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Samnell's page

Pathfinder Society Member. 5,548 posts (6,108 including aliases). No reviews. 2 lists. No wishlists. 11 aliases.

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Here we are. I put up The Rise and Fall of the American Whig Party. I will come back to it because it is good, if also tedious and suffering from a pretty glaring fault in its argument. It's just not the kind of history I can take right now.

Put it up for a series of Transformers comics, 80s vintage. Never read 'em before and only casually a fan of the franchise. They are toy commercials with all the faults that entails, but they do work fairly well as mostly standalone issues with a loose ongoing plot. Got the first four collections in a Humble Bundle a year or two back, so I read through those. Don't know if I care enough to seek out more of the old stuff, but I've heard good things about the newer IDW ones and I partook of a second Humble Bundle for them. I'll get there eventually, though it looks like I'll need to sort out where the story begins.

Read The Nightmare Stacks. Really liked the protagonist for reasons probably obvious to everyone who reads more than a few of my posts. Would like to read many more books starring him, which will probably never get written. The romance angle worked as a joke (it's consciously structured like a romantic comedy) but I had a little trouble buying that they were that into each other. I get that they're both inexperienced and blundering through. It still came off like a high school thing that's going to last a few months, which undermined the conclusion a fair bit. Probably would have forgiven all of it if it were two dudes, though. Who the hell puts vampires and heterosexuality in the same work? Just disgusting.

Then it was back to non-fiction, which I kicked off with Sven Beckert's Empire of Cotton. I was warned going in that it's dry and tedious, but I don't think it's too bad on that score. Maybe I've read too much Eric Foner. There are certainly parts which are repetitive, but it's a global history s there's a lot of space to span with all its complexities. Beckert is great about laying out his argument in the plain and returning to it often, which is more than I can say for a lot of historians. I tend to note the general trend when he goes into numbers and them blip over. I think I'm about halfway through, but here's the basic thing:

Cotton was the world's first ~industiral ~capitalist affair; it's at the heart of the first industrial revolution. All that's old news. Capitalism is a government program, the product of intensive and extensive statecraft. (Ditto.) It was produced to meet the growing demand of mechanization by the commission of atrocities on a global scale, which Beckert terms war capitalism. WC is the process of states forcibly reordering areas and regimenting labor on their periphery to serve production in the metropole, in ways that just aren't going to fly back home. Cotton cultivation was imposed in just about every way something can be imposed and to meet the demand that the states were creating required massive deindustrialization (in India in particular) and our old friend slavery. Once the periphery is re-ordered into something semi-stable, war capitalism can and probably will transition into industrial capitalism. Basically, this is the process of making an empire, hence the title.

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I'm on a podcast again. Part one for anyone who missed it. Less political dealing and more parties falling apart in this one.

In book news, finished up River of Dark Dreams yesterday. It's really good, and about the only survey work that's not just about filibustering which integrates it in the southern landscape, but it takes a surprisingly long time to get there. That's doubly weird since Johnson seems to have set out to do it from the start. The other 2/3 of the book are still great, but about half of it feels like it belongs in some other work. I wonder if he had a good portion written before he hit on the question of seceding to, rather than from, as a way to organize the work.

Mother shared my podcast with some ladies she sews with, which led to one of them loaning me a local history of Leavenworth, KS. I didn't ask; it just came into my hands. Looks like it's a fairly standard, member of the genre (heavy on genealogical details, not much analysis) but I'll find some time to look it over. Just not right now. Instead today I begin Frederickson's The Black Image in the White Mind.

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Ingrid Vita Yuri wrote:
Here is AZ's submission.

She's on the list.

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Dommer wrote:
Hi GM! Just a couple small fixes on the submissions tab: Elemental Annihilator is the archetype for Geokineticist, and Feral Hunter is the archetype for Hunter. :) Thanks for including me on the list. mean the elemental AT is for the class that has elemental powers and the hunter one is for hunters? Dammit Paizo, why do you name these things so counter-intuitively? It's specifically to cause me trouble, isn't it?

Wanders off ranting.

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Comrade Anklebiter wrote:

Given the repeated appearance of white supremacists, heavily armed Oathkeepers and Soldiers of Odin at our local BLM rallies and demos, our topic for our commie branch meeting tonight is Fascism. Last night I re-read a pamphlet of Trotsky excerpts:

FASCISM: What It Is and How To Fight It

Then I read a couple of chapters in A Clash of Kings.

It's not from a communist perspective, but I've heard good things about Paxton's Anatomy of Fascism. Only read parts myself, mainly on the Klan, but it's pretty approachable.

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Almagafor wrote:
How are we feeling about Leadership? It matters for my domain selection.

We are fine with leadership.

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Orannis wrote:
For the fluff, I think it'd be fun to do something in the realm of a Half-Orc foreigner who Unther hoping for easy mercenary work and wound up stuck there for the last few years. Hates the place, but doesn't mind too much working for Zummabu specifically.

That would fit in just fine in Dalath, though if he's visibly orcish he may have some RP challenges.

Also I checked and it's cestuses in English. Because I am a dork. :)

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Still in Slave Country, but there's something else relevant to my reading. I'm on a podcast, talking about the Kansas-Nebraska Act because of my reading.

So...that happened.

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thejeff wrote:
Much like you couldn't really have an African-American analogue without the slave trade and slavery. You can have African analogues, certainly, like you could have Native American analogues of various kinds.

I looked at Sargava with an eye towards making it a more Haiti-like colonial/post-colonial nation and setting for an Age of Worms game, but I gave it up because Sargava's actually really close to being Ira Berlin's Atlantic Littoral: the Game. (To the point that I suspect someone at Paizo read Many Thousands Gone.) It didn't make sense to change that into a New World slave society.

And also I study American slavery so my rendition of a slave society is probably way too dark and real world uncomfortable to be much fun in a game. I try not to talk to a friend about it anymore because I was giving him nightmares.

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HP 7/7 l AC 16, T 14, FF 13 l CMD 12 l F +1, R +9, W +3 (+5 vs. fear) l Init +12 | low-light vision; Perception +5 | Sanity 41/41, Threshold 5, Edge 20
Acrobatics +8, Bluff +9, Diplomacy +9, Climb +2, Escape Artist +7, Linguistics (B) +4, Perception +5, Sleight of Hand (B) +7, Stealth +12
L1: 2/3
Male halfling enigma mesmerist 1

Ha! Feliks let the keys slip back into his gown before Doctor Scaen could see, being sure she'd entirely lost sight of him before he drew the keys back out and opened the cell.

"I'll get the doors, friends. It'll not see me," he whispered. He slipped out into the room, on his way to the next cell over.

Sorry I can't get there any faster. These shapely legs only stretch so far.

Dirty Secret Rules:

Move action: use the keys and open the door.
Move action again: 20 feet toward the cell next door.

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Kirth Gersen wrote:
Ray Bradbury's The Illustrated Man. It was one of my favorites when I was maybe 12, but I'm not sure I have the same opinion now. Some of the stories ("The Rocket Man") I'm finding quite moving now that I'm an adult with a kid of my own; others ("The Man") I'm finding overly-preachy to the point of being obnoxiously grating. My favorite as a kid ("The Veldt") just seems not to have stood up very well.

Is The Man the one where Jesus is hopping around the planets and this one guy is trying to catch up and see him? I think it's one of the most anti-religious things I've ever read, though it was clear to me even at age fourteen that Bradbury thought just the opposite.

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Finished up Many Thousands Gone. This is how it works: Berlin has three generations of enslaved people. These aren't literal generations, but they are consecutive in time. The Charter generation are the very first slaves in mainland North America. The Plantation generation are the ones who follow and experience the plantation revolution. The Revolutionary generation are the ones around for the American Revolution. Each of these has a part of the book devoted to it.

Then you have four regions: the Chesapeake, the Lower South, the North, and Louisiana, basically. Each region has a chapter in each part which attempts to cover all the things about slavery in that region.

Then you have major events and agricultural trends that play out radically differently in each section. Then you have distinctions between old school Atlantic Creoles, locally born slaves, and recent imports. In Louisiana, add an established class of free people of color AND a selection of Haitian diaspora free people of color AND their slaves. In the Lower South, Louisiana, and just a little bit in the Chesapeake, add maroon communities. In the Lower South and Louisiana, add Spanish and French colonial policy. Everywhere add the slave's personal economy. In the North add in distinctions between well-off free blacks and poor free blacks and between those who see respectability in white society and those who reject it. Then throw in distinctions between created African (not African polities, general African invented over here) and African-American identities. Layer multiple racial theories on top.

It's really complicated. Each chapter could have easily made for a long book and some of them feel like they are one. There's so much going on that it's ridiculously good and gets almost impossible to follow just from having so many moving parts. And it stops at about 1800. And I did not have near the grounding in colonial-era slavery to follow it all, but that's ok because almost nobody did at the time. Most American slavery studies focus on the nineteenth century and the colonial people were usually not interested in looking because, hey, that's nineteenth century content. Particularly for a certain type of revolutionary-era historian, it's also historiographically inconvenient.

Fried my noodle enough on that for just now, so I picked up Elizabeth Pryor Brown's Reading the Man, which claims it's not a biography but is sort of a biography of Robert Lee. It's just organized as a series of chronological letters by him and his intimates, many of which Brown used for the first time, which she quotes in full (usually) and then analyzes. My benchmark this summer for reading has been one chapter a day. I did about six or seven yesterday, including a lengthy prologue, and another three today.

That prologue was worth reading, but a certain point it turns into a historian gushing about sources and that's enchanting reading for maybe a page or two. She uses rather more than a page or two.

However, highlights:
Lee had an older half-brother, Harry IV. His old man was Harry III, the Revolutionary War general/historian/broke-ass dude that left the country to escape his creditors. (He also had hot wax poured in his eyes.) Harry IV was a married man, lived in a plantation house with really steep, high front steps. (Lee was born there.) One of his kids took a tumble down them and died. His wife took up laudanum. Harry IV found this oh-so-boring. He had a young ward, a girl in her teens. By what a letter calls "some dark art" he seduced her.

She got pregnant. She gave birth. The newborn was found dead in an outbuilding. They don't say he killed the baby, but everybody thought so. Harry IV's ward was also a relation of his, though the Lees are super-into marrying cousins, to the point where they crack jokes about it, so that's not totally unusual. Massive scandal. Dude eventually decamps from Virginia, goes west, and becomes a speechwriter for Jackson. When he comes back he defends his past conduct by quibbling over just what the technical definition of incest is. (He was functionally and legally her father when he did this, though he wasn't so genetically.) He's such a ridiculous bastard that he's instantly my favorite Lee and I think they should do a TV series based on his exploits to bring back trashy 80s soap operas.

RE Lee writes in one of his letters that it's important that his daughter stop stripping naked her dolls. Another one details things he's doing out in Missouri to try to redirect the Mississippi. The project failed in part because people from Illinois set up cannons and started shooting at the works. It's the wrong part of Illinois and probably not close to the kind of thing he would do, but I want a fanfic where Lincoln was manning one of the guns.

Lee was partnered on that mission with Montgomery Meigs. Meigs is the guy who requisitioned Arlington (the Custis estate that Lee partially grew up on and had inherited, slaves and all) and turned it into a cemetery. Mary Lee, in residence before the building's capture early in the war, bailed in advance of the soldiers and buried her father's massive collection of Washington's papers. After the war she found out her trunks were not waterproof.

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Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men: The Ideology of the Republican Party Before the Civil War was great. Don't let the title fool you, it's at least as much about the formation of the Republican party as its ideas. The language shows its age (1970) in a few places. Foner consistently refers to "the Negro" and "the race issue". He would hardly use those terms in the same way, or nearly so often, a decade later.

Fun bit: The a GOP paper in Wisconsin believed that their candidate's name was Abram and told off anybody who spelled it Abraham for a while.

Now it's The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery, because I've read sections of it a few times over but never done the whole book and I love me some Eric Foner.

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Archae wrote:

okay so no joke with this one would you allow tetori Monk? the idea is i'm combining it with white haired witch to make the ultimate in grappling capabilities with added focus on enchantment spells. i might be able to default to the brawler archetype for grappling, i havent really checked it out though

race android

concept: Look's are deceiving, what do i mean by this? well she looks dark and evil, in actuality she in a good honorable traditionalist who just so happens to strangle people with her hair.

I was all set to say no, because no monks, but I read the archetype and tetori takes out all the flavor things that seem to clash. And a wrestler type totally fits with the theme. Go for it.

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Hello, I am a dangerous parasite which has hollowed out Samnell and uses him as a meat puppet. I propose to run a themed, gestalt Iron Gods game. One spot is spoken for, so I require 3-5 PCs first level PCs to bring us to a nice 4-6 total.

The theme, you say? The most important part of the theme is where my friends hollow you out and use you as a meat p- Sorry, I mean that Numeria is already a lot like Thundarr the Barbarian or Conan, so why not push it a little further in that direction? This is Barbaric Iron Gods! Step into a strange world of savagery, super-science, and sorcery. Be the heroes that burst their bonds to fight against all the hated workers of the Dark Arts! Rar!

Who the hell do you think you are?:
I the hell think I am a dangerous parasite which has hollowed out Samnell. In the course of doing so I have gained all of his powers, most particularly his epic cause to be modest, but also his ability to run two PBPs that the players seem to enjoy and many PBEMs before that. I also know quite a few things about the nineteenth century United States, particularly horrible things about slavery. So much slavery.

The theme in detail, or How to Barbarian:
All PCs should be somewhat barbaric, which in this case means they would fit well into a Conan story or Thundarr episode. The latter is somewhat more permissive, given how using magic in Conan generally makes you a villain. Thundarr ran around with a princess who knew magic and a feline Chewbacca. That’s a bit more PF-friendly, but I know a cartoon from the early 80s is the more obscure references despite the Jack Kirby character designs.

None of this necessarily means you’ve got to be a current member of a barbarian tribe or you need to take levels in the class, but I’m looking for characters with minimal “book learning” and other trappings of civilization. You don’t have to be innocent of cities and their ways but PCs should understand themselves as personally apart from it even if they have frequent dealings with the settled types.

Numerian barbarians are usually humans of Kellid stock, but many tribes will take in or tolerate other races and ethnicities. They may also have varying degrees of toleration for non-members who behave themselves and just hang out. The big cultural values, aside general barbarism stuff, are a very strong distrust of technology and certain forms of magic. Both of these are accursed and dark arts, associated respectively with great dangers best left buried and forgotten and the evils of the oppressive Technic League. They steal lives and twist souls.

Note that one’s barbarism isn’t necessarily an eternal state. PCs can change their minds about things or be corrupted by the strange ways of cityfolk as the game goes on. Maybe the process has already begun.

Rules Stuff:
To help achieve the theme, chargen options are missing some of the usual mainstays and otherwise tweaked around.

Ability Scores
Use 25 point buy. You may reduce one score below 10, but to no lower than 8, before racial modifiers. Here’s a calculator to skip the tedium of working it out by hand.

Android, Dwarf, Elf, Gnome, Half-Elf, Half-Orc, Halfling, Human, Orc, Ratfolk

Both androids and ratfolk have significant populations in Numeria, but warrant some special considerations: The Technic League considers androids things, specifically things which are their personal property to do with as they will. Barbarians tend to distrust them but aren’t uniformly hostile. Ratfolk are generally seen as disreputable but not inherently evil.

Variant racial features are a-ok, provided they’re Paizo-written.

This list is meant to be complete, but I can’t survey every available archetype and concept. Archetypes which are conventionally scholarly are generally out. When in doubt, ask.

Barbarian, Bloodrager, Brawler, Cavalier, Druid, Fighter, Hunter, Oracle, Ranger, Rogue, Shaman, Skald, Slayer, Sorcerer, Unchained Summoner, Warpriest, Witch

Gestalt? What’s Gestalt?
It’s a school of psychology popular in the- Oh right, for the game. Old 3e variant rule you can find here. The very short version is that you get to level two classes in parallel. Shore up a weakness. Double-down on a specialization. Play with neat combos. Have fun. If there’s any ambiguity about how classes smash together, ask away.

You may play any non-evil alignment you like, provided that you do so in such a way that you’re able to get along with the group rather than work constantly at cross-purposes. Tension and disagreement are fine, but PCs should not constantly be seriously at odds or creating situations that make things routinely unfun for other PCs.

Hit Points
Take your maximum at every level.

This game will use automatic bonus progression. That means your wealth by level will be halved, but you will receive built-in bonuses to model the standard magic items that the game assumes you get. However, the present bonus table slightly favors casters at the expense of martials. Instead of automatically getting your +2 ability score to a mental ability first you may choose to take either Physical Prowess or Mental Prowess when the opportunity arises. If you choose mental first, you follow the table as written. If you choose physical, swap the positions all the way down. So if you took physical prowess at 6th level, your 7th level bonus is mental prowess, and so forth.

Starting out, PCs get with the maximum gold specified for their class (if they differ, choose the better of the two) to spend on gear, keep, give to poor orphans, or whatever else you’d like. You can stretch that gold (but not the orphans) further through the use of crafting skills. Assume all pre-game rolls are successful. During the game, item crafting and item crafting feats are fair game. There will be periods when you are not racing any particular clock and can take time out to invest in making things and other pursuits. This may include technological items in due course, but probably not for quite a while, and even when it becomes an option you can’t make your own lab but rather must use one you gain access to in-game.

Technology and You
There’s a lot of technology in this AP, as there is in Numeria. However, the useful stuff tends to be kept under tight wraps by the Technic League, who are strongly inclined to persecute those who deal in technology without their sanction. A certain number of outsiders have gained mastery of its secrets without their knowledge or distant from their centers of power, but such skills are rare and ill-favored by barbaric sorts. As such, you cannot begin play with the Technologist feat. You may select it beginning at fifth level. If you select the Local Ties, Numerian Archaeologist, or Stargazer campaign traits, you may instead take the feat beginning at third level.

Also, at least for the early part of the game, useful technological items will be available to you only through finding them in the course of your adventures. Later on you may be able to buy them. Likewise, you can’t begin play with technology-oriented spells, other feats, etc except for the campaign traits.

Numerian Goo and You
There’s this sludge you can drink in-game which may give you temporary or permanent powers, horribly addict you, and/or maim you as permanently as access to divine magic allows. You’re free to drink it any time you come across the stuff but you will be playing the lottery when you do. There’s also a 1% chance it’ll kill you. The full table of results is here.

I am not a fan of the worldwide common tongue. It’s weird, gamey, and tends to devalue investment in learning local languages. It doesn’t exist in this game. Instead, every PC begins play speaking Hallit. If it’s not your native tongue, then it’s a free bonus language above and beyond any your intelligence, race, and so forth entitle you to. This is the tongue of the Kellid tribes. Civilized Numerians usually speak Taldane, which anybody may take as a bonus language from high intelligence. No one may begin play speaking Androffan, unless they take the Numerian Archaeologist campaign trait. Others may devote Linguistics ranks to learning it once they have been exposed to the tongue in-game.

Everyone loves traits. I believe traits may be secretly trying to take over the world through the corruption of our precious bodily fluids. Your PC may take two traits, one of which must be a campaign trait from the Player’s Guide. To better fit the theme of this game, the following traits deserve special consideration in your background:

Local Ties, Numerian Archaeologist, and Stargazer: These traits represent knowledge your PC has acquired which most barbarians strongly disfavor. It might have come to you as described in the text, but it might also have been forced on you through strange dreams or traumatic experiences, manifesting as flashes of things you ought not know and things you didn’t consciously realize you could do. Maybe it’s even things you learned before rejecting civilization. Your backstory should explain how your PC came upon the knowledge and what they think of it. Do they hide it from others? Revel in it? Revealing your knowledge to barbarous Numerians will negatively affect their opinion of you, shifting it toward hostile by one step, though this can be remedied through roleplay and interaction skills.

You may take one additional trait in exchange for taking a drawback.

Books you can draw from?
Let’s keep it to Paizo only. I might grant a modest exception here or there for something that fits the theme and setting really well, but I’m not going to sign on to learn whole new rules subsystems, classes, or other things on that scale.

Minions Rules:

This game will use minion rules in the interests of speeding up fights. No unusual creature will be a minion on its first appearance. Foes become minions largely based on their story role, not anything intrinsic to them. The ten guards are probably minions. The two guys in really fancy armor with them probably are not.

1) Minions will die or be rendered unconscious on a hit by a PC. The PC decides which happens.

2) Minions cannot crit PCs.

3) If a minion fails a save, it’s out of the fight.

4) When in use, especially in mixed groups, I’ll try to mark out minion status so you can plan accordingly.

5) Minions will usually roll things in batches, always initiative and other stuff depending on how many there are and what seems cool at the time. Ten minion skeletons might all roll the same save vs. a fireball, for example.

6) If you want to keep a minion alive for questioning or whatever, you can do so by simple fiat. Say you want to and it happens. It’s even fine to change your mind if you were killing them all previously. The minion was just mostly dead.

7) Boss-type foes might have the ability to sacrifice minions to protect themselves.

Backstory & Hook:

Every PC should come with a backstory that gives me a rough idea of who your character is and where they come from. This game will use a slightly different hook from the one in the published adventures, which you should also keep in mind for writing it. It doesn’t have to be a novel. If you can do it in a paragraph, then that’s fine. Backstories are the primary factor, though not the only, factor in which PCs I choose.

What's the Hook, then?
For whatever reason -tell me in your backstory- PCs all either strongly respect or feel beholden to Ulfar Burnhands, a wise man and shaman who advises the free people of the region about Torch. He knows you to be capable sorts and has called for you to attend him on a grave matter. The game will begin with you answering this summons.

Norms & Procedures:

I am to get one substantive, plot-moving post out per day. It’s inevitable that I’ll miss it sometimes, but that’s the goal. If it’s been roughly that long and I haven’t heard from you, I may bot your PC in the interests of keeping things moving. I know from experience that it’s really easy to get into a waiting loop in online games.

This game will be run as a PBP all the way, but will also use Roll20 for battle maps. This lets you control your own PC and move them as you like, just as if we had minis out on a real table. If you’ve never used it before, that’s fine. It’s browser-based and doesn’t require any installation on your part. I’ll PM you an invite link when the time comes and connect your account to your token. From your end, everything but that first time through should be a simple matter of dragging and dropping.

Please list key stats (current/total hit points, ACs, saves, initiative, perception) on the little text bar under your alias. You can include more if you want, but those are the big ones that I’ll likely need from everyone all at once and rather often so having them in the thread is very convenient.

I’ll roll combat-beginning things like perception and initiative, as well as anything else that would benefit from immediate resolution. So if I throw a fireball at you, I’ll roll the saves. You are free, and encouraged, to write flavor text for how you dodged and made your save or how you failed to do so. Likewise ACs and some other all-or-nothing defenses will be known to you when you get into a fight so you can flavor how your attacks miss or hit as I am exceptionally bad at that. I’ll do all these rolls in the open using the dice commands. I’ll bury the lot of them in a spoiler and put descriptive text outside it to avoid making walls of numbers. That does mean that the dice gods may cruelly frown upon you, even lethally. If your PC dies, you are not out of the game. Means to raise the dead (and possibly technological variants) will be available if needed. If you’d rather, you can also make a new PC.

I’ve tried some initiative variants in my other games, but they tend to hose PCs who rely on a decent chance at going first. For this game I’m going to try to do it vanilla-style. When a fight starts, I’ll roll the initiatives and resolve actions in order just like would happen around a table.

I’ll be giving out loot in this game pegged to the ABP values, so half normal, probably in the main through just ignoring things that ABP covers. Once I give it out in a loot post, that loot becomes the party’s responsibility to track. How you want to set that up is up to you. I’ve seen games do well with spreadsheets and games that did just as well with a simple procedure of take what you want and automatically sell the rest. My only requirement after I give you the goodies is that things are managed amicably.

PC submissions are due in at midnight, EDT, on Sunday, July 24, one week hence.

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Well...hello there. *dot*

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GM Grog wrote:

Posting my bio and crunch soon,

DM I am planning Paladin/Oracle into Hellknight Signifier/Hellknight Commander, is there any problem with this plan?

The Touched by Divinity, as per what you have already said, I am a follower of the Godclaw, but I think his personal deity is going to be Abadar, however his Oracluar abilities can come from the Pantheon correct, as he doesn't actaully have to have a God to grant the powers according to the books and fluff. Can I Insert fluff that it comes from all of the gods in the Godclaw Pantheon?

So long as you can swing the prerequisites, the PrC lineup looks fine.

The oracle sourcing works for me. Oracles were designed in part to fill that flavor space.

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bigrig107 wrote:
Would you allow the "Touched by Divinity" trait to function with the Order of the Godclaw (who does grant its own list of domains to clerics)?

To a point, yes. The trait assumes a singular deity, while the Godclaw is a mini-pantheon. For story purposes way down the road, it would work out better if there's a deity within the Godclaw who your PC felt especially connected to. The religious paraphernalia and so forth could still be Godclaw all the way.

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Gay Male Inhuman
Galin Solatar wrote:

My rapier is actually cold iron, so I should be able to bypass their DR.

Galin lashes out at the demon who ran towards him,

I forgot. I'll fix it when I resolve the round and also accept the requisite spankings. I have been a bad, bad boy. :)

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Gay Male Inhuman

Some Thoughts on Languages
It occurred to me just now that I've been using Ansalonian languages and I don't think that I ever gave out a list of them. I'm likely to keep on doing so. The distinction between the draconians who spoke Draconic and those who speak Nerakese, as well as those who answered back with Misspelled Ethiopian when taunted, is one I thought a bit about in world terms before making. Code-switching for the win. :) But the intent is to give flavor, not shut anyone out.

Not sure if that was an issue for anybody, as there are lots of lists online for this kind of thing, but in the event that it is then here are some reasonable accommodations.

1) If it fits with your backstory, you can retrofit your language list.

2) You can always take a rank or two of Linguistics to pick up some useful ones, which would model picking it up as we go, and/or retrofit existing skill selections for that purpose.

3) There's always translation magic.

4) You can just look in the spoilers, language or no. That's OOC knowledge, but I'm probably not going to ever know if you did and if it helps you get the gist for RP then there's no harm in it.

5) Use skills. Sense Motive can get you at least broad indications of intentions. I'd allow Linguistics to do something similar.

That in mind, here's a belated and admittedly partial tour of living languages. I've omitted the racial tongues and some things you're very unlikely to have picked up. So mostly it's human languages, albeit many of which have non-human speakers. Descriptions should be taken as in-character for Abanasinians.

The Ergot Tongues
These tongues descend from Ancient Ergot, the language of humanity's first empire and once the dominant tongue of the continent. Ergot tongues are "normal" for most humans, and so don't carry much in the way of cultural baggage in themselves. As a rule, they retain its alphabet. Ergot tongues are most common in western Ansalon.

Abanasinian. You speak this already.

Ergot. The tongue of Northern Ergot. The direct descendant of Ancient Ergot, but different enough that native speakers still need to study up to learn more than a few canned phrases of the old tongue.

Kharolian The language of the forested land of Kharolis, famed for its port at the Lordcity of Tarsis. Kharolian has significant influxes of elven and dwarven vocabulary, which can make it sound alternately sophisticated and brusque.

Solamnic A refined, civilized, if often quite formal and verbose tongue spoken in Solamnia and by its famous knights. It's probably the most widely spoken human tongue on Ansalon as a whole at present. Speakers of Solamnic are often perceived as somewhat stuffy and particular, but well-meaning. In Abanasinia, Solamnic is a common language for well-off, cosmopolitan humans to learn. Texts brought in from abroad, often at great expense, are usually written in Solamnic.

The Istarian Tongues
These are the daughter languages of Ancient Istarian, a tongue which once threatened to eclipse Ergot and its children. The ancient version grew tremendously in complexity over time, taking many influences and direct borrowings from Celestial. These collectively gave it a very intricate system of polite address and social status marking. Since the Cataclysm, it and its descendants have largely fallen into ill repute. Istarian tongues are most common in eastern Ansalon and usually retain its intricately flowing calligraphy.

Kalinese. The language of the Blood Sea ports, little known beyond them except as a typical tongue of pirates and other exotic and untrustworthy sorts.

Khur. The tongue of the desert reavers of the same name, sometimes called Khurrians, who gather in great hordes and rise up to bring down the realms of men...or so the stories go. In other stories the same Khurrians are an exotic and noble group of nomads, much like the Plainsfolk.

Nerakese The tongue of the land of Taman Busuk, far away in central Ansalon and noted mostly for its obscurity. Since the Cataclysm, an unimaginably far away place beyond which the world turns decidedly fantastical. The people of Taman Busuk are famously poor, desperate sorts who would as soon cut one's throat as say hello. If one appears rich, an honest person should be twice as wary.

Nordmaarian A tongue of the tropical north, spoken by fierce horselords famously jealous of their freedoms nigh to the point of madness. A Nordmaaran, or Nordman, meets the monsoon without fear and learns to ride before walking. Or lives in a city with as much sweat as air, dueling on any point of honor. Some fancy themselves knights in a humble manner, but of a far ruder sort than the famed Knights of Solamnia.

Saifhum Tongue of the island of the same name, which uniquely adopted the Ergot alphabet. Its speakers have a somewhat better reputation than their Blood Sea port neighbors, as they incline much more reliably to trade in lieu of piracy. If the stories are true, they ride wheeled sailboats from town to town rather than horses.

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NenkotaMoon wrote:
Any books that would be good for learning of the early Roman Empire or the fall of it?

This list is compiled and maintained by actual classicists.

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Hitdice wrote:
Samnell, I don't mean to put you on the spot, but have ever considered publishing a volume of history essays yourself? I sort of feel like all you'd have to is polish your blog entries and posts here to have enough material.

Thank you. (Seriously, thanks!) But I don't consider myself competent enough on the back end of these things or sufficiently notable to rise above the publisher's general slush pile. Mike Duncan did it by creating history podcasting from scratch, but short of a time machine I can't go back and swipe the idea from him.*

I've considered reaching out to the major popular magazine but its interest is pretty closely-tied to wartime and mine are very much antebellum. It's a great magazine, but probably not the market for antebellum content unless it's a feature in the biography of some wartime notable or semi-notable. Postwar content is similarly couched in things like politicians' wartime records during future elections. I could probably do military action-oriented stuff, but it's really not what gets me excited.

*Though I might do a history podcast anyway. I've been thinking about it for a while. Very different register from my written voice, of course.

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thejeff wrote:

Even more subtly, libertarians shouldn't care about constitutional arguments of procedure at all.

If the Constitution allows or requires government to violate libertarian principles, libertarians should oppose it.
If government was being expanded through the proper process of constitutional amendment, libertarians should oppose it.
If the government was being shrunk through some improper judicial decision, libertarians should applaud it.

The first rule of constitutionalism is that the Constitution says whatever I want it to say, whenever I want it to say it, and only to the precise extent and in the precise way I want it to say it. This is as true for Alexander Hamilton, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson as it is for John C. Calhoun, John Marshall, and John Roberts. Everything else is unconstitutional tyranny that we must oppose as all hazards, especially if you disagree with me. This is also the only rule of constitutionalism.

Or put another way: Constitutionalism is policy preference in drag. And now that I've written this I have a slight temptation to go back into my books and dig up the history of the theory that the Supreme Court has no right to rule laws unconstitutional. I already know where the arrow points (slavery) but might be fun to refresh the details. But so many research interests, so little time.

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Gay Male Inhuman

Some thoughts on redemption
The redemption rules leave the decision of whether or not an NPC can go light side to me, but I think it's entirely reasonable for players to be able to Diplomacy (and maybe other skills) their way into creating such an intention. It's an obvious application of influencing others, after all. So here's some back of the envelope thinking.

Base DC to influence a hostile NPC is 25+Cha mod. Getting someone to reconsider their religious commitments is a pretty big ask, so I figure you'd probably have to make an NPC friendly or clue in to some pre-existing doubts. That's a step-by-step thing, with a check each day, but if you make some progress with the first one you'd know it and be able to act accordingly. I'll also use DC+Cha mod as the base DC for the following.

There are also degrees of evil involved. Let's say the system works as-is for an ordinary evil person. Maybe they're in a cult or something, but they're ordinary members. They didn't go to Evil Medical School.

Then you've got people who have gone a bit farther. Someone with a demonic obedience feat or the like, but not a full-blown divine spellcaster tuned in to the Abyss. That seems like it should be a +2 or +4 to the DC. There'd be a lesser, but stacking, adjustment for having some kind of class feature or whatever that swings the right way. Say an abyssal-blooded sorcerer. Half of the demonic obedience level penalty seems right. It doesn't make you evil...but it can help. :)

Actual divines worshiping evil gods, fiends, etc should be a +4. Since you have to work a little harder to worship an abyssal lord and company than an ordinary divinity, this stacks with the demonic obedience feat adjustment.

But worse likely case, you'd have something like an abyssal-blooded sorcerer/cleric of Pazuzu for +7 increase to the DC, possibly +10. Base DC would be in the low to mid-30s. Seems high, but we just had some +8 diplomacy mods flying around. Seems a little high, but there's lots of room for circumstance bonuses and aid another in here and this is the worst case scenario that isn't actually a fiend.

The rolls for Vagorg came to 27, which is respectable. His DC, which I eyeballed without any of the above modifiers because I hadn't thought of them yet, was 29.

NPCs that have alignment types would be harder still, of course. Some NPCs will be just irredeemable regardless, but not all that many.

So what I'm thinking in the future is that you can make an initial offer with the various penalties and bonuses. Sometimes you just get someone at the right moment. Succeed then and the NPC is on the road to goodness. Fail then and you can give it a second try if you get the NPC around to Friendly. Maybe with a +1 or +2 bonus to the attempt for each attitude away from hostile. From there the published redemption rules would take over.

I think that's a workable skeleton, but I'm open to suggestions.

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Gay Male Inhuman

"Where was I then," the oldster said, taking a deep drink. "Oh yes, I think that I would like an old story. Older than elves, you know. It was sung once -by elves, in fact- but those days are long behind me and I have it from those who know that I would be a poor guest to inflict my elvish upon you."

He cleared his throat and recited:

Long Story:
"Hear the sage as his song descends
like heaven's rain or tears,
and washes the years, the dust of the many stories
from the High Tale of the Dragonlance.
For in ages deep, past memory and word,
in the first blush of the world
When the three moons rose from the lap of the forest,
dragons, terrible and great,
made war on this world of Krynn.

Yet out of the darkness of dragons,
out of our cries for light
in the blank face of the black moon soaring,
a banked light flared in Solamnia,
a knight of truth and of power,
who called down the gods themselves
and forged the mighty Dragonlance, piercing the soul
of dragonkind, driving the shade of their wings
from the brightening shores of Krynn.

Thus Huma, Knight of Solamnia,
Lightbringer, First Lancer,
followed his light to the foot of the Khalkist Mountains,
to the stone feet of the gods,
to the crouched silence of their temple.
He called down the Lancemakers, he took on
their unspeakable power to crush the unspeakable evil,
to thrust the coiling darkness
back down the tunnel of the dragon's throat.

Paladine, the Great God of Good,
shone at the side of Huma,
strengthening the lance of his strong right arm,
and Huma, ablaze in a thousand moons,
banished the swarm of her shrieking hosts
back to the senseless kingdom of death, where their curses
swooped upon nothing and nothing
deep below the brightening land.

Thus ended in thunder the Age of Dreams
and began the Age of Might,
When Istar, kingdom of light and truth, arose in the east,
where minarets of white and gold
spired to the sun and to the sun's glory,
announcing the passing of evil,
and Istar, who mothered and cradled the long summers of good,
shone like a meteor
in the white skies of the just.

Yet in the fullness of sunlight
the Kingpriest of Istar saw shadows:
At night he saw the trees and things with daggers, the streams
blackened and thickened under the silent moon.
He searched books for the paths of Huma,
for scrolls, signs, and spells
so that he, too, might summon the gods, might find
their aid in his holy aims,
might purge the world of sin.

Then came the time of dark and death
as the gods turned from the world.
A mountain of fire crashed like a comet through Istar,
the city split like a skull in the flames,
mountains burst from once-fertile valleys,
seas poured into the graves of mountains,
the deserts sighed on abandoned floors of the seas,
the highways of Krynn erupted
and became the paths of the dead.

Thus began the Age of Despair.
The roads were tangled.
The winds and the sand storms dwelt in the husks of cities,
The plains and mountains became our home.
As the old gods lost their power,
we called to the blank sky
into the cold, dividing gray to the ears of new gods.
The sky is calm, silent, unmoving.
We have yet to hear their answer."

He subsided then, looking thoughtfully into his tankard.

"They don't all end well, I'm afraid. I used to know a girl who would sing it so high and bright... Far away and years gone now," he looked off vaguely to the south.

A cloaked, hooded plainswoman who had come in just as the oldster began stepped up close to him and put a firm hand on his shoulder. Her other gripped a hide-wrapped staff decorated with feathers.

"You told it well, Father," she said.

The inn's door opened again and a chill breeze brushed away the fire's warmth for a moment as a half-dozen Holy Guards entered. The plainswoman saw them and looked away, a bit too quickly.

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Hello! I’m Samnell or I have hollowed out his body and wear his skin as clothing, which is pretty much the same thing. Inspired by this thread over here, I’ve decided to give running the Dragonlance series a go. Cool? Cool.

GM in search of 4-6 PCs (and matching players) to play the Dragonlance saga. I have three spots spoken for from the thread where I got the idea. They got me excited about it, so it would be rude to shut them out. The spoken-for spots go to a player interested in a cleric, a wizard or knight, and a rogue or bard. But that’s only half to three-quarters of a party. Probably half, given the odds, but who knows? The closer I get to six, the less worried I am about having a classic or semi-classic balanced party.

But here’s some stuff.

The Dragonlance series? What?:

Yes. The original 1980s adventure epic involving the warring, riding, and lancing of various dragons. The ones with the kender, the Solamnic Knights, and the weird-eyed wizard in dire need of a lozenge.

I have the originals and started off reading through them in the course of deciding to do this, but learned after reading the first adventure in both versions that the 00s update is faithful right down to word-for-word passages and seemed to have no substantive changes to the story. So I’ll be drawing mostly from that. They don’t seem to have left anything out, except some dated presentation that I can’t say I miss. It’s not fair to compare thirty year old adventures with modern stuff, of course. I’m just more used to how adventures have been written in the past fifteen years or so and thus find it much easier to navigate.

Canon and associated PCs:

If you’re interested in this game, you probably know the story. It’s been thirty years, right? The series started before I entered kindergarten. The whole thing comes with premade PCs that have all the familiar names and probably act like the characters in the novels to most of us. That’s cool and all, but insisting upon all of that wouldn’t make for much of a game. For purposes of this game, those PCs largely do not exist. Your PCs will take their places and be the Heroes of the Lance. You are not, by and large, obligated to follow their choices. Your PCs are your PCs. We’re here to game, not play canon police. It’s fine, of course, to be inspired by a canon PC in creating your own. I am not the boss of your brain.

With regard to the canon PCs, I say “largely” replaced because a few of them on the fringes of the core group may still show up as NPCs and serve as occasional supporting players. It’s still your story. They’re just visiting.

With regard to the canon choices, I’ll be honest: The DL series has very set start and end points to scenarios and isn’t especially fault-tolerant. Within a scenario you can explore alternate options. Individual adventures can be more open-ended than the series’ reputation suggests, but sometimes they do live up to it. You don’t have to go where the plot appears to demand, but there is a limit to how far off-script one can go and how long one can remain there. This is much more like an adventure path than a sandbox. It demands a bit of playing along. While it might seem more abrupt than usual (and if you’ve ever read any of the adventures, you’ll know it gets heavy-handed) I’ll do my best to keep it within the normal social contract inherent in an adventure path.

That said, there are occasions where choices are forced. I’ll do what I can to mitigate them and try to make the choices seem reasonable in-character. This includes at least a few occasions where the party are scripted to lose fights and get taken prisoner. For the times I’ve looked closely at in advance, there seem to be ways around the foregone conclusion and they will be available to the party without breaking the plot.

But there’s a big one you can’t really dodge: About a third of the way through the main narrative, which is a very long RL time off, a party split is forced. The party remains split for the back half of the adventure path, only coming back together for the big conclusion. The two halves of the story proceed on different ends of the continent and run concurrently in-world. I plan to let the players decide how to best handle that and to pick where they go rather than imposing the choice upon you. The party will fission into two roughly equal-sized half parties, who then get augmented with new characters and/or NPCs taken over by players. We’ll work out the logistics when the time comes. If no one is really interested in one of the plot forks, I’ll skip it and you’ll all go with the one you prefer. What has to happen to keep things going, I’ll handwave as proceeding offscreen.

Will I make changes?:

Oh yes. I’m not going to turn Takhisis into a good guy, but it’s inherent in GMing that I’ll adjust things to taste (mine and the group’s), to suit the party’s abilities, and in the interests of fun as well as to accommodate the medium. I’m not a massive fan of comic relief and gully dwarves make me a little bit uneasy. That doesn’t mean either will be absent, but I’ll probably tone them down a bit. It’s fine for you to like them and all, but if you’ve just got to have the all-gully dwarf laugh parade then I’m probably not going to give you what you want in a game. No hard feelings.

PBPs are slow, so I’ll definitely be outright skipping some encounters, rolling others together, and handling others through brief narrative references like “You slay several parties of draconians on your way to the outhouse.” I’ll narrate through small potatoes stuff, not plot-critical elements or your first fight against a cool new monster. I might make reference to injuries suffered and healed in narration, but consider all that dealt with by virtual resources that don’t really count against you.

Divine Magic:

The deal at the start of the AP is that the real gods either pitched a fit, and a mountain, at Krynn and abandoned it for centuries or the people of Krynn turned against them and they respected the choice. The latter is technically the canon version, but as you might have guessed I’m open to alternative readings of events. The details don’t matter so much as the consequence: nobody has cast a divine spell or worked any species of gods-given miracle for three hundred years. All clerics, druids, and so forth are heathens who lack the knowledge and possibly the inclination to follow the true gods. As such they don’t get any magical abilities, period.

That sucks, right? Who wants to play a spell-less cleric? Possibly no one, but if someone does want to take one for the team then I’m ok with that. However, know going in that the divine blackout ends at the conclusion of the first adventure and you will have limited healing access before then via a plot device. When the blackout ends, you’ll have the option of an epiphany that permits you to swap any and all of your existing levels for levels in a divine spellcasting class. So you can play something else that fits your concept and then trade up if that’s your thing, rather than being stuck with a class missing class features for a goodly while.

The Hook
I would normally tack this on the end of the post, or at least spoiler it, but it asks a bit more than usual of you in the way of backstory and concept so I want to put it up here. The initial conceit of the game is that the party already know one another and all grew up in or around the town of Solace in Abanasinia, the latter of which I am extremely likely to misspell. Its unofficial nickname is Misspelled Ethiopia because I am a dork. Anyway, about five years back, the plucky youngsters left home on various business. They were all nominally looking for signs of the true gods, but may have had other things in mind too. Now they’re coming home, as agreed beforehand, to share what they know with one another. Nobody found the true gods just yet. It’s totally fine, and encouraged, if you and another PC spent all or part of the five years abroad together.

Solace is a majority-human place and not particularly diverse. It is at a crossroads and has trade with elves and dwarves, as well as kender crawling around, but it’s not really home to many unusual races. Even some otherwise normal Dragonlance races would be unusual. There’ll be a full list in the chargen.

Are you out of luck if you want to play something unusual? Not really. The easiest way to do that would be for your PC to meet and befriend one of the Solace crowd in their travels and come back with them. Or your friend from Solace could have died at some point, but you came to let his hometown know and get caught up in things. I’m open to suggestions.

I think that hits all the high notes of stuff you really ought to know upfront, so let’s get into some chargen stuff.


25 point buy. You may lower one score below 10, before racial modifiers, but don’t go too crazy with it. Feel free to avail yourself of the calculator here.

Level: PCs begin the game at 5th level. You will advance on hitting key plot points, not by xp accumulation.

Gear: You know what, I hate keeping track of gear. I bet you do too. This game will use virtual gearing. Every level you get an allowance, in gp, which you can spend on whatever gear you like provided that it’s not breaking some setting provision. (They’re fresh out of healing potions.) Whenever you level, your allowance increases and you can reconfigure your armament. You can also do so in any sufficiently large city, given a bit of downtime. You still need to track your burning through scrolls, wands, and other items with limited uses because they can run out in the wild, but when you have the ability to replenish you can replace them. If you choose to take item creation feats and/or craft skills, you can charge yourself with only the cost to craft of items you make for yourself. If you want, you can even use the skills for others. In that case, the crafting cost would come out of their budget.

Looting will mostly reveal plot devices and story information, since it’s all abstracted. However, from time to time I might give you something of in-world significance. Plot devices don’t count against your gear total, but more ordinary cool things may. It’ll be decided on a case-by-case basis. There are situations where the adventures obviously give you something to help out with a tough boss fight, usually a single-use item. I wouldn’t charge those against you. But a cool sword that’s basically a normal magic item with a good backstory? That probably would. It’s something we can talk through when the occasion arises.

This isn’t the most realistic thing around, but it skips almost all the discussions about who gets what or whether or not people are about even and it does so with very little overhead. You’re just responsible for tracking your own PC, which you would do anyway. :)

Allowed Races: human, hill dwarf, Qualinesti elf, half-elf, kender. The dwarves and elves use the PRD/PH rules. There are other kinds of dwarf and elf, but they would be more unusual in Solace and need a bit more explaining. Likewise minotaurs, which live on the far corner of Ansalon from Solace. Goblinoid sorts would be an especially hard sell.

If you need rules for one of the Krynn-specific races, let me know and I can hook you up. I’m using the versions in the 3.5 campaign setting.

Allowed Classes: Rather than make a big list, let me lay out some general points. If a class doesn’t run afoul of them, you should be good to go. If you’re not sure, please ask. I rarely bite. Also remember that divine spellcasters can’t cast spells yet.

No guns.
No Asian-themed classes.
No occult classes.
No spontaneous arcane spellcasting...except for bards. (There’s a minor continuity snarl with regard to bards, since they were very different in the 1e that DL was written for. The books have “bards” of a sort going way back, so this is my compromise. The Order of High Sorcery does not consider bardcraft within their purview. Bards cannot cast healing magic.)

No summoners.

You can play non-wizard, prepared arcane spellcasters but the Order of High Sorcery would understand them as under its purview and treat those who didn’t cooperate, take their Test, and enroll as dangerous renegades. No such character can cast any cure X wounds or other healing spell, but they can retain the rest of their spell list.

Dragonlance is a pretty goody-good sort of story. PCs are generally assumed to be altruistic. However, it’s a goody-good story that also has as a major trope that evil turns on itself. The most famous character from the novels is a guy who starts off neutral and turns evil, but still proves an asset to the party most of the time. As long as your PC can work well enough with the other PCs and you’re not stomping on one another’s fun, I don’t particularly mind if someone wants to play neutral and/or evil. It will, however, necessarily fall on you to figure out why your PC is still on the side of the angels in this particular case. Maybe you just like the party more than you do the bad guys.

I can provide a list if necessary, but there’s one axe I’m going to grind here. The continent-wide common tongue that everyone grows up speaking drives me nuts. It’s a gaming abstraction, I know, but it’s an abstraction that gets in the way of a lot of flavor. Languages are pretty easy to acquire in PF, so I don’t think removing Common hurts too much. The dominant language of trade and commerce in Abanasinia is Abanasinian. Everyone gets it for free, no matter where you’re from. Other languages will be useful in-game, and you can probably guess or already know several of them. I don’t intend to hassle you endlessly about language matters, but now and then you might need to find an interpreter or use some magic to communicate.

Hit Points
Let’s keep it simple: take your maximum at every level.

Give me a paragraph or so of text telling me about your PC, how they came to Solace, and what kind of person they are. You can write more if you want. This is how I’ll get a sense for who might go well with the party and who might clash badly, as well as interesting dynamics that might emerge. Other than the backstory, I only know a PC by stats and they’re rarely eloquent on such matters.

Various House Rules:

Initiative and Fights
I learned in my other PBP that trying to do individual resolutions of actions in fights bogged things down very badly and most players soon lost track of what was happening. So here’s how it’ll go: Whenever a fight begins, I’ll roll the initiatives for everyone. The PCs, and any combatant friendlies, will then have their rolls averaged together to give a group initiative. Same for the bad guys. This group initiative decides who goes first, you or the opposition. I’ll resolve individual actions together in order of posting, unless someone declares a delay, either all the good guys first or all the bad guys first, depending on the outcome of the group rolls. It’s not quite as granular as tabletop, but I found out in my other game that it was much easier for PCs to coordinate actions together and made a lot of intuitive sense to most people.

After every resolution, I’ll post up a due date for actions. Usually it’s about two days hence. If you haven’t posted a declaration by the time it rolls around, I may bot your PC for the round to keep things going.

Curse of the Magic
This is a variant rule from the 3e campaign setting. In the books, characters using arcane magic often have it take a lot out of them. To model this, whenever a character casts an arcane spell the character must roll a Fortitude Save, DC 10+spell level. If you succeed, you’re fine. On a failure, you become Fatigued. Fail again while fatigued and you’re exhausted. Fail while exhausted and you fall unconscious. These states can be remedied through rest or with restorative magic.

Given the low DC, I think this will be mostly a flavor thing unless you purposefully build for it. If it seems too intrusive or fun-ruining, let me know and we can discuss the issue. I think it’s cool, but I’m not married to it.

Norms and Expectations:

Most of this is probably pretty standard.

I will share battlemaps via Roll20. I don’t think you need to sign up for an account to view; there’ll be a link above the thread when the time comes. If you’re not familiar, Roll20 is a handy virtual tabletop that works through your browser. If you want to make accounts, then I can attach your PC token to your account so you can move yourself around the battle. It also facilitates fog of war and such very nicely, which makes for easy exploration and battle set-up. No other method I’ve used to do those things online has been half so easy to manage. It’s even got little health bars to help you keep track of friends and foes. Doing those chores used to be the absolute worst when I ran games online. I understand that not everyone loves it, but I rate the thing an essential tool.

I plan for a post a day or thereabouts. If it’s been roughly that long and I haven’t heard from you, I may bot your PC in the interests of keeping things moving. I know from experience that it’s really easy to get into a waiting loop in online games.

Please list key stats (current/total hit points, ACs, saves, initiative, perception) on the little text bar under your alias. You can include more if you want, but those are the big ones that I’ll likely need from everyone all at once and rather often so having them in the thread is very convenient.

I’ll roll combat-beginning things like perception and initiative, as well as anything else that would benefit from immediate resolution. So if I throw a fireball at you, I’ll roll the saves. You are free, and encouraged, to write flavor text for how you dodged and made your save or how you failed to do so. I’ll do all these rolls in the open using the dice commands, but bury the lot of them in a spoiler and just put descriptive text outside it to avoid making walls of numbers. That does mean that the dice gods may cruelly frown upon you, even lethally, but I’ll try to minimize fatalities. Story-driven games tend to rot when from within with too much cast turnover.

When you do something that requires a roll from an NPC, like casting a hostile spell, I’ll roll that save. There are too many conditional bonuses, resistances, and immunities that might come into play to frontload a listing of them all and at times the PCs should be surprised by them. When foes come loaded with buffing spells and the like, I will do my best to remember to indicate that in their descriptions under the premise that active magical effects in close proximity generally have some visible manifestation.

I will be more forthcoming with ACs, as they tend to be all-or-nothing affairs. If I forget, feel free to remind me. Thus you should ordinarily be able to resolve things requiring attack rolls in the post with your declaration. You’re encouraged to flavor your hits and misses how you like. Most of the time, I plan to outright give you the hit point totals of your targets so you can know right away if you did them in or not. For important NPCs and monsters, I’ll keep the hit point total hidden but plan to give you general descriptors of their condition like “unharmed” and “near death”.

Please try to get along, at least so far as the game threads go, OOC. We’re going to be spending a fair bit of time together.

I will probably screw it up. Be patient. :)

I’ll take submissions until 11:59 PM, Eastern Standard Time, on November 17. That’s a week from today, more or less.

Questions? Comments? Concerns? That’s what the thread’s for. :)

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Turin the Mad wrote:
I'd be interested to find out if they've actually at least roughly pegged how much time has passed.

I suspect that they have vague ideas in the writer's room, but it's all subject to revision for the convenience of future stories. Carl, of course, ages per the rules of comic book time.

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Started Ancillary Mercy last night.

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Very satisfied with the season. Characters behaved mostly like non-psychopaths and not like bland videogame characters that would make me root for the zombies if I could somehow be forced to spend time with them.

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Kirth Gersen wrote:
Samnell wrote:
Howe himself is possibly overfond of John Quincy Adams.
Sounds like I'd best not read him, as he'd simply reinforce my existing opinion of JQA. ;)

JQA: Trolling the proslavery caucus since 1836.

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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.

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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.

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Totes McScrotes wrote:
This is some really nasty stuff. 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:

"Any person who shall maliciously dismember or deprive a slave of life, shall suffer such punishment as would be inflicted in case the like offense had been committed on a free white person, and on the like proof, except in case of insurrection of such slave, and unless SUCH DEATH SHOULD HAPPEN BY ACCIDENT IN GIVING SUCH SLAVE MODERATE CORRECTION."

I have known slaves to be beaten to death, but as they died under “moderate correction,” it was quite lawful; and of course the murderers were not interfered with.

"If any slave, who shall be out of the house or plantation where such slave shall live, or shall be usually employed, or without some white person in company with such slave, shall REFUSE TO SUBMIT to undergo the examination of ANY WHITE person, (let him ever be so drunk or crazy), it shall be lawful for such white person to pursue, apprehend, and moderately correct such slave; and if such slave shall assault and strike such a white person, such slave may be LAWFULLY KILLED."

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.

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Totes McScrotes wrote:

I think if Cuba fired artillery on Guantanamo Bay, the US would be fully justified in considering that an act of war and invading.

Hence, War of Southern Aggression if anything.

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.

Yes, really.

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Sissyl wrote:
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.

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GreyWolfLord wrote:

It could make one go hmm...seeing some of the old Southern States county lines are along the old plantation lines, I wonder if at times electoral votes went along similar lines in the Old American South?

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:

But my understanding is that the social structure (as so eloquently described by Samnell) also provided enough of control to make sure that Old Man Travers got his way in "his" county. Sure, people could have gotten together and voted someone other than his hand-picked cronies, but would they have? Travers would certainly have been able to make their lives miserable in other way if they did.


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.

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Orfamay Quest wrote:

My understanding is that this isn't correct. The 3/5 compromise applied only in the allocation among votes between/among the various states, for example, in deciding how many representatives West Carolina got as compared to Old Jersey.

The actual elections were decided on a one-man/one-vote system. So Old Man Travers got one vote, his son Young Travers got one, and Jim the Town Drunk also got one.

BUT..... if those three were the electoral role for the town, and there were also 500 slaves in the town, then the town as a whole counted for 303 people.

But Young Travers and Jim could still outvote Old Man Travers.

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.

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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.

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Coriat wrote:

One comment I would add to Samnell's rather excellent refutation is not to discount the role that simple, old-fashioned patronage played in aristocratic societies like the South. You'll find patronage at work in any aristocratic system, as one of the basic systems the aristocracy uses to build and maintain its social power. You spend a fraction of your elite privileges on rewarding the less privileged classes of society, so that they'll keep letting you be on top.

Now, I'm not commenting on this due to a particular study of patronage in the South - so Samnell, if you have differing opinions, I'd certainly entertain them - but patronage is such a ubiquitous feature of aristocratic society that I'd be shocked if it didn't play a role.

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.

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Claim: It's not about slavery because four slave states didn't secede!
Answer: Misleading oversimplification. It's true that Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri did not secede. Well, it's kind of true. Kentucky and Missouri both had rump governments composed of a few state officials (in both cases including the governor) who declared their secession and were admitted to the Confederacy. However, the main thrust of the argument is the assumption that if the war was over slavery, then all the slave states must go for slavery.

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:

Delaware: 1.60%
Maryland: 12.69%
Kentucky: 19.51%
Missouri: 9.72%

By comparison, here are the Lower South states in order of secession ordinance:
South Carolina: 57.18%
Mississippi: 55.18%
Florida: 43.97%
Alabama: 45.12%
Georgia: 43.72%
Louisiana: 46.85%
Texas: 30.22%

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!
Answer: The first part is technically correct but misleading. The second doesn’t follow.

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%
Mississippi: 49.10%
Florida: 34.14%
Alabama: 34.92%
Georgia: 37.38%
Louisiana: 29.49%
Texas: 28.49%

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?

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One thing I want to pull out here. (There will be more, but this is what I feel like writing about right now. :) )

"GreyWolfLord wrote:

Instead, it was a matter of money and power, money and power that led to the question of whether a state had the power to make it's decisions in violation of Federal law...with that decision being the right to secede...or whether Federal law over ruled the states law. It was this enforcement of Federal law (with the view that the states did NOT have the Sovereignty nor right to secede) which was distinctly stated and was enforced that was the actual issue of the Civil War.

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.

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LazarX wrote:
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."

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thejeff wrote:

"cold on" as in they don't think that any more?

I thought the evidence was pretty solid that disease had devastated the Native American population, often before direct contact with Europeans. Thus the perception of much of the continent as underpopulated, especially at the first settlement of the east coast.

Not that it at all excuses the deliberate extermination of the surviving populace of course.

Disease was certainly a factor, but my understanding is that the continental die-off thesis is pretty much a dead letter. Issue being that we would expect epidemics to spread somewhat consistently but that's not what we see in the signs of depopulation. The epidemic would have to be curiously slow and selective, taking centuries to cross the continent even where long-distance trade connected populations. An anthropologist described this hypothetical series of pandemics to me as slowest, but also most weirdly final and absolute diseases around. (Even when you have a big die-off, short of complete extinction, people tend to rebound fairly well.) So like no disease or group of diseases actually behaves.

By contrast, the evidence is somewhat better that a combination of direct killing and various dislocations did most of the work. There's a good summary of why they think so in this reddit post.

This is not really my field and I haven't read any dedicated work on it, but what I have seen pointing toward the new consensus is generally persuasive.

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More Nullification Dorkery...very long:
Chapter 4: Qualified Nationalism to Qualified Sectionalism 1816-27

Section 1
SC politics reflect “high-toned conservatism of entrenched landed aristocracy.” Ideal was House of Lords, not Congress. Assumptions derive from “elitist cult of the English country gentry.” Unique in US in successful conspiracy to keep power from common whites

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.

(Sounds familiar.)

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.

Section 2
War of 12 made for “fervent American nationalism” that defined generation, influenced politics. Jackson took New Orleans, but redcoats burned Washington. (And we burned Toronto.) Treaty of Ghent did not erase knowledge that poor roads, finance, insufficient industry and arms nearly let British win outright.

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.

Section 3
Nationlists vs. Smithites dominate SC politics 16-23, but not erlaly two-party system. Leg split with lots of factions, many/most uncommitted. Show by Dec 21 meeting to pick electors for presidency. Opted for Lowndes instead of Calhoun or Crawford.

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.

Section 4
Mid-20s threats turn most SC against broad construction/nationalist ideas. Contemporary points to tariff of 24, antislavery, lead to thoughts state too reliant on nation, not jealous enough of own rights and interests.

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.

Section 5
Slavery got lowcountry more immediately excited. In 20, nervous but not paniced by Congress slavery debates over Missouri. Lowndes fought for moderate compromise, majority of SC favors final settlement. (In Cabinet, Calhoun endorsed it.) Papers kept issue away from public eye. Calhoun thought issue settled “forever”.

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.”

Section 6

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.)

Section 7

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.
Looked soon after like Calhoun only delayed protection. Summer 27, tariff convention in Harrisburgh, PA resolves for more protection for all major industrial stuff, and raw materials: sugar, hemp, lead. Bid for western support with votes for roads in trade for votes for tariff. For first time, SC suspects majority, maybe forever, of Yankees out to get them.

Section 8

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:

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.

Section 9
27 uproar helps explain 28 militancy. SC on verge of action even before Tariff of Abominations. SR campaigns of 27 important because Calhounites on board and leading, not opposing. But qualified sectionalism just like qualified nationalism. Old SC in favor of bank still, still accept “truly national” projects, if against local, still for protection if war incoming and for essential industry. Even sectionalism nationalistic, since Calhoun and company think high tariff and antislavery will destroy Union. (Consistent thing with Calhoun: his radicalism is fundamentally counter-revolutionary, always about preserving the Union.) With nationalists still on old program, Cal-Smith fight continues well into 30s.

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.

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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!
Answer: Misleading and evasive because:
1) States' rights are not actually an end in themselves, but rather a method by which actual ends are achieved. They don't real. Therefore: states' rights for what? And we're back to slavery again. (This is also true for the tariff.)
2) The South only ever cared about states' rights when they could protect slavery, and insisted upon firm national control when they did otherwise.
3) The South is not unique in this. Whomever lost the last election was always howling states' rights. I have examples of this at the blog and can share some more here if wanted, including the same states declaring for and against the same position quite explicitly depending on where they understand their interests as aligned.
4) South Carolina and the other rebelling states listed among the grievances justifying their secession the fact that Northern states had gotten into the states' rights closet and came out with nullification of the fugitive slave act. Tells you something, doesn't it?

Here's the long version.

Bonus content:
1) When not forced to deal with a Union containing free states, the Confederates wrote a constitution in many ways similar to the United States Constitution. However, it specifically and emphatically denied the power not just to the Confederate government but also to individual state governments to abolish slavery. It further mandated that slavery be instituted in any new territory gained by the confederacy. So much for local control!

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.

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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:

-As a corollary to the above: free blacks sent to Liberia pre-Emancipation set up antebellum-style plantations and enslaved the natives on them.

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 (not officially part of the US) kept slaves after the war.

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:

-Lee's wife freed her slaves before the war while Grant's held onto hers until Emancipation.

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:

-The worst race riot of the 19th century took place in New York City.

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:

-The only black commissioned officers (and the first on American soil, though not fighting for the USA) during the war fought for the Confederacy in the Louisiana Native guard; being gens de coleur or mixed-race by modern standards, but enough to be considered just "black" outside Louisiana.

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:

Also, this is tangential (17th century) but what are your thoughts on colonist Anthony Johnson? If Wikipedia is to be believed, he was a black freedman who sued to extend the contract of a black indentured servant for a lifetime, thus establishing legal precedent for lifetime ownership of a slave who had committed no crime, in contrast to the John Punch case.

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.

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Klaus van der Kroft wrote:

A very interesting read indeed! Thank you, Samnell.

Question: I'm writing an alternate history campaign for an RPG, and I'm wondering: How feasible would it have been if, say, the British or some other power had gotten involved in the war by supporting the Confederates in order to make it last longer? Not necessarily fight in it, but rather help with resources and stuff like that.

My understanding of the US Civil War is rather superficial, but I'm of the impresion a big factor against the Confederates was how they ended up completely isolated from the rest of the world in economic and diplomatic manners.

Would something like that work to ensure the war would have extended further in time?

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.

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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!
Answer: Yes and no. There are absolutely recurrent issues with states publishing standards that soft-pedal slavery or demand emphasizing Confederate perspectives usually to the absolute exclusion of enslaved perspectives and often elevating them to equal or more prominent positions than Unionist POVs, no matter how deceptive, over historical consensus. Texas (which actually had a Unionist governor who fought secession as best he could) is infamous for these, to the point that I've read complaints from teachers that to do their job they have to actively mislead students.

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.

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Gay Male Inhuman
Yuugasa wrote:

So, here is the situation; I've been having some computer issues for a bit but I didn't think much of them but now it looks like my comp is going kaput and, being the poor person I am, I can't easily afford a new one. Not too sure what to do at this point, I can post on my phone but it's glitchy and really not suited to long posts or dice rolls.

I think I may have to effectively drop out, at least for a while, so feel free to replace me and/or use Saito as an NPC.

Fun game, I am disappointed to leave.=(

Aw. :( We'll miss you.

I'll find a graceful way to write Saito out.

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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.

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