Why didn't the South Wait?

wausaubob

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The Confederacy could not wait because the surge towards secession was likely to recede. The US needed to mobilize even if there was going to be separation. Lincoln maximized his chance that the shooting would start in SC, rather then in Texas, St. Louis or Harper's Ferry.
 

wausaubob

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People want to argue about the first shot and all of that. But once 14 southern Senators did not show up for duty, the Morrill Land Grant College Act, the Homestead Act, the initial TCC railroad bill, the first national banking reform, abolition of slavery in DC, the inactivation and repeal of the Fugitive Slave Act, were going to be enacted. Within a year of their absence, the Republicans were going to create a political revolution.
 

Rhea Cole

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Murfreesboro, Tennessee
The thing missing from this discussion, it seems to me is 1875. Had the southern states seceded, they would have been governed by a backward looking pseudo-aristocratic minority of slave holders. Electricity, telephones, the full throated power of the industrial resolution would have passed them by like cars passing cows chewing their cud in a field. If like their soul mate the Kaiser, they were true to character & provoked a war with the U.S., it would be a slaughter, a genuine scraping out the rind slaughter. By then South Carolina would have been 85 percent slave, sweet Jesus, the self-liberating people would have their master's guts for garters... something they would richly deserve.

If you think this is not a certainty, remember Napoleon's regiments fate in Haiti.
 

wausaubob

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If there had been an 8 year delay, the war would have started with the US having ironclads everywhere. The assembly of magazine rifles with interchangeable parts would have been very advance in Connecticut. Some would have figured out how to keep Gatlings device from jamming and how to pump water through a cooling mechanism.
Nebraska would have been admitted by then and Pittsburg would have put most other iron producers out of business as it transitioned to steel.
By 1868 there would have been field telegraph systems available for artillery spotters.
Gunboats would have figured out a mechanical means of elevating the guns.
 

wausaubob

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But, as cited above, the biggest risk of even a short period separation, was the US military would stop viewing the Confederates as their former countrymen. Though the risk that the enslaved would lose patience and rise up in servile inserection, was not minimal.
 

Rhea Cole

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Murfreesboro, Tennessee
If the war had been delayed, the US would have been much better prepared. Arsenals in the south would have been filled with outdated weapons.
You certainly have raised valid points. It is useful to add what the South Carolina slaveholders were worried about. They explicitly raises the spector of demographic oblivion. As they so pithily put it, the black race was the most productive in the world, within a short period of time the white population of South Carolina would be about 10 percent. At that point, it was both feared & predicted that the white population would go the way of the French in Haiti.

That hellish nightmare is what was repeated over & over as the motivation for going to war early rather than later. It was also why they had made every effort to purchase, annex or just plain invade Cuba. The filibusterers, the Gray Eyed Man of Destiny & all the rest of the adventurers whose goal was the Slave Empire of the Caribbean were a vital part of that goal. Slaveholding territory would extend from Delaware right down to the Amazon valley, thus guaranteeing that God's true order for mankind would be maintained for a thousand years. (When I read too much of that stuff, my sentences take on an unstoppable moment.) Step one was secession; step two was Cuba; step three was the entire coast from Texas to Brazil. Gotta had it to them, those boys thought big... There was an emperor in Brazil, whoah, wouldn't that be cool?
 

RebelWeber

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Location
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Hi All,


There is a question I've always had, even after reading dozens of books on the Civil War: "Why didn't the South wait?"

There were some smart politicians in the south, men that should have been able to cut through the emotional urges that the Lincoln election brought. Why didn't cooler heads prevail and construct a "secret confederacy " that would use the oversized representation the south had in congress to funnel monies, build railroad track and shift more military resources to the south? Lincoln would have definitively added some southerners to his cabinet in efforts to stave off secession (my opinion). Why not bid your time, improve your infrastructure, obstruct Lincoln politically, and then when your ducks are in a row mobilize for war? I've read that John B. Floyd sent arms to the South during his controversial stint as Secretary of War, why not replicate this?

I'm sure I'm missing something obvious, but the question has always stuck in my mind. If anyone could elaborate I'd be thankful!
Read Robert Tombs Secretary of State (CSA) ... His talks regarding secession are invaluable to answering your question.
 

Andersonh1

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South Carolina
I am not saying that South Carolina was unimportant. I am saying that your position that South Carolina was solely responsible for secession and civil war is vastly over-stated.

I agree with Trice. South Carolina may have been out front, but they did not act on their own. That was one of the main reasons they did not secede in 1852, because they did not want to go it alone at that time.

And Rhea Cole, had Andrew Jackson been foolish enough to carry out his threat and invade South Carolina in 1832, we'd have fought the Civil War there and then. How it turned out would depend on how many other states sat on the sidelines and how many got involved in the conflict, but the idea that Jackson would have marched with impunity into South Carolina and started hanging whoever he pleased is absurd. There would have been a fight, and it would not have been good for the country, no matter how it turned out.
 

unionblue

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I agree with Trice. South Carolina may have been out front, but they did not act on their own. That was one of the main reasons they did not secede in 1852, because they did not want to go it alone at that time.

And Rhea Cole, had Andrew Jackson been foolish enough to carry out his threat and invade South Carolina in 1832, we'd have fought the Civil War there and then. How it turned out would depend on how many other states sat on the sidelines and how many got involved in the conflict, but the idea that Jackson would have marched with impunity into South Carolina and started hanging whoever he pleased is absurd. There would have been a fight, and it would not have been good for the country, no matter how it turned out.

Would Jackson have threatened such a course of action if he felt he might have been interfered with by other states?

I got the impression that SC had no more support in Jackson's time than they did in 1852.
 

Andersonh1

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Yet Jackson, by acting in such a way, delayed rebellion for years.

You give too much credit to Jackson alone. The compromise on tariffs offered by Calhoun and Henry Clay had more to do with staving off open war more than Jackson's threat ever did. South Carolina did not back down because of the threat of force. In fact, Governor Hayne was gathering an army to fight against any army that Andrew Jackson might send against SC and SC was purchasing weapons in the North. In other words, they were ready to fight.
 

unionblue

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You give too much credit to Jackson alone. The compromise on tariffs offered by Calhoun and Henry Clay had more to do with staving off open war more than Jackson's threat ever did. South Carolina did not back down because of the threat of force. In fact, Governor Hayne was gathering an army to fight against any army that Andrew Jackson might send against SC and SC was purchasing weapons in the North. In other words, they were ready to fight.

The "compromise" was not as easy as you might have thought for Calhoun. He was forced to backtrack on many of his demands and objectives and Henry Clay played a huge part in making him swallow much of what he formally did not want.
 

Andersonh1

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The "compromise" was not as easy as you might have thought for Calhoun. He was forced to backtrack on many of his demands and objectives and Henry Clay played a huge part in making him swallow much of what he formally did not want.

That's the nature of compromise. No one gets everything they want, you win a bit, you lose a bit. The point is, that was what ended the threat of armed conflict, a willingness to offer an alternative and a willingness by all sides to accept it. A "my way or the highway" approach would have led to war.
 

John S. Carter

Sergeant Major
Joined
Mar 15, 2017
Hi All,


There is a question I've always had, even after reading dozens of books on the Civil War: "Why didn't the South wait?"

There were some smart politicians in the south, men that should have been able to cut through the emotional urges that the Lincoln election brought. Why didn't cooler heads prevail and construct a "secret confederacy " that would use the oversized representation the south had in congress to funnel monies, build railroad track and shift more military resources to the south? Lincoln would have definitively added some southerners to his cabinet in efforts to stave off secession (my opinion). Why not bid your time, improve your infrastructure, obstruct Lincoln politically, and then when your ducks are in a row mobilize for war? I've read that John B. Floyd sent arms to the South during his controversial stint as Secretary of War, why not replicate this?

I'm sure I'm missing something obvious, but the question has always stuck in my mind. If anyone could elaborate I'd be thankful!
What would have been gained by waiting.?Lincoln had stated his position.Buchanan had sent a ship which was forced to turn around .Lincoln was in on negotiation mind.What could he have negotiated for in return ,slavery expansion,Constitution amendment approving slavery not only in the South but in the rest of the Union. ?From 1878 to 1958 the North had cow -towed to the desires of the South not only with slavery and expansion but with tariff or other issues which the South hung the Sword of Succession on the Union.Using the writings of Jefferson and Calhoun and the sermons of the Fire-Breathers the South was stocked to finally to do the deed .The question that has not been answered is =did these states still believe that the North would succumb to the demands again or prehabs to remove the threat that the Negro Republic party presented with this election? If Steward had been in the White House would that had made a difference to the Southern Radicals? He did say to let the "errand Sisters depart.
 

unionblue

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That's the nature of compromise. No one gets everything they want, you win a bit, you lose a bit. The point is, that was what ended the threat of armed conflict, a willingness to offer an alternative and a willingness by all sides to accept it. A "my way or the highway" approach would have led to war.

No, that explanation isn't going to fly either.

Calhoun entered the idea of making the tariff so unacceptable to the North that it would not be approved. He got caught by surprise when it was accepted and had to scurry to cover his political rear end as the man who brought on higher tariffs as Clay would not cover him either and made him eat the higher tariff rates. The threat of Jackson taking military action against SC and the fact that other Southern states would not support her in this early effort at secession, is what brought the nation back from the brink.
 

Andersonh1

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No, that explanation isn't going to fly either.

It's the truth.

Calhoun entered the idea of making the tariff so unacceptable to the North that it would not be approved. He got caught by surprise when it was accepted and had to scurry to cover his political rear end as the man who brought on higher tariffs as Clay would not cover him either and made him eat the higher tariff rates.

The original attempt by Calhoun to push a high tariff was an attempt to defeat the tariff by making it unacceptable, as you correctly note, because the Southern states already had too few votes to stop it. If you have another method by which a numerical minority can try to win a vote other than by getting people on their side somehow and increasing their tally, I'd like to hear it. A straight vote on what the New England states proposed was certain to end in defeat for Southern opposition, so attempting to find more votes against the tariff is a rational political move to make under those circumstances.

The threat of Jackson taking military action against SC and the fact that other Southern states would not support her in this early effort at secession, is what brought the nation back from the brink.

Without a compromise in the Senate, there would have been military conflict of some sort. Neither side was backing down.
 

unionblue

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It's the truth.



The original attempt by Calhoun to push a high tariff was an attempt to defeat the tariff by making it unacceptable, as you correctly note, because the Southern states already had too few votes to stop it. If you have another method by which a numerical minority can try to win a vote other than by getting people on their side somehow and increasing their tally, I'd like to hear it. A straight vote on what the New England states proposed was certain to end in defeat for Southern opposition, so attempting to find more votes against the tariff is a rational political move to make under those circumstances.



Without a compromise in the Senate, there would have been military conflict of some sort. Neither side was backing down.

I would suggest a reading of The Road To Disunion: Secessionists at Bay, 1776-1854, Freehling, chapter 15, The First Confrontation Crisis, II: South Carolina versus the South, pg. 281-286, with special emphasis on pg. 278:

"...But those who saw Jackson as conducting government by temper tantrum missed the secret of his killing force. In his every confrontation, the tempestuous Westerner had been the iciest plotter. For all his image as a hothead, Jackson usually fired the second shot. He allowed the enemy to spend initial fury. He then cut aggressors down. He won the Battle of New Orleans that way, and the Bank War, and his most famous duel. The counterpunching warrior now plotted to turn the brainy Calhoun into the provocative assaulter..."

I don't call a compromise when one of the parties cave to almost every point of the opposing faction, as Calhoun did to Jackson and Clay.

Jackson's firmness and Clay's deft negotiations left Calhoun desperately trying to reverse nullification.

Read the above and see if it gives more information on this so-called "compromise."

These actions helped delay secession and made the South wait, as it realized it could neither force nullification nor secession without the support of other states who found little to support in SC's efforts.

Unionblue
 

Andersonh1

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You leave out a number of facts here, one of them being that neither Clay nor Calhoun could stand Jackson, leading them to ally in working on a compromise bill that would reduce the tariff over time. You also leave out the fact that Jackson only got his Force Bill, which had stalled due to wariness over the idea of authorizing the President to use force against a State (not even getting out of committee in the House and stalled in the Senate partially through Calhoun's efforts in opposing it), because Clay convinced enough in Congress to drop opposition, thus securing Jackson's support for the compromise. Clay noted that a compromise was necessary to "prevent civil war and save us from the danger of entrusting to Andrew Jackson large armies.”

And honestly, anyone who characterizes Calhoun as "desperate" to reverse nullification does not understand the man at all. He was as resolute as Jackson.
 
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