The Real Cause of Secession

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lurid

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The problem with all tariff arguments is that in the search for a rational motivation for a destructive war, the argument ends without presentation of facts.
There is no evidence that the increased burden in tax payments, or increased cost of tariff protected goods, justified the risk.
It becomes a bare assertion that the if the south would have remained in the US the tax burden would have greater than if they had formed their own nation, and paid all their own military and governmental costs.
In fact the main substitute for US taxes were not Confederate taxes, but instead hyper inflation, and paying whatever the blockade runners demanded when they landed their cargoes in the Confederacy.
No one ever quantifies the actual decrease in demand for southern cotton that would results from higher tariffs, fewer imports and stronger dollar denominated currencies.
Its just one irrational and obsessive argument substituted for another, tariffs instead of slavery.
The problem with all tariff arguments is that the southern senators definitely could have helped shape the tariff reform in 1861.
But they did not remain in Congress. Then it was a Pennsylvania Democrat, James Buchanan, who signed the tariff bill into law. And when the Democratic party regained power in the US after 1884, tariffs remained unchanged and the implementation of a direct tax was delayed for about 30 years.
Exactly, the tariff argument has been debunked on this site numerous times. The politicians in the south could have voted it down or just filibustered first instead of hastily getting out of dodge.
 

Potomac Pride

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I certainly appreciate the time and trouble to gather sources. Still we need more precise figures.
1.What actual percentage of white Southern families income actually went towards purchasing foreign manufactured items?
2. Why would it be rational to send their sons and husband's to war for a thirty to fifty percent savings on manufactured items?
3. Why not just smuggle in said items from European colonies in the Carribean? The Revenue Cutter Service had few Cutters to patrol approximately two thousand miles of Southern coast line,no night vision,no radar and no aircraft. Certainly cheaper to smuggle then to go to war.
4. Why not manufacture said items in the South? Said manufactured items could compete with Northern state products at home and abroad. Definitely legal and cheaper then going to war.
Leftyhunter
To answer your questions, I don't think there are any figures that reflect the amount of income from southerners that went towards the purchase of foreign goods. The controversy surrounding the tariff was mentioned by some of the southern states in their secession documents but it was secondary to slavery. However, secession and war are separate things. The war started due to the act of secession and the subsequent insurrection of the southern states. Furthermore, the south had a small merchant marine fleet, therefore; smuggling wasn't an option. Finally, the economy of the south was based on agriculture and they had a small manufacturing base. Furthermore, the south didn't go to war because of tariffs but because they had declared their independence from the Union.
 

lurid

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The items that were so important were manufactured goods in general since the south had such a small manufacturing industrial base. If you want primary sources, before the Civil War began, there were certain publications in the northern states that even admitted that the tariff was a method used to exploit the South to the benefit of the North. Thomas P. Kettell was a political economist and author from Boston who in 1856 wrote Southern Wealth and Northern Profits. This book was about the economies of the Northern and Southern states that presented the economic inequality resulting from the concentration of manufacturing, banking, and shipping in the North. In his book, he discussed the tariff system and stated "From the earliest period of the government, the federal revenues have been derived from duties on goods imported. The duties have not been levied with a single view to revenue, but have been adjusted as to afford the largest protection to Northern manufacturers. In other words, to tax consumers of goods West and South for the support of eastern manufacturers." Source: Southern Wealth & Northern Profits pages 126-27 by Thomas Kettell

Furthermore, the Chicago Daily Times in an article on Dec. 10, 1860 admitted that the tariff was a financial burden to the southern states that was used to the advantage of the North. The article stated "The South has furnished near three-fourths of the entire exports of the country. Last year, she furnished seventy-two percent of the whole....... we have a tariff that protects our manufacturers from thirty to fifty percent, and enables us to consume large quantities of Southern cotton, and to compete in our whole home market with the skilled labor of Europe. This operates to compel the South to pay an indirect bounty to our skilled labor, of millions annually."
First, the tariffs were at an all-time ow the three decades leading up to so-called secession, which totally clarifies that secessionists were decrying speculation.

Average_Tariff_Rates_in_USA_(1821-2016).png



Second, those 3/4 exports sound a lot bigger than what they really were, the 3/4 exports contributed to only 5-6% of the national GDP.


cotton gdp.png



Third, tariffs never lowered the demand for southern cotton, prove it otherwise.

Growth_of_Slavery_and_Cotton_in_America.jpg


Fifth, the higher tariffs would have never affected the "average southerner" and would lowered the wealthy plantation owner's purchasing power some, which is called the "wealth effect." Last, the Confederacy is the only entity that put a tax on cotton exports , so that gives you something to consider.


https://eh.net › encyclopedia › money-and-finance-in-the-confederate-state...
 
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wausaubob

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Thus tariffs might have a small affect on US balance of trade. But on the other hand, increasing population and increasing prosperity in the three mid-Atlantic states, NY, NJ and PA, also increases demand for domestically produced textiles. And by 1860 that was the best growth market for southern cotton.
Tariff arguments are very unappealing in KY, MD and DE. LA is in the tariff collection and reporting business.
Texas and Missouri want a share of federal spending.
Not only were tariff arguments not mentioned very often, but there is a non random reason they were not mentioned.
And finally, VA was a state desiring protection from cheap English and Russian iron.
 

John Fenton

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while most of the tariff revenue was spent in the North.
this is not true and the north spent more state money than federal money.
And considering that most of the population lived in the north... Why should the money not be spend where the most people live?
you are correct but per capita the south got more federal money than the north. The south simply saw anybody getting any benefit as one less benefit available for themselves.
 

leftyhunter

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To answer your questions, I don't think there are any figures that reflect the amount of income from southerners that went towards the purchase of foreign goods. The controversy surrounding the tariff was mentioned by some of the southern states in their secession documents but it was secondary to slavery. However, secession and war are separate things. The war started due to the act of secession and the subsequent insurrection of the southern states. Furthermore, the south had a small merchant marine fleet, therefore; smuggling wasn't an option. Finally, the economy of the south was based on agriculture and they had a small manufacturing base. Furthermore, the south didn't go to war because of tariffs but because they had declared their independence from the Union.
Here is the thing circa 1861 there just weren't a whole lot of imported manufactured items that were all that vital to Southern white families. What exact manufactured items would the typical Southern white family need to buy? Would it be pianos and dresses, pots and pans? Highly doubtful it would be medicines since the art of medicine was rather primitive back then.
When economic conditions are right a Merchant Marine can appear literally over night I.e. the ACW and 1920s alcohol proibition .
If Southern white families were really that upset about tarriff's then smuggling is an almost risk free alternative.
As far as a small manufacturing base goes better a state subsidized factory then a ruinous war.
I agree tarriff's had nothing serious to do with secession. A bare majority of the Southern population wanted a new nation to preserve and expand slavery.
Leftyhunter
 
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Rebforever

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I agree with most of what you have said but...

the cotton industry , spinning and weaving, etc., before the industrial revolution was home based and non-powered. The British and northern industry also made cotton textile production more efficient.
there are two components involved. Demand and supply. The cotton gin had as much to do with demand as northern or British industry and they all happened at roughly the same time. Although the ginning and baling took place on the plantation the supply was the crop. The gin was part of the industrial revolution as much as the power loom. Supply and demand both increased from 1800 to 1860. The increase in demand is demonstrated by the fact that during this time since the invention of the gin prices increased in spite of the increase in supply.
https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Microeconomics/Supply_and_Demand


Slavery was illegal outside the south.
slaves were liquid and there were auctions and individual sales everyday somewhere in the south or even a county.
“ For $800 the bidder received the enslaved pair, who were transferred from their plantation and surrounding network of friends and relations.
Anticipating a payment of $800, however, Neal’s executors would not receive the full sum for at least a year. Instead of an outright sale, Maillant negotiated a mortgage agreement with the estate’s administrators. For one-third of the purchase price, Maillant would take possession of the two slaves. In order to secure the remaining debt on this human property, the slaves themselves would serve as collateral. In the event that Maillant defaulted on the loan, the original owners could seize the slaves and resell them, hopefully at an equal or higher price, while keeping the original down payment.
In addition to their liquidity, slaves were mobile assets who could be sold in markets where demand for them was highest.”
“In the context of a precarious financial system, the importance of slaves as a form of property was particularly evident. Viewed in this light, owners could gain wealth—or repay debts—not only by extracting greater labor from their enslaved men and women but also, as historian Bonnie Martin has argued, by pledging and selling their human property, essentially working them both physically and financially.”
https://www.brown.edu/academics/history/sites/academics-history/files/images/Caldwell Final Thesis 2-2.pdf
My hilite above.

So often, folks tend to forget that the North had slaves up until the 13th Amendment and that slavery was still protected by the Constitution.
 

John Fenton

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Here is the thing circa 1861 there just weren't a whole lot of imported manufactured items that were all that vital to Southern white families.
Yes and to the point that besides the blockade ...

In the early days of the Confederacy, Southern politicians, planters, and everyday citizens were discussing how the seceded states would successfully break away from the North and cement their independence. Southerners knew that European recognition, particularly by Britain and France, would be essential to the security of the Confederate nation. Most Southerners, including Confederate President Jefferson Davis, placed their hopes of foreign recognition on the South's domination of global cotton markets and the European powers' economic reliance on the staple. Based on his belief in "King Cotton," Davis decided to place an embargo on Confederate cotton once the war broke out, believing that Britain and France would rather break the Union blockade and procure cotton from the South than risk economic catastrophe and political upheaval at home.
https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/5q47rp12q?locale=en

obliviously they were ok without most imports, at least for a while.
 

Potomac Pride

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Here is the thing circa 1861 there just weren't a whole lot of imported manufactured items that were all that vital to Southern white families. What exact manufactured items would the typical Southern white family need to buy? Would it be pianos and dresses, pots and pans? Highly doubtful it would be medicines since the art of medicine was rather primitive back then.
When economic conditions are right a Merchant Marine can appear literally over night I.e. the ACW and 1920s alcohol proibition .
If Southern white families were really that upset about tarriff's then smuggling is an almost risk free alternative.
As far as a small manufacturing base goes better a state subsidized factory then a ruinous war.
I agree tarriff's had nothing serious to do with secession. A bare majority of the Southern population wanted a new nation to preserve and expand slavery.
Leftyhunter
Actually, the federal tariff had long been a source of controversy between the north and south decades before the Civil War even began. For instance, the Tariff of 1828 was a protective tariff passed by Congress in order to protect industry in the northern USA. The manufacturing based economy in the north was suffering from low-priced goods imported from abroad and the tariff was used to protect domestic industry by taxing goods from Europe. However, the southern states ended up having to pay more for goods imported from Europe as a result of the protective tariff. In addition, the south was also harmed because reducing the exportation of European goods to the USA would make it more difficult for foreign merchants to pay for the cotton they needed to import. This is because foreign merchants earn less profit as a result of a protective tariff that is imposed. As a result, they will have less money to spend on exports in order to balance the decrease in imports. It is for these reasons that the southern states were opposed to protectionist tariffs because of the undue burden it put on their economy. The Tariff of 1828 was called the “Tariff of Abominations” and was vehemently opposed by the southern states. Furthermore, opposition to this particular tariff even led to the Nullification Crisis in South Carolina.
 
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leftyhunter

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Actually, the federal tariff had long been a source of controversy between the north and south decades before the Civil War even began. For instance, the Tariff of 1828 was a protective tariff passed by Congress in order to protect industry in the northern USA. The manufacturing based economy in the north was suffering from low-priced goods imported from abroad and the tariff was used to protect domestic industry by taxing goods from Europe. However, the southern states ended up having to pay more for goods imported from Europe as a result of the protective tariff. In addition, the south was also harmed because reducing the exportation of European goods to the USA would make it more difficult for foreign merchants to pay for the cotton they needed to import. This is because foreign merchants earn less profit as a result of a protective tariff that is imposed. As a result, they will have less money to spend on exports in order to balance the decrease in imports. It is for these reasons that the southern states were opposed to protectionist tariffs because of the undue burden it put on their economy. The Tariff of 1828 was called the “Tariff of Abominations” and was vehemently opposed by the southern states. Furthermore, opposition to this particular tariff even led to the Nullification Crisis in South Carolina.
Interesting but if tarriff's were truly such a burden and imported goods such a necessity to Southern white families then as @John Fenton noted above why was President Jefferson Davis ok with a six month embargo on foreign trade?
It still begs the question that if foreign goods are so vital to Southern white families then it would of behoved the Southern states to subsidize local factories rather then the far more expensive alternative of war.
We still don't know exactly what foreign imports were so vital to Southern white families that it was worth the risk of war.
Leftyhunter
 

John Fenton

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For instance, the Tariff of 1828 was a protective tariff passed by Congress in order to protect industry in the northern USA.
The Tariff of 1828 was called the “Tariff of Abominations” and was vehemently opposed by the southern states.
And yet it was their own Jacksonian trickery that bit them and brought the bill to a vote at all.

The Southern members united with the Jackson men from the North, and between them they secured the passage of the resolution asked by the committee [committee on manufactures]. The debate and vote on the resolution sounded the key-note of the events of the session. They showed that the Jackson men from the South and the North, though opposed to each other on the tariff question, were yet united as against the Adams men.

On January 31st, the committee presented a report and a draft of a tariff bill, which showed that they had determined on a new plan, and an ingenious one. What that plan was, Calhoun explained very frankly nine years later, in a speech reviewing the events of 1828 and defending the course taken by himself and his Southern fellow-members. A high-tariff bill was to be laid before the House. It was to contain not only a high general range of duties, but duties especially high on those raw materials on which New England wanted the duties to be low. It was to satisfy the protective demands of the Western and Middle States, and at the same time to be obnoxious to the New England members. The Jackson men of all shades, the protectionists from the North and the free-traders from the South, were to unite in preventing any amendments; that bill, and no other, was to be voted on. When the final vote came, the Southern men were to turn around and vote against their own measure. The New England men, and the Adams men in general, would be unable to swallow it, and would also vote against it. Combined, they would prevent its passage, even though the Jackson men from the North voted for it. The result expected was that no tariff bill at all would be passed during the session, which was the object of the Southern wing of the opposition On the other hand, the obloquy of defeating it would be cast on the Adams party, which was the object of the Jacksonians of the North. The tariff bill would be defeated, and yet the Jackson men would be able to parade as the true “friends of domestic industry.”

The bill by which this ingenious solution of the difficulties of the opposition was to be reached, was reported to the House on January 31st by the committee on manufactures. To the surprise of its authors, it was eventually passed both by House and Senate, and became, with a few unessential changes, the tariff act of 1828.

https://teachingamericanhistory.org/library/document/the-tariff-history-of-the-united-states-part-i/
 

matthew mckeon

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Tariffs could be adjusted within the Constitutional framework, and were. Slavery, especially the spread of slavery into the western territories, could not be.

If people are arguing the secession was prompted by economic motives, i.e. the tariffs, why can't they understand that slavery was a thousand times more important economic fact than the tariff? If secessionists were so sensitive about the almost meaningless tariff, which they had the means to control in Congress, but not moved by the Republican policy of restricting the expansion of slavery from the western territories?

Especially since the secessionists practically grabbed people by the lapels and screamed, "We seceding because of slavery!"
 
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matthew mckeon

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And not for nothing, Henry Clay was obviously right about using the tariff system to encourage and protect American industry. When the war came, the North, with its industry and infrastructure, was in a far better place to fight than the South,stuck with trying to run foreign goods through the blockade or improvise on the fly.
 

wausaubob

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And not for nothing, Henry Clay was obviously right about using the tariff system to encourage and protect American industry. When the war came, the North, with its industry and infrastructure, was in a far better place to fight than the South,stuck with trying to run foreign goods through the blockade or improvise on the fly.
And the reasons Clay was right, in the case of a dispute with a European power, domestic production will be required to sustain the US, and the British were strongly in favor of dumping excess production on the US, distributing the cost over their large volume, and putting US mills out of business. Clay had the British pegged correctly.
 

John Fenton

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While researching something else i ran across a paper on profitability of manufacturing and industry vs cotton cultivation. I failed to bookmark it so if anybody has info please post links.

what i read was that northern manufacturing and industry [not just textile mills ] was more profitable than cotton cultivation. That migration and population increases along with tools, transportation, and mechanization in the north and west promoted industry more than cotton. That the wealth of the north was more diffused and diversified and produced more profit with, in most cases, less risk.
It stated that the cotton market and the industrial revolution would have happened without slavery and asked why the south refused to accept the new paradigm. The only answer was stubborn southerners firmly entrenched by culture and society.
the industrial might of the north came from innovation and productiveness of northern capitalists to provide for any market using free skilled and unskilled wage labor.
the conclusion was that the south could have had it’s cotton empire and the industrial revolution at the same time
without slavery and made more profits, have more control over prices, been more diversified and secure, and been more self sufficient.
cotton affected southerners like gold affected the 49ers and it has often been said the fortunes made in the gold fields were not made by the prospector but the man who outfitted the prospector . ??
 
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wausaubob

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While researching something else i ran across a paper on profitability of manufacturing and industry vs cotton cultivation. I failed to bookmark it so if anybody has info please post links.

what i read was that northern manufacturing and industry [not just textile mills ] was more profitable than cotton cultivation. That migration and population increases along with tools, transportation, and mechanization in the north and west promoted industry more than cotton. That the wealth of the north was more diffused and diversified and produced more profit with, in most cases, less risk.
It stated that the cotton market and the industrial revolution would have happened without slavery and asked why the south refused to accept the new paradigm. The only answer was stubborn southerners firmly entrenched by culture and society.
the industrial might of the north came from innovation and productiveness of northern capitalists to provide for any market using free skilled and unskilled wage labor.
the conclusion was that the south could have had it’s cotton empire and the industrial revolution at the same time
without slavery and made more profits, have more control over prices, been more diversified and secure, and been more self sufficient.
cotton affected southerners like gold affected the 49ers and it has often been said the fortunes made in the gold fields were not made by the prospector but the man who outfitted the prospector . ??
Cotton was their white whale. And they became mystified by whiteness. And as Ahab pursued the white whale to his destruction, and took all but Ishmael with him to a watery grave, so the cotton growers pursued whiteness beyond any commercial purpose.
 

wausaubob

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And not for nothing, Henry Clay was obviously right about using the tariff system to encourage and protect American industry. When the war came, the North, with its industry and infrastructure, was in a far better place to fight than the South,stuck with trying to run foreign goods through the blockade or improvise on the fly.
Clay was advocating an industrial base that would have been immune from blockade. And if successful, the US would not be obligated to protect a mercantile empire. Instead the US could trade without dependence on any specific route.
 

leftyhunter

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Clay was advocating an industrial base that would have been immune from blockade. And if successful, the US would not be obligated to protect a mercantile empire. Instead the US could trade without dependence on any specific route.
Interestingly enough has @Saphroneth has pointed out in past threads the US was not self sufficient at least terms of mass production of muzzle loading rifles. The US bought tens of thousands of ML's from mostly the UK and the Austrian Empire. The US built most of it's own naval ships but did purchase a submersible craft from France the "Alligator" although it was sunk in transit.
Not sure if the Union imported some artillery. I seem to recall @Sa****eth mention that the US had some initial problems being self sufficient in black powder production.
Arguably the first war where the US was self sufficient in military production was the Spanish American War.
The Confederacy had partial success in being self sufficient in weaponry.
Leftyhunter



Q
 
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wausaubob

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Interestingly enough has @Saproneth has pointed out in past threads the US was not self sufficient at least terms of mass production of muzzle loading rifles. The US bought tens of thousands of ML's from mostly the UK and the Austrian Empire. The US built most of it's own naval ships but did purchase a submersible craft from France the "Alligator" although it was sunk in transit.
Not sure if the Union imported some artillery. I seem to recall @Sa****eth mention that the US had some initial problems being self sufficient in black powder production.
Arguably the first war where the US was self sufficient in military production was the Spanish American War.
The Confederacy had partial success in being self sufficient in weaponry.

They imported the weapons because they could, and because their purchases bid up the price for the Confederates.
The domestic economy was big enough to manufacture firearms and to expand non imported sources of nitre.
 
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