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Was the Civil War about slavery?

Discussion in 'World History' started by JTWuest, Dec 29, 2012.

  1. GhostWriter16

    GhostWriter16 Deity

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    I'm more thinking "Long term future" than "Right away."

    Regarding the slavery arguments, obviously that's true. The North also had slaves, which makes this entirely irrelevant.

    This was about self-government, for white people. Black people didn't really factor into it on either side. Neither side really cared about the African-American. Prove to me that one side was really fighting for them, and I'll consider it. Otherwise, it was a white man's war throughout. And the Confederate position, of wanting to secede, is automatically more valid than the Union's desire to prevent them from doing so.
     
  2. Lone Wolf

    Lone Wolf Deity

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    If I abolish slavery for purely selfish and pragmatic reasons, I am still better then someone who holds onto it. Since Union victory resulted in abolition of slavery, it is to be praised.

    And there was a moralistic component to Northern abolitionism, anyway.
     
  3. ace99

    ace99 Deity

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    I thought this sort of nonsense wasn't allowed in the history forums?
     
  4. Birdjaguar

    Birdjaguar Hanafubuki Retired Moderator Supporter

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    Moderator Action: Thanks GW; you have now had your say on the topic. Please do not post in this thread any more. For the rest of you, please do not respond to his posts.
    Please read the forum rules: http://forums.civfanatics.com/showthread.php?t=422889
     
  5. Mouthwash

    Mouthwash Escaped Lunatic

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    After reading the forum rules, I think it's good to be reminded that my "rights to freedom of speech" don't apply here.
     
  6. Traitorfish

    Traitorfish The Tighnahulish Kid

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    Should they? Even I, the filthy communist, am willing to accept that when a platform of discussion is provided for me by somebody else, free of charge, they are entitled to set the terms of my participation.
     
  7. LightSpectra

    LightSpectra me autem minui

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    EDIT: Apologies, didn't see the moderator notice about not responding to GW. I do think that some of the myths he has repeated should be refuted though, such as that the North owned any slaves (beyond the 8 in New Jersey), or that Lincoln 'provoked' the war. But alas.

    Why is it that the libertarians and anarchists never seem to have grasp on what a 'right' is?
     
  8. Mouthwash

    Mouthwash Escaped Lunatic

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    I don't recall contradicting this statement at all. I concede that they have the right to silence people with whom they don't agree.
     
  9. Traitorfish

    Traitorfish The Tighnahulish Kid

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    It seemed implicit.
     
  10. Mouthwash

    Mouthwash Escaped Lunatic

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    Did it now?
     
  11. Traitorfish

    Traitorfish The Tighnahulish Kid

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    Well, yes. But if I was mistaken, what were you actually trying to convey?
     
  12. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Super Moderator

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  13. JTWuest

    JTWuest Chieftain

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    I agree with you that, generally speaking, neither side really cared about the welfare of African-Americans. But this statement is still pretty ridiculous. First, the South was clearly fighting for African-Americans in that the war was fought over the issue of slavery!

    But what really troubles me about this is the idea of that this was simply a "white man's war". This oversimplification ignores the fact that a full 10% of Union soldiers were African Americans by the end of the war. This ignores the fact that slaves, by running away and becoming contrabands, made the war about slavery, and about African Americans. Put simply, your argument ignores the fact that African Americans had agency and could influence even monumental events like the Civil War.
     
  14. ParkCungHee

    ParkCungHee Deity

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    I will object however that this is both a false equivalency, and a deliberate oversimplification.

    We would be unhappy, for example, to summarize the conflict between the United States and Germany by simply saying that, generally speaking, neither side cared about the welfare of Jews. Nor would we be happy with summarizing the Sino-Japanese conflict by saying, generally speaking, neither side cared strongly about the welfare of the Chinese.

    It is a tactically employed cynicism intended to obfuscate the truth. This sort of logic could be used, probably more accurately, to point out that generally speaking, neither side cared about State's rights.

    The fact is that as a rule, supporters of the Union did care about the welfare of African Americans to varying degrees, and those elected to positions of authority in 1860 cared about them to a great degree.

    Reconstruction was the most serious attempt by the U.S. Government in American history to improve the welfare of African Americans. Lincoln and his successors exposed themselves to criticism and expended vast amounts of political capital towards defending African Americans, and many of them personally spent years campaigning as abolitionists.

    It is an attempt to obfuscate an issue that people in the 1860s felt very strongly about in order to make one sides beliefs more palatable to a modern audience. It's completely dishonest.
     
  15. ace99

    ace99 Deity

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    I second that. Thaddeus Stevens made emancipation and improving the welfare of African Americans one of the core issues of his life and used his position in the House to see it come about.
     
  16. JTWuest

    JTWuest Chieftain

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    Considering the entire length of my post was something like 7 sentences, of course it was an oversimplification. I do not believe it is a false equivalency however, and the historical record in the decades after the Civil War show quite clearly that racism against African Americans was rampant in the North, just as it was in the South. Further, I think you can only call my statement an "obfuscation of the truth" and "completely dishonest" by taking it out of context, as you have chosen to do. Was I truly trying to obfuscate? Well, I believe I was trying to instruct, and that the point of my post was that despite racism existing throughout both North and South, that the Civil War was about slavery. But, you are the reader - so you're free to make what you will of my statements I suppose.

    You are correct that there were abolitionists in the North - but I would be hesitant to claim that their existence signified that the beliefs of the abolitionists were widespread - they were not. In 1860 most people in the North were against the practice of slavery. As I argue in my opening post for this thread though, they were against slavery because of economic and political reasons - not out of moral abolition.

    On the other hand, a number of Union soldiers became abolitionists as a result of the war after they had first hand experience dealing with African Americans as contrabands, as fellow soldiers, and as friends. It is important though to understand that this was a consequence of the Civil War. At 1860, most Republicans were not abolitionists, instead they were against the institution of slavery for economic reasons (please refer to my opening post in this thread) that related to Manifest Destiny.

    Finally, I would counter that, considering the Federal government's eventual abandonment of Reconstruction, that the most serious attempt to improve the welfare of African-Americans was the passage of the two Civil Rights bills in the 1960's, but that is neither here nor there.
     
  17. LightSpectra

    LightSpectra me autem minui

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    I do think most people against slavery were abolitionists, and probably for moral reasons; only a handful of entrepreneurs would have been against slavery since it cut into their profit. I don't think it's very hard to think that anybody that voted Republican were opposed to slavery, considering in 1860 northerners also had the options of the Democratic Party and the Constitutional Union Party.

    (Granted, most weren't radical abolitionists like John Brown, but I think it's fair to say that almost everybody that opposed slavery wanted it gone, not just kept at a moderate number; the purpose of Free Soilism was to gradually exterminate slavery, after all.)

    I don't know what's the deal with this generally held belief that there were only a handful of people that were abolitionist in the 19th century for altruistic reasons. Yes, most people of that century in the U.S. were very racist, but one can have racist beliefs but still think cattle slavery to be abominable. Seems like a somewhat Marxist interpretation to always assign economic motivations to any political movement.
     
  18. JTWuest

    JTWuest Chieftain

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    Well, because - these same Northern "abolitionists" were the same people who later after the war started practices like redlining to keep African Americans out of their neighborhoods, so yes I think it's fair to say they weren't doing this out of the kindness of their hearts.

    Frankly, my posts have assigned economic motivations to this political movement is because the political movement of Free Soilism was a movement of economic motivations voting against another economic system - chattel slavery.

    Still, your comment that "one can have racist beliefs but still think cattle slavery to be abominable" is exactly the point I was making.
     
  19. Dachs

    Dachs Hero of the Soviet Union

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    That doesn't follow. In fact, it's a common Republican criticism of modern white Democrats: that they supposedly love Latinos, blacks, and other poor minorities, and want to help them as much as possible, just so long as they stay somewhere else.
     
  20. Traitorfish

    Traitorfish The Tighnahulish Kid

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    Redlining only began on a serious scale with the Great Migration, which was seventy years after the Civil War, so it's unlikely that these were the same people.
     

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