Slaveholding and Secession

In some corners there continues to be a debate over how to assess the influence of slavery upon white southerners. There are people who cite the percentage of slaveholders among all white southerners; those who argue that we should look instead to slaveholding families (only one person may own a house, but the entire family benefits from it, and many in the house hope to own houses of their own in the future). In either case, one sees that the lower South (also known as the Deep South) was far more invested in slavery (and slaves formed a higher percentage of their entire population) than the upper South.

Not all slaveholders supported secession, of course, although in many cases they explained their opposition to secession in terms of their concern about what a possible war might do to slavery. That’s a sign that concerns about slavery were critical in southern politics while reminding us that the relation between slavery and secession might be a little more complex than some would like to believe. We also know that the political leadership of the South was far more invested in slavery than the public at large, although that should come as no surprise. What might be interesting to explore is how many voters (adult white makes) were slaveholders (this recognizes that children and most women were not slaveholders, period). In short, what was the impact of slavery at the ballot box? To what extent were the politics of the South the politics of slavery, as several historians have suggested? After all, both Whigs and Democrats campaigned on the grounds that their party would do a better job of protecting slavery than their opponents. What motivated voters to vote as they did? What role did slavery play in their allegiances? What percentage of voters were slaveholders?

(Note: we talk a great deal about political allegiance and the Union rank and file as well as the officer corps … wonder why we don’t explore the political allegiances of Confederate soldiers and officers with the same intensity.)

Of course, these questions offer at best a point of departure. One could ask many more. For example, someone might not own a single slave, yet their economic activity or political prospects may have been closely aligned with the fortunes of the peculiar institution. Moreover, how many white southern voters opposed slavery and hoped for its eradication? How many would meet the criteria used to define an abolitionist? Precious few, I’d wager. But it would be interesting to learn more about how many southern voters were vested in slavery as management and how views on slavery, secession,and union were recast (if at all) by the onset of war.

47 thoughts on “Slaveholding and Secession

  1. M.D. Blough June 23, 2013 / 8:48 pm

    I think that all of the above overlooks some very important factors. The Deep South was, increasingly, a closed society as Calhoun’s slavery as a positive good replaced the slavery as a necessary evil as the dominant Southern dogma re: slavery with any expressions of opinion short of unqualified approval being suppressed either by social disapproval or more forcible expressions, up to an including lynching (Hilton Helper was no abolitionist; he was a virulent racist). I think one of the most telling incidents how far things had gone was the split of just about every Protestant denomination (only in the late 20th century did the Southern Baptists admit that their birth, during this schism was due to supporting slavery). For me, two of the most important books dealing with this period is David Grimsted’s “American Mobbing: American Mobbing, 1828-1861: Toward Civil War” and Frederic Bancroft’s “Slave Trading in the Old South” as well as Ira Berlin’s work on the the difference between societies with slaves and slave societies.

    Given that, as early as the Jackson administration, postmasters were destroying abolitionist literature being sent to slaveholders, i.e. whites., I don’t seen any point in decades before the Civil War where a man who expressed doubts about slavery would have any chance at running for public office in the Deep South. This was well before the institution of the secret ballot.

    • Brooks D. Simpson June 23, 2013 / 9:15 pm

      I didn’t think I was expected to cover the entire subject in a few paragraphs. 🙂 But if we see voting as important, then what percentage of voters (as opposed to the white southern population as a whole) were slaveholders? Did they vote differently than non-slaveholders? Why?

      • Brad June 25, 2013 / 3:43 am

        Voting is important but if the elites at the top set the agendas for discussion, any voting analysis would not be revealing unlike a society where meaningful choices are offered and there are competing visions of how society should be structured.

    • Mark June 24, 2013 / 5:45 pm

      >> I think one of the most telling incidents how far things had gone was the split of just about every Protestant denomination

      I agree. I think this every time I hear someone express the opinion that it was some gross failure of political leadership to go to war, unless every war is a gross failure of political leadership. Politicians from each side represented the interests of their constituents, however conflicted they were and not neatly divided into North/South, and those interests in the end weren’t reconciliable. There was no non-violent solution that either side could accept.

  2. M.D. Blough June 23, 2013 / 9:39 pm

    Brooks-That reminds me of the time that I was on a discussion group that was discussing Eric Foner’s “Reconstruction”. Dr. Foner graciously consented to answer questions e-mailed to him by the moderator but one question truly stunned him. The person was quite upset that he had not dealt in more detail with particular issue. Dr. Foner replied that the book was over 900 pages long! He had to draw the line somewhere. 🙂

    I do hate to sound like the retired lawyer that I am but the answer to “what percentage of voters (as opposed to the white southern population as a whole) were slaveholders?” is: It all depends. South Carolina mostly limited the franchise to the planter class.

    • Brooks D. Simpson June 23, 2013 / 9:44 pm

      Voter requirements varied from state to state. South Carolina was the glaring exception to most rules politically (as in the legislature selected presidential electors). But most states had universal white adult male suffrage by 1860.

  3. Mark June 24, 2013 / 2:22 pm

    Here’s some of the raw data from which you can make some rough estimates by looking at the 1860 Election results and cross-referencing to the 1860 Census which contains information on # of families and # of slave owning families. Other than SC, all the states had popular votes in the election and what is interesting for the five I looked at is that there is close to a 1 to 1 relationship (varying between 0.83 and 1.09) between the number of families and the total number of votes cast in the presidential election (one white male one vote rule, I guess). For 5 states with # of families first, # slaveholding families second and total votes cast third:

    Floridan 15,090/ 5,152/ 13,301
    Georgia 109,919/ 41,084/ 106,717
    Mississippi 63,015/ 30,943/ 69,095
    Tennessee 149,335/ 36,844/ 146,106
    Virginia 201,523/ 52,158/ 166,891

    The census data shows that not only did the % of slaveholding families decline in the Upper South but so did the average # of slaves per family. The average slaveholding family in the original seven Confederate states had between 9 and 15 slaves with an average of 13; the last four to secede had 7.5 to 10 with an average of 9 and the four slave states that did not secede had 3 to 6 with an average of 5.

  4. Reed June 24, 2013 / 4:08 pm

    One must also consider the issue and it’s influence upon white northerners. It goes without saying, of course, that white northerners represented an enormousl market for the products of Southern slave labor, and they voraciously gobbled up the sugar, cotton, and tobacco shipped to them. The fact that northern whites were delighted with the economic status quo remains abundantly clear, and they only resisted Southern political independence because they would lose the palpable economic benefits of Southern economic activity.

    • M.D. Blough June 24, 2013 / 8:29 pm

      That makes secession sound criminally irresponsible. BTW, why would they lose the palpable economic benefits with an independent South? Southern products still would need a market.

      • Reed June 25, 2013 / 9:57 am

        No, what was criminal was refusing to recognize the right of Southerners to “alter and abolish” a form of government the Southerners wished to alter and abolish. As for the economic implications, the Confederates had ample overseas markets with which to trade.

        • M.D. Blough June 26, 2013 / 12:48 pm

          In the first place, that right, if you mean a legal right, under the Constitution, to leave the Union unilaterally was never recognized by the US government and the existence of such a right was denied by three Presidents before Lincoln, two of whom were slaveholders and one owed his election to slave states and their northern allies. In the second place, you seem to deny other states in the Union and the US government any say in the matter. Even Calhoun didn’t believe the slave states had such a veto power; he tried to get it for them, unsuccessfully.

          Don’t confuse it with the natural right of revolution in the face of oppression. In that, one faces the natural right of a nation to protect its survival. It’s an extralegal measure, frequently violent, and the people resorting to it know the dangers of failure as well as the advantages if they are successful

          • Reed June 26, 2013 / 2:40 pm

            Actually, the right of secession was established by both the American colonial secession from the British Empire, and then again by the secession from the AoC. Presidents, of course,have no say in the matter at all, as you will discover if you read Article 2. Lastly your definition of a “right” is a little confused. Whether political or legal, ia right cannot be interfered with or resisted, otherwise it is merely an assertion and not a right. A very important distinction to bear in mind.

          • M.D. Blough June 26, 2013 / 3:57 pm

            The American Revolution was a revolution. They never believed that the British Constitution gave them a LEGAL right to leave without H.M. government having any right to resist it. They knew their likely fate if they failed and ended up in British hands.

            Madison put it best in his letter December 23, 1832 to Nicholas Trist during the Nullification Crisis:

            >>I have received yours of the 19th, inclosing some of the South Carolina papers. There are in one of them some interesting views of the doctrine of secession; one that had occurred to me, and which for the first time I have seen in print; namely that if one State can at will withdraw from the others, the others can at will withdraw from her, and turn her, nolentem, volentem, out of the union. Until of late, there is not a State that would have abhorred such a doctrine more than South Carolina, or more dreaded an application of it to herself. The same may be said of the doctrine of nullification, which she now preaches as the only faith by which the Union can be saved.

            I partake of the wonder that the men you name should view secession in the light mentioned. The essential difference between a free Government and Governments not free, is that the former is founded in compact, the parties to which are mutually and equally bound by it. Neither of them therefore can have a greater right to break off from the bargain, than the other or others have to hold them to it. And certainly there is nothing in the Virginia resolutions of — 98, adverse to this principle, which is that of common sense and common justice. The fallacy which draws a different conclusion from them lies in confounding a single party, with the parties to the Constitutional compact of the United States. The latter having made the compact may do what they will with it. The former as one only of the parties, owes fidelity to it, till released by consent, or absolved by an intolerable abuse of the power created. In the Virginia Resolutions and Report the plural number, States, is in every instance used where reference is made to the authority which presided over the Government. As I am now known to have drawn those documents, I may say as I do with a distinct recollection, that the distinction was intentional. It was in fact required by the course of reasoning employed on the occasion. The Kentucky resolutions being less guarded have been more easily perverted. The pretext for the liberty taken with those of Virginia is the word respective, prefixed to the “rights” &c to be secured within the States. Could the abuse of the expression have been foreseen or suspected, the form of it would doubtless have been varied. But what can be more consistent with common sense, than that all having the same rights &c. should unite in contending for the security of them to each.

            It is remarkable how closely the nullifiers who make the name of Mr Jefferson the pedestal for their colossal heresy, shut their eyes and lips, whenever his authority is ever so clearly and emphatically against them. You have noticed what he says in his letters to Monroe & Carrington Pages 43 & 203, vol 2, with respect to the powers of the old Congress to coerce delinquent States, and his reasons for preferring for the purpose a naval to a military force, and moreover that it was not necessary to find a right to coerce in the Federal Articles, that being inherent in the nature of a compact. It is high time that the claim to secede at will should be put down by the public opinion, and I shall be glad to see the task commenced by one who understands the subject.<<

          • Reed June 26, 2013 / 6:32 pm

            This would probably be more convincing if Thomas Jefferson, the white, Southern, slave-owning, secessionist traitor, had not authored the world’s most celebrated secession document. It’s called “The Declaration of Independence” and it promulgates the right of the people to “alter and abolish” their forms of government (go figure, the Southerners of 1861 thought he meant it). It would also be more convincing if James Madison himself had not led the illegal secession from the PERPETUAL Articles of Confederation. In affecting this particular secession, Madison, predictably enough, relied on what he called “the transcendent and precious right of the people to abolish or alter their governments..” (see federalist #40). But Madison wasn’t finished preparing the blueprint for secession. In Federalist #45, Madison is even more blunt as he fully endorsed the right of secession:

            “…Were the Union itself inconsistent with the public happiness, it would be, ABOLISH THE UNION..”

            Now, it is very clear that 650,000 dead Americans, the nation drenched in blood, hundreds of thousands more maimed and crippled, children without fathers, mothers without sons,wives without husbands, tens of thousands rotting and starving in prisoner of war camps, and millions upon millions of dollars uselessly wasted,is,most definitely inconsistent with the public happiness. Madison would never in his wildest dreams endorsed violent coercion to maintain a VOLUNTARY Union, and he plainly said so.

          • M.D. Blough June 26, 2013 / 11:27 pm

            You really won’t ever grasp the difference between a revolution and an action drawing its authority from a constitution, will you? For starters, to call the Constitutional Convention and/or the Constitution a form of secession is ridiculous. All but one of the states sent delegates and, ultimately, all ratified the Constitution. In any event, Madison was fully prepared to use military force to suppress a rebellion if the Hartford Convention

          • Reed June 27, 2013 / 9:12 am

            “All but one”? Is that what your copy of the Articles of Confederation says? Mine reads a little differently. Indeed, my copy plainly says that the Articles “shall be inviolably observed by EVERY STATE”, not ” all but one”. It also provides that any alterations must be “agreed to in a CONGRESS of the United States”. Does your copy of the AoC state that alterations may be made in a CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION? Lastly, my copy of the AoC clearly states that any alterations must be “afterwards confirmed by the LEGISLATURES of EVERY STATE”. Tell me please, does your copy of the AoC provide that alterations be “ratified by the CONVENTIONS of NINE States”?

            The Constitutional Convention was in fact, a textbook case of an illegal secessionist convention in the purest and most complete sense possible. And it was led by none other than James “abolish the union” Madison.

          • Jimmy Dick June 27, 2013 / 3:22 pm

            Go pick up a copy of Pauline Maiers’ Ratification. The Continental Congress voted to submit the Constitution to the states for their perusal. The state legislatures then voted to have ratifying conventions with the exception of Rhode Island which only held a public referendum that prevented the Federalists from using a convention to explain the Constitution. This resulted in the failure of Rhode Island to ratify the Constitution. On September 13, 1788 the Continental Congress announced that the Constitution would go into effect for the states that had ratified it on the first Wednesday in March 1789. No state seceded from the United States unless you would consider North Carolina (they held a convention and voted no on the Constitution) and Rhode Island as such. They did not secede as much as withdrew from participation under the Constitution.

            The concept that states seceded from the Confederation is total Lost Cause fantasy. They changed the form of government and ended the Confederation by transforming the US and strengthening the central government and reducing the power of the state legislatures. This was a central argument in the ratification debates which you can easily check.

            By the way, Madison specifically said that secession was not allowable under the Constitution. The people were happy and have been happy in the Union. Just because a few weren’t doesn’t give them the right of secession. They have recourse to the federal courts, which is pointed out in Hamilton’s essays in the Federalist 78-83.

            The AoC and secession concept is a laughable failure because everyone in that era knew what was going on was perfectly legal. Had it not been legal it would have been addressed in the ratification debates and at the conventions it would have been used to end the process. However, they did discuss this issue and determined for themselves that it was legal. If people of today think it wasn’t legal, then they need to go back in time and argue with hundreds of delegates and millions of Americans who said it was legal.

          • Jimmy Dick June 27, 2013 / 3:25 pm

            Oh, look! Another old and familiar Lost Cause argument that has been ridiculed and disproven repeatedly. Can you please find something new to bring up to support your fantasy? You’re following the really old and tired Lost Cause line of reasoning which fails every single time.

          • Reed June 27, 2013 / 4:43 pm

            Did you really just write that the States did not secede, but rather “withdrew from participation”? Really? Let’s start with that. Here’s just a few definitions of “secede”:

            1. “Definition of SECEDE: to WITHDRAW from an organization
            2.WITHDRAW formally from membership in a federal union, an alliance, or a political or religious organization.
            3. to WITHDRAW formally from an alliance, federation, or association, as from a political union, a religious

            The rest is just as easy. Article 13 of the Articles of Confederation very carefully and precisely described the alteration process. It read as follows:

            “..the Articles of Confederation shall be inviolably observed by every State, and the Union shall be perpetual; nor shall any alteration at any time hereafter be made in any of them, unless such alteration be agreed to in a Congress of the United States, and afterward be confirmed by the legislatures of every State”.

            Notice it does not provide that alterations shall be made through a “constitutional convention”; also notice that it does not provide that alterations are to be ratified by the conventions of nine states. Rhode Island quite properly boycotted the lawless secessionist convention, so Madison and the convention were compelled to resort to an illegal revolution to affect the secession from the AoC. Madison knew this and said as much in Federalist 40.

            :

          • Jimmy Dick June 27, 2013 / 5:35 pm

            Once again you advance idiocy. I repeat again that no state seceded. withdrew from participation is a very valid point. They just didn’t participate in the new government. They then realized the error of their folly and ratified the constitution and joined in the new government. Your Lost Cause BS doesn’t cut it. You can scream the AoC all day long. I pointed out that it was done legally and you can’t prove that it wasn’t. Congress and the states changed the form of government legally.
            Stop slandering Madison. You’re trying to use his words against him and doing a pretty pathetic job of it.

          • Reed June 27, 2013 / 6:33 pm

            I’ll make it simple for you: Please show me that the alterations to Articles of Confederation were confirmed by every State LEGISLATURE, as specified and required by the plain language of Article 13. If you cannot do this (and you most assuredly cannot), you must accept the obvious and irrefutable fact that the States lawlessly seceded from the AoC. That James “abolish the union” Madison led this illegal secession, is an equally irrefutable fact.

          • Brooks D. Simpson June 27, 2013 / 6:49 pm

            I can make it simpler for you. See this:

            For 2 days, September 26 and 27, Congress debated whether to censure the delegates to the Constitutional Convention for exceeding their authority by creating a new form of government instead of simply revising the Articles of Confederation. They decided to drop the matter. Instead, on September 28, Congress directed the state legislatures to call ratification conventions in each state. Article VII stipulated that nine states had to ratify the Constitution for it to go into effect.

            Seems the Confederation Congress sanctified the ratification process outlined in the Constitution.

        • Michael Confoy June 26, 2013 / 1:27 pm

          This is true in your mind and perhaps parallel universes.

  5. TF Smith June 24, 2013 / 7:46 pm

    Perhaps they also “resisted Southern political independence” because they wanted to avoid the balkanization of North America and the likelihood of various aspiring warlords trying to carve fiefdoms out of the nation that the Revolution and eight decades of work and struggle had built?

    Not to mention they did not wish to be deputized to act as slavecatchers and strikebreakers for Southern “economic” managers?

    Plus if the rule of law was to be set aside when it came to national elections, then how long before the one-drop rule for labor recruitment for the southern “economic status quo” would be expanded to the “no drop” rule?

    Some of them may even have thought slavery and institutionalized “droit de signeur-level” rape across southern “society” was immoral and unchristian?

    Might have had something to do with it…

    Are you really going to defend chattel slavery and militarized anarchy? That’s the hill you wish to die on?

  6. Talmadge Walker June 25, 2013 / 9:41 am

    One thing no one’s mentioned is property requirements for serving in the legislature. Open franchises are still extremely limited if only the wealthy are allowed to serve in office. In SC (surprise surprise) property requirements for holding office were so strict you virtually had to be a slaveowner to be in state office, which meant in turn that both their US Senators & their Presidential electors were picked by a solid slave-owning block.

  7. Reed June 25, 2013 / 10:05 am

    Very unpersuasive arguments, one and all. As far as “chattel slavery” is concerned,I do not hesitate to say that Southern black agricultural laborers (“chattel slaves”) had a far, far superior quality of life when compared to northern “free” blacks”. No doubt about it. And the “balkanization” argument is comletely useless. Tell me, exactly how many wars have been fought between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico since 1860?

    • M.D. Blough June 26, 2013 / 12:30 pm

      That’s an interesting choice of date since it eliminates the American Revolution, the Texas War of Independence (the ones seeking independence, BTW, were Americans who, although accepting the benefits offered by the Mexican Government, refused to abide by Mexican law abolishing slavery), the War of 1812, the near war over the location of the US Canadian-Canadian border in the 1840s (one incident involving our own George Pickett), the Mexican War, and the filibustering expeditions of the 1850s (many slavery advocates openly had designs on Mexican territory). By the 1860s, the various border issues had been resolved by war and/or treaty (although one of the reasons, HM government did not want to get into military involvement in the US Civil War was lingering fears that it would reawaken US ambitions towards Canada). The problems with the enforcement of the Fugitive Slave law(s) were high on the list of causes given for states joining the rebellion and got to the point where armed conflicts broke out (Christiana, PA). That problem would not have gotten less when a fugitive slave was crossing an international border with the slave owner having no Constitutional rights. Disputes over whose territory an area was is a traditionally fertile ground for war. Also, if you establish the precedent that any state can unilaterally leave if it is dissatisfied, that creates additional potential for dissension.

      As for quality of life, on what level of fantasy did you come by the information? Shirley Temple’s “The Littlest Rebel” doesn’t count. The death rates of field hands on Louisiana sugar plantations reached 14%. In quality of life, don’t forget to take into account that a free(d) black in the North at least knew that they did not have to fear family members being forcibly removed to other states with no way of staying in contact.

      • Reed June 26, 2013 / 2:41 pm

        I guess the answer to the question regarding the wars between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico since 1860 is zero, huh? So much for the meaningless argument that an independent C.S.A. would have meant ceaseless wars between the U.S. and C.S. Now then, concerning quality of life, don’t forget that Southern black agricultural laborers had steady employment, food, clothing, shelter, and medical care. Unlike the unemployed, wandering, diseased, half-starved northern blacks who were so discriminated against and despised that states like Illinois and Oregon actually made it unconstitutional for them to even enter the state.

        • M.D. Blough June 26, 2013 / 3:33 pm

          And you’re being disingenuous. You pick a point AFTER there were multiple armed conflicts between the US and each of its neighbors that resolved those border disputes (yes, there were treaties but they followed either actual fighting or near misses) and then you argue that it shows that it proves that there would not have been armed conflict between the USA and the independent CSA which would have been at the point that the USA and its neighbors were BEFORE armed conflict.

        • TF Smith July 2, 2013 / 12:45 pm

          Brooks, it’s your bar, but do you really allow this sort a forum?

          In response, one may wish to ask the people of Mexico, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California about the Veracruz occupation (1914) and the border wars during the Mexican Revolution (circa 1914-1917)…the “Pershing Expedition” and the Columbus Raid come to mind.

          Given that the “balkanization” point was in comparison to South America, one might wish to look at the War of the Pacific, the War of the Triple Alliance, the Chaco War, the Zarumilla Conflict, and the War of ’41, among others…

          • Brooks D. Simpson July 2, 2013 / 8:29 pm

            I have no problem giving someone a forum for expressing their views. However, I suspect that at some point the failure to come to grips with responsible objections and questions renders ineffective the poster’s usefulness in advancing debate.

    • Jimmy Dick June 26, 2013 / 12:45 pm

      Well, we did technically invade Mexico early in the 20th century. There was no reason to invade them because of economic situations where the US became the dominant partner. However, under a Balkinizaton concept resources are spread out among more nations. The slave nations still needed to expand. Mexico was weak. A South that didn’t fight the North could have fought Mexico for more territory for the much needed expansion.
      The expansion of the slave nations would have been the biggest factor in the whole thing.

      • M.D. Blough June 26, 2013 / 3:50 pm

        Jimmy-Expansion would be the friction point as the history of filibustering amply indicates. The slave states wanted Cuba and they wanted it badly. Not only was it friendly to plantation agriculture but slavery was already established. There was the unsuccessful Narciso Lopez expedition in Cuba. Then there was the Walker debacle in Nicaragua. Not only did he lead the overthrow of a legally constituted government because it had abolished slavery but he put himself in charge of the country. In refreshing my memory on this, I realized that Walker had, prior to the Nicaraguan expedition that led to his execution, he had previously attempted the same thing in Baja California, The weak Mexican government only barely managed to repel him (largely due to the the ship with most of his supplies leaving against his orders). In the case of Nicaragua, the US, under Franklin Pierce, actually recognized his government. He made many enemies, especially Commodore Vanderbilt, who helped finance the effort to overthrow his government, and the British, who captured him on his attempt to return and retake Nicaragua. The British turned him over to the Hondurans who executed him.

        • Jimmy Dick June 26, 2013 / 6:02 pm

          They weren’t going to get Cuba as the Confederacy. They couldn’t take out the Spanish Navy. Spain in the 1860s and 70s was still a powerful nation compared to the Confederacy. Add in the fact that slavery was certain to be introduced to Cuba with a Confederate invasion and you would have had one awesome guerrilla war if (big if) the Confederacy could have gained a sizeable chunk of Cuba.

          This is the point that gets ignored in the game of counterfactuals. It was the expansion of slavery that was the main issue. Where was the Confederacy going to expand? Mexico? Cuba? If it went west it would have caused a war with the North. So we keep ending up with the very real truth of the situation: There would have been a war no matter what. What would have happened is unknown of course, but there would have been more war and as weapons got better there would have been more killing and a lot more dying.

          • M.D. Blough June 26, 2013 / 6:38 pm

            Jimmy-I agree with you about the chances of the Confederacy getting Cuba but I don’t know that the slavery expansionists ever got it. After all, many of them thought, if the US government tried to resist the rebellion, that it would quickly be defeated. One article I read said that the model that convince the filibusterers that they could be successful was Texas. Even if they’d made a move on Cuba and failed, the turmoil would be considerable. As you note, there was no direction into which the slave states could expand in which they would not face opposition.

          • Jimmy Dick June 27, 2013 / 3:34 pm

            The secessionists were fooling themselves several times. First they deliberately fixed the secession conventions to ignore the majority of white southerners in most states. Let’s not even bother bringing up how the slaves themselves felt about the situation because of course the secessionists weren’t going to bother with asking them. They thought they had the resources. Obviously they didn’t. They thought the European countries would support them and King Cotton over slavery. They didn’t. They thought they could beat the North in a war. Obviously they failed at that. They thought they had the support of the people. A lot of the men went North and fought for the Union. It was so bad the South had to enact a conscription law in 1862. They thought that by making each state independent they could work together to form a more perfect union. They found out what the their ancestors found out from 1776 to 1787… it didn’t work.

            They found out they were dead ass wrong on almost everything, got about 700,000 people killed and destroyed their section of the United States. Yet, here we are 150 years later and dumb people think the South was justified when it wasn’t. They ignore the facts the prove them wrong and then they twist the context of the past to give themselves support to prove their made up fantasy. No wonder they believe in the Lost Cause. They just as effing stupid as the secessionists were.

          • M.D. Blough June 27, 2013 / 5:36 pm

            What is a profoundly disturbing experience is reading secessionist pamphlets from the “secession winter” between the election and Inauguration day. The hubris in so many of them makes one want to weep. They aren’t talking in legal terms but in terms of being strong enough to impose their will on those for whom their contempt was overwhelming: the federal government, the free states and their population, and the border states where the importance of slavery was diminishing. It was very rare to see a vehemently pro-slavery pamphlet that, nevertheless, warned that the secessionists were unleashing historical forces they could not control and taking the rebellious slave states out of the imperfect protection of a western world increasingly hostile to slavery. Those rare voices warned that actions taken in the name of protecting the Peculiar Institution would likely lead to its destruction. These minority pamphleteers suffered the fate of Cassandra at Troy: prophesy with the utmost accuracy and be ignored.

          • Xavier June 29, 2013 / 12:24 pm

            It was so bad the South had to enact a conscription law in 1862.

            All of the blacks wanting to believe there were black Confederate soldiers need to know that the typical white Confederate private suffered worse treatment as a soldier slave than soldier slaves of ancient Rome. Union soldiers recieved treatment like a regular in Europe’s armies. So they don’t need to be jealous that there ancestors weren’t a part of the White Supremacist’s military when its own soldiers were treated worse than dirt.

  8. Talmadge Walker June 26, 2013 / 8:17 am

    Reed is absolutely correct, as evidenced by the hordes of free northern blacks who went south hoping to be re-enslaved, and the hordes of white southerners who tried to pass themselves off as black to be enslaved themselves. (Heh, heh…)

  9. Reed June 26, 2013 / 8:45 am

    Actually, it is evidenced by the millions and millions of well-fed, well-clothed, well-cared for Southern black laborers who made no effort whatsoever to “escape” to the north. And I don’t recall hordes and hordes of white northerners trying to pass themselves off as black so they could live in appaling squalor and poverty in the slums of NewYork.

    • M.D. Blough June 26, 2013 / 12:41 pm

      They wouldn’t have had to pass themselves off as black to live in the slums of New York City. New York City and the surrounding boroughs had large white populations living in them including the heavily Irish Five Points area (the movie “Gangs of New York” got little right but the name of the area but it was pretty bad, to the point that Dickens wrote of it). In 1863, Irish made up 25 % of the population of New York City. That was why the New York City draft rioters targeted blacks, who they saw as competition for jobs, a competition that they feared would be immensely worsened if the war ended slavery.

    • Michael Confoy June 26, 2013 / 1:28 pm

      I recall no one wishing to be a slave whether black or white. Are you volunteering?

      • Reed June 26, 2013 / 2:44 pm

        And I recall no one wishing to live in the abject poverty and miserable squalor that “free” northern blacks lived in, whether free or slave. You volunteering?

        • John Foskett June 27, 2013 / 4:02 pm

          Yeah, I’ll take one of those palaces slaves were quartered in down South and one of those great, high-paying 35-hour a week jobs they had. Not to mention the perks – like if the wife is hassling you, you can always get the Master to sell her off. Same with the noisy brat kids. And who wouldn’t rather get flogged with 40 or so lashes than have a half’day’s pay docked because you showed up late for work.

          • Jimmy Dick June 27, 2013 / 4:33 pm

            Oh, and the privilege of being Massa’s bed partner, the full coverage health care, union representation, sick days, holidays off, your right to vote, the ability to look for better employment….

  10. Talmadge Walker June 26, 2013 / 9:08 am

    But why would white northerners want to live in the slums of New York when life would be so much better for them in southern cotton fields?

  11. Charles Lovejoy June 28, 2013 / 7:29 am

    >” yet their economic activity or political prospects may have been closely aligned with the fortunes of the peculiar institution.”< I have found that to be consistent with the research I have did with South East Georgia.In my very un-professional opinion I would say the case with most areas in South east Georgia just about every body was connected in slavery in one way or the other. Even the preachers:-) the coin's in their collection plates were profits from slavery and cotton. It seemed to be typical for an older family member to own land and slaves on paper and a host of other family members would live on the land.not showing up as land owners or slave owners. Some family members would own land adjacent to a family member's land that owned slaves. That person would have access to the family members slaves on the adjacent land. I have always felt it takes a knowledge the sociology of the different areas of the south and how families interacted.to get a picture of life in the Antebellum South.

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