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Slavery and the Civil War

75 posts in this topic

So be it...

My statement about "men of sincere intent" was not restricted to the South but to the large thinkers on both sides...

To say that arguments have been "dispatched" is to assume victory... I see no such victory in your argumentation... You have not 'dispatched' anything. You simply state what you think. In this particular reply you did not reference which of my statements were part of the "major assertions" previously dispatched not apparently give credence to the distinctions made regarding treason, etc.

"statute of limitations"(?) It is almost as if you consider anyone who differs from you on this matter as somehow being blind to the ignominy of slavery. That's not very civil is it?

Enjoy whatever wicked thrills you may get from this specific topic... "sterility" - "barren, incapable of producing offspring" - in this instance, incapable of changing fixed opinions previously adopted.

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Forgive me if I left the impression I've concluded my reply to GFA's Post #49. I tried to indicate I'll give a complete response as soon as I can.

I do not accuse GFA of dismissing slavery's evils. The discussion, which in my view has been extremely cordial, concerns what the Civil War was about. There is doubtless a high correlation between white supremacists and those who deny the war was about slavery. But it goes without saying that not all who are mistaken about the latter are in league with the former. I take GFA at his word and offer him as proof of that.

Finally, here is why the conversation is not sterile. White Southerners for generations have been taught that theirs was a noble cause; it wasn't. They've been told the North and South were morally equivalent; they were not. Crucial to this indoctrination is the claim that the Civil War was not about slavery at all. That proposition is false, and it breeds resentments that keep our ugly legacy alive a century and a half later.

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I’ve heard this excuse before from Southern apologists trying to deny the war was about slavery. But the notion that the South seceded over the right to secede is absurd on its face.

What I've learned from this discussion is that history has gotten a different perspective on the matter since I was taught in 6th grade that the War of Northern Aggression was fought because of slavery and the right of states to secede from the Union.

It appears from what Joe says that now people who consider that war, think the secession was about slavery, and that is obvious; but the war itself was about the North objecting to the South leaving and trying to force it back via "Northern aggression." A large chunk of the country breaking off was far more important than slavery! France and Britain didn't support the South, either --- more fools them, and I'm sure they've been kicking themselves ever since, because that was their chance to break up what became the superpower and continue to control the world themselves.

It is common for the perspective of historians to change as more time passes. This new way of viewing the Civil War seems very sensible to me. It reminds me of the new perspective many historians have started to take toward the World Wars --- that there were not two wars, but one war with a 20-year gap in the fighting, as happened often during the Hundred Years War. We couldn't view the World Wars that way while we were close to them, because 20 years is so long in a human lifetime, and that distracts us. But now we can see that the issues of World War I were never settled, never even came CLOSE to being settled (that is, Germany wanted to rule Europe, and they were never actually defeated or even invaded in 1918; that was the first of the two Armistices that cursed the 20th Century, the second one being Korea -- armistices don't work and never should be agreed). So just as Gen. Ludendorff himself said in the closing days of WWI, Germany would have to get an Armistice and regroup for a few years, and then do it all again. Which they did.

Ludendorff was a great fan of Hitler, of course, since he could see Hitler would carry this banner for him; it took too long for Ludendorff to start the war up again himself.

When people are inside a war or close to it, they can't see the forest for the trees. They think that the War of the Roses is about who has the better claim to the throne via the Plantagenet line. But all that was nonsense --- we see that the War of the Rose was about a king so weak that he became king at nine weeks of age and was never right mentally. Nor did he manage to sire an heir for eight years after marriage. And then his forces actually lost the Hundred Years war (Casillion, 1453), and then within a couple weeks the king started a 17-month episode of what everyone has agreed then and since was catatonic schizophrenia. And his extremely dangerous French wife had a baby almost no one believed was his. At that point, the War of the Roses started.

So the War of the Roses was really about England not having a government for decades and wanting one. "Pity the nation whose king is a child." At the time people cited all kinds of side issues, but now we have centuries of perspective and can see the whole picture more clearly. That's probably starting to happen with the Civil War, and even with the 20th Century wars.

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I don't entirely agree, but that's because imo I'm talking "it's about slavery" in a different sense. The US has only had one civil war, so ours is a narrow sample, although arguably with FDR we narrowly missed another. And the reason why one was averted and another not is the thesis of this post. To borrow from a couple of threads, society sees cataclysmic change when the "meta-narrative" ( I hope I got that right, as I prefer "national myth") no longer works for the proletariat; and govts seek to retain power. The tension between TR and Kaiser Wilhelm was reliance upon the individual v. reliance upon class and the compact between the govt, capital and workers. Leftist/revolutionary forces in Germany and Russia and the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire coupled with the rise of Imperialism, here and in western europe. Ironically, all sides in a sense were trying to preserve a status quo. A tragedy brought on largely by corrupt and socially bankrupt govts.

And the culmination with the Nazi state, the alliance of capital with the state, when the remains of the pre-WWI social compact failed. And the Soviets, the state. In both countries the workers did not really have a vote. Though so long as the workers' needs were met, the State was legitimate. (Russia may be a bit unique, in that society may simple prefer a single dictator, or ruler who will invoke terror to control the party or nobility). The same as china today.

Phebe's example of a state without a king.

The US started out differently, and we have a differnent social myth. The founders were not of such totally different a class than the proletariat. Washington and Jefferson, a bit of an aristocrat, but not nobility, and Adams absolutely not. Our myth is John Locke. Success is testament to effort, and every man (now individual) is free to exert as much effort as he chooses.

The myth unraveled in 1860. Yes it was about slavery. But the compromise no longer worked. There was no longer an agreement to keep political power equal between the increasing industrialized north and the south, because slavery would not be allowed to expand. The south would be a minority, with restrictions on trade inhibiting cotton and the import of industrial goods from abroad. Lincoln's promise to not alter slavery was hollow. The myth in the South was the Elite planters enriched the govt, and what infrastructure there was, while subsitance farmers were free to acquire more land, perhaps a slave for labor, and were not in competition with the numbers of freed slaves that would swamp their existence.

Then in response the South walked away, to pursue their own trade and social policies, but that was not allowed. The South was invaded.

Of course the North had their own myth. Immigrants eager to embrace manifest destiny, and Locke. The South had a common border with Mexico ... the most recent national enemy.

We've had other instances when the myth failed. When the industrial revolution ushered in a concentration of wealth, or when the great depression ended the notion of hard work would equal success. But there political compromise was possible because we really have no desire to kill the rich ... so long as they are not too unlike us.

edit, or ps. Govts trying to hold onto power is not necessarily a bad thing. In 1860 we had two govts. The South had the govt of 1791. The Feds had a living constitution. And essentially that's why I find the thread interesting, beyond an enjoyment of wearing a sleeveless tee-shirt, sweat rotted beigh walking shorts, flying my stars and bars and shooting the tiny cannon in my backyard. And standing, hatless, facing South, when Freebird plays. One govt couldn't hold power.

When FDR deserted his class for the New Deal, the move to a right wing coup really didn't get that far. Huey Long probably wasn't going to get to far even if he hadn't been shot. People on both sides got enough that their myth was sustainable. Compromise is our national means to survival, and the constitution, generally, is the means to that compromise.

The Chinese communist govt can adapt. The soviets could not. If society has to have a king, it'll fight till one emerges, which is why pre WWI euro history is a weakness for me ... beyond the Terror.

So, what I ask myself, can we still compromise.

Edited by bendog

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So, what I ask myself, can we still compromise.

You are asking, can't we all just get along? [:-)

Probably not, I'd say. The hatred of one side for the other is too deep now. Since 9/11 we've lost that American feeling. Maybe since 2000 and the hung election.

Huey Long was not the danger in the '30s, I'd say: it was the coup plotted using as figurehead General Butler, who testified about it to Congress.

I have thought in recent years that the huge protest movement in the 1960s was a very near thing, worse than the Depression for losing the country. That busted the national myth that we fight wars to "defend" the country, as if --- I can remember clearly young male cannon fodder back then saying passionately that as soon as Vietnamese soldiers landed on the beaches of California, THEN they would defend the country! They had to stop the draft to save the nation, and so they did that. They didn't have to stop the war: that went on another couple years, IIRC, lamely, stupidly. All they had to do was stop drafting intelligent, college-educated men; the ones killed in such numbers in WWI and WWII but who realized after Korea that they were being used in a failed foreign policy and refused to cooperate any longer.

The Occupy movement is not a protest movement but an anarchist attempt to overthrow the existing order -- that's what they say, anyway. Copycat from the Arab Spring. I thought that would have more effect than it has, but cities figured out they had to shut it down entirely over the winter and they have not let it start up again. I expected big city riots fomented by them, but apparently not yet.

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Originally I intended to reread this entire thread and, wherever possible, quote sections that refute GFAs points below. This topic, however, has grown to some 79 single-spaced manuscript pages and 30,000 words of closely reasoned argument. So that plan went by the boards.

I still look forward to revisiting this topic from the beginning someday. GFA might draw even more from it than I if he took the time. This colloquy is one of the primary reasons I decided not to let CD expire. It’s a source of pride around here.

Anyway, at the risk of repeating myself, I’ll take up GFA’s latest now.

The single biggest obstacle facing anyone seeking to establish "the" cause of the War Between the States is Modernist Historical arrogance/elitism. People are either unable or unwilling to "enter into" the thought processes of those who lived in a culture (North & South) so far removed from ours that the way they actually thought is even deemed possible. It is one thing to say "they shouldn't have had those values..." It is another to say "these are the values and the priorities which motivated people in those times."

I respectfully suggest GFA doesn’t have a monopoly on the thought processes of the Confederacy. I believe I’ve got a pretty good idea of what they were thinking, too, and a lot of it was despicable. But ultimately, we MHAEs prefer demonstrable facts to mind-reading, particularly a century and a half after the fact.

Fortunately, the historical record is available to us all. Unfortunately, from the Confederate apologist’s point of view, it clearly establishes that the Civil War was about slavery. That’s why we hear gauzy talk from the apologists about the noble thoughts that were floating around in the Southern mind. And this is supposed to trump the overwhelming external evidence to the contrary. By the way, here’s one piece of that evidence: Several secession resolutions explicitly described slavery and white supremacy as causes worth fighting for.

Joe demonstrates this (at least prima facie) when he says that "the South seceded over the right to secede is absurd on its face." The very point in contention is declared "absurd on its face" - why? Because Joe says so... that's why.

No, the proposition is absurd on its face because it is absurd on its face, as in patently false. One searches the archives in vain for war posters defending this airy concept. “To Arms, Boys, To Arms! We Must Secede, We Must! Why? To Prove We Have The Right to Secede! This is a Principle, a Cause, Worth Dying For!”

Absurd.

The South would never have claimed this supposed “right” if it weren’t desperate to protect its beloved Peculiar (What a sick euphemism!) Institution. The secession “right” was a fig leaf that failed to conceal the true Confederate motive for starting a war.

(1) The economics of "King Cotton" and the "tyranny" and influence of Northern textile industrialism which, through protectionist federal tariffs, was preventing fair competition for the South's major export.

(2) The politics of the late 18th and mid 19th century where the relation between the power of the States and ultimate allegiance of the citizens to the individual State rather than to the Federal government was absolutely in play. "Freedom" was very much understood in terms of ultimate State sovereignty rather than in terms of "Federal" government.

Those who have read this thread know I’ve stipulated many times that there were numerous resentments between North and South. But each of them, and even all of them in sum, fell far short of casus belli for war. Tariffs, state’s rights and a dozen other fig leaves also fail to conceal the South’s true motive for secession.

(3) The philosophy of rationalism generally aligned with Darwinist theories which understood as "scientific fact, firmly established" that there were "five races" of human being: Caucasion, Oriental, Native American, Eskimo & Black and that the descending order was not only in terms of external distinctions but inherent capacity.

As the saying goes, “I don’t believe I’da told that, brother.” I’d agree that white supremacist dogma helped the slaveholders look in the shaving mirror. But this does not establish that the Civil War wasn’t about slavery. Quite the contrary; to extent this sick concept is relevant to this discussion at all, it strengthens my case.

There were differences, internal to both North & South, in how strongly views were held within the continuum of positions encompassed by each of these categories. I read somewhere that there were more "abolitionist" centers in the South in the 1850's than the North. If someone wants to go check that they can.

There is no need to check the number of Southern abolitionists, or Northern white racists, for that matter. Their existence is irrelevant to the debate. I think we can agree that the Southern abolitionists were not exactly calling the shots in dear ol’ Dixie. It was the slaveholder lobby that drove secession, and their motive was plain for all to see. They were the ones with the slaves, after all.

These were not legal scholars who wished to exercise their secession “right” just to prove they could. Their true motive was far uglier than that.

However one thinks about these categories today, if one wants to actually understand what was "the cause" of the War then one has to actually try to understand how people actually thought.

Back to the mind-reading again. Isn’t it striking that someone with the ability to read the antebellum mind finds so little racism there? Why, this whole slavery institution hardly concerned them. It was tariffs and secession rights that drove them to Fort Sumter.

Was the Civil war a "Noble" cause, heroically pursued by the North as an effort to "tramp out the vineyard" of Southern oppression?

I’ve never said it was, at least not at first. But Lincoln sagely morphed the North’s mission in 1863 when it was clear there was no compromising with the Nathan Bedford Forrests of the glorious South. Remember: The North didn’t start the war over slavery. The South did.

Was the War a "Noble" effort by the South, valiantly undertaken by the vestiges of 18th century aristocratic Anglophiles who still saw the world through the Romantic glasses of chivalry?

The answer to both, in my opinion, is "no!" Both of these represent the "rabble rousing" demagoguery of astute politicians who very clearly understood what was at stake and who used these rallying cries to inflame the population. Joe missed the point of my example of the New York riots entirely (it seems). The city rebelled when the demagogic grounds for continuing the war was shifted from (primarily) preserving the union to "freeing the slaves."

Whew. Now the notion of “freeing the slaves” is demagogic.

What was at stake, as Lincoln clearly saw was that "this government, of the people, by the people and for the people, SHALL NOT PERISH FROM THE EARTH". The Northern leaders saw clearly that the nation divided could not stand (the war of 1812 and the sacking of Washington was too recent). They could not afford to let the Southern states secede. They were right in their assessment from a purely survival point of view. Whether they were morally right is another question.

Whew again. I’m not sure how to debate someone who in 2012 has any doubt about the rightness of the Northern cause.

As to Lincoln…he didn’t just fight to preserve the Union for its own sake. He knew – as the genteel, bullwhip-wielding Southern gentlemen knew -- that if the Union survived, slavery would ultimately and inevitably die in America. The march of history and regional demographics would see to that.

That is why, as a wise incrementalist, Abe promised for years to let the South keep its slaves if it would stay in or return to the Union. When it was clear that strategy was hopeless, he rightly seized the opportunity to destroy slavery in America once and for all. It was the right thing to do -- and at the time also the strategically brilliant thing to do. Nascent European support for the Confederacy all but evaporated after the Emancipation Proclamation of January, 1863.

The Civil war was about Slavery the same way that the Spanish American War was about the sinking of the Maine, or the American involvement in WWI was about the sinking of the Lusitania.

Yeah, let’s add the phantom Tonkin Gulf incident to the ledger, too.

If the Col. Beauregards of the South, instead of owning slaves, had owned textile mills staffed by free Brits and Scots, why, they would have seceded anyway. Those secession rights simply had to be tested on the battlefield.

The Southern leaders clearly saw that the election of Lincoln was the finishing blow to their hopes of maintaining a political balance of power in the Federal system. The North would increase its political control, it would continue to unfairly support the industrial powers in New England and oppose any significant transfer of industrial capacity to the South.

Yeah, that dastardly Abe. The soft-spoken rail splitter was actually all about helping the moneyed Northern interests keep the South under their boots. Abe the Emancipator? Hooey! Abe the Oppressor is more like it.

Hooey, indeed.

The New England industry, finally recovered from the War of 1812, had a very large interest in perpetuating, at least for the near future, slavery in the South. What they wanted was that the South be forced to sell its products to them at less than competitive prices. There is a reason why abolitionists were chased out of Boston by a mob intent upon finding strange uses for tar and feathers.

Something tells me the yahoo mobs with the pitch and feathers weren’t exercised about trade policy. They were racists, plain and simple. But, as has been shown several times in this thread, the presence of racists in the North does nothing to disprove the fact that the war was about slavery.

So, as long as the Southern states thought that they could maintain political influence... they remained in the Union. When they saw that this was no longer possible, they withdrew. Both sides saw that slavery would have to end sooner or later. The writing was on the wall both North and South and its message was not unheeded. The question was 'how' was it going to be handled. The South no longer trusted the Northern political structure - and they left. They saw, clearly and they were right, that the fundamentally agrarian Jeffersonian ideal of State sovereignty was going to be lost forever to the Hamiltonian Federalism that was in ascendancy (cf. the presidency of Andrew Jackson). This was not the Union that they joined and it was not the Union they wished to continue in. They seceded.

One of the bawling ironies of the Civil War is that the South broke away immediately upon the election of Abraham Lincoln, who offered them a better chance at a workable solution to the conflict than any man before or after.

And the implication that the Confederacy planned to phase out slavery after it gained its independence is risible. The great thinkers of the South had their sights set on a continental empire comprising Mexico and Central America and the verdant lands beyond -- once they’d shaken off the oppressors of the North. I’m sure the Confederate States of America would have spread peace and love to the dark-skinned races south of the Rio Grande. They were gentlemen, after all.

(Joe perpetrates) the fallacy of assuming that a result is equivalent to an initial cause. It is reductionist reasoning at best. According to this logic the United States declared war on Germany in order to free the Jews, Slavs and Gypsies from the concentration camps. (The knowledge of which the politicians in 1944 were still laboring to suppress.) One does not argue that the war was fought to free the slaves by observing that they were freed after it.

GFA refuses to read this thread, but even one who has read as little of it as he should know I make none of these silly assertions.

Basically, the explanation that best fits the facts is, that during the conflict the intensified dialectic raised the importance of total abolition to a general consensus in the North where it was, by no means part of that consensus at the beginning of it.

Of course, those who have read this thread know this has been my position throughout it. But it in no way disproves the notion that the war was about slavery. The North didn’t start the war to free the slaves. The South started the war to guarantee it could continue to own them.

"Treason" assumes that loyalty to a person's legitimate government has been violated…

The citizens of Lexington Green in 1776 had no such legal standing. The "shot heard round the world" was far more an act of treason than was the firing on Ft. Sumter.

GFA and I agree that both were acts of treason. It’s unfortunate we don’t agree about which act of treason was more justified.

re: "noble gentlemen" - How easy the "ad hominem" argument springs forth. Let's go fight the Kaiser because the Germans are baby killers. There were serious arguments at stake in this period of our history. It is arrogant to castigate people for views they held in a culture so entirely foreign to ours. There were bullies and bastards on both sides. There were also men of sincere intent who thought in categories far above what we today think. Compared to them, in many ways, the average person and especially the average politician, today, is a pygmy.

Ah, the Southern apologist never tires of rationalizing the despicable, finding moral equivalence (or superiority!) where there is none. Well, I'm one pygmy who thinks a white supremacist slaveholder is, was, and shall ever be, a pig.

This pygmy counts among his fellows one Frederick Douglass, who also took a rather jaundiced view of the philosopher kings inhabiting the plantation mansions. And guess what. Unlike GFA or myself, Douglass was there at the time. In 1852, he said:

“There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States at this very hour.”

OK, maybe Fred was slightly over the top. There was still cannibalism, human sacrifice and other savagery going on across the globe. Perhaps he should be forgiven, though. After all, when he said that, his back was still scarred from beatings administered by “men who thought in categories far above what we today think.”

I’ll close now by repeating the question GFA left unanswered last time:

I wonder how long the statute of limitations is for moral criticism of great historical evils. If the mists of time render the Confederacy’s depravity beyond reproach, may we no longer say the Nazis were wrong? Why, Hitler’s been dead three generations now. Who are we to judge? Or will our grandchildren be the first who must bite their tongues?

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What I've learned from this discussion is that history has gotten a different perspective on the matter since I was taught in 6th grade that the War of Northern Aggression was fought because of slavery and the right of states to secede from the Union.

It appears from what Joe says that now people who consider that war, think the secession was about slavery, and that is obvious; but the war itself was about the North objecting to the South leaving and trying to force it back via "Northern aggression." A large chunk of the country breaking off was far more important than slavery!

I’m not entirely sure, but I think Phebe and I are on the same page here. Lincoln made clear at the outset that preserving the Union was the goal that superceded all others. But he also knew full well that preserving the Union would ultimately bring an end to slavery. The South knew it, too.

It’s worth remembering that in a constitutional democracy, preserving the Union is a noble cause in and of itself. Under the framework agreed to by our founders and followed for more than two centuries by their free descendents, those who disagree with the laws or the Constitution or an election result are not entitled to split apart from the nation or seek redress with guns. It is incumbent upon them to seek the change they desire within the system.

Govts trying to hold onto power is not necessarily a bad thing. In 1860 we had two govts. The South had the govt of 1791. The Feds had a living constitution. And essentially that's why I find the thread interesting, beyond an enjoyment of wearing a sleeveless tee-shirt, sweat rotted beige walking shorts, flying my stars and bars and shooting the tiny cannon in my backyard. And standing, hatless, facing South, when Freebird plays.

Well, I don’t fly the Dixie flag, and bendog sounds better dressed than I. But we have this in common: We know the modern South is the only place to be.

Reminding my fellow Skynyrd fans about the true meaning of the Civil War is just my little way of giving back to the communiteh I love.

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This is not an apology for the South, but on the notion of a statute of limitations on historical evils. Britain only ended slavery in 1830. I'm not saying that makes it ok, but as the thread goes, we have to view individuals' actions in light of what they had reason to know, not what we know. There's the question of whether slavery would have ended in the South without the civil war, or had the South prevailed in leaving the union. I agree with Joe, that the South (certainly Jeff Davis) was looking towards mexico. So, I’m in no way saying let’s give Jeff Davis a pass.

But imo the historical evil was not so much slavery. I'm still mad at the lazy white planters who instilled into the experiment the notion of "not quite full citizens." The historical evil was Jim Crow and the Klan. They were perhaps a natural outgrowth. The southern elite maintained power by pitting one against the other.

The populist Truman tried to break this split with the fair deal. If blacks and whites all made liveable wages, the economies of both, of the whole, would grow. He was not very successful.

The populist Trent Lott lost his job by suggesting WalMart would have broken racism because WalMart will sell anything to anyone, and Lester Maddox's chicken restaurant couldn't compete with that.

And this continues to be a huge political issue to the South. It's offensive to not have one person one vote, and have a federal govt control political districts to preserve a notion that one race, or another, has a right to be governed by one of their race. The effect is the progressives are tied to an elitist protection of a minority, so they can never be a populist movement in about 1/3 of the electoral college or senate.

I don’t like Obamacare. It’s goals are admirable, but a new entitlement/wealth redistribution is not what we need with 40cents of every dollar we spend being deficit spending, imo. Just a snippet, and I’ve long lost the more thorough links, but Obamacare would cost my state 1.7 billion in ten years.

Although, the feds match that at 90 cents on the dollar. That’s a lot of new good jobs with nurses and such. So a populist law is trashed by politicians controlled both by a tea party that has racist elements beyond any doubt as well as anti-tax ideologues who can’t find a way to raise 1.7 billion in taxes when the feds are willing to send us something like 14.5 billion? I think the statue of limitations is still in effect, and we’re paying for our evil.

Edited by bendog

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This is not an apology for the South, but on the notion of a statute of limitations on historical evils. Britain only ended slavery in 1830. I'm not saying that makes it ok, but as the thread goes, we have to view individuals' actions in light of what they had reason to know, not what we know. There's the question of whether slavery would have ended in the South without the civil war, or had the South prevailed in leaving the union. I agree with Joe, that the South (certainly Jeff Davis) was looking towards mexico. So, I’m in no way saying let’s give Jeff Davis a pass.

Well, I’m not out there buying billboards that lambaste 19th Century slaveholders. But I do try to correct those who spread falsehoods today about what caused the Civil War. There is no statute of limitations on historical lies, and this one continues to have malevolent effects.

And as to what the South "had reason to know" about the moral horrors of slavery, consider that virtually the entire modern world had abolished the institution at the time the South started a war to perpetuate it. The CSA and the Southern gents who ran it weren't part of the global mainstream on the slavery question. Indeed, they were bitter dead-enders -- and they should have known better. Many of them did, but they countenanced slavery anyway.

And now some people have the nerve to call these bums noble.

The populist Truman tried to break this split with the fair deal. If blacks and whites all made liveable wages, the economies of both, of the whole, would grow. He was not very successful.

Oh, I don’t know about that. Truman made great strides on civil rights. And to the extent that American blacks are still struggling, it’s certainly not because we got rid of Jim Crow.

And this continues to be a huge political issue to the South. It's offensive to not have one person one vote, and have a federal govt control political districts to preserve a notion that one race, or another, has a right to be governed by one of their race. The effect is the progressives are tied to an elitist protection of a minority, so they can never be a populist movement in about 1/3 of the electoral college or senate.

I’m not sure I follow this entirely. I can say I support the Voting Rights Act and that I’m troubled by an apparent over-reliance on creating “minority safe” districts that have the unintended consequence of diluting minority influence in many other congressional races.

...Obamacare would cost my state 1.7 billion in ten years.

Although, the feds match that at 90 cents on the dollar. That’s a lot of new good jobs with nurses and such. So a populist law is trashed by politicians controlled both by a tea party that has racist elements beyond any doubt as well as anti-tax ideologues who can’t find a way to raise 1.7 billion in taxes when the feds are willing to send us something like 14.5 billion? I think the statue of limitations is still in effect, and we’re paying for our evil.

I’ll respond to the substance of this health care issue in Universal Health Care (http://www.civildiscourse.com/index.php?showtopic=1461&view=findpost&p=24729) in Public Affairs.

For the purposes of this thread…I agree that this self-immolation is ridiculous, and I hope cooler heads prevail when Obamacare becomes an accepted part of the landscape. But this nonsense isn’t penance for the Civil War. This is happening now, in response to current events. The voters of Mississippi and Texas and other states pulling similar stunts are getting what they deserve if they let this stand.

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Let me try and do this sort of backasswards because I obviously wasn't clear, or else I was full of it, which is clearly a possibility. And I apologize for the length. The thesis was of course slave holders were bad people, but first historical context in necessary to prevent applying 21st century morality, and second, imo, the larger tragedy is the South’s real difficulty, if not inability to elect an African American, in a statewide race

Truman tried to convince working class white southerners that they were in economic solidarity with working class blacks as part of the Fair Deal, but didn't get anywhere. The blue dog democrats were of the same mold, and they did have success. Before Obama, 3 of Miss's 5 congressmen were democrats. And the two white guys were swept out of office post Obamacare. Not a coincidence, imo. The one who remains is in the district judicially reserved for an African-American.

I apologize for my comment upon Obamacare because it is a distraction, and I didn't mean it to be. I am not making any argument to the law itself. The point I tried to make was that distrust of the federal government by conservative white southerners has illogical consequences. Regardless of the merits of the law, the fact is that it'd cost Mississippi 1.7 billion over but draw down nearly 15 billion. It may be a horrible idea for the nation, but it’s a heck of a good deal for Mississippi. The stated reason our governor wants to opt out is that the state can't afford it, which simply has to be hogwash because the taxes can be levied upon providers, and expanding the number of insured will cause employment of personnel who in turn pay taxes and buy stuff. The real reason is he opposes federal intrusion into anything. This is all part and parcel of the Reagan "states rights" thing that was first unveiled in his speech at the Neshoba County Fair (site of the three civil rights workers murder). But, it’s pretty amazing that the GOP, especially today’s tea party GOP, gets working people without health benefits to actually vote against their own interests.

To me, anything government does to treat one group differently from another needs to seriously questioned. A greater % of whites receive welfare benefits than African-American, and most of those whites are non-urban. I believe one in four women with dependent children live in poverty. We can argue what is the best way to get people out of poverty, and I personally have had African American women call me to ask how to get their kid "the crazy check," with is SSI, and the answer is get the kid in special education. So, I’m not perpetuating welfare queen fantasies, but I’m saying balkanizing folks isn’t a positive.

So, my conclusion is anything government does to treat one group differently from another is a bad thing. People need to be encouraged to seek common interest. And that’s why I think having Judges and the DOJ oversea state districting is just going to be a failure. Maybe it was necessary, but I didn’t live here then. And, yes the GOP’s efforts at voter suppression stink.

As for slaveholders, it took less than a hundred years from the constitution to the civil war, but it’s been 147 years since. Judging the slaveholders, most were evil people, but the fact is what should they do with the slaves? It was pretty easy for Britain to move from slavery 30 years before the Civil War because they didn’t have more slaves than subsistence farmers. Lincoln suggesting shipping them to Africa, and I don’t see that as real humane. Obviously, today most African Americans are working, not on welfare, and despite what Mitt Romney might believe, most pay federal taxes. They were second class citizens longer than slavery existed in America. That to me was a greater crime. But, it’s not occurring anymore.

Today in the Mississippi Delta we have virtually all African American young girls raising babies fathered by unemployed young African American adult males, but ultimately I don’t see a lot of difference there with the social force landing white single moms in poverty. Working poor people need liveable wages, and fathers to do the right thing, but I don’t see that racially.

Edited by bendog

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A most thoughtful take on Abe's mission to free the slaves. From Slate:

Does Lincoln Get Too Much Credit for Freeing the Slaves—or Not Enough?

By Louis P. Masur | Posted Thursday, Nov. 8, 2012, at 4:14 PM ET

| Posted Thursday, Nov. 8, 2012, at 4:14 PM ET

Slate.com

121108_HIST_Lincoln.jpg.CROP.rectangle3-large.jpg

Abraham Lincoln, 1863 Photograph by Alexander Gardner/Library of Congress.

In Hollywood, at least, Lincoln’s reputation as the Great Emancipator is safe and sound. Earlier this year, Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter presented a man who “fought a war for the soul of the country” against the “demon of slavery.” Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln is a tireless warrior pushing for passage of the 13th Amendment, which would forever abolish slavery in the United States. In a high-pitched drawl that captures the sound of Lincoln’s voice as described by contemporaries, Daniel Day-Lewis declares, “Abolishing slavery settles the fate for millions now in bondage and unborn millions to come.”

But if Hollywood’s Lincoln is on the side of the angels, in historical circles his reputation has fared less well. The flashpoint for debate is not the 13th Amendment, but the Emancipation Proclamation, which was unprecedented in its assault on slavery, but did not abolish the institution. Though Democrats shrieked that the proclamation went too far, many of Lincoln’s Republican supporters believed it did not go far enough—and there have been historians ever since who have agreed. There were sound reasons, however, for why the document emerged as it did, and indeed it was Lincoln’s recognition of its limitations that led him to seek a more definitive measure. His efforts to secure passage of the 13th Amendment, the central drama of Lincoln, cannot be understood without the backstory of his gradual move toward emancipation.

Lincoln issued the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation in September 1862. The decree announced that on Jan. 1, 1863, three months away, he would free the slaves in Confederate areas still in rebellion. The loyal slave states of Delaware, Maryland, Missouri, and Kentucky would not be affected, nor would designated rebel areas under Union control.

In 2011, at the unveiling of a rare signed copy of the proclamation, President Obama imagined how today’s cynical political commentators might headline a story announcing the proclamation: “Think about it, ‘Lincoln sells out slaves.’ ” Indeed, some said as much in 1862: “The president can do nothing for freedom in a direct manner, but only by circumlocution and delay,” howled the abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison.

The criticisms have continued ever since. In his classic work The American Political Tradition (1948), historian Richard Hofstadter condemned the document as having “had all the moral grandeur of a bill of lading.” During the civil rights era, dismayed by the lack of progress for blacks, writers such as Ebony executive editor Lerone Bennett denounced Lincoln as a racist who never made the slaves’ interests paramount and instead envisioned a white America cleansed of blacks.

Lincoln’s reputation slipped farther in the 1990s as scholars such as Ira Berlin and his colleagues at the Freedmen and Southern Society Project re-examined the question “who freed the slaves?” They argued that, in fleeing to Union lines, the slaves altered military policy by compelling generals to make a decision about what to do with runaways. In effect, they forced themselves onto Lincoln’s agenda; the enslaved freed themselves.

More recently, libertarians, reviving a strain of criticism that dates to the Civil War, have denounced Lincoln as a dictator whose paramount goal was to centralize power. The economist Thomas DiLorenzo, for example, has labeled the Emancipation Proclamation “little more than a political gimmick.” For libertarians, Lincoln took every opportunity to exercise executive power and create a centralized, bureaucratic state. According to this view, he did not care about emancipation but merely used the decree to stabilize his Republican base and bash his opponents.

Under this barrage of condemnation on several fronts, Lincoln the Emancipator has shrunk in some circles to Lincoln the Equivocator; and the Emancipation Proclamation itself, is seldom read and often misunderstood. This is shameful. Lincoln’s actions against slavery constituted the most heroic undertaken by any president to eradicate a social evil. That he did so methodically and deliberately, without flourishes or grand but empty gestures, at a time when a misstep might have cost the life of the nation itself, makes the achievement all the more remarkable.

Still, it is worth asking what took Lincoln so long to act. There is no doubt that he opposed slavery: “I am naturally anti-slavery. If slavery is not wrong nothing is wrong. I can not remember when I did not so think and feel. And yet I have never understood that the presidency conferred upon me an unrestricted right to act officially upon this judgment and feeling.” he wrote in 1864. But he also understood what every leader must acknowledge: Ideals are one matter, politics another.

Because he subscribed to the widespread view that slavery in the states was constitutionally protected, Lincoln knew he could not move against the institution without violating his oath of office. Even if this obstacle hadn’t existed, a direct assault on slavery early in the Civil War would have had disastrous consequences for the war effort by deeply dividing the North, where opposition to emancipation was strong in some quarters (as Lincoln does a good of portraying), and by provoking the border slave states to secede. (“To lose Kentucky is nearly the same as to lose the whole game,” he said nearly a year to the day before issuing the preliminary proclamation.) Before he could act, he would have to develop a constitutional rationale for emancipation, to ensure that northern public opinion was prepared to sustain him and that the border states could be held in the Union.

That rationale would turn out to be the doctrine of military necessity, which would allow Lincoln to act against slavery not as president but as commander-in-chief. If slaves were being used to support the Confederate war effort, freeing them would bolster Union war operations by depriving the rebels of a significant resource. Lincoln stressed the double benefit of emancipation—denying the Confederacy of the slaves’ labor and gaining it for the Union.

But even if the war effort gave Lincoln cover to circumvent slavery’s constitutional protections, he still had to contend with extraordinary political difficulties. The vast majority of northern Democrats, who made up about 45 percent of the free-state electorate—and 40 percent of the Union armies—were hostile to emancipation and might be alienated from the war effort if he moved against slavery prematurely. Lincoln also feared a backlash by northern whites anxious that emancipation would lead to freed blacks swarming northward to compete with white men for jobs. Lincoln was attuned to these fears, partly because his home state of Illinois was especially militant in its hostility to blacks, but also because of his own ambivalent attitudes toward African-Americans. Being anti-slavery was one matter; embracing equal citizenship rights quite another. Up until the promulgation of the final Proclamation, he supported the voluntary colonization of blacks outside of the United States to Africa and Central and South America. The idea of colonization was a 19th-century panacea advanced by numerous politicians, including Lincoln’s hero Henry Clay. Yet each scheme Lincoln supported turned out to be more unrealistic than the one before. The one administration-backed colonization project that was actually implemented, on the Île à Vache

of Haiti, was such a disaster (colonists suffered from starvation and disease) it was terminated in less than a year with several hundred survivors brought back to the United States. Moreover, black Americans did not want to leave the country of their birth. Lincoln would soon abandon public support of the enterprise.

For all his deliberation, even on Sept. 22, 1862, the date he issued the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, Lincoln only announced that he planned to act: The decree stated his intention to authorize emancipation in any area still in rebellion but not until Jan. 1, 1863. This may look like weakness, but in fact it was shrewd. Over the course of those three months he monitored the reactions to his announcement. Some Northern Democrats denounced him as a tyrant, but many jurists defended the proclamation as a legitimate exercise of his powers as commander-in-chief. Some claimed that soldiers would never fight to free the slaves, but the army did not disintegrate. In the fall elections, Republicans suffered major losses, but retained control of Congress. Political opponents thought Lincoln wouldn’t dare issue the final proclamation, but he read the midterm results as a referendum on the war’s progress rather than on emancipation. In November, he told a delegation of Kentucky Unionists that he “would rather die than take back a word of the Proclamation of Freedom.”

As Jan. 1 neared, Lincoln held fast. In fact, he made the final document more powerful by deleting the call for colonization contained in the preliminary proclamation and by authorizing the enlistment of black troops. Doing so would set the stage for citizenship rights, including suffrage, after the war. He also added a line to the final proclamation that called the decree “an act of justice.” Far from selling out the slaves, his actions assured their eventual freedom.

The Emancipation Proclamation did not liberate all of the slaves. It did not pertain to the half million slaves held in bondage in the four border states. Nor did it apply to 300,000 slaves in Confederate areas exempted from the decree because they were under Union control and, therefore, the doctrine of military necessity did not apply. Some Northern newspapers published a chart that specified “on how large a number of human beings the president’s benediction falls.” Of the 4 million slaves in the United States, the proclamation applied to roughly 3.2 million people.

But Lincoln did not stop on Jan. 1. He continued to defend emancipation and encouraged border states to enact abolition. Worrying that the proclamation had “no constitutional or legal justification except as a military measure,” he pressed for a constitutional amendment that would abolish slavery throughout the United States, and make the freedom granted by proclamation inviolate and irreversible. This is where Spielberg’s movie begins, but in doing so it sidesteps the dramatic story of Lincoln’s bold if deliberate path toward emancipation.

William Lloyd Garrison, for one, eventually admitted that he had been wrong about Lincoln: “the people do not elect a president ... to enforce upon the nation his own peculiar ethical or humanitarian ideas, without regard to his oath or their will ... It was wiser to be slow and sure, than premature and rash.” Frederick Douglass rejoiced. He understood that the Emancipation Proclamation would stand alongside the Declaration of Independence as one of the two polestars of American freedom. “The Fourth of July was great,” he proclaimed, “but the first of January, when we consider it in all its relations and bearings, is incomparably greater.”

Martin Luther King Jr. also understood the import of the proclamation. Standing before the Lincoln Memorial in 1963, he explained that “this momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves.” Yet, he added, “one hundred years later, we must face the tragic fact that the Negro is still not free.”

But whatever disappointment we feel today about the march toward freedom, it speaks to our own failures, not Lincoln’s. Steven Spielberg has said that he chose to release his film after the election because he did not want it used for political ends. Perhaps he also hoped that the story of Lincoln’s struggle to eradicate the “pestilence” of slavery might serve as balm for a wounded nation. (And perhaps even an inspiration—what better example for our own moment than a story of hard-fought bipartisan compromise.) But Lincoln’s story also teaches us the virtue of patience, a lesson our current president seems to have taken to heart. Obama might have had Lincoln in mind when he stood on stage in Chicago this week to deliver his election-night speech. “As it has for more than two centuries,” he said. “Progress will come in fits and starts.”

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Came across this quote today (reading Social Darwinism in American Thought, by Richard Hofstadter, quote is from introduction by Eric Foner). Could not help but think of Joe McQuade and his lonely, dogmatic ideas about the foundations of the War Between The States.

Quoting Charles Beard (whose history of the US I have but have not yet got around to reading) - Beard taught that American history had been shaped by the struggle of competing economic groups, primarily farmers, industrialists, and workers. Underlying the lashing rhetoric of political leaders lay naked self-interest; the Civil War (sic), for example, should be understood essentially as a transfer of political power from southern agrarians to northern capitalists. Differences over the tariff had more to do with its origins than with the debate over slavery. Hofstadter .... took issue with Beard's emphasis on the tariff as a basic cause of the Civil War (sic), while accepting the premise that economic self-interest lay at the root of political behavior. (The homestead issue, Hofstadter argued, far outweighed the tariff as a source of sectional tension.)

Let's see... two famous historians... the later one as liberal as one can get (Hofstadter) both argue that the central causes of the war were core concerns about what type of nation and government was to be perpetuated rather than the inflammatory issues surrounding slavery. Hmmm... I wonder which side (Joe's or theirs) I find more persuasive?

Edited by gadflyarch

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GFA'a latest moved me to make three quick stops at Wikipedia.

http://en.wikipedia...._from_authority

Fallacious appeal to authority

Fallacious arguments from authority often are the result of failing to meet at least one of the required two conditions (legitimate expertise and expert consensus) structurally required in the forms of a statistical syllogism.[1][2] First, when the inference fails to meet the first condition (inexpert authority), it is an appeal to inappropriate authority, which occurs when an inference relies upon a person or a group without relevant expertise or knowledge of the subject matter under discussion.[3]

Second, because the argument from authority is an inductive-reasoning argument — wherein is implied that the truth of the conclusion cannot be guaranteed by the truth of the premises — it also is fallacious to assert that the conclusion must be true.[2] Such a determinative assertion is a logical non sequitur, because, although the inductive argument might have merit — either probabilistic or statistical — the conclusion does not follow unconditionally, in the sense of being logically necessary.[4][5]

http://en.wikipedia...harles_A._Beard

Beard was famous as a political liberal, but he strenuously opposed American entry into World War II, for which he blamed Franklin D. Roosevelt more than Japan or Germany. This stance helped to destroy his career,[2] as his fellow scholars first repudiated his foreign policy and subsequently dropped his materialistic model of class conflict. Richard Hofstadter concluded in 1968: "Today Beard's reputation stands like an imposing ruin in the landscape of American historiography. What was once the grandest house in the province is now a ravaged survival."

http://en.wikipedia....hard_Hofstadter

In the 1940s, Hofstadter cited Charles A. Beard as "the exciting influence on me". Hofstadter specifically responded to Beard's social-conflict model of U.S. history, which emphasized the struggle among competing economic groups (primarily farmers, Southern slavers, Northern industrialists, and workers) and discounted abstract political rhetoric which rarely translated into action. Beard encouraged historians to search for the hidden self-interest and financial goals of the economic belligerents.

The sharpest criticism of Social Darwinism in American Thought, 1860–1915 focused on Hofstadter's weakness as a research scholar: he did little or no research into manuscripts, newspapers, archival, or unpublished sources. Instead, he primarily relied upon secondary sources augmented by his lively style and wide-ranging interdisciplinary readings, this producing very well-written arguments based upon scattered evidence he found by reading other historians.[8]

+++

So...it suffices to say that GFA's argument from authority proves nothing, particularly when the authorities cited are as problematical as these two dudes.

Finally, are my views "lonely?" Well, they probably wouldn't make me the life of the party at a Sons of the Confederacy banquet. But the American consensus in all but the irredentist south is that the Civil War was about slavery. Am I dogmatic? My views on this matter are strongly held, but they are not offered without extensive argument and evidence. Does GFA find his views more persuasive than mine?

Well, of course he does. He's so dogmatic!

Joke.

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Joe's replies are always good for a smile and a chuckle. He is nothing if not consistent...

He goes to the trouble of quoting Wikipedia articles about fallacious appeal to authority, characterized as it is by (1) inexpertise or (2) logical failure in ascribing ultimacy to a conclusion when such ultimacy is not established.

Why is this humorous? Joe is doing the exact thing he (fallaciously) accuses me of. (1) to say that Hofstadter is not a recognized expert in his field is to say that his Pulitzer prizes (twice) were unwarranted. That's a bit of an extreme judgment that Joe had better back up with something more than the expected critiques of other historians (whom from my own professional collaboration and association I can readily state are extremely critical of each other - see critiques of Toynbee, Fernand Braudel, Mahan, etc.). It is exactly the "experts" in a field who write things other people criticize. We're not talking about a reference to Joe the Plumber here - but (again) a Pulitzer winning historian. (2) to imply that I stated that the views of these two experts conclusively establish the position they maintain is ludicrous. The most I did was to show that even men with more liberal inclinations than Joe himself hold a broader view of the "causes" of the war between the states than Joe. Therefore, it is unwarranted to hold that it is only racial bigotry or Southern sympathizing motives that lead to those conclusions, and that further, it is not intellectual blindness to argue against Joe's simplistic, reductionist views.

So.. Joe's application of the logical fallacy is logically fallacious... and what's humorous about it is - it is fallacious prima facie.

Next what is humorous is Joe's predictable ad hominem argumentation. He doesn't dispute the statements these men make, he attacks their credibility by quoting a small section (Hofstadter) of an article from Wikipedia.

Now, I am only just now reading Hofstadter, as I said, and I am by no means a classic liberal nor a communist sympathizer. Hofstadter's politics have more in common with Joe than with me. But, he is an important author and I like to know what people actually say rather than just what other people say they say. So... who knows... I might wind up disagreeing with Hofstadter on more than one point. But, what is interesting is the rapidity with which Joe attacks his credibility.

Joe did this same thing in another forum here when I referenced McCollough's biography of Truman. There he said that he "didn't consider it his best work." OK... but, he discounts the conclusions based on what? On his own opinion without offering any credible reasons why the conclusions were incorrect. Here the same type of argumentation is implied. Hofstadter is dismissed because some people (who? what were their credentials? why should we accept their criticism? ) criticized him for not relying on primary sources. In other words, Hofstadter's arguments are not based on first hand accounts and reading of historical evidence.

(1) Is this not what Joe himself has done? He is dismissing Hofstadter based on arguments from secondary sources! He dismisses Hofstadter's conclusions because Hofstadter is reported to have been criticized? Was the criticism valid or not? Who knows? I doubt Joe does. I can't say myself yet. (2) the criticism does not invalidate the conclusions (ref above - fallacious appeal to authority, point number 2) - the fact that a man did not check primary sources does not mean his conclusions drawn from secondary sources are invalid. If this is true then we might as well dispense with all reading of Herodotus, Thucydides, Hegel, Braudel, etc.) right down to the present day. Every historian interacts (primarily) with secondary sources. What is being said here is that Hofstadter might have argued more strongly if he had done more work with original sources or come to a different conclusion. Every historian who interacts with another historian who has opposing conclusions to his or her own about a given historical period or event is subject to this same, sometimes rancorous remarks.

The thrust of the matter is this: Hofstadter and Beard are both important men in American intellectual history. Both are not just liberals, they are flaming liberals. And yet, these two intelligent men, whose contributions to the discussion (Civil, I hope) should be heard and dealt with on their own merits or demerit, have studied the causes of that war and arrived at much more far reaching conclusions than Joe is willing to allow. Lastly, it should not be dismissed lightly that both of these men lived during a period where the memory of that war was much more imminent than our time now, that people who either participated in that war or who were the immediate generation after it were present, and that the way they thought about the war was probably far closer to the way people thought about the actual causes of that war than are the ways most of us (who are removed from it by a chasm of cultural transformation) now think.

Their views should at least be accorded the respect of consideration - not just sarcastic dismissal as problematic "dudes".

Edited by gadflyarch

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Joe's replies are always good for a smile and a chuckle. He is nothing if not consistent...

He goes to the trouble of quoting Wikipedia articles about fallacious appeal to authority, characterized as it is by (1) inexpertise or (2) logical failure in ascribing ultimacy to a conclusion when such ultimacy is not established.

Why is this humorous? Joe is doing the exact thing he (fallaciously) accuses me of. (1) to say that Hofstadter is not a recognized expert in his field is to say that his Pulitzer prizes (twice) were unwarranted. That's a bit of an extreme judgment that Joe had better back up with something more than the expected critiques of other historians (whom from my own professional collaboration and association I can readily state are extremely critical of each other - see critiques of Toynbee, Fernand Braudel, Mahan, etc.). It is exactly the "experts" in a field who write things other people criticize. We're not talking about a reference to Joe the Plumber here - but (again) a Pulitzer winning historian.

(2) to imply that I stated that the views of these two experts conclusively establish the position they maintain is ludicrous.

My, my. GFA returns to the same pile of doo-doo and steps right back in it.

Despite acknowledging that the argument from authority is not dispositive, no matter who the authority is, GFA proceeds to tell us again how great his authorities are. Hofstadter won two Pulitzers! Who you gonna believe, him or this Joe guy who has two fewer Pulitzers to his name?

The argument from authority is lame enough in its own right, but GFA should at least give us a Shelby Foote or a James M. McPherson or some other figure who, shall we say, carries a little less baggage. Not that this would prove anything, either.

The most I did was to show that even men with more liberal inclinations than Joe himself hold a broader view of the "causes" of the war between the states than Joe.

I didn’t realize my political inclinations had anything to do with the subject at hand or the strength of my case. GFA’s two “liberal” experts are just as wrong as he is, though for different reasons. I gather they made their bones imposing crypto-Marxist templates on every historical narrative. And this is somehow supposed to move a liberal to change his mind about the Civil War? Sorry, but GFA is stacking fallacies on fallacies now.

Given GFA’s own political leanings, it’s a safe presumption that he’d poo-poo most of his experts’ work that didn’t have to do with the Civil War. Is it not, let’s say, a bit slick then to cite them as authorities on this subject?

Finally, can we set aside talk of expert credentials and secondary sources and listen to the secessionists themselves on the matter of why they seceded? To do that, all GFA has to do is read this thread, which he clearly is reluctant to do. But that’s where the conclusive proof is.

Therefore, it is unwarranted to hold that it is only racial bigotry or Southern sympathizing motives that lead to those conclusions,

I never said that, of course. Those are but two of the reasons people draw the wrong conclusion.

and that further, it is not intellectual blindness to argue against Joe's simplistic, reductionist views.

Intellectual blindness is another reason people continue to argue to argue that slavery didn’t cause the Civil War. But it’s not the only one. Some good people are simply mistaken.

So.. Joe's application of the logical fallacy is logically fallacious... and what's humorous about it is - it is fallacious prima facie.

Whooeee. I’ll see your prima facie and raise you an intuitively obvious.

Next what is humorous is Joe's predictable ad hominem argumentation. He doesn't dispute the statements these men make, he attacks their credibility by quoting a small section (Hofstadter) of an article from Wikipedia.

Back to the experts again, are we? First, I saw no reason to go further, because the underlying argument was deficient anyway, as GFA intermittently acknowledges. Second, it is not an ad hominem attack to point out that a man’s professional reputation suffered a serious decline. Now if I’d said he was ugly or mean to his grandkids...

Now, I am only just now reading Hofstadter, as I said, and I am by no means a classic liberal nor a communist sympathizer. Hofstadter's politics have more in common with Joe than with me. But, he is an important author and I like to know what people actually say rather than just what other people say they say. So... who knows... I might wind up disagreeing with Hofstadter on more than one point. But, what is interesting is the rapidity with which Joe attacks his credibility.

This tangent has already been dispatched. Hofstadter’s famous. Got it. But we came here to talk about the Civil War, not this guy.

Joe did this same thing in another forum here when I referenced McCollough's biography of Truman. There he said that he "didn't consider it his best work." OK... but, he discounts the conclusions based on what? On his own opinion without offering any credible reasons why the conclusions were incorrect.

We’re really wandering far afield now, but what the hey...

In Hurricane Sandy in Politics, GFA saw Obama comforting victims of the storm, saw evidence therein that the man has no essential integrity, and invoked Truman as a better model of said virtue. When I indicated GFA hadn’t exactly made his case, he cited as proof of it an entire book by David McCullough.

Well. Arguments that flaccid don’t usually earn an “A” in logic class. What made it even weaker was that McCullough himself speaks glowingly of Obama. And now I’m faulted for not offering credible reasons why GFA’s conclusion is incorrect? Hint: I just did, for the second time.

Here the same type of argumentation is implied. Hofstadter is dismissed because some people (who? what were their credentials? why should we accept their criticism? ) criticized him for not relying on primary sources. In other words, Hofstadter's arguments are not based on first hand accounts and reading of historical evidence.

(1) Is this not what Joe himself has done? He is dismissing Hofstadter based on arguments from secondary sources! He dismisses Hofstadter's conclusions because Hofstadter is reported to have been criticized? Was the criticism valid or not? Who knows? I doubt Joe does. I can't say myself yet. (2) the criticism does not invalidate the conclusions (ref above - fallacious appeal to authority, point number 2) - the fact that a man did not check primary sources does not mean his conclusions drawn from secondary sources are invalid. If this is true then we might as well dispense with all reading of Herodotus, Thucydides, Hegel, Braudel, etc.) right down to the present day. Every historian interacts (primarily) with secondary sources. What is being said here is that Hofstadter might have argued more strongly if he had done more work with original sources or come to a different conclusion. Every historian who interacts with another historian who has opposing conclusions to his or her own about a given historical period or event is subject to this same, sometimes rancorous remarks.

The thrust of the matter is this: Hofstadter and Beard are both important men in American intellectual history. Both are not just liberals, they are flaming liberals. And yet, these two intelligent men, whose contributions to the discussion (Civil, I hope) should be heard and dealt with on their own merits or demerit, have studied the causes of that war and arrived at much more far reaching conclusions than Joe is willing to allow. Lastly, it should not be dismissed lightly that both of these men lived during a period where the memory of that war was much more imminent than our time now, that people who either participated in that war or who were the immediate generation after it were present, and that the way they thought about the war was probably far closer to the way people thought about the actual causes of that war than are the ways most of us (who are removed from it by a chasm of cultural transformation) now think.

Their views should at least be accorded the respect of consideration - not just sarcastic dismissal as problematic "dudes".

I’ll say it one more time. The quality of GFA’s experts has almost no relevance to the subject at hand. And to the minimal extent it does, it is clear they are flawed messengers.

Rather that obsessing over the worthiness of Hofstadter and Beard, GFA might find reading this thread from the beginning a more rewarding use of his time. Spoiler alert: There are some experts in there who disagree with Beard and Hofstadter. And, more importantly, some of them are Confederates.

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Joe says >>>>But we came here to talk about the Civil War, not this guy.<<<

No! . Untrue! My entire last post was a response to his charge that my previous posting was subject to a fallacious appeal to authority. To show that it was not I demonstrated that my previous post did not meet the two criteria he listed: (1) appeal to someone who was not an expert or (2) claiming certainty where no certainty was demonstrated. Talking about "this guy" had to be the subject because the charge of fallacious reasoning centered on "that guy." I was refuting his charge of fallacious argumentation. That requires a "technical" argument.

Again, both criteria do not apply to my previous post. Joe was logically false in claiming that they did. Therefore it is exactly the question of whether or not the two men quoted could be viewed as experts that was at question (criterion 1) or whether or not I stated that their opinion absolutely established the argument (criterion 2), which I, prima facie, did not do. All I said was, between the two men and Joe, which argument would I be more inclined to believe.

Joe has not established that the men were "flawed messengers" - he merely asserts it based on an appeal to authority. This conclusion he seemingly states as a "certainty" - if so, see criterion 2, he is guilty of fallacious appeal to authority. One man's opinion (the footnote in Wikipedia) does not establish the certainty that they are flawed any more than these two men's opinions establish the certainty of their conclusions about the War. Joe is free to choose to believe whatever it is that the footnoted author is reported to have said based on nothing more than the fact that he wants it to be that way. However, who knows what he might find if he read the footnoted work. He might find that the criticisms against Beard and Hofstadter did not invalidate their conclusions conclusively but rather, as I said, claimed he needed additional strengthening from original sources. I don't know and I doubt Joe does either... therefore he cannot logically claim that they are "flawed messengers" in any absolute sense. Remember, reading secondary sources is not essentially fallacious in historiography. It just means that you are trusting the men/women who wrote them to have verified that the sources said what they quote them as saying. I do not read German... every time I read a translation I am trusting the translator. Joe cannot logically dismiss either man as not being an "expert" simply because they are subject to criticism. To do so he would need to verify that their conclusions are wrong because (1) their arguments do not logically flow from the evidence they base them on, or (2) that there exists a set of counter evidence that establishes another conclusion in contradiction to the one they make. I may very well read the footnoted author (Brown, I think) after I finish Hofstadter just to see what he actually says. My hunch is that what he actually says falls well short of the absolute nature of Joe's rejection. The evidence of two Pulitzer prizes says that a fairly wide consensus must have existed that the man was an expert in his field.

I know all this strict logic stuff is inconvenient for Joe - but then, I didn't throw out that "fallacious appeal to authority" business in the first place.

So there.....

(BTW - I am not reading Hofstadter because of any claim he might make about the War. I just came across the quote because I am interested in Hofstadter's view of history. As I mentioned, the comment about the war was in the introduction to the work and when I read it, I just couldn't help myself... I just had to toss it out there for Joe to chew on.)

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I’ve got an offer for GFA. I’ll weigh in again on this tedious digression if he’ll agree to read this entire thread. Deal?

OK, back to the salt mine...

The argument from authority is a relatively weak form of proof in the best of cases. It moves from the weak to the fallacious when it is invoked as GFA has invoked it here. Let’s go back to my cited Wikipedia link for a moment:

The strength of this authoritative argument depends upon two factors:

  1. The authority is a legitimate expert on the subject.
  2. There exists consensus among legitimate experts in the subject matter under discussion.

Fallacious arguments from authority often are the result of failing to meet at least one of the required two conditions (legitimate expertise and expert consensus)...

As to the first factor, whether Hostadter is a legitmate expert on the cause of the Civil War, the evidence is solidly against him. The Marxist/class struggle template for historical analysis has been in disrepute for generations now. It was certainly disdained in the academy when I was in college in the 70s, and it is no more highly regarded now. Further, Hostadter’s personal reputation has fallen precipitously with the passage of time. The Wikipedia article I cited above states, “Hofstadter had few disciples and founded no school of history writing.”

Regarding the second factor, a consensus does exist among legitimate experts in the subject matter, and that consensus resoundingly rejects both Hofstadter’s and GFA’s positions on slavery and the Civil War. As he reads this thread from the beginning, GFA will come to the following passage by David von Drehle (Time magazine) in post #37:

A few weeks before Captain George S. James sent the first mortar round arcing through the predawn darkness toward Fort Sumter, South Carolina, on April 12, 1861, Abraham Lincoln cast his Inaugural Address as a last-ditch effort to win back the South. A single thorny issue divided the nation, he declared: "One section of our country believes slavery is right and ought to be extended, while the other believes it is wrong and ought not to be extended. This is the only substantial dispute."

It was not a controversial statement at the time. Indeed, Southern leaders were saying similar things during those fateful days. But 150 years later, Americans have lost that clarity about the cause of the Civil War...

The question "What caused the Civil War?" returns 20 million Google hits and a wide array of arguments on Internet comment boards and discussion threads. The Civil War was caused by Northern aggressors invading an independent Southern nation. Or it was caused by high tariffs. Or it was caused by blundering statesmen. Or it was caused by the clash of industrial and agrarian cultures. Or it was caused by fanatics. Or it was caused by the Marxist class struggle.

On and on, seemingly endless, sometimes contradictory — although not among mainstream historians, who in the past generation have come to view the question much as Lincoln saw it. "Everything stemmed from the slavery issue," says Princeton professor James McPherson, whose book Battle Cry of Freedom is widely judged to be the authoritative one-volume history of the war. Another leading authority, David Blight of Yale, laments, "No matter what we do or the overwhelming consensus among historians, out in the public mind, there is still this need to deny that slavery was the cause of the war."

So it is clear that GFA has tripped not one but both fallacy triggers in invoking Hofstadter as an authority on the subject we’re discussing here. And no, I don’t fall into GFA’s argument from authority trap in pointing this out. I do not cite the expert historical consensus to prove the Civil War was about slavery. I cite it to prove Hofstadter is not an expert and that he does not reflect the historical consensus, which rather undercuts GFA’s devotion to him on this question.

Weaker still is GFA’s claim that historians who lived closer in time to the Civil War are more reliable than contemporary ones. This turns the truth of the matter upside down. Who is likely to be more objective – a historian who fought in or lost a brother in the conflict, or a contemporary academician like McPherson, with fewer bones to pick with either side? Also, von Drehle enumerates the cultural and other factors that caused The Big Lie about slavery and the Civil War to delude GFA and many other Americans, particularly in the South.

A final point on this argument-from-authority business. It happens there is a third fallacy trigger, (again quoting Wikipedia):

because the argument from authority is an inductive-reasoning argument — wherein is implied that the truth of the conclusion cannot be guaranteed by the truth of the premises — it also is fallacious to assert that the conclusion must be true.

Despite his lengthy defense of Hofstadter, GFA is careful to remind us that he never explicitly claims Hofstadter’s position must be true, even though it comports with the one GFA has been claiming is true in this thread since August.

So, GFA is not saying Hofstadter has it right (although he clearly thinks he does, or why mention him at all?). He’s just saying Hofstadter’s position on the slavery question is more, ahem, authoritative than mine. As to whether that is a distinction with much of a difference, I’ll let the readers of this discussion decide.

Now, I will ask again that we bring this tangent to a close. I look forward instead to GFA’s take on the posts that preceded his entry into the fray, the ones that address the subject at hand.

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OK... I don't see it going any further either. And, i might add, your last post is far superior to the previous, more directed to the issues.

A few notes: (1) you changed the definitions in this last post - from logical certainty to consensus as the second condition, (2) as I said in a previous posting, I view the overall subject matter of the question of "what was the fundamental cause of 'the War' " to be sterile. The presuppositions of the opposing sides are irreconcilable. I have no intention of reviewing the entire tedious chain - especially since I was aware of it years ago when it started and followed it to some extent then.

In closing, I will state my position on the topic, again: For me, the 'expert" was Lincoln himself and his most concise statement of the primary issue (IMO) at stake - "Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. .....It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

That is my starting point... that is my "first cause". The Union took the position that secession was neither lawful nor in the best interests of the nation. The South took the position that as sovereign states they could secede and determine their own social order and this was both lawful and in the best interests of their "new" nation. Was slavery a factor? Was it the precipitate issue that brought this fundamental social and governmental chasm to a head - yes. Was it the fundamental reason why the war was fought? No. 30 years of history prior to 1860 demonstrated that the issue of slavery could be addressed in some forms of compromise or another. Why war now (1860)? Ah, there is the root cause, and as always, it was a question of sovereignty.

And there, in the words of some guy whose name I can't remember - is the end of it - for me, anyway.

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OK... I don't see it going any further either. And, i might add, your last post is far superior to the previous, more directed to the issues.

A few notes: (1) you changed the definitions in this last post - from logical certainty to consensus as the second condition,

Actually, no. I relied exclusively on the Wikipedia language throughout.

(2) as I said in a previous posting, I view the overall subject matter of the question of "what was the fundamental cause of 'the War' " to be sterile. The presuppositions of the opposing sides are irreconcilable. I have no intention of reviewing the entire tedious chain - especially since I was aware of it years ago when it started and followed it to some extent then.

In closing, I will state my position on the topic, again: For me, the 'expert" was Lincoln himself and his most concise statement of the primary issue (IMO) at stake - "Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. .....It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

That is my starting point... that is my "first cause". The Union took the position that secession was neither lawful nor in the best interests of the nation. The South took the position that as sovereign states they could secede and determine their own social order and this was both lawful and in the best interests of their "new" nation. Was slavery a factor? Was it the precipitate issue that brought this fundamental social and governmental chasm to a head - yes. Was it the fundamental reason why the war was fought? No. 30 years of history prior to 1860 demonstrated that the issue of slavery could be addressed in some forms of compromise or another. Why war now (1860)? Ah, there is the root cause, and as always, it was a question of sovereignty.

And there, in the words of some guy whose name I can't remember - is the end of it - for me, anyway.

Well, then. Having failed to make his case or even read others who refute it, GFA blithely moves on. Certainty is a comfort, I suppose. I'd suggest GFA consider McPherson instead of Hofstadter for his next reading, but something tells me that idea will not find purchase.

For myself, this exercise wasn't a complete waste of time. My understanding of the issues involved is refreshed -- and I also got to brush up on the old argumentum ad verecundiam. As Carl Spackler said, "I got that going for me, which is nice." (http://www.imdb.com/...h0010114/quotes)

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The superb American Experience program on PBS begins a three-part documentary tonight on the abolitionists. No doubt it will shed light on the issues in this thread. Check your local listings.

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From today’s Houston Chronicle

PBS’ ‘Abolitionists’ explores extraordinary time in history

By David Wiegand, San Francisco Chronicle

The sesquicentennial of the Emancipation Proclamation’s signing is one reason to look back at the uphill battle of the movement to end slavery in the United States. Steven Spielberg’s hit film “Lincoln” is another.

But in fact, the movement’s significance to our history, both in the 19th century and well into modern times, makes it a worthy subject for the three-part “American Experience” documentary launching Tuesday on PBS.

“The Abolitionists,” written and directed by Rob Rapley, is a barely adequate documentary blending archival images with minimally convincing re-enactments. Fortunately, the content outweighs the weakness of the filmmaking itself.

Rapley’s film focuses on several key members of the abolitionist movement, including author Harriet Beecher Stowe, radical activist John Brown, former slave Frederick Douglass, South Carolina belle Angelina Grimké, who broke with her slave-owning family, and William Lloyd Garrison, who created the anti-slavery newspaper, the Liberator, as a platform for his views.

From the first days of the new republic, slavery was a complicated and complicating practice. A recent opinion piece in the New York Times vilified Thomas Jefferson for being a lifelong slave-owner. Fellow Virginian George Washington, however, freed his slaves.

By 1820, there were some 2 million slaves in the United States, and slavery itself was known as “the peculiar institution.” As the abolition movement grew as a human-rights battle, it became not just about slavery but about race as well. However, no matter how many people were drawn into its ranks over the decades, eradication of slavery ran up against an even more powerful cultural opponent — economics — and not just in the South but in the North as well. This wouldn’t be the last time a national debate centered on human rights versus economics.

The abolitionist movement was both organized, through the American Anti-Slavery Society, and unrelenting. Yet its leaders often disagreed on the best method to rid the nation of slavery. Garrison advocated peace and persuasion, or, as Brown termed it, “milk and water abolitionism.” Brown, the leader of the raid on Harper’s Ferry, was motivated by the murder of an abolitionist in Illinois to believe that the end of slavery could only be achieved through bloodshed.

Setbacks to the movement , such as the Great Compromise and the passage of the Fugitive Slave Law, as well as the Supreme Court’s decision on the Dred Scott case that Congress could not outlaw slavery, radicalized even Garrison at one point to question his otherwise steadfast belief in peace and persuasion. Over time, he came to believe the entire nation needed to start over, that the first republic, as it was known, had to die to create that “more perfect union” as cited in the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution.

Of course, Lincoln plays a significant role in the film but not in the way many viewers might expect. Henry Louis Gates Jr. has said there was a time that Lincoln’s portrait was often the only image of a white man you would find in the homes of African-Americans.

But Lincoln did not start out as an abolitionist. In fact, he tried at first to placate the South on the issue of slavery to head off the Civil War and met with African-American clergy in a failed attempt to convince them to lead their people out of the country to new colonies. He even proposed allowing slavery to continue for another 40 years if the South surrendered.

Rapley’s film does a decent job in slicing through the mythology of the abolitionist movement to show how much its leaders both worked together and disagreed while still keeping a collective eye on the prize. It also disabuses us of the notion that Lincoln was the great white hope of the abolitionist movement from the get-go. That isn’t to say he shouldn’t be viewed as a hero, only that, like much of the nation, his views on slavery had to “evolve,” similar to a more recent president’s own views on a different rights issue.

The film also includes a good deal of commentary from various modern-day historians, but their contributions often seem merely to repeat the information provided in Oliver Platt’s narration or in the hokey re-enactments. What’s largely missing from the commentary, especially given the fact that it’s a three-hour documentary, is how the abolitionist movement may have impacted our history as a nation and a society beyond the Civil War. Slavery may have been eradicated, but the debate about race continues to this day. And its roots can be found in the abolitionist movement.

dwiegand@sfchronicle.com  

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I was going to post today comparing/contrasting "Mad" Wayne Lapierre's racist rant of why I need an assault rifle to protect me from murderous bands of dark complexioned people to a passage from Winston Groom's book about the battle of Shilo, but in the same section of the book it discusses why there was no longer room for compromise over slavery. The compromise over there being equal slave and non-slave states was no longer geographically possible. The North won and the South lost. The economic and population (immigration) growth was in the North. While Lincoln said he would not free slaves in slave states, the South didn't believe him, and .. sort of like today .. they're faced with being a permaent minority politically. The fact was there were four million slaves with nowhere to go. And that scared the daylights out of rural white southerners.

From Groom's book on page 56. When the Republicans nominated Lincoln as their candidate, the Souther press whipped up its populace to such a pitch of fury it seemed as if John Brown himself had been put on the ticket. Linconln was lampooned in words and cartoons as an archetypal abolitionist - a kind of Antichrist who would turn loose the slaves to rape, murder and pillage. This goes a long way to explaining why fewer than one in three confederate soldiers came from slaveholding families. To them, it wasn't to keep slaves that they joined the army, it was rather to save their homes and families against the notion of slaves gone wild. ( a footnote adds that many of the wealthiest southerners were agains secession because they had the most to lose)

As history turned out, southern whites had little to fear from freed black slaves taking their stuff.

--

La Pierre writes:

After Hurricane Sandy, we saw the hellish world that the gun prohibitionists see as their utopia. Looters ran wild in south Brooklyn. There was no food, water or electricity. And if you wanted to walk several miles to get supplies, you better get back before dark, or you might not get home at all.

Anti-gun New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg had already done everything he could to prevent law-abiding New Yorkers from owning guns, and he has made sure that no ordinary citizen will ever be allowed to carry a gun. He even refused to allow the National Guard into the city to restore civil order because Guardsmen carry guns!

Meanwhile, President Obama is leading this country to financial ruin, borrowing over a trillion dollars a year for phony “stimulus” spending and other payoffs for his political cronies. Nobody knows if or when the fiscal collapse will come, but if the country is broke, there likely won’t be enough money to pay for police protection. And the American people know it.

Hurricanes. Tornadoes. Riots. Terrorists. Gangs. Lone criminals. These are perils we are sure to face—not just maybe. It’s not paranoia to buy a gun. It’s survival. It’s responsible behavior, and it’s time we encourage law-abiding Americans to do just that.

Since the election, millions of Americans have been lining up in front of gun stores, Cabela’s and Bass Pro Shops exercising their freedom while they still have it. They are demonstrating they have a mass determination to buy, own and use firearms. Millions of Americans are using market forces like never before to demonstrate their ardent support for our firearm freedoms. That’s one of the very best ways we can Stand And Fight.

Read more: http://dailycaller.c.../#ixzz2LMRC60sE

Edited by bendog

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From Politico.com, 11/18/13

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2013/11/the-gettysburg-address-and-other-monumental-failures-to-communicate-99992.html

Was the Gettysburg Address a Mistake?

Lincoln was far too kind to the South. And we still are...

By Chuck Thompson

Four score and 70 years ago, America’s Great Emancipator delivered the most famous speech ever made by a U.S. president. Universally regarded as a triumph of genius and brevity, Abraham Lincoln’s stirring Gettysburg call for national reconciliation in the midst of the Civil War was a 272-word masterstroke of empathy, statesmanship and diplomacy.

It was also a missed opportunity.

The speech remains eternally inspiring for the way Lincoln refrained from laying explicit blame at the feet of an enemy so embittered to the cause upon which he’d staked his life (literally, as it would turn out) that it had eagerly thrown itself into its own fight to the death.

Lincoln sidestepped all that rage. And in so doing, he sidestepped the lessons of Gettysburg, thereby failing to predict—or prevent—the ways in which they were fated to play out over the next century and a half.

Shotgun wedding, prolonged divorce

Beyond the hallowed battlefield oratory, Lincoln’s address revealed the course on which a not-quite-so-benevolent federal government actually hoped to steer the country after the costliest battle of the Civil War. “It seems clear to most historians … that when Lincoln resolves that ‘these dead shall not have died in vain,’ he is speaking of the Union dead—not the Confederates,” says University of Georgia Civil War scholar Stephen Berry, author of House of Abraham: Lincoln & The Todds, a Family Divided By War. “The Confederates did die in vain—and we should be thankful for it.”

A similar hope was driven home with more ferocity on the floor of the House of Representatives in 1865 by Pennsylvania’s Thaddeus Stevens—whom you may recall as the testy emancipation hero portrayed by Tommy Lee Jones in Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln. “The whole fabric of southern society must be changed and never can it be done if this opportunity is lost,” warned Stevens, speaking of Reconstruction. “Without this, this government can never be, as it has never been, a true Republic.”

The original union between northern and southern states was a shotgun wedding, Stevens and many of his contemporaries understood—hence that contemptuous addendum: “as it has never been.” Following surrender, the North made its clumsy (patriotic southerners might say criminal) bid for reconciliation through Reconstruction, dividing the South into military districts, establishing military governments and requiring ratification of the 14th Amendment, which gave blacks citizenship with “full and equal benefit of all laws.” The South, casting itself as the woebegone victim through typically radical politics (obstructionist), religion (evangelical), race relations (segregated), education (under-funded) and business (anti-labor), has done its level best ever since to remain an emotionally estranged partner who nevertheless sticks around for the financial support.

Over the succeeding century and a half, the Dixie pathos that Lincoln and Stevens sought to destroy instead morphed into the scoliotic backbone of American politics that burdens us today—a vendetta against Washington, D.C., so besotted with ancient grudges and hidebound demagogic exaggeration that it renders productive discourse and open exchange of ideas a virtual impossibility.

Think the Dixie-fried Tea Party and health care fight represent something new? The impulse behind them is the same one that gave us Jim Crow.

The game of division practiced by conservative reactionaries today—mostly southern, though the obstructionist contagion has spread to all 50 states—is the same as the fathomlessly fraudulent politics that split the country in 1861. Think the Dixie-fried Tea Party and health care fight represent something new? The impulse behind them is the same one that gave us Jim Crow, brought the National Guard to Little Rock High School and led Hank Williams, Jr. to record, “If the South woulda won, we woulda had it made.”

Nearly two years of fighting after the calamity of Gettysburg proved exactly what two-plus years of battle over Obamacare does: This is a tribe incapable of accepting compromise or conciliation. As a Confederate flag supporter in Georgia told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 2004 after his side lost a referendum to keep the Confederate battle flag as part of the official state flag: “We will keep our anger alive. We shall be grim and unconvinced and wear bitterness like a medal.”

Within the narrow-minded confines of the Us-against-the-North worldview, recognizing the ultimate sovereignty of the U.S. government amounts to an admission of weakness. As a result, the South no longer sends politicians to Washington. It sends blinkered warriors whose job is to represent the unbending naysayer impulse inscribed on a certain type of southern martyr from cradle to tailgater to grave.

Worse, no longer are southern pols even the seditious but gifted white-maned officer orators of the Senator Claghorn days. At least those guys had style. Nowadays, the South consigns to Washington mere foot soldiers whose Men’s Wearhouse political dexterity renders most congressional debate as erudite and elegant as an employee smoke break in the parking lot behind the Waffle House.

Forget a new nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Anymore, Green Eggs and Ham actually amounts to an elevation of discourse among certain southern legislators.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2013/11/the-gettysburg-address-and-other-monumental-failures-to-communicate-99992.html#ixzz2l5a13lES

Fights that do not have to happen

Because it has long passed into the etched-in-granite annals of national legend, Americans have completely lost sight of the single most important fact about the Civil War—that it absolutely, positively, in no way had to happen. The Civil War should have been as easy to talk yourself out of as your annual colonoscopy.

This becomes clear when you read the prewar history and discover that—as southerners love pointing out—far from being a saintly ally of slaves, Lincoln was quite willing to allow southerners to keep their human chattel shackled ’til doomsday if it meant avoiding secession and war. The president was above all things a politician, which means he was a negotiator, a role he continued to try to play—the Gettysburg Address shows it—even as the conflict dragged on to rebel detriment.

The War That Did Not Have to Happen occurred for the sole reason that a great number of influential southerners wanted it to happen. Plantation battle hawks agitated for war in the press, in the halls of government, in public forums. In terms of rhetoric, they’re direct kin to modern nut jobs who conjure dragons from the northern ether in order to derail American progress.

Here’s College of South Carolina president James Henry Thornwell rebuking liberals during a pro-slavery speech in 1850: “[The opposition] are Atheists, Socialists, Communists, Red Republicans, Jacobins on the one side, and the friends of order and regulated freedom on the other. In one word, the world is a battle ground—Christianity and Atheism the combatants, and the progress of humanity is at stake.”

Here’s Newt Gingrich rebuking liberals during a book-tour speech in 2010: “[The opposition’s] secular socialist philosophy is profoundly in conflict with the heart of the American system and is a repudiation of the core lessons of American history … With God’s help, and our willingness to humble ourselves, to always seek His guidance, and always do His bidding, we will overcome our radical secular opponents.”

Monuments to this obstructionist pathology litter the South. Excepting Stone Mountain, Ga., the most pompously defiant of these is located 75 miles northwest of Columbia in Abbeville, S.C.

Walk past the granite obelisk dedicated to Confederate soldiery in Abbeville’s historic town square, and you likely wouldn’t notice anything special. The gray monument looks like any of countless similar statuary in the centers of cities and towns throughout the South.

Take the trouble to read the carved inscriptions, however, and along with the usual odes to the bravery and valor of the Confederacy’s battle dead, you’ll find this blatantly seditious declaration: “The world shall yet decide, in truth’s clear far-off light, that the soldiers who wore the gray and died with Lee were right.”

Not that the soldiers were patriotic. Or courageous. Or true to some ill-begotten sense of duty.

They were right.

The only possible interpretation of this statement is that the cause for which the South fought—dissolution of the United States so that the South might preserve slavery and, thus, the economic and political position of its privileged caste—was a morally righteous mission.

Consider, too, that the monument was erected not in the emotional aftermath of war in 1865, but in 1906 and then, in a ceremony replacing the original with a new one … in 1996.

Don’t imagine the Abbeville monument as some redneck one-off in a notoriously reactionary town. A similarly solemn tribute to soldiers fighting on behalf of Jefferson Davis and his fellow slave-owners standing in the square of the far more liberal university town of Oxford, Miss., reads simply: “They gave their lives in a just and holy cause.”

Different nations, different directions

To appreciate how fully these inscriptions codify the traditional and contemporary straightjacket of southern political orthodoxy, one need simply take a stroll down Louisiana Avenue just north of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Walk a few minutes and you’ll come upon the National Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism During World War II.

With a centerpiece sculpture depicting two cranes tangled in barbed wire, the monument stands as historic witness to the valor of Japanese American soldiers who served in World War II, as well as the persecution of the thousands of innocent Americans of Japanese ancestry who were forced into wartime internment camps at home.

Attached to the monument a bronze plaque bears a straightforward, powerful inscription, quoting President Ronald Reagan: “Here we admit a wrong. Here we affirm our commitment as a nation to equal justice under the law.”

So striking. So honest. So liberating. Acknowledge a mistake, learn from it and move on to create a better world.

How different this difficult but uncomplicated monument in the nation’s capital from the ones in Abbeville and Oxford, and the thousands of other chunks of granite and poured concrete defiance that blight the South with a hostile architecture designed to keep ancient divisions alive. One might scour the world for a pair of monuments that represent more concisely the ideologies of two nations moving in such completely opposite directions.

Yet in these monuments, separated by only a long day’s drive, the observer can stand before the physical testament of one nation’s willingness to assume what the poet and novelist Robert Penn Warren called “the awful responsibility of Time,” and another’s determination to forever hide from that responsibility.

Southern “traditions” of inflexibility and sabotage have hobbled American political progress across four centuries. One wonders what Lincoln would have made of a country, 150 years after his landmark call for renewal, still allowing itself to be held captive by a political race whose most powerful views, emotions and ideas lurk forever behind them.

Chuck Thompson is author of Better of Without ’Em: A Northern Manifesto for Southern Secession, now available in paperback and from which this article is adapted.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2013/11/the-gettysburg-address-and-other-monumental-failures-to-communicate-99992_Page2.html#ixzz2l5aELjLs

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Good article, but in many ways more complicated than the author portrays.

Abolitionists, almost exclusively of northern states, were forcing the issue too.

I strongly disagree with the cited historian that Lincoln was talking only about Union dead at Gettysburg. That notion seems contrary to the article's thesis, and it does not match up with any of my reading on Lincoln or the Address.

Essential reading here on the underlying issue is W.J. Cash's classic, The Mind of the South. It reveals the roots of southern-tier identity, planted long prior to the Revolution. A brutal read, but well worth it. In gross terms Neil Sheehan captures Cash's thesis in his book on John Paul Vann, A Bright and Shining Lie.

Another abolition issue bedevils us now. As Lincoln said of slavery, if we all agreed that it is moral, then that would be the end of it. And if we all agreed that it is immoral, then that would likewise be the end of it. And so it follows that the morality of it is the only question presented.

Let the states vote on it, as Stephen Douglas successfully advocated? Two words -- "Bleeding Kansas." As Marques James observed in his biography of Sam Houston, The Raven, "The first shots of the war were not fired at Sumter. They were fired in Lawrence."

And so all slave, or all free? I think these are the mechanics of it:

"No state shall impede access to birth control measures or medical termination of pregnancy in the first trimester." Of course, this is already the law.

"No state shall permit termination of pregnancy after the first trimester." This would require a Constitutional amendment, like an analog to the Thirteenth Amendment.

In our system there is nothing trickier than what Lincoln called, "the practical relation of the states to the federal government." Due to this, he recognized that it would be better if Davis were to flee rather than be captured (as he eventually was, after Lincoln's death). As Lincoln's successors found, Davis was likely to be acquitted of treason. After all, if states voluntarily join the union, how can they legally be precluded from seceding? Only the outcome of the war answered that question, and so essentially, it remains unanswered -- hence the defiant Southern obelisks that the article's author describes.

On the lighter side, the vanity of Dixie elan and idealized individualism is revealed in Davis's government within a year of Sumter. His VP, Alexander Stephens, quickly decried the "despotism of the central government in Richmond," and holed up in his native Georgia, refusing to appear in Davis's cabinet. His descendants today would similarly decry the "concentration of power" in state capitals if they toppled Washington DC, and then rail against the "centralized government" in their respective county seats after that. In short, such men are simply anarchists.

As Edmund Burke observed, liberty must be limited in order to be possessed.

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Another friend of mine kicks it up a notch...

Lincoln believed or hoped that war could be avoided and that preserving the Union would eventually doom slavery. He was a pragmatist. See his stance re Kentucky. But given events since then one wonders whether we would have been all slave or all free without the war.
Great comments by both you valiant Americans. I too think the article is excellent overall but in his proposed solution the author is a bit off point. He violates the first two cardinal rules of the universe: protect yourself at all times; let your hands go. It is the states faithful to the union who should secede. One does not wait for a cancer to expel itself. They should not wait for the South to secede again. Show the traitors they should be careful what they wish for and secede from them. Would that the country were truly civilized and such questions could be settled again but finally With Fire and Sword. Sadly, we are left with the anemic remedy of banishment. So be it.

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