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 Posted: Wed Aug 20th, 2008 08:29 pm
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5fish
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I argue: Presidential leadership of the 1850's led to our Civil War in 1861.

Our nation was led by some of it poorest presidents in history during the 1850's. lets look at each one:

Fillmore: Appeasement describes the presidents time in office. All this man did along with Senator Douglas was appease the southern slave interest time and time again with the Compromise of 1850 to the Fugitive slave act.

Pierce: He brought us "popular sovereignty"and with this the Kansas Nebraska Act which led to Bleeding Kansas and open the west to slavery. He again sympathies with the South Slave interest.

Buchanan: He wanted to avoid the issue by conspiring with Chief Justice Taney on the Supreme Court to Appease the southern slave interest with the Dred Scott ruling open the west to slavery. He sat like Nero and watched our nation dissolve and did nothing to stop the south from seceding.

None the these presidents were from the south but all wanted to appease the southern slave interest and never learned from past presidents examples that when secession is threaten then a line must be draw in the sand.

These presidents appeasement behaviors embolden the secessionist moment in the 1850's which led to our Civil war in 1861.

We call the Compromise of 1850, Fugitive Slave Act, and the Kansas-Nebraska Act compromises but they were appeasements to the people who wealth came from slavery.

Every time the Southern leaders would never satisfied with these appeasement always whining for more.

Appeasement never works against vile behavior like slavery only drawing a line in the sand and making a stand on values works...

When our presidents are ranked by historians these three always ranked in the bottom ten..

Leadership does matter!!



 Posted: Wed Aug 20th, 2008 09:52 pm
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Texas Defender
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5fish-

  The elements leading to the Civil War were in place long before the 1850s. As time passed and the country grew, differences between the sections continued to increase.

  To blame the presidents of the 1850s for the Civil war is very simplistic. The issue of the time was whether slavery would be allowed to expand to the territories or not. As the southerners saw it, if it was restricted, and only free states admitted in the future, then the south would be continually outvoted and their system endangered.

  I'm not sure how President Fillmore: "appeased southern interests." You didn't give specifics of what he should have done or not done.

  The idea of: "popular sovereignty" is that the people living in a territory should be allowed to decide issues for themselves. Obviously, this is inoperable if thousands of outsiders migrate in and begin making war on each other. But you don't state what President Pierce should or should not have done.

  In the case of President Buchanan, I seriously doubt that he was involved in a conspiracy with the Chief Justice to decide the Dred Scott decision a certain way.

   Some historians think that President Buchanan pressured Justice Robert Grier to vote with the majority, but that is not certain. Chief Justice Taney is not implicated in that if it took place.

  Roger Taney made his decision as a result of how he viewed the original language of the Constitution. That document clearly gave no rights to slaves and left them in an inferior legal position.

  Many Supreme Court decisions have been made that offend our 21st century sensibilities. For example, there was Plessy vs. Ferguson in 1896. It promised : "separate but equal " status for the races. That didn't work then  either because the majority of citizens in that time had a different view of the world than most have now.

  You talk about the weak presidents of the 1850s :"emboldening the secessionist movement." It is unclear to me what you expected them to do.

  Men on both sides of the debate labored for decades to try to prevent the Civil War that eventually took place. The measures you cite and some much earlier such as the Missouri Compromise of 1820 managed to put off the eventual conflict but could never solve the differences between the sides.

  You don't tell us what the presidents of the 1850s should have done. You seem to believe that if they had been better leaders, then there would have been no Civil war. I seriously doubt that.

  The war began because the democrats split their party in 1860 and allowed Mr. Lincoln to be elected. Mr. Lincoln opposed the expansion of slavery to the territories, which was not acceptable to the southerners.

  Mr. Lincoln himself said that he did not wish to eliminate slavery where it existed as he did not have the authority or inclination to do so. If this had been satisfactory to those in the south, then the institution of slavery where it was already established would have continued. (Presumably, that would have made Mr. Lincoln an : "appeaser" in your view). But the southerners were not satisfied by these assurances and the secession movement went forward.

  You apparently wanted these (non-southern) presidents to somehow: "Draw a line in the sand" to stop the threat of secession. You don't explain how that should have been done.

  You cite previous presidents who you think drew a line in the sand. Presumably, you are referring to President Jackson and the Nullification Crisis.

  By 1860, South Carolina was no longer standing alone. The issue of the day was the proposed expansion of slavery into the territories. This left the two sides in direct opposition. The point was reached where the conflict could no longer be put off by compromises.

  If there had been no compromise measures during the decades prior to the Civil War, the only difference in all probability would have been in the dates that the war started. Men of good faith on both sides did their best to prevent the conflict, but eventually it could no longer be put off.

  The idea that the presidents of the 1850s could somehow have prevented the Civil War has no credibility. Better men than they were had tried for many years to solve the dispute, but in the end it could only be decided by force of arms.

Last edited on Wed Aug 20th, 2008 10:24 pm by Texas Defender



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 Posted: Thu Aug 21st, 2008 01:32 am
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5fish
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Texas Def,

I will bring up the fact that Buchanan and Taney knew each other well for they were both from Davidson. Buchanan wanted a court decision to support his views and Taney gave it to him in the Dred Scott decision.

Z. Taylor before his death and in so many words threaten the Southern leaders if they act to secede, he would lead the U.S. Army against those who acted to seceded. Z. Taylor does not get high marks as President but he was against the Compromise of 1850 and would stop any state from seceding by force, just like Jackson.

The men that followed Z. Taylor chose to appeased the slim balls for the Southern Slave interest and all those slim balls did was whine for more....If those men had threaten to use force as Taylor and Jackson did and stop their appeasement path the Civil War would never had happen.  

Leadership and drawing a line in the sand against the Southern Slave interest was needed by those Presidents in the 1850's not appeasement. If the Southern Slave Lords understood the secession would not be tolerated by those those presidents of the 1850's secession would have never been an option.

Texas Def, you are unclear at what these appeaser presidents did to stop the Southern Slave interest from tearing apart our nation. History tells us appeasing the Southern Slave Lords led our nation in war...

 

A few thoughts...

 

 

 

 

 



 Posted: Thu Aug 21st, 2008 02:13 am
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5fish-

  First of all, Roger Taney did not: "deliver" the Dred Scott decision to President Buchanan. The vote was 7-2, and the Chief Justice's vote didn't count any more than any other justice. If the vote had been 6-3 or 5-4, it would not have mattered.

  President Taylor might have been against the Compromise of 1850, but Whig opposition didn't stop it. It was enacted in September of 1850, two months AFTER Zachary Taylor died.

  Your diatribe about southern " slim balls" (slime balls?) is juvenile. The southerners sought the expansion of their system westward in order to try to maintain the political balance of power.

  Apparently, your only answer to what the presidents of the 1850s should have done is to threaten the use of force. You seem to think that intimidation would have been the answer to the problem.

  I would repeat my contention that none of the presidents of the period could have solved the problem of sectional differences. The southerners were not going to be forever cowed by those threatening to use force against them. The idea that the Civil War could have been stopped by the threat of military action is absurd on its face because eventually the Civil War DID take place in spite of Mr. Lincoln's determination and willingness to use force to resist secession.

Last edited on Thu Aug 21st, 2008 02:24 am by Texas Defender



 Posted: Thu Aug 21st, 2008 12:55 pm
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In general there was no leadership from either these Presidents or congress in the 1850's on the issue of slavery or on the preservation of the union.

I will give congress a pass but not the Presidents of that period. I our political system the President sets the tone, the political priorities, and any precedents on an issue. The nation follows the direction the President is leading the nation in.

Fillmore, Pierce, and Buchanan set tones of appeasement, set priorities of Slavery is Okay, and the precedent of cowing to whatever the secessionist want.
The direction they led our nation in was one towards Civil War.

These Presidents from what little I have read never preach about the preserving the Union.

These Presidents compromise not to solve a slavery issue but to satisfy the moment and pass the issue on to the next guy.

These Presidents fail any test of leadership!


These Presidents empowered the Abolitionist to fill the void in leadership on slavery and antagonised the north with their Compromises which always gave into slavery demands.

Appeasement did not work but setting limits are succession desires would have given the Southern Flesh Dealers understanding that secession is not an option that none of those Presidents ever did. Call it intimidation but Southern Slave Lords needed know the talk of secession was that talk and any action taken towards secession would be resisted at all cost.



 Posted: Thu Aug 21st, 2008 03:35 pm
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5fish-

  Secession was always an option as far as those in the south were concerned. They considered that they had a Constitutional right to leave the Union that they had voluntarily entered into.

  As for the institution of slavery- as far as the Constitution went in those days it WAS okay. It is reprehensible to us in the 21st century, but it is folly to try to judge those who lived in the 19th century by our standards today.

  The war took place because there were two distinctly different sections in  the country whose interests had diverged. Armed conflict was put off for decades because compromises were made on both sides, but eventually compromise was no longer possible.

  The presidents of the 1850s were less than stellar, but they did not cause the problem of sectional differences, nor would they have been able to alter the result. Your idea seems to be that if they had taken on a bombastic tone (such as you have exhibited) and threatened violence at every point, that those in the south would have been submissive and allowed themselves to be dominated by the north.

  It should be apparent to you that the southerners were ready to fight for their independence when they felt that remaining part of the United States was no longer in  their interests. It should be obvious to you (but clearly isn't)  that if the threat of war was going to deter them, then they would not have been willing to take up arms and resist a president who was determined to preserve the Union by any means.



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 Posted: Thu Aug 21st, 2008 04:15 pm
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The presidents of the 1850s were less than stellar, but they did not cause the problem of sectional differences, nor would they have been able to alter the result. Your idea seems to be that if they had taken on a bombastic tone (such as you have exhibited) and threatened violence at every point, that those in the south would have been submissive and allowed themselves to be dominated by the north.

  It should be apparent to you that the southerners were ready to fight for their independence when they felt that remaining part of the United States was no longer in  their interests. It should be obvious to you (but clearly isn't)  that if the threat


If you want to have this argument - fine. But the little comments in paenthesis are not needed and cross the line from commenting on the disagreement to commenting on the poster. Let's not do that - no good can come of it. 



 Posted: Thu Aug 21st, 2008 04:32 pm
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javal 1-

  Very well. In the interest of civility I am quitting this thread.

  Apparently, pointing out that inflammatory language such as: "slime balls" is bombastic is not allowed, but the inflammatory language itself is.



 Posted: Thu Aug 21st, 2008 04:49 pm
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Actually I missed the slime ball comment, and still don't see it, but I'm sure it's there. You're right, referring to anyone as a slimeball is out of order. In my defence, just got a new Rx for my glasses a few days ago, and am now having big time trouble reading the small text on this board. Will have to either find out how to make the text bigger or get another eye exam. The former sounds cheaper.

EDIT: might not have been the eyes. It was spelled wrong -I see it now. Uncalled for.



 Posted: Thu Aug 21st, 2008 11:13 pm
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The Compromise of 1850 was the spark. In that moment of history it may have keep the union together to only plants the seeds of dissolution for later.

It is like the treaty of Versailles that ended WWI just to plant the seeds of WWII later.

If The Compromise of 1850, was just about how to divide the lands out west and ending the slave trade in Washington D.C., It would have been a good thing.

It was the Fugitive Slave Act part that makes the Compromise of 1850 a bad thing. This one law radicalised the North against slavery.

The Fugitive Slave law embolden the Abolishion moment.

The Fugitive Slave law invaded all parts of Northern society driving many people into the anti-slavery moment. Who wouldn't have other wise.

The Fugitive Slave law was like forcing Southern slavery values on the Northern people.

The Compromise Of 1850 with the attached Fugitive Slave Act radicalised the North against slavery as much as the south was radicalised for slavery. In ten years with both sides radicalised an unwilling to find a compromise anymore the only choices left was either dissolution or slavery had to go.

If you look at it the Compromise of 1850 with that one attachment ignites the fuse of our Civil War in the 1860's.

The radicalisation of the North is what led to the Civil War and the three Presidents and congress of the 1850's did not realize it. Their only concern was to appease the Southern Salve interest and ignoring Northern anger....

 

 

 




 Posted: Sat Aug 23rd, 2008 03:15 pm
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I actually agree about the fugitive slave issue from the Compromise - that was an important milestone on the road leading to the war - although I'm not sure we can pin down the exact moment the fuse was lit that resulted in the explosion in 1861. Like Texas Defender said at one point, I tend to think the elements that led to the war were present for quite some time. Even going back to before the country was a country.

Looking back, it's obvious that there were numerous times where different decisions here or there could have changed history to the point that this conversation and even this discussion board itself would not exist. Even going back to well before the 1850's. There is a lot of irony about that, because several times, I think the decisions that were made were not simply intended to pass the buck to future generations. They were intended to either solve the problem altogether, or set slavery on the road to eventual extinction on this continent.

Perhaps the real turning point came somewhere in the 1820's or 1830's, when slavery began to transform in the collective mind of the South from a "necessary evil" to something that had to be defended as a "positive good." To some extent, although how much I'm not sure, this change probably came about due to attacks on slavery from the North. Although that does not totally explain it, or let the South off the hook. Both sides were to blame for the events that ended in the war, in my view. But the main point is that the change took place, and it made any potential agreements designed to end slavery that much harder to reach.

The enormous amount of territory acquired at the end of the Mexican War brought the issue into stark relief, since the country was clearly going to expand. As Texas Defender pointed out, the question was whether slavery would expand with it. That does seem to be the point where the train began rolling downhill at an increasingly alarming speed, riding along with some very shaky brakes.

On the fugitive slave issue, one thing I think is noteworthy about that is how it points to a role-reversal between North and South on the issue of states rights vs. the federal government. Traditionally the South has always been viewed as the bastion of states rights. But there were times when southern leaders were willing to accept a stronger federal government at the expense of states rights. And one of the classic examples, and probably the most classic example of all, is the fugitive slave issue of the 1850's.

This is already turning into a novel so I'll leave it there for now. But I do agree that this issue aroused the North rather strongly. It was just one of the many issues that began to spin the two sections further and further toward opposite ends of the room, until nothing remained in the middle but a giant vacuum waiting to be filled.

Perry



 Posted: Sat Aug 23rd, 2008 11:20 pm
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Warp10,

Another insightful post, I was amazed you knew that the Slave states opposed state rights of the Free states. The Slave states thought the federal government should oppose it will on the Free states to enforce the Fugitive Slave act. The Slave states were hypocrites on the fallacy issue of "state rights".

The Free States tried to counter the Fugitive Slave Act with "Personal Liberty Laws" but the courts heavy with Southern judges struck down those laws.

Slave states believe no "States Rights" for "Free States"... What hypocrites...

Last edited on Sat Aug 23rd, 2008 11:43 pm by 5fish



 Posted: Sun Aug 24th, 2008 03:23 pm
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Well, I don't know as I think them hypocrites really. It was more a matter of priorities, between states rights and slavery. When the two came into conflict, as they did here, they had to choose which was best for their own interests. They chose slavery. In that sense, it's not really different than what other states, sections, or even countries will do - they act in what they feel is their own best interest. But it also, to me, belies the idea that the South was states rights first, last, and always. Yes, they were - if and when they felt it to work in their favor. The North was the same way.

Plus, I think we have to look at the fugitive slave issue within the context of the overall Compromise. It was part of the giant balancing act going on. The North got a 'free' California, and an end to the slave trade in Washington D.C. And the territories of New Mexico and Utah would decide the issue of slavery for themselves. The same idea that later blew up in everyone's face in Kansas, but not here. Two of those issues favor the North, the other is more or less a wash. (Texas was also involved, having to give up claims to some territory in New Mexico, but they got a nice cashier's check in return.)

So the fugitive slave issue was meant to be just one part of a larger compromise. But it eventually caused more sectional problems than the Compromise as a whole initially helped solve.

One counter-argument I've seen to the fugitive slave issue being all that important, is that it did not result in a large number of runaway slaves being captured and returned to the South. But that misses the point - regardless of how many slaves were captured, it caused a firestorm of resentment in the North, and furthered the sectional animosity.

And ironically, those 'personal liberty laws' were echos of South Carolina's nullification ordnance from the 1830's. The South was now using the long arm of the federal government to reach into northern states and pluck out runaway slaves, and those states weren't supposed to do a darn thing about it even if they wanted to. Even more, not only could northerners not interfere, they were also required to help capture those slaves. So it's not about the numbers. It's about the tremendous resentment one section of the country felt toward the other over this issue. And the fact that the South was using what was viewed in the North as strong-arm tactics, with the federal government as their strong-armed man. For some northerners as well, the sight of human beings being tracked down, captured, and led away in chains was a bit much.

Another example where the South favored a stronger federal government was Kansas. At first the idea was that the people living in that territory (and Nebraska, which was never an issue) would decide about slavery for themselves, and southern leaders by and large were okay with that. It represented local control, which is the essence of states rights. But once it became clear that slavery would almost certainly get voted down by the locals, it caused a rapid change of the southern heart. Now they favored federal protection for slavery in a territory until statehood was achieved. To give it more of a chance to take hold. The wishes of the local folks be darned.

There was a lot more to Kansas then that of course, and both sides pulled some shenanigans, but that was the essential manner in which southern leaders responded. Even Buchanan, who seems to have been a northerner, and a national president, in name only. It was this issue that really caused the divide between him and Stephen Douglas, and turned the Democratic Party toward their eventual train wreck in 1860. The whole thing is just one big, giant, tragic mess.

Perry




 Posted: Sun Aug 24th, 2008 06:56 pm
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Warp10,

This is usual to find  someone to a have similar views of the 1850's on a board. I will admit your posts were insightful to me.

I see the self interest of the Slave lords in the 1850's  using what ever argument support their valued institution of slavery. Which leads to their argument that the Civil war was about "States Rights" instead of "slavery" rings false, if one looks at their action during the 1850's. Their action in the 1850's was about protecting and expanding slavery.

I have never see this fear the Slave lords had of slaves sneaking off into the Free states. I always wonder what the figures were of slaves escaping into free states. I bet the figure is less then 1%of the total slave population. I bet cost could have been easily absorbed by the Slave lords.

The Compromise of 1850 with the Fugitive Slave act to me is the cornerstone of our Civil war.

The Fugitive Slave act with poor leadership from the 1850's presidents led to the radicalism of the north.

As the south was radicalized around slavery and north became radicalized around the abolition slavery in the 1850's. After tens years of kindling, it did take much to send our nation into a civil war .

 

 

 

 

 

Last edited on Mon Aug 25th, 2008 03:03 pm by 5fish



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