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

unionblue

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
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I'm getting ready to read this book, I think it will be insightful in regards to my OP:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1684512239/?tag=civilwartalkc-20.

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This book will simply lead you down a fantasy rabbit hole instead of actually learning the cause of the Civil War.

It is in the same catagory of the books, The South Was Right, or Lincoln's War.

Have the moral courage to seek out other books by authors you may not like or have been 'warned' of. Get both sides views before making up your own mind.

You deserve a chance to think and to really find out what history has to offer.
 

8thFlorida

First Sergeant
Joined
Nov 27, 2016
It is not "classic scapegoating" to actually read all of Lincoln's letter and see his full intent, vice lifting one, carefully shortened portion of it and gleefully proclaim, "gotcha!" That's not how researching historical fact works.

As for the monument words you have posted, this is my main complaint against Confederate monuments who proclaim nonsense when the real cause was the only Southern right to hold men as slaves and defy the nation's wishes by ignoring a free and fair election.
You missed what I said maybe. The North had no intention of ending slavery initially and during the war. Abolitionists did but Lincoln didn’t cling to strict Abolition by any stretch of the imagination. To the initial point on this tooic. He was Midwestern and that was not his main concern. His main concern was loss of revenue from slave produced goods. Hence he was complicit in slavery. The Emancipation did not free slaves in the non-rebelling states. This illustration is of Illinois Union men whipping slaves during the War. 😠

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unionblue

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
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You missed what I said maybe. The North had no intention of ending slavery initially and during the war. Abolitionists did but Lincoln didn’t cling to strict Abolition by any stretch of the imagination. To the initial point on this tooic. He was Midwestern and that was not his main concern. His main concern was loss of revenue from slave produced goods. Hence he was complicit in slavery. The Emancipation did not free slaves in the non-rebelling states. This illustration is of Illinois Union men whipping slaves during the War. 😠

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At least with this post, you come closer to fact that outright cheerleading for your side.

You are correct that the North did not first go to war over the issue of slavery. But the flip side you seem not to realize is that the slaveholding South DID! Yes, Lincoln's main goal was to preserve the Union but the South feared a Republican government was going to interfere with and restrict slavery.

As for his main concern being the preservation of slavery to preserve the Norths profits and goods, switch the direction and see it was the South that feared losing slave produced profits from cotton, sugar cane, etc.

As for your illustration above, a newspaper print doesn't exactly equate to historical fact. How about providing the name of the paper it appeared in so I can read the account for myself.
 

29thWisCoG

Corporal
Joined
Apr 12, 2021
No, the South did NOT generate a significant amount of tariff revenue to the Federal government, not even close to what was collected by the North. The Federal government was supported by tariffs and the sale if federal lands.

I find it strange that you feel the North had to get the South 'back' into the Union for it's portion of the tariffs, yet the Union managed to survive and prosper financially for four, hard, years of civil war. Lincoln didn't have to admit the false premise that he was actually fighting for a tariff in order to save the federal government. But the South repeated, over and over, they were seceding for slavery. It's not hard to verify that fact. They said it themselves.

And if you follow the money, make sure you measure the yearly income of the federal tariff, which was in the millions, to the cash value of slavery, which was worth nearly $4 BILLION dollars in 1860s currency. That is what makes the most sense to me.
Lincoln printed money to finance the war (bonds). I have no disagreement with you regarding the South's motivation to wage war, this thread is about the North's reasons. I am going to read that book I referenced above, there should be some interesting facts to counter your assertions... and why would Lincoln publicly admit to waging war because of tariff revenue, who would fight for that cause?
 

29thWisCoG

Corporal
Joined
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This book will simply lead you down a fantasy rabbit hole instead of actually learning the cause of the Civil War.

It is in the same catagory of the books, The South Was Right, or Lincoln's War.

Have the moral courage to seek out other books by authors you may not like or have been 'warned' of. Get both sides views before making up your own mind.

You deserve a chance to think and to really find out what history has to offer.
And you make this claim without actually reading the book? LOL
 

BuckeyeWarrior

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Location
Ohio
That is classic scapegoating my friend. The North was complicit in the institution of slavery up until the very end of the War. In fact Lincoln didn’t even free the slaves in the non-rebelling states in the Great Emancipation. This was all propaganda. The South was fighting for States Rights and the freedom from Federal Tyranny. Thank God they fought or the rights of states would have never been protected.

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Lincoln had no constitutional authority to free slaves in states not in rebellion. Though he did support and help get passed the 13th Amendment to end slavery in America.

The only state right the rebels were fighting for was the right to keep other humans as slaves.
 

unionblue

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Lincoln printed money to finance the war (bonds). I have no disagreement with you regarding the South's motivation to wage war, this thread is about the North's reasons. I am going to read that book I referenced above, there should be some interesting facts to counter your assertions... and why would Lincoln publicly admit to waging war because of tariff revenue, who would fight for that cause?
Actually, Salmon P. Chase, Lincoln's Secretary of the Treasury, was the one who authorized the printing of paper money. Check out the book, Greenback: The Almighty Dollar and the Invention of America, by Jason Goodwin, chapter 12, The Spy, pg.219 - 220.

If you insist on reading such, you might as well check out the book, The Real Lincoln, by Thomas DiLorenzo, which is another myth based piece of fantasy. You are simply reading, in my opinion, the books that reinforce your already conceived notions about Lincoln and the cause of the war. You will never get the facts until you start reading for yourself vice confirming what others want you to believe.
 
You missed what I said maybe. The North had no intention of ending slavery initially and during the war. Abolitionists did but Lincoln didn’t cling to strict Abolition by any stretch of the imagination. To the initial point on this tooic. He was Midwestern and that was not his main concern. His main concern was loss of revenue from slave produced goods. Hence he was complicit in slavery. The Emancipation did not free slaves in the non-rebelling states. This illustration is of Illinois Union men whipping slaves during the War. 😠
The Republican party was founded on the premise to prevent slavery in the territories and stopping the spread of slavery with the intent of eventually eradicating it. Lincoln had always said -- from his time as a young man and throughout his life -- that all Blacks should be free. He never wavered from that belief. Lincoln's main concern after the Confederate attack on the United States at Ft. Sumter was to preserve the Union which was also required of him by both the Constitution and his oath of office.

Edited - corrected misspelling
 
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unionblue

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And you make this claim without actually reading the book? LOL

I have read his book and others like it and found them all wanting for historical truth and accuracy.

I've read The South Was Right!, by the Kennedy Brothers and The Real Lincoln, by Thomas DiLorenzo. The idea that those two books even come close to historical fact is simply an hysterical idea.

But, I get it, it's better to read what you believe than to read real history. History is hard, hard on beliefs and hard on cherished ideas.

Facts can be very unforgiving.
 
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29thWisCoG

Corporal
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Apr 12, 2021
I have read his book and others like it and found them all wanting for historical truth and accuracy.

I've read The South Was Right!, by the Kennedy Brothers and The Real Lincoln, by Thomas DiLorenzo. The idea that those two books even come close to historical fact is simply an hysterical idea.

But, I get it, it's better to read what you believe than to read real history. History is hard, hard on beliefs and hard on cherished ideas.

Facts can be very unforgiving.
You're projecting badly here.
 

unionblue

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You're projecting badly here.
I almost feel a need to do so.

For years I believed the Civil War was about ANYTHING other than slavery. All my Southern reenacting friends told me that the war had been caused by tariffs, Northern businessmen, Big Federal Government, States Rights, etc., etc., etc. I even believed slaves fought willingly for the Confederacy.

Then instead of taking everyone else's word for it, I began to read, to research, to chase down sources and quotes, to read original source documents from the Civil War itself. It was tough, but I finally was left with historical fact and not my friends opinions.

It hurt to come to the realization the my direct, Confederate ancestors, fought for the wrong reasons against their country. It was an absolute gut punch to find out they were all slaveholders too.

It took a few years, but I finally got to the bottom of the history of the period. It pains me to think there might be others who will waste precious time coming to the truth of the war, shaking pom-poms and cheering on their favorite 'side' instead of actually learning about real history.

But, as I said before, history, real history, can be hard on some folks and facts can be brutal to their long-held beliefs. Better to learn now and take a knock or two, than to live in a fantasy world of pure faith.
 

Zack

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I often see it argued that it is an over-simplification to state that the Civil War was fought exclusively over the issue of slavery. Our world is too complex for things to neatly boil down to a single issue!

But the truth is that slavery was not, in fact, a single issue. “Slavery” is simply an overarching way to refer to the myriad ways the South economically, politically, socially, and culturally had become so deeply dependent and intertwined with the system of slavery that they could not accept living in a world in which the institution was threatened. It also encompasses the complex issue of how so many non-slaveholders were convinced to fight a war over the preservation of slavery.

Furthermore, stating “slavery” is an oversimplification also treats it as a single moment in time - a pinpointed casus belli like the assassination that started WWI. In truth, the conflict over slavery was as old as the nation itself. The secession crisis of 1860 was merely a culmination of decades of straws that slowly piled up on the back of American unity (though straw feels like too minimal a way to refer to the issue). Do not mistake this as me saying the Civil War was inevitable - at any step of the way the South or North could have taken a different course - but merely that saying “the war was fought over the issue of slavery” is another way of saying “eighty years of unending conflict both in the halls of Congress and the homes, churches, and gathering places of an uncountable number of American cities and towns over the institution of slavery eventually created a climate so heated that the South felt that it could not safeguard slavery while staying within the United States.”

This same argument can be applied to the Northern motivations as well. Why did the North develop an anti-slavery movement? How widespread was it? Did it present as much of a threat to slavery as Southerners believed it did? Was Northern anti-slavery a product of selfish interest or moral belief? How did the coming of the war change Northern attitudes? Slavery was important enough to the South to drive them to secession, but was anti-slavery important enough in the North to fill the ranks of the Union army? The questions go on.

It is worth mentioning here that saying the Civil War was fought over the issue of slavery does not automatically mean that the North went to war with the express goal of ending slavery. One of the great ironies of the war is that, as soon as the guns began firing, the issue that had animated the conflict suddenly became inexpedient for either side to discuss. For the South, foreign intervention in the form of Great Britain and France could not be achieved by loudly proclaiming their fight was over slavery. Great Britain had already abolished slavery and would not openly side with a pro-slavery nation, and France was unwilling to act without England.

Similarly, Lincoln feared that hammering on the issue of slavery would drive states such as Maryland, Delaware, Kentucky, and Missouri - states that were pro-slavery but also pro-Union - into the arms of the Confederacy. Here then is another part of the complexity behind slavery as a cause: why the issue drove many but not all of the slaveholding states into secession. One part of the answer is scale. Another is that Union victory in 1861 by no means meant that slavery would end in America.

Lincoln went to great pains to counteract emancipation minded generals such as Fremont in the first year of the war. Though slavery had caused the South to secede, the act of secession threatened the future of the entire nation, and so it was not hard to rally troops to the cry of saving the Union and saving the Constitution.

It was only through the actions of tens of thousands of black Southerners risking their lives to flee to Union lines and demand recognition of their freedom that emancipation was put back on the table as a war aim. Looking across the world in the 1860s, there was no guarantee that war would bring about the end of slavery or that the nation wouldn’t backslide into slavery when the guns fell silent. This dimension is explored at length in TROUBLED REFUGE by Chandra Manning and makes for really eye-opening reading. A brief excerpt from the introduction:

“In the American Revolution, some former slaves gained freedom while others were resold into slavery by their purported liberators. The War of 1812 manumitted some slaves but ultimately led to the strengthening of the institution of slavery. In the Caribbean in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, and in several South American countries throughout the nineteenth century, slaves who gained freedom during war, rebellion, or uprising were re-enslaved afterward, sometimes immediately and sometimes years later. After the 1835 Ragamuffin Revolt in Brazil, for example, slave soldiers enjoyed a decade of freedom, only to be forcibly transported ten years later from their homes to the capital and compelled to labor for the imperial government. Only in Haiti had war led to abolition over the
long haul, and even there re-enslavement followed liberation for a brief period before the world’s only successful slave rebellion finally destroyed Haitian slavery for good. Moreover, most antebellum white Americans regarded Haiti as nightmare and anathema, certainly not as an example to follow. There was no a priori reason why Civil War emancipation would defy the norm, even as late as 1865.”

So, then, another part of the answer is why Southerners believed so strongly that a Republican President was a threat to the institution that had thus far weathered every storm and emerged stronger in the end. If most Republicans simply argued for an end to the spread of slavery, why then did Southerners feel it threatened in those states where it already had a firm hold? Amazing scholarship has been done to answer this question.

And, on the flip side, there is the question of how Union war aims transformed from saving the Union to ending slavery. In this discussion the focus is often on Lincoln himself as a guiding force slowly convincing a disinterested North that ending slavery was necessary. More recent scholarship of course challenges this view, with examinations of the so-called Contraband phenomena painting a far more complex portrait of how Union war aims evolved.

In conclusion, rather than being an oversimplification, stating that the South seceded to preserve slavery is simply the tip of a massive, complex, and multifaceted argument encompassing the political, economic, social, and political. I have found the most enlightening and eye-opening information comes from digging into that reason and realizing it is not so simple after all.
 

thomas aagaard

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I ran across this quote from a book review, and seems to make some sense in regards to Lincoln's motivation to enter the war, although I don't agree with what is written in regards to the South:

"The real cause of the war was a dispute over money and self-determination. Before the Civil War, the South financed most of the federal government—because the federal government was funded by tariffs, which were paid disproportionately by the agricultural South that imported manufactured goods. Yet, most federal government spending and subsidies benefited the North. The South wanted a more limited federal government and lower tariffs—the ideals of Thomas Jefferson—and when the South could not get that, it opted for independence. Lincoln was unprepared when the Southern states seceded, and force was the only way to bring them—and their tariff money—back. That was the real cause of the war."
please explain exactly how the south financed most of the federal government.

you can't, because for the federal government ownership of the south was costing more to maintain forts, 25% of the army and similar than what was collected in Tariffs in the south.
 

thomas aagaard

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The South did generate a significant amount of tariff revenue to the Federal government, since there was no income tax most of the feds income was from tariffs (upwards of 90%)...
This is typical lost cause mythmaking.


"In 1860, Charleston only had $2.0 million in imports, Savannah had only $800,000 in imports, Mobile had only $600,000 in imports, New Orleans had only $20.6 million in imports, and other southern ports had only $3.0 million in imports. In the same year, New York City alone had $231.3 million in imports and all other northern ports had $95.3 million in imports.

New Orleans was the southern port that collected the most in the tariff, and it was only $3.1 million. The total south only collected $4.0 million in tariff revenues, whereas New York City collected $34.9 million in tariff revenues and the total for northern ports was $48.3 million. [Source: Douglas B. Ball, Financial Failure and Confederate Defeat, p. 205, Table 18, "Trade Figures by Port in 1860" and "Customs Collections by Major Port (1860)"]"

tariff01_720.png

note the numbers in the text and illustration do not match... because on is from 1860 and the other from 1859..
 

lurid

First Sergeant
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Jan 3, 2019
The South did generate a significant amount of tariff revenue to the Federal government, since there was no income tax most of the feds income was from tariffs (upwards of 90%)... the feds needed that money, and by the South not providing it any longer it could have provided Lincoln with an incentive to gain it back... of course Lincoln would never say to anyone that he decided to fight a war over tariff revenue to save the federal government, just like the South would never admit to fighting a war to save the institution of slavery... in the end follow the money, for both the North and the South, this makes the most sense to me.

What makes sense to you equates to what makes sense to sophomores in college. I know that because I seen it a 1,000 times, and they all claimed economics was the only factor for the cause of war. Economics is a factor and very big factor to why countries go to war, but not the only factor. Far from it. In the case for Lincoln you are overstating things and simultaneously understating things. There were four major reasons why Lincoln went to war and every reason was to emulate the founders ideology, mores, inhibitions and sensibilities.

1). responded quickly when the south rebelled towards the government when they fired shots at Fort Sumner(i.e.. Washington(Whiskey rebellion0), 2), Washington started the Union, Lincoln preserved it. 3). Made Thomas Jefferson's abstract rhetoric a reality that "all mean are created equal," by ending slavery. 4). Used/wanted tariffs to promote corporate and banking interests, building "internal improvements" (infrastructure), was taken right out of Hamilton's playbook. Lincoln emulated the founders on almost every front, and that's why he went to war.

Not only is your "follow the money assertion does not add up to why Lincoln went to war with the south. Cotton exports accounted for 5% of the national GDP, and a couple of percentage points more for tobacco and rice. I severely doubt Lincoln went to war over that minuscule amount of money. The majority of money was in the free states anyway, so he wasn't going to war with the north.



cotton-gdp-png.png


Furthermore tariffs were low during that time perhaps the lowest in history, so how would that be following the money? Tariffs


average_tariff_rates_in_usa_-1821-2016-png.png


I'll give economics was the reason for the south to go to war. That's a given. In the seven states where most of the cotton was grown, almost one-half the population were slaves, and they accounted for 31 percent of white people's income; for all 11 Confederate States, slaves represented 38 percent of the population and contributed 23 percent of whites' income.

There is a marked similarity between the trends in the export of cotton and the rising value of the slave population, and I don't believe it was coincidence that the more cotton that was produced the slave's value increased.

Note chart below:


1559935505510-png.png


The south's whole economy depended on slavery. And the north's economy didn't depend on slavery or some tariff revenue. Nonsense. Lincoln went to war because he pretty much didn't have a choice, but when he did he emulated the founders.
 

wausaubob

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The secessionists states made up about 33% of the US population at that time. 3.9M of those people were slaves who consumed neither imported goods or tariff protected goods. No one has ever been able to show the secessionist states paid a disproportionate share of tariffs.
The cotton economy was an export economy and the tariffs made the dollar currencies stronger and the international price of cotton a little bit higher. But so did the gold rush, and so did the US advantage in international shipping services.
At any rate, Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland, DE and western Virginia people also bought goods subject to tariffs, and paid higher prices for protected goods, but they were also attached to the non importing economy of the Midwest and Mid Atlantic states.
 
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wausaubob

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Denver, CO
Both portions of the US were aggressive expansionists. There was going to be a war over control of the far west if the Confederacy existed as an independent nation. 1861 was the last opportunity the secessionists had to fight such war without being crushed by a modern nation in possession of telegraphs, efficient railroads, and modern artillery, both naval and land based.
Lincoln could have passed on the war in 1861. If he wasn't impeached and convicted and removed, he would have not even been renominated in 1864, and a true war party would have emerged.
The Confederates picked a fight with one of the emerging industrial giants, like Germany or Japan.
 

wausaubob

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The war was about control of the far west. Destroying slavery was a war measure to wreck the Confederacy. The north showed very temporary interest in the welfare of the formerly enslaved after the war ended.
 

wausaubob

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Cotton exports were a large share of US total exports in 1860. But the US was no longer a coastal economy, no longer resembled a set of colonies, and was no longer dependent on international shipping revenue.
 

wausaubob

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In the 1850's the US had opened the Soo Locks, adding Lake Superior to Great Lakes shipping. An Illinois railroad had bridged the Mississippi at Rock Island. The Panama railroad builders had crossed the isthmus and more or less proven that railroads could overcome any obstacle.
 
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