Counterpoint Why Non Slave holding Southerners Fought

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GwilymT

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All- this is a thread about how the religious teachings, political rhetoric, and community leader pleas molded the environment where a non slave owning southerner would think it their duty to defend slavery. Or, that the thesis of Rhea is hogwash. Say what you will on that topic.

This is not a thread on desertion rates unless it specifically ties to the discussion at hand.
 
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wausaubob

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The 7 main cotton states, plus the older established areas of Virginia and North Carolina were significantly different from the rest of the nation. Many of the people who did not like the slavery system, or the plantation system, had left. The commitment to slavery in Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri and Arkansas was significantly less. There were many more corn and pork producers, with a minimal capital investment, who could not afford slaves and were never likely to afford slaves.
The immigration stream that wrapped south around the mountains, or came in through the Mississippi River, was much different than the stream that pushed westward from Maryland and then south along the Ohio River.
Its unlikely that slavery was the only thing that separated the strong Confederate areas from the rest of the south, but it did produce some differences that flowed from slavery.
Many poorer white farmers had already moved west and north. And in the cotton and tobacco areas, as shown by writers like Roger Ransom, the farms were much bigger. Non slave farms were mainly limited to what the farmer and his sons could work. Slave owning plantations had no such limit.
 

Rhea Cole

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Contrarily, according to Rhea and the Christian preachers, slavery was a moral issue and for the southerners, it was a moral good.
The Episcopal Church was, after the cotton gin revolution, particularly pro-slavery. The Baptist & Methodist churches were popular with slaves because of their condemnation of slavery.
it is possible to look up all the verses of the Bible & not find one that condemns slavery as a moral wrong. Be that as it may, in private slave-holders feared damnation for the obvious immorality that was an inevitable element of the institution. That was why George Washington & a host of others freed their slaves in their wills.
Appeals to “the God given right of men to hold other human beings as property” were ubiquitous. There were individuals like Jubal Early who believed that. It appears that for the majority of whites North & South the morality of slave holding had a public & private face. My personal opinion is that my Grandad ‘s statement about segregation would apply; “Anybody who says that they didn’t know it was wrong is a liar.”
 

Greywolf

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I wonder what church black slave owners attended?
 

wausaubob

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The Episcopal Church was, after the cotton gin revolution, particularly pro-slavery. The Baptist & Methodist churches were popular with slaves because of their condemnation of slavery.
it is possible to look up all the verses of the Bible & not find one that condemns slavery as a moral wrong. Be that as it may, in private slave-holders feared ****ation for the obvious immorality that was an inevitable element of the institution. That was why George Washington & a host of others freed their slaves in their wills.
Appeals to “the God given right of men to hold other human beings as property” were ubiquitous. There were individuals like Jubal Early who believed that. It appears that for the majority of whites North & South the morality of slave holding had a public & private face. My personal opinion is that my Grandad ‘s statement about segregation would apply; “Anybody who says that they didn’t know it was wrong is a liar.”
It would be an interesting question. The southerners tended to be Episcopalian. The northerners probably had no dominant sect. But many more Methodists and Lutherans in the mix. Much more Dutch and German influence in the north. The Quaker religion was very important up to the Civil War era. I suspect the Catholic influence in Maryland, and then in NYC and Boston, due to immigration, was heavy in the northern areas.
Slavery was not the only difference. The ethnic character of the US was split at Chesapeake Bay and the Potomac River, and by the Erie Canal and the National Road.
 

GwilymT

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The Episcopal Church was, after the cotton gin revolution, particularly pro-slavery. The Baptist & Methodist churches were popular with slaves because of their condemnation of slavery.
it is possible to look up all the verses of the Bible & not find one that condemns slavery as a moral wrong. Be that as it may, in private slave-holders feared ****ation for the obvious immorality that was an inevitable element of the institution. That was why George Washington & a host of others freed their slaves in their wills.
Appeals to “the God given right of men to hold other human beings as property” were ubiquitous. There were individuals like Jubal Early who believed that. It appears that for the majority of whites North & South the morality of slave holding had a public & private face. My personal opinion is that my Grandad ‘s statement about segregation would apply; “Anybody who says that they didn’t know it was wrong is a liar.”
While I think you are on the right track, it’s important to point out that the reason there is a Southern Baptist Church as opposed to a Baptist Church is their historical stance on slavery. There were similar schisms in the Methodist and Presbyterian churches. The issue in these schisms was slavery. Nearly every mainline Protestant Church in the US went through a North/South schism in the years leading up to the war- just as our country did.

The article linked in this post from another thread may help to illustrate:https://civilwartalk.com/threads/fr...reacher-argues-secession.164001/#post-2296031
 
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GwilymT

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I think that all of the back and forth regarding politics and economics misses one of the key elements of the 19th century American psyche- religion. We take it for granted that they prayed to the same god but a southern church taught that slavery was a positive Christian good whereas a Northern Church taught that it was at best a necessary evil and at worst an abomination. This is a key element that Rhea’s talk touches on.

I would also venture to guess that religion was, in general, a more potent influence on a 19th century mind than it is on our current minds. We know that religious sentiment is still a force in our current politics, economics, and social life. I would venture to guess that the impact of religion on society was greater then...
 
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GwilymT

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While I think you are on the right track, it’s important to point out that the reason there is a Southern Baptist Church as opposed to a Baptist Church is their stance on slavery. There were similar schisms in the Methodist and Presbyterian churches. The issue in these schisms was slavery. Nearly every mainline Protestant Church in the US went through a North/South schism in the years leading up to the war- just as our country did.

The article linked in this post from another thread may help to illustrate:https://civilwartalk.com/threads/fr...reacher-argues-secession.164001/#post-2296031
To follow up, here is what the Southern Baptists themselves have to say about the schism, the cause of the formation of the Southern Baptist Convention was the issue of slavery:


While this may be a hard truth, it is an important truth.
 

Rhea Cole

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Since we have gone off on this tangent, the only hall in Richmond large enough to hold the secession convention that belonged to a black Baptist Church Congregation. That is ironic on so many levels. Slave-holders paid their slaves rent on the building where they set in motion the destruction of slavery is an example of something I don’t have a name for.
 

GwilymT

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I wonder what church black slave owners attended?

Not sure, it didn’t say in the article you shared that I could see. I would think that if they were in an area with a large free population there was probably black churches and social circles for them to frequent.
 
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Rhea Cole

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I wonder what church black slave owners attended?
Here in Murfreesboro TN the A.M.E.Church on Maple Street just off the square was owned by freemen & slaves. A black family owned a big farm & 40 (?) slaves near here. It was customary for masters & slaves to attend the same church, so that might answer your question.
As always, there is nothing about slave-holding that sits easy with a rational mind. As I am sure many of you are aware that the first Sunday after surrender R.E. Lee attended services in an Episcopal Church. The white congregation was shocked when a black man knelt at the rail for communion. Lee, who had led almost a quarter of a million men to death or injury to guarantee the right to keep that man & his children in bondage, got up & knelt beside him. Make of that what you will.
 
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Joshism

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Why would those who were not directly connected to slavery support it? Better question is why wouldn't they.

From 1790 to 1860, slavery had grown steadily in value and importance to the South. Calhoun and other famous Southern politicians vigorously defended it. Wealth, success, and prestige in the South went hand in hand with slave ownership. Certain labor was derided as "negro work" beneath the standards and dignity of a white man - to the point were Lee and other Confederate generals struggled early in the war to get their men to dig trenches.

But most importantly no anti-slavery movement was tolerated in the South. Abolitionist mail was destroyed. Anti-slavery newspapers and books, even by Southerners like Hinton Helper, weren't tolerated.

Look at the strongest Unionist bastions in the South during the war: the Ozarks, the Smokies, western Virginia. Places were slave ownership was negligible largely for practical reasons and where the populace resented plantation dominance of the state government. Yet even they were generally not anti-slavery, just anti-Confederacy.

It's also no coincidence the first two states to secede had more blacks than whites. The percentage of population enslaved is markedly lower in the Upper South than the Deep South, and again in the Border States vs Upper South.

After all, "it's always been like that."
 

Will Carry

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This has been a great discussion! There were many reasons that non-slave owning Southerners fought and don't forget the 300,000 Southerners who joined the Union army. However, I think we are missing the elephant in the room. Southern women! It's all their fault!
"Oh Rhet! You just must go and fight those awful Yankees! You're not a coward are you? I would never give myself to a coward. We need our Negroes to pick our crops, keep the grounds and nanny our children!" Rhet says "Yes dear, I'll go and fight them Yankees for you." and that was it. You cannot argue with Southern women. Happy Friday everyone.
 

Rhea Cole

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I think disgusted would be a better term than terrified.
Where does one leave & the other take up? The speeches of the Secession Commissioners that were sent by the seceding states to explain why they acted are replete with dire warning of impending social equality. The meeting of white daughters & black men was unthinkable. When you consider the ubiquitous sexual abuse of slave women by Southern white men, you have to agree that they knew what they were talking about.
 
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