Fighting for Slavery?

KeyserSoze

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I tire of incessant drumbeat on slavery as the only cause of the war because it was not the only cause. The South wanted to secede to protect slavery, yes, but independence offered them far more than simply that. It offered reduced tariffs, increased foreign trade in King Cotton and a myriad of other things the South wanted. The war aim of the South was clearly to create an independent Southern Republic in which slavery was protected, but an independent Republic.
This so tiring. The South promised Virginia higher tariffs if they would secede, so how could that be a bone of contention? There was no impediment to their foreign trade while they were part of the Union. There simply is no 'myriad of other things' that drove them to rebel. The simple inescapable fact of the Southern rebellion is that you can take away every single reason for the rebellion except slavery and the South still rebels. Take away slavery and leave every other reason you care to name and the South doesn't. The war aim of the South was to break free of the Union. The reason for that war was to defend slavery.
 

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ForeverFree

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Interesting, Alan. What is the fascination with trying to taint every Southern soldier with slavery? Do we really need to end every sentence with "and he fought for slavery"?
There is one other thing to note also, and this has to do with the particular way that people look at or view the war.

There are a lot of people whose view of the war is through the lens of military experience and history. There are people who can give chapter and verse about every battle, skirmish, or whatever, about every name of every general, colonel, and captain in the war, about every type of weapon, etc, etc.

My own interest in the war is on the political and social history side. And so, almost by necessity, I will have an interest in issues related to politics, and of course, to slavery and emancipation.

My goal is not to taint the Confederate soldier. But it seems that for some people, my raising the issue of slavery during the war counts as "tainting" the soldier - even if I do so in a thread that is specifically asking about the relationship between slavery and the actions of soldiers! If I am to be tarred and feathered for bringing up the political and social context in which the war occurred, and in which soldiers fought, then so be it.

- Alan
 

CMWinkler

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I'm wondering why you all try and pretend slavery didn't exist.
Pretend slavery didn't exist? You've obviously not read anything I've written as I readily acknowledge the issue.

You insist that the reason was 'independence' and want to ignore that which led you to the decision to rebel in the first place.
No, the discussion that prompted this thread dealt with war aims. The war aim of the Confederacy was independence. Are you denying that it wanted to be independent of the United States?

You saw a threat to slavery, you announced your secession, you resorted to armed rebellion to achieve your goals.
Really? That would make me a very old man. I'm old, but not quite that old. I'm curious though as to how you characterize the American Revolution. Do you at every turn insert in every discussion "It was all about taxes?" You see there are times the motivation for an action initially gets lost in the doing. What began as a tax dispute grew into something more. I think because more noble phrases have a better ring than "No more taxes."

Why is that so hard for you to accept?
I accept that the perceived threat to slavery led the South to believe it needed to be independent. The war aim, however, of the Confederacy was to form their own nation, independence. Why is that so hard for you to accept?
 

CMWinkler

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This so tiring. The South promised Virginia higher tariffs if they would secede, so how could that be a bone of contention? There was no impediment to their foreign trade while they were part of the Union. There simply is no 'myriad of other things' that drove them to rebel. The simple inescapable fact of the Southern rebellion is that you can take away every single reason for the rebellion except slavery and the South still rebels. Take away slavery and leave every other reason you care to name and the South doesn't. The war aim of the South was to break free of the Union. The reason for that war was to defend slavery.
The war aim was independence. Thanks for, at least, acknowledging the obvious.
 

BillO

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I'm wondering why you all try and pretend slavery didn't exist. You insist that the reason was 'independence' and want to ignore that which led you to the decision to rebel in the first place. You saw a threat to slavery, you announced your secession, you resorted to armed rebellion to achieve your goals. Why is that so hard for you to accept?
I always thought it was so we wouldn't have to be in a country with folks like you. A place of their own. Their own rules and policies. IMO it was a desire for a do over. The 1st. Republic was gone wrong and they wanted to try again.
 
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I think that 90%+ of the people here agree with the notion that soldiers did in fact fight for reasons that were individual to them.

But the questions are this:

A) Did the soldiers (as well as other citizens) know, or should they have known, the reasons why government officials wanted to secede from the Union?

B) As members of a democratic republic, are soldiers (as well as other citizens) accountable for the decisions of their government? That is, if Confederate politicians sought independence as a means to protect slavery, then aren't the citizens (including soldiers) responsible for approving (via official or unofficial/silent consent) that policy? {And we do know that many people voted for secession.}

- Alan
What some others seem to be conveniently ignoring is that the armies were the electorate at the time, or at least a major portion of it. The vote of the volunteers and conscripts was important even during the war. And they were politically aware. (With the boredom of camp one might expect them to be more so than normal.)

This actually goes back to ancient times of Greek city states and early Roman republic and the hoplite phalanx (which the Romans also used in the early days. The phalanx was composed of the landholders and such the polis, who had a direct stake in defending that state and govt.

And soldiers did express disatisfaction with war aims, including changing ones. In the Union army there were men who resigned commissions and such over the EP. It is widely held that Lee's 1st invasion of Maryland was unpopular with a substantial number of soldiers who absented themselves from the army for the campaign.

On the other hand, one must also recognize that those with greater wealth and position have always been adept at getting popular support for their own interests, even where they seemingly clash with those of the common citizen. One need not convince everyone, just some plurality. And the elite win anything even close to a tiebreaker because of their outsized influence. But in the case of a voting republic, it was the electorate that put slaveholders in nearly every elected office in Southern states.
 

CSA Today

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This so tiring. The South promised Virginia higher tariffs if they would secede, so how could that be a bone of contention? There was no impediment to their foreign trade while they were part of the Union. There simply is no 'myriad of other things' that drove them to rebel. The simple inescapable fact of the Southern rebellion is that you can take away every single reason for the rebellion except slavery and the South still rebels. Take away slavery and leave every other reason you care to name and the South doesn't. The war aim of the South was to break free of the Union. The reason for that war was to defend slavery.
Had Lincoln respected the South’s right to form their own nation in peace there would have been no need to fight to defend slavery or any thing else – there would have been no need for either side to fight period.

“The aggressor in a war is not the first to use force but the first to make force necessary.”
Alexander Stephens
 

ForeverFree

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Interesting, Alan. What is the fascination with trying to taint every Southern soldier with slavery? Do we really need to end every sentence with "and he fought for slavery"?
Not only Southern soldiers but also every white southerner that breathed through the Jim Crow era.
RobertP,

To paraphrase a line from a recent movie, I am fascinated by the idea that you think I am fascinated with the idea of tainting every Confederate soldier and "also every white southerner that breathed through the Jim Crow era" with slavery.

I bring those issues up as appropriate, and many times, they are appropriate. Issues pertaining to slavery and race are an important and vital part of the political and social history of the war, and its aftermath; I literally do not believe a full and comprehensive discussion of the war and the post-war is possible without addressing those two subjects.

I do realize that this might be interpreted by some as being out to degrade or demean certian people, but I don't think the answer is to not say what I think is appropriate because of the sensitivities involved. I can tell you that I try to go out of my way to be as rational and thoughtful as I can be, even to the point that what I say is sometimes ponderous to read. I know that there are a lot of feelings involved, and I try to be respectful of that, while reserving the right to my own views on things.

- Alan
 

CMWinkler

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I bring those issues up as appropriate, and many times, they are appropriate. Issues pertaining to slavery and race are an important and vital part of the political and social history of the war, and its aftermath; I literally do not believe a full and comprehensive discussion of the war and the post-war is possible without addressing those two subjects.
I know this isn't addressed to me, but I couldn't agree more. Those subjects do need to be discussed. They do not need, however, to be inserted as an aside in every discussion.

I do realize that this might be interpreted by some as being out to degrade or demean certian people, but I don't think the answer is to not say what I think is appropriate because of the sensitivities involved. I can tell you that I try to go out of my way to be as rational and thoughtful as I can be, even to the point that what I say is sometimes ponderous to read. I know that there are a lot of feelings involved, and I try to be respectful of that, while reserving the right to my own views on things.

- Alan
I've never had a problem with you, Alan. There are others here, however, who seem to think that everyone with Southern roots is aching to reinstitute slavery at any moment and they have to prevent that by inserting slavery into every thread.
 

ForeverFree

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Had Lincoln respected the South’s right to form their own nation in peace there would have been no need to fight to defend slavery or any thing else – there would have been no need for either side to fight period.

“The aggressor in a war is not the first to use force but the first to make force necessary.”
Alexander Stephens
The problem is that the unilateral actions of the Confederacy in seeking armed disunion made the Confederacy into a military and economic threat to the United States. As I think the poster trice has suggested, if the Confederate states had sought peaceful means to leave the Union, who knows what would have happened? But we do know that armed disunion did not work to the Confederate States' benefit.

- Alan
 

ForeverFree

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I know this isn't addressed to me, but I couldn't agree more. Those subjects do need to be discussed. They do not need, however, to be inserted as an aside in every discussion.
I agree with that. But let the record show, the idea of this thread was to discuss the subject of slavery as a motivation for service! It seems I'm being blasted for saying something that is on topic!

I've never had a problem with you, Alan. There are others here, however, who seem to think that everyone with Southern roots is aching to reinstitute slavery at any moment and they have to prevent that by inserting slavery into every thread.
CMW, for what it's worth, I think you're a great addition to this forum, and I appreciate the way you advocate for your own views, although we may disagree on things from time to time.

I would add that, it seems that there is a lot of thread hijacking going on. I appreciate the efforts of the mods in trying to control it, but we members are our own worst enemy in causing friction and conflict. I had to bail from a recent thread because it had gotten so testy. But then, the Civil War was the most divisive event in American history, and 150 years later, it continues on that course. But the verbal conflict of today is a huge improvement over the armed conflict we had a century and a half ago.

- Alan
 

OpnCoronet

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The war aim was independence. Thanks for, at least, acknowledging the obvious.

Without slavery, why would the south want independence, at all? After all, the csa gov't would not emancipate slaves they recruited into their armies to fight for southern independence, or even call upon their states or citizens to sacrifice slavery in order to help win their independence.
 

CMWinkler

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Without slavery, why would the south want independence, at all?
Hmmmm Then I reckon that means the war aim was't independence? Look, feel free to keep harping on slavery. Without it, I know you'd feel incomplete. That doesn't, however, change the fact that the South sought independence.

After all, the csa gov't would not emancipate slaves they recruited into their armies to fight for southern independence, or even call upon their states or citizens to sacrifice slavery in order to help win their independence.
Slavery was a part of the fabric of Southern society. It did not, even though, it may have achieved independence without it, abandoned slavery. To do so would have undermined what little cohesiveness the Confederacy had. But, again, it sought independence with slavery intact as its goal.
 

OpnCoronet

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Hmmmm Then I reckon that means the war aim was't independence?



With slavery, the slave states wanted/needed independence. Why would they want or need independence without it? i.e. without slavery, would there have been a reason for secession?
 

CSA Today

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The problem is that the unilateral actions of the Confederacy in seeking armed disunion made the Confederacy into a military and economic threat to the United States. As I think the poster trice has suggested, if the Confederate states had sought peaceful means to leave the Union, who knows what would have happened? But we do know that armed disunion did not work to the Confederate States' benefit.

- Alan
Alan,

If we can leave partisan bickering for a moment and who did what to whom during the secession and the Fort Sumter crisis, I would like to recommend historian Richard N. Courant’s Lincoln and the First Shot. I think you will find he does an excellent job recounting events dispassionately. A poster on another forum (with a pro-Northern slant) recommended the book to me and I think, no matter the point of view, the reader will find the book an asset in learning more about the conflict.

“No country ever had truer sons, No people-bolder defenders, No principle – purer victims”
Inscribed on the Confederate Monument in front of the Marlboro County Court House in Bennettsville, South Carolina
 

Georgia Sixth

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