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Le Ricain
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Tue Mar 04, 2014 2:10 pm

In 1784, Thomas Jefferson, during the Articles of Confederation period, presented a bill that would have prohibited slavery in the new territories. This would have affected all of the new territories north and south. For example, Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee would have been free states. The bill was defeated in Congress by a single vote as one of the representatives from New Jersey failed to appear. The reason that this bill was even considered was that producing cotton even with slave labour was unprofitable.

Everything changed with Eli Whitney's invention of the cotton gin in 1793 as cotton production became extremely profitable. The South never again considered restricting access to new lands for cotton planting as being acceptable.

A great 'what if'.
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veji1
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Tue Mar 04, 2014 2:32 pm

granitestater, I don't want to be rude, but you have a way of discussing matters which is really not very helpful... Saying that the war could have been avoided, because seceding was wrong and therefore those who seceded because they lost an election bear the responsability for the war... Well sure, fair enough, it is your opinion.

But it has nothing to do with the question !!!!

First of all I think the OP wanted to have a fun and enlightening debate about how and who could have prevented that, not some morality class about reading the first inaugural address or burn in hell.

Now Granitestater, if you want to participate in the debate, you need to forget your moral highground and Roleplay a bit. How could some of the leaders have avoided it ? If you think it was anavoidable, faire enough, make your point. But please, pretty please, don't get on your high horse and enjoin your fellow forumers to read such and such speech from such an such holy figure.

I for once think that Lincoln had no real choice. We forget how tense the situation was in the north. By not bein firm with the seceding states, he was really risking a breakdown in confidence in the north, and possibly quite quickly a coup or his assassination for example... I can perfectly imagine a Lincoln trying to be moderate, trying to stay in between, facing more and more agitation from radical republicans calling for his impeachment, and beign assassinated not by a southerner in 65, but by an abolitionnist in 61, and the civil war starting not in april 61 but in autumn 61 or early 62 nevertheless.

This is to me a real question. Could the Union, as just the northern states, survive if it let go of the south ? Wouldn't it have exploded from the tension this would have brought upon it ? Wasn't in the end the Civil War not a war to save the Union, not so because of the secession in itself, but because the secession would have created so much tension that the leftover union would have exploded as a functioning state ?

What do you guys think ?

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Tue Mar 04, 2014 3:46 pm

GraniteStater wrote:I don't think I have left any readers unsure about my beliefs.


True.

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fred zeppelin
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Tue Mar 04, 2014 4:11 pm

veji1 wrote:
This is to me a real question. Could the Union, as just the northern states, survive if it let go of the south ? Wouldn't it have exploded from the tension this would have brought upon it ? Wasn't in the end the Civil War not a war to save the Union, not so because of the secession in itself, but because the secession would have created so much tension that the leftover union would have exploded as a functioning state ?

What do you guys think ?


Now THAT is a really good question, and one I've never considered before.

As in all wars, people waved flags and rushed to join up, but that doesn't necessarily mean they felt passionately about the political issues involved - bravado, innocence, comradeship, excitement and a general desire not to be left out of something big probably accounted more for the early war passion, on both sides, than did any deep belief in the political issues.

If people had been able to foresee what the war would require, I think a great many Northerners would have preferred to let the South depart in peace. Many in the North were sick of arguing over slavery and believed they could get along with the South just fine. Part of Lincoln's genius, I think, was his ability to sustain the war effort despite the absence of real passion in the North, at least early on.

The question I hadn't considered is whether, once accepted, the idea of secession would have spread to other Northern states. A very real possibility, I think. That's the problem with secession - it's hard to define its limits. Taken to its logical conclusion, it's the antithesis of Union.

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GraniteStater
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Tue Mar 04, 2014 6:11 pm

granitestater, I don't want to be rude, but you have a way of discussing matters which is really not very helpful... Saying that the war could have been avoided, because seceding was wrong and therefore those who seceded because they lost an election bear the responsability for the war... Well sure, fair enough, it is your opinion.

But it has nothing to do with the question !!!!


"How was it possible to avoid the war?"

GS: Don't start it. Obey the law. Act like free men in a republic.

Did I see, "Gee, you're right, GS,"? Did I see, "u r rt, lets talk about sectionalism,"? Did I see, "Good point, let's talk about an understanding that could have been reached to mollify the North about Dred Scott and allay Southern fears,"?

No, I did not.

What I did read was a series of posts attempting to justify the attempted dismemberment of the US (which happens to be my country, BTW), sedition, and treason against the United States.

I had no reply to certain posts, you might observe.

If, in response to my first post, one of my interlocutors had conceded my point and not persisted in these juvenile, sophomoric, callow attempts to excuse one of the most heinous criminal combinations in all of recorded history, then I probably wouldn't have added much of anything to the subject.

I've been hearing people try to advance this thesis for forty years now and I am so thoroughly sick of it, I can't begin to describe it. How any reasonable person, US citizens, specifically (this presumption here is minimally justified, those who tried to advance this thesis sure seemed to be by content and tone and with the exception of Ace or someone else, also, none pointed out they were not), can wax nostalgic about a criminal conspiracy to abjure oaths many at the time had taken and then fire on the flag under which they had served, is beyond me.

Everyone would have been spared what was really a pointless discussion. The only saving grace is perhaps some have read the First Inaugural now and humbly acknowledged that Lincoln had a mind of the very first water and he need not take a back seat to Newton, Milton, Einstein, or anyone else, with the very slim exception of William Shakespeare, who was merely the greatest author of all time on the entire planet, and that's slim, because Shakespeare didn't write essays and Lincoln didn't write sonnets and plays. And the Redeemer, He was the most intelligent man who ever lived, perforce.

People are entitled to their opinions. They are not entitled to expect that the promulgation of these opinions be met with the uncritical acceptance some may so blithely hope.

Just for the record: I've never taken a class in American history. The one that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts required in my high school, well, all I remember is something about cotton futures in the 1830s. I have never had a formal class, a chronological exposition in an academic setting.

I could walk into Harvard, though, and teach AmHist 101 off the top of my freakin' head. I've done more reading on the subject than some have read on everything in their lives. I have read primary sources, etc., etc., etc. I have considered many views on many subjects in the history of this nation.

I will never countenance any excuse for the deliberate attempt by US citizens, through warfare, to destroy the United States. This is not my website. I will take pains to be polite and understanding.

But repeated attempts to possibly justify or excuse the events from 20 December 1860 to 12 April 1861 will always be met by me with every legitimate and proper rhetorical technique that I am allowed to muster.

All it would have taken was a simple acknowledgment that Lincoln was right. Not GS right - Lincoln, for all I did was marshal his arguments and reasoning.

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[color="#AFEEEE"]"Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable!"[/color]
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veji1
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Tue Mar 04, 2014 6:26 pm

Come on dude... Saying well not seceding would have avoided the war is like saying "well not coming into existence is sure way to avoid death"....

If some leave in some sort of nostalgy where they want to justify secession, well it is stupid but let them be. The question to be discussed is, seeing the dynamics at play in the north and the south, what could have been done, by whom ? Could some southern moderate governors be swayed by the union ? Could Virginia or Tennessee not have seceded with clever diplomacy/cajolling ? etc... Doesn't mean seceding in the first place was acceptable.

It may be that after Lincoln's election secession and therefore civil war were inevitable, seing the dynamics at play, but was it really ? I don't know, and this why I find the question and would have found the discussion interesting. But whichever way you may see, you arriving and straight away quoting the inaugural address, saying that secession caused war and therefore only non-secession would have prevented it (without contributing as to how after the election secession might have been avoided or limited to some states etc...) is just the type of thing that straight up kills a conversation.

This is a what if conversation with a goal of fun and intellectual enlightment. Share with us what you know, how you could see an alternative history unfolding where after the election, secession is avoided. That would be interesting, but going on you high horse, sorry mate.

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Tue Mar 04, 2014 6:47 pm

Y'know, after three attempts to bow out, you would think that folks would just cease "C'mon, man, c'mon, dude."

I have made Lincoln's and the Founder's feelings on the matter abundantly clear, I hope, and did little disservice to their recorded views, I pray.

I did, at one point, get rather emphatic about what I would do, personally, if I ever saw an attempt to level arms at an officer in his duties. Where I sit, not likely, but I used to live on the Rio Grande and worked in Mexico. I saw the Border Patrol every day and one day, came out of the store on the way to work and saw BP officers taking two people into custody, just thirty feet away. It is not an inconceivable set of circumstances that one could have wrestled a pistol away and have attempted to disagree terminally. In that case, it would have been my duty to render all aid and assistance forthwith and I would have not hesitated to use any and all means at my command to do so, starting with calling the cops. My 108 point type post was to make it absolutely clear that I would not be in the wrong; I would be in the right to use deadly force in certain circumstances, for there is a moral issue involved.

BTW, as long as I think of it, I did witness an attempted murder by pistol fire in Saint Paul, not more than ten feet in front of me. I must admit, I made Usain Bolt look shabby.

I said my piece & I am done. Now, unless you're a moderator, I implore everyone to leave me alone. I don't care if the rest of the thread is an advertisement for Confederated Slaveholders.

Lincoln was right - everybody else was wrong.
[color="#AFEEEE"]"Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable!"[/color]

-Daniel Webster



[color="#FFA07A"]"C'mon, boys, we got the damn Yankees on the run!"[/color]

-General Joseph Wheeler, US Army, serving at Santiago in 1898



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bob.
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Tue Mar 04, 2014 6:57 pm

Germany wasn't justified starting WW2. Doesn't mean you can't ask the question "what could France and the UK have done to save Poland".

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Tue Mar 04, 2014 7:05 pm

One last time:

If, in response to my first post, one of my interlocutors had conceded my point and not persisted in these juvenile, sophomoric, callow attempts to excuse one of the most heinous criminal combinations in all of recorded history, then I probably wouldn't have added much of anything to the subject.

Get it? I didn't say you couldn't raise the question!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I said, there was a freakin' obvious way to avoid the conflict - don't commit treason!!!!!

Did I see, u r rt, but were there other ways? No, not until much further down. Did I quibble with that? Did I gainsay Ace? NO.

You can say what you wish, but if you persist in saying that Julius Caesar wrote Hamlet, I'm callin' ya on it!

Sheeeesh.
[color="#AFEEEE"]"Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable!"[/color]

-Daniel Webster



[color="#FFA07A"]"C'mon, boys, we got the damn Yankees on the run!"[/color]

-General Joseph Wheeler, US Army, serving at Santiago in 1898



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(A) When in doubt, agree with Ace.

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Tue Mar 04, 2014 7:16 pm

Le Ricain wrote:In 1784, Thomas Jefferson, during the Articles of Confederation period, presented a bill that would have prohibited slavery in the new territories. This would have affected all of the new territories north and south. For example, Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee would have been free states. The bill was defeated in Congress by a single vote as one of the representatives from New Jersey failed to appear. The reason that this bill was even considered was that producing cotton even with slave labour was unprofitable.

Everything changed with Eli Whitney's invention of the cotton gin in 1793 as cotton production became extremely profitable. The South never again considered restricting access to new lands for cotton planting as being acceptable.

A great 'what if'.


ah! an enlightened response! Had the vote happened and the territory that gave rise to Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee been free...
I'm not sure. Tennessee becomes a state in 1796, Alabama in 1819 and Mississippi in 1817. All after the invention of the cotton gin, and following "land rushes" prior to admission. I think even if an act in 1784 had been passed, the new arrivals 20 years later would have brought slaves and pushed to revise the laws to allow the admission of those states as slave states.

What about Napoleon? Imagine he hadn't re-established slavery in 1802, preventing the Haitian Revolution (or at least reducing its violence)? (Not an entirely fair question since the slave revolts on Haiti got going in 1791.) For slave owners in the U.S., Haiti became the big example of the danger of slave revolts, pushing state legislatures to pass stricter slave codes and hardening the Southern views on the question of emancipation.

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Tue Mar 04, 2014 7:19 pm

bob. wrote:Germany wasn't justified starting WW2. Doesn't mean you can't ask the question "what could France and the UK have done to save Poland".



Soundoff holds his hands to his head in shock horror :thumbsup: Please no......wait......don't go there......take it all back ......etc...etc.....etc. Lets not start on WW2 or 1 or Iraq or....you get the drift. These are after all the CW2 boards. :love:

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Tue Mar 04, 2014 8:06 pm

Okay, so if I understand correctly, revolution or secession or what have you, is allowed according to the 'Natural Laws' when the government fails to protect the rights of those they are governing. This is what the South claimed. But, considering Dred Scott, the execution of John Brown, and other stuff, the South's 'rights' were certainly being protected by the government. I don't think anyone can say that anything had happened yet that was bad enough to justify armed revolt. So, the next claim is preventative, that once Lincoln took over, it would be too late to stop him. The Brutus defense. But, I don't believe the idea of preemptive revolt makes any sense. Further, Habeas Corpus suspension, freeing slaves (taking private property), sending troops to invade, and other offences, all occurred directly as a result of prosecuting a war, that the South started!

To paraphrase the greatest military genius in American history, "from where the thread now stands, I will write no more forever."


Not to pick on you too much, but I don't believe Chief Joseph was a military commander. From what I know, he would be more comparable to the civilian commander in chief, while Looking Glass was the one calling the shots. Now, I would argue that Grant is the greatest military genius in American history, but that's for another time.

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GraniteStater
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Tue Mar 04, 2014 8:21 pm

Not to pick on you too much, but I don't believe Chief Joseph was a military commander. From what I know, he would be more comparable to the civilian commander in chief, while Looking Glass was the one calling the shots. Now, I would argue that Grant is the greatest military genius in American history, but that's for another time


Well, it's kinda off topic, so... I do recall, in outline, what you say here. Some might say co-commanders; IIRC, Chief Joseph was the chief.

Native American military structures...always hairy, generalizations about the first inhabitants are always shaky, what with 500 peoples, etc. Plus, they just didn't do things or think about them the way Europeans and later, US citizens did.

Let's give the credit to the people of the clan (anthropologists employ 'tribe' for a different grouping). In a matter of weeks, defeated or fought to a draw fifteen separate commands of the US Army.

By a people who had greeted and helped Lewis & Clark, had never, never been hostile to the crowding strangers and were proud of the red, white and blue banner they had kept since L&C gave it to them. And took up flight because some chowderhead agent was a completely overweening moron.

We should be ashamed for that one.
[color="#AFEEEE"]"Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable!"[/color]

-Daniel Webster



[color="#FFA07A"]"C'mon, boys, we got the damn Yankees on the run!"[/color]

-General Joseph Wheeler, US Army, serving at Santiago in 1898



RULES

(A) When in doubt, agree with Ace.

(B) Pull my reins up sharply when needed, for I am a spirited thoroughbred and forget to turn at the post sometimes.





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khbynum
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Tue Mar 04, 2014 8:35 pm

veji1 raised a good point. Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee and Arkansas all seceded after the attack on Ft. Sumter and after Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers to "suppress the rebellion" and also called on all states to furnish a quota of such volunteers. I'm most familiar with North Carolina, where secession was a near-run thing, but I think the situation was similar in those other states. The governor flatly refused to provide such troops and the state did not in fact vote to secede until after it became plain that Lincoln intended to suppress the rebellion by force. Three of those four supplied, or could have supplied, more war materiel and troops than the rest of the Confederacy together. North Carolina alone supplied 30% of the troops who fought for the South. Might this not have been a time when a true statesman could have nipped the revolution in the bud by doing nothing?

Not by condoning secession, which obviously most of you think was unwise if not outright illegal. Rather, by pointing out to the South that they had no support beyond the hard-core, cotton-growing plantation states and simply couldn't win if it came to war. Lincoln's call for volunteers tipped three of those states into secession, which need not have been.

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Tue Mar 04, 2014 8:54 pm

veji1 wrote:Come on dude... Saying well not seceding would have avoided the war is like saying "well not coming into existence is sure way to avoid death"....

If some leave in some sort of nostalgy where they want to justify secession, well it is stupid but let them be. The question to be discussed is, seeing the dynamics at play in the north and the south, what could have been done, by whom ? Could some southern moderate governors be swayed by the union ? Could Virginia or Tennessee not have seceded with clever diplomacy/cajoling ? etc... Doesn't mean seceding in the first place was acceptable.

It may be that after Lincoln's election secession and therefore civil war were inevitable, seeing the dynamics at play, but was it really ? I don't know, and this why I find the question and would have found the discussion interesting. But whichever way you may see, you arriving and straight away quoting the inaugural address, saying that secession caused war and therefore only non-secession would have prevented it (without contributing as to how after the election secession might have been avoided or limited to some states etc...) is just the type of thing that straight up kills a conversation.

This is a what if conversation with a goal of fun and intellectual enlightenment. Share with us what you know, how you could see an alternative history unfolding where after the election, secession is avoided. That would be interesting, but going on you high horse, sorry mate.


The question of the thread wasn't what could have been done by Lincoln after secession to avoid the war. That would be like saying what could F.D.R. do to avoid war with Japan after the attack on Pearl Harbor. You complain about quoting the inaugural address, but it presents the case by the North why what the South was doing was illegal (in their view) and that rejoining the Union was the only way to avoid war. As long as the South insisted that the North recognize Southern independence and surrender all Federal property in the South, the only choice is war or one side totally capitulating. Could Va or Tennessee been kept in the union and out of the Confederacy? Possibly, but so what? As long as there were Southern states, of any number, claiming independence, the North would have fought to stop them. So the answer of no secession= no war is entirely accurate.


Let's do a quick chronology:
November 6 1860: Lincoln is elected President. James Buchanan is still the chef executive.

December 20 1860: South Carolina secedes from the Union. The issue of the status of Federal property in separated states, especially the coastal forts, becomes critical.

December 20 1860-Febuary 4 1861: 6 additional states secede from the Union and start to organize the Confederate States of America. This includes the suspension of the enforcement of federal law in these states, suspension of tariff collection by the federal government, and the demand that Federal arsenals and forts be turned over to state authorities. The Buchanan administration states that secession is illegal but that the Federal government lacks the legal authority to prevent it. (To the horror of inhabitants of the Granite State I'm sure) Republican governors in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and New York begin training militia for eventual federal service.

February 4 1861: The Washington Peace Conference is held in the Willard Hotel in Washington D.C. For 3 weeks delegations from several states attempted to draft a constitutional amendment acceptable to all sides of the slavery debate. No Deep South states participated or delegates from Arkansas, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, California, and Oregon. 14 free states and 7 slave states participated. President elect Lincoln was nearby, but did not participate. The proposed amendment broadly restated the failed Crittenton Compromise of December 1860. It was rejected by the Senate 28-7.

March 4 1861: Lincoln is sworn in to office and uses his inaugural address to elaborate his views on the secession crisis. (You may obtain a copy from GS) Lincoln holds the constitution to be a perpetual contract and that any declaration of secession is legally void. To steal liberally from the Wikipedia article:

"He had no intent to invade Southern states, nor did he intend to end slavery where it existed, but said that he would use force to maintain possession of federal property. The government would make no move to recover post offices, and if resisted, mail delivery would end at state lines. Where popular conditions did not allow peaceful enforcement of Federal law, U.S. Marshals and Judges would be withdrawn. No mention was made of bullion lost from U.S. mints in Louisiana, Georgia and North Carolina. In Lincoln's Inaugural, U.S. policy would only collect import duties at its ports, there could be no serious injury to justify revolution in the politics of four years. His speech closed with a plea for restoration of the bonds of union."

March 4 1861- April 12 1861: Southern representatives are sent to negotiate a peace treaty with the United States that includes the purchase of Federal installations in the South. Lincoln refuses to meet the commissioners on the grounds that the Confederacy was not a legal government and that singing a treaty would be effectively recognizing the Confederacy's independence. Secretary of State Seward started unauthorized indirect negotiations that failed. Lincoln decides to hold all 7 forts remaining in Federal hands in the South.

April 12-15 1861: Fort Sumter is bombarded to prevent its re-supply. Lincoln calls for 75,000 volunteers, MA, PA, and NY respond within a day, and the final 4 states of the Confederacy leave the union.

It is not as though there weren't attempts at settlement, but by the time Lincoln assumed office the choice was accept Confederate independence or war. (Or for the rebels, accept the constitutional authority of their Federal government or war).
There were alternatives to war. The Crittenten Compromise for example, but it they were unacceptable to a country split on the idea of if it should be all one thing or all another.

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Tue Mar 04, 2014 9:24 pm

khbynum wrote:veji1 Might this not have been a time when a true statesman could have nipped the revolution in the bud by doing nothing?
Not by condoning secession, which obviously most of you think was unwise if not outright illegal. Rather, by pointing out to the South that they had no support beyond the hard-core, cotton-growing plantation states and simply couldn't win if it came to war. Lincoln's call for volunteers tipped three of those states into secession, which need not have been.


Well, Buchanan's policy was essentially to do nothing. Before Sumter, Federal forts had been challenged by southern forces, and the response was non-confrontational. This often meant abandoning or surrendering federal installations. By the time Lincoln took office, there were only 7 forts left in federal hands and all in critical condition. If he kept up doing nothing, there would soon be no federal property left to protect in the South. He attempts to hold the forts, and finally the South attack's one. To do nothing is to invite attacks on the rest of the forts. To fight means war, but the Union has no army... so he has to call on the states.

Even if the Deep South could have been convinced that they were too weak to defend themselves a united front of Northern and border states, he would have still had to have called up an army to have a convincing saber to rattle, and Va had made it clear that she would not wage war on the Deep South.

North Carolina is an interesting case. I believe she was the last state out, almost a month after Virginia left and the capitol of the Confederacy had been moved to Richmond. Surrounded by the Confederacy, she would have been promptly invaded had she remained a blue island.

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Tue Mar 04, 2014 9:40 pm

I think aariediger and veji1 both earlier addressed an issue with the current discussion as it is unfolding: Right now, the discussion is centered around the morality and legality of secession, not the question the OP originally opposed, which was "Could the Civil war have been avoided?" But the question of whether something is 'good' or 'bad' is a matter of perspective, and laws, man-made as they are, tend to be regularly discarded whenever revolutions constitute new governments in the history of mankind, and thus neither defenses of the CSA nor the US government are going to help in answering the original question, although of course they offer an insight into the mindset actors on either side could have had at the time and thus help us contextualize the problem and why the situation turned towards military conflict.

Now I must say I've been entertained by the discussion, though likely not in the way the OP had intended the discussion to be entertaining. There are certainly people that are far more knowledgeable than me regarding the details of the ACW, and people have offered a multitude of positions indicating intrinsic knowledge with the events of this topic. Nevertheless, perhaps as an attempt at a bid for restoring the discussion to its original intention, I wish to try offering somewhat of a maybe structuralist position regarding the original question.

The question that was initially posed is of course highly hypothetical: The American Civil War did happen, everything else is alternative history, which is by definition outside of the scope of traditional historiography, as speculative events cannot be assessed with the methods of historical research, as we lack the sources to back up postulations about how events could have played out in another timeline.

One can however discuss the structures that led to armed hostilities and in this fashion try to get a better understanding of the origins of the conflict, and thus by deduction, factors that contributed to events as they happened, with an implication that different factors could have led to different results. Now, what were the structural issues behind the Civil War, very briefly and unprofessionally?

To raise but one point, the different development of economic and social structures in the South and the North created an inherent antagonism. In the North, you have the ever-expanding structures of the industrial revolution, urbanization and the creation of social strata of farmers turned workers, while in the South you have dependency structures centered around a feudal aristocracy and a slave-based economy. These economic systems were inevitably at odds, as they competed for human labor and resources in a mutually-exclusive fashion. Where the industrial North needed wage laborers, the economy of the South relied on structures of slavery to create a profit, a model of economic exploitation incompatible with the needs for a more professional workforce, a model which was threatened by efficient competition from the North. The South's secession, then, was a reaction to perpetuate a system that was being threatened by the new mode of production's advance and the lack of sustainability of slavery in the face of the North's economic interests. Could an agreement have be reached that allowed the perpetuation of conditions as they were before 1861? Possibly. But the underlying contradictions would, sooner or later, have surfaced once more, as the core issue would not have been resolved, namely that slavery and free labor cannot coexist forever.

Of course, reducing the conflict to just the economy is limiting, and the discourses on federal vs state government and a multitude of other issues must also be considered, but I think that is obvious.

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Tue Mar 04, 2014 9:41 pm

Can a country leave the Union nowadays? Say Texas or California or Alaska or Hawaii? Would it be allowed if its people voted for secession in a state referendum?
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Tue Mar 04, 2014 9:52 pm

You have made a very polite inquiry. I do not wish to seem abrupt. The short answer, though, is "No."

States may have boundaries changed. The Constitution specifies this and it has been done and not just with West Virginia. It is strictly conceivable that a State could lawfully leave the Union, but only with the assent of Congress and most probably all the other States, also; this scenario is so pie-eyed as to be effectively inconceivable.

Just as no State may refuse to recognize the sovereignty of the US, no State may be expelled, either.

*****

Small but vital point: pgr did say 'perpetual contract' & I can wink at that, but it is an important legal understanding that the USC is not a contract, nor a compact among the several States. For why it is not, please see above.
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khbynum
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Tue Mar 04, 2014 10:01 pm

Kensai wrote:Can a country leave the Union nowadays? Say Texas or California or Alaska or Hawaii? Would it be allowed if its people voted for secession in a state referendum?


As I pointed out in a previous post, the Constitution hasn't changed on that question since the Civil War, so if you think secession was illegal then, it still is. I'd like to see it challenged (in the courts, not on the battlefield). I can imagine an airmobile assault on Sacramento, though. Or Austin, though in the latter case I'd be inclined to let them go.

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Tue Mar 04, 2014 10:04 pm

Sounds kind of a forced marriage to me. But I guess this is practically what happens to other federated nations around the world as well.
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Tue Mar 04, 2014 10:12 pm

Technically member states of the Soviet Union at least from the 70s had a right of secession, which of course was never de facto a viable option until the disintegration of the USSR. I think Germany for example though also has no provisions for a Land to leave the Federal Republic.

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Tue Mar 04, 2014 10:17 pm

Kensai wrote:Sounds kind of a forced marriage to me. But I guess this is practically what happens to other federated nations around the world as well.


Way off topic, but I would be highly interested to hear your quick description of the subject per Der Bundesrepublik Deutschland. Hope I got that right.
[color="#AFEEEE"]"Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable!"[/color]

-Daniel Webster



[color="#FFA07A"]"C'mon, boys, we got the damn Yankees on the run!"[/color]

-General Joseph Wheeler, US Army, serving at Santiago in 1898



RULES

(A) When in doubt, agree with Ace.

(B) Pull my reins up sharply when needed, for I am a spirited thoroughbred and forget to turn at the post sometimes.





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khbynum
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Tue Mar 04, 2014 10:20 pm

Kensai wrote:Sounds kind of a forced marriage to me. But I guess this is practically what happens to other federated nations around the world as well.


That is exactly the position I have defended in this thread, though that's not the reason I started it. It comes down in the end to the power of a central government and self-determination. We won't solve that, or even reach agreement, in this forum. Thanks Owl for that bit of history about the Soviet Union, I had no idea that was true.

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Tue Mar 04, 2014 10:46 pm

Curious thing about the Soviet Union: it had the power to allocate regions inside the various republics, territories, etc (ie change borders among its nations). The troubles of Crimea today are because it passed in the 50s from Russia to Ukraine although it did have an ethnic Russian majority. It has come to haunt them all today...
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Tue Mar 04, 2014 11:05 pm

GraniteStater wrote:Way off topic, but I would be highly interested to hear your quick description of the subject per Der Bundesrepublik Deutschland. Hope I got that right.


Am no German citizen, but as far as I know the Basic Law (which is effectively the German Constitution) only has provisions regarding change of Länder borders, unifications and divisions within the Federal Republic. So if, say Luxembourg one day wanted to join Germany the Basic Law would not have a saying on it. Some people I have talked here in the State of Baden-Württemberg have sometimes expressed their informal will of us joining Switzerland. :p

I really don't know, probably it can't be done.
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Tue Mar 04, 2014 11:12 pm

pgr wrote:The question of the thread wasn't what could have been done by Lincoln after secession to avoid the war. That would be like saying what could F.D.R. do to avoid war with Japan after the attack on Pearl Harbor. You complain about quoting the inaugural address, but it presents the case by the North why what the South was doing was illegal (in their view) and that rejoining the Union was the only way to avoid war. As long as the South insisted that the North recognize Southern independence and surrender all Federal property in the South, the only choice is war or one side totally capitulating. Could Va or Tennessee been kept in the union and out of the Confederacy? Possibly, but so what? As long as there were Southern states, of any number, claiming independence, the North would have fought to stop them. So the answer of no secession= no war is entirely accurate.


Let's do a quick chronology:
November 6 1860: Lincoln is elected President. James Buchanan is still the chef executive.

December 20 1860: South Carolina secedes from the Union. The issue of the status of Federal property in separated states, especially the coastal forts, becomes critical.

December 20 1860-Febuary 4 1861: 6 additional states secede from the Union and start to organize the Confederate States of America. This includes the suspension of the enforcement of federal law in these states, suspension of tariff collection by the federal government, and the demand that Federal arsenals and forts be turned over to state authorities. The Buchanan administration states that secession is illegal but that the Federal government lacks the legal authority to prevent it. (To the horror of inhabitants of the Granite State I'm sure) Republican governors in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and New York begin training militia for eventual federal service.

February 4 1861: The Washington Peace Conference is held in the Willard Hotel in Washington D.C. For 3 weeks delegations from several states attempted to draft a constitutional amendment acceptable to all sides of the slavery debate. No Deep South states participated or delegates from Arkansas, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, California, and Oregon. 14 free states and 7 slave states participated. President elect Lincoln was nearby, but did not participate. The proposed amendment broadly restated the failed Crittenton Compromise of December 1860. It was rejected by the Senate 28-7.

March 4 1861: Lincoln is sworn in to office and uses his inaugural address to elaborate his views on the secession crisis. (You may obtain a copy from GS) Lincoln holds the constitution to be a perpetual contract and that any declaration of secession is legally void. To steal liberally from the Wikipedia article:

"He had no intent to invade Southern states, nor did he intend to end slavery where it existed, but said that he would use force to maintain possession of federal property. The government would make no move to recover post offices, and if resisted, mail delivery would end at state lines. Where popular conditions did not allow peaceful enforcement of Federal law, U.S. Marshals and Judges would be withdrawn. No mention was made of bullion lost from U.S. mints in Louisiana, Georgia and North Carolina. In Lincoln's Inaugural, U.S. policy would only collect import duties at its ports, there could be no serious injury to justify revolution in the politics of four years. His speech closed with a plea for restoration of the bonds of union."

March 4 1861- April 12 1861: Southern representatives are sent to negotiate a peace treaty with the United States that includes the purchase of Federal installations in the South. Lincoln refuses to meet the commissioners on the grounds that the Confederacy was not a legal government and that singing a treaty would be effectively recognizing the Confederacy's independence. Secretary of State Seward started unauthorized indirect negotiations that failed. Lincoln decides to hold all 7 forts remaining in Federal hands in the South.

April 12-15 1861: Fort Sumter is bombarded to prevent its re-supply. Lincoln calls for 75,000 volunteers, MA, PA, and NY respond within a day, and the final 4 states of the Confederacy leave the union.

It is not as though there weren't attempts at settlement, but by the time Lincoln assumed office the choice was accept Confederate independence or war. (Or for the rebels, accept the constitutional authority of their Federal government or war).
There were alternatives to war. The Crittenten Compromise for example, but it they were unacceptable to a country split on the idea of if it should be all one thing or all another.


interesting, thanks for your post. If I understood how you are presenting the situation, once Lincoln was in power, his view being clearly that secession was unacceptable and would have to mean war, he wasnt in a position though to initiate hostilities out of lack of means (an army) but also because politically he couldn't just shoot first ? Am I correct ? Is this why the 7 forts became the key issue with the Union almost baiting the south into shooting first leading to fort Sumter.

my follow question would be, say the confederates stay disciplined and cool headed, keep asking to buy the federal land and such making "civilised" ouvertures and at the same time surrounding not too aggressively the federal forts without attacking them or preventing resupplying. What happens next and why ? Does the Union eventually attack after a few months once its army is ready or could that situation just last for a while and lead to a de facto secession, although officially not accepted, in a sort of Taiwan / communist china type of way ?

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Tue Mar 04, 2014 11:29 pm

Now you see why Lincoln was one of the canniest politicians who ever sought a vote. He outwaited them. Sumter was a fishbone in their throat & he knew those who were clearly hotheads would not abide it for long.
[color="#AFEEEE"]"Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable!"[/color]

-Daniel Webster



[color="#FFA07A"]"C'mon, boys, we got the damn Yankees on the run!"[/color]

-General Joseph Wheeler, US Army, serving at Santiago in 1898



RULES

(A) When in doubt, agree with Ace.

(B) Pull my reins up sharply when needed, for I am a spirited thoroughbred and forget to turn at the post sometimes.





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veji1
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Wed Mar 05, 2014 12:25 am

GraniteStater wrote:Now you see why Lincoln was one of the canniest politicians who ever sought a vote. He outwaited them. Sumter was a fishbone in their throat & he knew those who were clearly hotheads would not abide it for long.


clearly, a clever way of using what one would call realpolitik to back up his principles, but what would have happened though if the fort(s) hadn't been attacked ? Do you think the Union would have eventually attacked or found a way to provoke another southern hothead in hitting first somewhere ?

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Wed Mar 05, 2014 12:47 am

my follow question would be, say the confederates stay disciplined and cool headed, keep asking to buy the federal land and such making "civilised" ouvertures and at the same time surrounding not too aggressively the federal forts without attacking them or preventing resupplying. What happens next and why ? Does the Union eventually attack after a few months once its army is ready or could that situation just last for a while and lead to a de facto secession, although officially not accepted, in a sort of Taiwan / communist china type of way ?


In a way, this can be compared to the "what does the US do if Pearl Harbor doesn't happen" question. In that case, I assume Roosevelt would just wait out Japan. They needed oil, and sooner or later they would have to choose between starting a shooting war, or abandoning China to get the embargos lifted. The South faced a similar problem, and if Lincoln had simply instituted a naval blockade (including closing Charleston because of Sumter), at some point the South is going to have either give into Lincoln's demands (you know, un-secede) or start a war. They chose war.

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