Restricted Debate Colorado: A Significant Contributing Cause of Secession and the War of Southern Aggression

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#1
Dear Fellow Posters,

Colorado was a significant cause of Secession and The War of Southern Aggression (TWSA). Though I do not know of a single instance where the word "Colorado" actually appears even one time in any of the 1860-61 Secession documents, it is certainly included in words like "territories" and "western territories" that show up either in them or else in speeches of the fire-eaters in search of Independence from the United States.

This being said, the only question that remains is to try to determine what kind of a percentage Colorado represented in the recipe for Rebellion. Was it 5%? 10%? 20%? The answer, of course, is purely subjective. But the quest for a correct answer is certainly instructive.

My own best guess is somewhere between 5-10%, as we must also assign some percentage of causation of TWSA to New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, and California. I could easily settle for 5% for Colorado alone. As a factor at all, I would rate it higher than tariffs, as the possession of Colorado alone blew the comparative significance of tariffs right out of the water.

In making my judgment I take into consideration things like the Colorado Gold Rush, a/k/a the "Pike's Peak Gold Rush." It began in 1858 when Colorado was still part of the Kansas and Nebraska Territories. It continued into 1859 and beyond, when those in 1859 rhymed California's 49ers as Colorado's "59ers." The "Pike's Peak Gold Rush" has received for too little attention in the study of TWSA. Denver and the Denver Mint alone owe their existence to this Rush.

In addition to Colorado's Gold Rush one must also take into account a book written by William Gilpin. Gilpin became the Territorial Governor of Colorado in 1861. But in 1860 he published a book entitled The Central Gold Region (See https://books.google.com/books?id=uVDDTyS7mWEC&printsec=frontcover&dq=the+central+gold+regions+gilpin&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiHusnO5azhAhWQmuAKHQtuDEoQ6AEIKjAA#v=onepage&q=the central gold regions gilpin&f=false). This book, like practically everything else antebellum, has been generally blotted from living memory by a combination of the Ghost of Harriet Beecher Stowe and all the real life Civil War historians who do not even note it or seemingly don't even know of it (McPherson? Freehling? et al.) In short, Gilpin viewed Denver as the commercial center of the universe, ultimately connecting with Russia via a railroad across the Bering Straits for trade with China and India. It is no wonder that Lincoln appointed him the Territorial Governor of Colorado, especially after the major discovery of that state's gold was by a Georgian named William Green Russell (about whose slavery inclinations I know nothing). Gilpin was also the one who saved Colorado from Sibley and his Southern Aggressors at Glorieta Pass, a battle about which Single Causers seem to know very little. A great sketch of Gilpin and his vision can be found at this link: https://www.classicsofstrategy.com/2009/ 05/the-central-gold-region.html. Therein one can read about Gilpin's vision of a trans-Bering Straits Railroad to Russia. Here is one quote from it:

Probably there are fewer opportunities for disagreements and jealousies than may be found among any other of the first class power. … Both are among the largest and strongest among the civilized powers, both in territory and population, and both are growing larger and stronger while the other powers of Christendom are falling into decay. Build this railway between them, and America and Russia may join hand against all the rest of the world on any issue, military, commercial, and industrial. Then indeed this back way to India of which Columbus had dreamed … will become the chief highway of the nations, the front and finishing line of progress, circling round the warm and hospitable Pacific, whose shores are pregnant with limitless undeveloped resources, leaving the cold Atlantic to those who choose to navigate it…

All of this is to say nothing of the explorations of John C. Fremont to cross Colorado with a transcontinental railroad, ending with his cannibalistic Christmas Camp of 1848. We must not forget that Fremont, who was raised in Charleston, was not only the Republican Presidential candidate in 1856 but was also the son-in-law of Thomas Hart Benton of transcontinental railroad fame. Fremont's antebellum acquisition of golden property all over California screamed non-verbally to his old neighbors in South Carolina that the future was on the Pacific, not in Planting.

No better illustration of Colorado's wealth that could be had by any Southern Planter who would emigrate there than Pennsylvania's James Joseph Brown who struck it rich in Leadville. There with his wealth he married the later "Unsinkable Molly Brown" and built for her a magnificent home in Denver that one can visit today to catch a glimpse of what anyone with the eyes to see it could have seen in 1859 by reading Gilpin's book instead of Uncle Tom's Cabin.

Speaking of Leadville, one of the most powerful analyses of the trans-Mississippi West, once foolishly considered to be "The Great American Desert," was made one day in Leadville by a British traveler and performer in the local opera house. It was the poet and author, Oscar Wilde. He was en route to California on what was by then the first transcontinental railroad. Wilde was impressed by all the railroad towns through which he had passed to get to Leadville. He expressed the view, a correct and mind-blowing view, that the railroad had made each place the train stopped and where there was a depot the equivalent of not just a city but a seaport city. In the early days of America, it was seaport cities like Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Norfolk, Wilmington, Charleston and Savannah, near which most of the population lived. Either that or in or near river cities. But the new East/West iron equivalent of the Mississippi River made every inland town, village, hamlet, the equivalent of a seaport city because of its ability to be a center of trade. No doubt many Southerners and Northerners in the antebellum had this same vision of Oscar Wilde; and that is in part what made Colorado and every other sandy square mile of the trans-Mississippi West from St. Louis to Seattle or San Francisco or San Diego the same as a beachfront seaport city. Antebellum dreamers who envisioned wealth by selling city lots salivated like Pavlovian dogs at the prospects.

The purpose of this thread is to invite posters to contribute thoughts and anecdotes about Southern visions --or even Northern visions-- of Colorado in the antebellum. E.g., Do we know who in South Carolina or Mississippi --or Massachusetts-- might have read Glipin's book? It does appear that William Seward read it up in New York. Do we know whom Fremont was inflaming back in his old home town of Charleston with his reports about California and how to get there through Colorado by railroad? Etc.

I invite any and all posters to contribute to this OP. I am not seeking a rehash or debate with Single Causers to protest that Colorado had nothing to do with South Carolina's Secession or Mississippi's Secession and that Secession and War were all about slavery. We are all familiar with that viewpoint. Those who subscribe to it have stated their point, even if they have not made their case for my liking. It does not need to be repeated here. There are numerous other threads where that might be debated and I encourage those who wish to debate it further to find one of those threads. Please fixate on Colorado here and its role in the coming of TWSA.

Sincerely,

James Lutzweiler
Archivist (1999-2013), Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Wake Forest, North Carolina
 
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#2
Colorado's "contribution" to the secession movement was more like 0.01%.
I've yet to run across one actual mention in southern newspapers during the secession crisis of Colorado being a cause or motivation of secession.
Responses with actual evidence offered welcomed.
 
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#3
Colorado's "contribution" to the secession movement was more like 0.01%.
I've yet to run across one actual mention in southern newspapers during the secession crisis of Colorado being a cause or motivation of secession.
Responses with actual evidence offered welcomed.
Question: How many times in the same literature did you come across words like "territories" and "western territories"? Perhaps you need to re-read the OP.

Actual evidence welcome. It is not too late to edit your .01%.
 
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ErnieMac

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#4
You'll find few, if any, references to Colorado in primary sources in the 1850s. The name did not arise until 1860 when Congress started plans to reorganize the western territories. What news you will find will mention Jefferson Territory, Pike's Peak Territory or just Pike's Peak. An article from the 28 March 1860 Alexandria Gazette follows:
clipping_30881264.jpg
 
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#5
You'll find few, if any, references to Colorado in primary sources in the 1850s. The name did not arise until 1860 when Congress started plans to reorganize the western territories. What news you will find will mention Jefferson Territory, Pike's Peak Territory or just Pike's Peak. An article from the 28 March 1860 Alexandria Gazette follows:
View attachment 304100
Very educational. Thanks much for this informative post. A+.
 
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#6
Colorado's "contribution" to the secession movement was more like 0.01%.
I've yet to run across one actual mention in southern newspapers during the secession crisis of Colorado being a cause or motivation of secession.
Responses with actual evidence offered welcomed.
All I know about Colorado and the ACW is that troops from the Colorado Territory were critical in stoping General Canaby at the battle of Glorieta Pass. I never saw a Confederate regiment mentioned in Dyer's Compendium but definitely they were raised for the Union. The 2nd Colorado Cavalry Union was a hard fighting regiment in Missouri. One could argue that the Secessionists were rather explicit on why they wanted to secede and I agree Colorado was at best .01 percent why the Secessionists fought.
Leftyhunter
 
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#9
Question: How many times in the same literature did you come across words like "territories" and "western territories"? Perhaps you need to re-read the OP.

Actual evidence welcome. It is not too late to edit your .01%.
Actually, I did a search of the best online newspaper database, newspapers.com, for 1860. I found only 17 mentions of "Colorado Territory"--none of which pertained to Colorado being a cause, reason, or motivator of secession. So few mentions indicates that Colorado simply wasn't much on people's minds in 1860.
To answer your OP question, Colorado had pretty much nothing to do with "the coming of the TWSA."
 
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uaskme

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#10
Well, the Pikes Peak Gold rush began the development of Denver. Rush started right after the Financial Panic of 1857. Which was crippling to many. 100k started the migration. A number from GA, picked up some Cherokees from Indian Territory on the way to CO. Estimated 50K made it to the Goal Fields. Confederates need Funds to help pay for the War. Gold and Silver Mines would be the most attractive for that purpose. CO, is on the way to CA. More Mines and the Pacific Ocean. Comstock Load was in Nevada. That would of bought a few Muskets. We know that Davis Supported multiple schemes to access the West for ProSlavery Expansion. A number of Southerners migrated to these western areas pre War. So Confederates had support there. Pro Slavery Democrats controlled Southern California. They controlled Arizona. It wouldn't take a large force to make a huge difference. Also if Confederates could make a bridgehead in this area, it could hinder what the Federals wanted to do. Be hard for them to Build a TRR if they didn't control this part of the West. And, could hinder the Federals Cash stream if they lost control of these important Gold and Silver Mines. It is easy to see the importance of this area.
 
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#11
A "significant contributing cause of secession?"
Well spoken --except for the question mark. And remember, since this golden ingredient seems totally new to you, you learned of this for the first time at CivilWarTalk.com. At your service.

Keep in mind this thread is not in search of what Colorado was NOT, but of what Colorado was. There was nothing to prevent a Southern Planter from migrating there and becoming a Prospector, as did the Pennsylvanian James Joseph Brown. Such a Planter did not have to take slaves or slavery with him. All he needed to do was switch occupations. Brown made his fortune without slavery. So could anyone who didn't mind working instead of living off the labors of others. And as for me, I would choose Brown's Denver palace, built with his real gold, over any Plantation Manor, built with white gold, I have ever seen so far.

Just as a reminder, this is not the thread to debate the primacy or singularity of slavery as a cause of TWSA. This is a thread to explore the function of what we know today as Colorado in antebellum minds. It is NOT a thread to begin asserting and attempting in vain to prove negatives. Please help me keep it clear of that clutter by addressing only Colorado in antebellum Confederate craniums.

See above for alternate names of Colorado in the antebellum.
 
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#12
Actually, I did a search of the best online newspaper database, newspapers.com, for 1860. I found only 17 mentions of "Colorado Territory"--none of which pertained to Colorado being a cause, reason, or motivator of secession. So few mentions indicates that Colorado simply wasn't much on people's minds in 1860.
To answer your OP question, Colorado had pretty much nothing to do with "the coming of the TWSA."
Thanks for your post.

Please re-read and apply Post#4 above for names to search, and then let me hear from you again.

Actually, your claim to have answered my OP did not answer anything. And my OP was NOT a question in the first place. It was a declaration not in need of a simple declaration to the contrary. Take another look at what it seeks from posters.
 
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#14
Well spoken --except for the question mark. And remember, since this golden ingredient seems totally new to you, you learned of this for the first time at CivilWarTalk.com. At your service.

Keep in mind this thread is not in search of what Colorado was NOT, but of what Colorado was. There was nothing to prevent a Southern Planter from migrating there and becoming a Prospector, as did the Pennsylvanian James Joseph Brown. Such a Planter did not have to take slaves or slavery with him. All he needed to do was switch occupations. Brown made his fortune without slavery. So could anyone who didn't mind working instead of living off the labors of others. And as for me, I would choose Brown's Denver palace, built with his real gold, over any Plantation Manor, built with white gold, I have ever seen so far.

Just as a reminder, this is not the thread to debate the primacy or singularity of slavery as a cause of TWSA. This is a thread to explore the function of what we know today as Colorado in antebellum minds. It is NOT a thread to begin asserting and attempting in vain to prove negatives. Please help me keep it clear of that clutter by addressing only Colorado in antebellum Confederate craniums.

See above for alternate names of Colorado in the antebellum.
To many ifs. No doubt some of Confederate Southerners lived in the West during the ACW. Just not enough to make a difference.
Leftyhunter
 
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#15
There was an attempt in 1859 to split off Southern California from the rest of the state as a new "Territory of Colorado". Some pre-war mentions of "Colorado" may refer to this, I guess.

What a fine contribution and some resources I would have wanted to know about in any event. Much obliged for your very helpful post. A+.
 

wbull1

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#16
I'm not sure what "cause" means. Do you mean that because of the gold in CO the Confederacy thought they could finance the war if they could capture it? Is that like MO where the state could potentially be part of the Confederacy? Attempts at both goals were undertaken.
 

John Hartwell

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#17
Did the CSA ever claim, or express intention to annex Colorado Territory? Or, for that matter, any of the territories, besides the southern tier of New Mexico? If not, its role in the decision to secede would appear to be a good deal less than "significant."
 
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#18
Colorado was a significant cause of Secession and The War of Southern Aggression (TWSA).
the colorado territory that became a state did not exist until 1861. perhaps you mean the colorado territory in california ? it makes more sense even if the southerners there were not very aggressive.


Denver and the Denver Mint alone owe their existence to this Rush.
the denver mint struck it's first coin in 1906.

No better illustration of Colorado's wealth that could be had by any Southern Planter who would emigrate there than Pennsylvania's James Joseph Brown who struck it rich in Leadville. There with his wealth he married the later "Unsinkable Molly Brown" and built for her a magnificent home in Denver that one can visit today to catch a glimpse of what anyone with the eyes to see it could have seen in 1859 by reading Gilpin's book instead of Uncle Tom's Cabin.
J J Brown did not make his discoveries until the 1880's. he was poor when he married molly ( Margret ).

by 1860 much of the easy to get placer mines were gone and interest died. horace tabors matchless mine and jj brown's mine and their resources were undiscovered in 1861.

Speaking of Leadville, one of the most powerful analyses of the trans-Mississippi West, once foolishly considered to be "The Great American Desert," was made one day in Leadville by a British traveler and performer in the local opera house. It was the poet and author, Oscar Wilde. He was en route to California on what was by then the first transcontinental railroad.
the transcontinental railroad did not go through denver or leadville but went 100 mi to the north at Cheyenne Wo. denver was not connected until 1870 and the denver south park and pacific was a narrow gauge RR that only traveled between the mining areas and denver, well after the war. the '59ers were long gone and lode mining was underway in leadville, some of the most dangerous mining in american history . most of the mineral wealth of colorado was either gone or undiscovered and unknown in 1861.

Please fixate on Colorado here and its role in the coming of TWSA.
it had little if no role, at least as compared to any other territory, and only the role which all territories shared. the TRR route would have been considered a central route with the most difficulties of construction and operation except possibly the northern route during winter.

Gilpin viewed Denver as the commercial center of the universe,
his view was of the mississippi valley with denver as it's capital. he proposed a TRR route through south pass wo. he called it a southern route but it was the central route ultimately chosen. his book was written in 1860, stowe's book in 1852. didn't leave a whole lot of time to read it , if any, before things were already well underway toward the opening shots.
https://archive.org/details/centralgoldregi00gilpgoog/page/n9

Colorado was a significant cause of Secession and The War of Southern Aggression (TWSA).
i do not understand this term. McPherson used it to say basically that the best defense is a good offense. is that how you mean it ?
 

jackt62

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#19
Much of the present state of Colorado was part of the Mexican Cession, land that was ceded to the United States after the Mexican War. So in that regard, the debate over the expansion of slavery to those territories was a major contributing factor that led to the election of Lincoln and the secession of southern states beginning in 1860. But events in Colorado by itself as being important in the outbreak of the war. I don't think so.
 
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#20
I'm not sure what "cause" means. Do you mean that because of the gold in CO the Confederacy thought they could finance the war if they could capture it? Is that like MO where the state could potentially be part of the Confederacy? Attempts at both goals were undertaken.
Cause means cause, at least 5%-or-so of it.

No, I do NOT mean anything about the Confederacy's known lust for Colorado. I am seeking to understand ANTEBELLUM imaginations about what became the Colorado Territory, the ellipse of which, "Colorado," I use as a term we all understand and pointedly NOT what it was known as in the antebellum. See post #4.
 
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