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Author Topic: Secession of the Confederate States of America  (Read 6498 times)
NghtRppr
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May 31, 2011, 11:02:16 PM
 #1

The American Civil War was fought primarily for two reasons, neither of them being the abolishment of slavery. On the southern side, the war was fought for political independence in order to continue and expand slavery. On the northern side, the war was fought to preserve the union and its power, as well as to preserve the political career of Abraham Lincoln.

The expansion of slavery was greatly contested during the Antebellum Era. The issue was hoped to be settled with the Missouri Compromise in 1820, which allowed slavery from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean, south of the 36°30' parallel and in Missouri. However, the compromise ultimately failed in 1857 when the Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional. In the case of Dred Scott v. Sandford it was found that the federal government didn’t have the power to abolish slavery in the new territories (Manning, 2007).

Another major crisis occurred in 1832 due to South Carolina’s Ordinance of Nullification. Prior to that, Congress had passed a protectionist tariff in 1828 which aimed to help the industries in the north. However, the effects of the tariff harmed the southern states by forcing them to pay higher prices for imports to the region, as well reducing the amount of British imports. The reduction in British imports also reduced the amount of southern goods, mainly cotton, that were able to be purchased in return. This combination of higher costs and reduced income prompted South Carolina to declare that the laws were null and void within the state (Henretta & Brody, 2010). This crisis highlighted the antagonism between the sovereignty of the states and the authority of the federal government, as well as the feeling of sectionalism that was starting to grow among the southern states.

Eventually, sectional differences between the northern and southern states proved to be intractable. Each state’s motivation for secession was its own well-being. This well-being was, at the time, perceived to be inextricably tied to slavery. If slavery died, it was thought, so too would the economies of the southern states and, according to pamphlets published during 1860-1861, their very way of life. James De Bow wrote, “Without the institution of slavery, the great staple products of the South would cease to be grown, and the immense annual results, which are distributed among every class of the community, and which give life to every branch of industry, would cease.” (Wakelyn, 1996)

The introduction of new states into the Union further complicated the issue. Since many new states were going to be slavery-free states, the southern states felt their political power would be continuously diminished. The election of Abraham Lincoln as president of the United States of America was the turning point for many states. They believed that Lincoln would follow through with the platform on which he was elected, which among other things, was to prevent the expansion of slavery into any new states as well as support new protectionist tariffs.

However, even though slavery was a major issue, the American Civil War was not a war fought to abolish it. The Emancipation Proclamation did not take effect immediately since the president didn’t have any such authority, and it only applied to the southern states that were "in rebellion". Lincoln used the Emancipation Proclamation as a military strategy, not for humanitarian purposes. Lincoln was not interested in ending slavery in the southern states and admitted as much when he wrote in a public letter to the editor of the New York Tribune, “My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it…” (DiLorenzo, 2002)

Instead of the abolition of slavery, the American Civil War was a war for independence for the southern states due to feelings of sectionalism. The difference in political goals between the colonies and Great Britain was drawn as a direct parallel to the difference in political goals between the southern states and the rest of the country. Many southerners argued that just as independence was declared from Great Britain so too could and should independence be declared from the Union. The right of secession was argued to be a foundational right upon which the Union was originally built.

According to editorials written in northern papers there was agreement that violent coercion was not a legitimate way in which to respond to the southern states. The editor of the New York Tribune, Horace Greeley, wrote, "If it [the Declaration of Independence] justified the secession from the British Empire of three millions of Colonists in 1776, we do not see why it would not justify the secession of five millions of Southrons [sic] from the Federal Union in 1861." Greeley also wrote, "If the Cotton States can do better out of the Union than in it, we insist on letting them go in peace. The right to secede may be revolutionary, but it exists, nevertheless; and we do not see how one party can have the right to do what another party has a right to prevent... We hope never to live in a Republic where one section is pinned to the residue by bayonets." (Greeley, 1860)

Yet, rather than a peaceful secession, the Battle of Fort Sumter was used by Lincoln as an excuse to go to war. Knowing that James Buchanan had made an informal agreement with South Carolina under which Fort Sumter would not be attacked if no attempts were made to reinforce it or resupply it, Lincoln purposely violated that agreement in order to provoke an attack (McQueen, 1861). There could have been no reason for the federal government to maintain control of a fort used to collect taxes in an independent south other than provocation. After South Carolina fired upon the Star of the West for violating this agreement, the American Civil War had officially begun (Manning, 2007).

In summary, the American Civil War wasn’t fought over slavery. The southern states argued that they possessed the right of secession. The war itself could have been avoided had Lincoln not been determined to preserve the Union at all costs. Even considering the issue of slavery, the war was unnecessary since, in Europe, slavery had already been peacefully abolished. It’s likely that the same trend would have eventually followed in the southern states as, more and more, slavery came to be seen as immoral and advances in technology made slavery less economically important.

Bibliography
DiLorenzo, T. J. (2002). The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War. Roseville: Prima Publishing.
Greeley, H. (1860, 9 9). New York Tribune.
Henretta, J. A., & Brody, D. (2010). America: A Concise History, Volume 1: To 1877. Boston: Bedford / St. Martin's.
Manning, C. (2007). What This Cruel War Was Over: Soldiers, Slavery, and the Civil War. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
McQueen, J. (1861, 1 14). Richmond Daily Dispatch.
Wakelyn, J. L. (1996). Southern Pamphlets on Secession, November 1860-April 1861. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press.


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epi 1:10,000
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June 01, 2011, 12:40:44 AM
 #2

My Yankee family most certainly advocated the invasion and just killing of southerners based on the proposition that Slavery was an unconscionable evil and is reflected in there writings.  Horace Greeley did not speek for the totality of northerners only a small subset. My family members who signed the Declaration of Independence were quite conflicted about slavery too although one side of the family participated in it.  If the south had voluntarily abolished slavery there would not have been popular support in the north for invasion.  It was hard for northerners to see why indentured servitude would not suffice which didn't offend there sense of freedom and was more common and temporary. How nice of them. The fact is that North and South Carolina would not relent without the complete and to total decimation and subjugation of its people.  There was defiantly a great diplomatic opportunity lost when the north did not civilly engage other southern states would have been more sympathetic to abolition, but most agreed then and now the consequences of waiting far outweighed the cost of war. The tragedy was the squandering of the accomplishment with radical reconstruction.  What makes Linchon one of the greatest American presidents is that he was eventual swayed by the abolitionist.

Sincerely,
The Morris Clan
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June 01, 2011, 01:06:16 AM
 #3

My Yankee family most certainly advocated the invasion and just killing of southerners based on the proposition that Slavery was an unconscionable evil and is reflected in there writings.  Horace Greeley did not speek for the totality of northerners only a small subset. My family member who signed the Declaration of Independence weren't to happy with slavery either.  If the south had voluntarily abolished slavery there would not have been popular support in the north for invasion.  The fact is that north and South Carolina would not relent without the complete and to total decimation and subjugation of its people.  There was defiantly a great diplomatic opportunity lost when the north did not civilly engage other southern states would have been more sympathetic to abolition, but most agreed then and now the consequences of waiting far outweighed the cost of war. The tragedy was the squandering of the accomplishment with radical reconstruction.

Sincerely,
The Morris Clan

The evidence available to me doesn't support your assertions.

After the Emancipation Proclamation there were race riots in New York City in protest. They randomly assaulted and killed any and all black people. Lincoln had to send five regiments of troops to put an end to the riots, done so by shooting somewhere around 500 to 1,000 citizens. The desertion rates skyrocketed, around 200,000 northern troops deserted, 100,000 evaded the draft and another 100,000 fled north to Canada.

Several northern officers wrote things like "if emancipation is to be the policy of this war I do not care how quickly the country goes to pot", "if anyone thinks that this army is fighting to free the Negro they are terribly mistaken" and "I don't want to fire another shot for the Negroes and I wish that all abolitionists were in hell".

These things taken together makes it fairly clear that the majority opinion was against fighting the war for the abolition of slavery.
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June 01, 2011, 01:16:28 AM
 #4

In the majority evangelical regions of the north slavery was most certainly seen as an ungodly evil. In Catholic and to some extent Anglican regions, like new york, they preached the Hammite doctrines.  in the north the Hammite doctrines were becoming fanatically unfavorable.
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June 01, 2011, 01:18:10 AM
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In the majority evangelical regions of the north slavery was most certainly seen as an ungodly evil. In Catholic and to some extent Anglican regions, like new york, they preached the Hammite doctrines.  in the north the Hammite doctrines were becoming fanatically unfavorable

How does that prove that the north was fighting for abolitionism rather than preserving the Union?
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June 01, 2011, 01:31:55 AM
 #6

The American Civil War was fought primarily for two reasons, neither of them being the abolishment of slavery. On the southern side, the war was fought for political independence in order to continue and expand slavery. On the northern side, the war was fought to preserve the union and its power, as well as to preserve the political career of Abraham Lincoln.


I don't have to prove that it was for abolition to the exclusion of all other reasons just that it was a major sporting factor.  I don't think there is any justification that Lincoln or his politicals did it to preserve there political careers.  Your argument is also predicated the premise (at least implied) that Lincoln never truly changed his mind and was an unmovable divisive character with his motives rooted in political gain. The majority of historians see this as a genuine change in Lincoln's ideology.  The north could not have sustained or started its invasion with out the legitimacy afforded it by the abolition movement.  And yes preservation of the union made up the rest of the argument. (not that I agree that preservation of the union is justification in and of itself for invasion.)
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June 01, 2011, 01:38:39 AM
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I don't have to prove that it was for abolition to the exclusion of all other reasons just that it was a major sporting factor.

You haven't done that though.
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June 01, 2011, 01:46:55 AM
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I don't have to prove that it was for abolition to the exclusion of all other reasons just that it was a major sporting factor.

You haven't done that though.

Did you even try reading any of the books in your bibliography

Manning, C. (2007). What This Cruel War Was Over: Soldiers, Slavery, and the Civil War. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

In your sixth paragraph please use the full quote.

"I would save the Union. I would save it the shortest way under the Constitution. The sooner the national authority can be restored; the nearer the Union will be "the Union as it was." If there be those who would not save the Union, unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause. I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors; and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views.

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


and subsequently he became less tolerant of slavery in the belief of correcting his errors in which he forbor?? no longer

http://showcase.netins.net/web/creative/lincoln/speeches/hodges.htm

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June 01, 2011, 02:44:11 AM
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Did you even try reading any of the books in your bibliography

Manning, C. (2007). What This Cruel War Was Over: Soldiers, Slavery, and the Civil War. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

Yes but you clearly haven't. If you take the title literally like you are doing, as if it is a question followed by an answer, then you must really think the war was over soldiers, slavery and the civil war. That doesn't make any sense. Try reading the entire book instead of reading the title and trying to base an argument on it. Don't judge a book by its cover, or in this case, its title. The south was fighting to preserve and expand slavery. They felt threatened by Lincoln's rhetoric but the north was fighting to keep the south in the Union, not to end slavery. That would have been done with a constitutional amendment, not by war. You really need to provide some kind of evidence and do some actual research if you want to make an argument.

In your sixth paragraph please use the full quote.

"I would save the Union. I would save it the shortest way under the Constitution. The sooner the national authority can be restored; the nearer the Union will be "the Union as it was." If there be those who would not save the Union, unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause. I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors; and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views.

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

What's your point? What do you think the additional text adds? All it does is strengthen my claim that Lincoln wanted to save the Union at all costs, whatever it meant, whether freeing some slaves, all slaves or none. You've just proven my point for me.

If you were right then Lincoln would have said that the slaves will be freed, Union be damned. That's the opposite of what he said though. Huh
epi 1:10,000
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June 01, 2011, 03:11:50 AM
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What's your point? What do you think the additional text adds? All it does is strengthen my claim that Lincoln wanted to save the Union at all costs, whatever it meant, whether freeing some slaves, all slaves or none. You've just proven my point for me.

If you were right then Lincoln would have said that the slaves will be freed, Union be damned. That's the opposite of what he said though. Huh

Your black and white reading of history betrays the complexity of the forces of the ethical arguments that played not only in the minds of the common man but the leaders as well.  Lincoln eventually came around to the more radical abolitionist arguments.  The largely volunteer northern army's morale could not have been as solid without the abolitionist arguments and the righteous zeal it inspired.  The extra text displays his diplomatic abilities while subjugating some of his personal values for the sake of harmony. His views about preserving the union were made in stark contrast to his conscience therefor being a deep personal motivation.  One cannot separate one principle from another as the true cause in a human mind as the human brain is not constructed that way. This is a disingenuous cognitive arithmetic.  Therefor to strip out any or the predominate motivations at the time is absurd.  Could war have been avoided?? possibly but highly improbably given the time.
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June 01, 2011, 03:15:10 AM
 #11


The war itself could have been avoided had Lincoln not been determined to preserve the Union at all costs.


It is my contention that the resurgent growing and violent religions zealotry of the abolitionist movement would eventually lead to war with Georgia, North, and South Carolina.  Call it the William Gannaway Brownlow effect.  Popular support for the war was needed; could this have occurred without the long and tumultuous northern abolition movement?  I would say no because it was this that helped morally divide the cultures in the minds of the north and south.  The north seeing themselves as superior to the southerners.  Is it your contention that those at or above the Ohio Pennsylvania line were not ingrained abolitionist?  If if slavery played absolutely no role in the start of the civil war did it play any part in the end?  You contend that war was unpopular in northern minds they would continue indefinitely in peaceful cohabitation and some how Lincoln tricked them into war?  Were his actions completely divorced from the electorate that just elected him and his campaign strategy?  I would content the underpinnings were already there, including abolition/slavery/freedom memes.  The dehumanization of southerners by northerners predicated on northern values of freedom/abolition played no role?
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June 01, 2011, 07:41:13 AM
 #12

Quote
The American Civil War was fought primarily for two reasons, neither of them being the abolishment of slavery.

bunk.

Declaration of Causes of Seceding States [ http://sunsite.utk.edu/civil-war/reasons.html ]

...Georgia:

Quote
The people of Georgia having dissolved their political connection with the Government of the United States of America, present to their confederates and the world the causes which have led to the separation. For the last ten years we have had numerous and serious causes of complaint against our non-slave-holding confederate States with reference to the subject of African slavery.

...Mississippi:

Quote
Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery-- the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth.

...South Carolina:

Quote
We affirm that these ends for which this Government was instituted have been defeated, and the Government itself has been made destructive of them by the action of the non-slaveholding States. Those States have assume the right of deciding upon the propriety of our domestic institutions; and have denied the rights of property established in fifteen of the States and recognized by the Constitution; they have denounced as sinful the institution of slavery; they have permitted open establishment among them of societies, whose avowed object is to disturb the peace and to eloign the property of the citizens of other States. They have encouraged and assisted thousands of our slaves to leave their homes; and those who remain, have been incited by emissaries, books and pictures to servile insurrection.

...Texas:

Quote
Texas abandoned her separate national existence and consented to become one of the Confederated Union to promote her welfare, insure domestic tranquility and secure more substantially the blessings of peace and liberty to her people. She was received into the confederacy with her own constitution, under the guarantee of the federal constitution and the compact of annexation, that she should enjoy these blessings. She was received as a commonwealth holding, maintaining and protecting the institution known as negro slavery-- the servitude of the African to the white race within her limits-- a relation that had existed from the first settlement of her wilderness by the white race, and which her people intended should exist in all future time. Her institutions and geographical position established the strongest ties between her and other slave-holding States of the confederacy. Those ties have been strengthened by association.

**********

slavery was, in fact and indisputably, the proximate cause of the Civil War.  it is cited as such in all documents of importance authored by the southern states.  including the confederate states constitution (a sort of 'forking of the block chain', as it were).

revisionism.
epi 1:10,000
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June 01, 2011, 07:59:15 AM
 #13

Another question:  IF the southern states had voluntarily abolished slavery before 1861 would there still have been a war? I think not.

Thx Jamie, I am unfamiliar w/ southern history.  It shows what southerners thought but I don't know how to describe the northern abolitionist sentiment at the time. Garrison, Douglas, Quakers, Stowe, Brownlow, Brown, the fishermen of Maine, and various founding fathers?   What level of proof do you need?
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June 01, 2011, 11:39:03 AM
 #14

Declaration of Causes of Seceding States [ http://sunsite.utk.edu/civil-war/reasons.html ]

...Georgia:

Quote
The people of Georgia having dissolved their political connection with the Government of the United States of America, present to their confederates and the world the causes which have led to the separation. For the last ten years we have had numerous and serious causes of complaint against our non-slave-holding confederate States with reference to the subject of African slavery.

...Mississippi:

Quote
Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery-- the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth.

...South Carolina:

Quote
We affirm that these ends for which this Government was instituted have been defeated, and the Government itself has been made destructive of them by the action of the non-slaveholding States. Those States have assume the right of deciding upon the propriety of our domestic institutions; and have denied the rights of property established in fifteen of the States and recognized by the Constitution; they have denounced as sinful the institution of slavery; they have permitted open establishment among them of societies, whose avowed object is to disturb the peace and to eloign the property of the citizens of other States. They have encouraged and assisted thousands of our slaves to leave their homes; and those who remain, have been incited by emissaries, books and pictures to servile insurrection.

...Texas:

Quote
Texas abandoned her separate national existence and consented to become one of the Confederated Union to promote her welfare, insure domestic tranquility and secure more substantially the blessings of peace and liberty to her people. She was received into the confederacy with her own constitution, under the guarantee of the federal constitution and the compact of annexation, that she should enjoy these blessings. She was received as a commonwealth holding, maintaining and protecting the institution known as negro slavery-- the servitude of the African to the white race within her limits-- a relation that had existed from the first settlement of her wilderness by the white race, and which her people intended should exist in all future time. Her institutions and geographical position established the strongest ties between her and other slave-holding States of the confederacy. Those ties have been strengthened by association.


It's odd that you went through all that work but could only be bothered to read the first sentence of my essay. Here's the second sentence:

Quote
On the southern side, the war was fought for political independence in order to continue and expand slavery.

Congratulations, you just proved that the south was fighting for what I said they were fighting for, the continuation of slavery and political independence. Now please provide similar quotes from the northern states that shows they entered into the war to abolish slavery. Otherwise, my point stands.

slavery was, in fact and indisputably, the proximate cause of the Civil War.  it is cited as such in all documents of importance authored by the southern states.  including the confederate states constitution (a sort of 'forking of the block chain', as it were).

You're agreeing with me. It was the cause for the secession of the southern states. That's what I claimed. However, it was not the cause for the war. The war was completely unnecessary had the north let the south leave peacefully. Before the war, it was extremely unlikely that slavery would have been abolished in the south by force or by constitutional amendment. However, slavery wasn't being allowed to expand. As I've shown, the north didn't want to use violence to end slavery, they wanted to "preserve the Union". You should actually take time to read my essay.

Another question:  IF the southern states had voluntarily abolished slavery before 1861 would there still have been a war? I think not.

If the southern states had abolished slavery while also seceding at the same time, there still would have been a war. Slavery was a political and military propaganda tool used by Lincoln to prevent foreign aide and to hopefully cause slave uprisings in the south. By making the war seemingly about slavery, it made European nations, which had already abolished slavery, unwilling to assist the south. You and many other people have also fallen for the same ploy.
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June 01, 2011, 01:39:13 PM
 #15

it is imminently foolish to believe that powerful men commit to war for the sake of powerless men
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June 01, 2011, 09:20:44 PM
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Oh good god can you honestly say Lincoln had no abolitionist intentions and It was never a part of his thinking

"Mr. President, Gentlemen of the Convention:
If we could just know where we are and whither we appear to be tending, we could all better judge of what to do, and how to do it. We are now well into our fifth year since a policy was initiated with the avowed object and confident purpose of putting an end to slavery agitation.

However, under the operation of that policy, that agitation has not only not ceased, but has constantly augmented. In my opinion, it will not cease until a crisis shall have been reached and passed. "A house divided against itself cannot stand."

I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved -- I do not expect the house to fall -- but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing, or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest this further spread and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is on a course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates shall press it forward, until it shall become alike lawful in all of the States, old as well as new, North as well as South.

Have we no tendency to this latter condition?

Let any one who doubts this contemplate that now almost complete legal combination -- piece of machinery, so to speak -- compounded of the Nebraska doctrine, and the Dred Scott decision. Let him consider not only what work that machinery is adapted to, but how well adapted. Also, also, let him study the history of its construction, and trace, if he can, or rather fail, if he can, to trace the evidences of design, of concert of action, among its chief bosses, from the very beginning.

The new year of 1854 found slavery excluded from more than half of the States by State Constitutions, and from most of the national territory by Congressional prohibition. Four days later commenced the struggle which ended in repealing that Congressional prohibition. This opened all the national territory to slavery, and was the first point gained. But, so far, Congress only had acted; and an endorsement by the people, real or apparent, was indispensable, to save the point already gained, and to give chance for more.

This necessity had not been overlooked; it had been provided for, as well as might be, in the notable argument of "squatter sovereignty," and "sacred right of self-government," which latter phrase, though expressive of the only rightful basis of any government, was so perverted in this particular application of it as to amount to just this: If any one man desires to enslave another, no third man has the right to object. Well that argument was incorporated into the Nebraska bill itself, in the language which follows: "It being the true intent and meaning of this act not to legislate slavery into any Territory or State, or to exclude it therefrom; but to leave the people thereof perfectly free to form and regulate their domestic institutions in their own way, subject only to the Constitution of the United States." That opened a roar of loose declamation in favor of "Squatter Sovereignty," and "sacred right of self-government." "But," said opposition members, "let us be more specific, let us amend the bill so as to expressly declare that the people of the Territory may exclude slavery." "Not we," said the friends of the measure; and down they voted the amendment.

Now, while the Nebraska bill was passing through Congress, a law case involving the question of a negro's freedom, by reason of his owner having voluntarily taken him into first a free State and then a Territory covered by that Congressional prohibition, and held him as a slave for a long time in each, was passing through the U. S. Circuit Court in the District of Missouri. Both the Nebraska bill and the law suit were brought to a decision in the same month of May, 1854. The negro's name was "Dred Scott," which name now designates the decision finally given in that case. Well, before the then next Presidential election, the law case came to, and was argued in, the Supreme Court of the United States; but the decision of it was deferred until after the election. Still, before the election, Senator Trumbull, on the floor of the Senate, requests the leading advocate of the Nebraska bill to state his opinion whether the people of a Territory can constitutionally exclude slavery from their limits; and the latter answers: "That is a question for the Supreme Court."

The election came. Mr. Buchanan was elected, and the endorsement, such as it was, was secured. That was the second point gained. The endorsement, however, fell short of a clear popular majority by some four hundred thousand votes, and, I think, was not overwhelmingly reliable or satisfactory. The outgoing President, in his last annual message, as impressively as possible echoed back upon the people the weight and authority of this endorsement. The Supreme Court met again; did not announce their decision, but ordered a re-argument. The Presidential inauguration came -- still no decision of the court; but the incoming President in his inaugural address, fervently exhorted the people to abide by the forthcoming decision, whatever it may be. Then, in a few days, came the decision.

The reputed author of the Nebraska bill finds an early occasion to make a speech at this capital building endorsing the Dred Scott decision, vehemently denouncing all opposition to it. The new President, too, seizes the early occasion of the Silliman letter to endorse and strongly construe that decision, and to express his astonishment that any should ever had any different view than that.

At length a squabble springs up between the President and the author of the Nebraska bill, on the mere question of fact, whether the Lecompton Constitution was in fact, in any just sense, made by the people of Kansas; and in the squabble the latter declares all he wants is a fair vote for the people; he don't care whether it gets voted down or voted up -- slavery, that is.

I do not understand his declaration that he cares not whether slavery is voted down or voted up, to be intended as anything other than an apt definition of the policy that he wants -- wants to impress upon the public mind -- the principle for which he declared he has suffered much and intends to suffer until the end. Well -- Well may he cling to that principle. If he has any parental feeling at all, well may he cling to it for under the Dred Scott decision "squatter sovereignty" has squatted right out of existence, tumbled down like temporary scaffolding -- like -- like the mould at a foundry served cast off into the sand -- never to be used again. It helped to carry the election and then was kicked into the winds. His late joint struggle with the Republicans, against the Lecompton Constitution -- it involved nothing of the original Nebraska doctrine. The struggle was made on a point -- the right of the people to form their own constitution -- of which we and he have never even differed.

Well the several points of the Dred Scott decision, in connection, with Senator Douglas's "don't care" policy, constitute a major piece of machinery, in its present state of advancement. And this was the third point gained. Now the working points of that machinery are:

First, no negro slave, imported as such from Africa, and no descendant of any such slave, can ever be a citizen of any State, in the sense that that term is used in the Constitution of the United States. Now this point is made in order to deprive the negro, in every possible event, of the benefit of this provision of the United States Constitution, which declares "The citizens of each State, shall be entitled to all the privileges and immunities of the citizens of the several States."

Secondly, that "subject to the Constitution of the United States," neither Congress nor a Territorial Legislature can exclude slavery from any United States territory. This point was made in order that individuals may fill up the Territory with slaves, without danger of ever losing their property in the slaves -- thus to enhance the chance of the permanency to that institution through all future.

Thirdly, that whether the holding of a negro in actual slavery in a free State, makes him free, as against the holder, the United States courts will not decide, but they'll leave it to be decided by the courts of any slave State where the master of that slave decides to take him.

This point was made, not to be pressed immediately; but, if acquiesced in for awhile, endorsed by the people apparently at an election, then to sustain the logical conclusion that what Dred Scott's master may lawfully do with Dred Scott, in the free State of Illinois, every other master may lawfully do with every other one, or one thousand of like slaves, in Illinois, or in any other free State.

And then auxiliary to all this, and working in hand with it, we have the Nebraska doctrine, or what's left of it, to educate, to mold public sentiment, to not care whether slavery is voted down or up. This shows exactly where we are, partially, also, whither we are tending.

Now it will throw additional light on the -- the latter, to go back, to run the mind over this string of historical facts already stated. Several things will now appear less dark and mysterious than they did then when they were transpiring. The people were to be left "perfectly free," "subject only to the Constitution" of the United States. What the Constitution had to do with it, outsiders could not then tell. Plainly enough now, it was an exactly fitted niche, for the Dred Scott decision afterwards to come in, and declare that perfect freedom to be just no freedom at all.

Why was the amendment, expressly declaring the right of the people to exclude slavery, voted down? Plainly enough now: the adoption of it would have spoiled that niche for the Dred Scott decision. Why was the court decision held up? Why even a Senator's individual opinion withheld, till after the Presidential election? Plainly enough now: speaking out then would have damaged the perfectly free argument upon which the election was to be carried. Why the outgoing President's felicitation of the endorsement? Why the delay of the reargument? Why the incoming President's advance exhortation in favor of that decision, whatever it might be? These things look like the cautious patting and petting of a much-spirited horse, when it's a-feared that, upon mounting, he'll be thrown. Why the hasty after-endorsements of the decision by the President and others?

We cannot absolutely know that these exact adaptations are the result of preconcert. But when we see a lot of framed timbers, which we know different portions of which have been gotten out at different times and in different places by different workmen -- Stephen, Franklin, Roger, James, for instance -- and when we see these timbers joined together, and see that they exactly frame a house or a mill, all the tenons and mortices fitting exactly together, all the lengths and proportions of the different pieces exactly adapted to their respective places, and not a piece too many or a piece too few -- not omitting even scaffolding -- or, if a single piece be lacking, we can see the place in the frame where it is fitted and prepared yet to be put in. In such a case, we find it impossible not to believe that Stephen and Franklin and Roger and James all understood one another from the beginning;  all worked on a common plan or draft drawn before the first lick was struck.

Now, it shouldn't be overlooked that, by the Nebraska bill, the people of a State as well as Territory, were to be left "perfectly free," "subject only to the Constitution." Why mention a State? They were legislating for Territories, not for or about States. Certainly the people of a State are and ought to be subject to the Constitution of the United States; but why is the mention of this lugged into a merely Territorial law? Why are the people of a Territory and the people of a State therein lumped together, and their relation to the Constitution treated as being precisely the same? While the opinion of the court, by Chief Justice Taney, in the Dred Scott's case, and the separate opinions of all the concurring Judges, expressly declare that the Constitution of the United States neither permits Congress nor a Territorial Legislature to exclude slavery from any United States Territory, they all omit to declare whether or not that same Constitution permits a State, or the people of a State, to exclude it.

Possibly, this was a mere omission; but who can be quite sure, if McLean or Curtis had sought to get into the opinion a declaration of unlimited power in the people of a State to exclude slavery from their limits, just as Chase and Mace sought to get such declaration, in behalf of the people of a Territory, in the Nebraska bill; -- I ask, who can be quite sure that it would not have been voted down in the one case as it had been on the other? The nearest approach to the point of declaring the power of a State over slavery was made by Judge Nelson. He approaches it more than once, using the precise [idea], almost the language, too, of the Nebraska act. On one occasion, his exact language is, "except in cases where the power is restrained by the Constitution of the United States, the law of the State is supreme over the subject of slavery within its jurisdictions."

In what cases the power of the States is so restrained by the United States Constitution, is left an open question, precisely as the same question, as to the restraint on the power of the Territories, was left an open in the Nebraska Act. Well when you put that and that together, we have another nice little niche, which we may, ere long, see filled by another Supreme Court decision, declaring that the Constitution of the United States does not permit a State to exclude slavery from its limits. And this may especially be expected if this doctrine of "care not whether slavery is voted down or voted up" shall gain in the public mind sufficiently to give promise that that decision will be maintained when it's made.

Such a decision is all that slavery now lacks of being alike lawful in all of the States. Welcome or [un]welcome, such decision is probably coming, and will soon be upon us, unless the power of the political dynasty at present shall be met and overthrown. We shall lie down pleasantly dreaming that the people of Missouri are about to make their State a free one, and we shall wake up to discover that the Supreme Court has just made Illinois a slave State. To meet and to overthrow the power of that dynasty is the work now before all those who would prevent that consummation. That is what we have to do. But how can we best do it?

There are those who denounce us openly to their own friends, and yet whisper to us that Senator Douglas is the aptest instrument for this work...with which to effect this object. They do not tell us, nor has he told us that he wishes any such object to be affected. They wish us to infer it, you see, from all the facts that he now has a little quarrel with the present head of this dynasty; and that he has regularly voted with us on a single point, upon which we and he had never differed. They remind us that he is a very great man, and the largest of us are little ones. Well, let this be granted. But "a living dog is better than a dead lion." And Judge Douglas, if not a dead lion, for this work, is at least a caged and toothless one. How can he oppose the advances of slavery? He don't care whether it gets voted down or voted up. His avowed mission is to impress the "public heart" to care nothing whether its voted down or voted up.

A leading Douglas democratic newspaper thinks Douglas's superior talent will be needed to resist the revival of the African slave trade. Does Douglas believe an effort to revive the African slave trade is approaching? He's not said so. Does he really think so? If it is, how can he resist it? For years he's labored to prove it a sacred right for men to take negro slaves into the new Territories. Can he possibly show that its less a sacred right to buy them where they can be bought cheaper? Unquestionably they can be bought cheaper in Africa than in Virginia. He's done all in his power to reduce the whole question of slavery to one of a right of property; and as such, how can he oppose the foreign slave trade -- how can he refuse that trade in that "property" shall be "perfectly free"? -- unless he does it as a protection to those who are home producers. Well, then, as the home producers will probably not ask for that the protection, he shall be wholly without any ground of opposition."

Senator Douglas know that a man can rightfully be wiser today than he was yesterday -- that he  can rightfully change when he finds himself to be wrong. But can we, for that reason, run ahead, and infer that he will make any particular change, of which he, himself, has never given any intimation? Can we safely base our action upon some vague inference? Now, as ever, I wish not to misrepresent Judge Douglas's position or question his motives, or do aught that would be personally offensive to him. But whenever, if ever, he and we can come together on principle so that our great cause may have the assistance of his great ability, I hope to have imposed no adventitious obstacle upon him. But clearly, he is not now with us -- he does not pretend to be -- he does not promise ever to be.

Our cause, then, must be entrusted to, and conducted by, its own undoubted friends -- those whose hands are free and whose hearts are in the work -- who do care for the result. Two years ago the Republicans of this nation mustered some thirteen hundred thousand strong. We did this under a single impulse of resistance to a common danger, with every external circumstance against us. Of strange, discordant, even hostile elements, we gathered from the four winds; we fought the battle through under the constant hot fire of a pampered, proud, disciplined army. Did we brave all then only to falter now? -- now, when that same enemy is wavering, dissevered, and belligerent? The result is not doubtful. We shall not fail -- if we stand firm, we shall not fail. Wise counsels may accelerate, or mistakes delay, but sooner or later the victory is sure to come." -AL
NghtRppr
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June 02, 2011, 01:37:01 AM
 #17

Oh good god can you honestly say Lincoln had no abolitionist intentions and It was never a part of his thinking

Of course not. That would be absurd. However, before the war, it wasn't even on the table as to whether or not the current slave states would remain that way. You have to remember that the president doesn't have that kind of authority. It took a constitutional amendment to free the salves (the Emancipation Proclamation didn't free any slaves, even in the slave states that were occupied by federal troops) and before the war, there were an equal number of slave states and free states so something like that simply wouldn't happen.
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June 02, 2011, 03:56:46 PM
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Hey guys, did you know actions can be persuaded by a confluence of situations and beliefs, and that it is impossible to know the motivations of a large group since each member has it's own motivations?  You have both clearly presented different views that were held at the time by various stakeholders.  Not everyone agreed with any single one of them, and trying to prove so is pointless.  Perhaps focusing on the views of a specific stakeholder (such as Lincoln) would be more fruitful, but even then you can't asses the value behind his view without considering the motivations of those effected by his decisions.

As we slide down the banister of life, this is just another splinter in our ass.
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June 02, 2011, 07:27:39 PM
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Hey guys, did you know actions can be persuaded by a confluence of situations and beliefs, and that it is impossible to know the motivations of a large group since each member has it's own motivations?

So it's impossible to know that most people walking in a grocery store are there for food rather than lawnmower engines?
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June 03, 2011, 05:43:16 AM
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Hey guys, did you know actions can be persuaded by a confluence of situations and beliefs, and that it is impossible to know the motivations of a large group since each member has it's own motivations?  You have both clearly presented different views that were held at the time by various stakeholders.  Not everyone agreed with any single one of them, and trying to prove so is pointless.  Perhaps focusing on the views of a specific stakeholder (such as Lincoln) would be more fruitful, but even then you can't asses the value behind his view without considering the motivations of those effected by his decisions.

agreed, I don't think you can narrow it down to just 2 or 4 motives to the exclusion of all others.
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