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3 years ago#91
Who Lit the Fuse?
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Seamuson & Dylan:

It's a pleasure to see you both under this thread and I do hope that you'll stay awhile. I also hope that Nick comes back in the near future as he was great fun and extremely knowledgable.

I totally agree that Southern slavery concerns were caused by external forces i.e. John Brown and others, slave insurrections, both real and imagined, and the terror of suddenly finding yourself living and working alongside four million free b lacks. But not living with ex slaves was a national problem and should have been worked out responsibly, not dictated to by the one with the least to lose.

"Can there be any doubt that Lincoln would go to any lengths? We’ve heard his speeches, seen his actions with the ships. Who sends food stuffs with 200 soldiers hiding in the bottom of a ship, surrounded by war ships?"

I think it was a well laid out plan and one which was executed in order to sway public opinion - repatriating the seceding states by coercion would then be eagerly supported by the public and seen as a just and appropriate response to the South's 'symbol of defiance.' If President Lincoln hadn't sent warships to Fort Sumter, there would have been no justification or public support for invasion of Virginia; hence Mr. Lincoln would have had to let the South go in peace. And that certainly wasn't an option.

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3 years ago#92
Taylor
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Seamuson & Dylan:

It's a pleasure to see you both under this thread and I do hope that you'll stay awhile. I also hope that Nick comes back in the near future as he was great fun and extremely knowledgable.

I totally agree that Southern slavery concerns were caused by external forces i.e. John Brown and others, slave insurrections, both real and imagined, and the terror of suddenly finding yourself living and working alongside four million free b lacks. But not living with ex slaves was a national problem and should have been worked out responsibly, not dictated to by the one with the least to lose.

"Can there be any doubt that Lincoln would go to any lengths? We’ve heard his speeches, seen his actions with the ships. Who sends food stuffs with 200 soldiers hiding in the bottom of a ship, surrounded by war ships?"

I think it was a well laid out plan and one which was executed in order to sway public opinion - repatriating the seceding states by coercion would then be eagerly supported by the public and seen as a just and appropriate response to the South's 'symbol of defiance.' If President Lincoln hadn't sent warships to Fort Sumter, there would have been no justification or public support for invasion of Virginia; hence Mr. Lincoln would have had to let the South go in peace. And that certainly wasn't an option.

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3 years ago#93
Seamuson
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Nick Fury wrote:

Yes, everyone knows it was the rebels who fired the first shot, twice. The first instance occurred when a South Carolina battery, manned by cadets from The Citadel fired - and connected - on the Star of the West in Charleston harbor on January 9, 1861.


The question hinges on what constitutes a provocation for war. Certainly the high school version of history strongly suggests that the South started the war by claiming a federal fort, manned at the time with federal soldiers, under force of arms.

Nick you had made reference to an earlier post in response to Mac's attempt to get a response from you applying to the subject matter of the thread, aside from the interesting discussion concerning the legality of secession and other causes of the war, and I think this is the posting referenced and authored by you.

The deeper question is why was the "line in the sand" drawn at Fort Sumter and not other federal forts along the coast. The South had claimed several of these already, though not all. Fort Monroe in Virginia is a case in point in which a federal garrison was utilized by federal forces for the duration of the war, and was a significant thorn in the side of Confederate forces in Virginia.

So I have read the the link provided by Mac, and the subject matter is thoroughly documented, causing me to place the Ft. Sumter event in the same category as the Gulf of Tonkin event, a proven falsity, during the Vietnam war as another government fabricated fraud used to incite a mentality in the populace to readily accept war. I think the facts are basically in, due to this relatively new uncovering of the facts behind Ft. Sumter's supply mission, and we can safely say that in lieu of the secession of the Gulf states that Lincoln needed a more concrete reason to coerce southern states back into the union necessitating shots fired from southern forces against the federal garrison to inflame the northern public against the south.

Prior to Ft. Sumter, events had been moving quickly, so I am just guessing about the other forts, and I apologize in advance, for I will offer an educated guess at this point. Perhaps someone with more detailed knowledge of the history of how the numerous other forts along the southern coast had been claimed by state and Confederate forces prior to the crisis at Ft. Sumter could join in and perhaps provide some references detailing the history of these other forts. But it appears they were able to be claimed, with the exception of Ft. Sumter, precisely on the basis that while they were federal garrisons, they were nevertheless within the jurisdiction of state territory, and perhaps the federal troops stationed at them simply left when asked, and as US federal authority had been democratically dissolved in that state, US federal ownership of anything within a state having left the former union, was thereby null and void for the social contract between state and federal government *depended* on the state in question being part of the federal union. Since the ties to that union had been democratically dissolved by the sovereign people in convention, federal jurisdiction at the forts had been thereby dissolved.

But Toombs was correct. The fort should not have been claimed in the manner that occurred, all consideration of "rights" aside. This was a Macchiavellian cat and mouse game in which Lincoln clearly proved to be the master.

Lincoln's reply to Davis after General Beauregard fired on Ft. Sumter could have been: "Welcome to my parlor said the spider to the fly."
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3 years ago#94
macreverie
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Dead on analysis here Seamuson. Every citizen of this country should be required to read it. (might help keep us out of future unnecessary wars).

The reason Sumter was the "line in the sand" instead of somewhere else is the fact that ole abe could readily provoke war there. He had already sent warships and landed troops at Fort Pickens without any reaction by the CS. They (CS) knew full well that they did not have the forces in place to reduce Pickens or drive off the fleet but they (and abe) certainly knew they could do so at Sumter.

Yes, they fell into ole abe's trap. A couple of years afterward Jeff Davis privately questioned Beauregard's mental capacity (and Jeff weren't the brightest bulb on the tree himself as far as I'm concerned). Jeff and Beau allowing themselves to be played like a fiddle makes one wonder about BOTH of their mental capabilities. (or were they just thinking like soldiers instead of conniving politicians like abe?)

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3 years ago#95
Seamuson
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Thanks for the kudos Mac. I honestly think that while Davis' alternatives were limited, the counsel within the government was to take Sumter as it happened, and that Toombs was effectively isolated in the group.

The history of this period, from the time slavery began to be a contested issue to even the present day, the South had struggled to maintain its equality under the constitution and the equality of states with respect to each other. The taking of Ft. Sumter was done on that basis, ill advised as it was.

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3 years ago#96
dylan
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This point has been made over and over again, but let’s say it once more. When the Star came calling with 200 soldiers hidden in the bottom of the ship, surrounded by warships, nobody but a missionary would have thought there were good intentions here, to just provide food for a garrison. First, the garrison was not starving and second, why do you need those soldiers hidden? They weren’t in plain sight, they were deliberately hidden so that they could pass unseen into the garrison.


And even before that, if this was “just normal business going on” why did Anderson sneak into Ft. Sumter under cover of darkness? The answer quite simply is that someone told him to do so, just as someone directed that soldiers be hidden in the ship so that no one would suspect that other soldiers would be present at Ft. Sumter in future days.

However, the South was not fooled and those gallant boys from the Citadel showed they had learned their lessons well by firing over the Star. They could have hit it broadside, if that had been the purpose. But it wasn’t, the purpose was simply to turn back the ship, which they accomplished.

In my opinion, these were the first acts leading up to war, not the bombardment of the Fort. The South’s patience had been sorely tested. The First Inaugural’s threat that Lincoln WOULD collect his taxes also emphasized to the South that there was to be no further discussion.

Boy Scouts know that to start a fire: you must first collect kindling, then rub two sticks together and make a spark. All the above items were certainly the sparks that started the WBTS.

By Lincoln’s own words in the Fox letter and also to someone else, although here memory fails me, he said in effect that he’d accomplished his goal. In other words, to the world, he wanted the South to fire the first shot.

The Constitution properly gives the authority to wage war only to Congress, not a president. The departing States offered no military threat to the States remaining in the Union, though they did pose an economic threat to Northern ports with low free-trade tariffs and cotton production. This economic reality was sufficient to push Lincoln and his northeastern political base to engage in total war to ruthlessly eliminate the South’s political and economic power, and then rehabilitate the region as an economic colony and market for Northern manufactures.

Dylan

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3 years ago#97
macreverie
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"They could have hit it broadside, if that had been the purpose. But it wasn’t, the purpose was simply to turn back the ship, which they accomplished."

I believe the Star of the West was actually struck a couple of times. I agree though this was indeed an act of War and had the Buchanan administration wanted an excuse to go to war this certainly would have been as good as the firing on Sumter

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3 years ago#98
Taylor
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Dylan:

I found this letter from Winfield Scott to Lt. Col. Henry Scott to be most interesting:

Official Records of the Civil War
SERIES: I VOLUME: I CAMPAIGN: Charleston SERIAL: 001 PAGE: 0236

HEADQUARTERS OF THE ARMY, Washington, D. C., April 4, 1861.
Lieutenant Colonel HENRY L. SCOTT, A. D. C., New York:

SIR: This letter will be landed to you by Captain G. V. Fox, ex-officer of the Navy, and a gentleman of high standing, as well as possessed of extraordinary nautical ability. He is charged by high authority here with the command of an expedition, under cover of certain ships of war, whose object is to re-enforce Fort Sumter.

To embark with Captain Fox you will cause a detachment of recruits, say about two hundred, to be immediately organized at Fort Columbus, with a competent number of officers, arms, ammunition, and subsistence. A large surplus of the latter-indeed, as great as the vessels of the expedition can take-with other necessaries, will be needed for the augmented garrison of Fort Sumter.

The subsistence and other supplies should be assorted like those which were provided by you and Captain Ward of the Navy for a former expedition. Consult Captain Fox and Major Eaton on the subject, and give all necessary orders in my name to fit out the expedition, except that the hiring of vessels will be left to others.

Some fuel must be shipped. Oil, artillery implements, fuses, cordage, slow-march, mechanical levers, and gins, &c., should also be put on board.

Consult, also, if necessary, confidentially, Colonel Tompkins and Major Thornton.
Respectfully, yours,
WINFIELD SCOTT.

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3 years ago#99
Seamuson
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"...artillery....fuses..." they obviously intend to shoot something.

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3 years ago#100
Seamuson
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I should have added that the main reason the Virginia House of Burgesses would have made that protest to the Crown was in fact because there were many in Virginia at that time who were in fact *indentured servants*, being English citizens and colonists, and there was no labor shortage for those who could do the menial labor required for plantations, and that slaves and slave labor were not required. The Crown, however, overruled that imprecation.

In years to follow the indentured servants would be released from their term bound to service, and the pool of people in England replenishing the supply of indentured servants to the colonies would cease.


In the colonial period the Virginia House of Burgesses had protested to the British monarch about the imposition of slavery on the colonies, to no avail, for the purpose of the colony was in large measure the development of crops requiring plantations. So the colonies would have their slaves whether the colonists wanted them or not. The rise of a lucrative cotton trade increased the catch-22 situation of the South with respect to the slave labor which made that trade possible.

The institution of slavery, especially subsequent to the uprising in Haiti in 1791, was as the sword of Damocles hovering over our heads.
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3 years ago#101
dylan
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I don’t want to de-rail this thread since it concerns Fort Sumter, but Kenneth has brought up something interesting when he talks about the early years. I have something that ties in directly with this.

I have more knowledge on this subject concerning slavery in the North and the slave trade itself that this forum probably has not heard before. Would you like for me to put it on this thread or put it on the slavery thread?

Taylor, it’s your call.

Dylan

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3 years ago#102
Taylor
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Dylayn - I think it should be posted on the slavery thread.

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3 years ago#103
Taylor
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I know I've said this before and it's never been a popular theory amongst my Northern counterparts, but I believe that Fort Sumter was irrelevant other than the effect that it had on public opinion. War was inevitable, had been brewing for years, and was planned and orchestrated by a handful of clever politicians and industrialists. President Lincoln knew perfectly well that he intended to preserve the Union by the use of military force and with the unwillingness of the Confederacy to dissolve itself; Fort Sumter becomes a catalyst and not the instigator.

As President Davis said, “The order for the sending of the fleet was a declaration of war. The responsibility is on their shoulders, not on ours.” There was no medium for the South to negotiate - that had already been proven.

If Fort Sumter being fired on was the reason for President Lincoln's invasion, why did he invade Virginia and not bomb the hell out of Charleston? It's clear to me that the answer is because Fort Sumter wasn't the point. The act of secession caused the war.

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3 years ago#104
Seamuson
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Taylor stated
The act of secession caused the war.


I think that is an overstatement, but it is clear that in the American experience southern state secession was one of the steps which led directly to war.

But your basic point is well taken -- Lincoln's goal was not suppressing a violation of "federal" rights specific to Ft. Sumter, or capturing the people involved on the ground, such as Gen Beauregard and the militia soldiers who bombarded the garrison. His objective was Richmond, and remained so until Gen Grant would make the primary objective the Army of Northern Virginia in the Petersburgh campaign.
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3 years ago#105
Taylor
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To Gustavus V. Fox
Capt. G. V. Fox Washington, D. C.
May 1, 1861

My dear Sir:

I sincerely regret that the failure of the late attempt to provision Fort-Sumpter, 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 wise 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 enterprize.

I most cheerfully and truly 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 enterprize, of a similar character, you would, to-day, be the man, of all my acquaintances, 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-Sumpter, 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


"[t]he attempt to reinforce Sumter will provoke an attack and involve war. The very preparation for such an expedition will precipitate war at that point. I oppose beginning war at that point. I would advise against the expedition to Charleston. I would at once, at every cost, prepare for war at Pensacola and Texas. I would instruct Major Anderson to retire from Sumter.” -- Secretary of State William Seward, during a Cabinet meeting in the first month of the Lincoln administration
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3 years ago#106
Taylor
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"The affair at Fort Sumter, it seems to us, has been planned as a means by which the war feeling at the North should be intensified, and the administration thus receive popular support for its policy.... If the armament which lay outside the harbor, while the fort was being battered to pieces [the US ship The Harriet Lane, and seven other reinforcement ships], had been designed for the relief of Major Anderson, it certainly would have made a show of fulfilling its mission. But it seems plain to us that no such design was had. The administration, virtually, to use a homely illustration, stood at Sumter like a boy with a chip on his shoulder, daring his antagonist to knock it off. The Carolinians have knocked off the chip. War is inaugurated, and the design of the administration accomplished."

The Buffalo Daily Courier, April 16, 1861.
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3 years ago#107
Taylor
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"We have no doubt, and all the circumstances prove, that it was a cunningly devised scheme, contrived with all due attention to scenic display and intended to arouse, and, if possible, exasperate the northern people against the South.... We venture to say a more gigantic conspiracy against the principles of human liberty and freedom has never been concocted. Who but a fiend could have thought of sacrificing the gallant Major Anderson and his little band in order to carry out a political game? Yet there he was compelled to stand for thirty-six hours amid a torrent of fire and shell, while the fleet sent to assist him, coolly looked at his flag of distress and moved not is strange proceeding.... Pause then, and consider before you endorse these mad men who are now, under pretense of preserving the Union, doing the very thing that must forever divide it."

The New York Evening Day-Book, April 17, 1861.
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3 years ago#108
macreverie
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"The act of secession caused the war"

No it did not. War was not inevitable.

Lincoln very deliberately chose to start the war and very deliberately did so (and said so himself). The act of secession DID not necessarily mean war. abe et. al. could have at least made an attempt at negotiation. They did not make the slightest attempt. They meant to have a war and took all the necessary steps to get what they wanted.

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3 years ago#109
Seamuson
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This is a phenomenal and damning letter from Pres Lincoln. I have seen it quoted before, but never in its entirety as you have provided here. The quotation by Seward also adds to the seriousness of the situation. Do you have a reference for the letter from Lincoln and the quote by Seward?


Somebody wake up Nick Fury....

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3 years ago#110
Taylor
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Seamunson:

I aplogize for not suppyling my references.

President Lincoln's letter to Gustavas Fox: "Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Volume IV, pp. 350-351 (Letter from Abraham Lincoln to Gustavus Fox, May 1, 1861)

The excerpt from Mr. Sewards letter to President Lincoln, March, 1861: Library of Congress, The Abraham Lincoln Papers; The Century, Volume 35; WE, Pg. 160

Mac:

"No it did not."

I don't think this is a very polite way to get your point across.

"War was not inevitable. Lincoln very deliberately chose to start the war and very deliberately did so (and said so himself). The act of secession DID not necessarily mean war. abe et. al. could have at least made an attempt at negotiation. They did not make the slightest attempt. They meant to have a war and took all the necessary steps to get what they wanted."

I agree that the act of secession 'DID not necessarily mean war,' but since President Lincoln was always clear about not letting the South go and he refused to negotiate with Confederate Peace Commissioners; it's clear to me that war was inevitable.

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3 years ago#111
macreverie
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"I don't think this is a very polite way to get your point across."

Sorry if this seemed impolite. Just stating cold facts.
Lincoln very carefully and very deliberately started the war and even said so himself as you have very plainly pointed out. Since, as you admit, secession did not inexorably mean war then abe's actions and not the act of secession must necessarily be viewed as the cause of the war.

I have never found anything that lincoln said before he was elected president that indicate that if any State exercised the right of secession he would ignore the constitution and make war on that State. The "you shan't" statement that was attributed to abe by a newspaper reporter even if totally accurate doesn't exactly say that does it? Had he made the threat of war implicit he would have never been elected would he?

"....he refused to negotiate with Confederate Peace Commissioners"

Yes, and that means he had already chosen war doesn't it?

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3 years ago#112
Taylor
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Mac:

We could go round robin on the secession point but in my opinion, President Lincoln had options, and he chose the wrong one.

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3 years ago#113
macreverie
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"Mac:

We could go round robin on the secession point but in my opinion, President Lincoln had options, and he chose the wrong one."

Exactly Taylor!! War may have been inevitable but we will never know that will we? abe saw to it that he would have his war and as far as I can tell he didn't even consider any other option.

His deliberate action in ensuring a war may have been the wrong one from our perspective and from the perspective of the South, but from his? The war allowed him and his pals to institute their dream of high tariffs and "internal improvements". A systems in which they could plunder the public wealth (mostly Southern wealth) for the benefit of the chosen few. What were a few deaths among the little people and the devastation and impoverishment of most of the Southern people for generations compared to that lofty and noble goal?

I guess I might be a little charitable and say that ole abe may have miscalculated the scale of slaughter and misery that his war would cause. He may well have thought that the South would back down quickly.

But I ain't totally convinced of even that.

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3 years ago#114
Taylor
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Mac:

I don't think anyone, including President Lincoln, could ever have predicted that the war would last a year, never mind four. And had they known, I don't believe the mercenaries involved would have stomached that much wide scale suffering and slaughter.

I know this is more relevant to the 'slavery thread' but I've been doing some research this morning on a totally unrelated subject, and this thought keeps distracting me from my work, and it's something I've certainly mentioned on this forum before. But it's the audacity of this that boggles my mind. How can you not expect a fight when you, and I mean the Federal government, demand that an entire society give up its way of life with nothing to replace it?

The arrogance is mind boggling. The lack of compassion is frightening. For millions of people to be left with nothing, blacks and whites included. And I'm reminded of that infamous quote by Mrs.Sherman..."may all Southerners be driven like swine to the sea."

Who wouldn't fight for their livlihood?

But back to Fort Sumter. The length of the wick between the spark and the flame had already been determined when the Star of the West was being fitted for her 'mission.'

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3 years ago#115
macreverie
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"I don't think anyone, including President Lincoln, could ever have predicted that the war would last a year, never mind four."

Maybe so but the point is "father abraham" knew full well that he was provoking a shooting war and said as much.

The Southern people, when they voted for secession, certainly did not know that licncoln would defy his own laws and deliberately provoke a war. How could they have known that?

That being the case how can anyone believe that the act of secession and not abe's deliberate provocation was the cause of the war?

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3 years ago#116
Seamuson
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Some allege that a 'what' as opposed to a 'who' lit the fuse, that what being slavery itself. Citing slavery as the fuse lighter, or ultimate cause, doesn't go far enough.

President Jeff Davis stated in an interview included in the Richmond Dispatch that slavery was not even an essential element of what provoked the war. It merely fired the musket that was already capped and loaded. It was less than a pretense, for it wasn't even a pretense when the war began, not officially so anyway.

I think I can make a strong argument that John Brown lit the fuse, for after the raid on Harper's Ferry and Brown's subsequent conviction and execution, southern leaders resolved that remaining in the federal union was not a good idea because elements of society, especially northern society included individuals and organizations that sought ill ends for the South in general. That includes abolitionist organizations which have the elimination of slavery as their motivation, and business interests which require the curtailing of southern legislative representative power in the US Congress in order to get their own agenda passed, namely a national tariff to fund their goals, an expansive railroad throughout the west being chief among them.

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3 years ago#117
Taylor
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Seamuson:

I think you may be right. John Brown's actions hallmarked the end of compromise over slavery and further fueled the fears and imaginations of Southern people. The dye had already been cast.

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3 years ago#118
Taylor
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Options of President Davis:

1. Don't fire on Fort Sumter and attempt to negotiate with President Lincoln. Such negotiations would take forever since Mr. Lincoln would do everything but set the Whitehouse on fire with his mounds of paperwork and clever red herrings. The problem with this option is that it would summon the furor of Southern public opinion, and also the ridicule of international sentiment. If a newly formed government cannot even control forts located in its own harbours, then what credibility does it have?

2. Fire on Fort Sumter and behave as any leader of a country would when it has repeatedly asked foreign ships to stay out of its harbours. The obligations that Northerners speak of with respect to President Lincoln's office, were also the same obligations that fell on President Davis, as the leader of the Confederacy. And it's unfair to entertain the notion that Mr. Davis could allow the Federal army indefinitely on Confederate territory. Mr. Lincoln would certainly not have allowed foreign ships in Northern Harbours so for it to be otherwise for the Confederacy, is a classic case of double standards.

Options of President Lincoln:

1. Ask General Anderson to evacuate Fort Sumter and meet with Confederate Peace Commissioners to discuss/negotiate the very delicate situation which existed on both sides. Let the South go peacefully, and show the world that the President was open to compromise/negotiations, a fine diplomat, and a firm believer of truth, liberty, and justice.

2. Send war ships into Charleston Harbour and give the Confederacy no choice but to fire warning shots across their bow. Attempt to provision Fort Sumter after several warnings from President Davis not to do so, thus the fort was attacked.


Attorney General Edward Bates: "I am willing to evacuate Fort Sumter, rather than be an active party in the beginning of civil war."

Secretary of War Simon Cameron: "I am greatly influenced by the opinions of the Army officers..As a practical military question, the time for succoring Fort Sumt passed away nearly a month ago."

Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase: "If the attempt will so inflame civil war as to involve an immediate necessity for the enlistment of armies I cannot advise it."

Secretary of State William Seward: "It would provoke combat, and probably initiate a civil war. Fraternity, if practiced by this administration, will rescue the Union from all its dangers."

Interior Secretary Caleb Smith: "The effect of such an attempt, whether successful or not, would be the early loss of the Fort, and the destruction, or capture, of Maj. Anderson's command. It would therefore in my judgment be unwise to attempt to supply the fort."

Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles: "By sending or attempting to send provisions into Sumter, will not war be precipitated? It may be impossible to escape it under any course of policy but I am not prepared to advise a course that would provoke hostilities."
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2 years ago#119
Seamuson
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Just read the quotation below in

    The South Under Siege, 1830-2000
by Frank Conner, and it immediately reminded me of this thread:
[After the 1860 election] Lincoln sensed what lay ahead, and what his role in it would be. On 12 December 1860, he sent (via Elihu B. Washburne) a secret message to the commanding general of the U.S. Army, Lt. General Winfield Scott. That message said,
"Please present my respects to the general, and tell him, confidentially, I shall be obliged to him to be as well prepared as he can to either hold or retake the (Southern) forts, as the case may require, at and after the inauguration."
Lincoln sent that message eight days prior to the secession of South Carolina.


p. 101. (edited to cite correct page)

I am astounded. Utterly amazing.
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2 years ago#120
Taylor
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Seamuson:

This is pretty damning evidence!

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