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Slavery and the Causes of the Civil War

  1. Sep 26, 2005 #1


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    Staff: Mentor

    Taken from the Confederate Flag thread in Politics...

    All of the "deep south" states seceded immediatly following Lincoln's election. The four "border states" that did not secede did not secede precisely because there was no clear preference for slavery in those states. Delaware had few slaves, so never considered secession, and the other 3 states have major internal conflicts over the issue.

    I disagree, but eh - this is an issue that has been debated for 150 years and will likely be debated for another 150 years.
    That is, of course, true, but that doesn't have anything to do with the fact that the slave states seceded immediately following Lincoln's election and South Carolina's Ordinance of Secession specifically mentions slavery as the "states rights" issue at issue.
    The main difference between large and small, agricultural and mercantile was slavery. While I know slavery wasn't specifically at issue in the Great Compromise (it was a basic power struggle), slavery was one of the prime characteristics that differentiated the states. There were two other compromises (3/5 compromise and the putting off on slave import regulations until 1808) that took a fair bit of negotiation to solve.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 21, 2017
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  3. Sep 26, 2005 #2


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    Although I realise it is largely a matter of opinion rather than fact as to what was the primary reason behind the civil war it is a matter of record that when the war began abolition of slavery was not one of the stated goals. See highlight below.

    The idea I put forward that there was an element of 'punishment' behind the abolition of slavery is reinforced by the highlighted passage below

    http://www.historychannel.com/blackhistory/?page=history4 [Broken] In fact the single biggest factor in setting the stage for the civil war appears to have been the war with Mexico and the ensuing political wrangling over the new territories won. The southern states feared the loss of it's natural majority in congress and the senate to the industrialised north who were at that time pushing their own brand of social structure and democracy. (which is proof of the saying 'those who don't learn from history are condemned to repeat it' :smile: )
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
  4. Sep 26, 2005 #3


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    Thanks for these careful remarks Russ, and for the extract from the South Carolina Ordinance of Secession.

    I just want to make one point here. Whatever the public/private role of slavery in the crisis and response of 1861, the constitutional situation took place in a different era of slavery. Before the introduction of the Cotton Gin, and the shift to a cotton economy, slavery was a much less attractive economic practice in the old South. Jefferson for one stated his dissatisfaction with his two slave plantations, which he hoped to get him out of his inherited debt, but failed to do so. Many southern thinkers were of the opinion that emancipation was doable, if the problems of compensation for owners and eliminating the presence of all those free blacks could be solved.
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