Did the north have the moral ground and 1860

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Got the idea from another message board.

As for the north having the moral high ground. If we are talking about the union abolishing slavery with the completion of the war, then they do have the moral ground. Whether you agree that the war from a northern prospective was being faught over slavery or if you believe the war became a war of the issue of slavery, really does not matter it you are looking for the end result. That being the ending of slavery. How could anyone argue the north did not have the moral high ground? They did.

If we are talking about prior to the war, the north made great strides towards eliminating slavery. Many states did abolish it but several kept it. While many freedmen were welcome and sometimes treated as equals, others were not. Bounty hunters, not right to vote, taxed higher etc.

Did the north have the moral high ground at the beginning of the war? Questionable as to the meaning and how you defend “moral ground”.
The key to the Republican Party’s success was its position on slavery. It opposed the expansion of slavery and called upon Congress to take measures, whenever necessary, to prevent its extension. It condemned slavery as an immoral institution, a relic of "barbarism," and most Republicans thought that by confining slavery within its present boundaries, the institution would be placed on the road to eventual extinction. The party was, therefore, a genuine anti-slavery party, but most Republicans rejected a more radical stand that would associate them with abolitionism. The party, for example, upheld the constitutional sanctity of slavery within the South, and a significant minority (including Lincoln) were willing to support a constitutional amendment forever guaranteeing against congressional interference with slavery in the states. Republicans also acknowledged the legitimacy of the fugitive slave clause of the Constitution and accepted its enforcement by proper laws. Republicans, therefore, separated themselves from abolitionists who agitated for a quicker, immediate, end to slavery, and the adoption of measures, such as the emancipation of slaves in the nation's capital, which would render slavery insecure in its present boundaries.

At the same time, moderate Republicans also distinguished themselves from the more egalitarian racial program of abolitionism. Most Republicans accepted the principles of the Declaration of Independence as assuring black people certain rights now and, perhaps also, as ultimate goals to be fully realized sometime in the future. But they disavowed measures that would immediately bring about true equality between the races. Lincoln, who may have been somewhat more conservative than the core of his party, declared himself against equal rights in voting and officeholding, and he advocated the colonization of blacks to lands outside the United States, an idea that was anathema to abolitionists. Southerners, however, hardly distinguished between the different antislavery and racial views of the Republicans and abolitionists.

The Republican party's opposition to the expansion of slavery, therefore, encompassed a distinctive moral protest against slavery itself, but also contained, at least for many Republicans, a racial concern that the territories be reserved primarily for free white people. In addition, the Republican mainstream associated a free labor society with economic opportunity, hard work, upward mobility, liberty, morality, and other essential elements of a true republic. Slavery, on the other hand, was associated with economic backwardness, aristocracy, violence, illiteracy, intemperance, and immorality. Worse yet, Republicans viewed slavery as an aggressive institution, whose leaders, in alliance with sympathetic northerners, were conspiring to spread this cancer throughout the nation. This idea of a "Slave Power Conspiracy," which Lincoln boldly proclaimed in his "House Divided" speech to the Illinois Republican convention in June 1858, identified the party with democratic ideals and provided a shorthand expression of northern resentment against the South's political clout. Although a minority section, the South had disproportionate influence in national politics, and frequently scuttled measures desired by many northerners, such as higher tariffs to protect manufacturing, or homestead legislation to provide free land for western settlers.

The final results of the election of 1860 did not necessarily make secession inevitable. Read in a certain light, the outcome provided hope for those who sought to maintain the Union and find a resolution to the sectional crisis. Lincoln, while receiving a majority vote among northerners, did not receive a majority of all the popular votes. The combined opposition outpolled him by almost one million votes. Lincoln would be a minority President, lacking a clear mandate and, perhaps vulnerable to defeat in the next election. In the South, Breckinridge won only a bare majority in the deep South states and, overall, lost the popular vote in the slaves states to a combined opposition which garnered fifty-five percent of the vote. Sentiment for secession was by no means all pervasive in the South, especially in the upper South.

Some reference; http://www.tulane.edu/~latner/Background/BackgroundElection.html
 

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FSPowers

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Excellent post. My opinion on the subject is that the North did not have the moral high ground until President Lincoln seized it on January 1, 1863.
 

samgrant

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From the previous posts, it seems to me that the question of "moral ground" as has been discussed here is directly related to the issue of slavery.

I would submit that there is a different "moral ground" apart from slavery that, if not held in as much importance as slavery by the Republicans or the Abolitionists, was held by the President of the United States.

That is the issue of (if I may quote):

"that government of the people. . .by the people. . .for the people. . . shall not perish from the earth."

"whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated. . . can long endure."

I believe that Lincoln truly believed that if secession were to be allowed, that the whole concept on which the nation was conceived would be discarded to the dustbin of history as a grand experiment failed.

So, in that respect, it would be immoral indeed to sacrifice that form of government.

What do you think?
 

ole

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Amen, Sam.

Whether moral or not, that was the high ground! Slavery was the reason for secession. Secession was the reason for the war. There were people then who believed in the "noble experiment." For that, a great many people should be forever grateful.
Ole
 

MobileBoy

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I see your guys point there, but to Southerners they by seceeding were honoring the government of the founding fathers.Being very familiar with the ideas of the founders of this country they had a point.Once slavery became an issue the North rightly had the high ground.Before that they were invading states to enforce Northern will and fighting against independence.I'd say the South had the moral high ground.
 

unionblue

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MobileBoy,

One should read what the founding fathers (Washington, Adams, Jefferson, etc.) said about keeping the nation together before assuming they were for disunion.

Lincoln when giving his Cooper Union address also talks about the founding fathers and what actions they took concerning slavery and the like. Makes for more good reading.

In other words, there is enough of a written record that brings just a bit of doubt to the idea that the Southern States were following the traditions and teachings of the founding fathers.

Sincerely,
Unionblue
 

mainer

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Am I missing something here? If the North had the moral high ground, why did it's leader free the slaves only in states that were on the side of seccesion?
 

samgrant

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mainer said:
Am I missing something here? If the North had the moral high ground, why did it's leader free the slaves only in states that were on the side of seccesion?
In a nutshell, expediency.

A. L. needed to win that war in order to accomplish anything else, such as universal abolition. He didn't want to have Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri to join the Confederacy. Had enough problems as it was. A. L. kept his eye on the 'big picture'.

(You might also consider my point in post #5 in that saving the Union, at least to A. L., was a "moral" duty, and the EP was a tool toward that end.)
 

ole

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Mainer:
The EP was a military matter. Constitutionally, he could not free slaves in areas that "were not in rebellion." Plus, as Sam said, political expediency. He didn't want to irritate Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, and those few slaveowners left in Delaware and New Jersey.

Some will point out that it was purely propaganda -- a toothless measure. But when the Yankee's got near, production of cotton sure went down. And after a few shaky moments with Europe, the possibility of siding with the CSA also went away. There was quite a bit of taking French leave when the chance looked promising.
Ole
 

mainer

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Please let me apologize for any confusion...my question about the EP and it's hypocritical use 1st as a threat, and then as an act against the South was purely rhetorical. Thank you
 

ole

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Oh. Do we have a "rhetorical" button? Sorry I missed that. No apologies unless the word "sockdolagizing" escapes your fingers.
Ole
 

matthew mckeon

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Dear Mainer,
I don't mean to repeat myself, but the Emancipation Proclaimation dealt a mortal blow to slavery, despite its often criticized limitations. If the North won the war, the EP meant slavery was finished. The few areas, such as the loyal slave states, that were excluded by the EP, could not, and in fact, did not, survive as islands of slavery in a bondage free America.
 

matthew mckeon

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Dear Mainer,
To see the E.P. as solely a political maneuver is to miss its full import. Despite its often cited limitations, the E.P. meant the end of American slavery. As long as the Union armies won, slavery was finished. The areas excluded by the E.P. could not, and in fact, did not, survive as islands of bondage in a otherwise free America. With the stroke of a pen, Lincoln ended the centuries old institution of slavery. The Union army had to make that measure effective, but that is true of ANY measure that Lincoln could have taken.
The Emancipation Proc. leads to black troops, black citizenship, and the
13th, 14th and 15th amendments. It made the Civil War different and more profoundly revolutionary event. To read it differently is to misunderstand what Lincoln was doing.
 

samgrant

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One might argue that the EP, put Lincoln's re-election very much in jeopardy as many folks in the North were not wild about the idea.

I'd think that if it were to be judged opportunistic, it would be more in the way of the military situation,than that of his own re-election.

Even then, as Lincoln always walked the highwire, alot of his troops were not happy about the prospect of the negroes as Union soldiers.

Posey, please respond to unionblue's question.
 


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