May 1, 2017

"People don't ask that question, but why was there the Civil War? Why could that one not have been worked out?"

Asked Donald Trump, implying that he's the sort of President who might have been able to figure out how to avoid the Civil War:
"I mean had Andrew Jackson been a little bit later you wouldn't have had the Civil War. He was a very tough person, but he had a big heart... He was really angry that he saw what was happening with regard to the Civil War, he said, 'There's no reason for this.'... My campaign and win was most like Andrew Jackson, with his campaign. And I said, when was Andrew Jackson? It was 1828. That's a long time ago.... That's Andrew Jackson. And he had a very, very mean and nasty campaign. Because they said this was the meanest and the nastiest. And unfortunately, it continues."
Okay, Trump haters and Trump defenders. Here's your rich feast.

As the linked article (in The Hill) points out, Andrew Jackson died in 1845, 16 years before the Civil War began. Let me help the Trump defenders: It depends on what the meaning of "with regard to the Civil War" is.

ADDED: Here's Aaron Blake in WaPo, "Trump’s totally bizarre claim about avoiding the Civil War":
Historians with more academic experience than Trump have indeed asked this question about the Civil War often... It's generally assumed that a deal to avert the Civil War would have included concessions to Southern states having to do with their right to own slaves — the central dispute of the Civil War. Is Trump saying he would have been okay with a more partial or gradual phasing out of slavery? Was there really a deal to be cut on that front? Or does he think Jackson, a slave owner himself, would have convinced the South to abandon slavery immediately, somehow?
Mmm. So then.... what makes it "totally bizarre"? Blake tries to connect Trump's historical inquiry to Trump's present-day efforts to avoid war and broker peace, but it's not that coherent. Obviously, we want Trump to avoid that "major, major conflict" with North Korea and to help somehow with the endless war in the Middle East. If Trump is thinking about how a U.S. President could have averted the Civil War, why would you just call him "bizarre"? Because historians have gone more deeply into this inquiry?

I guess there's the idea that Trump's rhetoric ignores the historians, since he said "people don't ask," and historians are people. Come on, you know he means most people assume the Civil War had to be fought. Another reason to call the remarks "bizarre" is that he's attributing insights and capacities to Andrew Jackson that might not be quite right, but Trump was just casually throwing out a few lines about how people in Tennessee love their hero Andrew Jackson. What's "bizarre"?

Trump haters may think they've got him this time, but look ahead a few moves for once. Your smug arrogance is blinding.

144 comments:

DrMaturin said...

Intelligent people saw the Civil War coming for decades. Why do you think they had all those Compromises we learned about in school.

Gahrie said...

The Civil War happened because the Democrats lost the election to a Republican and refused to accept the results.

johns said...

Trump said "If Andrew Jackson had been around a little bit later..." I hear this as saying that Jackson would have had a better chance to prevent the war. Am I missing something? Trump isn't misplacing Jackson in history, is he? Just talking about Jackson's character.

Freder Frederson said...

Let me help the Trump defenders: It depends on what the meaning of "with regard to the Civil War" is.

How the fuck does that help Trump defenders. What, maybe he was talking about the English Civil War? Trump simply showed his ignorance by: 1) not realizing Jackson was 16 years dead when the Civil War started; 2) making up a quote he attributed to Jackson.

Even ignoring his lies and ignorance, the idea that Jackson, a slaveholder who apparently had no qualms about slavery and responsible for displacing Eastern Indian tribes in defiance of the Supreme Court, would have "worked out" the slavery issue (unless by "working out" he means slavery would have persisted many more years in this country) is laughable in the extreme.

johns said...

OK, I see that it's a confusing statement, depending on whether he meant the conflict that was building versus at the time the war occurred.

buwaya puti said...

With perfect foresight a great number of people in the 1830s-50s would have been motivated to do anything they could to prevent the US Civil War.

Michael K said...

Jackson did stop the Nullification Crisis.

Those who know no history will repeat it, of course.

The reductions were too little for South Carolina, and on November 24, 1832, a state convention adopted the Ordinance of Nullification, which declared that the Tariffs of 1828 and 1832 were unconstitutional and unenforceable in South Carolina after February 1, 1833. Military preparations to resist anticipated federal enforcement were initiated by the state.[6] On March 1, 1833, Congress passed both the Force Bill—authorizing the President to use military forces against South Carolina—and a new negotiated tariff, the Compromise Tariff of 1833, which was satisfactory to South Carolina. The South Carolina convention reconvened and repealed its Nullification Ordinance on March 15, 1833,but three days later nullified the Force Bill as a symbolic gesture to maintain its principles.

See how that is done ?

MrCharlie2 said...

As Stephen says above, there was secessionist talk through the decades before the final bust up.

Trump haters, like me, are asking: why the fixation on Andrew Jackson? Did he choose a favorite President and then read up in Wikepedia? Jackson does have much recommend him: he was a very effective commander in the war of 1812 (and I'm not just talking about New Orleans.)

How'd Trump like that Trail of Tears?

Ipso Fatso said...

Kinda like Obama's 57 states.

n.n said...

Trump characterizes Jackson as a pivotal figure in the lead up to the Civil War. He surmises that it was not a progressive process, and could have been avoided through judicious executive action. He is setting up an analogy to present conditions, outcomes, and solutions. He is right.

Revitalization. Rehabilitation. Reconciliation.

traditionalguy said...

Middle Tennessee people were inland and poor farmers. The industrial production of cotton was a new "coastal" enterprise started in the late 1820s. It was dependent on buying flat land and a black enslaved work force that produced Cotton. King Cotton was an easy cash crop that could be sold to New England and England Industrial Mill Owners. It was a big money operation and financed by Capitalists in New York. It literally financed the building of the USA.

Jackson was always against the coastal elites. That is all DJT said.

YoungHegelian said...

Remember this speech? I remember a very thorough class room discussion on it from 8th grade because my history teacher was really fond of it.

Nullification by the states of federal law was a big deal from the moment the constitution got ratified.

buwaya puti said...

Jackson didn't like war. He was by that point a tired, disillusioned veteran. Moreover he had personal credibility with the volk, especially in the South, that no one after him did.

As usual, Trumps statements make different sense to his allies and opponents. Freders above is the expected opponents reading.

Gahrie said...

How'd Trump like that Trail of Tears?

The Trail of Tears was not Jackson's biggest sin. His biggest sin was creating the Democratic Party.

Ann Althouse said...

"How the fuck does that help Trump defenders."

If you don't see how that remark of his is chum for his haters, I feel sorry for you.

Do you want to discuss the time line of events leading up to the Civil War? With what year will you start your analysis? When did the lead-up to the Civil War begin? If you want to analyze how the war could have been averted, what year will you start? Or do you want to say, the war was impossible to avert or that it's offensive to think in terms of solutions to the problem other than war? Related question: When does our inevitable war with North Korea start?

John Tuffnell said...

Just finished the Meacham book on Jackson. AJ fought "Nullification" advocates from South Carolina throughout his eight years and especially after Calhoun challenged him and lost in 1828. South Carolina was very close to secession in the mid-1820's, and Calhoun and Co. thought that they could bring most of the other southern states with them. They claimed the right to nullify federal law and to withdraw from the union at any time. The fact that it took another 30 years to actually happen is amazing given the open conflicts during Jackson's era. There's no doubt Jackson, a slave owner himself, would have invaded the south to put down any rebellion.

Freder Frederson said...

Kinda like Obama's 57 states.

No, 57 states was a gaffe by a tired candidate. This statement by Trump displays profound ignorance and an outright lie.

Gahrie said...

When does our inevitable war with North Korea start?

June 1950.

Or perhaps August 1945.

exhelodrvr1 said...

Freder,
Are you really that reading-impaired? "had Andrew Jackson been a little bit later" That clearly shows that Trump knows Jackson was gone before the Civil War started, and it's obvious he means that if Jackson had been president closer to when the Civil War started, he could have prevented it.

That is certainly debatable, but it's not an unreasonable opinion to have.

Gahrie said...

No, 57 states was a gaffe by a tired candidate. This statement by Trump displays profound ignorance and an outright lie.

Oh..so it is more like Benghazi.

exhelodrvr1 said...


The Korean War has not ended yet.

khesanh0802 said...

Although a Trump supporter I don't think anything could have stopped our civil war. It was caused by a fatal flaw in the Constitution that permitted the continued existence of slavery; by the development of the plantation cotton system in the South; by the rapid growth of the Free Labor industrialized North; by Southern politicians who were unwilling to concede their habitual power over US affairs; and by a strong anti-slavery movement world wide that finally gained critical mass in the US.

Trump is always in dangerous territory when he makes historical analogies/allusions. Of course given the way history is taught today only us old folks would know enough even to have a discussion of what Trump said.

Freder Frederson said...

If you don't see how that remark of his is chum for his haters, I feel sorry for you.

So you are saying he deliberately made up a quote by Jackson and implied Jackson was alive during the Civil War just to piss off his haters, and that Trump knows that his statement was inaccurate?

Well, if true, that is some serious Machiavellian shit. And it worked.

As I said before, you are not a big fan of Occam's razor, are you?

Hagar said...

If Buchanan had been like Jackson it is possible that the Civil War might have been averted.
Jackson would not have tolerated sedition by anybody.
Slavery might then have lasted for perhaps another 20 years, but it is difficult to see it going longer than that.
I think the slavery South was fairly desperate; they could not visualize surviving in a world without slavery and did not see any way out with the whole (Western) world against them.
But that is playing in the world of "If."
Lincoln was right that the country would eventually become all one or the other, and it was not going to be the "other," since the North had an overwhelming advantage in people, money, and cannon and was quite equal, if not superior, in conviction.

mockturtle said...

Trump did say "I mean had Andrew Jackson been a little bit later you wouldn't have had the Civil War." He wasn't implying Jackson was alive during the War. And yes, there was a long lead-up to the War in which he was very much involved.

I know you weren't a history major, Ann, but really??

Freder Frederson said...

That clearly shows that Trump knows Jackson was gone before the Civil War started, and it's obvious he means that if Jackson had been president closer to when the Civil War started, he could have prevented it.

No it doesn't. It implies that Trump might have meant if Jackson was president later he might have stopped the war. But the made up quote implies that Jackson was alive in 1861.

And the fact remains that Jackson's beliefs and attitudes would have, if anything, prevented the Civil War only by allowing the continuance of slavery. An unacceptable compromise.

khesanh0802 said...

@Ann The timeline for the Civil War started well before the Constitution was ratified, but it is probably as handy a date as any.

As far as NK is concerned. There will be conflict there only if the Norks initiate it. The Chinese - regardless of the noises they may make - don't want a war right on their border. The most effective thing we can do is upgrade all anti-missile systems in all areas that border Nork and let them starve to death. They, like the Soviets, have an unsustainable form of government. It will collapse eventually.

Hagar said...

The Civil War began because the hotheads in the South thought the North would not fight.
They were wrong.
Unfortunately, most of the competent army officers defected to the rebels, so it took a while and a lot of lives before the North learned to fight well.

n.n said...

Gahrie:

Just like the Iraq war that started under one president, persisted under another, concluded with the third, then was reset and redistributed under the fourth.

Michael K said...

"This statement by Trump displays profound ignorance and an outright lie."

Freder, you are amusing as an ignorant kid who should have taken another history course.

Matthew Sablan said...

Is Trump saying Jackson literally said that, or is he trying to get across the gist of what he thinks Jackson's opinion would be?

Rick said...

When did the lead-up to the Civil War begin?

When the first slave landed in the colonies, which according to PBS was 1619.

Original Mike said...

"Asked Donald Trump, implying that he's the sort of President who might have been able to figure out how to avoid the Civil War:"

Well,Obama thought he was Lincoln so why can't Trump think he's better than Lincoln?

Freder Frederson said...

Or do you want to say, the war was impossible to avert or that it's offensive to think in terms of solutions to the problem other than war?

If it meant continuing slavery as long as it was retained in Brazil (1888), then it is offensive.

Matthew Sablan said...

"When did the lead-up to the Civil War begin?"

Someone between Molasses to Rum and New York giving up abstaining, courteously.

n.n said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
n.n said...

Slavery (i.e. involuntary exploitation and selective liberty) was an enterprise indigenous to Africans, Indians, and Americans, too. It was carried out by people who did not recognize individual dignity, rejected intrinsic value, and were deluded by beliefs, perhaps sincere, in [class] diversity. Its concepts persist to this day under a number of euphemistic expressions and labels.

Fernandinande said...

I think Trump got Andrew Jackson mixed up with Michael Jackson, so let those among us who has not done so hurl the first slur, as the kids like to say. Or is it slur the first aspersion?

khesanh0802 said...

@ Freder You need to remember that the Civil War started over the issue of extending slavery into the territories. When Lincoln was elected he was not elected on the promise that he would end slavery. In fact, he was not sure that there was any current Constitutional way to do that. What he was sure of was that no state could withdraw from the Union and initially that's what the war was about. In a famous letter to Horace Greely he said:" I would save the Union. I would save it the shortest way under the Constitution. The sooner the national authority can be restored; the nearer the Union will be "the Union as it was." If there be those who would not save the Union, unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that.". Over time, as we know, he became convinced that in addition to reuniting the Union, slavery had to end.

I just finished Eric Foner's "The Fiery Trial" which examines Lincoln's relationship to slavery.It's quite good.

Hagar said...

6-700,000 dead out of a nation of 35 million is also offensive, as is the after effects of the Civil War which is still causing misery among those who were supposed to benefit from the war.

Mark said...

That 'big heart' slave owner is responsible for the Trail of Tears.

Perhaps Trump should finish reading that Wikipedia entry.

buwaya said...

"If it meant continuing slavery as long as it was retained in Brazil (1888), then it is offensive."

That is pure hindsight by peoples who today have no stake in that tradeoff. If it had been put that way, to tolerate slavery till 1888, vs hundreds of thousands of dead and every other cost of the war, millions of people at that time would have gladly taken it.

I bet that if it had been put that way at any point up to a generation after the war, the people would still have taken the trade.

Etienne said...

drum roll...

Mr President, I served with Andy Jackson. I knew Andy Jackson. Andy Jackson was a friend of mine. Mr. President, you're no Andy Jackson.

John Tuffnell said...

"I think Trump got Andrew Jackson mixed up with Michael Jackson . . ."

Or Reggie Jackson. The straw that stirs the drink.

khesanh0802 said...

@ Hagar I have to agree to an extent. If Buchanan had made it clear that he would not allow slavery to be extended into the territories the War might have been delayed and slavery might've dwindled in the South as it had in the North and some of the border states. My reservation is primarily what we see today: that politicians want power and will do pretty much what ever it takes to retain power. If the expansion of slavery had been halted, Southerners would have known that their days of controlling the Federal government were numbered and would have probably reacted as they did.

tcrosse said...

If Donald Trump didn't exist, the Democrats would have to invent him. And in a way, they did.

exhelodrvr1 said...

khesanh,
'In fact, he was not sure that there was any current Constitutional way to do that. '

And he waited until the border states were no longer in danger of heading south - an 1861 Emancipation Proclamation loses the war for the North.

buwaya said...

And, I bet also, that if we were in an alternate timeline with no US Civil War and with a peaceful emancipation by the 1880's, there would be a very different climate of opinion on the matter of slavery and racism and tribal politics.

Less racism for one thing, as a great deal of that fed from feelings of revenge and resentment and reactions thereunto, and reactions back again, over and over. The US would be more Brazil (in the racial politics/culture conflict sense), and less Alabama. I think that that would have been much better for all concerned.

Events feed later events, and later culture.

madAsHell said...

One could argue, that the Civil War was about the role of the feds vs. the role of the state. The states, South Carolina in particular, were defending their tax base, and their economy dependent on slaves. They couldn't tolerate sending taxes to Washington, and in return, having new federal laws that attacked their economic model.

The Palmetto ox was gored. Succession was the answer.

John C. Calhoun advocated that the federal government was not more important than any other state. It was just another state.

Using Andrew Jackson as a pallidan, might be fraught with peril. Jackson was a slave owner.

madAsHell said...

Can we see parallels between sanctuary cities, legal marijuana, and the nullification crisis of the 1830's? Discuss.

John Tuffnell said...

Re: Trail of Tears

Jackson signed legislation called the Indian Removal Act. It was hardly only Jackson's doing. Congress passed the law.

For the removal itself, Jackson pretty much only removed the Choctaw and then, after significant fighting, the Seminoles from southern Georgia and Florida. Almost all of the other tribes, including the Cherokee, were removed during later administrations.

The federal government agreeing to remove the Indians was also one of the events that pacified the south enough to stop the secession movement circa 1830.

bagoh20 said...

It seems to me it would have been quite simple to have avoided the Civil War. You simply tell the South they were gonna lose and at great cost. We all know that is exactly what Trump would do. I wonder how confident the South really was, and more importantly how confident they would have been with the right leadership in the North making their loss and cost very clear. I suspect they were counting on a weak Northern leadership, just like North Korea has been doing for years. The best way to avoid war is to convince your enemies you will win and hurt them badly in the process. Salesmanship is better than statesmanship.

CJ said...

President Trump's comments are consistent with the claim that he over-simplifies things. My crude understanding of the Civil War is that the agrarian South wanted trade policies more favorable to agriculture then industry, and the industrial North couldn't abide slavery, which the Southern economy ran on.

Given how costly the war was, it seems like they would have come out way ahead having the North simply buy all the slaves and allow the South to invest the money into industry in the North and Europe, which would help the North and soon going to be creating more wealth than cotton anyway. Former slave-owners could use the returns on those investments to buy labor in a fair market. If I were President Trump, I'd say, "You see it's simple. If only someone like me had been alive then to tell them that." It's like he doesn't see that it's more complicated than a two-line problem definition and a two-line solution.

dreams said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hagar said...

The South seems to finally be coming to terms with the end of the Civil War; it is in the northern cities the strife continues.

buwaya said...

"It's like he doesn't see that it's more complicated than a two-line problem definition and a two-line solution."

Trumps hubris aside (why would Trump be able to make a deal where many other talented people had tried and failed?), it does not follow that he assumes it would have been a simple matter. He makes messy deals.

Francisco D said...

Freder bleated: "How the fuck does that help Trump defenders. What, maybe he was talking about the English Civil War?"

There are two reasons it helps:

1. It shows a solid understanding of the events leading to the Civil War. See DrMaturin's post.

2. It demonstrates the profound ignorance and arrogance of leftists like you Freder.

Hagar said...

It is indeed a pity that Jackson never found an opportunity to hang John C. Calhoun.

n.n said...

might be fraught with peril. Jackson was a slave owner

Who better to lead a reformation than one who reformed.

This is related to the modern-day trail of tears leading from Libya, where a reformed dictator (and American ambassador) who, under the twilight haze of social justice, was sodomized and aborted in the streets, then was forgotten after adventurists moved on Syria, Ukraine, Germany, and beyond through... under cover of immigration reform.

eric said...

Trump: "I've got an interview coming up, what should I say?"

Advisor: "Say anything you want about the civil war."

Trump: "The civil war? Really? Like, the Civil War was our greatest war?"

Advisor: "Sure. That works. Just say anything. They'll twist it and spend a week talking about it and make themselves look like fools, again"

Trump: "How could they twist it being the greatest American war? I mean, we lost so many people. Our own people. "

Advisor: "Oh, that's easy. They'll say you love it when Americans die, that's why you said great. It's great because Americans died."

Trump: "That's just silly. I mean, I know they hate me and twist everything is at, but not that. Impossible."

Advisor: "It doesn't matter. Say anything you like. Say Andrew Jackson would have avoided the civil war."

Trump: "But, that's even dumber than the first thing. Of course Jackson could have avoided the war. Everyone knows that."

Advisor: "Great. Great. Then say that. We will dominate the news cycle again for another week. No one will talk about this terrible budget deal with the Democrats."

Michael K said...

If the expansion of slavery had been halted, Southerners would have known that their days of controlling the Federal government were numbered and would have probably reacted as they did.

The issue of slavery in the territories was the real cause of the Civil War. There are arguments about whether slavery as an institution was viable. There are probably as many slave in the world today as there were in 1860.

Limiting slavery to the old slave states would have diluted the South's power in Congress. The Missouri Compromise and the Kansas Nebraska Act were about this.

Given how costly the war was, it seems like they would have come out way ahead having the North simply buy all the slaves and allow the South to invest the money into industry in the North and Europe,

Lincoln proposed this and it was rejected.

It seems to me it would have been quite simple to have avoided the Civil War. You simply tell the South they were gonna lose and at great cost.

Sherman warned the people of New Orleans who were trying to get him to stay as the headmaster of the college that became LSU. He told them:

You people of the South don't know what you are doing. This country will be drenched in blood, and God only knows how it will end. It is all folly, madness, a crime against civilization! You people speak so lightly of war; you don't know what you're talking about. War is a terrible thing! You mistake, too, the people of the North. They are a peaceable people but an earnest people, and they will fight, too. They are not going to let this country be destroyed without a mighty effort to save it... Besides, where are your men and appliances of war to contend against them? The North can make a steam engine, locomotive, or railway car; hardly a yard of cloth or pair of shoes can you make. You are rushing into war with one of the most powerful, ingeniously mechanical, and determined people on Earth—right at your doors. You are bound to fail. Only in your spirit and determination are you prepared for war. In all else you are totally unprepared, with a bad cause to start with. At first you will make headway, but as your limited resources begin to fail, shut out from the markets of Europe as you will be, your cause will begin to wane. If your people will but stop and think, they must see in the end that you will surely fail.

They would not listen. That was in 1861.

buwaya said...

WT Sherman was no-one - or not a terribly influential person at the time.
And this was in a private letter. And written post-secession.

BTW, just having a look at portraits of Sherman.
Hollywood could not have come up with a better face for his role as a "God of War".

Ambrose said...

I dunno. The Presidencies of Pierce and Buchanan are generally regarded as ineffective - or worse - in large part because they did not do more to prevent the Civil War. Why do historians think this if the War was inevitable or if any steps to broker another compromise would have been immoral?

3rdGradePB_GoodPerson said...

"They would not listen. That was in 1861."

Our modern Southern (and other) rubes are easier to control. They eagerly want to give more power to their job-creator betters.

DJT's just sayin' if it works now, why wouldn't some sorta MAGA flim flam work back then.

Who knows?

exiledonmainstreet said...

khesanh0802 said...
Although a Trump supporter I don't think anything could have stopped our civil war. It was caused by a fatal flaw in the Constitution that permitted the continued existence of slavery; by the development of the plantation cotton system in the South; by the rapid growth of the Free Labor industrialized North; by Southern politicians who were unwilling to concede their habitual power over US affairs; and by a strong anti-slavery movement world wide that finally gained critical mass in the US."

The invention of the cotton gin (by a Yankee, Eli Whitney) was perhaps the single most important reason the plantation system expanded in the early to mid 19th century. The Founding Fathers had reason to believe that slavery would gradually die out as it proved to be economically unfeasible. Wholesale production of cotton reversed earlier trends.

Ficta said...

Even the North wouldn't listen to Sherman for a long time. His estimates of the cost of the war in terms of blood and treasure were deemed evidence of insanity and he was relieved of duty for awhile. He turned out to be very close to the actual numbers.

mockturtle said...

I wonder how confident the South really was, and more importantly how confident they would have been with the right leadership in the North making their loss and cost very clear.

I think they were very confident, bagoh. And they did put up one helluva fight for underdogs.

exiledonmainstreet said...

Freder Frederson said...
Or do you want to say, the war was impossible to avert or that it's offensive to think in terms of solutions to the problem other than war?

If it meant continuing slavery as long as it was retained in Brazil (1888), then it is offensive."

So it was better that 500,000 Americans perish in a brutal Civil War?

Goodness, and here I've heard leftists praise Brazil as a country which is so much less racist than our own. I recall millennials on Twitter being shocked by the bizarre nod to Brazil's slave past during the Olympics opening ceremony. They didn't realize slavery had existed in any other country besides America - because their teachers had only taught them about American slavery.

Hagar said...

For the slaveholding planters it was a matter of survival; you could not just tell them anything, you would have had to hang a few of them to get their attention first.

John said...

Yeah, I think this was another good move on President Trump's part for a couple of reasons:

1) What is the supposed phony quote that people are talking about: 'There's no reason for this.' Did he claim that this was a verbatim quote from Jackson or was he speaking figuratively? I suspect the second in which case there is nothing wrong with the statement. Jackson's presidency was spent showing that "There's no reason for this."

2) I was going to talk about SC and the nullification crisis but John Tufnell and others already did a better job. This is certainly one of the antecedents to the War Between the States and it happened during Jackson's presidency. He may, or may not, have prevented the WBTS occurring in the 30s instead of the 60s. Under a less skillful president, it is entirely likely that it would have occured in the 30s

So I don't see anything to disagree with either factually or with President Trump's reasoning.

John Henry

Brando said...

In one way you could argue that Jackson might have been able to avert war--he did avert it during the Nullification Crisis, and he had credibility among Southerners that Lincoln didn't have. The South was where he came from and had a base of support, and he was a slaveowner himself. If he was younger and elected in 1860, he might have had a better chance than Lincoln to prevent the war.

On the other hand, the war was a long time coming for reasons that went beyond personalities--the cotton boom, the growing strength of abolitionists, and the sense among Southerners that they would soon be dominated by the North and unable to prevent emancipation. So maybe nobody could have prevented it, and the only difference was how it would go down.

sinz52 said...

Althouse asks: "When did the lead-up to the Civil War begin?"

I believe that the lead-up to the Civil War began in 1776.

When Jefferson included a paragraph in the Declaration of Independence denouncing slavery--and the Southern colonies in the Continental Congress made him delete it in exchange for their voting for the document.

After independence was won, and more and more states from the Western territories got admitted to the Union as free states, the South knew it was only a matter of time before there would be a strong anti-slave majority in Congress. Enough to ban slavery nationwide.

The South wouldn't accept that--so they walked out of America.

traditionalguy said...

Jackson was Scots Irish. To them. The owning of men was not worth splitting up the Union
and risking losing the USA to the lurking British Empire who coveted slave grown
cotton but had quit slave trading themselves about 30 years earlier.

Jackson's Scots Irish disciples included Polk , who added the western third to the Republic by brilliant moves, and Old Hickoy's second in command of the Tennessee Militia, the
Man who lead the charge of the barricades at Horseshoe Bend, being shot 4 times but survived,named Sam Houston

Houston was totally against Secession of Texas, and resigned as Governor of Texas when the cotton aristocrats did it anyway.

John said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John said...

Blogger John said...

Chattel slavery existed since the beginning of recorded history. It has existed in every country, civilized and uncivilized. It was the norm.

Then, in the early 1800s, a group of Englishmen decided that they would make it abnormal and by 1900, slavery existed in only a few corners of the word as a decided exception to the norm.

Many countries were even more dependent on slavery than the US. Yet in 80 years, slavery was virtually eliminated. No wars were needed. No large scale killings were needed. It went away by various mechanisms but it went away peacefully.

Could we have gotten rid of slavery in the US without 600m deaths and 150 years of repercussions? It would not have been easy but it wasn't easy anywhere else. I suspect that we could have.

One way we could have done it would have been to compensate slaveowners for their "property". That would have been horrendously distasteful at the time and now. But more distasteful than the alternative?

Of course what we lose sight of is that the WBTS was not really about slavery. It was about federal control, the rights of states within their own borders and the right of states which voluntarily joined the union to voluntarily disassociate themselves from it. Remember we are "these United States" (plural) and not "the United Provinces" (Singular)

Lots of meat there for reasonable people to disagree about. So much easier to cast the war in terms of eliminating the evils of slavery. Who could be against that? At least, who would admit to it publicly.

John Henry

Michael K said...

"And this was in a private letter. And written post-secession. "

The people who had hired him to run the school, and who wanted him to stay in spite of his union sympathies, no doubt got a similar explanation of his reasons. He was telling them they would lose badly. He did not yet know that he would be the major agent of that defeat. I believe Sherman was the greatest general in our military history, Grant was his partner but Sherman won the war, in my opinion.

He has been demonized in the South since the war but Joe Johnston, his opponent and the Confederacy's second best general after Lee, attended his funeral and contracted an illness that killed him shortly after. His aide questioned his attendance in spite of his age and Johnston replied, "Sherman would do it for me."

John said...

A pet peeve of mine is the phrase "The civil war"

It was not a civil war by any normal definition. A civil war is a war between factions within a single country ("state") for control of that state.

Nobody in the south wanted to take control of all the states. All they wanted was to go on their way.

It was no more a "civil war" than it would be if France and Germany invaded England to prevent it leaving the EU.

But as the expression goes, The winners get to write history. Calling it a "civil war" with all that implies keeps people from thinking about things like rights of sovereign states, ability to secede and so on.

In the south some still call it "The war of the northern invasion" which is what it really was.

John Henry

Michael K said...

"So much easier to cast the war in terms of eliminating the evils of slavery. Who could be against that? At least, who would admit to it publicly."

I agree if it could have been done. I have observed in years of teaching medical students, a rather select group, that black students from the US labor under handicaps that don't seem to exist in those from Africa or the Caribbean. The black students from the west indies have a history of slavery but seem free from the anger and self destructive behavior of the American blacks.

The post Civil War pathology seems partly due to the resentment from loss of the war and partly due to the destructive "Reconstruction" that came about in the wake of the Lincoln assassination. Whether the "radicals" of the Republicans would have been as vindictive had Lincoln not be killed is a question we cannot answer.

Brando said...

Another thought experiment is "what if the Republicans somehow lost the 1860 election (say, by the Dems finding a compromise candidate who held their party together)?" Would that have averted war for long?

I'm guessing probably not, because ultimately the North was getting more populous and more abolitionist, and the split among Dems was inevitable.

Michael K said...

It was no more a "civil war" than it would be if France and Germany invaded England to prevent it leaving the EU.

I disagree. The Spanish Civil War was somewhat similar. There was a large segment in the north who were sympathizers. Vallandigham was only one. Had Sherman not taken Atlanta in 1864, McClellan might well have been elected and ended the war. That would not have solved the problems as the Confederacy had designs on Mexico and Cuba,

They did NOT want to be just left alone. We would have had a century of war.

exiledonmainstreet said...

" I have observed in years of teaching medical students, a rather select group, that black students from the US labor under handicaps that don't seem to exist in those from Africa or the Caribbean. The black students from the west indies have a history of slavery but seem free from the anger and self destructive behavior of the American blacks."

Thomas Sowell has an interesting theory about that. He noted that slavery in the West Indies was much harsher than American slavery, generally speaking. If slaves in the West Indies wanted adequate food, they had to work on their own small garden plots after spending the days cutting sugarcane. They not only did that, they set up a barter system with their neighbors. American slaveholders generally provided enough food for their slaves. The writer Eugene Genovese said American slaves generally got calories than the Irish, the Southern Italians or northern industrial workers during the same era.

But the experience the West Indians got with trade served them well later according to Sowell. He relates how West Indians dominated the small businesses in Harlem when they emigrated to NYC and how they were resented by the American born blacks, who referred to them as "black Jews." Many prominent and successful blacks are of West Indian origin. And their genetic makeup is no different from that of American blacks.

The one problem I have with Sowell's thesis is that if the West Indians became such good little capitalists, it certainly isn't reflected in the economies of those countries.

John said...

Blogger exiledonmainstreet said...

They didn't realize slavery had existed in any other country besides America - because their teachers had only taught them about American slavery.

Estimates are that 100mm black Africans were sold into slavery by other black Africans between about 1200 and 1900.

Of those, about 85mm were sent north, about half dying on the way. Those that survived had a life expectancy of a year or two of labor.

About 12mm were sent across the Atlantic. Less than 1mm came to what is now the US. Most went to Brazil where they were viewed as cheap and disposable (look at a map to see why) and had lifespans of 2-4 years. The rest went to various Caribbean Islands and other countries.

North Africans and Turks raided far and wide for slaves. As far north as Scotland. White Slavs were particularly prized and handy. They are the ones that give us the word "slave"

It would be nice if some actual history of slavery were taught in schools.

Last year I read a book "Great African Explorers from Mungo Park to Stanley". Lots of first person accounts of strings of blacks being captured and led about the jungle in chains by other blacks. The book is available on Amazon via Ann's portal. It's free so I don't know if Ann gets anything.

John Henry

Lloyd W. Robertson said...

God knows what Trump has read or heard, or where he got his information, but a strong case could be made that Andrew Jackson anticipated a secession crisis over slavery, and wished that more could be done to avert it.
My source is the Marquis James biography.

November 1832 South Carolina proclaimed a federal tariff act void, and said the use of force to enforce the act "would be met by secession."
December: Jackson issued a proclamation, via his Secretary of State, Edward Livingston, saying there was no discretion as to how he must respond. Failure to accept the federal law on the part of individual states is disunion, and disunion by armed force is treason. He will act accordingly. (Livingston had spoken in an earlier crisis, saying the federal Sedition act violated the First Amendment (most of the opposition, including that of Jefferson and Madison, emphasized the alleged violation of states' rights); but Livingston did not develop the later view that laws at either the state or federal level can be struck down on freedom of speech grounds; he tacitly, at least, accepted that a state could do what Congress was proposing to do with the Sedition Act.)
Last days of December: Jackson agreed to a heavy reduction of tariff duties, with no compromise on the principle that Congress can impose such duties. Jackson had to face the possibility that Congress would not fully back him up in enforcing what he understood to be the authority of Congress. A Force Act was proposed to ensure the President has the authority he needs to act. James p. 618, Jackson said in a letter:
"Should the congress fail to act ... [and should] So. Carolina oppose the execution of the revenue laws ... [with] an armed force ... I stand prepared to issue my proclamation warning them to disperse. should they fail to comply I will [deploy many thousands of troops as needed]
Jan. 21, South Carolina suspended their belligerent ordinance pending the outcome of the tariff debate in Congress.
Henry Clay introduced one of his famous compromises: "a bill which in ten years would lower tariffs by twenty per cent" (a longer delay to the cuts than had already been promised). Jackson signed the tariff act, but not the Force Act. On March 15, 1833, South Carolina rescinded her ordinance of nullification. The faces of nullifiers including Calhoun (clear example of a defender of states rights who really cared most about slavery) were saved when they accepted a compromise rather than test Jackson's willingness to use force. The logic of the compromise was confused, but it worked at the time.

Jackson was worried about the future: "Nullification and secession are for the present, I think, effectively, and I hope forever put down. But the coalition between Clay and Calhoun, combined ... with a few nullifiers in Virginia and [others in the south] portends no good, but much evil." He also said "The nullifiers in the south intend to blow up a storm on the slave question ...." The Civil Was was less than 30 years in the future.

James 622: "As time furnished a clearer perspective of these scenes, many who had been in the thick of them came to believe that, had the resolute old man had his way with South Carolina in 1833, our national annals would have borne fewer blood stains in the end. Among these was Henry Clay who lived to regret the day he had stayed the upraised arm of Andrew Jackson."

On Jackson's proclamation, expressing willingness to use force if Congress didn't act, James says "In 1861 Abraham Lincoln was to read it again before composing his inaugural address."

buwaya said...

"The Spanish Civil War was somewhat similar."

All three major Spanish Civil Wars since the 19th century (First, Second Carlist Wars and the great SCW of 1936-39) were about control of the entire country, though there were factions (such as the Basques in 1936-37) who were fighting a war within the war, for secession.

There is no reason to limit the term "Civil War" to that of control of a whole country though. To the secessionist winners it is likely to be termed a war of independence, but that is after the fact.

John said...

Jackson's Scots Irish disciples included Polk ,


I just started reading Nixon's book "Leaders" and it is amazingly good. It is about what makes a good national leader and looks at a number he has known. He starts with Churchill and I am now about to begin a chapter on DeGaulle.

In his intro, he rates Polk as the greatest of all presidents though he doesn't go into much detail why.

Polk was a very interesting president and most people have no idea who he was.

John Henry

John said...

Blogger Michael K said...

I disagree. The Spanish Civil War was somewhat similar.

Spain was a "civil war" because it was a single state and both sides were vying for control of the entire state.

The Spanish Civil War was really an extension of the war of the Carlist Succession that started back in the mid-1800s and continues, peacefully, to this day.

Had the south been allowed to secede, are you saying that they would have waged war on the north? Hard for me to see why or how.

Or do you mean that the north would have waged 100 years of war against the south?

John Henry

John said...

Was the American Revolution, war for independence, a "Civil War"?

John Henry

Ambrose said...

"Was the American Revolution, war for independence, a "Civil War"?

John Henry"

Would a purist say it was a "revolution"? It certainly was distinct from the later French and Russian versions, as well as from Britain's Glorious Revolution (which I think was the first use of the term in the political context). Nothing really "revolved" in the US.

Ambrose said...

And @John Henry - I take your point on the War Between the States - but what say you about the fighting in Kansas and Missouri? Very civil war-like there.

buwaya said...

"Or do you mean that the north would have waged 100 years of war against the south?"

Very likely, over the remainder of North America (anything west of Texas), and for that matter, very likely, Mexico, Central America, Cuba and etc.

buwaya said...

"The Spanish Civil War was really an extension of the war of the Carlist Succession"

No it wasn't, other than in parts. Spain had created a whole lot else to fight about between 1876 and 1936. You could say that both sides of the war of 1872-76 came together against something else entirely (or several things) in 1936.

buwaya said...

Just the evolution of the Basque question between 1876 and 1936 is complex.
And that is just one of the complexities of Spanish politics of the period.

The old Carlists split with the rise of Basque nationalism, started by Sabino Arana in the 1890's as a reaction to the Carlist defeat.

So in 1936 you had a war within the war, between the successors of the Carlists of the 1870's, nationalist Basques for independence, vs old line Carlists still for the traditional state.

Bruce Hayden said...

You people of the South don't know what you are doing. This country will be drenched in blood, and God only knows how it will end. It is all folly, madness, a crime against civilization! You people speak so lightly of war; you don't know what you're talking about. War is a terrible thing! You mistake, too, the people of the North. They are a peaceable people but an earnest people, and they will fight, too. They are not going to let this country be destroyed without a mighty effort to save it... Besides, where are your men and appliances of war to contend against them? The North can make a steam engine, locomotive, or railway car; hardly a yard of cloth or pair of shoes can you make. You are rushing into war with one of the most powerful, ingeniously mechanical, and determined people on Earth—right at your doors. You are bound to fail. Only in your spirit and determination are you prepared for war. In all else you are totally unprepared, with a bad cause to start with. At first you will make headway, but as your limited resources begin to fail, shut out from the markets of Europe as you will be, your cause will begin to wane. If your people will but stop and think, they must see in the end that you will surely fail.

I found this very prescient. War was about to change dramatically. It would no longer be noble, but, rather, just awfully bloody. The industrial revolution was leaving southern gentry behind, and they didn't realize it. This was the first war where massive armies could easily be moved and massed, esp on the scales that we saw during the 20th Century. Instead of marching armies here and there, constantly worried about feeding them and their livestock, you just laid tracks, and ran trains filled with soldiers, canned provisions, and millions of rounds of ammunition where you needed them. Instead of muzzle loading muskets, they had mass produced breech loading rifles, and both repeating rifles and proto-machine guns were being introduced bt the Union by the end of the war. The funny thing, to me, is that Europe really didn't learn the lessons that we learned in our Civil War, and, instead, a half a century later, marched away to a glorious, noble war, which turned out to be even bloodier, destroying an entire generation, as the South saw during our Civil War.

As for Grant and Sherman - I have long viewed them somewhat like Eisenhower and Patton. Eisenhower was the logistical genius, while Patton was the tactical one. And, Sherman's March to the Sea is still, I believe, considered tactically brilliant. What both Grant and Eisenhower could do was fight the generals under them. And get rid of the ones who couldn't fight.

readering said...

Doesn't it annoy the Trump defenders on this board that they are so much more articulate in discussing the issues possibly raised by Trump's statements about Andrew Jackson than the president is himself? He's like the Delphic oracle, with a word salad of disjointed thoughts that people are left to try to parse and explain. And for the average listener? I doubt his statement about Jackson registered at all outside the great state of Tennessee.

Amadeus 48 said...

WaPo has become WaPoo. Sad. Bezos should have looked ahead. Now he has a big mess on his hands. Someone should have told him, well, someone did tell him, but he should have listened. They can't stop making mistakes in their news coverage. Now he has to fix it. If he can.

Did you know that more people--someone just told me this--more people believe the White House than believe the media. That's because the White House cares about Making America Great Again (TM). I don't know what the media cares about, other than tearing down Donald Trump, bigly. That's been tried, but he's president, and you're not. So go ahead, WaPoo--give it a try. You're failing.

Drago said...

readering: "Doesn't it annoy the Trump defenders on this board that they are so much more articulate in discussing the issues possibly raised by Trump's statements about Andrew Jackson than the president is himself?"

Uh oh. I'm sensing an 'obama the LightBringer was an Earth-bound God' comment coming from readering.

Tell us more of articulate promises of flexibility, red lines not to be crossed, American historical perfidy announced abroad, beautiful assertions of doctors and keeping them.

The mind positively reels from the "clean as a whistle" and "articulate" (without a negro accent, unless he wants it!!) oratory of the Light-Bringer who was, in Evan Thomas' words, "sort of a God".

readering said...

More, this is ongoing evidence of early stage dementia . . . .

Jason said...

Why would we be bothered? We are dealing with it in writing, with the opportunity to review the Nullification Crisis at our leisure. The President was dealing with it extemporaneously, off the top of his head.

And he STILL grasped it better than the libtards.

Amadeus 48 said...

Be careful who you call demented, readering.

Drago is probably the owner of a brace of pistols, and like Andrew Jackson, he may be intend to seek satisfaction on the field of honor for an insult.

readering said...

More worried that the White House eliminated NY Times v Sullivan while my back was turned. . . .

Amadeus 48 said...

Re: NYT vs. Sullivan

readering, that would be really hard to do. But keep looking over your shoulder for the benefit of all of us.

Rusty said...

Blogger readering said...
"Doesn't it annoy the Trump defenders on this board that they are so much more articulate in discussing the issues possibly raised by Trump's statements about Andrew Jackson than the president is himself? "

No. Because, you see, Hillary still will never the president.

readering said...

They said that about RN in 1962.

khesanh0802 said...

@John Henry Regardless of Jeff Davis's professed wish to be let alone, the attempt to extend slavery to the territories (which the North owned I guess) would have ultimately meant open conflict. Ambrose's reminder of the horrors of Kansas are a good indicator of what would have gone on. Since the North would not accept that the South could secede it is fair to call it Civil War since the South was never a country. Next thing we know you are going to want us to call it "The War for Southern Independence" or "the War of Northern Aggression."

Sherman was one of the few people in the country that had any inkling of how bad the war was going to be. The note quoted above was written 24 December 1860 to Professor David Boyd at the Louisiana State Seminary. It was NOT written after the war.

Joe said...

The thing to understand about Trump is that he tends to drop phrases in order, I think, to get to the point faster. It's a type of speech shorthand. I've been guilty of this myself, so perhaps I am projecting.

(Another thing I'm guilty of is assuming that the person to whom I'm talking remembers our previous conversation and the facts we agreed upon therein. I then say something which baffles the listener and which may even sound the opposite of what I meant. This can happen when making a joke.)

I tend to give public figures a pass on their faux pas; judge not and all that. Besides, I love the word "misunderestimated". Thanks, George.

mockturtle said...

readering asks [rhetorically]: Doesn't it annoy the Trump defenders on this board that they are so much more articulate in discussing the issues possibly raised by Trump's statements about Andrew Jackson than the president is himself? He's like the Delphic oracle, with a word salad of disjointed thoughts that people are left to try to parse and explain. And for the average listener? I doubt his statement about Jackson registered at all outside the great state of Tennessee.

Trump is admittedly a poor speaker. I didn't vote for him to hear him speak. I am hopeful of actions when and where actions are required.

readering said...

Civil War trending on Twitter!

buwaya said...

"Civil War trending on Twitter!"

A new civil war has been brewing for decades.
Trump has temporarily headed it off, but I think only for a while.
This civil war is not going to be like the last one, where there wasn't a great deal of personal hate between the sides.
This time both sides will hate each others guts, individually.
It will be much more like the Spanish Civil War, in terms of hate, or perhaps worse.

NorthOfTheOneOhOne said...

Well, Trump's accomplished one thing; he's successfully trolled Chelsea Clinton!

http://twitchy.com/samj-3930/2017/05/01/oops-chelsea-clinton-rants-dramatically-about-andrew-jackson-trips-over-her-own-party-and-mom/

I'm sure she'll be getting an award for this sometime soon.

exhelodrvr1 said...

John,
A lot of historians consider the Revolutionary War the First Civil War - about a third of the colonists sided with Great Britain, a third with the revolution, and a third were non-committal.

John Lynch said...

Trump is talking about the Nullification Crisis. Jackson faced the possibility of Civil War during his presidency and managed to avoid it.

I don't like Trump, but I don't like it when people deliberately misunderstand him. I like ignorance of American history even less.

Jason said...

Buwaya... oh, there was plenty of anger and hatred during the American Civil War and before and afterwards. Plenty.

Francisco D said...

Michael K wrote: "Had Sherman not taken Atlanta in 1864, McClellan might well have been elected and ended the war."

I have a somewhat different opinion. The key to Lincoln's re-election (and Sherman's success in Georgia) was Grant taking Vicksburg at about the same time Lee nearly destroyed the Northern Army of Virginia at Gettysburg. (He should have listened to Longstreet).

John said...

Khrsanh

You are right that the south was not a cou try. Nor was the north.

South Carolina, Virginia! Georgia were and still are countries as are NY Wisconsin and so on.

We call the United States a country but it was never intended to be one. Still isn't, technically.

No more than the European Union is "a country"

The word "state" had a specific meaning in 1780. Still does, even if many us it sloppily today.

There is a reason why its the United States, not the United provinces, shires, territories or some such

John Henry

Mark Caplan said...

The key dispute leading to the Civil War was the extension of slavery to the territories, not whether citizens of the Southern states could own slaves. That right was invioable.

Mark Caplan said...

... Inviolable.

John said...

Buwaya,

I'll defer to you on the carlists.

I got my knowledge of this from Aronsons book Spanish vendetta the spanish succession 1829 1965. Conrad got me interested with his story of running guns for the carlists. Or perhaps against them.

The book was interesting but I may have known less when I finished than when I started.

The main thing i learned, or had reinforced, is how lucky we are in the US not to have royalty or hereditary titles.

Other than Kennedys of course.

Michael excluded.

John Henry

Comanche Voter said...

Michael K, I don't think "another history course" would help Freder. I doubt that he took the first history course. There are of course innumerable biographies of Abraham Lincoln. While Lincoln had a distaste for slavery, he was not an outright abolitionist when elected in 1860; While the Republican party at the time had an abolitionist wing that was as fervent as Bernie Sanders (to use a modern day example) there were "moderates in the Republican Party and in the Northern Democrat party. The "fire eating" pro slavery Democrats were mainly in the South.

When you consider that the United States had a population of 30 million people in 1860--and that the current best estimate for Civil War KIA was 750,000 or 2.5% of the country's population, folks would surely have wanted to find a way to avoid the war. If you extraploate that to today's US population of over 300 million people, we are talking about 7.5 million deaths (if the Civil War was fought today).

I think the line in Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address was "neither side wanted war. But the war came."


Freder, you need to get out more--read more--and work to cure the lacunae in your knowledge.

mockturtle said...

"neither side wanted war. But the war came."

That's another 'mistakes were made' type of dodge. Wars don't "come". Men make them.

rcocean said...

Forget it guys. The ultimate authority in History has spoken:

Chelsea Clinton has tweeted that the Civil war couldn't have been worked out "because of one word...Slavery".

Here historians have been debating the the question for 150 years and writing books on the subject, and the answer was there, right in front of their faces all the time.

Damn, liberals sure are smart about everything. Wonder why they lost in 2016. Puzzling.

rcocean said...

Its been quite fun, reading one half-educated liberal MSM dumbass after another show how they absolutely nothing about the civil war. All their knowledge seems to be based on the Ken Burns documentary or reading one book on the subject.

Once again, in their quest to show how dumb Trump is, they display their arrogant stupidity.

Danno said...

Chelsea weighing in on the conversation? Go away, Chelsea. Hell, having lived though William Jefferson Clinton's Presidency, I know what the meaning of jizz is.

mockturtle said...

Gee! That Chelsea is one smart cookie!

exiledonmainstreet said...

Chelsea Clinton has tweeted that the Civil war couldn't have been worked out "because of one word...Slavery".

Gee, if only Chelsea had been there in 1850 or so and advised them all that war was coming no matter what so they might as well just get on with it. Her daddy's from Arkansas so she could go back in time to scold some ancestors on her paternal side as well.

Apparently Chelsea wasn't taught at her expensive schools that Lincoln went to war to save the Union, not to free the slaves.

readering said...

Chelsea Clinton? Really? Go back to making fun of Chuck.

Bad Lieutenant said...


Given how costly the war was, it seems like they would have come out way ahead having the North simply buy all the slaves and allow the South to invest the money into industry in the North and Europe,

Lincoln proposed this and it was rejected.

Really, Doc? Source? I was amazed by the simplicity of this idea when I first read of it in John Ross's Unintended Consequences.

Jon Burack said...

Glad to see so many up on the Nullification Crisis and how that completely exonerates Trump, however clumsily he worded his points.

I am astounded at Feder and agree with most of the takes on his rants. I do not agree with Foner that Lincoln only came slowly to his anti-slavery stance. He was opposed to slaver as strongly as anyone here long before the Civil War began. However, he was determined to end it in a way that would be Constitutionally sound so that it could never be reversed.

I believe he fought the Civil War about as effectively as it could be fought. And by the time it began it absolutely did HAVE to be fought that way. However, I disagree with Feder (on this as well as everything else) in that it is conceivable that everyone, including most slaves and all of their descendants, might have been better off had a way been found to avoid the Civil War and put slavery on the road to extinction more slowly. (This is what Lincoln did try hard to ensure before war broke out and even after for a time.) There are many aspects to this judgment, but the key one is to look at what did happen. The North exhausted itself, very quickly becoming tired and cynical about the whole business and by 1877 fully turned the problem back over to the South to handle it in the delicate way it did - thus postponing real emancipation for pretty close to one hundred years, with many attendant problems still festering. In particular, the North never grappled with the issue of land to make an independent small farmer class out of blacks, except in a very few places where the army tried it and soon tired of it. A slower, compensated ending to slavery might well have saved the Union generations of heartache. Maybe not, but maybe.

cubanbob said...

I suppose the war could have been averted at the time the Articles Of Confederation and Perpetual Union were drafted if the slave states had walked away.
One wonders why the firmness of the North to keep the South in. Suppose as a thought experiment Lincoln and Congress said goodbye, good luck with the following conditions the rest of the continent is ours (the North) and there are no treaties and other alliances with any powers against us (the North)and we offer the same what the outcome would have been? Would slavery have withered away like in Brazil? Would the CSA eventually rejoined the USA?

readering said...

cubanbob: once you go down that road . . . . No Louisiana Purchase? No Lewis and Clark? No War of 1812? No annexation of Florida and Texas? No Mexican War and annexation of the west?

Quaestor said...

Apparently Chelsea wasn't taught at her expensive schools that Lincoln went to war to save the Union, not to free the slaves.

Which unfortunately is normal even in public schools. The Left has been grinding away at our institutions since the foundation of the Comintern, and their work of destruction certainly shows whenever a GenX'er opens his mouth. It's worse still among the millennials. Even supposing their understanding of history were correct (which it isn't) the fact that Chelsea (what a moronic personal name!) could reason like that ("because of one word... Slavery") shows how hopelessly moribund our educational system has become.

James Buchanan is universally censured as one of our most underperforming presidents because he did nothing to avert the secession of the South and the resultant war, much as former President Obama did nothing to avert the crisis brewing this very moment in the Sea of Japan and the Rubicon the mullahs of Iran are bound to cross late in 2020 when they have sufficient enriched uranium for a bomb. People who give little thought to history, i.e. most progressives, blithely assume nothing could be done, whereas real historians who have studied the situation closely are not so closed-minded.

For example, it has been estimated that the United States had the resources to purchase the freedom of every slave in the United States for less than the total cost of the Civil War. To understand thus one must reckon the total cost of the American Civil War not just in the dollar value of weapons, uniforms, supplies, warships, etc, but also the economic costs of lost commerce and lost productivity. Consider this one factor in the nation's pre-war economy: In 1859 the merchant tonnage on the high seas flying the Stars and Stripes was second only to the merchant navy of Great Britain and was growing at a pace to overtake British commerce in the 1870's. However, due to the predations of history's most brilliant practitioner of guerre de course, Raphael Semmes, insurance rates on cargos transported in American bottoms surged beyond profitability, forcing many lines into bankruptcy. In 152 years America's seaborne commerce hasn't recovered.

Under the principle of eminent domain, the national government could have compelled the sale of the slaves. While it is certain many Southern gentlemen would have bitterly resented the expropriation of their "property," many more of them would have welcomed the windfall of cash. By the 1850's much of the South's cotton-producing soils were exhausted, which is why the expansion of slavery into the territories was seen as so vital by the firebrands. Many planters in Georgia and South Carolina were facing insolvency if they could not up sticks and move their enterprises into Kansas, Oklahoma, and Nebraska, and even if such a move became legally possible, most hadn't the wherewithal to actually do it, most of their capital being illiquid land. Buying the slaves away from the marginal and unprofitable plantations would likely have been a popular policy among Southerners. The infusion of cash into the economy of the South would have stimulated industrialization, and seeing as the richest men in American were manufacturers and merchants rather than the largely mythical cotton barons. After seeing their heretofore poor relations grow wealthy through industrial enterprises (Margaret Mitchell knew her history) resentful holdouts who previously resisted the forced sale of their field hands would have clamored loudly for their share of that slave money.

Once purchased by the national government the slaves could have been emancipated and resettled in the territories or given employment in the newly erected factories of the South. This scenario may sound fanciful to some of the usual suspects who haunt this blog, but they should learn that this kind of eminent domain settlement is exactly how the British Empire achieved abolition barely 27 years before South Carolina seceded from the Union.

Quaestor said...

TYPO ALERT
I left out a whole subordinate clause in my 8:52 post. Corrected the final sentences of the fourth paragraph should read thus:

The infusion of cash into the economy of the South would have stimulated industrialization, and seeing as the richest men in American were manufacturers and merchants rather than the largely mythical cotton barons, those formerly cash-poor planters would have been blithe to emulate their Northern rivals. After seeing their heretofore poor relations grow wealthy through industrial enterprises (Margaret Mitchell knew her history) resentful holdouts who previously resisted the forced sale of their field hands would have clamored loudly for their share of that slave money.

wwww said...


I guess a lot of civil war historians are gonna be on tv tomorrow.

anyways, on cotton & value of slaves. Cotton was King & the value of slaves was increasing, not decreasing. In 1850 half the millionaires in the USA lived in Natchez Miss.

Historian David Blight on the value of slaves in 1860: 4 million slaves = 3.5 Billion dollars. "the largest single financial asset in the entire U.S. economy, worth more than all manufacturing and railroads combined."

Jackson died in 1845. That's before bleeding Kansas, Dred Scott in SCOTUS, and John Brown. Republican party wasn't formed yet.

When Jackson leaves office in the 1820s there's no war on the horizon.

Ulysses Grant thought the Mexican American war is what made the war inevitable. Agree with him to some extent. The western expansion and arguments over free state vs. slave state are complicated by all the land the war brought into the union.

How great is the name Ulysses? the 19th century had the best names.

mockturtle said...

Margaret Mitchell also knew that, even had the South won the War, the South they [wealthy planters] knew and loved would be gone.

Drago said...

wwww: "When Jackson leaves office in the 1820s there's no war on the horizon."

Huh?

Jackson was President from 1829 to 1837.

War was "on the horizon" starting from Americas independence from Britain.

traditionalguy said...

As all scholars know, the name of the 1861 to 1865 imbroglio was "The War of the Southern Rebellion."

The Muslims have always owned slaves. And they still do. So do Chinese and Indian owners. But in North and South America, owning Africans for a labor force to clear trees and swamps and plant crops in sweltering heat was a Roman Catholic specialty begun by Portugese in Brazil and Spanish in their Empire for wealth from sugar cane plantations. The Caribean Islands made them so much sugar cane wealth that the French and British fought Spain and one another for owner ship of Sugar Islands. They made 10 times as much wealth there as on any othe plantations doing Fisheries, Tobacco and furs.

Our Eastern Seabord's 13 Colonies were important to England primariy as sources of food and timber for the slaves on the Sugar Island wealth bonanzas. Boston was the molasses center of that trade.

The Industrial Revolution happened because the Sugar Island slaves needed work clothes because they wore them out too fast. The new machinery in mills run on water power, and finally steam engines that burned coal,remade the world in 40 years...all to clothe the enslaved Africans that work in the Sugar Islands.

Then cotton was ginned and found to be 10 times as cheap to weave a far better material for slave's clothes. That's when wealthy men moved Sugar Island Slavery Codes to the coastal south to clear trees and plant and harvest Cotton's immense wealth. That transition was just starting when Andy Jackson was killing the Bank of the United States.

Joe said...

wwww: Start with this: Nullification Crisis - Wikipedia

Joe said...

From the nullification article: On May 1, 1833 Jackson wrote, "the tariff was only a pretext, and disunion and southern confederacy the real object. The next pretext will be the negro, or slavery question."

mockturtle said...

Yeah, nullification is what sanctuary states and cities are trying to do with our immigration laws today.

Michael K said...

I have been off having a life today and did not see the comments until now.,

Someone asked for a link on Lincoln proposing to buy the slaves. Lincoln proposed this and it was rejected.

Really, Doc? Source? I was amazed by the simplicity of this idea when I first read of it in John Ross's Unintended Consequences.


Here it is.

"During the first two years of the war Lincoln repeatedly offered ‘compensated emancipation’ to the border slave states that remained in the Union and any Confederate states interested," Foner said. "But they all rejected it. Lincoln was willing to pay but Southerners were not willing to give up their slaves, for money or for any other reason."

We enlisted the help of historians, and history buffs on reddit, and they pointed us to Lincoln’s request to Congress in 1862 for money to buy the freedom of slaves. Here’s how that proposal began:

"Resolved that the United States ought to co-operate with any state which may adopt gradual abolishment of slavery, giving to such state pecuniary aid, to be used by such state in its discretion, to compensate for the inconveniences public and private, produced by such change of system."

Republicans passed that over the objection of Democrats. Richard Striner, professor of history at Washington College, wrote that this resolution was Lincoln’s second attempt to pay slave owners to free their slaves. A year earlier, he had tried to get Delaware to pass a bill that would have cleared the way for Washington to spend $719,200 to free the state’s entire slave population, about 1,800 at that time. The bill failed in the Delaware Legislature.


There are more.

The key dispute leading to the Civil War was the extension of slavery to the territories, not whether citizens of the Southern states could own slaves. That right was invioable.

The Confederacy was not interested in being "left alone." They wanted to expand into the territories and, if thwarted, had plans ffor Mexico and Cuba.

I can probably find those links, too but they come from extensive reading about the war.

I have been a Civil War student since college,

Lincoln was always an abolitionist but he was willing to allow the south to avoid war in hopes that time would work to resolve the problem. Stanton was one of the great American lawyers of the time and had defeated Lincoln in a railroad litigation case.

He was a true radical and was let loose on the south by the assassination.

cyrus83 said...

Alternate history is a fun genre to play with. Ultimately there is a point here - war is generally not inevitable until the guns start shooting. I don't think Trump would have been the one to stop the Civil War had he been around at the time because he is too much like Lincoln in that his opponents are driven to insanity and illogic by the very fact he was elected and don't find it possible to accept or tolerate him.

Although tensions had been building, it took nearly a decade for the situation to get to a war, and there are a number of events along the way that might have changed that outcome. Maybe if Douglas hadn't been willing to undermine the Missouri Compromise with the Kansas-Nebraska Act, maybe if Pierce hadn't strong-armed Democrats into voting for the Kansas-Nebraska Act, maybe if Taney hadn't made such a ham-handed attempt to resolve the slavery issue with Dred Scott, maybe if Buchanan hadn't been the Democrat nominee in 1856, etc.

The proximate cause of the Civil War was that the South did not believe they could trust Lincoln and several states didn't even wait for him to take office before assuming the worst. The irony is that the South had Lincoln pegged wrong on this one - sure he disliked slavery, but when push came to shove, he preferred unity over abolition, hence his support of the Corwin Amendment in 1861 (doubt 1 in 100 ever hear about this item in high school history).

Keep in mind the Corwin Amendment passed Congress by the required 2/3 majority (and that was without the seceded states voting) and was ratified by at least a few Union states before the war got underway. Given it managed a 2/3 majority in what was essentially a Union-only Congress, had the South simply taken a deep breath, the amendment may well have been ratified and war would likely have been averted.

Bob said...

Missouri compromise 1820 - sought to regulate slavery. Compromise of 1850 - sought to regulate slavery.

I think they tussled with the problem

Dred Scott finished off the compromising in 1857.

Lloyd W. Robertson said...

Sort of cool to see the NY Times weigh in on Trump's Civil War/Andrew Jackson remarks, citing big-time historians, etc. Maybe another example of Trump getting rent-free space in their heads.
Generally they are saying the Nullification Crisis was about assertion of federal power vs. states' rights, but nothing to do with slavery. (Therefore Trump has foolishly mixed together different events, implied lazily that some kind of deal-maker could have succeeded, etc.) That was not Jackson's or (later) Clay's understanding, as the James biography cited above makes clear. It was slave states that opposed the federal power, and this was no coincidence--they foresaw the need to defend slavery in a country that was increasingly free and (to some extent) abolitionist. James Fallows suggests: the real issue of the Civil War was slavery; a series of compromises going back to the Constitution of 1787 were no longer working. This is more or less the Lincoln view. He had venerated Henry Clay, calling him "my beau ideal of a statesman," but he came to see the compromises over slavery, in many of which Clay played a key role, as failures. He was convinced, for example, that slavery was not going to simply disappear, gradually or not, without a fight. The more intelligent slavocrats probably had something to say about that. If Jackson had managed to suppress the "secession" doctrine in 1832-3, would this have made it less likely that states would secede after Lincoln's election?

RonF said...

"The Civil War began because the hotheads in the South thought the North would not fight.
They were wrong.
Unfortunately, most of the competent army officers defected to the rebels, so it took a while and a lot of lives before the North learned to fight well."

The North had the lives to spend. The South didn't. The North could afford to lose men at the same rate or even a higher rate than the South did.

BTW, I see an analogy with China deciding to develop a blue water navy with aircraft carriers. Many people think that they won't do it because of a complete lack of competence and the fact that it will cost them a lot of lives to do it. But China has a lot of lives to spend to develop that competence, and a 4000 year history that gives them a long-term outlook and patience.

Christopher Souza said...

"Apparently Chelsea wasn't taught at her expensive schools that Lincoln went to war to save the Union, not to free the slaves"

Lincoln did not start the war, the South did. And they were very clear that they did so to preserve the institution of slavery, which they were (somewhat irrationally) convinced Lincoln would end.

Knee-jerk Clinton hatred is no better than knee-jerk Trump hatred.