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 Posted: Thu Jun 9th, 2011 05:10 am
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Texas Defender

Joined: Sat Jan 27th, 2007
Location: Texas USA
Posts: 920

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  I agree with much of what you've said, but I'd like to expand on some of it.

  It can be maintained that the Confederacy was an: "Abject failure" because some of its members resisted a strong central authority. They had sought to leave one central government that in their view had abused its power, and were suspicious about granting too much authority to their new one. Internal conflicts often acted to their detriment. But as far as what led to the final demise of the Confederacy goes, I would borrow a phrase once used by a former CSA general: "I always thought that the yankees had a lot to do with it."

  Many in the south distrusted Mr. Lincoln, and didn't believe that he would leave slavery alone, in spite of what he said. But, as you say, simply stopping its expansion to the territories would further lessen the political power of the southern states. Many southerners thought that the only recourse was to secede, which the majority thought that the Constitution gave them the right to do.

  The process of the capture, imprisonment, and trial of Jefferson Davis is an interesting sequence of events covering a period of almost four years. For the sake of brevity, I'll address it year by year. In 1865, he was captured and imprisoned. In 1866, he was indicted for treason by a Virginia grand jury. The government did intend to try the case, but there were disagreements among many high level officials as to whether or not it was wise to do so. In 1867, after the government kept postponing the trial, Mr. Davis was granted bail (Which was put up by mostly northern benefactors). He was allowed to travel, but had to be prepared to appear whenever the government might demand it. In 1868, the government refused to nullify the indictment. But in February of 1869, all charges were dropped, and the ordeal was finally over.

  Mr. Davis had planned to argue that secession was legal. The US Government was not completely confident that a conviction could be won. It would be the supreme embarrassment if Mr. Davis was acquitted, which would by extention support the idea of the legality of secession. Mr. Lincoln's position on secession was always that it was invalid, and the southern states had never actually left the Union. In the end, the US Government took the prudent course of action by quietly releasing Mr. Davis. Later that year, in the Supreme Court case Texas vs. White, secession was finally declared to be illegal.

  I haven't read the book that you mentioned, and so can't comment directly about what might be in it. But I doubt that the average Confederate soldier spent much of his time thinking about the institution of slavery. As you said, most were young and few owned slaves. I think that for most, the greater motive was to defend their homes, their people, and their territory. From the beginning, federal forces were invading or threatening to invade southern territory. They were viewed by most in the south as a foreign power, to be resisted by any means available. There was a famous story told of a young soldier captured near the end of the war. When he was asked why he was still fighting, his answer reportedly was: "Because y'all are down here."

Last edited on Thu Jun 9th, 2011 06:41 am by Texas Defender

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