Mutual Aid, Private Property, and Armed Self-Defense

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George Leef, vice president for research at the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, has a very good summary of several recent talks given by historian David Beito on the topic of "Black Fraternal Societies, Mutual Aid, and Civil Rights," drawn largely from Beito's wonderful book From Mutual Aid to the Welfare State. Here's Leef:

Another very important group was the Knights and Daughters of Tabor, founded by ex-slaves in the late 19th century. Among other accomplishments, this group established a hospital that opened in Mound City, Mississippi, in 1942. The doctors and staff were black. They provided good medical care for people who would not be admitted at other hospitals. Taborian members could purchase medical insurance for $8 per year in 1942, entitling them to up to 30 days of hospital care.

The chief surgeon at the Taborian hospital was Dr. T. R. M. Howard, who was not only an accomplished doctor, but also a remarkably successful businessman. By the early 1950s, he had begun numerous businesses in Mississippi and built the first swimming pool for blacks and had even started a zoo. In 1951 Howard formed the Regional Council of Negro Leadership with the goal of promoting thrift, entrepreneurship, equal treatment under the law, and voting rights. Beito comments that Howard's approach combined that of Booker T. Washington (who was primarily oriented toward success through the free market) and of W.E. B. DuBois, who advocated more emphasis on politics.

Howard's group held a very large rally each summer, drawing thousands of supporters. The rallies were in rural areas of Mississippi where violence by the Klan would certainly have been possible. There never was any, however, because Howard made sure to post armed guards all around. Howard himself usually went around armed and his home was an arsenal. Two crucial elements in Howard's success: the freedom to acquire and profitably use property, and the right to defend himself.

Whole thing here. Beito's classic reason article on "the dangerous fallacies of Confederate multiculturalism" here.

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  1. I went off to read Beito’s “the dangerous fallacies of Confederate multiculturalism”, and it seems to me he’s excusing the civil war. “Oh look! Those southerners are bad people! It’s a good thing Lincoln killed so many of them!”

    The secession was about slavery, but the war was about secession. Southern slavery was bad but wasn’t sufficient excuse to wage the bloodiest war in US history. If Lincoln really was concerned about slaves, he could have freed them *before* the war. For a hundredth the cost of the war he could have smuggled in arms to the slaves. The war wasn’t about slavery, it was about beating a wife so she wouldn’t run off again.

  2. “Southern slavery was bad but wasn’t sufficient excuse to wage the bloodiest war in US history.”

    Easy for you to say when you, your children, and your children’s children, etc., are not condemned to forced labor. Were I a slave, I’d say slavery was sufficient reason to kill every single southern white, if it meant my descendants would live free. No “excuse” needed.

  3. fuckin rad. self-determination indeed.

    Brandybuck,

    Smuggled in arms to the slaves? That would have been more successful and controlled? Unilaterally freed the South’s slaves before the war? Like that would take effect or somehow *not* lead to war? Come on.

  4. I can’t decide if I liked Booker T. Washington earlier on when he was with the MGs or later when he made his transition to pro wrestling.

  5. Two crucial elements in Howard’s success: the freedom to acquire and profitably use property, and the right to defend himself

    Gun control’s racist origins are clear once again.

  6. PS – I think one can logically defend “Confederate ‘multiculturalism'”, which I presume means Southern whites displaying Confederate flags and being proud of their Confederate ancestors and honoring the Rebel slain and so forth, without conceding that they were on the side of the right during our Civil War, and even without arguing that they were more the victims of Northern Aggression than equal parties to a long-simmering conflict.

  7. I hear a lot of Southern apologists claim that the war wasn’t about slavery, but it would be a lot easier to know that with certainty if the southerners of the time had renounced slavery and sworn never to try to expand it into new states.

    If the southerners were compliant with the requirements for starting a just war, they would have minimally done this to remove any excuse before firing on Fort Sumner. Since they didn’t, I’m satisfied that Lincoln acted appropriately.

  8. I ain’t touching the Confederate stuff, except to say that the behavior of the Confederacy is not an excuse for one-sided denunciation of the twenty-first century South, as if it were a unique source of evil.

    By the way, on the subject of fraternal organizations, allow me to recommend my Godfather’s book, Demetrios is Now Jimmy: Greek Immigrants in the Southern United States, 1895-1965, which contains a good deal of discussion of AHEPA, a Greek-American fraternal group which is still in existence today.

  9. Starting in the 1950s, the Marxist who represented the core of left-wing thinkers, had the problem of trying to figure out how to organize working class revolution against the state. The American working class was more prosperous than ever, and standards of living where increasing, and most of the working class where far too happy to want a revolution.

    The one exception to this was African Americans, who because of obvious racism, where not sharing in the prosperity. The mostly white Marxist thinkers saw blacks as the last potentially revolutionary class in America. While black-power movements before then had been very much about middle-class values (owning property and businesses, education, gaining economic power and social respect), the left made a push to co-op black power movements into the left.

    The goal of the policies, and philosophy, that was imposed on black people in exchange for support from the white Marxist influenced left, wasn’t to improve life for blacks. It was not designed to help blacks own homes and businesses, it was not designed to help blacks get a better education, it was not designed to help blacks gain more social respect – integrating blacks into the Bourgeois is the last thing a Marxists would want. It was designed to create a black America that was radicalized and marginalized, and who would be the vanguard of a revolutionary class that would overthrow capitalism.

    Even though most people on the left where not Marxists, those Marxist left wing thinkers had enormous influence on leftist thought overall. Hence, economically successful blacks began being smeared as “sell-outs”, black power became more about belligerent rhetoric toward ‘whitey’ than actually accumulating economic power and social respect. A powerful social movement that had managed to stand up to brutal racism for generations degenerated into identity politics.

    The Marxists where wrong of course, and The Revolution never came. Instead of blacks overthrowing a capitalist America and replacing it with a dictatorship of the proletariat, a marginalized and radicalized black America gave birth to the violent and self-destructive “ghetto culture” of today. Unfortunately, while Marxism may have failed, because the majority of the left where not ideologically Marxist, they don’t associate modern identity politics with old-school Marxism. African Americans, but more so the white “progressive” culture that pretends to support African Americans, are trying to use a philosophy that was meant to turn them into anti-capitalist revolutionaries to improve their lot in a capitalist society – and obviously, it is failing.

    People like Obama managed to buck the trend, and managed to embrace middle-class values… which is why he is such an exception to the rule. But the mainstream of race politics in America is pretty self-destructive.

  10. Zero,
    I would have to vote for Booker T and the MGs at Stax records. His time wrestling never did much for me.
    BCN

  11. This got me sucker punched in a bar in Mississippi. Talking to a “proud son of the Confederacy” I said, as I say again here –

    It’s over.
    You fucking lost.
    Get over it.

  12. I’ve read somewhere (and am too busy to go trolling around the internet looking for the figures) that the compensated emancipation programs enacted by governments to end slavery in most slave owning countries would have emancipates slaves at about 1/3rd the cost of the war.

    Nor was the U.S. government really interested in ending slavery initially. The Lincoln administration even offerred support for a Constitutional Ammendment making slavery permanent in the United States if only the secessionists would rejoin the union (Read the text of Lincoln’s first inaugural address).

    The thing is, though, without the support of the populace in non-slave owning states, slavery was doomed. After all, to keep a slave, a slave owner has to cut off all avenues of escape. Then a slave had to trek thousand of miles to Canada to be free, they were much more a prisoner of geography than if they had to trek north a few hundred miles.

    The Confederate government were a bunch of scumbags. However, the Union government’s idea that they should force a population that had turned against them to submit to their rule was pretty immoral too. Much like one can oppose Hitler’s invasion of Stalin’s Russia on principle without being a fan of Stalin, one can oppose the Union invasion of the Confederacy.

    Nor am I convinced by the claims advanced by many that without the war, slavery would have persisted to the modern day. Had the Union and the British merely boycotted Confederate cotton, they could have brought the Confederacy to its knees. I doubt that the system of slavery would have survived the advent of mass production in the late 19th early 20th century. It was too uneconomical, and morally repugnant to customers.

    Thus, I conclude that the war was morally wrong and more to the point, even by the stated aims of its proponents unnecessarily wasteful.

  13. Easy for you to say when you, your children, and your children’s children, etc., are not condemned to forced labor. Were I a slave, I’d say slavery was sufficient reason to kill every single southern white, if it meant my descendants would live free. No “excuse” needed.

    Except that England, France, etc., managed to get rid of slavery without a violent civil war. Obviously the abolition of slavery should have been priority #1, but at the same time it is not wrong to say “Hey, maybe the U.S. did something wrong… Maybe hundreds of thousands of Americans didn’t need to die to do something that even the racist imperialist nations of Europe managed to do 20 years before without bloodshed!”

    A violent, bloody, horrifying war was not necessary to free the slaves. Countries freed their slaves before and after without violence. Clearly, there was some exceptional circumstances in the U.S. at the time besides slavery, and it is in no way evil to ask what they where.

  14. I ain’t touching the Confederate stuff, except to say that the behavior of the Confederacy is not an excuse for one-sided denunciation of the twenty-first century South, as if it were a unique source of evil.

    No, but it is a reason to look at the people who get all moony-eyed about the Old South and ask them why they’re so obsessed with the values of the most clearly exploitative system in our nation’s history.

    Rex Rhino- You haven’t actually studied this subject, have you?

  15. People shouldn’t say that France got rid of slavery without violence. It took a fucking decade long slave revolt in Haiti. It was quite violent.

  16. Let’s settle this debate:

    Guns for some and miniature Confederate flags for others!

  17. I’ve read somewhere (and am too busy to go trolling around the internet looking for the figures) that the compensated emancipation programs enacted by governments to end slavery in most slave owning countries would have emancipates slaves at about 1/3rd the cost of the war.

    And there was absolutely no support whatsoever among Southerners for that sort of program. They were convinced that they could win everything they wanted, so they saw no reason to compromise. You might as well say that if the Imperial Japanese had been allowed possession of Indonesia without a fight, there never would have been a war between them and the US. Yeah, it’s theoretically possible, but the reality on the ground meant that it was never going to happen.

    Nor was the U.S. government really interested in ending slavery initially. The Lincoln administration even offerred support for a Constitutional Ammendment making slavery permanent in the United States if only the secessionists would rejoin the union (Read the text of Lincoln’s first inaugural address).

    Again, you can spin counterfactuals all you want, but the passage of the amendment was tremendously unlikely given the backlash that ensued after the South decided to leave the Union after the election of Lincoln without even attempting to reach an agreement with the rest of the country. It simply wasn’t possible. The South went out of their way to split with the North in a manner that increased division and left the Union with no choice but to react harshly. Complaining about that is a little like tweaking a bully’s nose and then whining when the bully beats you. Well duh, what did you expect to happen?

  18. Let’s settle this debate:

    Guns for some and miniature Confederate flags for others!

    Finally, change we can believe in.

  19. For information about armed blacks during the 1960’s defending themselves from the government and the klan (often the same), read Deacons For Defense by Tulane University Professor Lance Hill.

  20. Gun control’s racist origins are clear once again.

    Someone else tell joe this time. Last time I did, his head exploded.

  21. No, but it is a reason to look at the people who get all moony-eyed about the Old South and ask them why they’re so obsessed with the values of the most clearly exploitative system in our nation’s history.

    They seem to be folks who are all about the pretty way those old buildings looked and various dishes that were “translated” from old europe to the Americas.

    The similarities with Leftists and their obsession with imagery are endless.

  22. Regarding the courageous statements a few have made that it is perfectly acceptable and moral to slaughter white Southerners because of slavery, please be advised that only about 1/3 of Southerners ever owned slaves at all, and of the remaining 1/3 who did own slaves, only a very small percentage did so as a full time operation any any kind of large scale.

    Owning 50 or more slaves 2.5%
    Owning 5-50 slaves 15.5%
    Owning 5 or fewer slaves 18%
    Nonslaveholding 64%

    “Out of Many: A History of the American People”

    Of that 1/3 who did own slaves, they were not all white Southern males. There were also free blacks, indians, mulattos, and women who owned slaves during this time frame.

    Believe it or not, there were also non-blacks who were also slaves. This would include indians as well as whites.

    All of which calls into question the idea that Southerners fought to preserve slavery, an institution the vast majority were not in a position to practice.

    But hey, stereotypes are so much more fun to attack than reality.

    Regarding the original point of the article – or at least one of the original points – I find it laudable that the gentleman being discussed had the courage and fortitude to arm himself against people who would do him harm.

    He took his safety into his own hands and rejected the notion that the state would come to his aid or protect him.

    I seriously doubt many of the “courageous” types on this blog talking of massacreing Southern whites would be so willing to do the same.

  23. I seriously doubt many of the “courageous” types on this blog talking of massacreing Southern whites would be so willing to do the same.

    However, they will not hesitate to e-mail the same Southern Whites using all caps.

  24. Tim
    “Easy for you to say when you, your children, and your children’s children, etc., are not condemned to forced labor. Were I a slave, I’d say slavery was sufficient reason to kill every single southern white, if it meant my descendants would live free. No “excuse” needed.”

    By this logic, I should kill every Black in my town, because the Black gangs threaten the safety of my family.

  25. Were I a slave, I’d say slavery was sufficient reason to kill every single southern white, if it meant my descendants would live free. No “excuse” needed.

    You’re assuming that the slaughter of hundreds of thousands and the pillage of a civilian population was the only way to flee slaves. Not so. England didn’t need a war to do it. Why were we alone in needing a war to do it? And if war is such a glorious tool for freedom, why didn’t we go on to invade other nations that still had slaves? Why are we not now invading Saudi Arabia to free its slaves?

    The mid 19th century was a messed up time. Neither the North or the South can claim the mantle of righteousness. If Abu Grarab is an indictment against Bush, then Sherman’s march alone is sufficient to indict a hundred Lincolns.

  26. Why were we alone in needing a war to do it?

    Etheopia needed a National Socialist invasion to do it. There was a war associated with that one, that included the use of chemical weapons.

  27. This project had in it the seeds of its own destruction – they agitated for voting rights. That was a mistake. When you give any given population the franchise, they will use it to enrich themselves without working.

    (Whites shouldn’t be allowed to vote either, for what it’s worth)

  28. Guy Montag,

    True – but only for morons that don’t understand that emails can be tracked/traced both ways.

  29. Regarding the courageous statements a few have made that it is perfectly acceptable and moral to slaughter white Southerners because of slavery, please be advised that only about 1/3 of Southerners ever owned slaves at all, and of the remaining 1/3 who did own slaves, only a very small percentage did so as a full time operation any any kind of large scale.

    Substitute “Nazis” for “Slave owners,” “Jews” for “Slaves,” and “killed” for “owned” and you start to get an idea of the flaws inherent to this argument. The fact that only a small percentage of the population actually had blood on their hands doesn’t chage the fact that the war couldn’t have happened without the support of the rest. Nor does it make the Allies guilty of “massacre” when they fought to end the injustice.

  30. Why were we alone in needing a war to do it?

    To answer that question you would first need to ask the Southerners who seceded from the Union before they even made an attempt to negotiate with Lincoln why they did so. At best they were stupid and misjudged popular support for war, at worst they decided that it’d be better to be destroyed rather than face the fact that their way of life was ending of its own accord.

  31. It’s always more fun and self-supportive to speak of how “we”, in some past conflict, went up against the side fighting for pure evil, and how we were able to bring truth and beauty and justice to the land. It’s seldom that simple, however. Lord of the Rings had Orcs; we just have imperfect people.

    Standards and morals change with time. Part of the South was decidedly way behind the curve that constituted the worldwide change in attitudes about slavery, but being slower than others in seeing a new light probably shouldn’t be interpreted as having been born of Satan’s seed. Bad, sure. Horribly bad? Yeah, maybe even that. But still human.

    With that in mind, we need to remember that the South had established a very vigorous and productive economy based on a system of agriculture that was sustainable only through the use of forced slave labor. When we speak (accurately) of the emancipation of the slaves, they perceived it (also accurately) as the North intentionally killing the economies of the entire South so that the North could dominate. There was no viable substitute for their productive ag economy, at least as they saw it then.

    So, when we speak of the South’s resistance to emancipation, it wasn’t as simple as “they’re evil people who want to enslave others on principle”; it was “but if we do that, our entire half of the country dies off, and that’s the North’s true goal.”

    I’m certainly not defending slavery here – but I think we’re usually too willing to completely demonize others, when only a partial condemnation might be called for.

  32. When it’s clear that the South fired first, it becomes a moot point that Lincoln could have avoided waging war.

  33. “Gun control’s racist origins are clear once again.”

    in america, that’s almost always been part of it. elsewhere, though, disarming an out or down social group is a good way to keep them from shooting the fuck out of landowners and other members of the ruling class when their backs are turned. it’s basic math – if i’m going to pee on you (a) i want to make sure that you don’t have access to a knife (b) with which to stab me in the junk. (c)

    a + b + c = ouch

  34. So, when we speak of the South’s resistance to emancipation, it wasn’t as simple as “they’re evil people who want to enslave others on principle”; it was “but if we do that, our entire half of the country dies off, and that’s the North’s true goal.”

    I’d have a much easier time buying that if the South hadn’t fought tooth and nail to get slavery extended to the territories, even the ones where it made no economic sense whatsoever. Saying “I’m defending my economic way of life here” loses some of its power when you’re doing that by trying to force others to live by the same rules even though they neither want to nor can see any logical reason why it should be so. Which is not to say that you’re wrong that some of them saw it that way. Just that by no means was the rationale purely one of localized economic interest.

  35. Obviously, no one is going to agree on what the war was “really” about, who really “started” it, and so on.

    Which is why they decided to start shooting at each other in 1861. Well, at least we got over that part.

  36. Shem,

    Your analogy falls flat when you consider that the Nazis enjoyed popular support from the average German citizen, and that the Nazis rose to power within only a few years as a result of massive economic woes that resulted themselves from a war conducted only a few years earlier.

    The slave owner, on the other hand, was not necessarily enjoying the popular support of the average Southern citizen. It’s just the way the region developed and the practice was seen as “normal”.

    The first slaves were actually brought into the north, but industrialization of the north meant that slave labor eventually was not as economically valuable in those circumstances. As such, slavery became somewhat “abnormal” in that environment.

    The north did not turn it’s back on slavery because of any moral sense of right or wrong – it was simply that the economics no longer made sense of the practice.

    When the civil war started, and certain parties suggested it be fought to end slavery, blacks in the north actually ended up being lynched by mobs!

    Then too there were slaves in the north as well. Grant – a northerner – himself did not voluntarily relinquish his own slaves until the US Constitution was amended and he was forced to do so.

    Lee – a Southerner – on the other hand, freed his slaves voluntarily before the Emancipation Proclaimation (which freed exactly 0 slaves).

    Contrary to the idea that the average Southerner fought to maintain the institution of slavery – I find it far more believable that the average Southerner – who in fact did not own slaves and was not a wealthy person by any means – was motivated to defend what he saw as his “home” from an invasion by outsiders.

    A more apt modern parallel would be abortion rights. The vast majority of the public is not enamored of the practice, but accepts it anyway as the law of the land.

    It’s not something the average citizen – no matter how much they may approve or disapprove of the practice – is going to go to war over.

    In 19th century terms, I’d put views on slavery on a par with modern views on abortion. A subject you’d probably get a lot of viewpoints on, but not an issue the average citizen was willing to go to war over because he was not directly involved in it for the most part.

    Toss in the racism aspect, plus the fact that both slaves and slave owners included a variety of races, and viewpoints become very complex indeed.

    And like abortion, you did have people viewed as extremists in the pre-civil war era who were willing to murder for their beliefs – but they appear in hindsight to have been the exception rather than the rule

  37. Southern politicians sought to extend slavery into the territories (that everyone knew would become states eventually) as a means of keeping a precarious balance in Congress.

    Each state had 2 Senators, plus Representatives. By trying to force the acceptance of slavery into the territories the South was attempting to maintain that balance in Congress.

    Nobody was holding a gun to someone’s head to force them to own a slave.

  38. Scottie- You honestly think that the non-slaveowning landowners you’re talking about didn’t approve of their elected officials’ support of the institution of slavery? That the exploitation of slaves didn’t have broad-based support? And you *do* think that the Nazi actions against the Jews *were* met with broad support? No, it was seen as being a necessary part of Germany’s economic reconstruction, just as slaves were seen as being a necessary part of the South’s economy. Both Nazis and Southerners were complicit in the practice because they believed that it’s continuation benefitted everyone.

    Each state had 2 Senators, plus Representatives. By trying to force the acceptance of slavery into the territories the South was attempting to maintain that balance in Congress.

    Dude, the “balance” was gone. Long gone.

    Nobody was holding a gun to someone’s head to force them to own a slave.

    Again, if that was all it was about, why not push for a constitional amendment that would have made slavery permanent in the Southern states? Why fight a war if you’re trying for purely economic reasons. Unless of course, it wasn’t chiefly about defending an economic system or responding to “threats to a home,” but rather about an attempt to force an ideology on a country that was unwilling to accept it by a group of politicians who wanted to maintain a disproportionate influence over the country and the willing accomplices that elected them into office.

    Also, the attempts to point out that “OMG, the North had slaves too! Evil!!!1!!11” doesn’t work when I’m not trying to defend the North’s claim to any special sort of honor. They were racist SOBs. Pointing out that fact when someone hasn’t said otherwise is a particularly lame ad hominem. All I’m saying is that it wasn’t a massacre. The South started shit they couldn’t handle. They got their asses handed to them. In the words of my Uncle after I got socked by my brother after trying to take a swing at him “it’s your own damn fool fault, so why are you crying to me about it?

  39. Southern politicians sought to extend slavery into the territories (that everyone knew would become states eventually) as a means of keeping a precarious balance in Congress.

    Each state had 2 Senators, plus Representatives. By trying to force the acceptance of slavery into the territories the South was attempting to maintain that balance in Congress.

    Nobody was holding a gun to someone’s head to force them to own a slave.

    Scottie, your posts are well informed and all, but what is your point? Does it really make a difference whether the South was trying to extend slavery for political or economical reasons? What difference does it make, that the economic climate in the North made slavery not as fiscally sensible as it did in the South? Basically, as far as I can tell, your point is; “oh they should have just waited it would have worked it self out eventually.”

    Such a theoretical analysis seems to include two out of the three parties involved. It tries to account for the situation the North and the South but leaves out the slaves.

    Anyway, according to your own arguments, even though the majority of Southerners did not own slaves, slave owners in the South were a very large and wealthy interest group who could write or at least influence policy, hence the attempted extension of slavery into the territories. If as you suggested the average opinion of slavery in South at that point was that of apathy, than the slave owners, even operating as a continually smaller and smaller special interest group could have held on to that policy for very long time.

  40. Shem,

    You said:

    Again, you can spin counterfactuals all you want, but the passage of the amendment was tremendously unlikely given the backlash that ensued after the South decided to leave the Union after the election of Lincoln without even attempting to reach an agreement with the rest of the country. It simply wasn’t possible. The South went out of their way to split with the North in a manner that increased division and left the Union with no choice but to react harshly.

    I am puzzled exactly why you think the Union had no choice. What exactly would have been the consequences of Lincoln withdrawing federal officials, soldiers and sailors out of the Confederacy and allowing them to go their way? Obviously the tax revenue coming into the Federal Government would go down dramatically, but I am hardly seeing any military, economic, or criminal threat of allowing the secession to proceed.

  41. but I am hardly seeing any military, economic, or criminal threat of allowing the secession to proceed.

    I could list you a half-dozen reasons why war would have sparked up eventually, whether the North let the secession slide or not. Ultimately, though. the end result of all of them is that you can argue all day long that there were other solutions that would have lacked the bloodshed that arose as a result of the Civil War, but at the end of the day none of them were possible. People were just too committed to war. If they weren’t, why fire on Sumter? Why force secession before even attempting to make a deal with Lincoln? Why force the issue at Sumter at all, on the Union side? People wanted war, and when people want a war, it’s remarkably difficult to dissuade them from pursuing it.

    Also, people who make the argument that war wasn’t necessary always focus on what the North could have done to avoid it. What about the ways that the South could have stopped it?

  42. I could list you a half-dozen reasons why war would have sparked up eventually, whether the North let the secession slide or not.

    I’m sorry, but that is really no answer. You said that Lincoln had no choice. Why?

  43. Sigh…Shem, read the US Constitution – as originally written it explicitly accepted the practice of slavery.

    No amendment, as you suggested, was needed to legitimize it during that era.

    The difference I pointed out between the Nazis and slavery was that the Nazis were a fairly shortlived movement while slavery had existed for generations in North America.

    Your attempted comparisons between Nazis and slavery is silly at best, sad at worst when you begin to ascribe your own stereotypical viewpoints onto people who lived almost 2 centuries ago. As I have already pointed out, the picture was a lot more complex than you are willing to accept.

    For instance, in the Blue Ridge area slavery was not a widespread a practice – the region was not very amenable to agriculture, so why would those people go halfway across their country to fight for something they would see no direct benefit in defending? After all, it was not part of their economic experience.

    Something else motivated them to fight.

    Beyond that, consider for instance that the Nazis were deliberately and systematically attempting the conscious extermination of entire classes of “undesirables”. They included slavs and gypsies in this same catagory.

    Slavery, on the other hand, involved trade in human beings. While deplorable, they were also quite expensive.

    HUGE difference between the two, though you seem intent on ignoring said differences.

    The purchase of a single slave often being more than the average Southerner could earn in a year. Only the very wealthiest could afford it as a regular means of business.

    It would be like buying an expensive sports car and then taking a sledgehammer to it to abuse this *property*.

    References to “massacres” were directly related to previous comments about murdering white Southerners as being morally acceptable. It was a stupid viewpoint to take, and it is still a stupid viewpoint to take and is utterly indefensible after it has been pointed out that the majority of Southerners never owned slaves.

    No ad hominem at all – the reference to northern slave owners and prior history of slavery in North America was in the context of pointing out the weakness in asserting comparisons between Nazis and slavery.

    As far as “starting shit they couldn’t handle”, the South sought to secede – not overthrow the US government.

    That was a right that had been agreed upon by the original Founding Fathers as legitimate in their own war less than a century earlier. It was not a matter of “starting shit”, it was a matter of attempting to walk away from “shit” and not being allowed to.

    Regarding firing the first shots, Lincoln had already been informed explicitly that reinforcing the garrison at Ft. Sumter would be seen as an act of war – and he did it anyway in the full knowledge of what would happen.

  44. When it’s clear that the South fired first, it becomes a moot point that Lincoln could have avoided waging war.

    Sherman: We had to burn all those towns, salt all those farms, and rape all those women because they fired first!

  45. J sub D

    Is “it’s over, you fucking lost, get over it”, the same thing the northern Army members would tell the American Indians these days?

  46. Val,

    My points are all related to the views being expressed that the South fought to defend slavery, and that murdering white Southerners was acceptable.

    Everything else has proceeded from that.

    As for slave owners being a large group – they weren’t. Keep in mind that the 1/3 being referred to included all slave owners.

    It was not unusual for a farmer to purchase a slave for just long enough to get his crops in – especially if there had been an illness or death in the family that precluded all family members tending the fields, then sell him at the end of the growing season.

    Such individuals would be included in that 1/3 figure – but may have purchased a slave for temporary reasons very rarely during the course of their lives.

    As for how the issue of slavery would have ended up absent a civil war, I claim no clairvoyent knowledge in that regard, and freely admit any ideas I have on the matter would be pure speculation….unlike some others on here who seem to be quite assured of the views of people dead long before they themselves were ever born – and just as assured of their own judgements of these people.

  47. As was said previously, the secession was largely driven by the Southern states’ desire to preserve slavery and the war was entirely driven by the federal government’s rejection of the secession and desire to “preserve the union.”

    I am personally of the opinion that had Lincoln embargoed the Confederacy and put his efforts into aggressively territorializing the areas adjacent to the Confederacy (to preclude their expansion), over time slavery would have ended peacefully in the South (as it did in many other places around the world) and there likely would have been a reconciliation and reunion between the North and South. I also tend to believe that a lot of the overt racism traditionally experienced in the South (e.g. Jim Crow, segregation) were, if not caused, certainly exaserbated by punitive measures enacted during Reconstruction (redirection of anger and frustrations on the blacks, which were perceived in part to be “responsible” for the unfair treatment of white Southerners).

    That, however, did not happen. I fail to see, however, why conjecture on the topic should draw such aparent anger from the latter day abolishionists.

  48. Every time black people or the South comes up the thread turns to an argument over the Civil War. Every. Single. Time.

  49. “Is ‘it’s over, you fucking lost, get over it’, the same thing the northern Army members would tell the American Indians these days?”
    Well, as a matter of fact…

  50. What most people don’t realize is that the cotton gin largely made slavery irrelevant in much of the South. In fact, it cost more to keep slaves than to hire workers after its invention. Slavery was an answer to a lack of agricultural technology in a time when massive amount of manpower was needed for many cash crops.

    If the Civil War had not occurred, much of the South’s slave population would’ve been irrelevant, anyway. The largest concern in the South was not how to keep slaves in bondage, but rather what to do with them after they were released from it. Some suggested returning them to Africa. Others suggested sharecropping. A few in the largely race-divided South had the balls to suggest equal citizenship, though it wasn’t widely supported.

    The North’s answer was to largely forget about them after the war; and, indeed, much of the South itself. “Reconstruction” for the most part amounted to getting as much out of the South as possible under the pretense of “rebuilding.”

    The Civil War did more to inflame racial tensions than anything else did. In fact, I’d venture to say it put the Civil Rights Movement years off schedule by occurring. What would have happened naturally as a result of social enlightenment and economic considerations was shoved down the throats of a nation with a body count unlike anything seen in America’s history.

    And in decrying the South at this time, as all people are wont to do (as if the South was the only source of America’s Evil, Dark Past) they forget the following:

    Europeans and African slave traders were the ones who enslaved, not Americans. Certainly Americans profited from it, but let’s not forget fellow guilty parties. And even though they freed slaves in Europe, they also carried out systematic returns of them in many areas, sending them back rather than having them remain there.

    Blacks in the “free” North often suffered worse racism than in the South, because they were free to compete with whites, especially Irish, for lower-paying jobs. The Irish were the most racist entity in the North when it came to being anti-black. They did it for ostensibly economic reasons, too. Blacks in the South faced obvious racism, but many people had a very no-nonsense approach to handling them. Stories of the rich landowner abusing his slaves in droves are common, but most people who owned slaves were often not rich at all. They suffered from poverty like everyone else at that time, where you either made it huge on plantation farming for the few lucky ones with connections, or you were a poor cotton farmer like the rest, sharing land.

    Blacks of all sorts, freed and impressed, fought for and defended the Confederacy. People only remember black regiments on the North’s side, but forget large numbers of black soldiers who also fought against Lincoln’s boys in blue. They didn’t want the North marching through and destroying everything they had. They didn’t believe in Lincoln or his mandate to “fight the rebels.” Nor did many people in the North.

    The North is quick to forget the extent of devastation inflicted on the South which was not really matched by anything done against the North. Sherman’s March in particular. The effect of American on American can be easily likened to the French Revolution, where people easily turned on each other and committed depravities when it suited them, as long as the other person was ideologically misaligned from what they thought was just.

    Also, people are quick to think of the North as the all-powerful victor. Contrary to that, the South almost won numerous times in the war. On land and sea, the South fought with less troops, worse equipment, and poorer supply lines against an enemy that had both an immeasurable population and industry advantage. Had the South successfully enlisted the help of France and Britain in their cause, as the revolutionists during the American Revolution did with France and many other European countries, the North would not have had a chance.

    I don’t take sides in whether the South was right or the North was wrong. I take issue, however, with the belief that the South was the only aggressor or wrong party.

    We were all wrong, and we all paid dearly.

  51. Such individuals would be included in that 1/3 figure – but may have purchased a slave for temporary reasons very rarely during the course of their lives.

    I must point out that 1/3 or 1/4 or even 1/8 of the population, the slave owners, which also happens to be the wealthier segment of the populace is an immensely large and powerful interest group. Combine that with the fact the rest of the Southern opinion was apathetic to the issue of slavery or even shifted to the pro-slavery side, I cannot imagine any other speedy resolution to the issue.

    Now, with 20-20 hindsight, we can try to guess that this or that technological advancement or this or that politician would have sped this up, but as far as I’m concerned, the speedy abolition of slavery was an absolute and undeniable positive outcome of the civil war.

  52. There was no positive outcome to the American Civil War, just issues that were not affected as badly as others.

    We traded “expedient” emancipation (which didn’t really have much of an effect at all when it occurred) for hundreds of new graveyards.

    No civil war has ever had a positive outcome… except that they cause so much havoc and heartache that people are willing to change almost anything so that they never have to happen again. Good or bad.

  53. My points are all related to the views being expressed that the South fought to defend slavery, and that murdering white Southerners was acceptable.

    The south did fight to defend slavery, you are trying to obfuscate this by pointing out that there were other issues at stake, and that the North did some evil things as well.

    No one here, with the exception of people with a grade-school grasp of history think that the sole issue during the civil war was slavery. But its pretty dishonest to suggest that slavery was not one of the issues.

  54. No civil war has ever had a positive outcome… except that they cause so much havoc and heartache that people are willing to change almost anything so that they never have to happen again. Good or bad.

    Meh, even though the American revolution is called ‘American’, Brit fought against Brit in a civil war of cession.

  55. It strikes me that there is a difference between saying that a war was bad (a perfectly legitimate stance for the non-violent) and saying that the losers of the war were good guys (a stance whose legitimacy depends on its accuracy). However, it also strikes me that many of the defenders of the Confederacy tend to blur that distinction, and have sympathy for the Confederates.

    I’m anti-war, but I’m not about to romanticize bad guys who get their asses kicked either.

  56. Is “it’s over, you fucking lost, get over it”, the same thing the northern Army members would tell the American Indians these days?

    If you think the two situations are remotely similar you’re an idiot angling to make a claim as a victim. People who try to ressurect the confederacy as a noble cause amuse the hell out of me. It was a rebellion about some people wanting to continue to be able to own, buy, sell, whip, rape and work to death other people. I’m not certain I’d hang my head in shame if my ancestors had been part of it, but I’m certain I wouldn’t be trying to rehabilitate their reputation.

    Now you’re supposed to jump up and scream TARIFFS!
    It’s like listening to young earth creationists.

  57. “Meh, even though the American revolution is called ‘American’, Brit fought against Brit in a civil war of cession.”

    The difference is that the Americans were trying to leave an empire, while the British were trying to force them to stay.

    Similarly, the Confederates were trying to leave the Union, while the Federals were trying to force them to stay.

    Any social contract should have the option of disbandment when differences between those who are governed by it are so great that they can no longer consider each other countrymen. The rebels in the American Revolution quickly realized this fact: that they couldn’t have an ideal solution where they remained British subjects while rejecting British authority. They had to either separate or be subjugated in full.

    Likewise, the Confederates were forced by Federal industrialists and Lincoln to choose between staying in the Union or leaving when they perceived their commonality with the other states breaking down. They didn’t choose to remain with the Union while rejecting its authority. They chose to leave.

    And Lincoln and the Federals subjugated them by force. There is no other way of looking at the situation. Whether you believe slavery was a good or bad thing is not the issue. The real issue is that Lincoln basically set the rule that no state can ever leave the Union if it so desires. There is no longer such a thing as what the revolutionists thought: when a group no longer desires to be a part of a larger group, they decide to leave.

    Lincoln rejected that idea with every man he could draft to fight, and he has apparently won not only the military, but also the ideological, debate in our time.

    And that disappoints me greatly.

  58. “I also tend to believe that a lot of the overt racism traditionally experienced in the South (e.g. Jim Crow, segregation) were, if not caused, certainly exaserbated by punitive measures enacted during Reconstruction (redirection of anger and frustrations on the blacks, which were perceived in part to be “responsible” for the unfair treatment of white Southerners).”

    cultural attitudes towards manumitted slaves, both black and mixed race, in the south well before the war would seem to indicate otherwise.

  59. However, it also strikes me that many of the defenders of the Confederacy tend to blur that distinction, and have sympathy for the Confederates.

    To be honest, thoreau, I think it is quite the opposite. If you say anything that implies they weren’t completely steeped in evil, you get jumped on as a sympathiser and apologist for slavery. It gets really tiresome after a while. If I were to claim that Hitler was unjustified in invading the Soviet Union, nobody would paint me as a Stalinist. Yet that is precisely what happens when one dares to suggest that the invasion of one slave owning state by another slave owning state had more to do with a desire for plunder than the extirpation of slavery.

    Yes, the Confederate leadership was motivated out of a desire to continue to exploit their fellow men in an extreme way (and incidentally, the gruesome punishments visited upon slaves who resisted give lie to the notion that slavers treated their property well). But this in no way excuses Lincoln’s willingness to destroy the notion of government by consent, his willingness to smash the freedom of the press, habeas corpus, to introduce conscription, and tax the shit out of people, not to mention his willingness to see millions of people killed and maimed just so he and his cronies could get rich of of government subsidies.

  60. Everything else aside, slavery gave the North the moral will to put of with the carnage. By the battle of Second Bull Run and the loss of life at Antietam, without slavery being THE issue amongst the general populace, the war would have ended regardless of what Lincoln and other northern politicians wanted. The Union army would have just gone home.

  61. this is in response to whoever brought up world war II.

    ah the allies didnt fight germany on behalf of the jews. in fact they were probaby the people we most didnt give a shit about

  62. Val,

    There is a difference between saying the Civil War was fought over slavery, and saying that one of the reasons for the Civil War was slavery.

    I never said it was not to be considered ONE of the reasons – just not THE reason.

    Big difference. Your assertions of supposed dishonesty fall flat.

    Regarding the Brit on Brit secession of a few decades earlier – even the British referred to the (former) colonists as “Americans”.

  63. The cotton gin, patented in 1794, didn’t do shit to stop the “need” for slavery in the South. It was used for processing the picked cotton, not the planting, tending, and picking of it.

    It’s disgusting to think that 150 years ago we had an enormous underclass defined, in part, by the color of their skin and their definition as property. It’s unlibertarian as fuck to think of conscious individuals as property or to defend a system of government that enforces that belief.

    Mind you, this does nothing to excuse Lincoln for the lives and liberties lost in the process. I wonder if 100 years from now we will be having similar arguments about GWB. Freeing people from tyranny: great! Destroying liberty in the process: abominable.

  64. thoreau,

    So, an 18 year old who joins the Confederate Army and fights to defend his home and family – and who never once thought of himself as defending the right of some rich plantation owner in SC to own slaves – was evil and a bad guy?

    Riiiight….

    As for “getting their asses kicked”, while it was a brutal war and the South was defeated – I’m not entirely sure that Grant would have considered himself to have kicked anyone’s ass so much as managed to win against a very capable and dangerous opponent.

    The memories of the war are still resonate in the South even today (heck, look at this thread!) – but so too is evidence that the North wasn’t too keen on restoking the fires either considering that they enlisted the aid of a former Confederate General to lead the US forces (that had to be shipped through the South) in the Spanish American war effort in Cuba.

    Apparently, this was a blatant effort to keep the native Southerners from reacting…ahem…negatively…to massive numbers of federal troops being transported through the South.

  65. J sub D,

    That was kind of funny.

    By the way, did you realize that General George Armstrong (a good indian is a dead indian) Custer of Little Bighorn fame (or was it infamy) was a former Union cavalry officer?

    What he and his ilk did to the indians was pretty much what they did their best to try to do to the South at every opportunity – Sherman being a prime example of such *bravery*.

  66. As a white Southern male, I’m bemused at this whole argument- what a colossal waste of time in an era when we have real issues to deal with. It always amazes me that anyone still cares- I’m at least 3 generations removed from anyone who remembers the Civil War. I’m glad the South lost and slavery was abolished- anything Lincoln did that he could be criticized for was dwarfed by that fact.

  67. I guess it would be futile to point out that the War Between The States ended in 1865 and this is 2008.

    All that stuff was a long time ago and the only day you can change is today.

  68. “We were all wrong, and we all paid dearly.”
    What the hell is it with all this “we” stuff. I don’t remember owning slaves, seceding from the Union, or killing a bunch of people to “restore” the Union.

  69. Every single fucking time, this happens.

  70. Topic: Voluntary black fraternal organization in the Post-Reconstruction South.

    Comments: Sic Semper Tyrannus.

  71. Comments: U shouldn’t call it the “Civil War”! It was Teh War of Northern Agression!

  72. Economist, its okay, let go.

  73. Boston,
    I won’t let any damn Yankee bastard son of a bitch tell me to “Let go”!

  74. Rabble rabble rabble

  75. though i agree with your point

  76. Economist; unfort. libertarians (and most especially paleo-libs) view the Civil War in the US as a fight of sides that are “unfortunately wrong about the issue but they are states rights vs. unfortunately right about the issue but are coercing feds”

    It’s a case of good political laws (but bad moral issue) vs. bad political laws (but good moral issue) and in the end, bad laws won. The issue is off the table, and now we have to deal with the bad laws. It’s a terrible thing to ever base libertarian beliefs on.

  77. > When it’s clear that the South fired first,
    > it becomes a moot point that Lincoln could
    > have avoided waging war.

    4/12 Was An Inside Job!

  78. All of which calls into question the idea that Southerners fought to preserve slavery

    There really needs to be a corollary to Godwin for this. I don’t know, maybe Faulknerizing? Something that describes the hopeless romanticization of Southern nobility.

  79. Who’s romanticizing? The Southern nobility were scum. But that still does not excuse the war.

  80. Brandybuck – aaaaand, your point is, what, exactly?

  81. So, an 18 year old who joins the Confederate Army and fights to defend his home and family – and who never once thought of himself as defending the right of some rich plantation owner in SC to own slaves – was evil and a bad guy?

    The choice is bad or stupid – which was he? Given most of what I’ve seen of the subsequent generations of southerners, particularly those most misty-eyed about The Cause, I lean towards stupid (in the Idiocracy sense).

  82. juris imprudent,

    The 18 year old I noted, was in fact my great grandfather. He was actually 16 when he enlisted around 1863 or so. By the time the war ended he was a seasoned veteran with 2 years experience during the very bitterest phase of the conflict.

    He was a farmboy who never owned slaves, and from what my grandmother told me of his experiences and the kind of man he was, he was not an evil person by any stretch of the imagination.

    Quite the contrary, she described him as a good and decent hardworking man, and from how she spoke of him she loved him dearly.

    From his mouth, to my grandmother, to me – only one person between me and the events that occurred.

    So my views of the conflict are based on personal family history and in-depth study of the era, not a “misty-eyed” view of some stereotypical image out of Hollywood.

    Your views – particularly when you decide to trash “subsequent generations of southerners” – appear to be based on nothing more than arrogance, ignorance, and a woefully unwarranted sense of superiority as you attack a cardboard cutout of those you have decided to deem “bad or stupid”.

  83. Jadawin,

    Nobody is fighting the Civil War over again – the argument seems to have degenerated into disagreement over the history of the Civil War and what it means today.

    As has been shown, those who leap so quickly to denigrate the South also display the greatest ignorance of that conflict and the events that preceeded it.

    Getting the history right – and that does mean looking at everything, warts and all – is important as those who are most ignorant of history are also most likely to repeat it.

    Nobody who has spent any time really studying the era would ever want such an experience repeated.

    You had two geographic regions – just refer to them as the blue region and the gray region – with vastly different views of the world who seriously misjudged how the other side would act/react. The result was a bloody mess.

    As for all of these events happening so long ago, bear in mind that the Cold War (resulting in Korea and Vietnam) that ended only in the 1990’s was a result of how WWII ended, WWII was a result of how WWI ended, and WWI itself was the result of long simmering animosity in a backwater European area that was ignited by a single bullet – one thing lead to another.

    Such an example shows why it is VERY important to get the history right and not allow the same mistakes to happen again.

  84. Summary:

    1. It was a bloody war with lots of suffering on both sides.

    2. Slavery was (and is) morally repugnant and was a major reason for the civil war. There were other reasons, but none resonated like the slavery issue.

    3. Those who berate today’s southerners because of the civil war are idiots.

    4. There is nothing wrong with southerners taking pride in their past.

  85. Every time I’ve read about the Civil War (or “War Between the States” if you prefer), I’ve come to dislike greatly most of the leadership of both the South and the North, with the notable exception of Robert E. Lee and a couple of others the names of whom I forget.

    Lincoln especially was a murdering tyrant, nothwithstanding the personality cult that sprang up after his well-justified assassination, even while much of the Southern leadership was composed of detestable, authoritarian slavery apologists. Naturally, a lot of decent people on both sides who had nothing to do with slavery were murdered in a war caused by the usual gang of sociopaths jerking the strings at the top.

  86. > Slavery was (and is) morally repugnant
    > and was a major reason for the civil war.

    Union forces never found any WMD in the South.

    The “slavery as a reason for the war” sounds like after-the-fact revisionism.

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