Matt1989 wrote:StilesBC wrote:As far as a civil war goes, it would be along the same lines as the last civil war: Federalists against Constitutionalists (no the civil war was not about slavery). It was about federal power.
No it wasn't, and this revisionism reeks of some of the worst stuff found on LRC. No one really cares about federal power insofar as it does not affect them (or those who they sympathize with) in a personal matter. (Or to be more blunt, people only respect constitutions insofar as they reflect their specific ends.) "States' rights" were merely a clever sort of justification for upholding southern practices; Constitutionalist ideology was simply a means to that end. The issue of slavery was the catalyst, and although most southerners didn't own slaves, they were convinced to join in the struggle since there were huge cultural differences (note: fault line) between the industrialized north and the agrarian south.
Today, there are so many ethnic differences in the West that a town 3,000 miles away may have more in common with yours than one only 20 miles away -- so if fighting breaks out, it will look nothing like the last one.
If slavery was the real catalyst for the Civil War, you are essentially claiming that all Southerners were stupid. Why would they fight a war where they could have their own "slave state" upon victory? Surely they would know that upon their independence, their slaves would simply run away to the north???
Slavery was invented as an issue in order to recruit african-americans for the war effort and to prevent the British from intervening. Lincoln himself was a total racist. Read this quote:
"I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in anyway the social and political equality of the white and black races - that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race. I say upon this occasion I do not perceive that because the white man is to have the superior position the negro should be denied everything.”
(1809-1865) 16th US President
Source:Fourth Debate with Stephen A. Douglas at Charleston, Illinois, September 18, 1858
(The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln edited by Roy P. Basler, Volume III, pp. 145-146.)
It's easy to look at it from today's perspective and say, "Those roughnecks were stupid. Why would they try to secede from the US?" But the US was not the same type of state as it is now. The federal government was not intended to have any real legislative power whatsoever over the individual states. It was widely understood that if any state didn't like what was happening, they were free to leave the union. Lincoln wanted to change that - no he wasn't the first.
But just look at the opportunism by the northern states upon Southern secession in passing all sorts of federally minded legislation: (from Wiki) Morrill Tariff (increased trade protectionism), the National Banking Act (consolidating the issuance of currency), a Federal Income Tax.
No, slavery was not really seen as a big issue at the time. If it was such a big deal, then why did nearly every other major slave owning country manage to avoid fighting similar wars over the issue, while it was enough to expedite the coming of a crisis war a generation "too soon" in America?
And isn't one of the defining characteristics of "crisis wars" that they resolve the underlying issue? If slavery was the issue, it could hardly be considered "resolved". Segregation and racism continued for 100 years thereafter. Through most of which it could be argued that african-americans were no better off, despite their technical "freedom." However, the clout of the Federal government over the States was never again questioned. It was, in fact, a victory for the centralization of power all over the world. Canada federated 2 years later. Brazil 15 years later. Australia 30 years. The British used it as affirmation to continue with their empire.
There's far more evidence against the slavery citation. Read through the memoirs of soldiers or generals Lee and Jackson. Many didn't even care about the slavery issue or were pro-abolishment themselves (privately).
Slavery's common citation as the "catalyst" for the civil war is just a case of the victors writing the history books. That's not to say it wasn't an issue at all. Most southerners were bigoted racists. So were most northerners. But absent the slavery issue altogether, the war would have happened regardless.