Restricted What is the appropriate standard of proof in our Civil War Discussions?

Fairfield

Sergeant Major
Joined
Dec 5, 2019
Question for this thread. I'm not an academic or a professional historian but I grew up on a civil war battlefield and have been reading about it for 60 years. I enjoy the little ironies that constantly pop up in my readings but couldn't cite the source if I tried. So should I throw them out there anyway or not?
Absolutely! It's these little ironies that change history from a dry chronology to something more vibrant. I like little asides too!
 
Last edited:

A. Roy

Sergeant Major
Forum Host
Joined
Sep 2, 2019
Location
Raleigh, North Carolina
Question for this thread. I'm not an academic or a professional historian but I grew up on a civil war battlefield and have been reading about it for 60 years. I enjoy the little ironies that constantly pop up in my readings but couldn't cite the source if I tried. So should I throw them out there anyway or not?

I don't think every post here has to be about a new hypothesis, a controversial assertion, or an unprecedented area of research. I don't see any problem with the kinds of comments you're talking about -- something you've read or observed. The way you present it can be worded so that readers will understand it's just an interesting tidbit you picked up along the way.

Roy B.
 

thomas aagaard

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 19, 2013
Location
Denmark
absence of evidence isnt evidence of absence.
Unicorns exist... sure there is no evidence of them, but that is no evidence that they don't exist.

Or how about - "The union won the civil war because 5000 green Martians fought in the army of Potomac."

In historical work you prove the positive. If you think something happened, then it up to you to prove it..

And lack of evidence can often be evidence of the lack of something.
If 5000 Martians had been in the Union army surly someone would have written about it somewhere.
the fact that no one did, is in fact evidence that there where no Martians involved.
 
Joined
Dec 22, 2020
Quotes about absence of evidence is absence of hard work and research.

It's an excuse to do neither.
in point of fact, there is only empirical evidence the civil war was about slavery ... 4 out of 11 states citing slavery for secession in their secession declarations (secession isnt war). There is as much if not more empirical evidence the war was to reunite the states not free the slaves. There is as much empirical evidence that secession was over the prospect of future high tariffs (going back to the "Tariff of abominations" days AND loss of congressional seats/power as more states joined the "Union" as "free states", thus oppressing the southern slave states over issues not related to slaves. There is no "smoking gun" evidence that the North invaded the south to free slaves but plenty of evidence that they invaded to reunite the states with or without slavery.
 

David Knight

First Sergeant
Joined
Feb 26, 2012
Location
Pontefract, Yorkshire.
Relaxing after Christmas dinner and started reading this thread...... I have found from my Great War Research that a fact can be both supported by official documents and other official documents say something completely different. I suspect that the Civil War will have similar confusion.

Having said that there is no place for lack of evidence when making a point that is not generally agreed. There really is nothing good about presenting speculation as fact without any evidence to support the claim... Just more fake news.
 

unionblue

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Member of the Year
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
Ocala, FL (as of December, 2015).
in point of fact, there is only empirical evidence the civil war was about slavery ... 4 out of 11 states citing slavery for secession in their secession declarations (secession isnt war). There is as much if not more empirical evidence the war was to reunite the states not free the slaves. There is as much empirical evidence that secession was over the prospect of future high tariffs (going back to the "Tariff of abominations" days AND loss of congressional seats/power as more states joined the "Union" as "free states", thus oppressing the southern slave states over issues not related to slaves. There is no "smoking gun" evidence that the North invaded the south to free slaves but plenty of evidence that they invaded to reunite the states with or without slavery.

In actual point of fact, it was those states leading secession that gave us our biggest hints that secession was over slavery, not a tariff.

It is correct that the North went to war to preserve the Union.

But the flip side should never be denied or hidden by simply using the word "empirical" to downgrade or ignore the fact the South seceded over the issue of slavery.

PERIOD.

You have yourself a nice Christmas.

Sincerely,
Unionblue
 
Joined
Dec 22, 2020
In actual point of fact, it was those states leading secession that gave us our biggest hints that secession was over slavery, not a tariff.

It is correct that the North went to war to preserve the Union.

But the flip side should never be denied or hidden by simply using the word "empirical" to downgrade or ignore the fact the South seceded over the issue of slavery.

PERIOD.

You have yourself a nice Christmas.

Sincerely,
Unionblue
"gave us our biggest hints that secession was over slavery, not a tariff"
1) you seem to think that slavery was the only reason for secession. "Hint" For 4 states that may very well be right, (even though it's highly doubtful) but for those states like Ark, that originally declined to secede and only did so because Lincoln called up 75k troops to attack the original 4, it was not. Ark, among others, initially voted to stay in the union. They had slaves. They reconvened after the call to arms by Ole Abe and then voted to secede...not over slavery but Abe's aggression toward it's sister states.. It's not as simple (I would think you would know better than to boil it down to its most simplistic terms) as "the war was over slavery"...it wasnt. Again, it seems you may be conflating the war with secession...its a common misconception and modern revisionist historians try to boil it down to that. Mainly, I believe, because who wants to admit the mass murder of 600k people over taxes/tariffs and loss of power. It's less morally repugnant to kill over "we wanted to free slaves". I get it...its simply not true however...

2) Did I say Tariff singular? No. The southern leaders feared (plenty of contemporaneous news articles and publications to support this) that they feared losing power as the country spread west and turned territories into states (free states) and that they would lose the ability to negotiate from a position of power to stop the Northern states from adding tariffs that helped them (the north) and hurt the Southern states. Thus they decided that self rule would be the better course and using the tenth amendment and citing the declaration of independence...they seceded. Slavery was not in danger as the North had no intention of doing away with it where it currently existed. Even offering amendments to the constitution and other compromises to placate the South and promise slavery wasnt on the chopping block. No reason to leave over a "non" reason.

oh and you have a merry Christmas as well.

Oh..PERIOD (the capitalized single emphatic use of a single word...doesnt put to rest facts and it does not cement what you say as the final end all be all of the topic. Or I would do it as well.

Edited for grammar
 
Last edited:

unionblue

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Member of the Year
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
Ocala, FL (as of December, 2015).
"gave us our biggest hints that secession was over slavery, not a tariff"
1) you seem to think that slavery was the only reason for secession. "Hint" For 4 states that may very well be right, (even though it's highly doubtful) but for those states like Ark, that originally declined to secede and only did so because Lincoln called up 75k troops to attack the original 4, it was not. Ark, among others, initially voted to stay in the union. They had slaves. They reconvened after the call to arms by Ole Abe and then voted to secede...not over slavery but Abe's aggression toward it's sister states.. It's not as simple (I would think you would know better than to boil it down to its most simplistic terms) as "the war was over slavery"...it wasnt. Again, it seems you may be conflating the war with secession...its a common misconception and modern revisionist historians try to boil it down to that. Mainly, I believe, because who wants to admit the mass murder of 600k people over taxes/tariffs and loss of power. It's less morally repugnant to kill over "we wanted to free slaves". I get it...its simply not true however...

2) Did I say Tariff singular? No. The southern leaders feared (plenty of contemporaneous news articles and publications to support this) that they feared losing power as the country spread west and turned territories into states (free states) and that they would lose the ability to negotiate from a position of power to stop the Northern states from adding tariffs that helped them (the north) and hurt the Southern states. Thus they decided that self rule would be the better course and using the tenth amendment and citing the declaration of independence...they seceded. Slavery was not in danger as the North had no intention of doing away with it where it currently existed. Even offering amendments to the constitution and other compromises to placate the South and promise slavery wasnt on the chopping block. No reason to leave over a "non" reason.

oh and you have a merry Christmas as well.

Oh..PERIOD (the capitalized single emphatic use of a single word...doesnt put to rest facts and it does not cement what you say as the final end all be all of the topic. Or I would do it as well.

Edited for grammar
1. Slavery was the only reason that brought on secession. No other issue caused as much dissatisfaction or uproar to the country than slavery. I don't 'think' this, I know it, as the seceding states, Upper and Lower, made it very clear in their declarations of secession, in their secession convention journals, in their speeches to one another, slavery was the issue that made them all secede.

2. The tariff was an issue, but not to the point either region would go to war over it. It amounted to about $1.94 a person in the United States and the lowest tariff (almost a free-trade one) in 1860. If the South had not seceded over slavery, it's representatives in Congress could have defeated or tied up the legislation for years. It is also historical fact the slaveholding South feared the population growth of the North and it's rising numbers in the House. This is what drove the slaveholders in Congress to drive getting slavery approved in ALL the States, Free and Slave, regardless of 'States Rights.' Jefferson Davis wanted a federal slave code and slavery in the territories, Dred Scott and upcoming Lemmon case concerning free right of passage for slaves in the North were further evidence of the South continuing to grow it's political power through slavery. Slavery was the issue and none else.

As for my capitalizing the word PERIOD, it means, for me personally, the subject has already been decided and recorded in history. It's use is merely to show my own concerns with the topic at hand.

Use or don't use, as you indicate, it's a personal choice.

Unionblue
 
Joined
Dec 26, 2020
It amounted to about $1.94 a person in the United States and the lowest tariff (almost a free-trade one) in 1860.
Let me chime in here. 1.94 a person in the USA? Well, he/she wasnt talking about the whole USA for one..also, tariffs, taxes and slavery was not motivation for the average soldier anyway...it was loyalty to their state.
The poor (the ones that fought and part of your misleading $1.94 figure) didnt care about tariffs or slaves (they didnt own any slaves and didnt pay any tariffs). But they didnt have a say in what the rich (the ones that WERE impacted by the prospect of a higher tariff) imposed on them (war over their money). You would have to be limited in your knowledge of the time if you believe the poor were impacted by slavery or tariffs to the point they would fight and die over either.

The poor always fight the rich people's war and the rich people were or would be greatly affected by a future (noticed that you brought up the current tariff in 1860 not taking into account the leaders/rich could think past the current year and realize the future would be higher tariffs) where the expansion west would lock them out of power and their ability to control their own fate. This was as important, if not more important than owning slaves. If they lost power (they, as you admit, feared that loss of power) they would lose the ability to stave off tariffs and possibly the end of slavery (although it's highly unlikely that was forefront in their minds, as slavery was not in jeopardy by ANY pending legislation). Slavery simply wasnt a reason to secede as it wasnt in jeopardy. Higher future tariffs/taxes were an issue for the few it impacted the most and those were the ones that decided to secede...the leaders didnt do a poll of the common man to see if they wanted to secede over slavery and they simply followed their rich leaders.

Let's finally be honest with ourselves and admit slavery was not the deciding issue for secession. As he/she said, only 3 of the 11 (7 of the 11 seceded directly as a result of Lincoln calling up troops to invade the 4 not because of slavery) even mentioned it in their secession declarations and SC put out a call to secede to other slave holding states and spent the first seven paragraphs talking about self rule and taxes and didnt mention slavery until the last few chapters. If slavery was the issue, it would have been (logically) what they led with.

Slavery just wasnt the sole nor main motivation to secede. Sorry
 

Fairfield

Sergeant Major
Joined
Dec 5, 2019
Let me chime in here. 1.94 a person in the USA? Well, he/she wasnt talking about the whole USA for one..also, tariffs, taxes and slavery was not motivation for the average soldier anyway...it was loyalty to their state.
The poor (the ones that fought and part of your misleading $1.94 figure) didnt care about tariffs or slaves (they didnt own any slaves and didnt pay any tariffs). But they didnt have a say in what the rich (the ones that WERE impacted by the prospect of a higher tariff) imposed on them (war over their money). You would have to be limited in your knowledge of the time if you believe the poor were impacted by slavery or tariffs to the point they would fight and die over either.

The poor always fight the rich people's war and the rich people were or would be greatly affected by a future (noticed that you brought up the current tariff in 1860 not taking into account the leaders/rich could think past the current year and realize the future would be higher tariffs) where the expansion west would lock them out of power and their ability to control their own fate. This was as important, if not more important than owning slaves. If they lost power (they, as you admit, feared that loss of power) they would lose the ability to stave off tariffs and possibly the end of slavery (although it's highly unlikely that was forefront in their minds, as slavery was not in jeopardy by ANY pending legislation). Slavery simply wasnt a reason to secede as it wasnt in jeopardy. Higher future tariffs/taxes were an issue for the few it impacted the most and those were the ones that decided to secede...the leaders didnt do a poll of the common man to see if they wanted to secede over slavery and they simply followed their rich leaders.

Let's finally be honest with ourselves and admit slavery was not the deciding issue for secession. As he/she said, only 3 of the 11 (7 of the 11 seceded directly as a result of Lincoln calling up troops to invade the 4 not because of slavery) even mentioned it in their secession declarations and SC put out a call to secede to other slave holding states and spent the first seven paragraphs talking about self rule and taxes and didnt mention slavery until the last few chapters. If slavery was the issue, it would have been (logically) what they led with.

Slavery just wasnt the sole nor main motivation to secede. Sorry
Let me chime in, too!

First, welcome!

eSecond, I have to agree with unionblue: slavery was the main cause (IMO--pretty much the only cause because all other issues were fluff that could be resolved). I come from a state that was highly abolitionist and (as I've said before) I've transcribed many ACW letters home--and not a one of them has listed anything else.
 
Last edited:

unionblue

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Member of the Year
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
Ocala, FL (as of December, 2015).
Let me chime in here. 1.94 a person in the USA? Well, he/she wasnt talking about the whole USA for one..also, tariffs, taxes and slavery was not motivation for the average soldier anyway...it was loyalty to their state.
The poor (the ones that fought and part of your misleading $1.94 figure) didnt care about tariffs or slaves (they didnt own any slaves and didnt pay any tariffs). But they didnt have a say in what the rich (the ones that WERE impacted by the prospect of a higher tariff) imposed on them (war over their money). You would have to be limited in your knowledge of the time if you believe the poor were impacted by slavery or tariffs to the point they would fight and die over either.

The poor always fight the rich people's war and the rich people were or would be greatly affected by a future (noticed that you brought up the current tariff in 1860 not taking into account the leaders/rich could think past the current year and realize the future would be higher tariffs) where the expansion west would lock them out of power and their ability to control their own fate. This was as important, if not more important than owning slaves. If they lost power (they, as you admit, feared that loss of power) they would lose the ability to stave off tariffs and possibly the end of slavery (although it's highly unlikely that was forefront in their minds, as slavery was not in jeopardy by ANY pending legislation). Slavery simply wasnt a reason to secede as it wasnt in jeopardy. Higher future tariffs/taxes were an issue for the few it impacted the most and those were the ones that decided to secede...the leaders didnt do a poll of the common man to see if they wanted to secede over slavery and they simply followed their rich leaders.

Let's finally be honest with ourselves and admit slavery was not the deciding issue for secession. As he/she said, only 3 of the 11 (7 of the 11 seceded directly as a result of Lincoln calling up troops to invade the 4 not because of slavery) even mentioned it in their secession declarations and SC put out a call to secede to other slave holding states and spent the first seven paragraphs talking about self rule and taxes and didnt mention slavery until the last few chapters. If slavery was the issue, it would have been (logically) what they led with.

Slavery just wasnt the sole nor main motivation to secede. Sorry

Edited.

Slavery, $4 Billion dollars worth of human property mattered to the rich of the South, while those poor you mention had at least the satisfaction of being one up on the social ladder and embraced by white supremacy.

I agree that slavery was not in jeopardy by Lincoln, the Republican Party, or the North, but in the South the issue that slavery was under threat was whipped up by those in power and the majority of slaveholders.

Like I said, read the state secession journals and see which topic was most discussed: slavery. What were the major debates and compromises made in Congress before the war? They all concerned slavery. Slavery was the issue that could not be compromised on, could not be resolved in a court of law or by the Supreme Court.

Slavery was THE issue and was the cause of secession which led to the Civil War.

Unionblue
 
Last edited by a moderator:

DanSBHawk

1st Lieutenant
Joined
May 8, 2015
Location
Wisconsin
Let's finally be honest with ourselves and admit slavery was not the deciding issue for secession.
It would be nice if people could finally be honest with themselves and admit that slavery was overwhelmingly the deciding issue that caused the sectional crisis, and brought on secession and war.

Why continue to deny it?
 

RobertP

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Nov 11, 2009
Location
Dallas
“...while those poor you mention had at least the satisfaction of being one up on the social ladder and embraced by white supremacy.”

You might want to review the Dred Scott decision before going off on white supremacy.
 

unionblue

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Member of the Year
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
Ocala, FL (as of December, 2015).
“...while those poor you mention had at least the satisfaction of being one up on the social ladder and embraced by white supremacy.”

You might want to review the Dred Scott decision before going off on white supremacy.

I have and I see no reason to change my statement you reference.

Dred Scott was the lowest the Supreme Court had ever sunk in it's history of rulings.

As for the fact that even the poorest white in the South could at least assume he was superior to slaves, why be surprised at that attitude?
 
Joined
Dec 26, 2020
Let me chime in, too!

First, welcome!

eSecond, I have to agree with unionblue: slavery was the main cause (IMO--pretty much the only cause because all other issues were fluff that could be resolved). I come from a state that was highly abolitionist and (as I've said before) I've transcribed many ACW letters home--and not a one of them has listed anything else.
would love to read them....and thanks for welcoming me.
Now were those letters from northern troops trying to justify the slaughter around them as being a moral issue that would let them sleep better?

The "common" people of the time were ignorant for the most part and easily malleable to propaganda. Both sides used propaganda to motivate the people to fight a war they thought was in THEIR interests rather the interests of the "rich".

Mainly, I believe, the Southern states... they convinced the common white man their social status would change (I find that as only a small motivation to fight and die... less so than loyalty to their state) if blacks were freed. The Rich landowners/influencers needed a way to convince the poor to fight for the rich's money...what better way to do that than convince the poor whites that they would lose the "caste" position (a ludicrous proposition as this was one of the most racist times in our country's history/even whites of the north didnt want them freed and brought north) and didnt even start to happen until the 1960's (100 years later). The use of propaganda to motivate people has been used for millennia and is used still today in this political environment. They were not in the loop so to speak as to what they were actually fighting for. This also speaks to the reply from RobertP. Hope you had a wonderful Christmas
 
Top