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Forum LockedAmerican Civil War -- The Point of No Return

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Aleksandr01 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Aleksandr01 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: American Civil War -- The Point of No Return
    Posted: 07-Dec-2008 at 03:43
At what point in America's history was it decidedly certain that the country would fight a civil war? Was it when the first Africans were imported as indentured servants in 1620? Was it the beginning of the abolitionist movement with Elijiah Lovejoy in the 1830's? Did Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin push the country over the edge, or was sectionalism driving the country in a downward spiral since the time of Andrew Jackson? Was it an avoidable war up until the 'Bleeding Kansas' issues, or the Harper's Ferry Raid, or even Lincoln's election in 1860? I want to know what people think about whether or not America could have survived to the present day with such a dissonance between North and South and West in the mid-19th century. Was slavery destined to bring about war since its very beginnings, or was it just the stubbornness of the country's politicians and the radicalness of the country's radicals that drove the country to war?

P.S. another option; was the civil war inevitable when Thomas Jefferson wrote that 'all men are created equal' in the U.S. Constitution.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Donasin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Dec-2008 at 14:51
I think it was when Thomas Jefferson Randolph (Jefferson's grandson) was unable to have a gradual removal of slavery within Virgina.

Funny thing is though if the district lines were drawn based on population it would have passed. Also if it passed slavery would have been completely eradicated within Virgina by 1865.


Edited by Donasin - 07-Dec-2008 at 14:51
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Aleksandr01 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Dec-2008 at 20:25
That's a good thought. After all, one of the leading pushes towards civil war was the fact that there was such an even split between North and South in terms of possible manpower. The civil war, at its start, was almost entirely an economic conflict. The issue was never about the 'immorality' of slavery until the Emancipation Proclamation, because most people in the North were not really against slavery per se. But I think that as long as the country's founding principle was of freedom for all, then there would be anti-slavery movements -- radical anti-slavery movements. And as long as there were radical anti-slavery movements, the South would drift further and further from the North, believing itself to be a totally different country.

I doubt that slavery ever had a chance to be eradicated in Virginia. I don't know much about this bill of Jefferson Randolph's except that it was a reaction to Nat Turner's rebellion. Maybe you could post some information about it or a link?
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Sparten Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Dec-2008 at 22:44

WRT to events of 1861 to 65, I would say it was the failure of Buchannan to do anything to counteract the Secession conventions by force. In 1830's over the tariffs issue Jackson a Southerner had sent troops to S Carolina, in 1840's Taylor, another Southener nearly did the same. A good swift kick would have sorted things out then, enough for the issue to simmer on for longer.

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Post Options Post Options   Quote Whiteice Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Dec-2008 at 22:44
I think a lot of events gradually led up to it. A main event though I think would have ot be Lincolns election. He was not the man many americans believe he was. He, I think, pushed the South over the edge. His ideas were radical and would have greatly affected the south. First off, he used the Civil War as a cover up for his real intentions of wnating to ship all the African slaves to Central and South America to be slaves or something else down there, thus, greatly shortening food production from the Southern plantations. Also, the South had every right to secede from the USA. It clearly states it in one of the major documents written by our founding fathers, either the Bill of rights or 1st and 2nd Amendment. I think it says, that any part of the United states of America may, and can secede from the Union at any time due to oppression or disagreement. Anyway, thats just my opinion.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote pikeshot1600 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Dec-2008 at 23:12
Originally posted by Sparten

WRT to events of 1861 to 65, I would say it was the failure of Buchannan to do anything to counteract the Secession conventions by force. In 1830's over the tariffs issue Jackson a Southerner had sent troops to S Carolina, in 1840's Taylor, another Southener nearly did the same. A good swift kick would have sorted things out then, enough for the issue to simmer on for longer.

 
Well, you do understand the role of South Carolina.  Wink  With Edmund Ruffin, a South Carolinian, firing the first shot on Ft. Sumner, an act of treason, the onus was on the South.
 
A Northerner sending Federal troops anywhere in the South might well have been the spark (with the onus on the North) that set off the war.  Besides, the "huge" 17,000-man US army was dispersed, mostly in the West.  Much different four years later when the army was 1,000,000 plus.
 
On Buchanan.....he had very little leverage in the political reality of the last years of the 1850s.
 
Perhaps the entire decade of the 1850s is the "point of no return."  Three successive presidencies had Northern roots, but Southern sympathies (in regard to their approach to the slavery issue).  Ineffective leadership from Fillmore, Pierce and Buchanan didn't help, and the slavery issue became one that could no longer find a compromise settlement. 
 
Compromise had been the path of choice on the issue, but probably because the South retained effective control of the Congress through seniority, and it was the only way to get anything done.  I do not think any of the three presidents listed above liked slavery, but Southern political power was a reality they could not ignore.  Republican politics in the 1850s coalesced around abolition, and was definitely seen as anti-Southern.
 
Once compromise was no longer seen as adequate, Buchanan was in the position of depending on the Supreme Court to make US policy (Dred Scott Decision).  Nothing was going to get done by ordinary political means.  That satisfied no one in the North, and any further political gains by (Northern) Republicans were seen as threatening to the South.  Abraham Lincoln = secession = civil war.
 
 
 
 


Edited by pikeshot1600 - 08-Dec-2008 at 00:35
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Donasin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08-Dec-2008 at 02:53

http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?ammem/rbaapcbib:@field(NUMBER+@band(rbaapc+23920)):

This is actual speech given by Jefferson's grandson. I believe it also has the resolution in the latter pages as well. The reactions to the bill are interesting to say the least.

A lot of Virginians were able to accept gradual emancipation at this time, especially in the western parts of the state. Slavery was near nonexistent there and many thought their livelihoods were at risk because of Eastern elitism.


Edited by Donasin - 08-Dec-2008 at 02:56
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Post Options Post Options   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09-Dec-2008 at 11:40
Originally posted by Aleksandr01

At what point in America's history was it decidedly certain that the country would fight a civil war?
....
P.S. another option; was the civil war inevitable when Thomas Jefferson wrote that 'all men are created equal' in the U.S. Constitution.
 
Interesting question on which I don't have a worked out opinion. However it wasn't when Jefferson (or anyone else) put "all men are created equal" in the US Constitution. Because it isn't in there.
 
It's in the Declaration of Independence, but Jefferson wasn't at the Constitutional Convention and those that were there were somewhat less idealistic.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Aleksandr01 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10-Dec-2008 at 00:47
Originally posted by Whiteice

He was not the man many americans believe he was. He, I think, pushed the South over the edge. His ideas were radical and would have greatly affected the south. First off, he used the Civil War as a cover up for his real intentions of wnating to ship all the African slaves to Central and South America to be slaves or something else down there, thus, greatly shortening food production from the Southern plantations.


What are you some kind of conspirator? lol, Lincoln was more than willing to compromise on almost any issue because he was a unionist. This is the problem, most people think that everybody in the North was an abolitionist before the civil war. They weren't. The majority just wanted to keep the union together, and were just as racist as Southerners, if not more (b/c of Irish immigrants). Abraham Lincoln supported the right of southerners to own slaves, he just was against the expansion of slavery. In fact, a lot of Lincoln's Republican critics (especially abolitionists) said that he moved too slowly against slavery. As far as I know, he was a very reasoned man. I never heard of Lincoln supporting any plot to ship all the slaves to God-knows-where.


Originally posted by pikeshot1600

Perhaps the entire decade of the 1850s is the "point of no return."  Three successive presidencies had Northern roots, but Southern sympathies (in regard to their approach to the slavery issue).  Ineffective leadership from Fillmore, Pierce and Buchanan didn't help, and the slavery issue became one that could no longer find a compromise settlement.


With miles of undecided territory at their hands, I don't think the government ever could have compromised on slavery, especially not with the threat of crazy abolitionists like John Brown running around trying to start mass slave rebellions. As long as it said 'all men are created equal' in the Declaration of Independence (thanks gcle2003), it was only an issue that could be postponed. I think the 1830's was the decade of no return because it was so turbulent, and basically slavery was reborn with Whitney's cotton gin. There was also the panic of 1837, the burgeoning growth of sectionalism, and the shifts in American political method. All of these contributed incredibly to the march towards civil war, and from this point on the only thing to do was to try to avoid the issue of slavery for as long as possible. 
(Forgot about the spread of abolitionism: William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglass, Elijiah Lovejoy, Second Great Awakening)


Edited by Aleksandr01 - 10-Dec-2008 at 01:17
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