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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lelliott19

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I'm not so sure all 13 wouldn't have, Rhode Island and New York had reservations.
Actually New York, Rhode Island, and Virginia were reluctant to ratify and did so with written reservations which included the right to "recede" and/or resume the powers not granted specifically by the Constitution. So,when they ratified the Constitution, at least three of the States made a distinct declaration of the right to later alter their form of government by leaving the Union/returning to Sovereign state status. And Virginia's statement reserved the right not only for herself, but for all the States within the Union.
 
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Carronade

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@Eleanor Rose that is a super question, and one that takes some really in depth soul searching thinking on my part.

They needed to form a nation, but did they need the colonies/states/nations that pushed for slavery? They made a compromise to include slavery to forge a new nation. "All men are created equal", but IIRC 41 signers of the Declaration of Independence held slaves. Thomas Jefferson, was against slavery, so he said, yet owned slaves. Several other men throughout the early part of our nation's growth also said they were against slavery, yet held slaves. It really is a delicate and confusing part of our history.

The morally correct thing to have done was to abolish slavery or not make a compromise with those states with slavery that would not join the other colonies/states/nations in forming the start of our great nation..........

If they truly believed in "All Men are created equal" then they should not have made the compromise................So I have to blame them for leaving the door open that led to the War for Southern Independence.

Respectfully,
William

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At the time of the Convention, only five states had abolished slavery: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania. Would you suggest that these five form their own nation? It would not even be contiguous unless New York, which abolished slavery in 1799, twelve years later, joined.

Would the slave states then form their own union (pardon the term)? I'm not as quick as some to insist that two separate nations would be utterly unviable, but history would be different to say the least. Hopefully they could maintain good relations and resolve issues like the various states' claims to western territories. Would the southern confederacy be able to make the Louisiana Purchase? Would north or south ally with European powers, which might force the other to take a side also?

The term "United States of America" had only just come into existence, so new that treaties had to enumerate the twelve* or thirteen states it comprised. Would one of the new nations try to claim the title?

* Delaware had been part of the grant which formed Pennsylvania.
 

Eleanor Rose

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The ideas in the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions became a precursor to John C. Calhoun’s arguments about the power of states to nullify federal laws. However, during the nullification controversy of the 1830s, James Madison rejected the legitimacy of nullification, and argued that it was not part of the Virginia position in 1798.
 

Norm53

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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.
I already answered your first question. I never read that the delegates ever discussed adding some kind of irrevocability clause.
 

Norm53

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I'm not so sure all 13 wouldn't have, Rhode Island and New York had reservations.

I like your link because it is a good summary of the legal arguments, which are all over the place, from one extreme to the other. That is why, to me, it is a waste of time to discuss or argue them again and again. Besides, as I always maintained, if a state or a combination of states, think that they are sufficiently aggrieved, which was the case with the South, they are going to get out, if they think that they can do so successfully, which the South thought it could, no matter what the Declaration of Independence or Lincoln or any one else says.
 

CSA Today

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I like your link because it is a good summary of the legal arguments, which are all over the place, from one extreme to the other. That is why, to me, it is a waste of time to discuss or argue them again and again. Besides, as I always maintained, if a state or a combination of states, think that they are sufficiently aggrieved, which was the case with the South, they are going to get out, if they think that they can do so successfully, which the South thought it could, no matter what the Declaration of Independence or Lincoln or any one else says.
I agree wholeheartedly.
 

uaskme

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I think it was very hypocritical that men who owned slaves signed a document saying, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."
Men, meant white men back then. And not really all white men. The Founders were Aristocrats. They were disinterested people. Those not tied down by Labor on Purpose. They would roll over, knowing a car salesman could become a Senator.

I think it is hypocritical for some to Praise the DOI and **** the Author. Jefferson had never known anything but Slavery. At some point, the Truth should mean something. All of this is just Nationalism. It is a Narrative, not Historical Fact. Every Country Lies about it’s Past.
 
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W. Richardson

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At the time of the Convention, only five states had abolished slavery: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania. Would you suggest that these five form their own nation? It would not even be contiguous unless New York, which abolished slavery in 1799, twelve years later, joined.

Would the slave states then form their own union (pardon the term)? I'm not as quick as some to insist that two separate nations would be utterly unviable, but history would be different to say the least. Hopefully they could maintain good relations and resolve issues like the various states' claims to western territories. Would the southern confederacy be able to make the Louisiana Purchase? Would north or south ally with European powers, which might force the other to take a side also?

The term "United States of America" had only just come into existence, so new that treaties had to enumerate the twelve* or thirteen states it comprised. Would one of the new nations try to claim the title?

* Delaware had been part of the grant which formed Pennsylvania.
"At the time of the Convention, only five states had abolished slavery: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania. Would you suggest that these five form their own nation? It would not even be contiguous unless New York, which abolished slavery in 1799, twelve years later, joined."

Slavery is immorally wrong or it isn't...............Would I have suggested those 5 to form a nation? I would have suggested they not allow the immoral, evil, veil institution into a nation that was to be built on "All men are created equal" One can not use "but" if you honestly believe something to be immoral. Either the Founding Fathers were wrong then, or the reason for the Civil War was a lie.


"Would the slave states then form their own union (pardon the term)? I'm not as quick as some to insist that two separate nations would be utterly unviable, but history would be different to say the least. Hopefully they could maintain good relations and resolve issues like the various states' claims to western territories. Would the southern confederacy be able to make the Louisiana Purchase? Would north or south ally with European powers, which might force the other to take a side also?"

You ask some very good questions. History would have been very different indeed. Perhaps the slave states do form their own Union, and perhaps after a few years it flounders? Perhaps once the slave states form their own Union, the slaves revolt and win there freedom...............In the land of "what if's" anything is possible.

Building a nation on freedom and that all men are created equal could have been done without the slave states, should have been done without the slave states, yet it WAS built with slavery, with the slave states and then years later when the nation was growing, and becoming prosperous, they then tell the slave states............You got to set them free............The Founding Fathers should have said that from the start.

So yes I stand by my view and vote. I hold the Founding Fathers guilty for the Civil War.

Respectfully,
William
 

W. Richardson

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Actually New York, Rhode Island, and Virginia were reluctant to ratify and did so with written reservations which included the right to "recede" and/or resume the powers not granted specifically by the Constitution. So,when they ratified the Constitution, at least three of the States made a distinct declaration of the right to later alter their form of government by leaving the Union/returning to Sovereign state status. And Virginia's statement reserved the right not only for herself, but for all the States within the Union.

And that played a huge part down the road of history...................It became a "we can, no you can't" argument That in reality the "we can" had a better argument, due to what you just spoke of.

Respectfully,
William
 

Carronade

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They needed to form a nation, but did they need the colonies/states/nations that pushed for slavery? .......... The morally correct thing to have done was to abolish slavery or not make a compromise with those states with slavery that would not join the other colonies/states/nations in forming the start of our great nation..........
This just occurred to me....the Founders at the Constitutional Convention in 1787 weren't creating a nation, the nation already existed, comprising thirteen states plus unincorporated territory. The "perpetual union" established by the Articles of Confederation was a union of slaveholding states; only Pennsylvania abolished slavery before the final ratification of the Articles (last state Maryland) in 1781. Even Pennsylvania had had slavery at the time it ratified the Articles (1778).

So when we say that "they" should not make a compromise with the slaveholding states, the "they" are the five-state non-slave minority, refusing to join or remain in a union with the majority. The non-slave states would be seceding and forming their own nation.
 

Norm53

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"At the time of the Convention, only five states had abolished slavery: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania. Would you suggest that these five form their own nation? It would not even be contiguous unless New York, which abolished slavery in 1799, twelve years later, joined."

Slavery is immorally wrong or it isn't...............Would I have suggested those 5 to form a nation? I would have suggested they not allow the immoral, evil, veil institution into a nation that was to be built on "All men are created equal" One can not use "but" if you honestly believe something to be immoral. Either the Founding Fathers were wrong then, or the reason for the Civil War was a lie.


"Would the slave states then form their own union (pardon the term)? I'm not as quick as some to insist that two separate nations would be utterly unviable, but history would be different to say the least. Hopefully they could maintain good relations and resolve issues like the various states' claims to western territories. Would the southern confederacy be able to make the Louisiana Purchase? Would north or south ally with European powers, which might force the other to take a side also?"

You ask some very good questions. History would have been very different indeed. Perhaps the slave states do form their own Union, and perhaps after a few years it flounders? Perhaps once the slave states form their own Union, the slaves revolt and win there freedom...............In the land of "what if's" anything is possible.

Building a nation on freedom and that all men are created equal could have been done without the slave states, should have been done without the slave states, yet it WAS built with slavery, with the slave states and then years later when the nation was growing, and becoming prosperous, they then tell the slave states............You got to set them free............The Founding Fathers should have said that from the start.

So yes I stand by my view and vote. I hold the Founding Fathers guilty for the Civil War.

Respectfully,
William
"So yes I stand by my view and vote. I hold the Founding Fathers guilty for the Civil War."
I assume that means that you voted "yes" in the poll. Would you agree that other politicians between 1789 and 1860 also made decisions that in a long chain of causes and effects brought on the ACW? If you answer "yes" to this question, then you should have voted "partially" in the poll. If you answer "no" to this question, then a lot of historians are going to disagree with you.
 
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Dead Parrott

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No.

The Founding Fathers made compromises to obtain the prioritized goal of an improved union under the Constitution. They provided mechanisms within that Constitution to resolve disputes regarding that Constitution and between the states.

The slave owners who controlled the governments of the Slave States no longer controlled those mechanisms (though one could argue about SCOTUS), due to democracy and its demographics. The slave owners decided not to risk the (eventual) loss of slavery to these constitutional mechanisms, which the public voting trends appeared to portend.

This was not a fault of the Founding Fathers. There was ALWAYS a risk that some issue (and it could have been anything) would arise over which some group would decide NOT to accept the resolution of through constitutional mechanisms.

Arguments over secession are wrong-headed. Secession only becomes a topic when a party decides it is likely to lose its argument under the resolution mechanisms provided. The Constitution provides mechanisms; the slave owners knew that demographics - and the opinions of the civilized world - were against their institution of slavery. They saw the trend - they saw the passion - and they were not stupid. Under the existing Constitutional mechanisms, and given the trends of demographics and world opinion, they (probably rightly) concluded their institution of slavery in the USA was eventually doomed. (though again I'm surprised they didn't go the SCOTUS route more aggressively first). The slave owners who ran the slave state governments would not accept this result.

The Founding Fathers are not responsible for the violent defense of slavery in the 1860s.

So, No.

- K.
 

archieclement

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"So yes I stand by my view and vote. I hold the Founding Fathers guilty for the Civil War."
I assume that means that you voted "yes" in the poll. Would you agree that other politicians between 1789 and 1860 also made decisions that in a long chain of causes and effects brought on the ACW? If you answer "yes" to this question, then you should have voted "partially" in the poll. If you answer "no" to this question, then a lot of historians are going to disagree with you.
Not sure how one can blame the founding fathers......Even if one views it they made a deal with the devil, it was a deal they were willing to make. as long as everyone honored the assurances they had gave SC and GA as to the conditions they were clear they wouldnt join without.......there would be no CW

Its only the politicians later who started to look for ways to try to reneg on the deal and assurances that had been made, that Union was going to become doubtful. As far as the founding fathers it was a price they had been willing to agree to, it was a done deal at that point.
 

Norm53

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Not sure how one can blame the founding fathers......Even if one views it they made a deal with the devil, it was a deal they were willing to make. as long as everyone honored the assurances they had gave SC and GA as to the conditions they were clear they wouldnt join without.......there would be no CW

Its only the politicians later who started to look for ways to try to reneg on the deal and assurances that had been made, that Union was going to become doubtful. As far as the founding fathers it was a price they had been willing to agree to, it was a done deal at that point.
Considering the enormous task of reconciling divergent interests of 12 states and 55 delegates, and not knowing what kind of future awaited their decisions, I think their efforts resulted in a remarkable achievement.
 

W. Richardson

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This just occurred to me....the Founders at the Constitutional Convention in 1787 weren't creating a nation, the nation already existed, comprising thirteen states plus unincorporated territory. The "perpetual union" established by the Articles of Confederation was a union of slaveholding states; only Pennsylvania abolished slavery before the final ratification of the Articles (last state Maryland) in 1781. Even Pennsylvania had had slavery at the time it ratified the Articles (1778).

So when we say that "they" should not make a compromise with the slaveholding states, the "they" are the five-state non-slave minority, refusing to join or remain in a union with the majority. The non-slave states would be seceding and forming their own nation.


Works for me...............I think lol...............

Respectfully,
William
 

W. Richardson

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"So yes I stand by my view and vote. I hold the Founding Fathers guilty for the Civil War."
I assume that means that you voted "yes" in the poll. Would you agree that other politicians between 1789 and 1860 also made decisions that in a long chain of causes and effects brought on the ACW? If you answer "yes" to this question, then you should have voted "partially" in the poll. If you answer "no" to this question, then a lot of historians are going to disagree with you.
The poll asked about the Founders, and if I viewed them as responsible for the Civil War. I voted yes and stand by the yes vote. Had the slavery question been handled as it should have, then you would not have other politicians between 1789 and 1860 making decisions that in a long chain of causes and effects brought on the Civil War, cause we all know that slavery, and slavery alone was the cause of the Civil War..............if you say different a lot of "historians" are going to disagree with you.......lol........... No slavery no Civil War

As to a lot of "historians" disagreeing with me, I really do not care, for I disagree with a lot of the "historians"........lol

Respectfully,
William

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archieclement

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Considering the enormous task of reconciling divergent interests of 12 states and 55 delegates, and not knowing what kind of future awaited their decisions, I think their efforts resulted in a remarkable achievement.
I agree they brought together what became the greatest nation in the world IMO, of course I'm biased:D

The later division came as I said from later politicians looking to reneg on the deal and assurances the founders had made to accomplish it. I dont blame the founders for what later politicians did.
 

thomas aagaard

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The question of Slavery caused Secession.
But the question of the legality Secession caused the war.

If a clear procedure for secession had been part of the Constitution... war might not have happened

So adding a very very clear procedure for how a state can lave the union to the Constitution would have solved a lot.
(might have ended in a war anyway, but it would more likely have been a war between to internationally recognized states)

The failure to do so result in the people involved in both writing the text and ratifying it carry a lot of the blame.
 
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