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Author Topic: The South's reasonings for seceding in the American Civil War  (Read 3192 times)

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Offline IdejTopic starter

Hey all, putting this topic here for discussion.

It is for a paper I have been typing and I was wondering what you folks know.  I do greatly appreciate all of the knowledge you all shall give me.:)

Offline The Baron

Re: The South's reasonings for seceding in the American Civil War
« Reply #1 on: May 05, 2010, 04:17:03 PM »
I'll go with what I said in the SB: State's rights is a facade used by the South to convince the outside world at the time (notably Britain and France) and possibly even themselves that their secession was not based upon slavery. The fact is that any of the rights they purported to be the ones they were fighting for were intrinsically tied with the institution of slavery.

Online Vekseid

Re: The South's reasonings for seceding in the American Civil War
« Reply #2 on: May 05, 2010, 04:52:38 PM »
This really belongs in U...

It wasn't just slavery, it was slavery with intent to distribute. Slaves tend not to take care of the land they're forced to work on (go figure), and this made the requirement of new land and new territories. They were going to be violent, and everyone knew it.

They squashed countersecessionist movements as well. I suspect that if they weren't going to invade the North, they probably would have taken and enslaved Mexico or something. 

Offline Caeli

Re: The South's reasonings for seceding in the American Civil War
« Reply #3 on: May 05, 2010, 05:04:31 PM »
Another important issue was the growing influence of Northern states within the federal government. If you think back to American history at this time, the United States was still a growing entity. The Northern states, at this time, were experiencing a huge growth in industry and industrialization, while the South remained a primarily agrarian society with few large urban centers. The North also had more overall immigration than the South, which ultimately meant that the North was slowly coming to have more seats in Congress (due to its increase in population), and would eventually be able to freely elect presidents who were anti-South/pro-North in their policies, without a concern for Southern political demands.

Which, of course, included slavery. Because of the predicted political decline of the South, as well as the tensions surrounding the issue of abolition between Northern and Southern factions, secession was probably one of the more favorable options for the Southern states, especially if they wanted to maintain political power.

Offline The Baron

Re: The South's reasonings for seceding in the American Civil War
« Reply #4 on: May 05, 2010, 05:15:13 PM »
The fact was that the South had far more power than they should have had in the first place:

Quote
The three-fifths ratio, or "Federal ratio" had a major effect on pre-Civil War political affairs due to the disproportionate representation of slaveholding states. For example, in 1793 slave states would have been apportioned 33 seats in the House of Representatives had the seats been assigned based on the free population; instead they were apportioned 47. In 1812, slaveholding states had 76 instead of the 59 they would have had; in 1833, 98 instead of 73.

Offline Paradox

Re: The South's reasonings for seceding in the American Civil War
« Reply #5 on: May 05, 2010, 05:26:12 PM »
Interesting. Caeli's post and The Baron's second post blatantly contradict each other, yet each can be backed up by trends of the time.

Offline The Baron

Re: The South's reasonings for seceding in the American Civil War
« Reply #6 on: May 05, 2010, 05:31:44 PM »
Which would be a... Paradox? Eh? EH?

But seriously, actually they don't contradict each other. While the South did have more influence than they should have, they were increasingly aware that if slavery were not spread to new territories they would eventually be facing a Congress that could outlaw slavery. Hence their desire for the "states rights" of nullification, for example.

Offline RubySlippers

Re: The South's reasonings for seceding in the American Civil War
« Reply #7 on: May 05, 2010, 05:32:28 PM »
I'll keep my view simple they voluntarily joined the Union and thought they had the right ,in my view they did, to voluntarily leave the Union.

But naturally they Federal Government decided to force the issue in war.

Not that hard the institution of slavery was dying slowly and was not really the major issue.

Offline The Baron

Re: The South's reasonings for seceding in the American Civil War
« Reply #8 on: May 05, 2010, 05:35:37 PM »
If you hold the premise that the secession was legal and that the Confederacy was a legitimate, sovereign nation, then the South started the war by firing upon U.S. government property, giving the North casus belli.

And what was the major issue, if you please?

Online Vekseid

Re: The South's reasonings for seceding in the American Civil War
« Reply #9 on: May 05, 2010, 05:39:45 PM »
The South attacked first, with a long legacy of murders, violence and depredations to its name. I'm not sure if it was wise for the North to respond with an all-out war, but there was going to be a war - either over the territories, an invasion of Mexico, or simply attempting to take free states by force of arms. Fundamentally, the South was always going to need more land and that land was going to have people on it.

Online Inkidu

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Re: The South's reasonings for seceding in the American Civil War
« Reply #10 on: May 05, 2010, 05:48:22 PM »
If you hold the premise that the secession was legal and that the Confederacy was a legitimate, sovereign nation, then the South started the war by firing upon U.S. government property, giving the North casus belli.

And what was the major issue, if you please?
I will cite the Revolutionary war as a prime example of what you just said  happened. The only difference is the South lost.
« Last Edit: May 05, 2010, 05:52:25 PM by Inkidu »

Offline The Baron

Re: The South's reasonings for seceding in the American Civil War
« Reply #11 on: May 05, 2010, 05:59:01 PM »
How exactly does that relate? I'm confused, could you elaborate a bit more?

Offline RubySlippers

Re: The South's reasonings for seceding in the American Civil War
« Reply #12 on: May 05, 2010, 06:06:15 PM »
The South were fighting for their freedom to leave the Union, the exact same grounds the American Revolution was based on for equal grounds. If the first war we had was legal then so was the South leaving the Union which was at first peaceful.

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Re: The South's reasonings for seceding in the American Civil War
« Reply #13 on: May 05, 2010, 06:19:25 PM »
The South were fighting for their freedom to leave the Union, the exact same grounds the American Revolution was based on for equal grounds. If the first war we had was legal then so was the South leaving the Union which was at first peaceful.
I wouldn't say peaceful, things were tense all around. The South was fighting for its voice more or less to do what they wanted to do. Lincoln wanted the Union, Lincoln had the better guns. That's how history is written most of the time.

Offline The Baron

Re: The South's reasonings for seceding in the American Civil War
« Reply #14 on: May 05, 2010, 07:14:38 PM »
The South were fighting for their freedom to leave the Union, the exact same grounds the American Revolution was based on for equal grounds. If the first war we had was legal then so was the South leaving the Union which was at first peaceful.

And yet the South opposed New England's near secession in the run up to 1812. Quite odd that they would deny a right to other's that they themselves enjoyed... Oh wait, it really isn't.

More over what "long Train of Abuses and Usurpations" was the South subjugated to that would put their secession on par with that of the Revolution?

I wouldn't say peaceful, things were tense all around. The South was fighting for its voice more or less to do what they wanted to do. Lincoln wanted the Union, Lincoln had the better guns. That's how history is written most of the time.

And yet the South had an even greater voice than they should have had. (See my earlier post regarding how the 3/5's clause skewed things for the slaveholding states).

And to be pedantic, Britain had better guns than the US did during the Revolution. Guns alone do not write history. 

Offline alxnjsh

Re: The South's reasonings for seceding in the American Civil War
« Reply #15 on: May 05, 2010, 08:10:24 PM »
I agree with both Caeli and Veks with a couple additions. The complexities are far too simple to capture in a few words, but I will:

Industrialization - the North was rapidly growing in industry and subsequently wealth. After all, sheep were the downfall of the feudal system in England - same concept in the US.
Urbanization - growing movements of populations to more urban areas which offered quasi-renaissance movements in culture/race/etc.
Growing Federalism - States versus Fed is always contentious.
Social-Psychological Phenomena - can't downplay the mere factors such as mob mentality, availability heuristic, etc.

Offline DarklingAlice

Re: The South's reasonings for seceding in the American Civil War
« Reply #16 on: May 05, 2010, 08:27:02 PM »
Quite odd that they would deny a right to other's that they themselves enjoyed... Oh wait, it really isn't.

Sarcasm not helpful.

And to be pedantic, Britain had better guns than the US did during the Revolution. Guns alone do not write history.

The Atlantic ocean is a fair bit wider than the Mason-Dixon line. Not to mention the help from the French, not to mention non-technical advancements in the art of war, or a good twenty other things. In short you are over-simplifying history, in both this case and in your analysis of the American Civil War.

Online Serephino

Re: The South's reasonings for seceding in the American Civil War
« Reply #17 on: May 05, 2010, 08:45:33 PM »
If I remember my History right, the final straw was when a law was passed that banned slaves from being brought inside D.C. limits.  This was the last in a long line of legislation that was passed that favored the Northern Industrial culture and values much more than that of the South. 

The South, South Carolina in particular, was crying that they weren't getting fair representation because the seats in the House of Representatives was based on state population, and the North's population was growing rapidly, ergo, they had quite a few more seats.  Therefore, they wanted to change the set up of the government so that both houses only had so many seats per state.  That got shot down.

Then I think they wanted to count slaves as part of the population because they had so many and it would give them an advantage, but they were told that in order to do that they would have to free the slaves and make them citizens.  They weren't about to do that, so they decided that they were better off on their own.     

Offline The Baron

Re: The South's reasonings for seceding in the American Civil War
« Reply #18 on: May 06, 2010, 06:26:26 AM »
Sarcasm not helpful.

The Atlantic ocean is a fair bit wider than the Mason-Dixon line. Not to mention the help from the French, not to mention non-technical advancements in the art of war, or a good twenty other things. In short you are over-simplifying history, in both this case and in your analysis of the American Civil War.

My apologies.

And I wasn't arguing for a simple analysis of the ultimate victory of the Union, I was arguing the opposite. As to the causes well, I think there are other issues at hand but that they all, ultimately, come back to slavery as the central point.

If I remember my History right, the final straw was when a law was passed that banned slaves from being brought inside D.C. limits.  This was the last in a long line of legislation that was passed that favored the Northern Industrial culture and values much more than that of the South. 

The South, South Carolina in particular, was crying that they weren't getting fair representation because the seats in the House of Representatives was based on state population, and the North's population was growing rapidly, ergo, they had quite a few more seats.  Therefore, they wanted to change the set up of the government so that both houses only had so many seats per state.  That got shot down.

Then I think they wanted to count slaves as part of the population because they had so many and it would give them an advantage, but they were told that in order to do that they would have to free the slaves and make them citizens.  They weren't about to do that, so they decided that they were better off on their own.     


The election of Lincoln, despite his claims that he would allow the South to keep slavery, was the final straw IIRC.

And again, as to the population and the House of Reps, the South already had far more representation than they should have. But why did they want more seats? So that they could prevent themselves from being outnumbered in Congress to protect slavery.

Offline Jude

Re: The South's reasonings for seceding in the American Civil War
« Reply #19 on: May 06, 2010, 08:52:44 AM »
Bad blood between the North and South over different styles of government, attitudes, and culture definitely increased the hostility between them.  They were growing in different directions, with different ideologies, and a history of conflict.  The Slavery issue served as the wedge, but without the rest of it, I think that could've been peacefully resolved.  One set the stage for the other, I don't think the Civil War was entirely about slavery, but without slavery in the picture I don't think it would've happened.

I do agree that States Rights was an afterthought aimed at protecting their image and legacy.

Offline Doomsday

Re: The South's reasonings for seceding in the American Civil War
« Reply #20 on: May 20, 2010, 03:11:03 AM »
Definitely the war started because of states rights and confederacy v.s. central authority. Saying it was started over slavery is simply inaccurate.

Online Vekseid

Re: The South's reasonings for seceding in the American Civil War
« Reply #21 on: May 20, 2010, 03:53:06 AM »
Definitely the war started because of states rights and confederacy v.s. central authority. Saying it was started over slavery is simply inaccurate.

"States rights" to own slaves. "Equal representation" For slave owners.  California was forced to send one pro-slavery senator to the Senate, even though its citizens rejected such. When Minnesota and Oregon were admitted without such bullshit (despite attempts at making Kansas a slave state by murdering the anti-slavery population), the balance of power shifted, and Lincoln's election was the final straw.

And even then, slave owners forced Tennessee to secede. They could not get the state to join the Confederacy in an honest election.

So yeah.

It was all about slavery.

Offline Chelemar

Re: The South's reasonings for seceding in the American Civil War
« Reply #22 on: May 21, 2010, 07:52:12 AM »
I think a number of factors contributed to the American Civil War, some which date clear back to the founding of the country. 
 
For one, some of the founding fathers argued strongly that slavery be abolished when the new country was formed, however, this idea was radical and unpopular.  Another radical and unpopular idea was one of a strong federal government that superceded a state's rights.  Some felt that states should have the power of "Nullification."  Or, the right to "ignore federal laws with which they disagreed."  This right was never approved by the federal government.  So, right from almost the very beginning of the country, the die was being cast for conflict.
 
Next, the socioeconomic factors must be looked at.
 
In the North things were becoming industrialized.  People worked in factories.  There was need of human labor but  in a closed in setting, and where one received wages for labor.  The profit for the factory owner was higher, yet he did not have the cost of maintaining his employee, only needing to pay him or her wages.  Services too would grow up around the factories. 
 
The South was still decidedly agrarian.  But, with Eli Whitney's invention of the cotton gin, the South began having a boom.   Only their boom was in cotton.  Before the invention of the cotton gin, slavery had been falling into disfavor.  Now however, farmers began switching their crops to cotton.  It was easy to grow and grew practically anywhere.  With the gin,  a farmer could increase his harvest more than he'd ever thought possible.  He just needed workers to glean it.  Cheap immigrant labor was there, but not willing to do the back breaking labor for the wages offered.  Slave labor was the recourse and slaving became a thriving business again. 
 
The states were trying to resolve the issue of what new lands could  or would or should be free or slave back in the early 1800s.  The Missouri Compromise was reached in 1820 regarding the Lousiana Purchase area stating that at 36 degrees and 30 minutes, except for Missouri that new land would prohibit Slavery.
 
The matter of land issues came up again after the Mexican War.  California was said to be a free state, but Utah and New Mexico were given "Popular Sovereignty."  The could decide for themselves through popular vote.  This was also to be the way Kansas and Nebraska were to decide.  Pro slavery "vote stuffers"  who lived along the Kansas border made their way into Kansas to try and rig the vote.  The times turned bloody as huge clashes between pro and anti slavery factions caused many deaths in Kansas.  Still, the state voted to be a free state and Nebraska soon followed
 
In 1950, the Fugitive Slave Act was passed.  It made it Illegal for Federal employees to not turn in a slave or face fines.  And made it illegal to hide a slave, that a slave was still a slave no matter if he or she was in a free state or a slave state.  This act, along with the publication of Uncle Tom's Cabin cause many antislavery proponents to increase their call for the end to slavery.
 
Tempers were running hot, Harper's Ferry was raided.  Lincoln was elected and immediately, seven states seceded.  South Carolina leading the way.  Lincoln wasn't even president yet. 
 
But, they were afraid, afraid Lincoln would put an end to slavery and thus put an end to their way of life.  Without slavery there could be no cotton, without cotton there could be no South as they saw it.  It would be an end to their economic structure.  To their lifestyle. 
 
So, was it about slavery?  Yes, but not only slavery.  Was it about state's rights?  Yes, but not merely state's rights.
 

 

Offline RubySlippers

Re: The South's reasonings for seceding in the American Civil War
« Reply #23 on: May 21, 2010, 10:28:19 AM »
A friend of mine and I was talking since after the Civil War each of the states in the Confederacy had to be readmitted to the Union could they have come back in insisting they be Territories again?

Its odd no one thought about that back then a territory doesn't pay taxes to the Federal government, has far more freedoms in many ways (look at Puerto Rico a soveriegn territory) and would have been able to have their citizens not as closely tied to the Federal authority like many wanted.

Just a thought.

Well at a practical level I still don't see why they didn't just let the states go its not like the North NEEDED the South for much and slavery would have died out of natural causes, since no major power except Spain would have traded with them for long. England, France and even Mexico banned slavery among others. War should not have been the cause to end slavery the dejection of the world of the slave nation should have. Must I add the Confederacy had free black/creole units from Louisiana, Hispanics in the Texas units and even Native Americans it was not all whites against slavery caused the war.

Offline Zakharra

Re: The South's reasonings for seceding in the American Civil War
« Reply #24 on: May 21, 2010, 01:56:21 PM »
A friend of mine and I was talking since after the Civil War each of the states in the Confederacy had to be readmitted to the Union could they have come back in insisting they be Territories again?

Its odd no one thought about that back then a territory doesn't pay taxes to the Federal government, has far more freedoms in many ways (look at Puerto Rico a soveriegn territory) and would have been able to have their citizens not as closely tied to the Federal authority like many wanted.

Just a thought.

 That? I do not know, they were all under, or nearly all under military rule and fedral rule for a total of what? 10 years?  Before being allowed to resume a civilian state government? I do not think they had a choice in hoew they were readmitted into the Union again. It was dictated.