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

Jantzen64

Corporal
Joined
Aug 10, 2019
Lincoln describes himself perfectly in these quotes as he projects his own actions with Sumter… Lincoln was not altruistic with his motives for forcing union, instead he was politically and economically motivated:

"In after years Lincoln did not forget his accusations against Polk. As late as June 1860 he repeated it in material he provided for a campaign biography. As he phrased the charge, 'the President had sent Gen. Taylor into an uninhabited part of the country belonging to Mexico, and not to the US thereby had provoked the first act of hostility.' The President had sought war, Lincoln added, for an ulterior motive of politics, that is, 'to divert public attention' from his failure to secure from GB the whole Oregon country, which his own fellow partisans had been demanding. There is more than a bit of irony in Lincolns accusation against Polk. Within half a year of reviving it, Lincoln as president was himself to face the question of sending armed forces into disputed territory, and eventually his decision was to make him the second president to be charged with contriving a war and shifting the guilt to the other side." P10-11 Current, "Lincoln and the First Shot"
Great quote from Current - did you also read in his Afterthoughts how he characterized, in the last paragraph, Lincoln's point of view that "the Confederacy had committed and was committing aggression by its very claim to existence"? P. 208.
 

Jantzen64

Corporal
Joined
Aug 10, 2019
Why didn't Lincoln discuss trying Davis as part of his constitutional duty to execute the laws?
I think you're jumping topics once again, but I presume it's either because he was designing a new postage stamp, or because he had an existential crisis on his hands that required all the energy and statecraft he could muster and couldn't waste time engaging in a meaningless and arguably unconstitutional show. See earlier post about prosecutorial discretion.
 

Jantzen64

Corporal
Joined
Aug 10, 2019
So after the South bombed Sumter, Lincoln decided not to follow his constitutional duties and prosecute Davis... so Lincoln gets to pick and choose which laws he will follow.... I don't see any altruism in Lincolns supposed "constitutional duties".
Lincoln doesn't try cases as president - he stopped doing that when he ran for office. His Administration has prosecuorial discretio nas to what cases they want to bring and how and whento do so. Trying a criminal case, though, is a different thing than enforcing the laws. You can enforce the laws against speeding by stopping people and giving them warnings, posting police in high traffic areas etc - you dont have to try violators. You're conflating two concepts.
 

Jantzen64

Corporal
Joined
Aug 10, 2019
Not at all... they are similar in that bother Presidents created a political situation to obfuscate their real intentions for causing war. What is scary is that Lincoln was projecting then, and it was realized later with the Sumter outcome and his invasion of the South. Even more interesting, is that both Polk and Lincoln were economically motivated to start a war... many a leader has been economically motivated to start wars and Lincoln was no different.
One BIG difference is that Polk wanted to get access to new territory for future expansion of the slaveocracy, while Lincoln was fighting to ensure that slavery not be allowed into that territory.
 

Jantzen64

Corporal
Joined
Aug 10, 2019
So after the South bombed Sumter, Lincoln decided not to follow his constitutional duties and prosecute Davis... so Lincoln gets to pick and choose which laws he will follow.... I don't see any altruism in Lincolns supposed "constitutional duties".
Again, you are erroneously conflating follwing the laws generally with individual decisions to criminally try an individual. As to the latter, yes, the executive can decide who, when and how to subject someone to criminal proceedings.
 

Jantzen64

Corporal
Joined
Aug 10, 2019
But why didn't Lincoln consider this at the time, if Davis committed a crime doesn't Lincoln's constitutional duty require that he provide him with due process?
As to why he didn't consider his, I think we're back to that postage stamp thing - or more likely that existential crisis war thing. As to your specific question, yes, had Davis been charged at the time, he would have been entitled to due process, but you err when you appear to argue that Lincoln had some obligation to bring a charge against Davis - either in 1861 or 1865.
 

Jantzen64

Corporal
Joined
Aug 10, 2019
Not at all, both Presidents were motivated to obfuscate their true intentions.
Polk certainly did, as Lincoln argued in the Spot Resolutions. Lincoln argued as early as the LD debates that the country -if it was to exist - would have to cease being half free/half slave. Lincoln viewed the prohibition of slavery in the territories as putting the country on the pathway for ultimately being all free. He was transparent about that. The original seceding states saw that too; i.e., they saw that the writing was on the wall, which is why they seceded.
 

Jantzen64

Corporal
Joined
Aug 10, 2019
And why did Lincoln choose to ignore Jeff Davis' constitutional rights of due process? Because he most likely wouldn't have been able to convict him of treason by secession, which is why Davis was never prosecuted after the war... Davis should have pursued the courts before starting hostilities.
At least we can agree on one thing: Davis and his conspirators should have submitted the issue of secession to the courts or a constitutional convention instead of resorting to self help and violating the very premise of majority rule. Why didn't they? Perhaps they were afraid of what the result would have been. Instead, they unilaterally declared that they would NOT follow a free and fair election and then secretly started seizing federal property. Sounds like they didnt have faith in their position.

In any event, as stated above, Lincoln didn't ignore any of Jeff Davis's rights to due process.
 

Jantzen64

Corporal
Joined
Aug 10, 2019
If Lincoln really was a man principled on constitutional duty, he would have respected all of the constitution and not just the parts of that suited his political interests.
Certainly, one can examine - as many scholars have - the constituionality of Lincoln's suspension of habeus corpus during the war, or even the constitutional authority for the EP - but there is nothing constitutionally problematic about not trying Jeff davis for treason while the war was being fought and while Davis was in Richmond.
 

Jantzen64

Corporal
Joined
Aug 10, 2019
Yes he could have been tried, but Lincoln chose not to pursue that... because he might not have won a conviction, then what?
Aside from the issue of prosecutorial discretion, as you previously noted, Jeff Davis could have submitted the issue about secession but didn't do so . . . hmmmmmm . . . .
 

Jantzen64

Corporal
Joined
Aug 10, 2019
He could have easily tried Davis before he started the war.
Easily? Explain. I don't see how it would have been "easy" given he was in abstentia. More fundamentally, what would it have accomplished? Would it have ended the rebellion? Would it have ended slavery? Would it have settled the issues about the fate of the territories? Would it have allowed the dutiess to be collected and the mails delivered? Of course not (and in all your repeated posts you never suggest to the contrary). And that is part of the dynamic of prosecutorial discretion - if a prosecution is not going to advance the overall goal of enforcing the law - or may detract from it - a prosecutor can decide how, when and whether to charge an individual.
 
I'm beginning to think that there may have been an agenda behind your original post asking what seemed a simple question about the negative consequencs of allowing the Confederacy to go in peace.
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trice

Colonel
Joined
May 2, 2006
If, as is often argued in this forum, 1860 Northerners considered the sugar tariff to be a protective tariff for the benefit of Louisiana, that is precisely how it works.

Sugar refining was centered in New York City and the refiners wanted duty free raw sugar for feedstock. Therefore, the refiners would not want any tariff on raw sugar, nor would consumers. As a result, the Yankees would import their raw sugar from the low-cost producers, none of which were in North America.

Even if the United States continues to have a tariff on raw sugar, they will buy it from the low cost producers, not the Confederacy (Louisiana). The same applies for rice.

In pre-Civil War America, sugar was regarded as a luxury item. The tariff on sugar was overall an income tariff to help fund the US budget. Louisiana sugar producers of the time could have competed on price, but they were not the lowest-price producer. The US sugar tariff acted as a protective tariff for them because they did not have to pay it -- it raised overall prices, but gave Louisiana producers an extra profit margin, making them very, very wealthy (see Braxton Bragg, for example).

In realistic terms, the refiners do not care much about the import tariff unless it works to their disadvantage. The tariff on imports of raw sugar affects their costs, so what they would want would be a tariff on the import of refined sugar products to lever the playing fields with foreign producers. This is why, for example, New England woolens manufacturers were not bothered by the Morrill Tariff on raw wool imports -- as long as imported woolens were taxed an equivalent amount to offset the US manufacturers increased raw wool costs.
 

Jantzen64

Corporal
Joined
Aug 10, 2019
Was Lincoln concerned with what concessions, regarding slavery, the South would have demanded in 1880, 1900, and 1920? To be honest Lincoln would have been dead long before 1920 and what ever threat the slave states would have used to demanded the federal government help protect and expand slavery in 1920 or 1940, would have been some other presidents problem. To be honest Lincoln believed that within 50 to 100 years slavery, would have ended in the United States.
I really think that the confidential letters to Washburne, Seward and Hale demonstrate Lincoln's concern about the future. He tells Seward that any compromise would "put us again on the highroad to a slave empire". He tells Hale that if they agree to the Compromise now, "a year will not pass till we shall have to take Cuba as a condition upon which they shall stay in the Union." Lincoln saw that the issue of secession -as practiced by the Cotton States - as intertwined with the future of slavery. I respectfully disagree that Lincoln expected slavery to have ended in 50 -100 years, UNLESS action was taken to constrain it. As he told Hale, having "just carried an election on principles fairly stated to the people" "now we are told in advance that the Government shall be broken up unless we surrender to those who were beaten." "If we surrender, it is the end of us and this Government." Lincoln saw a bleak future for American Democracy unless a line was drawn around the slave-holding interests.
 

Philip Leigh

formerly Harvey Johnson
Joined
Oct 22, 2014
In pre-Civil War America, sugar was regarded as a luxury item. The tariff on sugar was overall an income tariff to help fund the US budget. Louisiana sugar producers of the time could have competed on price, but they were not the lowest-price producer. The US sugar tariff acted as a protective tariff for them because they did not have to pay it -- it raised overall prices, but gave Louisiana producers an extra profit margin, making them very, very wealthy (see Braxton Bragg, for example).
Louisiana could not have competed profitably with the Caribbean low cost producers w/o a tariff or import quotas. But, the sugar tariff was put in place in 1789 as a revenue tariff, which was fourteen years before Louisiana even became a federal territory. Thus, the protection for Louisiana was incidental and not deliberate.
In realistic terms, the refiners do not care much about the import tariff unless it works to their disadvantage. The tariff on imports of raw sugar affects their costs, so what they would want would be a tariff on the import of refined sugar products to lever the playing fields with foreign producers. This is why, for example, New England woolens manufacturers were not bothered by the Morrill Tariff on raw wool imports -- as long as imported woolens were taxed an equivalent amount to offset the US manufacturers increased raw wool costs.
Yes, but incremental tariffs in the woolen supply chain amplified the tariff on finished woolen goods, which was America's second largest manufacturing industry on the eve of the Civil War. Thus, if the South seceded the domestic woolens industry would have lost a sizable market to imports.
 

wausaubob

Colonel
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
Location
Denver, CO
It was a democracy. A US president who would not fight the Confederacy would have been deposed, either by Congress after the 1862 elections, or in 1864 by the people. A nationalist military party was inevitable in the US. Either Seward or Charles Sumner or a Senator like Ben Wade would have become President.
The President did what the voters wanted, and if he had not done it, someone else would have done it.
 

trice

Colonel
Joined
May 2, 2006
Louisiana could not have competed profitably with the Caribbean low cost producers w/o a tariff or import quotas. But, the sugar tariff was put in place in 1789 as a revenue tariff, which was fourteen years before Louisiana even became a federal territory. Thus, the protection for Louisiana was incidental and not deliberate.
Tariffs change all the time, and the 1789 Tariffs are not the same as the ones that came in later. The tariff on sugar changed seven times from 1789 to 1800, remained unchanged from then to 1812. The Louisiana Purchase was in 1803 and Louisiana was admitted as a State on April 30, 1812. The tariff on sugar imports was doubled in 1812 as the war started. I am sure Louisiana sugar planters were quite happy with that.

The war rates were reduced in 1816. The tariff on sugar imports changed in 1832. The sugar tariff moved much the same way most other tariffs did in 1833, 1842, 1846 and 1857. I am not saying that the Louisiana planters were pushing this on the rest of the country as a protective tariff. It was conceived as a revenue measure and worked well as one. At the same time, it was a major benefit to the Louisiana planters, serving them as a protective tariff that made their businesses more profitable.

Louisiana was not the lowest-cost producer of raw sugar, but they were close enough to compete on price with places like Cuba. The US tariff made the Louisiana sugar producers more profitable than they would have been without it. For the most part Louisiana politicians stayed quiet about it, since import tariffs grew more unpopular in "the South" as the decades passed by.

It's a murky and complex subject. You may have already seen this, but here is a link to an article on it: The Taxation of Sugar in the United States, 1789-1861 by Charles S. Griffin, The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Vol. 11, No. 3, pp. 296-309.
Yes, but incremental tariffs in the woolen supply chain amplified the tariff on finished woolen goods, which was America's second largest manufacturing industry on the eve of the Civil War. Thus, if the South seceded the domestic woolens industry would have lost a sizable market to imports.
Yes. The tariff on raw wool imports was a favorite of small farmers raising sheep (popular in "the North", but also in certain areas of "the South"). The woolens manufacturers were OK with it as long as there was an equivalent tariff on imported woolens. Without that woolens tariff, the proposed tariff on raw wool would actually have been punitive to the Northern woolens manufacturers, making their goods more expensive while leaving the imported woolens alone. The usual political horse-trading ensued. Since the imported woolens were taxed, the woolen manufacturers did not oppose the 1860-61 Morrill Tariff -- and the Republicans used the raw wool tariff as a big election issue in most Northern states.
 
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