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Compromise and Peace: The Road Not Taken

Discussion in 'Civil War History - General Discussion' started by Mike Griffith, Dec 11, 2016.

  1. Mike Griffith

    Mike Griffith Corporal

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    Perhaps the most tragic thing about the Civil War is that it could have been avoided, and avoided in a way that would have accelerated slavery's demise.

    Even some ardently pro-Lincoln scholars have acknowledged that Lincoln and Congressional Republicans sabotaged the Crittenden Compromise, even though the proposal was clearly supported by a strong majority of the people. In fact, the Republicans even blocked an attempt to put the Crittenden Compromise to a nationwide popular vote in a national referendum. Considering that Lincoln got elected with less than 40% of the popular vote, his decision to block the Crittenden Compromise was undemocratic and autocratic.

    The Crittenden Compromise would have banned slavery from 75% of the western territories, would have significantly improved the fugitive slave legal process in the slaves' favor, would have set up a sort of de facto compensated emancipation system for some/many runaway slaves, and would have given Southern slavery the same protection that Lincoln was willing to give it in the Corwin Amendment.

    If the Republicans had at least allowed a nationwide referendum on the Crittenden Compromise, it would have won overwhelmingly and the momentum for compromise would have gained enormous steam.

    Lincoln defenders fault Southern leaders for calling for secession "just because they lost an election." True, but they rarely consider the fact that Lincoln won with less than 40% of the vote. How do you suppose Northern leaders would have felt if Breckenridge had won with less than 40% of the vote?
     

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  3. ivanj05

    ivanj05 First Sergeant

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    The Crittenden Compromise was never going to pass, because free states were never going to pass a Constitutional Amendment that was unchangeable and unrepealable.

    I'd love to see some citations for your assertion that the Crittenden amendments would have passed with a nationwide majority, much less an overwhelming one. The same people that elected Lincoln and a Republican Congress were unlikely to continue to concede the slavery issue to the South, especially in the kind of one sided deals that had come before.
     
  4. brass napoleon

    brass napoleon Colonel Retired Moderator Member of the Year

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    So-called "Compromise and Peace" was the road that had been taken for 40 years prior to the Civil War, and had only resulted in the anomisity and the underlying problem becoming bigger and bigger and bigger. It started with the Missouri Compromise of 1820 (which the Democrats repealed in 1854) and continued through the Compromise of 1850. But an effective compromise is one that reduces the underlying problem. Clearly the underlying problem that was addressed by these compromises was slavery, but rather than reducing it, they enlarged it - from 1.5 million slaves in 1820 to 4 million in 1860. The Crittenden compromises would have done the same thing, by allowing slavery to expand unrestricted into the territories, and allowing the animosity it created to continue to fester until we had a civil war fought with mustard gas and machine guns.

    It was wise of the Republicans to reject the Crittenden compromises. If only their predecessors had rejected the earlier compromises, a civil war might have been avoided altogether.
     
  5. ivanj05

    ivanj05 First Sergeant

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    I've said this before, but any truly meaningful compromise that actually averts, rather than delays, civil war has to be acceptable not just to the slave states, but to the free ones as well. What does Crittenden offer to balance all the concessions to the slave states? A vague promise to amend the Fugitive Slave Act. That's it. There is no attempt to correct the overreach of Dred Scott, no concrete changes to the worst parts of the FSL, no protections for due process under state laws.

    What do slave states get? The issue of slavery is essentially forever removed from Federal authority. Slavery is allowed into the territories, allowed on Federal installations and in the District of Columbia. Congress cannot use its Constitutional authority to regulate the interstate slave trade. And all of these Constitutional changes are explicitly prevented from alteration or repeal.

    And you wonder why Republicans rejected it.
     
  6. unionblue

    unionblue Brev. Brig. Gen'l Member of the Year

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    (Sigh.)

    Unionblue
     
  7. Pat Young

    Pat Young Colonel Forum Host

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    What evidence do you have that a "strong majority of the people" supported the Amendments proposed by the Crittenden Compromise?
     
  8. DanF

    DanF Captain

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    The Simple fact that the compromise was introduced before even the first slave State seceded show how uninterested the Slave States that seceded were in the compromise.

    The goal of creating a southern slaveholding confederacy was a dream of the slaveholding elites for more than thirty years. They were not going to abandon their dream when they believed it was finally within reach.
     
  9. RebelHeart

    RebelHeart Corporal

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    The original post sounds like it came straight out of an American History 102 class discussion.

    It really didn't matter how much of the popular vote Lincoln had if he won the presidency which, quite obviously, he did. To suggest that blocking the Crittenden Compromise was "undemocratic and autocratic" demonstrates the kind of political naivete that makes it difficult to debate the matter with any kind of depth or conviction. As others have stated so eloquently already, the Crittenden Compromise was not practicable in reality and essentially unconstitutional in and of itself. It certainly would've done NOTHING to prevent a war of secession, but likely would've created one with greater passion and determination, in my opinion.
     
  10. Pat Young

    Pat Young Colonel Forum Host

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    Do you know the instrumental Rebel Heart?

     
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  11. rpkennedy

    rpkennedy Major

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    By 1860, neither side was interested in this kind of compromise. The North was not going to give on any expansion of slavery into the West and had no stomach for an amendment that could never be changed, particularly on the issue of slavery. And the South would not accept anything other than complete and total victory for them, something that they could have with independence. The time of compromise was over, for better or worse.

    Ryan
     
  12. NedBaldwin

    NedBaldwin Captain

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    All war could be avoided in theory

    Id like evidence that this was cleary so.
    Id also like some explanation as to how it avoids war.


    How so?


    So in other words, it had zero chance of avoiding war.

    On what basis do you claim it would have won overwhelmingly?


    I think it gets considered all the time.

    Disappointed.
    But they would not have committed treason and started a war.
     
  13. thomas aagaard

    thomas aagaard Sergeant Major

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    Lack of evidence. lack of evidence and more lack of evidence.
     
  14. The Confederate

    The Confederate Sergeant

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    You're conveniently omitting that the Crittenden Compromise:

    1. Would allow States to be admitted as Slave or Free States as their Constitutions provived, which meant that if Slaveholders somehow managed to Successfully create a State Constitution that allowed Slavery, it would become a Slave State.

    2. Wouldn't allow the Congress to abolish Slavery in D.C. so long as it existed in Virginia and Maryland and without the consent of D.C.'s inhabitants, which meant that, even if D.C.'s inhabitants wanted the aboliton of Slavery, it would require that Virginia and Maryland abolished Slavery first.

    3. Would force the Congress to provide full compensation to owners of captured Fugitive Slaves, it would also empower the Congress to sue a County in which obstruction to the FSL took place, in addition to that, it would also empower a County to sue those who prevented the return of a Fugitive Slave.

    4. Wouldn't allow a Future Amendment that changed these Amendments, and wouldn't allow a Future Amendment to authorize or empower the Congress to interfere with Slavery in any Slave State.

    5. Would declare the Personal Liberty Laws of the Northern States to be Unconstitutional and that they should be repealed.

    How would you expect the North to accept that Compromise? If this Compromise was accepted, America would be a Slave owning oligarchy, it might have prevented the War, but it wouldn't prevent the dissolution of the Union, in fact, if this Compromise was accepted, the Union probably wouldn't even exist today.
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2016
  15. IcarusPhoenix

    IcarusPhoenix Sergeant Major

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    Wait, I thought this guy got banned, like, a year ago...
     
  16. RebelHeart

    RebelHeart Corporal

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    YES! And thanks for sharing that!

    It's actually where I drew the name from. I'm a longtime fan of The Corrs and that instrumental has always been very peaceful for me. :happy:

    I briefly considered taking the name "Toss The Feathers" when joining this forum, but 'Rebel Heart' seemed more appropriate.
     
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  17. Carronade

    Carronade 2nd Lieutenant

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    Most of the nonsense has already been addressed, so I'll just touch on one point that hasn't:
    The United States has never conducted a national referendum on anything. Some but not all states and localities allow referenda, but there is no referendum process at the federal level. There is no legal or constitutional authority for the President or Congress to call for a national referendum or to require the state and local governments who actually manage elections to conduct one.

    Even at the state level, referendum was mainly (entirely?) a product of the Progressive Era of the late 1800s. Civil War era democracy was very much of the representative type; even the profound decision for secession was made without a popular referendum in all but three Confederate states.
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2016
  18. Mike Griffith

    Mike Griffith Corporal

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    Wow, did you forget the fact that the Crittenden Compromise would have banned slavery in 75% of the western territories by extending the 36-30 line to the coast of California? That would have given the Republicans 75% of what they wanted regarding slavery in the territories and would have limited slavery mostly to dry, hot, arid regions to which slaveholders had no interest in moving. That was a huge concession to the Republicans.

    And then there's the fact that the Crittenden Compromise also provided that Congress would provide full compensation to owners of rescued fugitive slaves, which, as Southern fire-eaters observed, would have set up a de facto system of compensated emancipation.
     
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  19. brass napoleon

    brass napoleon Colonel Retired Moderator Member of the Year

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    So if a human trafficker approached you and said he was going to set up a human trafficking operation in 25% of your backyard, you'd say "Yeah, baby!", because he was leaving the other 75% unspoilt. :nah disagree:
     
  20. The Confederate

    The Confederate Sergeant

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    It doesn't matter that Slavery was banned in 75% of the territories, because States would be admitted either as Free or Slave as their Constitutions provided, so if Slaveholders managed to succesfully created State Constitutions that allowed Slavery, all these territories would become Slave States.
     
  21. ivanj05

    ivanj05 First Sergeant

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    Slave states were no more likely to accept an extension of the Missouri Compromise line than free states were to accept an unrepealable amendment.
     

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