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 Posted: Sun Dec 16th, 2007 09:56 pm
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HankC
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39th Miss. Walker wrote: While the main cause of the war was the slavery issue it was not the only reason many served in many different capacities.


It is certainly quite correct that the 'causes of the war' and 'why men fought' are different lists.

In a later era: World War II had a  number of causes;  the attack on Pearl Harbor compelled many to enlist, but Pearl Harbor was not the cause of the war...

 

HakC



 Posted: Sun Dec 16th, 2007 10:03 pm
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64thNYDrummer wrote: Thats one way of looking at it, however I still find it intersting that 21 men with no financial interest in preserving slavery were willing to make the sacrifice of traveling to Richmond and maintaing themselves there for months in order to represent thier ststes in the Confederate
Congress. At least for these 21 there must have been something other than slavery at stake.



I suggest that democracy was at stake.

There were plenty of men willing to give up democracy for slavery, not as many willing to give up slavery for democracy...

 

HankC

Last edited on Sun Dec 16th, 2007 10:07 pm by HankC



 Posted: Sun Dec 16th, 2007 10:39 pm
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There were plenty of men willing to give up democracy for slavery, not as many willing to give up slavery for democracy...

That argument is just too clean, sterile, and 2-dimensional to me.  As Ole pointed out that the war became about slavery, I would like to flesh that out with:  For The Southerner, it also became about basic survival.  Set aside losing the slaves for a few minutes, by that point in the war, it became, for just about every Southerner, about losing EVERYTHING.  You know, the stuff like home and family.  And it pro'bly became about basic survival before it became about slavery.  Gee, if The South lost, just imagine what reconstruction could have been like?  (Admittedly, I think reconstruction was much kinder for the white southerners than it could have been - that's another topic, but how could they have known that until it happened - and it still weren't fun for anyone, black or white, but the northerner...)

In a later era: World War II had a  number of causes;  the attack on Pearl Harbor compelled many to enlist, but Pearl Harbor was not the cause of the war...

I admit that my WWII is very weak indeed, so I ask this in all sincerity:  Sure, Pearl Harbor was not the casue of WWII (I think it had already started? in other countries?) But would the US have entered into WWII without Pearl Harbor, and if so, when?



Last edited on Sun Dec 16th, 2007 10:49 pm by JoanieReb



 Posted: Sun Dec 16th, 2007 11:11 pm
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JoanieReb wrote: There were plenty of men willing to give up democracy for slavery, not as many willing to give up slavery for democracy...

That argument is just too clean, sterile, and 2-dimensional to me. 

 

Occam's razor strikes again. Not all arguments need to be convoluted.

 

HankC



 Posted: Mon Dec 17th, 2007 03:00 am
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"There were plenty of men willing to give up democracy for slavery, not as many willing to give up slavery for democracy..."

I like that, blunt and to the point and damned hard to dodge.

Suffice it to say OI once might have agreed wholeheartedly w/ JOanie.  Then I started to seriously read (blame Neil)and books like Apostles of Disunion by Dew made me reconsider and eventually completely change my opinion.

Secession was about Slavery; there's just too much evidence to convince me otherwise.  Hell the words of the men make it pointedly obvious.  It wasn't till after te war that those leaders f the Secession movement started stepping and fetching to cover their tracks and make it something it wasn't.



 Posted: Mon Dec 17th, 2007 03:46 am
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Hank C-

  Sorry, I don't buy it. Democracy was not at stake, but Union was. The northern states could have let the southern ones go, and still kept their democracy. Early in 1861, there was considerable sentiment to let the: "wayward sisters" go in peace. By firing on Ft. Sumter, the Confederates undercut the efforts of those who hoped for a peaceful resolution.

  I could say: "The north was willing to give up the Constitution to have Union."

  As pathetic as the Confederate Government was, I don't think that it was less democratic than the U.S. Government in 1861. The U.S. Government was quite willing to give up the Constitutional rights of its citizens (habeus corpus illegally suspended, for example) in order to prosecute a war to preserve the Union. All internal opposition was met with harsh measures. Attempts by the judiciary to intervene in cases such as Ex parte Merryman were brushed aside or simply ignored.

  The average Union soldier would have said that he was fighting to preserve the Union, not democracy. He certainly would not have said that he was fighting to end slavery. Indeed, when the Emancipation Proclamation came out in the beginning of 1863, it met with a very negative reaction  from many in the military. Most could have cared less about the slaves.

  The average southern soldier would not have said that he was fighting to preserve slavery or to maintain the wealth and status of the owners of large plantations. He would have said that he was fighting for independence from the U.S. Government, which he felt no longer represented him. He would have said above all that he was fighting to protect his home and his people.

  One Confederate soldier who was captured in Tennessee was asked by his captors what he was fighting for. His response was not that he was fighting to maintain slavery or destroy American democracy.  He replied: "Because y'all are down here."



 Posted: Mon Dec 17th, 2007 01:01 pm
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I always hear that the CS was not less Democratic than the US. Then answer me this: who ran against Davis for the Presidency? A vote w/ one name on the ballot does not smack of Democracy. What CS states had armed men at the polling places during the Secession vote? Look it up as it sure suprised me and helped explain the near unanimous votes in some areas. Why did some states take action against the US well prior to their Secession votes if they did not already know those votes were a done deal. There was some serious hanky panky going on in the voting for Secession. IMO the idea thta Secession was a unanimous southern thing is so much hooey that the Lost Cause built up after the war.

The CS govt was quite adept at ignoring it's own Constitution when it saw fit and resorted to Conscription for a very real reason at a very early stage. New CS recruits dried up for a reason and the CS deemed it necessary to change volunteer enlistments "to the duration" for a reason. The average Southerner soldier knew the war was a war fought by the poor man for the benefit of the wealthy slaveowner. Was he directly fighting for slavery? He was fighting for a nation whose very foundation was slavery; whether he wanted to or not but he knew what his govt was about. Why do you think so few mourned for the demise of the CS govt?



 Posted: Mon Dec 17th, 2007 02:46 pm
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Johan, if you go back to pre CW days who do you think voted for the Governors in most cases? I'll give you a hint, it wasn't the populace. The legislatures did.
The form of government we had, while a democracy was very different from what we have today. Even the very idea of the Electoral College was a dodge to be able to void the votes of the common man. It works even today. How many elections were won by Electoral votes and not by popular votes? Ask old G.W.
Neither the Union or the CS had a lock on true democracy.
But that was not a cause or reason for war. I truly can't sit here and tell you one was more democratic that the other. They both had their faults. It was a very trying time that took extraordinary measures to fight the war. We will never know what the exact make-up or end result would be for the CS government. The Federal government was also changed forever into the strong central government with a strong President instead of being Congress controlled, as it was prior to the war.

I think it is also a misnomer to give the western troops the credit for warring against slavery. The vast majority of the western men despised the negro. Many times the men refused to fight with them and in many cases the officers relegated them to only labor duty, such as Sherman's Pioneer Corp. Sherman even went so far as to seen his Colored Troops on a feint towards Charleston and to have them occupy Charleston to keep them away from his main army. Hell there were even race "riots" between Colored Troops and the white soldiers in places like Beaufort, SC.

While the South did a great job with the Lost Cause, don't think for one moment that the Northern writing of the war was any less propagandistic.

It still remains that the root cause was slavery, that was number one. But as I posted earlier it was not necessarily the reason the common solder fought, on either side.

"There were plenty of men willing to give up democracy for slavery, not as many willing to give up slavery for democracy..."

I don't buy it. It was not an either or. There was no talk of democracy in any quarter. Nice catch phrase but irrelevant.

"Johnny, of course, didn't own a single slave, so he couldn't have been fighting for slavery. Channing and McPherson (don't tell Joanie) take it a bit further. Possibly most fought for the adventure, the pay, an obligation to friends and family -- maybe even a few to protect their home; but a good many did join to keep alive the idea that one day they would be wealthy enough to own a slave, or simply because they feared having free blacks loose among them. -- the old and more modern argument that the black man wants nothing so much as he wants to marry your wives and daughters."

Where did you come up with this??? The South was not just large slave holding plantations, slaves were common on small farms as well. I always get a kick out of many who take the Southern stand but always state, "my ancestors never owned any slaves". I would suspect many never did their homework on their own geneology.

While some men did enlist for the reasons you gave Ole. I would challenge that any of the reasons cited were the over riding reasons most joined.

"the old and more modern argument that the black man wants nothing so much as he wants to marry your wives and daughters."
HUH? What kind of racist blanket are you throwing with this statement?

In the South slavery was an economic issue. The South had more property value in slaves than it did in all of it's land and industries combined. The very essence of it's existence was being threatened.

The State of South Carolina seceded from the Union on it's own. Other states followed suit. Much of the upper South did not secede until Lincoln called for the raising of the troops to invade the South, to put down the rebellion. It was the threat of invasion that caused them to join the Confederacy.



 Posted: Mon Dec 17th, 2007 03:44 pm
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Texas Defender wrote: Hank C-

  Sorry, I don't buy it. Democracy was not at stake, but Union was. 

 
When the reaction to losing a democratic election is to withdraw from the democratic process, democracy is indeed at stake.
 
 
HankC



 Posted: Mon Dec 17th, 2007 04:11 pm
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Johan-

   Jefferson Davis did not "run" for president. He didn't want the position at all. Other politicians, such as Howell Cobb, would have liked to have the job. However, those at the convention chose a person that was a kind of compromise candidate.

  It was impossible in the beginning of 1861 for the Confederacy to have held a national election. Could: "The United States of America" have done so in 1776? Of course not. The apparatus simply did not exist.

  It was more than 12 years before the first presidential election. Similarly, George Washington had no desire to be president. Others, such as John Adams, would have liked the job. But Washington was the person acceptable to all. Thus, he was persuaded to serve.

  In different areas of the south, the feeling for secession was stronger than in others. Some states, such as Virginia, resisted the idea until Mr. Lincoln demanded troops from them to invade the southern states that had already seceded. Even then. the vote was hardly unanimous, as some counties :"seceded" from Virginia.

  There was no need to: "cook the vote." In Tennessee, it was something like 104,913 to 47,238. There was certainly strong opposition to secession in some areas, but overall, there can be no doubt that the vast majority of southerners wanted their independence from the United States.

  No one is holding up the newborn Confederate Government as a model of democracy. But unlike the United States, which was fighting a war of choice, the Confederate Government was fighting a war of survival. They knew that they could never match the manpower and resources of the northern states. Even with their vast pool of manpower, the U.S. Government resorted to conscription soon after the Confederates did.

  Such erudite concepts as: "democracy" or: "American Civilization" meant little to the average man of the day. "A rich man's war and a poor man's fight" can be applied to any war, if thats the way you choose to look at it.

  Most southerners would have been quite happy if the northerners had just stayed where they were and left them alone. But they could not abide an invasion of their home territory by people that they felt no kinship with, and wanted nothing to do with.

  If few in the south mourned the demise of the Confederate Government, even fewer were pleased with the triumph of the United States Government. They had been forced at the point of a bayonet to remain in a marriage that they did not want. For as JEJ said: "Secession might not have been illegal, but it was certainly impractical."




 Posted: Mon Dec 17th, 2007 04:18 pm
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Still don't buy it.
The reaction was to who was elected, not how or the democratic process. The result was a withdrawal from the Union and a formation of another similar democracy. That they were exercising their right under the Constitution and democracy to withdraw from the Union. It was not so much a political decision for the sake of democracy as it was a political reaction to the perceived policies that were to come. The South was protecting their vested interests within the framework of the democracy, as they saw it, at the time.

While we commonly refer to the system we live under as a democracy, it many ways it wasn't and isn't a true democracy. Up until 1913 Senators were elected by the state legislators, as were many Governors prior to the 20th century. The President as I alluded to earlier was elected by the Electoral College. Democracy, not a very good example of one, but the best there was at the time and that still probably holds true today.

Good discussion though!



 Posted: Mon Dec 17th, 2007 04:49 pm
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For those discounting slavery and its hold on the Confederacy, look into Cleburne's plan to free and arm the slaves and the fact it was hushed up as blasphemy. What correspondence there is, roundly criticizes the idea. Cleburne's career was ruined even though he was among the most promising officers in the Confederacy.

The south preferred defeat to ending slavery-- because the Confederacy and slavery were so intertwined and connected.



 Posted: Mon Dec 17th, 2007 04:51 pm
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39th Miss. Walker wrote: Still don't buy it.
The reaction was to who was elected...

 
What is more key to democracy than abiding by election results?
 
 
HankC



 Posted: Mon Dec 17th, 2007 05:13 pm
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David-

  I cannot agree with your contention that the south preferred defeat to ending slavery. After all, defeat MEANT the end of slavery.

  General Cleburne advocated arming the slaves and giving them their freedom in return for their service. He was more concerned with the survival of the Confederacy than with maintaining the institution of slavery.

  The peace conference with Alexander Stephens and Abraham Lincoln in February of 1865 provides further proof of what the southerners were willing to do to preserve the Confederate Government.

 

The Hampton Roads Peace Conference During the War Between the States by John V. Denson

  Your attention is invited to the summary made by the author:

  "In summary, the South wanted independence, not the preservation of slavery, and the North wanted reunion rather than the abolition of slavery. This is what President Lincoln had stated in the very beginning of the war and again what he had stated near the end of the war."



 Posted: Mon Dec 17th, 2007 05:30 pm
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Hank C-

  Constitutionally, the right of the southern states to secede was the same after the Election of 1860 as it was before.

  The results of the election were not challenged. The southerners did not maintain that Lincoln was not elected, nor did they seek to change the results. No one plotted a coup to oust the democratically elected U.S. Government.

  The southerners did not seek to destroy the government of the United States, only to leave it. They did not threaten the existence of the U.S. Government at all. They just chose to opt out of it. As they saw it, they had every right to do so.

  The determination of the southerners to have their independence, and the determination of the northerners to prevent it meant that there would be a war. Both sides thought that they would soon prevail. Both sides were wrong.



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 Posted: Mon Dec 17th, 2007 07:28 pm
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Bama46, go back and re-read my posts. The underlying main cause of the war was the issue of slavery. It was not necessarily the reason most fought the war. Two entirely different things.



 Posted: Mon Dec 17th, 2007 07:32 pm
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Bama46 wrote:  I have further read that there were only 25% of the population of the Confederacy... actually if one looks at the 1860 census and does a littel arithmetic, there was something like 7% of the population that were slaveholders..

 
The 25% figure comes from dividing slaveholders by families rather than slaveholders by population...
 
 
HankC



 Posted: Mon Dec 17th, 2007 07:51 pm
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Jeff Davis was appointed... there was no will of the people involved in it.  the "verification" vote was a sham; one candidate is not an election.  So why the self determination/ experiment in democracy argument?  The way I see it secession was an attempt at Coup de tat.

The US Constitution was written to guarantee the minority a voice. The slaveocracy & CS it controled wanted the only voice; they realized they were about to become a minority and ran off w/ everything they could get their grubby paws on.

The divorce anology can be twisted to say anything and IMO doesn't hold water in any way shape or form. It's vogue to compare the CS to an innocent put upon woman who is trying to get away from an abusive husband. The reality is that the woman snatched anything that wasn't tied down in the way of property & money then swung at the husband w/ real intent to do serious & permenant injury. The husband fought back, won the house and kids in the argument. And when all was said and done he let the kids who were chained up in the backyard loose. That one action more than anything is why Uncle Sam gets all that grief from the wifes family to this day.

BTW good old Uncle Sam was a dirty old man... that Indian woman down the road was the one who got screwed. 

Is that a valid analogy?  Having been through a divorce and seen many others go through one I find the tactic pretty shameless.  But that's likely just me and my cynical nature showing through.

Last edited on Mon Dec 17th, 2007 08:04 pm by Johan Steele



 Posted: Mon Dec 17th, 2007 07:57 pm
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Large numbers of CS soldiers had no choice in if they were willing to fight or not. Huge numbers voted w/ their feet equalling the largest desertion rate of any standing army in the history of North America. Even the best units would face desertion rates of 60%.

The men on the sharp end knew what they were fighting for and it was not a better world for them and their families.

Why did so many stay and fight? The answer is obvious to anyone who has ever served; they were no longer fighting for their country but the men beside them. They didn't continue on for substandard food, shoddy clothing and intermittent (if any) useless CS money, they didn't fight for any ideal of a free & independent state or CS they were fighting for their friends & comrades beside them; screw the politicians & stay behinders.

Last edited on Mon Dec 17th, 2007 08:54 pm by Johan Steele



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