The Slave States Seceded to Protect Slavery--The Rest is Baloney

matthew mckeon

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#1
Recently we have had some new threads deeply, deeply concerned with deeply important Constitutional issues.

The discussion offers fluffy puffs of quite classy rhetoric. Real intellectual like, with some impressive book larnin.' Even the insults are more elevated then usual.

Very abstract, cerebral, erudite. And also completely irrelevant and non historical.

Because its dry. The causes of secession were wet.
 

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matthew mckeon

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#2
The causes of secession: the sweat of slaves at work in the fields, the spray of blood from the lash that drove them to higher and higher levels of production, the tears of families tore apart, were wet.

The cause of secession wasn't airy, intangible discussions of abstracts. It was heavy: the tons of cotton bales piled on the decks of steamboats, the weight of iron chains, piles of coins in a cashbox.
 

matthew mckeon

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#3
It wasn't intellectual, it was emotional, connected with the most basic emotional drives in human beings.

The dream of freedom: freedom to strike, to exploit, to dominate, to rape and to kill at whim.
The dream of respect and wealth.
The dream of Fear: that without the chains of slavery that a reckoning would come, an apocalyptical nightmare of fire and axes and knives and loosed black savages, so removed from the reality of the behavior of emancipated African Americans we can understand it as projection.
 
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#6
And despite this attempt at emotional persuasion that the cause of secession was slavery and slavery alone, when I look at the secession documents and the many, many writings and speeches of the secessionists, they bring up constitutional and historical issues frequently. I see no reason to disregard the 'dry' legal issues when they didn't, and when they clearly saw them as important.
 

Bee

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#7
The discussion offers fluffy puffs of quite classy rhetoric. Real intellectual like, with some impressive book larnin.' Even the insults are more elevated then usual.

Very abstract, cerebral, erudite. And also completely irrelevant and non historical.
You got part of it right. The rest - not so much.
 

matthew mckeon

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#8
Perhaps, but the purpose of the law is to put wet passions into dry legalese.
Who is putting what in dry "legalese?" That's not what's happening. We aren't really talking about laws. Some people are trying to gin up some respectability for the debased cause by throwing some postwar rhetoric about constitutionality over the bleeding carcass of slavery.
 

matthew mckeon

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#9
And despite this attempt at emotional persuasion that the cause of secession was slavery and slavery alone, when I look at the secession documents and the many, many writings and speeches of the secessionists, they bring up constitutional and historical issues frequently. I see no reason to disregard the 'dry' legal issues when they didn't, and when they clearly saw them as important.
I think if you remove slavery, the rest collapses like a suit of empty clothes. It comforts their descendants. It beguiles the people they led over the cliff. It justified further oppression.

But if you really look at what they were writing and speechifying in 1860, its slavery. How can one censor themselves to the point of missing 90-95% of the secession ordinances? That secession fever tracks to the percentage of slaves. And that the greater distance from slavery, the less apparent the justice of secession.

Or to put in another way: If George Washington descended from heaven, bearing Robert E. Lee in his arms, and proclaimed: "secession is not OK." If it was written in letters of fire on every copy of the Constitution, would it have delayed South Carolina for 5 minutes?

All the legalistic argle bargle. Its a way of avoiding reality. Every thug who gets arrested begins to complain about police brutality and his rights, but it doesn't change the fact he's got two dozen smartphones stuffed down the front of his pants.
 

19thGeorgia

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#11
The causes of secession: the sweat of slaves at work in the fields, the spray of blood from the lash that drove them to higher and higher levels of production, the tears of families tore apart, were wet.

The cause of secession wasn't airy, intangible discussions of abstracts. It was heavy: the tons of cotton bales piled on the decks of steamboats....
...and where did those cotton bales go?
 
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#12
Concerning Virginia in particular, I especially like this article on the subject:

--"Here we are in mid-April – three-and-a-half, four months have passed, and Virginia is still part of the United States. Virginia was really very uncomfortable about going with the South. It was a slave State. It was the largest of the slave holding states but it was very, very uncertain about the future of the Confederacy, and it was also uncertain about the future of a divided nation. After all, Virginia helped create the United States which was in response to the Articles of Confederation, which is what really the Confederacy amounted to in many respects.

And so this question of secession, leaving the Union, carving itself away from the Union, was not taken lightly. In fact, Virginia had voted on secession in previous months. It had voted it down. The state had a special secession convention. Delegates from each one of the counties went to the secession convention, representing the local folks back home. And time and again the vote was against secession. What changed it all? Why did they finally decide to cast their votes in favor of departure from the United States?

Well, really it was war, the outbreak of war. When Fort Sumter was fired upon by South Carolinians – and President Lincoln requested that all of those states still within the United States, contribute troops to squash the rebellion in the Southern States, that was too much. Virginia said: “Now, wait a minute, wait a minute. We can’t go fight our brothers in the South. We can argue against them. We can certainly disagree with them and their perspective on the new Confederacy.

But we can’t have Virginians wearing United States Army uniforms, and launching invasions into the South. And with that, the argument shifted ."--

Full link here:

http://civilwarscholars.com/2011/06/why-did-virginia-secede-dennis-frye/
 

matthew mckeon

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#13
...and where did those cotton bales go?
80% went to Great Britain.

But a huge amount went to a city near where I now live: Lowell, Mass. One of the products of these mills was a coarse demin like fabric called "negro cloth" sold in bolts to plantations for make clothes for slaves.

A modern economist would call it "synergy" if I'm using the term correctly.
 
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#14
I think if you remove slavery, the rest collapses like a suit of empty clothes.
I disagree. The Union was always a band aid holding together a bunch of disparate people, giving them a political forum with which to try and resolve differences rather than a battlefield. What's amazing is not that their society fractured, it's that it took so long for that to happen. Ask the New England secessionist movement, or South Carolina in 1832.

How can one censor themselves to the point of missing 90-95% of the secession ordinances?
The first place my mind goes is the first secession document from South Carolina, and over 3/4 of it is history and the constitution. I often feel people are self-censoring when they read that and see nothing but slavery. The others have a far greater emphasis on slavery, certainly. But then there's self-censorship again when the border states all cite Lincoln's call for troops to suppress the lower South, and so many decide they didn't mean it, and it was really about slavery.

Or to put in another way: If George Washington descended from heaven, bearing Robert E. Lee in his arms, and proclaimed: "secession is not OK." If it was written in letters of fire on every copy of the Constitution, would it have delayed South Carolina for 5 minutes?
There's a lot of emotional language and emotional appeals here, but very little reason for me to discard the legal arguments the secessionists put forward.
 
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#15
Concerning Virginia in particular, I especially like this article on the subject:

--"Here we are in mid-April – three-and-a-half, four months have passed, and Virginia is still part of the United States. Virginia was really very uncomfortable about going with the South. It was a slave State. It was the largest of the slave holding states but it was very, very uncertain about the future of the Confederacy, and it was also uncertain about the future of a divided nation. After all, Virginia helped create the United States which was in response to the Articles of Confederation, which is what really the Confederacy amounted to in many respects.

And so this question of secession, leaving the Union, carving itself away from the Union, was not taken lightly. In fact, Virginia had voted on secession in previous months. It had voted it down. The state had a special secession convention. Delegates from each one of the counties went to the secession convention, representing the local folks back home. And time and again the vote was against secession. What changed it all? Why did they finally decide to cast their votes in favor of departure from the United States?

Well, really it was war, the outbreak of war. When Fort Sumter was fired upon by South Carolinians – and President Lincoln requested that all of those states still within the United States, contribute troops to squash the rebellion in the Southern States, that was too much. Virginia said: “Now, wait a minute, wait a minute. We can’t go fight our brothers in the South. We can argue against them. We can certainly disagree with them and their perspective on the new Confederacy.

But we can’t have Virginians wearing United States Army uniforms, and launching invasions into the South. And with that, the argument shifted ."--

Full link here:

http://civilwarscholars.com/2011/06/why-did-virginia-secede-dennis-frye/
I suspect we'll hear very soon that they didn't mean any of this, and it was really all about slavery.
 

matthew mckeon

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#16
Concerning Virginia in particular, I especially like this article on the subject:

--"Here we are in mid-April – three-and-a-half, four months have passed, and Virginia is still part of the United States. Virginia was really very uncomfortable about going with the South. It was a slave State. It was the largest of the slave holding states but it was very, very uncertain about the future of the Confederacy, and it was also uncertain about the future of a divided nation. After all, Virginia helped create the United States which was in response to the Articles of Confederation, which is what really the Confederacy amounted to in many respects.

And so this question of secession, leaving the Union, carving itself away from the Union, was not taken lightly. In fact, Virginia had voted on secession in previous months. It had voted it down. The state had a special secession convention. Delegates from each one of the counties went to the secession convention, representing the local folks back home. And time and again the vote was against secession. What changed it all? Why did they finally decide to cast their votes in favor of departure from the United States?

Well, really it was war, the outbreak of war. When Fort Sumter was fired upon by South Carolinians – and President Lincoln requested that all of those states still within the United States, contribute troops to squash the rebellion in the Southern States, that was too much. Virginia said: “Now, wait a minute, wait a minute. We can’t go fight our brothers in the South. We can argue against them. We can certainly disagree with them and their perspective on the new Confederacy.

But we can’t have Virginians wearing United States Army uniforms, and launching invasions into the South. And with that, the argument shifted ."--

Full link here:

http://civilwarscholars.com/2011/06/why-did-virginia-secede-dennis-frye/
And the reason that VA found secession the best option, but not Pennsylvania or Vermont, is that it was a slave state. And they thought slavery was under threat. No free state seceded.
 


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