How Was South Carolina's Secession Supposed to Save Slavery?

James Lutzweiler

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#1
Fellow Posters,

I am not among those who see slavery as the primary cause of Secession and the War of Southern Aggression for Western Territory that followed. However, for the sake of discussion, let me ask those of you who take that position this question: "If you were a planter or politician in 1860 and it was in your interest to preserve slavery as an institution, what would you have done?" A corollary to that question is a very similar one, if one of your answers is "Secession and the launching of a new country." Here is the question: "Just exactly how was it that Secession was going to preserve slavery?"

For the life of me, I cannot see Secession as salvific in any way. To me it is the mother lode of non sequiturs to bring about that result. What I am looking for by way of answers is a detailed (maybe 3-4 bullet points) of the exact choreography of order. OK, we have seceded. What next? Put yourself in the shoes of a planter in 1860 and ask yourself what you need to do in order to preserve your investment. We know in hindsight that Secession did not work. But what made them think it would work? That's what I am looking for.

James Lutzweiler
 

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wbull1

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#2
You are thinking logically. Consider that war is rarely the result of careful reasoning and thoughtful consideration of the possible consequences. I personally think that John C. Calhoun's statements that a state should not have to obey federal laws if the citizens there do not agree with them and his, to me bizarre, statement that slavery was beneficial for the enslaved, led people in SC in particular into thinking that was seriously out of touch with most citizens — especially in the North. Southerners tried to outlaw even talking about slavery in Congress. People who talk only with those who share their views can develop an "I don't know any rational person who has an opposite POV." Like cult members, they can come to see opposition as threatening. Isolating leads to demonizing those outside the group. (The same holds true for Northerners but you asked about Southerners.) Both sides seriously underestimated the determination of the other side. Realistic Southerners realized the disparity in population, industry, and immigration. They were pushed aside. Common boasts were that any Southern man could whip ten wimpy Yanks. And at the start of the war Southerners had more trained men plus shorter internal lines.

Also, a great number of Southern religious leaders assured their flocks that the Almighty intended some to be masters and others to be slaves so anyone opposing the will of God could be expected to go down in inglorious defeat.

It was not the thinking of planters or politicians that mattered. It was their beliefs.
 

jgoodguy

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#3
You are thinking logically. Consider that war is rarely the result of careful reasoning and thoughtful consideration of the possible consequences. I personally think that John C. Calhoun's statements that a state should not have to obey federal laws if the citizens there do not agree with them and his, to me bizarre, statement that slavery was beneficial for the enslaved, led people in SC in particular into thinking that was seriously out of touch with most citizens — especially in the North. Southerners tried to outlaw even talking about slavery in Congress. People who talk only with those who share their views can develop an "I don't know any rational person who has an opposite POV." Like cult members, they can come to see opposition as threatening. Isolating leads to demonizing those outside the group. (The same holds true for Northerners but you asked about Southerners.) Both sides seriously underestimated the determination of the other side. Realistic Southerners realized the disparity in population, industry, and immigration. They were pushed aside. Common boasts were that any Southern man could whip ten wimpy Yanks. And at the start of the war Southerners had more trained men plus shorter internal lines.

Also, a great number of Southern religious leaders assured their flocks that the Almighty intended some to be masters and others to be slaves so anyone opposing the will of God could be expected to go down in inglorious defeat.

It was not the thinking of planters or politicians that mattered. It was their beliefs.
The South as an echo chamber is a good analogy. I'd add that slavery was ingrained into southern life much as stocks and bonds today. It was the normal way of life threatened by those abolitionists Yankees. Another thing is that politicians played it up to get reelected
 

jgoodguy

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#4
The problem for a slaveholder is simply who will protect his investment in slaves the best. The shutting off of territories means less demand for slaves in general and a price decline. With a Republican in office, there is some chance of abolition and a resulting decline in his assets. In general, the chances of expanding demand for slaves is limited and there is a decline in assets. That is the logical side.

Madness Rules the Hour: Charleston, 1860 and the Mania for War is a good account of the emotional frenzy in South Carolina. SC was described as too big for an insane asylum and too small for a republic.
 

uaskme

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#5
Well, it didn’t happen in a vacuum. Cutting the South off from the North West, which was of no value to a Cotton Planter was not much of a threat to Slavery. The argument about ruining souls and running out of Soils n the South is a Yankee Myth. The South had more that enough land to support Slavery endlessly. Slave growth was from natural births, even tho the Yankee Slave Traders were a source and the Federal Government had no resources to stop it. Coolies were replacing Africans in Cuba. Yankee Merchants could of brought them to SC as easily as they did to Cuba and Peru. The South was unlike other Slave Societies in that Slaves Survived. The Upper South produces more Slaves than they needed. South Carolina wasn’t running out of Land. It was being replaced by areas that were simply more productive. That wasn’t going to change. The Gulf Coast and Mississippi Valley was Geographically Superior to South Carolina as far as Cotton Production was concerned.

The North did a Heck Of a good job, Protecting Slavery. SC leaving the Union would be loosing their little Slave Catchers!
 
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James Lutzweiler

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#6
You are thinking logically. Consider that war is rarely the result of careful reasoning and thoughtful consideration of the possible consequences. I personally think that John C. Calhoun's statements that a state should not have to obey federal laws if the citizens there do not agree with them and his, to me bizarre, statement that slavery was beneficial for the enslaved, led people in SC in particular into thinking that was seriously out of touch with most citizens — especially in the North. Southerners tried to outlaw even talking about slavery in Congress. People who talk only with those who share their views can develop an "I don't know any rational person who has an opposite POV." Like cult members, they can come to see opposition as threatening. Isolating leads to demonizing those outside the group. (The same holds true for Northerners but you asked about Southerners.) Both sides seriously underestimated the determination of the other side. Realistic Southerners realized the disparity in population, industry, and immigration. They were pushed aside. Common boasts were that any Southern man could whip ten wimpy Yanks. And at the start of the war Southerners had more trained men plus shorter internal lines.

Also, a great number of Southern religious leaders assured their flocks that the Almighty intended some to be masters and others to be slaves so anyone opposing the will of God could be expected to go down in inglorious defeat.

It was not the thinking of planters or politicians that mattered. It was their beliefs.
Thank you.

So do I hear you saying that South Carolina's Secession was more visceral than rational and that they had enough manpower, if not money, to make it stick?
 

James Lutzweiler

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#7
The problem for a slaveholder is simply who will protect his investment in slaves the best. The shutting off of territories means less demand for slaves in general and a price decline. With a Republican in office, there is some chance of abolition and a resulting decline in his assets. In general, the chances of expanding demand for slaves is limited and there is a decline in assets. That is the logical side.

Madness Rules the Hour: Charleston, 1860 and the Mania for War is a good account of the emotional frenzy in South Carolina. SC was described as too big for an insane asylum and too small for a republic.
Can't thank you enough for this citation!
 

James Lutzweiler

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#8
The problem for a slaveholder is simply who will protect his investment in slaves the best. The shutting off of territories means less demand for slaves in general and a price decline. With a Republican in office, there is some chance of abolition and a resulting decline in his assets. In general, the chances of expanding demand for slaves is limited and there is a decline in assets. That is the logical side.

Madness Rules the Hour: Charleston, 1860 and the Mania for War is a good account of the emotional frenzy in South Carolina. SC was described as too big for an insane asylum and too small for a republic.

Your citation of Paul Starobin's book led me to the following which is of great interest to me and might be to others on this thread:

Wert, Jeffrey D. Civil War Barons: The Tycoons, Entrepreneurs, Inventors, and

Visionaries Who Forged Victory and Shaped a Nation. Boston: Da Capo

Press, 2018.
 
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#9
The problem for a slaveholder is simply who will protect his investment in slaves the best. The shutting off of territories means less demand for slaves in general and a price decline. With a Republican in office, there is some chance of abolition and a resulting decline in his assets. In general, the chances of expanding demand for slaves is limited and there is a decline in assets. That is the logical side.

Madness Rules the Hour: Charleston, 1860 and the Mania for War is a good account of the emotional frenzy in South Carolina. SC was described as too big for an insane asylum and too small for a republic.
Of course, by seceding, South Carolina cut themselves off entirely from US territories.
 

jgoodguy

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#10
Of course, by seceding, South Carolina cut themselves off entirely from US territories.
Good point. On the other hand, Southerners were eying Cuba, Mexico, Arizona, New Mexico and there was a rather large contingent of Southerners in California. Southern Slave owners took Texas, a free province of Mexico and made it the slave republic of Texas. There was a precedent. Whatever they took would be free of Yankee meddling.
 

uaskme

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#11
Good point. On the other hand, Southerners were eying Cuba, Mexico, Arizona, New Mexico and there was a rather large contingent of Southerners in California. Southern Slave owners took Texas, a free province of Mexico and made it the slave republic of Texas. There was a precedent. Whatever they took would be free of Yankee meddling.
California especially and all the South West, had Slavery. They just called it something else or ignored, in the case of Native American Slavery. Why buy a Negro for $500 when you could get a Native American for little or nothing, for the taking. Californians were doing Slave Raids on the Native American Tribes during the Civil War, many funded by Honest Abe.
 
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19thGeorgia

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#12
Good point. On the other hand, Southerners were eying Cuba, Mexico, Arizona, New Mexico and there was a rather large contingent of Southerners in California. Southern Slave owners took Texas, a free province of Mexico and made it the slave republic of Texas. There was a precedent. Whatever they took would be free of Yankee meddling.
The Southern states needed Cuba when they were part of the United States. Cuba could add one or more states that allowed slavery. The purpose was to maintain a balance of power in the US Senate. There was no need for Cuba or to maintain a balance in the Senate after the Southern states left the Union (and the Senate).

Some mavericks had eyes on Mexico after the CSA was formed, but that wasn't the policy of the Confederate government.
 

jgoodguy

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#13
The Southern states needed Cuba when they were part of the United States. Cuba could add one or more states that allowed slavery. The purpose was to maintain a balance of power in the US Senate. There was no need for Cuba or to maintain a balance in the Senate after the Southern states left the Union (and the Senate).

Some mavericks had eyes on Mexico after the CSA was formed, but that wasn't the policy of the Confederate government.
The CSA had little time for foreign aggression after Fort Sumter. However, we are speaking of motives for secession.
 

uaskme

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#14
What were Motives for some, isn’t Motives for all, or even a Majority of the Secessionist. If SC was bleeding Slaves, Also their Masters were moving West, how could a fanciful Slave Trade or other Territory help SC? Charleston was slowly turning White. It being a Port City, was a magnet for the Irish. The Irish were taking some traditional Negro Jobs. Other Southern Port Cities like St. Louis the same.
 

19thGeorgia

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#15
Fellow Posters,
Here is the question: "Just exactly how was it that Secession was going to preserve slavery?"
James Lutzweiler
It doesn't help or solve any of the issues stated in secession documents. Slavery in the territories - secession concedes the territories. Runaway slaves - secession insures no runaway slave would be returned. Slave insurrection - doesn't stop that. So what's left? "They have...persistently refused to comply with their express constitutional obligations "
 

James Lutzweiler

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#17
It doesn't help or solve any of the issues stated in secession documents. Slavery in the territories - secession concedes the territories. Runaway slaves - secession insures no runaway slave would be returned. Slave insurrection - doesn't stop that. So what's left? "They have...persistently refused to comply with their express constitutional obligations "
Make that "like very much."

Did I already say "like very much"?

Would it then be safe to say that Secession actually hurt the slavery business?
 

E_just_E

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#18
Here is the question: "Just exactly how was it that Secession was going to preserve slavery?"
We all have the benefit of about 160 years of hindsight understanding and realizing that it was unlikely for slavery to be saved by secession.

They didn't.

And not sure that it mattered to them much. Secession ensured that the people who were in power in the Seceded States remained in power and/or gained power, which was likely more of their intend than the preservation of slavery.
 
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James Lutzweiler

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#19
Make that "like very much."

Did I already say "like very much"?

Would it then be safe to say that Secession actually hurt the slavery business?
Do we know of any actual ante-bellum letters, speeches, or essays containing warnings that these things that you name would not contribute at all to the preservation of slavery?
 
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James Lutzweiler

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#20
We all have the benefit of about 225 years of hindsight understanding and realizing that it was unlikely for slavery to be saved by secession.

They didn't.

An not sure that it mattered to them much. Secession ensured that the people who were in power in the Secessed States remained in power and/or gained power, which was likely more of their intend than the preservation of slavery.
Let me say this back to you: do I hear you saying that the preservation of power by those in power was more of a concern to southerners than was the preservation of slavery? If the preservation of power by those in power was a single factor at all in the recipe for rebellion, would you say it is fair to say that the secession documents did not tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth? Based on your statement, do you think it reasonable to conclude that secession had a lot more to do with things other than the preservation of slavery?
 



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