Looking back on the whole bloody mess, I truly believe that it was completely pointless EXCEPT as a maneuver to obliterate southern independence.

BuckeyeWarrior

Sergeant
Joined
Jan 1, 2020
Location
Ohio
Absolutely!

Many people look at the Northern population, seeing only abolitionists and everyone else. As you point out, that isn't accurate: everyone else included a large number of people who were anti-slavery (the contemporary description). The remainder, a much smaller segment, consisted of people who couldn't care less. As an example, Selden Connor (later a Union general and, even later, governor of Maine) wrote home to his mother in explanation of his enlisting: "I am not an abolitionist but I hate slavery" [emphasis is mine].

As an aside, the expression "righteous cause" has been largely associated with the late Dr. Martin Luther King. Unless the phrase is being used to describe a relatively current movement that is far too recent to be discussed here.
The segment that didn't really care was probably bigger than that. I read an article years ago about the American Revolution and the author made the claim, after researching letters written at the time, that 1/3 of Americans were pro-revolution, 1/3 were pro-monarchy, and 1/3 didn't care and just wanted to live their lives.
 

Tom Hughes

First Sergeant
Joined
May 27, 2019
Location
Mississippi
In terms of human suffering and sacrifice, here's some numbers to consider when pondering what the cost was to keep the South as part of the United States, abolish slavery, etc.:
750,000 total number of civil war deaths (that's 2.5% of the total U.S. population at that time)
If 2.5% of today's population died that would equate to 7 million deaths.

That's a lot of lives lost to free slaves and/or protect the system that was in place.
It was what it was and it made us into the fabric of the nation we are today.

Slavery has existed on every continent. This was not a new Southern U.S. concept.
But times changed and it took an internal war to bring about that change.
I guess that's why we are all so interested in this period in history.
 

shooter too

Private
Joined
Mar 4, 2021
"The adoption of the measures I advocated at the outset of the war, the arming of the negroes, the slaves of the rebels, is the only way left on earth in which these rebels can be exterminated. They will find that they must treat those States now outside of the Union as conquered provinces and settle them with new men, and drive the present rebels as exiles from this country....They have such determination, energy, and endurance, that nothing but actual extermination or exile or starvation will ever induce them to surrender to this Government." -Thaddeus Stevens, US House of Representatives, January 8, 1863

General's Milroy and Paine (both abolitionists) seem to have had the same idea-

"A failure as a battlefield commander, Milroy took out his frustrations on the civilian population under his control. He described his policy as one of 'blood and fire; I kill the men and burn their houses.' In the same letter to his wife in which he characterized his policy, he said, 'General Paine was in command here (Tullahoma, Tennessee) before me. He has killed some 200 men before I arrived. He brought no charges against them, made no reports, he simply took them out and shot them. You would never know they had been killed unless you happen on their bodies out in the woods, as I do when I go out riding for exercise.'
Milroy continued the murderous policies of General Paine throughout the rest of the war. In January and February 1865 Milroy issued written orders to the 42nd Missouri Mounted Infantry to kill 63 persons in the Coffee and Franklin counties in Tennessee, these becoming a part of the almost 500 persons Milroy ordered executed without trials." -In the Crosshairs, pages 20-21
https://www.tennessee-scv.org/camp155/Dr Bradleycrosshairs/IN THE CROSSHAIRS.pdf

The victims included some as young as 14 and others in their 70s. Oh and yes, women were also among the victims.


There are always "radicals" upon both sides of the spectrum.
 

StephenColbert27

First Sergeant
This statement I hilted is absolutely not true. Farmers in Illinois maintained slaves up to the middle of the Civil War. The state did do away with slavery but the farmers gave the judges so much trouble they agreed to using the word Indentured Servitude which lasted to the middle of the Civil War.
This can be found in Illinois History.
What sources indicate that there were still a significant number of slaves in Illinois until mid Civil War? From what I can tell the last Census to count slaves separately in Illinois was 1840, after which all blacks were counted as "free".
 

19thGeorgia

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
I imagine it was along the same vein as when we liberated the concentration camps. Seeing the actual horrors of slavery caused American soldiers to detest it and the people that supported it.
Nothing could match the horror story of treatment the slaves (or "freedman") received from Union troops-

While northern soldiers had no love for slavery, most of them had no love for slaves either. . . . While some Yanks treated contrabands with a degree of equity and benevolence, the more typical response was indifference, contempt, and cruelty. Soon after Union forces captured Port Royal, South Carolina, in November 1861, a private described an incident there that made him "ashamed of America": "About 8-10 soldiers from the New York 47th chased some Negro women but they escaped, so they took a Negro girl about 7-9 years old, and raped her." From Virginia a Connecticut soldier wrote that some men of his regiment had taken "two ****** wenches [women] . . . turned them upon their heads, and put tobacco, chips, sticks, lighted cigars and sand into their behinds." Even when Billy Yank welcomed the contrabands, he often did so from utilitarian rather than humanitarian motives. "Officers and men are having an easy time," wrote a Maine soldier from occupied Louisiana in 1862. "We have Negroes to do all fatigue work, cooking and washing clothes."
-The Battle Cry of Freedom, p. 497 (emphasis added)


The Negroes recaptured on the Lafourche and at Berwick's Bay in July 1863 almost unanimously declare that the Yankees poisoned the aged, the infirm, and the infants. While we reject the competency of such testimony, as do our courts, we will add that we know the Negroes religiously believe what they state.

Two thousand Negroes fell victim to the perfidy of the enemy within the short space of six weeks. The flight commenced from Port Barre on the 21st of May; on the 29th of June General Taylor crossed Berwick's Bay; the planters and proprietors of slaves crossing immediately after found, after diligent search and inquiry on comparing notes, that this number had already died.
-The Conduct of Federal Troops in Louisiana, p.121


The number of colored refugees employed [at Nashville] by Captain Morton [USA], and who have died without receiving their pay, is estimated at from six to eight hundred. This would be twenty-five per cent of the entire number employed by him; surely a most extraordinary mortality, the predicate for which we could not ascertain.
-"Report of Thomas Hood and S. W. Bostwick" (December 28, 1864)
 

Fairfield

Sergeant Major
Joined
Dec 5, 2019
The segment that didn't really care was probably bigger than that. I read an article years ago about the American Revolution and the author made the claim, after researching letters written at the time, that 1/3 of Americans were pro-revolution, 1/3 were pro-monarchy, and 1/3 didn't care and just wanted to live their lives.
No, I didn't mean the American Revolution--I was talking about the Civil War.
 

Fairfield

Sergeant Major
Joined
Dec 5, 2019
What sources indicate that there were still a significant number of slaves in Illinois until mid Civil War? From what I can tell the last Census to count slaves separately in Illinois was 1840, after which all blacks were counted as "free".
I believe that you are quite correct. I lived in Illinois for many years and became interested in its history. There was an area of "copperheads" and even southern-sympathizers down in southern Illinois. Illinois was a stronghold of the "peace democrats" and was the state that produced Stephen Douglas. But this was by no means typical of the entire state: Illinois produced a good number of abolitionists and anti-slavery activists--including Elijah Lovejoy (whose boyhood home in Maine is only a few miles away). There was an active branch of the Underground Railroad in Illinois, one of whose major proponents was Own Lovejoy (younger brother to Elijah).

Periodically, someone brings up the numbers of slaves in some free state after slavery had been outlawed in that state. This really is unfair because census records don't indicate WHO kept those slaves (according to the original Slave Fugitive Act, free states had no right to stop slave owners from bringing their slaves into the free state). Unless proof to the contrary can be provided, I'd be inclined to believe that any slaves in a free state had to have been brought in; free states forbade slavery and--even nationally--the slave trade was against the law.
 

StephenColbert27

First Sergeant
I believe that you are quite correct. I lived in Illinois for many years and became interested in its history. There was an area of "copperheads" and even southern-sympathizers down in southern Illinois. Illinois was a stronghold of the "peace democrats" and was the state that produced Stephen Douglas. But this was by no means typical of the entire state: Illinois produced a good number of abolitionists and anti-slavery activists--including Elijah Lovejoy (whose boyhood home in Maine is only a few miles away). There was an active branch of the Underground Railroad in Illinois, one of whose major proponents was Own Lovejoy (younger brother to Elijah).

Periodically, someone brings up the numbers of slaves in some free state after slavery had been outlawed in that state. This really is unfair because census records don't indicate WHO kept those slaves (according to the original Slave Fugitive Act, free states had no right to stop slave owners from bringing their slaves into the free state). Unless proof to the contrary can be provided, I'd be inclined to believe that any slaves in a free state had to have been brought in; free states forbade slavery and--even nationally--the slave trade was against the law.
Right. Of course Illinois was a state that provided for gradual emancipation, so like many other such states there were a certain number of slaves who remained as such after it became a legally free state, which should be taken into account. Nevertheless it does not change the fact that once that took effect, the number of slaves in Illinois was only going to ever go down, not up. At least, from my understanding, and I am happy to see what sources would indicate the presence of a large number of slaves in Illinois until midway through the Civil War.

In addition, I do believe that Illinois was one of the places that Dred Scott was taken by his master as part of the titular USSCT case, as a tie into what you've mentioned above.
 
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Lost Cause

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Sep 19, 2014
In 1853, Illinois passed a strict Black Law banning African-American emigration into Illinois. Free blacks entered Illinois had to leave within 10 days or face a misdemeanor charge with heavy fines. Unpaid fines authorized the county sheriff to sell the individual on the market essentially as a slave or indentured servant. The last recorded indentured servant was freed in 1863. This would be an indication of why census records were lacking.
 
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Rebforever

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Oct 26, 2012
Right. Of course Illinois was a state that provided for gradual emancipation, so like many other such states there were a certain number of slaves who remained as such after it became a legally free state, which should be taken into account. Nevertheless it does not change the fact that once that took effect, the number of slaves in Illinois was only going to ever go down, not up. At least, from my understanding, and I am happy to see what sources would indicate the presence of a large number of slaves in Illinois until midway through the Civil War.

In addition, I do believe that Illinois was one of the places that Dred Scott was taken by his master as part of the titular USSCT case, as a tie into what you've mentioned above.
I ment the last slave, indentured servitude, was in the middle of the CW.
 

danny

Sergeant
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
Hattiesburg
Or to put it another way the vast majority of the South was not burnt to the ground. There was a considerable amount of ransacking but most of that was by Confederates, authorised by their state or federal government or not, looking to find resources to continue the war.

Wars to suppress rebellions were commonplace in the 19th century. You might want to compare and contrast the measures taken by Lincoln with those of the Russians against Poland at the same time.
Most eh?
 

LCYingling3rd

Private
Joined
Apr 25, 2021
This thread continues to be interesting to read!

I think it reinforces Edward Ayer's arguments in his book, "What Caused the Civil War," that the causes of the war are complex and complicated and that sentiments in antebellum America were much more complex and complicated than many modern people care to believe. I do believe many modern Americans want history, want reality itself for that matter, to be concrete, simplistic, and black and white. We like the "one side is right the other side is wrong" mentality and struggle to cope with the true complexity of history and reality.

Without bringing modern politics into the discussion, I do believe it is fair to say that one glance at the modern political landscape can give us much insight into the antebellum political landscape. *Edited by moderator* I believe it is clear that American's political sentiments form classic bell curves on continuums between extremes on a variety of issues. The majority of Americans are trying to live their lives leaning moderately toward one side or another while loud, boisterous minorities inhabit the extremes. The historical record shows me that the same was true in antebellum America.

I do have to admit that my own personal sentiments are influenced by my Border State mentality. Born in Maryland I know first hand how complex antebellum sentiments were. My mother's family was from the northwestern panhandle section of Virginia that became part of West Virginia and I have ancestors on my mother's side that fought in both the Confederacy and in the Union. My father's family was from Maryland and southern Pennsylvania and my ancestors on his side all fought for the Union. All of those ancestors lived less than one hundred miles apart, their daily lives were very similar, and in all of their communities sentiment's varied and friends, family, and neighbors disagreed and often ended up fighting against one another. With this as my heritage I do not see history as simplistic or black and white, I primarily see complexity and varying shades of gray.

The cause question is complicated exactly because of this antebellum complexity. There were certainly a few reasons individuals supported secession, however, the leaders left an abundant paper trail of secession convention minutes, secession commissioner letters and speeches and other documents. Therefore there is little doubt that the political cause of secession in the original seven states of the Confederacy was the election of Lincoln, his platform of restricting the institution of slavery to where it existed, and the desire to create a nation where slavery could never be legislated out of existence. The cause of secession for the last four states to secede was more complicated. They had resisted the efforts of the deep south secession commissioners primarily because they believed slavery was better protected in the Union. Recognizing that the fugitive slave Act of 1850 would no longer apply and their slaves would no longer be returned if they joined a different nation, they remained in the Union. Lincoln's call for 75,000 troops, though, changed all that. So, there is even more complexity. And, of course, although individuals in the Union opposed slavery, it was certainly not a cause for the Union to fight. That too is abundantly clear. Preservation of the Union was the pre-war cause of the North. It was never a war of slave states versus free states. It was not a war to free the slaves in the beginning. The plight of the enslaved was certainly not a concern for many in the states remaining in the Union. Clearly slave owners and slave states were welcome in the Union and many fought to preserve it. Had Union generals been effective enough to win the war in 1862 slavery would probably have continued, at least where it was, for years to come. This confusing complexity is echoed in the posts of this thread.

Complexity and irony abound in the historical record. You have "Free Soilers" opposing slavery for economic and not ethical reasons. You have anti-slavers opposing the the institution because it introduced Africans into what they believed should be an all white Country. You have abolitionists crying, "let them go," as states seceded, essentially willing to allow slaves to remain enslaved as long as it wasn't in their Country! Few are taught the story of Nathaniel Gordon, the Yankee sea captain from Portland, Maine who was the only American ever tried, convicted, and executed for trading in slaves.

And Abraham Lincoln, truly my hero, was full of complexity and irony as well. Not my hero because he was the, "great emancipator," no, he is my hero because he represents what we Americans can be; people who learn and grow as we acquire new knowledge. Certainly a white supremacist like nearly every white man of his times, he did detest slavery, as I agree with what someone said here, because he could empathize with people forced into labor. However, he is mere human to me. Doing what he could to preserve our Union. The irony of him being the first President to invite African-American leaders to the White House in August of 1862, only to essentially blame the war on them and urge them to colonize their people out of the Country because the two races could not live together. Then a month later issue his Emancipation Proclamation. He had to be convinced to add the clause arming black soldiers in his final January 1, 1863 Proclamation, I believe that clause itself is what led him to fight so hard for the 13th Amendment. Seeing how well the USCT fought seemed to have changed him and taught him the lesson that he needed.

What a wonderful thread you have here. I am enjoying reading it! Secession is not addressed directly in the Constitution. Like a jury, we need to hear the arguments for and against it's Constitutionality (no, I know we don't any more...but, for argument's sake...). And I must say that those arguing that it is unconstitutional and always has been are winning in this thread! If some of you wish to convince me otherwise you have better start doing a bit more homework!

Thank you all,

Lew
 
Last edited by a moderator:

LCYingling3rd

Private
Joined
Apr 25, 2021
This thread continues to be interesting to read!

I think it reinforces Edward Ayer's arguments in his book, "What Caused the Civil War," that the causes of the war are complex and complicated and that sentiments in antebellum America were much more complex and complicated than many modern people care to believe. I do believe many modern Americans want history, want reality itself for that matter, to be concrete, simplistic, and black and white. We like the "one side is right the other side is wrong" mentality and struggle to cope with the true complexity of history and reality.

Without bringing modern politics into the discussion, I do believe it is fair to say that one glance at the modern political landscape can give us much insight into the antebellum political landscape. *Edited by moderator* I believe it is clear that American's political sentiments form classic bell curves on continuums between extremes on a variety of issues. The majority of Americans are trying to live their lives leaning moderately toward one side or another while loud, boisterous minorities inhabit the extremes. The historical record shows me that the same was true in antebellum America.

I do have to admit that my own personal sentiments are influenced by my Border State mentality. Born in Maryland I know first hand how complex antebellum sentiments were. My mother's family was from the northwestern panhandle section of Virginia that became part of West Virginia and I have ancestors on my mother's side that fought in both the Confederacy and in the Union. My father's family was from Maryland and southern Pennsylvania and my ancestors on his side all fought for the Union. All of those ancestors lived less than one hundred miles apart, their daily lives were very similar, and in all of their communities sentiment's varied and friends, family, and neighbors disagreed and often ended up fighting against one another. With this as my heritage I do not see history as simplistic or black and white, I primarily see complexity and varying shades of gray.

The cause question is complicated exactly because of this antebellum complexity. There were certainly a few reasons individuals supported secession, however, the leaders left an abundant paper trail of secession convention minutes, secession commissioner letters and speeches and other documents. Therefore there is little doubt that the political cause of secession in the original seven states of the Confederacy was the election of Lincoln, his platform of restricting the institution of slavery to where it existed, and the desire to create a nation where slavery could never be legislated out of existence. The cause of secession for the last four states to secede was more complicated. They had resisted the efforts of the deep south secession commissioners primarily because they believed slavery was better protected in the Union. Recognizing that the fugitive slave Act of 1850 would no longer apply and their slaves would no longer be returned if they joined a different nation, they remained in the Union. Lincoln's call for 75,000 troops, though, changed all that. So, there is even more complexity. And, of course, although individuals in the Union opposed slavery, it was certainly not a cause for the Union to fight. That too is abundantly clear. Preservation of the Union was the pre-war cause of the North. It was never a war of slave states versus free states. It was not a war to free the slaves in the beginning. The plight of the enslaved was certainly not a concern for many in the states remaining in the Union. Clearly slave owners and slave states were welcome in the Union and many fought to preserve it. Had Union generals been effective enough to win the war in 1862 slavery would probably have continued, at least where it was, for years to come. This confusing complexity is echoed in the posts of this thread.

Complexity and irony abound in the historical record. You have "Free Soilers" opposing slavery for economic and not ethical reasons. You have anti-slavers opposing the the institution because it introduced Africans into what they believed should be an all white Country. You have abolitionists crying, "let them go," as states seceded, essentially willing to allow slaves to remain enslaved as long as it wasn't in their Country! Few are taught the story of Nathaniel Gordon, the Yankee sea captain from Portland, Maine who was the only American ever tried, convicted, and executed for trading in slaves.

And Abraham Lincoln, truly my hero, was full of complexity and irony as well. Not my hero because he was the, "great emancipator," no, he is my hero because he represents what we Americans can be; people who learn and grow as we acquire new knowledge. Certainly a white supremacist like nearly every white man of his times, he did detest slavery, as I agree with what someone said here, because he could empathize with people forced into labor. However, he is mere human to me. Doing what he could to preserve our Union. The irony of him being the first President to invite African-American leaders to the White House in August of 1862, only to essentially blame the war on them and urge them to colonize their people out of the Country because the two races could not live together. Then a month later issue his Emancipation Proclamation. He had to be convinced to add the clause arming black soldiers in his final January 1, 1863 Proclamation, I believe that clause itself is what led him to fight so hard for the 13th Amendment. Seeing how well the USCT fought seemed to have changed him and taught him the lesson that he needed.

What a wonderful thread you have here. I am enjoying reading it! Secession is not addressed directly in the Constitution. Like a jury, we need to hear the arguments for and against it's Constitutionality (no, I know we don't any more...but, for argument's sake...). And I must say that those arguing that it is unconstitutional and always has been are winning in this thread! If some of you wish to convince me otherwise you have better start doing a bit more homework!

Thank you all,

Lew
Thank you moderator, I wasn't sure if just mentioning a name counted. I now know.
 
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