Monday, May 5, 2014
On the Ludicrous Notion that the Civil War was Fought Over Slavery
Let's just get the facts on the ground here (in 1861), OK? a) The U.S. Supreme Court was solidly behind the slave-holding states. b) The Constitution expressly protected slavery and mandated the return of fugitive slaves everywhere. c) Lincoln (in his inaugural) declared that he would enforce the Fugitive Slave Act and that he had no right to interfere with slavery (and that he also had no personal inclination to). d) Lincoln also pledged to support a new constitutional amendment (the Corwin Amendment) which would have protected slavery FOREVER (an amendment literally made irrevocable) and another one that would have made nullification of the Fugitive Slave Act illegal. e) Wall Street and the other northern economic powers that be also supported slavery/the status quo. f) The vast majority of northern citizens either supported slavery or were exceedingly ambivalent to it (abolitionists probably representing less than 5% of the populace). g) Yes, a lot of the southern states did emphasize slavery in their articles but that can quite readily be brushed aside by examining the politics. I cite this specifically from the North American Review (Boston, October 1862) - "Slavery is not the cause of the rebellion. Slavery is the pretext on which the leaders of the rebellion rely, to fire the Southern heart, and through which the greatest degree of unanimity can be produced. Mr. Calhoun, after finding that the South could not be brought into sufficient unanimity by a clamor about the tariff, selected slavery as the better subject for agitation." So slavery was a political ploy, in other words, and damned if that doesn't make a hell of a lot more sense. h) One could also logically argue that slavery would have probably been more secure IN the union, in that the Fugitive Slave Act would have no longer been applicable (once a slave had escaped and crossed into the North he would have been liberated, period) had the South seceded.