Wednesday, October 18, 2006

A Brief History Lesson for the Alvin ISD School Board

Alvin ISD stands by its ban on Rebel flag

A few of the "old timers" might remember a while back when I posted on LST regarding the events that led to the "War of Northern Aggression."

I am a southerner, born and bred. I had an uncle who used to fly his Confederate Flag in Richmond, Virginia on special holidays. I often wondered why a wealthy lawyer would do such a hateful thing. So, I started trying to find out what really happened to cause the American Civil War. He had one of the largest personal collections of Civil War Memorabilia I had ever seen.

Anyway, I'm going to re-create my earlier post. I wish there were some way I could get it from the archives of LST...

Anyway, let's go over this one more time... for posterity:

The War of Northern Aggression was not about slavery. Sure, slavery as an economic institution was part of the cause. However, in today's schools, slavery is taught as if it were racist. Slavery is neither racist nor non-racist. It is one human being of one class claiming ownership of another human being.

So, slavery, itself, is NOT racist. Black slavery, as practiced in the south was both racist and economic. It was the economics of the situation that led to the south seceding from the Union (not trying to take it over; therefore it was not a "civil war," but a War of Southern Secession or a War of Northern Aggression). Slavery played nearly zero part in it, if you omit its economic content.

So, if it the current school topic of "Civil War was about freeing black Slaves" is demonstrably false, what was its cause?

Here's where the history lesson starts:

You have to go all the way back to 1776 and the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. The problem was that the way it was originally written, the Black Slaves would have been considered citizens and free men. The States whose revenue depended on cheap (not free) labor could not allow this. It would destroy their economies. This means no money, no food, no nothing. Having no money will cause you to get hungry very quickly. This was not a racial decision. It was an economic decision.

Therefore, the original Declaration of Independence was edited to omit any real mention of slavery.

Next comes the Constitution for the United States of America. These are the Laws the Federal Government is supposed to follow. They don't, but that's fodder for another discussion.

When writing the Constitution, Madison (my favorite founding father; Jefferson is a very close second) had to do something to get all the States to ratify it. This caused the 3/5th's compromise and the slavery compromise being established.

(Three-fifth's Compromise language: "Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons."

(Slave Trade Compromise (Article I, Section 9) The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a Tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.)

So, 3/5ths for taxation (money) and representation (power). No more new slaves starting in 1808 (Compromise). I'm not talking the morality of slavery, here, I'm talking the economics, both financially and politically. Note that the indians don't even get a nod and a wink. They're aced out altogether. I guess chattel must be better than savage in human pack heirarchy.

We've now got a disagreement that's been codified into law. The north is becoming industrialized, while the south has an agriculture-based economy. The south needs slaves, the north needs raw materials. At this point, there are no winners in the battle for power in the Federal Government. So far, it is a draw.

So, in 1798, the Federal Government passed the Alien and Sedition acts of 1798. These, in and of themselves, weren't directly responsible for anything, except some interesting laws passed in Kentucky and Virginia, in response.

The author of the Kentucky Resolution was Thomas Jefferson. He's the guy who wrote the Declaration of Independence. The author of the Virginia Resolution was James Madison. He's the one who wrote the Constitution for the United States of America.

So, these were two of the main guys who set up the machine that's supposedly still in use today. I'd say that they were pretty much authorities on what the Constitution and America meant at the time of their institution.

What did they say? Well, pretty much they said that the Federal Government was overstepping its bounds, and that the States had rights that were being infringed with such an act as the Alien and Sedition Acts, and that each State could decide if the Federal Government ever did anything that was beyond its scope. After all, they reasoned, the Federal Government was a construct of the States, and therefore ultimately inferior to the States. Right?

Now, the fight between the Federalists and the "Anti-Federalists" really starts. A more accurate description would be "...between the Federalists and States' Rights proponents" but the victor gets to write the history, so the name "Anti-federalist" sticks.

Next comes "nullification." Nullification was the State's way of saying, "Nope, Federal Government, you aren't allowed to do that. I made you. You can't tell me what to do." This concept was very big in the South. The north, who was benefiting from the economic (financial, money, moolah) burden placed on the south with tariffs on raw materials thought this nullification stuff wasn't such a great idea, but more on that later.

1816 saw the Congress pass a protectionist tariff, protecting northern manufacturing against cheaper external goods. This was their first try. They get better at it. Note that if the north is benefitting, the south must therefore be getting the proverbial short end of the stick. The north gets more income; the south pays higher prices.

The Missouri Compromise did deal with slavery. Basically, it balanced the South's political power with the North's political power within the Federal Government.
There were several versions of it, but basically, it was a stall tactic that just caused matters to simmer.

Keep your eye on the ball here. We're talking money and power, not human servitude.

In 1824, the north got another tariff through to law. They banded with the West to set up larger tariffs and to include more raw materials. Note that the south produced raw materials (foreign clients) while the north produced finished goods (domestic clients). Foreign tariffs helped the north and hurt the south. But, this being only their second try, the north goes for even a bigger piece of the pie in 1828.

The Tariff of Abominations was the last straw, metaphorically speaking. The south found that they couldn't sell their cotton any more. The British threatened to go elsewhere for cheaper product. The south was already barely covering the cost of producing cotton, so no more price decreases were possible. The north's tax was the culprit. The south was, at this time, paying about 87% of the cost of the federal government, with the north getting most of the benefits.

Since the South was getting financially hammered by the North's actions in the Federal Government, they passed the "Nullification Act" in South Carolina. Basically, it said, "We can decide which federal laws we have to follow, and which ones step over the line." I won't go into the wisdom (or lack thereof) of this act, but it definitely was a resounding shot across the bow of the Federal Ship of State.

South Carolina raised the stakes in 1832 by authorizing force (read "army and navy") to prevent the Federal Government from enforcing the Tariff of Abominations of 1828. The pot was fairly boiling over here. Note that slavery is only peripherally connected to the larger power and money issues. The north was being enriched (Peter) by the sacrifices of the south (Paul, after robbing him). Of course Peter was happy with the events. Peter, the North, then passed the Force Bill of 1833, setting up a federal response to any State military action.

Is this when Lincoln "freed" the slaves? No? Then why is everyone so angry already, if the cause of the War of Northern Aggression was caused by slavery? Oh, maybe it ISN'T a racial issue after all?

All unbalanced schemes eventually come to an end (reference dot com and ENRON for examples), and so did this. In 1837, hoping to end spurious speculation in land due to too much money in too few hands, Jackson screwed up with the Specie Circular (devaluing money tends to have that effect), dropping the bottom out of the over-priced real estate market. Here's the secret: Less money with the same number of people means less money per person. More people are going to lose money than gain money when you do it. Pity that Bush the First didn't know about this when he dropped the bottom out of the Real Estate market in the 1980's. I digress.

So, now we have a broke south, and a recently broke north. No one really has any money, which means quite a few people who weren't extremely happy. Not a good sign, if you just had near secession and near internecine war just a few years earlier.

To get the Compromise of 1850 passed, Clay set up the Fugitive Slave Act. This required penalties and return of property if slaves were to be helped or caught, respectively. It also admitted a free State, ending legislative balance, which was already tilted greatly in the North's favor.

Again, I digress.

People like to mention Manifest Destiny right here, but it was really a byplay, and not germaine to the development of the United States, except perhaps as an academic nature. It was the reason people gave for doing what they did, but the real reason was money and power.

The Kansas-Nebraska acts were another aside, but it's interesting to note that the battle was between pro-black-slavery forces and anti-black-immigration forces. That's right... one side wanted to own the blacks, while the other wanted to exclude them from the State altogether.

Most settlers who had come to Kansas from the North and the South only wanted to homestead in peace. They were not interested in the conflict over slavery, but they found themselves in the midst of a battleground. Violence erupted throughout the territory. Southerners were driven by the rhetoric of leaders such as David Atchison, a Missouri senator. Atchison proclaimed the Northerners to be "negro thieves" and "abolitionist tyrants." He encouraged Missourians to defend their institution "with the bayonet and with blood" and, if necessary, "to kill every God-damned abolitionist in the district."

The northerners, however, were not all abolitionists as Atchison claimed. In fact, abolitionists were in the minority. Most of the Free State settlers were part of a movement called Free Soil, which demanded free territory for free white people. They hated slavery, but not out of concern for the slaves themselves. They hated it because plantations took over the land and prevented white working people from having their own homesteads. They hated it because it brought large numbers of black people wherever it went. The Free Staters voted 1,287 to 453 to outlaw black people, slave or free, from Kansas. Their territory would be white.


I'm guessing this part isn't mentioned much in school. Remember, it clashes with the Slavery v. Abolitionist model they have been teaching for at least 50 years.

Harper's Ferry and Dred Scott were battles being fought about slavery, but neither really caused the south to secede. Since the south won both of these issues, why would they become angry and secede, now that things were finally starting to go their way?

In 1857, an interesting thing occurred. It was the panic of 1857, and named appropriately. The British lacked confidence in our ability to regulate our securities when a large firm folded due to embezzlement.

Well, when a lot of folks lose a lot of money very quickly, they tend to buy less. The less they buy, the lower the price on the goods becomes. Better to get 10 cents on a pound this week, than to have a pound of rotten merchandise to throw away next week.

Next to collapse were the railroads with their speculative nature. Folks needed the funds, now, and pulled out their investments for liquid assets. Said investments, the heavily over-valued railroad industry, collapsed. Thousands were left holding the collective bag, which at this point pretty much held worthless land and a lot of debt, and not much else.

Strangely, the South came through this relatively unscathed. Those already nearly destitute didn't get much more destitute by not losing speculative investments they had not made. The north, though, was burned royally. The scene of jubilation in the south was undoubtedly, "How do you like it, Northie? Hertz Donut?"

I see farmers not being too sympathetic, over all, in my view, to the city slickers who had been spanking the south for thirty years got a little comeuppance. In fact, they probably did the 1857 equivalent of "In your face! Our system works better! Score board!" toward their northern neighbors. I would think such taunting would not be likewise enjoyed by the recipients. A great hatred had grown and blossomed.

So, now everyone's hurting financially. The south is just enjoying it a bit more than earlier. Something about misery and company comes to mind. Again, I digress.

Jefferson Davis, on his departure from the US Senate upon the secession of Mississippi from the Union of the United States of America said it probably best:
Secession belongs to a different class of remedies. It is to be justified upon the basis that the States are sovereign. There was a time when none denied it. I hope the time may come again, when a better comprehension of the theory of our Government, and the inalienable rights of the people of the States, will prevent any one from denying that each State is a sovereign, and thus may reclaim the grants which it has made to any agent whomsoever.

In other words, the States gave the Federal Government some of their power when they joined, and they were able to take the power back onto themselves by dissolving the union.

How did the Federal Government react to this diplomatic, peaceful resolution to the insufferable differences between the agrarian and industrial states? Why, they sent a letter to South Carolina, the same South Carolina who had passed a resolution to enforce their laws with force, if need be. What was in this letter? Why, just a notice that "we're sending supplies and reinforcements to Fort Sumter, in your sovereign territory."

You see, at this time, South Carolina no longer considered itself a part of the United States of America. Now, a foreign power was sending military materiƩl onto their territory. What were they to do? Well, they said they'd use force if something like this was tried. So, they defended their territory from this aggression. How did they defend it? They took over their land from the Federal inhabitants.

That's right. Their land. Part of the agreement was land like this to the Federal Government. Said agreement had been nullified, due to the unfair acts passed on the south by the north over the years.

Here's a short version of the confrontation at Fort Sumter.

SC: Hey, Sumter! Get off of our land!
Sumter: No can do. I've got stuff here. Let me use up all my stuff first.
SC: No way. Git!
Sumter" Piss off!

This then deteriorated further until actual shooting occurred. This defense of their sovereignity is what the northern aggressors call "Firing on Fort Sumter." I call it "trying to get trespassers off your land." You can draw your own conclusions. The issue comes down to "where does the federal government get its power?" The Confederate States of America said the people gave the power to the State Government, and the Federal Government got its power from the States. The Federal government says its power comes directly from the people, but it was formed by the States and besides, where does this leave the States, but in a subservient role?

There was money and power at stake here. The north was already hurting, and now, with the South not around to pay the freight, what were they to do? Get real jobs? Not them. They started a War, to force the South back into servitude.

Oh, yeah. About this point, Lincoln said, "Since we're screwing them anyway, let's get rid of most of their property by declaring it free. That oughta sow dissention down there, don't you think?" and issued the emancipation proclamation. Yeah, AFTER the shooting had started, and long after anything that really had to do with slavery was really in dispute.

If the south had won the War of Northern Aggression, then my version above would be more of the version you'd read in the history books.

Oh, and by the way, slavery would still be outlawed and blacks would still be free and equal in society, but I can only prove that by the fact that every other State that has abolished slavery has done so in a peaceful manner.

8 Comments:

Blogger Jaime aka Confederate_Coqui said...

OK, Wino your last post caused me to register.

Great summary.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006 at 9:59:00 AM CDT  
Blogger Jaime aka Confederate_Coqui said...

On a minor point.

The Federalists were really Hamiltonians and for a more consolidated center.

The Anti-Federalists were the real Federalists but since Federalist was already taken they chose for the antonym.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006 at 10:02:00 AM CDT  
Blogger Jaime aka Confederate_Coqui said...

On the firing on Ft. Sumnter. Instead of writing my own summary I'll just post a link to the story of The Star Of The West:

http://www.geocities.com/confederate_cause/thecause-war2.htm

And here is the full text of the letter referenced in the above cited article:

http://history-sites.com/mb/cw/cwnavy/index.cgi?noframes;read=1599

Washington

May 1, 1861

Capt. G.V. Fox
My Dear Sir- I sincerely regret that the failure of the late attempt to provision Fort Sumter should be the source of any annoyance to you. The practicability of your plan was not, in fact, brought to a test. By reason of a gale, well known in advance to be possible, and not improbable, the tugs, an essential part of the plan, never reached the ground; while, by an accident, for which you were in no way responsible, and possibly I, to some extent, was, you were deprived of a war-vessel, with her men, which you deemed of great importance to the enterprise.

I most cheerfully and truthfully declare that the failure of the undertaking has not lowered you a particle, while the qualities you developed in the effort have greatly heightened you in my estimation. For a daring and dangerous enterprise of a similar character, you would, today, be the man of all my aquaintances whom I would select. You and I both anticipated that the cause of the country would be advanced by making the attempt to provision Fort Sumter, even if it should fail; and it is no small consolation now to feel that our anticipation is justified by the result.

Very truly your friend, A. Lincoln

Wednesday, October 18, 2006 at 10:41:00 AM CDT  
Blogger Don said...

I was hoping for more discussion of this.

So many responses on LST shows that they don't read the links before they argue them. Several readers tried to dispute points that I explained here.

Thursday, October 19, 2006 at 12:40:00 AM CDT  
Blogger Jaime aka Confederate_Coqui said...

Too many do not want to spend the energy to be educated. My gosh, they might have to change the way they think!

Can't have that.

Thursday, October 19, 2006 at 9:14:00 AM CDT  
Blogger gtotracker said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Thursday, October 19, 2006 at 11:39:00 AM CDT  
Blogger Jaime aka Confederate_Coqui said...

I wear belt with a CS buckle on a weekly basis. We home school (4 children) so our kids know history from our, and proper, perspective. ;)

We are scheduled to go to the reenactment at the Liendo Plantation on Nov. 17.

Thursday, October 19, 2006 at 3:17:00 PM CDT  
Blogger gtotracker said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Sunday, October 22, 2006 at 8:04:00 PM CDT  

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