Lincoln and Slavery

gem

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Oct 26, 2012
I was wondering how many people agree with Lincoln that slavery was the cause of the civil war?
 

K Hale

Colonel
Annual Winner
Joined
Aug 10, 2009
Location
Texas
Fear of future interference with slavery was the cause of secession. Secession was the cause of the war.
 

gem

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Oct 26, 2012
According to Lincoln Slavery was the cause of the war. Please see below,his 2nd inaugural address. Please read the words i've bolded closely. You'll understand Lincoln, firsthand. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was, somehow, the cause of the war.
Thus i seek understanding to my original question? Do you agree with Lincoln that Slavery was the cause of the war.

One of the best ways to understand reasons of the war is reading the words of Lincoln himself.
While a relatively brief address Lincoln's words are deep and powerful. He lays out reasons why we went to war and then goes on to say the results (at the time of the address it was quite clear Union Victory would follow) were preordained.

It was a large and hopeful crowd that awaited the Second Inaugural of President Lincoln. President Lincoln said:
At this second appearing to take the oath of the presidential office, there is less occasion for an extended address than there was at the first. Then a statement, somewhat in detail, of a course to be pursued, seemed fitting and proper. Now, at the expiration of four years, during which public declarations have been constantly called forth on every point and phase of the great contest which still absorbs the attention, and engrosses the energies [sic] of the nation, little that is new could be presented. The progress of our arms, upon which all else chiefly depends, is as well known to the public as to myself; and it is, I trust, reasonably satisfactory and encouraging to all. With high hope for the future, no prediction in regard to it is ventured.
On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago, all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending civil war. All dreaded it--all sought to avert it. While the inaugural address was being delivered from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war--seeking to dissol[v]e the Union, and divide effects, by negotiation. Both parties deprecated war; but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive; and the other would accept war rather than let it perish. And the war came.
One eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the Southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was, somehow, the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union, even by war, while the government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it. Neither party expected for the war, the magnitude, or the duration, which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with, or even before, the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the seat of other men's faces; but let us judge not that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered; that of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. "Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!" If we shall suppose that American Slavery is one of those offences which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South, this terrible war, as the woe due to those by whom the offence came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a Living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope--fervently do we pray--that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the bond-man's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether."
With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan - to do all which may achieve and cherish a just, and a lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.4
 

K Hale

Colonel
Annual Winner
Joined
Aug 10, 2009
Location
Texas
According to Lincoln Slavery was the cause of the war. Please see below,his 2nd inaugural address. Please read the words i've bolded closely. You'll understand Lincoln, firsthand. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was, somehow, the cause of the war.
Thus i seek understanding to my original question? Do you agree with Lincoln that Slavery was the cause of the war.
See where he said "somehow"? My reply to you explained that "somehow."
 

James B White

Captain
Honored Fallen Comrade
Joined
Dec 4, 2011
Since "yes" seems too short of an answer, and going over what really caused the war seems repetitive, I'll just toss in a few reactions to the specific speech quoted. I think the speech is a reasonably fair assessment of the situation to that point, with the exceptions noted below:

While the inaugural address was being delivered from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war--seeking to dissol[v]e the Union, and divide effects, by negotiation. Both parties deprecated war; but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive; and the other would accept war rather than let it perish

The grammar didn't make sense, so I looked for another copy, and there's a phrase missing. It should be:

While the inaugural address was being delivered from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war, insurgent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it without war—seeking to dissolve the Union and divide effects by negotiation. Both parties deprecated war, but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish, and the war came.

The last sentence in that quote was what I was going to comment on. I don't know enough about the specific negotiations in 1860-61 to comment specifically on that aspect, but it spins things from a pro-war viewpoint rather than a pro-peace one, implying that the nation had to include all the states to survive. It doesn't acknowledge the possibility that the free states alone, under the federal government, could be a perfectly good continuation of the nation--a view ironically held by a few of the most radical abolitionists at the start of the war, among others.

To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union, even by war, while the government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it.

This seems to be the same spin the Union/north/non-slave-state side had been using from the beginning, and is unbalanced, since it includes the larger aims of the "insurgents" but only the specific aims of the "government." At the very least, to be fair, he should have included "weaken" as one of the aims of the government.

It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the s[w]eat of other men's faces; but let us judge not that we be not judged.

That's just snarky, and lowers the whole tone of the thing, but it is funny. If people trolled the internet in the 1860s, wanting to start flame wars, that's how they'd do it. :redcarded:
 

BillO

Captain
Joined
Feb 2, 2010
Location
Quinton, VA.
Yes, slavery caused the civil war. The south figured out how to make money off of it and the north couldn't.
 

poetrycherie

Cadet
Joined
Jan 22, 2013
Hmmmm I remember learning it was about States Rights... Slavery was just one of the issues but far from the Cause!
 

R. Evans

Sergeant
Joined
Jan 19, 2013
Location
Salem, Ohio
States rights to do what, exactly?

Well, to have slaves of course.:wink: And to track them down and return them to slavery if they happened to escape to states without slavery. Nevermind that those states had the right to free slaves if they wanted, the selfish South's rights superceded all others. In their minds anyway.

There were other causes of the war to be sure, but the main cause was slavery.
 

John Hartwell

Major
Forum Host
Joined
Aug 27, 2011
Location
Central Massachusetts
Has anyone ever counted how many threads we've had asking our "opinion" on this very topic? I'm guessing at least 100 (wouldn't be all that surprised at 200!). A newcomer might be excused not having trudged through the litany of past threads -- but most of us are very well aware of how thoroughly that particular dead horse has been bludgeoned -- a few fragments of sun-bleached bones are all that remain of ol' Dobbin! Let's have some new, or at least plausible reason for opening a new thread -- even then it would be better to reopen an old one.

Cheers!

jno
 
Joined
Feb 4, 2013
Location
Jarrettsville, Maryland
According to Lincoln Slavery was the cause of the war. Please see below,his 2nd inaugural address. Please read the words i've bolded closely. You'll understand Lincoln, firsthand. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was, somehow, the cause of the war.
Thus i seek understanding to my original question? Do you agree with Lincoln that Slavery was the cause of the war.

Gem,
You posted Lincoln's second inagural address, I am posting the first adress below from 1861. The way I read what he said in tAbraham Lincoln:
First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1861

Fellow citizens of the United States:
In compliance with a custom as old as the government itself, I appear before you to address you briefly, and to take, in your presence, the oath prescribed by the Constitution of the United States, to be taken by the President "before he enters on the execution of his office."
do not consider it necessary, at present, for me to discuss those matters of administration about which there is no special anxiety, or excitement.
Apprehension seems to exist among the people of the Southern States, that by the accession of a Republican Administration, their property, and their peace, and personal security, are to be endangered. There has never been any reasonable cause for such apprehension. Indeed, the most ample evidence to the contrary has all the while existed, and been open to their inspection. It is found in nearly all the published speeches of him who now addresses you. I do but quote from one of those speeches when I declare that "I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so." Those who nominated and elected me did so with full knowledge that I had made this, and many similar declarations, and had never recanted them. And more than this, they placed in the platform, for my acceptance, and as a law to themselves, and to me, the clear and emphatic resolution which I now read:
"Resolved, That the maintenance inviolate of the rights of the States, and especially the right of each State to order and control its own domestic institutions according to its own judgment exclusively, is essential to that balance of power on which the perfection and endurance of our political fabric depend; and we denounce the lawless invasion by armed force of the soil of any State or Territory, no matter under what pretext, as among the gravest of crimes."
I now reiterate these sentiments: and in doing so, I only press upon the public attention the most conclusive evidence of which the case is susceptible, that the property, peace and security of no section are to be in anywise endangered by the now incoming Administration. I add too, that all the protection which, consistently with the Constitution and the laws, can be given, will be cheerfully given to all the States when lawfully demanded, for whatever cause -- as cheerfully to one section, as to another.
There is much controversy about the delivering up of fugitives from service or labor. The clause I now read is as plainly written in the Constitution as any other of its provisions:
"No person held to service or labor in one State, under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labor, but shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such service or labor may be due."
It is scarcely questioned that this provision was intended by those who made it, for the reclaiming of what we call fugitive slaves; and the intention of the law-giver is the law. All members of Congress swear their support to the whole Constitution -- to this provision as much as to any other. To the proposition, then, that slaves whose cases come within the terms of this clause, "shall be delivered up," their oaths are unanimous. Now, if they would make the effort in good temper, could they not, with nearly equal unanimity, frame and pass a law, by means of which to keep good that unanimous oath?
There is some difference of opinion whether this clause should be enforced by national or by state authority; but surely that difference is not a very material one. if the slave is to be surrendered, it can be of but little consequence to him, or to others, byhe first portion of his address goes back to the question was this really about slavery? I by no means approve of slavery how can anyone. However Linclon clearly gave a way out of the war if the true and only issue was slavery.​
 
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