Talk:Origins of the American Civil War

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Sex, honor and Sumner-Brooks[edit]

The interpretation of the insults as sexual innuendo is already clearly in the section of the article and is so prominent I think it may be showing undue weight. The words I removed are unsourced and heavily pov - the rape is figurative and Butler was not singled out on that. Sumner said slavery was Butler's mistress, which is quite a different thing from accusing Butler of being a pimp. Edward321 (talk) 15:59, 4 November 2012 (UTC)

It's important to see this in terms of a challenge to honor. Sumner used the term "rape" which has a double meaning (both sexual attack and more generally to to seize and take away by force, says Webster's 3rd). "pimp" is the term used by historians see Judith N. McArthur; Orville Vernon Burton (1996). "A Gentleman and an Officer": A Military and Social History of James B. Griffin's Civil War. Oxford U.P. p. 40.  Rjensen (talk) 16:05, 4 November 2012 (UTC).
It still seems undue emphasis to me, but the view is now sourced and the author of the view clearly cited. Edward321 (talk) 16:40, 4 November 2012 (UTC)

Southern Culture Section - Unsupported Internal Conflict[edit]

The second paragraph of this section says, "In 1850 there were around 350,000 slaveholders in a total free Southern population of about six million." By my calculations this means about 6% of free Southerners were slave owners. The following paragraph says, "Yet, while the proportion of the white population consisting of slaveholders was on the decline on the eve of the Civil War—perhaps falling below around a quarter of free southerners in 1860..." My reading is that the slave owning section of the free southern population decreased from 6% to something very close to 25%. Since there is no reference provided for either percentage, I have no idea which (if either) should be considered correct. Slickjack (talk) 11:12, 1 August 2013 (UTC)

it's garbled. if you say About 350,000 persons owned slaves, you get a small %. If you say About 350,000 families owned slaves, you get a much higher %. Rjensen (talk) 12:33, 1 August 2013 (UTC)

Arguments against : Slavery as the number one cause of the Civil War or an Oversimplification.[edit]

When we list the reasons for the civil war, and number then 1..N, where does slavery appear in this list. Putting Slavery as the number one reason is a debatable point. It's sometimes put as reason number 3. Unfortunately, it is part of human nature to write history such that the victor gets to write the history, and declare his side on the moral right. (Perhaps this is why we don't like to admit that the settling of the USA involved the death of half a trillion natives). This likely has led to pushing slavery into the primary reason, because yes, as a nation we somehow moved from voluntary indentured servitude, to involuntary slavery which is repulsive.

What were the other issues?

(1) Money was a major issue, and money implied cotton. The North had the factories and the banks, and therefore was making lots of money from cotton and exports (The US was producing 60% of the worlds cotton goods). Import-taxes were seen as a tax burden on the south, since the North's exports were not taxed. (The Morril Tarriff of 1861, increased the import tariff by up to 70%.) While they were very low before the increase, a disparity in taxation, causes ill feelings. When the southern representatives walked out in protest, the Northern representatives seized the opportunity to pass the bill that they knew would not pass in their presence, and increased their taxation. The first time South Carolina threatened succession, was Vice President Calhoun (from South Carolina), in regards to the Tariff of 1828 (The Tariff of Abominations) against president John Quincy Adams. V.P. Calhoun threatened succession, and the tariff was modified.

(2) The morals of the north and the south differed/Southern Pride. People in the north had more education. They also has looser morals. Even the religions had a divide between the Northerns and the Southerns (currently, only "Southern" Baptist's religion is the only divide). This contributed towards a pride in being southern. The south was actually spending less on education, and children in the south were dropping out of school earlier especially women. The south was in debt. Their roads were not as well maintained. Slavery was also in the decline in the south. The north had wage slavery, which did not provide any social security for the elderly, sick or injured workers. There was a law in Virginia which made the slave holder responsible for the social security of his slaves. (Shockingly, the last of the Lott "slave cottages" in Virginia, provided free lodging for decedents of the slaves at that location, until the mid-1960's). This was in contrast to the wage slavery in the north. The story projected about large plantations, is also an exaggeration, most slaveholders held 5 slaves, with only one percent of the population holding much more.

The Petticoat affair in 1830-1831, which was exposed by Vice President Calhoun's wife (whom lead an anti-Peggy parade), added to the illusion of a divide between the morals of the North and the South.

(3) Vice President Calhoun... The man was unyielding, and negotiated by force. He threatened to leave the Union, in order to alter a tariff! And it worked! This man, as a hero figure, convinces people to rebel against the federal government. His wife led the anti-peggy parade (for morality)! Other Unitarians of the time were also rebelling against authority, but Calhoun did it from the inside!

(4) States Rights. States Rights was a dispute about if federal laws can be overridden or NULLIFIED by the states. Do Federal Taxes need to be enforced? We see this today, in the form of the federal marijuana laws being ignored by some of the states (but not nullified). While today, people like to focus on the fact that States Rights circle back to slavery, the initial reason was TAXES/Tariffs. Huge import taxes forced the south to buy goods from the north instead of Europe, especially the Tariff in 1861, which raised the tax 70%!. These taxes angered southerns. (

(5) Because it worked. The first time V.P. Calhoun, South Carolina, threatened succession, there was a negotiation, and a compromise. So, they tried it again. The next time, the government sent troops.

If we want to rewrite history such that it appears that the north was in the moral right....then we'd better remove the US Supreme Courts Dred Scott decision from history as well (Anyone of African decent, is not a US citizen, and not entitled to the protection of law). You might also want to erase some of Charles Stewart Parnell's speeches (he came to the US with his mistress, from England/Ireland). Truth be told, you did not want to be a black man or women anywhere in the US in the mid 1800's. During this time, the Whig Party ended and the Republican Party started, with Abraham Lincoln. The states voted for presidents during the 1860 elections, and were divided into regions. Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee voted for the Constitutional Union Party (which supported National rule, over States Rights). To list slavery as the number one cause, is an oversimplification. The nation was divided, but after the war, and years after, we have come together and the issue of states rights has been decided to take a back seat to Federal Laws, and taxes, and Tariffs. ( ) (talk) — Preceding undated comment added 16:54, 4 September 2014 (UTC)

Anon seems to have his own secret history of the war that resembles the fringe ideas put forward by neo-Confederates. One might call that un-American but it is merely un-Wikipedian. We rely on the reliable secondary sources and in the last half-century or so no scholats have endorsed these fringe views. The second problem is that the Confederates back in 1860-61 did not see these as the causes of the war. They talked endlessly about the Northern threat to their way of life. The men busy fathering illegitimate babies with slave women did not boast about their moral superiority in front of their legal wives. The Southern way of life was identical to the North except when slavery came up. That was the rub. (About the tariff, by the way, that was a Northern grievance because southerners controlled Congress and set the tariffs too low.) Rjensen (talk) 19:19, 4 September 2014 (UTC)

Onset of the Civil War and Compromise section unreferenced[edit]

I'm not one to hang tags on sections (since I too frequently see them thrown on every few words in a paragraph, and sometimes in error), but this section appears to be a good candidate for one. There are no notes given in the entire section at present. I attribute this to it being a very old section. I went back through 8 years or so of edit summaries without finding when it was created.

It appears to be more of discussion of academic historian opinion at given times, rather than popular/political/participant opinion--which differed by section. I've read enough Southern participant accounts in the era to question the accuracy of the claim: "In the first decades after the fighting, histories of the Civil War generally reflected the views of Northerners who had participated in the conflict." I don't doubt that it is true on some level, but I'm not sure what particular type/level they are referring to. General histories of the war? First hand accounts/biographies by participants?

What I'm trying to say is I'm not sure if the general picture given is accurate or not, but it also isn't clear to me what it is specifically referring to at times. My interest is typically drawn more to the campaigns/operations, first hand accounts, and strategic considerations rather than general histories so I am not well equipped to tackle this one.

I am also confused as to how this section fits with the rest of the article--it seems general and unconnected to the specificity of the rest. Red Harvest (talk) 04:38, 28 July 2014 (UTC)

the article is mostly historiography--that is, what explanations people have offered for what happened 9as opposed a narrative of event). I added some cites--let me highly recommend Tom Pressly's excellent book. Rjensen (talk) 04:49, 28 July 2014 (UTC)
Thanks, this was needed. Older material didn't carry as much burden of notes/cites when written. A few general references listed at the bottom was enough at times. It isn't so easy anymore. Red Harvest (talk) 06:25, 28 July 2014 (UTC)