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Quote of the Week: "A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within." - Will Durant, American historian (1885-1981)


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 Post subject: Causes of the American Civil War PostPosted: 2010-03-14 10:57pm
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On another message board, I made a comment that was very critical of the Confederacy. I said that the Confederates were evil, racist sociopaths who believed in the oppression and brutalization of an entire race of people and slaughtered millions in a bloody war in defense of that belief. In response, another poster said that the Confederates seceded in part because of states' rights.

Is this true? Was states' rights ever important to the Confederacy?



And lo, the beast looked upon the face of beauty. And it stayed its hand from killing. And from that day, it was as one dead.
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 Post subject: Re: Causes of the American Civil War PostPosted: 2010-03-14 11:39pm
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The Confederacy did indeed secede on the issue of states' rights; namely, their states' right to permit people to own slaves without worrying about federally-imposed manumission/abolition or any other kind of interference in their "peculiar institution". They didn't really care about states' rights elsewhere, though, including demanding that the Fugitive Slaves Act ignore state and municipal laws and at one point demanding censorship in the mails to prevent abolitionist literature from being sent to the South. For several years they even enabled the forbidding of any petitions from the citizenry to the House of Representatives (an important aspect of common citizen involvement in the government in the era) on the issue of slavery, the infamous gag rule that was overturned on 3 December 1844 after years of campaigning against it led by Rep. John Quincy Adams (Whig-MA), former President (and the fellow who defended the Amistad mutineers in the Supreme Court in 1840 - his argument to the Court was one big epic criticism and brutal putdown of the Van Buren Administration's craven behavior toward Spain).

Anyway, the Confederacy's advocates and defenders play the "states' rights" card a lot (and they love to play up the tariff issue too), but the fact is that any analysis of the actions, words, and behavior of Southern leaders shows that they did so for the explicit purpose of protecting slavery as an institution and that their actions were a petulant response to the Northern electorate ensuring Lincoln prevailed.

If you really want to rile up the apologists, you can adapt my term for the war. :twisted: When considering the South's record in the politics of America from the 1830s onward, and how they started the Civil War, I like to take the "War of Northern Aggression" crap and throw it back into their face: I call the ACW the War of Southern Aggression. :twisted: :mrgreen:



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 Post subject: Re: Causes of the American Civil War PostPosted: 2010-03-14 11:50pm
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That's a popular fiction, but if you look at what those "rights" were... it goes right back to slavery and racism. They seriously thought it was their "right" to treat other human beings as property, and it would be foolish to deny that this wasn't one of the factors that drove them to war. Of course there were economic reasons for the war that you won't get just reading the rhetoric of the time or the popular history books... but then, the southern economy was entirely agricultural, and thus slavery based. We're talking about a period in time where states were labeled slave states and free states based on whether or not they legally supported slavery, and this distinction was taken seriously. They even thought that it was important to keep a balance between the two factions every time new states were brought into the nation, and they were willing to go to war over this. You know why there is a North Carolina and a South Carolina? This. Single. Fucking. Issue.

But let's set aside the sweeping generalizations for a moment. What "rights" specifically do these apologists claim this war was over? And ask yourself "what is the subtext of this so called "right?"" "What does it mean for a state to have "rights" when this concept usually is applied to individual human beings?" "Is this really worth going to war, and all the suffering this implies?" and of course, "Is this really what these assholes were fighting over?" You do not have to do the apologist's homework for them. The facts of the situation are against them.



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 Post subject: Re: Causes of the American Civil War PostPosted: 2010-03-15 12:00am
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Thank you.

Are there any good resources about the Civil War I can check out in case I run into this kind of debate again? I've never been a Civil War geek, so I admit to being very ignorant about the subject. I just know that the Confederates were for slavery.



And lo, the beast looked upon the face of beauty. And it stayed its hand from killing. And from that day, it was as one dead.
---Old Arabian Proverb

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 Post subject: Re: Causes of the American Civil War PostPosted: 2010-03-15 12:50am
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I'm not up on any specific books about the social-political-economic factors behind the war, but for the lead-up to the war, there's a book I greatly enjoyed (and bought after checking out from the library) that touches heavily on the rise of the abolition movement in the 1830s and the vicious Southern response to it.

That book is Arguing About Slavery: The Great Battle in the United States Congress by William Lee Miller. It covers the start of abolition and the beginning of the vicious Southern reaction to abolitionism, the resulting Gag Rule, and the counter-attack on this assault on US civil liberties led by John Quincy Adams, touching on other figures of the day and their backgrounds such as abolitionist Theodore Weld and his wife and sister-in-law, Sarah and Angelina Grimke of South Carolina. The Amistad and Creole affairs are briefly touched upon, as are some other issues of the day, but it is generally about the congressional arguments over the Gag Rule and the slavery institution that it attempted to protect from federal interest, leading up to the Southerners' attempts to drive John Q. Adams out of the Chairmanship of the Congressional Foreign Affairs committee and also to censure him (and of course the eventual destruction of the Gag Rule).

I recommend it heartily.



”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

Moderator of SDN, Former Spacebattles Super-Mod, Veteran Chatnik

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 Post subject: Re: Causes of the American Civil War PostPosted: 2010-03-15 01:49am
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Formless wrote:
You know why there is a North Carolina and a South Carolina? This. Single. Fucking. Issue.


Uhm, no. North and South Carolina were both among original 13 colonies, and both were slave states. North Carolina seceded after the fall of Fort Sumter, but it had nothing to do with the regional balance (which comes out of the Missouri Compromise in 1820--that's when a chunk of Massachusetts was carved out to form the new free state of Maine to balance the new slave state of Missouri.)



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 Post subject: Re: Causes of the American Civil War PostPosted: 2010-03-15 02:03am
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Oops, you're right. I was thinking of Maine. My bad.



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“I would suggest "Schmuckulating", which is what Futurists do and, by extension, what they are." — Commenter "Rayneau"

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 Post subject: Re: Causes of the American Civil War PostPosted: 2010-03-22 01:08am
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Since you'll likely be interested, I'm presently preparing a third essay on the subject for the History forum, this time focusing on slave-state aggression in the antebellum years, which plays directly to the causes of the American Civil War. I'll post a link here when I have it completed.



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 Post subject: Re: Causes of the American Civil War PostPosted: 2010-03-22 04:07am
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 Post subject: Re: Causes of the American Civil War PostPosted: 2010-03-22 05:14am
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Vastatosaurus Rex wrote:
On another message board, I made a comment that was very critical of the Confederacy. I said that the Confederates were evil, racist sociopaths who believed in the oppression and brutalization of an entire race of people ...


That’s really an overgeneralization eh. Slavery is obviously wrong but to call everyone who practised it or simply lived in a region that practised it an evil sociopath your being pretty unfair. Think about how many of the supposed great civilizations practised slavery or near slavery, it was wrong but they were not all evil sociopaths.

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 Post subject: Re: Causes of the American Civil War PostPosted: 2010-03-22 11:34am
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If you need sources, just google "articles of secession" for every Confederate state.

Each and every one of them mentioned slavery as the primary issure for seceding from the US.

Secondly, always bring up how the CSA brutally supressed their own secession/pro-Union movements, as well as the CSA's constitution that hamstrung states' rights by preventing any state in the CSA from abolishing slavery. The secession was never about states' rights, it was always about slavery.



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