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 Posted: Tue Dec 11th, 2007 05:46 am
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ole
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39th Miss. Walker wrote: Ole, I think you are losing sight of the big picture.
The point is without the large plantation culture, if the South was just small farmers with no slaves, the war would have never been fought. My opinion. It would seem, generally to be almost everyone's opinion. It's a little too simple a thing to say, but it is the conclusion. The slave society that developed was what caused the sectional division. I'm thinking nice thoughts about how the southern agrarians would have been very like the northern and northwestern agrarians, if there had been no "need" for slavery.
As for a few points. Slavery. Keep in mind that the wealth of the large plantation owners was tied up in their land and slaves, slaves were property. Basically starting with Garrison and his "Liberator" he advocated the abolishment of slavery with NO COMPENSATION to the slave owners. That really started the problem. Small correction. Garrison began his career by trying to persuade slaveowners of the rightness of freeing their people. And this was quite early in the antebellum period. The abolitionists of the radical bent did get a bit louder as time went on. (You might also allow that, until about 1840, there were more "antislavery societies" in the south than in the north. Maybe make it 1830.) Granted, the abolitionistes were getting lounder, but I know of none that advocated NO COMPENSATION. They were generally interested in getting fulfulled the promise of the Declaration of Independence.Secondly the Tariffs did not effect the small farmer significantly, as I alluded to. The did affect the South and you forget the Tariffs on hemp and woolen goods for example, commonly bought by the small farmer. Another small adjustment: Domestic hemp was not of high enough quality for serious use (e.g., the seafaring users). There was, during the period under discussion, a rather healthy hemp-growing industry. The only thing affecting the farmer was who was making the rope, and how good did it need to be? Woolens: Everyone, north and south, used woolens -- especially for uniforms and winter coats. Who do you suppose used more? And, when it is said to be "woolen goods," we're talking about bolts of woolen cloth. (I won't even begin to imagine they were importing Icelandic sweaters.) Granted. A duty raised the price of imported woolen goods to protect the domestic manufacturers. Did the south have no producers of woolen cloth? It did and it benefitted equally with the more numerous northern producers.The problem with tariffs was when they were used for protectionism instead of revenue only to protect northern industries with no benefit to the South. OK. Protectionist tariffs were designed to protect American industry from English industry, which had a good start. But protectionism was not the first priority. Revenue was the first priority; protection followed. The tariffs were not imposed as protection, but were varied according to congressional debate and compromise. "Only" has nothing to do with it. "Protectionism" made good sense as far back as the Articles of Confederation. It was part of the "common good" everyone talked about. That there was little benefit, or protection, for southern industry works only if you recognize that there was little southern industry.As for the need for slaves, are you kidding? There is no way hired hands would do the work. It was tried time and again with Irish labor particularly. First of all the hired help would not work as the slaves did and secondly in areas such as South Carolina and the Rice culture they could not last long working the rice fields. Sounds like you've been reading Olmsted. (Who, by the way, recorded that hired labor couldn't be "driven.") Given that the rice, cotton, and tobacco industries might not have risen to the heights they reached without slave labor, I wonder if that occasion would have been all that bad for the south. I'll invite you to rethink that the African was better able to work in the environment of a rice paddy. Or in the heat of the southern summer in general. There might have been a superior inherited trait or two, but let's think about the white subsistance farmer who worked under the same conditions.After the war there was rioting partially caused by working for wages, script, and so forth. The rice farming ceased to exist by the later 1800's in almost all of South Carolina and the last plantation growing rice was about 1917.
Now some of this is partially due to mechanized farming in Louisiana and Texas but without slave labor the industry collapsed. Perhaps the industry ought never to have been started? No. I'll have to give you that one. Once startted, it couldn't easily have been stopped. This is, after all, a discussion of what if there were none.
I would also challenge the assertion a slave was 27 before they "paid for themselves". With such a varied environment and differing crops it would be almost impossible to quantify. With that, you'll have to challenge Fogel and Engerman, not me. It might have been different with the crop, but they just calculated the average. And they did, by the way, factor in that about 45 percent of the slave children never reached 19 -- which might help explain the breakeven point of 27.Basically I was discussing some of the root causes of the war. Since you don't seem to agree what is your take? Why was the South so ready to fight for their freedoms? You say freedoms, I say interests. We have to figure out a way of getting on the same page. Without slavery, there wouldn't have been the sectional division that gave the people of each section the desire to fight those other guys. Without slavery, the south's development would have roughly paralleled that of the north. Without slavery, the southern farmer would have been the equivalent of his northern brother. Without slavery, there might have been more southern industry.It's funny but I recently read and article in a newspaper about the flag controversy here in SC. After the article many readers anonymously put forth their comments. Most didn't even have half of their facts right. I was actually shocked at the venomous comments by many of either northern decent or who lived in the north, as expressed by their authors. Traitors they called the Confederacy, rednecks, trailer trash. They equated the Confederate flag with the NAZI flag, and on and on. "you lost the war, get over it" was a common refrain. We all have our crazies. Hang around about 2 years or so, and you're going to get your fill of morons.Yet there was on another day an article about the US support for making Kosovo a separate state from Bosnia and the problems there, how Bosnia is once again agitating to use military force. Yet some of these same readers had a totally different take and supported the secession of Kosovo. No words of traitors here!
Secession from a State has been an ongoing political process for thousands of years. Basic political, religious or economic reasons are always the cause. What made the South so different? Because it happened here? Discrimination towards the South is alive and well. I don't see it quite that way. I post on a number of boards. And there is a bit of "poor, poor, pitiful me" on all of them. At the bottom of the weeping and hand-wringing, is a genuine desire to simply get under the myths and have a good look at what really was. Discrimination against the North is also alive and well. One of these days, we'll all get into sorting out what is history, what is belief, and what is desire.


Will leave you with a very thoughty observation I stole from another forum from a guy who stole it from another forum:

Conviction is not fact;

Insistence is not proof;

Opinion is not evidence.

I thought it was worth mentioning.

ole

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