Slavery as the Primary Cause of the Civil War: the Real Lost Cause Argument.

Gene Green

Sergeant
Joined
Apr 30, 2016
Location
Dixie
“The victim of the Lost Cause legend has been history," Alan Nolan has written, "for which the legend has been substituted in the national memory."
 

GwilymT

First Sergeant
Joined
Aug 20, 2018
Location
Pittsburgh
More enriching than California? Maybe that explains the 1849-1861 Rush of people to Virginia!

This Dispatch article didn’t mention California... it was too concerned with how good slavey was for Virginia and how rich Virginia was becoming due to its participation in the institution. It used this as a basis to argue for Virginia seceding. Let’s not put words in their mouth.
 

James Lutzweiler

Sergeant Major
Joined
Mar 14, 2018
This Dispatch article didn’t mention California... it was too concerned with how good slavey was for Virginia and how rich Virginia was becoming due to its participation in the institution. It used this as a basis to argue for Virginia seceding. Let’s not put words in their mouth.

I don't put words into people's mouths. Here is the quote. Note "California." I will await your retraction.

“ Is Virginia willing to strike down her interest in this system of labor—more enriching than the mines of California or the wand of the god."
 

GwilymT

First Sergeant
Joined
Aug 20, 2018
Location
Pittsburgh
I don't put words into people's mouths. Here is the quote. Note "California." I will await your retraction.

“ Is Virginia willing to strike down her interest in this system of labor—more enriching than the mines of California or the wand of the god."

Ahh, yes, they are saying that slavery is more enriching than mines of California. While I retract the “does not mention” portion of my statement, this line from the dispatch further illustrates the real primary cause. I guess they were just lying in order to hide their real agenda, the TRR.
 

Potomac Pride

Sergeant Major
Joined
Oct 28, 2011
Location
Georgia
I have consolidated a lot of the primary sources from the Confederacy itself about the preservation of slavery being the cause of secession and the war. Here it is if anyone is interested. I should say that there was plenty of good and bad on both sides of the war. I don't argue that, but the cause is quite clear. The American Civil War WAS About Slavery: A Quick Handbook of Quotes to Reference When Debating Those Who Would Argue OtherwiseView attachment 301904
Once again, I love the South. I live here. I'm deeply involved in Southern culture. My girlfriend was born and raised here. Southern people are great. Equally, Northerners aren't always angels or on the right side of things, trust me, why do you think I moved down here? But it's important that we examine our history with dispassionate and objective eyes. It's important to remember that we weren't there. We did not participate. People who lived here before we did. Their actions, causes, and beliefs do not define us today. It's okay to be nostalgic about the Confederacy and its brave soldiers and heroes.

For the record, I'm not going to participate in any debate on this thread. So say what you want to say. I leave you in peace.

Thank you for reminding us again that the Civil War was about slavery. I would have to agree with you and the multitude of others who repeat the same thing over and over again.
 

James Lutzweiler

Sergeant Major
Joined
Mar 14, 2018
Ahh, yes, they are saying that slavery is more enriching than mines of California. While I retract the “does not mention” portion of my statement, this line from the dispatch further illustrates the real primary cause. I guess they were just lying in order to hide their real agenda, the TRR.

Thank you for your correction.

What do you know about the TRR that you are able to assume a negative?
 

James Lutzweiler

Sergeant Major
Joined
Mar 14, 2018
That could be true in some cases. However, I personally believe that the Civil War was about slavery but that was not the only reason for the war.

Thank you for your post. I personally believe the war was about the western territories. And we both would agree (I like to agree to agree rather than agree to disagree) that our mutual statements do not ipso facto constitute evidence for either of our views. If you are happy with your view, I am not on this thread to convert you but only to suggest other avenues to explore. If you do not appreciate them, it is no matter. I am not insulted. I have the satisfaction of knowing I served you. That is all that matters to me.
 

Old_Glory

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Sep 26, 2010
Location
NC
In this context let me add that those responsible for exalting slavery to a primary cause, i.e., those antebellum Seceshers who offered that sorry Saran-Wrap-thin and phony excuse for what they contemplated and then did, were actually joined in their hermeneutical gymnastics by Northerners AFTER the war. Those Northerners had to come up with something noble to explain to grieving mothers, fathers, sisters, and brother, and everybody else --like my spinster grade school teachers and other non-thinkers-- that their loved ones did not die in vain or for something as grubby as greed for western land and railroads. No, no, no! Good heavens, NO!! Gotta have a noble cause.

James

Slavery as the main cause of the War is the Northern equivalent to the Southern Lost Cause. The central idea behind the Lost Cause was to make the Southerns that fought appear as Heroes.Slavery as the main cause does the exact same for the Northerners that fought.

The belief is generally filed under the term "Treasury of Virtues" which is a modern enough term I think. Do you want something even more modern?
 

Old_Glory

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Sep 26, 2010
Location
NC
In this context let me add that those responsible for exalting slavery to a primary cause, i.e., those antebellum Seceshers who offered that sorry Saran-Wrap-thin and phony excuse for what they contemplated and then did, were actually joined in their hermeneutical gymnastics by Northerners AFTER the war. Those Northerners had to come up with something noble to explain to grieving mothers, fathers, sisters, and brother, and everybody else --like my spinster grade school teachers and other non-thinkers-- that their loved ones did not die in vain or for something as grubby as greed for western land and railroads. No, no, no! Good heavens, NO!! Gotta have a noble cause.

James

Slavery as the main cause of the War is the Northern equivalent to the Southern Lost Cause. The central idea behind the Lost Cause was to make the Southerns that fought appear as Heroes.Slavery as the main cause does the exact same for the Northerners that fought.

The belief is generally filed under the term "Treasury of Virtues" which is a modern enough term I think. Do you want something even more modern?
 

James Lutzweiler

Sergeant Major
Joined
Mar 14, 2018
Slavery as the main cause of the War is the Northern equivalent to the Southern Lost Cause. The central idea behind the Lost Cause was to make the Southerns that fought appear as Heroes.Slavery as the main cause does the exact same for the Northerners that fought.

The belief is generally filed under the term "Treasury of Virtues" which is a modern enough term I think. Do you want something even more modern?

Lots of terms work and so does this. Thanks for posting.

Ideally a 2-syllable phrase would capture the idea, something to match the assonance of the 2-syllable "lost cause." I like "slave drave," as an ellipse for "driven by slavery alone as a cause," but I don't think "drave" is even a word except for right here in this context. And it would mean nothing to anyone else not up to speed here. But it represents what I am hoping we could come up with to quiet down the incessant resort by "lazy causers" (3 syllables) to the vacuity that "lost cause" incarnates so well.

Meantime, I am happy to learn new expressions such as you mention here.
 

HeftyLefty04

Private
Joined
Apr 2, 2019
"If [the Civil War] wasn't about slavery, then I don't know what else it was about." - James Longstreet

The central cause(s) of many historical sagas are open to vast interpretation, but that of the Civil War is not. Anyone who thinks that the central, practically the sole, cause of the war wasn't slavery IS a Lost Causer. Secession was a direct response to and result of Lincoln's election. If Fremont had won in 1856, the war would have started in early 1857. To those who claim the war was a response to influence in the West; that may be so to an extent, but "influence" in a Southern context was code for the expansion of slavery into Western territories. I believe Bleeding Kansas illustrates and supports my assertion with regard to that.

Now, that does not mean that emancipation/abolition was a Federal war goal from the start. It simply wasn't; preservation of the Union was the driving force behind the influx of Northern volunteers. However, continuation and expansion of slavery was the ONLY Southern war goal. "States' rights" is Lost Cause-speak for the maintenance of slavery in the South. That is part of the reason why emancipation became a war goal for the Union as the conflict progressed; in order to crush the Confederacy, the Federals needed to eradicate the single institution the Rebels were fighting for.

The Lost Cause is a convenient narrative for individuals who are unwilling to face the reality that eleven states seceded and fought the bloodiest war in the history of the Western Hemisphere purely to keep over four million human beings in chains. That is not intended to offend the memory or descendants of Confederate veterans; men in both blue and gray fought bravely and valiantly for their families, their homes, and other personal reasons completely unrelated to either government's war aims. Still, facts are facts, and it is a fact that the Federal victory in the Civil War rid this nation of its greatest sin. As emancipation was the first and most significant result of the war, it is inarguable that slavery was its central cause.
 

James Lutzweiler

Sergeant Major
Joined
Mar 14, 2018
Since the end of the Civil War, there have been different schools of thought regarding the cause of the Civil War. Below is a list of the historiography of the Civil War which references noted scholars and historians. Some of the different schools listed did not consider slavery to be a significant cause of the war. However, these historians were not considered to be "Lost Causers" as some would label them today. My point is that slavery was an important contributing factor that led to the war but it wasn't the only reason for the war. The belief that slavery was the one and only cause is really an oversimplistic view of the war. Important historical events such as wars can be complicated matters that have more than one cause.

Definition of HISTORIOGRAPHY

1 a : the writing of history; especially : the writing of history based on the critical examination of sources, the selection of particulars from the authentic materials, and the synthesis of particulars into a narrative that will stand the test of critical methods

From Civil War Era: Historiography

Definitions
Nationalist School (James Ford Rhodes, Woodrow Wilson, Edward Channing) 1890: wanted to portray Civil War without the "bitterness" of previous recounts. Increasing Nationalism and Industrialism united the country. Conflict was unavoidable. It was the "collision of impersonal forces beyond the control of individuals." The cotton gin kept slavery from dying out on its own. The war had produced an unforeseen result: nationalism and a united America. Slavery was blamed for keeping the South unindustrialized

Progressive School (Charles & Mary Beard, Matthew Josephson) 1927: The uneven distribution of wealth led Progressive historians to disapprove of the industrialization caused by the war. The resulting industrialization caused a new social class system and gave the government new power. The economy was completely renovated and focused on private profit. Slavery did not seem to play a significant part in the causes of the war.

Marxist School (James S. Allen) 1930: Great Depression hits America. The obvious implications of the economy in the U.S. then played a part in the historiography of the Civil War. Specifically, eliminating slavery caused the development of capitalism and the growth of the labor movement. Slavery was not a major cause of the war.

Southern Agrarians (Ulrich Phillips, Charles Ramsdell Frank Owsley) 1930: The Depression is a problem in the U.S. The Southern characteristic of anti-materialism was necessary for the good of the country. Relied on perceptions of the South as an honorable, peaceful community while the North looked like a cold, industrialized area. Claim that Northern industrialists used abolitionist claims for economical reasons.

Revisionist School (Avery Craven, James Randall) 1930-1940: World War I ended and caused the majority of Americans to avoid future conflict based on "greed, arrogance, and national rivalries." The war could have been avoided. It was an evil act that politicians failed to get out of. "Normal" sectional tensions were heightened and ignored. Slavery was purely a symbol of sectionalism.

New Political Historians (Michael Holt) 1960: Political history became a part of historiography. The differences that caused sectional tension were based on things like Protestantism or nativism. Slavery had very little to do with it. When the tension grew to the size politicians could do nothing to ease it, the North and South became each other's scapegoats.

Comparative School (Eugene Genovese, Peter Kolchin, William Freehling) 1990: Slavery's part in the Civil War can only be fully observed and understood when it is compared to the effects of slavery in other parts of the world

This post was a real service to us all. Is this your work? No implication of plagiarism at all. Just wondering.

I suggest a new school. I suggest the Russel School in honor of the long neglected and highly overlooked Robert Russel. I belong to it, whether it is ever recognized or not. Russel rules.

Another name for the school could be the Western Land School. Another The TRR School. The California School and The China School work, too. I would not even object to The Gadsden School or The Pacific School.

In all events, I side with the Beards who dismiss slavery as the cause. I can hear some Lazy Causers calling these stellar historians Lost Causers, but that reflects more on the people who would say that more than on the Beards.

As for Woodrow Wilson? GAG!
 

James Lutzweiler

Sergeant Major
Joined
Mar 14, 2018
"If [the Civil War] wasn't about slavery, then I don't know what else it was about." - James Longstreet

The central cause(s) of many historical sagas are open to vast interpretation, but that of the Civil War is not. Anyone who thinks that the central, practically the sole, cause of the war wasn't slavery IS a Lost Causer. Secession was a direct response to and result of Lincoln's election. If Fremont had won in 1856, the war would have started in early 1857. To those who claim the war was a response to influence in the West; that may be so to an extent, but "influence" in a Southern context was code for the expansion of slavery into Western territories. I believe Bleeding Kansas illustrates and supports my assertion with regard to that.

Now, that does not mean that emancipation/abolition was a Federal war goal from the start. It simply wasn't; preservation of the Union was the driving force behind the influx of Northern volunteers. However, continuation and expansion of slavery was the ONLY Southern war goal. "States' rights" is Lost Cause-speak for the maintenance of slavery in the South. That is part of the reason why emancipation became a war goal for the Union as the conflict progressed; in order to crush the Confederacy, the Federals needed to eradicate the single institution the Rebels were fighting for.

The Lost Cause is a convenient narrative for individuals who are unwilling to face the reality that eleven states seceded and fought the bloodiest war in the history of the Western Hemisphere purely to keep over four million human beings in chains. That is not intended to offend the memory or descendants of Confederate veterans; men in both blue and gray fought bravely and valiantly for their families, their homes, and other personal reasons completely unrelated to either government's war aims. Still, facts are facts, and it is a fact that the Federal victory in the Civil War rid this nation of its greatest sin. As emancipation was the first and most significant result of the war, it is inarguable that slavery was its central cause.

Just because you believe what you have just stated would not keep you from addressing the OP, i.e., to suggest a 2-3 syllable term to denominate your groupthinkers. Any suggestion(s)? You would be better equipped than I to come up with something boilerplatish, as any term I would choose would contain a deliberate but not intentionally unkind overtone of lazy thinking.

I would welcome your contribution of some shorthand that correctly and easily characterizes your section of thought.
 

demiurge

Sergeant
Joined
Apr 15, 2016
Slavery as the main cause of the War is the Northern equivalent to the Southern Lost Cause. The central idea behind the Lost Cause was to make the Southerns that fought appear as Heroes.Slavery as the main cause does the exact same for the Northerners that fought.

The belief is generally filed under the term "Treasury of Virtues" which is a modern enough term I think. Do you want something even more modern?

Something of a strawman there.

Most current historians acknowledge that slavery was not the reason that the North initially responded to the uprising with military forces, but instead was the stated and acknowledged reason that the South chose to secede.

Hence primary cause. Without this concern, there is no war. Most of the other proposed causes also come back to this issue.
 

James Lutzweiler

Sergeant Major
Joined
Mar 14, 2018
Something of a strawman there.

Most current historians acknowledge that slavery was not the reason that the North initially responded to the uprising with military forces, but instead was the stated and acknowledged reason that the South chose to secede.

Hence primary cause. Without this concern, there is no war. Most of the other proposed causes also come back to this issue.

How about a nice neologism to characterize those of your persuasion? I have absolutely no interest in straw manning those whobelieve what you believe. And I have no interest in being straw-manned as a "Lost Causer" which is as false as it is distracting from the real issues. I think "Lost Cause" screeds are the opiate of those who are blinded to the universe of facts. Just my opinion. Karl Marx had no corner on the users of pharmaceuticals.
 

Potomac Pride

Sergeant Major
Joined
Oct 28, 2011
Location
Georgia
This post was a real service to us all. Is this your work? No implication of plagiarism at all. Just wondering.

I suggest a new school. I suggest the Russel School in honor of the long neglected and highly overlooked Robert Russel. I belong to it, whether it is ever recognized or not. Russel rules.

Another name for the school could be the Western Land School. Another The TRR School. The California School and The China School work, too. I would not even object to The Gadsden School or The Pacific School.

In all events, I side with the Beards who dismiss slavery as the cause. I can hear some Lazy Causers calling these stellar historians Lost Causers, but that reflects more on the people who would say that more than on the Beards.

As for Woodrow Wilson? GAG!

Thanks for your comments. The information concerning historiography actually came from another post. I just wanted to demonstrate the different schools of thought regarding the reasons for the war that have existed over the decades. History is subject to interpretation and the Civil War is no different than other historical events in that regard. The Beards that you mentioned belonged to the Progressive School of Historians who believed that the cause of the war was based on economic issues. Charles and Mary Beard's interpretation of the Civil War was very influential among historians and the public for years starting in the 1920's. In The Rise of American Civilization (1927), the Beards announced that the Civil War was really a "social cataclysm in which the capitalists, laborers, and farmers of the North and West drove from power in the national government the planting aristocracy of the South". This interpretation of the war is very interesting from an economic and political perspective.
 
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