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150th Anniversary of the Civil War

Babe_Ruth

Sultan of Swat
Staff member
V.I.P.
150 years ago shots were fired on Fort Sumter.

I could of put this in another section, but I decided to put it here, because it's mostly a question I have and I'm trying to figure out.

Was the Civil War about Nothern aggression or was it mostly due to Slavery?

Thoughts about the cause of the Civil War?
 

Starfire86

Registered Member
Mostly the slavery issue, but there were some big differences in the two economies as well, which helped cause a rift. The Lincoln got elected and people in the south just went ape shit.
 

qweerblue

Registered Member
There is not one reason ever given for the Civil War that cannot be traced back to slavery. Whether it's "state's rights" (state's right to do what? uphold slavery), or worry over which block, southern or northern, would end up with more political power (the slaveholding South worried that with enough political power, the North would push to abolish slavery, while the North felt threatened by the fact that Southern slaveholders could push their way into the expanding west, and, with all their free labor, become an economic and political stronghold in the West the way they were in the South, thus solidifying their place as the dominant faction), or differences in economies (why did these differences exist?), it all goes back to slavery.

The Confederate Constitution even has as one of its cornerstones the idea that slavery was protected and would never be abolished. These are the words of Confederate Vice President Alexander H. Stephens, delivered in Savannah, Georgia, on March 21, 1861:

"But not to be tedious in enumerating the numerous changes for the better, allow me to allude to one other—though last, not least. The new constitution has put at rest, forever, all the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institution—African slavery as it exists amongst us—the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization.

This was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution.


Jefferson in his forecast, had anticipated this, as the “rock upon which the old Union would split.” He was right. What was conjecture with him, is now a realized fact. But whether he fully comprehended the great truth upon which that rock stood and stands, may be doubted. The prevailing ideas entertained by him and most of the leading statesmen at the time of the formation of the old constitution, were that the enslavement of the African was in violation of the laws of nature; that it was wrong in principle, socially, morally, and politically. It was an evil they knew not well how to deal with, but the general opinion of the men of that day was that, somehow or other in the order of Providence, the institution would be evanescent and pass away. This idea, though not incorporated in the constitution, was the prevailing idea at that time. The constitution, it is true, secured every essential guarantee to the institution while it should last, and hence no argument can be justly urged against the constitutional guarantees thus secured, because of the common sentiment of the day. Those ideas, however, were fundamentally wrong. They rested upon the assumption of the equality of races. This was an error. It was a sandy foundation, and the government built upon it fell when the "storm came and the wind blew."


Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests upon the great truth, that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery—subordination to the superior race—is his natural and normal condition. [Applause.] This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth. This truth has been slow in the process of its development, like all other truths in the various departments of science. It has been so even amongst us. Many who hear me, perhaps, can recollect well, that this truth was not generally admitted, even within their day. The errors of the past generation still clung to many as late as twenty years ago. Those at the North, who still cling to these errors, with a zeal above knowledge, we justly denominate fanatics. All fanaticism springs from an aberration of the mind—from a defect in reasoning. It is a species of insanity. One of the most striking characteristics of insanity, in many instances, is forming correct conclusions from fancied or erroneous premises; so with the anti-slavery fanatics; their conclusions are right if their premises were. They assume that the negro is equal, and hence conclude that he is entitled to equal privileges and rights with the white man. If their premises were correct, their conclusions would be logical and just—but their premise being wrong, their whole argument fails."
 

MenInTights

not a plastic bag
There is not one reason ever given for the Civil War that cannot be traced back to slavery. Whether it's "state's rights" (state's right to do what? uphold slavery), or worry over which block, southern or northern, would end up with more political power (the slaveholding South worried that with enough political power, the North would push to abolish slavery, while the North felt threatened by the fact that Southern slaveholders could push their way into the expanding west, and, with all their free labor, become an economic and political stronghold in the West the way they were in the South, thus solidifying their place as the dominant faction), or differences in economies (why did these differences exist?), it all goes back to slavery.

The Confederate Constitution even has as one of its cornerstones the idea that slavery was protected and would never be abolished. These are the words of Confederate Vice President Alexander H. Stephens, delivered in Savannah, Georgia, on March 21, 1861:

"But not to be tedious in enumerating the numerous changes for the better, allow me to allude to one other—though last, not least. The new constitution has put at rest, forever, all the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institution—African slavery as it exists amongst us—the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization.

This was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution.


Jefferson in his forecast, had anticipated this, as the “rock upon which the old Union would split.” He was right. What was conjecture with him, is now a realized fact. But whether he fully comprehended the great truth upon which that rock stood and stands, may be doubted. The prevailing ideas entertained by him and most of the leading statesmen at the time of the formation of the old constitution, were that the enslavement of the African was in violation of the laws of nature; that it was wrong in principle, socially, morally, and politically. It was an evil they knew not well how to deal with, but the general opinion of the men of that day was that, somehow or other in the order of Providence, the institution would be evanescent and pass away. This idea, though not incorporated in the constitution, was the prevailing idea at that time. The constitution, it is true, secured every essential guarantee to the institution while it should last, and hence no argument can be justly urged against the constitutional guarantees thus secured, because of the common sentiment of the day. Those ideas, however, were fundamentally wrong. They rested upon the assumption of the equality of races. This was an error. It was a sandy foundation, and the government built upon it fell when the "storm came and the wind blew."


Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests upon the great truth, that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery—subordination to the superior race—is his natural and normal condition. [Applause.] This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth. This truth has been slow in the process of its development, like all other truths in the various departments of science. It has been so even amongst us. Many who hear me, perhaps, can recollect well, that this truth was not generally admitted, even within their day. The errors of the past generation still clung to many as late as twenty years ago. Those at the North, who still cling to these errors, with a zeal above knowledge, we justly denominate fanatics. All fanaticism springs from an aberration of the mind—from a defect in reasoning. It is a species of insanity. One of the most striking characteristics of insanity, in many instances, is forming correct conclusions from fancied or erroneous premises; so with the anti-slavery fanatics; their conclusions are right if their premises were. They assume that the negro is equal, and hence conclude that he is entitled to equal privileges and rights with the white man. If their premises were correct, their conclusions would be logical and just—but their premise being wrong, their whole argument fails."
That's amazing. I've never read that, or don't remember. Any idea where the great truth came from?
the great truth, that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery—subordination to the superior race—is his natural and normal condition.
I just wonder what the justification was for making such a sick comment. What proof did he have to offer.
 

Ilus_Unistus

Registered Member
From what I have read of the American civil war, much of it was due to states rights, if to you this means only the right to own slaves, then I think there is much more missed.

Another part not so much talked about was how the Statesmen of the South found themselves out numbered in voting rights which lead to huge gains in production, transportation and growth in the North while the south was unable to be heard in congress in these ways and began to fall behind.

All of this lead to the southern states feeling unfairly treated and began the fall of the Union.
 
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qweerblue

Registered Member
That's amazing. I've never read that, or don't remember. Any idea where the great truth came from?
I just wonder what the justification was for making such a sick comment. What proof did he have to offer.
Hey, MiT :) I'm not sure upon what Stephens based his notion of "the great truth". I remember researching his speeches and writings for a paper I was writing and being stunned by how blatantly he supported slavery and the notion that Africans were inferior and that subordination was their "natural condition". By that point in my college career, I, too, had heard that slavery was not the cause of the Civil War, and folks who made arguments like Ilus does here certainly popped up a lot in my classes. But, the written record certainly blows that idea out of the water. I had the privilege of visiting various archives and being able to hold in my hands diaries, letters, and newspaper articles from the 1840s, 1850s, and 1860s, and, without exception, everyone at the time understood very clearly that slavery was the root cause of the Civil War. I think the passage of time has sanitized this history, and I can understand why movements exist to try and obliterate the truth, as it really is so deeply shameful and repulsive and is not nearly as laudable as arguing that it was merely States' Rights that motivated the war.

I did come across this piece from Stephens, in a piece where he explains the Cornerstone Speech:

"The order of subordination was nature's great law; philosophy taught that order as the normal condition of the African amongst European races."

So, somehow he finds evidence for his view in "nature", and I can surmise that he bases this, in part, on the revulsion with which many Europeans and Americans viewed how Africans lived on the African continent. In tribes, scantily clad, "uncivilized", non-Christian, etc, etc.

Of course, it should be remembered that Lincoln felt, more or less, the same, having made many comments like this:

"I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races, that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will for ever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race."

(this is from the Lincoln-Douglas debates)
In Stephens' "defense", I will say that he did criticize certain aspects of slavery, at least in a few speeches. He apparently believed slaves should have been allowed to marry and to be educated, though I never came across any evidence of any Confederate plan to offer these "privileges" to slaves.
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From what I have read of the American civil war, much of it was due to states rights, if to you this means only the right to own slaves, then I think there is much more missed.

Another part not so much talked about was how the Statesmen of the South found themselves out numbered in voting rights which lead to huge gains in production, transportation and growth in the North while the south was unable to be heard in congress in these ways and began to fall behind.

All of this lead to the southern states feeling unfairly treated and began the fall of the Union.
Hey, Ilus. So, I have studied the Civil War era at length, and I have read countless primary and secondary source documents, and I researched and wrote many papers about the subject while on my way to earning a Master's degree in history. Obviously, it is a deeply complex subject, on one hand, but, having said that, I stand by my conviction that without slavery, the Civil War would have never taken place. Even the little snippet you provide here regarding Southern voting power and the economic differences between the North and South still get traced back to slavery, love. There really is no getting around it.
 
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PretzelCorps

Registered Member
It likely stemmed from classical philosophy; slavery has been around since the dawn of mankind, and it was much written about in ancient Greece. I think it was Aristotle who wrote on the natural relationship between the master and the slave, basically saying that one could not function without the other: the master cannot accomplish anything without the slave, and the slave would fade away and die without the master's direction.

From there, it's not much of a leap to suggest that an entire race are natural slaves that need to be subjugated for their own benefit. The ability of the human mind to rationalize self-serving wanton destruction is absolutely numbing.

EDIT - And the "evidence" was likely part of a self-fulfilling prophecy; release a slave into the 19th century South on his own, and he would probably either die or return to the master. Is it because the slave needs a master to live? Or is it because nobody in the 19th century South is going to aid a runaway slave?
 
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qweerblue

Registered Member
It likely stemmed from classical philosophy; slavery has been around since the dawn of mankind, and it was much written about in ancient Greece. I think it was Aristotle who wrote on the natural relationship between the master and the slave, basically saying that one could not function without the other: the master cannot accomplish anything without the slave, and the slave would fade away and die without the master's direction.

From there, it's not much of a leap to suggest that an entire race are natural slaves that need to be subjugated for their own benefit. The ability of the human mind to rationalize self-serving wanton destruction is absolutely numbing.

EDIT - And the "evidence" was likely part of a self-fulfilling prophecy; release a slave into the 19th century South on his own, and he would probably either die or return to the master. Is it because the slave needs a master to live? Or is it because nobody in the 19th century South is going to aid a runaway slave?
Fantastic points, PC. Of course, the major difference between slavery as it existed in ancient Greece and Classical times and that which developed in the fifteenth century was race--that is, the African/Atlantic slave trade began the period of time, previously unknown, of slavery being based solely on race.

EDIT: I said that sort of off-the-cuff, without doing any research, because it's one of those "facts" I just carry with me, but it's true, isn't it--about race-based slavery? Now I feel like I hafta go do some research--damned curiosity ;)
 
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PretzelCorps

Registered Member
Fantastic points, PC. Of course, the major difference between slavery as it existed in ancient Greece and Classical times and that which developed in the fifteenth century was race--that is, the African/Atlantic slave trade began the period of time, previously unknown, of slavery being based solely on race.

EDIT: I said that sort of off-the-cuff, without doing any research, because it's one of those "facts" I just carry with me, but it's true, isn't it--about race-based slavery? Now I feel like I hafta go do some research--damned curiosity ;)
No, I'd say your assumptions are largely correct; as I recall, Greek/Classical slavery was both war-based and financially-based, in that you could be made a slave either as a prisoner-of-war or for incurring too much unpaid debt. People of other races (ie - not Greeks) could reside in the city-states as Freemen, although they could not ever own land, serve in the military, or become citizens.
 
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