The Real Cause of Secession

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wausaubob

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I doubt the secessionists had any genuine concern for the cotton industry. Its true that US demand for textiles had dipped in 1857, but the US economy was recovering by 1860.
In addition, there were productivity gains spreading, like the development of sewing machines that would have cut the cost of garment production.
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Once there would have been 1M sewing machines in the north, every city and town would have multiple seamstresses at work.
The US population was growing and becoming more urbanized, so the conditions for increased consumption of textiles were established.
It was the social/political aspect of slavery that was protected by secession.
With respect to the cotton industry, secession was a very bad remedy.
Recovering economy, decrease in cost of a complimentary input, growing and urbanizing population, everything was set.
The US producers might have even achieved volume levels that would have allowed them to compete at least in the western hemisphere.
 

CW Buff

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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.
Define controversy. After the Nullification crisis, the tariff issue was not much of a controversy. As determined by this study, which assessed actual congressional voting records, one third of Southern congressmen joined with two thirds of Northerners to support tariffs, and one third of Northerners joined with two thirds of Southerners to oppose tariffs. Can you imagine that degree of cooperation between, say, political parties today. It doesn’t get much less controversial than that. At worst, it demonstrates a mild sectional bias.

the tariff was used to protect domestic industry by taxing goods from Europe.
Yes. Agricultural industries as well as manufacturing industries. That's one reason why one third of southerners supported them. And all nations protected their economies in this way.

View attachment 342014View attachment 341995

Protective tariffs were just smart economic policy.
 
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CW Buff

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Furthermore, opposition to this particular tariff even led to the Nullification Crisis in South Carolina.
And how did that go for Calhoun & Co? No other Southern state joined SC. President Jackson (a Southerner) issued his proclamation declaring the actions of SC "subversive of the US Constitution," offering cutting logic that proved Calhoun's nullification theory an "absudity," identifying the Constitution as a "social compact" in which "each State . . . expressly parted with so many powers as to constitute jointly with the other States a single nation" rather than "a league between independent States who have preserved their whole sovereignty," pegging unilateral secession as a "revolutionary act" disguised to "deceive those who are willing to assert a right, but would pause before they made a revolution, or incur the penalties consequent upon a failure," and pointing out his duty to preserve the Union.

The Tariff of 1828 was called the “Tariff of Abominations” and was vehemently opposed by the southern states.
And to further demonstrate the cross-sectional nature of protective tariffs, Calhoun & Co. allied with New England merchant interests to make the Tariff of Abominations so abominable, a tactic designed to defeat any increase in tariffs. NE merchants opposed high tariffs because they stymied trade. Calhoun & Co. had their own peculiar interest in mind:

"I consider the tariff act as the occasion, rather than the real cause of the present unhappy state of things. The truth can no longer be disguised, that the peculiar domestick institution of the Southern States and the consequent direction which that and her soil and climate have given to her industry, has placed them in regard to taxation and appropriations in opposite relation to the majority of the Union, against the danger of which, if there be no protective power in the reserved rights of the states they must in the end be forced to rebel, or, submit it to have their paramount interests sacrificed, their domestick institutions subordinated by Colonization and other schemes, and themselves and children reduced to wretchedness. Thus situated, the denial of the right to the State to interpose constitutionally in the last resort, more alarms the thinking, than all the other causes; and however strange it may appear, the more universally the state is condemned, and her right denied, the more resolute she is to assert her constitutional powers lest the neglect to assert should be considered a practical abandonment of them, under such circumstances." – John C. Calhoun, September, 1830

So, even when tariffs were at their most controversial, it was still about slavery.

But Calhoun was wrong. The states did not have any reserved rights or unilateral powers over the Union. Interposition, nullification, or secession, it didn't matter. Madison, the author of one of the works Calhoun depended on to develop his theories, would point out Calhoun's error in several letters written at that time.

There's a great deal of irony in Calhoun's statement. It would be Calhoun's rebellion that would reduce the South to wretchedness. It was unilateral secession that represented the unacceptable danger (to the Union). And it would be the sovereign people of the US that would eventually "assert [their] constitutional powers lest the neglect to assert should be considered a practical abandonment of them, under such circumstances."
 

CW Buff

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In regards to Texas, the complaints regarding inadequate protection along the frontier were included in their secession documents.
Exactly. That was only in one of four declarations, so that was not a unifying cause for the secessionists. And neither was tariffs. Only one issue could have provoked 11 states to secede. Did the Upper South understand what secession was all about. If so, and secession was about multiple issues, then what were they thinking when they hammered out compromises like Crittenden's Compromise and the compromise of the Peace Conference. Those compromises dealt with one issue: slavery. Even Davis's Feb. 1860 resolutions, a uniquely Southern view of compromise, dealt with only one issue. Secession was about preserving slavery.

Furthermore, the south didn't go to war because of tariffs but because they had declared their independence from the Union.
It's amazing that anyone would even try to dissociate the war from secession in this manner. As indicated previously, Calhoun tried to flasely suggest a state right/power that simply did not exist. His alternatives, unilateral interposition or rebellion, were one in the same. And regardless, as he indicated, the whole point was the South's peculiar institution. The example was established during the Nullification Crisis. Interposition, nullification, and secession were all revolutionary acts. A president has the duty to preserve the Union. Rebellion meant war. The Confederates went to war for the same reason they seceded: slavery.
 
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wausaubob

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Exactly. That was only in one of four declarations, so that was not a unifying cause for the secessionists. And neither was tariffs. Only one issue could have provoked 11 states to secede. Did the Upper South understand what secession was all about. If so, and secession was about multiple issues, then what were they thinking when they hammered out compromises like Crittenden's Compromise and the compromise of the Peace Conference. Those compromises dealt with one issue: slavery. Even Davis's Feb. 1860 resolutions, a uniquely Southern view of compromise, dealt with only one issue. Secession was about preserving slavery.



It's amazing that anyone would even try to dissociate the war from secession in this manner. As indicated previously, Calhoun tried to flasely suggest a state right/power that simply did not exist. His alternatives, unilateral interposition or rebellion, were one in the same. And regardless, as he indicated, the whole point was the South's peculiar institution. The example was established during the Nullification Crisis. Interposition, nullification, and secession were all revolutionary acts. A president has the duty to preserve the Union. Rebellion meant war. The Confederates went to war for the same reason they seceded: slavery.
https://www.essentialcivilwarcurriculum.com/tariffs-and-the-american-civil-war.html Even when the southern Democrats were back in power in the south after the Civil War, and regained the Presidency under Grover Cleveland, the high tariff regime remained in place.
The US a whole conceded almost all Civil Rights issues to the south, but never conceded on the high tariff system. Thus if that was the main issue behind secession, they decidedly lost.
The 7 cotton states perceived themselves as a coastal community specializing in exports. The Midwestern states, including Missouri and Kentucky, were internal improvement states, benefiting from levees, lock systems, canals and faster railroads. The reason the secessionists lost on tariff issues was that too many politicians were aware of the voting power of PA workers and the economic power of the emerging industrialists.
 

wausaubob

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The additional problem with secession as a remedy for a high tariff regime is that makes southern cotton and Louisiana sugar imports in the US. In that situation the US can go after these commodities directly, and tax British imports of the same commodities.
As a Newark newspaper commented in April 1861 before the declaration of hostilities, the US only as elect customs stations on a limited number of places on the Chesapeake, Potomac, Kentucky/Tennessee border, and the Mississippi River to stop lower tariff goods from coming from the Confederacy into the US.
If the Confederacy starts a low tariff war, tobacco growers in Virginia and Kentucky, and sugar producers in Louisiana are going to quickly find themselves on the wrong side of that tariff wall. Iron producers in Virginia and Tennessee are not going to be reliable free trade advocates, either.
Neither pork or coal producers in Kentucky are going to want to be walled off from Cincinnati. People in Louisville definitely do not want all traffic from Pittsburgh to St. Louis by rail.
 

Potomac Pride

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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
The southern states were not “okay” with the federal blockade of ports during the war. The blockade eventually ruined the Southern economy and severely reduced imports of food, medicine, war materials, manufactured goods, and other items that eventually resulted in critical shortages and inflation. Shortages of bread eventually led to bread riots in cities such as Richmond VA.

The southern economy was based on agricultural and had a very small manufacturing base. In fact, northern factories provided 90% of the industrial goods produced in the country before the war. Therefore, the southern states depended on the importation of goods from overseas or from the northern states for the manufactured items they needed. The overemphasis on agriculture resulted in a lack of diversification in the southern economy and was a deterrent to industrial development.
 
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wausaubob

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Starting a Civil War to escape a corrupt and burdensome tariff regime is like throwing a can of gasoline into a burning house. It gives the tariff proponents a chance to create a blockade, and creates an incredible incentive for the textile industry advocates to get the US to capture a domestic cotton area to supply US cotton.
On the other hand, its a way to win friends and influence people in London.
 

leftyhunter

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The southern states were not “okay” with the federal blockade of ports during the war. The blockade eventually ruined the Southern economy and severely reduced imports of food, medicine, war materials, manufactured goods, and other items that eventually resulted in critical shortages and inflation. Shortages of bread eventually led to bread riots in cities such as Richmond VA.

The southern economy was based on agricultural and had a very small manufacturing base. In fact, northern factories provided 90% of the industrial goods produced in the country before the war. Therefore, the southern states depended on the importation of goods from overseas or from the northern states for the manufactured items they needed. The overemphasis on agriculture resulted in a lack of diversification in the southern economy and was a deterrent to industrial development.
All of the above is true but my point was that President Davis insisted on a six month foreign trade embargo when the ACW started in order to force West European countries to recognize the CSA. Therefore the CSA could live at least temporarily without foreign trade.
It's not the North's fault that Southern states didn't invest in industrialization.
We still don't know why supposedly foreign goods were so vital to the South that is was worth dying for.
It would of been much less costly for the Southern states to subsidize industrial development then to fight a war to end tarriff's.
Leftyhunter
 

leftyhunter

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Starting a Civil War to escape a corrupt and burdensome tariff regime is like throwing a can of gasoline into a burning house. It gives the tariff proponents a chance to create a blockade, and creates an incredible incentive for the textile industry advocates to get the US to capture a domestic cotton area to supply US cotton.
On the other hand, its a way to win friends and influence people in London.
Which didn't quite happen. Yes there was political support among some English politicians for Confederate independence but not enough to do any good. Yes the British were willing to sell weapons to the Confederacy but that was offset by also selling weapons to the Union.
Leftyhunter
 
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Potomac Pride

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All of the above is true but my point was that President Davis insisted on a six month foreign trade embargo when the ACW started in order to force West European countries to recognize the CSA. Therefore the CSA could live at least temporarily without foreign trade.
It's not the North's fault that Southern states didn't invest in industrialization.
We still don't know why supposedly foreign goods were so vital to the South that is was worth dying for.
It would of been much less costly for the Southern states to subsidize industrial development then to fight a war to end tarriff's.
Leftyhunter
Please read the section of my last post that discusses the critical shortages of items caused by the federal blockade that ruined the southern economy during the war if you want to know what foreign goods were important to the south.
 

thomas aagaard

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Please read the section of my last post that discusses the critical shortages of items caused by the federal blockade that ruined the southern economy during the war if you want to know what foreign goods were important to the south.
You can't use the imports during the war as evidence on what was imported before the war.

For one thing, large numbers of guns, cartridges and other military equipment was not something the south imported from Europe before the war, but did during the war.

And there will be a lot of other things that was simply produced in the north and then sold to consumers in the south. That they after the war broke out had to get from Europe.

If you want to know what was importer prewar, you need to find actual prewar numbers for it.
 

Rhea Cole

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The demand for cotton increased not because of the cotton gin but because the Brit and northern textile industry. The cotton gin just made cotton production more efficient, it had nothing to do with demand. Textile companies wanted cotton or they didn't want it, in spite of the cotton gin not because of it. You have it backwards, the cotton gin increased the demand for both land and slave labor, not for cotton. All it did was reduce the labor for removing seeds.

No, the wealth it generated only contributed to 5-6% of the U.S GDP, which was already stated and it clearly shows that 5-6% of the National GDP was not much to brag about. Prove how the south's so-called wealth was actually converted

Egypt and India had little to do with it, the demand that shifted from cotton to Midwest grain was the primary culprit. The cotton demand lowered by 4% per year the 4 decades that followed the Civil War than the 4 decades prior to the CW.

Correlate the above-mentioned demand causation with emancipation which made cotton production less efficient. Sharecropping was not remotely as efficient as slavery, at least by 30% less efficient. Sharecropping had too many people chasing one commodity which clearly devalued it, along with overextending cotton acreage like wausaubob mentioned, deflation crept in.

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=2ahUKEwii3LWn75blAhUKA6wKHWlDA3sQFjAAegQIABAB&url=https://www.jstor.org/stable/2951109&usg=AOvVaw2eVt55_4RdKO4oNy2TPlDm
I don't think you have grasped the effect that the cotton gin had on cotton production. google impact of the cotton gin on world cotton supply. 4,070,000 references later, it becomes evident that while the cotton gin did reduce the labor associated with cleaning cotton, it exponentially increased the demand for slaves to plant, cultivate, pick & land to plant the cotton that the new market demanded. Refer to the chart I posted in this thread to see the impact that demand for slave labor had on the economy of the South.
 
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leftyhunter

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Please read the section of my last post that discusses the critical shortages of items caused by the federal blockade that ruined the southern economy during the war if you want to know what foreign goods were important to the south.
I reread your post. Virginia grew it's own wheat plus wheat could be bought tarriff free since it was a domestic product. We can't blame the embargo on wheat riots in Richmond.
We can blame Southern senator's for not being in session to vote down the Morel Tarriff's.
Just how vital was imported foodstuffs to the antebellum South anyway? The US was more then self sufficient in food.
Logically it seems rather counter productive to go to war over historically low tarriff's when it would of been far cheaper to invest in industrial self sufficency.
Leftyhunter
 

lurid

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I don't think you have grasped the effect that the cotton gin had on cotton production. google impact of the cotton gin on world cotton supply. 4,070,000 references later, it becomes evident that while the cotton gin did reduce the labor associated with cleaning cotton, it exponentially increased the demand for slaves to plant, cultivate, pick & land to plant the cotton that the new market demanded. Refer to the chart I posted in this thread to see the impact that demand for slave labor had on the economy of the South.
I don't think you remotely understand what I previously stated. Not one bit of it. I specifically said there had to be a demand for cotton FIRST, then there was a demand for slavery SECOND. Not vice versa. You specifically stated that the cotton gin created a demand for cotton, and did not. Go re-read my posts, #637 to be exact.

Below is my first paragraph in post #637. Where in the world did get you posted in this post? I specifically stated that the cotton gin increased the demand for slaves. You believe that the cotton gin increased a demand for cotton, and did not.

The demand for cotton increased not because of the cotton gin but because the Brit and northern textile industry. The cotton gin just made cotton production more efficient, it had nothing to do with demand. Textile companies wanted cotton or they didn't want it, in spite of the cotton gin not because of it. You have it backwards, the cotton gin increased the demand for both land and slave labor, not for cotton. All it did was reduce the labor for removing seeds.

Here's what you posted in #635:

The answer to that is very much in the record. Before the cotton gin, it took 8 hours to clean 1 pound of cotton. The blood & tears that my granddaughters shed cleaning enough cotton to stuff two tiny rag dolls left me thinking that 8 hours was optimistic. Mr. Whitney's simple wooden box with a crank outside & a couple of combed wheels inside made cotton a marketable commodity. Demand & production of cotton rose exponentially. The wealth it generated is almost impossible to credit. During the four years of the Civil War, the world market changed forever.

You have it backward. The Brits and northern factories needed and raised the cotton demand because they had a market to distribute cotton made commodities. The cotton gin did not create that market, it made raw cotton producing more efficient. You alluding or just flat out claiming that the cotton gin increased the demand for cotton. That's absurd. I did increase the demand for slaves, like I stated.
 
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lurid

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Please read the section of my last post that discusses the critical shortages of items caused by the federal blockade that ruined the southern economy during the war if you want to know what foreign goods were important to the south.
The south inflicted the trauma first with their embargo. Kind of like self-flagellation.
 
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lurid

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Can anyone on this board discern between the demand for cotton and the demand for slaves? Does anyone realize there had to be a demand for cotton FIRST, then the demand for slaves followed SECOND? The cotton gin did not create a demand for cotton, it created a demand for slaves while the demand for cotton was high. Can anyone correct or agree with this in a plausible argument?
 

Potomac Pride

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Once again, the south did not go to war over tariffs but because it had declared its independence from the Union. War and secession are different things. When the south bombarded Ft. Sumter in April 1861, they did so because they had declared their independence from the Union and demanded that the fort be abandoned which the Union refused. The CSA viewed the occupation of the fort by federal forces to be a violation of sovereignty.
 
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