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Captain Nate

The American Civil War

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The civil war is actually the perfect example of how improper philosophical premises undercut and destroy the good.

There were many legitimate grievences that the southern states had with the north. Slavery, of course, was not one of them - and it was that inconsistent stance that undercut and destroyed, in my opinion, both the moral resolve of the south (which was hardly uniform in their pro-slavery sentiment) and their image throughout the world (foreign aid from the British and/or French would have almost certainly helped the south retain its independence - but the fact that the south was adamantly, proudly and loudly pro-slavery made that politically untenable for either country to entertain.)

This is why, though, no one remembers the south as principled defenders of individual rights against tariffs and other merchantalist policies; they weren't. One cannot defend individual rights while simultaneously denying them to an entire class of people. This is ultimately the cause of why the south lost.

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The reason for the civil war was very simple:

Money

When the South seceded, the North lost their revenue stream. The war had nothing to do with Slavery and everything to do with the founding principles of the country. The Southern states wanted to go back to the Articles of Confederation style of national government so that each State could govern itself according to how its citizens desired. From the adoption of the Constitution to the secession of South Carolina, the Federal government had collected a huge amount of its revenue from the Southern States (something like 3/4ths) yet spent the large majority of that money in the northern states.

Most of the large money interests that either owned slaves and plantations directly or simply owned the land and rented it to tenant farmers who used slaves were actually residents of the northeast. The Northeast as a whole was making money hand over fist from slavery, including the Atlantic slave trade itself which was mostly executed by companies based in Mass. and R.I. In fact, the only reason abolition passed in the northern states was because of the large influx of immigrants (mostly Irish) who provided such cheap labor that it was actually less expensive to use fresh off the boaters than it was to use slaves. (kindof like the way we do it today.)

The South obviously was receiving the worst end of the deal so they finally said forget it, and left. They formed a true Federation of States based on liberty and local government. To say they had no moral ground because they subjugated an entire race of people is extremely out of context. At that time, none of the major countries considered Africans as people, they were savages and used as slaves as they had been since the beginning of the Muslim slave trade in the 800s. Also, if the North truly had the moral high ground, then why did it take another 100 years for the blacks to get civil rights? The North simply used the slavery issue as political leverage.

Unfortunately, it worked. Both Britain and France had abolished slavery locally but wanted desperately to purchase CSA goods, but they wouldn't join in the cause for fear of political backlash at home. At least this is what it looks like on the surface. There are also those who think the Bank of England had a large amount of influence seeing as the Union had established a new central banking system to finance the war, and that was either owned or at least influenced by the BoE. England was obviously under the BoE's control and France was arguably as well, so they wouldn't be allowed to help out the CSA because a Southern victory would basically wipe out the BoE's ROI. I'm not sure how accurate that is but it does make sense.

Either way the South was decimated and through "reconstruction" the blacks were also decimated. It was a lose/lose for everyone except the US central bank.

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I always assumed that the Civil War had something to do with slavery. If it wasn't then why did black people fight for the Union and give their lives in it?

Because they were forced to. Most of the black soldiers in the union army were captured in the South.

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The reason for the civil war was very simple:
Slavery was the primary reason. To understand this, one has to go beyond the immediate years preceding the civil war and look at the way the issue built up over nearly a century.

BTW, I merged a few "civil war" threads, but there are surely some Lincoln-bashing threads that are related. Search ought to throw up at least a couple. Also see the Lincoln-related discussion in the "Worst President" thread.

Edited by softwareNerd

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Because they were forced to. Most of the black soldiers in the union army were captured in the South.

Many more black soldiers fought for the South than the North.

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Slavery was the primary reason. To understand this, one has to go beyond the immediate years preceding the civil war and look at the way the issue built up over nearly a century.

BTW, I merged a few "civil war" threads, but there are surely some Lincoln-bashing threads that are related. Search ought to throw up at least a couple. Also see the Lincoln-related discussion in the "Worst President" thread.

Slavery was not the primary reason. If it was, then there would have been no Confederate army. Why would a bunch of poor "racist Southerners" fight to keep their own wages down?

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The reason for the civil war was very simple:

Money

Your explanation was outstanding but I wouldn't say it was money itself that everyone was fighting for.

I would say it was the FREEDOM or POLITICAL POWER needed for different parties to make money.

The South wanted the freedom to produce goods and the freedom to voluntarily trade those goods with each other and with other nations.

The North wanted the political power to control trade between states and between nations and to impose tarriffs on trade.

The South wanted the power to continue owning and using slaves.

Some people in the North wanted the power to continue trading slaves.

And there were people on both sides who supported ending slavery.

So the way I see it, the reasons for the war were freedom and power.

Isn't that why all wars are fought?

Productive people want freedom.

Looters want power.

Moochers want the looters to have power.

Edited by turboimpala

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Initially, slavery was a minor cause of the Civil War. The main cause was the South's belief that Lincoln wanted to destroy them, and take away their percieved rights. It was about whether the Union was or was not indivisible.

As the war progressed, it eventually became a crusade against slavery.

Althogh it was the bloodiest, most terrible war in our history, and our greatest national nightmare, it produced two major benifets, and one major, horrible drawback.

The drawback was the Jim Crow laws and the decades of racism, bigotry, and hatred that followed.

The benefits were, firstly, the eradication of slavery, and secondly, it ended the petty sectionalism that had plagued us since 1776 and we became a truly United States of America.

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and the decades of racism, bigotry, and hatred that followed.

Didn't they exist before the Civil War too?

and we became a truly United States of America.

Under an increasingly more powerful collective federal government. This is good?

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softwareNerd - Many Southern slaveholders believed that Lincoln would take away their slaves.

SD26 - They certainly did. However, the Jim Crow laws and terrorists such as the KKK sought to reassert dominance over former slaves, and made the problem worse.

With a truly United country, tragedies such as 9/11 became national trgedies, not sectional ones. Prior to the Civil War, the average person would see their home state as their country (Lee refused Lincoln's request to head the Union armies because he did not want to fight Virginia, which he saw as his country), and the United States was referred to in the plural (these United States)

Sectionalism, even early on, threatened to pull us apart. For example - until Washington took command, the Revolution was widely regarded as New England's war, not the war of thirteen colonies.

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Your explanation was outstanding but I wouldn't say it was money itself that everyone was fighting for.

I would say it was the FREEDOM or POLITICAL POWER needed for different parties to make money.

The South wanted the freedom to produce goods and the freedom to voluntarily trade those goods with each other and with other nations.

The North wanted the political power to control trade between states and between nations and to impose tarriffs on trade.

The South wanted the power to continue owning and using slaves.

Some people in the North wanted the power to continue trading slaves.

And there were people on both sides who supported ending slavery.

So the way I see it, the reasons for the war were freedom and power.

Isn't that why all wars are fought?

Productive people want freedom.

Looters want power.

Moochers want the looters to have power.

That's also a very good synopsis.

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Confederate states did claim the right to secede, but no state claimed to be seceding for that right. In fact, Confederates opposed states' rights -- that is, the right of Northern states not to support slavery.

That is an awkward way to state that.

Confederate states did claim the right to secede, by announcing their intent to do so.

None of the states stated that they were seceding simply because they had the right to do so.

The Confederates opposed states' rights??? That is, the Northern states should not have the right not to support slavery.

In skimming the many posts in this thread, another tidbit comes to mind. Peikoff hints at this in his OTI lecture. Slavery was not viewed as the moral issue it is examined as today, rather it was more metaphysical. The barbarians were not viewed as just uncivilized, rather a sub-human which may not be capable of being civilized.

The 3/5ths compromise incorporated in 1787, and history up to that point - when we look back through the hindsight of 20:20 vision - the corrected image, compliments of the winners writing the history books, can obscure a perspective by substituting a different grasp.

An good idea, once discovered and embraced, seldom spreads round the globe as an instantaneous eureka moment, rather, as the case of Aristotilianism, acknowledging full humanity to all races, and even Objectivism itself, needs to permeate deep into the social fabric and infuse itself in such a way that the only way to root it out would be to balkanize civilization down to the unit level.

A bad idea, like any contradiction, will eventually reveal itself through the honest seeking and discovery of the proper premises.

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I feel that the author has poorly supported that it's not accurate to come to the conclusion that slavery was eventually gonna die out in the South. He didn't address the economic arguments

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*** Mod's note: Merged with an earlier thread - sN ***

I understand Abraham Lincoln didn't initiate the civil war to free the slaves but did it for political power/taxation.
However

a) Do you think the US Civil War was justified regardless of Lincoln's motives because it freed the slaves?

b-- If the answer is no, consider the following scenario:
Florida starts murdering all their Jews. Do they have the right to just succeed from the Union?

Edited by softwareNerd
Merged topics

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Technically, the act of secession started the civil war. The United States was a country, with the federal government keeping military bases all over its territory. The Southern states declared themselves independent, causing some of those military outposts to find themselves in foreign territory. At that point, Lincoln's choices would've been withdrawal or war. Saying that he initiated the war by not withdrawing, while the South was the passive side by changing the state of affairs to cause federal forts to find themselves in hostile territory, would be quite a spin.

But Lincoln did indeed choose to go to war. He didn't have to, he could've withdrawn. But the reason why he chose war was to keep the United States as one nation. It wasn't political power or taxes, or even to free the slaves.

The slavery issue comes in is when we evaluate the moral quality of the two warring sides: one was a society of slave owners and slave owner supporters, the other a society of free men and abolitionists. There were also other differences, concerning the details of running the government. It's true, on some of these other issues, the South got it right while the US got it wrong. But these errors pale in comparison with the evil of a slave owner society.

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Is it worth mentioning that the union conscripted men into its war machine?

It seemed totally unecessary though, considering that over 90% of men in the union forces were volunteers.

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Is it worth mentioning that the union conscripted men into its war machine?

Only if you mention that the Confederacy started conscription first, and the North followed their lead.

Oh, and you definitely should also mention that in the North, the people who were drafted could pay commutation or hire a replacement instead. So it was more of a tax than a draft really (94% of draftees did not serve). In the South, substitution was allowed initially, but repealed later. As a result, a much greater percentage of their army were conscripts by the end.

Edited by Nicky

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I understand Abraham Lincoln didn't initiate the civil war to free the slaves but did it for political power/taxation.

You understand wrongly. Lincoln did not initiate the war. The states which attempted to unilaterally secede from the Union and accomplished the seizure federal facilities by force initiated the war. Lincoln did not back down, for which he is to be praised. It is absurd tin-foil hattery to entertain the notion that Lincoln had a master plan to institute income taxes and conscription or even emancipation of the slaves when he was elected.

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If secession were totally about the generic claim to states' rights, as opposed to the specific claim to states' rights to enslave people, then yep, 100% justified.

What the actual motivation was, that's another matter...

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If secession were totally about the generic claim to states' rights, as opposed to the specific claim to states' rights to enslave people, then yep, 100% justified.

You mean the secession would be 100% justified, right?

If so, I disagree. States' rights don't necessarily justify risking war. There would have to be an extraordinary transgression of the conditions under which the union was created, to justify a secession from it.

I can't think of a single issue so called "states' rights" advocates are raising, that would qualify.

( I can think of plenty of individual rights which are being violated by the federal gov., which would justify secession given the right conditions (a region populated by individualists, who's new government wouldn't just turn around and violate the same individual rights, but I can't think of any states' rights.)

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