Flame bait: slavery OK w/you?

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Barry & Mary Smith

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May 9, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/9/96
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I'm a bit confused here. I've been lurking in this group for months.
As I see it, there is some justifiable resentment of the Union for
violation of states' rights. It seems a somewhat nebulous area, and
open to interpretation along the line of Twain's "Cornpone Opinions".
So I'll leave that to lay where it is.
My issue is that of slavery. I get the opinion that most of those who
take the secessionists' side in this also believe that slavery was a
morally correct situation, one which by view of tradition and the
circumstances of the period, which is morally OK even today. Is that
the popular sentiment here? Do you folks feel that it is morally and
ethically permissible to regard another human being as property? Had
the war been won by the Confederacy, would you feel comfortable
"owning" other people? I pretty much expect to hear the same old
arguments and justifications that the poor exploited workers in the
mines and mills in the North were really just "owned" by the companys
for which they worked, how most slaveholders were benevolent and had
only the best interests of their "property" at heart, that the North's
goal was to relieve the poor Negro of his burden, or that slaveholders
were nothing but sadistic exploiters of their fellow man. I can filter
that stuff fairly easily. But we have evolved and become smarter now.I
want to know about how one can justify slavery in generally benign
terms even today. I myself don't see this as a black or white (No pun
intended) issue at the time, but I do see slavery's unqualified
defense as disturbing. I've heard none say that it was an unfortunate
or embarrassing dilemma in which the South found itself, from which it
would like to put some distance. Comments, please. I want to get a
feel for the range of thought on this.
BTW and FYI, I have family members who fought for and supported the
causes of both sides. My 14th great grandfather arrived and was an
original colonist of the Mass. Bay Colony who owned and kept a black
slave for all his years. I say this to let you all know that I'm not
trying to present myself as having come from some historically moral
high ground.
Thank you for your time.
Barry Smith

RStacy2229

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May 9, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/9/96
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In article <4mt22u$a...@zonker.math.uah.edu>, rain...@pacific.telebyte.com

(Barry & Mary Smith) writes:

>As I see it, there is some justifiable resentment of the Union for

>violation of states' rights. ....

>My issue is that of slavery. I get the opinion that most of those who
>take the secessionists' side in this also believe that slavery was a
>morally correct situation, one which by view of tradition and the
>circumstances of the period, which is morally OK even today.<<<<

NO!!!! Slavery was morally wrong. My consistent position (I believe I've
been consistent, anyway) has been to point out:
1. The South did not INVENT modern chattel slavery -- the Portugese did.
2. Southerners were not the primary actors in the Trans-Atlantic slave
trade -- the Portugese, Spanish, Dutch, French, English and, yes, YANKEES
were the owners of most ships involved during more than 250 years of the
"middle passage."
3. Many Northern states did not end slavery until the 1820s or 1830s, and
only then to a great extent by selling their slaves southward.
4. The "abolitionist" Republican Party was essentially seeking Anglo-Saxon
"lebensraum" in the west, thus to a large degree explaining the struggle
over slavery in the territories.
5. While there were sincere humanitarians involved with the abolition
movement, there were also any number of crackpots, dreamers, Puritan
"holier than thou" bluenoses, Pharisees, crafty politicians,
insurrectionists and even -- counting John Brown here -- insane,
bloodthirsty mass murderers.
These various points considered, along with much other information I've
encountered over the years, leads me to believe that the "fight to set men
free" was essentially a propaganda front for an ambitious class of
Northern demagogues and financiers.
Should slavery have been ended as early as 1789, if not earlier? Yes.
Chattel slavery was an abomination that should never have begun -- but
nobody on this NG has suggested that Portugal change its flag as an
admission of guilt. But that slavery in the United States happened to be
ended by the MEANS of an unconstitutional and inhumane war of subjugation
-- to argue that the ENDS justifies the MEANS is to step onto a slippery
moral slope.

>Is that the popular sentiment here? Do you folks feel that it is morally
and
>ethically permissible to regard another human being as property?

Having said all that, I should here say that when men find their
financial, social and political interests assailed by "outsiders" whom
they view as pious hypocrites, we must not be surprised that they fight
back. If slave-owning Southerners were misguided in casting the Peculiar
Institution as a "positive good" in reaction to abolitionist aspersions on
their humanity, then we must understand that they were only defending a
set of interests common among North Americans since the 1600s. The current
abortion debate is quite analagous, in my mind.

But to reiterate, when men defend what they view to be their own best
interests, they are only being human. While I do not defend slavery, I at
least will defend the 1830-1865 *defense* of slavery as being essentially
no worse than any number of ordinary human follies (voting GOP, for
instance) which persist to this day.

I believe all of that may be roughly translated to "TAG, I'M IT!"
Flamers, come get me!

[ note from the moderator - flamers: don't waste your time posting to
this group ]

Sincerely,
Robert Stacy McCain
Rome GA -- Home of Festa Rome (July 17-Aug. 4) an Olympic cultural
celebration.


SPBurris

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May 10, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/10/96
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The short answer (from a native Texan) is NO -- if I ever attempt to
justify secession or the Southern war effort, I NEVER expend energy trying
to defend the practice (or even the notion) of slavery. It is my opinion
that slavery was (is) wrong, and that it was in large part perceived as
such from the founding of the United States.

It would be tiresome, I expect, to run down the development of (white)
American perceptions of slavery from 'a necessary evil' to the
anti-abolitionist declaration that slavery was 'a positive good'. To do
so might even expose one to the criticism of 'blaming the abolitonists'.
Such a thread I would wish to avoid.

Although we Southerners often attempt to understand the motives of
secession and to point out that it might have been quite reasonable for
the South to have perceived (rightly or wrongly) abolition as a threat to
their well being, one should not assume that we are arguing that those
motives and perceptions were correct; nor should one assume we are
attempting to justify the issue (slavery) underlying such motives and
perceptions.

Admittedly, there are thos who even today seem to defend the institution
of slavery, at least within the context of the last century. It is my
opinion that they are wrong. Even so, I believe there is room for their
opinions in our discussion.

Thank you.

--
SPBurris at Cornell University
Greek, Latin and bagpipes!

John Lansford

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May 10, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/10/96
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On 9 May 1996 10:13:34 -0500, you wrote:


>My issue is that of slavery. I get the opinion that most of those who
>take the secessionists' side in this also believe that slavery was a
>morally correct situation, one which by view of tradition and the

>circumstances of the period, which is morally OK even today. Is that


>the popular sentiment here? Do you folks feel that it is morally and
>ethically permissible to regard another human being as property?

I am honestly amazed at this reach of logic. I've seen no one on this
newsgroup (or anywhere else where people discuss the Civil War) make
the claim you use as the logical equation for your question.
Personally, the answer is a resounding NO, NO, a thousand times NO!

Had
>the war been won by the Confederacy, would you feel comfortable
>"owning" other people?

Certainly not. My great grandfather fought in the Civil War and rode
with Forrest, and owned one slave before the war. To preserve slavery
wasn't the reason he joined; it was because he was asked to join and
protect his state (Tennessee).

But we have evolved and become smarter now.I
>want to know about how one can justify slavery in generally benign
>terms even today.

I still don't see where you think anyone here supports your claim. I
do not believe there were that many soldiers who fought for the south
who fought "to preserve slavery". There were some, sure, but the vast
majority of them fought for other reasons. Honoring their efforts and
sacrifice in no way condones the "peculiar institution" the South
functioned with.

I myself don't see this as a black or white (No pun
>intended) issue at the time, but I do see slavery's unqualified
>defense as disturbing.

Please let us know where you have seen this "defense". Not here,
that's for sure.

John Lansford


Riley Geary

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May 10, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/10/96
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rain...@pacific.telebyte.com (Barry Smith) writes:

>> My issue is that of slavery. I get the opinion that most of those who
>> take the secessionists' side in this also believe that slavery was a
>> morally correct situation, one which by view of tradition and the
>> circumstances of the period, which is morally OK even today. Is that
>> the popular sentiment here? Do you folks feel that it is morally and
>> ethically permissible to regard another human being as property?

sp...@cornell.edu (SPBurris) replies:

> The short answer (from a native Texan) is NO -- if I ever attempt to
> justify secession or the Southern war effort, I NEVER expend energy trying
> to defend the practice (or even the notion) of slavery.

Glad to hear that.

> Admittedly, there are thos who even today seem to defend the institution
> of slavery, at least within the context of the last century. It is my
> opinion that they are wrong. Even so, I believe there is room for their
> opinions in our discussion.

In a most disturbing coincidence, just after reading Burris's post, I heard
NPR quoting Alabama state legislator Charles Davidson actually defending
slavery in the Old South! Calling it a 'heritage issue,' he was apparently
trying to debunk the 'myth' of slavery as a racial issue!? I'ld say we have
a lot more to worry about than just some of the more extreme members
of this list.

Riley Geary
Arlington, VA
ge...@cmr.gov


James F. Epperson

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May 11, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/11/96
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On 9 May 1996, RStacy2229 wrote:

> Slavery was morally wrong. My consistent position (I believe I've
> been consistent, anyway) has been to point out:
> 1. The South did not INVENT modern chattel slavery -- the Portugese did.

Actually, I think it was invented long before the Portugese, but that is
almost beside the point.

> 2. Southerners were not the primary actors in the Trans-Atlantic slave
> trade -- the Portugese, Spanish, Dutch, French, English and, yes, YANKEES
> were the owners of most ships involved during more than 250 years of the
> "middle passage."

Probably true -- I honestly don't know and will defer to others on this,
but I do not think we can or should ignore the role of the "market" in
the slave trade, i.e., there would have been no slave trade if there had
been no where to sell the slaves and no one to sell them to. And the
American South was a significant market.

> 3. Many Northern states did not end slavery until the 1820s or 1830s, and
> only then to a great extent by selling their slaves southward.

You have made this claim in other places and I do not think it is
accurate. My understanding (I'm away from sources on this) is that the
Northern states that abolished slavery did so in the 1790-1810 time
frame, although the institution was usually allowed to "die slowly" so it
no doubt survived into the 1820's in some states. And many Northern
states =never= had slavery at all. In fact, of the 15 states east of the
Mississippi that did not have slavery in 1860, 7 or them -- a near
majority -- had =never= had it.

As for selling slaves southward I think that Chris Densmore's post on the
alt.* group did a good job of pointing out the flaws in your thinking. I
have no doubt that some Northern slaveowners tried to avoid the loss of
their investment by selling their slaves South, but I challenge you to
produce any sort of statistics to support the "to a great extent" clause.

> 4. The "abolitionist" Republican Party was essentially seeking Anglo-Saxon
> "lebensraum" in the west, thus to a large degree explaining the struggle
> over slavery in the territories.

Others are better qualified than I to speak to the formative goals of the
Republican Party. Much -- but by no means all -- of its anti-slavery
interest indeed came from a free-soil perspective, i.e., the value of free
labor was decreased in the presence of slave labor, so the new territories
should be free soil in order that Northerners who migrated there would
find their labor valued and their efforts rewarded. But there was also a
strong streak of true abolitionist thought in the Republican Party. Men
like Charles Francis Adams, Charles Sumner and Thaddeus Stevens were
abolitionists out of a moral imperative, rather than an economic one. To
these men Lincoln was often too conservative, and the territorial
restriction issue was a moral one (as a first step towards abolition) more
than anything else.

> 5. While there were sincere humanitarians involved with the abolition
> movement, there were also any number of crackpots, dreamers, Puritan
> "holier than thou" bluenoses, Pharisees, crafty politicians,
> insurrectionists and even -- counting John Brown here -- insane,
> bloodthirsty mass murderers.

I would question how prevalent these sorts of people were. Certainly John
Brown existed and he was not alone. But we must remember that it is
always the fanatics who get the press, by virtue of their fanaticism;
that is true today and it was true then. And if we are going to start a
parade of evil Northerners, let's have a parallel one consisting of all
the mainstream Southern leaders who wanted to re-open the African slave
trade as late as 1860.

[snips by JFE]

> If slave-owning Southerners were misguided in casting the Peculiar
> Institution as a "positive good" in reaction to abolitionist aspersions on
> their humanity, then we must understand that they were only defending a
> set of interests common among North Americans since the 1600s. The current
> abortion debate is quite analagous, in my mind.

I think a better analogy is the tobacco industry.

> But to reiterate, when men defend what they view to be their own best
> interests, they are only being human. While I do not defend slavery, I at
> least will defend the 1830-1865 *defense* of slavery as being essentially
> no worse than any number of ordinary human follies (voting GOP, for
> instance) which persist to this day.

My response to this is mixed. I agree that we should be very careful
about judging the South of the immediate antebellum years. They did not
invent slavery, they inherited it, and the fact that they were not able to
see beyond their own short-term self-interest only means they were human
and fallible. But I think it is a mistake to suggest that there is =no=
culpable blame here, I just prefer to lay it on specific individuals (or
small, well-defined groups) rather than some vague monlithic notion of
"the South" or "the North." I blame the secessionist leaders and Southern
politicians who manipulated the slavery issue and the election results in
1860 in order to create the groundswell of support for secession. If
these men had acted with prudence, caution, and circumspection, instead of
arrogance, pride, and impulsiveness, the nation might have been spared the
horrors of the war and the slavery issue might have been dealt with in a
less destructive way.

Jim Epperson | I would like to see truthful
Department of Mathematical Sciences | history written -- US Grant
University of Alabama in Huntsville +-------------------------------------
eppe...@math.uah.edu URL: http://www.math.uah.edu/~epperson
URL: http://members.aol.com/jfepperson

Chris Raper

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May 11, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/11/96
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On 9 May 1996 10:13:34 -0500, rain...@pacific.telebyte.com (Barry &
Mary Smith) wrote:

Hi Barry,

soc.history.war.us-civil-war is moderated and as such is a flame-free
zone! :-)

[snip]

>My issue is that of slavery. I get the opinion that most of those who
>take the secessionists' side in this also believe that slavery was a
>morally correct situation, one which by view of tradition and the
>circumstances of the period, which is morally OK even today. Is that
>the popular sentiment here? Do you folks feel that it is morally and
>ethically permissible to regard another human being as property?

I don't think I have ever seen anyone expounding on the virtues of
slavery in the modern world. :-\

I think the closest you will find is that many people feel that,
although it IS morally wrong, _in the 1860s_ slavery was a fact of
life. It wasn't illegal until after the war was over. Many people
thought that it was their right to own human slaves and they were
carrying on a tradition that had been going on for many years in many
cultures around the world. There were other who were not pro-slavery
but by our standards today would have been labeled racist.

I think it boils down to the fact that, in a way, morality is
constantly being revised and modified throughout the ages. What we
find repugnant now might not have been 100s of years ago. Therefor to
condemn someone for doing something that was perfectly normal and
legal _then_ but that we find abhorent now, is unjust. In many cases
(Lincoln for instance) you could say that his views on Negroes would
be classed as racist today but in his time he was quite forward
thinking and should be praised for this.

> Had
>the war been won by the Confederacy, would you feel comfortable
>"owning" other people?

I believe slavery was on the way out anyway. The South was just
prolonging the situation as long as possible. It wouldn't have taken
long for international pressure around the world to force even an
independant CSA to abolish slavery.


[snip]

> I've heard none say that it was an unfortunate
>or embarrassing dilemma in which the South found itself, from which it
>would like to put some distance. Comments, please. I want to get a
>feel for the range of thought on this.

I don't think we can say that the South was in a dilemma. That would
be assuming that the majority of people in power understood that they
were doing something wrong and wanted to change.

In summary. Slavery is definately NOT ok with me - and probably 100%
of the posters here. But don't assume that because a poster might not
condemn out of hand someone's actions he is condoneing or agreeing
with them.

Cheers
Chris R.

--
All views are my own and are not necessarily those of my employer.

bclayton (Bill Clayton)

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May 11, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/11/96
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Barry & Mary Smith wrote:


> My issue is that of slavery. I get the opinion that most of those who
> take the secessionists' side in this also believe that slavery was a
> morally correct situation, one which by view of tradition and the
> circumstances of the period, which is morally OK even today.

I can't speak for anyone else in this news group - especially since I am
very new to this group. However, I have spent about three years as a
regular reader/contributor to the Civil War board on Fido Net so I feel
I can speak for the southerners there. None condone slavery; all feel
that it was an inhumane system; however they do not condem their
ancestors who were part of a system that has existed since the days of
Jesus and before. It's easy for me to say that I could not own another
human being, but it's impossible for me to say had I lived in 1860 when
my father, his father and grandfather, and all my friends and neighbors
owned slaves and accepted it as the natural order. We cann't judge one
generation by the morales of another.

Bill Clayton

CherylC470

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May 11, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/11/96
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In article <4mt22u$a...@zonker.math.uah.edu>, rain...@pacific.telebyte.com

(Barry & Mary Smith) writes:

>I get the opinion that most of those who
>take the secessionists' side in this also believe that slavery was a
>morally correct situation, one which by view of tradition and the

>circumstances of the period, which is morally OK even today. Is that
>the popular sentiment here? Do you folks feel that it is morally and
>ethically permissible to regard another human being as property?

I'm not sure how you arrived at this conclusion, since I can't recall
seeing such views expressed here. An enthusiasm for the military talents
and virtues of the Confederate Army does not imply approval of slavery.
People who point out the great evils of northern industrialism are simply
trying to make the point that neither side had a monopoly on vice or
virtue.

Slavery was a great moral evil which blighted this country for far too
long, and not solely because of its impact on the slaves themselves. I
believe it inevitably caused a degree of moral corruption in slaveowners
(Lord Acton, you know). I also believe it was injurious to the dignity
of labor in general, and greatly retarded the development of a mixed
economy in the South. In this it carried within it the seeds of its own
destruction, since the South's lack of an adequate industrial base was one
reason the Confederacy lost the war.

Now that you think I'm a Yankee, I should point out that I'm a Southerner
with both slaveholding and non-slaveholding ancestors, and family members
in both armies. I greatly admire the valor of Confederate troops and the
military talents of our leadership. When I read about a battle, I hope
for a Confederate victory, even when I know it won't happen. Is this
entirely logical? Perhaps not; heart and head do not always agree.

Chery...@aol.com
Cheryl Chasin
Alexandria, VA


Riley Geary

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May 12, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/12/96
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Bill Clayton <bcla...@gower.net> writes:

> It's easy for me to say that I could not own another
> human being, but it's impossible for me to say had I lived in 1860 when
> my father, his father and grandfather, and all my friends and neighbors
> owned slaves and accepted it as the natural order. We cann't judge one
> generation by the morales of another.

Chris Raper <trio...@dial.pipex.com> elaborates:

> I think it boils down to the fact that, in a way, morality is
> constantly being revised and modified throughout the ages. What we
> find repugnant now might not have been 100s of years ago. Therefor to
> condemn someone for doing something that was perfectly normal and
> legal _then_ but that we find abhorent now, is unjust.

This might not be quite PC here, but some of you are carrying the whole
moral relativism argument a bit too far. Does anyone honestly believe
that slavery only became socially and politically unacceptable when it
was outlawed by the passage of the 13th Amendment in 1865? Once
again for the ethically challenged and/or morally obtuse -- slavery
was, is and always will be an intrinsically wrong and inherently evil
practice, one that can only corrupt and degrade the moral fibre of both
the slaveholder and the society that sanctions it, and any attempt to
dance around or evade this issue is disingenious at best.

Just because a particular practice was more widely accepted in past
ages and/or less enlightened cultures is no reason to turn a blind eye
to its ethical implications, or to absolve our ancestors from the moral
choices they may have made. Slavery can be 'understood' in the
context of a particular society, but it can NEVER be justified by any
moral or ethical code we would find acceptable.

Chris continues:

> I believe slavery was on the way out anyway. The South was just
> prolonging the situation as long as possible. It wouldn't have taken
> long for international pressure around the world to force even an
> independant CSA to abolish slavery.

This is a rather debatable point, and one few slaveholders in 1860
would have shared. To the contrary, many in the Confederate
leadership dreamed of conquering Cuba, Mexico and much of
Central America so they could create a Slave Empire that would
encircle the Carribean and ensure the perpetuation of their Peculiar
Institution into the indefinite future. One could easily argue that it
was only the victory of the North over the South that actually put
chattel slavery on the path to certain extinction not only in the
West (Brazil holding out until 1887/8), but throughout the rest of
the world too (with some parts of Africa and Arabia not outlawing
the practice until the 1960s). I'ld be real interested in knowing
just what sort of 'international pressure' might have induced an
independent CSA to eventually abolish slavery on its own.

Jim Lyons

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May 13, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/13/96
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In article <4n269u$b...@zonker.math.uah.edu>, "James F. Epperson" <eppe...@s10.math.uah.edu> writes:
|>
|> On 9 May 1996, RStacy2229 wrote:

|> Probably true -- I honestly don't know and will defer to others on this,
|> but I do not think we can or should ignore the role of the "market" in
|> the slave trade, i.e., there would have been no slave trade if there had
|> been no where to sell the slaves and no one to sell them to. And the
|> American South was a significant market.

Not really. About 4% of all Africans brought to the Western Hemisphere
went to what became the US. The rest went south: to the Carribean and
Central and South America. Brazil and Cuba were among the largest
buyers (and exterminators) of African captives. The trade with these
areas began a century before it began with the British colonies in North
America and a century and a half before the highwater mark of the North
American trade.



|> > 3. Many Northern states did not end slavery until the 1820s or 1830s, and
|> > only then to a great extent by selling their slaves southward.

In addition to the answer given in Jim Epperson's post, I would add that many
Northern states passed laws forbidding the south-ward sale of slaves. To
be sure, there were efforts (some successful) to skirt those laws, but they
did prevent a hemorrhage of slaves to the southern states.

|> > 4. The "abolitionist" Republican Party was essentially seeking Anglo-Saxon
|> > "lebensraum" in the west, thus to a large degree explaining the struggle
|> > over slavery in the territories.

The Republican Party was never abolitionist and made great efforts to make
this explicit. Some abolitionists were in the party, but others eschewed
it. But that doesn't make the Republican Party of the 1850's a party of
Know-Nothings. Abraham Lincoln exlicitly rejected Nativism. The GOP was
actually made up of a diverse collection of old Whigs, Democrats and Free
Soilers who combined on one, and only one issue: the containment of slavery
to where it already existed.

I'm not sure what you mean by "explaining the struggle over slavery in the
territories." But certainly the struggle over slavery in the territories can
be traced back to the Missouri Compromise of 1820, if not the passage of
the Northwest Ordinance in the 1780s. It was what the crisis of 1850 (which
almost caused the secession crisis to occur a decade earlier than it did).
It's hard, therefore, to blame the Republican Party for this, since it didn't
form until the mid-1850s.

--
Jim Lyons | Operating Systems Specialist
Computation Center | 512-475-9331
University of Texas at Austin | j.l...@cc.utexas.edu
http://www.cc.utexas.edu/~godzilla/jimlyons.html


Stephen Schmidt

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May 14, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/14/96
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lans...@vnet.net (John Lansford) writes:


>On 9 May 1996 10:13:34 -0500, someone else wrote:

>>I get the opinion that most of those who
>>take the secessionists' side in this also believe that slavery was a
>>morally correct situation, one which by view of tradition and the
>>circumstances of the period, which is morally OK even today. Is that
>>the popular sentiment here?

>I am honestly amazed at this reach of logic. I've seen no one on this


>newsgroup (or anywhere else where people discuss the Civil War) make

>the claim you use as the logical equation for your question...


>Please let us know where you have seen this "defense". Not here,
>that's for sure.

I do not ever recall seeing a poster on this newsgroup make
this defense. However, a version of it was made by an Alabama
state congressman in the public press a few days back, and there
were a couple posts discussing that in the group. It is
very wrong to infer that any poster on this group shares
that view. On the other hand, if one is discussing general
perceptions of slavery and the CSA in American society, it
is necessary to admit that the "slavery was good" (or a bit
more accurately, the "slavery was not too bad") argument
is still in vogue among a small, but significant, fraction
of society.

Steve
--
Stephen Schmidt Department of Economics
210A Social Sciences Union College
(518) 388-6078 Schenectady NY 12308

Brooks Simpson

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May 14, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/14/96
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> On 9 May 1996, RStacy2229 wrote:

> 4. The "abolitionist" Republican Party was essentially seeking
Anglo-Saxon
> "lebensraum" in the west, thus to a large degree explaining the
struggle
> over slavery in the territories.

Let's remember that pro-secession Southerners were the people most likely
to characterize the Republican party as an abolitionist party in the
1850s. So it is somewhat of an amusing historical irony when pro-CSA
posters today question the Republican commitment to abolition.

Republicans were indeed unified by the anti-slavery extension issue,
among others. Many of them also believed that if slavery did not expand,
it would die. A good number of southern whites shared that belief. Thus
Republicans also opposed efforts to acquire territory to the south in the
1850s--and they had no interest in getting that territory for themselves
in the 1850s.

Let's also recall that white Southerners were seeking western lands for
the expansion of slavery--thus to a large degree explaining the struggle

over slavery in the territories.

Brooks Simpson

Brooks Simpson

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May 14, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/14/96
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chery...@aol.com (CherylC470) wrote:
In article <4mt22u$a...@zonker.math.uah.edu>,

rain...@pacific.telebyte.com (Barry & Mary Smith) write:

>I get the opinion that most of those who
>take the secessionists' side in this also believe that slavery was a
>morally correct situation, one which by view of tradition and the
>circumstances of the period, which is morally OK even today. Is that

>the popular sentiment here? Do you folks feel that it is morally and
>ethically permissible to regard another human being as property?

Although I don't tend to take the secessionists' side in many matters
(and professional historians, whatever their personal rooting
preferences, should not let such preferences dictate their scholarship),
I must reject this characterization of how white southerners today feel
about slavery. Whatever they say about historical context, or about
comparative racial relations, or whatever, I don't see posters in this
group as supportive of slavery.

Having said this, however, I can understand how the posts of a few people
who are loud in their support of the CSA can create such an impression.
On the alt. network a few weeks ago a fellow claimed that slavery
hindered the white race, but helped the black race. Later he tried to
wriggle his way out of the implications of this statement, but I believe
the message came through loud and clear.

Thus, although I know that most white southerners will understandably
recoil in horror from the original post, it might be advisable for them
to ponder how someone could get this impression, however misleading it
is, as a characterization of white southern attitudes.

Brooks Simpson


bclayton (Bill Clayton)

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May 14, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/14/96
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Robert, I agree with most of what you say. I just want to comment or
elaborate on one point:

RStacy2229 wrote:
>
>
> encountered over the years, leads me to believe that the "fight to set men
> free" was essentially a propaganda front

At least at the start the Civil War was not a "fight to set men free",
as you no doubt know. Lincoln's only purpose was to reunite the union.
There is a well know quote that I paraphrase here: If I could restore
the union by setting all of the slaves free, or some of the slaves free,
or none of the slaves free, I would do it. Granted, slavery - or more
specifically the expansion of slavery into the new territories - was the
root cause of secession but very few of the Union soldiers were fighting
to free the slaves just as very few of the Confederate soldiers were
fighting to keep them enslaved.

Bill Clayton

Chris Raper

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May 15, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/15/96
to

On 12 May 1996 14:41:25 -0500, ge...@seismo.CSS.GOV (Riley Geary)
wrote:

>Chris Raper <trio...@dial.pipex.com> elaborates:
>> I think it boils down to the fact that, in a way, morality is
>> constantly being revised and modified throughout the ages. What we
>> find repugnant now might not have been 100s of years ago. Therefor to
>> condemn someone for doing something that was perfectly normal and
>> legal _then_ but that we find abhorent now, is unjust.
>
>This might not be quite PC here, but some of you are carrying the whole
>moral relativism argument a bit too far. Does anyone honestly believe
>that slavery only became socially and politically unacceptable when it
>was outlawed by the passage of the 13th Amendment in 1865? Once
>again for the ethically challenged and/or morally obtuse -- slavery
>was, is and always will be an intrinsically wrong and inherently evil
>practice, one that can only corrupt and degrade the moral fibre of both
>the slaveholder and the society that sanctions it, and any attempt to
>dance around or evade this issue is disingenious at best.

You have missed my point. I never said that _today_ we consider
slavery acceptable. In _today's_ world slavery is, quite rightly,
abhorrent and illegal. But how do you judge someone who lived 100s of
years ago where the population lived by slightly different moral
codes?

>Just because a particular practice was more widely accepted in past
>ages and/or less enlightened cultures is no reason to turn a blind eye
>to its ethical implications, or to absolve our ancestors from the moral
>choices they may have made. Slavery can be 'understood' in the
>context of a particular society, but it can NEVER be justified by any
>moral or ethical code we would find acceptable.

I am not trying to 'justify' slavery. Slavery is _wrong_. But what the
original poster claimed was that people in this group supported
slavery and I was forwarding the opinion that I have never seen
slavery condoned, only explained in terms of the times in which these
people lived.

> Chris continues:
>
>> I believe slavery was on the way out anyway. The South was just
>> prolonging the situation as long as possible. It wouldn't have taken
>> long for international pressure around the world to force even an
>> independant CSA to abolish slavery.
>This is a rather debatable point, and one few slaveholders in 1860
>would have shared. To the contrary, many in the Confederate
>leadership dreamed of conquering Cuba, Mexico and much of
>Central America so they could create a Slave Empire

[snip]

In their 'dreams' they might. They would probably have allowed slavery
for many years beyond the North's banning of it but I cannot accept
that a country that wanted to do buisiness with the 'Western' powers
would have been allowed to use slavery without severe trading
embargoes being implemented.

Lystar Kimberley J

unread,
May 15, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/15/96
to

Correct me if I'm wrong. Those on this group who defend the south are not
defending slavery. They are trying to rectify a problem in the
historiography that glorifies the north and condemns the south. What most
forget is that slavery was around for milleniums and abolition was
rapidly enforced within a century. Therefore, to attack the south
unilaterally is rather harsh. Though the south was not the first
slave-holding territory to abolish slavery, it was not the last. True,
there is no reason to necessarily believe that without a northern victory
the south would have abolished slavery on its own (after all slavery was
extrememly profitable), but to condemn them for not jumping on the
abolitionist bandwagon from the start is not the right tact. To my
understanding, the war was not so much about keeping slavery forever, but
rather about fighting for the southern "way of life". Also, you have to
keep in mind that the majority of confederates were not slave-holders
themselves. What did they care about slavery? There's more I could say
here, but I'll just leave it at that for now and see what kind of a
response follows!

Please correct me if I'm putting words in the mouths of others. I'm not a
southerner, nor an American, so I can only speculate based on the
sources, as well as the postings, I've read so far! :-)

Kimberley

RStacy2229

unread,
May 17, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/17/96
to

In article <4n269u$b...@zonker.math.uah.edu>, "James F. Epperson"

<eppe...@s10.math.uah.edu> writes, with >> indicating Robert Stacy
McCain's earlier arguments:

>> Slavery was morally wrong. My consistent position (I believe I've
>> been consistent, anyway) has been to point out:
>> 1. The South did not INVENT modern chattel slavery -- the Portugese
did.
>
>Actually, I think it was invented long before the Portugese, but that is

>almost beside the point.>>>>>>.

I said "modern chattel slavery" -- meaning the system whereby
European-Americans bought or captured, transported, sold and kept Africans
and their descendants in perpetual servitude. This system was distinct
from earlier systems in several ways, notably in its racial basis. The
Portugese began this practice during their early attempts to sail around
Africa to reach India. Modern chattel slavery was transported to Brazil by
the Portugese, then taken up in the 1500s by the Spanish and the Dutch,
and subsequently by the English and Americans. If I've got this wrong,
someone please correct me and cite a source.


>
>> 2. Southerners were not the primary actors in the Trans-Atlantic slave
>> trade -- the Portugese, Spanish, Dutch, French, English and, yes,
YANKEES
>> were the owners of most ships involved during more than 250 years of
the
>> "middle passage."
>
>Probably true -- I honestly don't know and will defer to others on
this,>>>>>>>

Very few American Southerners were shipping magnates. Fact. Many New
Englanders and New Yorkers WERE shipping magnates. Fact. The
Trans-Atlantic slave trade involved shipping. Fact. Given these three
premises, find your own conclusion. Also, you might wish to see the
writings of Jefferson and Franklin regarding the ratification of the
Declaration of Independence. Jefferson's denunciation of the king for the
British role in the slave trade was objected to by the South Carolinians
(for obvious reasons) and by certain New Englanders, who were sensitive to
the fact that they had profited from the slave trade. As Casey Stengel
used to say, you could look it up.

>but I do not think we can or should ignore the role of the "market" in
>the slave trade, i.e., there would have been no slave trade if there had
>been no where to sell the slaves and no one to sell them to. And the
>American South was a significant market.

Yes, and so were Brazil, Jamaica, the Bahamas, Honduras, Mexico, Costa
Rica, and many other nations in the New World. All had one thing in
common: A strong demand for labor and a tropical or semi-tropical climate
which discouraged immigration from Europe, where such climates were
thought to be unhealthy (and were unhealthy, before the discovery of
quinine, aspirin, antibiotics and air conditioning). But using the
supply-and-demand analogy, shall we bust the corner junkie and let the
Medellin cartel go free?

>> 3. Many Northern states did not end slavery until the 1820s or 1830s,
and
>> only then to a great extent by selling their slaves southward.
>
>You have made this claim in other places and I do not think it is
>accurate.>>>

We might quibble over the definition of "a great extent," but study the
figures which Freehling has supplied, and then compare population growth
rates for Southern slaves and Northern free blacks during the period, say,
1790-1840. I think you will conclude, as I have, that several tens of
thousands of slaves (say 50,000 as an arguing point) were transported
South from the Middle Atlantic states during those 50 years. Either that,
or conditions for free blacks in the North during that period were so
abyssmal that they DIED by the tens of thousands, because the census
figures show a VERY low rate of population growth for Northern free blacks
during this period.

RStacy2229

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May 17, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/17/96
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In article <1996May1...@seuss.cc.utexas.edu>,
godz...@seuss.cc.utexas.edu (Jim Lyons) writes:

> About 4% of all Africans brought to the Western Hemisphere
>went to what became the US. The rest went south: to the Carribean and
>Central and South America. Brazil and Cuba were among the largest
>buyers (and exterminators) of African captives. The trade with these
>areas began a century before it began with the British colonies in North
>America and a century and a half before the highwater mark of the North
>American trade.

Actually, my World Book says that U.S. received only 6 percent -- SIX
percent -- of the 10 million slaves estimated to have been exported from
Africa to the New World. Those 600,000 -- who began arriving on Dutch
ships in the 1620s -- had increased to 4 million (nearly sevenfold) 240
years later, when the Civil War began. Some "holocaust."

RStacy2229

unread,
May 17, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/17/96
to

In article <4nak1q$d...@zonker.math.uah.edu>, Brooks Simpson
<brooks....@asu.edu> writes:

>Republicans were indeed unified by the anti-slavery extension issue,
>among others. Many of them also believed that if slavery did not expand,

>it would die.>>

Actually, I believe the abolitionists hoped that, if slavery were
contained in the Southern states and Republican postmasters in the South
were allowed to disseminate enough anti-slavery literature, that a slave
uprising could be provoked. It was not slavery that abolitionists hope
would die so much as it was the Southern slaveholders. Why else did the
"Secret Seven" fund John Brown's activities, except to see to it that the
greatest possible number of Southerners died with their throats cut?
RSMcCain
(Dearest moderator: This threat, called "flame bait," was begun by someone
suggesting that pro-Southern posters believe that slavery is just
hunky-dory. Please excuse my venom. Ask Gerald McWhiney about that. RSM)


RStacy2229

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May 17, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/17/96
to

[ inclusions truncated by moderator ]

In article <4n238k$a...@newsbf02.news.aol.com>, chery...@aol.com


(CherylC470) writes:
>Slavery was a great moral evil which blighted this country for far too
>long, and not solely because of its impact on the slaves themselves. I
>believe it inevitably caused a degree of moral corruption in slaveowners
>(Lord Acton, you know).

Jefferson and De Toqueville both remarked upon the baleful influence of
slavery on life in the South. It tended to make labor a stigma of low
caste and thus subverted the work ethic.
Robert Stacy McCain


Riley Geary

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May 18, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/18/96
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trio...@dial.pipex.com (Chris Raper) writes:

> You have missed my point. I never said that _today_ we consider
> slavery acceptable. In _today's_ world slavery is, quite rightly,
> abhorrent and illegal. But how do you judge someone who lived 100s of
> years ago where the population lived by slightly different moral
> codes?

And you seem to have missed my point. Regardless of whether or
not it was once 'legal,' slavery was just as much morally wrong then
as it is today. Popular acceptance of an inherently evil practice does
not in any way confer moral legitimacy; and while that can help
explain why so few Americans (both North and South) were willing
to challenge the 'Peculiar Institution' on ethical grounds before the
1850's, it most assuredly does not absolve individuals of the moral
consequences of their actions. As for 'judging' someone else's
moral code or cultural practice, I have no more problem condemning
the Southern slaveholder than I would say an Aztec priest who
happened to think human sacrifice an acceptable way to organize
a society.

> They would probably have allowed slavery
> for many years beyond the North's banning of it but I cannot accept
> that a country that wanted to do buisiness with the 'Western' powers
> would have been allowed to use slavery without severe trading
> embargoes being implemented.

Yeah, right. Just look at the so-called trade embargo of white-ruled
South Africa in our own time for a good counter-example. Trade
has never been subject to any real moral or ethical considerations,
and that's precisely what the Confederate leaders were counting on
in dealinig with Europe.

Steve Tokarcik

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May 19, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/19/96
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rstac...@aol.com (RStacy2229) wrote:

<snip>

What nationalities where responsible for capturing the
Africans of various tribes on their native
continent?


Douglas Scott

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May 19, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/19/96
to

RStacy2229 wrote:
> Modern chattel slavery was transported to Brazil by
> the Portugese, then taken up in the 1500s by the Spanish and the Dutch,
> and subsequently by the English and Americans. If I've got this wrong,
> someone please correct me and cite a source.

Actually I don't think the Portuguese can be blamed even for that.
For both the Portuguese and English in the early 1600's slavery
was not yet a race issue. The Portuguese and Spanish still had
Moorish slaves captured in their wars in North Africa and would
on occation enslave Protestants, including the English. Their is an
interesting story of an English sailor I read about some time ago.
In the late 1500's he was shipwrecked in South American, enslaved
by Indians who sold him to the Portuguese who used him for various
purposes until he managed to escape. Also the English colonists at
first treated their slaves according the same laws used to govern
indentured servants. That is they became free after a limited time
of service and their children were born free. There was also no
prejudice at first against their race. African slaves and English
indentured servants would sold together at the same auctions. There
are also ads for runaway slaves from the time which show that they
would run away together too.

All this started to change in the late 1600's. In 1661 Virginia
passed a law distinguishing for the first time between African
slaves and indentured servants. Now African slaves and their
children were slaves for life. I think it also tried to reenslave
any free Africans around too. By 1700 every colony had followed
Virginia's lead. They did this simply because slaves had become
more valuable and because they had been dealing with Africans
only as slaves for too long. The development of chattle slavery
in the sense you use it was very definitly an internal development
in the colonies.

> Very few American Southerners were shipping magnates. Fact.

It should be pointed out that the slave trade was not a large part of the
shipping market either, at least in the 19th century.

> Englanders and New Yorkers WERE shipping magnates. Fact. The
> Trans-Atlantic slave trade involved shipping. Fact. Given these three
> premises, find your own conclusion.

Judging from what I have read about this the case seems to be that while many
slave ships were indeed owned by Northern financiers many more slave ships
would fly the American flag simply because America didn't have a treaty
with Britain allowing their vessals to be searched on the high seas. The
US flag is the safest one to use. But most of the American owned ships
didn't go to the US. They smuggled their slaves into Cuba or Brazil which
was also safer than

An exception, however, was a small group of slavers who were Southern
fire eaters. Most of the slaves imported into the US in the 1850's seem
to have been brought in by them. These include Charles A. Lamar, a member
of a promenent Southern family and Captain of the slave ship _Wanderer_,
who personally lead several expeditions to Africa to acquire slaves.
He would later become a colonel of an Alabama regiment and was killed
in a skirmish on April 11, 1865.

> or conditions for free blacks in the North during that period were so
> abyssmal that they DIED by the tens of thousands, because the census
> figures show a VERY low rate of population growth for Northern free blacks
> during this period.

It should be noted that most of the free blacks in the North lived in urban
areas, unlike their Southern kin. And urban death rates in the 18th and
early 19th century were much higher than rural death rates. Indeed premodern
cities are often considered population sinks since they really only grew
at all by attracting more people to them. This was true for all urban
peoples, North or South, Europe, America or China. This changed in the
late 19th century with the development of better plumbing (which was
developed to some extend as a direct response to the Cholera epidemics
of the early century) and a better understanding of how disease in general
spread. This alone would explain a large part of the discrepancy you note.

While there is no doubt that some slaves were sold south there there is
also good evidence that the Northern states took steps to prevent this
from happening. The North certainly didn't do this as a matter of
policy.

Doug Scott
Arlington, Tx

RStacy2229

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May 21, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/21/96
to

In article <4nn7vf$e...@zonker.math.uah.edu>, ste...@fred.net (Steve
Tokarcik) writes:

>What nationalities where responsible for capturing the
>Africans of various tribes on their native
>continent?
>
>

The Africans themselves -- societies which controlled the coastlines
raided into the interior. The Arabs -- as today in the Sudan -- also
enslaved sub-Saharan Africans. But the Europeans were responsible for the
large scale *commericalization* of slavery in Africa, to the tune of some
10 million in roughly 400 years.

RSMcCain

Barry & Mary Smith

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May 23, 1996, 3:00:00 AM5/23/96
to

trio...@dial.pipex.com (Chris Raper) wrote:

>. But what the
>original poster claimed was that people in this group supported
>slavery

I'm the original poster mentioned here, and I don't recall using the
word "supported" in this context. My term, as I recall, was
"condoned", among others


> and I was forwarding the opinion that I have never seen
>slavery condoned, only explained in terms of the times in which these
>people lived.

..wherein explained means justified (even in hindsight). My point is
that I've never read any post saying something to the effect of "the
south was really standing on clear consitutional ground in their
choice to secede, but the slavery issue taints the whole cause in
retrospect.."...or something alonf these lines. I realize that the
times were different, but the posted thoughts I see now tend to hang
on a sympathy for the institution. It's as if the posters see nothing
wrong here on a moral and ethical level. The only "regrettables" they
seem to have gathered in hindsight are economic ones, as evidenced
below.

> I cannot accept
>that a country that wanted to do buisiness with the 'Western' powers
>would have been allowed to use slavery without severe trading
>embargoes being implemented.

Am I somehow not making my questions clear?

BTW, thanks for sharing your thoughts on this subject, everyone.

Yours,
Barry Smith

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