SLAVERY WAS NOT THE CAUSE

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Posted : August 14, 2020

Charleston Athenaeum Press

Around 60.1% of the electorate voted against Abraham Lincoln in 1860. The loser in the next five presidential elections got more popular votes than Lincoln.

 

The Introduction to

Slavery Was Not the Cause

of the War Between the States,

The Irrefutable Argument.

(enhanced with

photographs)

 

Slavery was and is a horrible institution. There is nothing in this book, whatsoever, that defends slavery in any way, form or fashion. Slavery was and is a blight on humanity.

The purpose of this book is historical truth. The War Between the States is the central event in American history and, by far, our bloodiest war. It is important to know exactly what caused it and why. Interpreting the past truthfully and accurately is a debt we owe to the people of the past, and to the future.

In Part I of this book, I argue that slavery was not the cause of the War Between the States. There is absolute, irrefutable proof that the North did not go to war to free the slaves or end slavery. The North went to war to preserve the Union as Abraham Lincoln said over and over.

The reason Lincoln needed to preserve the Union was because, without it, the North faced economic annihilation, the magnitude of which easily made war preferable.

Economic problems multiply geometrically. By the time Lincoln was inaugurated on March 4, 1861 there was gloom, despair and panic in the North with thousands of business failures, hundreds of thousands of people out of work, serious trouble with the stock market, threatened runs on banks, and Northern ship captains heading South because of the South’s low tariff.

There was no talk whatsoever of ending slavery. Just the opposite. There were guarantees galore of preserving slavery forever.

Just use common sense. If your house is on fire, you don’t care about your neighbor’s barking dog or anything your neighbor is doing. You have to put out the fire or lose your house. It’s just that simple.

The North’s economic house caught fire in the winter of 1860 to 61 when the first seven Southern States seceded. The North quickly discovered that manufacturing and shipping for the South were the sources of most of its employment, wealth and power. Cotton alone was 60% of U.S. exports in 1860.

Without the South, the North was headed for bankruptcy. By the spring of 1861, the North’s house was a raging inferno.

The latest death statistics for the War Between the States have raised it from 620,000, to between 650,000 and 850,000.

These are the widely accepted statistics of historian J. David Hacker of Binghamton University. He splits the difference and uses 750,000. I believe it was on the higher end of his range so I use 800,000 in this book.

The wounded usually end up, statistically, as a multiple of deaths.

For example, in WWII we lost 405,399 and had 670,846 wounded, which is 1.65. Sometimes the multiplier is higher, sometimes lower, and I realize that a higher percentage died of disease in the War Between the States, but the number of wounded would still be astronomical, well over a million to add to the 800,000 dead.

If the soldiers of World War II were killed at the same rate as the War Between the States, we would have lost 3,870,000 instead of 405,399; and we would have had 6,385,500 wounded instead of 670,846.

That the South, with less than 1/4th the white population of the North, did not hesitate to fight for its rights and liberty, says everything about the courage of Southerners and their desire for independence.

Especially when one considers the other huge advantages of the North such as 100-to-1 in weapon manufacturing, 19-to-0 in marine engine manufacturing, a merchant marine fleet, a standing army, a substantial navy with fleets of war ships, and a functioning government over 60 years old that had relationships with most of the countries on the earth.

The North also had access to unlimited immigration, and 25% of Union soldiers ended up being foreign born.

The War Between the States was a completely unnecessary war.

Historians know that the Crittenden Compromise (late 1860) would almost certainly have prevented the war. It was based on the old Missouri Compromise line that had worked well for 30 years. Slavery had been prohibited north of the line and allowed south of it.

John Jordan Crittenden - 550 37K

Sen. John Jordan Crittenden of Kentucky, 1855 portrait by Matthew Brady.

The Crittenden Compromise had widespread support, North and South, from good men trying to prevent war, but Abraham Lincoln shot it down. Lincoln had political allies to pay back so he would not compromise on slavery in the West.

He had no problem with slavery where it existed. He just didn’t want it “extended,” so he supported the Corwin Amendment, which left black people in slavery forever, even beyond the reach of Congress, where slavery already existed.

The defeat of the Crittenden Compromise at the behest of the partisan Lincoln is a major tragedy of world history, and more bitterly so because slavery was not extending into the West. There were few slaves in the West after being open to slavery for 10 years.

Esteemed historian David M. Potter writes that the Crittenden Compromise had widespread support from Southerners as prominent as Robert Toombs as well as strong support in the North and West, and “if these conclusions are valid, as the preponderance of evidence indicates, it means that when Lincoln moved to defeat compromise, he did not move as the champion of democracy, but as a partisan leader.”

Potter’s choice of words is far too kind.

Abraham Lincoln was the first sectional president in American history.

Lincoln - Brady 1860 550 31K

Abraham Lincoln in 1860, the day of his Cooper Union speech. Photo by Matthew Brady.

Around 60.1% of the electorate voted against him. The loser in the next five presidential elections got more popular votes than Lincoln.

Of the total 4,682,069 votes cast in 1860, Lincoln received 1,866,452, which is 39.9%.

The eighteen states voting for him were all above the Mason-Dixon line plus California and Oregon. He received no electoral votes in fifteen of the thirty-three states. His name was not even on the ballot in ten Southern states. Lincoln’s opponents together totaled 2,815,617, which was almost a million votes more than he got.

Potter makes it clear that Lincoln had absolutely no voter mandate to not compromise with the South at this critical juncture in our country’s history. With a large majority of voters, excluding slavery from the territories was a non-issue. Potter writes:

[A] majority, not only of the voters as a whole, but even of the voters in states which remained loyal to the Union, regarded the exclusion of slavery from the territories as non-essential or even undesirable, and voted against the candidate who represented this policy. When Lincoln was inaugurated, the states which accepted him as President were states which had cast a majority of more than a half a million votes against him, and even when the outbreak of war caused four more states to join the Confederacy, the remaining Union still contained a population in which the majority of the electorate had opposed the Republican ticket.

Potter notes that part of Lincoln’s uncompromising position was political fear that any compromise on slavery in the territories, after campaigning on it, meant the dissolution of the Republican Party, which was made up loosely of so many diverse groups of non-related voters such as those who wanted a tariff or bounty or subsidy for their business, or free land, or were Northern racists who didn’t want blacks near them in the West.

It is a tragedy of unfathomable proportion that Lincoln killed the Crittenden Compromise.

The Crittenden Compromise would have prevented the war and 800,000 deaths and over a million wounded, and would have given the country time to work on ending slavery.

Most other nations on earth, as well as the Northern States, used gradual, compensated emancipation to end slavery.

The Northern capital, Washington, DC, freed its slaves a year into the war with compensated emancipation, which proves slavery could have been abolished quickly and bloodlessly if the will had been there, North and South.

It is a regrettable fact, but slaves were property and governments that wanted to end slavery in their countries were glad to compensate slaveowners for the loss of their property.

It is not just racial either. One of the largest slaveowners in South Carolina was William Ellison, the famous cotton gin maker in Sumter County, who was black. There were a lot of black slaveowners and I’m sure they would want to be compensated along with whites.

Wm Ellison

William “April” Ellison, Jr., successful African American, owned 60 slaves. He died Dec. 5, 1861.

 

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