Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Civil War

What caused the core issue behind the Civil War? (Please answer poll before reading on.)

According to Loewen, 50% of Americans don't think that slavery was the real issue (25% for States rights, 12.5% for Economic issues, and 12.5% for Taxes and Tariffs).  Even the state of South Carolina has a monument at Fort Sumter claiming states rights as the issue.  The reason states rights keeps coming up was that the South was upset at all the free states not enforcing the slave articles in the Constitution.  That's what caused the passing of the Fugitive Slave Act (basically provided monetary incentives to judges to enslave all black people brought to court, free or not) and the result of the Dred Scott Supreme Court decision.

Abraham Lincoln was most likely elected because the Northern and Southern Democrats split as a result of Stephen Douglas's (Democratic candidate for president) favoring the State's right to decide whether it was free or slave, instead of following the Missouri Compromise calling all states south of Missouri (including Missouri) slave states; the South wasn't very happy with this.

And as far as Economic Issues and Taxes or Tariffs, those are the minority of people and I don't think much needs to be contended there.

I thought that it was rather obvious that Slavery was the issue.

A few evidences that States Rights is not the true issue:
  • "Shortly before the war, in 1861, Jefferson Davis defended secession as an act of self-defense against the incoming Lincoln administration, whose policies of excluding slavery from the territories would 'make property in slaves so insecure as to be comparatively worthless, thereby annihilating, in effect, property worth thousands of millions of dollars.'
  • "Well after the war, in 1881, Davis changes tack and says, "The South fought solely for the inalienable right of a people to change their government, to withdraw from a Union into which they had entered and into which they had as sovereign communities voluntarily entered.  The existence of African servitude was in no ways the cause of the conflict but only an incident.'"
So, one of these two statements is a lie.  Alexander Stephens (vice president of the Confederacy) made similar contradicting statements.  The fact that the South redefined what secession had been for is one of the ways in which Loewen says that the white neo-Confederate South came to "win" the war in 1890.  He referred to the reason for this change as a "lost cause resolution" (or something like that).  It was embarrassing to state that you fought for a lost cause (slavery) after the war, it sounded much better to say you were fighting for states' rights - a cause that couldn't be considered lost.

The other two ways are that it renamed the war to "The War Between the States" (which lasted from 1890 to 1970) and that they won it on the ground ("In county after county, even in the North, Confederate monuments sprang up."  For example in Kentucky, a state that did not secede, you'll find 74 Civil war monuments, 72 of which honor the Confederacy!  "The effect of a Confederate landscape makes it easier to have a Confederate mind and heart.)


Dad of the Year said...

Can't it be both? Slavery was the issue but state's rights, specifically the state's right to secede, was the vehicle. If the southern states hadn't seceded, would the Civil War have happened?

Officer Leeroy said...

probably not, but the civil war didn't happen because of states rights. South Carolina was for a strong central government, states rights weren't necessarily what they were looking for, they wanted to impose their slave laws on all the states, and so when that didn't happen they made their on union where that could take place.

Sparky said...

You must have only smart people read your blog because everyone has guess slavery.

Lindsay said...

Interesting. I took a history of the Civil War class at BYU, which was absolutely fascinating. I don't think, though, that you can pinpoint one single cause as the start of any war. There might be one thing that sends two sides over the edge enough to start shooting each other (such as slavery with the Civil War, the killing of the Archduke for WWI or the German invasion of Poland for WWII, etc), but that is never the only cause for war. All the things you list in the poll were causes of the Civil War, though some, obviously, were more direct than others. For a nation to go to war, especially against itself, it takes an awful lot more than just one single issue. The causes for the Civil War had been simmering for decades before it finally came to a boil.

Oh, and speaking of renaming the Civil War. Blake learned while he was living in South Carolina that it should be termed "The War of Northern Aggression." Which I guess in S.C. kinda makes sense. :)

Officer Leeroy said...

Cause should probably be replaced with "core issue".

Dad of the Year said...

I remember having this discussion with a guy at BYU. He was adamant that the issue was state's rights. I held fast that it was slavery & simply refused to concede the issue, but I didn't have any evidence. Probably not worth looking him up on facebook to deliver a counter-argument that's been 6 years-in-coming.