Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Secession

Forgive this silly post, but this has been driving me nuts for the longest time. I've been saying that the "Civil War" wasn't about slavery. Sure, that was a part of it, but not the whole thing.

I wrongly quoted a Confederate General, General Johnston, in a quote about how the fight wasn't about slavery. I was wrong. I had the wrong guy.

It was Lieutenant General James Longstreet. At the battle of Gettysburg he said, "We should have freed the slaves, THEN fired on Fort Sumter.".

I got the name wrong. If you want to see the context of it, watch the mini- series, Gettysburg.

It took me the longest time to find this quote, probably because I was using the wrong name.

19 Comments:

At 9:43 PM, Blogger The Boy Most Likely to ... said...

Yes Fred, unfortunately the Civil War has become easier to remember by making it about slavery. So many issues burning at that time.

We live in a world where we like simple sound bite answers. So, people say Civil War, and the response is "to end slavery".

-boy

 
At 9:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A more accurate brief explanation would be "to preserve the Union."

Or a person could read the Gettysburg Address. It's short enough.

 
At 7:46 PM, Anonymous Andrew Bird said...

If the Confederacy didn't attempt to secede over the issue of slavery, then what was the reason? What were the other "issues?"

 
At 6:21 AM, Blogger Fred said...

Slavery was indeed an issue. I believe there were some tax issues, as well with some southerners feeling they were paying more taxes than their northern brethren.

The war itself didn't have much to do with slavery, I don't think. That was just to "preserve the union".

 
At 2:18 PM, Anonymous Andrew Bird said...

Fred. If the war wasn't about slavery, why did the president issue the Emancipation Proclamation? Why did Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy, issue an edict, in response to the Emancipation Proclamation, that the South would execute any and all Negro Union soldiers captured in battle? The Confederate army did just that following Lincoln's declaration of freedom for slaves in the Confederacy: It executed blacks and imprisoned whites it captured in Union uniforms. Interesting that you really can't provide a concrete reason why this nation would engage in a bloody Civil War. But for some reason you want to deny the truth, which is obvious. A lot of people deny the Holocaust too.

 
At 8:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

People who think the Civil War was all about slavery and nothing else - are wrong.

I'm guessing their education about the Civil War came from high school American History class.

That's a great place to pick up passionate beliefs based on oversimplified versions of great historic events.

Modern Americans are awash in a sea of information. There's no excuse not to educate yourself to what really happened.

 
At 10:02 AM, Anonymous Andrew Bird said...

OK, anon 8:29. Please enlighten us...what was the Civil War about. You are the 2nd or 3rd anon to say the Civil War wasn't about the issue of slavery, but fail to inform us just why 203,000 Americans died on the battlefield from 1861-65. Why did the Southern states secede when Lincoln, an outspoken abolitionist, was elected president? Because they didn't like the cut of his beard? They didn't like Mary Todd Lincoln? She was an odd duck. Please, tell us what the Civil War was about. I'm dying to know. lol

 
At 12:00 PM, Blogger Fred said...

Well, Andrew, I think many of us think it was about state's rights, taxes and other things. Maybe slavery was a big, if not a central issue.

Taking a look at Wikipedia, they seem to think it was all about slavery, too, although reading between the lines, I don't see them saying that, either.

I think one of the problems with different viewpoints on this is those that think it was just about slavery think that there'd be no reason to secede from the United States except to own slaves. How dare they...how could anyone not want the federal government telling them what to do???

How about we compromise and say that while the Civil War concerned a number of issues, slavery was the one of the bigger ones?

 
At 6:35 PM, Anonymous Pamela Reece said...

Andrew asked:

"OK, anon 8:29. Please enlighten us...what was the Civil War about. You are the 2nd or 3rd anon to say the Civil War wasn't about the issue of slavery, but fail to inform us just why 203,000 Americans died on the battlefield from 1861-65. Why did the Southern states secede when Lincoln, an outspoken abolitionist, was elected president? Because they didn't like the cut of his beard? They didn't like Mary Todd Lincoln? She was an odd duck. Please, tell us what the Civil War was about. I'm dying to know. lol" Here is your answer Andrew (in the most simplistic terms I can explain it):

The American Civil War began and ended with the desire of the Northern State's to stop slavery in order to form a "More Perfect Union".

The desire of the Northern states was to abolish slavery in order to achieve an equal union of all states within the union.

The hope was to share in wealth of agriculture from the south and industrialization from the north.

 
At 7:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Andrew, why should I do your remedial Civil War studies for YOU? Why don't YOU go back to the books and educate YOURSELF?

 
At 9:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wikipedia, a convenient source of information, reports in part:

"The [Civil] war produced about 970,000 casualties (3% of the population), including about 620,000 soldier deaths—two-thirds by disease.[126] The war accounted for more casualties than all other U.S. wars combined.[127] The causes of the war, the reasons for its outcome, and even the name of the war itself are subjects of lingering controversy today."

From those few words, we see that

1) Andrew Bird's figure of 203,000 lost lives in the Civil War is a wild understatement, and

2) The causes of the Civil War are not agreed upon, even after all these years. Therefore, to state that slavery was the one and only cause of the Civil War is incorrect.

Further studies on Andrew's part will no doubt lead him to a clearer and more accurate appreciation of the complexities of the Civil War era.

 
At 9:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pamela Reece's opinions are also at least partly founded upon ideas that don't reflect the views of the majority of the people of the North at the beginning of the war.

Oversimplifying the past is what most of us do. That's why it is a good idea to immerse ourselves in the historical writings of respected historians who make a practice of fiercely pursuing the whole, inherently complicated, truth.

 
At 1:10 PM, Blogger ΛΕΟΝΙΔΑΣ said...

The chief cause for the war to prevent Southern secession was the high tariffs on industrial goods enacted to protect Northern industry.
Lincoln was not an abolutionist. He freed the slaves (in 1863) only in the states that were in rebellion as a military tactic. By todays standards he was definitely a racist who only rejected the deportation of blacks due to the cost.

 
At 6:29 PM, Blogger ΛΕΟΝΙΔΑΣ said...

That would be: abolitionist!

 
At 6:44 PM, Blogger Fred said...

As an aside- not wanting to argue anymore since I have a low tolerance for arguments- Glenn Franco- Simmons seems to have taken a pasting over his editorial against the confederate flag in the Eureka Reporter this morning.

Check out the comments on the Eureka Reporter web site regarding his editorial. All except maybe the last comment made were in defense of the stars and bars.

 
At 3:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Apparently Andrew Bird is studying the Civil War, as I suggested he do. I understand he probably has little time for posting messages here, because more books are written about the Civil War than almost any subject, according to what historian Shelby Foote told Ken Burns as part of his masterwork on PBS about the Civil War. This is an encouraging development.

 
At 5:31 PM, Blogger Fred said...

Either that, or maybe he's moved on?

I often leave threads after they get a bit old.

 
At 6:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, Fred, I'll check back from time to time, just in case Andrew returns. In the meantime, stay dry and warm!

 
At 5:41 AM, Anonymous Olle said...

Lincoln was a moderate whos interest was saving the union of the US. He didn't aim to stop slavery, only to prevent it from increasing.

Lincoln would save the Union at any cost. In August, 1862 Lincoln wrote a letter to Horace Greeley, an editor of the New York Tribune, who published an open letter insisting President Lincoln free the slaves immediately. In Lincoln's reply he wrote "If I could save the Union without freeing any slaves, I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it, and if I could do it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also so that"

I think this validates the point that it was a strategy employed by Lincoln to cement support

 

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