Discussion A quote from Grant's memoirs

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barrygio

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Near the beginning of volume 2 of Grant's memoirs, I find interesting his analysis of the South at that time, and his prediction of what it's destiny could have been:

"There was no time during the rebellion when I did not think, and often say, that the South was more to be benefitted by its defeat than the North. The latter had the people, the institutions, and the territory to make a great and prosperous nation. The former was burdened with an institution abhorrent to all civilized people not brought up under it, and one which degraded labor, kept it in ignorance, and enervated the governing class. With the outside world at war with this institution, they could not have extended their territory. The labor of the country was not skilled, nor allowed to become so. The whites could not toil without becoming degraded, and those who did were denominated 'poor white trash.' The system of labor would have soon exhausted the soil and left the people poor. The non-slaveholders would have left the country, and the small slaveholder must have sold out to his more fortunate neighbor. Soon the slaves would have outnumbered the masters, and not being in sympathy with them, would have risen in their might and exterminated them. The war was expensive to the South as well as to the North, both in blood and treasure, but it was worth all it cost."

end quote. I do believe that the South benefitted by its defeat. It's difficult to imagine that society, as structured, succeeding in the long term. I'm not sure if an insurrection would have been in the cards, though. Somewhat speculative. I had never thought of a migration of whites out of the South to seek better opportunities. Does anyone know if, prior to the Civil War, the South was already being drained of poor whites? And if so, were they all heading west to new territories, or were any going north?
 

Norm53

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Near the beginning of volume 2 of Grant's memoirs, I find interesting his analysis of the South at that time, and his prediction of what it's destiny could have been:

"There was no time during the rebellion when I did not think, and often say, that the South was more to be benefitted by its defeat than the North. The latter had the people, the institutions, and the territory to make a great and prosperous nation. The former was burdened with an institution abhorrent to all civilized people not brought up under it, and one which degraded labor, kept it in ignorance, and enervated the governing class. With the outside world at war with this institution, they could not have extended their territory. The labor of the country was not skilled, nor allowed to become so. The whites could not toil without becoming degraded, and those who did were denominated 'poor white trash.' The system of labor would have soon exhausted the soil and left the people poor. The non-slaveholders would have left the country, and the small slaveholder must have sold out to his more fortunate neighbor. Soon the slaves would have outnumbered the masters, and not being in sympathy with them, would have risen in their might and exterminated them. The war was expensive to the South as well as to the North, both in blood and treasure, but it was worth all it cost."

end quote. I do believe that the South benefitted by its defeat. It's difficult to imagine that society, as structured, succeeding in the long term. I'm not sure if an insurrection would have been in the cards, though. Somewhat speculative. I had never thought of a migration of whites out of the South to seek better opportunities. Does anyone know if, prior to the Civil War, the South was already being drained of poor whites? And if so, were they all heading west to new territories, or were any going north?
The quote demonstrates to me that, outside of fighting skills, Grant was an ignorant man. There is no reason to believe that the South would not have prospered indefinitely if it had been able to continue to grow cotton using slave labor in the territories and beyond. It was supported in this quest by the Dred Scott decision. With huge additional profits, the Southern ruling classes could buy all the manufactures and luxuries that they desired, including railroads, indefinitely into the future.

Slavery was a burden only to the slaves and their supporters. So what that it was uncivilized and degrading? That is a moral question, not an economic one. How were the planters enervated? How could the outside world prevent a slave-based economy from prospering? So what if some of the poor whites left for better jobs in the free states? It does not follow that the exodus of the poor could not have been replaced by slaves.
 
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wausaubob

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The census data, published on a preliminary basis in 1862, and more fully in 1864 support the conclusion that out migration had begun before the war. The whites with the most ambition went north or moved west. Together with the high death rates in Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi, the tendency towards a high % of enslaved would have produced uprisings. Slaves either escape or revolt.
Grant's view, written at the end of his life, comes after long visits in Britain and several years in New York. The quote comes from Grant but his opinion is based in British experience and Santo Domingo.
 

JohnJW

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"There was no time during the rebellion when I did not think, and often say, that the South was more to be benefitted by its defeat than the North.
Graduating 21 out of 39 from West Point . . . no one ever accused Hiram of being a genius.

Does anyone know if, prior to the Civil War, the South was already being drained of poor whites? And if so, were they all heading west to new territories, or were any going north?
I took a look at the difference in population in one state - Mississippi - between the 1840 and 1850 census. The state population roughly doubled. Some portion of that is the slave population. Even if the number of slaves grew substantially, we still see a growth in white population. So at least in MS, it doesn't appear that many were migrating out of the state.

We also know that after the CW, 90% of the Mississippi Delta was still wild country and it attracted many who wanted to try their hand at farming. So, it's the exact opposite of what Grant was saying.

Slavery did depress the economy for poor white trash. It depressed both low-skilled and high-skilled labor wages and of course, depressed opportunity. It also depressed market prices.

But slavery was usually restricted to certain regions. In places like Tennessee and Louisiana, the closer one got to the Mississippi River, the better the soil. So I would think that poor white trash would most likely remain in the same state but migrate towards non-slave portions of the state.

I'm just guessing at this. Great question!

Btw . . . . here's an example of one such white trash fellow . . . . David Crockett.

I suspect his experience was probably typical.
 
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Norm53

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Grant had the fighting skills of a pit bull. Lee was a general.

Supposedly, grant had the lowest IQ of any US president.
Your first sentence constitutes fighting words to many CWT members. I am not qualified to comment on Grant's military leadership skills, nor on his I.Q., but judging from his writings, it could not have been much above average. His ignorance on non-military subjects must be obvious to all but his most ardent fans.
 
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Norm53

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The South's problem was not slavery; it was what turned out to be a misjudgment that it could secede successfully. Secession provided the excuse for the North to (with utmost difficulty) conquer it, eliminate slavery, and impoverish the South for generations.
 

Norm53

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What should we expect the man who won the war to say, other than that the victory he helped achieve was a good thing for all? I'd be shocked if he said otherwise. Not that I agree with him, but I"m not surprised that this was his opinion.
It's one thing to have an opinion; it's another thing to express it and expose one's ignorance.
 
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Robin Lesjovitch

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The census data, published on a preliminary basis in 1862, and more fully in 1864 support the conclusion that out migration had begun before the war. The whites with the most ambition went north or moved west. Together with the high death rates in Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi, the tendency towards a high % of enslaved would have produced uprisings. Slaves either escape or revolt.
Grant's view, written at the end of his life, comes after long visits in Britain and several years in New York. The quote comes from Grant but his opinion is based in British experience and Santo Domingo.
Grant makes a broad generalization based on narrow evidence. Beginning with the first census in 1790, all states started to lose population to the west. In the "South" VA, NC, SC and GA all began gaining population to the west within those states. TN and KY were populated. People moved on.
Below northern Alabama, life was difficult for those moving west, the Gulf coast excepted. The war did nothing to improve that. I cannot imagine supporting the notion that VA, NC, TN, SC, or GA benefited from the war. It is nearly exclaming 'hey, Rebs, we brought you the 20th Century, hooray for us!". Sounds Lincolnesque....sounds good, makes little sense if thought on.
 

Fire Eater25

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I don’t think War has ever been good for the defeated and conquered. As far as Slavery breaking the economy of the south? Eventually what happens to the oppressed is uprising and rebellion if history teaches us anything but ultimately it’s a what if scenario. like asking what if Lincoln lost his re-election or what if the south won the war. We then enter “what if territory” where anything goes. Just my 2 cents
 
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JohnJW

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And I doubt there was any reliable method of measuring that subjective trait then.
IQ is not subjective. You can call the results useless . . . but they're derived very objectively.

They don't measure the IQ of historical figures. They estimate it based on what they've produced. It's simply a matter of comparison. Writing is especially easy to do because computers today allow you to examine the writing of ancient figures. Paintings, sculpture are more difficult. Musci is also fairly east to use as an estimator.
 

Norm53

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IQ is not subjective. You can call the results useless . . . but they're derived very objectively.

They don't measure the IQ of historical figures. They estimate it based on what they've produced. It's simply a matter of comparison. Writing is especially easy to do because computers today allow you to examine the writing of ancient figures. Paintings, sculpture are more difficult. Music is also fairly east to use as an estimator.
Wandering a ways off topic, I like to think that I can roughly gauge a person's intelligence by the amount of insight he/she shows in speech or writing. For example, I think that Shakespeare, Dickens, and Austen had very high I.Q.'s because of the insights about human behavior that they were able to express in their writings. Although controversial, I think that people's intuition about I.Q. cannot be dismissed easily because I notice in my interactions with people that their friends and mates have similar I.Q.s. - as I perceive them, of course. From their memoirs, I gauge Sherman to be a person of high intelligence, whereas Sheridan and Grant to be of slightly above average I.Q.

Since you mention music, I consider Verdi and his librettists and Wagner, who was his own librettist, to be of superior intelligence for the same reason - insight.
 
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barrygio

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Feel much better now about the 700,000 dead, the many thousands imprisoned, the tens of thousands whose lives were upended and liberty impeded, and the destruction of homes, farms and businesses in the invaded southern States. It was all for their own good.

I do not believe Grant was trying to say that the North did the South a favor by waging war against the seceded states. He just believed the South would have been on a dead end course as a separate nation with slavery preserved.

He believed that, in a unified U.S., the North had more to offer than the South. Therefore, if the partnership was preserved (i.e. if the South lost the war) the South had more to gain from this partnership than did the North

You may disagree with that assessment, but your emotional response just distorts Grant's quote.
 

Rebforever

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Near the beginning of volume 2 of Grant's memoirs, I find interesting his analysis of the South at that time, and his prediction of what it's destiny could have been:

"There was no time during the rebellion when I did not think, and often say, that the South was more to be benefitted by its defeat than the North. The latter had the people, the institutions, and the territory to make a great and prosperous nation. The former was burdened with an institution abhorrent to all civilized people not brought up under it, and one which degraded labor, kept it in ignorance, and enervated the governing class. With the outside world at war with this institution, they could not have extended their territory. The labor of the country was not skilled, nor allowed to become so. The whites could not toil without becoming degraded, and those who did were denominated 'poor white trash.' The system of labor would have soon exhausted the soil and left the people poor. The non-slaveholders would have left the country, and the small slaveholder must have sold out to his more fortunate neighbor. Soon the slaves would have outnumbered the masters, and not being in sympathy with them, would have risen in their might and exterminated them. The war was expensive to the South as well as to the North, both in blood and treasure, but it was worth all it cost."

end quote. I do believe that the South benefitted by its defeat. It's difficult to imagine that society, as structured, succeeding in the long term. I'm not sure if an insurrection would have been in the cards, though. Somewhat speculative. I had never thought of a migration of whites out of the South to seek better opportunities. Does anyone know if, prior to the Civil War, the South was already being drained of poor whites? And if so, were they all heading west to new territories, or were any going north?
Describe poor if you don't mind.
 
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