Last Update: 15 Aug 00
Return to "Race Relations" essay
REPLY #6 TO
(R) I just want to throw a couple of things your way, regarding the race relations debate.
(MB) That's what I'm here for! Let's see what you've got...
Most historians feel that there was little or no chance of any economic issue causing a breakup of the Union.
(R) In fact, the south was infuriated that it was supplying the majority of the union's income, but the majority of federal money was spent on Northern improvements. At the news of the seccession, Lincoln said, "Leave? The south leave? How then would we get our money?"
(MB) That's a bit of an exaggeration of the real situation. In addition, South Carolina and others had already threatened to secede if Lincoln was elected, so Lincoln could hardly have been surprised when it happened.
The North was in little danger of losing its economic base since that base was actually to be found in its booming manufacturing and industrial capabilities. What the South supplied was the raw material (cotton) for the production of the leading source of export revenue. Losing that revenue would hurt, but would not have been fatal.
The South would actually have been hurt more by cutting off cotton shipments to the North since they didn't have the industrial capacity to turn the raw material into sufficient amounts of exportable cloth. No exports of finished goods along with no buyer for raw materials equals no money. Certainly, the prospect of this economic reality didn't convince the Southern States to secede.
However, slavery was a different issue altogether. Here you had something that was not only an economic issue, but, more importantly, was a matter of an entire way of life in the South.
(R) There were three schools of thought in the south:
1) Keep the slaves
2) Free the slaves NOW!
3) Free the slaves, but teach them to be free first. Imagine if you suddenly decided to "free" your pet and just threw it out the door. He wouldn't be all that prepared for his freedom and would likely be killed by another animal, hit by a car, or die of thirst and/or starvation.
(MB) This came about from the fact that only a minority of Southerners actually owned any slaves. If you couldn't afford them, you didn't own them. If you didn't own them, you didn't have much incentive to support maintaining the institution.
(R) (Jefferson Davis fell into this third category)
(MB) Since Davis said that slavery made the Negro many times better than anything he could have become on his own, I don't think that your claim can be supported. He was "progressive" as far as slave owners went, but not to the point of supporting their freedom.
... an avowedly anti-slavery Lincoln ...
(R) Lincoln was a slave-holder.
(MB) Since when? Lincoln was born and raised in areas where slavery was not practiced. You may be confusing Lincoln with Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and other founding fathers.
With Lincoln's proclamation, the Union was now firmly committed to abolishing slavery. England and France could not now support the Confederacy without being seen as disputing that policy.
(R) In fact, the Emancipation Proclamation only freed slaves in the south (which Lincoln had no control over at that time), but did NOT free northern slaves (which Lincoln did have control over). Needless to say, it was very much a farce.
(MB) The Emancipation Proclamation only freed slaves in areas which were not under Union control. Even at that, the message being delivered was not one that England and France could ignore or afford to dispute. It was a political decree meant to pressure the South and rally the North. It accomplished what it was meant to do.
(R) Now...back to reading more essays ;-)
(MB) I hope I'll be hearing more from you!
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