The Real Cause of the Civil War: In 1860, Southern Plantation Owners owed $1 billion+ to NY Banks

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#41
For 150 years, Southerners have clung to 'The Cause' of States Rights for why the Civil War was fought. In an attempt to rewrite history and thus promote their 'righteousness', even some Neo-Confederates on this forum and elsewhere continue their propaganda of "The Civil War wasn't fought over slavery." Not only was the Civil War all about the struggle to free the African-American slaves, Southerners have attempted to mute how the Rebels never took black Union soldiers prisoner - they were always ruthlessly shot! Furthermore, the real reason for the Southern Secession movement has been effectively kept out of the history books. In 1860, Southern plantation owners were greatly in debt to New York City banks to the tune of over $1 billion dollars! That was a HUGE amount of money back then and no matter how much cotton they sold, they could never pay it back. The plantation owners figured if they could get the Southern States leaders to secede, then they wouldn't have to repay their debts. Wow! I was never taught that in school; you won't find that 'little fact' in a college textbook, battlefield park gift shop or History Channel program.

The combined worth of the African slaves in the Southern States was greater than all the other combined wealth in the United States. Yes, money and greed were the real cause of the Civil War but that wouldn't get hundreds of thousands of Southern men to fight and maybe die for that! So the slave owners' propaganda was "States rights and no Northerners coming down here and telling us how to live!"

Have you heard of anything more evil? Of course, the Northern bankers were also at fault. Their lending practices forced the plantation owners to take drastic actions! It's time to write the truth in the history books.
RE: Not only was the Civil War all about the struggle to free the African-American slaves, Southerners have attempted to mute how the Rebels never took black Union soldiers prisoner - they were always ruthlessly shot!

This is not true. There is reason to believe that black soldiers were disproportionately targeted for violence by Confederate soldiers. However, black soldiers were taken prisoner. The CSA policy was to return them to their masters. If they could not be identified to a master, they were used a laborers or sent to prison.

RE: The combined worth of the African slaves in the Southern States was greater than all the other combined wealth in the United States.

What is your proof of this? This had been discussed on this board, but I am too lazy to search for it right now. My recollection is that in the slave states, slave chattel as an asset class had more value than real estate or farm land or railroads or any other group of assets... but not more than all of them combined.

If you have proof of this, could you please present it?

RE: In 1860, Southern plantation owners were greatly in debt to New York City banks to the tune of over $1 billion dollars! That was a HUGE amount of money back then and no matter how much cotton they sold, they could never pay it back. The plantation owners figured if they could get the Southern States leaders to secede, then they wouldn't have to repay their debts.

I find this argument to be incredible. Let's stipulate that farm owners did owe a large amount of dent to the banks. That does not mean that they wanted to repudiate it through secession.

Let's do a thought experiment. Let's say that instead of Lincoln being elected president, one of his opponents - say pro-slavery Democrat John Breckenridge - was elected. Would there have been secession? I doubt it.

It is true that after the war started, the CSA sought to "repudiate" their debts to the North in general. In her book From Property to Person: Slavery and the Confiscation Acts 1861-1862, (p 42-43), Silvana Siddali says that:

On April 26, Georgia governor Joseph E. Brown issued an order repudiating all northern debts. Henceforth, no Georgian was to pay any debts owed to northern merchants, but instead was to deposit the funds in the Georgia state treasury... According to the New York Times, Georgians owed millions of dollars to northern bankers... (the money was to be held in an interest bearing escrow account)... the Times sneered that the debts would not be paid... until "the crack of doom." The real crime, according the New York Times, was not that the debts themselves had been repudiated, but that the money was would be paid to the Confederate treasury... (this was) outright theft...

From the beginning of April through early summer, similar action occurred in other seceded states (TN, FL, MS, AR)... On May 21, 1861, the Confederate Congress passed a law that required southern debtors to pay all moneys due to northern creditors to the Confederate treasury.​

The idea I get is that Confederates did not to want eliminate all debts per se, but to put financial pressure on banks and other creditors to lobby Union officials to end the war on terms favorable to the Confederacy.

If southerners were to repudiate all of their debts, the question arises: where do they go to borrow money later on? They would lose all creditworthiness after that.

- Alan
 

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#42
Yes; the earliest mention of it was in an Italian-language pamphlet by the poet Ezra Pound... in 1944. Pound - though an American - was still broadcasting for the in exile Roman fascists at the time. Pound was a deranged anti-semite and fascist who was eventually indicted for treason. The conspiracy theory goes that the war was started to protect the banks (run by a big conspiracy of Jews, of course), and that they then had Lincoln killed because they thought he'd be too soft on the debtors.
Wait, what? Ezra Pound was an anti-Semite? Thanks for ruining him for me...I'll never read his poetry again :cry:
 
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#43
Wait, what? Ezra Pound was an anti-Semite? Thanks for ruining him for me...I'll never read his poetry again :cry:
The poetry is still good even if Pound was a fruitcake. Look him up on Wikipedia, the whole story of his support for the fascists and subsequent imprisonment is an interesting one.
 
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#45
Yeah, but aren't we supposed to judge people on the content of their character?
Yes, but it's not necessary to judge the work by the man who did it. This is different from the case of someone like Mel Gibson who is still alive to profit from his work - Ezra Pound has nothing to gain or lose by you boycotting his poetry.

As far as Ezra Pound's character, he seems to be have been mentally ill. It's difficult to say how much of his actions were his own responsibility and how much were his illness, and fortunately we don't have to judge him, since he's dead. At this point it's between him and God.
 

jgoodguy

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#46
I doubt very much whether the desire to cancel debt was in the heads of the secessionists. Naturally being indebted to Northern bankers did not engender much in the way of loyalty to the free states, but if they thought about it, they would still need a loan next season. Then again, the secession sentiment of 1860/61 was not known for forward thinking.
The big financial interest of the Southerners would have been to cut the Yanks out of the intermediary financial services of selling cotton and deal directly with England. How much would take a bit of research but it would have been a source of discontentment driving independence.
 

kevikens

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#47
It's difficult to respond to the OP because so much was thrown into the original posting from poets to prisoners to pecuniary interests but I think the main thrust was the indebtedness. That same charge was made by British merchants at the time of the Revolution, that is, the rebellion was orchestrated by debtors trying to escape their debts, though in the British case it was to individual merchants rather than the Bank of England. I have no doubt that the Southern repudiation of debts to Northern banks or merchants was a kind of fringe benefit for Rebels but it was hardly a concern to the average Rebel in either 1775 or 1861. As a cause of secession I would rank it at number 43 right behind getting rid of filthy, greasy mechanics and just ahead of discrediting moon struck theorists.

After the Revolution the British went to great lengths to recover those debts but as far as I know Northern banks and merchants in 1865 just wrote off these pre war debts as uncollectable. The Southern banking industry had been nullified into oblivion by then and the individual debtors, if they were alive, were likely to be impoverished. Interesting, but hardly a matter to have been "hidden" by conspirators attempting to bury the truth.
 

jgoodguy

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#53
If slavery had not existed, do you still think there would have been a Civil War? I'm thinking, "no."
Slavery provided the primary reason, it fueled secession for financial, political and social reasons and provided the impetus for secession. Subtract out the kick the can down the road Constitutional convention, the concept of States Rights, the rise of Cotton, the Fire Eaters, John Brown, the splitting of the Democrat party, the Abolitionists, Douglas greed plus his presidential ambitions and the Civil War becomes doubtful. It was a cascade of reasons/failures. Slavery was the 800 pound gorilla in the room and the system being unable to control it brought the US to civil war.

I know that slavery is down every rabbit hole, but there is a heck of a lot of rabbit holes.
 

Billy Yank

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#54
Slavery provided the primary reason, it fueled secession for financial, political and social reasons and provided the impetus for secession. Subtract out the kick the can down the road Constitutional convention, the concept of States Rights, the rise of Cotton, the Fire Eaters, John Brown, the splitting of the Democrat party, the Abolitionists, Douglas greed plus his presidential ambitions and the Civil War becomes doubtful. It was a cascade of reasons/failures. Slavery was the 800 pound gorilla in the room and the system being unable to control it brought the US to civil war.

I know that slavery is down every rabbit hole, but there is a heck of a lot of rabbit holes.
Thanks for the reply, Gen. goodguy. Frankly though, I prefer simplification.
 
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#59
Yes, but it's not necessary to judge the work by the man who did it. This is different from the case of someone like Mel Gibson who is still alive to profit from his work - Ezra Pound has nothing to gain or lose by you boycotting his poetry.

As far as Ezra Pound's character, he seems to be have been mentally ill. It's difficult to say how much of his actions were his own responsibility and how much were his illness, and fortunately we don't have to judge him, since he's dead. At this point it's between him and God.
Yeah, I guess you're right. In every genius there is a little madness. Please forgive me.
 
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#60
The idea I get is that Confederates did not to want eliminate all debts per se, but to put financial pressure on banks and other creditors to lobby Union officials to end the war on terms favorable to the Confederacy.

If southerners were to repudiate all of their debts, the question arises: where do they go to borrow money later on? They would lose all creditworthiness after that.

- Alan
I don't think that there was any intention by the Confederates to return the money, any more than they intended to return the money taken from the U.S. Mint in New Orleans. According to Daniel W. Hamilton, writing about the Sequestration Act of 1861,

In the South there was near ideological consensus on the legal basis for seizing Union property. The United States was an enemy belligerent whose property was, at international law, subject to permanent confiscation during war. [The Limits of Sovereignty pg. 119, emphasis added]​

Georgia governor Joseph E. Brown's order placing the money into an escrow account matches what was done in the case of the New Orleans mint, where the money was taken by the state government but later turned over to the Confederate government. Brown didn't intend to keep the money, but that doesn't mean he was contemplating returning it to the Northern creditors.

The Sequestration Act was initially praised in the popular press as a just and necessary retaliatory measure. There was widespread fear and anger over the resort to confiscation by the North and high hopes that sequestration would offset the loss of property to what was depicted as a voracious Union confiscation program. The business community, however, opposed the act as harmful to commerce and devastating to partnerships owned jointly by Northerners and Southerners. [ibid. pg. 122]​

I think that Confederate ideal was be to be the dominant nation in North America, with the remnant of the United States given the clear understanding that the United States was free to do what it wanted only to the extent it refrained from doing anything that annoyed the Confederacy. So the Sequestration Act wasn't just about money; it was also part of a contest to determine whether the Confederacy or the United States would be the dominant nation in North America. It was a way of saying, "I can step on your toes, and I won't let you step on mine." Business interests were secondary to winning that conflict.
 

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