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Ideological factors partially account for the end of slavery in the North

Discussion in 'Civil War History - Secession and Politics' started by jgoodguy, Aug 9, 2018.

  1. jgoodguy

    jgoodguy Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host Retired Moderator

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    Discussion thread.
    Inspired by this post.
    I agree and let's discuss.
     
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  3. ForeverFree

    ForeverFree Major

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    Scholars have pointed out that there was a bona fide abolition movement in the Northern colonies which is sometimes not recognized by observers. If we read from era documents, we can see where this spirit for abolition is obvious:

    Declaration of Independence:
    We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness...
    ****

    Pennsylvania, An Act for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery, 1780
    WHEN we contemplate our abhorrence of that condition to which the arms and tyranny of Great Britain were exerted to reduce us; when we look back on the variety of dangers to which we have been exposed, and how miraculously our wants in many instances have been supplied, and our deliverances wrought, when even hope and human fortitude have become unequal to the conflict; we are unavoidably led to a serious and grateful sense of the manifold blessings which we have undeservedly received from the hand of that Being from whom every good and perfect gift cometh. Impressed with these ideas, we conceive that it is our duty, and we rejoice that it is in our power to extend a portion of that freedom to others, which hath been extended to us; and a release from that state of thraldom to which we ourselves were tyrannically doomed, and from which we have now every prospect of being delivered.

    It is not for us to enquire why, in the creation of mankind, the inhabitants of the several parts of the earth were distinguished by a difference in feature or complexion. It is sufficient to know that all are the work of an Almighty Hand. We find in the distribution of the human species, that the most fertile as well as the most barren parts of the earth are inhabited by men of complexions different from ours, and from each other; from whence we may reasonably, as well as religiously, infer, that He who placed them in their various situations, hath extended equally his care and protection to all, and that it becometh not us to counteract his mercies.

    We esteem it a peculiar blessing granted to us, that we are enabled this day to add one more step to universal civilization, by removing as much as possible the sorrows of those w ho have lived in undeserved bondage, and from which, by the assumed authority of the kings of Great Britain, no effectual, legal relief could be obtained. Weaned by a long course of experience from those narrower prejudices and partialities we had imbibed, we find our hearts enlarged with kindness and benevolence towards men of all conditions and nations; and we conceive ourselves at this particular period extraordinarily called upon, by the blessings which we have received, to manifest the sincerity of our profession, and to give a Substantial proof of our gratitude.

    SECT. 2. And whereas the condition of those persons who have heretofore been denominated Negro and Mulatto slaves, has been attended with circumstances which not only deprived them of the common blessings that they were by nature entitled to, but has cast them into the deepest afflictions, by an unnatural separation and sale of husband and wife from each other and from their children; an injury, the greatness of which can only be conceived by supposing that we were in the same unhappy case. In justice therefore to persons So unhappily circumstanced, and who, having no prospect before them whereon they may rest their sorrows and their hopes, have no reasonable inducement to render their service to society, which they otherwise might; and also in grateful commemoration of our own happy deliverance from that state of unconditional submission to which we were doomed by the tyranny of Britain.

    SECT. 3. Be it enacted, and it is hereby enacted, by the representatives of the freeman of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, in general assembly met, and by the authority of the same, That all persons, as well Negroes and Mulattoes as others, who shall be born within this state from and after the passing of this act, shall not be deemed and considered as servants for life, or slaves; and that all servitude for life, or slavery of children, in consequence of the slavery of their mothers, in the case of all children born within this state, from and after the passing of this act as aforesaid, shall be, and hereby is utterly taken away, extinguished and for ever abolished.
    ****

    Minutes from the case of Commonwealth v. Nathaniel Jennison, which abolished slavery in Massachusetts (1783)
    "As to the doctrine of slavery and the right of Christians to hold Africans in perpetual servitude, and sell and treat them as we do our horses and cattle, that (it is true) has been heretofore countenanced by the Province Laws formerly, but nowhere is it expressly enacted or established. It has been a usage -- a usage which took its origin from the practice of some of the European nations, and the regulations of British government respecting the then Colonies, for the benefit of trade and wealth.

    But whatever sentiments have formerly prevailed in this particular or slid in upon us by the example of others, a different idea has taken place with the people of America, more favorable to the natural rights of mankind, and to that natural, innate desire of Liberty, with which Heaven (without regard to color, complexion, or shape of noses) features) has inspired all the human race. And upon this ground our Constitution of Government, by which the people of this Commonwealth have solemnly bound themselves, sets out with declaring that all men are born free and equal -- and that every subject is entitled to liberty, and to have it guarded by the laws, as well as life and property -- and in short is totally repugnant to the idea of being born slaves. This being the case, I think the idea of slavery is inconsistent with our own conduct and Constitution; and there can be no such thing as perpetual servitude of a rational creature, unless his liberty is forfeited by some criminal conduct or given up by personal consent or contract.
    ****
    Vermont Constituion, Chapter I, Article 1, 1793
    That all persons are born equally free and independent, and have certain natural, inherent, and unalienable rights, amongst which are the enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing and protecting property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety; therefore no person born in this country, or brought from over sea, ought to be holden by law, to serve any person as a servant, slave or apprentice, after arriving to the age of twenty-one years, unless bound by the person's own consent, after arriving to such age, or bound by law for the payment of debts, damages, fines, costs, or the like.
    ****​

    The spirit of the D of I, which spoke of equality, liberty, and (natural) rights, proved to be infectious in some parts of the former British colonies. The rhetoric of equality, liberty, and (natural) rights was echoed in documents pointing to the decisions of some northerners to end the institution in their states.

    - Alan
     
  4. cash

    cash Brev. Brig. Gen'l

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    "By 1772, as the revolutionary crisis deepened and the Rights of Man became the subject of increased study, [Anthony] Benezet [a Philadelphia Quaker schoolmaster and abolitionist] noted a gradual change in the colonists' attitude towards slavery. His correspondents had told him that Massachusetts was considering a bill to end the slave trade." [Arthur Zilversmit, The First Emancipation: The Abolition of Slavery in the North, p. 88]

    "An anonymous Tory (probably Richard Wells) turned the arguments of the patriots against them. After quoting numerous Revolutionary resolutions, he asked Americans whether they could 'reconcile the exercise of SLAVERY with our professions of freedom.' Could the colonists expect the English to believe the sincerity of their love of liberty when the whole world knew that there were slaves in every colony? 'In vain shall we contend for liberty . . . 'till this barbarous inhuman custom is driven from our borders.' He challenged those who claimed 'an exemption from the controul of Parliamentary power' to show by right they held their slaves. If, as the patriots maintained, the colonists had all the rights of Englishmen, then, since a Negro was held to be free the instant he landed on English soil (this was an interpretation of the decision in Somerset's case), all slaves could claim they were free when they landed on American soil." [Ibid., p. 97]

    "The First Continental Congress, meeting in Philadelphia in the fall of 1774, took up this challenge. The Continental Association adopted by the delegates required the cessation of all slave imports and authorized a boycott of merchants who refused to cooperate. Anthony Benezet, seeing a magnificent opportunity to strike a blow for liberty, had worked tirelessly to secure the adoption of this policy, relentlessly pursuing individual delegates to argue in support of the plan. Congressional approval of a ban on the slave trade clearly tied the fight against Negro slavery to the struggle against British tyranny in the manner that many antislavery writers had long been urging." [Ibid., pp. 97-98]

    "Men who opposed the continued slavery of the Negroes could argue convincingly that American liberty and the freedom of Negro slaves were not only compatible but were inseparable goals.

    "The War of Independence brought with it a direct challenge to the patriot party on the slavery issue. All the talk of liberty and the Rights of Man, designed to bring a hesitant population to join in the fight against Great Britain, could be applied with equal force to the plight of the slaves." [Ibid., p. 109]

    "Those who maintain that slavery was unprofitable or less profitable than white labor base their arguments on the mental incapacity or ignorance of Negroes and their inability to do the skilled work required in a diversified economy. It is clear, however, that northern Negroes received the requisite training and eventually became highly skilled in a great number of divers trades. Although it is true that newly imported Negroes suffered in their first northern winter, once they became acclimated, they could tolerate the rigors of a northern climate." [Ibid., p. 52]

    In the fall of 1799, Rhode Island banned the sale of any slave outside the state without his consent. [Ibid., p. 120]

    "The law made elaborate provision for the protection of the property rights of slaveowners. Although freeborn Negro children would remain with the master who owned their mother for at least one year, the towns would assume the expense of raising and educating them. Furthermore, masters would now be allowed to free any healthy slave, twenty-one to forty years old, without assuming any financial responsibility." [Ibid., p. 121]

    In January of 1784, Connecticut adopted statutes providing for the gradual abolition of slavery. [Ibid., pp. 123-124]

    Already considered: https://civilwartalk.com/threads/why-did-slavery-decline-in-the-north.127729/

    "The action of Connecticut and Rhode Island meant that within a year of the conclusion of the Revolutionary War provision had been made for the abolition of slavery in all the New England states. As a result, the 1790 federal census reported only 3,763 slaves in New England, out of a total of 16,882 Negroes. Ten years later, there were only 1,339 slaves in New England, and by 1810 the total was reduced to 418--108 in Rhode Island and 310 in Connecticut." [Ibid., p. 124]

    Vermont abolished slavery outright before it ratified the Constitution, and Massachusetts abolished slavery immediately by judicial decree--neither used gradual emancipation.

    The Society of Friends, a powerful sect in Pennsylvania and West Jersey, became increasingly dedicated to eliminating slavery from its own members and throughout American society, and the struggle with Great Britain brought a spirit of idealism and a belief in the Rights of Man that was incompatible with the continuance of human bondage." [Ibid., p. 53]

    New Jersey actually began the abolition process in 1804 with the passage of its first bill for abolition. "The assembly debated the abolition bill for two days and then added a clause allowing New Jersey masters, like those in New York, to abandon the children of their slaves to the care of the overseers of the poor at the expense of the state. (A similar provision had been included in the abolition section of the 1797 slavery bill). The house then approved the bill by the overwhelming majority of thirty-four to four. The legislative council concurred, twelve to one. After July 4 [1804], all Negro children born in the state would be free, although they would have to serve until twenty-five (males) and twenty-one (females). New Jersey had joined the other states of the North in providing for an end to slavery. Henceforth, slavery was fated to become increasingly an institution peculiar to the South." [Ibid., p. 193]
     
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  5. cash

    cash Brev. Brig. Gen'l

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    "Although there were always individual voices opposing slavery, the first group to take a stand on slavery had been the Quakers. Ralph Sandiford's A Brief Examination of the Practice of the Times (1729) was published at the press of Benjamin Franklin, without that cautious publisher's imprimatur. Sandiford was one of a number of conscience-ridden Friends who were disapproved by their coreligionists, many of whom trafficked in and owned slaves. Repudiated by them and ill, Sandiford died in 1733. His cause was taken up by the hunchbacked Benjamin Lay, whose All Slave-Keepers That Keep the Innocent in Bondage, Apostates (1737) equally offended the Quakers, who turned him away from their meetings. Such efforts as Lay's affected Quaker opinion, and the outbreak of war between the British and French in 1754 impelled the Quakers to reconsider their pacifist principles. It brought them closer to their coreligionist John Woolman, who had patently been seeking light on slavery, its practice and its cure. His publication of the widely circulated Some Considerations on the Keeping of Negroes ... (1754) was, like so much he wrote, notable for beauty of expression as well as message. Untiring in his devotion to antislavery, Woolman won attention far beyond the Quaker fold, and in England as well as in America. The Huguenot Quaker Anthony Benezet, too, was effective in pressing his antislavery views upon his associates. Friends ceased buying slaves; in the 1760's, they began the slow process of freeing their slaves as a body. Some individual Quakers undertook modest 'gradualist' crusades against slavery. The long-concerted experience of Friends gave them numbers and authority in the field; the pioneer Society for the Relief of Free Negroes Unlawfully Held in Bondage, organized in Philadelphia in 1775, counted sixteen Friends among twenty-four original members." [Louis Filler, The Crusade Against Slavery, 1830-1860, pp. 13-14]
     
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  6. John Hartwell

    John Hartwell Major Forum Host

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    Enlightenment abolitionism was also present throughout the South.

    In his original draft of the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson included the passage:
    …he has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life & liberty in the persons of distant people who never offended him, captivating & carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither. This piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the Christian king of Great Britain. [determined to keep open a market where MEN should be bought & sold,] he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or restrain this execrable commerce: and that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished die, he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he has deprived them, by murdering the people upon whom he also obtruded them, thus paying off former crimes committed against the liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another…
    This section was deleted on the insistence of South Carolina and Georgia (which, ironically, had banned slavery soon after its founding in 1733, only to succumb to pressure and allow it a decade later).

    Patrick Henry declared that he could not justify the institution of slavery as it was, “repugnant to humanity…inconsistent with the Bible, and contrary to the principles of liberty.” Thomas Jefferson further proposed the abolition of slavery in Virginia in 1778 and again in 1796. Delaware and Maryland created societies for the abolition and presented legislation to abolish slavery in 1785 and again in 1786.

    But, the continued, and later, expanding profitability of the institution, derailed the movement within the South. It was not a case of the North abandoning slavery because it was unprofitable, but of the South declining to abandon it for the sake of profit. The ending of slavery was not a new idea introduced by the North, but a familiar principle rejected by the South.

    see, inter alia: The Am. Rev. and the Antislavery Movement in the Upper South.
    and Slavery and our Founding Fathers.
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2018
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  7. JPK Huson 1863

    JPK Huson 1863 Colonel Forum Host

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    Edited.
    Pennsylvania Hall was erected by the Anti Slavery Society in Philadelphia, in 1838. Lasted 4 days after final completion. Mob burned it down. Hadn't been easy, popular, profitable or comprehensive but the whole created equal principle couldn't be burned down. One factor btw making the violence of May 17th spill over the edge was those pesky abolitionists thought everyone equal- women were given rooms in the hall to use for sufferage meetings.

    Extremely interested in this thread. Here's why. We've allowed all the dented fenders to occlude our pasts. It's frustrating. Pretty familiar with this area in PA and am convinced we're missing acknowledging how well that persistence paid off. For awhile. Going into records, our small towns here not only had a good mix of races, they seem to have coexisted to the point where black and white marriages were performed in churches. It all dissolved somewhere at the turn of the century, some infection got in here. Pennsylvania was epicenter in our history. ' All Men Are Created Equal ' never went away.

    Do not mean this as snarky, honest, but no one can do anything about how pleasant or abhorrent History may be.
     
  8. Joshism

    Joshism Sergeant Major

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    There's an interesting What If scenario.
     
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  9. ForeverFree

    ForeverFree Major

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    The question in the thread title is, did "Ideological factors partially account for the end of slavery in the North?" I have shown evidence that yes, they did. I am not saying that economic factors had no relevance. I am saying that ideology was factor, as clearly evidenced by what people said at the time.

    Edited.


    I will add this. It is my observation that much of the debate on slavery, and too much of the debate about slavery, is done with an emphasis on economic determinism, i.e., the idea that "economic forces determine, shape, and define all political, social, cultural, intellectual, and technological aspects of a civilization." But things like morals, ethics, and ideas do drive human behavior. If this was not true then, for example, religion would not matter.

    The birth of Christianity, for example, can be called a social movement. As noted in Wiki, "Social movements are a type of group action. They can be defined as 'organizational structures and strategies that may empower oppressed populations to mount effective challenges and resist the more powerful and advantaged elites' .They are large, sometimes informal, groupings of individuals or organizations which focus on specific political or social issues. In other words, they carry out, resist, or undo a social change. They provide a way of social change from the bottom within nations."

    If economic determinism was the only factor in causing human behavior, then religious and philosophical ideas wouldn't matter. But they do. Often they work by enabling us to transcend our own individual or tribal concerns, and seeing that there are things which bind us all universally. But anyway...

    A while ago, a staff person from the Museum of the American Revolution in Philly gave a talk on C-Span. He was asked to identify one or two things that people should know, but don't know, when it came to the American Revolution (or something like that). His response was that people need to distinguish between the Revolutionary War and the American Revolution.

    The point was made that the American Revolution was in fact a time of a revolution in social and political norms. Recollect that prior to the war, Americans were British subjects who were ruled by a monarch. In place of monarchy, the Americans eventually created a government based on a republicanism which gave certain rights (in what is now called the Bill of Rights) to individuals. The combined ideas of republican government and the protection of individuals from government power (via freedom of speech, religion, assembly, etc) were revolutionary. These ideas were not merely a part of federal government canon, they were instituted in various ways within state governments as well.

    Note that, things like free speech, freedom of the press - these were not based on (or based solely on) economic determinism. The Bill of Rights, as we call it now, was not about making people money; it was about ensuring liberty. And one aspect of this revolution toward liberty was abolition in the North.

    The American Revolution included a true abolition component. Several northern states did abolish slavery, or introduced gradual emancipation. This is how they became free states. The idea of liberty for the African slave came about as a result of European colonists' desire for their own liberty.

    To be clear, I do not mean to imply that economic considerations had no part in northern abolition. My point is that social movements matter, and the end of slavery in the North needs to be understood as being part of the post-Revolutionary War changes in American society.

    - Alan
     
  10. Old_Glory

    Old_Glory 2nd Lieutenant

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    And why do you think it is that they allowed it? Ideological reasons or profit?
     
  11. Old_Glory

    Old_Glory 2nd Lieutenant

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    I agree that social movements matter, but in this instance they had little to no resistance or relevance to the outcome. What benefit did slavery provide the North except for the slave trade (with exception to southern Illinois)? When the slave trade died, not shockingly, slavery mostly died with it in the North.

    If I'm being fair, I could go so far to say that ideology had 5% to do with it. But, really that is being extremely generous.
     
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  12. NedBaldwin

    NedBaldwin Major

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    Ideological.
    Changing the system of property in order to enjoy power and wealth is an ideological choice.
     
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  13. Joshism

    Joshism Sergeant Major

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    Ideology: "a system of ideas and ideals, especially one that forms the basis of economic or political theory and policy."

    Free Labor is a political and economic ideology opposed to Slave Labor.
     
  14. Old_Glory

    Old_Glory 2nd Lieutenant

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    What ideological choice might that be, money?
     
  15. NedBaldwin

    NedBaldwin Major

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    Ideology is a system of ideas used as the basis of a social, economic or political system

    Changing from not allowing to allowing slavery, or vice versa, is a change to the basis of the system. Either those in power hold the idea that allowing the ownership of other people is ok or they dont -- an ideological question.

    If the prevailing idea for how society should work is that generating wealth for the powerful is more important that human freedom, i suppose that ideology could be called "money".
     
  16. Old_Glory

    Old_Glory 2nd Lieutenant

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    Are you saying the ideology of the South and North we just completely different, it was not about the money?
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2018
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  17. JPK Huson 1863

    JPK Huson 1863 Colonel Forum Host

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    One of the most prevalent defenses of slavery was supposedly Biblical. Digging up references to enslaving humans was a ' thing ' propounded at great length. Another defense was bizarre- it was out of a sense of responsibility towards these inept, helpless people, goodness knows they could not function without the guidance and protection of white folks. Both are ideological. Perhaps not all Southern citizens adopted these excusatory premises but, since slavery was not legal in the North, those conversations would have been few and far between there.
     
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  18. ForeverFree

    ForeverFree Major

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    I provided primary sources from people of the era, who stated explicitly that there were ideological reasons why slavery was abolished in their states.

    RE: What benefit did slavery provide the North except for the slave trade (with exception to southern Illinois)?

    For the purposes of this thread, I don't care. It's irrelevant to the issue at hand. The question is did "Ideological factors partially account for the end of slavery in the North?" Evidence shows that the answer is yes.

    If your view is that that economics were the only reason for abolishing slavery, then prove it with primary sources.

    RE: If I'm being fair, I could go so far to say that ideology had 5% to do with it. But, really that is being extremely generous.


    - Alan

    Edited; Personal attack
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 11, 2018
  19. ForeverFree

    ForeverFree Major

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    Cash, thanks for your research.

    - Alan
     
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  20. wausaubob

    wausaubob Captain

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    The ideas are not separate from economics. Freedom creates the possibility that the free farmers and paid workers become customers. Enslaving the working class eliminates customers. Paying the workers creates customers.
    If freedom was not producing prosperity it would have been abandoned.
    The New England experiment in liberty was somewhat geographically constrained. The Mid-Atlantic conversion to the abolition movement was larger. Liberty turned out to be a magnet for youth and ambition and the African/Americans converted with reasonable promptness to the system.
    The social movement produces the experiment of building something like the Erie Canal with paid labor. Then it works.
    If the Quakers, Methodists and Dutch had all gone bankrupt, that would have been the end of it.
    But just the opposite happened. Pennsylvania and New York eclipsed Virginia, and Massachusetts made money as a new mercantile power.
     
  21. Old_Glory

    Old_Glory 2nd Lieutenant

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    One should care how it benefited them economically. The reasons we are looking at are ideological or economic. What other reasons could it be other than political?

    Pennsylvania participated in slave trade just as New York and Massachusetts did. They abolished it just as slave trade was becoming unprofitable, unpopular, and useless. Your evidence does not dispute my claim. If it were ended for ideology, then why did they buy and sell them in the first place? What changed? The value of the system changed.

    I gave you 5% of it being ideology, yet you ignored that.

    I never ignored the evidence, it simply does not show that economics were not the overwhelmingly primary factor. If 5% makes you happy and you want to shout it from the mountain tops as a reason it ended, then who am I to stop you?
     
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