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After I get done with this silly game tie-in trilogy, and a couple of other books I anticipate next month, I think I might do a horrible thing. I want to ground myself better in the deep antebellum, evolution of the Second Party System, all that stuff. There are two major recent surveys, Sean Wilentz's Rise of American Democracy and Daniel Walker Howe's What Hath God Wrought.
I understand that Howe's is by a fair margin the superior work. Wilentz is one of those throwbacks to "only white guys matter" history and his Whiggish (teleological Whiggish, not Whig Party Whiggish...very much the opposite) rendition pretty much demands he ignore the deeply racialized nature of Jacksonian Democracy. Howe wrote in part as answer to him, but Howe himself is possibly a bit too anti-Jackson and overfond of John Quincy Adams.
So they both have different things to offer and I'll be better for reading both. Probably together. But they're both as much weapons as books, huge things it would take forever to get through. (I tend to read history fairly slowly.) I desperately don't want to spend the next six months on the project. Therefore, I need to plan it. Neither one has Freehling's merciless 50+ page chapters, so I might organize them on a chapter a day thing. Probably with some post-reading writeups.
This is a terrible idea. Talk me out of it. Or into it.
Totes McScrotes wrote:
I thought Louisiana was the exception, due to the Napoleonic Code and creole system of slavery (slaves were paid a wage, though a small one and could eventually purchase their own freedom - at least in theory). Delphine LaLaurie infamously was sued over how horrifically she treated her slaves. Seriously, don't Google her.
I'm not familiar with the particulars of Delphine LaLaurie or the LA slave code, but a lot of Louisiana's rep comes from French holdovers in the culture. There was a social space for prosperous free blacks (often biracial and somewhat set up by their rich white fathers) somewhere above slaves but below whites.
In Haiti such people formed a bloc that wanted their rights as free and equal Frenchmen as much as they wanted to keep their slaves. One of those things that reminds you white people invented and imposed blackness. Unless I've badly remembered what I read about the Haitian Revolution a few years back, which is possible.
Totes McScrotes wrote:
This is some really nasty stuff. http://www.history.org/history/teaching/slavelaw.cfm The Casual Killing Act really stuck out.
And Virginia's slave code was of a somewhat more moderate cast than those which prevailed in the Lower South. (The Upper South and Border States generally had Virginia-inspired codes. The Lower looked to South Caroina's example.) Here's Georgia's, as quoted by William & Ellen Craft in their narrative:
The Crafts wrote:
Such laws presented a minor procedural difficulty, of course. Slaves could not really give testimony to a court. The court must then either take the white man's word or find some kind of white witness to events. Most of the time they didn't bother. If you killed someone else's slave you might face some kind of civil suit for damages.
As a practical matter, if some white person pleaded slave resistance or revolt they were usually taken at their word. Especially during one of the periodic panics. In one of those, you'd usually see slaves tortured for evidence of conspiracies that would then turn up conspirators, rinse and repeat. It creates a problem in the historiography since we can't entirely trust the information we have about this or that conspiracy, but it's usually the only information we have about it. How many were real conspiracies, how many exaggerated, and how many were pure panic. I'm not familiar with all the details, but I understand that the Denmark Vesey conspiracy is one of the larger bones of contention. David Brion Davis, one of the big name slavery historians of the past fifty years, confesses he's changed his mind on it at least twice.
Totes McScrotes wrote:
If Cuba tried to starve it out, we'd probably treat that as an act of war too. That's what SC and then the CSA were trying to do. Then they fired on an unarmed ship chartered by the US Navy, well before Lincoln took office. In the technical sense, if the war didn't begin with SC's ordinance of secession (or a few, erm, irregularities before) then it began then. But the Buchanan administration didn't opt to treat it that way because the Old Public Functionary (his real nickname) believed that both secession and resistance of secession were unconstitutional.
Why is it called the civil war? It sounds like it was anything but...
It's the standard term for such struggles. It's civil as in "civil strife," not civil as in "everyone is polite."
James Ford Rhodes decided that was the best name back in the early 1900s. Before that, it went by several other names. The Late Unpleasantness was one. Official documents had largely converged on The War of the Rebellion.
The Constitution gives electoral votes to states, with no further direction than they need to vote for President and VP. South Carolina just had the legislature vote every four years, which was more common earlier on but by 1860 they were the only ones who still did so routinely. More often it happened when a new state lacked the time or cash to run an election.
Orfamay Quest wrote:
If Old Man Travers was rich enough, then yes. One of the norms was that if you wanted to lynch someone or otherwise run him out of town (in the antebellum, political lynching focused on whites) was that you were supposed to let them go if they made it across the county line. Then he became someone else's problem. There are exceptions, including times when someone was seized by people in one county and taken to the next over to lynch them. William Phillips was taken from Leavenworth across the river to Missouri for his tar & feathering, riding on a rail, shaving, and auctioning by a free black man for a half cent. But that wasn't the norm. When you crossed the county line, you had a different group of local players.
Right, I set out to write about elections and got something else. Let's call that bonus content. Here's how an election worked in 19th century America:
You would go to your polling place. They'd have a ballot box set up. A number of officers would be present to run the polls. Usually the officers were themselves prominent men in the community. If the officers didn't all appear, or refused to serve, then the people on the scene would elect replacements. The judges of the election would have a list of qualified voters to check you against. If you didn't appear on the list, they could let you vote anyway if they recognized you and/or if you swore an oath that you were qualified.
But wait, there's more: You provided your own ballot. You would use one pre-printed by a party, with all the correct votes included. (If the party didn't have a printer willing to take its business in your area, you were out of luck.) Parties customarily printed their ballots on different colors of paper and in different sizes, so it was really obvious who voted for whom. AND on election day a fair number of people would just hang out around the polls. Often there's only one place in a county (or sometimes more) so people come from some distance away and usually want to have a good time while present rather than running straight home. So everybody knows how you voted and if it wasn't correctly, you could be in a world of pain. The crowd might attack you or obstruct your path to the polling place. They could outright attack you. By converse, people who voted correctly could sail right through. In one case I've read about (in Kansas where there were a lot of election shenanigans) they actually picked a proslavery voter (the "correct" vote in this case) and carried him on their hands over the crowd blocking the polls from antislavery voters. Then he pulled out the wrong color of ballot and they were less happy with him.
Orfamay Quest wrote:
You have it right, basically. The 3/5 Compromise involved congressional apportionment, and though it electoral votes, not individual ballots. The math was done after the fact and then seats assigned at the state level. States would then cut up the districts how they liked, with essentially no national involvement until the Civil Rights Era. Some even did it all at large. Then the Warren Court stepped in.
This led to things like states refusing to redraw their districts in order to keep the more enslaved areas safely in control of the state government. In some cases, districts would not be redrawn for decades. Some states opted to elect everything at large. It was kind of a mess. Virginia was pulling tricks like agreeing to make voting easier to please white belt yeomen, but then keeping their districts based on a census from back when the heavily enslaved areas had the majority of the population.
Paladin of Baha-who? wrote:
That's true, what actually established the existence of the United States was the articles of confederation and the treaty with Britain that ended the war and recognized the new nation.
This is the case. European states refused to deal openly with the United States while they were engaged in nothing more than insurrection (since that's a bad precedent for them at home) and no way in hell were they going to do treaties with thirteen separate polities. Once they got together in the Confederation, then Europeans could say they were intervening in a war between proper states rather than supporting dirty traitors. ...even as they supported dirty traitors. The Declaration isn't entirely irrelevant in all of that, but it's still a purely rhetorical document. It was also not a major feature of American patriotic or constitutional thought in the antebellum. That revolved more around memory of the Revolution and details of the Constitutional form of government.
The Articles specified that the union they created was perpetual. The Constitution, as an improvement of and inheritor to the Articles union, carried over the permanence. That's the basic nugget of the anti-secessionist argument, though we can go into a lot more details. It's a bit complicated to study because one can't read 1860 back into the Constitutional Convention or any of that. It's a different set of players and, mostly, circumstances.
However, we do have founders telling each other in private letters that they understood ratification as an unconditional and permanent act (in toto and forever, in Madison's phrasing) on the part of states. They also deliberately chose to repose sovereignty in the people (We, the) rather than the states. This was a line of attack Patrick Henry took in opposing ratification, as it happens.
I'm slightly gunshy to call the old South aristocratic because the word has certain historiographical baggage. The argument used to be that the South was fundamentally, self-consciously aristocratic and white Southerners with money modeled themselves on British country squires. They aimed to emulate 18th century politics and resisted the democratic movements of the 19th century. All of that is true...of particular parts of the South. It's very true of South Carolina's antebellum politics (obnoxiously so and to the point where it was a serious detriment to less radical SC pols in the 1830s), for example, and somewhat true of Tidewater Virginia's, but out in the Southwest you have a very different situation and even where the old ways allegedly prevail there's often a fair bit of tension and pushback from the less well-off whites. This manifests in things like SC getting out ahead of the pack in opening up its elections to poorer whites, something VA didn't get around to in full until the 1850s. Also the aristocracy argument is often tied up with the idea that the South was not capitalist, which is often untrue even in its hoariest corners. They could play at money not mattering to them, but if they wanted to hold on to it then they had to spend time with the books.
That said: there was certainly patronage. Quite a lot, in fact. It was a norm in the black belts that the major planters would in various ways look after (if also down at) the poorer whites. Eugene Genovese made this point back in the 70s. He agreed with the Herrenvolk Democracy thesis but added patronage as a further factor in yeoman support for slavery. I've read the article in full (after misreading it a few years ago, if anyone wants to dig into my post history to point and laugh :)), and quoted at length from it back here. I don't know that Genovese used the term himself, but it reads like what I understand a patronage network to be. Services could include an education (usually law) and introductions around for promising young boys of limited means as well as direct loans of slaves and so forth. Back in the colonial era, you'd even see public works largely done by major enslavers.
Even in the more white democratic context of the Southwest and North, there's quite a bit of patronage going on. This is always an element of party politics, but back in the 19th century there was essentially no professional civil service. Everyone down to individual postmasters and customs officials could be reappointed when the presidency changed hands. Politicians would actively campaign to have people loyal to them back home rewarded with posts in exchange for votes and continued support. The Democrats were much better at this than the Republicans, and it's key to the formation of the modern party with Jackson and Van Buren. Van Buren took the patronage system that existed at the time, where one could fire the lot and replace them with supporters but never did, and flipped that around to being the virtual norm. I forget the numbers, but I think that it changed from less than half of all offices immediately turning over to 80 or 90% of them.
The Democracy was very effective at working new immigrant groups (mainly Irish and Germans in the antebellum) into the system through city machines, which would dispense services, social welfare, and the like in exchange for votes. The Whigs and Republicans had them too, if with far less immigrants, but before the war they were less institutionally powerful and more dependent on networks of loyal newspapers. (The most famous of these is Horace Greeley.) Some of that's down to lack of opportunity, what with all of four Whig presidents and two of them soon dead, one replaced by a guy the Whigs de-Whigged, but we should also factor in that the Whigs and Whigs-turned-Republicans had a stronger elitist tendency. Part of that's old inherited Federalist stuff, but Whiggery didn't spawn directly from the Federalists. They got their start as the "we hate Andy Jackson" club and developed an ideology in reaction to him that distrusted executive power and the small-d democratic trappings that Jackson associated himself with.
Offices for votes sounds corrupt to us, because it is. Except that everybody knew this was the score. There was little to no deception about it, though you see regular complaints about so-and-so going over because he was promised this or that. (My current favorite involves a guy in Kansas who was allegedly promised a cow.) Also anti-corruption campaigns tend to have an elitist tinge to them, at least in US history. Whatever the stated intentions, they usually end up focusing on how the "wrong" sort of people have gotten hold of power...and it's rarely about the wealthy or conflicts of interest. I think it's a bit telling that some of the pushback comes from old school Carolina reactionaries like Calhoun, who declared that spoilsmen would ruin the nation because their votes could be bought and, he was sometimes willing to say outright, would be bought in the South for votes against slavery. (Every major issue in the antebellum era seems to have had someone on the losing side complaining about traitors bought off with patronage.) Thus you had to reduce the national government to the most creaking, archaic, powerless thing it could possibly be. Then only men of disinterested virtue, who had bought themselves with plenty of slaves, would take an interest.
I think it's worthwhile to make a distinction, all this said, between old school patronage and new school patronage. In the model practiced in South Carolina and pre-Jackson, there's a lot more of the dispenser of patronage setting himself up as a better. By contrast, Jackson framed himself as very much as a common man's man. In the democratic style, you listened to your constituents and took their opinions carefully into account. In the elder frame, guys would go around proudly saying that they hoped their supporters never gave politics a spare thought. The most famous example of this is probably when a crowd denounced Alexander Hamilton for supporting Jay's Treaty with the UK (where the US essentially had to beg for things it was supposed to have at the end of the Revolution) and he eventually told them, if I remember it right, words to the effect that they had no right to have an opinion.
Claim: It's not about slavery because four slave states didn't secede!
This would only work if one thinks human motivation perfectly monistic. That underlies a lot of neo-Confederate arguments. People chose loyalty to a state or section, therefore they must always have had that loyalty. However, out in the real world people do change their loyalties over time and routinely hold many. The famous, and misleading, example is none other than Robert E. Lee, who we are told in popular memory opposed slavery (he did not, despite his most famous biographer's notorious lying on the subject) but chose to place his loyalty to his state over his other loyalties to the nation and to his alleged antislavery principles. As long as loyalties do not appear in conflict, one has no need to pick between them. When one does, one reveals one's paramount loyalties.
I said all of that so I could say this. Here are the percents of population enslaved in each, as of 1860:
By comparison, here are the Lower South states in order of secession ordinance:
The sectional average percent of population enslaved was 32.10%, to give you an idea. Only Texas comes in below and Texas was one of the two states in the late antebellum seeing a lot of plantation expansion into uncultivated lands yet. It did still happen in other places, but Texas and Arkansas were slavery's then-current frontiers. Anyway, you might notice a pattern. The states that seceded after Sumter have generally intermediate percentages enslaved, though Arkansas (the frontier, again) does come in lower than Texas at 25.52%.
Try to put yourself in the shoes of an average white guy in the antebellum South. In most of these states, at least a third of the population and more often half hates the crap out of you. You can pretend otherwise, but everyone can hear the screams when someone gets whipped. I submit that one needn't hold slaves personally in order to consider racial control an overriding concern in such circumstances.
Conversely, in the border states slavery is by no means much of a big deal. In Delaware, the overwhelming majority of black people are free. In Maryland, half are. In both cases they make up small parts of the population, generally concentrated in particular areas and leaving the rest of the state virtually free. (This pattern is broadly true in most slave states, but the relative balance of white and black belt population, and to some degree, political power, is the key. The interactions are very complicated. There are cases of clear slaveholder dominance, but also cases of white cooperation.) In this environment, slavery seems far more marginal, unimportant, and distant.
However, there is another issue in play.
Claim: Only 10% of Southerners owned slaves. The rest had no interest in slavery!
The 10% figure is sort of from the census. Slaveholders range from 0.65% of the white population (Delaware) to 9.16% (South Carolina, of course.) The average across the south is 5.17%. Taking just the Lower South (Cotton/Gulf states) the average is 7.03%. That’s tiny, right?
To explain why it’s not, I need to explain how the census was taken. A dude would walk up to your house on census day. He’d open up a big ledger with a preprinted form inside and start filling it out, head of household first. By 1860, he’d want the names of every white person living in the house, their sex, and age. He’d also want age, sex, and number for any non-white people as well as to class them as black or “mulatto” and slave or free. Free blacks would also have their names taken down. Slaves would not.
A household, called a family on the forms of the time, included everyone who lived on the property. Not just the legal owner, but also all the kids, relatives, white employees, slaves, etc. So imagine a slave labor camp on a hot summer day. There’s a staggering number of slaves around, but few enslavers live alone. They’ve got a wife, kids, relatives, and so forth living with them. These people don’t usually own slaves separately in a way we could see in the census data (We could see it in estate documents or inventories.) but they clearly benefit from the labor of the slaves that the man of the house (usually) owned. They’re not technically slaveholders, but they have as much investment in those slaves as the person who holds legal title does. Yet the census will only count one of them as a slaveholder.
What’s a better metric? The household count. It’s still not perfect. Really big enslavers usually had camps in multiple states and shuffled slaves between them regularly, so there’s a slight bias to double-count them, but only a minority of enslavers had so many as to do this. (However, they also controlled a majority of the enslaved people. Look at it just from the white POV and you’ll end up thinking slaves can’t have had it too bad since most only owned a few, but if you do the math it turns out the majority of people enslaved were owned by people who owned a lot of other people.)
What do the household numbers say? I have to make one other caution here. Short of having the census microdata (individual scanned pages of entries) on hand I can’t sort out the small number of black slaveholders. They aren’t numerous enough to really sway things, but do introduce a small bit of wiggle. The math itself is pretty simple. The census has total households and we can divide by the number of slaveholders, since the census would not generally resolve down to multiple slaveholders in a single household. We come out with a % of white families holding slaves:
South Carolina: 45.53%
Set aside the technicality and look at these numbers. That’s a lot of people, quite a bit more than the canonical 10%. As a practical matter, these people are all slaveholders. In the Lower South as a whole, 37.01% are. Upper South (generally slave-exporting states, bolted after Sumter) 24.58%. Border states? 12.87%. You can see the pattern. That doesn’t mean that the Upper South and Border States didn’t have heavily enslaved areas, but heavily enslaved in Missouri meant like 30% of a county’s population. In South Carolina it meant 85-95%.
Note that this does not include, as neo-Confederates sometimes claim, extended families of dozen-times removed cousins who live on the far side of the Moon. A family in census terms is a household, people who live together on the same property. Far more whites would have connections through more distant relatives who they might be personally close to and on good terms with, but you can’t sort out that from the census data.
Then we have more peripheral slaveholders. I think the household slaveholding makes a fair bit of intuitive sense, but a significant number of people actually rented or were loaned slaves from others. How many and when can be very hard to track, since this was often done by verbal agreement, but it was common enough to alarm some proslavery writers. They feared that by hiring slaves out you both made them seem a bit more like free whites in that they might get some kind of wage (even if the owner took most or all of it) and the whole business facilitated free-roaming black people. That seemed downright abolitionist.
Through slave rental and loaning, people who show up on the census as not holding slaves and not living in slaveholding families could still enjoy the proceeds of slave labor and participate in slave management in a direct, personal way. They could do the same if they could score a job as an overseer, where they would have personal charge of someone else’s slaves on an ongoing basis. Overseers got looked down on a bit, but the job was a great way for you to start down the road to owning your own slave labor camp and looking down on your own overseer.
But wait, there’s more! If you want to do well in the South, you don’t have a lot of options. By far the easiest way to make money was to plant a cash crop. Of course farmers don’t get rich by planting the same small field over and over again. They do it by getting more land than they had and growing more stuff for more money. That requires more hands. White labor demands pay, which can be a serious issue in cash-strapped areas. (Even well-off enslavers could be cotton and slave rich but cash poor.) Furthermore wage labor is looked down upon so any whites you hire will probably want out. They probably have their own dreams about making it big, which might involve a trip to points west where land is cheaper. And even the white labor you can get will not accept treatment like a slave must endure, which in the long run is going to make it less efficient. (Torture of slaves increased crop yields.) So your best option is to get some slaves. If you can’t afford them outright, then you might enter into a renting arrangement with a local enslaver, or he might buy a slave sort of on your behalf and let you use the slave until you can sell a crop or two to make good.
Want more? There’s more. Through infrequently enforced, every slave state had at least for a period of time a slave patrol. This would be like a local militia company, where able-bodied white men were expected to serve some time. Their job? Go around the area looking for slaves out without passes, evidence of slave conspiracies, and so forth. If they found such a thing, or thought they did, they were obligated to intervene and see to it. Usually with violence. So we have still more people involved personally with managing slaves and consequently more inclined to rationalize and accept the business than they might otherwise be.
And there’s still more. You know those slave patrols? Those are just a semi-formal to formal enforcement arm of the slave codes that empowered every white to do the same and authorized “correction” up to and including whipping. You could legally whip someone else’s slave if you caught him or her doing something you fancied suspicious. Most anybody, especially in highly-enslaved areas, could experience the pleasure of slaveholding at least in limited ways.
This is all, of course, before you get into the real ideological stuff about how blacks “need” slavery and how their revolts would cause a race war that destroyed everyone. It’s even before the real social capital that even the poorest white man in the South could expect by dint of his skin. For some, it was clearly all they had. For others, it might not go over as well as the enslavers hoped but they still had a dramatic example of the nigh-infinite gulf between their rights as a free white man and a slave. It was a real thing, felt and seen day to day and really did, if not to the degree that large enslavers would have liked, unite the white south as a single class. We call it Herrenvolk Democracy: by making others slaves, the floor and mudsills beneath them, they elevated themselves.
Not everyone went along, of course. We see resistance by whites in less enslaved areas, even to some degree in South Carolina, but we should not take this resistance as a static thing. Whites who loathed the planters because their presence would bring in blacks to the neighborhood would unite with them against “outsiders” who seemed bent on racial armageddon or, in some cases worse, placing the black man above the white. Hostility to things like internal improvements should be understood in this light. Build roads and the enslavers will come with their slaves, so better keep the roads and enslavers both out.
Where does slaveholding end and the opposite begin? Nowhere in particular. It's a continuum that actually extends well into the North. Who do you think owned the ships that moved the cotton?
One thing I want to pull out here. (There will be more, but this is what I feel like writing about right now. :) )
What federal law is Lincoln supposed to have enforced on South Carolina over its objections and thus justified its secession? And to what end? I ask because SC attempted its rebellion until December 20, 1860. Lincoln did not take office until March 4, 1861.
Furthermore, this line of argument assumes it's clear that some kind of right of secession existed in the antebellum United States. That is by no means clear and was intensely controversial at the time, with Disunion being treated more as a calamity one must avoid than a practical step one must take until quite late in the antebellum. (Arguably, right up to December of '60.) If secession is not legal, then it is rebellion and the survival of the government in itself fully explains the effort to suppress it. States that allow rebellion cease to be states.
This is something that antebellum Americans, including some white Southerners, knew very well. If states really were superior to the federal government, able to ignore its laws at will, then the federal government was meaningless and wholly impotent to carry out even its most basic functions. If one party could bolt over no greater travesty than losing an election fair and square (and that's what the Lower South did, essentially) then any state could do it at any time. Every state thus gains an absolute veto and the Union becomes Poland, wiped off the map. So would pass what they imagined as the world's last, best hope for freedom in a dark age of monarchical tyranny.
The question of what law ought to prevail was, in fact, an open and shut case. They decided it at Philadelphia when wigs and knee-breeches were still in fashion. No one contested that, least of all the antebellum South. We hear from them no raging protests when Roger Taney informed the state of Wisconsin that it had no power to nullify the fugitive slave law, to list just one example.
Either way, if the "American Exceptionalists" have their way, this and any other story which doesn't paint America as "exceptional" and blessed in virtue, will be whitewashed out of the educational system.
Indeed. I've read complaints from a teacher in Texas that he's required to teach American Exceptionalism, which forces him to do a combination of misleading kids and leaving out important facts because he doesn't want to get fired. That's what one has to call "working as designed."
More Nullification Dorkery...very long:
Chapter 4: Qualified Nationalism to Qualified Sectionalism 1816-27
SC gentleman: democrat with reservations. Only for right kind of republic: the kind with the rich enslaver in charge. Accepted democracy in sense that plebs could choose which aristo to rule them. James Hamilton, Jr: “the people expect that their leaders in whose … public spirit they have confidence will think for them-and that they will be prepared to act as their leaders think” (Very 18th century.)
SC constitution of 1790, with amendments, entrenched limited democracy ideas. White males with two years residence could vote for legislators, but they leg elected almost all rest of government from governor to taxman, plus senators (per US Constitution) and presidential electors. (This went on up through 1860.) To be legislator, must meet high property qualification. (Including slave property.) Lower class thus kept from office. Power uniquely focused on leg. of large propertied men, set policy for themselves to administer.
Apportionment contributed. Pre-upcountry plantations, lowcountry planters controlled most seats despite upcountry farmers outnumbering. Upcountry insisted on change, argued for 20 years+. 08 compromise: lowcountry gave due to pressure, but also because upcountry plantation development reduced differences, aligned sections and because actually needed make few concessions. Lowcountry parishes with tiny white population still controlled Senate, disproportionate influence in House.
Upcountry vs. lowcountry conflict still present in 20s, but lost urgency. 08 settled tempers, continued spread of plantations further aligned sections. Upcountry thought more like low, lowcountry less worried about sharing power. With state political class relatively united, easy to get together against outside foes in mostly lowcountry dominated crusades.
Features of SC politics ensure complete control by rich planters. Leg elections, only popular input, often uncontested. When contested, rarely gave clear choice of alternatives between party or policy. Even in leg, pols reject organized parties. Imagined coalitions would corrupt debates between “disinterested” leaders. Also a good party org might develop statewide ticket, make issues, encourage plebs to “overreach”. Demagogues would use “rabble”, bribing and lying their way into control and turn gov. into fight for patronage. Parties would end rule of rich and well-born, turn democracy against patricians.
Loose coalitions did happen, post 16, but many pols shunned faction entirely. Elections about personalities, not issues. (Reality TV politics.) Popular individuals with unpopular policies frequently win high office. Others obscure, but powerful because could charm peers rather than rely on programs, patronage. Narrative of SC politics 16-27 hangs on two factions developing and their issues, but neither entirely eclipsed “unorganized” coalitions that perpetuated as a matter of course.
Nation looked vulnerable, especially since Ghent looked like armistice rather than peace. In 16, looked like wars of past 25 years might reopen at any time.
SC liked the war, leading war hawks included Calhoun, William Lowndes, David R. WIlliams, Langdon Cheves. Pushed Madison for declaration. Calhoun, Lowndes still in congress in 16, natural leaders of postwar nationalism. (Calhoun’s understanding of embattled nation seems essentially the same as his of embattled SC slavery.) November 17, Calhoun joins Madison Cabinet as SecWar. Used position to advance nationalism, eyes on White House.
Major theme of age of Jackson: how nullification changed Calhoun’s career, then wrecked it. But before then, very much man on make. Son of moderately well-off enslaver, went to Yale, Litchfield Law, made fortune. In Congress before 30, running for presidency before forty. Married into money (contradiction with previous sentence in Freehling: C both made his money and married it). Ambitions factored into war hawk activity and nationalist enthusiasm. Cabinet post “just reward” for service accepted after agonizing indecision. From post, could realize major assumption: peace required strong army for deterrence. With post could also learn federal office with eyes on future advance and keep tabs on rivals JQ Adams SecState, William H. Crawford, SecTreas.
Description of Calhoun: tall, gangling, high cheekbones, deep-set burning brown eyes, unruly chesnut hair. Looked vigorous, “untouched by defeat or tragedy”. Sharp mind attuned to logic, but sensitive to pragmatism. Politics not yet all about abstractions. Easy to get along with, good talker, debater. JQ Adams: “above all sectional and factious prejudices more than any other statesmen of this Union with whom I have ever acted.” (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) Nationalism best for nation, state, and Calhoun’s career.
Case for nationalism built on national defense. Unstable currency made it hard to pay for war, so national bank. Poor roads poorly move armies, so internal improvements. Reliance on foreign factories dangerous when enemy controlled seas, so protective tariff. Weak militia invite attack, so strong national army.
Appeal in SC for strong government not unqualified or unlimited. Program always restricted by motives impelling. SC enslavers not financially into nationalist program. Roads and canals in state required no federal aid. National roads unlikely to reach state. Thus development more for other states than them.
But as long as projects “truly national”, SC nationalists all for them. Calhoun endorsed project to House. “Let us conquer space.” But perfect system required few big projects, no little local things which others signed on for and thought deserved national money. Early as 25, before SC states rights resolutions, Calhoun “vigorously” against “local”, “piecemeal” internal improvements.
SC nationalists tariff support even more qualified, directly about defense. SC export-based staple crop economy argued for free trade. Colonial rice oversupplied English markets, so SC got freedom to sell elsewhere. 1790, free trade so big that Pierce Butler told Congress tariff would produce disunion. SC endorsement of War of 12 partially about planter upset at Jefferson’s embargo, infringement on freedom of seas. Postwar not inclined to throw away victory in high tariffs.
Historians “long assumed” SC supported tariff in 16 with eye to making own textile factories, but argument no more than faith in economic causation of everything. SC documents on subject never hint of SC turn to factories. Rep. William Mayrant, factory owner, could have benefitted from rates, but he was exception. By 16, SC giving up on textile factories, abandoning them in favor of more cotton fields. Considered economic interests best served by low tariff.
Calhoun, Lowndes for tariff of 16, but very clear on defense alone justifying it. Paying off debt and raising army required high taxes. Also chance of war with naval power required domestic manufactoring.
Dues moderate, which helped sell the tariff. While protective, actually too low to do job. Cottons, woolens set at 25%, automatic reduction to 20 in 19. But SC in congress votes heavily to chop those immediately to 20, cut iron in half. When efforts fail, SC delegation supports tariff 4-3, two abstaining.
In context of traditional free trade, vote on 16 tariff illustrates special commitment to postwar nationalism. But also a close vote and nationalists tried for lower rates. Even at high tide, lots of misgivings about mild protection.
SC strongly against higher tariff 4 years later, nationalists included. Proposed Baldwin Tariff of 20, passed House but died in Senate, would put cotton, woolen to 33.33%. Lowndes spoke against, SC voted against almost to a man. In Charleston, Robert Y. Hayne, rising young nationalist, led public protest. Calhoun also openly opposed.
But early 20s nationalists in SC didn’t think antitariff meant anti-nationalist. High tariffs, like piecemeal improvements, not understood as truly national. Not general welfare, someone else’s specific welfare. Would cause “jealousies” and “hostilities”. Risked peace and harmony of Union. (They should know, since they had the jealousy and hostility.)
Most SC enslavers all on board for Calhoun-Lowndes nationalism. For the war, pleased by patriotism after peace, enjoying economic boom, SC men high in Congress, Cabinet. State and nation seemed to have same destiny, with program designed to ward off foes without risking Southern interests. Everyone all happy together.
Consensus had one dissenter, most dedicated states rights man of the era: William Smith, Senator.
Smith: born 1762, educated Mt. Zion College, spent youth “gay young blade”. Then married and got ambitious. Judge in 08, Jeffersonian and “somewhat tyrannical but scrupulously fair”. In 16, elected to Senate as upcoutry man, defeating James J. Pringle of Charleston.
In washington, Smith got attention of Senate visitors. Fat, medium height, but angelic face, wide-eyed, innocent stare. Appearance deceiving. In age of fiery personal controversy, stood second to none “in the malignity with which he carried on a personal attack.” Rude, sarcastic in public, ill-natured, insolent in private, turned petty slights into lifetime feuds. Pols avoided getting on his bad side.
Maybe jerk, but also most committed ideologue in politics. Calvinistic faith in Constitution and states rights, spoke with evangelical fervor. When Jefferson drifted toward nationalism, took as political calamity and dedicated career to turning back clock. Cross between brawling frontiersman and Bible-belt divine.
Smith only in congress a few months before going anti-Calhoun. More than 20 years Cal’s senior, expected JC to defer to him. Also might have expected to be appointed minister to Russia, but did not get job. Other guy might have gotten on Calhoun’s recommendation. Cal ignored Smith, rose to greater prominence. By 18, Smith set on destroying Cal’s career.
Smith built up band of supporters, especially in upcountry east of Congaree. Thomas Cooper, David R. Williams, Stephen D. Miller, Josiah Evans. By 21, engaged in lively debate on C+L nationalism. But Lowndes and Hayne rival Smith & Cooper in denouncing 20 tariff. Bank not big in SC in 20s. Biggest disputes between factions over internal improvements, broad construction of Constitution.
CL nationalists supported a few roads for military, but rejected local appropriations in fear of economic consequences to SC. Smith, et al, consider the whole thing illegitimate and local. Smithites didn’t think roads would ever be of important military value. National schemes would only suck away enslaver profits. State had no need for federal aid, so all money leaving and none coming in. With improvements costing money, debt would grow. This justified higher tariffs, which in turn enabled more projects. At best, “onerous” present tariffs remain in force. At worst, higher duties in future.
Debate over improvements turned, as most early 19th c arguments between nationalists and sectionalists, into constitutional debate. Smith, Calhoun agree that compact gave up some state power to feds, reserved rest for use of states. Powers included enumerated, but also vague, elastic prerogatives. Power to raise armies clear, but authority to tax, provide for common defense, general welfare, ambiguous. Necessary and proper even more debatable.
Broad guys like Calhoun considered elastic clauses to give Congress new authority for new problems. Common defense, general welfare justified any truly national purpose. Necessary, proper gave Congress ability to do anything connected with enumerated powers. Congress could charter bank or finance improvements because bank would help collect taxes and roads further common defense.
Strict Smithites held Congress had only expressly enumerated powers, elastic clauses no source of authority. List is exhaustive in ways Congress could promote general welfare, national defense. Necessary proper only allowed means indispensibly needed to carry out enumerated powers. No bank because you could tax without one, no roads because no authority to appropriate money to build them.
SC nationalists think strict construction made Const sterile, confining, took from gov. creative ability to solve new problems in new ways necessary for nation to endure. Smithites (subject of rest of paragraph) thought broad destroyed essence of government, threatened power of states. Constitutions in general to restrain majorities, US in particular to check encroachments on states. If majority in Congress could exercise any power if claimed related to listed, the Constitution at mercy of majorities instead of checking. Feds could take rights states never surrendered.
(Smithite view is more or less right-leaning pop culture consensus on things, but worth noting that it had serious critics and was not universal at time.)
16-23, Smith made little progress against improvements or broad construction in SC> Smithite Pleasant May tried to turn anti-tariff positions into broad construction opposition, put up resolution in 20 to state House, declaring protective tariffs unconstitutional. Committee reported against and sustained by House. Committee admitted tariff “premature and pernicious” but clearly among powers expressly given over by states. Committee further deplored “the consequences likely to result from the practice, unfortunately become too common, of arraying upon questions of national policy, the states as distinct and independent sovereigns, in opposition to, or what is much the same thing, with a view to exercise control over, the General Government.” Year later, committee helmed by Hamilton sees no danger from exercise of Congress powers. SC leg used Smithite principles as toilet paper, basically.
Smith had little support in SC. But got backing of William H. Crawford in Washington. Obscure dude now, but seemed leading figure then. Good looking, big guy, coarse manner, politically shrewd. Became senator, minister to France, SecWar, SecTreas, came close to winning (Democratic- because 19th century political nomenclature is evil) Republican nomination in 16. Monroe’s SecTreas, bent on making it to big chair.
Smith-Crawford alliance inevitable. Both had similar principles on states rights, hated Calhoun. Crawford saw as presidential rival, wanted to take SC out from under him. Smith wanted SC patronage from Crawford administration to break Cal. (Bitter old dude vs. bitter old dude: Fight!)
Crawford alliance injects more ibtterness into biggest feud in Washington. Crawford won presidency in 20s, and he seemed likely, then Calhoun’s immediate prospects limited. Nation would not love two deep south men on ticket. However, if Cal lost to JQ Adams, Clay, or Andrew Jackson, could join administration as way forward. (Which he did. Twice.)
C-C struggle over Cal’s army plans. SecWar wanted big army. Treas wanted tight economy, small army. War of 12 showed need for prepardness, gave Cal advantace. But Panic of 19 made demand for low taxes, gave Crawford opening. Need for retrenchment, danger of standing armies talking points for cutting army in half and blocking several Monroe’s army appointments. Suck it, Calhoun.
Smith going in with Crawford made him less popular in SC. Crawford group themselves admitted most of SC saw him as “a sort of unfeeling monster.” As son of Georgian frontier, also seen as uncouth brawler to lowcountry types. Opposing army soon after war made him seem like a serious danger, ready to sacrifice nation for his personal power. SC thus preferred an SC nationalist like Calhoun or Lowndes. Smithites connected to Crawford harmed them in SC, especially when SC chose nationalist Hayne to oppose him in 22 senate election.
Profile of Hayne: fast riser, like Clahoun. Born 1791 to respected but impoverished Colleton family. Grew up in Beaufort, studied law in Charleston when family could not afford to sent him to college. (SC has some weird pronunciation of Beaufort. I think like Buford? Kirth?) Hayne ambitious, good at “practical enterprise” did well in law. Family connections made it easy for him to set up as a lowcountry gentleman.
Breeding + hard work put him in aristocracy fast, very Horatio Alger. studied under Langdon Cheves, Charleston’s richest lawyer. Admitted to bar before 21, immediately took over Cheves huge business when he left for Congress of 1812. Next year married a Pinckney, daughter of Charles, rice planter and lowcountry leader. Before 23, inherited one of town’s biggest law businesses, married to one of richest heiresses. After first wife died, remarried to another rich heiress, Rebecca Motte Alston.
Political success too. First in leg in 14, at head of Charleston ticket, relected every two years until 18, when sent to speakership and then made attorney general. Boyish looking, looked very part of exuberant young nationalist. Gestured too much, spoke too fast, sometimes analyzed too sloppily. Practical, not philosophical, sometimes lost way in metaphysical arguments. Defect became apparent when he debated Webster in 30. (He’s the Hayne of “Reply to Hayne”.)
Not into theory, also not good at political management. Always gentleman type, not into party intrigue, demagogy, aloof even to members of own party. Politics solid, not brilliant, after clash with Webster faded into obscurity. But still on the rise in 22, very attuned to lowcountry moods. Ideal guy to knock Smith out of Senate.
Election early climax of nationalist-Smith fight, comes with bitter campaign. Took place in leg, not hustings, as usual. Voters almost never trusted with choice between Smithite or Hayne candidate. Leg gathered, soon clear Hayne couldn’t be beaten against economic nationalism and for Crawford. In last days before election, Smithites tried to deny Crawford connection. No one bought it. Votes for Hayne, 91-74. Nationalists displace states rights man in Senate. Smith traveled country denouncing partisanship of SC press, vowing revenge on Calhoun.
Lowndes nod blow to Calhoun, smells like Smith must have played part. However, looks like Smithites boycotted vote. Conflict between lowcountry (Lowndes) and upcountry (Calhoun) nationalists. Older tidewater/piedmont stuff still going on. Lowndes men: Hamilton, Hayne, Daniel Huger, William Drayton, all turn Calhounite after Lowndes dies in 22. Disagreement on men, not principles. 48-54 for Lowndes, then unanimous resolve that nominee should skip sectionalism be “Brought forth truly, strongly, and indubitably as well as the NATIONAL CANDIDATE”
Aside Lowndes, other pointers to personality-driven SC politics. Speer upcountry faction ignores national issues, men, all about cutting state budget to cut taxes. Charleston had 3 factions, none pledged for Crawford until late 24. Mercury Junto, after the paper, for Lownedes, Calhoun, then Jackson for president. Courier party, after paper, mercantile and neo-Federalist, JQ Adams. Geddes faction, with former Gov John Geddes, for Clahoun and considered Jcakson before going Crawford in 24. Pre-23 politics about qualified economic nationalism, firm opposition to Crawford, no parties per se.
Congress of 24, industrialists gurned by defeat of 20 tariff and foreign competition want protection. South objects, but protection wins. Woolen, cotton rates go from 25% to 33.3%, other dutues up proprotionate.
24, like 20, nationalists lead anti-tariff fight. Henry L. Pinckney’s Charleston Mercury suggests non-importation. Rep. McDuffie, Hamilton, Sen. Hayne speak against tariff. By 24, SC nationalists had developed argument against protection that would carry into nullification:
Assumptions all Adam Smith: left alone to pursue self-interst would inevitably further general interest. Invisible hand would point way to best for themselves and economy. If factories really better, they would profit more and so be created more. If not, then not and state could not save them. Protecting the inefficient prevented capitalists from doing better, slowed growth.
If tariff hurt whole economy, then could ruin enslavers. Protection was to prevent foreign underselling, but forced planters to buy goods at tariff-boosted prices. Others might hope better income would even out. Manufacturers, sugar planters, lead miners all expect better income. Laborers might get better wages, farmers more for food. But SC barely sold any staple crops domestically. No benefit for them.
Tariff would inevitably destroy foreign demand for rice, cotton. Retaliatory tariffs on US products could come. Even if not, they’d buy rice and cotton elsewhere and not sell goods to US market. England would get cotton from Brazil, Egypt. Best case, Europe buys staples at lower price. Worst, no foreign market at all. (And then your investment in slavery is underwater.)
By 24, threat of war fading and SC economy bad. Tariff would make things worse. Upland cotton already hard up. Also decline in wagon trade for merchants, retailers in Charleston. Lowcountry cotton enslavers didn’t yet know could escape upcountry glut with better techniques. Producers statewide fear loss of British market.
But 24 opposition tame compared to later. Calhounites say new tariff, not old ones, would make things worse. Nobody blames old duties. Hamilton, Hayne, make brief argument against tariff on constitutional grounds, but mostly an afterthought. McDuffie ended antitariff speech with patriotism. If Congress passed tariff: “I shall, as bound by my allegiance, submit to it as one of the laws of my country. I have endeavored, wtih zeal and fidelity, to discharge my duty as a Representative. I trust I shall never be found wanting in my duty as a citizen.” Lots of public meetings fall 24 not against tariff, but to jump on Andy Jackson bandwagon. Jackson pro-tariff.
One lowcountry guy did not agree. In House, Charles Pinckney of Charleston made big anti-Compromise speech. Leader in lowcountry for generation+, had been prominent in Constitutional Convention. Insisted Founders gave congress no authority over slavery. (He was there!) Settlement on Missouri unimportant small potatoes against keeping Congress hands off slavery. If Congress set precedent for hands-on, where would it end? (Northwest Ordinance doesn’t real?)
In 20, most SC for compromise, not Pinckney. Antislavery seemed weird aberration, soon over. Vesey changed that in 22, lots of second thoughts about slavery debates. Seemed clear “zeal” of NE gave Vesey the idea straight from Missouri debates. Pinckney ideas lowcountry dogma by 23. Whitemarsh Seabrook in mid020s “whoever remembers the inflammatory speeches on the Missouri bill, must be aware, that no subject, in which the question of slavery may be directly or incidentally introduced, can be canvassed, without the most malevolent and serious excitement.”
Anxiety post-22 over antislavery often about revolts. However, few thought insurrection would prevail. But conspiracies that failed seemed reasonable. Lowcountry slaves not clearly assimilated, huge majority, easily led by Gullah Jacks, easy enough to rise up again and again. Constant upheaval would make for scary place to live.
Also, numerous revolts could demoralize community. Revolts undermine paternalistic master, happy slave narratives. Even loyal servants would produce fear, hands reaching for whips more often. Revolt had unique power to sweep aside delusions, force facts. Also Congress debates could raise questions about permanency, morality of slavery, thus eroding confidence and undermining fight against antislavery. (Freehling anticipates part of his argument in Road.)
SC leaders in 20s stress confident issue as crucial economic deal. Worries about safety, moraltiy, permanency could induce enslavers to sell. Wave of acutions would drop prices, bankrupt enslavers who relied on selling a few for liquidity in face of debts. Universal bankruptcy would shake southern morale, give abolitionists victory. Thus small number of fanatics would snowball South into rolling over for freedom.
SC thought Constitution “Ark of the Covenant” (Hayne quote.) Only source of safety. Slavery clearly within reserved rights, Congress explicitly restricted authority of Congress to delegated powers, thus is Constitution to be preserved, could never get hands on slavery. Thus no compromise, ever.
Extreme constitutional commitment turned Hayne, Pinckney, other lowcountry nationalists into perverse broad constructionists. Many clauses, read generously, gave Congress power to debate slavery. William Smith: If Congress can appropriate for general welfare, why can’t Yankee majority appropriate to abolish? After 22, any nod toward antislavery turned lowcountry to strict construction.
After VEsey, overriding goal of Charleston: keep slaves from contact with “incendiary” ideas. Slavery debates most important way slaves got contact with idea of freedom. (Yeah, right.) Also worried about slave contact with black seamen from outstate.
Seaman issue came from Yankee, foreign ships docking at Charleston for days. In 22, black sailors who came ashore could do what they liked. Invited contact between black Yankee abolitionists, slaves. Even let Haitians walk unhindered through Charleston.
Gentry had long suspicion of sailors. Ever since enslavers by 100s came to Charleston to escape revolt, SC had strong memory of Haitian revolution. Vesey using West Indies as example for his revolt did not help. Vesey allegedly suggested Haitians would come over, kill all the whites if they rose up. One guy tried. Monday Gell, participant in Vesey conspiracy, admitted tried to get help from Haitian government via letters carried by black sailors.
Concern about sailor agitation got SC leg, to enact law requiring all black sailors seized, mailed while ships in port, Dec 22. From start, made trouble with feds. Law broke treaties with UK that gave inhabitants reciprocal free access to ports. Early 23, UK protests to SecState JQ Adams. JQ possibly got a suspension out of Charleston. By mid-23, sailors freely moving about.
Lowcountry enslavers not happy about suspension. July 24, 23, meet up in St. Andrew’s Hall, Charleston, in “one of most revleaing events of the period”. Form SC Association. Big Enslavers become officers, auxiliaries throughout lowcountry. Became permanent part of prewar SC establishment, constant watch over slaves and source of radicalism.
Main job of SC Association: insist authorities enforce antiblack laws. Members formed permanent standing committees for day to day supervision of BLack Codes. Close eye on slaves, demand arrests for slightest thing. Committees report back at annual meetings, well-attended, great social event for Charleston. Continued vitality of vigilante org shows best concern over revolts post-22.
SC Association barely formed before demanded sheriff enforce seamen law. Free Jamaican, Harry Eklinson, imprisoned until ship left town. He applied to Supreme Court Justice William Justice for habeas corups. Got immediate hearing. Arugment: Constitution’s Supremacy clause applies to treaties. He had treaty rights that the law violated. Thus unconstitutional.
Benjamin F. Hunt, Isaac E. Holmes argued for association. Admit breaking treaty, but argue treaty itself unconstitutional. Treaty power extended only to delegated powers, they say. States remain sovereign. Government that can’t protect against revolution no longer sovereign. Thus US action against state police power unconstitutional. Any law against servile insurrection busted all treaties. So there.
Johnson took technicality way out. Elkinson held under state law, SCOTUS has no power to issue writes except to federal prisoners. But then wrote dictum ripping apart SC argument. Const made federal law, treaties, supreme. If state could pass any law in defiance of feds, whenver deemed necessary, then state law became supreme. “Where is this to land us? Is it not asserting the right in each state to throw off the federal constitution at its will and pleasure?” (Spoiler: Yes and always.)
Decision caused sensation. Seabrook’s take: SC has no right to enact laws against corruption, insubordination of slaves. Other Charlestonian: decision recalls Haiti, remembers how Haiti got the way it is by a distant government interfering with slavery.
SC ignored decision, British protests continue. In May, 24, Adams asks US Attorney-General William Wirt for opinion on law. Wirt argued law broke treaty and Congress’ exclusive power to regulate commerce also. In July, Adams forwards UK proests, Wirt argument to SC Gov John L. Wilson, with request leg fix it.
SC leg chambers couldn't agree on tone to adopt, but agreed not to fix anything. Senate: “The duty of the state to guard against insubordination or insurrection … is paramount to all laws, all treaties all constitutions. It arises from the supreme and permanent law of … self-preservation; and will never, by this state, be renounced, compromised, controlled, or participated with any power whatever.” House: “The measures directed towards colored persons brought within the territory of this state are simply part of a general system of domestic police, defensible as such, and absolutely necessary to ensure the safety of the citizens.” SC kept on imprisoning despite protests. Hayne later cites successful nullification.
Johnson opinion, Adams letter raise nullification issues in SC for first time. In 23, SC rely on reserved rights of states to nullify federal treaty. In 32, SC used same to nullify federal law judged unconstitutional. Seamen Controversy served lowcountry as lesson in necessity of strict construction if feds to be kept off slavery. SC Association in 25: “The State Sovereignties-the ark to which we must ultimately look to our safety. Let it not be engulfed in the constructive powers of Congress.”
Ohio Resolutions of 24 further stressed broad construction danger. Jan 17, 24, Ohio suggests to states and Congress mild emancipation plan. Admitted slavery “national” evil urged mutual participation in removal. Capstone, requiring southern consent before federal action, national law freeing all slaves born after enactment when they turned 21 if agreed to foreign colonization. 8 other Northern states endorse Ohio. Six Southern denounce.
(Denouncers essentially committing to slavery forever, aren’t they? Refuse federal help even when contingent on Southern consent.
(Spot Research: Freehling doesn’t list which six. Cites Ames, State Documents on Federal Relations. PDF on Internet Archive. Stuff starts on 203 of orginal pagination, 219 BW PDF. Endorsers by June 25: PA, VT, NJ, DE, IL, IN, CT, MA. Opposers: GA: 12/7/24, SC 12/24, MO 1/22/25, MS 2/25 and 1/23/36 [presume an election between] LA 2/16/26, AL 1/1/27. Had to know. Subject of blog post?)
Implications of Ohio, like seamen, that feds could constitutionally go against slavery. At least, Congress could discuss before South gave ok. New debate might bring new revolts. Gov Wilson sent resolution with cover letter against Ohio: “a firm determination to resist, at the threshold, every invasion of our domestic tranquility.” Senate called Ohio “very strange and ill-advised communication” protested “any claim of right, of the United States, to interfere, in any manner whatever.” House called on Gov to tell Ohio leg “that the people of this state will adhere to a system, descended to them from their ancestors, and now inseparably connected with their social and political existence.”
By 24, SC enslavers have lots of reasons to flip on nationalism: OH resolutions, Seamen controversy, 24 tariff all seem pointed at vital interest. Danger of war less an issue, Vesey and depression further direct focus on insular issues. First time since 16, Smithites might gain ground.
Smithites take the openiong. Thomas Cooper writes Consolidation pamphlet vs. Calhoun nationalism. Stephen Miller puts up resolutions in State Senate for strict construction, declare protective tariff, internal improvements unconstitutional. David R. Williams supports, Senate passes over strong Calhounite protest. House tables Miller’s resolutions and Calhounite counter-resolutions by Samuel Prioleau, BIL of James Hamilton, Jr.
25 turned things around for resolutions. Congress appropriations up, more states endorse OH resolutions, Rufus King puts resolutions out in Senate for using land sales to fund compensated emancipation. (Vesey conspirators claimed King as a friend.) Seabrook pamphlet: A Concise View of the Critical Situation and Future Prospects of the Slaveholding States in Relation to their Colored Population told planters of upcoming danger. Most important: huge English cotton speculation drives prices to worst of decade. Upland down from 32 cents in June to 13 in Oct. White SC seemed under siege.
Leg meets at end of year. Smith, now in State House, calls up Miller resolutions from 24. Subsequently called Smith Resolutions. Days of debate, strong Calhounite protest, resolutions passed 73-28. Senate agrees 29-14.
Likely lowcountry went for strict construction more for slavery than tariff. Upcountry less fussed by seamen, more about tariff. Smithite speeches stress both. Smith argues general welfare clause brought tariff to enrich manufacturers on back of enslavers. Threatens when internal improvements done, North will tear apart government and make slaves into masters. (Always race war with these guys.)
National alliances of SC changing, opening up room for Smith. Calhoun lost PA to Jackson, had to leave race in 24. Took uncontested VP spot instead. Crawford lost momentum when had a stroke, out of politics by 25. No majority of 24 electoral votes, so election tossed to House. Clay swung House for JQ Adams, then got SecState job. Therefore new party for losers, centered on making Jackson president.
Adams-Clay connection, Jackson’s popularity in SC, Calhoun’s inclinations put him into Jackson camp. Became major critic of “corrupt bargain”. Newspaper war between Calhoun and JQ Adams.
Calhoun with Jackson put Crawfordites like Willliam Smith in bind. Hated the guy and his ideas, but not much choice. States rights guys could hardly go for nationalists. More important, Jackson huge in SC and Smith already lost once with Crawford. Not eager for a sequel.
Smith signs on with Jackson, beats Daniel Huger 83-81 in Senate election of 26. Smith went to DC on first coach, arrived to find warm welcome from Calhoun: “treated me with so much kindness and consideration that I could not hate him as I wished to do.”
Smith’s principles, man himself on rise, but hardly wrecked Calhoun. Loose factions, weak connection between issues and election results prevented sweep. Factions continue into 26, major figures like William Campbell Preston, William Harper “somewhat” free of all. Death of Lowndes, geddes ends their personality-driven coalition. Lowndes men go to Calhoun, make lowcountry wing of Mercury Junto. Geddes men, despite Smithite connections, go to Courier party. Four surviving factions: Mercury Junto (Calhoun, big in upcountry along Savannah and in Charleston), Smith: upcountry east of Congaree, Speer: upcountry ignoring national politics interested in cutting state budget, Courier: Charleston, big with merchants and for JQ Adams.
Leg elections still about personalities more than issues. Leg passed Smith Resolutions then picked nationalists gov, Richard Manning, and Speaker, John B. O’Neall. Majority of votes to nationalists Daniel Huger, Warren L. Davis instead of states rights Johan Gaillard on first senate ballot in 24. 26 leg, ended up more overwhelmingly states rights in 27, came two votes shy of putting Huger over Smith for Senate. Leg of 28, militant SR, still elected O’Neall to important judgeship over Smithite Josiah Evans.
Nationalist-SR fight even less important on popular elections to Congress and leg. Calhounites McDuffie, Hamilton, Drayton re-upped sans contes in 26. Calhounites, Smithites split two elections contested, nat Warren L Davis over John L Winston but Smithite William D. martin over Andrew Govan. Leg elections of 26 usually uncontested. When contest existed, personal issues decided things.
26 electorate discovers issues, finally, does not reutrn half of leg. Victor not Calhoun, Smith, but Alexander Speer’s budget cutters. Decade-long fight finally won over 10k vote for debt relief of Thomas Jefferson’s daughter. Speaker O’Neall unseated, new leg cuts budget 20%. Retrenchment of 28 one of best signs to irrelevance of Cal-Smith fight in 20s.
Superficial C-S fight not organized party fight for support because despite rhetoric, few actual policy differences. After 19, both against higher tariffs, 22 both firm proslavery. Cal favor for “national” improvements still denounced ~everything proposed since 24. Difference never serious enough to risk presenting voters with a real choice. 30s would show only fundamental difference could bust aristo distrust of “demagogues, electioneering, and popular political parties.” (So politics.)
27 turned Calhounites into sectionalists. American Colonization Society asks for public money, woolen manufacturers try to raise tariff, Harrisburgh Convention tries to organize protectionist movement. Firm opposition from Hayne, Pinckney, McDuffie, Hamilton, increasingly hostile response in state.
ACS petitioned Congress for cash, opening regular campaign for it. Hayne, Smith denounce in Senate, causes intense lowcountry excitement. ACS on right of antislavery movement, supported by many who oppose abolition. All hoped to send free blacks back to Africa. Abolitionists hoped resistance to emancipation weakened when freedpeople could be deported. ACS immediate goal innocuous. Some white southerners want to improve slavery by removing free blacks. Project also totally impractical. Thus why the fuss?
In lowcountry, colonization looked like thin end of wedge. Beat it then or it would open the door to abolition. ACS money from Congress would set precedent. If could promote general welfare through colonization of free blacks, could also by freeing blacks. Hayne: only safety of section in inability of feds to touch slavery.
Lowcountry suspected colonization was front for abolitionists. Thought abolitionists knew any sudden move would not work, but being sneaky would. Colonization thus preliminary agitation, laying groundwork for next steps when South would be asleep at wheel and helpless.
SC radicals swore not to tolerate Congress discussion of issue. Debate colonization and you’d debate slavery. Renewed slavery debate might soften resolve of enslavers. Robert J Turnbull:
“The claims of the Colonization Society can not possibly be discussed, without giving to Congress an occasion, officially to express its opinion against slavery as an evil. … The interference of Congress … would alarm the timid amongst us. It would cause those, who are wavering from investments in plantations and negroes. … As regards our domestics, the effects upon their minds, by any such opinion by the National Legislature, would be such, as to fill us all with the DEEPEST apprehensions.”
Gentry also worried about England, playing into ACS fears. They read English papers, knew about Wilberforce’s campaign against British slavery. By 27, looked like he would win.
Lowcountry fears abolition in England opens door for stronger campaign in US. Read parallel between early Wilberforce and colonizers. Turnbull: Wilberforce opened by abolishing slave trade, even more cautiously than ACS. Took care not to endorse abolition then, even as potential first step. Trade discussion led to slavery debate. British enslavers got nervous, slave prices dropped. If UK bought the slaves, easy to rattle confidence in slave property, dropping value to nothing. (The UK did buy the slaves in the 30s.) Thus had to fight now or West Indies’ fate would come to Dixie.
Therefore, Wilberforce example and lowcountry own anxiety over discussion drove to imagine that petition was consciously aimed at them and a grave threat. Dec 27, SC leg said as much in militant report against ACS:
“Should Congress claim the power to discuss and take a vote upon any question connected with domestic slavery … it will be neither more nor less than the commencmeent of a system by which the peculiar policy of SC, upon which is predicated her resources and her prosperity, will be shake to its foundations. … It is a subject upon which no citizen of SC needs instruction. One common feeling inspires us all with a firm determination not to submit to a species of legislation which would light up such fires of intestine commotion in our borders as ultimately to consume our country.”
(It really says intestine. Literally said they’d s!&~ themselves. Also I’m 12.)
SC answer to ACS, like OH resolutions, important to understand both Nullification and subsequent sectional strife. Some historians argue if Yankees offered constructive proposals instead of attacks, maybe abolition without Civil War. But SC response, rigidity in 20s to mid suggestions before major abolitionist attack shows otherwise. (Freehling must have Craven in mind here?) Some feared moderate positions more than radical attacks, because fairminded might take an interest in practical means of emancipation. Editor, Columbia Telescope, Aug 20, 33 stressed risk of internal dissent in face of outside persuasion. (Foreshadows Road again.)
Emancipation entailed social revolution that would have to have long debate, months or years. 20s show SC too worried about debate, too insecure, to accept any debate, let alone action. Had the wolf by the ears, so even tame suggestions prompt more defensiveness.
27 US Senate tabled ACS petition, but almost passed woolens bill.Would have jacked tariff on imported woolens from 33.3% to 50%ish actual value. Passed House, over SC protests from McDuffie, fast turning militant sectionalist. Called duties worse than taxes that provoked revolution. Government could not endure like this, system “perverts the powers granted for national objects to the oppression” of South. Tie vote in Senate put Calhoun into decisive role. Voted to table. Most nationalist guy in SC now going sectional.
24, SC a bit apprehsnive. 27, “acutely alarmed” going to mass meetings, hearing strong orations, reading violent editorials, told nation SC would not stand for this. Turnbull most responsible for new militancy. Lowcountry enslaver, writer. Essay series The Crisis makes hero of nullifiers.
Biography of Turnbull: FL born, raised Charleston, educated England, Scottish father, got best medical ed in Europe. Married Grecian. Went to US, director of colony at St. Augustine. Chased out by revolutions and found asylum in Charleston, got rich in medicine. Robert, 2nd son, trained for law, worked it until 40 with success, traded up to sea island enslaving. Ex-federalist, own career followed path where slavery turned lowcountry strict construction. Member of court that tried Vesey, wrote seamen law, founder and secretary of SC Association, with Isaac E. Holmes wrote articles against Johnson’s opinion on seaman case. ACS law straw, set him to Crisis essays.
Turnbull’s case for strict construction on careful read of inexpediency of internal improvements, protective tariff. Gives evidence lowcountry enslavers most concerned with slavery also worry on tariff, especially chance for retaliation. But thought ACS more serious threat to SC. Tariffs, improvement dangerous mostly in precedents set, with general welfare opening door to abolition. Quotes stress question not merely roads, commerce, out of SC pockets, nor unending taxation, but whether Union could endure “free from the rude hands of innovators and enthusiasts, and from the molestation or interference of any legislative power on earth but our own? Or whether, like the weak, the dependent, and unfortunate colonists of the West-Indies, we are to drag on a miserable state of political existence, constantly vibrating between our hopes and our fears, as to what a Congress may do towards us, without any accurate knowledge of our probable fate, and without hope of successful resistance”
(Massive pile of 18c manhood stuff here. Weak, dependent, like women and slaves, etc.)
Turnbull’s solution: SC sovereign, could resist federal law by force if it tread on reserved right of states. Scorned talk of opposition “by all constitutional means”. All hands off, mind your own business. No negotiation, no reasoning. “It must be a word and a blow.”
(Wild stuff. Doc free on Gbooks: https://books.google.com/books?id=uofICHdr0zsC&hl=en)
Turnbull widely read, both in Mercury and subsequent pamphlet. Sensation in lowcountry. James Hamilton, Jr endorses as first warning to South. Woke section to danger, etc. But Turnbull himself owns up, ACS issue only big in lowcountry. Upcountry more on woolens bill, just as were more up about tariff than seamen in 24.
Thomas Cooper was Turnbull for upcountry. President of SC College, leader of Smithites. Gave big speech July 2, 27, opening militant upcountry antitariff movement. For rest of year, decade, kept on most extreme SR end of SC.
Bio of Cooper: Not likely radical in SC. Not native, not a big enslaver. But didn’t need self-interest to pick a fight. Fought authorities in Europe, US in many crusades from liberalism to reaction. Cooper well-born, educated, conventional British liberal, went in for Jacobins. Burke denounced him in Commons in 1792. Cooper answered with “scathing attack” on Lords, clergy. Found England less welcoming, also didn’t want to join in developing Terror, so best off to Philadelphia in 1794.
Came to US in middle of Jeffersonian-Federalist clash. By 99, thick with the Jeffersonians. Got jailed briefly in 00 for breaking Sedition Law. Stayed on in PA, won judgeship in 04. PA interested in judicial reform. Cooper draw attacks from reformers for arbitrary decisions. Got strong vote of censure against, driven from bench in 11. Decided even in US, democracy went Jacobin.
Suspended political career, went into academia: chemistry at Carlisle College and UPA 11-19. Got post at SC College. Next year, elected president. Stayed in Columbia until death in 39. Happiest, most powerful in SC. Until mid-30s, college did well. Cooper big on SC aristocracy. Soon leading Jeffersonian in defense of slavery. Early proslavery writer, strong tariff critic, wrote endlessly on SR throughout era.
Was 73 in 32, stooped, hard to breathe, but still lively. Managed both teaching duties and leading nullifiers, crusader against clergy. Good chunk of SC leadership went through his college.
Speech at antitariff meeting, July 2, 27, Cooper reminded that tariff put southern money in Yankee hands. Wealth is power, every year of submission further chains South. Needed to act instead of just protest or soon would have no option for action. Spelled out dire economics of tariff to SC, predicted enactment of woolens bill. Then: “We shall, before long, be compelled to calculate the value of our union; and to inquire of what use to us is this most unequal alliance?” Hamburg two days later, McDuffie almost as bad: Union could not endure 20 years as-is, with laws tampering in distribution of property.
If SC went against feds, seemed necessary coordinate with other slave states. Columbia calls for southern convention. Upcountry meetings endorse in late 27. But most SC not in for conventions or Cooper-Turnbull radicalism. Future looked bad, but not much had yet actually happened. Hoped Jackson as president in 28 would reverse trend, especially if Calhoun ran things. Leg adopted another set of resolutions on construction, tariffs, improvements, ACS.
Still, serious change. In 16, SC in prosperity, nationalism, even for protection. By 27, slaves restless, economy bad, enslavers put section (slavery) over nation. McDuffie went from nationalist pamphlet in 21 to sectional oration in 27. Pinckney of 25, firm nationalist. Publishing Turnbull, defending Cooper in 27. Hamilton, nationalist in 21, agitated against woolens bill. Hayne, who resisted anti-Seamen movement, now leading vs. ACS. Even Calhoun moving toward nullification in 27. Not long until James Hammond would declare SC better than Union.
Even abjuring old broad construction, Calhounites argue nationalism changed as much as exponents. Had a point. Argued that inconsistency came from older fondness for a system that seemed national (for them), newer hostility to one that was not but sectional (against them) and corrupt. Even back in the day, argued national laws must hit each section the same. As sectionalists, said tariffs, piecemeal improvements, antislavery all sectional. Supporting 20% rate in 16 not same as supporting 50% in 27, support for a few projects did not make for general support of all projects.
SC nationalism always qualified, soon junked because too disinterested, too much proejct of temporary crisis. SC had little to get out of improvements. Problem of Republic in 20 how to survive European wars. After 20, much more about tariffs, banks, slavery. To Clay-Adams, economic program better than ever in 20s, but harder they push, the more war faded into history, the more SC decided it had all changed. SC depression got worse, anxiety over slavery grew, expanding government seemed more threatening. By 25, majority of white SC against broad construction. By 27, Calhounites shopping for new theories to solve their problems.
I didn't forget about GreyWolfLord's post, but have had two issues delaying me. One is RL stuff. The other was trying to find a way to rewrite what I've already written on the subject without driving myself batty. I didn't plan to, and don't intend to start, making frequent references to how I've dealt with this or that on the blog. I tried to approach the argument from other angles, but one ends up covering the same material anyways and that was frustrating since I didn't write the stuff that long ago. (Also I'm a bit proud of that post.) So here's a short version with a link to the longer one:
Claim: It was States' Rights!
2) Not really the question itself, but I could also go into a bit of the evolution of states' rights arguments and their significance as a proslavery strategy if someone wants. Suffice it to say that the standard narrative of a straight Virginia & Kentucky Resolutions to SC's nullification to secession is not quite so. However, states' rights arguments as developed in the early Democratic-Republican Party are deeply informed by the concerns of enslavers about the security of their property and that influence should not be overlooked even when it shares space with other grievances.
Totes McScrotes wrote:
Samnell, I can't recall where I heard these at first, so no sources but can you confirm/refute?
It is in my nature. :)
Totes McScrotes wrote:
-Lincoln had a plan for repatriating black slaves to Africa.
Not exactly. I've written a bit here before about the American Colonization Society, which is a fiendishly complicated group to understand. (There was also a Maryland Colonization Society, complete with its own little colony, which eventually went bust and folded into the latter.) Before the war, Lincoln and most other antislavery Americans supported the ACS in some capacity. In the political spectrum of the age, it was a middle of the road and establishment way to be antislavery. Especially before the late 1840s.
Abolitionists usually did not, hoping for some kind of biracial America not only free from slavery but also with at least limited equal rights for black men (and sometimes women). Lincoln, and most Americans, were never abolitionists. Just where one draws the line can be hazy, but the usual test is that abolitionists preferred an immediate end to slavery and antislavery Americans preferred gradual schemes. I mention this because without the distinction in mind, it's very difficult to understand the politics of the era.
The ACS had the plan to send slaves to Africa, which predated Lincoln's entry into politics. However, the ACS had a serious problem in achieving that aim in that most enslavers did not want to give up their valuable property to it and most free blacks had zero interest in going. The ACS might possibly have paid market price for slaves, but it lacked the cash to do so. (So did the United States, incidentally.) When it went asking Congress for money toward those ends it provoked a major proslavery freakout about this being the thin edge of the wedge for abolition.
Totes McScrotes wrote:
Afraid I'm not very familiar with early Liberian politics. I know that in the early twentieth century the nation was dominated by US rubber interests who operated plantations there, and the descendants of American-born colonists formed an elite class, but not how they got from A to B.
However, it would stand to reason. There were black enslavers in Haiti, who were usually themselves slaves from a few generations back, and also a few in the United States. Some of the American enslavers at least only enslaved loved ones who they could not legally free. If you buy your wife so she's not being exploited by some random guy, you are a slaveholder but it's very different from if you bought a dozen hands and set them to picking cotton. Both of these happened, but I understand there's some controversy about which was more prominent or even if it matters considering that black slaveholding in the US was so rare and free blacks lives were still governed by slave codes even if they themselves held human property.
Totes McScrotes wrote:
The Cherokee nation was officially part of the US, but also recognized as sovereign. The treaties and legislation governing relations between the United States and First Nations are a frequently horrifying mess. As a practical matter, the United States usually treated indians as a kind of wards of the state who required special protection from the depredations of the white man, except when it signed off on and committed those depredations itself. You can get a feel for the status quo in the middle-1800s by skimming the Non-Intercourse Act of 1834.
The tribal government actually passed emancipation measures during the war, though. They initially went for the Confederacy, but then some pulled a West Virginia.
California had a kind of slavery directed against Indians which was pretty nasty, but to my understanding it was legally abolished before the war. There was also a fair bit of non-enforcement of the state's famous constitutional provisions against slavery.
Totes McScrotes wrote:
I'll take Grant first. US Grant married into a slaveholding family. At some point, it appears that his wife's father let her use four of his slaves. (I'm unclear if this was contemporaneous with or in addition to Grant's tenure managing his father-in-law's farm and slaves.) This is not the same as her owning them and without legal ownership she could not emancipate them even if she wanted to. However, Grant himself bought a slave off his father-in-law. We know very little about this man, William Jones, except that Grant claimed to have bought him from his father-in-law and manumitted him in 1859. If you know anything about Grant's prewar life, then you know that he was not a rich or successful man. The slave might have been sold to him for a song or given as a gift. We don't know exactly when, but 1858 seems likely. Grant freed William at a time when he could probably have very much used the cash. Could this be more of Grant's poor business judgment? Maybe, but I don't think we should dismiss the fact that Grant chose to free a man who could have given him a lot of money if sold instead.
There's a more detailed take, complete with all the information we know about William Jones in its original document, here.
As for Lee's wife? She never emancipated anybody. Lee did, but only because he was required to. He inherited slaves from his father-in-law, with the provision that they could be retained for up to five years before freeing them. This was in 1857. Lee freed those slaves in 1862. You can do the math. In the interim, he was not an especially enlightened slaveholder. But then one would not expect a man committed to slavery's perpetuation into the indefinite future to be.
Totes McScrotes wrote:
That's the New York City Draft Riots. A mostly Irish mob in New York objected strenuously to being drafted to fight for what they perceived as the freedom of black Americans and chose to express this by murdering as many of them as could be found.
Was it the worst antebellum race riot? Maybe, maybe not. White Virginians murdered something on the order of two hundred people in reaction to Nat Turner's uprising, which beats the New York body count. Other panics over slave insurrection were similarly indiscriminate, though I don't remember the figures off the top of my head. The NYC riot might be the worst in terms of property damage (not counting property in lives) given it took place on Manhattan and not in Southeast Virginia, but I don't know for sure.
Totes McScrotes wrote:
There were no black officers in the Civil War. The Louisiana Native Guard are an interesting case in that they were generally well-off biracial people who had a special status higher than that of slaves within Louisiana society. (This is a carryover from French colonial practice. Free men of color were numerous and united enough in Haiti to constitute a distinct party in the revolution.) They presented their services to the Confederacy, which promptly shat a brick. The Native Guards were part of the LA militia and accepted as such there, but not within the CSA's military. The Confederates wouldn't even let them guard POWs.
By the time the Native Guards were in any kind of position to fight United States troops, the state had revised its militia law to permit only whites in the body. Sometime thereafter, with the actual Confederate forces retreating from New Orleans, the Native Guards were ordered to defend the French Quarter. They were less than enthusiastic. Many, though not all, eventually signed up with the US Army and formed a unit going by the same name.
Quite a bit more detail here.
Totes McScrotes wrote:
The usual claim is that Anthony Johnson invented slavery as we know it in America. That native Americans had enslaved one another before that doesn't count, for some reason. Nor do the Spanish and Portuguese who were in on the act before Johnson, all the way up to bringing the slaves from Africa. Nor does it count the black slaves that first arrived in Virginia in 1619, who were treated as indentured servants by local law but were pretty clearly transported as slaves. Calling them indentured servants is misleading because white indentured servants at least semi-willingly, if often forced by economics, signed on for the job. All unfree labor is not equally horrific and so we should not blindly lump it all together. Jury duty isn't the same thing as having your children sold away or being raped at will, no matter what hysterics some immaculately white jackasses like to engage in.
As it happens, being an unwilling indentured servant is how Johnson got to Virginia. He did his time and got his freedom dues. Apparently he did well enough for himself as he bought three indentures in 1653. By this point, at least two men in Massachusetts (John Winthrop and Samuel Maverick) owned slaves. Indeed, both were on the scene by 1630. Winthrop approved of trading blacks to Indians in exchange for other goods as well as enslaving Indians. Still piling on Massachusetts, it passed the its first laws providing for slavery in 1641. They were also trading captured Indians down to the West Indies.
All of this is before Johnson wins his case in 1655 and gets one of his runaways indentured for life. So is John Punch's 1640 indenture for life sentence, which he got alongside two white indentured servants who got off with just four years' added time.
But what do I think of Anthony Johnson? I think he's a remarkable and moving, if also horrifying, example of how white supremacy did not yet rule in British North America but rather was actively instituted there in the course of the later 1600s. The fixed color line we know so well and seems so absolute was invented and so can be un-invented. He also provides a good case study into how racism actually works in practice, which I've written more about here.
Klaus van der Kroft wrote:
I'm going to exclude discussion of the Trent Affair here as that's a later and somewhat weird situation compared to the general question. By the time it erupted, British intervention was not really on the table. It opened the door to something again briefly, but in different circumstances.
Getting international recognition, particularly from the British, was the main way that the Confederacy expected to win the war after the first few battles. Before that, they expected to give the United States a bloody nose and go on their merry way. How likely this was is a bit controversial in the field. It's clear that the Southerners thought they had a really good chance, but less clear that the British agreed.
Much is rightly made of how the British relied on Confederate cotton, though we have petitions from textile workers declaring that they'd rather sit it out than support a government founded on slavery and the Confederacy generally revolted British public opinion. However, if it got to the point where the economy was really creaking and it looked like the United States could not win the war, then you have a chance for some kind of intervention. Prior to the Battle of Antietam, the bloodiest day in American military history, the British Cabinet had agreed that pending the outcome of the campaign (Lee had invaded the North.) they would discuss things. That's not a commitment, but it at least looked to them like something worth a serious talking about.
What form would British intervention have taken? A direct military invasion would probably be unlikely, but in the nineteenth century a concert of Great Powers could usually enforce their will on others. This is doubly true when dealing with an at best second-rate power like the United States.
A minimal intervention would have entailed recognizing the Confederacy and opening diplomatic relations. This would make the war into one of conquest and aggression by the United States. At the very least it would complicate enforcement of the blockade instituted around Southern ports. Thus blockade runners might be able to switch from taking cotton to trade for high-value luxury goods into something resembling normal trade. That would have greatly helped the Southern economy. Likely some foreign ships would try to use the ports too and interdicting them would cause an international incident that might spiral into an outright war.
Somewhat more vigorous: the British and French could probably force some kind of demand for a negotiated peace that preserved the Confederacy. Would the United States take kindly to that? No. But if the British moved an army or two to Canada, which they did in response to the Trent Affair, that's a different story. The Royal Navy also easily had the power to sink every stick of wood the Untied States could float, something Americans were very aware of.
However, while it's true that British mills fed on Southern cotton it's also true that British bellies fed on Yankee wheat. While wheat is not cotton and could be got elsewhere, the US supplied a whole lot of it to Britain. Going to war with your grocery store is going to have serious consequences and the British were well aware of that. Combine that with their loathing of slavery and you have a fairly strong force pushing against a vigorous intervention.
Say there's a mandated peace. I suspect in that event that it wouldn't be long before a new war erupted, so unless the Confederacy got some kind of thoroughgoing British protectorate, we're looking at Civil War 2 probably within twenty years of the end of the first.
Those are, however, all interventions with a mind to shorten or end the war. Making it go on longer would make things harder for both parties, but probably do worse for the Confederacy. Most of the war, from quite early on, was fought within the CSA's claimed borders. Even in 1862, you've got quite a lot of important territory lost. The CSA's largest port is taken in April. Earlier in the year, the United States gained control of the Confederacy's central rivers. That's quite a burden, even if the CSA could maintain a stalemate in Virginia indefinitely. Then you hit up on the problem that the CSA is not built to sustain a lengthy, modern war. They managed some pretty crazy logistics stunts, but that could not keep up forever. The CSA could not win a war of attrition, and knew it, so to the extent that grand strategy existed (this is controversial, since nobody ever came forward and offered one up) it was about carrying things on until the US gave up.
This was closest to happening, to the degree we can figure in an age before opinion polls, not at any of the conventional turning points but rather when the main United States army, the Army of the Potomac, and the main Confederate army, the Army of Northern Virginia, were locked in trench warfare around Petersburg* in southeastern Virginia in 1864. Horrific loss of life to no apparent gain tends to demoralize. But that's of course a domestic thing rather than a foreign intervention.
*You often hear this referred to as the Siege of Petersburg, but it's not a siege in the strictest sense. The armies engaged in something very much like early WWI's race to the sea where both sides tried to get around the other's flank, failed, and entrenched. Then tried again and tried for various breakthroughs. Petersburg had the rail hubs that connected the Confederate capital to the rest of the South. Lee could not abandon it without conceding Richmond, so locking him down at Petersburg denied him the ability to maneuver that he'd so often used to success in the past.
This isn't really a claim proper, but it's something I want to say and highlight.
Claim: They teach a bunch of neo-Confederate BS in the South!
What I've consistently heard from people who live and work in the South is that things used to be almost uniformly awful. But in recent decades the matter largely comes down to who teaches you your history and what his or her personal politics are. Modern day conservatives are more likely, though not universally prone, to spout a bunch of neo-Confederate BS. This matches very well with my own experiences in Michigan.
This sounds like a really narrow, technical thing to get worked up about but I think it plays into the idea that the North was in no way culpable in slavery and white supremacy. It's certainly true that no Yankee went down south and forced southerners to enslave people, but white supremacy has often been as vicious up here. The Klan got big in the North, especially the Midwest, right at the time that black Americans started coming north looking for jobs and to escape lynching and other acts of white terror. In the nineteenth century, you often see cases of antislavery Americans who will say, sometimes in as many words, that they're against slavery because it justifies keeping black Americans on the continent. They believe instead that the continent belongs to the white man and the very presence of black skin sullies it and degrades him. This is eliminationist at least in anticipation, and sometimes actively directed at free black communities in the North. By contrast, proslavery writers very much wanted to keep black Americans around so they could keep stealing labor and lives.
Does that make one better than the other? Who hates blacks more, the people who want them gone or the people who want them present but used as livestock? They're clearly not the same, but both very bad. We can look ahead in the book and see how it worked out in the end but people at the time didn't have that luxury. This is part of why it's hard to understand the American Colonization Society and similar groups. They had a mix of "get rid of them all", "get rid of the free ones so make slavery more secure", and "whites are too racist to ever accept sharing space with free black people, so the least worse thing we can do is deport the lot" supporters.
There were exceptions, of course. The past year or so I've spent a lot of time on Bleeding Kansas, especially the first year of the territory's history. The antislavery party there, a decidedly radical group that raises serious issues about how far you can go in protest before you cross over into insurrection, voted overwhelmingly in favor of calling on the legislature to pass a law barring free blacks from living in Kansas. Some states, notably Indiana and Illinois, actually had such a law on the books. Oregon also adopted such a measure.
The black law, as it was called, wasn't just a thing to please the rubes. People who were getting together private military companies and expected they might use them against the legal government of the territory, really on the radical end of the political spectrum, were in favor. Some of them came right out said that they were members of the free white state party, meaning that they favored a free state constitution if and only if it excluded black Americans absolutely. If they must share the state with them, these men preferred slavery.
On the other hand, you do have a contingent within that group who did what they could to oppose the black law. That included moving that the state constitution not mention race at all (so blacks could be citizens and vote, a privilege seven or eight of them wanted to extend to women as well) and denouncing the law in papers otherwise reliably free soil. They did this at a time when many of them felt in at least some personal danger and all stood under a serious threat of prosecution. They're not all awful racists, but a whole lot of them are. It's difficult sometimes to parse out where the radicals of the radicals are making arguments that appeal to white supremacy in the service of more egalitarian goals and where they're speaking to their own feelings.
Gay Male Inhuman
Aw. :( We'll miss you.
I'll find a graceful way to write Saito out.
Totes McScrotes wrote:
Huh, I need to go reread my sources. Can I ask what yours are, Samnell?
Before I share, I want to say that I really enjoy your screen name.
I covered a lot of ground, but this should handle the main points: You can find stuff about the economic viability in William W. Freehling's Road to Disunion volumes (especially the second) and Ed Baptist's The Half Has Never Been Told. Baptist is new and a very good read, but also pretty demanding emotionally. He's great for the capital issues that enslavers had, as well as the source of my increasing tendency to refer to planters that way and a few other verbal ticks I think are probably a good way to remind us of what really went on. If you're offended by the occasional swear word in non-fiction, then you should know going in that the opening to chapter seven includes quite a few f+*&s. It's a literary choice on Baptist's part to help jar us out of the pop culture consensus narrative of the plantation, which he uses as a touchstone to write a great panorama of such a place. I thought it was amazing, but there's been something of a generational divide in the historians I've read discussing it.
Freehling discusses the limits of white Southern antislavery beliefs. He has a thematic chapter in the first volume about the use of violence to police antislavery dissent in the South too. Freehling's argument is actually that the most important element in getting the South to secession was an overwhelming need to prevent white dissent from taking hold in the slave states, so he's rarely far away from it. I don't know if I completely agree with him, but it was certainly an important factor and it deeply overlaps with all the other likely candidates, so hard to really separate them out.
You can find a treatment of the transition from Necessary Evil to Positive Good thinking in Freehling's Prelude to the Civil War: The Nullification Crisis in South Carolina 1816-1836. It's a bit easier to read than Road to Disunion, and a lot shorter, but also both older and further removed from the war. Suppression of white dissent remains an element, but not as significant as in Road. I'm actually reading Prelude right now, but what's left is basically the epilogue.
Incidentally, if you like to get history through biography then Freehling writes really good biographical sketches. He sometimes gets a bit too carried away with them, to the point where some read him as attributing everything to some personal eccentricity, but I think that takes the criticism a bit too far. Freehling has a very interesting and, I think, persuasive take on Roger Taney in Road volume two. Going to keep it in mind when I read other treatments.
James McPherson briefly discusses Lincoln's efforts at compensated emancipation during the war in Battle Cry of Freedom, which everyone interested in the war should read anyway. It's starting to get a tiny bit dated, isn't as strong on the antebellum as I'd like, and it's a bit too heavy into moving soldiers along on the map (the maps are good) but you'll come out with a decent understanding of what happened and why. Most of my Maryland stuff from a prior post is heavily dependent on McPherson. McPherson also discusses Lemmon v. New York.
If you're curious about Lee's proslavery beliefs, then the go-to place is Alan Nolan's Lee Considered. There's also some fairly damning primary source material that Nolan didn't use revealing Lee's personal involvement in abusing slaves (whipping, not raping so far as we know) which I initially found in Foner's Forever Free but is also on the internet in various places. Turns out the dude liked to keep his hands clean, but took an interest in making sure the lash was well applied. I suspect there's quite a bit more in Elizabeth Pryor's Reading the Man but I haven't found Lee personally interesting enough to get into it yet.
Southern ideas about expansionism are examined in Robert Mays' The Southern Dream of a Caribbean Empire and also in Manifest Destiny's Underworld, which is essentially a history of filibustering in general. Do not read them back to back, though. Made it very hard for me to separate out the two and see what Mays had to say that was new from the older book. There's also a brief treatment of it in McPherson.
For Delaware stuff, you can get the stats yourself from the UVA census browser. I also have the original tabulations (not microdata, but tallies down to county level) somewhere from the Census Bureau and can dig up a link if you'd like. They're in big PDF files, numbered rather than named, and a bit of a pain to navigate, but really an embarrassment of riches. I've got the same for 1850, but after that censuses become somewhat less robust and eventually you get into stuff that's just outright gone.
My broad read on the late antebellum (Mexican War onward) is most informed by Freehling and David Potter's The Impending Crisis. The latter work is showing its age, but the professionals I read still treat it as an essential touchstone even if a few of his points are pretty dated and probably a little too heavy on the conservative white guy in the Civil Rights Era attitude. Still, he has a very incisive understanding of the antislavery movement's less appealing side. McPherson's chapters hit all the high points, but they really can't do the events justice. His treatment on the Kansas-Nebraska Act is almost bizarrely sparse. Elizabeth Varon's Disunion! works as a very good, contemporary companion to both Potter and Freehling, with a bit more of a history of ideas approach. If you dig that kind of thing, then you'd probably be into Eric Foner's Story of American Freedom, but it's not really an antebellum book. I see occasional references to Michael Holt's work, but I'm not familiar with it yet. He's somewhat more known now as one of the few guys who took the Whig party seriously enough to do a devoted study of it.
I suspect that we'd be able to buy people today. Probably you could still buy people in Brazil and at least Cuba. US-flagged ships were a significant part of the Atlantic slave trade even after we outlawed it because we refused to let the Royal Navy board them and make sure they didn't have any human cargo. We insisted that our Navy would do that, but the formation tasked for it was not always so tasked and was generally neglected. (There was a boom in slave imports when the Royal Navy got diverted to fight in the Opium Wars, which tells you the kind of difference they made.) Since Cuban and sometimes Brazilian slavery went through slaves at such a prodigious rate, they needed lots of replacements. Suddenly no one was delivering, which put a strain on their systems.
The end of slavery almost always requires a pretty titanic social shock when the party capable of doing it is also the direct enslaving party. Like Zhangar I'm skeptical that the WWI labor shortage could do it. I would expect maybe some short-term stresses, but given how the late 19th and earlty 20th century are a really, really vicious time for white supremacy, I have my doubts.
WWII is a better candidate, but I'm still not convinced. The United States put women into factories, but then worked hard to get them back out and turn them back into housewives. It's possible there would have been some kind of draft of slave labor, which actually happened at least in isolated instances in the wartime South, but I don't think that either that or factory labor necessarily contain emancipatory potential.
Also as Zhangar notes, a United States that kept slavery has a radically different later nineteenth century. It's impossible to say how domestic politics would have developed. I don't think the antislavery movement would have just gone away, but I can see some paths by which it could have been actively suppressed. The South was already doing that. Toss in 19th century labor violence, and we just happen to have the perfect scabs here. They'll scab forever because they can't ever leave. Convict leasing made corporations into slaveholders. It would be easy enough in a world with actual outright slavery still around for the railroads, factories, and the like to get in on the action.
Then you're probably looking at quite a bit more political violence to keep antislavery suppressed, along with increasingly authoritarian calls for something to be done. Things start to look pretty Weimar and the United States had at least one of the world's first successful fascist movements (the Klan and company) so there we are. But it didn't happen, so we can only speculate.
The site has what looks to be a decent collection of articles on Washington's slaves. This is much better than it did twenty years ago when I visited. Slaves were a marginal factor then, sort of in the air but largely unacknowledged. Same thing at Monticello, which I'm given to understand has done much to clean up its act.
Totes McScrotes wrote:
Yamamoto might have said that; I have no idea either way. But there were no serious plans for the Japanese to launch an invasion of the mainland US, or even of Hawaii. They had this titanic land war already going on in China which consumed the military capacity necessary for such a campaign, even if they'd had the logistics to pull it off. The grand strategy for attacking the US was essentially to win a few decisive battles and get a peace treaty that would accept Japanese possession of the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia, Brunei, half of Malaysia) Papua New Guinea and general Japanese ascendancy in the western Pacific. That's why so much attention was devoted to wrecking battleships but other naval infrastructure wasn't damaged nearly so much.
Things did not go to plan.
Mount Vernon has a good piece on Washington's slaves, though I think it's a little more sympathetic than I'd be.
He had ten from age eleven, which he inherited from his father. Not entirely his fault and you can expect he wouldn't instantly free them since he's eleven and all. But they were his property and he ended up buying more for himself. His dower slaves made up only around half of his total holdings.
He also elected to keep them until, you know, they could no longer personally enrich him. That's better than condemning them in perpetuity, and he did order that the elderly slaves be provided for out of his estate, but it's also a particularly easy path for him.
He actively pursued runaways, even including Ona Judge who got all the way to New Hampshire. He opted to leave her there only when it appeared to be a political liability to go after her. When the national government was in Philadelphia and thus within the bounds of Pennsylvania's emancipation law (the first in the country), Washington followed the normal practice of slaveholding officeholders and got around PA's laws on keeping slaves from other states indefinitely by regularly cycling them out through another state. I think mostly he sent back to Mount Vernon and got replacements, but I recall seeing references to more cynical trips that were just across the river to New Jersey for a day. This was enough of a hassle, especially given Philadelphia's large free black community, that Washington eventually transitioned to using German indentured servants.
Totes McScrotes wrote:
Not so much: Civil War here.
Different poster; new claims. I suppose the precise origin doesn't matter that much, but I don't want to be accused of putting words in someone else's mouth by implication.
Claim: Southern planters were totally up for some kind of gradual, compensated emancipation.
Cotton was a minor player by comparison, confined to a narrow strip of land along the South Carolina and Georgia coast, the lowcountry, and adjacent Sea Islands. Carolina and Georgian leaders were much more committed to slavery's perpetuation even then. Their profits hadn't cratered and South Carolina's delegates to the Constitutional Convention insisted their state would not ratify the Constitution should it include an immediate prohibition on the African slave trade. They wanted, and secured, at least twenty-five years during which Congress was prohibited from outlawing that trade. This provision, almost unique in the Constitution, was unable to be amended. The only other words with such protection guarantee states equal representation in the Senate. That's how huge a deal it was. Both states subsequently took on tens of thousands of slaves from the bellies of ships, enough that by the time the trade was officially prohibited (at the earliest possible time under the Constitution, the start of 1808) South Carolina was well on its way to regaining its status as a slave majority society from colonial times.
I mention SC and GA here in particular because the Revolution greatly disrupted their systems of slavery. Many of their slaves took up with the British and left with them. With the system in turmoil and apparently insecure, this would have been an ideal time for homegrown emancipationists to strike. Yet both states chose not to undo a wrong they had done, but rather to keep on doing it. Then the cotton gin made short-staple cotton that one could grow in the upcountry into a viable crop, vastly expanding the area in which slaves could be tortured into higher and higher yields for the great profit of their white enslavers.
Defenses of slavery generally took two tacts. The first and for a long time most popular was the necessary evil argument. Enslavers did a bad thing, which was bad for them (almost always worse for them than for the slaves) but they had inherited the system and had it somehow forced upon them. They could not do without it and the consequences of emancipation would involve both their personal ruin and the complete destruction of their societies. Emancipation was, in a sense, the terrorist nuke of the 18th and 19th century South.
The necessary evil argument involves a lot of tapdancing around the fact that the white "sufferers" suffer mostly from all this money people keep throwing at them. This is a bit like complaining about all the amazing sex you get to have each night, which was of course also a benefit of owning enslaved women. An enslaved woman's fertility and sexual appeal were considered a significant part of her value to the enslaver, whether he chose to rape her or simply allowed the slaves to arrange their own procreation.
The necessary evil argument was inherently weak in the face of even a tentative abolitionist movement. While it was never completely eclipsed, especially in the Upper South (roughly the non-Cotton states), beginning in the 1820s and increasingly in the 1830s it was replaced by the positive good argument. This approach stressed all the good done to the slave, good and hard. Enslavers brought them from "babarism" and educated them in civilization and Christianity. Left to their own devices, the enslaved would inevitably sink into squallor, poverty, brutality, and madness. You could trust a slave, but a free black person naturally became a shifty, no-good criminal. If you have drawn a connection between this and modern American attitudes toward crime, you have drawn correctly.
By the eve of the Civil War, the positive good argument was received wisdom. It removed the awkwardness of conceding a point to abolitionists and then opposing them all the same. It allowed enslavers to own up to the fact that they preferred slavery now and slavery forever, and would happily frolic in the fountains of money it produced for them...when not taken by other frolics involving whipping, as one enslaver infamously described his own predilections.
One could take from this that the Lower South had a serious slavery problem, but the Upper South at least had qualms. Maybe they did, but it doesn't take long to find abstract qualms at either latitude that never translate into action. How much credit do you want to give to good intentions that translate into nothing at all is up to you. I take them as a bit of theater one enacts for one's own benefit or to sound properly high-minded while still following the ever popular path of whatever one actually felt like doing. As a practical matter, one can and often did trade in various necessary evil ideas while remaining in favor of the perpetual continuation of slavery. A famous practitioner of that art was Robert E. Lee. Lee's own requirements for accepting an emancipation scheme included divine intervention.
No, I'm not kidding. While a relatively orthodox Episcopalian of the nineteenth century did believe that the Christian God could intervene in the world, he also wouldn't have expected to hold his breath and be fine waiting until it happened. And Lee demanded the right kind of divine intervention: his god could not use Yankees as his instrument, even to simply persuade Southerners. Rather they must endure in absolute silence, until such time as the enslavers themselves decided the propriety and means of ending slavery.
But let's take an ideal case: almost no slaves, the state population of free blacks almost completely overwhelming its enslaved population, and only a tiny minority of whites owning even one slave. Let's call it Delaware because that's what it is. Delaware in 1860 looked a great deal like a New England or Mid-Atlantic state quite close to gradual, compensated emancipation in the late eighteenth century. It looked enough like that that southern politicians often worried about it going out of the South. Its politicians, like those of other border states, often made for the key swing votes to pass compromises that they understood as ultimately injurious to slavery. (And which antislavery Americans -the actual ones, not the ones who played antislavery for their diaries' benefit- understood as the flipside of Lower North politicians who would betray the nation in order to appease proslavery radicals.)
At the end of 1860, South Carolina passes its ordinance of secession. Seven other states follow before Lincoln even takes office. The remainder of the Upper South, sans the Border States, follow when Lincoln calls for volunteers to suppress the rebellion that has just turned into a shooting war. The decisions of Missouri, Kentucky, and Maryland were somewhat in doubt. Delaware's legislature met and promptly declared that having been first into the Union, Delaware aimed to be the last out.
So Lincoln proposed to Delaware that the state adopt one of those compensated, gradual emancipation plans. He offered to get federal money for the compensation and it would, as these things did, not actually free any slaves for some years to come. The normal formula was that all slaves born after X date (usually the Fourth of July) in a given year a ways down the road would be freed on their 18th or 25th birthday. The exact numbers could vary a bit. The idea was that if you didn't want to give up your slaves, you would lose none that you already had. You would further be compensated for your investment in slave property with the labor of the minor slaves thereafter. If that didn't sweeten things enough, Lincoln was offering federal funds to pay some kind of cash bounty for the freedpeople direct to their owners.
Delaware, and other border states, told him to go to hell.
But maybe Delaware was an oddity. It was weirdly situated. Maybe there's some kind of paradox going on where the fact that slavery is more entrenched elsewhere would make enslavers more amenable to selling some off to the government or whatever. Probably in exchange for getting them off the continent, which everyone who was white and counted agreed belonged to the white man. This was the notional goal of the American Colonization Society, which had some (Upper South, most famously Henry Clay) slaveholder patrons.
The ACS scared the crap out of Lower South planters. So long as it exiled free blacks, they didn't mind it much. But as soon as it came after slaves things changed. When the ACS petitioned Congress for some funds in the 1830s, this promoted fiery outrage. The enslavers understood this as the thin end of a wedge that would pry open the Treasury for schemes to appropriate money for the government to directly buy slaves. That would collapse slave prices, ruining the tremendous investment in capital that most major planters had, and force emancipation by other means. It might even lead to direct federal mandates that you must sell to the government, thus enacting a kind of abolition outright.
The exceptions to this trend were generally either forced into silence and impotence by social censure or driven from their homes by lynch mob violence. Sometimes the mobs could be quite frisky. It was generally the convention that if some white man fled, you let him go once it looked like he wasn't coming back. Elijah Lovejoy found Missourians less accommodating. He ran an antislavery newspaper in the Show Me State. A mob destroyed his press. He moved over the Mississippi to Alton, Illinois and got a new press. The mob followed, joined by some locals (southern Illinois had a lot of white inhabitants who were late of Southern states, almost enough to make the Land of Lincoln into a slave state itself) and went for his press again. Lovejoy was killed defending it and, incidentally, himself. Many people take his death as subtext for Lincoln's Lyceum Address.
Claim: Slavery was on the way out anyway because it wasn't economically sustainable.
While plantation agriculture is customarily a bit hard on the soil, and cotton especially so, the South had plenty of avenues open to it for internal expansion. Large portions of Texas suited to cotton and sugar had yet to be fully developed. The expanding plantation frontiers were there and in Arkansas. Furthermore, southerners even into the late 1850s expected that the United States would eventually have new conquests to the South, most especially Cuba but also parts of Mexico, which would be suited to the cultivation of major cash crops. If they did not come into the Union by the customary conquest, then they would come by the equally customary method of some Americans briefly overthrowing a weak establishment of a distant government and then inviting the United States to come and collect them, real estate and all. It worked for Texas and California, after all.
But let's say there are no new frontiers and the soil is wearing out. South Carolina was where the cotton boom hit first and soil ran out fastest. The state's enslavers had serious issues with their white population moving on to greener pastures, but cotton cultivation remained profitable even with smaller yields. Planters simply took to more careful cultivation. If they could not have the boom years back, then they could still have ample profits given sufficent prudence. And all the while they could blame their woes on Yankees sucking money out of the state.
A shortage of capital was typical in nineteenth century America. Southerners came to oppose the Bank of the United States in part because it would not give out enough easy money fast enough for their liking. They chartered state banks with leaky pockets and fly by night private banks with leakier pockets still. The crash in the 1830s busted most of them and led to many underwater enslavers decamping with their human chattels for Texas, beyond the reach of creditors.
This left enslavers much more in thrall to European financiers, but this did not dampen their enthusiasm for slavery. Rather it led them to take the same lesson than South Carolina had a decade before: bloodsucking abolitionists were raiding their pockets and they needed to double down on slavery.
If slavery's not on its way out economically, and a generation and more of historians agree it was not, then maybe it was on its way out politically? It's possible in hindsight to see as much. Southerners opted to try disunion because they expected to be politically eclipsed as the years went on and further expected that the schemes devised to preserve their slavery in the Union, chiefly nullification but also control of the Democratic Party, were not viable. South Carolina got ahead of the pack and proved the first one nonviable back in the early 1830s.
But the 1850s are full of Southern victories. They got a draconian Fugitive Slave Law the overruled Personal Liberty Laws. They secured slavery for the future of Utah and New Mexico. They had broken the more antislavery of the two national parties. If their victories alienated Yankee voters and harmed the northern wing of the Democracy, then that only increased Southern control of the nation's dominant party. Roger Taney assured them that slavery could never be barred from a territory. In 1860, the state of Virginia was purusing a case through the courts, Lemmon vs. New York, which likely would have given over another Dred Scott-style ruling effectively giving slaveholders unlimited right to move through and reside in free states without loss of slave property. If they prevailed there, then the very idea of a free state would become meaningless.
They didn't all think that was enough, obviously. Many saw their legal and political victories as hollow. Yankees nullified the Fugitive Slave Act anyway. The attempt to impose slavery on Kansas led to a tense struggle that further alienated the North for what seemed to be only the narrow interests of Missouri's slaveholders. New territory, by filibustering or ordinary conquest, could open still more wounds. But Southern successes and likely northern impotence even with Lincoln in the White House were enough together that even Lower South states had sizable Unionist movements right through the secession conventions.
However, Southern Unionism for at least a decade had been a perishable good. It was ultimately contingent on what the South considered good behavior on the part of the North. This explicitly, in various platforms, demanded enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Act. It frequently also included further concessions down the road. In 1860, it meant that the Democracy had to call for a federal slave code for the territories, explicitly making both slavery into a national institution and imposing it on all territories in the land. When the party's northern wing, seeing its destruction in the proposal, balked, the Democracy split and the homely lawyer from Illinois won the election.
When would industrialization have taken over? We can't say exactly. Quite a bit of industrial activity took place in the postwar South, but much of that was facilitated by the outcome of the war. Without the destruction, dislocation, and eventual availability of freedpeople re-enslaved by the penal system as easily exploited labor it seems unlikely that it would have come as soon or strongly. The same workforce would have been picking cotton instead. That was, incidentally, another major use of prison labor.
We do know that the first practical mechanical cotton harvester didn't roll off the lines until 1944. By this point we have quite a bit more water under the bridge, but I think it's fair to assume given what we know that absent the Civil War slaves would have picked cotton until at least that date. We also know that however traditional we imagine enslavers, slavery itself proves a remarkably versatile institution. The Tredegar Iron Works in Richmond employed slaves. It's likely that if industry expanded into the enslaved South, far more outfits would have followed its example. Furthermore the expansion of western settlement might very well have seen slave miners as well as slaves in new cotton fields along rivers in New Mexico and Arizona. Most of the nation's cotton today is grown in California, where prewar Southerners including James Gadsden (of Gadsden Purchase) expected they might eventually move.
Without the war but with a proslavery verdict in Lemmon vs. New York, we might also see slaves brought into the Lower North where they would work growing wheat, hemp, and other staples. The sections borders had a great deal of economic activity passing both ways and generally proslavery residents in the nearer reaches, so it might not have proved hard at all to set up a plantation or expand the hiring of slaves across state lines. Something of the opposite had already happened, with plenty of Northerners investing in southern ventures. Indiana's senator Jesse Bright owned and operated a plantation across the river in Kentucky. Illinois' Stephen Douglas had an interest in a plantation in Mississippi. New York banks held numerous plantation mortgages and shpis built by and owned in the North carried the staple crops to Europe.
captain yesterday wrote:
I have the Penguin collection The Call of Cthulhu and other Weird Stories which has notes by Lovecraft scholar SJ Yoshi that includes most of the well-known ones, excluding Lovecraft's two novellas. Also has a nice cover design with Cthulhu got up like a Victorian gentleman with a mustache and monocle.
The Del Rey editions are probably easy to find too, but I understand Joshi's rely on Lovecraft's preferred text. Also you're less likely to get odd looks in public since there's no naked, dismembered torsos hanging around. Lovecraft's rarely about gore so much as his personal seafood and racial phobias and the occasional extremity that isn't where it ought to be.
Turin the Mad wrote:
Weren't there another 2 proposed Amendments that weren't passed with the Bill of Rights? My memory's fuzzy, but IIRC one of the two were recently (in Amendment terms) passed.
The proposal before Congress had twelve amendments, yes. One was ratified and sent off to the states, but never got its 3/4 and was forgotten until some student rediscovered it in the late 70s. It was ratified as the 27th Amendment back in '92. The gist is that Congress can vote itself pay raises, but they don't take effect until an election's been had. This was not taken as universally a great thing, since it meant there could be constitutional time bombs left for future generations. Hence more recent amendments come passed with language that states must ratify them within seven years, occasionally with an extension.
The other one was actually the first on the list, a system to regulate congressional apportionment. Delaware balked at it and left it one shy until 1803, by which point it was taken as a dead letter and forgotten. Bit of a shame since it would have established that the House must increase as population does, something we haven't really done in almost a century now. Congress did this on its own, kind of piecemeal, until things got stuck at the rough size of 1929 with generally poor consequences that exacerbate the already serious issues with apportionment in Congress.
Totes McScrotes wrote:
Sounds like you've got Shay's Rebellion in mind, which was a major impetus for the Constitution. The Bill of Rights was added at the insistence of various states as a condition of ratification. Whether this condition had any legal effect or not is questionable. Madison was of the opinion that ratification was inherently in toto (as then was) and forever, with conditions equivalent to no ratification at all. He wrote this to Hamilton during the New York debates and in response to an offer to drop opposition in exchange for a promise of a Bill of Rights. They really could not spare New York and the matter really was in doubt, so if he was ever going to make concessions, you'd expect it then.
So far as I'm aware, the federalists made no ironclad guarantees or pledges. But states did submit bills of rights along with their instruments of ratification. What would have happened if ratification went through and none been forthcoming is an interesting question. I suspect some states would have tried to quit, but others would not or would have accepted the fait accompli because the Articles were clearly non-viable and their independent existence similarly non-viable.
We do know that at least one of the proposals got eviscerated to the point of mootness before making it into the Bill of Rights. It's the 10th Amendment. The state-preferred draft would have absolutely restricted Congress to enumerated powers by including the word "expressly". The version that the states ratified did not have any such word. The states accepted this and many would argue for quite sweeping federal powers thereafter. This, incidentally, is the actual original intent. The Congress power as adopted by the convention was to pass laws on any subject of general interest. The enumerated list, minus the Necessary and Proper Clause, were added by a committee gone slightly rogue when everything was drafted up formally. The convention as a whole fixed things with the aforementioned.
Which is all to say, at least, that original intent is a hopeless chimera. Which intention? Of whom? When? You can make a founderstein out of any collection of those, and plenty of historians have tried, but it's one of those things that refuses simplification.
That said, Robert Middlekauf's chapter on the convention in The Glorious Cause is profoundly amusing if you've spent a lot of time dealing with neo-Confederates. So are South Carolina's internal debates in the 1820s. Quite a lot of Early Republic history, in fact. One ends up wondering if they're even literate.
Lincolns quotes on slavery are contradictory because moving to the extreme for a party primary and then the middle for a general election is not nearly as modern an invention as some would think.
Not exactly. It's certainly true that Lincoln would tailor his message to his political circumstances. Stephen Douglas called him on it during their debate series. But party primaries aren't really a thing like we know them in Lincoln's age. That stuff was usually handled at the national convention, which resulted in quite a few upsets and dark horses ending up on tickets and in the White House. Seward was the favorite in '60, but he was regarded as too extreme to carry the Lower North (states bordering slave states, generally more racist and less antislavery) given he'd spend much of a decade in the Senate as Mr. Antislavery and was especially associated with Higher Law doctrines. (The idea that a higher law than the constitution authorized antislavery action. He coined the phrase in his first speech to the Senate.)
Lincoln had a reputation as a moderate which he had genuinely earned, but not without exceptions. He's a firm, if sometimes understated, critic of slavery all the way back to the Lyceum Address. His form of antislavery was relatively mainstream at that point: lots of support for gradual, compensated emancipation and colonization. On the other hand, he could make some pretty daring arguments for an antislavery guy. He opposed popular sovereignty in the Kansas-Nebraska Act because, in part, black Americans wouldn't have a vote in deciding their own fate.
Leaving aside Lincoln's political biography, there's also the issue that he made many of his statements regarding preserving the nation even with slavery undisturbed after the war began. When John C. Fremont, on his own authority, declared emancipation of slaves in Missouri Lincoln demanded the order be rescinded. When Fremont refused, Lincoln countermanded it himself. He thought Fremont would drive out the border states and consequently make the war unwinnable.
Which brings me to a point that I probably should have highlighted earlier. Antislavery Americans and abolitionists differed on their understanding of the Constitution and fundamental nature of the US government. Abolitionists often, though not always, considered the Constitution a fundamentally proslavery document. William Lloyd Garrison called it a covenant with death and burned it. They believed the American nation as then organized was built to preserve and defend bondage. This complicated their involvement in the political process immensely. But most antislavery Americans though that the Constitution was at least implicitly an emancipationist document. It had its faults, but by refusing to name slavery it denied national recognition of property in slaves. They considered it drafted by the founders with the expectation that over time its mechanisms would bring slavery to an end.
Lincoln was one of the latter school. By preserving the United States, Lincoln understood himself as preserving an order which would ultimately destroy slavery. So preservation of the Union isn't abolition of slavery in the sense of the 13th amendment or so forth, but to Lincoln and others saving the nation meant saving not just the nation as it was, but the nation as they saw it steadily becoming: a nation without slavery. The two are somewhat intertwined.
And quotes and links have already been supplied (And thanks, guys), but since I'm here:
Arturius Fischer wrote:
Interesting post, I suppose, but the conradictory nature of the information and its interpretation by the author makes it somewhat less than convincing.
There's only a contradiction if you think that the reason one side starts a war must also be contested by its diametric opposite on the other side. That might sound reasonable at first blush, but falls apart on closer analysis.
If, however, you'd like a more elaborate parsing of words then here it is:
The immediate cause of the Civil War was secession followed (and occasionally preceded) by attacks on US property. The cause of secession was the preservation of slavery.
This is the standard academic formula, but it's generally more than most people are asking. It doesn't take a great deal of thought to understand why people would fight against an insurrection, especially against a fairly democratic for its time government. So the question is usually about what the CSA got worked up over, not why the United States fought to maintain itself.
but many claim that wasn't the MAIN focus.
Many random people, maybe. Many historians? Nope. The only significant debates over the war's cause, barring small points about individual actors or minor glosses on events, involve how it was all about slavery (the current parties are fundamentalists and neo-revisionists) and whether or not it was inevitable. (This usually isn't argued as such anymore, but shows up in debates especially of late antebellum compromises.)
I sense you want to hear more about these. Actually no I don't but I want to write some more about them and I'm the boss of me.
The Fundamentalists and Neo-Revisionists do not disagree on facts, but rather how they should be interpreted. Broadly speaking, fundamentalists consider the antebellum South sufficiently invested in slavery that all of its complaints were prima facie complaints about slavery. It's always front and center and to some degree the white South is clearly united upon it when push comes to shove.
The Neo-Revisionists believe most of the same things, but for them various issues that white Southerners raised may have been genuine, but all have slavery at their root. Thus they're interested more in dissent within the South than consensus and, to some degree, more convinced of the influence of individual actors.
Classing historians into these groups can be tricky unless they tell you themselves. Rarely do I see people naming names, but when they do the choices seem eccentric. Elizabeth Varon (author of Disunion!) had reviewers remarking on her odd choices. William W. Freehling reads to me like a fundamentalist, but considers himself a neo-revisionist.
The other dispute overlaps with this one somewhat. Historians do not like to call anything inevitable because it writes them out of a job, but a great deal of antebellum scholarship revolves around the question. It's generally somewhat tied up with understandings of the war as tragic or needless, but not necessarily so. The players are the Irrepressible Conflict historians (taking their name from a William Seward speech) and the Blundering Generation historians.
Broadly speaking, Irrepressibles think that a war of some kind was coming at some point over the future of slavery because the sections had developed differently to the point where old compromises and so forth could not indefinitely endure. Furthermore, their internal developments were generally accelerating and exacerbating this trend. The South was more united and proslavery in 1860 than it was in 1830, and more so then than in 1776, etc. The North was conversely more antislavery, albeit not to the same extent. These trends tended to feed into one another.
The Blundering Generation school holds that while the differences were real, compromise had managed at least an uneasy peace for all the nation's prior history. Why should it fail now? They argue in various forms that individual actors either lacked the ability compromise or actively sought to heighten the contradictions in ways that the generations prior (there was a significant generational turnover in major politicians in the early 1850s) had refused to do. This usually, but not always, comes with a similar conviction that the war was a needless, tragic waste and generally implies it when not stated.
The Blundering Generation approach usually spent more of its time castigating antislavery Americans than it did Southern radicals, which is an interesting choice that just coincidentally echoed the complaints of proslavery southerners. It's largely fallen out of fashion for that reason, though one sees occasional throwbacks among cranks. (And more rarely, historians. Michael Holt identifies himself as a blundering generation guy.) We tend to see Blundering Generation ideas more popular during or in the wake of controversial wars. Holt has, at least occasionally, bitten the bullet the whole way and implied that we're being wrongly presentist in arguing the war was worthwhile because it sacrificed seven hundred thousand lives to free four million. I don't think that's very persuasive. He sounds like he's saying that we should't take emancipation as worth a war because nineteenth century Americans didn't, but that sounds downright perverse for a modern historian. However, I'm not familiar enough with Holt's work to really comment on the details. Maybe I'll know more once I read his book on the Whigs.
There are occasional points of genuine debate still around. One of the major cornerstones of the Blundering Generation argument is the notion that William Seward (Whig-NY) put his fellow Whig Archibald Dixon up to torpedoing a more moderate version of the Kansas-Nebraska Act because he expected it would unite the northern populace against slavery. Seward claimed that he'd done this. I don't think Dixon ever acknowledged it. Problem is that relations between antislavery Whigs like Seward and proslavery Whigs like Dixon were very toxic by early 1854 and it seems unlikely that even if Seward did make such a recommendation it would have decided Dixon.
Both of these debates have interesting and not always intuitive interactions with with trends in broader US historiography in the twentieth century. But that's going pretty far afield.
It depends on one's philosophical tastes. Overgeneralization works. So does oversimplification or excessively reductive. Analyses like "all wars are about power" might be trivially true, but also communicate next to nothing about them. Certainly they don't tell anybody anything that they don't already know or anything about any particular war. They're easy and sound profound, but often serve as a way to avoid talking about the actual issues at stake.
These explanations also play into the "everyone's a cynical bastard, damn them all" school of thought which appears on its face sophisticated but overlooks both important moments of real idealism motivating people to act against many of their apparent best interests and the fact that a single disposition spectrum of understanding (everyone is gray) is infinitely more simplistic than a two disposition spectrum of conventional goods and evils. Neither is adequate for understanding the past. Both are dangerously misleading. Doing it right involves a lot of careful distinctions and nuance. At some point humans really do resist simplification and you've got to try understanding them complexly.
I've read that Lovecraft was softening up quite a bit in the 30s, endorsing the New Deal and condemning the Nazis a bit before it was fashionable. Granted you could be deeply racist and condemn the Nazis, but what I've read suggests that he was taking a bit broader of a lesson from it than that they in particular sucked. I haven't read the material from which the scholar arrived at that position, though. It could be one of those cases of getting a bit too close to the subject and wanting to read more into the text than is there.
The question of whether Lincoln really would have ended slavery or not without the civil war is irrelevant: what matters is if the south THOUGHT he would end slavery, or prevent its spread into the the new states (which would eventually end it later)
Lincoln did not think he could end slavery before the war. Both he and the South understood his election as the possible beginning of the end for slavery. It matters in that without keeping it in mind a lot of Lincoln's actions during the war don't make much sense.
Its true that most people fighting for the south didn't own slaves. But like with all wars you don't say "Get out on the battlefield and fight for how I make my money! Oh, and I'm exempt because I own slaves because I'm needed at home". You spin the propaganda machine to be about something else: states rights, freedom! Northern invaders, blood and glory! When the blacks are free they'll kill you in your sleep!
That was mostly after the war. States rights talk in particular is almost a whole-cloth creation of he defeated Confederates themselves. Realizing they weren't likely to get their slaves back, they sought sympathy by pretending they went to war over some kind of constitutional esoterica and slavery was just a small part of it, rather than the only part of it that mattered in the slightest. Alexander Stephens and Jefferson Davis were big players here, but there were many others. In the actual antebellum record, one finds that white Southerners discover states rights when they believe the national government beyond their control and forgot them as soon as they learned otherwise. This is why states rights is generally understood by historians as a method by which goals are to be achieved (or frustrated) rather than an end in itself. Thus a citation of states rights should be met at once with the question of states rights for what.
I think the best answer I've ever gotten for that one was "for the states to decide things!" At least he understood on some level that it was a means and not an end, even if he got confused halfway through.
This tendency, incidentally, seems characteristic of states rights enthusiasts in general. If you've just lost the election, everything is unconstitutional, should be nullified*, etc. If you've just won it, then the very same things become clearly constitutional and nullification is a species of treason. There's an ancient paper by the senior Schlesinger on the subject that's just pages on pages of this stuff on every conceivable subject.
*Supplemental information on nullification theory that probably no one cares about:
*This is a slightly anachronistic phrasing. Nullification was invented in South Carolina in the 1820s and intensely controversial even within the state. Pre-nullification arguments about unconstitutional federal overreach usually looked to state governments to issue remonstrances and protests and/or seek justice in the federal courts. SC tried to claim the heritage of the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions in the 30s, but failed because the documents are vague, only declarations of sentiments and protests rather than attempts at actual remedy, and, erm, when someone asked James Madison (still alive at the time) if that's what they meant, he came back with a big no. The whole theory and process that SC laid out was a genuine counterrevolutionary innovation.
Before and during the war, most white southerners probably legitimately believed that emancipation wouldn't just ruin the planters but also inaugurate a genocidal race war. They were obsessed with the example of Haiti and saw it acted out again in things like the Denmark Vesey plot and by Nat Turner. There were recurrent panics, especially in heavily enslaved areas, about real or imagined revolt conspiracies. They were emphatically fighting for slavery, even if not all of them agreed with the strategy in itself (Stephens opposed Georgia's secession, for example.) and some of the ordinary soldiers were recruited at gunpoint.
It's true that most soldiers didn't own slaves, but remember most soldiers were young men and slaves were expensive. How many eighteen year old army privates today own houses?
However, you didn't need to personally own slaves to have a strong investment in slavery as an institution. You could come from a slaveholding family. (Recent studies of the Army of Northern Virginia have suggested that a larger than average number of its soldiers came from such a family.) If you did that, then you literally grew up with slaves in the house. You expected to inherit them. You might have had a personal slave given to you or grown up with an enslaved kid you would own later on. (Some of these personal slaves ended up going to war with their enslavers, since they didn't have any choice in it. The Confederacy used a lot of slave labor to handle logistics too.) Your family made its livelihood by stealing it from slaves, at least in part. Barring that you might also have rented slaves from a planter to help out now and then.
Furthermore, your realistic hopes for advancement almost always involved slaves. The South had a serious shortage of white labor. Slaves wouldn't demand better conditions, pay, or go off when they got a better offer. They certainly weren't going to save up and then move to the next state over to open up their own slave labor camp. Whites could do all of those things and might literally refuse to do work that slaves also did. One of the ways a white southern boy could get ahead was to score a job as an overseer. Many of them ended up with their own slave labor camps.
If you were or came from a small farming family, it's very likely that while you knew the local planters did not treat you as a true equal, you also knew you could depend on them to help you out from time to time. This was the norm in the plantation belts. Eugene Genovese describes a typical situation here (JSTOR paywall, but readable with a free account):
There's a lot of reason to buy into the system that has very little to do with not knowing one's own best interest. Did the rich take advantage? Sure. But the less well off whites could judge their interests as well as anybody and could see that those interests largely coincided with keeping slavery around even if they didn't hate the crap out of black people. And they also hated the crap out of black people. If you dig back into the roots of this in early Virginia, it turns out that they started hating black people so they could exploit them, rather than the other way around.
It's certainly true that enslavers could manipulate racial anxieties to get support...but the enslavers shared many of those anxieties. They went to bed every night with a slave in the room or just outside the door. Slaves cooked their food and watched their children. They were genuinely pants-wetting terrified that, being vastly outnumbered in their own homes, they knew the tiniest thing could bring the whole system crashing down. It's not like they were blind to the signs of slave resistance, no matter how much they tried to rationalize them. They could count the broken tools. They could recognize when commands were "misunderstood" rather than misunderstood. They knew slow work was quiet defiance. They damned well knew that the whip, which they considered essential to management, did not win them friends. Neither did all the rape.
That little spark could come from something as simple as a slave hearing a Fourth of July speech, or learning that such people as abolitionists existed. Enslavers routinely believed their property far more ignorant than they really were, and could convince themselves that African-Americans were "natural" slaves who would only cause problems if they got crazy ideas into their heads from elsewhere. Thus even discussion of slavery where slaves might hear, which was anywhere in the South, became a dire threat which required extreme measures to combat.
The obvious examples don't require rehearsing. Regular lynchings of whites that didn't seem sound enough on slavery handled the small-scale stuff. That Quaker that just moved to town? The Irishman with his funny accent? Those Germans over there? That Yankee? That one enslaver that operated a Bible school for the slaves? Any one of them could be the next Bin Laden, wittingly or otherwise. Especially if someone's slave went missing. Arguing that the state should embark on a plan to gradually bleed away its slave population was enough to get Cassius Clay stabbed in Kentucky, hardly at the heart of slave country.
William Henry Harrison, who in past adventures lobbied to get the Northwest Ordinance's slavery ban suspended. He was the Whigs' first president, pretty long in the tooth by the time he took office, and died thirty-two days into his term.
Incidentally, this footnote ended up being a huge deal. His VP was John Tyler, a fairly radical proslavery man from Virginia. Tyler positioned himself as a states rights Whig, which put him in a fairly marginal place in the party. He'd been a Democrat until quite recently before. As president, His Accidency was hated by everyone. He was too much an old school Democrat for the Whigs and too much a traitor for the Democrats. The Whigs actually expelled him from the party.
Tyler decided that he'd like to have a term of his own and figured the best way to do that was prove he was a southern, proslavery Democrat from way back. Thus he campaigned hard to get Texas stalled annexation attempt through Congress. He got a treaty to do things properly, but then could not get the 2/3 of the Senate to sign on. Also his term was running out.
So he ended up cheating. Treaties required 2/3 majorities, but a joint resolution worked on a simple majority. This was extremely irregular and greeted with great controversy, but he got his majority and Texas took the offer. This, technically at least, means that Texas didn't so much negotiate as an equal to get into the United States as accept some shady charity on its behalf.
There's also some really convoluted stuff with how Sam Houston was playing the British and Americans against each other in a kind of heads-I-win, tails-you-lose double bluff with the somewhat, but not entirely, aware cooperation of the American state department under Abel Upshur (another proslavery Virginian of the Tyler school) and then John C. Calhoun when Upshur got blown up. Yes, literally blown up.
Of course Texas had a dispute with Mexico over its independence and where its border ran if it was independent. This was one reason that Americans opposed annexation, though there was also the partisan element (Whigs tended to oppose, Democrats favor) and the slavery angle, as well as the huge honkin' size and the fears that a state that big might destabilize things badly. To settle the border dispute, a US Army under Zachary Taylor (Yes, we have to talk about Taylor and Tyler together. Blame the dead people for having similar names and being prominent at similar times.) into the disputed territory, where it promptly clashed with Mexican troops. Everything worked as designed and we had the Mexican War, bringing with it more land to argue about slavery over.
Harrison might have done something similar anyway, but he wouldn't have had the personal need to do it to save his political career like Tyler did.
Two random things:
Hi, I'm Samnell and I study middle nineteenth century US history.
I'm here to correct some frequent errors in the pop culture-oriented understanding of the Civil War. In most cases, seeing through them requires no more than an exercise of the dark arts of reading. I think this covers everything in the late eruption, but let me know if I forgot something. I tried to be thorough, which necessarily makes this long. I've culled the misinformation from a recent post and years of rather tedious experience, but it was asked that this be taken to another thread. So here we are.
Claim: The war wasn't about slavery at all!
If the war wasn't about slavery then nobody ever told the Confederates. Four rebel states passed official statements of their causes when they passed their ordinances of secession. Each one was drafted by the body authorized by the voters of the state to decide whether or not they would attempt to leave the United States, voted on by that body, and published as a public statement of their reasons. These documents are revealing and ought to be read in full. I'll link to each in turn. Here they are in order of secession ordinance:
South Carolina noted that in ratifying the Constitution, the states placed themselves under various obligations.
South Carolina wrote:
The Constitution of the United States, in its fourth Article, provides as follows: "No person held to service or labor in one State, under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labor, but shall be delivered up, on claim of the party to whom such service or labor may be due."
Without this, the Fugitive Slave Clause, South Carolina held that it would not have ratified. And for a while, the system worked. If your slave ran off, you could go and get your slave back from another state. But the times? They were a-changing:
South Carolina wrote:
The General Government, as the common agent, passed laws to carry into effect these stipulations of the States. For many years these laws were executed. But an increasing hostility on the part of the non-slaveholding States to the institution of slavery, has led to a disregard of their obligations, and the laws of the General Government have ceased to effect the objects of the Constitution. The States of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa, have enacted laws which either nullify the Acts of Congress or render useless any attempt to execute them. In many of these States the fugitive is discharged from service or labor claimed, and in none of them has the State Government complied with the stipulation made in the Constitution. The State of New Jersey, at an early day, passed a law in conformity with her constitutional obligation; but the current of anti-slavery feeling has led her more recently to enact laws which render inoperative the remedies provided by her own law and by the laws of Congress. In the State of New York even the right of transit for a slave has been denied by her tribunals; and the States of Ohio and Iowa have refused to surrender to justice fugitives charged with murder, and with inciting servile insurrection in the State of Virginia. Thus the constituted compact has been deliberately broken and disregarded by the non-slaveholding States, and the consequence follows that South Carolina is released from her obligation.
I don't know how much more plainly one can say this. There's a great deal of throat clearing about the nature of the nation as understood by South Carolina as of December, 1860, but it says in black and white that the free states are increasingly hostile to slavery and have disregarded their obligation to aid in the return of fugitive slaves, therefore South Carolina is free to secede. This isn't something that the secession convention made up after a really epic bender down in Charleston, but rather a straight out fact. Back in the 1840s, the Taney Court ruled in Prigg v. Pennsylvania that while enslavers had a right to cross state lines and seize the human property that dared steal itself from them, the states did not have an affirmative duty to facilitate that. They could pass laws barring the use of state facilities or the cooperation of state law enforcement in the recovery and rendition of slaves. These laws are usually referred to collectively as Personal Liberty Laws. The states that SC names did just that.
The slave states, always and only exponents of states rights when the right was slavery and always and defenders of the unlimited power of the federal government to suppress any species of state sovereignty employed to impede slavery or in any way threaten the right to hold slave property, had in fact demanded the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 to overrule all of those laws, expanding the power of the national government to the degree that refusal to cooperate in slave renditions became a crime and providing the power for a slave catching expedition to deputize you on the spot to help. If you refused, you were guilty of that crime. This is a slave patrol draft.
But South Carolina had more sweeping grievances than Personal Liberty Laws ten years dead, or even the fact that after several high profile renditions and a few dramatic rescues had practically nullified the Fugitive Slave Act by 1854. (The last major rendition, that of Anthony Burns from Boston, literally required the Pierce administration to call out the Army and Navy.)
South Carolina wrote:
We affirm that these ends for which this Government was instituted have been defeated, and the Government itself has been made destructive of them by the action of the non-slaveholding States. Those States have assume the right of deciding upon the propriety of our domestic institutions; and have denied the rights of property established in fifteen of the States and recognized by the Constitution; they have denounced as sinful the institution of slavery; they have permitted open establishment among them of societies, whose avowed object is to disturb the peace and to eloign the property of the citizens of other States. They have encouraged and assisted thousands of our slaves to leave their homes; and those who remain, have been incited by emissaries, books and pictures to servile insurrection.
Let me break those out for you:1) the free states assumed that they had a say in whether or not slave states should have slaves
2) the free states deny that a right to property in slaves exists
3) the free states denounce slavery as sinful
4) the free states have permitted societies that condemn slavery, encouraging slave revolt and absconding
5) those socieities have gone and done just that, to the tune of thousands of slaves, and distributed antislavery materials which prompt slaves to revolt
Furthermore, South Carolina held that the free states in their perfidy elected an antislavery president:
South Carolina wrote:
Observing the forms of the Constitution, a sectional party has found within that Article establishing the Executive Department, the means of subverting the Constitution itself. A geographical line has been drawn across the Union, and all the States north of that line have united in the election of a man to the high office of President of the United States, whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery. He is to be entrusted with the administration of the common Government, because he has declared that that "Government cannot endure permanently half slave, half free," and that the public mind must rest in the belief that slavery is in the course of ultimate extinction.
This deed, South Carolina insisted, was done
South Carolina wrote:
in some of the States by elevating to citizenship, persons who, by the supreme law of the land, are incapable of becoming citizens; and their votes have been used to inaugurate a new policy, hostile to the South, and destructive of its beliefs and safety.
They let black people vote, even!
I've handled South Carolina's declaration in some detail. I don't intend to replicate this with the others because the grievances are largely the same.
Mississippi acted next
Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery-- the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun. These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization. That blow has been long aimed at the institution, and was at the point of reaching its consummation. There was no choice left us but submission to the mandates of abolition, or a dissolution of the Union, whose principles had been subverted to work out our ruin.
That's the opening paragraph, incidentally.
Florida and Alabama came next, but neither published a declaration like the first two did. A document exists for Florida, but it's not clear if it was ever officially approved and so we can't ascribe to it the same imprimatur we would to the others.
This brings us to Georgia
For the last ten years we have had numerous and serious causes of complaint against our non-slave-holding confederate States with reference to the subject of African slavery. They have endeavored to weaken our security, to disturb our domestic peace and tranquility, and persistently refused to comply with their express constitutional obligations to us in reference to that property, and by the use of their power in the Federal Government have striven to deprive us of an equal enjoyment of the common Territories of the Republic. This hostile policy of our confederates has been pursued with every circumstance of aggravation which could arouse the passions and excite the hatred of our people, and has placed the two sections of the Union for many years past in the condition of virtual civil war. Our people, still attached to the Union from habit and national traditions, and averse to change, hoped that time, reason, and argument would bring, if not redress, at least exemption from further insults, injuries, and dangers. Recent events have fully dissipated all such hopes and demonstrated the necessity of separation. Our Northern confederates, after a full and calm hearing of all the facts, after a fair warning of our purpose not to submit to the rule of the authors of all these wrongs and injuries, have by a large majority committed the Government of the United States into their hands. The people of Georgia, after an equally full and fair and deliberate hearing of the case, have declared with equal firmness that they shall not rule over them
The reference to equal enjoyment of the territories refers most explicitly to the matter of Kansas, where a proslavery government elected by massive fraud abetted by lynching, tarring and feathering, and all manner of other violence and threats of the same, contended with a free state government that seeing actual Kansans virtually written out of their own governance, established their own. But territorial grievances go all the way back to the Northwest Ordinance, which banned slavery from the future states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and a corner of Minnesota. They continued in the Missouri Controversy, which was settled by letting Missouri have slavery essentially in perpetuity but excluding it from all other states formed from the Louisiana Purchase south of its southern border.
The subject erupted again during the debates over the annexation of Texas, which was not done by treaty in part because Texas claimed a vast swath of territory (most of which it had never exercised any control over) and practiced slavery. This would include land north of the Missouri Compromise line. Texas annexation brought the Mexican War in due course, which resulted in more territory. Most of that territory ran below the Missouri Compromise line. But remember what I said about the Lousiana Purchase? The Mexican Cession was not that and slavery had been abolished in Mexico decades before. So David Wilmot (D-PA) proposed, in the famous Wilmot Proviso, that the same language that kept slavery form the Northwest Territory be applied to the Mexican Cession. The South was outraged and the outrage got worse when they found gold in California and consequently it had sufficient population for statehood almost overnight. The Californians voted overwhelmingly not to have slavery. The eventual settlement for all of this brought the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, let California come in undivided and free rather than split or with slavery imposed upon it, and left the status of New Mexico and Utah carefully ambiguous. Both territories instituted slavery in the late 1850s.
Which brings us to 1854 and Kansas. I'll spare you the really interesting and somewhat complicated story unless someone wants to know, but the short version is that as the price for opening up Kansas to white settlement a collection of Southern politicians demanded that the Missouri Compromise be struck down and slavery permitted everywhere not yet a state. They go their way, under the fig leaf of "popular sovereignty". The argument was that the people of the territory would decide one way or another, but this was instituted to and understood by all parties as meaning that the people, who already had the power to vote slavery in when they became states, would now have the power to also vote it in earlier. It was ambiguous as to whether or not slavery existed in a jurisdiction by default and freedom had to be voted in, or the other way around. In actual practice, slavery was a creature of state law that national law recognized somewhat inconsistently, but Southerners routinely maintained that slaves were property and like all other property was guaranteed by the Constitution.
In overthrowing thirty years settled law, a sectional compromise that most understood as absolutely fixed and inviolate, the South and its northern allies outraged even men in the North who had rarely ever given slavery a thought before. They instituted a party to redress this, the Republicans. They came close to winning the 1856 election and did win in 1860.
This brings us to Texas, the last Lower South state to act.
Does this all adequately speak for itself yet? Possibly not. Let's hear the Vice-President of the Confederacy on the issue.
Alexander Stephens wrote:
Don't believe him? He was there. But I sense you want more data. The states trying to bolt the United States send commissioners to other state states to try to convince them to join the party. These men made speeches and wrote letters that, as official communications from states lobbying other states, we should understand as similarly expressions of reasons why states would wished to quit the nation. Even when they address states that did not ultimately secede, their appeals inherently reflect what they think should induce a state to follow their lead and why the states appointing them took chose the course they did.
This is from JLM Curry (Alabama) to the governor of Maryland:
Have you noticed any common themes yet?
Claim: Lincoln fought to return fugitive slaves to the South.
I take the official oath to-day with no mental reservations and with no purpose to construe the Constitution or laws by any hypercritical rules; and while I do not choose now to specify particular acts of Congress as proper to be enforced, I do suggest that it will be much safer for all, both in official and private stations, to conform to and abide by all those acts which stand unrepealed than to violate any of them trusting to find impunity in having them held to be unconstitutional.
Furthermore, when slaves did arrive at United States lines and owners sought to recover them, no clear policy at first existed. Some were returned on the authority of officers on hand, but Benjamin Butler declared absconded slaves contraband of war as their labor would be used to support the rebellion. Therefore, the Army had the power in time of war to seize them and hold them without compensation to deny their labor to the enemy. This soon became official policy and thereafter the advance of US Armies routinely resulted in slaves coming to those lines to seek their freedom, however tenuous it might then be.
Claim: Lincoln fought to keep slavery as is.
Claim: Lincoln suppressed the Maryland legislature, preventing them from meeting.
However, it appeared in the spring of 1861 that Maryland might have an active insurrection. It included tobacco country on the east side of the Chesapeake and in the state's southern reaches that was pro-Confederate. The loyalty of Baltimore was suspect as well, and there we soon had a problem. The railroads leading to washington went through Baltimore, but did not connect directly. The first armed units answering Lincoln's call to put down the insurrection had to disembark and march through town to board a second train. A mob shadowed the 6th Massachusetts on that path and eventually attacked it. They threw stones, bricks, and eventually drew guns. Under apparent attack, some of the soldiers opened fire without orders. Four of them and twelve Baltimore residents didn't make it out alive. The four soldiers were not the first deaths of the war, technically. During the surrender of Fort Sumter, a cannon exploded during a salute and killed a man. But these were the first combat deaths of the war.
It looked like this was going to happen again and again. Baltimore's mayor and chief of police, both Confederate sympathizers, applead to Maryland's governor for permission to destroy the rail bridges that carried soldiers in from Philadelphia and Harrisburg. He reluctantly agreed. Secessionists tore town telegraph lines linking the capital with the rest of the nation as well. For days, no news could get through and it looked in Washington like they had an enemy army active to their north. Public buildings were fortified in expectation of attack.
A few tense days passed, but then the 7th New York arrived, with more trains behind it. They took a long route, via Annapolis, and only arrived because Benjamin Butler (the contraband guy) got word of the bridges being out and disembarked his troops ahead of the break in the line. He seized a steamboat, landed his men at Annapolis, and railway workers in his ranks repaired the damaged tracks.
Martial law was imposed on Baltimore, but given all this you can hardly blame anyone but the secessionists for it. At this point, the governor finally called the legislature. He expected bad news, but the legislature contented itself with a pro forma denunciation of war, a claim of state neutrality, and outright refused to either debate an ordinance of secession or to call a secession convention for the job.
So first off there's nothing to suppress, since no legislature in session. Then when one gets into session in mid-May, it doesn't consider any such thing as rebellion.
I realize that this isn't the actual claim most recently offered up on the Paizo boards, but it's a common one so I wanted to address it before and as context for getting into the next. It seems our resident neo-Confederates can't even get their bad history correctly bad.
Claim: The Maryland legislature was going to revoke Lincoln's suspension of habeas corpus.
Taney denied that Lincoln had the right to suspend the writ at all, noting the provision that authorized it in cases of rebellion was in the article on the Congress. No Congress was then in session. (The 37th Congress met in special session from March 4 until March 28, but then adjourned until July 4.) Furthermore, the line is a clear emergency power and does not in itself specify that Congress must suspend the writ to suspend it, only that it may be suspended.
There's a bit more going on here, but this is the essential nut of the case. I'm already seven pages in, so I've got to cut details somewhere.
Claim: Lincoln didn't emancipate any slaves for two years. Obviously it wasn't that important to him.
When it became clear that the war would not be over by Christmas, or in a single decisive battle, things changed and Lincoln changed strategy with them. The South relied on slave labor. By taking it away and making every advance of the Army into an advance of freedom, he could deny the rebellion that labor source and simultaneously make it available to the United States. He justifed this under his war powers as commander-in-chief, not under ordinary powers that any old president possessed whenever he felt like using them.
Furthermore, Lincoln supported previous emancipation efforts. The First Confiscation Act implicitly gave Congressional imprimatur to Butler's contraband argument, allowing the seizing of slaves being used by the Confederacy. The Second Confiscation Act specifically authorized the freeing of the slaves of any Confederate who refused to surrender within 60 days. Lincoln signed both acts, which is a damned strange thing for him to do if he only magically started caring about slavery two years into the war.
Claim: The Emancipation Proclamation freed slaves, but only to draft them.
The Enrollment Act of 1863 wrote:
able-boded male citizens of the United States, and persons of foreign birth who shall have declared on oath their intention to become citizens
From the Naturalization Act of 1790 onward, citizenship was limited to "free white persons." A freedperson, or even a black American born free, could not be a citizen. This changed with the Fourteenth Amendment.
Because the proclamation was an expression of Lincoln's war powers, he did not consider himself to have the authority to emancipate slaves in areas not in rebellion and where the United States government had something resembling ordinary functions. Thus Lincoln exempted the loyal slave states, but notably he declined to exempt from its effect many areas under United States control where civilian governemnt was not then functioning.
Was the Emancipation Proclamation a military act? You bet. There was, after all, a bigass war on. Was it limited? Yes. Did the United States do nothing for the slaves beyond its reach? Well, what could it do? They were out of its practical power, it was capable of doing nothing. But per its own terms, as soon as the slaves came within the ability of the United States to do something, they became free. Did it only apply during the war and do nothing thereafter? Nonsense. Go read it. The words are "forever free" not "free until the war ends, then good luck". If that doesn't suffice for you, then know that Lincoln was anxious that some peacetime court might overrule the proclamation and put the freedpeople back into slavery. Thus he spent months lobbying intensely for the Thirteenth Amendment. You can see a version of that in the Spielberg movie.
I intend to let my current subscription expire. Very little magazine cash actually goes to the grant-writing apparatus and Nat Geo has been essentially a peer-reviewed adventure travel magazine with occasional science and history content for most of the time I've read it, but I did appreciate it for what it was.
There's also Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family (often anthologized as The White Ape), which is literally Racial Slur: The Short Story.
Rosita the Riveter wrote:
And America is one of very few cases where violent revolution didn't beget either tyranny or more violent revolution (granted, whether our Revolution did not beget the second is actually rather debatable). It really does seem like we are the exception, not the rule.
Hop in your time machine and go ask the slaves about tyranny. For that matter, ask suspected antislavery whites who dared speak about it too far South. Of course it's true that the US did not collapse into tyranny or violent revolution. The latter already existed. We did have a violent revolution that ended up overthrowing it, though. And another that overthrew most its gains after.
This is not just me being a killjoy and bringing up the slaves. The enslavers themselves were very cognizant of the clash between the patriotic rhetoric in the typical Fourth of July speech and how they governed both their human property and the white men they insisted having that property around made their equals. These considerations notably did not fuss most of them enough to do something so radical as do more than idly dream of a day when the continent would be a whites only establishment, but they thought about the tension from time to time.
So did their critics, who did quite a bit better when push came to shove. It's a bit nauseating when they get into how enslavers want to enslave and sometimes already had enslaved whites as well as blacks in the full knowledge that nobody was coming to steal their children, but they're not entirely wrong. For most of the slave states, arguably as early Bacon's Rebellion, slavery created freedom and one could not exist without the other. The rhetoric and strategies for defending it varied, but they routinely took precedence over any other right an individual might imagine having. Slavery was in practice, and sometimes admitted in as many words, the one indispensable freedom. It absolutely trumped speech (except occasionally on slavery's northern frontier) and religion. (To the point where denominations that were avowedly antislavery were largely driven from the Cotton Kingdom.) It frequently prevailed over the sanctity of the ballot box, to the point where an entire ideological movement was built around how the majority could not ever rule when that rule would imperil slavery. Seeing this, antislavery Americans routinely damned enslavers as despots and tyrants. They only had the facts on their side.
I think that's the case where he recommends reading Pauline Maier's classic work Popular Uprisings in Eighteenth-Century America.
Quite. I thought I'd written up a thumbnail sketch, but looks like I managed to edit that away. Way to go, me.
Maier argues that 18th century mobs almost universally acted in conjunction with and often led by local elites and acted routinely to supply deficiencies in Imperial government. Or to put it plainly, the colonists often weren't getting enough government attention, or found imperial government too slow and unresponsive, and so under the leadership of local elites they would go out and do the job. This occasionally included tax protests, but there's actually quite a lot of things like setting up smallpox quarantines and, if I recall the article right, even building roads. A mob would be got up for that kind of thing, do the job, and then disperse. The circumstance was hardly ordinary, but the event itself had a clear order. It wasn't a bunch of random yahoos with guns who assigned themselves roles as constitutional arbiters so much as the leading men of the community directing their social subordinates.
Eighteenth century America might have been egalitarian by European standards, and somewhat freer with the franchise, but that still left plenty of room for it to be exactly that hierarchical. It wasn't until around the turn of the century that your employer became "boss" instead of "master."
Mobs fell out of fashion as soon as it became clear that the state was aligned with local elites and sufficiently responsive to their will, as well as constituted to handle redress to their satisfaction. This process generally progressed at a slight lag behind the advance of the American constitutional movement. So 18th century mobs should be understood not as necessarily a check on government but far more often a practical, if unofficial adjunct to it. Wildcat mobs often prompted the same local elites that a decade or two before would have led a mob themselves to call out the militia for its suppression.
Maier concerned herself with the 18th century, but I think her observations generally hold for later outbreaks of mob violence. Kansas Border Ruffians, for example, justified themselves in essentially Maier's terms. So did the classic lynch mob. In fact, lynching declined essentially as the modern police state rose up with its more sophisticated, thoroughgoing means of racial control. The formal state had fallen somewhat out of alignment with local elites, so they turned to mobs. During the transition, you had situations where the police would apprehend someone imagined to have violated Jim Crow norms (guilt never entered into it) and then turn him over to a mob at a scheduled time. Thus you get headlines boasting that three thousand gathered to burn so and so alive at the proper time on the courthouse lawn.
We can make the argument that our local insurrectionists fit into that tradition too. They certainly understand themselves that way. But the complaints match reality infinitely less than those of the under-governed of British North America did. In either event, they face the same problem as Lincoln highlighted as a young man and which, incidentally, I'm studying the process of as played out in the Territory of Kansas.
Personally? I think you need a lot more than routine functions inherent in and indispensable in some form to every legal system to justify so much as a verbal protest, let alone armed men. I'd place the minimum bar for that at least to the point that free soil Kansans faced in 1855 (flagrant election fraud gave them a government that then proceeded to force on them a high-handed and oppressive slave code that literally outlawed antislavery speech, combined with quite a bit of freelance violence and threats thereof, up to and including one from a former senator to genocide antislavery whites out of Kansas, to keep Kansans from their own polls and suppress dissent against slavery) to think about stockpiling arms. Kim Davis makes for a viciously, insultingly poor imitation of John Brown, Nat Turner, Gabriel Prosser, or Denmark Vesey.
Zelda Marie Lupescu wrote:
So, did this happen in the 60's too when they legalized interracial marriage? I'm sure it had to... Wonder how long it took to get it all figured out.
Less how long it took to figure things out and more how long it took to drive opposition underground. Same arguments, same tactics, same people. Every time. They might as well just glue the white hoods on. So a realistic timeline until they give up the ghost? (Usually literally. Medical advances have their cruel side.) Alabama had laws banning interracial marriage on the books until 2000. Call it thirty-three years.
The latest in the continuing saga of Samnell Reads William W. Freehling. Fair warning: This chapter is deeply complicated. There are repeated references to "abolitionists" that one should take with a small mountain of salt. Freehling clearly knows they're not abolitionists in the Garriosnian sense, or even qualified antislavery, but "aboltionist" in the time and place tended to include anybody who expressed the slightest doubt about slavery, ever, no matter how tentatively. He forgets to make the distinction now and then between SC-sense abolitionism and the regular kind.
Also I think I got it at the end, but there's a point in the muddle where the plot is truly lost. I think Freehling gives a lot more credit than I would for impotent good intentions. There's probably a bit of an issue also in that he's writing before it was considered normal to delve into slave narratives to understand slavery. Not really his fault as a freshly-minded doctorate about five or six years before that started changing.
Deep social anxiety shown in hysterical answer to harmless threat. SC lowcountry had “morbid sensitivity” to embryonic abolitionist movement in North. Actually distant threat even in ‘32. Still, lowcountry in regular uproar for decade before. Early 20s lowcountry into nullification “partly to win constitution protection against a nascent abolitionist crusade.” Hysteria served as measure of guilt & fear (probably more the latter) that made slavery disturbing.
Late 20s: a few antislavery types get a small movement going. ‘21: Benjamin Lundy starts The Genius of Universal Emanicpation newspaper. ‘28, William Lloyd Garrison takes over Bennington, VT Journal of the Times, writes first antislavery editorial & first petition. 2000+ signers. ‘29, David Walker, free black, publishes Appeal urges slaves to revolt. January 1, 1831, Garrison founds Liberator. By eve of crisis, Nat Turner and imagined connection with Garrison make the paper notorious.
But ‘32 Garrison has few supporters. New England Anti-Slavery Society founded at end of 1831, only gets 11 signatories to constitution. Fundraising: none bust $100 in contributions.
Bigger factor: “mounting evidence that the slavery issue could not be kept out of national politics.” 20s started with Missouri debates. Emotions raised scare pols, so leaders try to bury it. ‘24 OH legislature brings it back promoting national gradual emancipation. ‘26 presidential delegation to Panama Congress of Spanish-American nations causes freakout: delegates would have to deal with Haitian representatives. This would implicitly endorse slave revolts. ‘27 ACS asks congress for aid, bringing another fight. Hayne-Webster debates of ‘30 end up focused on slavery in this environment.
However, most Americans didn’t care. Even most Southerners not worked up. Slavery not a major national issue until gag rule controversy in mid-30s. SC unusual. So worked up “could not tolerate the slightest signs of a growing abolitionist attack.” Leading Charlestonian wrote in ‘23 “All the engines and all the means and machines, which talent, fanaticism, false charity, fashionable humanity, or jealousy or folly can invent, are in dreadful operation and array.”
SC especially saw ruin in emancipation. Abolition meant : plunder, rape, and murder. Slaves too savage and degraded for freedom, so ending slavery meant race war. Also, $80 million of slave property to lose. Upcountry might save themselves off land values, but tidewater had much larger investment, improved lands + slaves. Blacks could never work without the whip and the swamp would kill whites who tried to replace them. Frederick Dalcho of Charleston: “The richest, most productive land in the State, must be forever left waste. [...] Can we reasonably be expected to submit to this state of things? Certainly not by reasonable men.” Abolition bigger economic threat than any tariff.
Mere possibility of abolition enough to make slavery most explosive issue for Congress to face. Paranoia about it pervaded South throughout antebellum, becoming more intense with abolitionist successes. Lowcountry stubbornness in 20s “more explicitly a reaction to the first stages of the conflict over slavery.” Issue in transition era not whether slavery should be ended, but whether could even be discussed. If emancipation meant race war, then talk could incite servile insurrection. Abolitionists also forced defense of slavery, which many considered abomination they ought not defend.
Abolitionists held 4th for everyone, which turned any abolitionist tract “incendiary”. Must be kept from slaves. Declaration of Independence nearly as dangerous as Walker’s Appeal.
Lowcountry, high slave population and large number of recent imports, always most wary in whole South of revolts. Watched Missouri debates with concern. Governor John Geddes “the Missouri question ... has given rise to the expression of opinions and doctrines respecting this specie of property, which tend not only to dimiinish its value, but also to threaten our safety.” Calls for measures to oppose disruption of “our domestic tranquility.” Laws thus enacted to half increase of free blacks: no more freeing slaves, free blacks barred from state. Heavy penalties on selling “incendiary” papers.
Nullification the work of many hands, but “most responsible” Denmark Vesey. (Section concerns Vesey as understood by SC whites, so more recent debates over just what, if anything, actually happened shouldn’t be relevant. Sources are white reports, accounting for some weirdness.)
Vesey part of Africa Church. (AME of late shooting.) Slaves built it in December, 21. Connected to groups in Philadelphia, which informed Vesey’s politics alongside Missouri debates. Vesey considered blacks children of Israel, liked passages encouraging slaves to revolt. Joshua 4:21 “And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword.”
Logic and preaching not working? No problem, Vesey used lies too. Said Congress freed slaves during Missouri debates, Haiti promised reinforcements to help revolt. Don’t want to join? Maybe he kills you. Had nasty temper. Conspirators claimed to fear him more than owners, Yahweh.
Vesey’s ideas fusion of Age of Reason, “ruthless savagery of a barbaric chief.” Lieutenant Gullah Jack, guy with tiny limbs, big whiskers, apparently creepy dude. Angola-born, came with other 40k imported to SC in early century. Worked as witch doctor. Vesey got him involved early on. Gave parched corn and ground nuts to eat on rebellion day, crab claw to carry. Would bring aid of African gods.
Vesey had more luck organizing in city than plantations. Country slaves heard about it, but communication with Charleston fell apart week before uprising. Vesey tried to help by scheduling revolt for Sunday, evening when some would come in canoes to sell in Charleston. Ultimately event mostly contained in city.
Country slave organization issues not determinative. Bigger issue: slaves of harsh masters not open to it. Too afraid. Slaves with “kindly” masters who felt something more like freedom more receptive. (Remember, this is the white SC POV.) Conspirators largely trusted house servants or mechanics who hired time and controlled shops. Risk inherent: better-treated slaves had more to lose. Might actually like owners in the qualified way a slave could. Recruiters told don’t trust slaves who have nice gifts from owners. Didn’t accomplish much. Most still trusted slaves.
Vesey depended on white carelessness. Patrols only armed with clubs and bayonets. Guard made cash selling alcohol to slaves and so didn’t enforce curfew. Go to the right bar and you’re fine.
Stables, arsenals unguarded. Slaves had access to horses. Some lived in livery stables. Easy mounts. Main door of arsenal easily forced. One guy had key to a store with 100s of muskets and powder. Neck arsenal, upper guardhouse, powder magazine all similarly easy.
Conspiracy meant to take advantage of previous. Rebels had six units for surprise attack. Gather separately but strike at once. Vesey, Peter Pyoas would pose as white. Vesey ordered two good wigs. Planned to just walk into guardhouse. If challenged, help already on the way. After guardhouse, would pass out guns from arsenal. Gullah Jack would take store with guns & powder. Ned Bennett, neck arsenal. Others major roads.
Attackers would face cavalry. Slaves would stand ready in gardens of mansions to kill owners who took to streets. Houses isolated from street would make easier. Revolt to begin at midnight.
To win, needed complete victory in first phases. If successful, almost all town arms all in slave hands. Plan geared for taking Charleston. Beyond that vague. Poyas wanted to hold town against whites. Vesey wanted to sail for Haiti.
Plans start in ‘17 when blacks opt to leave white churches for own. Delayed when whites break up church in 20. New church in 21, in suburbs, ideal meeting place. Late spring 22 Vesey makes tentative plans, set for Bastille Day. Divided units based on original tribal affiliations.
May 30, house servant talks. Fingers William Paul, secondary figure in plan. Paul confesses next morning. Implicates Mingo Harth, Peter Poyas, two major guys. Both laugh it off well enough to convince the whites. Paul in solitary.
June 8, Paul fingers Ned Bennett, trusted house servant of Gov. Thomas Bennett. Bennett cooperates, denies it all. Whites convinced Paul lying. Second close call in 10 days.
Conspirators worried. Can only get lucky so often. Vesey moved date up to June 16. June 14, second conspirator fesses up. Indendent Hamilton, Gov. Bennett in frenzy. Order our 5 companies on 16th, commanded by Col. Robert Y. Hayne. Vesey suspends plot. Uneasy night in the mansions. Lowcountry never forgot the close call. Edwin C. Holland: “Let it never be forgotten that “our NEGROES are truly the Jacobins of the country; that they are the anarchists and the domestic enemy; the common enemy of civilized society, and the barbarians who would, IF THEY COULD, become DESTROYERS of our race.”
Next 2 months, 35 blacks hanged, 37 others banished. Rebels wept openly. Poyas asked if wanted to murder his owner. Smiled. Leaders refused to name names, meaning Charleston knew conspirators still loose.
Planters had large numbers of slaves, believed Africans savages, now at Gullah Jack and tribal loyalty to remember. Charleston fretted over example of Haiti and possible connection with Vesey. Fact that most famous personal servants in state made it seem no one could be trusted. Gov. Bennett left wife and children with Rolla when away. Rolla in on conspiracy.
Biggest legacy: compulsion to answer abolitionist propaganda and stop slavery debates in Congress. Considered debates a cause of revolt. Fruits of abolitionism. Proved abolitionists wanted race war.
Charleston Fire Scare of 26 similar to Vesey scare. 22 conspiracy, despite planning, seemed bit wild. “Grotesque fantasy.” But if couldn’t buy race war, then all owners fretted by passive resistance, sabotage. Unorganized campaign to set fires fit in that. Fires kept Vesey fears alive.
If Vesey, Fires alarmed, then lack of spreading revolt reassured. Conspiracy easier in city, but easier to put down. In summer, Charleston almost half white. Out on plantations, overwhelmingly black. Conspiracy-free idea of plantation broken by discovery of plot in Georgetown. Jails packed with suspects. One guy advises to take care to keep enough slaves to bring in the rice. At least six rebels convicted and hanged, maybe more.
29: Georgetown council asks 5k of state for guard. Upcountry opposes heavily, but money sent. Year later, Georgetown asks more. Appeal essentially admits slaves almost out of control. Committee on Finance agrees, thinks if guard removed all the revolts come back. Committee list of issues: “The existence of insubordination among the slaves, the immense number of that class of population in the surrounding county, the sparseness of the White population, the extreme sickliness of the climate in the summer easy and consequently the almost total desertion of the Town during that period.” But upcountry blocks 30 appropriation.
Georgetown, like Vesey, pinned on Yankee abolitionists. Rice planters point to Yankee peddlers who meet slaves in night, trade alcohol for stolen supplies, talk of civil rights. Charles C. Pinckney (Constitution signer), rice planter, estimates with 50 years experience that quarter of his rice stolen.
22, 26, 29 conspiracies worried lowcountry, but Nat Turner took the fear statewide in 31. Turner’s 70+ murdered almost 60 whites, most successful antebellum rebellion. Far from SC, never spread, but threat of good example made for panic. Columbia vigilance association: 1,500 reward for capture of any distributing “incendiary pamphlets”. Camden: patrol ordered maneuver “with added vigor”. Laurens: 2 slaves convicted of announcing what they’d do if Turner came by. Union: “a great many” jailed, women, children gathered together for better guarding. Charleston, rumors of bloody uprisings at Cheraw, Georgetown force Robert Y. Hanye, Henry L. Pinckney to issue calming statements. Legislature approves 100 man cavalry unit, Charleston Horse Guard. At least one upcountry county did similar.
To white SC, cause of Turner as scary as chance for spread. VA Gov John Floyd claimed Yankee peddlers at root of Turner, nurtured in black churches, slaves turned to “madmen” but Jesus + abolition tracts in public letter to SC Gov. Hamilton.
Decades of calm didn’t count for much in lowcountry due to high black population. Four serious insurrections in a decade pre-Nullification looked like a trend, especially coming after white attacks on slavery. Vesey two years after Missouri, Nat Turner less than year after Garrison’s Liberator. By 32 lowcountry convinced even slight antislavery growth leading to increasing revolts.
In long run, decade of Vesey-Turner “great period of slave conspiracies in SC.” Maybe abolitionists influenced slaves by making masters uneasy and thus vulernable-looking. Could have read into owners hesitancy in face of antislavery attack. After 35, “positive good” and tighter control, less dare revolt. By 60 SC probably less worried about it. Conspiracies and fear product zeitgeist of south in transition, as SC works up to defending an abomination against “outsiders who believed abominations should be abolished”
But even if life imitated myth, slaveholders woul dhave had issues. 4th July would keep contradiction between freedom & slavery in mind. SC social code worked against idyllic myth. Insists on conversation between equals, condemning slave it also required to fawn. Slave hopelessly degraded. Even on own terms, utopian plantation illegitimate form of exploitation.
Reality rarely approached myth. Slaves could live up to fawning stereotype. Owners could indulge house servants and develop kind of friendship. But every planter had resistant slaves. Imposing discipline made for “grim, ugly way of life.” White lament, slavery subjected: “the man of care and feeling to more dilemmas than perhaps any other vocation he could follow.”
Dilemmas all about problem of control. Vesey showed indulged slaves could resist. Few went to Rolla Bennett extremes, but resistance through sabotage, laziness. Stock portrait of slaves: happy and banjo-strumming, bloodthirsty savage, outwardly innocent but cunning laborer who could cleverly misunderstand, loiter, destroy. A soft touch would not in itself stop rebellions or produce efficiency. Punishment, whipping, etc accepted as necessary.
Planters tried to escape reality. Pre-Vesey, owners bragged about progress in liberal slaveholding. Tried no whipping and positive incentives. In Charleston, slaves let gather without supervision for socialization, religion. Many given comforts, allowed education. Vesey proved this could not endure. Must crack down for, period quote “on the only principle that can maintain slavery, the principle of fear.”
Whipping distasteful to those who bought into myth of slave-as-friend. Upsetting to whip house slaves one was close to. issues most clear in Charleston, where many slaves personal servants and whipping had to be done by owner, not some overseer. Charleston council voted in 25 to built treadmill in workhouse masters could use instead of whipping. Very popular with them.
Large planter might be close to house slaves, but less issue with field workers. But still “his people”. Most successful rigid and strict rarely need to punish, but even they needed “break in” slaves. Overseers could never forgo lash for long.
Some planters had limits they couldn’t get past, even with tortured consciences. Cause of some lazy pace, inefficiencies on plantations in decline. But those who couldn’t go there often ende dup whipping all the same, often whipping more than the strict ones in the end. Weak discipline encouraged resistance, even occasionally to violence. James Edward Calhoun, in 26, sees James Kirk. Told by him if Kirk lives 10-15 years longer, slaves would take control over him. Whips in passion, often for no reason, then is guilty.
In late 20s, leading SC whites admit laxity frequent. Suspect covert abolitionists. Soil slave, then go severe, which prompts running. Smartest slaves sent out of state because can’t be governed. Southern Review argues “great evil of the system is its tendency to produce in process of time, laxity of discipline, and consequently, disorders and poverty … by the excessive indulgence of careless or too scrupulous masters...some of the worst symptoms of the time are owing to this ill-judged, but we fear, inevitable facility and indulgence.” (Terrible how slavery didn’t make people evil enough.)
Guilt more than philosophical. Gulf between myth and practice significant in every discipline issue. Planters who skipped fear for kindness courted bankruptcy, revolt. Inconsistent punishment had flareups, needed to sell rebellious. Consistent had least trouble long run, but always had to go through breaking-in people.
Many planters not fussed by this. Morality and discipline issues not a significant burden for them. Other extreme, few sold out to get out of driving slaves. Others managed by treating slaves kindly, discipline permitting. Plantations fall apart with control running on indulgence and incentive. Punishment and fear made kindness more effective. But kindness never quite enough.
Disease pushed planters to rely on overseers, raises other issues. Contracts required overseers to treat slaves moderately. Overseers often fired for failing to do so, too much whipping and too little medicine given out. But real metric of overseer success always crop yield. Like slave traders, overseers more involved in brute capitalist side of slavery than paternalism. Helped earn them loathing. Young, often incompetent, and on their own, probably made slavery worse. Hammond specifically blames cruelty on absentee enslavers, overseers.
Absenteeism puts planters in paradox. Shielded from how they make their money during summer and so able to ignore cruelty more, owners of hundreds who rarely saw them also had few personal ties that might mitigate worse of exploitation. But also had the leisure and cash to spend on moral debates. Less refined planters with personal engagement less likely to have doubts. Possibly explains why Charleston interested in “liberal” discipline.
Freehling calls whole section speculative. (Telling he only has Hammond quotes.) Thinks diseases, overseers, and absenteeism might have intensified guilt in lowcountry. However, still less important than intense fear of revolt. Unease either way.
Pre-Vesey, many indifferent to religious education. Some slaves learned to read for Bible. Others run classes out of white churches. Others form own churches. But Vesey demonstrated risk. Classes and churches disbanded. Rev. Richard Furman: Bible approves of slavery, but Gospel for everyone regardless of status. Reading Bible required of all. Teaching literacy largely over by 22, but not legally forbidden for a decade thereafter. Even oral instruction frowned on. Some slaves go to church with owners, but no missionaries going out into swamp to find the majority. Slave preachers fill the cap, but soon discouraged by planters. Most lowcountry planters consider Christian slaves laziest and hardest to manage. Thus most slaves in lowcountry de facto left without.
Late 20s suppression uncomfortable for whites. Charles C. Pinckney requested a missionary for his slaves, caused controversy. He argued slave preachers bring persecution, secret meetings. Best way to fight slave preachers was with white preachers.
Pinckney reaction minor compared to Beaufort planters two years after. Caught up in revival, several form association to support traveling missionaries. As slaves “dependent” planters must train slaves in religion. Call for crusade to save souls. Henry L. Pinckney (relation to Charles?), editor Charleston Mercury, toned down association’s plea before publication. Plan widely condemned. Still attacking idea 3 years later. Idea did not spread to other parishes. Mercury never prints anything about it again.
Now and then someone started sunday school for slaves, but planters usually got in the way. In 33, Francis Goulding founded one in Columbia. Slaves needed written permission to come, classes open to white observation. Goulding started with pictures instead of text, but community realized that’s how children learned. Demanded something else. Goulding switched to slips of paper with quotes, which slaves had to give to owners. Owners would read aloud until slaves memorized. Slaves figured out how to recognize words, ended up literate. Goulding finally gave over to strictly oral instruction and no homework. Even then often called to answer city council. Late 33, forced to give itup when locals learn he’s a colonizationist.
Basic problem: planters did not trust clergy and teachers who volunteered. Had a point: no other SC or US group criticized slavery so severely. Synod of SC, GA ministers in Columbia, Dec 33, demanded slaves be taught Gospel and spoke of institution:
“We are chained to a putrid carcass; it sickens and destroys us. We have a millstone hanging about the neck of our society, to sink us deep in the sea of vice. Our children are corrupting [sic] from their infancy; nor can we prevent it. … If that were all, it would be tremendous. But it follows us into youth, into manhood, and into old age. And when we come directly in contact with their depravity in the management of them; then comes temptations and provocations and trials that unsearchable grace only can enable us to endure.”
Planters not fond of this stuff, unlikely to trust slaves with authors even if clergy big on how bible loves slavery.
Early 30s, Thomas Clay of GA argues clergy shortage requires planters to run nightly services. Late antebellum, people adopt idea but in 30 SC, angrily opposed. Inspired one lowcountry planter to wonder if he was really himself a planter. Evangelical preaching big on inspiration and persuasion, planters reply on discipline, command. Also Baptist/Methodist minister more exhorter than commander. Good slave management required complete supremacy. Overseer/owner turned preacher risked ambiguity, undermined authority. Whitemarsh Seabrook (future secession conspirator in 50, 51) thought whole thing designed to undermine slavery.
Discipline prevents planters from solving religious problem, even if they preached themselves. Most argue special education for slaves if preachers orthodox on slavery, oral-only. Clergy too suspect for much ground to be gained until late 30s. By 33, only 12 white men n whole South working entirely to minister to slaves. Only one in 20 member of white church. Sermons pitched to well-educated whites, so often lost on slaves. (Curious if Freehling would stand by that today.) Slaves in white churches noted for “their stupid looks, their indifferent staring, their profound sleeps, and their thin attendance.” With revivals sweeping South, contradiction heightened.
Though a curse, per SC of 20s, necessary evil which South did not originate, could do nothing to end. Villains were yankee slave traders, who “forced slaves on resisting southerners in colonial days.” Victims not slaves, but planters who had to enslave them to avoid race war. Yankees treat free blacks worse than South does slaves. Slaves protected from sickness, old age, unemployment vulnerabilities.
SC admitted slavery evil in 20s, tolerated idealists publishing emancipation. Lesson of Vesey, per 22 pamphlet, was “indulgent masters were the first sacrificed”. Slaves needed “great severity” but “God forbid that such a plan be adopted! Humanity forbids it.” Way out of dilemma: convert sand hills and pine barrens to wineries, cultivating white population sans slavery that would make space for emancipation. Robert Mills, future Washington Monument architect, suggests draining swamps. Lowcountry would be healthy for whites then. Profits from white labor then used to emancipate, colonize. Frederick Dalcho, Charleston minister, in 23, hopes free states would buy plantations and slaves, send slaves off to Africa. Expected SC planters to sell eagerly, even at a loss. Yeah, right.
Most SC whites reject “utopian” schemes. Committee of state House argued government can’t confiscate, must buy. Thus freedom would cost SC 80mil, before colonization costs. Abolition right in theory, impossible in practice. Thus no sense in allowing antislavery talk. Committee concluded slave unrest because of such talk.
Necessary evil argument lacked persuasive foundation. SC mind divided against self. Evil rests on idea that utility appropriate standard for politics, expediency chief restraint. But SC whites, as Chrisitans and Americans, argued action must derive from the right, a priori postulates. SC wanted to believe slavery should remain because necessary, but couldn’t overcome argument that if wrong, must be abolished on natural rights grounds. Even if could settle on South preserving the evil, could not escape personal responsibility for involvement. They could have lived in some other place, away from slaves. Chose to stay.
Planters in contact with Yankees, often beat in debate, sometimes persuaded to covert abolitionism. Yankee peddlers lead planters astray too, or so claimed by other planters. Fears of intellectual colonization by antislavery north. Lowcountry moderate, John Townsend: “The chances are as ten to one” abolitionists could “exhort” “some admissions which are neither true in principle or in fact...witness the effects of the too easy acquiescence of Planters in the doctrines and schemes of these wily plotters. … What means the womanish qualms of conscience which we so often witness among many of our own citizens, as to the justice and morality of keeping men in bondage?” Argues every planter should devote himself to proslavery dogmas. (If this guy is moderate, suggests Freehling read way too much into some pro forma doubts.)
Several SC whites publish proslavery polemic in 20s. Early versions of positive good argument. Indicate sensitivity to undeveloped abolitionist movement before 32. Small number arguing for positive good demonstrate unease which kept SC high-strung and sensitive. Most advanced proslavery men reluctant to call slavery good in 20s. Lots of qualifiers.
Theorists often ministers, see abolitionists as threat to their congregations’ orthodoxy. In answer to Vesey, Richard Furman 23 argues planters “embarrassed” by moral arguments, slaves denied permission to read. Both problems fixed if community accepts slavery as Biblically “lawful and right.” Then planters could let slaves read and hear preaching, since would not be perverted by abolition ideas.
But in 20s, still qualifiers. Lot of the oppressed should everywhere be ameliorated. Frederick Dalcho prayed slaves eventually freed, colonized. Furman saw liberty still as big deal, even if slavery right.
Secular defenses also qualified. 22, Edwin Holland argues slavery ancient institution, approved in Bible, necessary for lowcountry, but slavery “an evil, the curse of which is felt and acknowledged by every enlightened man in the Slave-holding States.”
Whitemarsh Seabrook publishes tract pointing to worldwide antislavery advance, argues planters must gird for fight. But confesses southerners “detest” slavery.
Edward Brown 26 publishes similarly. Slavery necessary step to civilization. Universal quality “barbarism”. But also attacks southerners who argue slaves have it easy. Slavery “alien to the feelings and principles of the human mind”. Praised societies free from it.
Gov. Stephen D. Miller, 29, calls for tariff fight to check abolitionists. Goes beyond necessary evil. Slavery “national benefit.” “Upon this subject it does not become us to speak in a whisper, betray fear, or feign philanthropy.”
Benefit is rice and cotton. Slavery no worse than free labor, philosophically. Slavery better “from a political POV.” When laborers slaves, poorer classes have no vote, thus not “bribed to disturb property relations.” More an argument for restricting suffrage than slavery. Also, same speech, calls for bankruptcy legislation to bribe debt-ridden farmers to stay in state, against creditor property rights. (These guys do not do consistency, do they?) Argument did not go far. Mostly ignored, now and then hostility.
Proslavery argument in 20s getting stronger, but fragmentary, qualified, not widely accepted. Few convinced many that slavery a blessing, just as few SC “abolitionists” did. “Huge majority” “distressed” but see no way out. Stick with necessary evil until after nullification.
SC worked to keep discussion buried. Mere presence of antislavery lit, or even “a handkerchief stamped with Negroes in a state of defiance” could cause panic. Charleston papers don’t report on conspiracies, upcountry papers only give limited coverage. Lowcountry editors refuse to engage on issue. Pre-33, editorials all about necessary evil, emancipation too dangerous to broach.
32, VA leg does month of debate on slavery. Richmond paper makes worse by printing them, shocking even SC unionists. Benjamin F. Perry, moderate, would not “comment on a policy so unwise, and blended with so much madness and fatality”. “Sober” Camden Journal refuses essay against VA debates because it would raise the subject. These were the moderate, restrained types.
Fire-eaters flip out, denounce VA printer as “the apostate traitor, the recreant and faithless sentinel, the cringing parasite, the hollow-hearted, hypocritical advocate of Southern interests … who has scattered the firebrands of destruction everywhere in the South.” Up in DC, Duff Green thought printer deliberately making trouble. Charleston Mercury calls discussion “fraught with evils of the most disastrous kind.”
Maynard Richardson dares raise issue in early 32. Son of judge, editor of Southern Whig, invited “liberal and guarded” discussion of slavery. Argued that silencing invited Yankee attack, suggests weak cause, unwillingness to face scrutiny.
Prints letter from “W.E.” Discusses issue in abstract, thus safest: Is it a good argument for slavery that Yankees abuse free blacks? Invited tu quoque. ALso should not blame slave traders for creating slavery, since just passing buck. Does black intellectual inferiority justify slavery? Blamed that on slavery itself, keeping them from reading, learning. Why do so, except that they know the injustice? (This at least sounds like something antislavery in a national sense, if really aimed more at debating tips for slavery’s defense.)
Rival paper strikes back, calling for greater vigilance in patrols. Refuses to answer WE. Too many slaves too close to allow discussion of any kind. Even a refutation would risk too much.
Richardson answered that the sensitivity on display looked guilty as hell, challenged rival’s manhood. But backed off on printing more slavery discussion, picked newspaper fight with rival to hide how many he’d alienated. Dirk vs. pistol fight ensues, people turn out to watch, want to join in. Richardson’s father, a judge, started mixing it up. Many walk away with bloody heads, torn clothes, but spectacle gets discussion away from slavery.
Fight most dramatic repression display, but hard to reconcile silence with “virgorous defense” in DC. SC leaders convinced always must suppress smallest indications of antislavery movement. Otherwise would sweep north and provoke revolts in South. Needed support at home to sustain fight in Congress. Had to propagandize for slavery to get that. Would end up talking slavery either way.
Conflict between Washington militancy and repression in SC essence of SC 20s dilemma. Keeping it buried back home prompted strident attacks at mildest proposals of 20s. Crucial appeal of nullification over tariff: way to check abolitionists without slavery debates, or so they imagined.
But slavery tensions in upcountry too. Nat Turner sets off scares all over. Goulding school in Columbia, up country, and shut down. Richardson fight in upcountry. Prosperous lowcountry still had mortgage issues enough to get upcountry squeeze. Upcountry, though less slavery-tense, afraid enough to get lowcountry. Further, excellent communication between groups.
Yeomen and mountain types, plus Charleston merchants, not fussed by depression or abolitionists. Both did well in 20s and neither relied on slavery for profits. Natural foes of nullifiers in 20s and 30s.
That was a bear to write, but I think I got a fair bit out of it all the same. I'm four or five chapters on from here now and I had no memory of this one at all until going back through.
Next up, the move from qualified nationalism to qualified sectionalism. It's only...about fifty pages.
Grey Lensman wrote:
Bit of a shame, that. The ignorance means that people miss out on the intense similarities. And by "similarities" I mean "the same crap every damned time."
Someone simply must put in a good word for all the conscientious Christian enslavers too. Those guys get no credit. Why, some of them had such scruples that they had to hire men at considerable personal expense to torture their slaves into maximum productivity. (Bobby Lee did this at least once. At major slave labor camps it was standard.) Downright saintly. Some of the bleeding hearts even gave cash to the American Colonization Society to rid the continent of the scourge of free black Americans.
I am persuaded that those arguing same-sex marriage should have been pursued by the most arduous paths, ensuring it remained unavailable to the largest number possible for the longest possible amount of time, are just expressing heartfelt constitutional convictions rather than deliberately scheduling its arrival for quarter to never. So it has always been.
Also, I am a sentient tomato with six legs who lives in a swimming pool on Venus.
GM Niles wrote:
The timeline here suggests a bit over 50 days. Not all of that time was unattended, but it seems like he laid there on his own for a good long while. He also recovered remarkably well for a guy who should have more than a month of muscle atrophy.
Rapid collapse is a genre convention the show seems keen on. Part of what interests me about FWD is seeing how well they can sell that. I'd probably keep watching just for the characters (and I watch The Walking Dead for that) but I'm very curious to see how much thought went into the end of civilization.
Gay Male Inhuman
Insufficient rum. Insufficient sodomy. Surplus lash. Boards went down halfway through writing this. I saved the text, but the rolls will be different now. I'll go through and try to correct everything, but let me know if there's weirdness.
Galin dared the ladder and cultists gathered above. He scaled it and found himself nearly surrounded by enemies, pressing past and taking a cudgel to his shoulder as he approached the priestess with the glaive. He thrust his blade deep into her side.
With an enemy before them and their best efforts made, the mongrelfolk cultists fall back to the east, down a narrow tunnel and toward a barricade.
Back with the noncombatants, Saito remained on his guard and declined to join the rush up the ladder just yet.
Mongrel AoO: 1d20 + 4 + 1 ⇒ (13) + 4 + 1 = 18
Mongrel AoO: 1d20 + 4 + 1 ⇒ (16) + 4 + 1 = 21
Damage: 1d6 + 3 ⇒ (2) + 3 = 5
Dire rat AoO: 1d20 + 1 + 1 ⇒ (13) + 1 + 1 = 15
Dire rat AoO: 1d20 + 1 + 1 ⇒ (8) + 1 + 1 = 10
Glaive priestess AoO: 1d20 ⇒ 8
816 damage has got to be a typo. :) I see 1d6 weapon, 1d6 holy from blessing, plus a crit for another 1d6 and doubling the str bonus, so 8 on top of that. Is the blessing damage an exception to the general rule that +dice damage isn't multiplied on crits? Or is this some house rule I made to crits and forgot about.
Some guy named Samnell, ages ago wrote:
I think we all forgot that one. :) It's not a huge issue right now, but probably will be when things go mythic. Anyway, looks like Galin should get:8 damage from the base hit (including his blessing) + 3 extra from the crit (taking the better of the two rolls) +4 more for str, adding up to 14.
Or house ruled:
Eh, since we all forgot about the change, I'll go with the standard for now. 14 to the priestess. Neither would be enough to drop her, but she's hurt pretty good.
Abelard's next. Order is Yridhrennor, Priestesses, Theran, Steave, Galin, Cultists, Saito, Abelard, Rats.
Ladder Climb details: This ladder is a DC0 climb check and only 10 feet high. No need to roll, just count your climb movement at double cost.
The woman with the crossed swords icon is the one with the glaive.