Discussion First Acts of War

unionblue

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#1
To All,

I got this idea from the 'War of Northern Aggression' thread as Vareb and Elennsar were discussing the first acts of war that took place.

I did this list once when I was debating another former member of this forum and thought I would repost it here.

December 20, 1860. South Carolina secedes from the Union.

On that same day William T. Sherman says to his friends in the South, "You, you people of the South, believe there can be such a thing as peaceable secession. You don't know what you are doing. I know there can be no such thing...If you will have it, the North must fight you for its own preservation. Yes, South Carolina has by the act precipitated war..."

December 27, 1860. The first Federal property to fall into South Carolina hands is the U.S. revenue cutter William Aiken turned over to secessionists by its commander, Capt. N. L. Coste, who did not resign his commission and therefore was in violation of his oath of office. The crew left the ship and went North.

Castle Pickney was seized by South Carolina militia and a problem arose: were the two Federal soldiers captured in the fort to be considered prisoners of war? If so, it would imply that there was in fact, a WAR. Following a lengthy discussion, the one Federal officer was allowed to go to Ft. Sumter while a sergeant and his family were given safe conduct to remain in their quarters at the fort. What was significant was that the secessionists now held, for the first time, a U.S. fort. Union officer Abner Doubleday called it "the first overt act of the Secessionists against the Sovereignty of the United States."

Fort Moultrie is also occupied by South Carolina militia on this day, after the fort was abandoned by Major Anderson and Federal troops on December 26, 1860, who relocated to Ft. Sumter during the night.

December 28, 1860. A detachment of South Carolina militia enters and takes control of Fort Johnson. Three out of four Federal forts have been seized and are now under the control of South Carolina militia troops.

January 3, 1861. The War Department cancelled plans to ship guns from Pittsburgh to the forts in the South. Former Secretary of War Floyd, who resigned and went South, had been shipping weapons and large guns South for the past several months to help build up the Southern arsenals.

January 4, 1861. Even though it had not yet seceded from the Union, Alabama troops seize the U.S. arsenal at Mt. Vernon, Ala.

January 5, 1861. Even though it STILL has not yet seceded from the Union, Alabama troops seizes Fort Morgan and Gaines which protect the harbor at Mobile.

January 6, 1861. Even though it has not yet seceded from the Union, Florida troops seize the Federal arsenal at Apalachiocola.

January 7, 1861. Even though it has STILL not seceded from the Union, Florida troops seize Fort Marion at St. Augustine.

January 8, 1861. At Fort Barrancas, guarding the entrance to Pensacola Harbor, Federal troops fired on a raiding party of about twenty men, who then fled.

January 9, 1861. On this day, Senators Judah P. Benjamin and John Slidell of Louisiana telegraphed Gov. Moore of that state (which had not yet seceded from the Union), that Federal gunboats were secretly bringing supplies to the forts at the mouth of the Mississippi River. Both men had yet to resign from the Senate. Gov. Moore ordered Braxton Bragg and 500 troops to seize the forts and the United States arsenal at Baton Rouge.

On this same day, the Star of the West attempted to resupply Fort Sumter but was fired on by a masked battery from Morris Island and then by guns from Fort Moultrie. In spite of the fact the ship was flying two United States flags, the ship was repeatedly fired on. The ship turned and steamed away.

January 10, 1862. General Bragg and the militia seize the United States forts and arsenals in Louisiana. William T. Sherman, presiding as head of the Louisiana State Seminary of Learning and Military Academy, stated that Bragg's actions were, "an act of war and a breach of common decency."

On the same day in North Carolina, before that state had yet to secede, citizens of Smithville and Wilmington occupied Forts Johnson and Caswell. The State government at Raleigh later repudiated these moves.

January 12, 1861. Captain James Armstrong, commander of the Warrington Navy Yard at Pensacola, Florida, is captured and "regarded [as] a prisoner of war, and...placed on his parole of honor...not to bear arms against the State of Florida."

January 13, 1861. Several men are seen near Fort Pickens in the night and were fired upon. These unknown men retired from the area of the fort.

January, 18, 1861. In the United States House of Representatives, John Sherman, brother of William T. Sherman, rose to reply to his Ohio colleague, Pendleton, remarks that the North should be concillatory towards the South. Sherman, in a highly emotional speech, said that it was not the North that should be concillatory, it was the South; were they not the ones who had fired on the flag and seized government property? Was not Mississippi stopping all traffic at Vicksburg for search? (which Mississippi had begun on January 12, 1861.)

January 21, 1861. Mississippi troops seize Fort Massachusetts off the coast, in the Gult. Ship Island is also taken.

January 24, 1861. Georgia troops occupy the U.S. arsenal at Augusta.

January 26, 1861. At Savannah, Georgia, Fort Jackson and the Oglethorpe Barracks are seized by state troops.

January 29, 1861. Louisiana state troops take possession of Fort Macomb, outside New Orleans. The revenue cutter Robert McClelland is surrendered to Louisiana state authorities by Captain Breshwood, despite orders not to do so by the Secretary of the Treasury.

Also on this date, a notice of truce was sent from Washington to the army and navy commanders at Pensacola. It was the result of an agreement between Secretaries Holt and Toucey and Florida official Chase and Stephen Mallory.

January 30, 1861. President-elect Lincoln leaves Springfield, Ill., to visit his step-mother in Coles County. He has not even left for Washington yet. In Mobile Bay, the U.S. revenue schooner Lewis Cass was surrendered to Alabama by its commander.

January 31, 1861. In New Orleans, the U.S. Branch Mint was seized by state troops along with the revenue schooner Washington.

February 8, 1861. Before it had yet to secede from the Union, Arkansas seized the Little Rock U.S. arsenal.

February 11, 1861. Lincoln boards the train that will take him to Washington.

February 16, 1861. Although it had yet to secede from the Union, in San Antonio, Texas, state troops seize the U.S. military compound, barracks and arsenal.

February 19, 1861. In New Orleans, the U.S. Paymaster's office was seized by state troops.

March 2, 1861. Texas, now out of the Union, seizes the U.S. revenue schooner Henry Dodge at Galveston.

March 6, 1861. The Confederate Congress authorizes an army of 100,000 volunteers for twelve months.

March 15, 1861. The State of Louisiana transferred over $536,000 in money taken from the U.S. Mint in New Orleans to the Confederate government.

March 18, 1861. In the Florida panhandle, General Braxton Bragg refused to permit further supply of Ft. Pickens, in effect, nullifying the truce then in effect between Washington and Florida from January 29, 1861.

March 20, 1861. Texas troops seize three more Federal forts. At Mobile, a Federal supply ship, the U.S. sloop Isabella, was seized before it could sail with supplies to Pensacola.

April 3, 1861. In Charleston, South Carolina, a battery placed on Morris Island, fired at the Federal schooner Rhoda H. Shannon.

April 12, 1861. At 4:30AM, Fort Sumter was fired on by Confederate forces.

April 15, 1861. President Lincoln calls for 75,000 volunteers for three months service.

Submitted for your consideration.

Sincerely,
Unionblue
 

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#2
Thank you for the timeline.

My thoughts, thusly:
While the literal first shots may not have been fired until January 8th (and those by a Federal), the theft of Federal property begins on the 27th of December.

I'm not entirely sure I agree with Sherman in regards to South Carolina secceeding - but by seizing Federal property a week later, this has gone beyond mere words into action. Hostile, aggressive action.
 

trice

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#4
Trolling unrelated to the concept of the thread replaced with "..."

How many of these forts were actually occupied?
Generally speaking, the forts were occupied by what was known as a fort-keeper, usually an older man with his family, perhaps with one or two assistants. Their duty was general maintenance to prevent and report deterioration and damage (from weather, boys playing in the works, theft, graffiti, etc.) If the works were under construction, there might be an engineer to supervise the work gangs.

Arsenals had a small staff to maintain and guard the weapons and ammo.

In all of the US east of the Mississippi River, there were only about 2,000 Army troops on December 30, 1860. That includes the staff at West Point, the garrisons at all the coastal defenses (Boston, Baltimore, New York, etc.) and along the Canadian border, all the arsenals, the armories at Springfield and Harpers Ferry, the forts off Florida, etc. A few hundred, perhaps, in "the South" if you put them all together.

There were about 2,100 in Texas to protect against bandits and Indians. The citizens of Texas complained the nation was not doing enough to protect them, and seem to have wanted more US troops in their state, not less. There were, perhaps, a few hundred more in Arkansas and Missouri.

Tim
 
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#5
To All,

I got this idea from the 'War of Northern Aggression' thread as Vareb and Elennsar were discussing the first acts of war that took place.

I did this list once when I was debating another former member of this forum and thought I would repost it here.

December 20, 1860. South Carolina secedes from the Union.

On that same day William T. Sherman says to his friends in the South, "You, you people of the South, believe there can be such a thing as peaceable secession. You don't know what you are doing. I know there can be no such thing...If you will have it, the North must fight you for its own preservation. Yes, South Carolina has by the act precipitated war..."
There you have it Unionblue.

Self-Interest/Power/Money/Dominion

December 27, 1860. The first Federal property to fall into South Carolina hands is the U.S. revenue cutter William Aiken turned over to secessionists by its commander, Capt. N. L. Coste, who did not resign his commission and therefore was in violation of his oath of office. The crew left the ship and went North.

Castle Pickney was seized by South Carolina militia and a problem arose: were the two Federal soldiers captured in the fort to be considered prisoners of war? If so, it would imply that there was in fact, a WAR. Following a lengthy discussion, the one Federal officer was allowed to go to Ft. Sumter while a sergeant and his family were given safe conduct to remain in their quarters at the fort. What was significant was that the secessionists now held, for the first time, a U.S. fort. Union officer Abner Doubleday called it "the first overt act of the Secessionists against the Sovereignty of the United States."

Fort Moultrie is also occupied by South Carolina militia on this day, after the fort was abandoned by Major Anderson and Federal troops on December 26, 1860, who relocated to Ft. Sumter during the night.

December 28, 1860. A detachment of South Carolina militia enters and takes control of Fort Johnson. Three out of four Federal forts have been seized and are now under the control of South Carolina militia troops.

January 3, 1861. The War Department cancelled plans to ship guns from Pittsburgh to the forts in the South. Former Secretary of War Floyd, who resigned and went South, had been shipping weapons and large guns South for the past several months to help build up the Southern arsenals.

January 4, 1861. Even though it had not yet seceded from the Union, Alabama troops seize the U.S. arsenal at Mt. Vernon, Ala.

January 5, 1861. Even though it STILL has not yet seceded from the Union, Alabama troops seizes Fort Morgan and Gaines which protect the harbor at Mobile.

January 6, 1861. Even though it has not yet seceded from the Union, Florida troops seize the Federal arsenal at Apalachiocola.

January 7, 1861. Even though it has STILL not seceded from the Union, Florida troops seize Fort Marion at St. Augustine.

January 8, 1861. At Fort Barrancas, guarding the entrance to Pensacola Harbor, Federal troops fired on a raiding party of about twenty men, who then fled.

January 9, 1861. On this day, Senators Judah P. Benjamin and John Slidell of Louisiana telegraphed Gov. Moore of that state (which had not yet seceded from the Union), that Federal gunboats were secretly bringing supplies to the forts at the mouth of the Mississippi River. Both men had yet to resign from the Senate. Gov. Moore ordered Braxton Bragg and 500 troops to seize the forts and the United States arsenal at Baton Rouge.

On this same day, the Star of the West attempted to resupply Fort Sumter but was fired on by a masked battery from Morris Island and then by guns from Fort Moultrie. In spite of the fact the ship was flying two United States flags, the ship was repeatedly fired on. The ship turned and steamed away.

January 10, 1862. General Bragg and the militia seize the United States forts and arsenals in Louisiana. William T. Sherman, presiding as head of the Louisiana State Seminary of Learning and Military Academy, stated that Bragg's actions were, "an act of war and a breach of common decency."

On the same day in North Carolina, before that state had yet to secede, citizens of Smithville and Wilmington occupied Forts Johnson and Caswell. The State government at Raleigh later repudiated these moves.

January 12, 1861. Captain James Armstrong, commander of the Warrington Navy Yard at Pensacola, Florida, is captured and "regarded [as] a prisoner of war, and...placed on his parole of honor...not to bear arms against the State of Florida."

January 13, 1861. Several men are seen near Fort Pickens in the night and were fired upon. These unknown men retired from the area of the fort.

January, 18, 1861. In the United States House of Representatives, John Sherman, brother of William T. Sherman, rose to reply to his Ohio colleague, Pendleton, remarks that the North should be concillatory towards the South. Sherman, in a highly emotional speech, said that it was not the North that should be concillatory, it was the South; were they not the ones who had fired on the flag and seized government property? Was not Mississippi stopping all traffic at Vicksburg for search? (which Mississippi had begun on January 12, 1861.)

January 21, 1861. Mississippi troops seize Fort Massachusetts off the coast, in the Gult. Ship Island is also taken.

January 24, 1861. Georgia troops occupy the U.S. arsenal at Augusta.

January 26, 1861. At Savannah, Georgia, Fort Jackson and the Oglethorpe Barracks are seized by state troops.

January 29, 1861. Louisiana state troops take possession of Fort Macomb, outside New Orleans. The revenue cutter Robert McClelland is surrendered to Louisiana state authorities by Captain Breshwood, despite orders not to do so by the Secretary of the Treasury.

Also on this date, a notice of truce was sent from Washington to the army and navy commanders at Pensacola. It was the result of an agreement between Secretaries Holt and Toucey and Florida official Chase and Stephen Mallory.

January 30, 1861. President-elect Lincoln leaves Springfield, Ill., to visit his step-mother in Coles County. He has not even left for Washington yet. In Mobile Bay, the U.S. revenue schooner Lewis Cass was surrendered to Alabama by its commander.

January 31, 1861. In New Orleans, the U.S. Branch Mint was seized by state troops along with the revenue schooner Washington.

February 8, 1861. Before it had yet to secede from the Union, Arkansas seized the Little Rock U.S. arsenal.

February 11, 1861. Lincoln boards the train that will take him to Washington.

February 16, 1861. Although it had yet to secede from the Union, in San Antonio, Texas, state troops seize the U.S. military compound, barracks and arsenal.

February 19, 1861. In New Orleans, the U.S. Paymaster's office was seized by state troops.

March 2, 1861. Texas, now out of the Union, seizes the U.S. revenue schooner Henry Dodge at Galveston.

March 6, 1861. The Confederate Congress authorizes an army of 100,000 volunteers for twelve months.

March 15, 1861. The State of Louisiana transferred over $536,000 in money taken from the U.S. Mint in New Orleans to the Confederate government.

March 18, 1861. In the Florida panhandle, General Braxton Bragg refused to permit further supply of Ft. Pickens, in effect, nullifying the truce then in effect between Washington and Florida from January 29, 1861.

March 20, 1861. Texas troops seize three more Federal forts. At Mobile, a Federal supply ship, the U.S. sloop Isabella, was seized before it could sail with supplies to Pensacola.


Submitted for your consideration.

Sincerely,
Unionblue
How many federal soldiers and officials were killed and wounded in the taking of this property?

About zero? Right?

And didn't Southern governors make account of the property and offer compensation?

Doesn't sound very warlike.

Also a question- Can governors seize federal property in what they consider to be an emergency situation?
 

trice

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#6
Trolling replaced with "..."

How many federal soldiers and officials were killed and wounded in the taking of this property?
About zero? Right?
Under half a dozen, IIRR, none dead. Casualties were kept low because Anderson kept his men in bombproofs or the lower tier where they were relatively safe. He declined to use the guns on the upper level, which would have been most effective in replying as well as the most exposed, in order to protect the lives of his command.

What is your purpose in bringing this up? Are you trying to say the Confederates were not trying to harm anyone while they fired more than 3,000 rounds of heavy artillery into the fort? Or something else? If something else, what is it you are trying to say?

Trolling replaced with "..."

Also a question- Can governors seize federal property in what they consider to be an emergency situation?
No, that would be illegal. It always has been under the Constitution.

Tim
 

M E Wolf

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#7
I am watching this thread

Dear List Members;

I see I need to watch this thread.

Now, since I don't have edit power here in this forum; I do have the power to give infractions, lock thread and move it.

That said. If people can't be civil and respectful--I shall close it until a Moderator who can edit--ammend things and open it back up.

Snide remarks are not appreciated. Hold such tart responses in check. If you have to, read-re-read and edit.

Respectfully submitted,
M. E. Wolf

POSTED IN THE CAPACITY OF MODERATOR
 

M E Wolf

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#8
Dear List Members;

United States Law, has more weight and authority over State Law in many areas; to which Federal Law is surpreme on Federal property; such as Forts, Governmental Properties such as the U.S. Capitol, White House aka Executive Mansion and if to be even more relevant-- a Government owned vehicle, even if it is the size of a Ford Pinto/Focus.

A threat to do violence and or aggression; is the signal of intent. It is no different than-- a hijacker coming up to your car; pointing a gun at you with the intent to shoot you, if you do not give up your car. Your car is filled with your co-workers. What would you do? A car can be replaced but what would your actions be influenced by? The people that work with you, the car and or the gun?

Major Anderson had a similar situation; if you can think of the Fort as a car, Beauregard's threat to take over that fort with violence if necessary; the co workers were Major Anderson's men -- and Beauregard had command over those guns.

Major Anderson did not provoke Beauregard. Beauregard held the guns per se; In addition - Major Anderson was assigned to build and improve the forts; which was begun in President Monroe's administration. Plenty of time to have argued over the fort's location and or ownership by the state.

All of this entire matter of ownership should have been done through the courts--not at the point of a gun and or in this case; cannons and an itcy finger of Beauregard.

Just some thoughts.

Respectfully submitted for consideration,
M. E. Wolf
 
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#9
And didn't Southern governors make account of the property and offer compensation??
I have seen no evidence of any such offers. Plus offering compensation after theft doesn't meet any legal test that I'm aware of.

Also a question- Can governors seize federal property in what they consider to be an emergency situation?
Not hardly.
 
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#10
All of this is moot.

The Southern states declared themselves to be independent with all agreements between them and the United States to be null and void.

With those declarations the forts and other installations were no longer federal property.
 
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#11
I beleve so.

If an invasion or insurrection is taking place or an eminent threat of such and there is no time to consult with federal authorities then the governor of the state so threatened may do whatever is necessary for their own defense.

Doesn't matter anyway. See post #10, page 1.
 

trice

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#12
All of this is moot.
The Southern states declared themselves to be independent with all agreements between them and the United States to be null and void.

With those declarations the forts and other installations were no longer federal property.
No, that is simply wrong. The Civil War and subsequent legal action rendered the entire question of Southern secession "moot". No such right existed.

But in any case, the forts and establishments would have remained federal property even in the hypothetical case of a "right of secession" existing. That would be the true under state law; that would be true under Federal law. You are wrong on that as well.

But what does any of this have to do with the thread?

Tim
 

Glorybound

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#13
by battalion originally posted by Unionblue
On that same day William T. Sherman says to his friends in the South, "You, you people of the South, believe there can be such a thing as peaceable secession. You don't know what you are doing. I know there can be no such thing...If you will have it, the North must fight you for its own preservation. Yes, South Carolina has by the act precipitated war..."
Northern troops weren't called up until Ft. Sumter was significantly reduced by rebel bombardment.

How many federal soldiers and officials were killed and wounded in the taking of this property?
Battalion, that question doesn't even enter into the equation. Regardless of who was or wasn't hit, the property was still taken illegally (i.e. as in theft, stealing)

And didn't Southern governors make account of the property and offer compensation?
Yeah I'll just come over to your place and swipe some stuff. I'll call you later and we can discuss some payment arrangements so that you're compensated by what I think is reasonable.

Doesn't sound very warlike.
It's "in your face" provocation in it's purest form.



Lee
 
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#14
If an invasion or insurrection is taking place or an eminent threat of such and there is no time to consult with federal authorities then the governor of the state so threatened may do whatever is necessary for their own defense.
There was no invasion and the only insurrection going on was an insurrection against federal authority.

Doesn't matter anyway. See post #10, page 1.
Saw it. Balderdash.

Check the timeline again. Many of the thefts of federal property/assaults on federal installations came before the state had seceded.
 
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#16
It is possible, I suppose, to argue that the above acts were war-like actions that would have been 'acts of war' if perpetrated by a foreign government. But in the context of an Insurgency within the confines of a nations own border, those acts were more naturally viewed as acts of rebellion.
IMO, it takes two, to make a war. Any of the above described acts were acts of war, if both side chose to regard them as such. But, it was not until both sides chose to recognize the war-like act of firing on Ft. Sumter was an 'Act of War' was there actual war.


P.S. As a matter of Historical Fact, It was the south that construed Lincoln's call for troops to put down an insurrection as a declaration of war. There was no declaration of war by the gov't of the USA i.e. there are no declarations of war required for insurrections.
 

Glorybound

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#17
The State of Massachusetts was gearing up for war and what were those "Wide-Awakes" about?

Whomever was getting prepared for whatever is irrelevant. Just about everyone in the country knew it was headed for war, and had known for a long time, so it's not surprising that people on both sides were gearing up.

My point is that Lincoln did not call up any troops until after the rebel bombardment of Sumter.

From Sullivan's Island alone, 6- 10 in. mortars and 20 guns were aimed at Sumter. They were a mixture of 24, 32, and 42 pounders, 8 in. Columbiads and one 9 in. Dahlgren. I won't bother to mention the heavy artillery on Morris Island or Cummings Point trained on the fort, but at 0430 hrs on 4/12/61 they all went at it and blazed away for 34 continuous hours. That was a significant step forward towards war, I'd call it the "first act", and the reason for the call-up of troops by Lincoln.


Lee
 

trice

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#18
The State of Massachusetts was gearing up for war
The newly elected Governor of Massachusetts did lead an effort to put the state Militia into better preparedness. Since he came to office after the election of 1860, those efforts start in January of 1861, in reaction to the secession of South Carolina, the siege of Ft. Sumter, and other events.

The South Carolina legislature vited an appropriation of $50,000 to buy arms and equipment in January of 1860. Those funds were thus already available in the first week of November of 1860 when Governor Gist asked the Legislature to create an army of 10,000 men, and the legislature voted to have him do it (before Lincoln's election was officially known).

South Carolina seems to have begun their preparations for war an entire year before Massachusetts did. Isn't that correct?

... and what were those "Wide-Awakes" about?
Pretty much the same thing the "Minute Men" were about in the Democratic Party.

Tim
 
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#19
One might also add that "In the winter of 1859-60 both the outgoing governor and the incoming chief executive, John Letcher, called for a strengthening of an improvement in the commonwealth's ability to defend itself. The state legislature, under the leadership of James L. Kemper, chairman of the Commitee on Military Affairs of the House of Delegates, launched a program designed to reorganize and rebuild the Virginia militia. In early 1860 the (Virginia) legislature voted $500,000 for the purchase and manufacture of arms and an additional $20,000 expand the Virginia Military Institute. A year later - still three months before the state seceded - the Old Dominion's lawmakers appropriated $800,000 to buy even more arms and $200,000 for coastal and river defense." - Richard M. McMurry, Two Great Rebel Armies

At least part of this, in fairness, was "...in the wake of the abolitionist John Brown's attack on Harpers Ferry..." - but Virginia is clearly preparing for war. Note particularly the part italicized (my italics, not McMurry's)
 
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#20
How do you define an act of war. Is it a behavior that provokes another to fight? Or is it an act which precipitates a compromise followed by a compromise followed by yet another compromise which eventually leads to frayed tempers and intemperate commanders who might make a stupid decision.

For years I have maintained and I have been roundly chastised for this position that the founding fathers caused the Civil War. Their cowardly attitude toward the south i.e. the 3/5th's clause etc. started the whole thing. Slavery should have been totally and absolutely banned period. Either you were a willing part of the Union and accepted it or you weren't and didn't join it. Any other position was bound to lead to civil war and it did.

The South was always deathly afraid that their influence would be undercut if they were partners with the North because of the lack of population. The 3/5ths clause took care of that and allowed southerners more representation in congress. HOWEVER, if the slave was freed and an acknowledged citizen, he would be represented anyway, NO?

I know I'm making it simpler than it sounds. But the old argument of making it work by appeasement didn't work either.

Bill
 



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