Wednesday, March 19, 2014
John A. Garraty (Former President of the Society of American Historians and Author of "The American Nation") on the Civil War
a) "Although abolition was to be one of the major results of the Civil War, the war was fought for nationalistic reasons, NOT TO DESTROY SLAVERY (my emphasis). Lincoln made this plain beyond argument when he wrote, more than a year after the outbreak of hostilities: 'If I could save the Union without freeing ANY (Garraty's emphasis) slave, I would do it.'"............b) "Lincoln had assured the South that he would respect slavery where it existed. The Democrats had retained control of Congress in the election; the Supreme Court was firmly in their hands as well. If the North did try to destroy slavery, then secession was perhaps a logical tactic, but why not wait until the threat materialized? To leave the Union meant abandoning the very objectives for which the South had been contending for over a decade; a share of the federal territories and an enforceable Fugitive Slave Act (which, you see, Shaw, would not have been enforced at all subsequent to secession).............Two major reasons help to explain why the South rejected this line of thinking. One was the fact that the tremendous economic energy generated in the North seemed to threaten the South's independence.......Secession, southerners argued, would 'liberate' the South and produce the kind of balanced economy that was proving so successful in the North.............The other reason was emotional. The years of sectional conflict, the growing northern criticism of slavery, perhaps even an unconscious awareness that this criticism was well founded, had undermined and in many cases destroyed the patriotic feelings of southerners. Because of the constant clamor set up by the the New England anti-slavery groups, the South tended to identify all northerners as 'Yankee abolitionists' (a paranoiac notion, dear Shaw, in that Indiana didn't even let black people inside its borders).......Although states' rights provided the legal justification for leaving the Union and southerners expounded the strict-constructionist interpretation of the Constitution with great fervor and ingenuity, these ECONOMIC (my emphasis) and emotional factors were far more basic."