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 Posted: Wed Jun 6th, 2007 03:05 pm
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ole
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Non-general JDC:

My answer was short and vague as well because my thoughts are also not quite as sharp on the subject as they ought to be before chiming in on a crucial subject.

I believe motives for the northern response are quite clear -- they can all be found in the person of Abraham Lincoln. First, he was fiercely dedicated to the constitution as he saw it. (Yeah. I know. We'll get to that eventually.) He really did believe that the US form of government. as embodied in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, was a model of self-government for the entire world -- the "last, best hope" thingy.

He also hated the idea of enslavement. (That he was or was not as racist as everyone else is delving a bit too deep for this initial phase of the discussion.) He believed the founding fathers had intended for slavery to eventally go away; that the "persons held for service" clause was wimping out to bring Virginia, South Carolina and Georgia into the Union; that the Northwest Ordinance (passed by many of the founders) was evidence of their intention to limit slavery to where it existed.

We ought to also first separate northern attitudes towards slavery. First, of course, were the abolitionists, a vocal minority. Then there was a wide range of those who simply felt as Lincoln did: I don't like slavery much and hope it will go away. And, there was a substantial minority that didn't think about it at all. Finally, there was a minority that also believed that slavery was the proper place for people of color.

Abolitionists were loud but virtually powerless -- politically. Lincoln was not an abolitionist, but used their feelings and the feelings of those who were less vocal to build the Republican Party and eventually become its nominee.

I'm convinced that Lincoln believed that his administration would have no constitututional right to go after slavery, but that it would have a right to keep it out of Government property, namely, the Territories. (Presumably because the Northwest Ordinance had not seriously been contested -- we can talk about the Dred Scott decision later, as well).

So we have, during the 1860 campaign, either the South's genuine fear of a Republican president, or the manipulation of the southern electorate into such a state of panic that secession became a viable and, ultimately, real option.

Again, when we've developed the groundwork and a thorough understanding of each other's bases, I will go further into the "manipulation" angle. For now, it's an offshoot that will only muck up the discussion.

Now. If we can only get a few more posters to chime in, we might have a real Civil War discussion on this CivilWarinteractive forum.

Ole

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