet in Warshington DC… it’s that the Southerners would be meeting in Richmond.

    And y’all Northerners could be discussing whether maybe you all shouldn’t have taken Germany’s side in WWII just because y’all still resented us so gol-danged much.

  9. If A, then B. If Strom Thurmond had been elected president in 1848 … If a frog had wings …

    If David Weigel were a beautiful blonde woman, I might kiss him. Uh, her.

    Saxby Chambliss, a Georgian, used a Civil War hypothesis to stress the importance of good intelligence in time of war. Is somebody saying that good intelligence is not necessary? Or is somebody saying that no one is allowed to engage in hypothetical discussions of history?

    Rather, what is being said is, “Look at the stupid hillbilly! Go it, Jethro!”

  10. No, there would be no CSA; it would have been plagued by civil war itself and many of the states would have either become independent or would have been picked off by European powers. That is unless the CSA could have united itself around something like territorial aggrandizement: Cuba, other areas of the Caribbean, portions of Mexico, etc. were always eyed as areas of expansion by the slavocracy.

  11. We need better intelligence. If we had better intelligence in the Civil War we’d be quoting Jefferson Davis, not Lincoln.

    Curious that the “quote” above is not contained within quotation marks.

  12. You meant, 1948, you dumb hick!

  13. “If Strom Thurmond had been elected president in 1848 ”

    Now THAT would be an electorate with real foresight.

  14. You meant, 1948, you dumb hick!

  15. Pickett’s Charge had little to do with intelligence. 🙂

    I think Chambliss was referencing the belief some historians have that if Stuart’s scouts had spotted Meade’s army prior to the start of the battle, it would’ve been Lee’s army holding the high ground at Cemetery Ridge, thereby changing the battle’s course.

  16. Feed me! Feed me! One acorn a day not enough!

  17. Huh. My family was in the South during the Civil War, and many of my ancestors fought for the Confederacy. I certainly deplore slavery and, for that matter, racism, but it doesn’t mean that I might not let slip a “we” from my lips on occasion. It’s a matter of family and regional history, after all, not a desire to secede, re-enslave blacks, or even a wish to sing “Dixie”. Of course, that’s an enlightened libertarian speaking, not some pandering senator–no telling what he was thinking.

    I suppose associating too much with your ancestors and your region can be a bad thing–witness Northern Ireland or the Middle East, for instance. Here, I think it’s a form of split personality, where members of old southern families feel a kinship to their land and to their ancestors while at the same time despising the institution of slavery and the many abuses of racism. Go figure. I guess that’s why we’ve won the “Craziest Sentient Beings in the Milky Way Galaxy Award” for the last ten thousand consecutive years.

  18. Eric,

    Yes, I get that. I’m simply poking some holes in the hagiography around Robert E. Lee.

  19. Huh. My family was in the South during the Civil War, and many of my ancestors fought for the Confederacy. I certainly deplore slavery and, for that matter, racism, but it doesn’t mean that I might not let slip a “we” from my lips on occasion. It’s a matter of family and regional history, after all, not a desire to secede, re-enslave blacks, or even a wish to sing “Dixie”. Of course, that’s an enlightened libertarian speaking, not some pandering senator–no telling what he was thinking.

    I suppose associating too much with your ancestors and your region can be a bad thing–witness Northern Ireland or the Middle East, for instance. Here, I think it’s a form of split personality, where members of old southern families feel a kinship to their land and to their ancestors while at the same time despising the institution of slavery and the many abuses of racism. Go figure. I guess that’s why we’ve won the “Craziest Sentient Beings in the Milky Way Galaxy Award” for the last ten thousand consecutive years.

  20. Eric,

    Yes, I get that. I’m simply poking some holes in the hagiography around Robert E. Lee.

  21. No, there would be no CSA; it would have been plagued by civil war itself and many of the states…

    When I speculate about the possibility of Lincoln allowing the South to secede I come to the conclusion that between slave rebellions, incursions by abolitionist from the North and conflict over westward expansion war with the North was pretty much inevitable. And the North would certainly have won.

    The struggle would have most probably been every bit as bloody as the one that we actually saw. In fact in that it might have dragged on over an even longer period of time it may have been even more destructive.

  22. “Feed me! Feed me! One acorn a day not enough!-”
    whines the server squirrel.
    Faggedaboudit…..lazy , spoiled American squirrel. Probably in a Union, the ungrateful wretch.
    The “invisible hand” is running a Mexican squirrel in who’ll work for a 1/4 acorn a day…..clearcutting produced a lot of “volunteers”.

  23. Isaac Bertram,

    That is often the problem with “alternative history” scenarios – the evil which they often try to avoid may have been far better than the evil created eventually created by the perferred alternative.

  24. “Sounds to me like an innocent, yet failed attempt to be pithy.”

    If so, do you suppose he was thpeaking with a lithp?

  25. Phileleutherus Lipsiensis

    I just can’t see any way that the South insisting on maintaining (and indeed, trying to expand) an institution that everywhere else in the world was increasingly seen as barbaric could have ended in any way but the violent and destructive way it did.

  26. Isaac,

    I always thought that if the secession had been accomplished without a war, the economic factors associated with industrialization would’ve pushed the South out of the slavery business in fairly short order. I’m not sure what that would’ve meant for blacks, but I suppose the political pressure from the U.S. and Europe to simply emancipate them would’ve been pretty severe.

    On the other hand, who knows? Phileleutherus Lipsiensis could be right–maybe we’d have ended up with a worse situation without the war. I tend to think that the Civil War cost us a great deal–in lives, in lost opportunities (I’m sure the U.S. was set back in many unknown ways by the war), in damage to the concept of limited government, etc. However, slavery was a great evil, and the ending of the institution by force was justifiable in my mind. I think things could’ve been handled much, much better by both sides, and I also think that the motivation of the Union was much more complex than a simple desire to end slavery, but the result was one that we all could live with. Slavery was ended, the United States was a great economic and military power, and even the South rose again as an economic and political power within the Union. Could’ve been worse.

  27. besides, slavery only benefitted a very narrow strata of society. Slaves were expensive, very expensive.
    So- if you were a carpenter, any sort of artisan or mechanic- you were competeing against unpaid labor. And realize this- there were slave blacksmiths, carpenters, stone workers…virtually every trade there was had skilled slaves that could do the work, never mind farming.
    So, very narrow economic interests- latifundists, wealthy commercial folks- could afford & find slaves useful. Didnt have to worry about a “slave union”
    Its not unlike the narrow strata that finds cheap illegal labor profitable now. They too encompass all the trades & artisan endeavors. Dont have to worry about an “illegals union”.
    So, slavery was doomed in the South, because it meant there was no chance for whitey to advance.
    poor whites had more in actual common with blacks then than they had with the Southern aristocracy. Thats still true, ya aks me…..

  28. Tim, even with the word we, still, nothing to see here. Move along.

  29. scandal of the year? Probably not.

    Manufactured scandal of the hour? Probably not even that.

  30. And don’t most libertarians take the view that it would have been better if the South had won the war? The South’s decidedly more Articles of Confderation-like founding document probably would have led to a far less intrusive Federal CSA government (and eventually probably some states becoming independent Republics). I’d far prefer that to living under the reign of our latest King George.

  31. Maybe the Senator got ideas from watching this?

    http://www.csathemovie.com/

  32. Pro Libertate,

    …the economic factors associated with industrialization would’ve pushed the South out of the slavery business in fairly short order.

    What economic factors? The slavocracy was undering some of its most profitable years right up to the Civil War, and slaves themselves were fetching very high prices due to the incredible demand in slave owning states.

    …but I suppose the political pressure from the U.S. and Europe to simply emancipate them would’ve been pretty severe.

    What political pressure from Europe? The ruling powers in both the UK and France supported the Confederacy and really had no real qualms with slavery. Shit, if Antietam had gone badly for the Union the UK and France would have entered the war one or way another for the CSA.

  33. Hey, good intelligence (OK, luck) allowed McClellan to stop Lee at Antietam. Not having that luck is the Point Of Divergence for Turtledove’s How Few Remain, the prologue to his interminable Great War series.

    I’ve come to the conclusion that the moral worth of the Civil War was mixed. The North used a bad means – war to enforce the Union – to some good, and some not so good ends. The South used a good means – secession – to at least one bad end, the retention of slavery. There’s also the annoying fact that the Southern states participated in the election of 1860, and if they had no intention of abiding by its result, they should have boycotted it.

    BTW, the Union argument was that the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union that are so admired hereabouts had created a U.S.A. that could not be seceded from. That argument makes a mockery of the argument of the DoI, of course, and is of the type that is only rarely settled peacefully, more’s the pity.

    Kevin

  34. MUTT,

    besides, slavery only benefitted a very narrow strata of society.

    Generationally speaking slave owning was common (as opposed to the erroneous snapshot approach) and it benefitted artisans and small farmers in myriad ways.

    So- if you were a carpenter, any sort of artisan or mechanic- you were competeing against unpaid labor.

    Since artisans, mechanics, etc. provided supplies, tools, etc. to the plantations, as well as helped transport the cotton, sugar, etc. from plantation to market thye benefitted from the slave society around them. Look at booming cities like New Orleans for examples of such things.

    So, very narrow economic interests- latifundists, wealthy commercial folks- could afford & find slaves useful.

    The average slaveholding in the South was 19 slaves. While averages can hide a lot, thousands and thousands of southerners owned just a handful of slaves. Which means that their wives and children benefitted friom the labor of slaves. Indeed, it was common for the sons of slaveholders to take a few of their father’s slaves and move elsewhere with them to set up shop. They were following the “American dream” in their own way.

    Didnt have to worry about a “slave union”…

    Actually, union-like activities occurred amongst the slaves, both on individual farms or plantations and on groups of farms or plantations.

    poor whites had more in actual common with blacks then than they had with the Southern aristocracy.

    The most ardent supporters and members of slave patrols were poor whites.

  35. kevrob,

    The South never had a right to secede because the right of secession (at least from a natural rights perspective) requires some moral reason or rationale. The South had no moral reason or rationale to secede; they seceded in order to protect their odious institution of slavery.

  36. Slavery was quite profitable and benefitted a large swath of the South’s population in 1860. There is no reason to argue that sans political or military intervention that this condition was going to change. Indeed, few slave regimes in the New World ended without some sort of violence (that is even the case of the British abolition of slaver in 1834 – which was pushed in part by the bloody uprising in Jamaica in 1833-1834).

  37. MUTT,

    besides, slavery only benefitted a very narrow strata of society.

    Generationally speaking slave owning was common (as opposed to the erroneous snapshot approach) and it benefitted artisans and small farmers in myriad ways.
    >>>>>according to who?that still stands. >>>>>
    Since artisans, mechanics, etc. provided supplies, tools, etc. to the plantations, as well as helped transport the cotton, sugar, etc. from plantation to market thye benefitted from the slave society around them. Look at booming cities like New Orleans for examples of such things.
    >>>>>Lets see. You can have tools made in a smithy by slaves, or tools made in a smithy by people trying to earn a wage. Which is cheaper? Which tools, if sold on a “free market”, would be cheaper?>>>>>>>>
    So, very narrow economic interests- latifundists, wealthy commercial folks- could afford & find slaves useful.

    The average slaveholding in the South was 19 slaves. While averages can hide a lot, thousands and thousands of southerners owned just a handful of slaves. Which means that their wives and children benefitted friom the labor of slaves. Indeed, it was common for the sons of slaveholders to take a few of their father’s slaves and move elsewhere with them to set up shop. They were following the “American dream” in their own way. >>>> How nice for them!

    Didnt have to worry about a “slave union”…

    Actually, union-like activities occurred amongst the slaves, both on individual farms or plantations and on groups of farms or plantations. >>> I bet they did. And the results were??????>>>>>>

    poor whites had more in actual common with blacks then than they had with the Southern aristocracy.

    The most ardent supporters and members of slave patrols were poor whites.>>>>>>Yeah, so? Hows that Dylan tune go… “Medgar Evers”-
    “You got more than the blacks, dont complain! Your better than them, you were born with white skin” theyd explain…..
    And poor white make up the bulk of prison guards, and the bulk of W’s most fervent supporters. So. What?
    Mutt, whose ancestors had a slave, in the 1650’s…..

  38. Shoot- hungry squrrel ate a point I tried to make:
    Slaves- non skilled slaves, who could be driven for labor- ran 600-850 in the $ of the day. A couple of years wages. Are you telling me artisans & small farmers ca 1830-1860 could afford a slave? I dont think so.
    Maybe a small kid…..no, slaveholders wernt “common”, they were folks of wealth, or leverage.
    A white woman could not suppliment income by stitching, or cleaning, or herding. Why pay, if labour was free. (Which I think, for some here, is the promised land)

  39. not havin no scholarship but life, and common sense, and dodgin some bullets, I find truth in various places.
    This tune struck me dumb, when I was a young redneck, and I thought Id do better justice to the quote I gave above. Its why poor whites hunted runaway slaves, in a fuckin nutshell.
    I guess you’d call it “market forces”- I call it evil.
    But thats just me.
    Take it away, Bob….
    A South politician preaches to the poor white man,
    “You got more than the blacks, don’t complain.
    You’re better than them, you been born with white skin,” they explain.
    And the Negro’s name
    Is used it is plain
    For the politician’s gain
    As he rises to fame
    And the poor white remains
    On the caboose of the train
    But it ain’t him to blame
    He’s only a pawn in their game.

    The deputy sheriffs, the soldiers, the governors get paid,
    And the marshals and cops get the same,
    But the poor white man’s used in the hands of them all like a tool.
    He’s taught in his school
    From the start by the rule
    That the laws are with him
    To protect his white skin
    To keep up his hate
    So he never thinks straight
    ‘Bout the shape that he’s in
    But it ain’t him to blame
    He’s only a pawn in their game.

    From the poverty shacks, he looks from the cracks to the tracks,
    And the hoof beats pound in his brain.
    And he’s taught how to walk in a pack
    Shoot in the back
    With his fist in a clinch
    To hang and to lynch
    To hide ‘neath the hood
    To kill with no pain
    Like a dog on a chain
    He ain’t got no name
    But it ain’t him to blame
    He’s only a pawn in their game.

  40. PL Mk. II,

    While agreeing that slavery kind of ruined the CSA’s moral position, the actual tipping point for the secessions, as I recall, was an economic one. It was pretty obvious that Lincoln wasn’t actually going to abolish slavery (in fact, without the war, his Constitutional authority to do so would have been doubtful), but he sure as heck could hem in the southern states and began to do so with restrictive tariff policies and other means.

    What’s interesting at this late date is that the seceding states didn’t choose to stick it out and fight within the system. They certainly had the votes to prevent the abolition of slavery. Frankly, the fact that secession wasn’t strictly required for the South to remain a slave society indicates to me that at least part of their motivation was a desire to live under a weaker central government. Not that a greater libertarian streak in the South offsets slavery, but it is also true that slavery doesn’t take away that libertarianism. Remember, many of the Founders were slaveholders. Just goes to show that human beings can rationalize any behavior, even in contradiction to their core principles.

    As for the economics, the displacement of many poor whites was a major problem that was very close to becoming a serious issue for the southern states. In addition, let’s not forget that the consequences of industrialization in the North (and in Europe) were already starting to be felt in the South and would’ve created a huge economic gap between the North and the South in a very short time–certainly by the 1880s, the South would be a joke economically if it eschewed industrialization. Slavery and the industrial process probably wouldn’t have mixed well, and the economic reasons for slavery would certainly fade with industrialization.

    With Europe, while it’s true that the CSA had support during the war (surprise, surprise, the British and other countries were happy to see a potential great power split in half), the distaste for slavery was quite high in the UK and in other European countries. If there had been no war, I think there would have been international pressure added to that of the U.S. Assuming at least some diminished returns with the slave economy, I think gradual abolition (or maybe just de facto abolition instead of de jure) would have been the likely result.

    Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe with a CSA victory, I own a plantation with thousands of slaves and am married to a parallel universe Salma Hayek. People call me “Colonel”, and I wear a white suit and say, “Fetch me a lemonade, Beauregard”. Hmmm.

  41. Here’s a Bizarro world scenario: Suppose there’s no war, and the CSA decides to abolish slavery. Just assuming that it would be at all possible for the weak central government to do such a thing, what would have been the result? I don’t see a war in such a situation. More likely, it would’ve involved another secession. Perhaps we’d have seen the poorer states like Mississippi retain slavery well into the 20th century. Like I said above, we came out relatively well, though the loss of life and some of the other consequences are more than a little regrettable.

  42. theres another aspect to the outbreak of actual Woah, and the economics what drove it.
    As I understand it, the ONLY crop the US produced which could be exported for hard cash was cotton. While it was grown in the South, Northern banking & mercantile interests had a serious chokehold on its export to Europe. Not unlike those laws enacted by the Crown which decreed Colonial imports could only travel on British bottoms, so did Northern “malfactors of great wealth” try to control the shipping of cotton, to thier benefit.
    The South, threatening to succeed over this far more than slavery, meant loosing the US only, or vast majority of, its hard currency export.
    Which brings me to why Abolitionists were so widely hated. You add up the value, in dollars, of slaves, and you find it exceeded most of the value of the material wealth of the entire country, or damn near close to it.
    That meant multiple billions, in THAT day, would go Pffffft! up in smoke, if slaves were emancipated.
    Like inside traders & corrupt brokerages did in Oct 88, but on a far vaster scale.
    For an unorthodox view on slave economics, I recommend Herb Apthekers (RIP) “Abolitionism: A Revolutionary Philosophy”
    I know, I know: Herb was a Commie. He also was a Commie who organized Negroes in the deep South in the 30’s & 40’s, so hes no commie chickenhawk. Ya got to give him that.
    Besides: who ELSE risked thier lives helpin black folk organize & defend themselves, there & then? Sure as hell wasnt “free marketeers”.

  43. Since we’ve moved into a “causes of the Civil War” discussion, I’d like to have my two cents thrown in, only to be inevitably eviscerated by those more knowledgable than me.

    The narrative that we teach our schoolchildren seems to focus on the North having the moral superiority, as they were “against slavery”. True, slavery might have ceased to exist in the North well before it ceased to exist in the South, but slavery had existed and been used in the North throughout the early part of our nation’s history. There were never large numbers of slaves in the North because its economy, early on, did not require a large labour force. Thus, slavery all-but-disappeared in the North in the first decade of the 19th century because it was not needed; people’s moral scruples showed them the truth of how unjust and idiotically despotic the system truly was.

    The South’s economy, however, needed slavery. They had their own moral doubts about slavery–viz, the abolitionist debates in Virginia in the 1820’s, the back-and-forth wobbling on slavery found in Jefferson’s “Notes on the State of Virginia” and so forth. Educated Southern whites seemingly had qualms about slavery, but found means to explain it away, defend it (the lack of slave’s mental faculties, the “inherent differences” between the races, etc.) because they knew it had to exist for their way of life to survive. It was, as Philleleutherus Lipsiensis notes, “quite profitable and benefitted a large swath of the South’s population”.

    So, that’s my first point: the North may have had the moral upper hand, but were not morally infallibale freedom fighters who wished to liberate all peoples (they weren’t neocons, folks); the South may have taken the low road morally, but they are not ipso facto daemons and (proto?)fascists. I know I’m being completely politically incorrect when I say this, but I doubt libertarians will begrudge me that. Slavery was the main and overwhelmingly central cause of the Civil War, but it was more of a matter of the economics of slavery than the (im)morality. Which is my second point.

    The South’s economic way of life depended on stasis (perhaps this helps account for the continued political conservatism and slow economic development?), while the North, especially after the Industrial Revolution–pardon the pun–picked up steam, depended on change and expansion into new markets and locating new sources of labour. (It is noteworthy, to my mind, that slavery ended in the North when the IR was just beginning. Perhaps if the IR had began thirty years earlier, the story would be different?) The interstate tariffs several Northern states levied on Southern exports (though “exports” is such an odd word for interstate, as opposed to international commerce) makes economic sense–unable to control the production of the raw materials they needed, the tariffs were a manner of recouping some of their losses. Of course, it is totally sensible for the South to be similarily upset about this, too.

    So, two competing economic systems, one needing to buy it’s raw materials at the cheapest price possible, the other needing to sell it’s products at the highest price possible and perpetuate slavery to continue to exist and be profitable. Faced with the continuing inability of the South to expand the slave bloc into new territories, thus enhancing its political clout–and without this clout, the inability to elimnate the tariffs that plagued it–the South figured it would take its chances selling its wares to the Europeans, and revolted.

    The North went to war the preserve the Union, and furthermore to preserve its economic interests. Without the raw materials produced in the South, the Northern (mostly textile) idustry would fall apart. Thus, as it made economic sense for the South to secede, it made economic sense for the North to fight secession. So, yeah, economics.

    Here’s something I’ve always thought, but don’t have proof. Just call it a thought exercise, I guess. As I’ve argued, I don’t think that when it came to slavery or the situation of blacks in general, the North was anymore liberal or moral (Quakers excepted). So why did they use manumission as one of their rally cries (other than to provide a part of the American “We’re all free and there’s so much liberty” narrative that we lie to our schoolchildren about now)? Well, I have two ideas that tie into my point about economics. One, as the Industrial Revolution really took off after slavery for-all-intensive-purposes ended in the North, that was not a labour pool from which they could draw. However, it seems possible to me that Northerners perhaps thought a defeat of the slaveocracy would result in a massive influx of new, and presumably cheap, labourers for their factories–immoral perhaps, but it’s good business, just as hiring illegal immigrants (who, like the slaves, are mostly unskilled manual labourers) is immoral but good for business nowadays. Secondly, it worked as wonderful rhetoric on both sides. Northerners could say (and again, this is just my thought experiment), “We must to do the right thing and free the slaves, it is as God intends” to average Joes who would have no other real impetus to invade another “nation” and fight an insanely deadly war. Similarily, the powers-that-be in the South could tell the poor whites, both the small-landowning yeoman and the maybe/maybe not-landowning artisan, that “God has given us the right and the mandate to enslave these people for their own good” (as we know many theologians in the South argued) and that to free the slaves would result in chaos in the South, a degradation of moral order and personal and familial safety, etc. As P.L. argues, yes artisans had an economic interest in the pepetuation of the plantation system–though I think they certainly could have survived and perhaps even thrived to a lesser extent without it–I would think peasant farmers had nothing to gain from the plantation system. So, something had to be employed to rouse him to fight (though the “defence of what’s mine” probably came into play more than anything after the war really heated up, especially in extremely poor places such as Tennessee, where a huge portion of the fighting took place), and the fear of emancipation was the ticket, just as the justness of emancipation would have helped to convince a young New Yorker who would have otherwise likely seen no reason to fight.

    In the end, the Civil War was, in my thinking, inevitable because of the great differences in economic life, and necessary. Not only did it do the “right thing” of freeing the slaves (though I believe this to be a secondary outcome, as argued), it was the crucible through which our nation had to pass in order to move forward. Though I’m from North Carolina, and my ancestors fought for the CSA, it was right for the South to loose, and, despite my aversions to many things that industrialism has wrought in the modern world, its establishment as the dominant economic system in the US has been, overall, quite positive and beneficial.

    I’ll close with why I’m more proud to be a North Carolinian than anything else; my reasons dovetail with my argument, and with the post that started this whole comment thread. NC owned the fewest slaves, and, along with the similarily slave-lacking Arkansas and Tennessee, was quite poor. But we had the most men die in the Civil War, from any state, on either side. We were the last to secede (mostly out of pragmatism, being surrounded by the CSA)) and quickly rejoined the Union. We had very little to gain by rebelling, yet we did. We fought because we had to, and when we did, we fought perhaps the hardest. Excuse me if I’ve moved from (perhaps flawed and foolish, please school me) logic into romance, but we NC folks, especially those like me, whose father, grandfather, and greatgrandfather were all sharecroppers and whose family (as far as we can tell) never owned slaves, are proud of how we fought, and even proudly relieved that we lost.

    And yes, I did say “we”. Told you I’d tie this in with the good senator. 😉

    Cheers, all. I look forward to seeing my argument ripped apart. And in case you’re wondering–yes, I do base my argument on economic factors, but don’t worry, I’m in no way a Marxist. I see myself as more of a “leave me the hell alone” traditionalist.

    –Matt

  44. I give this one and a half stars, “Momentary Eye Roll,” on my Republican scandal scale. Not too flattering if you look at it closely, but forgotten by dinner.

  45. Matt,
    I don’t think you’re too far off base; you’re mainly wrong about the glories of being a North Carolingian (or however you call yourselves). No but seriously, here’s a couple of comments in response to your missive and to the missives of others. I don’t think the North’s reasons for entering the war had much to do with slavery at all, and very little in Lincoln’s speeches up to and through much of the war indicated that it was. In fact, he sought to assure the South many times over, that he’d leave them to their slavocracy if only other conditions were met – mainly the economic ones. The no slavery rallying cry was a late and last ditch effort in the war to drum up support in what was looking like a failing effort. However, that’s not to say that for the South, slavery was not intimately tied in with their reasons for secession. The economic reasons and the protection of the ‘peculiar’ institution were closely linked. The South wanted to be free of the tariff to benefit themselves economically and to also preserve the status quo slave system. They also wanted to expand slavery into the territories. The North’s opposition to slavery was mostly a worry that if the South would expand slavery into the new territories then they’d lose power in congress, making it more difficult to enforce their economic will on the South. And given the racism of the day, Northerners simply didn’t want any more blacks in the new states and territories – they wanted those areas for themselves. Abolitionism was a very minor force and had very little early influene in the war – less than 1 percent of the populace were abolitionists. Perhaps a little more powerful than the ‘free Mumia’ crowd of the 90’s but not much more. It only gained a little more strength in the North when Lincoln searched harder for a moral reason to shore up his cause. But anybody who thinks it was a strong reason for the North’s reasons for entering the war forgets or is not aware of all the draft riots in the North (sometimes targeting blacks or abolitionists). The common man in the North had little interest in defending the rights of black men, free or otherwise.

    I’ve debated with others and with myself whether or not it would have been better to just let the South go. On the one hand, slavery probably would have died out sometime in the 1880’s as industrialism expanded – it died out everywhere else in the Americas during the 19th century, and racial relations are better there than they are here today. Also, the fugitive slave act, enforced by Lincoln, helped to sustain slavery. Without it, many more blacks could have escaped to the North. For the blacks on the plantations who found it harder to escape, perhaps certain abolitionist forces would have turned to guerrilla warfare on the plantations to free the remaining ones, thus targeting the evil, but leaving innocent whites mostly alone – at the very least, the carnage to the South would not have had to happen.

    On the other hand, as Phil hinted at above, the South didn’t want to be just left alone. Certain forces in the South actually wanted to expand their slavocracy to the rest of the Americas. And simply because the slavery died out in the rest of the Americas in the 19th century doesn’t mean we can easily extropolate that the same would have happened in the South. It would have died out but maybe much later – and if there is any reason a war should be fought it seems like ending slavery is the best one (even if that wasn’t the North’s primary intention in the beginning) I can think of.

    (Economically, slavery was profitable for individual slave owners but not for the Southern economy as a whole, as I understand Jeffrey Rogers Hummel right. JRH, are you listening? (insert a Woody Allen’s Marshall Macluen moment here) – but sometimes powerful minority profiteers can trump the aggregate good.)

    In the end, I’ve concluded, somewhat hesitantly (as I would have liked to have seen an end to slavery without the utter desolation of the South or the creation of a much bigger and intrusive Federal Super State that we have now, with all the attendant cruelities and abuses of power that has brought about) that for whatever reason the war was fought, it was a good thing, or a necessary evil, as slavery ended with the end of the war.

  46. Something that is rarely brought up in these libertarian secession debates is the way the South acted. They dominated the legislature for decades (in part due to the 3/5 rule). As soon as they lost electorally, they said, in essence, “I’m taking my ball and going home.” I’m sure someone will twist and turn and find federalist defenses for fugitive slave laws and the like. Like modern Republicans (and to a certain extent Democrats*), they were fair-weather federalists.

    * The Democrats don’t make enough federalist arguments to even be called fair-weather federalists.

  47. MUTT, you can make stupid, snarky one-liners to PL all you like, but the fact is is that he bitch-slapped your revisionist “history” and you acknowledged being wrong not one time.

    Still trying to get how the Civil War was the War according to you separationist folks that increased the Federal State; if anything, it was FDR’s administration that did that.

    And PL’s right; you need a moral reason to revolt, you don’t get to secede because you want to keep owning people, no matter how wrong the North was for continuing to do so.

    I remember as a kid, I got fed the line “The Civil War was about slavery!”…and then I read, and learned, and bought into the complex economic arguments, tariffs, blah blah blah…I have come to conclude that the elementary school version is closer to the truth: Republicans were abolitionists, the South wanted to keep slaves, so they threw a hissy fit cloaked in liberty-loving arguments. To hell with them.

  48. The South used a good means – secession – to at least one bad end, the retention of slavery. – Me

    Notice that I called retaining slavery a bad end, PL. As for this:

    …secession (at least from a natural rights perspective) requires some moral reason or rationale. – Phil the Lip

    Nuh-uh. If …one people…. are convinced that it has become necessary … to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another…, it is within their power to do it. While the Founders were convinced that they had to justify those actions by recounting the …long train of abuses and usurpations…, it would have been well within the purview of a sovereign state to resign from the Union, set an appointment for such housekeeping as dividing and pro rating Federal assets and liabilities, and execute a peaceful divorce. That’s what sovereign states do when they leave customs unions, collective defense treaty organizations, and other such structures. The shooting starts when a unit of government not generally considered sovereign attepts to leave a larger unit that is.

    State sovereignty, or its lack, was at the heart of the question of secession from the American Union, not just in 1860-65, but back in 1832-33, when South Carolina promulgated the doctrine of state nullificarion of federal laws. As South Carolina’s declaration of secession, 1860, put it:

    We hold that the Government thus established is subject to the two great principles asserted in the Declaration of Independence; and we hold further, that the mode of its formation subjects it to a third fundamental principle, namely: the law of compact. We maintain that in every compact between two or more parties, the obligation is mutual; that the failure of one of the contracting parties to perform a material part of the agreement, entirely releases the obligation of the other; and that where no arbiter is provided, each party is remitted to his own judgment to determine the fact of failure, with all its consequences.

    In the present case, that fact is established with certainty. We assert that fourteen of the States have deliberately refused, for years past, to fulfill their constitutional obligations, and we refer to their own Statutes for the proof.

    One inconvenient fact is that in international treaties and organizations, there is usually a clause explaining how one party or another can leave the alliance, international organization, or convention. Generally, a state is required to give a specified amount of notice, just like when you want to change apartments. The Constitution is silent on what rules, if any, apply in the case of a peaceful secession. Unionists claimed that was a result of the perpetual nature of the federation.

    Now, that the grievances S.C. declared seem to me to be all about the free states’ obligations to support the slave states in continuing that filthy institution, and bitching “No Fair” because someone unsympathetic to slavery, if not an outright abolitionist, had beaten them fair and square in an election, makes for lousy PR, but accept their premise about state sovereignty and the rest falls.

    I once told an inveterate neo-Confederate that the U.S. could have agreed to let the South go, then declared war on one or more of these new “independent” states on a “Just War” basis, since the good of freeing the slaves outweighed the evil of war. He had to chew that over for a while. Of course, Lincoln never could have tried that, or MO, MD, DE and KY would have gone out.

    Matt, what are these interstate tariffs you are on about? Export tariffs have always been forbidden by the Constitution. It was the tariff on imports that the South hated, as it made foreign goods, chiefly British, more expensive, which allowed the mills in New England to compete with those in England. What made the South dependent on the North, besides the burden of the tariff, was underinvestment in merchant shipping, factories, railroads and the banking sector. Just as, prior to the War of Independence, Virginia planters were in debt up to their periwigs to factors in London, so in the ante-bellum period did they owe money to bankers in Philly, New York and Boston.

    You are dead wrong about abolition being a war aim, at least before the Emancipation Proclamation. Lincoln went to great lengths to resist the pressure of the abolitionists to make the war about freedom for the black man, instead of a War For Union. Northern working men feared losing their jobs to Negro refugees from the South. Northern Democrats, especially of the Copperhead variety, derided the President for enslaving free white men via the draft in order to end the slavery of the black man. Read up on the New York City draft riots. Blacks were lynched, and the local orphanage for black children was burned. As a New York-born Irish-American I’ve always felt conflicted about that incident, in which the Irish were notoriously prominent. OOH, they were protesting the draft, so good for them. OTOH, many if not most of them were racist pricks, and not a few of them murderers to boot. I take comfort in knowing that only one of my ancestors, that I know of, had as yet left the Auld Sod, so maybe my people had nothing to do with the atrocities.

    BTW, the point-of-view characters in Guns Of THe South are Tar Heels, in the original sense, IMS.

    Kevin

  49. Mo,
    You have a good point. The Southerners were of course highly in favor of the federal Fugitive Slave Act. All this talk about state’s rights and sovereignty was mostly opportunistic.

  50. Maybe with a CSA victory, I own a plantation with thousands of slaves and am married to a parallel universe Salma Hayek. People call me “Colonel”, and I wear a white suit and say, “Fetch me a lemonade, Beauregard”. Hmmm.

    “Colonel Lingus! Jus’ how far south will you go?”

    “Taint sure!”

  51. Neither the simplistic government school version that it was all about slavery nor the neo-confederate, revisionist version, that slavery had nothing or little to do with it, is correct. The North fought for mainly economic reasons. The South fought for both economic reasons AND to defend slavery – those issues were entangled.

    I seem to run into many status quo proponents who bristle at the idea that the war could have been about anything other than slavery – that more could have been to it. And I find it just odd how many Southern revisionists will say something absurd like “slavery had nothing to do with it” ignoring the vast amount of literature out there quoting Southern leaders at the time who stated explicitly the importance of slavery to their cause – the Cornerstone Speech of Alexander Stephens, Vice President of the Confederacy, comes to mind. What is really weird is to occasionally hear a libertarian take up the cause of the South and then state something like “Taxation is Slavery.” What’s wrong with that picture?

  52. Let me enter the fray. One post and I’m out.. This battle has been fought again and again, and it always comes out the same. Some people will still claim the war was over slavery, and others will still claim it was fought over tariffs and State’s Rights.

    Okay then. . . . some cuts and pasts. Take them for what they are worth.

    The prevalent Unionist’s viewpoint today is that the Civil War was fought over slavery. (Saying it was fought “to free the slaves” is acceptable. In fact, how can the two positions NOT morally be the SAME position?).

    From the Southern standpoint the dominate perception is that the war was fought over “State’s Rights”. Although the holding of slaves has to be included in the “State’s Righter’s” vision of things, it is only one aspect. Many will give equal weight to taxation, since the war is reputed to have begun at Fort Sumter, and Fort Sumpter was a tax collection point.

    We are talking trade tariffs here because that was the predominate form of federal taxation, and the South felt it was not getting a fair share from the US Treasury of the tariffs it’s trade generated. The South thought a dollar of trade should bring in the same tariff whether it was from the sale of cotton or steel. Not only was that not the case, the Tariff laws gave protective treatment, to the point that some Northern manufactured goods were exempt form tariffs entirely.

    Tariffs are a negotiated so that a person who wants something bad enough will pay a premium for it. Apparently Northern goods were not in such high demand on the world market, so the tariffs were low. However, American cotton was collecting a premium in tariffs. But, according to the South at least, they were being spent on things that returned little the South for it’s effort in generating the tariffs in the first place. i.e. western agricultural expansion that was oriented against the South’s interests, and railroad construction support, to name a few.

    Little has been said about Lincoln’s pre-Civil War stance on slavery and secession. It should be recalled that secession began immediately upon his election in November, 1861; he was inaugurated on March 4th, 1862; and four states still didn’t secede until after the shooting began on April 12th. The question has seldom been answered as to how those events are related. Here are some possible connections.

    Since four states, (Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee and Arkansas), seceded only “after” Lincoln called for volunteers to invade the South, it can be said that the actual cause of the War itself was the Union’s invasion of Virginia.

    When Maryland, a slave state that did not secede, objected to federal troops crossing it to get at the Rebels, Lincoln locked up several members of the state legislature.

    Please see quotes from Dickens, Marx and Lincoln below.

    “The Northern onslaught upon slavery was no more than a piece of specious humbug designed to conceal its desire for economic control of the Southern states.” Charles Dickens, 1862

    “The war between the North and the South is a tariff war. The war is further, not for any principle, does not touch the question of slavery, and in fact turns on the Northern lust for sovereignty.” Karl Marx, date unknown but nelieved written in anger at Lincoln’s failing to respond to his, (Marx’s), earlier letters of support.

    When asked “Why not let the South go in peace?” Lincoln replied: “I can’t let them go. Who would pay for the government?”

    More quotes from Lincoln:

    “The [Emancipation] proclamation has no constitutional or legal justification except as a war measure.” Letter to Sec. of Treas. Salmon P. Chase; 3 Sep 1863

    “The suspension of the habeas corpus was for the purpose that men may be arrested and held in prison who cannot be proved guilty of any defined crime.” “Arrests,” wrote President Lincoln to that Albany committee of Democrats, “are not made so much for what has been done as for what might be done. The man who stands by and says nothing when the peril of his Government is discussed cannot be misunderstood. If not hindered (by arrest, imprisonment, or death) he is sure to help the enemy. “Under Lincoln’s definition silence became an act of treason. “Much more, if a man talks ambiguously, talks with ‘buts’ and ‘ifs’ and ‘ands’ he cannot be misunderstood. If not hindered (by imprisonment or death) this man will actively commit treason. Arbitrary arrests are not made for the treason defined in the Constitution, but to prevent treason.”

    “Would my word free the slaves, when I cannot even enforce the Constitution in the rebel States? And what reason is there to think it would have any greater effect upon the slaves than the late law of Congress, which I approved, and which offers protection and freedom to the slaves of rebel masters who come within our lines? Yet I cannot learn that the law has caused a single slave to come over to us.”

    “We didn’t go into the war to put down slavery, but to put the flag back; and to act differently at this moment would, I have no doubt, not only weaken our cause, but smack of bad faith…”

    Lincoln’s letter to Gustavus Fox on 1 May, 1861, makes it clear that he was pleased by the result of the firing on Ft Sumter…” You and I both anticipated that the cause of the country would be advanced by making the attempt to provision Ft Sumter, even if it should fail; and it is no small consolation now to feel that our anticipation is justified by the result. ” (Gustavus Fox was Assistant Secretary of the Navy and it was he who had marshalled the ships, troops and supplies that made up the Fort Sumter expedition. It was a phenominal feat. There were six ships that had to be sailed into New York and outfitted for war, they carried supplies that had to be bought transported and loaded, plus several hundred troops who also had to be gathered, outfitted transported to New York and loaded, and the entire fleet then sailed from New York to Charleston South Carolina, and it was all done in 5 weeks.) There may have been a seventh ship that went to Fort Pickens at Pensacola, Florida, by mistake.

  53. Stevo,

    Colonel Lingus? And his wife, Connie?

  54. Elmo,
    You have laid out the Southern argument well, and I believe it is largely correct that Lincoln and other power holders in the North were little concerned with ending slavery, however, I think this statement does not accurately reflect the importance of slavery to the South’s cause:

    “From the Southern standpoint the dominate perception is that the war was fought over “State’s Rights”. Although the holding of slaves has to be included in the “State’s Righter’s” vision of things, it is only one aspect.”

    It was not simply one aspect but one that was embraced in churches across the land as the right moral vision, and the Vision of the Creator, the way things ought to be for all time. It was a feeling held deeply in the breasts of the Southern leadership and written into their Constitution. See Alexander Stephens Cornerstone Speech.

    Secondly, if it was just about State’s rights, then why did the Southerners not reject other Federalist actions and laws, such as the federal Fugitive Slave Act? The Southerners were duplicitous here.

    Third, I have heard Dickens and Marx quoted before on their view of the war. Why is it that these men who lived across the pond, are seen as experts on the intricacies of the U.S. Civil War; the latter has been roundly criticized elsewhere for his half-baked economic theories and mendacity; he twisted Gladstone’s speech in parliament on the progress of capitalism to make it sound like no progress had been made in the last 50 years, to make his own point.

  55. Kevrob and not a crooke,

    Thanks for setting me straight where I was wrong. That’s pretty much the reason why I decided to air that, because I knew I had to be wrong in places and wanted to be set straight. Further, reading all these posts made me feel quite relieved. It’s good to see my idea–which my PC friends absolutely abhor–that the morality of slavery had little to do with either the Northern or Southern entrance into the war, upheld. Also, I hope, in reference to Huckleberry’s post, I haven’t come off as some kind of idiot Neoconfederate who’s waiting for the South to rise again and all that crap. Slavery was the primary cause of the South’s going to war, because the continuation of slavery was seen as absolutely necessary for the South’s power as an economic and political bloc. Anyone who argues only for State’s rights (though there were obvious differences) or, even worse, a cultural conflict between the Anglo-Saxon North and the “Anglo-Celtic” South (thre’s a book called “The South was Right!” about this very idea) is just wrong.

    Thanks all, and as to my North Carolina rant, give an old romantic a break and let him have excessive and flawed pride in the only he or his family has ever called home.

    Until again, Matt

  56. Let me say this again: There was not, and there has never been, any tariff on exports from U.S. soil. It is explicitly forbidden in Article I of the Constitution:

    Section 9(5): 5. No tax or duty shall be laid on articles exported from any state.

    The states were forbidden to impose any duties other than for the operation of their ports, and then only with the permission of Congress:

    Section 10(2): 2. No state shall, without the consent of the Congress, lay any imposts or duties on imports or exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing its inspection laws; and the net produce of all duties and imposts, laid by any state on imports or exports, shall be for the use of the treasury of the United States; and all such laws shall be subject to the revision and control of the Congress.

    The South’s complaint, besides the allegedly unequal appropriation of the proceeds of the tariff on imports, was that the incidence of those tariffs hurt their region. The tariff artificially raised the price of imports, but it also allowed Stateside manufacturers of competing products to price their goods lower than the taxed imports, but still higher than they would have been had there been no tax. The goods protected by the tariff were not great sellers on the world market, as competing products, such as British textiles, were seen as higher quality. The planters, meanwhile, could only get the world market price for their cotton. Exporting at world prices while buying at above-market prices, the Southerners felt exploited. That they were also using illegitimate force – slavery – to keep down their costs of production is another issue, of course.

    Interestingly, the Confederate Congress did impose an export duty on cotton, which didn’t raise much, considering the effects of the Union blockade.

    Kevin

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