View single post by barrydancer
 Posted: Fri Apr 17th, 2009 11:56 am
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barrydancer
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Captain Crow wrote: I wonder how people who vilify the Southern states decision to secede (from a union they no longer desired to be a part of and had every legal right to leave)feel about the near Secession of the New England states during the war of 1812. Would they have been so broad brush castigated as evil or is there an inherent regional arrogance involved in the ever present need to perpetrate the myth of the heroic North vs. the oppressive South. The root cause of the war for both sides was cold hard economics...the North couldn't afford to lose the massive amounts of duties collected from the southern states as well as their vast natural resources. And of course the south was not ready to consider parting with her peculiar institution and it's inherent benefits to her economy. I have always had a hard time buying into the "knight in shining armor to the rescue of the poor slaves" image so often adopted by many folks.
I mean seriously...the country that stole half of Mexico at gun point, not to mention perpetrated countless atrocities against the Indians in the name of manifest destiny is suddenly concerned about emancipation of millions of slaves who will then be free to compete for jobs? Sorry if I offend anyone but I just don't buy the simple party line when it comes to things of such magnitude. Lincoln had an empire to protect and he found the perfect means to do so.

I think New England in 1812 was just as wrong and misguided as the South in 1860.  Though they wanted to leave for different reasons, the end result was the same:  disunion.  I don't agree that the South had a legal right to secede.  At best, I would say the issue was a gray area, as the Constitution is silent on the matter.  But while the perpetuality of the Union is in no way expressed by the Constitution, it is certainly implied.  What government makes provision for its own dissolution? 

I think the "knight in shining armor" mentality is out there, but its popular imagery.  At least as far as the secession crisis and early days of the war are concerned.  I agree with Professor Foner in that the majority of Northerners were antislavery, meaning that they didn't wish to see the institution expand into to new territories and compete with free labor.  Only a small minority, though, was actually fully abolitionist.  Initial Union war aims were, rightly or wrongly, not concerned with interfering with slavery.  This certainly changed as the war progressed, and transformed the meaning of the struggle, but I would say that quelling the rebellion was the initial priority of the federal government.

What do you mean by "Lincoln had an empire to protect and he found the perfect means to do so?"

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