Was war inevitable once a Republican was elected President?

Was war inevitable once a Republican was elected President?

  • Yes

    Votes: 15 83.3%
  • No

    Votes: 3 16.7%

  • Total voters
    18

BuckeyeWarrior

Sergeant
Joined
Jan 1, 2020
Location
Ohio
Was war inevitable once a Republican was elected to the Presidency? Why or why not?

From discussion on other threads I was wondering if others felt that a civil war was inevitable.

I believe it was. The southern fire eaters had been agitating since the 1830s for a separate slave republic. They threatened secession in 1856 when Fremont was nominated and they attacked and demonized the Republican Party constantly upon its creation.

No President would have willing allowed America to be destroyed. Even a dough face like Buchanan, who had sided with the slave powers his entire career, wouldn’t allow them to just leave. Certainly no Republican would have.

This is a classic immovable object irresistible force scenario. The fire-eaters would not budge on leaving the union and the republicans would not budge on keeping the union intact.
 

Pete Longstreet

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The war was inevitable. The tension over slavery was building for many years. And unfortunately, a war was needed to resolve the issue. The fact that the war went on for 4 long years, and the caused the amount of bloodshed it did, was sad. It should have been resolved before 600,000 men lost their lives. If Stephen Douglas was elected, it probably would have postponed the war. If another Republican candidate was elected, the war may have been postponed, but would most likely have been fought. Although maybe not to the extent Lincoln envisioned. Lincoln absolutely stood firm that the Union was to be persevered at any and all costs. His determination never wavered, and he was the driving force behind reuniting the country. Another Republican president may have crumbled from the political pressure and forced to make peace with the south, instead of continuous bloodshed, but not Lincoln. Remove Lincoln from the equation, and this great country we live in would be very different than it is today. Without the south, the U.S. would not have the power to be a leader in the world and at the forefront of democracy.
 

BuckeyeWarrior

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Location
Ohio
The war was inevitable. The tension over slavery was building for many years. And unfortunately, a war was needed to resolve the issue. The fact that the war went on for 4 long years, and the caused the amount of bloodshed it did, was sad. It should have been resolved before 600,000 men lost their lives. If Stephen Douglas was elected, it probably would have postponed the war. If another Republican candidate was elected, the war may have been postponed, but would most likely have been fought. Although maybe not to the extent Lincoln envisioned. Lincoln absolutely stood firm that the Union was to be persevered at any and all costs. His determination never wavered, and he was the driving force behind reuniting the country. Another Republican president may have crumbled from the political pressure and forced to make peace with the south, instead of continuous bloodshed, but not Lincoln. Remove Lincoln from the equation, and this great country we live in would be very different than it is today. Without the south, the U.S. would not have the power to be a leader in the world and at the forefront of democracy.
Lincoln reminds me of Churchill(or maybe Churchill reminds me of Lincoln). Both great public speakers and both with iron wills to see their goal through to the end.

I mentioned on another thread how Jefferson Davis seemed better prepared to lead a nation then Lincoln. If you were to produce two resumes of both men(and not knowing who they were) and ask people which one would you select to lead a nation
Davis would probably be selected almost unanimously. Yet Lincoln did a far better job than Davis did.
 

Joshism

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Apr 30, 2012
Location
Jupiter, FL
I mentioned on another thread how Jefferson Davis seemed better prepared to lead a nation then Lincoln. If you were to produce two resumes of both men(and not knowing who they were) and ask people which one would you select to lead a nation
Davis would probably be selected almost unanimously. Yet Lincoln did a far better job than Davis did.

One of the strange things about the presidency is how hard it is to predict success or failure. James Buchanan had an outstanding resume yet was a terrible president. Experience can be very helpful, but you're either a leader or you aren't.
 

wausaubob

Lt. Colonel
Joined
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Location
Denver, CO
In order for there to not be a war two nations with very different labor systems would have had to live side by side with mutual tolerance. Despite sharing a long boundary on the Potomac, the Alleghanies, the Ohio and Missouri Rivers, there would have had to have been no contests for western territory, and no raids by abolitionists and free blacks into Confederate territory.
The US and the Confederacy would have to something that Prussia, France and England were unable to do.
Prussia and France found themselves at war in the Napoleonic era, during the rise of a unified Germany, at the end of the monarchial era, and then again during the rise of a mass media generated autocrat.
In order for there not to be a war, the US and the Confederates would have to avoided hundreds of years of traditional conflict over territorial rights. How were they going to accomplish that?
 

wausaubob

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Location
Denver, CO
By 1861 the northern section of the US was one of the most innovative, fastest growing economies in the world. Based on what happened in the 19th and 20th centuries, I think there were going to be wars between the US and the potential Confederacy until one belligerent completely conquered the other. The pace of telegraph centralization, and the ongoing revolution in railroad development was going to sweep away the colonial, coastal traditions of the US, and the south was going to become a subsidiary of the Mid-Atlantic industrial economy, just like the rest of the US.
 
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wausaubob

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Denver, CO
By 1855, the Pennsylvania RR had crossed the Alleghanie Mountains. The Mississippi River had been bridged. Lake Superior was added to the Great Lakes System by the Soo Locks. Aspinall and others had built a railroad through the jungles and across the creeks of Panama. Engineering had reached the point at which any physical obstacle could be overcome. Then during the war, pre-fabricated culvert and bridge components proliferated.
 
Joined
Dec 22, 2016
Location
NH
I don't like thinking of inevitability. All the South had to do was accept the outcome of a lawful election. No war. Hotheads made the war happen, but it was not inevitable.

You think slavery is right and ought to be extended; while we think it is wrong and ought to be restricted. That I suppose is the rub. It certainly is the only substantial difference between us.
--A. Lincoln, December 22, 1860 Letter to Alexander Stephens
 

Rhea Cole

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Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
A long time ago, a wise man told me that whenever anybody in Nashville’s music ‘binis’ starts talking about religion, hang onto your wallet ‘cause god never tells them to do anything that is going to put money in your pocket. No truer words were ever said.

I am mostly aware of the change in the message preached about slavery by Episcopal bishops before & after the invention of the cotton gin. The AliBaba’s cave of riches that opened up to families like the Polk’s here in Middle Tennessee thanks to that innocent looking wooden box changed everything.

The slave-holder’s habit of calling slaves servants came from the King James Bible. Slavery was all but moribund when the translation was made. Intended to be read aloud, all those verses about slaves being obedient to your master would not have applied to British congregations. There were precious few slaves, but there were plenty of servants that needed putting in their place by god in King James’ time.

Today, Two Rivers, Belmeade, Belmont & other sections of Nashville are called by the names of the great plantations that once occupied the land. Millions of tourists pay to walk in hushed wonder at Carnton, Rattle & Snap, Oakland & many other mansions payed for with the bonanza that the cotton gin made possible.

It is equally true that the mill towns in New England & the great houses people pay to see sprang from the same soil watered by the sweat of slave labor. What is not there is the absolute certainty that being a mill owner was a divine right. The elite slave-holders in Nashville weren’t called ‘The Gods’ out of a sense of irony.

From birth, men in the elite slave-holding families in South Carolina where secession was an obsession, were told that their status was divinely ordained. From hours long sermons from the pulpit & during daily devotionals, Bible verses told them so. In fact, no verse in either the Old or New Testament explicitly condemns slavery... far from it. There is very practical advice about when & how to sell daughters, etc. Slavery as a moral evil is never an issue.

Unlike the hero of a Roman triumph, no slave stood behind elite Southern slave-holders whispering, “Thou art mortal.’ It took me quite a while for me to grasp the fact that elite slave-holders really believed that whole continents full of people had been created just to be their servants. It is not something unique to the South. The Pope split the globe in half between Spain & Portugal empowering Conquistadors to commit mass murder in God’s name. Pissarro & Jefferson Davis shared some core values regarding owning other people’s children.

Reading the same King James translation, by 1860 the majority of the English speaking world had come to exactly the opposite moral conclusion that slave-holders lived by. Despite profound bigotry & knee jerk white supremacy, the majority believed that slave-holding was sinful. As usual, sinful & profitable managed to coexist.

Bankers in England were making money hand over fist loaning money to both buy the slaves, build the infrastructure & mills that generated unimaginable wealth. However much the millhands in New England abhorred slavery, nobody was was going to down tools & strike in favor of free labor cotton.

The New England States had shown that slavery could be ended through legislation. As the Brazilian model shows, there was nothing inevitable about violence as an end to a slave-holding society. The British had freed the slaves on the sugar islands without violence. The Haitian Revolution was the outlier that exemplifies the rule. Ending slavery did not require violence.

What required constant physical & psychological violence was maintaining 4,000,000 people in bondage. It was only through the act or threat of extreme brutality on a daily basis that slave-holders kept their god given position. The 35,000 slave-holding men who started the Civill War believed in & practiced physical brutality as their divine right.

Inevitable is one of those words that only appear in hindsight. It is, however, not much of a stretch to conclude that men taught from birth that they are instruments of God’s will & who were justified by that sanctified power to inflict terrible harm on other people would not use violence to impose their will.

They really believed what they said, the SC hotheads were just certain god was on their side but that they were instruments of his will. From a rational military perspective, firing on Ft Sumpter made as much sense as whacking a hornets’ nest. They weren’t the first people to believe that their narrow self interest was anointed of god... sadly they were not, are not & will not be the last.

Equally inevitable, like all abusers, the hot heads shouted, ‘Look what Lincoln made me do!’ ‘It was Lincoln’s election that made me start the war.’ ‘Slave-holders are the victims, Lincoln made us fight!’ Having to balance between being both an instrument of god’s will & a victim must have been quite a mental strain. No wonder they made so many strategic errors.
 
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jackt62

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Joined
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Location
New York City
I would say that secession was inevitable once a Republican was elected President. The key to Lincoln's election in 1860 was the breakup of the Democratic party into 2 wings with the nomination of Douglas in the north and Breckenridge in the south. In part, the disunion of the Democratic party was engineered by "fire eaters" such as William Yancey, who understood that a united Democratic party (with Douglas as its nominee), would have likely won the 1860 election. But in doing so, the tenuous situation that prevailed through the 1850's would have continued, a situation in which the expansion of southern "rights" to hold and own slaves in the territories would have been resisted. Yancey and others in the slave owning class believed that secession was the only effective means of holding on to their way of life and whether or not it meant open warfare was a gamble they were willing to take.
 

wausaubob

Lt. Colonel
Joined
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Location
Denver, CO
I would say that secession was inevitable once a Republican was elected President. The key to Lincoln's election in 1860 was the breakup of the Democratic party into 2 wings with the nomination of Douglas in the north and Breckenridge in the south. In part, the disunion of the Democratic party was engineered by "fire eaters" such as William Yancey, who understood that a united Democratic party (with Douglas as its nominee), would have likely won the 1860 election. But in doing so, the tenuous situation that prevailed through the 1850's would have continued, a situation in which the expansion of southern "rights" to hold and own slaves in the territories would have been resisted. Yancey and others in the slave owning class believed that secession was the only effective means of holding on to their way of life and whether or not it meant open warfare was a gamble they were willing to take.
They could not tolerate delay, because they lacked the votes to admit Kansas as a state that allowed slavery. The telegraph and railroad industries had the ability to make statehood likely not only in Kansas, but also Nebraska and Colorado. First the telegraph, and then railroads were going to tie California and Oregon into the US. Both of the states were dominated by free labor Democrats and Republicans.
And the situation is was even more precarious with respect to redistribution of the army and recalling the navy.
It was act or forever give up the chance, by 1860.
 
Joined
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Location
NH
No, war was not inevitable. Perhaps if the Founders created a Constitution that let the people directly elect their U.S. Senators, far more moderate voices than two extremes would've been heard across the next 70 years. If state legislatures were apportioned with one man, one vote mentalities, rather than giving the rich slave owning minority a majority of elected bodies, more moderate voices would've prevailed. And perhaps if, as Glover Moore laments at the end of his old but classic book on the Missouri Compromise, slavery was never introduced among a people otherwise democratically inclined, there would've been no war.
 

Rhea Cole

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Joined
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Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Hey, Rhea Cole, you just offered one of the most brilliant statements I've ever seen. Thanks much for sharing.
Thank you. I have thought about this a lot. Ever since I read the names of slaves listed in an ancestral will, I have pondered what slave-holders must have believed about what they were doing. Early on, a family member freed slaves he inherited on moral principles. It wasn’t as if people weren’t questioning the morality of slave-holding.
I would have loved to have some honest in the family sitting on the screen porch & here what they had to say in 1910 or so.
 

wausaubob

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Joined
Apr 4, 2017
Location
Denver, CO
The corporate farmers of the south were going to try to form a separate country. They won in 1787, forced slavery into Missouri, fillibustered Texas away from Mexico, and gotten the US to back the imperialist war of 1844-1846. In addition to Texas, Florida and Louisiana were acquired from foreign empires. You could include Douglas wrecking the Missouri compromise and Roger Taney's misguided Dred Scott decision has further evidence to southerners that the north would rollover if pushed hard enough.
The plantation owners were on a winning streak and very little evidence to show that the northern politicians were willing to sustain a war.
Very few southerners had any idea how fast the northern economy was changing. If a person had not been to Patterson, NJ, or Pittsburgh/Alleghany or Chicago, they had no chance to know what they were going to be fighting.
Kentucky was different. The people there had contact with Cincinnati, and were linked to Indiana at Louisville/New Albany.
The far south states had very little naval tradition. Their shipping needs were mainly fulfilled by Yankee merchants. Only a few southerners were aware of how fast naval power was growing by 1853.
Without a war, people were not going to accept the fact the Mid Atlantic states were dominant in that era. The war is 155 years in the past, and there are still many people not able to accept the outcome.
 

wausaubob

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Location
Denver, CO
Thank you. I have thought about this a lot. Ever since I read the names of slaves listed in an ancestral will, I have pondered what slave-holders must have believed about what they were doing. Early on, a family member freed slaves he inherited on moral principles. It wasn’t as if people weren’t questioning the morality of slave-holding.
I would have loved to have some honest in the family sitting on the screen porch & here what they had to say in 1910 or so.
I think many slave owners thought that while freedom might be good for some former slaves, it could also be worse for the former slaves. In the absence of slavery, the formerly enslaved were exposed to the worst abuses of capitalism, and the most desperate vengeance of the worst elements of southern society. I think Shelby Foote captured some of this sentiment when he observed that just freeing the former enslaved does not necessary improve their lives.
 

Rhea Cole

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Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
I think many slave owners thought that while freedom might be good for some former slaves, it could also be worse for the former slaves. In the absence of slavery, the formerly enslaved were exposed to the worst abuses of capitalism, and the most desperate vengeance of the worst elements of southern society. I think Shelby Foote captured some of this sentiment when he observed that just freeing the former enslaved does not necessary improve their lives.
In the published record, it was the mixing of the races that freedom would entail that really got up their noses.
 

Andersonh1

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South Carolina
I don't like thinking of inevitability. All the South had to do was accept the outcome of a lawful election. No war. Hotheads made the war happen, but it was not inevitable.

You think slavery is right and ought to be extended; while we think it is wrong and ought to be restricted. That I suppose is the rub. It certainly is the only substantial difference between us.
--A. Lincoln, December 22, 1860 Letter to Alexander Stephens

Lincoln was wrong, slavery was not the only substantial difference between them.

In any case, I do not believe war was inevitable, nor can we fairly place all the blame for the war on the Southern side of the equation. They'd have been more than happy to leave without one.
 
Joined
Dec 22, 2016
Location
NH
Lincoln was wrong, slavery was not the only substantial difference between them.

In any case, I do not believe war was inevitable, nor can we fairly place all the blame for the war on the Southern side of the equation. They'd have been more than happy to leave without one.
It was certainly the only substantial difference between Lincoln and Stephens, both old Whigs who befriended each other while they served in Congress together. Stephens opposed the secession of GA, but went with the South, anyway. My post noted hotheads existed on both sides. However, the fact cannot be doubted: If the South accepted the lawful outcome of a free and Constitutional election, there would've been no war.
 
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