Why did The Uncontrolled Growth Of Sectionalism During the 1850s Happen; Slavery or Something More Subtle?

Scooter_B

I am jgoodguy
-:- A Mime -:-
is a terrible thing...
Don’t feed the Mime
Joined
Jun 8, 2019
Potter is right, the Anti-Slavery opponents who fought for Black Rights were not a large enough group to cause a Civil War. I don't think that people realize that after the compromise of 1850, the argument about the Territories had been decided. During this Calm in the early 50's the 2 party system began to unravel. The American Party rose because of the rise of the Immigrant population during this Era. Along with the Hatred of the Catholics. The Know Nothings will kill the Whig Party. Know Nothings will also weaken the Democrat Party. People have begun to lose confidence in the Democracy and Whigs who have controlled Politics since Jackson.

During the mid 50's with the debate over the TRR, the South with a Democrat President is getting the upper hand over which Route the TRR will take. Douglas has tried to get Territorial Status for the Kansas Territory since 1845. He knows that if that area is not Settled, he can't get the TRR, which is his Dream, to build the West and make it a buffer for North and South Sectionalism. He knows that Southerners will never agree for Territorial Status in an area, they know will never be Slave. So, he blows up the Missouri Compromise, Puts Popular Sovereignty in the Kansas bill. This gives and Issue for the Democrats and Whigs to reform their parties. Gives rise to the Free Soilers, who have been dead since the 1850, Compromise. And is a Gift to the Republicans. So, the Politicos are going to Blow Up Sectionalism for Political Gain. Democrats are going to Split over Popular Sovereignty, North vs South.

Republicans will Reform, be defeated in 56'. They will learn from the loss, and determine what will gain them the Presidency in 60.

PA and NJ want protective Tariffs for Coal and Steel. The Rise of the Great Lake Economy want Protective Tariffs. So Tariffs is in the Republican Platform of 60'.

The Mid-Westerners want Harbor and Internal Improvements. Buchanan had Vetoed Bills to stop these Improvements to the Lake Region. A plank in the Republican Platform in 60'.

Mid-Westerners also want Free Homestead Law. Give Land Away. Southern Democrats have kept that from happening. That is in the Republican Platform.

Central Route for the TRR is in the Republican Platform. South aint getting it. Under Republican Control, Never Will.

Also, during the run up to the election. Republicans have convinced the Mid-Westerners that Southern Whites and Blacks, destroy Land. They wear out soils, Blacks will compete with White Labor. So, Southerners are a Treat to Northern White Prosperity. They Also attach this Slave Power Concept to the Northern Party. The fact is the Northern Democrats are as Anti-Slavery as the Republicans. But to make the Republicans the only viable option to subdue the Southerners, Republicans have to convince the Racist Northern Whites that the Slave Power will make Slavery National. Northerners will have more Blacks, in their neighborhoods.

So, Republicans win the Election. Lower South had become a 1 Political Party. Unlike the Border South and Upper South which has other Political Options they can Trust. So, the Lower South chooses, Disunion.

So, as we can see. The Rise of the Republican Party was Economic. Anti-Slavery or Anti-South because of the Boogie Man prophecy of the Republicans.

Disunion of the Lower South, again because of the breakdown of the two party system, and the Boogie Man prophecy of the Radical Dis-unionist.
Exactly it was politics and poltical ambition not slavery per se.
 

Scooter_B

I am jgoodguy
-:- A Mime -:-
is a terrible thing...
Don’t feed the Mime
Joined
Jun 8, 2019
In the excerpt, Potter notes that the anti- slavery resistance rose when the nation expanded, over the westward spread of slavery, but didn't where the vast majority of enslaved people actually lived. Later writers like John Oakes in The Scorpion's Sting argue that people gauged the future of slavery everywhere in the US on its ability to expand. Containing slavery would mean its eventual extinction, or so the thinking went. Therefore keeping slaves out of Kansas would eventually weaken slavery elsewhere, which is why a slaveowner in South Carolina wanted slavery to be able to spread into the West.
Historians cannot agree on how slavery 'caused' the civil war.
 

ForeverFree

Major
Joined
Feb 6, 2010
Location
District of Columbia
The Northerners would not compromise. They could but chose not to.

In his book At the Precipice: Americans North and South during the Secession Crisis, author Shearer Davis Bowman writes

The inability to engineer an acceptable compromise during the secession crisis reflected the reality that neither northern nor southern stalwarts could endorse concessions that did not seem to undermine what they perceived to be their fundamental interests rights and honor as citizens of the American Republic.​
Avery Craven has powerfully concluded, "neither the North nor the South could you yield its position because slavery had come to symbolize values in each of their socio-economic structures for which men fight and die but which they do not give up or compromise."​
That last comment is key: the conflict of free labor versus slave labor was uncompromising. There was no middle ground between free labor and slave labor. Or at least, the antagonists could not find one. Other elements, such as tariffs, could find a middle ground for resolution. The North and South could not find a middle ground on the fundamental conflict.

I would add on this point that studies of intellectual history, emotional history and rhetoric indicate that the sections had evolved hardened views of their labor systems into which so much emotional, intellectual, political, social, and political capital had been invested, that they could not give up on their views. For the sections, free labor and slave labor were not just theories or world views; these things represented who they were culturally, intellectually, socially, and so on. These were not just conflicting world views, they were conflicting identities. These identities were entrenched to a point that compromise meant, as Shearer Bowman put it, giving up on their interests, rights, and honor. The sides were not going to do that, and then the war came.

- Alan
 
Last edited:

ForeverFree

Major
Joined
Feb 6, 2010
Location
District of Columbia
Historians cannot agree on how slavery 'caused' the civil war.

The historian Elizabeth Varon says "there's emerged in recent years a strong consensus, which scholars call the fundamentalist school, that slavery was the root fundamental cause of the civil war and that the political antagonisms between the North and South flowed from the fact that the North was a free labor society while the South was a slave labor society...."

Of course, that consensus could and probably will change. But today, this is the consensus among historians.

- Alan
 
Joined
Oct 3, 2005
Baptist's book had been thoroughly debunked which sinks this post. Even a quick search of the archives here finds a thread or 2 here debunking Baptist thoroughly. Lots of anti Southerner writers were taken in by his fraud from confirmation bias/
As I noted in my post, he identifies a specific driver of increased production, systematic brutality. Others attribute the increased production to other factors, such as breeds of plants. But the point, made by William Johnson's River of Dark Dreams as well, is that the South wasn't a static, archaic region with anti-capitalist ethos described in the "clash of civilizations" theory that Potter describes.
 
Joined
Oct 3, 2005
Historians cannot agree on how slavery 'caused' the civil war.
Historians cannot agree on how slavery 'caused' the civil war.
I think in one way you've hit the nail on the head: the question is "how did slavery cause the Civil War."
The question isn't "what caused the Civil War?" because we know the answer to that: slavery.

My bolding of "how" from your post.
 
Joined
Oct 3, 2005
I think in one way you've hit the nail on the head: the question is "how did slavery cause the Civil War."
The question isn't "what caused the Civil War?" because we know the answer to that: slavery.

My bolding of "how" from your post.
Once we start asking the questions, "how and why did slavery cause the Civil War, and why in 1860, but not another time?" I think we are on the right road to a better understanding of the people and history of the time.
 

uaskme

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 9, 2016
Location
SE Tennessee
The historian Elizabeth Varon says "there's emerged in recent years a strong consensus, which scholars call the fundamentalist school, that slavery was the root fundamental cause of the civil war and that the political antagonisms between the North and South flowed from the fact that the North was a free labor society while the South was a slave labor society...."

Of course, that consensus could and probably will change. But today, this is the consensus among historians.

- Alan

Daniel W. Crofts, Michael F. Holt, Marc Engal, Larry E. Tise, are a few who would disagree with Ms Varon. I can name more. Not all Historians, are Lincoln Apologist. If all you read, are Lincoln Apologist, it might skew your analysis?
 

Viper21

Brigadier General
Moderator
Silver Patron
Joined
Jul 4, 2016
Location
Rockbridge County, Virginia
Sectionalism started way before the 1850's.

The assumption of state debts furnished the occasion of the first threat of secession, and breaking up the government. It was made by the Northern members.

https://books.google.com/books?id=E...ch would destroy the Southern States.&f=false

Some prominent historical players involved in these discussions. The ink was barely dry on the Constitution, & some sections were threatening to bounce already....
 

Viper21

Brigadier General
Moderator
Silver Patron
Joined
Jul 4, 2016
Location
Rockbridge County, Virginia
Historians cannot agree on how slavery 'caused' the civil war.
To make the simplistic generalization, "Slavery caused the War", is intellectually lazy.

Like most history, there's more to the story. Modern political ideology is the driving factor behind that simplistic generalization.
 

ForeverFree

Major
Joined
Feb 6, 2010
Location
District of Columbia
Daniel W. Crofts, Michael F. Holt, Marc Engal, Larry E. Tise, are a few who would disagree with Ms Varon. I can name more. Not all Historians, are Lincoln Apologist. If all you read, are Lincoln Apologist, it might skew your analysis?

I think Varon is a credible enough person in CW history circles that her comments can be believed. I have not see anybody who has challenged that comment, or said anything different.

Note that, Varon does not say every historian has this view. In the lecture I mention, she mentions the "revisionists." I take this
from her book Disunion!: The Coming of the American Civil War, 1789-1859, which provides a more detailed overview of historians' views on the causes of the war.

...it is worth briefly recalling the ways that previous scholars have tried to explain the origins of the Civil War. The economic interpretation for the coming of the war was pioneered by Charles A. and Mary R. Beard, whose 1927 book The Rise of the American Civilization argued that because the economics of the dynamic industrializing North and the static agrarian South were incompatible, the two societies were on a collision course that led inexorably to war; issues such as banking, tariffs, and subsidies not debates over the morality of slavery, divided the two sections. Arguing against the notion that armed conflict was inevitable, James G. Randall and Avery O. Craven, writing in the 1930s and 1940s, countered that irrational and irresponsible agitators in each section-abolitionists in the North and secessionists in the South-inflamed popular passions and prejudices and thus caused a "needless war." Slavery did divide the nation, but it should not have-the "peculiar institution" would have faded away naturally had blundering politicians not brought on its violent demise.​
This debate over whether the war was "irrepressible" or "repressible" has raged on in the modern day, with scholars aligned in two interpretive camps-the "fundamentalist" and the new "revisionist." Fundamentalists build on the work of W. E. B. Dubois, the great black historian and the champion of the "emancipationist" memory of the war. Taking issue with the Beards' approach and with the "blundering generation" school alike, DuBois tirelessly insisted, in countless speeches, articles,and books, that slavery was the root cause and emancipation the noble purpose of the war. For DuBois, the Civil War was not only a clash of economic systems but also a war of ideas and ideologies (systems of thought). With careful attention to both the economies and ideologies of North and South, modern "fundamentalists" such as James McPherson, Eric Foner, Bertram Wyatt-Brown, Bruce Levine, John Ashworth, Brian Holden Reid, and Sean Wilentz have described the two sections as different and deeply antagonistic societies; all agree that slavery was the root of that antagonism. The North's commitment to capitalism and modernization, these scholars explain, was the context for abolitionism and for the free labor ideology of Abraham Lincoln's Republican Party. The South's commitment to staple production and slave labor was reflected in the region's distinctive cult of honor, its preoccupation with localism and states' rights, and its defense of social inequality.​
"Modern revisionists," for their part, have followed the lead of Kenneth Stampp and David M. Potter. Trying to recapture the contingencies, possibilities, and volatility of antebellum politics, Stampp and Potter emphasized the shared values of North and South and lamented the failure of political leaders to reach compromises that might have averted war. More recently, revisionists like Michael Holt, William E. Gienapp, William W. Freehling, and Joel H. Sibley have focused on those political debates within each section that do not fit into the a linear narrative of the slavery controversy. Northern voters, political historians have shown, were preoccupied with and motivated by issues such as nativism (anti-immigrant bias); slavery was not their overriding concern and did not explain their voting behavior. The Southern electorate, too, was deeply divided-on the basis of class, economic setting, and sub-region. The differences between the Upper South and the Deep South in particular make it treacherous to generalize broadly about the "fundamental" nature of Southern Society.​
As Edward Ayers has put it, succinctly, "for the funadamentalists, slavery is front and center; for the revisionist, slavery is buried beneath layers of white ideology and politics."... Acknowledging the difficulty of breaking free of the fundamentalist/revisionist dichotomy, Ayers has called on historians to look anew for "catalysts" of sectionalism. In other words, while scholars can agree that slavery, more than any other issue, divided the North and South, there is still much to be said about why slavery proved to be so divisive and why sectional compromise ultimately proved elusive.​

To relate this to the thread topic: the fundamentalists do share this notion that the sections had "clashing cultures."

I for one do think it is unfortunate and unwise that so much of the rhetoric involved in the fundamentalist discussion is about "slavery," that is, distilling everything into that one word. An essential part of the fundamentalist position is that conflict arose from being there being a "free labor" society on the one hand, and a "slave labor" society on the other. That viewpoint demands, for example, some exploration of what it means to be a free labor society. There is not enough of a discussion about that, to me. (I have opened a thread or two to discuss the topic.) The subject of slavery in the South is the sexier thing to discuss.

Not all Historians, are Lincoln Apologist. If all you read, are Lincoln Apologist, it might skew your analysis?

So everyone who is a fundamentalist is a Lincoln apologist? I can't and don't take that seriously.

- Alan
 
Last edited:

uaskme

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 9, 2016
Location
SE Tennessee
I think Varon is a credible enough person in CW history circles that her comments can be believed. I have not see anybody who has challenged that comment, or said anything different.

Note that, Varon does not say every historian has this view. In the lecture I mention, she mentions the "revisionists." I take this
from her book Disunion!: The Coming of the American Civil War, 1789-1859, which provides a more detailed overview of historians' views on the causes of the war.

...it is worth briefly recalling the ways that previous scholars have tried to explain the origins of the Civil War. The economic interpretation for the coming of the war was pioneered by Charles A. and Mary R. Beard, whose 1927 book The Rise of the American Civilization argued that because the economics of the dynamic industrializing North and the static agrarian South were incompatible, the two societies were on a collision course that led inexorably to war; issues such as banking, tariffs, and subsidies not debates over the morality of slavery, divided the two sections. Arguing against the notion that armed conflict was inevitable, James G. Randall and Avery O. Craven, writing in the 1930s and 1940s, countered that irrational and irresponsible agitators in each section-abolitionists in the North and secessionists in the South-inflamed popular passions and prejudices and thus caused a "needless war." Slavery did divide the nation, but it should not have-the "peculiar institution" would have faded away naturally had blundering politicians not brought on its violent demise.​
This debate over whether the war was "irrepressible" or "repressible" has raged on in the modern day, with scholars aligned in two interpretive camps-the "fundamentalist" and the new "revisionist." Fundamentalists build on the work of W. E. B. Dubois, the great black historian and the champion of the "emancipationist" memory of the war. Taking issue with the Beards' approach and with the "blundering generation" school alike, DuBois tirelessly insisted, in countless speeches, articles,and books, that slavery was the root cause and emancipation the noble purpose of the war. For DuBois, the Civil War was not only a clash of economic systems but also a war of ideas and ideologies (systems of thought). With careful attention to both the economies and ideologies of North and South, modern "fundamentalists" such as James McPherson, Eric Foner, Bertram Wyatt-Brown, Bruce Levine, John Ashworth, Brian Holden Reid, and Sean Wilentz have described the two sections as different and deeply antagonistic societies; all agree that slavery was the root of that antagonism. The North's commitment to capitalism and modernization, these scholars explain, was the context for abolitionism and for the free labor ideology of Abraham Lincoln's Republican Party. The South's commitment to staple production and slave labor was reflected in the region's distinctive cult of honor, its preoccupation with localism and states' rights, and its defense of social inequality.​
"Modern revisionists," for their part, have followed the lead of Kenneth Stampp and David M. Potter. Trying to recapture the contingencies, possibilities, and volatility of antebellum politics, Stampp and Potter emphasized the shared values of North and South and lamented the failure of political leaders to reach compromises that might have averted war. More recently, revisionists like Michael Holt, William E. Gienapp, William W. Freehling, and Joel H. Sibley have focused on those political debates within each section that do not fit into the a linear narrative of the slavery controversy. Northern voters, political historians have shown, were preoccupied with and motivated by issues such as nativism (anti-immigrant bias); slavery was not their overriding concern and did not explain their voting behavior. The Southern electorate, too, was deeply divided-on the basis of class, economic setting, and sub-region. The differences between the Upper South and the Deep South in particular make it treacherous to generalize broadly about the "fundamental" nature of Southern Society.​
As Edward Ayers has put it, succinctly, "for the funadamentalists, slavery is front and center; for the revisionist, slavery is buried beneath layers of white ideology and politics."... Acknowledging the difficulty of breaking free of the fundamentalist/revisionist dichotomy, Ayers has called on historians to look anew for "catalysts" of sectionalism. In other words, while scholars can agree that slavery, more than any other issue, divided the North and South, there is still much to be said about why slavery proved to be so divisive and why sectional compromise ultimately proved elusive.​

To relate this to the thread topic: the fundamentalists do share this notion that the sections had "clashing cultures."

I for one do think it is unfortunate and unwise that so much of the rhetoric involved in the fundamentalist discussion is about "slavery," that is, distilling everything into that one word. An essential part of the fundamentalist position is that conflict arose from being there being a "free labor" society on the one hand, and a "slave labor" society on the other. That viewpoint demands, for example, some exploration of what it means to have free labor society. There is not enough of a discussion about that, to me. (I have opened a thread or two to discuss the topic.) The subject of slavery in the South is the sexier thing to discuss.



So everyone who is a fundamentalist is a Lincoln apologist? I can't and don't take that seriously.

- Alan

Her opinion. 1 in a crowd. Foner and McPherson, first 2 on her list are Lincoln Apologist. Others I haven’t read, wonder Why?

I haven’t read any Emotional Historians either. Do they talk about Yankee Racism toward Blacks and about murdering Indian Savages? Maybe the Yankee just wasn’t Emotional about it?
 

CSA Today

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Honored Fallen Comrade
Joined
Dec 3, 2011
Location
Laurinburg NC
Her opinion. 1 in a crowd. Foner and McPherson, first 2 on her list are Lincoln Apologist. Others I haven’t read, wonder Why?

I haven’t read any Emotional Historians either. Do they talk about Yankee Racism toward Blacks and about murdering Indian Savages? Maybe the Yankee just wasn’t Emotional about it?
Or former black slaves ('Buffalo Soldiers') murdering "Indian savages."
 

Joshism

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Apr 30, 2012
Location
Jupiter, FL
Or perhaps a clash of civilizations which is common in historical scholarship.

The differences between Northern and Southern "civilizations" were trivial except for slavery.

The Summery is that just like nesting Russian dolls, there is often something deeper than hitting Southerners over the head with 'slavery' and retreating into a self satisficing session with Treasury Virtueure.

Except the nesting dolls are all made from slavery. Slavery warped everything around it. It was an economic and a social system. A part of the culture, a symbol of wealth, a form of security, a fundamental (property) right.

Baptist's book had been thoroughly debunked which sinks this post.

Citation needed.
 

ForeverFree

Major
Joined
Feb 6, 2010
Location
District of Columbia
Her opinion. 1 in a crowd. Foner and McPherson, first 2 on her list are Lincoln Apologist. Others I haven’t read, wonder Why?

I haven’t read any Emotional Historians either. Do they talk about Yankee Racism toward Blacks and about murdering Indian Savages? Maybe the Yankee just wasn’t Emotional about it?

1) RE: Her opinion. 1 in a crowd.

To repeat, she is a history scholar, and I certainly take her opinion over yours.

2) LOL, I don't know if they would prefer to be called "Emotional Historians." I guess they'd prefer to be called students of Emotional History. If you wish, you can do a review of the literature in the field to determine what scholars have written on those subjects.

- Alan
 

unionblue

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Member of the Year
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
Ocala, FL (as of December, 2015).
The Northerners would not compromise. They could but chose not to.

Your compass heading is wrong.

It was the Slaveholding South that would not compromise and they chose war to settle the issue of unilateral secession and chattel Slavery.

Even when told a constitutional amendment would be passed without opposition from the federal government that would guaruntee that slavery would not be touched where it already existed, it wasn't enough.

Talk about no compromise.

Unionblue
 
Joined
Oct 3, 2005
Daniel W. Crofts, Michael F. Holt, Marc Engal, Larry E. Tise, are a few who would disagree with Ms Varon. I can name more. Not all Historians, are Lincoln Apologist. If all you read, are Lincoln Apologist, it might skew your analysis?
Its Dr. Varon. Maybe you could post some quotes by Holt and the others on their thinking and research.
 

Joshism

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Apr 30, 2012
Location
Jupiter, FL
Daniel W. Crofts, Michael F. Holt, Marc Engal, Larry E. Tise, are a few who would disagree with Ms Varon. I can name more. Not all Historians, are Lincoln Apologist. If all you read, are Lincoln Apologist, it might skew your analysis?

Care to elaborate how Croft, Holt, Engal, and Tise disagree with Varon, McPherson, Foner, and the orthodox view? As in excerpts from their published works.
 

unionblue

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Member of the Year
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
Ocala, FL (as of December, 2015).
Care to elaborate how Croft, Holt, Engal, and Tise disagree with Varon, McPherson, Foner, and the orthodox view? As in excerpts from their published works.


I have the book written by Daniel W. Crofts, Lincoln & the Politics of Slavery: The Other Thirteenth Amendment and the Struggle to Save the Union.

It's was suggested to me by @uaskme , and I have found it to be very informative. In the Prologue of the book, on pages 7 & 8, I read the following:

"...Today we assume that the Civil War was fought to end slavery, but we forget that no Republican supported in advance using armed force to bring about such an "astounding" result (Lincoln's adjective, as already noted). The Union army went south to quell the rebellion, not to emancipate slaves--only to find the two were inextricably interconnected. The war emboldened slaves to flee their bondage, to aid the Union army, and to volunteer for combat. The war changed everything--most especially the willingness of white Northerners to continue tolerating slavery--and ultimately made it possible to adopt the real Thirteenth Amendment.

The story of the other thirteenth amendment also shines a d*a*m*ning light on the late antebellum South's political leaders, especially its powerful nucleus of Deep South Democrats. They exaggerated the dangers the white South faced. At work here, in part, was the very nature of Southern political discourse. Rival partisan entrepreneurs sought to identify threats to popular liberty--and to smear their opponents for displaying zeal in blocking such threats or insidiously collaborating with the South's enemies. It became standard procedure for political orators to warn that the South was menaced by abolitionism. These accusations likely resonated because white Southerners presided over a system of forced labor while they pretended black slaves were content. Endless affirmations that slavery was a "positive good" for everyone involved never quite banished the fear that ferocious rebels might lurk behind inscrutable black masks. White Southerners were predisposed to be suspicious..."

Sincerely,
Unionblue
 
Last edited:
Top