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Washington Peace Conference of 1861.

Discussion in 'Civil War History - Secession and Politics' started by major bill, Mar 3, 2017.

  1. major bill

    major bill Captain Forum Host

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    Was there any hope that the Washington Peace Conference of 1861 could have stopped the Civil War? Seven states had already seceded and did not send representatives. We all know that in the end neither the remaining slave states nor the free states could come up with the needed compromises to avid the war. The free states were not going to allow slavery in all territories and make slavery legal without any future laws to end slavery. the remaining slave states had to have slavery in all territories and a ban on any federal laws ever ending slavery. There was really no possible compromise between the remaining slave states and the free states.
     
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  3. jgoodguy

    jgoodguy Brigadier General Moderator Forum Host

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    I am going with no.
    Yes requires that the 7 states that have rebelled return to the mess they rebelled to leave. As an independent nation, they can control their destiny without let or hindrance from the North.
     
  4. uaskme

    uaskme Corporal

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    No. Mark Tooley wrote a book on the Conference. Interesting story and worth reading. The Radical Republicans would have left the Republican Party if Lincoln had negotiated on the Territories. His Presidency would of been toast. So, no concessions could be given the Upper South to sway them to stay. Lower South was gone at this point but not the Upper. All cards han been played by this time.
     
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  5. OpnCoronet

    OpnCoronet Major

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    I would say, Technically Yes, but, probably no in reality, if for no other reason than it was just too late, most bets had been laid, and the dye cast.

    However, an earlier attempt, might have prevented the CW or 1861-1865(though probably not a war at a later date.

    The Compromise of 1850, is a good example of a stop gap measure that delayed secession and war almost a decade. The anti-slavery and pro-slavery opponents held their ranks on the vote, but, Douglas managed to collect majorities on the separate provisions of the compromise, composed of different majorities for each separate provision., so in fact, a majority of support form the anti-slavery and pro-slavery constituents was not actually necessary, for clever politicians of the Stephen Douglas Stripe.

    As proved by the 1850 Compromise though, raises the question would the result of success be worth the effort? If te history of previous compromises over slavery are any indicators, the answer is, Probably Not.
     
  6. Chassy

    Chassy Private

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    Thanks for the tip on the book--it looks interesting and I just ordered one on Amazon :D

    Also, add me to the "no" camp.
     
  7. OpnCoronet

    OpnCoronet Major

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    A closer look at the Compromise of 1850(and the process of (temporary coalition building, used by Douglas)might reveal a good starting point for any proposed compromise(Or, perhaps even, a further tweaking of the original, might be looked into)
     
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  8. jgoodguy

    jgoodguy Brigadier General Moderator Forum Host

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    The secessionists of 1850 were thwarted by the compromise of 1850. The secessionists of 1860, chose to rush out the Union rather than talking to avoid compermise. Once out, they fired on a federal fort and that eliminated any hope of peaceful discussion. With active sabotage, I doubt that any compromise was possible.

    On the other side, the antislavery forces are also against compromise and more organized.
     
  9. OpnCoronet

    OpnCoronet Major

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    Good point and it brings up something I missed. I notice that in my last post, I did not make it clear that the anti-slavery and pro-slavery majorities were, both, opposed to that compromise and that both majorities remained fixed in their opposition, while it was accepted. Kudos to Douglas.

    As I noted in another thread, for all its flaws the Compromise of 1850, did settle the issue of the slavery question in the national territories, once and for all. Its passage, led Lincoln to retire from active politics, as it settled the main political question of slavery, as a threat to disunion, if not flawed, at least acceptable.
     
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  10. jgoodguy

    jgoodguy Brigadier General Moderator Forum Host

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    Agree and without the Kansas Nebraska Act and Dred Scott it may have held.
     
  11. OpnCoronet

    OpnCoronet Major

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    Agreed. But, to me, the events after its passage, does point up the fact, that neither side had been truly reconciled to its intent.
     
  12. jgoodguy

    jgoodguy Brigadier General Moderator Forum Host

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    Agree and if we enter what ifs, then something unanticipated generated by the lack of reconciliation would happen and lead to war anyway.
     
  13. OpnCoronet

    OpnCoronet Major

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    Looking back on it (with 20/20 historical sight)one can see that, you are probably right. That the Compromise was the last best chance for a peaceful settlement. If only they had recognized that there was Not a better solution available at the time and tried to work with willing hearts to make it a succeed/
     
  14. major bill

    major bill Captain Forum Host

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    This was probably not going to get the 7 states that had already seceded back. Unless something was added to allow secession, how would this changed the situation at Fort Sumter?
     
  15. ivanj05

    ivanj05 First Sergeant

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    The primary reason that any attempt at compromise in 1860 was destined to fail is that both sides had already given up all the ground they were willing to on the primary issue, which was the expansion of slavery into the territories. By 1860, that issue had become irreconcilable, at least politically.

    Additionally, the successive blows of Kansas, Dred Scott, and John Brown had dramatically dimished the level of trust between sections that was necessary for any compromise strong enough to avoid war to stick.

    Douglas deserves a fair amount of credit for getting the Compromise of 1850 through. But his political ambition led to the Kansas Nebraska Act, which more than anything else made future compromise impossible.
     
  16. OpnCoronet

    OpnCoronet Major

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    The irony of Douglas' saving the Compromise of 1850, and effectively killing it, in almost the same breath, with his Kansas-Nebraska Bill, is almost too deep, to even be tragic.

    I believe, Seward, in one of his speeches against the Compromise, predicted that if it passed, it would be the last compromise, and he was proven correct.
     
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  17. KansasFreestater

    KansasFreestater 2nd Lieutenant Member of the Month

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    There had been sabotage, all right, what with Secretary of War Floyd sending weapons to the Southern states during the fall of 1860....
     
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  18. CW Buff

    CW Buff Sergeant

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    Nope. Note even as a stopgap. The sticking point was expansion, and the competing positions were mutually exclusive and irreconcilable. You would have had to have convinced people 0f the likelihood and likely costs of war, and few people would have believed you.

    As a permanent solution, I see little more chance there. Even if you get past 1861, then you have to get past 1865, and/or 1869, and/or 1873, etc., etc. Who knows what comes up in the meantime, another John Brown? How far do you have to get before outside forces decide the issue for you?

    I may be a fatalist, and I expect to take flack for this paragraph, but IMHO there was little real chance of avoiding a war over slavery after the 1780s. The issue either had to be solved before the Constitution, or the cultural and economic forces contained within that political system was a recipe for disaster, though in the absence of subsequent developments (a crystal ball), that could not have been realized either. But in reality, those developments were going to happen, sooner or later.
     
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  19. jgoodguy

    jgoodguy Brigadier General Moderator Forum Host

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    IMHO if secession can be avoided in 1860, there is a possibility that the secular decline in cotton demand with an expansion of supply will cause an economic crisis that occupies the Slavocracy for the rest of history resulting in a gradual decline of their political influence. Then maybe not.
     
  20. major bill

    major bill Captain Forum Host

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    I tend to agree. As the nation moved from the 1860s to the 1870s, to the 1880s, to the 1890s, the political power of the slave states would have decreased over the decades. At some point the slave states would have found themselves in a corner that was getting smaller and smaller. At some point secession would become the only way to keep slavery. I am not sure the U.S> would have accepted secession in the 1890s any different that in 1861. I can not predict how a war over secession and slavery would have looked in say the 1920s, but I do know millions of humans would have remained in bondage.
     
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  21. jgoodguy

    jgoodguy Brigadier General Moderator Forum Host

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    Agree, but there are a lot of moving parts. If there is no secession and the shrinkage of the slave states continues as before, then VA will slide over to free as well as TN and NC. Slavery will die out in the Cotton 7 the last. One of the motivations for secession was that in time the number of Slave States will decrease and therefore now was the time. Without VA, any war will be a short one.
     

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