Should the Founders Be Blamed for the Civil War?

Should the Founders be blamed for the Civil War?

  • Yes

  • No

  • Partially


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Eleanor Rose

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Noah Feldman, author of "The Three Lives of James Madison," traces Madison's evolution from a idealistic social theorist to a pragmatic political operative. He makes the case that Madison "fully recognized the immorality of slavery and the humanity of the enslaved, but proceeded out of the economic interests of his class." James Madison did indeed say he "thought it wrong to admit in the constitution the idea that there could be property in men." Nonetheless he wrote that "a tax or duty may be imposed on such importation not exceeding $10 for each person."

Source: “The Three Lives of James Madison,” by Noah Feldman (Random House/Random House).
 

archieclement

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Partially, along with all the other politicians making decisions about slavery between 1789 and 1860 that led to the ACW.

Since SC and GA positively refused to join the union unless slavery was allowed, the CC delegates had to decide to move ahead (1) with 11 states and w/o slavery and w/o SC and GA, or (2) with those two states along with slavery. They chose the latter. That made sense because w/o those states, there would have been at least two countries with the possibility of SC and GA supported by France or Spain to enlarge their lands. They didn't want that.
This is where in part I have a hard time placing blame on the south.

The creation of the country was essentially a contract between the states, The south was clear they wanted no part of the contract unless it included slavery every step of the way.

Whether one likes it or not, between the parties the south was the one who negotiated in good faith, their position remained constant, their position never changed. They wanted no part of a United States in 1861 that didn't protect slavery, just as they had insisted at articles of confederation, or the drafting of the constitution.....

A contract failing is the responsibility of the one who is breaching or attempting to breach the contract, and violate the conditions that they had originally agreed to accept........Lincoln wishing to prohibit slavery's expansion, was an end run to try to lead to its elimination...which the South had said all along in which case, they wanted no part.

The problem complaining you made a deal with the devil.......is you still did agree to the deal..........
 
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Norm53

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This is where in part I have a hard time placing blame on the south.

The creation of the country was essentially a contract between the states, The south was clear they wanted no part of the contract unless it included slavery every step of the way.

Whether one likes it or not, between the parties the south was the one who negotiated in good faith, their position remained constant, their position never changed. They wanted no part of a United States in 1861 that didn't protect slavery, just as they had insisted at articles of confederation, or the drafting of the constitution.....

A contract failing is the responsibility of the one who is breaching or attempting to breach the contract, and violate the conditions that they had originally agreed to accept........Lincoln wishing to prohibit slavery's expansion, was an end run to try to lead to its elimination...which the South had said all along in which case, they wanted no part.

The problem complaining you made a deal with the devil.......is you still did agree to the deal..........
"... The south was clear they wanted no part of the contract unless it included slavery every step of the way. "
No, this statement is untrue as of the CC of 1787. All 10 sovereign states/nations (except for sovereign RI, which stayed away) were willing to join the union w/o slavery.
 

archieclement

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"... The south was clear they wanted no part of the contract unless it included slavery every step of the way. "
No, this statement is untrue as of the CC of 1787. All 10 sovereign states/nations (except for sovereign RI, which stayed away) were willing to join the union w/o slavery.
Considering thats the convention where it was agreed to count slaves as 3/5's would seem they agreed to go in the slavery direction.......
 
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Norm53

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Well the fact is they obviously didnt......and 10 except RI......where were the other 2 colonies?

Considering thats the convention where it was agreed to count slaves as 3/5's would seem they agreed to go in the slavery direction.......
SC and GA were the only states that would not join the union w/o slavery. The delegates of the other 10 chose to accept their demand, but with restrictions, which they hoped would eventually abolish slavery: Ending the slave trade after 1807 and the 3/5 compromise. It was a negotiated settlement between the 10 and the 2.

Think what might have happened to the US if the 10 states let SC and GA form their own mini-CSA. GA claimed all land west of its western boundary to the Miss. River. That included the lower 2/3 of what later became AL and MS. FL belonged to Spain. Beyond the Father of Waters, the land was claimed, in part, by France, Spain, GB, and Russia. The US would have been restricted to the land east of the river, south of Canada, north of GA, and west of the Atlantic Ocean. No free access to the Miss. River and the Caribbean Sea.
 
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archieclement

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SC and GA were the only states that would not join the union w/o slavery. The delegates of the other 10 chose to accept their demand, but with restrictions, which they hoped would eventually abolish slavery: Ending the slave trade after 1807 and the 3/5 compromise. It was a negotiated settlement between the 10 and the 2.
Yes thats my point.......they could have proceeded without SC and GA.......however they didnt......they made concessions to include everyone

They agreed to the deal with the devil as I said, SC and GA would be the parties in the contract who in effect remained consistent. They stayed true to the terms they had stated all along.
 

uaskme

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Not, I don’t think you they, nor Slavery were the ultimate cause of the War. Several Virginians being President, and the Yankees wanting a Nationalism based on their concept of a Puritan, White Supremacy, had far more of an influence for the Civil War, than Slavery. These divisions were present at the Founding. I don’t think there was much Union in 1860.
 
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I have always held that the Civil War is proof that the greatest failure of the Constitution was its inability to foresee that a nation founded on secession would eventually breed new secessionists. Had the founders simply addressed the issue, by either outlining a clear and legal path for an aggrieved state to leave, or by enumerating the illegality of secession in no uncertain terms then I think there's decent odds the war wouldn't have happened. Instead the waters were left murky enough that both sides had a good case to make that they were heirs to the founders' tradition. This led me to vote partially.
 

CSA Today

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I have always held that the Civil War is proof that the greatest failure of the Constitution was its inability to foresee that a nation founded on secession would eventually breed new secessionists. Had the founders simply addressed the issue, by either outlining a clear and legal path for an aggrieved state to leave, or by enumerating the illegality of secession in no uncertain terms then I think there's decent odds the war wouldn't have happened. Instead the waters were left murky enough that both sides had a good case to make that they were heirs to the founders' tradition. This led me to vote partially.
The Founders were not such inherent hypocrites that they would put something in the Constitution prohibiting the right to secession.
 
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If the CC delegates were foolish enough to do that, certainly the required 9 states would not have signed up.
This, I remember a conversation I had with a friend who was far more into the revolution and early republic than I'll ever be talking about secession and the early constitution. He never mentioned what states he thought would have wavered, but he did pretty firmly believe that had the union explicitly been made indissoluble in the beginning that the Constitution would have died then and there.
 

Norm53

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I have always held that the Civil War is proof that the greatest failure of the Constitution was its inability to foresee that a nation founded on secession would eventually breed new secessionists. Had the founders simply addressed the issue, by either outlining a clear and legal path for an aggrieved state to leave, or by enumerating the illegality of secession in no uncertain terms then I think there's decent odds the war wouldn't have happened. Instead the waters were left murky enough that both sides had a good case to make that they were heirs to the founders' tradition. This led me to vote partially.
"Had the founders simply addressed the issue, by either outlining a clear and legal path for an aggrieved state to leave, or by enumerating the illegality of secession in no uncertain terms then I think there's decent odds the war wouldn't have happened."
As I said above, had they done such a foolish thing, then the required 9 states would not have signed up. No sovereign state is going to irrevocably sign away its sovereignty for what was then an unknown Republic. What if it eventually turned into a monarchy or an oligarchy? Then some states would have wanted out and there was no way for the fledgling Republic to stop them, being weak economically and militarily at the time. The ratification process was close in the important states. If VA (89 to 79) or NY (30 to 27) or both had opted out, then the Republic would not have been much of a Republic.
 

Norm53

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This, I remember a conversation I had with a friend who was far more into the revolution and early republic than I'll ever be talking about secession and the early constitution. He never mentioned what states he thought would have wavered, but he did pretty firmly believe that had the union explicitly been made indissoluble in the beginning that the Constitution would have died then and there.
Your friend is a wise man.
 
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"Had the founders simply addressed the issue, by either outlining a clear and legal path for an aggrieved state to leave, or by enumerating the illegality of secession in no uncertain terms then I think there's decent odds the war wouldn't have happened."
As I said above, had they done such a foolish thing, then the required 9 states would not have signed up. No sovereign state is going to irrevocably sign away its sovereignty for what was then an unknown Republic. What if it eventually turned into a monarchy or an oligarchy? Then some states would have wanted out and there was no way for the fledgling Republic to stop them, being weak economically and militarily at the time. The ratification process was close in the important states. If VA (89 to 79) or NY (30 to 27) or both had opted out, then the Republic would not have been much of a Republic.
You seem to be well versed in this, why then were the terms never explicitly laid out do you believe? I've always thought that surely at least one conversation about putting in a secession process or clause was held at the constitutional convention.
 


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