Talk:Origins of the American Civil War/Archive 1

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I finished writing this article (only my own MS Word browser), which will go into the History of the United States series and a series on the Civil War. However, I'm not done editing it and adding all the hyperlinks. Others should not worry. I will finish editing this piece promptly. 172 09:14, 20 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Usually terms should be wikilinked only on their first appearance, not repeatedly all the way through. Cheers, -- Infrogmation 15:48, 20 Dec 2003 (UTC)
In an article this long I can see extra links being ok. Rmhermen 22:40, Dec 20, 2003 (UTC)
On long articles, I usually link the first time in each section, though it can vary depending on the section length and so on. Shouldn't have to search through pages of text to find a link to slavery or something, but I agree that most occurrences shouldn't be linked. Tuf-Kat 22:47, Dec 20, 2003 (UTC)

I like this article very much, but the length might make it unweildly for those of us looking for a broader view of American history. Perhaps a bulletpointed outline could be added? -Alex S 22:20, 18 Feb 2004 (UTC) This is a featured article.

The featured article status of this article has been disputed.
See User talk:Maveric149 172 01:03, 15 Mar 2004 (UTC)

I finished writing this article (only my own MS Word browser), which will go into the History of the United States series and a series on the Civil War. However, I'm not done editing it and adding all the hyperlinks. Others should not worry. I will finish editing this piece promptly. 172 09:14, 20 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Usually terms should be wikilinked only on their first appearance, not repeatedly all the way through. Cheers, -- Infrogmation 15:48, 20 Dec 2003 (UTC)
In an article this long I can see extra links being ok. Rmhermen 22:40, Dec 20, 2003 (UTC)
On long articles, I usually link the first time in each section, though it can vary depending on the section length and so on. Shouldn't have to search through pages of text to find a link to slavery or something, but I agree that most occurrences shouldn't be linked. Tuf-Kat 22:47, Dec 20, 2003 (UTC)

I like this article very much, but the length might make it unweildly for those of us looking for a broader view of American history. Perhaps a bulletpointed outline could be added? -Alex S 22:20, 18 Feb 2004 (UTC)

History of the United States includes the executive summaries. There used to be a bulletpointed outline at American Civil War until it was converted into paragraph form. I'll keep this in mind, though. 172 23:21, 18 Feb 2004 (UTC)
A minute after the above posting an idea dawned on me. How about a timeline of significant events at the end followed by a more comprehensive list of suggested readings? 172 23:27, 18 Feb 2004 (UTC)

I am in my first year teaching American history at the high school level, and I thought this article was incredibly helpful, both to me and to my students. Too often, websites or online encyclopedias provide only a cursory overview of the Civil War, or present the lead-up to the conflict as an inevitable polarisation of 'Slavery v. Anti-Slavery' and 'States Rights v. Federalism'. Certainly these themes are central to the conflict, but they were neither inevitable nor straightforward - nor did they take on the moral overtones people tend to give them today. This article avoids those pitfalls - thanks.

Great work by +sj+

User:Sj has done an excellent job dividing this article. Passing users will still see the current single article, especially important since no other parts of WP link to this set of 4 pages (something Sj noted on my talk page). Just to get a sense of how nicely this was done, take a look at the crude 8/03 two-part division of the History of the Soviet Union article. I had no idea how to go about creating anything that wouldn't resemble that breakup (but I'm one of the lamer Wikipedians when it comes to web design).

Editors ought to use this article as a template for dividing many long articles from now on. 172 20:50, 27 Mar 2004 (UTC)

I'm OK with this format. Friends again? :) --mav 21:03, 27 Mar 2004 (UTC)
Of course. We were friends during that rough edit war. I just desperately wanted to obstruct work on a NI-style series. Trust me - it would've been a complete mess. I knew that your intentions were good, but I was going to be dragged out kicking and screaming before letting that happen. BTW, what do you think - am I right about +sj+'s division being a cure for all Wikipedia:Longpages? 172 21:41, 27 Mar 2004 (UTC)
No - in general this format should be discouraged. We should instead try to focus on writing on distinct topics instead of lumping everything together. This format does work well for this article though. --mav
Oh, okay. I meant to say that. I meant to say as a temporary fix for some other articles. 172 22:05, 27 Mar 2004 (UTC)
Also, now that we have the split, should the timeline stay where it is, or be placed toward the bottom of 4/4 (above the suggested readings - where it was beforehand)? 172 22:08, 27 Mar 2004 (UTC)
Most long timelines and lists get their own pages so I don't see why this one would be differnt. --mav
Brilliant job, +sj+! --Alex S

I've done some fixing of (what I think were) mistakes where I was fairly confident what they should be, but there are some points I'm not clear on:

  1. The first two paras of the overview refer to four regions and two regions respectively, without explaining how the two relate.
  2. The second para talks of visions emerging by 1860, then goes back in time to the changing tensions of the 1840s and 50s.
  3. At the end of the overview there is a reference to "geographical, social classes, and party affiliations"; geographical what?
  4. "For development to proceed, property rights, consumer goods, and laborers must be freed from traditional bonds and restraints, from aristocratic traditions, quasi-feudal arrangements, personalistic and other multi-bonded relations." That's a very sweeping statement! I've changed it to the past tense in the article to restrict it to the context, but I think it's still pretty POV.
  5. "hostile to big manufactures". Manufacturers? I'm not sure- it may be an American/British English difference.
  6. "the number of farmers was still double that of farm laborers and tenants". Surely farm tenants are farmers? Should it be the number of farm owners, or free farmers?
  7. "the two decades before the Civil War saw the rapid expansion of the Northwest". Is this geographic, demographic, economic? All three?
  8. "the expansion of slavery in newly acquired territories such as Oregon". Is this expansion of existing slavery in the territories, or expansion into territories where it did not yet exist?

Markalexander100 08:01, 28 Mar 2004 (UTC)

Markalexander100, excellent job copyediting! I really need to get new glasses. I'm getting worse and worse when it comes to skimming over these kinds of errors. From now on I'll use a larger text size on my browser and stop speed-reading stuff that I ought to be copyediting. Thanks for your help! 172 20:34, 2 Apr 2004 (UTC)

How long is an "Eve"?

Very informative article overall. Just a few tiny nits though. The first section refers to the eve of the Civil War. But to me, "eve" implies immediately before, like say the late 1850s, but I think (but really can't tell for sure) that this refers to some period before then.

I'll play around with the text. Please tell me if it's satisfactory when I'm done. 172 03:50, 4 Apr 2004 (UTC)

Second, it refers to four regions in the U.S., but isn't that a big oversimplification?

It's not just a big one; it's a colossal oversimplification. But this might be the case for any topic that could be brought up in the overview. Any short overview of a subject of this nature can merely lay the groundwork for the rest of the article, establishing some key points for a hueristic function. The overview's there to help general readers understand where the article's going as they read. 172 03:50, 4 Apr 2004 (UTC)

And why link the word "northwest" to the modern day census region of the "midwest"? For both it and the "southwest" the linked articles cover such a huge region as to be relatively meaningless in describing any uniform region in the pre-civil war era.

You're right about the usage of the anachronistic term "Northwest." However, I doubt that I'd favor replacing the term with "Midwest." The literature on the subject tends to stick with the regional terms contemporaneous with the period. I'll add some {now known as...) notes whenever this matter comes up in the text if you think that it is necessary. 172 03:50, 4 Apr 2004 (UTC)

Seems like on the actual eve (late 1850s) there were many very diverse pockets than just four regions. Just off the top of my head, there's California, the Pacific Northwest, Missouri, Kansas and Nebraska (which were not part of the old northwest and quite distinct from it) and so on.

Thanks for mentioning this. I wanted to emphasize many commonly overlooked realities of the era, and this was high up on the list. While I wanted the article to be as suggestive as possible to general readers, I wanted to avoid the extreme shortcomings of the standard, simplistic "North vs. South" write-ups found online. 172 03:50, 4 Apr 2004 (UTC)

Which leads me to wonder if the "eve" refers to an earlier period (say circa 1840) when you could perhaps get away with describing four regions.

Though very simplistic, the "four regions" reference works for 1860 in the overview. Do you think that it would suffice if I added a note in parenthesis reminding readers of the great deal of economic, political, demographic, cultural, etc. diversity within the regions themselves? Would a reminder in the overview saying that we're speaking very broadly be helpful as well? 172 03:50, 4 Apr 2004 (UTC)

Sorry I can't think of suggestions for changing -- just some things that came to mind as I read that. Bkonrad | Talk 02:00, 4 Apr 2004 (UTC)

The first sentence

Re: 172's revert of my edit to the intro. To list slavery, expansion, and sectionalism as causes while excluding the issues of taxation and centralized nationalism is simply inaccurate. This presents a serious NPOV problem. - Nat Krause 05:51, 13 Apr 2004 (UTC)

I'm not listing anything as "causes" in the intro. Trends in the longterm development of the US are cited, that's all. 172 18:47, 15 Apr 2004 (UTC)
Issues of taxation/centralization/state v. federal power are certainly longterm trends in US history! In fact, it makes even more sense to list them since the Civil War would have such a major effect on those areas of American politics. --Αλεξ Σ 23:13, 15 Apr 2004 (UTC)
Sectionalism covers this. Let's keep it short. Before you'd know it, you'd have a list longer than the article. 172 23:40, 15 Apr 2004 (UTC)
If we're going to have the list at all, it should be a little more comprehensive in listing the major issues. To do otherwise introduces a bias. -- VV 01:09, 17 Apr 2004 (UTC)
Leave me alone you pest. You have no interest in the subject other than trying to follow me around from page to page to annoy me. 172 01:30, 17 Apr 2004 (UTC)
Pot, kettle. -- VV 01:35, 17 Apr 2004 (UTC)

The idea that taxation (or centralization, for that matter) had much of anything to do with the origins of the American Civil War is discredited nonsense of the Charles Beard school. It should not be in the article intro. john 02:53, 17 Apr 2004 (UTC)

Oh man, it's worse than that. At least they could get the Beard school right and refer to tariffs rather than "taxation" (who knows what these two mean by this). 172 03:23, 17 Apr 2004 (UTC)
Yeah, well, I would say that the idea that it did not is discredited nonsense. How about some NPOV? - Nat Krause 03:15, 17 Apr 2004 (UTC)
Please name a historian currently working who believes that "taxes" and "centralization" were major issues in bring about the American Civil War. john 03:50, 17 Apr 2004 (UTC)
Jeffrey Rogers Hummel, Thomas DiLorenzo, Charles Adams just off the top of my head. - Nat Krause 09:33, 17 Apr 2004 (UTC)
Hummel is pretty clearly a libertarian ideologue as much as a historian - and even he doesn't seem to say that "taxes" had anything to do with the civil war. Adams does seem to argue that (or at least, that tariffs caused it), but his book sounds like a ridiculous polemic that just resurrects Charles Beard's arguments. The (only) review on H-Net (there are none on JSTOR) is fairly scathing ([1]). DiLorenzo I can exclude, as he seems to be an economist. A few fringe libertarians does not constitute a major school of historical analysis. john 16:16, 17 Apr 2004 (UTC)

Okay, let's see. You describe Jeffrey Rogers Hummel as a "libertarian ideologue", you say that Charles Adams wrote a "ridiculous polemic", and argue that DiLorenzo is not a historian (he writes books about history, so that's why I call him a historian). Then you dismiss all three as "a few fringe libertarians". If these are your only arguments against them, then I think that sounds like POV on the face of it. All ad hom. - Nat Krause 15:39, 19 Apr 2004 (UTC) PS - 172, what gives? Is a tariff not a form of taxation? Since at the time it was the main source of federal tax revenue, I thought it was reasonable to just say taxation, but we can say tariff if you prefer.

One more thing, john, I'm surprised to hear that Hummel thinks taxes played no role in the lead up to the war, and I tend to doubt that it's the case, but I don't have his book in hand at the moment to check. You sure about that? - Nat Krause 16:23, 19 Apr 2004 (UTC)

Partly because the debate over how much weight each factor carried will probably never be resolved (in addition to it being an overview), I would think the list should be short. I propose this for the first sentence:

The origins of the American Civil War lay in the complex problems of slavery, expansion, state's rights, economics, parties, and politics of the antebellum era.
I don't think that taxation belongs, as without the slavery issue, it probably wouldn't have led to war. However, economics in general played a significant role (EG It's why the issue was so important to the south). I think that states' rights is a more recognizable and pertinant concept to cover centralism (plus the centralization article doesn't provide much relevant content, but states' rights does). I left out sectionalism because I think it's mostly a term for a concept that can already be inferred from the definition of civil war, plus, the article it links to doesn't even mention our civil war, and most of the examples are countries where the boundaries were forced by outside interests, unlike the US that originally chose to unite.
Or: "The origins of the American Civil War lay in the complex problems of slavery, expansion, state's rights, economics, political parties of the antebellum era. (as I think that politics is already inferred)
From the History Channel[2]: The Civil War was "a sectional combat having its roots in political, economic, social, and psychological elements so complex that historians still do not agree on its basic causes."
From the Library of Congress[3]: "Conflict over issues of how much control the federal government should have over the states, industrialization, trade, and especially slavery had increased tension between Northern and Southern states."
From Wikipedia American Civil War: "While there is considerable debate about the influence of individual events that led the states to this civil war: abolitionist sentiment, the ongoing free state-slave state battles in Congress and elsewhere, the rise of the Republican Party, states' rights and economic issues are most often cited."

In general, it would be great for the sentence in question to be pithy, but we're better off two words longer and more accurate than shorter and less accurate. I would be happy if we could figure out a simpler way to say what's true, and your "state's rights, economics" version is a definite improvement, although I'm not sure how much. "State's rights" has advantages over "sectionalism", but it continues to focus on trends in the states rather than in the federal government, which was of course also a party to the conflict. One of the basic problems with this article is that it is largely the story of how some of the Confederate states came to secede from the Union, which, while it is the crucial part of the story, doesn't constitute a civil war by itself. Heck, this article (except for half of one sentence) ends 4 months before the beginning of the war!

As for taxation, how can we say that any of the causes of the war would have led to war in the absence of other causes? Slavery was the predominant factor, but even there, in the absence of sectional party politics, etc., would it have led to fighting? I'm not sure the tariff issue couldn't have caused the war by itself: didn't South Carolina almost secede over a tariff 30 years earlier? "Economics" seems like a bit of mincing of words with regard to this, if, as I suspect is the case, the main economic issue was that the South objected to the proposed Republican tariff.

Anyway, I've got no stomach for a revert war over this, so I will probably back off once the general consensus of the 'pedia is hashed out. It's starting to look like a moot point right now, because the current version is frozen, so 172 and John Kenney can just stonewall indefinitely if they want. - Nat Krause 16:20, 19 Apr 2004 (UTC)


I've protected this page pending the outcome of quickpolls for users 172 and VeryVerily. It has been reverted to what I believe is a neutral copy of the page edited on April 11, 2004 before the revert war between VV and 172. --Flockmeal 03:33, Apr 17, 2004 (UTC)

This article is VERY biased

Everybody today likes to argue about why the war was fought, and wants to pick out the ONE reason. The problem with that is there is NO ONE reason that the war was fought. To some extent, everyone is right, and everyone is wrong.

  1. Slavery: Yes, large plantation owners with many slaves were afraid of losing them. Some of these people were evil racist bigots, and others were good people who inherited a mess and were desperately trying to keep their businesses operating. These people, as large wealthy business owners, had a lot of influence and loudly supported secession.
  2. States rights: Most of the people who fought for the south didn't care much about slavery one way or the other. There was a strong feeling both in the south AND the north, that the states should be "independent", with only a figurehead federal government. These people didn't see themselves as Americans or Confederates, they thought of themselves as Kentuckians, or Georgians, or Alabamans. They had long complained about the northern states domination of the economy, and there was a general feeling that the northerners controlled the federal government.
The question of why people fought for each side are not necessarily connected to what caused the war. I think most historians would agree that states' rights was a convenient excuse rather than a genuinely held principle. Furthermore, the idea that northerners controlled the federal government is insane. The south had had things all its way for pretty much the entire history of the republic (and certainly almost entirely for many years before the 1860 election with such dough head presidents as Fillmore, Pierce, and Buchanan), and, in fact, would have continued to be able to prevent pretty much anything they didn't like from getting passed by a Congress in which the Democrats would still have controlled the Senate, and the Republicans not had a majority in the House. john 19:55, 18 Apr 2004 (UTC)
  1. Taxes: Yep, that's right, taxes. The northerners were really big on taxes and tarrifs, which really hurt the import/export dependent south. In fact, 80% of the tarriffs that the north insisted on, were paid by southern states. This fact angered southern industrialists greatly, and was widely viewed as an attempt to stifle business.
So what? Tariffs were low in 1860, and the south could've prevented the Republicans from increasing it if they hadn't seceded. Also, Louisiana sugar planters, for instance, were actually entirely dependent on high tariffs. Many southern planters, in fact, had supported the high-tariff Whig party for many years. john 19:55, 18 Apr 2004 (UTC)
  1. Immigration: Largely forgotten today, immigration was also a big issue in the 1850's. The northerners, for the most part, were really big on unbridled immigration to "populate the continent". Many southerners didn't care for the idea of allowing immigrants to populate the whole country (and especially the southern states), and wanted more control over who came and went.
Err...this is, as far as I am aware, nonsense. Southerners were allied to the Democratic Party, which was the party of northern immigrants. Republicans were in many areas tied to former Know Nothings, and were often suspected of nativism. john 19:55, 18 Apr 2004 (UTC)
  1. Indian treaties: Here's a fact that has been almost erased from modern textbooks about the Civil War because it doesn't fit peoples preconceived notions of what the CSA was all about: Many politicians in the southern states were growing tired of the wars with Native Americans, and wanted to begin honoring treaties and make peace with the native Americans, while the northern states insisted on militarily removing them from their lands, irregardless of treaties (yes, I am aware that not all southerners agreed on this point). The Cherokee Nation itself willingly joined the CSA, and blasted the north for ignoring the very freedoms of self determination that it claimed to represent.
Oh, come on. john 19:55, 18 Apr 2004 (UTC)

I'm sure that there were hundreds of other localized issues that I'm overlooking here that got other communities and regions involved in secession, but I think the point is made. There was no one reason for the Civil War, and no one brush that all secessionists can be painted with. They were not all good people, nor were they all evil. People who try to label all southerners with one label simply display a fundamental lack of understanding on the issue.

At any rate, you have not cited a single actual historian here, just your encounter with the facts. Let me note to you the work of Eric Foner on the Republican Party (Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men), of William Freehling on southern secessionism, or even just take a look at McPherson's Battle Cry of Freedom. Libertarian/Neo-Confederate polemic should have no place in an encyclopedia article. john 19:55, 18 Apr 2004 (UTC)

VV's revised opening

I'm not sure I object to it. Yeah, it's basically so vague as to be meaningless. But first sentences are basically clearing of the throat, anyway. The next sentence goes on to talk about the specific things that are going on, anyway, and I don't think this version implies silly libertarian revisionism like Nat Krause's did. john 07:39, 22 Apr 2004 (UTC)

At least Nat was saying something. VV's prose is simply not English. I don't know what it mean to say, "The origins of the American Civil War lay in a complex of political, economic, and cultural forces of the antebellum era." If the word "complex" were replaced with, say, "interplay," I guess that it would be a step up from gibberish to being so obtuse that it could hypothetically introduce every article. It would be better to delete the old sentence entirely than post such sheer nonsense. First impressions matter, and beginning the article with that sentence really says "bullshit" right off the bat to readers. 172 09:31, 22 Apr 2004 (UTC)
This is not a comment on either VV's or 172's recent reversion antics. But 172's version definitely reads better. My reaction to VV's version was "huh?". Bkonrad | Talk 14:18, 22 Apr 2004 (UTC)
In the current revision, I edited it for coherence. - Nat Krause 15:00, 22 Apr 2004 (UTC)
You called that a compromise in your edit summary. I did NOT agree to that. In my comments the other day, I meant that it was a step up, but one from gibberish to embarrassingly obtuse. 172 07:33, 23 Apr 2004 (UTC)
My goal is to try to find a version of the intro which does not prejudice one view over another. This is important, as, as Nat showed above with considerable examples, it's not such a clearcut matter amongst students of that era. I welcome improvements. I do not welcome 172's characteristic insta-reverts. -- VV 08:00, 23 Apr 2004 (UTC)
Nat Krause showed nothing of the sort. He cited some extremist libertarian polemics. But, at any rate, I don't think a vaguer opening sentence does any harm, since the article goes right on to talk about expansion of slavery in the next sentence. Assuring that that first sentence is well written is important, though. john 08:04, 23 Apr 2004 (UTC)
Extreme polemics such as the History Channel and the Library of Congress? (Although, minority views should be presented neutrally even so.) And, yeah, I hope the vaguer opening to be better than what appears to pretend to be an exhaustive list. -- VV 08:10, 23 Apr 2004 (UTC)
Alright, I didn't notice those. But those are just vague, mushy explanations that try not to offend southerners any more than is necessary. I was thinking of his citations of Hummel, Adams, etc. At any rate, I think the real issue is that the current vague opening is very vague indeed. I think that slavery ought to specifically be mentioned in the first sentence, at least. john 08:15, 23 Apr 2004 (UTC)
Well, I think you should pay attention to what people say; there are other intelligent points of views besides your own. If it's for the sake of southerners, maybe they should have their say. Why insist on such specificity when it is not needed? -- VV 04:09, 24 Apr 2004 (UTC)

Alright, I've protected it. On VV's version, as it turns out, but only because that was the most recent version. If another, less involved, sysop wants to choose the other version, whatever - I figure I'm perhaps on thin ice protecting at all, but I wanted to stop the edit war. john 08:07, 23 Apr 2004 (UTC)

The last stable version was Revision as of 23:22, 11 Apr 2004, before this article was featured on the main page, when it was finally discovered that yet another page existed in order to mess with my head. Unfortunately, the pic of Frederick Douglas turns into Michael Douglas there. (I guess that the old Douglas.jpg was somehow overwritten a few days ago.) I doubt that those obsessed with the intro have even read the damn article. 172 08:18, 23 Apr 2004 (UTC)

As previously noted, I'm not going to revert, since I think I was on somewhat thin ice protecting at all, since I've been involved in discussing the article. john 08:21, 23 Apr 2004 (UTC)

Opps. I guess I wasn't clear. I wasn't asking anyone to protect it. It can't be reverted to the last stable version because of the problem with that Michael Douglas pic. 172 08:25, 23 Apr 2004 (UTC)

Would VV be willing to settle on getting rid of the first sentence entirely? Starting the intro off with that obtuse b.s. would be worse than not even having an intro. 172 08:28, 23 Apr 2004 (UTC)

I get no response. As if I needed any proof that this was all about trolling... 172 08:59, 23 Apr 2004 (UTC)
Well, I get reverted within seconds when I revert asinine gibberish, but once I make concessions just to get the page unprotected and to be left alone, I get no response. How convenient. 172 10:18, 23 Apr 2004 (UTC)
There should be a sentence to introduce the subject. It shouldn't say more than necessary, but it functions as a placeholder; as John said, a "clearing of the throat". So losing the first sentence entirely would be problematic. Your comment of "asinine gibberish" is amusing in light of the changes you've tried to force on articles. Based on your timestamps, I see you waited a full 31 minutes before declaring this "trolling" (this from you). -- VV 04:09, 24 Apr 2004 (UTC)
Just explain your reasoning behind wanting to change the old sentence, alright. And I mean problems you have with that sentence, not with me. I have no idea why a single sentence in a four-page article is bothering you so much. I have no idea what kinds of biases you see in that sentence that aren't showing up everywhere else. I wrote nearly 100% of the rest of the text for the four articles in the series, but I don't seem to be getting into fights with anyone else over the thousands of additional words in this series.
At least to me, this seems pretty bizarre, thus leaving me prone to assume the worse when it comes to your motives. I think that you're just getting a kick out of forcing another admin to protect the page and thus keep me from editing an article that I've written (perhaps to get back at me for my protections of pages during your edit wars with Lance/Hector/Hanpuk/etc.). 172 16:39, 24 Apr 2004 (UTC)
The fact that the rest of the article contains POV and inaccuracies does not by itself justify the first sentence containing the same, does it? I'm not sure that Very's or my failure to rewrite the entire article is relevant to the discussion of the intro. - Nat Krause 17:11, 24 Apr 2004 (UTC)
I was not directing that question to you with respect to your concerns, which were already addressed by John in your correspondences with him above, but to VV with respect to his stated concerns with the first sentence in the introduction. I am waiting for a response. 172 22:57, 24 Apr 2004 (UTC)
Virtually every article you write is filled with POV-pushing. You seem incapable of even comprehending the concept of neutrality; rather, you think your view alone, and indeed your wording alone, is the only correct one, a stance incompatible with Wikiconsensus. I am starting with the intro because there was an edit war where I saw you pushing a POV over it. I'm sure much more work needs to be done on the rest, but I pity the sucker who invests hours into writing a solid, NPOV article, only to have you revert them entirely because, e.g., you don't think the word "large" in the eighth paragraph is appropriate. Also, agree with Krause's comments. -- VV 02:36, 25 Apr 2004 (UTC)
Are you ever going to explain your position on the first sentence in the introduction? 172 04:27, 25 Apr 2004 (UTC)
I answered the question you asked me. My position is that it should be neutral. That's what my rewrite was about. -- VV 04:48, 25 Apr 2004 (UTC)
You've said that a number of times. The question is why do you feel that the original opening sentence in the intro is not neutral. 172 05:05, 25 Apr 2004 (UTC)

Wow, that's massively disingenuous. It's up to you to explain why the paragraph is POV. If you want to say "because some radical libertarian revisionist doesn't like it," I suppose that's okay, but I'm not sure why that should convince anyone who doesn't buy the radical libertarian version of the Civil War (which is, crazily enough, the same as the vulgar Marxist version of the civil war...) john 04:02, 25 Apr 2004 (UTC) Perhaps the continuation of the page protection should be contingent on whether or not he finally gives a straight answer. 172 05:29, 25 Apr 2004 (UTC)

Because it presumes a point of view which is contentious. Now, please tell me what I said that was "massively disingenuous". -- VV 04:48, 25 Apr 2004 (UTC)

Instead of saying what your problem was, you just launched into an ad hominem of 172. He has, it is true, made his fair share of ad hominems, but he also has made substantive points, and it is, I think, the burden of the person wanting to change the article to present the case for doing so. While I personally think that a vaguer intro sentence would probably work better stylistically, I don't think any case at all has been made for why it is POV. The first sentence simply isn't controversial, except to those who are holders of a radical fringe POV. The opening of Holocaust doesn't mince words just because there are those who say there was no Holocaust. Similarly, just because a very small, and fairly disreputable, group denies that slavery was the main cause of the civil war, and tries to bring the tariff into it, doesn't mean we should kowtow to that view in the article introduction. john 05:33, 25 Apr 2004 (UTC)

Re: ad hominem. I said that in response to this from 172: I think that you're just getting a kick out of forcing another admin to protect the page and thus keep me from editing an article that I've written. One good turn deserves another. Anyway, 172's ill behavior is the underlying issue in many conflicts. But, as for the issues: These, call them mixed (that tariffs played some role), views are widely believed by southerners, as you yourself seem to have conceded, too large and substantial a group to dismiss as fringe. The cited examples from the History Channel, etc., illustrate other reputable sources which say it's not the straightforward matter you present. That seems pretty good grounds for putting in a bit more flexibility. -- VV 05:46, 25 Apr 2004 (UTC)
The term "sectionalism" already and sufficiently covered the economic angle. Keep in mind that JDB DeBow, e.g., was an instrumental figure in the development of the ideology of Southern sectionalism. Much of the forth page of the article deals with competition between Northerners and Southerners in the federal government not only to influence tariff policies, but also banking, trade, land grants, public lands, internal improvements, free farms, subsidies to railroads, slave trade, etc. 172 06:06, 25 Apr 2004 (UTC)
I thought the point of NPOV was to examine the scholarly consensus about things, not what "lots of people" believe. That many southerners are taught discredited garbage doesn't mean that we should make an effort to accommodate them in the intro. At any rate, I find it hard to see how the vaguer version makes arguments about tariffs any clearer than 172's, given that the term "sectionalism" would, as he notes, include the economic questions within it. john 06:59, 25 Apr 2004 (UTC)
a) John, I think it's misleading for you to talk about a "very small, and fairly disreputable, group denies that slavery was the main cause of the civil war", because as far as I know, no one here denies that slavery was the primary cause of the initial southern secession, which you seem to think is synonymous with causing the Civil War. I certainly don't deny that and neither does Jeffrey Rogers Hummell, the main historian that I am interested in citing. My version of the list of causes began with slavery the same as 172's. However, no one's proposal contained only slavery, so I thought we were discussing what else should be included.
Hummell may. Adams, who you've also cited, certainly seems to just be retelling the Marxist/Beardsian interpretation. At any rate, my point is that the tariff shouldn't be included at all - that argument was essentially debunked by Allan Nevins more than fifty years ago...
b) If you guys really think that the term "sectionalism" is sufficient to cover the economic angles of the war, then it would be ironic for you to criticize the current version as too vague.
I have never criticized the current version as too vague. I said I thought a vague version was fine. Take that part up with 172. john 16:33, 25 Apr 2004 (UTC)
c) Is the point of NPOV actually "to examine the scholarly consensus about things"? This seems to assume that the scholarly community necessarily has no POV of its own. If that is policy, then it will certainly affect how some pages are written, but it would be nice to have some clarification on this point from someone other than the four of us who seem to be actively contributing to this talk page. - Nat Krause 08:36, 25 Apr 2004 (UTC)
I agree with John on both these points. The lunatic fringe can be dealt with in their own section of the article, if necessary, but they don't require us to incorporate their views in the summary. Markalexander100 09:03, 25 Apr 2004 (UTC)

The scholarly community, Nat, has several different POVs. If you think that mainstream scholars all agree about the causes of the Civil War (or any other historical question) you're in for a rude awakening. But we would be remiss in our responsibilities if we were to present discredited theories from the 1920s as though they are equally valid with what scholars are talking about at present. It's not as though the article on Earth is phrased so as to assuage the POV of Flat Earthers. john 16:33, 25 Apr 2004 (UTC)

Man, am I sick of having this discussion with you. So far, I've been compared to a holocaust denier and flat earther. Well, anyway, I'm giving up on this for the moment. I'll come back later if I can figure out how to discuss this more productively. - Nat Krause 14:43, 26 Apr 2004 (UTC)
Then do you mind if the page is unprotected now? 172 22:21, 26 Apr 2004 (UTC)

I'm certainly not saying you're equivalent to a flat earther or a holocaust denier. What I am saying is that the view of the Civil War that you hold is not one which is held by a significant number of serious scholars of the subject, and is not deserving of consideration in the introduction to the article. john 15:14, 26 Apr 2004 (UTC)

replace the image of michael douglas

The image of fredrick douglas is really michael douglas. Someone should really change this. I mean michael is a good guy and all but he's no abolitionist.

PROSOUTHERN LINKS audio archives expose Lincoln and the north. is a respectable economics think-tank. (talk) 22:45, 30 March 2008 (UTC)

Does anyone know any websites that defends the confederacy and makes the arguement that the Confederacy was forced ionto the war? If so please post them on the talk page.

Not offhand, but I could get some. However, as they are all demonstrably lying, I hardly see the point. Rogue 9 18:50, 1 September 2005 (UTC)

And people wonder why Wikipedia isnt used as a source. With encyclopedic, objective comments like that, Wikipedia is truely the Source of All Knowledge!
One could say it was the natural outcome of any federal state. The climate of the united states, even 100-50 years before the civil war, was already delicate, and predictable towards a civil war coming.

Check out the book titled "The South Was Right!" by James Ronald Kennedy and Walter Donald Kennedy. It exposes many Yankee myths that have been used to oppress the South.

Also check out "The Politically Incorrect guild to the South." There are some interesting sections in there regarding the causes of the war, war time topics (such as treatment of PoW's), and post war. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Walkingghost (talkcontribs) 02:44, 7 December 2007 (UTC)

Timing of Secession

Initial states to secede % Slaves
in Population
% of White Families
Owning Slaves
South Carolina 57 47
Georgia 48 38
Florida 44 35
Alabama 45 35
Mississippi 55 49
Louisiana 47 31
Texas 30 29
States seceding later % Slaves
in Population
% of White Families
Owning Slaves
Virginia 31 27
North Carolina 33 29
Tennessee 25 25
Arkansas 28 20
Had Confederate factions % Slaves
in Population
% of White Families
Owning Slaves
Kentucky 20 24
Missouri 10 13
Remained in Union % Slaves
in Population
% of White Families
Owning Slaves
Maryland 13 165
Delaware 2 4

And the purpose of posting this chart here is what now??? Rangerdude 05:10, 20 Feb 2005 (UTC)

165% of white families owned slaves in Maryland?

Morrill tariff

The article on the Morrill tariff contains a lengthy section on its relation to the origins of the Civil War. Yet I see that it is barely mentioned in this article. I'd like to encourage editors of these two articles to find some agreement on its importance and on the best place to have a long review its influence. Cheers, -Willmcw 00:48, 15 Feb 2005 (UTC)

If you had bothered to look at the archives before continuing on your deconstructive quest, you would've discovered that the Morrill Tariff was discussed extensively. It was decided upon then that the issue should be mentioned and linked in the context of the nullification/tariff controversy section. Elaborations were left to the article on the Morrill Tariff itself. Furthermore, I do not see how the two articles are in disagreement. One is simply more detailed than the other, which is as it should be given that this article is an overview with links to many subjects that are addressed in greater detail.Rangerdude
I did look in the archives, and found substantial disagreement over the importance of the tariff. It appears as if the dispute has not been settled, and editors who were involved in discussing it here should be aware of the discussion there. Cheers, -Willmcw 01:45, 15 Feb 2005 (UTC)
You must not have looked very closely then (big surprise there). The dispute was settled and a compromise version was adopted and agreed upon by all the parties. See the section here Talk:Origins_of_the_American_Civil_War/Archive_4#Proposed_compromise. The proposed compromise was then posted in a sandbox here [4] followed by a lengthy discussion and edits to it followed by the adoption of the current text following no objections [5] Rangerdude 01:51, 15 Feb 2005 (UTC)
Thanks for your input, RD. I know you were already aware of the content of the Morrill tariff article. I was posting this notice to draw the attention of other editors who may not have been aware of it. The "compromise" version of this article appears, to my eyes, to place a far lower level of importance on the tariff than the content of the "Morrill tariff" article does. Cheers, -Willmcw 01:59, 15 Feb 2005 (UTC)
I still don't see any inconsistency. One mentions it in an overview and the other mentions it in detail. The Morrill Tariff article also existed at the time of that discussion, was linked to repeatedly then, and was read by the participants who reached the current consensus. If you have something positive to contribute to this article (or the rest of wikipedia for that matter) by all means do so. Continuously deconstructing the contributions of others is very childish though and borders on outright vandalism.Rangerdude 02:06, 15 Feb 2005 (UTC)
Posting a notice on a talk page does not border on vandalism. Your personal comments about my editing have no place in this forum. As for linking to Morrill tariff, the link to it in this article was not even active until I fixed it. -Willmcw 02:11, 15 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Continuously deconstructing articles without any positive contribution and loading them with snide remarks that unnecessarily qualify commonly acknowledged information is vandalism, Will. When was the last time you actually added something positive to an article, BTW? I gave you a change the other day by suggesting you act on adding a McPherson photo to that article, yet you could not even do that. There's been no deficit of your deconstructive activities on other articles though.

You are also incorrect about the link. According to its page history, the big-T Morrill Tariff header has been redirecting to the small-t Morrill tariff article since January 8th. Rangerdude 02:30, 15 Feb 2005 (UTC)

A few days before President Buchanan left office, for example, Congress, with the absense of Southern members, passed the Morrill Tariff Act, which increased duties and brought the rates up to approximately what they had been before 1846-- an action that many in the South found comparable to the "Tariff of Abominations" that had triggered the Nullification Crisis.

Nope, it doesn't redirect. That's why I fixed it. -Willmcw 02:38, 15 Feb 2005 (UTC)

I was referring to the archived discussion. It was linked to the article correctly when we were discussing it. Don't know why the main article had a broken link. Thanks for fixing it though.Rangerdude 02:41, 15 Feb 2005 (UTC)
Also, I haven't forgotten about the McPherson picture. I don't have a public-domain source for a picture of him, but next time I go to New Jersey I plan to take my camera. Cheers, -Willmcw 07:42, 15 Feb 2005 (UTC)

A personal photo taken of a public portrait is in violation of copyright law. It cannot be posted here in any way. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:29, 14 August 2008 (UTC)

Who are the radicals?

The word radical is used 32 times in this article, most often in regard to Republicans, Free-soilers,...

Which of the following does it NOT refer to, and which DOES it refer to?

  • those who believed all men have a right to liberty
  • those opposed to slavery
  • those who wanted slavery abolished immediately
  • those who wanted a program to have slavery abolished voluntarily
  • those opposed to fugitive slave laws
  • those who thought blacks should be citizens with equal rights
  • those opposed to expansion of slavery to territories

? --JimWae 01:36, 2005 Feb 19 (UTC)

Jim - "Radical Republicans" was a term used both in the 1860's and today by historians to distinguish a specific wing of the Republican Party. When applied to abolitionists, I suppose it would refer the John Brown types who used violence and intimidation Rangerdude 05:32, 19 Feb 2005 (UTC)
You are incorrect. The notion of a Radical Republicans faction was present before the 1860 Chicago nominating convention. One of the reasons they picked Lincoln was because he came from the moderate faction. Rangerdude 19:47, 19 Feb 2005 (UTC)
  • I am not "incorrect" - if you read what I wrote. "radical" - in this article - is another notion that carries more POV than info.--JimWae 20:34, 2005 Feb 19 (UTC)

"Radical Republican" is used in this period as well. People like Sumner, Wade, and so forth were seen as Radicals when compared with moderates like Seward or Lincoln, or more conservative, Whiggish types like Edward Bates. john k 07:48, 19 Feb 2005 (UTC)

  • but what distinguishes a radical from a non-radical in the list I gave? Shouldn't the article make some attempt to say who the lower case radicals are it refers to 32 times?--JimWae 08:14, 2005 Feb 19 (UTC)

I think it's more about attitude to compromise than it is about the actual position held. Most Republicans (except the very conservative) were opposed to slavery in principle and didn't think it should be expanded to the territories. The Radicals thought this as well, but approached somewhat closer to being abolitionists. But the real difference is in willingness to use extreme rhetoric and unwillingness to compromise, not in actual policy. john k 16:02, 19 Feb 2005 (UTC)

  • It is not clear in article if "radical" refers to the same thing each time it is used. The article needs fixing--JimWae 17:32, 2005 Feb 19 (UTC)

Jim - You seem to be failing to grasp something very basic here. You are still ARBITRARILY CHANGING uses of the word "radical" that you do not like to "free soiler." It does not matter whether you personally think "free soiler" sounds good as a replacement. If the original sentence was not referring specifically to free soilers then you should not change it to free soilers! If you want to change all the uses of the word "radical" to something else please do so individually so the changes can be reviewed more easily and please make a coherent, logical case for your change when asked. The word replacement approach you are employing right now won't cut it and meets objection from both myself and other editors who have also commented on it here.

The way I see it, the consensus is currently three to one that any attempt to address this issue should be approached with due care and in a way that does NOT drastically overhaul its use or placement in the article. This has been pointed out to you repeatedly. Yet here you are, plowing ahead with massive and largely arbitrary word substitutions anyway. I'll ask right now that you revert your latest sweep for the word "radical" to its previous form. Once that is done please proceed by taking them on a case by case basis that we may easily review and, if necessary, discuss. Thanks. Rangerdude 05:09, 20 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Fugitive Slaves

As I have argued before, we still need to rework the article's discussion of the fugitive slave laws, which the secessionists themselves listed as much as any other factor in their secession documents and statements. (See Jim Epperson's Causes of the Civil War site for examples.) Given its centrality, it should probably get its own sub-section. I would suggest placing it below "Slavery in the West" and above "The Antebellum South and the Union." I will write something up in the next couple of days if there is no strong and substantive objection.

  • Now there's a topic on which Republicans disagreed --JimWae 23:29, 2005 Feb 19 (UTC)

I object. There is enough discussion in various sections. 172 23:42, 19 Feb 2005 (UTC)

  • the word fugitive appears in the text 6 times. 4 in one paragraph, once in 2 others widely-separated. I do not object to further treatment & explanation of different opinions of northerners on Fugitive Slave Laws.
    • I have replaced about 27 or 32 instances of "radical", trying to make as much sense of the text as I could. Quite often "free-soiler" seemed to be the best substitute. I suppose, for the author, a "radical" was often anyone who had objection to the extension of slavery, and said so --JimWae 23:51, 2005 Feb 19 (UTC)
Jim - I reverted your replacements of "radical" because in the majority of cases they simply substituted words like "abolitionist" in their place, or removed them when they were appropriate (e.g. references to the "Republican Radicals" or "Radical Republicans," which WERE a known political faction at the time). If you wish to reduce their number in this article that is fine, but please exercise greater care in the alternatives you promote. "Radical" is not always synonymous with "abolitionist" or "free soiler" Rangerdude 00:09, 20 Feb 2005 (UTC)
I second this. The use of the term radical is careful, measured relative to the times and other factions of the Republican Party, paying attention to the relevant academic literature. 172 00:14, 20 Feb 2005 (UTC)
  • how can anyone distinguish that from POV if NO attempt is made to say what position they took? Right now, it's mostly indistinguishable from anyone publicly opposed to spread of slavery - except when it seems to change to something even less specific in some paragraphs. As far as names go, it seems to be the original Free-Soilers --JimWae 02:00, 2005 Feb 20 (UTC)
  • pay attention - for the 3rd time, the word was NOT capitalized. Now if it had some specific meaning pre-1860, how about saying what it was? Maybe the author could shed some light. The way it is used, most of those sentences are exceptionally vague and not worthy of any encyclopedia. Anybody would have trouble getting an appropriate synonym in most cases--JimWae 00:50, 2005 Feb 20 (UTC)
Then capitalize it if it makes you happy! Simply removing it every time it appears and replacing it with non-synonymous words like "abolitionist" doesn't cut it though. Rangerdude 02:25, 20 Feb 2005 (UTC)
  • that's being evasive to issue--JimWae 03:01, 2005 Feb 20 (UTC)

Free-Soilers vs. Radicals

Jim, Benjamin Wade was not a Free Soiler - he was a Whig. I think you've in other situations been a bit too adamant about replacing whig with free soiler. The anti-slavery wing of the Whig Party was seen as "radical," but shouldn't be called Free Soilers. I'll add that I think you're right in some of your marginal notes that what is being said about non-extension doesn't make any sense, and I think that stylistically you've made some improvements. I'll add that the use of Radical was overly broad in the older version. I note one instance that you didn't change, where it refers to Seward and Cameron as radicals - Seward was certainly a moderate, and Cameron was a corrupt former Democrat who was mostly a Republican because he hated Buchanan afaicr. Seward was perhaps seen as somewhat too radical given some remarks he had made (the irrepressible conflict speech, notably), but he was not from a distinctly different branch of the party than Lincoln - both had remained Whigs long after the party had ceased to be viable, for instance. I think that we can probably work this out to come to a workable compromise here. john k 19:47, 20 Feb 2005 (UTC)

  • Thanks for the info - I've made the changes & welcome more suggestions.
  • Seward had a "radical" past - but Greeley objected in 1860 that he was too moderate. Others had run against Whigs - as Dem & Liberty. I have a philosophy background & know when text is pushing judgement instead of information. I plan on making more changes, however to make changes I have to familiarize myself with details I've not cared about before. Why me?--JimWae 20:16, 2005 Feb 20 (UTC)
    • Moral arguments & arguments of consistency with DoI had been around long-time, but had not become policy & were even kept out of political debate in interest of party unity & national unity.
    • World-wide, slavery was being abolished
    • Economic self-interest led to moral arguments being taken more seriously
    • with new lands, some policy had to be developed.
      • True, there was competition over which economic system would prevail in the territories
      • But also, if one's convinced slavery is wrong - letting slavery expand would just make it harder to get rid of it later.
    • New party formed. It is POV to repeatedly say it was sectional as if it were purposely so. It simply started with a platform that barely a single southerner could support.
    • --JimWae 20:16, 2005 Feb 20 (UTC)

I've been seeing way too many arbitrary attempts to get rid of the word "radical" and replace it with words that don't fit as well. I suppose that I will have to compile my own list, like John and Rangerdude once I have more time. Other than that, most of the changes have been good. 172 21:53, 20 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Err, Jim - a party with a platform that nobody from one of the sections can support is sectional. Furthermore, if you read Michael Holt, for instance, there are those who would argue that the anti-southern/"slave power" aspect of the party was at least as important as the actual opposition to slavery extension as a policy. john k 23:08, 20 Feb 2005 (UTC)

  • never would deny that it was sectional. I am just pointing out that word can be used as an accusative - especially if oft repeated --JimWae 23:17, 2005 Feb 20 (UTC)

Ongoing Edits

Jim - You still need to address the issues raised by others above, myself included. I will also ask that you please specify and describe the changes to the article you are making in the edit summary box. Rangerdude 02:43, 21 Feb 2005 (UTC)

  • Sorry - I missed your earlier entry. Can we agree that the radicals were those advocating breaking or repeal of Fugitive Slave Laws &/or advocating rapid, non-voluntary, non-compensated aboiltion? Can we agree that the "non-expansioners" were the moderates (as article already suggested), and that conservatives were OK with Missouri Compromise? (as article already said)
Article had said
While conservatives and many moderates were content merely to call for the restoration of the Missouri Compromise or a prohibition of slavery extension, the radicals insisted that no further political compromise with slavery was possible.
-That is too broad a brush with no detail for "radicals", but does seem to accept that not all free-soilers were radicals. Article had referred to (just about) every leader as a radical - when clearly not all were & not all radicals stayed radical
I have changed 13 of 32 instances of "radical" by: dropping 3, changing 7 to "leaders", 1 to founders, & 2 to "organizers". Presently, none are changed to "free-soiler"
I have changed "radical states" to "radical platform in states..." --JimWae 08:01, 2005 Feb 21 (UTC)

A couple of things:

1. Can you stick to one format so this discussion is easier to follow? IOW, there's no need for a line break between each and every post and indents should be consistent except when blockquoting. Part of the reason you likely missed my eariler post was due to the fact that this discussion page is a formatting nightmare at the present. Sticking to one type of format will help it become less so.

2. Whatever we agree on radical, I've asked that you make your edits to this word INDIVIDUALLY so they may be reviewed on a case by case basis. A massive edit that changes 8 or 12 or 15 of them in one broad sweep with the description "most of the "radicals" changed so far are to "free-soilers"" or "changed some "free-soilers" that had been "radicals" to "leaders" - as not all leaders were radicals, and not all radicals stayed radical" doesn't cut it. If you see ONE use of the word "radical" you'd like to change, edit it and state your reasons in the edit summary box. Then move on to the next etc. Rangerdude 18:32, 21 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Were there any radicals who actually advocated "rapid, non-voluntary, non-compensated aboiltion"? I don't think even people like Sumner viewed this as a workable political program. john k 20:07, 21 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Plagarism This site Seems to be almost an exact copy of the wikipedia article, or vice versa. Either way something isnt right here...

answers includes a mirror of wikipedia. They are allowed to do this under the GNU Free Documentation LicenseGeni 07:14, 11 May 2005 (UTC)


Many slave "overseers" were also Southern whites who did not own property, but had the authority to assault violently African laborers held in bondage. Above, a famous photo of a man deeply scarred from whipping by an overseer.

An editor removed this image, with the edit summary:

  • Remove famous 1863 photo that has nothing to do with the defense of slavery or the origins of the Civil War - the overseer who inflicted these scars was NOT given this authority and was FIRED

I guess the presumptions in including this are that depictions like this affected the origins of the war and that it helps readers understand the punishments possible under the slave system. If the caption is wrong we can fix it. Certainly in any system unauthorized punishments take place. -Willmcw 11:37, 30 November 2005 (UTC)

I moved this image last year to Slavery in the United States, where it makes more sense to be included. Since this article is about the origins of the Civil War, and this photo was taken after the war had already started, an actual photo used by pre-war abolitionists would be more appropriate. Research the history of the photo and I think you will find that it was primarily used in propaganda and should be noted as such. Why else would the picture have been made? Certainly not to put in a family album. It really made no sense where it was, anyway, under the section, "the defense of slavery". Any images in that section should be examples of southern propaganda that tried to say how great slavery was, not northern propaganda trying to show how abhorrent slavery was. H2O 07:43, 1 December 2005 (UTC)
Note: In the above paragraph I changed the wikilink "History of Slavery in the United States" to "Slavery in the United States" consistent with the current title of the article. Simesa (talk) 08:40, 29 January 2009 (UTC)
Thanks for the explanation. It certainly looks like propaganda, and its date after the commencement of fighting would make it less relevant for this page. The only exceptin would be if similar images were distribut4ed before the war, but I'm not aware of any. -Willmcw 08:18, 1 December 2005 (UTC)
Although slaveowners made up only a small share of the South's population, involvment in the institution of slavery cut across class lines in Southern society. Poor whites served as slave "overseers" and "patrollers" and were given the authority to keep blacks in bondage through violence and issue summary punishment against escapees. Violent repression of slaves was a common theme in abolitionist literature in the North. Above, this famous 1863 photo of a man deeply scarred from whipping by an overseer was distributed by abolitionists to illustate what they saw as the barbarism of Southern society.

Here is the current image along with its rather lengthy caption. The picture along with its caption seems to be implying that all southern whites were involved in such beatings and condoned this type of thing. However, since the overseer who inflicted the beating was discharged, the facts surrounding this photo seem to indicate that this type of beating was NOT the norm and was not condoned. I feel that this photo is being misused to push a certain POV, especially since it was taken after the war had begun. The photo belongs in Slavery in the United States, not here. H2O 00:45, 9 April 2006 (UTC)

Note: In the above paragraph I changed the wikilink "History of Slavery in the United States" to be "Slavery in the United States" consistent with the article's current title. Simesa (talk) 08:37, 29 January 2009 (UTC)
I will act vigorously to keep that photo in the article. The caption does not state that all southern whites were involved in such beatings. The caption states that the photo was distributed by abolitionists after it was taken in 1863 to illustrate their view of slavery. The picture is being used because it is famous. Unfortunately, few examples of southern brutality against slaves were not photographed, making it easier for neo-Confederate apologists to this day to perpetuate the myth that chattel slavery in North America was a benign, paternalistic institution. 172 | Talk 00:59, 9 April 2006 (UTC)
So, to prevent the spread of the myth that slavery was entirely benign, let's misuse a photo to promote a different myth, that slavery was entirely brutal and participated in by all of southern white society. "slaveowners made up only a small share of the South's population, involvment in the institution of slavery cut across class lines in Southern society. Poor whites served as slave "overseers" and "patrollers" and were given the authority to keep blacks in bondage through violence and issue summary punishment against escapees." I still don't understand why you insist on placing this photo in this particular article, when I have no problem whatsoever with it in the history of slavery article, other than that you have a particular POV to push. The fact that thousands of Confederate soldiers suffered and died for a cause they believed in, to me says there is an alternative view. I am not saying they were right, just that their viewpoint ought to be fairly represented. I am not a neo-Confederate, just a student of genealogy and I'd like to see that my ancestors receive balanced treatment. H2O 03:09, 9 April 2006 (UTC)
The photo ties into the discussion of the abolitionist campaign against slavery. A more 'neutral' photo would not illustrate that point. By the way, I'm sorry if this subject is sensitive to you because of your family history. Nevertheless, we cannot deny that slavery was underpinned by violence. Slaves did not stay on the plantation voluntarily. Slaves were denied freedom of movement, assembly, and self-defense through violence. Whites spent great amounts of time, money, and energy on the most persistent problem of slave control-- running away. With few exceptions, all white persons were authorized to apprehend any African unable to present a permission slip when going off the plantation. Masters had legal immunity should they exercise violence against slaves. In areas of heavy slave concentration, whites were often required to serve on 'slave patrols' to police the community every day all day. The entire social system rested on the threat of carte blanche violence against African slaves. I mention these facts not to make moral judgments about your ancestors, but rather because they are essentially relevant statements of historical reality. Again, I am not being polemical; I cannot say that I have any more of a perceptive critical eye cast toward my own society than most white Southerners showed toward their own society more than 150 years ago. First, the norms, customs, laws, traditions, and value systems of the antebellum South were vastly different from our on society and culture, as American citizens in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, based on free labor and equality before the law. Second, violence underlies all social systems, even our own; in this sense, quite poignantly Max Weber defines "the state" as the that set of institutions of society exercising the monopoly of the exercise of legitimate violence. In sum, I can note the fact that slavery rested on violence without casting aspersions against your dead ancestors. 172 | Talk 08:23, 9 April 2006 (UTC)

mis focus missed points

this page focuses too much on the historical revisionist take on the civil war as a war to free slaves. Many disagree. This was really a war about economics, slavery was just caught in the middle. Slave compromises and slave state issues were merely means to an end and that was seeking a balance between two growing views on federal power and economic control. The northern states wanted more centralization with more economic protectionism while the south favored decentralization of power and more free trade. This is the real version of history that has had to make room for the populist view no given on this page (which it should simply for the fact that it is taught in history classes nationwide rather than being factual itself. nevertheless the economic explination needs to be given more attention. (Gibby 06:32, 7 January 2006 (UTC))

it is not correct to say that "many" disagree and think it was a war about economics. It's hard to think of a professional historian or a university press book in the last 10 or 20 years who takes that position. It is held by amateurs who have not read the monographs or the primary sources. If you want a serious economic interpretation you have to go back 75 years to Charles and Mary Beard. But that is not actually what these amateur revisionists do. They make up stories about the tariff -- and never seem to read the thousands of speeches and editorials that were issues in 1860-61. The business interests in the northeast depended on southern cotton and did not want war at all. The North wanted "centralization"? not true. The South wanted free trade? yes and that's what it had. The South put through the Walker tariff of 1847 and lowered it. In 1861 by becoming a foreign country the South started a tariff on imports from the North--that's where 80% of its goods came from--it was the biggest increase in taxes and tariffs in American history, so they were not all that adverse to it. Rjensen 07:12, 7 January 2006 (UTC)

No they werent can you blame them? Tariffs imposed upon them by the federal government, now a war? Now in regards to other tariffs, yes the south wanted them reduced, the north wanted to keep them to protect industries. During and following the Civil War, there was a rapid expansion of centralized power to the federal government that really wanst matched until FDR. At any rate I think its a very tenuous arguement to make that this war was about slavery.(Gibby 15:50, 7 January 2006 (UTC))

Blame is not the issue. Causation is. Not a single prominent Confederate said he seceeded because of the tariff (after all the tariff in 1860 was a low one written by southerners.) So it's false to say it was a major reason for secession. Be clear about the numbers: In 1859, the south paid maybe $5-10 million in tariffs, far less than it got in federal services like Army and Navy. This business about the tariff-cause was introduced by amateur historians a few years ago to further their 2000-agenda, not to explain 1861. Rjensen 05:23, 8 January 2006 (UTC)
I was taught in Jr High school in the mid 1970s that tariffs were an important factor in the cause of the war. There were many causes, slavery was the trigger. H2O 23:50, 8 April 2006 (UTC)
I was taught differently in grad school in the early 1970s. 172 | Talk 00:05, 9 April 2006 (UTC)
What grad school did you attend? H2O 00:26, 9 April 2006 (UTC)

So then you're saying that the underling cause was slavery? I think this is bogus. I think the underlying cause of the war was power relations and the destination of the future behavior of the central government. Slavery was merely a single issue at which states could ralley for or against, sides if you will in this balance of power. Tariffs were another point. State's power (not rights, there are no states rights) was an issue largely because the south was finding itself in the minority...thus a way to protect themselves from a potential tyranical majority. Theoritically the south was correct in this idea of state powers. Slavery as a cause for war, not introduced until the war was already underway. Many on both sides denied it was a reason for war, it was merely a focal point. Beyond a few minority christian organizations freeing slaves was left to politicans and manufactorers who could see emense benefits from it. By reducing or restricting slave states free states would get a majority in the senate, and a further majority in the house. Furthermore, this whole "the cause of war was slavery" begs the question of whether or not notherners were "better people" The answer is no, slavery died out not because they all figured out it was wrong, slavery died out in the north because it was not profitable for small farms and factories to use slaves. Few enough people owned slavery to defend it from a majority who did not. At any rate the change to eliminate potential slave states leads to a greater chance of electing a president and controlling 2 out of the 3 branches of the government. The federal government had also already been in a 70 year slide toward centralization of power, (everyonce and awhile a nice correction by the supreme court). If the north could dominate it could seek more favorable outcomes from the federal government (afterall centralized authority and economic intervention allow governments to pick and choose winners in Haliburton but thats another story, even though it relates).

The fact is the war broke out about power. It was all about power. Heck, 4 southern states didnt even leave the union until after Lincoln ordered an army raised. They thought it totalitarian that the government would raise an army against a soveriegn state, it was outright invasion and agression. The cat was finally out of the bag, slavery was a side show, just a means to greater power. That issue not having worked well enough for northerners war was the answer. Slaves werent even declared free until more than 2 years into the war. And lincoln twice ordered captured slaves returned. Politicans on both sides denied it, and northerners even rioted at the sound of the war being fought to free blacks.

Slavery as the main cause of war...tenuous, revisionist...merely a propogandic way to paint a pretty picture for elimination of state powers and the centralization of federal authority. Kinda like the revisionism and propoganda that has occured since the New Deal. (Gibby 06:08, 8 January 2006 (UTC))

I wonder if it wasn't postwar ex-Confederates like Alexander Stephens who created this "resistance to centralization" myth as part of their political strategy to resist the 14th amendment? Certainly it is true that Southern political leaders before the war had no hesitation in asserting national supremacy over states when it served to protect slavery. Witness the enthusiastic Southern support for the Dred Scott decision's nationalization of slavery, and the complaint in nearly every secession document against "Northern nullification" of the Federal fugitive slave law, not to mention the Southern insistence that territorial sovereignty did not include the right of territories to ban slavery. In every case, Southern arguments about centralization were adopted if (and only if) they served to protect slavery. In the postwar period anti-centralization arguments served the dual purpose of disassociating the Confederate cause from an institution now universally condemned, and allowing for resistance against federal protections for the rights of former slaves. As Lincoln said in his first inaugural address, more than a month before the war started, "One section of our country believes slavery is right and ought to be extended, while the other believes it is wrong and ought not to be extended. This is the only substantial dispute." Or as the Mississippi secession declaration states, "Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery - the greatest material interest of the world." As RJensen notes, virtually no qualified professional historian who has done a thorough investigation of the era's documents believes that slavery was not one of the central causes of conflict. --Gutta56 01:59, 31 January 2006 (UTC)
Yes--and it would help if people read a few history books before they write encyclopedia articles explaining the true history of the war. Start with Donald, McPherson or Fellman (in the readings)

Rjensen 02:23, 31 January 2006 (UTC)

I think you both are conflating the issue and are guilty of severe reductionism. To say the war was fought over slavery is just ludicris, few people, if any, would have made that arguement anywhere before 1863. Lincoln himself ordered the return of slaves at least twice to my knowlege. Some confederate leaders not only voiced their opinion about why they went to war (not slavery) but even advocated the elimination of slavery to gain 1. favor with England, 2. increase troop supplies.

Slavery was just 1 point of contention, a point that included a power struggle between philisophical views on governing the nation. For example, you think that the refusal to allow territories to have slaves and the souths refusal of such an arrangement an example of slavery as the origin of war...this is just not the case, you are looking at the variables incorrectly...and the historical facts included. If a territory was not allowed slaves then no slaves would be there, and subsequently no slave owners. How would it be expected to fairly vote to become a slave state if not are present?

It isnt that hard gentlemen. Slavery was about power in the Senate, a place where the southern states felt they could defend not just slavery but other state soveriegnties from a fast growing northern population in the House. Slavery simply ment sympathy to the idea of state soveriegnty and thus seats in the senate favorable to that cause. It was about power and merely a portion of the explination of the war.

You both seem to treat it as the only worthy variable for war worth considering...I think that is revisionist, reductionist, and sophmoric. (Gibby 12:47, 1 February 2006 (UTC))

I have no wish to enter this debate, as it has been raging for years as it is and I have no established opinion. However I could not help but notice that, as tends to happen, a few self-appointed experts take over the article and do not allow any objections to their POV. As this Wiki is strictly against offering articles in that light, I would like to encourage the contributing members to remain open to objectivity. For reiteration, and for the purpose of offering advocacy to an already presented article amendment, Tariffs were given as sufficient cause to secede as early as 1828. You may reference this in another Wiki Article, Timeline of events leading to the American Civil War. Cheers. Coldbourne 22:08, 6 February 2006 (UTC)

I had started collecting data to make an arguement on how important variables other than slavery are to the cause of the civil war, however I have my hands tied trying to bring some semblance of balance by criticizing communist economic modes on the hordes of pro communist pov articles that exist (the editors of whom delete all criticism as pov or give other excuses even if you bother citing nobel prize winning economists)...Oh well, I'm here for the fun! :P (Gibby 06:26, 7 February 2006 (UTC))

I suggest you read a book or two. The best is Potter (1976) and also Pressly. Then tell us what you think. Rjensen 06:32, 7 February 2006 (UTC)

You have my sympathy, the same bit of discussion deletion is happening on the African American Vernacular English page as well. Mass deletions have recently taken place in order to get rid of any disagreement with the primary editors. But yes, oh well, such is the nature of the wikipedia. In the mean time, Mr/Mrs Rjensen, as I previously stated I am not interested in this particular subject so I have no opinion on it's content. However I do have an interest in trying to keep articles balanced and accurate. I am sure that potter and pressly are excellent writers, but as all writers do they offer their opinion. The point is that not everyone has the same opinion of the facts, and in fact history itself is little more than a guessing game. You attempt to try to find the most accurate source(s), and you draw conclusions from there. At this time, the article is excellent. It is well developed and referenced (though maybe a bit long). However it presents, and rather obviously, the current POV of it's contributing writers. The authenticity or accuracy of the article is not in question, only it's focus on only one contributing factor to the worst war in United States history. Historically, regardless of the time period, it takes more than one single contributing factor for a war to start. Much less a war of brother against brother that lost 3% of the population and drove 6 breeds of horses into extinction. So i would think, and of course this is just my POV as a reader of the article, that the editors would like to make sure that reader understand the complex factors that lead to a nation warring with itself. Cheers. Coldbourne 20:23, 7 February 2006 (UTC)

Gibby, I hope you will read my contribution again. Surely it is possible to see both a range of causes and simultaneously sort out the most important. I stand by my statement that professional historians agree that slavery was one of the central causes. As for slaves in the territories, it was the argument of Southern political leaders that the absolute right of property in slaves could not be denied by a territorial legislature. Ironically, when complaining that territorial abolition meant an "in insulting denial of equal state rights to move one's property into the territories", these same Southerners were more than happy to override the right of territories to govern themselves. In the case of Nebraska they were unapologetic about using the power of the Federal government to block free and fair territorial elections. Ultimately, this insistence on "equal rights of property," what was what divided the radical Southern Democrats from the national and Northern Democrats in 1860. At the Democratic nominating convention in Charleston, Southern hardliners insisted on a Federal territorial slave code. This was the crux issue leading to their split with Stephen A. Douglas, who insisted on the rights of territories and states to determine the status of slavery. In other words, all the future secessionists were insisting on Federal control, while all their Northern Democratic opponents sought to defend the rights of territories and states against such blanket power. Had State rights been the only key issue, Douglas would have been a leading secessionist, not William Lowdes Yancey and his ilk.

Let me state the point again: secessionists were not always consistent in their state rights positions, and if you look at the key events leading to war they were as likely to insist on federal rights as state rights. How else to explain their positions in favor of a Federal fugitive slave law, in favor of the Dred Scott decision, and in opposition to any form of territorial or state soverignty when it came to slavery and abolition? Why their complaints in every one of the secession documents about Northern state "nullification?" Is this revisionism? Yes, but only in the sense that one revises one's conclusions as one gets better information. If you have any new discoveries from the secession documents, the congressional debates, or the (prewar) writings of the secessionists themselves that would point to other interpretations, then send them along and the community will revise again. --Gutta56 03:28, 14 February 2006 (UTC)

Like I already said, a territory that denied slavery would be a state that denied slavery, the Southern states could not allow this to happen for fear of domination in the Senate. Even if you position is correct that states wished to use the federal government, it was only in so far as maintaining federal power in a way that protected their own interests and slavery was simply a means to that interest. Slave states = sympathy and balance.

As far as the enforcement of slavery in the north, well, why don't you look to the same arguements gay right advocates are giving for national enforcement of gay marriage...if you can figure that out, I'll give you some bonus points!  :P (Gibby 03:46, 14 February 2006 (UTC))

While this feels like an ongoing point which will never be resolved, I can't help but notice that the intro to this article mentions a number of issues which could be considered causes of the civil war, and then goes on to talk about... little more than slavery. Surely someone could do better? --Random name 11:30, 30 November 2006 (UTC)

The Number 1 reason

According to the article, the "first" reason for the war (the one that needs to be presnted first) was abolitionism - it does not seem to matter that one must first understand the issues involved with what they wanted to abolish --JimWae 05:22, 15 July 2006 (UTC)


OK, I know North and South are cap'd, but what about southern, etc.? How about southerners? I'm confused, and in editing this article, I see others are also since there is no consensus, at least in this article. Civil Engineer III 16:20, 5 December 2006 (UTC)

The style I use in the ACW articles I have edited is to capitalize Southerner and Southern when they are used to refer to the American South or the Confederacy. (I use the non-capitalized southern to refer to other geographic areas, such as "He grew up in southern Pennsylvania.") Hal Jespersen 16:42, 5 December 2006 (UTC)

A few comments

  • This article is way too long.
  • It needs more notes.
  • Is it really neccessary to call Republicans "homogenizers, imperialists, and cosmopolitans" and call abolitionist rhetoric "propaganda"?
  • The article assumes that the readers already know the "basic" facts about the Civil War. For instance, the Dread Scott decision section contains no information about the case itself. 01:02, 6 December 2006 (UTC)


This has to be the most absurdly biased article on the site. Everything here is worded in such a way to convince the reader that the Civil War was about slavery, unnecessarily and repeatedly mentioning slavery at every opportunity. This is simply absurd and it makes Wikipedia look bad. AlexMc 02:50, 26 March 2007 (UTC)

Perhaps you should read the Cornerstone Speech (given by the VP of the CSA) and the corrections issued afterwards, both linked to at the bottom of the relevant encyclopedia. A choice snippet:

Slavery was without doubt the occasion of secession; out of it rose the breach of compact, for instance, on the part of several Northern States in refusing to comply with Constitutional obligations as to rendition of fugitives from service, a course betraying total disregard for all constitutional barriers and guarantees.

What I Really Said in the Cornerstone Speech Alexander Hamilton Stephens, 1865
It is not without reason that the current consensus has returned to the original notion that slavery was the primary driving force behind the war, on both sides. MrZaiustalk 02:08, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
If it was the primary driving force, then why were there some free blacks who wanted to fight for the South? Also, many Northerners were only fighting the war to save the Union. One soldier is quoted to have said that if he'd known that the war was going to turn into a war against slavery, he would have stayed home. The cause of the Civil War was State's Rights (one of those just happened to be slaver) and to prevent an overly expansive Federal Government. Just look at the Confederate Constitution. The only changes they made were adding a few restrictions to the Federal Government, such as restricting the President to one six-year term. Admitedly, they did add a section that forbade their Congress to abolish slavery (but nothing said that the states couldn't abolish it on their own will). Slavery did not really become a central issue until 1863 with the Emancipation Proclamation. Lincoln made the war about slavery mainly to win political points. Once he told Europe that the War was about slavery, most Europeans nations cut support for the South. Emperor001 (talk) 20:56, 4 November 2009 (UTC)
" The only changes they made were adding a few restrictions to the Federal Government, such as restricting the President to one six-year term. Admitedly, they did add a section that forbade their Congress to abolish slavery (but nothing said that the states couldn't abolish it on their own will)."
The Confederate Constitution was closely modelled on the United States Constitution, but as can be seen here, there were actually several dozen differences from the U.S. to the C.S. constitutions. Some of these were minor, and some arguably did reflect a "states' rights" or limited central government P.O.V. ("...each State acting in its sovereign and independent character..." in the Preamble; or the ban on the central government funding "internal improvements" in Section 8 of Article I.)
However, there was more than one change from the U.S. to the Confederate constitutions relating to slavery. Leaving out the several cases where the Confederates used "slave" as opposed to some sort of mealy-mouthed euphemism like "other persons" from the original constitution:
1. In Section 9 of Article I the laws concerning the slave trade are expanded a bit from what was already stated in the U.S. Constitution.
2. In that section and article the Confederate Congress is also barred from making any law "denying or impairing the right of property in negro slaves". I'm not sure why Emperor001 finds this change quite so unremarkable; notably, the Confederate Founding Fathers seemed to feel laws against slavery were in the same class as ex post facto laws, bills of attainder, or infringements upon habeus corpus.
3. In Article IV we have "The citizens of each State shall be entitled to all the privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States; and shall have the right of transit and sojourn in any State of this Confederacy, with their slaves and other property; and the right of property in said slaves shall not be thereby impaired". The Fugitive Slave Clause (from the original U.S. Constitution) was also more clearly re-stated. Thus, even if an individual Confederate state banned slavery, it couldn't really keep out the institution of slavery from its soil.
4. Also in Article IV, we have "In all such territory the institution of negro slavery, as it now exists in the Confederate States, shall be recognized and protected be Congress and by the Territorial government; and the inhabitants of the several Confederate States and Territories shall have the right to take to such Territory any slaves lawfully held by them in any of the States or Territories of the Confederate States". No "free-soil" territories would be permitted in the Confederacy, and hence there were very unlikely to be any "free states" joining up later (from, say, the Indian Territory, or Confederate Arizona, or any other areas the CSA might happen to acquire).
The Confederate Constitution, as a primary document, supports the view that the Confederates were deeply concerned with the preservation of slavery. This accords with other primary and secondary sources which are cited in the article.
The North of course went to war to preserve the Union, not end slavery. But the thing which caused the Union to be threatened was the disagreement about slavery (and the sectional nature of that disagreement). The South chose to secede specifically because slavery was threatened; the Lincoln Administration and Republican Party weren't willing to go to war in 1861 for immediate abolition, but the Republicans were openly and avowedly anti-slavery, opposition to slavery was a central element in the formation of the party, and that was unacceptable to the South; hence secession, mobilization, Fort Sumter, and war.
(The issue of "free blacks wanting to fight for the South" is subject to a lot of exaggeration.) (talk) 01:55, 6 November 2009 (UTC)

And this has to be one of the most disgusting attempts at revisionism that keeps recurring here. The Civil War *was* entirely a war over the right of very rich people in some states to own slaves. For the entirety of the 1850s the US government repeatedly forced the North's States Rights into being limited in favor of the interests of the Slave Power. Why is it that the War's States Rights overtones then are only allowed to apply to the Slave States, who'd had an entire decade of the national government going over to *their* interests and then threw bitching fits over their interests suddenly collapsing in favor of democracy? Answer me this: if the South's secession was over States Rights, what about the abolitionists who believed in the right of their states to enforce the Liberty Laws?

Source needed for following

I've found the following to be accurate but am unsure of its necessity:

  • As early supporters of Henry Clay's American System, he and Clay put themselves in opposition to political forces in their own home states and probably cost Clay the Presidency. A federal tax system inspired by the work of Alexander Hamilton and later developed into the "National System" by German-American economist Friedrich List, the purpose was to develop American heavy industry and international commerce. Since iron, coal, and water power were mainly in the North, this tax plan was doomed to cause rancor in the South where economies were agriculture-based.

Could the editor who offered the text explain the reason behind the addition and offer a reference from whence the information can be traced? Further, the improper deletion of this material without offering the editor who supplied it a 'valid' reason for doing so is akin to vandalism and lacking "Good Faith" toward others; a violation of Wikipedian standards and general overall good manners. Let the Editor who offered time to offer reasons - as I have done here and with {{Fact}} added to allow inclusion of reference used. If user 172 has a valid reason for deletion please provide us your wisdom on this matter. --Northmeister 01:17, 2 May 2007 (UTC)

Removed section above due to its questionable nature as brought up by user 172 - until verifiable source offered. --Northmeister 04:22, 5 May 2007 (UTC)

There's several in the linked American System article. Restored section, will source and review shortly. MrZaiustalk 05:26, 5 May 2007 (UTC)

Economic Issues

An unregistered editor has twice reverted, without any effort at documentation, the statement “Historians generally agree that economic conflicts were not a major cause of the war” by changing it to “some historians assert”. I invite him/her to back up their proposed change. Historians such as Catton, Potter, Fehrenbach, Donald, Nevins, McPherson, Holt, Richards, Freehing, Morrison, Cooper et al offer detailed studies that do not attribute economic issues as a significant cause of the war. What historians do you rely on?

Further the editor has twice added this claim, “except the most fundamental issue as to where economic (hence political) power would ultimately reside in the U.S. which underlay the Nullification Crisis”. The Nullification Crisis was over the tariff issue and had ended over a quarter century before the war and is mentioned earlier, in chronological order, in the article. Please provide your documentation that historians still considered this tariff issue as a major cause of the war.

Finally in the Nullification Crisis section of the article the editor makes the claim that “There is evidence plain Southern white folk feared such changes, as well.” The editor’s reference is simply another Wikipedia article section which is very clearly not referring to the Nullification Crisis. Tom (North Shoreman) 19:37, 21 May 2007 (UTC)

Good call. ·:·Will Beback ·:· 20:26, 21 May 2007 (UTC)
I agree. Good references should be required.Jimmuldrow 00:40, 23 May 2007 (UTC)

This article states that "the two economies neatly complemented each other". But I read a source that said that there were no freight train connections between the North and the South. If this is true, could someone clarify how it could be that these economies were in fact complementing one another? Was the primary trading partner of the South not Europe?Yeago 02:31, 29 June 2007 (UTC)

It's difficult to respond to a recollection of an unnamed source, but I'll try. The source seems to treat "North" and "South" as monoliths with clearly defined boundaries even before the war. But the standardization of railroad gauges (track widths) did not occur until well after the Civil War, so different regions within the North and South did not connect to one another either. This did not mean that there was no commerce between them, and rail was not the only nor even the most important method of shipping goods. E.g., the Mississippi-Missouri-Ohio river system saw a huge commercial traffic between states that later went to war. So "the two economies" had imprecise boundaries, were internally complex, and were not inherently incompatible. -- Rob C (Alarob) 02:57, 29 June 2007 (UTC)

Commerce by river and coastal and Great Lakes and canals were the principle connections, cost per ton mile brought such huge expansion of trade along the Erie Canal that historian Wm. W. Freehling in "The Road to Disunion: Secessionists Triumphant" claims New Orleans was prepared to write off trade north of the Ohio River. In the Southern legislatures, the bias counting slave wealth equal to white male franchise (was that constitutionally 'republican' after the Jackson Era?) resulted state law such as Virginia's requiring a majority of county residents to be slaves before funding extension of the Kanawa (James River) Canal. Most southern railroads followed navigable rivers, reinforcing the economic advantage of the established great planters of a bygone era (Foner?). Westward commerce in the North had competition between NYC-Hudson-Erie Canal-Great Lakes versus Philadelphia-National Road-Ohio R. versus railroads (although Cincinnati famously had three different gauges converging). I remember a source noting that all southern cotton had to be transhipped to Europe via New York (?)...a reason (?) for New York City mayors seriously proposing cession to become an "open city" (Freehling). TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 22:58, 11 July 2010 (UTC)

GA failed

I have reviewed this article according to the GA criteria and have failed the article at this time. The main reason for not passing this article is the lack of inline citations, especially for the length of the article. Some sections are entirely unreferenced, which is not allowable for this article to be passed as a GA. The article should be trimmed down somewhat if possible, maybe by splitting off some sections or better summarizing information. The cleanup tag that has recently been added to one of the sections is also grounds for not passing the article. Although the article has failed several FACs, it would be best to take it there again rather than trying for GA again, due to its length. If you do not agree with this review, you can seek an alternate revew at Wikipedia:Good article review. If you have any questions, please let me know on my talk page and I'll get back to you as soon as I can. --Nehrams2020 07:12, 24 May 2007 (UTC)

I'm not sure how to do this so if i'm wrong please correct me. I just wanted to say that the reference for jefferson davis's innaugual address is wrong. this is because he only had one Inaugural Address as he was only president of the confederacy for 4 years 1861-1865 however the reference states that the words came from his second inaugural address please would someone help in rectifying this matter as it will lead to confusion amoungst many people. (talk) 15:54, 21 November 2007 (UTC)

Quote: "The article should be trimmed down somewhat if possible, maybe by splitting off some sections or better summarizing information" I know virtually nothing of the standards of articles in wikipedia, but I would think the more information the better. Normally a summary is one persons opinion of information that is important.

Large picture

Maybe I shouldn't start a new heading for this, but does the picture of Henry Wilson need to be so large. Though it is quite humourous, I think humour belongs in uncyclopedia. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:38, 29 November 2007 (UTC)

States' Rights

Twice editor John edwards23 has deleted sourced material from the section “States’ rights” and replaced it with unsourced opinion. In what was no doubt a good faith effort to fuel constructive debate his last edit summary was, “Some dope filled the states rights section with a bunch of stuff about slavery.”

In fact, the issues of slavery and states’ rights were entwined and the “dopes” who believe this, in my opinion, include virtually all historians writing on the subject today. While the article was already adequately documented with sources such as William C. Davis and Kenneth Stampp (not to mention the actual words of major CSA players such as Alexander Stephens and Lawrence Keitt), in restoring the deleted material I have added additional reliable sources (or “dopes” as some prefer) such as historians Arthur Schlessinger, Forrest McDonald, and David Donald, Jean Baker, and Michael F. Holt.

Mr. Edwards wants to portray the issue as if states’ rights were a stand alone theoretical issue totally divorced from the concrete issues of the day. He is, of course, free to add, if he is able, from “non-dopeish” reliable sources to make the alternative case. Tom (North Shoreman) (talk) 15:06, 22 March 2008 (UTC)

PS I subsequently added a more detailed quote from Calhoun to clarify exactly what state, minority right he considered most threatened. Tom (North Shoreman) (talk) 16:32, 22 March 2008 (UTC)
Well done. DMorpheus (talk) 14:22, 24 March 2008 (UTC)

While your information is sourced, it nevertheless lacks a neutral point of view and demonstrates a modern bias against the States' Rights position. As a solution, I have recategorized these arguments into a more appropriate and more descriptive section so as to make it clear that while slavery may be relevant to the issue, these are criticisms of the theory and are not central to the theory in and of itself. (talk) 19:33, 27 March 2008 (UTC)

The Stampp quote that you moved is not a criticism of states' rights -- it is a historically accurate statement that states' rights arguments were used by both Northerners and Southerners. As far as your claim that the South had been exploited by the North ever since the Nullification Crisis, the fact is that a coalition of Northern and Southern Democrats, with identical views on states rights (except in the late 1850s when the slavery issue divided the Democratic Party) quite effectively promoted the South's agenda.
To answer the first point, certainly it is true that states' rights arguements were used by Northern states during this period, but more than the historical accuracy of the quote, I am calling into question the organization of the article because in a section concerning states' rights as a cause of the war, these facts seem out of place and only vaguely connected to the issue of Southern secession. Perhaps the article needs further explanation as to how Northern states' rights activists contributed to the outbreak of war.
Secondly, I would argue that since the tariff rates of 1816 (20-25%) were seen as sectionally biased by 1824, but were then raised in 1828, lowered somewhat in 1832, raised back in 1842, and only lowered back to 1816 levels in 1846, one could reasonably suggest that industrial, pro-tariff states of the North and West had more control over the issue than did the anti-tariff Southern states. Furthermore, even if it is true that "a coalition of Northern and Southern Democrats [...] quite effectively promoted the South's agenda," would it not still be fair to say that high tariff rates could promote disunion if only as a symbol of Northern control over the federal government? I think it's reasonable to conclude that Southerners (specifically South Carolinians) believed tariff rates to be exploitive not merely because they suffered more under the 25% rates than under their proposed 15% revenue tariff, but because Carolina's inability to affect federal policy on this matter was representative of her shrinking autonomy and representation in national affairs. Therefore the continuation of protective tariffs could be seen as oppressive if not in letter then in spirit, and the failure to resolve this issue on a federal level led to it being fought in the name of states' rights. --John edwards23 (talk) 01:48, 2 April 2008 (UTC) 01:47, 2 April 2008 (UTC)
It is fair game to question, as reliable historical sources such as Stampp have done, claims that the South seceded for the abstract concept of states' rights by showing that sometimes they took the states' rights side and sometimes they opposed it.
The rest of your argument is purely your speculation -- not a hint that some professional, peer-reviewed historian shares your views about the significance of the tariff issue to secession. Tom (North Shoreman) (talk) 03:35, 2 April 2008 (UTC)
No reliable secondary source asserting that the South seceded because of states' rights, as a stand alone issue, has been provided -- probably because it isn't true. Tom (North Shoreman) (talk) 21:58, 27 March 2008 (UTC)

4-1-2008 revert

I reverted an addition by an IP that referenced the Jackson-Calhoun toasts that may be more appropriate under the Nullification section, although since this is covered in the main article Nullification Crisis I'm not sure why any additional elaboration on ths is in order. There is a discussion below on the reorganization of the article that the IP may want to participate in since it relates in part to the over-emphasis on the Nullification Crisis as compared to more significant events in the 1840s and 1850s that are given less coverage. As far as the references to Madison and Jefferson, the intent of this section is not to carry the history of states' rights arguments all the way back to the founding -- this is well beyond the scope of the article. The mention of Madison is particularly inappropriate since by 1830 he was clearly on the record as opposed to both nullification and secession. Tom (North Shoreman) (talk) 00:17, 2 April 2008 (UTC)

Twice editor North Shoreman has deleted sourced material from this section, specifically removing mentions of influential founding fathers in the states' rights movement and deleting a reference to the Nullification Crisis as a precursor to the outbreak of Civil War. This is particularly inappropriate since the the Constitutional contract between states was central to the issues of union and secession and also because the Nullification Crisis between Jackson and Calhoun is key to the understanding of states' rights. --John edwards23 (talk) 01:59, 2 April 2008 (UTC)
I deleted a reference to the Nullification Crisis in one section because there is already a section on the Nullification Crisis in this article, isn't there? In actuality, nullification was an extreme states' rights position that attracted only a small minority of states' rights advocates -- justification for keeping them separate. Far from being, as you claim, an example of general states' rghts disagreements, the Jackson-- Calhoun split was WITHIN the states' rights group and Calhoun and South Carolina represented a small minority within this group.
Your attempt to link Jefferson and Madison (especially) with secession as advocated in 1860 is, in fact, NOT supported by any reliable secondary source. Nor is it particulary appropriate, as I said and you failed to address, to discuss a complete history of states' rights in this particular article. You have provided no sources to suggest that states' rights were a stand-alone issue with respect to secession -- as the sources used show, states' rights only came into play as they relate to slavery -- something you claim only "dopes" believe.
This comes from Jefferson's 1801 inaguraul address: "If there be any among us who wish to dissolve the Union or to change its republican form," the author of the Declaration of Independence said, "let them stand undisturbed, as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it." Of course Jefferson and Madison supported secession if the states rights were abused. They were the ANTI-FEDERALISTS! They always fought against strong, central government!
1. The original Anti-Federalists were the opponents of the Constitution (preferring the much weaker central government of the Articles of Confederation). Madison, by contrast, is nicknamed the "Father of the Constitution", so he certainly wasn't an Anti-Federalist in that sense. 2. Jefferson is clearly saying that wishing to dissolve the Union is an error. Because he believed in freedom of speech, he did not believe that the proponents of such an error should be put in jail for expressing their views; but by that quote he was clearly opposed to dissolving the Union (or altering it from a republic). -- (talk) 18:39, 4 July 2008 (UTC)

The need to reorganize this article, as I said, has been discussed elsewhere and there seem to be three of us that agree this is necessary. Your edits move in the opposite direction. Tom (North Shoreman) (talk) 03:18, 2 April 2008 (UTC)
I agree. How many times do we need to cover the same basic material in the same article? The material should not have been inserted where it was, particularly into the summary. The event in question is a subset of the nullification crisis in particular. And the Jefferson/Madison link appears problematic. Red Harvest (talk) 04:27, 2 April 2008 (UTC)

I noticed that a large part of this section is taken word for word from the lost cause of the confederacy article. "Historian Kenneth M. Stampp claimed that each side supported states' rights or federal power only when it was convenient to do so.[5] Stampp also mentioned Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens' A Constitutional View of the Late War Between the States as an example of a Southern leader who said that slavery was the "cornerstone of the Confederacy" when the war began and then said that the war was not about slavery but states' rights after Southern defeat. Stampp said that Stephens became one of the most ardent defenders of the 'Lost Cause' theory.[6]Similarly, historian William C. Davis explained the Confederate Constitution's protection of slavery at the national level as follows:

“To the old Union they had said that the Federal power had no authority to interfere with slavery issues in a state. To their new nation they would declare that the state had no power to interfere with a federal protection of slavery. Of all the many testimonials to the fact that slavery, and not states rights, really lay at the heart of their movement, this was the most eloquent of all.[7]"

Should we delete it or re categorize it a criticism of the lost cause/state's rights argument? --CorMcFord (talk) 00:16, 9 April 2008 (UTC)

Restructure for clarity and make encyclopedic?

This article hits many points and contains numerous references and citations, but it seems disjointed. Rather than reading as an article, it reads more like the result of various debates and compromises and still carries some of the tone of the final phase of an academic discussion rather than a summary/review. It seems to be missing the "glue" and structure that would make it coherent. I think it needs a stronger summary and perhaps re-ordering to tie this all together, but I'm at a loss how to do it. Those of Southern sympathy and many others will often be inclined to search for an explanation in states rights and tariffs as the primary cause--despite modern authors' rejections of them as primary. When these folks don't find the secondary nature of such matters clearly explained in the summary, they are going to be understandably skeptical of the article's tone. The present summary section is overly long and is a general explanation of the state of the nation rather than a summary of the origins. While the explanation is valuable, it needs a real/guiding summary of the article topic before that. Has the dust settled enough that a primary author could restructure and summarize this better? Red Harvest (talk) 17:44, 24 March 2008 (UTC)

Some Thoughts on Reorganization

The problems with the article start with the very first sentence:

“The origins of the American Civil War lay in the complex issues of slavery, competing understandings of federalism, party politics, expansionism, sectionalism, tariffs, economics and modernization in the Antebellum Period.”

A better, and more accurate, way to write this might be:

“The origins of the American Civil War lay in the issue of slavery and its interaction with theories of states’ rights, the restructuring of the political party system, territorial expansion, and economics and modernization in the Antebellum Period.”

The balance of the lead should mention the specific issues that generated sectional conflict -- paragraph 2 covering the Missouri Compromise, Texas Annexation, and the Wilmot proviso, paragraph 3 covering the Compromise of 1850, Fugitive Slaves, Kansas-nebraska, the creation of the Republican Party, Dred Scott,and Bleeding Kansas, and paragraph 4 addressing the Lincoln-Douglas debates, the split in the Democratic Party, and the election of Lincoln.

The balance of the article should be written from a strict chronological basis. I have prepared the following outline using EXISTING Section Titles just to show where the existing material would be moved -- in many cases the sections would be consolidated and/or renamed. I have put in parenthesis where new section titles would be approprate.

It is ridiculous to have so much material on economic issues since the article makes it clear that current historians do not believe it had much of anything to do with secession (other than to the extent that the economics of slavery was a factor). This material should be consolidated and included as background -- much of the material can be moved to History of the United States (1849–1865) It also makes little sense to have such a large section on the Nullification Crisis, from the 1830s, when there are not equally sized sections on each significant event from the late 1840s through the end of the war.

1. (Background)

1.1 (Missouri Compromise)
1.2 Antebellum South and the Union
1.21 Militant Defense of slavery
1.22 Literature
1.23 Southern fears of modernization
1.24 Southern fears of modernity
1.3 Sectional tensions and the emergence of mass politics
1.4 Economics
1.41 Economic value of slavery to the South
1.42 Regional economic differences
1.421 Free labor vs. pro-slavery arguments
1.43 Religious conflict over the Slavery Question

2. Abolitionism

2.1 Arguments for and against slavery
2.2 Free soil movement

3. Nullification Crisis

4. (Gag Rule Debates)

5. (Texas and the Wilmot Proviso)

5.1 Territorial acquisitions
5.2 States’ rights
5.21States’ rights and slavery in the territories
5.22 States rights and minority rights

6. (Compromise of 1850)

6.1 Fugitive Slave issues

7. Kansas-Nebraska Act

7.1 Founding of the Republican Party
7.11 (End of the Second Party System)

8. Bleeding Kansas and the elections of 1856

8.1 Republicans and anti-adminstration Democrats
8.2Lecompton Constitution
8.3 (Assault on Sumner)

9. Dred Scott Decision

10. Emergence of Lincoln

10.1 Republican Party Structure
10.2 Sectional battles over federal policy in the late 1850s
10.21 Lincoln-Douglas debates
10.22 Background
10.23 Panic of 1857 and sectional realignments
10.2311 Southern response
10.4 (John Brown and Harpers Ferry)
10.4 Elections of 1860
10.41 (Split in the Democratic Party)
10.5 Southern Secession

11. Onset of the Civil War and the question of compromise

12. Contemporaneous explanations Tom (North Shoreman) (talk) 23:47, 27 March 2008 (UTC)

Tom, That's a lot to digest (I was on vacation briefly) but I agree with the thrust of it. Red Harvest (talk) 20:07, 30 March 2008 (UTC)
"The problems with the article start with the very first sentence" - exactly so, I suspect that weasely sentence was written after much contention. But it is very weak and yours is a better start. Regards, DMorpheus (talk) 18:07, 1 April 2008 (UTC)
I'd like to see some brief preliminary discussion of the constitutional backdrop of inequality under the law, specifically a reference to the deleted portions of the Declaration of Independence (That famous one beginning "He has waged cruel war...") and the Three-fifths compromise in the Constitution, and how the 3/5c affected voting blocks in the antebellum era. I'd also like to see some short contrast of the two terms "coercion" and "rebellion" as it relates to prevalent political attitudes during Secession Winter. BusterD (talk) 03:35, 2 April 2008 (UTC)
I would avoid being so vague in the opening sentence, claiming the war to be about 'slavery' is broad and somewhat inaccurate (seeing as slavery in the southern states was not challenged at this time and the vast majority of northerners were not abolitionists). How about this:
As a failed war of independence, the origins of the American Civil War can be traced to the same Enlightenment-era ideals of liberty and self-determination which motivated the first American Revolution; however, the sectional disputes between the populous North and the slave-holding South that led to war were primarily over the expansion of slavery and representation in the Federal government.--CorMcFord (talk) 18:20, 8 April 2008 (UTC)
I think references to the Enlightenment, self-determination, and liberty as causes of secession would only make the into more vague. The proposed change listed above is:
“The origins of the American Civil War lay in the issue of slavery and its interaction with theories of states’ rights, the restructuring of the political party system, territorial expansion, and economics and modernization in the Antebellum Period.”
It is impossible to either ignore the primacy of slavery or its interaction with the other issues mentioned. While the two main issues were slavery in the territories and the return of fugitive slaves, the rhetoric of the time within the South equated all Black Republicans with abolitionists. This rhetoric, along with the expectation, in both the North and South, that isolating slavery where it currently existed would eventually lead to a general emancipation, led many to believe that the existence of slavery was being threatened. I have included above an outline that follows a chronological order of the significant events leading up to secession -- all of them after the Nullification Crisis deal with slavery. Should something else be included in the body of the article? I believe the suggestions by BusterD should probably be included in the background. The specific factor you mention, representation, is likewise related to slavery -- Southern interests were adequately protected in Congress right up to 1860 when the Democratic Party split over slavery. Tom (North Shoreman) (talk) 20:00, 8 April 2008 (UTC)
Certainly you have a right to your opinion, and while slavery was a key factor in many disagreements, it was generally not the disagreement itself. The clearest cause of the war (one which northerners and southerners agree upon) was the interpretation of the US constitution as to the right of secession, and the origin of this is the 18th century revolutionary ideals expressed in the Declaration of Independence. Conflict between Federalists and Jeffersonian Democrats had been growing steadily since the first revolution and by ignoring the prevailing American ideology that embraced self-determination and rejected tyranny, you are limiting your view of the war to purely empirical standards. I completely agree with you that disputes over slavery helped lead to war, but only insofar as these disputes made Americans fear the tyranny of their countrymen. --CorMcFord (talk) 00:49, 9 April 2008 (UTC)
Sigh, must we always be cursed with this stuff? Our account should be based on the consensus of historians. The consensus of historians does not even vaguely resemble what you describe. At any rate, I'll just say that Tom's summary seems like a good way to go with organizing this article. Our articles on historical events, in general, are too topical and provide insufficient chronology. john k (talk) 01:20, 9 April 2008 (UTC)
Unfortunately it appears we will be. It will take a long time to deprogram a century of post war Confederate revisionist history. It is no accident that the state causes leading to war differ from those at the conclusion of the war. I'm reading Dew's Apostles of Disunion (reviews the actual statements of the Southern secession commissioners) and he explains the problem well in the preface in a way that mirrors my own experience. As a Southerner, he (like many of us in/from Southern leaning states) believed the "states rights" and tyranny lines until he actually began researching the issue. Until then he had believed that anyone who claimed the war was about anything other than states rights "was either deranged or a Yankee." But once he started looking it from the historian's perspective the comforting veneer was stripped away. Red Harvest (talk) 02:13, 9 April 2008 (UTC)