Did 1860 Republicans Want to Ban the Spread of Slavery or the Spread of Blacks?

Philip Leigh

formerly Harvey Johnson
Joined
Oct 22, 2014
Venerable historian James McPherson claims that the 1860 Republican Party plank prohibiting the spread of slavery into the Federal territories prompted the South to cause the Civil War. Although it is commonly averred that the Republican goal was to quarantine slavery in the South, the true objective may have been to restrict the geographic spread of blacks to the rest of America.

Consider, for example, that all but two of the twenty-two states granted statehood after Texas in 1845—down to the present day 175 years later—joined the Union when blacks represented only about one percent of their respective populations. The two exceptions were the Southern border states of West Virginia and Oklahoma. Ninety percent of America’s blacks still lived in the South in 1910, nearly fifty years after the Civil War.

The 1860 Republican Party’s “ban-on-slavery-expansion” plank originated fourteen years earlier in 1846 when Pennsylvania Congressman and future Republican David Wilmot introduced a rider to a $2 million funding bill for the then-current Mexican War. If passed, which it was not, his rider would ban slavery in any territories acquired because of the war. It was not, however, an enlightened racial gesture. Wilmot admitted, “I make no war upon the South, nor upon slavery in the South. I have no . . . sympathy for the slave. I plead the cause . . . of white freemen. I would preserve for free white labor a fair country . . . where the sons of toil, of my own race and own color, can live without the disgrace which association with negro slavery brings upon free labor.”

Eight years later in 1854 future President Lincoln said: “The whole nation is interested that the best use shall be made of these [western] territories. We want them for the homes of free white people.” Four years afterward in 1858 Illinois Republican Senator Lyman Trumbull said, “We, the Republican party, are the white man’s party.” That same year Massachusetts Republican Senator Henry Wilson said, “I do not believe in the equality of the African with the white race.”

The year Lincoln was elected President in 1860 his future Secretary of State, William Seward, said, “The great fact is now fully realized that the African race here [in America] is a foreign element incapable of assimilation. . . ” Frank Blair, whose brother would become Lincoln’s Postmaster General, told audiences that the “Republican Party is the white man’s party and will keep the Territories for white men.” Prior to the War the so-called Free States contained only two percent of America’s black population and 94% of them could not vote.

During the Civil War in April 1864 Congress “scorned” a proposal by Kentucky Senator Garrett Davis that refugee blacks be redistributed to the Northern states in “proportion to their white populations.” That same year it rejected an amendment to the Freedmen’s Bureau bill by West Virginia Senator Waitman Willey that would empower the Bureau to contact the governors and mayors of Northern states and cities to arrange for black settlements in the North. When Lincoln’s Interior Secretary suggested in December 1863 that blacks be sent to the far West where he believed “Negro labor was in great demand,” his Party turned him down. Instead, on July 4, 1864, the Republicans passed America’s first major immigration law basically targeted at white Europeans.

The Northern Republicans that generally controlled of the Federal Government until Woodrow Wilson’s presidency kept blacks mostly quarantined in the South until World War I. It took almost fifty years after the Civil War before they truly started to diffuse into other parts of the country. Even then Northerners only accepted blacks due to worker shortages triggered by the World War demand surge combined with the war’s disruption of European immigration. From 1860 to 1920 America absorbed 50 million white immigrants mostly into the Northern manufacturing economy, leaving little opportunity for the South’s four million ex-slaves and their descendants.

According to historian C. Vann Woodward, the antebellum states of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois set the racial norms for the future states to the Missouri River and beyond. He wrote, “[Their] chief argument against slavery was that it would eventually produce a free black population.” Even as “black exclusion” became a top political goal for the Midwestern states, the region never had more than one percent of its population composed of blacks until well into the twentieth century.

Thirty years before the Civil War when French nobleman Alexis de Tocqueville toured America in 1831-32 he indirectly warned of the racism endemic to the whites North and West of the Ohio River. His journal reveals that racial prejudice was “stronger in the states where [Americans] have abolished slavery than where it still existed [and] nowhere stronger than in those states where servitude has never been known.” Among the states and territories he visited where slavery had never existed were Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio.

In What Lincoln Believed: The Values of America’s Greatest President author Michael Lind writes:

"For Lincoln . . . the movement against the extension of slavery was half of a program to create a white West, the other half of which consisted of state laws designed to keep blacks out of Northern and Western states. For example, the Indiana territorial legislature outlawed black court testimony in cases involving whites (1803), blacks in the militia (1807) and black voting (1810). In 1815 an annual tax was imposed on all black men. . . The nearby Illinois territory legislature passed a bill in 1813 requiring every incoming black . . . to leave. Failure to comply . . . [was punishable by] 39 lashes, repeated every fifteen days until the [black offender] left. Lincoln was well-aware of such Black Laws and voted for them repeatedly in Illinois because he felt they were necessary to prevent racial integration. . . "(p. 130)

J. P. Morgan once said, “A man always has two reasons for the things he does—a good one and the real one.” The legendary banker was implying that the “good” reason is a false, benevolent explanation that conceals the true self-serving one.

(The above script is available in audio and visual form in the YouTube video below.)

 

Mdiesel

First Sergeant
Joined
Sep 28, 2010
Location
Maryland
Venerable historian James McPherson claims that the 1860 Republican Party plank prohibiting the spread of slavery into the Federal territories prompted the South to cause the Civil War. Although it is commonly averred that the Republican goal was to quarantine slavery in the South, the true objective may have been to restrict the geographic spread of blacks to the rest of America.

Consider, for example, that all but two of the twenty-two states granted statehood after Texas in 1845—down to the present day 175 years later—joined the Union when blacks represented only about one percent of their respective populations. The two exceptions were the Southern border states of West Virginia and Oklahoma. Ninety percent of America’s blacks still lived in the South in 1910, nearly fifty years after the Civil War.

The 1860 Republican Party’s “ban-on-slavery-expansion” plank originated fourteen years earlier in 1846 when Pennsylvania Congressman and future Republican David Wilmot introduced a rider to a $2 million funding bill for the then-current Mexican War. If passed, which it was not, his rider would ban slavery in any territories acquired because of the war. It was not, however, an enlightened racial gesture. Wilmot admitted, “I make no war upon the South, nor upon slavery in the South. I have no . . . sympathy for the slave. I plead the cause . . . of white freemen. I would preserve for free white labor a fair country . . . where the sons of toil, of my own race and own color, can live without the disgrace which association with negro slavery brings upon free labor.”

Eight years later in 1854 future President Lincoln said: “The whole nation is interested that the best use shall be made of these [western] territories. We want them for the homes of free white people.” Four years afterward in 1858 Illinois Republican Senator Lyman Trumbull said, “We, the Republican party, are the white man’s party.” That same year Massachusetts Republican Senator Henry Wilson said, “I do not believe in the equality of the African with the white race.”

The year Lincoln was elected President in 1860 his future Secretary of State, William Seward, said, “The great fact is now fully realized that the African race here [in America] is a foreign element incapable of assimilation. . . ” Frank Blair, whose brother would become Lincoln’s Postmaster General, told audiences that the “Republican Party is the white man’s party and will keep the Territories for white men.” Prior to the War the so-called Free States contained only two percent of America’s black population and 94% of them could not vote.

During the Civil War in April 1864 Congress “scorned” a proposal by Kentucky Senator Garrett Davis that refugee blacks be redistributed to the Northern states in “proportion to their white populations.” That same year it rejected an amendment to the Freedmen’s Bureau bill by West Virginia Senator Waitman Willey that would empower the Bureau to contact the governors and mayors of Northern states and cities to arrange for black settlements in the North. When Lincoln’s Interior Secretary suggested in December 1863 that blacks be sent to the far West where he believed “Negro labor was in great demand,” his Party turned him down. Instead, on July 4, 1864, the Republicans passed America’s first major immigration law basically targeted at white Europeans.

The Northern Republicans that generally controlled of the Federal Government until Woodrow Wilson’s presidency kept blacks mostly quarantined in the South until World War I. It took almost fifty years after the Civil War before they truly started to diffuse into other parts of the country. Even then Northerners only accepted blacks due to worker shortages triggered by the World War demand surge combined with the war’s disruption of European immigration. From 1860 to 1920 America absorbed 50 million white immigrants mostly into the Northern manufacturing economy, leaving little opportunity for the South’s four million ex-slaves and their descendants.

According to historian C. Vann Woodward, the antebellum states of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois set the racial norms for the future states to the Missouri River and beyond. He wrote, “[Their] chief argument against slavery was that it would eventually produce a free black population.” Even as “black exclusion” became a top political goal for the Midwestern states, the region never had more than one percent of its population composed of blacks until well into the twentieth century.

Thirty years before the Civil War when French nobleman Alexis de Tocqueville toured America in 1831-32 he indirectly warned of the racism endemic to the whites North and West of the Ohio River. His journal reveals that racial prejudice was “stronger in the states where [Americans] have abolished slavery than where it still existed [and] nowhere stronger than in those states where servitude has never been known.” Among the states and territories he visited where slavery had never existed were Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio.

In What Lincoln Believed: The Values of America’s Greatest President author Michael Lind writes:

"For Lincoln . . . the movement against the extension of slavery was half of a program to create a white West, the other half of which consisted of state laws designed to keep blacks out of Northern and Western states. For example, the Indiana territorial legislature outlawed black court testimony in cases involving whites (1803), blacks in the militia (1807) and black voting (1810). In 1815 an annual tax was imposed on all black men. . . The nearby Illinois territory legislature passed a bill in 1813 requiring every incoming black . . . to leave. Failure to comply . . . [was punishable by] 39 lashes, repeated every fifteen days until the [black offender] left. Lincoln was well-aware of such Black Laws and voted for them repeatedly in Illinois because he felt they were necessary to prevent racial integration. . . "(p. 130)

J. P. Morgan once said, “A man always has two reasons for the things he does—a good one and the real one.” The legendary banker was implying that the “good” reason is a false, benevolent explanation that conceals the true self-serving one.

(The above script is available in audio and visual form in the YouTube video below.)

I think the answer may be both...
 

DanSBHawk

Captain
Joined
May 8, 2015
Location
Wisconsin
Consider, for example, that all but two of the twenty-two states granted statehood after Texas in 1845—down to the present day 175 years later—joined the Union when blacks represented only about one percent of their respective populations. The two exceptions were the Southern border states of West Virginia and Oklahoma. Ninety percent of America’s blacks still lived in the South in 1910, nearly fifty years after the Civil War.
The reason for this is obvious. American blacks were concentrated in the slave states.

The rest of the article is trying to make the north seem worst than the south on race. Sorry, that is not going to fly. The south has the absolute worst record on racism. Not just during slavery, but the post-war as well. There was a good reason the Voting Rights Act targeted certain states more than others.
 

unionblue

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Member of the Year
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
Ocala, FL (as of December, 2015).
Republicans had no moral objection to slavery, hell, they passed the Corwin Amendment. They were concerned about stopping the spread of blacks, not slavery.
Incorrect.

Too broad a brush to say "Republicans had no moral objection to slavery."

There were Republicans who did have a moral objection to slavery.
 

uaskme

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 9, 2016
Location
SE Tennessee
While the early years of the war increased antislavery sentiment, they did little to improve Northern attitudes toward the black. In fact, as we have seen, the fear of a post-emancipation black invasion often hardened Negroxxxxx. Many Republican politicians, unwilling to give up their sincere anti slavery goals, had been forced into taking racist positions to allay the fears of white Northerners. Lincoln, for example ask Northerners who expressed anxiety over black migration, "Can not the North decide for itself whether to receive them?" The President was implying that Northern state legislatures could imitate some of the Western states by passing black-exclusion laws. pp154 Abolitionism by Sorin

In the West dislike for the black was more intense than in the East. And astute Republican leaders often used that dislike for their advantage. Sometimes enmity toward the black race was the only reason for opposing slavery. Oregon Republicans, in an 1857 broadside on the slavery question resolved to limit their efforts "to the sole and single object of making Oregon a free state as the best and only means of securing it to the white race." Westerners considered even the very limited s that slavery could take root there most undesirable. For where slavery was weakest, there was the greatest possibility of emancipation, which would present whites with the free-black problem and all its social and psychological implications. Politicians in the West knew that almost 80 per cent of the people of Illinois, Indiana, Oregon, and Kansas (states with antislavery constitutions) had voted to exclude the free black from their borders. And some Republicans were willing to campaign on racist programs of the kind to attract voters. pp142 Abolitionist by Sorin

Free Blacks were the most hated by Northerners and Westerners. Can imagine what they thought about Southern X Slaves? Lincoln supported and voted for Illinois exclusion Laws. Willing to use them post emancipation and the 13th Amendment. He thought Blacks were a degraded Race and would degrade Whites if they lived with them.
 

Jantzen64

Private
Joined
Aug 10, 2019
About 1% were Abolitionist.
Not sure where you are getting this statistic. For example, in 1844, the Liberty Party - a proxy for harcore abolitionist sentiment among voters - alone garnered 2.3% of the vote. More fundamentally, one needs to be careful about artificially lowering anti-slavery sentiment of the time by equating it with a belief in full civil equality among the races. Many people saw slavery for the injustice that it was - all the while having little or no interest in moving toward racial integration.

For example, Lincoln consistently expressed a dislike for the institution of slavery on moral grounds, while at the same time expressing doubts about whether blacks could take would be accepted (by himself or the public) as equals in society. As he stated during the L/D debates, his solution was to simply leave them alone:

"I do not understand that because I do not want a negro woman for a slave I must necessarily want her for a wife. [Cheers and laughter.] My understanding is that I can just let her alone. I am now in my fiftieth year, and I certainly never have had a black woman for either a slave or a wife. So it seems to me quite possible for us to get along without making either slaves or wives of negroes."

I am not suggesting that the North was monolithically committed to racial integration - the majority clearly was not. However, as evidenced by the election of 1860, the majority were clearly uncomfortable with slavery. The specific reasons - or combination of reasons - for that discomfort are as myriad as the number of citizens.
 

uaskme

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 9, 2016
Location
SE Tennessee
Not sure where you are getting this statistic. For example, in 1844, the Liberty Party - a proxy for harcore abolitionist sentiment among voters - alone garnered 2.3% of the vote. More fundamentally, one needs to be careful about artificially lowering anti-slavery sentiment of the time by equating it with a belief in full civil equality among the races. Many people saw slavery for the injustice that it was - all the while having little or no interest in moving toward racial integration.


For example, Lincoln consistently expressed a dislike for the institution of slavery on moral grounds, while at the same time expressing doubts about whether blacks could take would be accepted (by himself or the public) as equals in society. As he stated during the L/D debates, his solution was to simply leave them alone:

"I do not understand that because I do not want a negro woman for a slave I must necessarily want her for a wife. [Cheers and laughter.] My understanding is that I can just let her alone. I am now in my fiftieth year, and I certainly never have had a black woman for either a slave or a wife. So it seems to me quite possible for us to get along without making either slaves or wives of negroes."

I am not suggesting that the North was monolithically committed to racial integration - the majority clearly was not. However, as evidenced by the election of 1860, the majority were clearly uncomfortable with slavery. The specific reasons - or combination of reasons - for that discomfort are as myriad as the number of citizens.

There is a difference between Abolition and Anti-Slavery. Abolitionist advocated equal rights and Immediateism. Something most that were Anti-Slavery surety did not. Above Abolitionist by Sorin.

image.jpg
 

unionblue

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Member of the Year
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
Ocala, FL (as of December, 2015).
Republicans had no moral objection to slavery, hell, they passed the Corwin Amendment. They were concerned about stopping the spread of blacks, not slavery.
Incorrect.
About 1% were Abolitionist.
Hence the claim that ALL Republicans were one thing is wrong when they were not all of the same view on slavery.

I see in your above post that 1% of "American society" is where you get your figure from, but that is not 1% of the Republican party now, is it?
 

Jantzen64

Private
Joined
Aug 10, 2019
There is a difference between Abolition and Anti-Slavery. Abolitionist advocated equal rights and Immediateism. Something most that were Anti-Slavery surety did not. Above Abolitionist by Sorin.

View attachment 405754
Thanks, Uaskme, for the cite; I am not familiar with Sorin's bibliography and so will need to check it out. Still think the 1% is too low, given the 1844 Liberty Party vote. In 1848, Free Soil garnered 10% and Liberty 1%, so that may be where he is getting his 1% estimate. But by then, Liberty Party adherents had largely migrated to the Free Soil party (where, the motivations for anti-slavery sentiment were becoming more mixed). Regardless as to exact percentages, we all appear to on be the same page that antebellum citizens could be anti-slavery on moral grounds, yet still have reservations about racial integration.
 
Thanks for putting together, and assembling authorities for, a very interesting argument. Something that I think is often overlooked in treatments of slavery and abolitionism is the distinction between those who opposed slavery and those who, in addition to opposing slavery, also favored giving free blacks the right to vote and other civil rights. I believe that before the war, the only state that gave free blacks the same rights as whites was Maine.
 

NedBaldwin

Major
Joined
Feb 19, 2011
Location
California
Republicans had no moral objection to slavery, hell, they passed the Corwin Amendment. They were concerned about stopping the spread of blacks, not slavery.
Wrong
The Republicans did not pass the Corwin Amendment.
It passed because of overwhelming votes of Democrats.
While some Republicans did vote for it, most voted against it.
 

uaskme

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 9, 2016
Location
SE Tennessee
Wrong
The Republicans did not pass the Corwin Amendment.
It passed because of overwhelming votes of Democrats.
While some Republicans did vote for it, most voted against it.
Lincoln didn’t have a problem with it. He agreed that the Constitution protected Slavery as a States Right where it existed. Lincoln viewed the Corwin A as giving Slavery no more protections than were viewed as Constitutional already. Stevens viewed Slavery as a States Right. Corwin A didn’t give protection to Slavery in the Federal Territories.

The Republican argument was to keep Blacks and Slavery out of the North and West. Western States had Black Codes which restricted Free Black immigration. Eastern States were far enough from Slavery, they didn’t have to worry about Black immigration. As Lincoln told the Easteners, you can adopt Black Codes like the West.
 

NedBaldwin

Major
Joined
Feb 19, 2011
Location
California
Lincoln didn’t have a problem with it. He agreed that the Constitution protected Slavery as a States Right where it existed. Lincoln viewed the Corwin A as giving Slavery no more protections than were viewed as Constitutional already. Stevens viewed Slavery as a States Right. Corwin A didn’t give protection to Slavery in the Federal Territories.

The Republican argument was to keep Blacks and Slavery out of the North and West. Western States had Black Codes which restricted Free Black immigration. Eastern States were far enough from Slavery, they didn’t have to worry about Black immigration. As Lincoln told the Easteners, you can adopt Black Codes like the West.
The fact that Lincoln did not have a problem is still not saying that Republicans "passed the Corwin Amendment" which is what was claimed. You mention Stevens - he voted against the amendment. But you are right that the Corwin A did not give protection to slavery in the territories, did not deal with fugitive issues, did not deal with slave trade issues, nor did it affect any existing powers of the congress, the president or the courts. So its reach was really limited.

The Republicans as a party did not make an argument about keep Blacks out of anywhere. Certain individual Republicans did make such arguments, but it was not a party position. Other republicans were active in opposing Black Codes, like when Wade and Chase worked to repeal part of the Ohio laws in 1849

And the "Eastern States" were not that far -- Pennsylvania for example was quite close to slave states
 

uaskme

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 9, 2016
Location
SE Tennessee
The fact that Lincoln did not have a problem is still not saying that Republicans "passed the Corwin Amendment" which is what was claimed. You mention Stevens - he voted against the amendment. But you are right that the Corwin A did not give protection to slavery in the territories, did not deal with fugitive issues, did not deal with slave trade issues, nor did it affect any existing powers of the congress, the president or the courts. So its reach was really limited.

The Republicans as a party did not make an argument about keep Blacks out of anywhere. Certain individual Republicans did make such arguments, but it was not a party position. Other republicans were active in opposing Black Codes, like when Wade and Chase worked to repeal part of the Ohio laws in 1849

And the "Eastern States" were not that far -- Pennsylvania for example was quite close to slave states
Not all Northerners were Republican. A scant few were Radical Republicans like Stevens. However, today, Northerners expect us all to believe that all Northerners were Radical Republicans.

80% of Il, In and Ohio including Lincoln voted for Black Codes. Abolitionist who believed in immediatism and equal economic, legal and social rights were about 1%. Republicans Ran on the promise that they were the White Man’s Party

PA was a mid Atlantic State. Almost Southern.
 

unionblue

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Member of the Year
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
Ocala, FL (as of December, 2015).
"However, today, Northerners expect us all to believe that all Northerners were Radical Republicans."

That's a pretty sweeping statement. Any facts or sources for anyone, today, on this forum ever saying "all Northerners were Radical Republicans at the time of the Civil War?"

Any stats, polls, or sources on what the majority of the Northern population of the United States says about ALL Northerners of the Civil War period were Radical Republicans?
 
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