Two Reasons for Secession from the Union

lurid

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I was unable to find any graphs so instead I posted information from primary sources that demonstrated the tariff system was an issue to the southern states before the Civil War. This information is not rhetoric but from valid sources.

No, you never proved that tariffs were an economic hindrance, you posted rhetoric that claimed tariffs "could" be an issue. But you cannot prove it through graphs and charts that could back up your claims, because tariffs were not a hindrance from 1832-1860. If your sources don't show any economic data, they're not valid. They are valid in how you engage in history, but not in historiography.
 

CW Buff

Sergeant Major
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So he lied to his friend who shared many of his same views. That isn't at all likely.
If you had read my response without your preconceived assumption, you would have noted I did not describe it as Calhoun lying TO Maxcy. Then again, maybe you did recognize what I meant when you described Maxcy as “his friend who shared many of his same views.” How do you suppose self-serving, disinformative ideas get started and cultivated. Nullification, the positive moral good of slavery, constitutional unilateral secession. Take your pick. But please, don’t expect me to believe the guy who gets the ball rolling doesn’t know better.
 

CW Buff

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I know full well that's untrue. I'm not surprised however, having read some of his writing, that anyone attempting to make his sole concern out to be slavery would also have to characterize him as a liar, because he had a lot to say about many other issues, so all of that has to be explained away somehow. As I've said before, the fixation on slavery has done great damage to the study of history.
Just couldn’t resist going there, rules or no rules, could you? So, your motives are pure and those of anyone who disagrees with you are tainted? Right, got it. Well, lets just chalk that up to some good old Calhounian honesty.
 

CW Buff

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Let’s take Calhoun for what he clearly was, a calculating politician. How else do we assess someone who supported protectionism and the American System for years, and then flipped? This is not just a simple change of position, from pro to anti, but comes with a claim that protective tariffs, a policy which he formerly supported, was, all along, unconstitutional. Are we to accept Calhoun is being honest when he suddenly finds protective tariffs unconstitutional?

Well, if you think so, let him clarify:

. . . The first question which offers itself for consideration is: Have the Northern states the power which they claim, to prevent the Southern people from emigrating freely, with their property, into territories belonging to the United States, and to monopolize them for their exclusive benefit? . . .
. . .
. . . I have believed, from the beginning, that this was the only question sufficiently potent to dissolve the Union,...
” – Calhoun, speech on the Oregon bill, June 27, 1848

First it was nullification by an individual state, then it was concurrent majority (an equally ridiculous theory), but if he promoted these notions, as he said, to preserve the Union, and the only thing that could really cause a dissolution of the Union is slavery, well….
 

Andersonh1

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If you had read my response without your preconceived assumption, you would have noted I did not describe it as Calhoun lying TO Maxcy. Then again, maybe you did recognize what I meant when you described Maxcy as “his friend who shared many of his same views.” How do you suppose self-serving, disinformative ideas get started and cultivated. Nullification, the positive moral good of slavery, constitutional unilateral secession. Take your pick. But please, don’t expect me to believe the guy who gets the ball rolling doesn’t know better.

Again, I read this reply where you describe Calhoun's ideas as "self-serving, disinformative", and what I see from you is a presumption that Calhoun was knowingly spreading false ideas because it benefitted him as opposed to doing his best to represent his State and the interests of his State in the larger Union, which was what he was elected to do. Please correct me if I'm misreading what you wrote. I take your description of Calhoun to say that he knew he was wrong, but he didn't care. I find that very difficult to accept. All evidence is that he genuinely held these views, and that while he held different views earlier in life, time and circumstance caused him to reevaluate.

Yes, he was a calculating politician. So was Lincoln, and so was Grant, and so was Andrew Jackson for that matter.

Just couldn’t resist going there, rules or no rules, could you? So, your motives are pure and those of anyone who disagrees with you are tainted? Right, got it. Well, lets just chalk that up to some good old Calhounian honesty.

Not what I said. I'm not sure how else to discuss things in modern scholarship that I find problematic other than just to say it. I have found that there is a clear trend in a lot of modern history of the antebellum and Civil War era to twist everything and everyone so that all words and actions lead back to slavery, and slavery alone, as if men like Calhoun had no other interests and no other concerns. And to do that, one has to assume dishonesty and dissembling about "true" motives constantly, any time they discuss other issues, which is very often in Calhoun's case, because we can't get around the written record and the fact that many issues other than slavery were written and spoken about at length.

Among my many history books that I've started but not finished yet is a book of Calhoun's writings, "Union and Liberty", edited by Ross Lence. It includes things like an 1816 speech on a tariff bill and his disquisition on government, among many other writings. Our discussion has motivated me to pick it back up and continue reading, to understand the concurrent majority if nothing else, so that I can comment on it.
 
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Andersonh1

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Please see my post on the previous page which presents data showing the tariff was an issue (Post #250). Also below is a portion of the South Carolina Ordinance Of Nullification adopted in 1832 which discussed the inequity of the federal tariff system.
South Carolina and other southern states were upset when Congress passed the "Tariff of Abominations." The southern states considered the tariff as a means to protect Northern industry at the expense of the South and as unconstitutionally expanding the powers of the federal government. Subsequently, the South Carolina state legislature passed laws nullifying the tariffs of 1828 and 1832 and prohibited the collection of the tariffs in the state. South Carolina also threatened to withdraw from the United States if its actions on the tariff were not considered. The Ordinance of Nullification of 1832 below explains their opposition to the federal tariff system.

South Carolina Ordinance of Nullification - November 24, 1832

Whereas the Congress of the United States, by various acts, purporting to be acts laying duties and imposts on foreign imports, but in reality intended for the protection of domestic manufactures, and the giving of bounties to classes and individuals engaged in particular employments, at the expense and to the injury and oppression of other classes and individuals... hath exceeded its just powers under the Constitution....

We, therefore the people of the state of South Carolina in Convention assembled, do declare and ordain .... [That the tariff acts of 1828 and 1832] purporting to be laws for the imposting of duties and imposts on the importation of foreign commodities.... are unauthorized by the Constitution of the United States, and violate the true meaning and intent thereof, and are null, void, and no law, nor binding upon this State, its officers or citizens....

And it is further Ordained, That it shall not be lawful for any of the constituted authorities, whether of this State or of the United States, to enforce payment of the duties imposed by said acts.... [and] it shall be the duty of the [South Carolina] Legislature to adopt such measures and pass such acts as may be necessary to give full effect to this Ordinance....

And we, the people of South Carolina, to the end that it may be fully understood by the Government of the United States, and the people of the co-States, that we are determined to maintain this, our Ordinance and Declaration, at every hazard, Do further Declare that we will not submit to the application of force, on the part of the Federal Government, to reduce this State to obedience; but that we will consider the passage by Congress, of any act... to coerce the State, shut up her ports, destroy or harass her commerce, or to enforce the acts hereby declared null and void, otherwise than through the civil tribunals of the country, as inconsistent with the longer continuance of South Carolina in the Union: and that the people of this state will thenceforth hold themselves absolved from all further obligation to maintain or preserve their political connection with the people of the other States, and will forthwith proceed to organize a separate Government, and do all other acts and things which sovereign and independent States may of right do....

If I were one of a number of modern historians, I would no doubt say that all of this was just subterfuge, and they were really only concerned about slavery, despite all this talk about tariffs. That's how pernicious these attempts to make slavery the root cause of all early 19th century conflicts is. Slavery was a cause of some major political and moral conflicts, no doubt about it, but there were other issues and people did in fact have other strongly-held views on those issues.
 

unionblue

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How one cannot see slavery as the main cause of the Civil War completely baffles me.

It was the cause of the Civil War and the two main reasons for secession from the United States: To protect and preserve slavery and then to expand it, calling it a benefit to blacks and the reopening of the African Slave Trade with the so-called reason of civilizing and bringing Christianity to the poor souls thus stolen from their homes.

It can't be excused or laid blame on 'modern' historians or hidden by a tariff the lowest in decades.

Slavery and slavery alone brought on the Civil War.

One only needs to read the facts of the period and accept the words of the men who advocated it's "institutions" above country.
 

Andersonh1

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How one cannot see slavery as the main cause of the Civil War completely baffles me.

I would go back to post #8 in this thread. https://civilwartalk.com/threads/two-reasons-for-secession-from-the-union.166095/#post-2256352

In the documentation of the 1852 Convention and in a series of editorials written about possible secession of SC, further elaboration on what some of these violations were can be found.

https://books.google.com/books?id=g...t8KHUGwDWMQ6AEwAHoECAwQKQ#v=onepage&q&f=false
1 - Unjust and unequal spending and taxation of the South in favor of the North
2 - the South provided more soldiers and spent more money than the North to acquire western territories, but is not allowed to take slavery there
3 - the fugitive slave clause is not being obeyed by fellow states or enforced by the federal government
4 - state sovereignty is being replaced by consolidated, centralized power in Washington, which will put the South completely at the mercy of the more populous North
 
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unionblue

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@Andersonh1 ,

We can go back to any post in this forum and find frantic excuses for the Southern Confederacy to secede, but it cannot and will not the primary reason, the only reason they were willing to go to war over, slavery.

Unequal spending? That's been called out and found wanting.

How many soldiers did the South provide in the taking of the West. You'd be surprised how many foreigners were in the US Army at the time.

The Fugitive Slave Law was being enforced, even with US troops to escort a slave from the North for shipment back to slavery.

What 'centralized power' in Washington? Good grief! The problem is too many free whites coming into the North and not enough slaves in the South to keep the slaveholders in power.

No, excuse then, excuse now, but no way does slavery fall to the maybe catagory.
 

lurid

First Sergeant
Joined
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If I were one of a number of modern historians, I would no doubt say that all of this was just subterfuge, and they were really only concerned about slavery, despite all this talk about tariffs. That's how pernicious these attempts to make slavery the root cause of all early 19th century conflicts is. Slavery was a cause of some major political and moral conflicts, no doubt about it, but there were other issues and people did in fact have other strongly-held views on those issues.

Yeah, "subterfuge" is good word to use within context considering I introduced it to you in post #215 when I asserted Confederate apologists try to prove tariffs were an an issue in 1860 with evidence from 1828-1832, so yeah that's subterfuge. The only problem with this theory is that you cannot prove through economic data that tariffs were an issue from 1832 to 1860. You back rhetoric with rhetoric. Here's another good word: duplicity.
 

CW Buff

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Again, I read this reply where you describe Calhoun's ideas as "self-serving, disinformative", and what I see from you is a presumption that Calhoun was knowingly spreading false ideas because it benefitted him as opposed to doing his best to represent his State and the interests of his State in the larger Union, which was what he was elected to do. Please correct me if I'm misreading what you wrote. I take your description of Calhoun to say that he knew he was wrong, but he didn't care. I find that very difficult to accept. All evidence is that he genuinely held these views, and that while he held different views earlier in life, time and circumstance caused him to reevaluate.

Yes, he was a calculating politician. So was Lincoln, and so was Grant, and so was Andrew Jackson for that matter.

You’ve actually got that backwards. I’m not the one operating upon a presumption. The position I am asserting was first presented to me a few years back by brass napoleon. It originally did not make sense to me, and I rejected it. Then I began analyzing Calhoun’s acts and words for myself, without presumption, and this is how I realized he was right. You’re the one that appears to counter with a presumption, that Calhoun is being honest. To summarize:

First, Calhoun conspired to help make the Tariff of 1828 abominable. Then he attacked protectionist tariffs, something he had strongly supported in the past, on the basis that they were unconstitutional. Again, this is NOT a simple change from pro to con as you seem to suggest, but a claim that what he formerly actively supported is, and therefore always was, unconstitutional. The former staunch nationalist then develops his theory of nullification. And finally he stated, to his friend who shared his interests, that the issue was not “the Tariff,” but “the peculiar domestick institution of the Southern States.” You're right, calculating politician was an understatement. There is just no way to make that smell good.

What is all this evidence you speak of that shows he genuinely held these views? And what views? That protectionist tariffs are unconstitutional, or that slavery is of paramount importance to the South? So far all I’ve seen is a presumption that he is being honest about the former, with the one exception being his vague reference to “permanent interests” and “domestick institutions” in the Maxcy letter. Whatever they specifically refer to, they are not other reasons for nullification. As far as Calhoun is concerned, they depend entirely and directly on slavery. How else do you suppose they may be “subverted by Colonization and other schemes?” Calhoun developed nullification to attack a revenue law, but keep in mind he refers to both “taxation and appropriations” in the letter. Obviously the real concern, in Calhoun’s opinion, is that the Fed might at some time chose to subsidize colonization. If the Fed can do that, it doesn’t matter whether or not they have the constitutional authority to directly abolish slavery.

And there is also the evidence I included in Post #285. If, as Calhoun claimed, nullification and concurrent majority are about preserving the Union, and the only issue he feels really threatens the Union is slavery, then nullification and concurrent majority are all about slavery.

We have yet to hear any of the above addressed by anything more than a presumption Calhoun is being honest. It seems the only time you won’t take Calhoun at his word is when he says slavery, rather than the tariff, was his motivation, and when he admits he was being duplicitous.
 

CW Buff

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Not what I said. I'm not sure how else to discuss things in modern scholarship that I find problematic other than just to say it. I have found that there is a clear trend in a lot of modern history of the antebellum and Civil War era to twist everything and everyone so that all words and actions lead back to slavery, and slavery alone, as if men like Calhoun had no other interests and no other concerns. And to do that, one has to assume dishonesty and dissembling about "true" motives constantly, any time they discuss other issues, which is very often in Calhoun's case, because we can't get around the written record and the fact that many issues other than slavery were written and spoken about at length.

Among my many history books that I've started but not finished yet is a book of Calhoun's writings, "Union and Liberty", edited by Ross Lence. It includes things like an 1816 speech on a tariff bill and his disquisition on government, among many other writings. Our discussion has motivated me to pick it back up and continue reading, to understand the concurrent majority if nothing else, so that I can comment on it.

So I am biased by modern scholarship, and you are not biased by anything, like, say, the Lost Cause narrative? Was that really supposed to sound much better? First, we were specifically discussing Calhoun in the Nullification crises, not your peves regarding modern history scholars. Second, there are modern historians, and then there are earlier historians, whose interpretations were biased by the universal racism many are quick to point out existed throughout the US, North and South, prior to the Civil Rights era. Modern historians didn’t twist history, they untwisted it.

And I have not said Calhoun, or any other Southerner, had no other interests or concerns. That’s a strawman exaggeration. Again, we were specifically discussing the Nullification Crisis, where Calhoun admitted it was all about slavery. The South certainly had other interests and concerns, but, like John Calhoun, I realize that there was only one issue that actually caused the South to go to such extreme lengths as nullification, secession, and civil war:

. . . The first question which offers itself for consideration is: Have the Northern states the power which they claim, to prevent the Southern people from emigrating freely, with their property, into territories belonging to the United States, and to monopolize them for their exclusive benefit? . . . I have believed, from the beginning, that this was the only question sufficiently potent to dissolve the Union,...” – Calhoun, speech on the Oregon bill, June 27, 1848
 

CW Buff

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It was the cause of the Civil War and the two main reasons for secession from the United States: To protect and preserve slavery and then to expand it, calling it a benefit to blacks and the reopening of the African Slave Trade with the so-called reason of civilizing and bringing Christianity to the poor souls thus stolen from their homes.

One has to wonder if secession and the ACW would have happened without Calhoun's positive moral good of slavery. With this theory Calhoun successfully overturns, within much of the South, the Founding Fathers’ recognition that slavery is evil. And this required undermining the Revolutionary principle that all men are created equal. However flawed this country has ever been, this principle has at least always, over time, tugged it in the right moral direction, if only slowly, imperfectly, and in fits and starts. The following is from the same speech on the Oregon bill I quoted from earlier. Some may want to verify that this is as I describe:

https://teachingamericanhistory.org/library/document/speech-on-the-oregon-bill/

The proposition to which I allude, has become an axiom in the minds of a vast majority on both sides of the Atlantic, and is repeated daily from tongue to tongue, as an established and incontrovertible truth; it is, that “all men are born free and equal.” I am not afraid to attack error, however deeply it may be entrenched, or however widely extended, whenever it becomes my duty to do so, as I believe it to be on this subject and occasion.

Sure, just doing his duty, correcting this horrible error the Founding Fathers' made. He begins the attack with some inane nitpicking: “men are not born, infants are born.” He then moves on to the statement as actually written in the DoI: that all men are created equal. This, he says, “though less dangerous, is not less erroneous.” Our best founding principle, dangerous and erroneous? Next, some more inane nitpicking:

All men are not created. According to the Bible, only two, a man and a woman, ever were, and of these one was pronounced subordinate to the other. All others have come into the world by being born, and in no sense, as I have shown, either free or equal.

Is it just me, or is this getting pathetically silly? Silly perhaps, but it serves specific purpose. If we carefully consider the train of thought here, Calhoun is basically detaching man from God, as would be necessary to promote the idea that slavery is a positive moral good.

OK, so now men are not created. God did not create us all. Only one man was created. All other men were… “brought into the world by being born.” What happened to “men are not born, infants are born?” Is this Calhoun being honest?

He next complains that the statement “all men are created equal” was unwarranted. A breach of chartered rights was the real cause of the Revolution, and that is all that should have been stated. The Founding Fathers erred when they proclaimed one of the finest principles ever uttered, and Calhoun complains that they should have stuck to a purely legal argument.

Now keep in mind, this train has a definite, predetermined destination. Calhoun now turns to Locke’s state of nature. Of course Locke’s state of nature is meant to demonstrate that God does not create servitude or other legal inequalities among men. Pointing out that man's has no state of nature, Calhoun states that the principle “all men are created equal” is therefore “one of little or no practical value.” Man is by nature social, and human societies require some form of government, so God formed man to live under this natural state of man (apparently “formed” gets him around his earlier claim that God does not “create” men). And voila, we need not worry about God and morality anymore because whatever occurs via the less than stellar nature of man was intended by God. WOW! Individual liberty and freedom must therefore be subordinate to whatever power (of government) is needed to preserve society. This logic can be used to justify almost anything man wants to do to other men, as long as “man” is the government. Everything is reduced to a matter of law, and the law is morally right because it in turn is a matter of man’s nature which, like man himself, was created by God. There you have it. Forget about God’s nature (morality), we’ve successfully transitioned to man’s less than perfect nature as our guiding light.
However, “government has no right to control individual liberty beyond what is necessary to the safety and well-being of society.” Whose liberty? Whose well-being? Calhoun’s, of course. And this absent “right” of government is clearly a matter of morality. Where did that come from? Though he began with some silly nit-picking, this has become very clever.

Enter racism. The liberty of individuals “must necessarily be very unequal among different people, according to their different conditions.” Now we’ve flipped back again from morality to man’s nature, and higher civilizations (which require less government and therefore can responsibly enjoy greater liberty) may take advantage of lower civilizations (which are unfit to enjoy large amounts of liberty and therefore require stricter, more despotic government). This is it. This natural state of man can justify slavery as a moral good because it elevates the people of a lower civilization to a higher state of civilization. The false notion that all men are born equal “has done more to retard the cause of liberty and civilization, and is doing more at present, than all other causes combined.” It “had strong hold on the mind of Mr. Jefferson, . . . which caused him to take an utterly false view of the subordinate relation of the black to the white race in the South; and to hold, in consequence, that the former, though utterly unqualified to possess liberty, were as fully entitled to both liberty and equality as the latter; and that to deprive them of it was unjust and immoral. To this error, his proposition to exclude slavery from the territory northwest of the Ohio may be traced, and to that the ordinance of ’87, and through it the deep and dangerous agitation which now threatens to engulf, and will certainly engulf, if not speedily settled, our political institutions, and involve the country in countless woes.

And these are the men who presumed to represent the true principles of the Founding Fathers? Yes, presumption is the pitfall here. This all works out quite well if you’re a wealthy, white, privileged slave owner, because you control whose liberties are sacrificed to the power of government, a government you and your kind largely control. Their only remaining problem will be living within a larger society where they must share power with men who still cling to the false notion that all men are created free and equal. Hence, nullification and secession.
 

Andersonh1

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So I am biased by modern scholarship, and you are not biased by anything, like, say, the Lost Cause narrative?

I don't know how to explain why I distrust modern analysis of Calhoun in a way that you don't see as a personal criticism. Personal criticism is not my intention here. "Slavery as a positive good" is a terrible moral position to take, but it does not define Calhoun's entire life and his body of political thought.

Again, we were specifically discussing the Nullification Crisis, where Calhoun admitted it was all about slavery.

That is NOT what he was saying.
 
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Andersonh1

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First, Calhoun conspired to help make the Tariff of 1828 abominable.

Yes, and why did he do that? Lacking the number of votes to defeat it outright as it existed, he attempted to make it unacceptable to the midwest in the hopes of attracting more votes against it. He wanted it worse in the hopes that it would go down to defeat. The attempt did not work.

Then he attacked protectionist tariffs, something he had strongly supported in the past, on the basis that they were unconstitutional.

Have you read his explanation for this? He does address the change in position, in his speech on the Force Bill I think.
 
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Potomac Pride

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How one cannot see slavery as the main cause of the Civil War completely baffles me.

It was the cause of the Civil War and the two main reasons for secession from the United States: To protect and preserve slavery and then to expand it, calling it a benefit to blacks and the reopening of the African Slave Trade with the so-called reason of civilizing and bringing Christianity to the poor souls thus stolen from their homes.

It can't be excused or laid blame on 'modern' historians or hidden by a tariff the lowest in decades.

Slavery and slavery alone brought on the Civil War.

One only needs to read the facts of the period and accept the words of the men who advocated it's "institutions" above country.
Slavery was of course an important contributing factor that led to the Civil War. However, your statement that “Slavery and slavery alone brought on the Civil War” is an oversimplification of history. Slavery alone can’t fully explain or totally justify the Civil War. If you examine the work of various historians over the decades, other issues existed that resulted in the conflict. For example, some of the early revisionist historians in the 1930’s, such as Avery O. Craven and James G. Randall, attributed the war to a “blundering generation” of politicians and believed that slavery was diminishing on a national level. In addition, the Progressive perspective of historians such as Charles Beard emphasized economic considerations that resulted in the war. However, the civil rights era of the 1960’s reaffirmed the role of slavery in the war and is still the dominant school of thought today.

In studying the Civil War, one has to realize that secession and war are distinct issues. For secession to lead to war, northerners had to be determined to hold the Union together through force. However, research has demonstrated that slavery had very little, if anything, to do with that determination, either on the part of Lincoln or of the north in general. Confusion can come from mixing the causes of secession with the causes of the war—which are separate but related issues.

Maybe you should read the works by some of the prominent neo-abolitionist historians, such as Eric Foner and Kenneth Stampp. They have recognized that the causes of the Civil War can be broken down into at least two questions. Why did the southern states want to leave the Union? And why did the northern states refuse to let them go? Slavery may be the answer to the first question but it does not necessarily mean that it is the answer to the second. These two questions are often intermingled because so many Americans approach the Civil War with an unchallenged prejudice in favor of slavery.
 

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