Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

“Governments…formed simply by the consent or agreement of the strongest part…will act in concert in subjecting the weaker party to their dominion. And the despotism, and tyranny, and injustice of these governments consist in that very fact.”     Lysander Spooner

February 4, 2008

Just So We’re Clear About This Issue

by Doug Mataconis

Because it’s been raised yet again over at Lew Rockwell’s blog.

The Confederate States of America were a bunch of anti-libertarian, slave-holding racists.

And, yes, I know I’m gonna take flak for this one.

But, frankly, I don’t care.


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47 Comments

  1. STATIST!!!!! :)

    Comment by Kevin — February 4, 2008 @ 7:32 pm
  2. That’s all fine and dandy, Doug. They still had a right to secede. We’ve lost that forever just because the first guys to try it were a^^holes.

    Comment by Jeff Molby — February 4, 2008 @ 8:53 pm
  3. Just so we’re clear about this, he does make a good point. Pointing out the many flaws in the detractors of the Confederacy and of the supporters of Lincoln does not mean that he supports slavery or the Confederacy.

    Comment by Justin Bowen — February 4, 2008 @ 8:58 pm
  4. No flak from me…..I also think that Lincoln was a statist scumbag, just like his fellow Kentuckian, Jeff Davis. How about you?

    Comment by Dodsworth — February 4, 2008 @ 9:34 pm
  5. Jeff,

    Actually, if you read what I wrote in the second link, I would take the position that, under the conditions that existed in 1860 the South did not have a right to secede, and I stand by that position.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — February 5, 2008 @ 2:29 am
  6. Judging from what resulted via a response from Lincoln, I kinda wish they didn’t secede :\. It makes me wonder what would’ve happened if Lincoln was shot a bit earlier on, like say, day one of taking office.

    I’d have to read more into it to give a definite opinion/response, although I do agree with doug’s previous point concerning the election of 1860. I also do not hold the concept of slavery nor the Confederacy in high regard, either.

    Comment by Nitroadict — February 5, 2008 @ 3:33 am
  7. Doug,

    You know that there were some efforts to pass legislation that freed all the slaves in the Confederacy. If the Confederacy had freed its own slaves and perhaps set up an education system to integrate the slaves into society with an understanding of the political and economic system, the country would be a better place. But it didn’t happen before the war started. Now we should assume that it would have never happened.

    A small percentage of the southern aristocracy might be a bunch of slave-owning racists. The rest of the population was probably just like Lincoln, non-slave-owning racists. Both the leaders of the Union and the Confederacy were a bunch of racists. You can’t hold anyone in the Union or Confederacy leadership in high regard. But attacking Lincoln doesn’t mean defending the Confederacy, although the Rockwell crowd does do some of that despite Lorenzo’s personal claim to the contrary.

    Secondly, I believe that it is the right of the states to secede from the Union. Look at the New England Secessionist movement in the early 19th century. That secessionist movement has a much higher moral ground. The South didn’t give a good justification for secession, but it is their right to seceded. If they had instead shut down the custom houses and refused to pay the import tariffs on manufactured goods, that would have been a much better ground for secession instead of merely losing the election for presidency.

    The assault on Fort Sumter was idiotic. The South would have been better off negotiating for control of the fort instead of firing the first shots. The fort was not strategic position and taking it for purely symbolic reasons is far inferior to forcing the Lincoln to fire the first shots.

    Comment by TanGeng — February 5, 2008 @ 6:45 am
  8. How interesting. I wonder, how exactly does your painting everyone in the CSA with such a broad brush fall in with this earlier statement of yours:

    Yes, there are some issues that are fundamental to liberty (for me, one of those is the idea that each person needs to be treated as an individual, not a member of a group),

    So, this applies only when it is convenient? Or were you perhaps only referring to some specific subset of “CSA” that you didn’t bother to define?

    Comment by Mark — February 5, 2008 @ 6:46 am
  9. Doug,

    You repeatedly questioned if they “had the right to secede because” of various circumstances. If you changed “the right to” to “good reason to”, I’d agree completely.

    But I can’t agree with your presumption that a state must somehow justify its decision to secede. It’s enough for me to know that the people of those states desired a greater degree of self-rule. The prospered well under the USA, so I think it’s fair to presume that they didn’t arrive at the decision trivially.

    Comment by Jeff Molby — February 5, 2008 @ 6:48 am
  10. In other words, taking up armed rebellion is not something that should be done for light or trivial reasons. Nor it is something that should be done when there are other, less violent methods for effecting political change.

    This is from your second link, which I looked at primarily because you referenced it earlier as an argument against the right of secession for those states.

    Except your argument here is fatally flawed. You assume (without any evidence provided) that it was the intent of the south to participate in armed rebellion rather than peaceful secession.

    While you state in that article you are not arguing the question of secession itself, that’s not something you can get away from. The right of secession was a fundamental check on the power of the central government. Granted, they may have jumped to it too quickly, and perhaps there were other ways of dealing with it, but that doesn’t rule it out as a valid response to disagreement with the actions of the federal government.

    So if, as I would maintain, it was perceived as a right of the state to dissolve its participation in the union there would not have to be any expectation of armed conflict as a forgone conclusion. As such, I would argue that calling it a rebellion on the order of the the american revolution is unjustified. There was no declaration of independence, no formal declaration of war, that attended the act of secession.

    As another noted, the armed conflict came when they began to try to evict the presence of a foreign army from their now sovereign states. (The wisdom of which is up for debate, but isn’t necessarily pertinent here.)

    Comment by Mark — February 5, 2008 @ 6:55 am
  11. Jeff,

    How can there be any legitmacy to the “decision” of the southern states to secede when they enslaved half their population ?

    By violating the individual rights of blacks, they made themselves illegitmite.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — February 5, 2008 @ 7:24 am
  12. TanGeng,

    You know that there were some efforts to pass legislation that freed all the slaves in the Confederacy. If the Confederacy had freed its own slaves and perhaps set up an education system to integrate the slaves into society with an understanding of the political and economic system, the country would be a better place. But it didn’t happen before the war started. Now we should assume that it would have never happened.

    Proposals to free the slaves weren’t even made until the war was virtually lost, and, even then, they didn’t go anywhere.

    A small percentage of the southern aristocracy might be a bunch of slave-owning racists. The rest of the population was probably just like Lincoln, non-slave-owning racists. Both the leaders of the Union and the Confederacy were a bunch of racists. You can’t hold anyone in the Union or Confederacy leadership in high regard. But attacking Lincoln doesn’t mean defending the Confederacy, although the Rockwell crowd does do some of that despite Lorenzo’s personal claim to the contrary.

    So then what you’re saying is that the slave-holding aristocracy convinced the rest of the population to go to war to defend their way of life.

    Had it not been so late when I wrote this post, I probably would’ve gone into more detail. But it was meant to address the CSA-love that seems to be prevalent among members of the Rockwell crowd. There is nothing about the Confederate States of America that a libertarian can admire.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — February 5, 2008 @ 7:27 am

  13. How can there be any legitmacy to the “decision” of the southern states to secede when they enslaved half their population ?

    By violating the individual rights of blacks, they made themselves illegitmite.

    Er, well, that puts both sides back on equal footing then. It’s not like the South were the only ones to own slaves, and the slave trade itself was primarily a northern operation.

    I wasn’t aware that it was required for a state to be perfect before its people could exercise their natural rights.

    Comment by Mark — February 5, 2008 @ 7:29 am
  14. There is nothing about the Confederate States of America that a libertarian can admire.

    I have only fairly limited familiarity with the “rockwell crowd” but from I only see a lot of Lincoln hate – not a lot of CSA love. I have only done some brief searches, but I don’t see any long diatribes on the greatness of the CSA govt, or of any of its individual leaders as bastions of libertarianism. What am I missing?

    Comment by Mark — February 5, 2008 @ 7:31 am
  15. Echo Mark. The minute perfect governance becomes commonplace*, you can go right ahead and make it a prerequisite for self-rule, Doug.

    *Hell, I’d be impressed if you could show me even a single example.

    Comment by Jeff Molby — February 5, 2008 @ 7:47 am
  16. Jeff & Mark,

    Explain to me how any vote in favor of secession by the Southern states can be considered legitamite when half the population wasn’t even allowed to participate in the decision ?

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — February 5, 2008 @ 8:10 am
  17. Well Doug, in both the North and the South women were not allowed to vote at the time so are you just ignoring them for your own purposes? The slave trade was a northern business, they imported them, held some and sold the rest to the south. It was wrong, but slavery was on the way out and would have been a memory by 1900 anyway. Slaves were expensive to buy and expensive to maintain, so only the wealthy could afford them. The war was more over State’s rights than slavery.

    Comment by Bill — February 5, 2008 @ 9:33 am
  18. Bill,

    I’m not ignoring it, but it’s not relevant to the question.

    The North was not trying to secede, the South was.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — February 5, 2008 @ 9:39 am
  19. Of course it matters and I am surprised you don’t see that. Your whole argument is the slaves couldn’t vote so half, and I question the half, of the population wasn’t allowed to participate in the decision. Well then, it is certainly more than half and had been in both the North and the South. If I follow your argument here, everything done in the north and the south before women’s suffrage was illegitimate because at least half of the population wasn’t allowed to participate in ANYTHING!

    Comment by Bill — February 5, 2008 @ 10:12 am
  20. I think what Doug is trying to say – correctly, I think – is that the reason for the CSA’s secession was invalid. They seceded because they worried that Lincoln would take away their slaves. In other words, they seceded not because they were worried that the feds would interfere with their rights, but because they were worried that the feds would interfere with their non-existent right to interfere with the rights of slaves.

    That said – and I hate to admit this – but DiLorenzo does have a valid argument to the extent he says that the feds had no right to bring the South back into the union by force absent an explicitly anti-slavery rationale for that force. He even seems to concede that, if the North had made anti-slavery its explicit casus belli, it would have been on firm ground.

    I disagree with that reasoning on the grounds that slavery was an inherently invalid basis for secession, but DiLorenzo’s argument on that point has at least some merit. Stylistically, though, DiLorenzo’s overwillingness to call everything a “smear” without actually providing a cite to the argument he is refuting tends to destroy his credibility. Far too often, his rants (and those of the other Rockwellians) are just straw men that address arguments that no one has made.

    Comment by Mark — February 5, 2008 @ 10:34 am
  21. I think what Doug is trying to say – correctly, I think – is that the reason for the CSA’s secession was invalid. They seceded because they worried that Lincoln would take away their slaves. In other words, they seceded not because they were worried that the feds would interfere with their rights, but because they were worried that the feds would interfere with their non-existent right to interfere with the rights of slaves.

    And they had no evidence to support this fear. Yes, Lincoln opposed expanding slavery into the territories, but he said more than once that he would not interfere with the institution in the South.

    Apologists for the CSA always say that slavery wasn’t the cause of the war but that’s just not true when you look at the record.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — February 5, 2008 @ 11:01 am
  22. Nor would he oppose its continuation in the North, Lincoln was a died in the wool racist. I am no apologist for the CSA, but neither am I an apologist for the tyrant Lincoln who visited more death and destruction on his fellow countrymen than any other American in history.

    They DID secede because of the feds violating their rights, slavery being one of those rights. However, many southerners wanted to end slavery and with the advent of modern farming techniques and the high cost of keeping slaves, the institution was doomed to fade into history before the turn of the 20th century.

    Your argument that it wasn’t right because the slaves had no say is false as you cannot claim it was wrong for them to have no say without mentioning the women in both the north and the south. According to your argument, everything done, from the Declaration of Independence, to the Constitution, to everything that flowed from there is completely illegitimate because half of the population had no say in what happened.

    Comment by Bill — February 5, 2008 @ 11:33 am
  23. Bill,

    Read what I wrote last year (it’s in the link)

    The main argument, as Mark noted, is that the secession simply because one does not like the results of a democratic election is not a legitamite reasons for secession.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — February 5, 2008 @ 11:48 am
  24. Explain to me how any vote in favor of secession by the Southern states can be considered legitamite when half the population wasn’t even allowed to participate in the decision ?

    The same way the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, the Constitution, and every other pre-1865 law was “legitimate”. You do the best you can with the situation you have. To consider every imperfect form of representation “illegitimate” would render the word meaningless.

    Use your imagination for a minute. What if a future generation concludes the certain animals are intelligent enough to have rights they currently lack? What if a future generation concludes that life begins early in the first trimester? Would that suddenly render all of our decisions illegitimate?

    Comment by Jeff Molby — February 5, 2008 @ 11:51 am
  25. Jeff,

    I’ll admit you do have a good point there.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — February 5, 2008 @ 11:52 am
  26. Bill,

    Other than opposing the expansion of slavery, what rights of the southerners were violated prior to 1861 ?

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — February 5, 2008 @ 11:53 am
  27. The main argument, as Mark noted, is that the secession simply because one does not like the results of a democratic election is not a legitamite reasons for secession.

    Ok. Why not? What is a “legitimate” reason? Who gets to decide?

    Comment by Jeff Molby — February 5, 2008 @ 11:57 am
  28. Jeff,

    I think the Declaration of Independence is instructive:

    Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes

    The question really comes down to an issue of when rebellion — armed or not — is justified (and secession is a form of rebellion). My position has always been that as long as the means to effect political change still exist, rebellion is not justified. The South lost an election in 1860 (ironicially, if the Democrats had stayed united in that election, they would have beat Lincoln) but they still held considerable power in the Senate and House, anything Lincoln would have proposed regarding slavery would have to be approved by Congress.

    Instead of giving the democratic process a chance though, the rebels took the imprudent step of trying to leave the Union. Thankfully, they failed.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — February 5, 2008 @ 12:01 pm
  29. Sorry Doug, you are contradicting yourself now. You clearly stated that the slaves had no vote or say in secession, so it was illegitimate. I asked you how that could be when women were not allowed a say in anything until 1920 with the passage of the 19th Amendment. So far, you have not answered the question.

    As for your question about what rights the north was violating, this shows a lack of knowledge of that period in history. The abuses were many, including taxation, tariffs, Congress forcing the south to sell its cotton and other raw materials exclusively to the northern factories and not to other countries, etc. Looking back on it from our vantage point, the war should never have happened. If the north would have listened to the south’s complaints and addressed them together, we could have avoided the most terrible time in US history. I would suggest you read more about American History in the 1800s to get a better picture of what really happened.

    Comment by Bill — February 5, 2008 @ 12:21 pm
  30. I think the Declaration of Independence is instructive:

    I’m familiar with that quote and I agree completely. However, it’s important to note the use of the word “should”. I don’t think the revolutionaries were proposing any sort of legitimacy test. Heck, they certainly didn’t ask the world’s opinion, let alone their masters’. They did what they thought was right, stated their reasons for doing so, and left history to be the judge.

    The Confederate states did basically the same thing. We, with the benefit of hindsight, can judge their actions, but the North certainly had no authority* to do so.

    *Ignoring, for the moment, Ft Sumter. I’m making a distinction between the authority to enforce unity and the right to self-defense. Semantics, perhaps, but the change in characterization could well have altered the level of determination for both sides.

    Comment by Jeff Molby — February 5, 2008 @ 12:23 pm
  31. Hmmm….here’s an interesting way of thinking about the Civil War that I just came up with.

    If a state chooses to secede, and that choice is not unanimous (ie, not supported by every member of society), doesn’t the sovereign have a right, even a duty, to intervene on behalf of its members who live in the state but do not support secession?

    What I mean by this is that people who reside in a state and/or territory are residents of both the state/territory AND the USA (or the UK, as the case may be). By seceding, a state is also forcibly separating residents who oppose secession from that sovereign. The sovereign may well have a right, even a duty, to act in defense of those residents who have not chosen secession.

    For instance, in the Revolutionary War, it is frequently stated that at the time of the Dec. of Ind., about 1/3 of Americans supported independence, 1/3 opposed it, and 1/3 were ambivalent. Didn’t the British government have a duty to attempt to put down the revolt on behalf of the 1/3 of Americans who wanted to remain British (and arguably the 1/3 who were ambivalent?).

    By that same token, in the Civil War, didn’t the federal government have a duty to act on behalf of its subjects who wished to remain in the Union or were at least ambivalent about secession, whether or not those persons had the franchise?

    Whether or not this rationale was explicitly used in defense of the war, I think it provides an underlying moral basis for the argument that preserving the Union was a valid casus belli.

    … But I could be wrong since, as I said, I just thought of this.

    Comment by Mark — February 5, 2008 @ 12:31 pm
  32. Thankfully, they failed? While we can discuss the war and its causes, I think we all must realize that Lincoln was the first president to really consolidate power in the fed and it was his administration that we can thank for getting us on the road we are now.

    Comment by Bill — February 5, 2008 @ 12:38 pm
  33. The Confederate apologists also fail to note that many federal installations were seized by threat of violence, sometimes even *before* a vote regarding secession occurred in the state the property was located in. They also fail to note that the Star of the West, an unarmed supply vessel sent by *President Buchanan*, not Lincoln, to supply Ft. Sumter, was fired upon, as was an innocent merchant ship that strayed too close to Charleston Harbor. All of this happened before Lincoln was even inaugurated.

    As for the old canard that slavery would have died on its own, I would note that even when staring the likelihood of forced emancipation in the face, the border slave states that did not secede refused to even consider the possibility of compensated emancipation when it was raised by Lincoln in (IIRC) 1862. Not to mention the violence in Bleeding Kansas between pro and anti-slavery groups, and the fact that some filibusters (the people, not the act of long-winded speaking to delay an action) were expressly off on missions to secure new territory for the expansion of slavery (like Cuba).

    Comment by SC — February 5, 2008 @ 12:41 pm
  34. Well if you believe in democracy, which is nothing more a 2 wolves and a sheep voting on what’s for dinner, then, no, the government doesn’t have the “right” to intervene on behalf of 1/3 of the population.

    This analogy pretty sums up the “civil” war:

    Had a girlfriend once. For years we associated voluntarily, one with the other. I kept my stuff at her home, and built a nifty walk-in closet for myself outside the master bedroom. Normal relationship bumps were weathered well enough, but there came a time when she wished to be away from me. She asked me to move out, offering to pay for the physical improvements I’d made to her house. I refused to leave. Perhaps I was more belligerent than some, but you must understand that I wanted foremost to keep the relationship intact.

    Eventually, after my steadfast denial of her requests that I leave her home, she pulled a gun on me. I grabbed it, knocked her to the floor, pointed the barrel at her head, and raped her. I then moved into her house permanently. It was my duty to preserve the union, and this I did wholeheartedly and without quarter, for her treason was not to be endured by an honorable man.

    Comment by Bill — February 5, 2008 @ 1:00 pm
  35. Whether or not they were ready to free the slaves in 1860, there can be no doubt it would have ended by the turn of the century for the reasons I have already posted several times.

    Comment by Bill — February 5, 2008 @ 1:02 pm
  36. Of course if we wish to be cynical, we can say that slavery never did end, that we are all enslaved today by a massive fed gov. Only the treatment of the slaves has changed for the better, at least now we can keep half of what we earn and live in our own homes. Except for the fact that every county in these United States has property tax, which is nothing more than a tacit admission that you really don’t own your home.

    Comment by Bill — February 5, 2008 @ 1:07 pm
  37. Bill- the trouble with your analogy is that it assumes the state governments have a right to tell the individuals who live in those states what to do. It assumes that everyone who lived in the South was a monolithic supporter of secession and of the policies of the Confederate government.

    You can’t use an analogy centered on two separate and distinct individuals and apply it to a case of two separate governments with responsibility for millions of individuals. To do so denies the individual rights of those millions in favor of the preferences of a territorial majority.

    Comment by Mark — February 5, 2008 @ 1:10 pm
  38. Bill, when exactly did Congress force the south to solely sell cotton to the north? Can you give me a date, Congressional action, etc on that? Also, as for taxation, would this be the taxes that Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens specifically said were *not* the cause of secession and noted that in fact that many southern congressmen had voted for the existing tariffs? Shall we talk about the Gag Rule, which forbade members of Congress from introducing legislation affecting slavery? Shall we talk about the near-fatal beating of Edwin Sumner on the floor of the Senate for criticising slavery? Shall we talk about the LeCompton Constitution in Kansas? The Fugitive Slave Act? The south was not the only one with grievances, nor was the north the only one inflicting them.

    And even the dissenting opinion in the Prize Cases of 1862 described the south’s action as rebellion. This would be the dissenting opinion of among others, Chief Justice Roger Taney, btw.

    So yes, by all means, let’s read some history. Let’s read the Declaration of Causes that the various seceding states issued. Let’s read Alexander Stephens’ “Cornerstone Speech”. Let’s read about voter fraud in Kansas, and about the filibusters.

    And Bill, there is no way on God’s Green Earth that slavery would have ended pre-1900. The social pressures to keep it intact would have been far too great for it to end any sooner.

    Comment by SC — February 5, 2008 @ 1:24 pm
  39. You northern apologists are really something. I am not going to post all of the data I have found, you are perfectly capable of finding it yourself. You are fooling yourself if you think slavery would still be with us today, or even well into the early 1900s, if not for your lord and saviour, Lincoln. Try reading all of the secession letters by every State, you will see that slavery was an issue as it related to State’s rights.

    Where there wrongs committed on both sides? Absolutely. Was Lincoln right in launching his war? No. If the premise of a free country and voluntary association is what we are talking about under the Constitution, then any State has a right leave at any time. There are States that feel this way today, with Arizona the most recent(2004) to pass a resolution seceding from the union if Congress voids the Constitution, confiscates firearms or tries to impose martial law.

    Keep drinking that fed gov koolaid, but remember the history books are written by the victors. I was raised in IL, so I was well indoctrinated to be a Lincoln idolater. It was only with much effort on my part to do the research to get a better picture of the real story and a sad story it is indeed on the part of the north as well as the south.

    Comment by Bill — February 5, 2008 @ 1:47 pm
  40. But Mark, isn’t that what the State and federal governments do to us today? Here in IL, they want to pass a gun ban where I would be required to turn in a rifle to be destroyed that cost me over 2k. There will be no compensation, I lose because I own it when the law passes (not yet passed as of today). I have no recourse other than to sell my house, uproot my family and move to a more gun friendly State. Isn’t that what both the northern States and southern States did back then? If you didn’t agree with what the State had determined was in your best interest, what other choice did you have?

    Comment by Bill — February 5, 2008 @ 1:57 pm
  41. Yes, that is what the state governments did and do. But that’s obscuring the issue. Individuals may have an inherent right to secede….states do not.

    Comment by Mark — February 5, 2008 @ 2:15 pm
  42. Mark,

    Individuals may have an inherent right to secede….states do not.

    I like that.

    States don’t have rights, people do.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — February 5, 2008 @ 2:16 pm
  43. Thanks, Doug. I think it gets the point across.

    Comment by Mark — February 5, 2008 @ 2:35 pm
  44. Bill, all I’m asking is that you back your assertion with some kind of citation. Instead, you’re telling ME that *I* should go research and assertion YOU made. Sorry, that doesn’t cut it. I’ve been researching the Civil War and related subject for about twenty years now and have yet to come across an instance where southerners were ever forced by Congress to sell their cotton only to northern factories. You made the assertion – it is upon you to provide the proof if called on it.

    Comment by SC — February 5, 2008 @ 2:55 pm
  45. No it isn’t. You make assertions all the time and I don’t ask you for detailed documentation on your statements. Looks like you haven’t done a very thorough job in your studies.

    Comment by Bill — February 6, 2008 @ 8:36 am
  46. Uh, yes it is, Bill. You made the statement, it is incumbent upon YOU when called on to provide a source to provide it. Very basic, logical requirement. As for not calling me out on any of my statements, that your decision. If you feel like calling any of mine into question I’m happy to provide citations or arguments to back up my assertions. The fact remains that despite a degree in history and couple of decades of personal research into 19th century US history, I have never come upon any evidence that what you stated (that Congress forced the south to sell its cotton to northern factory owners instead of abroad) is in any way factual. Not in congressional records, not in letters, not in speeches, not in newspapers from across the land. Not only that, but for most of antebellum US history there were southern or southern-sympathetic presidents that would have vetoed such a bill and given the carefully kept balance of power of free vs. slave state representation in the Senate, getting such a bill passed would have been impossible given that the slave states always had at least a few sympathetic northern congressmen willing to align with them on votes.

    Oh, and Bill? For a society that was allegedly on the edge of willingly dumping slavery, it’s surprising that in the years leading up to the war that increasingly strict laws were passed in order to solidify slavery’s standing and that it was in fact illegal in many slave states to publicly speak in favor of abolition or to sent abolitionist materials through the mail. And it wasn’t over tariffs that Preston Brooks nearly beat Edwin Sumner to death with a cane on the Senate floor.

    Comment by SC — February 6, 2008 @ 12:32 pm
  47. SC,

    You mean Charles Sumner? :) Understandable mistake, though, and beyond that I agree with everything you’ve said.

    Comment by UCrawford — February 6, 2008 @ 12:44 pm

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