Did any northerners welcome secession as an end to battles over balance in the Senate?

bmuhtro

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Apr 5, 2021
Throughout the first half of the 19th century, (as I understand it) US politics was dominated by the struggle for control of the Senate between the "free" and "slave" states. For example, Missouri compromise. So I wonder, were there any voices in the north who said "Good -- the southern states want to secede, let them secede and be done with it." And after the war, were there any who said "It would have been better to let them secede."?
 

thomas aagaard

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As I argue in another topic.
If the south had gone to congress and said "we want to leave". Lets find a political deal for us to do so in peace.
(where the leaving stated paid for federal installations within their borders, for their share of the national debt and so on)
Then I think a number of free states would have supported it... for the reason you mention.

But they did not try to do so within the constitution. They did it outside... by force.
 

jackt62

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New York City
Although the idea was bandied about, until the secession crisis of 1860-61, secession as a viable alternative was actually not seen as a serious option. The one exception was during the nullification crisis in 1832 when South Carolina refused to abide by a Congressional import tariff, but that crisis was defused by President Jackson's forceful response and a compromise that partially satisfied all parties. The real problem developed after the United States acquired the southwest territories as a result of the Mexican War, thereby setting the stage for those who would expand slavery to those areas, and those who would not. The Compromise of 1850 tentatively put the lid on that dispute, but a series of events during the 1850's seriously eroded the ability to forge further compromises between the sections. During the CW, the "peace" faction of the Democratic Party would have been willing to negotiate a separation with the Confederacy; in contrast the "war" faction would have been willing to accede to southern demands on slavery in order to preserve the federal Union.
 

Fairfield

Sergeant Major
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Dec 5, 2019
You mean something like "good riddance to bad rubbish"? I shouldn't think so because it would: 1. undo one of the basic reasons for altering from a confederacy to the current govt. in the 18th Century and 2. would set the precedent of any displeased state (for whatever dumb or good reason) from going its own way--perhaps putting some of the remaining states at risk of peril.

When Massachusetts and Maine divorced, Massachusetts was happy to see Maine off its back BUT it (MA) insisted on a plebiscite in Maine first. It was a mutual decision made with legal stipulations.
 

Joshism

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Jupiter, FL
So I wonder, were there any voices in the north who said "Good -- the southern states want to secede, let them secede and be done with it."

There were two kinds. One was the Copperhead faction of the Democrats. Mostly in the Midwest. In terms of mumbers keep in mind these were a minority within the minority party.

The other, ironically, were some of the ultra-radical abolitionists. One whose name escapes me gave a quote comparing the use of force to stop secession to a master-slave relationship. Mostly though these were abolitionists who thought it was more important to end slavery in the United States rather than to end slavery overall. Thus secession by any means left only a few slave states and made it much more likely the US would pass an amendment ending slavery. Keep in mind abolitionists were maybe 5% of the entire country pre-secession, and the "Well, Bye" faction was a minority within that. (Go to the fringes of the political spectrum, find nutty stuff. Thus it always has been. Thus it always will be.)

And after the war, were there any who said "It would have been better to let them secede."?

Northern regret over the war was centered mostly around the large number of dead. However, I don't think the "bloody mistake" school of thought really took hold until the early 20th century. It was mostly a side effect of reconciliation attitudes, the Dunning School (Reconstruction was a failure, therefore the war that caused it was a mistake), and pacifist movement stemming from the carnage of WW1.

I'm sure there was some limited buyer's remorse right after the war, mostly among those Northerners who suffered most because of it (some maimed veterans and those who lost loved ones), which is typical of all wars.
 

Fairfield

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The other, ironically, were some of the ultra-radical abolitionists.
An excellent example of this was Lysander Spooner of Massachusetts. An outspoken opponent of slavery, he opposed the Civil War because it was not fought officially on this issue. I've read the statement that he was pro-southern but that couldn't be more incorrect--in fact, I'd argue that it was a slander. He believed that a slave revolt was a natural right. He was also an anarchist (which may have lead to the mistaken view of his leanings) as well as a strong advocate for labor.
 

Zack

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I remember reading somewhere but cannot for the life of me find the reference that, when faced with the rampant corruption of the gilded age, Union veterans were asked if they regretted fighting for the Union. The vast majority said they did not. No matter how bad it got, in their eyes, a united country was better than a divided one.

Cannot find the reference though....I'll keep looking.
 

Fairfield

Sergeant Major
Joined
Dec 5, 2019
I remember reading somewhere but cannot for the life of me find the reference that, when faced with the rampant corruption of the gilded age, Union veterans were asked if they regretted fighting for the Union. The vast majority said they did not. No matter how bad it got, in their eyes, a united country was better than a divided one.

Cannot find the reference though....I'll keep looking.
I don't recognize that incident either but I believe it. Following up on the soldiers I researched, I found that Union vets resented a president (who had hired a substitute) who turned on them, they resented the fact that ex-Confederates seemed to have been given precedence in govt. hiring in order to facilitate reconciliation and they resented the fact that the public had so quickly turned to other matters--but they never resented or regretted the cause for which they fought. At the 1913 reunion at Gettysburg, they were confronted by an early version of the Lost Cause with the result of a physical altercation which left 7 of the old vets in the hospital.

Said Col. John R. Brooke on that evening: "It seems to me, as it seems to many, that our Republic has been destined to convince the world that the language of the Constitution that 'all men are created equal' was not an idle boast."
 

GwilymT

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Location
Pittsburgh
Throughout the first half of the 19th century, (as I understand it) US politics was dominated by the struggle for control of the Senate between the "free" and "slave" states. For example, Missouri compromise. So I wonder, were there any voices in the north who said "Good -- the southern states want to secede, let them secede and be done with it." And after the war, were there any who said "It would have been better to let them secede."?
You may want to check out “Better Off Without ‘Em: A Northern Manifesto for Southern Secession” by Chuck Thompson. It’s presented in a tongue-in-cheek manner and is quite humorous but does raise some thought provoking issues and serious questions.
 
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