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Did the Southern Soldier Fight and Die to Preserve Slavery?

Discussion in 'Civil War History - Secession and Politics' started by 1842, Sep 6, 2015.

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  1. R. Alex Raines

    R. Alex Raines First Sergeant

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    Then why don't you answer the question then? Instead a non sequitur.
     
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  3. ForeverFree

    ForeverFree Major

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    RE: "but all the time I was fighting for what my state thought best and against my own convictions."

    This quote drives home a point I've been making. These guys were not clueless. They were not ignorant or oblivious to the political situation around them. It's not like they lived in a cave or a vacuum, and they woke up one day and all of a sudden, the Yankees came out of thin air for no reason at all, and miraculously, a Confederate government was formed out of thin air that all of a sudden ready, willing, and able to enlist these men to fight.

    Secession was a momentous event. Probably the most important and significant political event in their lifetimes. At some point, the political merits of secession and that followed war would have been discussed.

    I see this war as more like the Iraq War than the Viet Nam War. The Iraq War did not just steak up on the public after escalating seemingly out of control. The Iraq War began after the case for war was presented to the UN and the US Congress and American public; and it was approved by Congress, acting as representatives of their constituents. We all know the case that was made: The Iraqis had WMD, and America, the Middle East, and the world could only be safe by toppling the Iraqi regime. Yeah, maybe the government didn't have all the facts right. And of course, a lot of Americans were OK with being ignorant or apathetic about the whole thing. But the case was made, and we all know what was at stake.

    As noted in the previously mentioned article by Gordon Rhea, southerners leaders engaged in the same kind of case-building in the wake of the election of Abraham Lincoln. So, for example, the State of Mississippi issued its
    A Declaration of the Immediate Causes which Induce and Justify the Secession of the State of Mississippi from the Federal Union in January, 1861. They famously began by saying

    “In the momentous step which our State has taken of dissolving its connection with the government of which we so long formed a part, it is but just that we should declare the prominent reasons which have induced our course.

    “Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery– the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun. These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization."​

    The state of Mississippi was not hiding their reasons for creating a new, Confederate nation. They wanted the world, and the people of their state to know the political merits. They were not trying to dupe or use their citizens. They told their citizens upfront and outright: we are on this course to protect against "a blow at slavery." And the sectional president and his party were going to strike that blow. Again, I refer to Gordon Rhea's excellent article Why Non-Slaveholding Southerners Fought. These soldiers knew they were fighting for slavery, because their leaders told them so!

    Again, this is not to deny that, for example, many soldiers fought out of patriotic duty to protect their country. No doubt about that. But the question in the OP is, "Did the Southern Soldier Fight and Die to Preserve Slavery?" We can say the answer is yes, and we can say that because of the evidence that their leaders told them they were fighting for slavery. why is this happening?" Some men might not have agreed with the political merits. But they knew the merits, and that is key.

    I will close by saying it again: it does a disservice to these men to think that they were ignorant, oblivious, and clueless about the politics involved in secession and war. It does a disservice to these men to think that they would get into this without asking, "just what is it that got us here... why is this happening?"

    Or... am I giving these men too much credit?

    - Alan
     
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  4. NedBaldwin

    NedBaldwin Major

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    The question was answered by the secessionists in their speeches and declarations. They said that they felt the legality of slavery in their states was being threatened by the Republicans. Its no great mystery since they were quite clear about it.
     
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  5. tonijustine

    tonijustine Corporal

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    To Ned's point:

    "What was the reason that induced Georgia to take the step of secession? This reason may be summed up in one single proposition. It was a conviction, a deep conviction on the part of Georgia, that a separation from the North-was the only thing that could prevent the abolition of her slavery. This conviction, sir, was the main cause. It is true, sir, that the effect of this conviction was strengthened by a further conviction that such a separation would be the best remedy for the fugitive slave evil, and also the best, if not the only remedy, for the territorial evil. But, doubtless, if it had not been for the first conviction this step would never have been taken. It therefore becomes important to inquire whether this conviction was well founded."

    -Georgia Secession Commissioner Henry Benning, to the Virginia Secession Convention
    http://civilwarcauses.org/benningva.htm

    *edited to add link
     
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  6. Lost Cause

    Lost Cause 2nd Lieutenant

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    Ned, you are quite correct that the question was answered. Take for instance Arkansas' Ordinance of Secession:

    AN ORDINANCE to dissolve the union now existing between the State of Arkansas and the other States united with her under the compact entitled "The Constitution of the United States of America."

    Whereas, in addition to the well-founded causes of complaint set forth by this convention, in resolutions adopted on the 11th of March, A.D. 1861, against the sectional party now in power in Washington City, headed by Abraham Lincoln, he has, in the face of resolutions passed by this convention pledging the State of Arkansas to resist to the last extremity any attempt on the part of such power to coerce any State that had seceded from the old Union, proclaimed to the world that war should be waged against such States until they should be compelled to submit to their rule, and large forces to accomplish this have by this same power been called out, and are now being marshaled to carry out this inhuman design; and to longer submit to such rule, or remain in the old Union of the United States, would be disgraceful and ruinous to the State of Arkansas:

    Therefore we, the people of the State of Arkansas, in convention assembled, do hereby declare and ordain, and it is hereby declared and ordained, That the "ordinance and acceptance of compact" passed and approved by the General Assembly of the State of Arkansas on the 18th day of October, A.D. 1836, whereby it was by said General Assembly ordained that by virtue of the authority vested in said General Assembly by the provisions of the ordinance adopted by the convention of delegates assembled at Little Rock for the purpose of forming a constitution and system of government for said State, the propositions set forth in "An act supplementary to an act entitled `An act for the admission of the State of Arkansas into the Union, and to provide for the due execution of the laws of the United States within the same, and for other purposes,'" were freely accepted, ratified, and irrevocably confirmed, articles of compact and union between the State of Arkansas and the United States, and all other laws and every other law and ordinance, whereby the State of Arkansas became a member of the Federal Union, be, and the same are hereby, in all respects and for every purpose herewith consistent, repealed, abrogated, and fully set aside; and the union now subsisting between the State of Arkansas and the other States, under the name of the United States of America, is hereby forever dissolved.

    And we do further hereby declare and ordain, That the State of Arkansas hereby resumes to herself all rights and powers heretofore delegated to the Government of the United States of America; that her citizens are absolved from all allegiance to said Government of the United States, and that she is in full possession and exercise of all the rights and sovereignty which appertain to a free and independent State.

    We do further ordain and declare, That all rights acquired and vested under the Constitution of the United States of America, or of any act or acts of Congress, or treaty, or under any law of this State, and not incompatible with this ordinance, shall remain in full force and effect, in nowise altered or impaired, and have the same effect as if this ordinance had not been passed.

    Adopted and passed in open convention on the 6th day of May, A.D. 1861.

    Source: Official Records, Ser. IV, vol. 1, pp. 287-88.

    As previously mentioned, Lincoln's invocation of the Militia Act after the fall of Ft. Sumter put 4 of the 8 slaveholding states over the edge toward secession. As stated from the example above, Arkansas' reasoning was clear.
     
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  7. Georgia Coast

    Georgia Coast Sergeant

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    Holy cow...someone adjusts their thinking! Is that actually allowed? But seriously, i am full of admiration! If only I could get myself in check and do the same more often.
     
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  8. Lost Cause

    Lost Cause 2nd Lieutenant

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    The problem lies in not that it is difficult to swallow, but is continually regurgitated to like a bad meatball.

    "History is history. It cannot be changed."

    LC
     
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  9. NedBaldwin

    NedBaldwin Major

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    The Arkansas ordinance begins with a reference to "well-founded causes of complaint set forth by this convention". Those causes of complaint had to do with slavery. So yes, their reasoning was very clear.
     
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  10. Lost Cause

    Lost Cause 2nd Lieutenant

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    Glad you saw the plurality of the causes.
     
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  11. R. Alex Raines

    R. Alex Raines First Sergeant

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    You don't worry. You will do just fine around here. Keep your head up and don't give in to the Neo-Con apologist stuff that comes by sometimes.
     
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  12. R. Alex Raines

    R. Alex Raines First Sergeant

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    So your answer is slavery plus the election of Lincoln? Bit confused. The war wasn't about slavery or not just about slavery because some of the rebellious states waited until after the shooting war started? Is that your thesis?
     
  13. R. Alex Raines

    R. Alex Raines First Sergeant

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    Just keep digging the hole. #WillReachChina
     
  14. Lost Cause

    Lost Cause 2nd Lieutenant

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    Not sure what hole you are talking about. The causes were clear. Whether you accept them is irrelevant.
     
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  15. R. Alex Raines

    R. Alex Raines First Sergeant

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    Then why don't you pretend I am a simpleton and enumerate (that means list in numbered form) the causes you believe existed for the American Civil War.
     
  16. Lost Cause

    Lost Cause 2nd Lieutenant

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    No pretending, read the declarations for yourself.
     
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  17. Eric Calistri

    Eric Calistri 2nd Lieutenant

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    Looking to the Journal of the Arkansas Secession Convention pages 51-54, I believe you will find the resolutions referred to in bold in #307:

    1. People of the northern states have organized a political party, purely sectional in its character, the central and controlling idea of which is, hostility to the institution of African slavery, as it exists in the southern states, and that party has elected a President and Vice President of the United States, pledged to administer the government upon principles inconsistent with the rights, and subversive of the interests of the people of the southern states.

    2. They have denied to the people of the southern states the right to an equal participation in the benefits of the common territories of the Union, by refusing them the same protection to their slave property therein that is afforded to other property, and by declaring that no more slave states shall be admitted into the Union.

    3. They have declared that Congress possesses, under the constitution, and ought to exercise, the power to abolish slavery in the territories, in the District of Columbia, and in the forts, arsenals and dock yards of the United States, within the limits of the slaveholding states.

    4. They have, in disregard of their constitutional obligations, obstructed the faithful execution ol’ the fugitive slave laws by enactments of their state legislatures.

    5. They have denied the citizens of southern states the right of transit through non-slaveholding states with their slaves, and the right to hold them while temporarily sojourning therein.

    6. They have degraded American citizens by placing them upon an equality with negroes at the ballot-box.

    To redress the grievances hereinbefore complained of, and as a means of restoring harmony and fraternal good will between the people of all the states, the following amendments to the constitution of the United States are proposed:

    1. The President and Vice President of the United States shall each be chosen alternately from a slaveholding and no slaveholding state—but, in no case, shall both be chosen from slaveholding or non-slaveholding states,

    2. In all the territory of the United States now held, or which may hereafter be acquired, situate north of latitude 36 deg. 30 min., slavery or involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime is prohibited while such territory shall remain under territorial government. In all the territory now held, or which may hereafter be acquired, south of said line of latitude, slavery of the African race is hereby recognized as existing, and shall not be interfered with by Congress, but shall be protected as property by all the departments of the territorial government, during its continuance. And when any territory, .north or south of said line, within such boundaries as Congress may prescribe, shall contain the population requisite for a member of Congress, according to the then federal ratio of representation of the people of the United States, it shall, if its form of government be republican, be admitted into the Union on an equal footing with the original states, with or without slavery, as the constitution of such new state may provide.

    3. Congress shall have no power to legislate upon the subject of slavery, except to protect the citizen in his right of property in slaves.

    4. That in addition to the provisions of third paragraph of the second section of the fourth article of the constitution of the United States, Congress shall have power to provide, by law, and it shall be its duty so to provide, that the United States shall pay to the owner, who shall apply for it, the full value of his fugitive slave, in all cases, when the marshal, or other officer, whose duty it was to arrest said fugitive, was prevented from so doing by violence; or when, after arrest, said fugitive was rescued by force, and the owner thereby prevented and obstructed in the pursuit of his remedy for the recovery of his fugitive slave under the said clause of the constitution and the laws made in pursuance thereof. And in all such cases, when the United States shall pay for such fugitive, they shall have the right, in their own name, to sue the county in which said violence, intimidation or rescue was committed, and to recover from it, with interest and damages, the amount paid by them for said fugitive slave. And the said county, after it has paid said amount to the United States, may, for its indemnity, sue and recover from the wrongdoers or rescuers, by whom the owner was prevented from the recovery of his fugitive slave, in like manner as the owner himself might have sued and recovered.

    5. The third paragraph, of the second section of the fourth article of the constitution, shall not be construed to prevent any of the states from having concurrent jurisdiction with the United States, by appropriate legislation, and through the action of their judicial and ministerial officers, from enforcing the delivery of fugitives from labor to the person to whom such service or labor is due.

    6. Citizens of slaveholding states when traveling through, or temporarily sojourning with their slaves in non-slaveholding states, shall be protected in their right of property in such slaves.

    7. The elective franchise, and the right to hold office, whether federal, state, territorial or municipal, shall not be exercised by persons of the African race, in whole or in part.

    8. These amendments, and the third paragraph of the second section of the first article of the constitution, and the third paragraph of the second section of the fourth article thereof, shall not be amended or abolished, without the consent of all the states.

    That the sense of the people of the United States may be taken upon the amendments above proposed:

    1. Resolved by the people of Arkansas in Convention assembled, That we recommend the calling of a convention of the states of the Federal Union, at the earliest practicable day, in accordance with the provisions of the fifth article of the constitution of the United States.

    2. Resolved further, That a committee of three delegates of this convention be appointed, whose duty it shall be to lay before the President and Congress of the United States, and before the governors and legislatures of the several states, a copy of these proceedings.

    3. Resolved further, That looking to the call of a national convention, as recommended in the first resolution above, this convention elect five delegates to represent the State of Arkansas in such convention.

    4. Resolved further, That a committee of five delegates of this convention be appointed to prepare an address to the people of the United States, urging upon them the importance of a united effort on the part of the patriotic citizens of all section and parties to save the country from the dangers which impend it, and which threaten its destruction—and especially to arrest the reckless and fanatical spirit of sectionalism north and south, which, if not arrested, will inevitably involve us in a bloody civil war.

    ________________________________________


    I've used bolding to help highlight the causes, and you are correct not every one is slavery. Denying the vote and ability to hold office to "the African Race", as specified here by Arkansas, would also effect free blacks throughout all the United States.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2015
  18. R. Alex Raines

    R. Alex Raines First Sergeant

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    Here's the problem. People here are trying to have reasonable discussions about the Civil War Era. We aren't actually here trying to play some sort of gotcha game or something similarly wasteful of our collective times. So when people here repeatedly ask you questions and you deflect them, respond with a non sequitur, or just flat out refuse to answer reasonable questions, it makes you appear intellectually dishonest or willfully ignorant or like a creature that lives under a bridge or in a cave or in Middle Earth.

    So let's try one more time. Please enumerate what you believe to be the causes of the American Civil War.
     
  19. CW Buff

    CW Buff First Sergeant

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    Frankly, this appears to indicate you completely ignored what I said in my own post:

    Where do I state or infer they were "ignorant, oblivious, and clueless about the politics involved in secession and war"? Don't I indicate exactly the opposite?

    To me there is a disservice in ignoring what they said and reducing their "personal" motivations entirely to the political objectives, which they were obviously serving. I don't know if people are simply used to others pushing some kind of agendas, but I was shooting for an honest assessment of what the individual thought.

    As far as Rhea's article, I find it fairly useless for that purpose. His article is titled Why Non-Slaveholding Soldiers Fought, yet he seems to deal entirely with what political, religious, and community leaders were saying. How many soldiers wrote home that they were fighting the "anti-slavery infidel". He says ignore what they wrote after the fact, but he considers nothing that they (average soldiers) wrote during the War. Can you imagine if that had been the approach McPherson took in For Cause and Comrades: Why Men Fought In The Civil War. Seems to me if you really want to get a feel for what the average soldier felt, you would refer to the primary sources for that: their personal letters. He doesn't do that (at least I don't think so, I only read through half of it before realizing he apparently wasn't going to directly address his own title subject).

    My point is not that the individual was not aware, and did not realize he was fighting for the political objective of protecting and perpetuating slavery. Rufus Peck states that he was fighting against his own convictions. That means duty to state was apparently more important to Peck than even the fact that his state's political objectives were contrary to his personal convictions. If the point was simply that the soldier fights for his country's political causes, whether he believes in them or not, that point had been made before.

    I'm beginning to think that somehow the point of the OP has flown a few hundred feet over my head.:giggle:
     
  20. R. Alex Raines

    R. Alex Raines First Sergeant

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    <chirp><chirp>
     
  21. Lost Cause

    Lost Cause 2nd Lieutenant

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    Insults are noted. I have responded to as many that have spoken to me as practical while at CWT, whether in agreement or not. On rare occasion, one comes along that does not deserve the satisfaction.
     
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