Why didn’t Lincoln just let the Southern states secede and leave the Union?

wausaubob

Colonel
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
Location
Denver, CO
Relevant then and relevant today: the candidates that win the election get to govern, the entire nation. That's what "republican" means.

Article IV​


  • Section 4​

    The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic Violence.
    • ArtIV.S4.1 Guarantee Clause
 

29thWisCoG

Corporal
Joined
Apr 12, 2021
Then please follow the nearly $4 BILLION worth of slave property in the Southern, slaveholding states, which was worth more than all the gold, factories, banks, ships, railroads in the entire US at that time.
Absolutely, I have no doubt that the CSA was motivated by wealth preservation generated by the slavocracy they wanted to protect.

The case is closed for me regarding the CSA motivations, but I am most curious about understanding the Federal motivation(s) for preserving the Union.
 

29thWisCoG

Corporal
Joined
Apr 12, 2021
Yes. Many students of the war and reconstruction want to ignore Northern economic motivation because it exposes aspects of their Northern ancestors that they don't want to admit. Perhaps like you, some students never considered such matters because their teachers never addressed the issues.
I have no problems admitting the likely self-interest reasons why my gg-grandfather volunteered for the 29th Wis... he had just immigrated from Germany a month earlier without much, joining the Union army would provide an income while alive during the war, a pension if he survived, and while mustered out his needs were taken care of (for the most part Lol)... he had no country loyalty or philosophy to motivate his enlistment.

What other economic reasons could the Northern states have to protect by coercion? Were the Northern states reliant on southern agriculture for sources of food? Raw materials for industrial manufacturing (aside from textiles)? Potential for land lost to the CSA or other countries as the remainder of the country was settled? The impact of rail/transportation networks on commerce? The impact of labor supply for future expansion of the two countries? I don't have the answers but I am sure there is more to reveal that it is entirely possible that Lincoln had significant economic motivation to choose coercion.... AL often spoke in abstractions, but there must be something in his speeches that might reveal this...

here is an excellent article that discusses the Northern economic argument:

https://eh.net/encyclopedia/the-economics-of-the-civil-war/
 

Belfoured

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
I have no problems admitting the likely self-interest reasons why my gg-grandfather volunteered for the 29th Wis... he had just immigrated from Germany a month earlier without much, joining the Union army would provide an income while alive during the war, a pension if he survived, and while mustered out his needs were taken care of (for the most part Lol)... he had no country loyalty or philosophy to motivate his enlistment.

What other economic reasons could the Northern states have to protect by coercion? Were the Northern states reliant on southern agriculture for sources of food? Raw materials for industrial manufacturing (aside from textiles)? Potential for land lost to the CSA or other countries as the remainder of the country was settled? The impact of rail/transportation networks on commerce? The impact of labor supply for future expansion of the two countries? I don't have the answers but I am sure there is more to reveal that it is entirely possible that Lincoln had significant economic motivation to choose coercion.... AL often spoke in abstractions, but there must be something in his speeches that might reveal this...

here is an excellent article that discusses the Northern economic argument:

https://eh.net/encyclopedia/the-economics-of-the-civil-war/
There also is always the simple explanation that there were folks in the North who saw this as an unlawful insurrection/rebellion against the United States and that it should be put down. There also is the possibility that a lot of people in the North had multiple "motivations". The search for some "sole" motivation that neatly avoids the moral attributes of another motivation is a debating artifice and not a hunt for the truth.
 
He was famous for his appearance in Jones vs Vanzandt. CWT should enjoy your $50

I don't know if @LetUsHavePeace made good on his bet but in addition to the one case you posted and the one case I posted, I found another where Chase represented a runaway slave by the name of Mary Towns in the case of re Mary Townes (1841) before Judge Reed at the Court of Common Pleas of Hamilton County, Ohio. Chase had previously lost his 1837 case representing the fugitive slave Matilda, in front of the same judge. Townes had been a slave in Kentucky by the name of Rose but had fled to Cincinnati where she took on the name of Mary Townes and had lived there ten years, married and raised a family. Her owner, Thomas Gaither, found out she was living in Ohio, captured her but was denied a certificate of removal by the local judge so Gaither filed suit in the county court. Chase argued on Townes' behalf that Gaither's written affidavit failed to show that Townes was indeed a fugitive and this time the judge agreed with Chase, denying the slave owner's request and ruling that Mary Townes was a free person.
 

NedBaldwin

Major
Joined
Feb 19, 2011
Location
California
I don't know if @LetUsHavePeace made good on his bet but in addition to the one case you posted and the one case I posted, I found another where Chase represented a runaway slave by the name of Mary Towns in the case of re Mary Townes (1841) before Judge Reed at the Court of Common Pleas of Hamilton County, Ohio. Chase had previously lost his 1837 case representing the fugitive slave Matilda, in front of the same judge. Townes had been a slave in Kentucky by the name of Rose but had fled to Cincinnati where she took on the name of Mary Townes and had lived there ten years, married and raised a family. Her owner, Thomas Gaither, found out she was living in Ohio, captured her but was denied a certificate of removal by the local judge so Gaither filed suit in the county court. Chase argued on Townes' behalf that Gaither's written affidavit failed to show that Townes was indeed a fugitive and this time the judge agreed with Chase, denying the slave owner's request and ruling that Mary Townes was a free person.

In addition to the Matilda case in 1837 (sometimes referred to as Matilda v. Lawrence),
there was a related case of Birney v Ohio [ https://cite.case.law/ohio/8/230/ ] since Birney had housed Matilda

State v. Farr in 1841 as well as the Mary Townes case you mention

in 1842 Jones v Van Zandt

State v. Hoppess in 1845

DRISKELL V. PARISH in 1847

Probably more, but thats enough for now

In 1849 be was elected Senator and in 1855 Governor, so he stopped his legal practice in the 1850s
 

American87

Sergeant
Joined
Aug 27, 2016
Location
PENNSYLVANIA
After reading many of Lincoln's writings, I am convinced that he legitimately believed in the inoperability of the Union. He says as much, that the Founding Fathers would never have intended to create a Union that could be broken up.

I do not recall him ever mentioning financial interests as a reason for preserving the Union. Surely he would have mentioned such, even to a friend in one his letters.

He was totally convinced that the secession crisis was based in slavery, and that slavery was the great evil rending the country apart. Without slavery, he seemed to believe, the North and South would get a long just fine.

But at the end of the day, he just believed it was not legal, or the intent of the Founders, to have secession be legal, and he fought to resume the authority of the federal government in the seceded states.
 

leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
May 27, 2011
Location
los angeles ca
1. Here's the OP

Why didn’t Lincoln just let the Southern states secede and leave the Union?​

2. Davis' war aims changed too. In July 1864 he told peace emissaries James Gilmore and James Jaquess "We are not fighting for slavery. We are fighting for Independence, and that, or extermination, we will have."
If that's true then why didn't Davis outlaw slavery in 1864 and give people of color complete and equal rights?
Leftyhunter
 

Wolfman0125

Private
Joined
May 4, 2021
Had Lincoln not succeeded in preserving the Union, it would have set a dangerous precedent for states to simply secede at their discretion over various issues rendering our country to become the new Europe, making us easy prey to be invaded by foreign entities. We would not be defensible. Here is a picture of those who actually fought taken fifty years later at the high water mark of Pickett’s Charge coming together as Americans. This photo was colorized by Sauna Dullaway. I found this on Facebook and do not own the rights to it.

E7894F9C-3178-4322-998D-61C86841BC93.png
 

Horrido67

Private
Joined
Sep 29, 2019
Had Lincoln not succeeded in preserving the Union, it would have set a dangerous precedent for states to simply secede at their discretion over various issues rendering our country to become the new Europe, making us easy prey to be invaded by foreign entities.

Didn't they use the term "Mexicanization"? What the people of the time feared was that the US would be in a constant state of Civil War and anarchy where states would form a confederation with like-minded states and try to settle a political difference by using violent force. Lincoln won the War against the rebels, but it did not mean he ended all agitation over "Mexicanzation" all together. Throughout the reconstruction, the Union could have collapsed multiple times as military had to be brought in the South to fight against paramilitary organization like KKK, White League and Red. Especially the election of 1876 could have resulted in another civil war due to disputed election results. Lincoln is rightfully credited for his contribution towards the preservation of the Union, but It was not a job done by a single savior.
 
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lurid

First Sergeant
Joined
Jan 3, 2019
Had Lincoln not succeeded in preserving the Union, it would have set a dangerous precedent for states to simply secede at their discretion over various issues rendering our country to become the new Europe, making us easy prey to be invaded by foreign entities. We would not be defensible. Here is a picture of those who actually fought taken fifty years later at the high water mark of Pickett’s Charge coming together as Americans. This photo was colorized by Sauna Dullaway. I found this on Facebook and do not own the rights to it.

View attachment 402237

Exactly. It had to do with preserving the Monroe Doctrine policy and preventing neo-colonialism. If the south were allowed to go the continental USA would have been splintered, which neo-colonialism was a common practice in the 1800s and early 1900s.
 

Horrido67

Private
Joined
Sep 29, 2019
Separation would have cost the North more than the war - so the North opted for war...

I don't know the separation would have costed which side more, but I wouldn't be hesistant to guess that both the North and the South would have collapsed into small petty states and been a constant state of war as unilateral secession and violence would have been legimitized as a valid way to settle contentious issues like slavery.

I don't remember who said it, but I remember reading somewhere that some Secessionists were already discussing about breaking up the South into Upper South and lower South to protect the interests of slave-holding states of Deep South. Things like Free State of Jones were destined to happen even if the Confederates were successful in achieving their indpendence. However, that's just my humble opinion.
 
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lurid

First Sergeant
Joined
Jan 3, 2019
I don't know the separation would have costed which side more, but I wouldn't be hesistant to guess that both the North and the South would have collapsed into small petty states and been a constant state of war as unilateral secession and violence would have been legimitized as a valid way to settle contentious issues like slavery.

I don't remember who said it, but I remember reading somewhere that some Secessionists were already discussing about breaking up the South into Upper South and lower South to protect the interests of slave-holding states of Deep South. Things like Free State of Jones were destined to happen even if the Confederates were successful in achieving their indpendence. However, that's just my humble opinion.

The economic data suggests that the north could have easily let the south withdrawal from Union without missing a beat, and the subsequent decades reveal this to be true to the point where It appears I might not be putting enough emphasis on it. The Gilded Age economic date clearly shows this to be true: By the beginning of the 20th century, gross domestic product and industrial production in the United States led the world. U.S. national income, in absolute figures in per capita, was so far above everybody else's by 1914." Per capita income in the United States was $377 in 1914 compared to Britain in second place at $244, Germany at $184, France at $153, and Italy at $108, while Russia and Japan trailed far behind at $41 and $36(Kennedy, Paul (1987). The Rise and Fall of Great Powers New York: Random House. p. 242).

The rapid expansion of industrialization led to real wage growth of 60% between 1860 and 1890, spread across the ever-increasing labor force. Real wages (adjusting for inflation) rose steadily, with the exact percentage increase depending on the dates and the specific work force. The Census Bureau reported in 1892 that the average annual wage per industrial worker (including men, women, and children) rose from $380 in 1880 to $564 in 1890, a gain of 48%. Economic historian Clarence D. Long estimates that (in terms of constant 1914 dollars), the average annual incomes of all American non-farm employees rose from $375 in 1870 to $395 in 1880, $519 in 1890 and $573 in 1900, a gain of 53% in 30 years(Tregarthen, Timothy D.; Rittenberg, Libby (1999) Macroeconomics (2nd ed.). Worth Publishers. p. 177).

Australian historian Peter Shergold found that the standard of living for industrial workers was higher than in Europe. He compared wages and the standard of living in Pittsburgh with Birmingham, England, one of the richest industrial cities of Europe. After taking account of the cost of living (which was 65% higher in the U.S.), he found the standard of living of unskilled workers was about the same in the two cities, while skilled workers in Pittsburgh had about 50% to 100% higher standard of living as those in Birmingham, England. According to Shergold the American advantage grew over time from 1890 to 1914, and the perceived higher American wage led to a heavy steady flow of skilled workers from Britain to industrial America.

All the inventions from that era came out of the free states: All the major inventions/innovations/patents from 1776-1860 came out of the free states(Roger Burlingame, March of the Iron Men: A Social History of Union Through Invention (New York, 1938). Out of 143 important invention in that era 93% were invented by the north. The data clearly shows that the north was the heavy in the USA and spread its policies west and the country's standard of living elevated to an all-time high.

As for the south, it was a periphery region that only benefited a small number of people. The southern standard of living was lowering every decade during the antebellum era, and that's because it only had "one" commodity that some people overstate its importance. Nevertheless, it does not matter if the south was war torn following because the leading indicators reveal its economy was going to eventually collapse even without the war.

Therefore, it is one of the most elementary arguments I have read pertaining to this subject because the data clearly shows the south was co-dependent of the north and the north was independent from the south. I personally believe that the war was the best thing for the US economy because it showed that cotton was nothing but a micro chip in a vast macroeconomic pie chart that only benefited a few people. All the war did was relegate plantation owners to dirt farmers and freed the slaves, after that it just ballooned the national debt and caused inflation, but the north still indeed prospered, and the south, well...
 

wausaubob

Colonel
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
Location
Denver, CO
The economic data suggests that the north could have easily let the south withdrawal from Union without missing a beat, and the subsequent decades reveal this to be true to the point where It appears I might not be putting enough emphasis on it. The Gilded Age economic date clearly shows this to be true: By the beginning of the 20th century, gross domestic product and industrial production in the United States led the world. U.S. national income, in absolute figures in per capita, was so far above everybody else's by 1914." Per capita income in the United States was $377 in 1914 compared to Britain in second place at $244, Germany at $184, France at $153, and Italy at $108, while Russia and Japan trailed far behind at $41 and $36(Kennedy, Paul (1987). The Rise and Fall of Great Powers New York: Random House. p. 242).

The rapid expansion of industrialization led to real wage growth of 60% between 1860 and 1890, spread across the ever-increasing labor force. Real wages (adjusting for inflation) rose steadily, with the exact percentage increase depending on the dates and the specific work force. The Census Bureau reported in 1892 that the average annual wage per industrial worker (including men, women, and children) rose from $380 in 1880 to $564 in 1890, a gain of 48%. Economic historian Clarence D. Long estimates that (in terms of constant 1914 dollars), the average annual incomes of all American non-farm employees rose from $375 in 1870 to $395 in 1880, $519 in 1890 and $573 in 1900, a gain of 53% in 30 years(Tregarthen, Timothy D.; Rittenberg, Libby (1999) Macroeconomics (2nd ed.). Worth Publishers. p. 177).

Australian historian Peter Shergold found that the standard of living for industrial workers was higher than in Europe. He compared wages and the standard of living in Pittsburgh with Birmingham, England, one of the richest industrial cities of Europe. After taking account of the cost of living (which was 65% higher in the U.S.), he found the standard of living of unskilled workers was about the same in the two cities, while skilled workers in Pittsburgh had about 50% to 100% higher standard of living as those in Birmingham, England. According to Shergold the American advantage grew over time from 1890 to 1914, and the perceived higher American wage led to a heavy steady flow of skilled workers from Britain to industrial America.

All the inventions from that era came out of the free states: All the major inventions/innovations/patents from 1776-1860 came out of the free states(Roger Burlingame, March of the Iron Men: A Social History of Union Through Invention (New York, 1938). Out of 143 important invention in that era 93% were invented by the north. The data clearly shows that the north was the heavy in the USA and spread its policies west and the country's standard of living elevated to an all-time high.

As for the south, it was a periphery region that only benefited a small number of people. The southern standard of living was lowering every decade during the antebellum era, and that's because it only had "one" commodity that some people overstate its importance. Nevertheless, it does not matter if the south was war torn following because the leading indicators reveal its economy was going to eventually collapse even without the war.

Therefore, it is one of the most elementary arguments I have read pertaining to this subject because the data clearly shows the south was co-dependent of the north and the north was independent from the south. I personally believe that the war was the best thing for the US economy because it showed that cotton was nothing but a micro chip in a vast macroeconomic pie chart that only benefited a few people. All the war did was relegate plantation owners to dirt farmers and freed the slaves, after that it just ballooned the national debt and caused inflation, but the north still indeed prospered, and the south, well...
That's one possible outcome. In that scenario, the US becomes like western Europe post WWII, and the Confederacy becomes like the eastern block, dominated by the former Soviet Union. The difference would be that while the USSR had the vast resources of eastern Russia at its disposal, Lincoln made sure the US controlled the western territories and connected to California and Oregon in the first 18 months of the war.
If the US economy was able to draw workers from England and what became Poland, and farmers from all over Germany and northern Europe, how much greater would the attraction be to workers who only had to cross over into Maryland, Ohio or Kentucky?
 

lurid

First Sergeant
Joined
Jan 3, 2019
That's one possible outcome. In that scenario, the US becomes like western Europe post WWII, and the Confederacy becomes like the eastern block, dominated by the former Soviet Union. The difference would be that while the USSR had the vast resources of eastern Russia at its disposal, Lincoln made sure the US controlled the western territories and connected to California and Oregon in the first 18 months of the war.
If the US economy was able to draw workers from England and what became Poland, and farmers from all over Germany and northern Europe, how much greater would the attraction be to workers who only had to cross over into Maryland, Ohio or Kentucky?

What is one "possible" outcome? I stated the data from what actually occurred. I don't get into "what if" scenarios, if nothing happened I usually just look at the "leading indicators" for my answers and probabilities, but the data that I posted actually occurred. It is in the history books...

The north easily could have let the south go wherever it wanted to go and would have never missed a beat and the data I posted proves it, but the south could not of easily left like some of our friendly neighborhood bloggers on this site suggest, and that was because the south was codependent on the north. Actually, the war saved the south.

Nevertheless, I can pretend that the north allowed the south to leave and I agree it would have been a Cold War, which the south didn't have the wherewithal to get into competition with the north. The south would have not lasted long, which you suggested in your post. But yes, I agree with you.
 

danny

Sergeant
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
Hattiesburg
After reading many of Lincoln's writings, I am convinced that he legitimately believed in the inoperability of the Union. He says as much, that the Founding Fathers would never have intended to create a Union that could be broken up.

I do not recall him ever mentioning financial interests as a reason for preserving the Union. Surely he would have mentioned such, even to a friend in one his letters.

He was totally convinced that the secession crisis was based in slavery, and that slavery was the great evil rending the country apart. Without slavery, he seemed to believe, the North and South would get a long just fine.

But at the end of the day, he just believed it was not legal, or the intent of the Founders, to have secession be legal, and he fought to resume the authority of the federal government in the seceded states.
"I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the black and white races -- that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making VOTERS or jurors of negroes, NOR OF QUALIFYING THEM HOLD OFFICE, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any of [ot]her man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race."(Lincoln)
 

DanSBHawk

Captain
Joined
May 8, 2015
Location
Wisconsin
"I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the black and white races -- that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making VOTERS or jurors of negroes, NOR OF QUALIFYING THEM HOLD OFFICE, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any of [ot]her man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race."(Lincoln)
And how does that relate to slavery and secession?
 

wausaubob

Colonel
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
Location
Denver, CO
What is one "possible" outcome? I stated the data from what actually occurred. I don't get into "what if" scenarios, if nothing happened I usually just look at the "leading indicators" for my answers and probabilities, but the data that I posted actually occurred. It is in the history books...

The north easily could have let the south go wherever it wanted to go and would have never missed a beat and the data I posted proves it, but the south could not of easily left like some of our friendly neighborhood bloggers on this site suggest, and that was because the south was codependent on the north. Actually, the war saved the south.

Nevertheless, I can pretend that the north allowed the south to leave and I agree it would have been a Cold War, which the south didn't have the wherewithal to get into competition with the north. The south would have not lasted long, which you suggested in your post. But yes, I agree with you.
Its Gavin Wright's analysis of the cotton market. The cotton boom had benefited from the best land with the lowest transportation cost being put to cotton quickly. There was plenty of additional land, but it was going to take railroads, drainage ditches and in many cases fertilization.
He also stated the 10 cotton belt states were heavily dependent on exogenous events in the world mercantile economy. A downturn in that economy would have caused extensive suffering in the cotton belt. I think a downturn was at hand by 1861. The war just disguised it.
 
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