Is the Abbeville Institute a Reliable Source for Information Related to the Civil War?

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jgoodguy

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“Causes of the “Civil War”

In a PBS interview seven years ago historian and Harvard University president Drew Gilpin Faust identified slavery as the cause of the Civil War. “Historians are pretty united on the cause of the Civil War being slavery,” she said before adding, . . . “when the various states announced their plans for secession, they uniformly said that the main motivating factor was to defend slavery.”

But she commits three errors. First, the American Battlefield Trust suggests that only four of the “various” first seven seceding states issued formal statements citing slavery as a prime reason for leaving. Second, the four upper-South states of Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Arkansas only joined the Confederacy after President Lincoln called for 75,000 troops to coerce the seven Gulf states back into the Union. They did, however, double the Confederacy’s white population and her territory east of the Mississippi River. Third, and foremost, Faust falsely equates the reasons the Northern states chose to fight a war with the reasons Southern states seceded.

Edited.

https://www.abbevilleinstitute.org/blog/causes-of-the-civil-war/
It has footnotes and references. That is a good start.
 

bdtex

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This thread is already drifting into the unfortunate familiar territory where posters are taking familiar shots at other posters and not the actual topic. It is tiresome but this thread is on watch and threadbans are next.
 

BlueandGrayl

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It has footnotes and references. That is a good start.
To be honest I have checked out their articles numerous times (though not every time I will agree with them) and I am familiar with Philip Leigh (I've went to his blog numerous times) he was a contributor to the New York Times Disunion blog from 2011 to 2015 and wrote books such as Southern Reconstruction, The Confederacy at Flood Tide, and Lee's Lost Dispatch and Other Controversies, and Co. Aytch or a Side Show of a Big Show.

I know that not everything they say is correct but sometimes it is other times its not.
 
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kbaxley45

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Thanks again for your observations, but let's discuss the Abbeville Institute's reliability. It took 10 years or more of bickering about black confederates threads before we stopped bickering about the threads and started gathering evidence. I do not want to repeat that experiences. I am looking forward to your contributions toward the objectives of this thread.

No problem. My intent was not to steer this off topic.

To clarify why I thought this was relevant to the discussion:

A comment was made about the secession conference and it seemed (at least to me) that the comment was meant to say that nobody takes Abbeville seriously, which is what I thought was part of the point of this thread.

Edited. I believe that they are also trying to emphasize that more things change the more they remain the same. There is still talk of breaking away from the union 150+ years later from groups of people on a completely different political spectrum. The thought-provoking topics of the site are worth reading about, since they aren't always widely discussed.

I don't think anyone on this thread is ever going to convince the opposing side on this one.
 

Rusk County Avengers

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My impression is that like a lot of folks, they started off on a mission to redeem the Confederacy in modern eyes only to find that redemption is only in mid-nineteenth century eyes. Charles B. Dew(unaffiliated), for example, set out to prove it was not slavery but after reading the record wrote Apostles of Disunion reminding us that race and slavery were at the center of the march toward secession after all.
I would say your impression is mostly spot on, Confederate redemption or defense of it is an obvious virtue of the Abbeville Institute. Personally I think folks go overboard in attacking the Confederacy, and I see nothing wrong with defending it, when the albatross of slavery is removed from the equation there's a lot of good ideas, and not so good ideas in the C.S. Constitution. As far as slavery is concerned I'd say we Southerners when we look at the institution can at least be thankful the American practice of it was a lot more, "civilized" and while slavery was repugnant, we can take comfort that it wasn't as brutal most of the time in comparison to the rest of the world. But we have something to be ashamed of when it comes to racial relations shall we say, went WAY downhill after the War, (I have personally felt the way slavery "died" was the absolute worst way for it too). So to me, there's nothing wrong with the Confederacy, when looked at from the view that the war, like most wars, was not the fault of one side, but rather both sides. It takes two to dance, so to speak. It was just one side who was just as justified to be fed up as the North had a right to be, both sides were guilty, and both sides were right at the same time. But that's me lol.

My problem with Abbeville Institute is its overly biased nature, skirting around the subject, or referencing only part of a quote to make their point. I'm sure their intentions are pure, and I hope they are just genuinely accidently missing some key points. I mostly tune them out, because to me too many folks who have the resources to publicly defend the Confederacy, shouldn't because they allow modern political strife, and accusations to cloud their judgement and make them just as guilty as many rabidly pro-North/Union folks on the war, and they twist facts to suit their views, just as much as their opposition, so for me I tune both sides out.
No one who allows their personal modern politics, or modern views interfere with the writings on something historical, should bother writing anything historical, no matter who's side their on.
But again that's me lol
 

jgoodguy

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No problem. My intent was not to steer this off topic.

To clarify why I thought this was relevant to the discussion:

A comment was made about the secession conference and it seemed (at least to me) that the comment was meant to say that nobody takes Abbeville seriously, which is what I thought was part of the point of this thread.

Edited. the institute is not just about a bunch of Southerners complaining about how things turned out. I believe that they are also trying to emphasize that more things change the more they remain the same. There is still talk of breaking away from the union 150+ years later from groups of people on a completely different political spectrum. The thought-provoking topics of the site are worth reading about, since they aren't always widely discussed.

I don't think anyone on this thread is ever going to convince the opposing side on this one.
The purpose of the thread is to present arguments with evidence about Abbeville's reliability. Convincing is for the audience, not the advocates. We try to do one piece at a time.
 
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jgoodguy

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I would say your impression is mostly spot on, Confederate redemption or defense of it is an obvious virtue of the Abbeville Institute. Personally I think folks go overboard in attacking the Confederacy, and I see nothing wrong with defending it, when the albatross of slavery is removed from the equation there's a lot of good ideas, and not so good ideas in the C.S. Constitution. As far as slavery is concerned I'd say we Southerners when we look at the institution can at least be thankful the American practice of it was a lot more, "civilized" and while slavery was repugnant, we can take comfort that it wasn't as brutal most of the time in comparison to the rest of the world. But we have something to be ashamed of when it comes to racial relations shall we say, went WAY downhill after the War, (I have personally felt the way slavery "died" was the absolute worst way for it too). So to me, there's nothing wrong with the Confederacy, when looked at from the view that the war, like most wars, was not the fault of one side, but rather both sides. It takes two to dance, so to speak. It was just one side who was just as justified to be fed up as the North had a right to be, both sides were guilty, and both sides were right at the same time. But that's me lol.

My problem with Abbeville Institute is its overly biased nature, skirting around the subject, or referencing only part of a quote to make their point. I'm sure their intentions are pure, and I hope they are just genuinely accidently missing some key points. I mostly tune them out, because to me too many folks who have the resources to publicly defend the Confederacy, shouldn't because they allow modern political strife, and accusations to cloud their judgement and make them just as guilty as many rabidly pro-North/Union folks on the war, and they twist facts to suit their views, just as much as their opposition, so for me I tune both sides out.
No one who allows their personal modern politics, or modern views interfere with the writings on something historical, should bother writing anything historical, no matter who's side their on.
But again that's me lol
One of my last years new years resolutions was to present the South in the context of their time and not modern times. I hope I have attempted that well.
 

leftyhunter

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I hope this helps.

The Abbeville Institute was founded in 2002 by a group of scholars in history, literature, philosophy, religion, and other disciplines who conducted a conference on “Modernity and the Southern Tradition” at the University of Virginia. We were concerned that the Southern tradition is no longer taught in colleges and universities except as a function of the ideological needs of others. With few exceptions, the Southern tradition is presented as little more than the story of racism and slavery. Eugene Genovese, a distinguished historian of the South—a Northerner and a man of the left—has been a rare voice in criticizing this effort to purge the Southern tradition and its symbols from the American landscape. In the Massey lectures he gave at Harvard in 1994 he had this to say: “Rarely these days, even on southern campuses, is it possible to acknowledge the achievements of the white people of the South …. To speak positively about any part of this southern tradition is to invite charges of being a racist and an apologist for slavery and segregation. We are witnessing a cultural and political atrocity—an increasingly successful campaign by the media and an academic elite to strip young white southerners, and arguably black southerners as well, of their heritage, and, therefore, their identity. They are being taught to forget their forbearers or to remember them with shame.”

The Institute was formed as a response to this intellectual challenge. Its purpose is to critically explore what is true and valuable in the Southern tradition. To this end, we hold summer schools for college and graduate students as well as conferences for academics at colleges and universities. We also conduct educational conferences for the public.

Edited.

https://www.abbevilleinstitute.org/principles/
The above article has a major omission.
Firstly the author speaks of massive desertions from the Union Army but neglects the well proven fact of massive desertions from the Confederate Army. The author does not mention the fact that many of these Confederate deserter's bore arms against the Confederacy either has Union soldiers, Unionist guerrillas or free lance bandits.
So either the author is ignorant of Southern history or he is being deliberately deceitful.
Leftyhunter
 
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leftyhunter

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How does the following work for you?

"Not long ago, a well-known conservative historian lamented that the American public had not been morally engaged to undergo sacrifice after the 9/11 attacks, unlike their heroic predecessors after Fort Sumter and Pearl Harbour.

Wait a minute. Pearl Harbor and 9/11 were massive sneak attacks by foreign enemies. The reduction of Fort Sumter was preceded by a gentlemanly warning, was bloodless, and the garrison was allowed to depart with honour. It would not have happened at all if Lincoln had not dissimulated about re-enforcements. Think about this. Why should Southerners (free Americans) permit a fort that had been built with their tax money for their protection to be used as a base to conquer and extort taxes from them? When every other federal post in the South had already been peacefully surrendered pending a political settlement. One can become outraged at Fort Sumter only by placing a higher value on the will of the political party controlling the machinery of government than on the core purpose of a free regime to protect the people.

Nor did Lincoln’s call after Fort Sumter for 75,000 troops to suppress “the rebellion” at all evoke American unity and determination like that after Pearl Harbour. The call for troops was illegal and the 75,000 was either a deliberate deception or the most terrible mistake in American history, since over a million men were eventually required to complete the conquest of the Southern people and the destruction of their self-government. The immediate effect of Lincoln’s mobilization was to drive four more states out of the Union, put the Border States into bloody play, and require military rule in much of the North such as was unprecedented in American experience. And ultimately to require systematic terrorism against noncombatants that is still a source of shame for all decent Americans. It is true Lincoln got a temporary boost of morale from having forced the Confederacy to “fire on the flag,” but that did not last. The number of Northern men who evaded service in Mr. Lincoln’s war in one way or another was in the hundreds of thousands, and more Northerners voted against him in 1864 than had in 1860, even though the army was used to control the polls.

One wonders that the historian mentioned would even allow Southerners to fight beside real Americans in later wars since he equates Lee and Jackson with Tojo and Bin Laden. Perhaps it has always been this way in Boston, which happens to be the location of the scholar referred to. But in general it has not always been so. Franklin Roosevelt had no objection to being photographed with Confederate flags. Harry Truman chose a romantic equestrian portrait of Lee and Jackson for the lobby of his Presidential Library. Dwight Eisenhower went out of his way to correct someone who called Lee a “traitor,” and John Kennedy chose Calhoun as one of the five greatest Senators.

For a long time Americans North and South observed a Truce. It was agreed that The War was a great tragedy with good and bad on both sides, from which a stronger and better country had emerged. In this scenario, Lincoln is the great martyred Peacemaker who would have “bound up the nation’s wounds” and avoided the evils that followed armed conflict. This is a dubious proposition, but one in which it was useful for all parties to believe.

As Southerners well know, things have changed in the last few years. There is a concerted effort to banish the South into one dark little corner of American history labeled “slavery” and “treason.” For our purposes here in the Lincoln bicentennial, we can note that there has been an accompanying literature that celebrates Lincoln not as the Peacemaker but as the great Conquering Revolutionary who used any means to eliminate evil and promote change. Which accompanies and justifies America’s turn toward a mission to impose “global democracy” by unlimited force and pre-emptive war. Even General Sherman is once more being celebrated as a great military hero for his ruthless campaigns against civilians. (There has been a counter-trend, exemplified not only by Thomas DiLorenzo’s and Ronald and Donald Kennedy’s best-selling books but by a number of solid monographs exploring the uglier aspects of Northern motives and actions in The War. If my email correspondence from above the Potomac and Ohio is any measure, a great many non-Southern Americans now regard Lincoln as the fount of the excessive centralisation and the aggressive war that they deplore.)

In 1961, during the Civil War centennial, Robert Penn Warren published a little book called The Legacy of the Civil War. He had some critical things to say about the tendency of his fellow Southerners to use The War as an excuse to avoid remedying their shortcomings. But for our purposes, what he had to say about the American majority is more pertinent. The éclat of having “saved the Union” and freed the slaves had left Northerners with “a Treasury of Virtue.” This is a kind of plenary indulgence that automatically pre-justifies the motives of American violence and the goodness inherent in America’s acts to force the world into conformity with its ideal version of itself. Decide for yourself the degree of truth in Warren’s observation as it applies to the current American posture in the world.

The Treasury of Virtue renders Americans immune to a simple truth. The War was a war of conquest. It was not a righteous crusade or a family spat. Government of the people would not have suffered if a war of coercion had not been launched against the Southern people. The opposite is true. The purpose of the war was fundamentally to protect the prosperity of the ruling elements of the Northern states by keeping the South captive as a market and a source of raw materials and exports. The primary result of the Republican party victory was permanent installment of Hamilton’s blessings—a national debt, a protected market for industrialists, and a collusion between bankers and politicians.

Orestres Brownson, a strong supporter of the Union, lamented afterward that the war had not been sustained by patriotism—but by patronage, profit, and a trumped-up hatred of Southerners. Northern support for Lincoln was not nearly as widespread and fervent as our Boston historian would have it. Recent study has raised doubt as to whether Lincoln could have maintained his armies if there had not been widespread industrial unemployment at the beginning of the war, an immense expenditure on enlistment bounties, and unlimited access to foreign recruits.

Since the mid-20th century Americans have been obsessed with race and it has become de rigueur to declare that The War was about slavery and nothing but slavery. Earlier generations knew better. Emancipation of the slaves was not a purpose but a by-product of the conquest of the South. The mass of the Northern public and army was far more anti-black than it was anti-slavery, and the destruction of the South was as hard or harder on the black population than on the white. The notion that soldiers in blue and emancipated slaves rushed into each other’s arms with shouts of Hallelujah is pure fantasy. Nor was slavery (domestic servitude) in 1860 at all the horror that it is now imagined to be. In 1860 in New York City there were women and children working 16 hour days for starvation wages, 150,000 unemployed, 40,000 homeless, 600 brothels (some with girls as young as 10), and 9,000 grog shops where the poor could temporarily drown their sorrows. A Southern planter who reflected on the circumstances in which he had been born, observed the everyday life around him, and examined his Christian conscience, saw no reason to forever meekly accept the hatred and abuse of strangers who claimed moral authority over him.

In American tradition and understanding, secession should have been an occasion for Constitutional negotiations such as the Confederate government sought, especially by a President whose position, ambiguous and two-faced as it was, had the support of less than 40 percent of the people. Instead, Lincoln declared that the solemn, constitutional, democratic acts of the people of eleven States were merely combinations of criminals too numerous to be put down by the marshals. He supported his position by a false American history and the transparent lie that the “people” did not really support their States. That day the Constitution died as a governing document for the people and their statesman. It became a mere rule of thumb for politicians and lawyers, who continue Lincoln’s heritage of twisting it to suit their ends. After all, the Constitution defines rebellion against the United States as waging war against “them,” not as resisting the government. It was Lincoln who was engaged in a rebellion to overthrow the Union. He had to dispense with the real Constitution because it not only disallowed a war of coercion against Americans but also most of the acts of central power in favour of private profit that his party was determined to make permanent.

In fact, Lincoln’s campaign to “retake the seditious states” could only rest on the tacit assumption that the Southern states, their land, resources, and people, were and always had been the property of the federal government; or more properly, of the politicians who had got control of the federal machine. And that the South existed not for itself as a self-governing part of America but for the benefit and disposition of the North. The consent of the people could only be given one time and ever after they were bound to obey to the federal machine. Thus the primary principle of the Declaration, that governments rest on the consent of the governed, was abolished. The Union was not preserved and it could not have been under such assumptions, any more than a marriage can be properly preserved by battery. It was changed into something else.

Lincoln’s pretty words in the Gettysburg Address managed to have it both ways—he was, he claimed, preserving the sacred old Union and at the same time promulgating a new birth of freedom that was somehow necessary to save government of the people. But these were not the arguments normally used by the spokesmen of his party to justify their war. They spoke instead of conquest and authority and punishment of disobedience to their designs. This is not a Southern accusation, it is the overwhelming evidence of their own words, both public and private. Karl Marx agreed enthusiastically with Lincoln’s interpretation of the Declaration of Independence, proclaiming the war to be a rebellion of “slave drivers” against the “one great democratic republic whence the first Declaration of the Rights of Man was issued.” Marx also regarded it as a rebellion against progressive German immigrants who somehow were better Americans than the Southern sons of patriots and founders.

It is unlikely, but if Americans could ever come to recognise and admit how much counterfeit is contained in their Treasury of Virtue, then they could have a more realistic view of themselves and play a more humble and responsible role in the world."

https://www.abbevilleinstitute.org/clyde-wilson-library/the-treasury-of-counterfeit-virtue/
The author deliberately lied when he states that the Southern States were federal property. Other then Lee all the other secessionist leaders kept their land. Many such has former Georgia Governor Joe Brown became wealthy post Civil War.
Leftyhunter
 

leftyhunter

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How does the following work for you?

"Not long ago, a well-known conservative historian lamented that the American public had not been morally engaged to undergo sacrifice after the 9/11 attacks, unlike their heroic predecessors after Fort Sumter and Pearl Harbour.

Wait a minute. Pearl Harbor and 9/11 were massive sneak attacks by foreign enemies. The reduction of Fort Sumter was preceded by a gentlemanly warning, was bloodless, and the garrison was allowed to depart with honour. It would not have happened at all if Lincoln had not dissimulated about re-enforcements. Think about this. Why should Southerners (free Americans) permit a fort that had been built with their tax money for their protection to be used as a base to conquer and extort taxes from them? When every other federal post in the South had already been peacefully surrendered pending a political settlement. One can become outraged at Fort Sumter only by placing a higher value on the will of the political party controlling the machinery of government than on the core purpose of a free regime to protect the people.

Nor did Lincoln’s call after Fort Sumter for 75,000 troops to suppress “the rebellion” at all evoke American unity and determination like that after Pearl Harbour. The call for troops was illegal and the 75,000 was either a deliberate deception or the most terrible mistake in American history, since over a million men were eventually required to complete the conquest of the Southern people and the destruction of their self-government. The immediate effect of Lincoln’s mobilization was to drive four more states out of the Union, put the Border States into bloody play, and require military rule in much of the North such as was unprecedented in American experience. And ultimately to require systematic terrorism against noncombatants that is still a source of shame for all decent Americans. It is true Lincoln got a temporary boost of morale from having forced the Confederacy to “fire on the flag,” but that did not last. The number of Northern men who evaded service in Mr. Lincoln’s war in one way or another was in the hundreds of thousands, and more Northerners voted against him in 1864 than had in 1860, even though the army was used to control the polls.

Edited.

https://www.abbevilleinstitute.org/clyde-wilson-library/the-treasury-of-counterfeit-virtue/
The author of the above article is ignorant of the fact that the U.S. Constitution has no clauses establishing a mechanism for " constitutional negotiations" to dismember the United States.
The author does not mention voter intimidation against anti secessionist voter's in the South.
Leftyhunter
 

jgoodguy

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Curious to know what a Southern tradition is. If the Abbeville Institute claims to be all about bringing it back, exactly what is it? Sounds rather nonspecific to me.
There are many peoples of the South and many eras of the South. Finding a single one tradition seems futile to me. Secession and the CSA nation was just one of those eras experienced in different ways by different peoples.
 
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wausaubob

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There are many peoples of the South and many eras of the South. Finding a single one tradition seems futile to me. Secession and the CSA nation was just one of those eras experienced in different ways by different peoples.
As I was raking leaves I was thinking the same thing. Which southern tradition are we talking about? Because it might be Billie Williams, Willie McCovey and Hank Aaron. Or it could be Faulkner and Thomas Wolfe. Does this mean Greg Allman or Louis Armstrong?
Are we talking about Civil War traditions, like that of Farragut, DuPont and S. Phillips Lee?
Southern traditions make the US a great place.
If someone uses a term of Southern tradition to obscure their true intent, that means they are not being straightforward.
 

WJC

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No offence, but I strongly suspect without ever seeing a thread on it, the Abbeville Institute has the potential to be a powder keg
Thanks for your response.
The Abbeville Institute is cited often by posters in our threads. Sometimes this leads to off-topic detours. At least here there is an opportunity for the Institute's supporters and critics to give reasons for their position. Of course, that will require a certain maturity and willingness to share one's actual views. It seems surprising that, thus far, few supporters of the Institute have decided to share their views. Too bad.
 
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WJC

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No, but some think of him as the mirror image of Abbeville, an anti Confederate commentator.
Thanks for your response and answer.
Then since he has no affiliation or philosophical connection with the Abbeville Institute, we need not discuss Mr. Sebesta further here.
 
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leftyhunter

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“Causes of the “Civil War”

In a PBS interview seven years ago historian and Harvard University president Drew Gilpin Faust identified slavery as the cause of the Civil War. “Historians are pretty united on the cause of the Civil War being slavery,” she said before adding, . . . “when the various states announced their plans for secession, they uniformly said that the main motivating factor was to defend slavery.”

But she commits three errors. First, the American Battlefield Trust suggests that only four of the “various” first seven seceding states issued formal statements citing slavery as a prime reason for leaving. Second, the four upper-South states of Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Arkansas only joined the Confederacy after President Lincoln called for 75,000 troops to coerce the seven Gulf states back into the Union. They did, however, double the Confederacy’s white population and her territory east of the Mississippi River. Third, and foremost, Faust falsely equates the reasons the Northern states chose to fight a war with the reasons Southern states seceded.

Edited.

https://www.abbevilleinstitute.org/blog/causes-of-the-civil-war/



The above cited article fails to mention that tariffs were very low before Secession. I challenge anyone hear that can find a letter or diary from a Confederate soldier that mentions tariffs as a motivating factor on why they enlisted in the Confederate Army. The article stated that without a tariff Northern cities would collapse with out trade from the South.
This assertion is totally false . During the Civil War unemployment was low and tens of thousands of immigrants easily found jobs. After the Civil War with South in ruins the American economy did not go into recession or depression.
Leftyhunter
 

BlueandGrayl

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The above cited article fails to mention that tariffs were very low before Secession. I challenge anyone hear that can find a letter or diary from a Confederate soldier that mentions tariffs as a motivating factor on why they enlisted in the Confederate Army. The article stated that without a tariff Northern cities would collapse with out trade from the South.
This assertion is totally false . During the Civil War unemployment was low and tens of thousands of immigrants easily found jobs. After the Civil War with South in ruins the American economy did not go into recession or depression.
Leftyhunter
In my opinion I think more generally financial policies also played a bit of a role in the Civil War (next to slavery and the debates over the Constitution). I do recall stumbling upon some articles from Northern and Southern newspapers mentioning financial policies and all on places like the American Historical Association/AHA.
 
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