Robert Anderson Caused the Civil War

Recently a poster declared:

Secession had many causes, but none of them led to the war. Your proof positive is the Secession documents, which are nothing more than a list of grievances. So that being case, show proof using these documents that the war was fought over slavery. When you have done this I will show proof the issue was not slavery

The only event that leads to the war was Anderson moving from Moultrie to Sumter. Without that event there would have been no war.


32 thoughts on “Robert Anderson Caused the Civil War

  1. Michael Rodgers March 19, 2014 / 3:34 pm

    Yes, the secessionists wanted a peaceful secession. One main reason they didn’t get it is because they wanted secession more than they wanted peace.
    As is often the case, Lincoln said it the best, “While the [first] inaugural address was being delivered from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war, insurgent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it without war—seeking to dissolve the Union and divide effects by negotiation. Both parties deprecated war, but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish, and the war came.”

    • Bob Nelson March 19, 2014 / 4:09 pm

      IIRC from the Second Inaugural, probably the best inaugural address ever given by any American President — including JFK’s.

    • Elaine Donnert March 20, 2014 / 1:33 am

      Interesting selection, because Lincoln’s position is identical to that held by King George III during the slave-owners rebellion of 1776 . King George III, of course, even displayed a magnanimity toward the “traitorous scumbags” they did not deserve:

      “When the unhappy and deluded multitude, against whom this force will be directed, shall become sensible of their error, I shall be ready to receive the misled with tenderness and mercy ! ”

      But, rather than let the British nation survive, the “traitorous scumbags” made war upon their King and Country. And as Lincoln would later put it, the war came.

      • Michael Rodgers March 20, 2014 / 1:50 pm

        Please state your arguments and expound on your comparisons. Neither one similar quote nor one similar attribute do equality make.

      • tmheaney March 20, 2014 / 3:57 pm

        I know, right, “Elaine”? I mean there was King George III having just won election as king under the British Constitution as agreed to fully by all the constituent states, represented as they constitutionally were in Parliament and in the Electoral College. The 13 colonies had run their own nominees, but none of them got close to the constitutionally mandated majority of electoral votes. But the slaveholding colonies weren’t going to let that stop them. They were going to stop ole Georgie Boy from becoming King by declaring their independence with those immortal words, “We hold these truths to be self evident that our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery — the greatest material interest of the world. That governments are instituted among men for holding, maintaining and protecting the institution known as negro slavery– the servitude of the African to the white race within her limits– a relation that had existed from the first settlement of her wilderness by the white race, and which her people intended should exist in all future time.”

        Yup. That’s what totally happened.

  2. Jimmy Dick March 19, 2014 / 3:42 pm

    Oh lord, where to begin? Since no traitorous scumbag not in the uniform of the United States Military had the authority to order Major Anderson to do anything, he was not under their authority and could move his troops to any US military installation he wanted to. If the Confederates or South Carolina folks didn’t like that, then that was just too damn bad. The order from Jefferson Davis to attack Fort Sumter started the war. He didn’t have to issue that order but chose to for several reasons.
    Thinking that Anderson started the war is just ignorance.

  3. Bob Nelson March 19, 2014 / 4:03 pm

    I have to ask, Brooks, where DO you find such great stuff as this? I must be reading the wrong blogs, sites and groups because I never run across such as this. LOL Perhaps you could post a list of places to find such fanciful versions of U.S. history.

    The first paragraph does not warrant a reply. As for the second, had Anderson stayed put at Moultrie the war would have started at Moultrie instead of at Sumter but with many more casualties. The move to Sumter, although politically charged, did not make the slightest difference. Consider the fact that mail and supplies to Sumter continued for almost four months. I could argue (tongue in cheek) that “the only event that leads to the war” was the fact that Abraham Lincoln wasn’t killed during his duel with James Shields at Alton, IL in 1842. It makes about as much sense as this allegation. Come to think of it, it probably makes more sense.

    • Brooks D. Simpson March 19, 2014 / 4:35 pm

      I found the material in a comment submitted to this blog. 🙂

  4. M.D. Blough March 19, 2014 / 4:55 pm

    How about Ft. Pickens? In any event, the US garrison at Ft. Sumter didn’t interfere in any way with navigation into or out of Charleston harbor. IMHO, one of the major reasons for the firing on Ft. Sumter was to force Virginia to jump off the fence that it was straddling and land in the rebel camp.

    • Don March 20, 2014 / 5:16 pm

      I concur that a major motivation was to force VA, NC, TN and the remaining slave states to choose. It worked to a great extent though MD, KY, DL and MO failed to join the confederacy, in a near run thing.

  5. Joshism March 19, 2014 / 6:29 pm

    It does raise an interesting question: if Moultrie/Sumter and Pickens were occupied by the Confederacy without firing a shot (Buchanan orders them evacuated, different commanders at those posts are less dedicated to their duty and/or more pro-Southern thus surrender when requested, etc) where then is the first shot of the American Civil War fired? At that point I believe the only Federal property not occupied by the Confederates are Forts Taylor and Jefferson in the Keys (plus a few Keys lighthouses and southern Florida).

    I don’t think Anderson caused the war, but his dedication to duty ensured there was a piece of Federal property to argue and exchange of fire over. If Anderson caused the war then absent David Twiggs it is quite possible that Robert E. Lee, patron saint of the South, could have “caused” the Civil War by refusing to surrender Federal property in Texas.

    • guitarmandanga March 20, 2014 / 8:30 am

      >absent David Twiggs it is quite possible that Robert E. Lee, patron saint of the >South, could have “caused” the Civil War by refusing to surrender Federal >property in Texas.

      Oh, what a DELICIOUS counterfactual that would have been! ; )

  6. E.g. Schwetje March 19, 2014 / 6:57 pm

    George Purvis? Reads like his stuff. How the lost causers can be so dismissive of the reasons for secession docs is mind boggling.

  7. tmheaney March 19, 2014 / 9:24 pm

    Of course, Major Anderson was removing his small force to Sumter for only one reason: To AVOID bloodshed and war. He did so under the authority of orders from Sec. of War Floyd, a pro-secession, pro-South cabinet member who would soon resign and take a commission in the Confederate Army (which he’d eventually lose because he was a military doofus).

    Had good Major remained where he was, South Carolina hotheads would have tried to take Fort Moultrie by force causing a bloody fight (as he had warned), and our blogger friend would be claiming that Anderson caused the war by refusing to evacuate Fort Moultrie.

  8. Brad March 20, 2014 / 4:26 am

    The occupation of practically every Federal facility in the lower South constituted sufficient grounds for a US response.

    The comment is the proverbial grasping at straws.

  9. BorderRuffian March 20, 2014 / 6:13 am

    War not about slavery?

    New York merchants, bankers, shipping companies, and New England mill owners made tons of money from slavery.

    “Southern independence?”…
    …”Southern independence!!!” they said.

    Of course, the war was about slavery.

    • John Foskett March 20, 2014 / 4:47 pm

      So let’s see here. We have the Yankees going to war because the Southern states seceded and their slaves were producing all that cotton the greedy Yankees needed to make $$$. So the solution was to go to war because, by golly, if the Southern states are independent they’re no longer going to sell all that $$$ profitable cotton to the the greedy Yankees and now they’re going to make the cotton money by going anywhere but NY, right? How to complicate the simple, obfuscate the obvious, and muddy the clear. It’s just a danged lot easier to go read the words of the Secession Commissioners, assume they were truthful men, and take them at their word when they urged their brethren to join them because those greedy Yankees were hellbent on destroying their beloved “institution”. “Of course, the war was about slavery.”

  10. jfepperson March 20, 2014 / 7:58 am

    The primary reason Anderson moved is that Moultrie was a vulnerable post and he feared attack by the South Carolinians. IOW, as has been said by several folks, he was trying to avoid a conflict.

  11. guitarmandanga March 20, 2014 / 8:28 am

    If secession had “many causes,” than why do so few of them show up in the secession documents? Either the secession convention members who framed the wording of these docs were LYING, or they were incapable of expressing the true issues that motivated their constituents…and in either case, that doesn’t say very much for their character.

  12. neukomment March 20, 2014 / 9:36 am

    Why do these people so conveniently forget who it was that fired the 1st shot? Anderson’s men did not fire the 1st shot. The Rebs fired the first shot and they fired on OUR flag!!! I’d like to see more discussion on the point raised that Davis ordered the attack to move other states such as Virginia to the confederate side. He would not be the first nor the last politician to order such a thing for political advantage…

    • Jimmy Dick March 20, 2014 / 12:18 pm

      He definitely did that in order to get more states to join plus to retain what had already joined. That first rush of enthusiasm had passed and now people were starting to ask questions which the leaders of the Confederacy could not answer satisfactorily. I think that Jefferson Davis understood that if something wasn’t done to unite the Confederacy beyond slavery, states would begin to drift back to the Union. The South did not have the economy to survive the lack of trade with the North. It did not have enough shipping to supply itself or to export its own goods. The lack of recognition from Europe also meant he had to do something to try to get them to recognize the South as an independent nation.

  13. Rob Baker March 20, 2014 / 10:35 am

    This has George Purvis’s brand of stupid written all over it.

    How are you going to show “proof” that the Civil War was over slavery if he is going to show “proof’ that is was not?

  14. Nancy Winkler March 21, 2014 / 3:29 pm

    Hi folks,

    I just got this message from the U.S. Grant Association:

    The Museum of the Confederacy “Person of the Year 1864” featuring Dr. John F. Marszalek and his winning nominee, William T. Sherman, will air on C-Span 3 this week.

    Airings begin Thursday night at 7 PM with two speakers, then Marszalek is on at 8:47 PM speaking about Sherman. Two other speakers follow and at 11:32 PM is the announcement about the audience’s vote for Person of the Year.

    Marszalek’s talk will be replayed Saturday at 11:06 AM, followed by a replay of the announcement of the “Person of the Year.” At noon Saturday he will be live from the MSU TV Center on a C-Span call-in show until 11:45 or so.

    C-span 3 will replay the call-in program at 5:50 to 6:35 PM. At 9 PM they will replay the lecture followed at 9:50 PM by a replay of the call-in show.

    Here’s the link to the website, where you can watch live streaming of these events:

    (Sorry, I cut-and-pasted this and the link doesn’t work.)

  15. hankc9174 March 21, 2014 / 7:21 pm

    one wonders the cause of the fighting in Kansas…

  16. Ned March 23, 2014 / 5:36 am

    Anderson moved to Fort Sumter in December 1860. The event occurred, war did not start.

    Rebels fired on Fort Sumter in April 1861, That event occurred, war did start. Thus the only event that leads to war was an armed attack on the US Army. Without that there would have been no war.

    • M.D. Blough March 23, 2014 / 3:00 pm

      It was also, by that point, not a unilateral act by Anderson. Floyd certainly argued for ordering Anderson back (If there is any single figure who truly deserved to be tried for treason against the US, IMHO, it was John Floyd), but President Buchanan, discovering that he did, in fact, have some remnants of a backbone remaining, refused to order Anderson out of Ft. Sumter. President Buchanan ratified that Anderson was acting within what he was authorized to do.

  17. John April 2, 2014 / 5:31 am

    … there is no mention of Mr Lincoln refusing to meet with any delegation sent to him to consider proposals to peacefully bring the seceded states back to the union nor mention of a resupply ship being sent to Ft Sumter escorted by two war ships which prompted the SC militia to fire on the fort although the Federal troops were allowed to come ashore for supplies biweekly … Lincoln started the mess with the backing of the banksters and industrialist …

    • tmheaney April 2, 2014 / 7:12 am

      Delegation “to peacefully bring the seceded states back to the union!?” Wow. So, are you working on an “alternative history” novel here?

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