Hartford Convention and Southern secession


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OpnCoronet

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For example, one of the men charged with actually writing the Constitution in Philadelphia believed that the original 13 had never been independently sovereign (that is never, as in not once, not ever). He felt the 13 had only achieved the state of sovereignity as a group and could not claim to be independently sovereign. His was not what history records as a majority opinion. However, he was a well-respected legal mind of the time, a man of strong background and impressive credentials. He might have been right in his argument..

Regards,
Tim






That seems to have been the argument that Lincoln based his policies concerning unilateral secession.
 

DanF

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It is worth keeping in mind that "secession" was not the preferred term employed prior to the Civil War.

More commonly employed was the term "Disunion".
 

Old_Glory

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The convention laid the groundwork for the anti-Southern sentiment that would follow in a few decades. Most of the talk of leaving the Union was from the mobs in New England, not the people attending. The mob's complaints were similar to the foundation ideas of the Republican party that would form decades later. The core of the movement was a push to rid themselves of Southern power (which the Republicans would later rephrase to Slave Power). The major difference was they changed the message from the 3/5th rule to slavery. This was a significant difference because it included a human element.

The Hartford Convention is an important topic of discussion in Civil War history because it shows there were feelings in the North of disunion, even if only on a mob level. The feelings from the North and South regarding secession even carried over into the time period just before the war as no legislation was ever passed to make it illegal. By the 1850's those angry mobs turned into abolitionists which they found to be a far more effective vehicle of change than disunion. Had Lincoln lost, those mobs would have likely turned back to disunion.
 

DanF

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The major difference was they changed the message from the 3/5th rule to slavery. This was a significant difference because it included a human element.
The 3/5 rule was about slavery, specifically it was about how slaves were to be counted for purposes of representation.

Interestingly in contrast to "the mob" being behind threats of disunion in the new england states, in the slave states it was the political elite pushing it forward.

North Carolina Govenor Zebulon Vance had this to say about the slave states secession.

North Carolina Governor Zebulon B. Vance said, “the great popular heart [the public generally] is not now and never has been in the war. It was a case of revolution of the politicians and not the people.”

Source: Steven A. Channing and Time-Life Editors, The Civil War: Confederate Ordeal: The Southern Home Front (Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, 1983, p 77.
 

OpnCoronet

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The Hartford Convention is an important topic of discussion in Civil War history because it shows there were feelings in the North of disunion, even if only on a mob level. The feelings from the North and South regarding secession even carried over into the time period just before the war as no legislation was ever passed to make it illegal. By the 1850's those angry mobs turned into abolitionists which they found to be a far more effective vehicle of change than disunion. Had Lincoln lost, those mobs would have likely turned back to disunion.




In fact, the Hartford Convention, bears almost no resemblance, much less connection, to the secession movement up to and including the actual secession conventions themselves.

Hartford was about real economic hardship being visited upon one section of the country due to ill advised and ill considered political policies by the national gov't. that were clearly visible to any intelligent observer of events, at the time. Unlike, secessionist claims of economic hardship, which were more in the minds of secessionists than the eyes of objective observers(i.e., the harm to southern interests were debatable to say the lest; even today)

Unlike southern secessionists, Hartford reps. were not so arrogant in their convictions that they did not realize they were playing with fire and exercised discretion and prudence in attempting to achieve redress of their injuries, without bombast or inflaming rhetoric.
 

DanF

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In the end, regardless of their rhetoric no New England states attempted to secede. And there was nothing in their debates that suggested they intended to secede at will rather than seeking a legal process if they had proceeded.

Defenders of the confederacy only bring up the Hartford convention to try and claim it gives legitimacy to the slave states "secession at will", which in fact was nothing more than revolution/insurrection.
 

Old_Glory

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Interestingly in contrast to "the mob" being behind threats of disunion in the new england states, in the slave states it was the political elite pushing it forward.
You are correct and it is a fact that is almost completely lost in Civil War discussion. Prior to the War, disunion in the South was almost exclusively among the political elites, who then trickled it down. Whereas in the North, it was mostly in the far radical mobs and politicians.

That is what made the Southern secession avoidable. It was not a movement of the people, but of the elites. However, they had nowhere else to turn. The Republicans chose not to include their party in any Southern state, thus giving no alternate party message throughout the entire future Confederacy. The party was founded on the basis of causing political harm to the South. Their sectional strategy only played into anti-Southern, sectionalism, fears that events like the Hartford Convention created. Sectionalism won the election for Republicans, but it was a political strategy of madness and had as much to do with secession as the Confederates themselves.
 

brass napoleon

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You are correct and it is a fact that is almost completely lost in Civil War discussion. Prior to the War, disunion in the South was almost exclusively among the political elites, who then trickled it down. Whereas in the North, it was mostly in the far radical mobs and politicians.

That is what made the Southern secession avoidable. It was not a movement of the people, but of the elites.
Hey, whaddya know, I agree!

However, they had nowhere else to turn. The Republicans chose not to include their party in any Southern state, thus giving no alternate party message throughout the entire future Confederacy. The party was founded on the basis of causing political harm to the South. Their sectional strategy only played into anti-Southern, sectionalism, fears that events like the Hartford Convention created. Sectionalism won the election for Republicans, but it was a political strategy of madness and had as much to do with secession as the Confederates themselves.
This is where I disagree. The driving force behind the sectionalism was those same Southern elites, driving anti-slavery Northerners out of the Democratic Party and turning IT into a sectional, pro-slavery party, then refusing to allow a Republican ballot in their own states.

"At all events [the Wilmot Proviso] is dividing and weakening the North, and if we of the South only act unitedly, our triumph is certain. The Anti-Slavery Democrats, Butler of New York, Hamlin etc. must be driven off to the Whigs. Certainly since the foundation of the Government, there never has been in politics so silly a move as that of the Northern Democrats on this subject. Their leaders see it, but so many are committted, as to render a return to the right policy very difficult."

- R. Barnwell Rhett to John C. Calhoun, Sept 8, 1847

Source: <https://books.google.com/books?id=GRpUAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA1132&lpg=PA1132

*********************

Second, What will be the result to the institution of slavery, which will follow submission to the inauguration and administration of Mr. Lincoln as the President of one section of the Union? My candid opinion is, that it will be the total abolition of slavery, and the utter ruin of the South, in less than twenty-five years. If we submit now, we satisfy the Northern people that, come what may, we will never resist. If Mr. Lincoln places among us his Judges, District Attorneys, Marshals, Post Masters, Custom House officers, etc., etc., by the end of his adminstration, with the control of these men, and the distribution of public patronage, he will have succeeded in dividing us to an extent that will destroy all our moral powers, and prepare us to tolerate the running of a Republican ticket, in most of the States of the South, in 1864. If this ticket only secured five or ten thousand votes in each of the Southern States, it would be as large as the abolition party was in the North a few years since. It would hold a ballance [*sic*] of power between any two political parties into which the people of the South may hereafter be divided. This would soon give it the control of our elections. We would then be powerless, and the abolitionists would press forward, with a steady step, to the accomplishment of their object. They would refuse to admit any other slave States to the Union. They would abolish slavery in the District of Columbia, and at the Forts, Arsenals and Dock Yards, within the Southern States, which belong to the United States. They would then abolish the internal slave trade between the States, and prohibit a slave owner in Georgia from carrying his slaves into Alabama or South Carolina, and there selling them. These steps would be taken one at a time, cautiously, and our people would submit. Finally, when we were sufficiently humiliated, and sufficiently in their power, they would abolish slavery in the States. It will not be many years before enough of free States may be formed out of the present territories of the United States, and admitted into the Union, to give them sufficient strength to change the Constitution, and remove all Constitutional barriers which now deny to Congress this power. I do not doubt, therefore, that submission to the administration of Mr. Lincoln will result in the final abolition of slavery. If we fail to resist now, we will never again have the strength to resist.

- Georgia Governor Joe Brown, December 7, 1860

Source: http://www.civilwarcauses.org/jbrown.htm
 


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