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 Posted: Thu Nov 11th, 2010 11:29 am
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Texas Defender
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150thjourney-

  A discussion of causes of secession is bound to spark responses in this forum.

  The role of tariffs and their importance is still debated. Generally, those in the south viewed them as an unfair transfer of wealth from the south to the Federal Government (Its main source of revenue) which had come to favor the interests of those in the north.

  Here is the view of it from a British subject:

  "Union means so many millions a year lost to the South; secession means the loss of the same millions to the North. The love of money is the root of this as of many other evils. The quarrel between the North and the South is, as it stands, solely a fiscal quarrel."                              - Charles Dickens

  I do not believe the part about it being a solely fiscal quarrel, but that was certainly part of it. Here is a short history of tariffs and the role they played in the political system from the early years of the Republic.

1816-1860: The Second American Party System and the Tariff

  Disagreements over tariffs can be put in a larger category that could be called: "Sectional differences." By the middle of the 19th century, you had not only north and south, but an emerging west. As their political power diminished, the southerners felt more and more that their interests were being threatened.

  Those in the south were alarmed by what they saw as continual pressure to expand the powers of the federal government relative to those of the states. They tended to be : "Strict constructionists" in their views of how closely the Constitution should be followed in determining what powers the federal government should have.

  The issue of what powers the federal government should have is still a hotly debated issue today. By 1860, many in the south believed that the federal government had assumed powers that were not given to it by the Constitution. They felt that the compact that the southern states had made with the others had been violated. Since the states had created the federal government instead of the other way around, they felt that it was their right to sever their connection to it.

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