Didn't Tariffs start the war?

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Philip Leigh

formerly Harvey Johnson
Joined
Oct 22, 2014
Tariffs undoubtedly did raise the price of low level US cotton goods and ready made clothing, which hurt the demand for southern cotton. But they also kept Asian cotton out of the US.
Not really. Eighty percent of America's cotton was exported to Europe. American import tariffs on finished cotton goods had no impact on the price for European-produced versions those goods in markets outside of America.
The growth market for southern cotton was the US. If the southern states gain independence, southern cotton is put in the same category as Asian and Egyptian cotton, behind a tariff wall controlled by NE and Mid Atlantic politicians.
This is an even bigger error. America had no import tariff on cotton feedstock because the Northeastern cotton textile mills wanted to buy their feedstock as cheaply as possible. They happened to benefit from the fact that the American South was the World's low cost producer of raw cotton.
 

wausaubob

Major
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
Location
Denver, CO
The British were more than capable of using Asian cotton to compete with US finished goods, if the had not been a tariff penalty.
Lower tariffs on British finished goods might have led to greater sales in the US for the British industry. But a person would need to know the tariff market up. At the higher end, British and French products sold well, and the tariff most likely made little impact.
If I was a southern cotton grower, I would suspect that the NE producers were keeping finished goods prices artificially high, and screwing the farmers. Maybe they were. But the NE producers were also trying to get to levels of volume at which they could compete in export markets, at least in the Americas.
Regardless, New York was just getting into ready made clothing and sewing machines were the finished goods equivalent of the cotton gin.
The US demand for southern cotton was going to increase. But the supply side might have increased production even faster.
Note that neither manufacturers in old England or New England were interested in vertically integrating by buying cotton land. Nor were they willing to create cotton plants in south. Or build railroads in Texas, prior to the elimination of slavery.
Some of these tariffs had to be very irritating to cotton producers. But if the Confederacy became independent, NE politicians could raise revenue on cotton imports, wall out British textiles, and cotton would probably start to creep into the most southern farms that remained in the US, in Kentucky or Missouri.
 
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ForeverFree

Major
Joined
Feb 6, 2010
Location
District of Columbia
Thought I would say hello as its the first time on here. Hello! Now I will likely stir up a hornets nest with the one reason I sought out the site looking for the truth. I'm sure this has been discussed here relentlessly. The narrative today is the CW was fought over slavery but wasn't it started over tariffs Washington DC wanted to impose on the very productive South! The South was against the imposed tariffs and wanted to succeed which started the conflict. After campaigns that were brutal and the North having become disheartened and two blocked (a mariners term for rigging unable to move) Lincoln switched the narrative to slavery to get a new emphasis behind the Norths efforts. Just looking for the truth not interested in fighting the CW again.
@Texson,

Have you read the Texas DECLARATION OF CAUSES (A Declaration of the Causes which Impel the State of Texas to Secede from the Federal Union), dated February 2, 1861? This was their secession declaration (akin to the Declaration of Independence) which explained why they were leaving the Union.

I'm curious as to how much they discussed this in school (I'm assuming you went to school in Texas, given your handle "Texson").

The thing is, we don't have to guess why Texas left the Union. They issued this declaration, which explicitly states the things that caused them to secede.

The word tariff does not appear in the declaration.

The declaration does say this:

We hold as undeniable truths that the governments of the various States, and of the confederacy itself, were established exclusively by the white race, for themselves and their posterity; that the African race had no agency in their establishment; that they were rightfully held and regarded as an inferior and dependent race, and in that condition only could their existence in this country be rendered beneficial or tolerable.​
That in this free government *all white men are and of right ought to be entitled to equal civil and political rights* [emphasis in the original]; that the servitude of the African race, as existing in these States, is mutually beneficial to both bond and free, and is abundantly authorized and justified by the experience of mankind, and the revealed will of the Almighty Creator, as recognized by all Christian nations; while the destruction of the existing relations between the two races, as advocated by our sectional enemies, would bring inevitable calamities upon both and desolation upon the fifteen slave-holding states. (emphasis added)​
By the secession of six of the slave-holding States, and the certainty that others will speedily do likewise, Texas has no alternative but to remain in an isolated connection with the North, or unite her destinies with the South. (emphasis added)​
For these and other reasons, solemnly asserting that the federal constitution has been violated and virtually abrogated by the several States named, seeing that the federal government is now passing under the control of our enemies to be diverted from the exalted objects of its creation to those of oppression and wrong, and realizing that our own State can no longer look for protection, but to God and her own sons--​
We the delegates of the people of Texas, in Convention assembled, have passed an ordinance dissolving all political connection with the government of the United States of America and the people thereof and confidently appeal to the intelligence and patriotism of the freemen of Texas to ratify the same at the ballot box, on the 23rd day of the present month.​

There is no doubt that tariff policy was a point of contention in the US at the time. But that was not cited by Texas as the reason they wanted to leave the Union.

- Alan
 

wausaubob

Major
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
Location
Denver, CO
A government in which there are taxes, in the form of tariffs, compared to a government with no taxes, and everything is based on private wealth, seems disadvantageous. No one likes taxes. However the US found out that someone has to pay for naval ships, wars in Mexico, forts in the west, levees, and postal routes. By 1860 most states and towns were constructing tax systems to pay for schools and streets,
Its natural to think the secessionists did not like high taxes. But in the 1860 USA, the tax incidence was about $2 per person. And most of the taxes were paid on luxury goods, coffee, imported sugar, and high quality manufactured items, by the wealthy and professionals. The ordinary southerner did not care whether his tax incidence was $4.40 per year for his family, or $4.55 per year for his whole family.
They were fighting for a conservative adherence to a way a life that railroads and manufacturing were sure to displace within 20 years.
 
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wausaubob

Major
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
Location
Denver, CO
All these tariff arguments are a distraction. The paid labor states were growing at 41% per decade, and many manufacturing industries were growing even faster. The southern states were growing at the rate of 27% per decade and slave ownership was practiced by a shrinking % of the southern population.
 

KSor

Cadet
Joined
Jul 10, 2019
Thought I would say hello as its the first time on here. Hello! Now I will likely stir up a hornets nest with the one reason I sought out the site looking for the truth. I'm sure this has been discussed here relentlessly. The narrative today is the CW was fought over slavery but wasn't it started over tariffs Washington DC wanted to impose on the very productive South! The South was against the imposed tariffs and wanted to succeed which started the conflict. After campaigns that were brutal and the North having become disheartened and two blocked (a mariners term for rigging unable to move) Lincoln switched the narrative to slavery to get a new emphasis behind the Norths efforts. Just looking for the truth not interested in fighting the CW again.
Thought I would say hello as its the first time on here. Hello! Now I will likely stir up a hornets nest with the one reason I sought out the site looking for the truth. I'm sure this has been discussed here relentlessly. The narrative today is the CW was fought over slavery but wasn't it started over tariffs Washington DC wanted to impose on the very productive South! The South was against the imposed tariffs and wanted to succeed which started the conflict. After campaigns that were brutal and the North having become disheartened and two blocked (a mariners term for rigging unable to move) Lincoln switched the narrative to slavery to get a new emphasis behind the Norths efforts. Just looking for the truth not interested in fighting the CW again.
Thought I would say hello as its the first time on here. Hello! Now I will likely stir up a hornets nest with the one reason I sought out the site looking for the truth. I'm sure this has been discussed here relentlessly. The narrative today is the CW was fought over slavery but wasn't it started over tariffs Washington DC wanted to impose on the very productive South! The South was against the imposed tariffs and wanted to succeed which started the conflict. After campaigns that were brutal and the North having become disheartened and two blocked (a mariners term for rigging unable to move) Lincoln switched the narrative to slavery to get a new emphasis behind the Norths efforts. Just looking for the truth not interested in fighting the CW again.
The problem with the Tartif argument is that if is was more about Tartifs then slavery the south would have left the union before the 1860 election . The Republican Party was not going to allow slavery to go into any new states . That was going to shift even more power to the northern state . And yes that would have meant more tartifs to protect northern industries . But slavery is what the Republicans were against more so then pro tariffs . But is is a very interesting and fascinating thing to look at .
 

Rhea Cole

First Sergeant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
In 1860 60% of the wealthiest men in America lived in the South. The 4 million slaves were worth +/- $80 billion dollars. A child, four feet tall was worth $100/inch up to five feet tall. This at a time when a skilled craftsman made $25.00/week. A comely light skinned young woman was worth as much as $100,000 in 2020 money at the Fancy Girl Market in New Orleans. If that isn't enough to convince anybody who has studied the pre-Lost Cause, pre-1865 evidence, then it is a case of refusing to follow the factual evidence for the cause of secession to their logical conclusion.

The tariff excuse for secession was debunked utterly & completely 70 years ago. Many posts in this tread have supplied ample evidence that refutes it as well. I have suggestion. I looked back into the previous threads on the tariff trope. They are all the same. The sound counter evidence is ignored & the same old Lost Cause disinformation is repeated over & over again. It seems to me that the moderators would be doing us all a favor if, when the tariff trope comes up again, they add the query to a preexisting thread on that subject. That way the topic would be added for anyone who wishes to pursue it, but we won't have to repeat over & over again evidence that makes it glaring obvious that it a false claim. All the answers will be there for all to see

I am all for being inclusive. However, allowing the same counterfactual twaddle to be posted over & over again isn't inclusivity. It is just a case of not applying sensible filters to a Civil War history forum. Otherwise, discredited made up counterfactual disinformation is perpetrated a fact ad nauseam. What possible good does that do?
 
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