At the root. Slavery?

ole

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This thread sounds much like another. That one has soared into heights that I find fascinating but difficult to follow and well beyond my ability to contribute. In this one, I'd like to locate a reason for dissatisfaction and secession that had no connection to the peculiar institution.

We've covered in several threads the positions that tariffs, increasing federal power, diminishing southern polititical influence, denying the territories to slaveowning settlers, returning to the intent of the Founders, greedy northern capitalists, and on and on. My idea is to address, in a thread, positions for and against each other cause of the conflict, and how it was not related to slavery.
Ole
 

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trice

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ole said:
We've covered in several threads the positions that tariffs, increasing federal power, diminishing southern polititical influence, denying the territories to slaveowning settlers, returning to the intent of the Founders, greedy northern capitalists, and on and on. My idea is to address, in a thread, positions for and against each other cause of the conflict, and how it was not related to slavery.
Ole
Tariffs
Really just the rate schedules on taxes on imports. The argument was simply about how low or high they should be, and which products they should be on.

Like most people, Southerners favored high tariffs where it helped them and low tariffs where they thought that helped them. What has always puzzled me is why the South was unable to create an alliance with the farmers of the Northwest on this issue in the 1840-1860 period.

In 1860, US tariffs were exceptionally low, regarded as the lowest in the world for a major nation. The Buchanan administration had managed to create a financial disaster from 1857-1860 in traditional political fashion: lowering income while raising spending. As a result, an increase of some kind to meet the burgeoning deficit was inevitable in 1860-61. This was why the House had passed the new tariff in 1860, and why the Senate was scheduled to vote on it in early 1861. By withdrawing their votes in 1861, the seceding states ensured the result of the Senate vote and tossed away any chance of working for better terms in it.

Since the US essentially only had two sources of revenue (land sales and import tariffs), any proposal to lower tariffs on imports needed to come up with a new source of revenue to pay for the government (or cut spending). This meant things like direct taxes, excise taxes, taxes on exports, etc. Most Americans/Southerners were dead-set against all of these as well. There is a lot of sound and fury on tarriffs, but little resonability and common sense, IMHO

Increasing Federal Power
The slave states usually loved Federal power when it aided them (the Fugitive Slave Acts, War with Mexico, etc.) and detested it when it did not. The same can be said of the free states in many cases. While there were some philosophers objecting on general principles, I think this was mainly an issue of self-advantage for most. Jefferson, for instance, opposed the concentration of Federal power and also bought Louisiana and exerted Federal powers in other ways. Clay was initially a strong nationalist before switching over once he felt growing Federal power threatened the South.

I feel this claim is usually more about what is being done with the power than the power itself. Politicians seem willing to flip from one side to another on it easily enough. The ins like using the power; the outs object to it being used.

Diminishing Southern Polititical Influence
Well, yes, there were Southerners who resented it. There were Northerners in the last 50 years who resented the movement of political power to the south and west as populations grew there. This is normal, as are the conflicts of different interests. Nothing in our Constitution guaranteed Southern political dominance, or Northern dominance, or anything else like it.

This I think very heavily tied to slavery, because what Southerners seem to have felt more than anything else was that growing Northern influence threatened their ownership of slave property.

Denying the Territories to Slaveowning Settlers
Well, George Washington signed the first law banning slaves from the territories; he told Lafayette both before and after signing it that he believed it was the right thing to do. I'd have to say I agreed with him. But in any case, it would seem purely impossible to divorce this thought from slavery in any fashion.

Returning to the intent of the Founders
Seems to me to be an argument that thrives only where you cover what about half of the Founders thought. It doesn't seem to matter what the speaker thinks the "intent of the Founders" was. It always seems that about half of them thought something different than whatever the current speaker wants them to think, and so they have to sweep too much under the carpet to be believed.

Personally, I think that the Founders were trying to create a permanent nation that could adjust to changing conditions with some flexibility, while still protecting concepts they held dear. They had all seen hardship and war; many had helped carve their communities out of wilderness or came from families that had. I think they were looking for a balance of differing concepts, with tradeoffs and compromises from practical men. I do not believe their intent was the dogmatic attitudes that developed and hardened later.

But if there is any real consensus on what the "intent of the Founders" was on slavery, it seems to be that they thought that it was with them in the then-and-now, that they were a bit uncomfortable talking about liberty while they kept slaves, and thought that it would end somewhere out there in the sweet-by-and-by.

Greedy Northern Capitalists
When I hear this, I always wonder: As opposed to what? Altruistic Southern Planters?

The "King Cotton" idea was all about greed and power, run by Southern Capitalists, and the "Manifest Destiny" idea was about Americans/Southerners taking over the continent because God supposedly wanted them to do so. I think this is simply a pot-calling-the-kettle-black issue and should be discarded as a red herring in any discussion of the causes of secession. Americans of 1860 were about average: people, with all the graces and virtues they have in most times and places.

Regards,
Tim
 

ole

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What has always puzzled me is why the South was unable to create an alliance with the farmers of the Northwest on this issue in the 1840-1860 period.
Not puzzling to me. It would make sense if they had, but I don't see them forming any kind of amity with those mudsills.
Personally, I think that the Founders were trying to create a permanent nation that could adjust to changing conditions with some flexibility, while still protecting concepts they held dear.
I would only add that the founders were keenly aware of human nature and made provisions -- bicameral legislature, triple governance -- to guard against the formation of a lasting tyrannical majority. Unfortunately, they were a bit naive in believing that public servants would naturally act as public servants should.
Well, George Washington signed the first law banning slaves from the territories; he told Lafayette both before and after signing it that he believed it was the right thing to do. I'd have to say I agreed with him. But in any case, it would seem purely impossible to divorce this thought from slavery in any fashion.
I've always stumbled on this argument. Clearly, George wanted the practice to wither and expire from natural causes, also clear is that the government -- all the people -- own the territories and can do whatever they want with them. What grabs my ankles when wading through this swamp is why? You can't make Kansas and Nebraska slave states and expect them to stay that way. To be a slave state, the majority of the citizens must favor slavery. How many slaveowners actually moved to Kansas? How many even considered it? So why bother? Slavery was naturally confined to areas where cotton, sugar cane, tobacco, rice, and hemp could thrive. Get much past the Missouri River and slaves are less than useless. (I know. Mining and manufacturing can figure in here but free labor in the form of immigrants and migrating natives proved to be cheaper than slaves.

But, I digress. Much appreciate your response, Tim. Now, if I could get some responses from someone who isn't on the same page, I'd be quite ecstatic.
Ole
 

trice

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oleI've always stumbled on this argument. Clearly said:
Part of the slavery issue (the parts about fugitive slaves and rights of transit, etc.) always puzzle me. Essentially they violate any possible concept of "states' rights" in order to protect slave property rights. The rights of transit argument is essentially saying to the Federal government or the states that they can pass any law they want, that is fine and dandy, but that law will not apply to slaveowners if they should happen to come into a free territory or state.

This is what Lincoln and others saw arising from the Dred Scott case and actions in the Buchanan administration. Their belief was that it was all being orchestrated to get to a point where Illinois, say, could declare itself a free state and have no power to prevent slavery within its borders.

I wouldn't worry about getting a contrary opinion. People here seem to like speaking up.:smile:
Regards,
Tim
 

ole

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Part of the slavery issue (the parts about fugitive slaves and rights of transit, etc.) always puzzle me. Essentially they violate any possible concept of "states' rights" in order to protect slave property rights. The rights of transit argument is essentially saying to the Federal government or the states that they can pass any law they want, that is fine and dandy, but that law will not apply to slaveowners if they should happen to come into a free territory or state.
I'm a bit torn on this one. I don't see how a state can declare a slave in transit free. The constitution clearly holds that a "person bound to servitude" is sacrosanct. I can understand that a state can make slavery illegal within its borders, but I don't see where a state can say that a man's property is no longer his if he crosses the border.

In a modern perspective, New Jersey might pass a law forbidding ownership of a foreign-made automobile, in which case (play along) every Jerseyite would presumably be given time to divest themselves of same. But the guy from Ohio driving his Mercedes through NJ to New York or points east, or stopping in Trenton to visit relatives would have his car confiscated. That doesn't make any sense. Although it is the state's right to legislate for its own citzens, applying that legislation to a visitor or a passer-through just sounds downright unfriendly.

I believe the constitution, without an expressed provision for enforcement, required a state to give up an escaped slave. Of course, the state could easily say, "Slave? What slave. I don't see a slave." And there's the legal rub. Although bounty hunters and slave owners had a right to demand the property, I don't see constitutionality of requiring the state to extend itself in complying with the demand. The courts would be required to process the paperwork and hear the evidence. After that was done, Sheriff or Marshall Joe would be ordered to find the person in question and turn him or her over to the claimant.

Well, Officer Joe is enjoying a fine dinner and plans to go fishing tomorrow. After that, he's obliged to visit his wife's relatives two days away, for a week or two. The election is this fall and he knows that he's out of a job if he extends himself to return an escaped slave. So he goes through the motions and doesn't find the escapee.

Fugitive slaves, Personal Liberty Laws and Fugitive Slave laws were a non-issue used effectively by secessionists to stir up emotions. Actually requiring a citizen to do what he did not want to do confounds politicians today. Witness the fairly recent example of prohibition. Would the US be better off if there were no alcohol? Certainly. Can you make people stop drinking with a law? Not likely.

I'm reminded of something I read about the Native American culture a long time ago: They were well aware of rules about what you may not do. They never did understand rules about what you must do. Seems about as true today as it was then.

But I blather.
Ole
 

trice

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ole said:
I'm a bit torn on this one. I don't see how a state can declare a slave in transit free. The constitution clearly holds that a "person bound to servitude" is sacrosanct. I can understand that a state can make slavery illegal within its borders, but I don't see where a state can say that a man's property is no longer his if he crosses the border.
Yet they do (sometimes even in error). For example, about 2 or 3 years back there was a large stink because a winery on the West Coast shipped a case of wine to a customer in WV. It went UPS, IIRR, and hit a distribution center in MD, where it was illegal to ship wine from out of state direct to a consumer. In an excess of zeal, someone seized and <supposedly> destroyed a very expensive case of wine. (The state attorney was baffled as to why anyone bothered, but it blew up to a major case in the wine wars.)


ole said:
In a modern perspective, New Jersey might pass a law forbidding ownership of a foreign-made automobile, in which case (play along) every Jerseyite would presumably be given time to divest themselves of same. But the guy from Ohio driving his Mercedes through NJ to New York or points east, or stopping in Trenton to visit relatives would have his car confiscated. That doesn't make any sense. Although it is the state's right to legislate for its own citzens, applying that legislation to a visitor or a passer-through just sounds downright unfriendly.
Hmm, I think the "unfriendly" part depends on what we are talking about. For example, NJ has very tough gun laws and GA has very easy ones (or did a few years ago). The NJ Turnpike/I-95 is a major path for illegal guns coming up from the South into NJ/NY/etc. If a state trooper pulls a NY citizen over and he is illegally transporting, say, a dozen handguns he just purchased in GA, he will confiscate them and charge the NYer. I do not object to that and find that it makes sense even if it was legal to have them in GA. (I use the dozen figure because that is what I remember from a particular incident.)

But to get to slavery, suppose a citizen of a slave state came to attend Princeton (a common occurrence in pre-Civil War days). If he brings his slaves with him and remains for a few years, how long are the slaves "in transit"? Does not NJ have some right to prohibit him from maintaining slaves in the state for years or months? Or is a citizen of one state perpetually immune from the laws of another?

ole said:
I believe the constitution, without an expressed provision for enforcement, required a state to give up an escaped slave. Of course, the state could easily say, "Slave? What slave. I don't see a slave." And there's the legal rub. Although bounty hunters and slave owners had a right to demand the property, I don't see constitutionality of requiring the state to extend itself in complying with the demand. The courts would be required to process the paperwork and hear the evidence. After that was done, Sheriff or Marshall Joe would be ordered to find the person in question and turn him or her over to the claimant.

Well, Officer Joe is enjoying a fine dinner and plans to go fishing tomorrow. After that, he's obliged to visit his wife's relatives two days away, for a week or two. The election is this fall and he knows that he's out of a job if he extends himself to return an escaped slave. So he goes through the motions and doesn't find the escapee.
There was, of course, a fair amount of this. That is why the Fugitive Slave Act compelled Joe to detain the accused simply because he was accused. If he did not, he was fined $1,000. If the accused escaped, Joe was liable for the claimed value of the slave. The state judicial system was also set aside, habeas corpus was denied, and the accused was not allowed to speak in his own defense. Any trial was to take back in the home state of the accuser, and the Federal government was required to use any necessary force to return the fugitive if a Federal "commissioner" specially appointed found there were grounds to do so. That "commissioner" was paid $5 for finding the paperwork filed was insufficient to send the accused back -- and $10 to find that it was sufficient.

ole said:
Fugitive slaves, Personal Liberty Laws and Fugitive Slave laws were a non-issue used effectively by secessionists to stir up emotions. Actually requiring a citizen to do what he did not want to do confounds politicians today. Witness the fairly recent example of prohibition. Would the US be better off if there were no alcohol? Certainly. Can you make people stop drinking with a law? Not likely.
Hence the Abolitionists, the Underground RR, and the PLLs: all attempts to resist/deter the imposition of Federal power in favor of slavery.

Regards,
Tim
 

Wild_Rose

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Quote:
What has always puzzled me is why the South was unable to create an alliance with the farmers of the Northwest on this issue in the 1840-1860 period.

Ole: Not puzzling to me. It would make sense if they had, but I don't see them forming any kind of amity with those mudsills.
In antebellum times there were three major sections of the country: North, South and West (the mid-West was generally referred to simply as "the West"). The North was generally for high tariffs while the South was adamantly against it. The West had more in common with the agricultural South with one exception. That exception was in exports. Poor transportation means prevented the far West from exporting their produce in a big way. They clammored for internal improvements to remedy this problem.

The high tariff hurt their economy to the extent of minimal exporting they did do, but lack of transportation hurt it worse. Historically, the West would swing from supporting a high tariff that promised them the desired internal improvements then back to a low tariff that was advantageous to their export economy.

The North and West exchanged votes for high tariffs and internal improvements. Rapidly expanding railroads and other transportation improvements allowed the West a greater opportunity to export. Yet later, in the mid-1840's, the West voted for the lower Walker Tariff. They saw that high tariffs was a double edged sword that now was hurting their export economy.

To give some insight into why the West didn't form a coalition with the South against high tariffs early on can be found in the internal improvements spending.

Table 3: Geographic Distribution of Federal Spending on Internal Improvements, 1820-1829
Percentage of Spending -- Percentage of Population(1830)
North 49.4............... 47.5
South 19.0............... 39.9
West 31.6 ...............1 2.6
Source: Malone (1998), Appendix A, and U.S. Bureau of the Census (1975) series A 195.
http://www.dartmouth.edu/~dirwin/internal2.pdf

The West with only 12.6% of the population was getting 31.6% of the funds allotted to internal improvements. It's easy to see why the West would vote for high tariffs at this time. It's, also, easy to see why the South wasn't fond of this American System plan for nationwide improvements.

Regards,
Rose
 

trice

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Wild_Rose said:
...
To give some insight into why the West didn't form a coalition with the South against high tariffs early on can be found in the internal improvements spending.

Table 3: Geographic Distribution of Federal Spending on Internal Improvements, 1820-1829
Percentage of Spending -- Percentage of Population(1830)
North 49.4............... 47.5
South 19.0............... 39.9
West 31.6 ...............1 2.6
Source: Malone (1998), Appendix A, and U.S. Bureau of the Census (1975) series A 195.
http://www.dartmouth.edu/~dirwin/internal2.pdf

The West with only 12.6% of the population was getting 31.6% of the funds allotted to internal improvements. It's easy to see why the West would vote for high tariffs at this time. It's, also, easy to see why the South wasn't fond of this American System plan for nationwide improvements.
That's an interesting document; I remember coming across it before, so thank you for getting me to refresh myself on it.

One thing you might want to ponder here is "the West" in the 1820s included states like Kentucky and Tennessee. The log-rolling politics of the American System was orchestrated by Henry Clay of Kentucky and in the early days Calhoun of South Carolina was a supporter. New York and New England were ambivalent about internal improvements (Daniel Webster opposed the American System early on and supported it in later years), while NJ and PA were strongly protectionist -- but NJ still had slaves and was otherwise aligned with the South on most issues. NY's view swung back and forth with the completion of the Erie Canal. In general, about 2/3rds of the North votes in Congress seem to have been in favor of internal improvements.

One of the reasons for the West's desire for internal improvements in those days was that they were the frontier. They didn't have a few generations of already existing infrastructure to rely on, and they were seeking help -- which was the basis for the log-rolling deal they made.

In 1860, the parts of the country most interested in the Morrill Tariff the South found so appalling were Western farmers and PA iron manufacturers. As the saying goes, all politics are local.

Regards,
Tim
 

ole

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The high tariff hurt their economy to the extent of minimal exporting they did do, but lack of transportation hurt it worse.
I'm assuming you meant minimal importing. And yes, their livelihoods depended on railroads to transport the excess produce to markets in the east and riverports to serve thesouthern and worldwide markets.
The West with only 12.6% of the population was getting 31.6% of the funds allotted to internal improvements. It's easy to see why the West would vote for high tariffs at this time. It's, also, easy to see why the South wasn't fond of this American System plan for nationwide improvements.
I suspect that you believe these improvements were for railroads. I think they were more inclined toward river control, canal construction, ports on the rivers. Seems that the disproportionate amount spent in the West was more due to the relative newness of the West in the scheme of the nation.

The South did, apparently get the short end of the stick in 1830. With 4 ports to maintain, and a lack of interest in anything beyond a railroad from the nearest city to that port, the South didn't seem to much care. It was fat and happy with things as they were. And, it did have effective control of the disbursement of those monies.
Ole
 

trice

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ole said:
I'm assuming you meant minimal importing. And yes, their livelihoods depended on railroads to transport the excess produce to markets in the east and riverports to serve thesouthern and worldwide markets.I suspect that you believe these improvements were for railroads. I think they were more inclined toward river control, canal construction, ports on the rivers. Seems that the disproportionate amount spent in the West was more due to the relative newness of the West in the scheme of the nation.

The South did, apparently get the short end of the stick in 1830. With 4 ports to maintain, and a lack of interest in anything beyond a railroad from the nearest city to that port, the South didn't seem to much care. It was fat and happy with things as they were. And, it did have effective control of the disbursement of those monies.
Ole
The Tom Thumb was the first American-built steam locomotive in general operation. That was in 1830, so there would be very little in the internal improvements before that date related to RRs. The first steam locomotive used, the Stourbridge Lion, was used by the Delaware & Hudson Canal Co. in 1829. It was too heavy for the track and was used as a staionary boiler.

Before that, they used things like horses and wind-power.

Regards,
Tim
 

trice

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ole said:
And wharves and piers and flatboars.
Ole
Well, yes. But what I meant and should have said was that there actually were RRs before there were steam locomotives. Although the Tom Thumb wasn't running until 1830, the Baltimore & Ohio was chartered in 1827. They tried sails and horses to power their trains, including one ingenious arrangement where the horse was on a treadmill and the power was transmitted directly to the wheels. Must have been darn happy to see their first locomotives:angel: .

Regards,
Tim
 

Wild_Rose

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ole said:
I'm assuming you meant minimal importing.
No, I meant exporting. The West wanted better access to world markets with their agricultural products. The West could produce abundantly more than the home market could support, but the cost of transportation was preventing the export of the surplus. As transportation means improved and became more cost effective the West was able to take her place in the world market.

ole said:
The South did, apparently get the short end of the stick in 1830. With 4 ports to maintain, and a lack of interest in anything beyond a railroad from the nearest city to that port, the South didn't seem to much care. It was fat and happy with things as they were. And, it did have effective control of the disbursement of those monies.
When the North and West both stood together in opposition to the South, the South didn't have control over the disbursement of the internal spending. In the early years the West often exchanged votes with the North over high tariffs for transportation improvements.

"...the South bitterly opposed both high tariffs and spending on internal improvements. The South did not see how it stood to gain from the American System. High tariffs were directly counter to its economic interests because it exported most of its produce, and the South was not geographically positioned to benefit from federal spending on internal improvements."

"In the view of the South, the tariff was not just an indirect tax on its exports and a direct tax on the manufactured goods that it consumed, but the revenues generated by the duties were spent in other regions of the country. Southern politicians assailed the tariff for siphoning off resources
from the South, leading to impassioned cries that it was being oppressed and exploited by the other regions of the country."
http://www.dartmouth.edu/~dirwin/internal2.pdf

Regards,
Rose
 

trice

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Wild_Rose said:
When the North and West both stood together in opposition to the South, the South didn't have control over the disbursement of the internal spending. In the early years the West often exchanged votes with the North over high tariffs for transportation improvements.

"...the South bitterly opposed both high tariffs and spending on internal improvements. The South did not see how it stood to gain from the American System. High tariffs were directly counter to its economic interests because it exported most of its produce, and the South was not geographically positioned to benefit from federal spending on internal improvements."

"In the view of the South, the tariff was not just an indirect tax on its exports and a direct tax on the manufactured goods that it consumed, but the revenues generated by the duties were spent in other regions of the country. Southern politicians assailed the tariff for siphoning off resources
from the South, leading to impassioned cries that it was being oppressed and exploited by the other regions of the country."
http://www.dartmouth.edu/~dirwin/internal2.pdf
http://www.dartmouth.edu/~dirwin/internal2.pdf
True enough, but men like Calhoun of SC were early supporters of the American System of Clay of Kentucky. By the late 1820s they were not, and in 1830 President Andrew Jackson broke the connection bewteen tariffs and internal improvements starting with his veto of the Maysville Road Bill (see http://www.pinzler.com/ushistory/vetoofmaysupp.html).

Regards,
Tim
 


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