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Joseph McCarty
05-15-2007, 02:42 PM
I am not sure this is where this topic goes, but here goes.

My history teacher says that SLAVERY was the direct cause of the civil war. The south was fighting to keep slavery and that was that. Other minor things too but those have no importance because of SLAVERY being the cause. I have tried telling him that there was talk of freeing the slaves in the south to ensure help from the British or French. He won't listen to me and shoots what I say in class down even though I get my facts from REPUTABLE historians of this subject like Stephan Sears. He has a bachelor's degree in US history, and he is no expert. I know more than him on this subject. I've studied it five years now as a reenactor and more before I entered this hobby. I think he views me as a threat to his rep. In other periods of our history he would ask me to add info into his talks. Now he just says "I am the teacher, let me teach!' even when I point out that most of you agree with me (I've read the discussions you've had) and are more knowledgeable than he will ever be in the subject. So can anyone give me FACTS to help prove my point? He has made me look like an idiot and said I can't trust your facts because "Internet people cannot be trusted."
I know you can be trusted because you have studied this for over 20 years (some of you) and others have studied more rigorously than I have in five years. I don't know much still compared to what there is to learn. So far this history course has been mindless review and easy A's...

tompritchett
05-15-2007, 02:59 PM
I would suggest that you take the tact of agreeing that the first seven states seceded primarily over the potential threat of slavery being dissolved and the potential threat that blacks would be made the legal equivalents of whites. The war itself was fought over whether or not these 7 states, and the additional 4 that seceded after Lincoln issued his muster call, actually had the right to leave the Union. The spark that actually ignited the war, the firing on Ft. Sumter, was caused by a disagreement between SC and the US on who actually had sovereignty over the fort. I know that this is a fine distinction that to some may be seeming to split hairs but it recognizes where and when the issues of slavery and states rights actually came into play.

Of course, the other issue is whether or not this is really a battle that you want to fight given the potential consequences of creating an enemy of your teacher.

5thNYcavalry
05-15-2007, 03:06 PM
Well there were northerners who did not approve slavery there were also those who disagreed with them being free. This is stated in my textbook. I would be glad to scan it and all its publisher info to show your teacher.

THE MAIN CAUSE of the war was to preserve the Union, after Ft Sumter

Joseph McCarty
05-15-2007, 03:06 PM
I only got him for 17 more days then....POOF! summer vacation and never again will I have to listen to him.... Well thats what you get with northern teachers....Ignorance to true facts (unless they reenact and are major history buffs devoted to accuracy) Thank you I will try that. But didn't the first states secede over the IDEA slavery could be taken away not over keeping slavery itself? because the majority of people there didn't care if slaves were free or not they just wanted them gone if the were freed, sent to to Africa or Guatemala or someplace, which they were.

Joseph McCarty
05-15-2007, 03:15 PM
Yes thats what I said too. Thank you I might take you up on that offer. I told him LINCOLN started the war not the firing on fort Sumpter. The confederates were just seizing what they saw as THEIR land. Lincoln called up for 75000 90 day troops that could have dealt with the seceded states except it brought more states to secede and fight back. Without the new states it is doubtable that the war would last as long as it did. The south didn't start a war. it doesn't make sense. They wanted to be independent. Why start a war with a nation with twice the resources you have?
Lincoln in a letter quoted in the South Carolina discussion even says that his primary goal is to preserve the Union and not to free slaves if he doesn't have to. and my teacher still stares this in the face and says "You can't trust Internet" even when I point out the letter is in a book I have, word for word! :confused:

5thNYcavalry
05-15-2007, 03:22 PM
Well I am in NY and my teacher goes for the facts. I would personally tell him "Go back to middle school far a few years". But that's just me

brown30741
05-15-2007, 04:33 PM
Now, I am a little biased. I worked at a National Park site from 14-20 and now almost decade later I'm changing careers to become an history teacher. However, Tom offers a very nice overview of the issues. To suggest slavery had nothing to do with the war (as my NORTHERN college prof. tried to do) is simply buying into untruths that damage the pursuit of history. I have never heard a convincing claim made that remaoved slavery from the process. My oversimplification when I worked for the NPS went something like this: "The north invaded b/c the South seceded. The South seceded to protect states' rights. The 'right' of greatest concern to Southern leaders at the time was the 'right' to own another person." While a simple "slavery was it" explaination is not right, neither is a denial of slavery's KEY role.

Even if my previous paragraph does not sit with your view of history, I invite you to read an excellent book that addresses this and other topics of note to us as living historians. "The Memory of the Civil War in American Culture" edited by Alice Fahs and Joan Waugh. Before you dismiss it becuase of the editors names (and you know some of you have already), it features chapters by noted historians of the era, including the likes of Gallagher and McPherson.

This is a topic dear to my heart and one that will continue to be a sore point. However, RESEARCH is the only thing that can brings us to a better understanding, not namecalling, shouting, disengagement, and feelings.

Good luck in school and keep learning beyond your teachers!

And by the way: I am all for questioning the teacher, first in a polite and tactful way, and eventually in a public forum (but not an attack) that begs for long-term change. I say this as a man who does not possess all the answers and hopes to learn as much in his classroom as the students do. I have challenged many teachers. My first presentation to the Chattanooga Civil War Roundtable was at age 16, and it was about what I was being "taught" about the ACW in my AP US History course. I have done it as recently as with the above mentioned education profs who conferred upon me a master's degree to teach history... Know your teachers well, support them, and show them your concern isn't me vs you, but in pursuit of the learning of everyone.

David Meister
05-15-2007, 04:52 PM
If you can, acquire a copy of the book "The South Was Right" by James and Walter Kennedy. The book has a biased title, but is full of excellent facts that are clearly documented, going back to the original Constitution of the U.S., etc. As far as making an enemy of your history teacher goes, I guess you have to decide for yourself if sticking up for what you believe and know is correct is more important than having your teacher like you - I know there's a fine line between having your teacher like you vs. good grades, just do what is best for you. Good luck, I've been in the same position as you,

David Meister

toptimlrd
05-15-2007, 05:01 PM
Wow, I am surprised this subject is still being treated with the scholarship exhibited here and has not broken down into the usual arguments.

Hoping the teacher is reasonable, I would suggest scheduling an appointment with him or her either before school, after school, or another suitable time. Put together your list of references and bring as many as you can where you can sit down and have a sensible discussion where neither feels threatened. Believe me, challenging a teacher in front of a class should always be the last resort as it undermines their ability to teach and they will usually get defensive. Now, I agree with the teacher in that you can not use basic Internet chat such as this for reference, but if that chat is backed up with legitimate research that is a horse of a different color. If you say I read on the Civil War Reenactors website that the cause of the war was XYZ, then I would not accept that as legitimate research. On the other hand if you say that you went to the Internet and found a letter that Lincoln wrote explaining his position on the subject, tht is better. The best would be to have several scholarly sources that have the same information. I do hope you are not arguing that slavery had no role in the war because it was one of if not the main catalyst (note I did not say cause). There is no one cause to the war but a series of events that predicated the advent of the firing on Ft. Sumter. Please take the time to do some thourough research and be able to cite the research properly by title, author, and background.

AZReenactor
05-15-2007, 05:29 PM
I would really suggest taking a step back and listening to the perspective your teacher is presenting. You may even find there is some validity to his point of view. One thing to keep in mind about history is that once you get beyond the basic facts it is largely a matter of interpretation and understanding .

There may have indeed been a wide variety of motives, perspectives, and goals at play in the events leading to war but slavery was certainly at the very center of the controversy. It wasn't just the long debate over the continuance of human bondage but also the debate about its expanding it into the territories and new states of the westward expansion.

As you look at different perspectives, keep in mind that the differing view on these issues were so entrenched historically that people found it easier to go to war than to try and work their issues out through debate and the political process. Differing views on these issues today are no less intense and it is easier to take offense than to find common ground. The issues that led to war back then are really just as murky and controversial today.

brown30741
05-15-2007, 05:52 PM
Here are a few quotes from a newspaper report featuring the Confederate VP A.H. Stephens' (D-Georgia) so-called “Cornerstone Speech,” delivered prior to Sumter, outlining the reasons for the foundation of the Confederacy. Sadly, it is almost 4 times the length this forum can support. If anyone is interested, you can find the whole thing out "there." If a lot of folks pm me and ask for the whole text, I may also ask the moderates how to put it up in full, even if it takes 3 more posts. These quotes are of note, although it is very much worth the time it takes to read the address in full and he lays out more than slavery, although I read it to mean slavery is the greatest of the reasons.

“The new constitution has put at rest, forever, all the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institution -- African slavery as it exists amongst us -- the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization. This was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution.”

“Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea” [that our founders incorrectly believed that slavery was morally wrong] “; its foundations are laid, its corner- stone rests upon the great truth, that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery -- subordination to the superior race -- is his natural and normal condition. [Applause.] This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.”


Cornerstone Speech
Savannah; Georgia, March 21, 1861

The Cornerstone Speech was delivered extemporaneously by Vice President Alexander H. Stephens, and no official printed version exists. The text below was taken from a newspaper article in the Savannah Republican, as reprinted in Henry Cleveland, Alexander H. Stephens, in Public and Private: With Letters and Speeches, before, during, and since the War, Philadelphia, 1886, pp. 717-729.


Note: the above quotes come from this section

"The new constitution has put at rest, forever, all the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institution -- African slavery as it exists amongst us -- the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization. This was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution. Jefferson in his forecast, had anticipated this, as the "rock upon which the old Union would split." He was right. What was conjecture with him, is now a realized fact. But whether he fully comprehended the great truth upon which that rock stood and stands, may be doubted. The prevailing ideas entertained by him and most of the leading statesmen at the time of the formation of the old constitution, were that the enslavement of the African was in violation of the laws of nature; that it was wrong in principle, socially, morally, and politically. It was an evil they knew not well how to deal with, but the general opinion of the men of that day was that, somehow or other in the order of Providence, the institution would be evanescent and pass away. This idea, though not incorporated in the constitution, was the prevailing idea at that time. The constitution, it is true, secured every essential guarantee to the institution while it should last, and hence no argument can be justly urged against the constitutional guarantees thus secured, because of the common sentiment of the day. Those ideas, however, were fundamentally wrong. They rested upon the assumption of the equality of races. This was an error. It was a sandy foundation, and the government built upon it fell when the "storm came and the wind blew."

Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner- stone rests upon the great truth, that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery -- subordination to the superior race -- is his natural and normal condition. [Applause.] This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth. This truth has been slow in the process of its development, like all other truths in the various departments of science. It has been so even amongst us. Many who hear me, perhaps, can recollect well, that this truth was not generally admitted, even within their day. The errors of the past generation still clung to many as late as twenty years ago. Those at the North, who still cling to these errors, with a zeal above knowledge, we justly denominate fanatics. All fanaticism springs from an aberration of the mind -- from a defect in reasoning. It is a species of insanity. One of the most striking characteristics of insanity, in many instances, is forming correct conclusions from fancied or erroneous premises; so with the anti-slavery fanatics; their conclusions are right if their premises were. They assume that the negro is equal, and hence conclude that he is entitled to equal privileges and rights with the white man. If their premises were correct, their conclusions would be logical and just -- but their premise being wrong, their whole argument fails. I recollect once of having heard a gentleman from one of the northern States, of great power and ability, announce in the House of Representatives, with imposing effect, that we of the South would be compelled, ultimately, to yield upon this subject of slavery, that it was as impossible to war successfully against a principle in politics, as it was in physics or mechanics. That the principle would ultimately prevail. That we, in maintaining slavery as it exists with us, were warring against a principle, a principle founded in nature, the principle of the equality of men. The reply I made to him was, that upon his own grounds, we should, ultimately, succeed, and that he and his associates, in this crusade against our institutions, would ultimately fail. The truth announced, that it was as impossible to war successfully against a principle in politics as it was in physics and mechanics, I admitted; but told him that it was he, and those acting with him, who were warring against a principle. They were attempting to make things equal which the Creator had made unequal.

In the conflict thus far, success has been on our side, complete throughout the length and breadth of the Confederate States. It is upon this, as I have stated, our social fabric is firmly planted; and I cannot permit myself to doubt the ultimate success of a full recognition of this principle throughout the civilized and enlightened world.

As I have stated, the truth of this principle may be slow in development, as all truths are and ever have been, in the various branches of science. It was so with the principles announced by Galileo-it was so with Adam Smith and his principles of political economy. It was so with Harvey, and his theory of the circulation of the blood. It is stated that not a single one of the medical profession, living at the time of the announcement of the truths made by him, admitted them. Now, they are universally acknowledged. May we not, therefore, look with confidence to the ultimate universal acknowledgment of the truths upon which our system rests? It is the first government ever instituted upon the principles in strict conformity to nature, and the ordination of Providence, in furnishing the materials of human society. Many governments have been founded upon the principle of the subordination and serfdom of certain classes of the same race; such were and are in violation of the laws of nature. Our system commits no such violation of nature's laws. With us, all of the white race, however high or low, rich or poor, are equal in the eye of the law. Not so with the negro. Subordination is his place. He, by nature, or by the curse against Canaan, is fitted for that condition which he occupies in our system. The architect, in the construction of buildings, lays the foundation with the proper material-the granite; then comes the brick or the marble. The substratum of our society is made of the material fitted by nature for it, and by experience we know that it is best, not only for the superior, but for the inferior race, that it should be so. It is, indeed, in conformity with the ordinance of the Creator. It is not for us to inquire into the wisdom of his ordinances, or to question them. For his own purposes, he has made one race to differ from another, as he has made "one star to differ from another star in glory."

The great objects of humanity are best attained when there is conformity to his laws and decrees, in the formation of governments as well as in all things else. Our confederacy is founded upon principles in strict conformity with these laws. This stone which was rejected by the first builders "is become the chief of the corner" -- the real "corner-stone" -- in our new edifice. [Applause.]

I have been asked, what of the future? It has been apprehended by some that we would have arrayed against us the civilized world. I care not who or how many they may be against us, when we stand upon the eternal principles of truth, if we are true to ourselves and the principles for which we contend, we are obliged to, and must triumph. [Immense applause.]

Thousands of people who begin to understand these truths are not yet completely out of the shell; they do not see them in their length and breadth. We hear much of the civilization and christianization of the barbarous tribes of Africa. In my judgment, those ends will never be attained, but by first teaching them the lesson taught to Adam, that "in the sweat of his brow he should eat his bread," [applause,] and teaching them to work, and feed, and clothe themselves."

bill watson
05-15-2007, 06:22 PM
Maybe we can parse it down to two rhetorical questions:

"If there had been no slaves, would there have been a war? If so, about what?"

Minieball577
05-15-2007, 06:24 PM
You may even find there is some validity to his point of view. One thing to keep in mind about history is that once you get beyond the basic facts it is largely a matter of interpretation and understanding .



Amen, and thank you.

I had a student today, when discussing Market and Command economies that had one of those epiphany moments when things become clear. He said, with a great bit of wonderment, that it all made sense to him now, that nothing is black and white, but rather is always grey. He understood that recognizing the basic concepts allowed him to interpret what exactly he was looking at, as a shade of grey.

History is much the same way, as you have stated, that beyond the basic facts (Dates and names, you know, the stuff history is NOT really about) it is all interpretation. One can find many sources that argue with many facts that slavery was the underlying cause for almost every other issue. One can find sources that cite facts that slavery was a tertiary cause, but not central to other issues. The "truth" lies in ones own interpretation of those facts.

As an aside, if you approached your teacher about this in front of the class, when he was trying to teach the rest of the class, you know the ones who were (maybe) listening to him, I applaud the way he set you in your place. Respect is not shown in this way, and in my opinion respect should not have been given you as a result of this.

reddcorp
05-15-2007, 07:44 PM
Pvt. McCarthy:

May I assume you are still in high school? If so, IMHO this is not a battle that you really want to fight. It has been my observation that a p.o'd. teacher can cause you much more grief that you can cause him. There will likely be a better forum to pursue this battle than the one you are in. Not many teachers gladly receive constructive criticism or correction from their students. This does not reflect upon your intellect, just the teachers intractibility. You're a short timer anyway...just bite your tongue.

Andy Redd

reb64
05-15-2007, 09:34 PM
[QUOTE=Joseph McCarty]I am not sure this is where this topic goes, but here goes.

The are a few ways to deal with this. one, let the teacher pesent his agenda or school curriculumand stay silent and pass the tests and class, or confront his viewpoints with other facts and risk his rath on your grades. I would personally not contradict him too much as it may be more disrepectful than informative but ask to write a extra credit paper for your views on the record. I did this, my high school teacher was adamant, no other ironclads beside monitor and "merrimac", when i disagreed she looked embarrased but told me if i could backit up with a proper research paper i could get extra credit. I did. things may get worse/better in college. for example, Va tec has several civ war experts on staff and you may get a fair discurse there, other s may have anti-southern agendas. youll have to decide again, be a ence sitter or take a stand. like christianity, be cold or hot, anything else is fruition.

Sgt_Pepper
05-15-2007, 09:42 PM
"Interpreting" history is what happens when you decide you're either too lazy or too biased to keep looking for the facts.

tompritchett
05-15-2007, 10:25 PM
For more information on the role the slavery issue played in driving the first 7 states out of the Union, I would also recommend "Apostles of Disunion: Southern Secession Commissioners and the Causes of the Civil War" by Charles Dew. There is also a supporting website with additional data at
http://members.aol.com/jfepperson/commish.htm

Malingerer
05-16-2007, 05:25 AM
If we're really interested in the motivations behind the seccession crisis it may be instructive to look at the words of Southern leaders themselves. Here is one sample:
Henry L. Benning, Georgia politician and future Confederate general, writing in the summer of 1849 to his fellow Georgian, Howell Cobb: "First then, it is apparent, horribly apparent, that the slavery question rides insolently over every other everywhere -- in fact that is the only question which in the least affects the results of the elections."
Later in the same letter Benning says, "I think then, 1st, that the only safety of the South from abolition universal is to be found in an early dissolution of the Union."

madisontigers
05-16-2007, 06:04 AM
Peter,

Thanks for posting the primary source documentation. It is amazing what the words of certain leaders tell you, isn't it? Mr. Mccarthy, if I were you, I would read into some of the pre-war source material, as well as issues such as the SC nullification act, the Kansas -Nebraska act, and the Missouri compromise. I also encourage you to look into what souhern leaders, such as John Calhoun, Howell Cobb, William Barksdale, and others had to say.
The fact is this, IMHO: Not every CS soldier fought to preserve slavery; however, the government they fought for, well ....that's a whole different issue. I would also encourage you, if time permits, to read the Confederate constitution.


David Long

TheSignalCorpsGuy
05-16-2007, 06:05 AM
My history teacher says that SLAVERY was the direct cause of the civil war. The south was fighting to keep slavery and that was that. . . .


I know in Virginia we have "Standards of Learning". Students are expected to learn them. The whole curriculum is based around them. Virginia lists the cause of the war as "Slavery". Maybe he's teaching that because there are state learning requirements (and tests to guage that learning). Mabye he doesn't want to cloud over the reasons for the war for brevity's sake so his students get the question right on their aptitude tests.

In Virginia - School Districts, individual Schools and even teachers are judged based on how their students do on these tests. Teachers who dont have tenure and who'se students consistently do poorly have their employment 're-evaluated'.

Another issue may be thrust upon him by the School District. I've been told at EVERY school I've talked to by history teachers, "Thanks for saying what you did about the REAL cause of the war and for talking about Blacks serving in the CS army because we're not allowed to say those things." Yes - they're 'asked' not to say those things - which really means Don't say them or else we may get sued.




He won't listen to me and shoots what I say in class down even though I get my facts from REPUTABLE historians of this subject like Stephan Sears. . . .


It is a shame to see ANY teacher look the other direction from historical fact. I'm sorry you had to tolerate it.



He has made me look like an idiot and said I can't trust your facts because "Internet people cannot be trusted."


Two things here:

1. And he is right. "Facts" can be distorted. "Proof" is in books written by proven authors. Also - he probably learned that the "Civil War was fought over Slavery" just like many of us and has taken it for granted - and therefore he teaches it that way.

2. This statement might show a bit of 'pride' on your part. Momma always said, "Dont lower yourself to the level of others." Dont let the guy 'get' to you - especially that you let it show. He KNOWS of your interest in the ACW. He's asked for your participation in the past. Maybe YOU have hurt HIS pride and now he's repaying you. It absolutely STINKS to be in your position but dont sink to his level and get caught in his trap.



So far this history course has been mindless review and easy A's...

Sir - ANY course that is an "Easy A" is one that you should thoroughly enjoy! Sit back, relax and enjoy your easy A! You've done more work than most history teachers to learn about our period. I know it's difficult, but if the teacher is not receptive then let it go. It's HARD to let go - but it's part of the 'school' game. Learn to play it - and you'll do well!



I applaude you and the next time you see your mom and dad - thank them for the entire hobby for encouraging you in this path. We certainly appreciate you younger guys who take the time to LEARN!

jthlmnn
05-16-2007, 07:04 AM
1) He has a bachelor's degree in US history, and he is no expert.

2) I know more than him on this subject. I think he views me as a threat to his rep. .......

3) He has made me look like an idiot .....

4) I don't know much still compared to what there is to learn.

It strikes me that there are two issues here. One is the emotional response people have when they believe that someone is trying to make them look foolish. We have only your account of what has ocurred between you and your teacher, but taking you at your word, it would appear that both of you have fallen into that response. (Quotes 1, 2 & 3 above) As a result, you both feel frustrated and a good teacher-student relationship has been damaged. Each of you now faces the choice of trashing the entire relationship, or trying to reestablish the mutual respect that once existed, your one area of disagreement not withstanding.


The second issue is the intellectual/academic one. Your teacher has presented a perspective with which you disagree. If you pursue the study of history, whether formally or informally, you will have many similar encounters in the decades to come. In these situations, quote #4 above may be your best friend. Many people will look at the same facts and place different meaning upon them, depending on their basic assumptions on the topic, their life experiences, and previous study. I would suggest that you mine these differing perspectives to find what they might have to offer. What do they present that you have not previously considered? Is there new data that can help shape your understanding, either of the topic in general or of the advocates of a differing perspective? Then you can weigh what you find and either include or reject it.

Bottom line for both issues is treating other people with respect, even if you believe they are not respecting you. You still won't "win" all the arguments, but you'll experience more rewarding discussions and keep your blood pressure down. (The latter will be very important to you in about three decades, or so.)

Malingerer
05-16-2007, 07:40 AM
Peter,

Thanks for posting the primary source documentation. It is amazing what the words of certain leaders tell you, isn't it? Mr. Mccarthy, if I were you, I would read into some of the pre-war source material, as well as issues such as the SC nullification act, the Kansas -Nebraska act, and the Missouri compromise. I also encourage you to look into what souhern leaders, such as John Calhoun, Howell Cobb, William Barksdale, and others had to say.
The fact is this, IMHO: Not every CS soldier fought to preserve slavery; however, the government they fought for, well ....that's a whole different issue. I would also encourage you, if time permits, to read the Confederate constitution.


David Long
David,
Thanks for the kind words. I completely agree with you - by no means did all Confederate soldiers fight primarily for the defense of slavery - in fact I suspect that the majority of the guys in the 29th and 39th NC (two of our favorite regiments!) could have cared less one way or the other. These poor guys got caught upo in events initiated by a bunch of irresponsible rich slave owners in the deep south who placed self- interest over the wellfare of the United States. Why do I think this? Because they said so themselves. The words of the leaders of the Confederacy are incredibly illuminating and a matter of public record.

bill watson
05-16-2007, 07:55 AM
I think "interpreting" history as used in this thread doesn't mean changing history. All it means is showing how what we call history translates into the everyday life of people. What might a Confederate soldier who owns no slaves be expected to say about why he's wearing a uniform, for instance?

It also means "translating" history from the context of then to the context of now; it's hard to understand some things unless we understand the minds and beliefs of people long ago, and what shaped them. The efforts of the hard-core abolitionists -- the ones who really, truly believed skin color was meaningless when it comes to human rights -- take on added significance when you learn that just about nobody believed that back then. Even at a mundane level: Food prep in 1860 was based on an entirely different set of circumstances than now, and the amount of time spent preparing food for both table and storage then is confounding to kids today unless you walk them through what the absence of freezers, microwaves and electricity really means in terms of how you spend your time every day.

I've always thought interpretation for living historians, for us, was just another way of saying "sharing understanding."

goatgirl
05-16-2007, 08:22 AM
An author, Mr. Rose, was a “Yankee” school teacher in Pennsylvania. After class one day a student approached him with a book defending the South and asked him to read it. The teacher read it and became a Southern sympathizer.

You might want to try what the Pennsylvania student did. Choose a good thoroughly documented book which expresses what you believe to be true, and then respectfully ask your teacher to take it home and read it. You could give it to him as an end of the school year going away gift. :eek:

In all things remember to respect your elders. Impudence and disrespect will not be taken well and will get you nowhere. As a side note, be sure you know what you believe and why you believe it before trying to convince anyone else.

Last but not least, if this is a government school consider getting out of it.

Malingerer
05-16-2007, 08:25 AM
Bill,
Excellent post. I spent a couple of years "interpreting" history for the National Park Service in Harpers Ferry and was proud to be an interpreter. The work of historians and interpreters is to take the mountain of documentation available to everyone and distill that documentation into some meaningfull and accurate story. Not just what happenned but why it happened - in that way the whole "doomed to repeat it" message has relevance. Ideally, that interpretation should result from the evidence not from a social or personal agenda.

tompritchett
05-16-2007, 10:21 AM
The work of historians and interpreters is to take the mountain of documentation available to everyone and distill that documentation into some meaningfull and accurate story. Not just what happenned but why it happened

I can remember in grade school and high school that history was one of my least favorite subjects primarily because all the text books and teachers focused on how memorizing facts and dates and never discussed how all these were interlated nor tried to open up discussions into the whys. It was not until college when I started reading military history, as I started into ROTC, that I learned to read beyond the pure facts and learned to enjoy history. Given the documented poor knowledge of history by college students, I suspect that the majority of elementary and high school students are turned off on the subject of history for much the same reasons that I was. But then again, the schools HAVE to teach history that way or else the students will do poorly on the standardized tests that they have to take under all the various government mandates. (Don't even get me started on what the tests have done to environmental education in PA.)

bob 125th nysvi
05-16-2007, 10:52 AM
caused by slavery and not Lincoln or state rights or any of the other stuff but not in the way most people think.

Slavery was a very complicated issue and it directly related to the political power and economic well being of the southern elite.

And its EXPANSION was essential to their hold on what they had.

Southern wealth was based on agriculture and the pillar of that was cotton (to a lesser extent tobacco) which is incrediably labor intensive to produce and get to market. It did not (at that time) lend itself to automated picking, this meant a massive amount of labor available at the drop of a hat with virtually no rights and no ability to sell its labor to the highest bidder.

Slaves fit the bill very nicely thank you.

But cotton farming is also incrediably ecologically unsound. It really wears out the soil and without a massive investment in fertializer the land quickly wears out. Since most planations were at best margianlly profitable a large fertilizer expense was out of the question. Hence the southern cotton farmers who were dependent on slavery were also dependent on access to new lands in which to grow the cotton.

The problem was that the south was steadily losing its grip on the political machinery of the US due to the massive growth of the non-slaveholding population (particularliy in the northern states where it was illegal). Electorial votes were dramatically shifting away from pro-slavery politicians so the prospects of expanding it were becoming bleak and they could see a time when anti-slavery forces could muster enough votes to abolish it (as had been done in the British Empire).

Even if the federal government had no wish to step in State governments had the right to determine whether or not they would allow slavery in its borders. The growing anti-slavery population was also a transient one and they were in the fore front of settling the west. Thus by majority rule they could impose State consitutions that prohibited slavery. Fencing it in to an area where it was growing more economically unviable.

And the problem was even further complicated by the fact that slaves count for 3/5 of a person for the purposes of assigning electorial votes even though they had no rights. Removing them from the count would further reduce southern political power and freeing them (and allowing the vote) would have created a large block of voters inherently hostile to the current political structure.

Thus in order to preserve their wealth and political power they had to find a way to preserve slavery.

Being they couldn't expand it and they could see a day when it was illegal the choose the only option they thought was left open. Getting out.

Your average northerner really didn't think about slaves (unless in Church on Sunday after getting bombarded from the pulpit) and certainly didn't think the African was his equal.

Your average sourthern yeoman farmer had no interest in freeing the slaves or allowing them to vote. But they had no particular interest in sustaining the institution either (as witness by large no secession votes in Eastern Tenn, NW Virginia and other areas of the south).

THEY legimately fought the war over what were and were not what they perceived as their rights.

But for the leadership in the south it was about protecting the basis of their wealth, slavery.

I forget his name but I think the clearest view of this subject can be attributed to a southern politician who said in response to the idea that slaves should be freed and armed to provide manpower for the southern armies in 1864, that if the south does that then 'they had fought the war for nothing.'

I'm sure some learned individual on the board can provide the politician's name and the attributed quote.

And just as a matter of tradition the side that fires the first shot is usually
considered the side that starts the war.

tompritchett
05-16-2007, 02:06 PM
Your average sourthern yeoman farmer had no interest in freeing the slaves or allowing them to vote. But they had no particular interest in sustaining the institution either (as witness by large no secession votes in Eastern Tenn, NW Virginia and other areas of the south).

True, but very few of them were willing to tolerate blacks being made the legal equals of whites as was being proposed by the more radical abolitionists, thus giving the plantation farmers the additional support needed for the referendums on the secession ordernances.


I forget his name but I think the clearest view of this subject can be attributed to a southern politician who said in response to the idea that slaves should be freed and armed to provide manpower for the southern armies in 1864, that if the south does that then 'they had fought the war for nothing.'

I am not at home now, but I think it was Stephens.

bill watson
05-16-2007, 02:31 PM
Check me when I go off the rails, but I'm pretty sure there were no referendums; it was done by state legislatures.

Meanwhile: Southern non-slaveholding whites could have had very good reasons for opposing slavery as the south evolved. It's very hard to compete economically in the winter with a slave who is rented out by his master to perform carpentry, masonry or any of a dozen other crafts. That's direct, subsidized competition for a white craftsman, coming from someone whose master is just looking for enough money to defray the off-season expense of maintaining the slave. And at another layer, some slaves could rent themselves out, if the master didn't need them, to do those crafts to earn their own money. It's how some bought their own freedom. The only thing I can figure is that the class of craftsmen hadn't grown enough to have political clout. But it certainly is interesting how all this could fit together into a functioning society. Seems like it should have just all fallen down.

tompritchett
05-16-2007, 03:10 PM
Check me when I go off the rails, but I'm pretty sure there were no referendums; it was done by state legislatures.

I am not sure about every state but I do know for sure that Virginia actually had a referendum as I once researched the vote tally by counties.


Meanwhile: Southern non-slaveholding whites could have had very good reasons for opposing slavery as the south evolved.

You are quite right. In some parts of the South (e.g., east TN, northern AL, western NC, etc.) there was resentment by the non-slaveholding whites about the disportionate power and influence of the rich slave holders. However, there was also a strong rebellion against the idea that blacks should be made the legal equals of whites - a rebellion that became especially pronounced during the later portions of the Reconstruction. This theme of the Northern Republicans forcing racial equality on Southern society was also a common theme in several of the secessionist commissioners speechs and letters, which of course were all arguing for the cause of secession.

reb64
05-16-2007, 05:08 PM
caused by slavery and not Lincoln or state rights or any of the other stuff but not in the way most people think.

Slavery may have played a huge part in secession,but the war cause? the war came when one group oposed the others wishes, ie the US didn't recognize the secession and moved to forcecably bring the CS sates back into the fold. the other states who had slaves and did not seceed did so to protest the gov't's armed intervention in th esouth and for the call to raise troops and make war upon their southern neighbors. war cpould have been avoided if the US hadn't invaded the south.

AZReenactor
05-16-2007, 05:55 PM
Slavery may have played a huge part in secession,but the war cause? the war came when one group oposed the others wishes, ie the US didn't recognize the secession and moved to forcecably bring the CS sates back into the fold. the other states who had slaves and did not seceed did so to protest the gov't's armed intervention in th esouth and for the call to raise troops and make war upon their southern neighbors. war cpould have been avoided if the US hadn't invaded the south.

LOL! <sigh!>

ginny74
05-16-2007, 06:29 PM
I was taught Civil War history the same way in school. The way it is taught makes the Confederates look like crazy abusive lunitics and the Union look like perfect angels. Well, the truth neither side was 100% right or wrong. My suggestion would be inviting your history teacher to your next reenactment and have him talk to some of the Confederate reenactors about the causes of the war. He may be surprised:D

bob 125th nysvi
05-16-2007, 07:33 PM
Check me when I go off the rails, but I'm pretty sure there were no referendums; it was done by state legislatures.

not quite. In a number of locations people were elected to participate in the legislative sessions to discuss seccesion and in NW Virgina for example their representatives ran on a platform on no secssion and were elected to represent the area by about a 3:1 margin.

Eastern Tennesse was about a 2:1 margin.

The ironic thing about the whole process is that the seccesionist claimed that they could secede the central government because it no longer represented their will yet denied the local governments the same rights. The boundry of a state is no less or more arbitray than a country or a county.

tompritchett
05-16-2007, 07:47 PM
war cpould have been avoided if the US hadn't invaded the south.

Hate to say it, but the war probably could been avoided if cooler heads were in office in Montgomery & Charleston. Remember, we fired the first shots at what the Union still considered their territory. The fact that Ft. Sumter was disputed territory does not change the fact that we effectively launched an assualt on them first.

toptimlrd
05-16-2007, 11:10 PM
Other than a few predictable "it was slavery! no it wasn't!" type posts, this has been one of the more scholarly discussions I have seen as of late. I think Bob Sandusky came the closest to really pinpointing the root cause of the war of which slavery was at the crux; that is it was really about two things........ ar you ready? Power and money which is about the same issues all wars are fought.

madisontigers
05-17-2007, 08:28 AM
Anyone who reads the Confederate constitution is apt to recognize slavery as a primary motivating factor, in the cause of the war. The Nullification act in S.C., the Kansas -Nebraska act, and the Missouri compromise, only further indicate slavery, which is part of the states rights argument, as the primary reason for seccesion. As I have said earlier, not every Confederate soldier was fighting to preserve slavery but, the government they served, did indeed believe in preserving forced servitude.
Some soldiers fought to protect the rights of their states(slavery included), volunteered because they felt that an overbearing government was abusing their particulair state, enlisted due to peer pressure and strong community ties, or were forced to fight due to conscription.

David Long

Malingerer
05-17-2007, 08:47 AM
Slavery may have played a huge part in secession,but the war cause? the war came when one group oposed the others wishes, ie the US didn't recognize the secession and moved to forcecably bring the CS sates back into the fold. the other states who had slaves and did not seceed did so to protest the gov't's armed intervention in th esouth and for the call to raise troops and make war upon their southern neighbors. war cpould have been avoided if the US hadn't invaded the south.
Opinions are nice and all, but would you care to back up your assertions with some primary sources? Or even one? The founders of the Confederacy said themselves that they seceded to protect slavery - period. Not tarriffs, not trade, not small government vs. big government, not states rights - slavery.
Speaking of documentation, here's some: The Atlanta Confederacy, 1860: "We regard every man in our midst an enemy to the institutions of the South, who does not boldly declare that he believes African slavery to be a social, moral, and political blessing."

tompritchett
05-17-2007, 10:10 AM
The Nullification act in S.C., the Kansas -Nebraska act, and the Missouri compromise, only further indicate slavery, which is part of the states rights argument, as the primary reason for seccesion.

While I totally agree that the primary reason for the secession of the first 7 states was slavery, I have to disagree with your linking SC's Nullification act to slavery. More specifically,
Led by John C. Calhoun, Jackson's vice president at the time, the nullifiers felt that the tariff acts of 1828 and 1832 favored Northern-manufacturing interests at the expense of Southern farmershttp://www.loc.gov/rr/program/bib/ourdocs/Nullification.html

tompritchett
05-17-2007, 10:26 AM
Opinions are nice and all, but would you care to back up your assertions with some primary sources? Or even one? The founders of the Confederacy said themselves that they seceded to protect slavery - period. Not tarriffs, not trade, not small government vs. big government, not states rights - slavery.

Pardon me but you just repeated what reb64 was saying in his first sentence. There are few who will disagree that slavery was the primary reason that the Confederacy was founded. (I do not consider the motivations of VA, NC, TN & AR at this time because they do not leave the Union and join the Confederacy until the first shots of the war have been fired at Sumter and Lincoln effectively declares war with his muster call.) But. IMHO the founding of the Confederacy did not automatically mean that there had to be a war between the two nations. We now know that Lincoln was working behind the scenes to try to find a compromise via a Constitutional Amendment to explicitly protect slavery in existing states. Furthermore, it is highly unlikely that Lincoln would have had the support of the various state governors and the general population in general to actually start a war himself to force the original seven states back into the Union. Thus, while slavery in essence formed the Confederacy, it took additional issues beyond this to push this nation to a state of war. We do know that the catalyst that ignited the flames of war was the dispute of who actually owned the territory known as Ft. Sumter. To me, that is an issue of sovereignty and an issue of recognition of the right of states to secede from the Union.

Malingerer
05-17-2007, 11:12 AM
Thomas,
I agree with every word you wrote.

bob 125th nysvi
05-17-2007, 12:14 PM
We do know that the catalyst that ignited the flames of war was the dispute of who actually owned the territory known as Ft. Sumter. To me, that is an issue of sovereignty and an issue of recognition of the right of states to secede from the Union.

a "right" to seccession from an established government has never been upheld or confirmed anywhere.

As an example I'll give that the fathers of the men who claimed the right to secede from the Union DENIED that New England had that very right in 1813 over the War of 1812 (which New Englanders felt was started to enrich the wealth of southerners who controlled the US government).

And the south's claim to sovereignty was a chimera, if the governed do not give their consent and are thus entitled to leave why is a state government anymore sacrosant than a federal government. Ala NW Virginia and Eastern Tennessee NOT wanting to secede thus in NW Virginia's case they seceded from the government of Virginia to stay with the Union. A "right" the Virginia state legislature refused to concede.

If the claimants of 'states rights' had been honest they would have recognized the right of counties to secede from states when they no longer "consented" to be governed by that state.

In reality all rebels make a legalistic claim to having a "right" to leave the government they no longer agree with. No government recognizes that right, it only becomes a fact when the Rebels succeed (See the American Revolution) or the burden of keeping them inline becomes too expensive (ie: Ireland).

The fact is that Ft. Sumter was built, maintained, supplied and garrisoned by the Federal Government. And South Carolina was happy to not have to pay one red cent for it UNTIL they decided they wanted out.

They fired first, and your right if there had been cooler heads in the various seccession conventions things might have worked out more peacefully. I just have never seen anything out of any of those conventions that indicated there was a cool head in the room. The reality was is the 'cooler' heads worked out all the compromises the seccessionist rejected.

I think the sad reality is that many of them WANTED a fight.

And to their detriment, they got it.

bill watson
05-17-2007, 01:31 PM
"I think the sad reality is that many of them WANTED a fight."

I don't think there's any doubt about that, and it was a deliberate miscalculation of several things.

People often forget that the firing on Fort Sumter came right after Anderson told the Confederates he'd have to surrender the fort within 24 hours, for lack of supplies. So why else would they fire, unless to precipitate hostilities? And why precipitate hostilities? A political decision. Hostilities would force North Carolina and Virginia to finally stop equivocating, and the betting was that if they made up their minds under crisis conditions and physical hostilities and the raising of troops to reclaim Sumter, they'd stick with the seceding states.

They got that part of the equation right.

What they got wrong, in their hubris, was the Yankee reaction: Our flag has been attacked and we're going to kick some butt. A lot of Yankees stopped equivocating along with North Carolina and Virginia. They didn't all care about secession or slavery, but patriotism served quite well as motivation once the bell was rung.

tompritchett
05-17-2007, 02:41 PM
a "right" to seccession from an established government has never been upheld or confirmed anywhere.

and that is why it was in dispute. I am not arguing one way or another that they had the right but rather that it had not been resolved and therefore was in contention.


and your right if there had been cooler heads in the various seccession conventions things might have worked out more peacefully.

Several of the hotheads at the secession conventions had indeed been pushing for a long time for secession and had been deliberately shooting down compromise solutions just for that reason. There are two individuals in particular that I am thinking about, one from SC (Rhea?) and one from AL, but I am not at home where I can look up their names. Interestingly enough, neither Davis or Lee supported the secession movements prior to the secession of their individual states. However, the hotheads I were referring to were the ones that pushed to the use of military force to drive Anderson out of Ft Sumter. Granted Sumter commanded the harbor but the Confederacy would have been much better off in the long run had they actually let Anderson try to interdict shipping in or out of the harbor before neutralizing the fort.


The fact is that Ft. Sumter was built, maintained, supplied and garrisoned by the Federal Government. And South Carolina was happy to not have to pay one red cent for it UNTIL they decided they wanted out.

Very true, although some could argue that the Federal government was using money that had been collected via tariffs and duties collected at ports such as Charleston. Remember prior to the war there was no income tax and most of the national government's revenue came from tariff's collected from imports with the majority of those collected at Southern ports. Therefore one could argue that the much of the money used to build Fort Sumter in reality came from the Southern states.

The true issue was ownership of the land since the Fort was well within the territorial waters of SC. If SC's secession was legal, then Fort Sumter was part of SC just as Long Island became part of NY at the end of the American Revolution. However, since Lincoln did not recognize SC's secession as being legal, he obviously could not accept that SC and not the US owned Fort Sumter.

Joseph McCarty
05-17-2007, 04:45 PM
:rolleyes: its true many wanted war but the voices of reason said defensive war. They waited for attack. South Carolina viewed Ft Sumter as theirs so they took it. Maybe the 24 hrs to surrender didn't reach the confederate command? maybe the first gunner who shot was Yankee? we don't know who fired the first shot so we cant say with certainty that the south started the war. But, the north was the one who actually invaded. So if we skip Ft Sumpter, the North started the war. And in the Southern Convention where the constitution was set up, there was talk of freeing the slaves to ensure British and French help. Its in the book but we skipped that section.


oh, and I was telling my teacher most of this stuff in by his desk not in front of the class but everyone heard it. I can't stay late because we get detentions if we don't get to class on time. There are no hall passes. HE only has a bachelor's degree and he got that 20 years ago. This is his first time teaching Civil War in 15 years. HE doesn't have time for meetings. He leaves end of class each day right away. And I backed the stuff posted on this site with facts. I gave him a typed paper. So most of the time we weren't having a verbal match. Even if we did talk, the class is rowdy and they wouldn't hear nothing. The only thing I did where the class could hear was prod him to give the other side of the issue, which he did, barely, and made it sound fake and bad so no one would consider it true. He embarrassed me by making it look like a pointless thing and everyone thinks I am a nerd and knows everything on the civil war (they HATE me because I am confederate, and just yesterday I was called a white supremacist:rolleyes: by some liberal freak off. My comment in one of the other threads was made before the incident but it applies.) so i was made fun of because "i got proven wrong when I was only trying to broaden their minds. And I don't have this teacher next year, and he isn't going to mention it to the other teachers because they agree with me. I think he has a vendetta against the south or something.I prob will just not say any thing about it but I will wear my uniform tomorrow for cowboy day just to piss off that kid. He's naive in this political world.

I think this is interesting . . since we're on the "topic" of slavery. Let's look at a couple of statements from a Union General and, the President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln himself.

"Executive Mansion,
Washington, August 22, 1862.

Hon. Horace Greeley:
Dear Sir.

I have just read yours of the 19th. addressed to myself through the New-York Tribune. If there be in it any statements, or assumptions of fact, which I may know to be erroneous, I do not, now and here, controvert them. If there be in it any inferences which I may believe to be falsely drawn, I do not now and here, argue against them. If there be perceptable [sic] in it an impatient and dictatorial tone, I waive it in deference to an old friend, whose heart I have always supposed to be right.

As to the policy I "seem to be pursuing" as you say, I have not meant to leave any one in doubt.

I would save the Union. I would save it the shortest way under the Constitution. The sooner the national authority can be restored; the nearer the Union will be "the Union as it was." If there be those who would not save the Union, unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause. I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors; and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views.

I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official duty; and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men everywhere could be free.

Yours,
A. Lincoln."



This was Lincoln's response to rumors spread about by Stephen Douglas, during Lincoln's debate with him in 1858. Lincoln stated:

"I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races; I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people. I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I, as much as any other man, am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race."



Here is a private letter written by Major General William T. Sherman to, Major General Henry Halleck, September 14, 1864:

"I hope anything I may have said or done will not be construed as unfriendly to Mr. Lincoln or Stanton. That negro letter of mine I never designed for publication, but I am honest in my belief that it is not fair to our men to count negroes as equals. Cannot we at this day drop theories, and be reasonable men? Let us capture negroes, of course, and use them to the best advantage. My quartermaster now could give employment to 3,200, and relieve that number of soldiers who are now used to unload and dispatch trains, whereas those recruiting agents take them back to Nashville, where, so far as my experience goes, they disappear. When I call for expeditions at distant pints, the answer invariable comes they have not sufficient troops. All count the negroes out. On the Mississippi, where Thomas talked about 100,000 negro troops, I find I cannot draw away a white soldier because they are indispensable to the safety of the river. I am willing to use them as far as possible, but object to fighting with 'paper' men. Occasionally an exception occurs, which simply deceives. We want the best young white men of the land, and they should be inspired with the pride of freemen to fight for their county. If Mr. Lincoln or Stanton could walk through the camps of this army and hear the soldiers talk they would hear new ideas. I have had the question put to me often: 'is not a negro as good as a white man to stop a ballot?' Yes, and a sand bag is better; but can a negro do our skirmishing and picket duty? Can they improvise roads, bridges, sorties, flank movements, &c., like the white man? I say no. Soldiers must and do many things without orders from their own sense, as in sentinels. Negroes are not equal to this. I have gone steadily, firmly, and confidently along, and I could not have done it with black troops, but with my old troops I have never felt a waver of doubt, and that very confidence begets success. . . ."


Yes, slavery was ugly. But, was it not instituted before the War? Since it was instituted before the War . . I believe it was instituted under the AMERICAN FLAG. So, why is the Confederate Flag the only one associated with the institution of slavery? And yes, reb64, you are correct. It did take an act of Congress to abolish it. It is the 13th Amendment, which "officialy" abolished slavery, being ratified in December 1865. Hmmm . . interesting to see that slavery was still, technically, legal throughout the US during the entire length of the War. Not just those "rebellious states".
the whole quote...

Lincoln himself said the blacks were not equal and even when they were free they were not considered equal. Northerners thought them as some horrible mutation that their skin was black and their brains where (supposedly to them) smaller. It wasn't until the 50s were they considered equal in both citizenship, mentally and physically and accepted into humanity. So the North bears the stain too. The North didn't want blacks as slaves because they looked at it like a mentally disabled person being forced to do work instead of being back in their own country. The north wanted the slaves to be shipped back to Africa or sent to Cent. America. They never expected that after they were free they would stay here. They were as racially prejudiced as the sorth was. so The South wasn't the only one.
oh, and there were slave plantations in the north somewhere until the end of the war- IN UNION CONTROLLED TERRITORY of course the yanks didn't want blacks wandering into their camps so what did they do? sent 'em back to the plantations. Technically According to the fugitive slave act they were doing the right thing. So both noth and south did horrible things.

goatgirl
05-17-2007, 06:31 PM
So why else would they fire, unless to precipitate hostilities?

To keep from being fired at on both sides.

Confederate commissioners addressed a note to Mr. Seward, the Union Secretary of State, and was given a reply which favored peace. He also lead them to believe Charleston Harbor would be evacuated in less than ten days. 1 On the 7th of April, Judge Campbell addressed him another letter on the subject and Seward replied with “Faith as to Sumter fully kept--wait and see.” 2

Meanwhile, President Lincoln had sent a fleet consisting of the sloop-of -war Pawnee, the sloop-of-war Powhatan, and the cutter Harriet Lane, with three steam transports to the Charleston harbor. On April 8, when this fleet was first discovered near the Charleston harbor, an official message was sent to Governor Pickens of South Carolina, by U.S. Lieutenant Talbot declaring provisions to Fort Sumter would be sent “peaceably if they can, forcibly if they must.” 3 This “Relief Squadron” was carrying two hundred and eighty-five guns and two thousand four hundred men. 4

Anticipating where this would lead, General Beauregard asked Major Anderson whether he would fire from Fort Sumter at the Confederates if they came to blows with the ship. Major Anderson would not commit to refusing to participate if firing was commenced between this two hundred eighty-five gunned “Relief Squadron” and the Confederates. General Beauregard was therefore forced to fire upon Fort Sumter before the “Relief Squadron” arrived. Had he not, he would have had to possibly contend with blazing guns from Fort Sumter and the U.S. ships at the same time - one in the front and one in the rear. 5 If Major Anderson had surrender before the hostile ships arrived, the Southerners would not have fired on the Fort. Even Horace Greeley understood, "whether the bombardment of Fort Sumter shall or shall not be justified by posterity, it is clear that the Confederacy had no alternative but its own dissolution." 6

1 (Derry, Joseph T., Story Of The Confederate States, B. F. Johnson Publishing Company, Richmond, Virginia, 1895 p. 107)
2 (Southern History of the War, Edward A. Pollard (1900) New York, The Blue & The Grey Press chap. 2 Sorry folks. This edition has no page numbers.)
3 (Ibid.)
4( A Constitutional View of the late War Between the States, Alexander H. Stephens, Sprinkle Publications, Harrisonburg, Virginia, 1994 Vol. II p. 36)
5 ( Ibid.)
6 (Derry, Joseph T., Story Of The Confederate States, B. F. Johnson Publishing Company, Richmond, Virginia, 1895 p. 108-109)

CivilWarBuff1863
05-17-2007, 08:17 PM
Joe,

Why not get all available information from the internet and those out of books and then just plug away at them in class along with your teacher? Make it a debatable subject and see which of your classmates objects or agrees with what you and your teacher have to say. Make some polls as well and let's see if your teacher is up-to-date with his teachings on history. Best yet why not dress up in your uniform and present your info to the class? The more you look the part the more your classmates will believe you than your teacher.

tompritchett
05-17-2007, 09:37 PM
Maybe the 24 hrs to surrender didn't reach the confederate command?

Only one problem, General Beauregard was the one who had been given the message of 24 hours before surrender and he was also the one that actually ordered the assualt.


maybe the first gunner who shot was Yankee?

This is not even hinted out as being possible by any historians who have studied Anderson's reports and memiors.


But, the north was the one who actually invaded. So if we skip Ft Sumpter, the North started the war.

Problem is we can't ignore the bombardment of Sumter and subsequent occupation of what the North considered its territory. It was the spark that galvanized Northern opinion against the South. We fired on the flag. Had we not fired on the flag, it is extremely doubtful if Lincoln could have justified using force (i.e., an invasion) to bring the Southern states back into the Union.

tompritchett
05-17-2007, 09:55 PM
Two points. First, even with the firepower of the two sloops of war, I am not sure the relief fleet could have forced an entry into Charleston harbor. As soon as Beauregard arrived in Charleston he began beefing up the firepower of the various shore batteries. As for Seward's "diplomacy" Bruce Catton in his The Coming Fury describes that initial period of Lincoln's presidency as a time when every one was severly under-estimating him, espeically Seward. Seward was assuming that it would be himself that was setting the adminstration's policies towards the Confederacy rather than Lincoln. It was not until very late March when Seward wrote a memorandum to Lincoln titled "Some Thoughts for the President's Considerattion" that Lincoln made clear that he would be the final decision maker based upon "the advice of all his cabinet". Unfortunately, prior to that time, the agents of the Confederacy were probably getting mixed messages from the adminstration depending upon who they were talking to.

reb64
05-17-2007, 10:20 PM
Hate to say it, but the war probably could been avoided if cooler heads were in office in Montgomery & Charleston. Remember, we fired the first shots at what the Union still considered their territory. The fact that Ft. Sumter was disputed territory does not change the fact that we effectively launched an assualt on them first.

actually, while negotiations were under way the US tried a end around resupply of war materials and men, a invasion, before shots were fired at sumter. i think they moved first.

Sgt_Pepper
05-17-2007, 10:39 PM
Fascinating. An openly-announced attempt to bring food to hungry men - in broad daylight, under the guns of several batteries - is an "end-around run".

The rules of the English language make it impossible to invade one's own territory.

Query: What armament did the Star of the West carry?

tompritchett
05-18-2007, 04:50 AM
actually, while negotiations were under way the US tried a end around resupply of war materials and men, a invasion, before shots were fired at sumter. i think they moved first.


Invasion as used in this context is, according to the dictionary, is an attempt to use force to enter in order to conquer or overrun. I fail to see how a resupply mission to troops stationed in what one views as one's own territory qualifies as such. Now if the convoy's purpose was to take one of the other Forts or seize Charleston, then that would be another story. But we all know, as they did then, that this was not the case.

hanktrent
05-18-2007, 06:38 AM
Best yet why not dress up in your uniform and present your info to the class? The more you look the part the more your classmates will believe you than your teacher.

I'd say just the opposite. It would be more convincing to look like a modern student who has come to your conclusions after considering all sides with an open mind and reading widely.

If the goal is to promote an agenda, it's more effective to appear unbiased. Otherwise, it seems too obvious that you consider yourself to be on the Confederate side, defending the Confederacy in a way that fits the world's current PC viewpoint ("slavery is wrong so of course we weren't fighting for slavery"). And then people who don't agree can just write you off with whatever stereotype comes to their minds.

Hank Trent
hanktrent@voyager.net

goatgirl
05-18-2007, 08:36 AM
Two points. First, even with the firepower of the two sloops of war, I am not sure the relief fleet could have forced an entry into Charleston harbor.

The Confederates did not want to risk being caught in a cross-fire to find out.


It was not until very late March when Seward wrote a memorandum to Lincoln titled "Some Thoughts for the President's Considerattion" that Lincoln made clear that he would be the final decision maker based upon "the advice of all his cabinet". Unfortunately, prior to that time, the agents of the Confederacy were probably getting mixed messages from the adminstration depending upon who they were talking to.

March comes before April. By April 7th when Seward said, “Faith as to Sumter fully kept. Wait and see” he knew President Lincoln’s plans yet he was still promising his previous declarations.


As for Seward's "diplomacy" Bruce Catton in his The Coming Fury describes that initial period of Lincoln's presidency as a time when every one was severly under-estimating him, espeically Seward. Seward was assuming that it would be himself that was setting the adminstration's policies towards the Confederacy rather than Lincoln. It was not until very late March when Seward wrote a memorandum to Lincoln titled "Some Thoughts for the President's Considerattion" that Lincoln made clear that he would be the final decision maker based upon "the advice of all his cabinet". Unfortunately, prior to that time, the agents of the Confederacy were probably getting mixed messages from the adminstration depending upon who they were talking to.

This excerpt from Jefferson Davis’ The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government Vol. 1. P. 236-237 relates close enough to just type it verbatim.

In publications made since the war by members of Lincoln’s cabinet, it has been represented that during the period of the disgraceful transactions above detailed, there were dissensions and divisions in the cabinet--certain members of it urging measures of prompt and decided coercion; the Secretary of State favoring a pacific or at least a dilatory policy; the President vacillating for a time between the two, but eventually adopting the views of the coercionists. In these statements it is represented that the assurances and pledges, given by Seward to the Confederate government and its commissioners, were given on his own authority, and without the consent or approval of the President of the United States. The absurdity of any such attempt to dissociate the action of the President from that of his Secretary, and to relieve the former of responsibility for the conduct of the latter, is too evident to require argument or comment. It is impossible to believe that, during this whole period of nearly a month, Lincoln was ignorant of the communications that were passing between the Confederate commissioners and Seward, through the distinguished member of the Supreme Court--still holding his seat as such--who was acting as intermediary. On one occasion, Judge Campbell informs us that the Secretary, in the midst of an important interview, excused himself for the purpose of conferring with the President before giving a final answer, and left his visitor for some time awaiting his return from that conference, when the answer was given, avowedly and directly proceeding from the President.

If, however, it were possible to suppose that Seward was acting on his own responsibility, and practicing deception upon his own chief, as well as upon the Confederate authorities, in the pledges which he made to the latter, it is nevertheless certain that the principal facts were brought to light within a few days after the close of the forts at negotiation. Yet the Secretary of State was not impeached and brought to trial for the grave offense of undertaking to conduct the most momentous and vital transactions that had been or could be brought before the government of the United States, without the knowledge and in opposition to the will of the President, and for having involved the government in dishonor, if not in disaster. He was not even dismissed from office, but continued to be the chief officer of the cabinet and confidential adviser of the President, as he was afterward of the ensuing administration, occupying that station during two consecutive terms. No disavowal of his action, no apology nor explanation, was ever made. Politically and legally, the President is unquestionably responsible in all cases for the action of any member of his cabinet, and in this case it is as preposterous to attempt to dissever from him the moral, as it would be impossible to relieve him of the legal, responsibility that rest upon the government of the United States for the systematic series of frauds perpetuated by its authority

AZReenactor
05-18-2007, 08:49 AM
Reading through Korey's comments and the rest of the discussion here got me to thinking this morning. Most of us can probably look at this and see the weakness and confusion in Korey's grasp of facts and history. While he may be interested in the subject he still has an incredible amount to learn to be able to even present a coherent point of view to us here, yet alone his classmates or teachers.

I frequently hear reenactors talk about how they do what they do in order to educate the public, yet here is a young man serving in the ranks among us who has likely picked up bits and pieces of fact listening to other reenactors over a few years time and has really but a poor grasp of history, yet thinks he is so much more an expert on history because he plays history or hangs around with others who do. I wonder how many grown up reenactors suffer from the same delusions? Whether the point of view Korey is attempting to parrot is more valid or not than others is largely irrelevant but it serves to just how weak the education being given at reenactments really is. I'm not saying one can't learn things from reenactors, but think it worth pondering how much and what quality is the education being served?


"when a man is buying a basket of strawberries it can profit him to know that the bottom half of it is rotten." -- Mark Twain

bob 125th nysvi
05-18-2007, 09:04 AM
its true many wanted war but the voices of reason said defensive war. They waited for attack. South Carolina viewed Ft Sumter as theirs so they took it. Maybe the 24 hrs to surrender didn't reach the confederate command? maybe the first gunner who shot was Yankee?

While it has never been conclusively proven one way or the other Edmund Ruffin (sic) an avid seccesionist claimed to have been given the "honor" of firing the first shot.

Now you want to claim he was a "yankee"?

Buearegard was in the bloody city commanding the troops, he certainly knew of Anderson's claim and had all the authority in the world to prevent the first shot from being fired.

Now you've been reduced to making stuff up to support an untenable position.

You hit the nail on the head in the sentence about SC wanting the Fort and taking it. THAT makes them the aggressor not the aggreived. And it is all the more STUPID because the fort could have been starved out and the south MIGHT have had the moral high ground if they HADN'T fired the first shot.

You need to read a LOT more about the seccessionist movement, they not only wanted seccession but they were convinced they could whip any number of "yankees" sent against them.

And it is kind of funny when you read their statements about why they would beat the yankees, you hear echos of why the Hitler and Tojo fought the Axis could defeat the Americans. Funny all three parties were dead wrong.

AZReenactor
05-18-2007, 09:07 AM
While it is interesting to discuss the causes and events that led to war, inevitably we will all walk away with differing interpretations. If you think that there is only one valid perspective, try this exercise.

Think about the war we are currently engaged in, think about how we got involved in it. What were the reasons for going to war? After the fact which are valid and which are questionable? Did the Iraqis start it or did we? Are the Iraqis insurgents (not Al Quada) resisting us people fighting against foreign invaders attempting to impose an unwanted government on them or terrorists and criminals? Who's to blame for the current sectarian violence, Sunni or Shiite? Should we stay over there or pull out? Now after pondering those type questions find someone who you know disagrees with your point of view and hash it out until you come to just one particular set of facts and interpretations that should be taught to students studying our time in 2153 CE. ;-)

Now, if you really want to improve your understanding of our Civil War history try articulating the point of view you find least favorable. If you like CS argue the Yankee or Southern Unionist perspective? If you are pro US try arguing the Secessionists or Copperhead perspective. Then after you figure out those few views compare them to the cacophony of perspectives being expressed on our own current events and recognize how truly limited our knowledge is.

Union Navy
05-18-2007, 09:20 AM
Query: What armament did the Star of the West carry?

The Star of the West was a civilian steamer and, therefore, unarmed. With so much fuss about Fort Sumter, nearly everyone seems to be forgetting that the first shots of the war were fired on January 9, 1861 at this ship. It was on a resupply mission to to US troops in a US fort on US property. The later possible entry of US warships into Charleston harbor would have served no purpose - there were not enough land troops to hold the town, same as throughout the war. Charleston was always a thorn in the US Navy's side, mainly because any success was temporary and illusory without Army resolve to supply occupation troops.

Read about the real first shots of the war here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_of_the_West

http://blueandgraytrail.com/event/Star_of_the_West

Southern aplolgists would do well to look up the articles of succession from the various states and see how important slavery was to the political leaders at that time. This does not necessarily speak to the common soldier, but they did not get much choice, as the Confederate government imposed the first general draft in April of 1862 (more than a year before the first US draft). So much for "states' rights"...

goatgirl
05-18-2007, 09:48 AM
Query: What armament did the Star of the West carry?

Sgt. Pepper,

The Star of the West was not equipped as the latter ships sent to Charleston Harbor were. This ship was carrying Two hundred and fifty soldiers, plus stores and munitions to reinforce Fort Sumter. See E.A. Pollard’s Lost Cause.

What is interesting is, the Star of the West, sailing under Buchanan’s administration, was also sent with a pretense of rescuing a “staving garrison,” and the flag was fired on when the Confederate repealed the ship. Yet nothing was done.

Then President Lincoln sends a ship with supposedly the same pretense and the flag is fire on. The rest is history. President Lincoln calls for 75,000 troops and declares war.

The first time the Southerners “fired on the flag” no war was commenced. It would be about three months later before the havoc of war began. Not only was no war commenced the first time, there was no tremendously great stir about the flag having been fired upon.

tompritchett
05-18-2007, 09:56 AM
Now, if you really want to improve your understanding of our Civil War history try articulating the point of view you find least favorable. If you like CS argue the Yankee or Southern Unionist perspective? If you are pro US try arguing the Secessionists or Copperhead perspective.

I agree fully with what you have said. One of the things that I have noticed here is that there are many posters who do not at least attempt understand the viewpoint of the other side and where they are coming from, even if you personally do not agree with it. This applies to just about every discussion we hold here. You will never get every one to agree one every topic, but we can at least understand everyone's approach to the issues and then agree to disagree.

tompritchett
05-18-2007, 10:09 AM
The Confederates did not want to risk being caught in a cross-fire to find out.

You may very well be right but I personally have not seen any indication that this particular concern was driving their decision to open fire. Rather, what I have read seems to indicate that it was more a sense of frustration at the conflicting messages you discuss and overall impatience at the situation.

As far as the conflicting messages, I tend to agree that, while initially Seward and others were under-estimating Lincoln and assuming that they would be the real power behind the President, by April the conflict was probably driven more by Lincoln's uncertainty of the best approach to deal with this sticky situation as new information became available and as the advice of this cabinet shifted in light of this. I remember that one factor that had a significant impact on the discussions of the cabinet was a report from Major Anderson where he shifted his emphasis from what he needed just to continue holding the fort to what would be required to secure the fort - all based on a personal communication he had received from one of the emmissaries sent from DC. If I remember correctly from Maury's book (I have the book at home but I do not remember the exact title here) this was the final straw that caused the cabinet to agree to send such a large and armed relief effort. Given the limits of communications back then, especially for extremely sensitive information such as these negotiations, it is not surprising that the Fog of War actually preceded the war itself.

tompritchett
05-18-2007, 10:14 AM
The first time the Southerners “fired on the flag” no war was commenced. It would be about three months later before the havoc of war began. Not only was no war commenced the first time, there was no tremendously great stir about the flag having been fired upon.

Based upon what I have read, I am not sure that your statement that there was no "great stir" is totally accurate. Rather, it is my understanding that the Northern public reaction about the Star of the West incident was the reason that Davis's Secretary of War recommended that the Confederacy not fire on Sumter.

bob 125th nysvi
05-18-2007, 11:28 AM
Think about the war we are currently engaged in, think about how we got involved in it.

an entirely different situation.

The CW ended over 160 years ago. We have access to a great deal of government records from both sides. We have a massive amount of writings from participants both during the war and years afterwards.

We have had time to match the interpetations of the participants with known facts to see how the interpetation at the time matches the reality of the situation.

160 years from now, our successors will have access to the same type of information about the current situation in Iraq and can (hopefully) make some rational judgements about whom was right (and wrong) and about what.

Interpetations and preceptions are individual and not necessarily fact related. Everyone has an opinion that doesn't make every opinion right.

To get back to our regular bat programing on our regular bat channel ......

To argue who fired the first shot is illogical based on the evidence provided by BOTH sides.

To argue WHY the first shot was fired and if it was justified could fall into the realm of interpetation only IF the participants had not left extensive writings detailing their explanations.

Based on those writings you now have to decide whether the writer was being truthful, delusional or writing for posterity in the hope of justifing their actions. Two out of three of the above options do not leave much room for an honest apprasil of ones actions by the writer.

Union Navy
05-18-2007, 12:15 PM
Sgt. Pepper,

The Star of the West was not equipped as the latter ships sent to Charleston Harbor were. This ship was carrying Two hundred and fifty soldiers, plus stores and munitions to reinforce Fort Sumter. See E.A. Pollard’s Lost Cause.

What is interesting is, the Star of the West, sailing under Buchanan’s administration, was also sent with a pretense of rescuing a “staving garrison,” and the flag was fired on when the Confederate repealed the ship. Yet nothing was done.

Then President Lincoln sends a ship with supposedly the same pretense and the flag is fire on. The rest is history. President Lincoln calls for 75,000 troops and declares war.

The first time the Southerners “fired on the flag” no war was commenced. It would be about three months later before the havoc of war began. Not only was no war commenced the first time, there was no tremendously great stir about the flag having been fired upon.
It should come as no surprise that the Buchanan administration did not consider the Star of the West incident a "causus belli." There is probably no action that the South could have taken that would have stirred Buchanan to action. He was morbidly afraid to take any action that could be considered even slightly provacative, to the point of allowing US installations and ships (revenue cutters in particular) to fall into Confederate hands without a fight or compensation. He couldn't wait to leave office and hand over the crumbling Republic to someone else. He was determined that the US would not respond to Confederate provocation so war would not break out "on his watch." That is why the reactions to firing on the Flag were so different just a few months apart. Either way, the Confederates fired first, at least partly out of frustration that all their provocative actions up to that point had produced no tangible response from the US government.

SS Aroostook
05-18-2007, 12:15 PM
As a history teacher I can only advise that you probably won't get him to change his mind through direct confrontation. Youmay find it easier to suggest some sources that would back your premise and then hope that he will changehis view next year.It looks as if you would be beating a dead horse for this year. But one must also remember that history is open to various interpretations.If you believe in your position and can back it up through your readings, then he has done you a favor by "forcing" you to do more reseach than you may have otherwise have done to back up your position, even if it was inadvertant on his part.

CivilWarBuff1863
05-18-2007, 12:29 PM
I don't think the question: "Who fired the first shot?" shouldn't imply but under some circumstances it would seem in todays world with the acts of terrorism going on we've all can agree that it was an act of war and terror on both sides of the arguement.

Not only was there a shot fired but the acts of Gen. Sherman during his march to the sea seems in some minds to be an act of terror. But with high reguards Gen. Sherman did love the South and did help bring the bloody and costly war to an end. "War is the sum of all evils." - Gen. Thomas J. Jackson I believe once said about it, "War is all ****." - Gen. Sherman and "It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it." - Gen. Robert E. Lee. Gen. Lee loved the Union and wished he'd served under different circumstances but fate and history had an alternate route for his destiny. History is what you make of it now for future generations to learn of your mistakes and victories in your life. Looking back on your ancestors opens a window to the past which is almost forgotten by some, sometimes even in history classrooms.

With exciting new finds, such as the H.L. Hunley submarine, we can be amazed at the advanced nature of the 19th century. Where we have come from in the past will lead us to a bigger and hopefully brighter future. All we have to do is make all the wrong things in life right again.

hanktrent
05-18-2007, 01:01 PM
Now, if you really want to improve your understanding of our Civil War history try articulating the point of view you find least favorable.

That's one of the things I love about living history. Each time you do it, you can portray someone a little or a lot different, and to do it well, you need to see the world from their viewpoint, in a way that makes it seem as if their worldview is obviously the right one.

Reminds me of a one-week period last fall. The first weekend, I was portraying a private in the 34th Massachusetts, as an abolitionist, saying things like "John Brown was a hero because..."

Just one week later, I was portraying a native of Mobile Alabama and former overseer, saying things like, "It's useful to punish slaves by whipping them because..."

And the goal is to sound like you absolutely seriously mean it, just as much as they did.

Hank Trent
hanktrent@voyager.net

AZReenactor
05-18-2007, 02:01 PM
Bob,
I would suggest they are not so very different. While we may have access to a wealth of information that the original participants didn't have access to, their choices, decisions, and motivations were not based on that wealth of information but on the limited information available to them at the time. We aren't simply arguing that the mythical North or South was right or wrong in their choices, but trying to understand the whys behind the choices of particular individuals that comprise the larger groups that comprised each side. The causes and events of the Civil War were no less complex than the causes and events of today. History isn't just about the choices of nations and leaders but also about multitudes of individuals who live through events and may or may not have much choice at all but are caught up in the events of their time nonetheless. I wonder, will the great grandchildren of Iraqi Insurgents or Soldiers argue just as hard for how their grandfathers were right and justified no matter how history finally interprets things as the great grandchildren of a Confederate or Yankee argues today? Will the suicide bombers be terrorists or self sacrificing heroes? Was the FFI justified in blowing up Paris Cafes in 1943? Were Cuban Terrorists justified in hijacking airliners as a way of resisting the totalitarian communist regime in their country? Was the removal of Sadam Hussein, the potential threat of WMDs, the need to violently respond to 9-11, getting Osama Bin Laden, or getting corporate control of Iraqi oil (I can find people today arguing each is the reason for our current war in Iraq, time will tell but there may be elements of several different reasons) actually worth the cost in US and Iraqi lives?

In the Civil War there were numerous events leading up to the war. Numerous participants were acting and reeacting simultaneously based on on the information, misinformation, or lack of information they had. Individual motives and agendas were not necessarily revealed at the time nor recorded afterwards. Lies, deceptions, and dishonesty were undoubtedly practiced by some of the participants before, during and even after the fact. People recorded inaccuracies and misperceptions as fact. And as much printed information as we have available to us today it doesn't even compare to the mountains of printed information that wasn't preserved. Forget about the thoughts, conversations, speeches, etc. that were never recorded. While many people like to think of history as a concise sequence of events that we can simply unravel, the real truth is that history is as complicated, confusing, confounding and contradictory as the real people who lived through it were.

The original question was whether our Nation's Civil War was about slavery or not. Depending on how one interprets that question, the actual perspectives of historical participants being examined, and level of detail the answer needs there are an incredibly wide variety of interpretations possible. In many circumstances there is a great deal of validity to the simple statement that the issue of slavery more than any other single factor, was at the very heart of the conflicts that led to the American Civil War

In a high school US History course they probably spend a week (maybe two) on the American Civil War, including all its causes and results. That breaks down to about 5 hours of instruction (perhaps ten) if we assume there are no distractions such as dealing with homework, attempting to maintain interest of all 30+ students, explaining things to the slowest or least interested students while not losing the class Civil War buff, or engaging the class Civil War buff while not totally losing the 29 students who only want to know what is going to be on the test (if that).

Consider that most High school sophomores today were only born in 1992 That is the same year as the Rodny King beating and LA riots. It is a year after after the end of the the 1st Gulf war, after the end of the cold war (Warsaw Pact dissolve in 1992), well after the Reagan Presidency and the bringing down of the Berlin Wall, even further removed from the energy crisis and Iran Hostage affair during Carter's administration. Watergate, the Vietnam war? Those are ancient history.

The average number of US school days is 180 (that includes day filled with non-academic activities). US History teachers are limited in how much time they can spend on a particular topic and every year there is more history to talk about. In the less than 36 weeks of instruction which significant events should the high school US History teacher merely sum up in order to hopefully even get to the Civil Rights movement and Vietnam war before the school year ends? Should we gloss over Jamestown, the Pilgrims, French and Indian War, Louis & Clark, perhaps the American revolution could be cut down to just 3 hours. Founding of the American Government, Articles of confederation, US Constitution, Bill of Rights, Federalism vs States Rights: Can we skip it and hope the y take a civics class? The War of 1812, War with Mexico, Relations With Indians, not really that important, right? Perhaps the Louisiana Purchase, Gadsen purchase, and Seward's Folly could all be covered in a single class session. The civil war, resulted in the ending of legalized human bondage in the United States and the rise of Federalism right? Manifest Destiny and the westward expansion, lets just move past it. Spanish American War, someone blew up a ship, didn't they? Women's movement and the right to vote, probably only significant to half the class. WWI how much time does it really need, except to set the stage or WWII? The Bonus March, heck no one really cares how veterans are treated after the war, do they? The Stock market crash, great depression, and the new deal, maybe we can just devote two class sessions to watching the grapes of wrath. WWII, we can probably give that less attention now that most of that generation is dead. Nobody really cares about Korea that much. Some of my students' parents and Grand Parents were in Vietnam, they can fill them in on its significance and I don't have to worry about talking about a war that some parents might have mixed opinions about still.

High school history teachers are teaching an overview of history, not details. They can slip the occasional details in now and then, but the scope of what they have to cover and challenges they have to overcome are more than a little daunting. The typical student will likely also get a year of word history, a half year of state history, a half year of civics, and perhaps a little geography, economics and modern Social studies thrown in. We shouldn't be surprised if they spend less time than we like on our particular pet periods of history. When they happen to stir the occasional student's interest to study something a little more on their own then they've probably done more than should have been expected.

Looking at what they are up against, is it any wonder why most people only remember that the Civil War was about Slavery from their mere 5-10 hours in high school when they covered the topic?

Sgt_Pepper
05-18-2007, 06:06 PM
Sgt. Pepper,

The Star of the West was not equipped as the latter ships sent to Charleston Harbor were. This ship was carrying Two hundred and fifty soldiers, plus stores and munitions to reinforce Fort Sumter. See E.A. Pollard’s Lost Cause.

I have read Pollard's Lost Cause, and much else besides.


What is interesting is, the Star of the West, sailing under Buchanan’s administration, was also sent with a pretense of rescuing a “starving garrison,” and the flag was fired on when the Confederate repelled the ship. Yet nothing was done.

"pretense"?


Then President Lincoln sends a ship with supposedly the same pretense and the flag is fired on. The rest is history. President Lincoln calls for 75,000 troops and declares war.

Again, "pretense"? The President does not declare war, that is Congress's function.


The first time the Southerners “fired on the flag” no war was commenced. It would be about three months later before the havoc of war began. Not only was no war commenced the first time, there was no tremendously great stir about the flag having been fired upon.

I don't see the point you're trying to make. Buchanan was weak and ineffective, and waited the crisis out until he could step down and be shed of it. Lincoln was a far more determined and effective executive. These facts are obvious.

Sgt_Pepper
05-18-2007, 06:10 PM
You may very well be right but I personally have not seen any indication that this particular concern was driving their decision to open fire. Rather, what I have read seems to indicate that it was more a sense of frustration at the conflicting messages you discuss and overall impatience at the situation.

One thing becomes obvious as one studies the events leading up to the opening of hostilities: Each side almost completely misunderstood the other.

bob 125th nysvi
05-18-2007, 06:47 PM
I was talking about how we view Iraq v the CW not how the people actual there are looking at the situation.

Certainly people inside an event can only see it from their perspective based on their experiences; beliefs and fears.

The discussion that is occuring here concerning the history class is not a discussion by the participants of their experiences but is a discussion of what did or did not occur. There has even been an omission of facts.

We are outside the event and quite a few years away.

bob 125th nysvi
05-18-2007, 07:13 PM
Again, "pretense"? The President does not declare war, that is Congress's function.

not!

You can't declare war on a rebellion.

Just like Lincoln almost slipped when he declared the ports blockaded.

You blockade enemy ports, you close you own.

6th Alabama
05-18-2007, 07:34 PM
Joseph, as a retired school teacher let ask a question that may have a bit of bearing on what you do. When is your school dismissed for summer? Not knowing what your school calendar looks like, do you have time to do any thing of this nature before exams begin? If you still think it worth pursuing, please, use all of the tactfulness you can muster when requesting a meeting with your teacher. You will not accomplish anything positive with a verbal ambush.

bill watson
05-18-2007, 08:47 PM
You know, just to be fair, someone ought to mention that the hysterical claim by some Southerners that John Brown's raid was an abolitionist plot funded by wealthy New Englanders ... turned out to be right.

That incident led to very real fear that the anti-slavery movement would, if it took power, use the instrument of the central government to forcibly end slavery. And acting on that fear, by seceding and starting a fight, made it, also, come true.

But if you think about that a moment, what really fueled secession was the South's loss of political power over that very same central government. Not only did the election of Lincoln mark the tipping point, the moment at which Southerners could no longer stall progress -- change -- toward a more anti-slavery stance nationally, but Lincoln -- the candidate who emerged simpy because he had the fewest enemies among the northern coalition of radical Republicans, old Whigs, Know-Nothings and everything else -- put the men who had just run on staunch anti-slavery platforms into office as his cabinet. Seward, Stanton, most of them were philosophically opposed to slavery and had said so. Change was definitely coming, and the Southerners knew it in 1861.

And if you think about that a moment, it throws our perception of "rebel" out of whack. Southern politicians who maneuvered the South into secession may have been "rebelling" against the central government, but what they were doing philosophically was an act in support of the old status quo: Slavery as it was under the Constitution. This was not an act by defiant innovators seeking change; it was an act by men desperate to prevent change.

I just thought if anyone's head didn't hurt yet from thinking about it, this would put you over the top. :-)

hanktrent
05-18-2007, 09:11 PM
Southern politicians who maneuvered the South into secession may have been "rebelling" against the central government, but what they were doing philosophically was an act in support of the old status quo

Hence the use of the term "conservatives" in the period, to describe those who were politically sympathetic to the South.

Hank Trent
hanktrent@voyager.net

bill watson
05-19-2007, 08:07 AM
And "radical" Republicans because they wanted to change the status quo.

Wrap your mind around THAT thought. :-)

It's pretty interesting that popular culture has one-dimensioned the "rebel" thing to the point where some think this was like the French Revolution or something. The key component everyone tends to miss is the use of the central government as the AGENT of social change rather than the blocker of social change.

goatgirl
05-21-2007, 06:25 AM
You may very well be right but I personally have not seen any indication that this particular concern was driving their decision to open fire. Rather, what I have read seems to indicate that it was more a sense of frustration at the conflicting messages you discuss and overall impatience at the situation.

Mr. Pritchett,

I was basing my words “The Confederates did not want to risk being caught in a cross-fire to find out,” primarily on Alexander Stephens. He wrote, “When Major Anderson, therefore, would make no such promise [to withhold fire on the Confederates], it became necessary for General Beauregard to strike the first blow, as he did; otherwise the forces under his command might have been exposed to two fires at the same time--one in front, and the other in the rear.” (A Constitutional View of the late War Between the States, Alexander H. Stephens, Sprinkle Publications, Harrisonburg, Virginia, 1994 Vol. II p. 36) Yet your words made such an impression to make me re-read this section of Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government again.

Jefferson Davis’ book and the official letter exchanged between Major Anderson and the Confederates supports Alexander’s statements. A letter was sent to Major Anderson from G.T. Beauregard. This letter states:
“Major: In consequence of the verbal observations made by you to my aides, Messrs. Chesnut and Lee, in relation to the condition of your supplies, and that you would in a few days be starved out if our guns did not batter you to pieces--or words to that effect--and desiring no useless effusion of blood, I communicated both the verbal observation and your written answer to my Government.
If you will state the time at which you will evacuate Fort Sumter, and agree that in the mean time you will not use your guns against us, unless ours shall be employed against Fort Sumter, we will abstain from opening fire upon you. Colonel Chesnut and Captain Lee are authorized by me to enter into such an agreement with you.”

Remember the original question was:


People often forget that the firing on Fort Sumter came right after Anderson told the Confederates he'd have to surrender the fort within 24 hours, for lack of supplies. So why else would they fire, unless to precipitate hostilities?

By the above letter we see the Confederates had no desire to bombard Fort Sumter if they would evacuate otherwise. However, they were aware hostile ships were on their way and could collaborate their efforts with Fort Sumter’s guns should an assault begin. Thus, the Southerners proposed to leave Fort Sumter along and allow them to evacuate at their own time and convenience as long as they would abstain from firing on the Confederates unless the Confederates attacked them. This would leave Fort Sumter in Union hands, but keep them from adding their guns with the ship’s guns when they arrived.

Major Anderson replied that he would evacuate Fort Sumter by noon the 15th and that he would not open fire upon the Southerners providing he did not receive additional supplies before then, and also providing the Southerners did not commit some hostile act against the U.S. flag. Naturally, if the Confederates became engaged in battle with the coming ships (excepted before the 15th) this would be a hostile act upon the U.S. flag and in such a case Major Anderson would fire upon the Confederate forces.

The Confederates saw, as Jefferson Davis said, to wait any longer would put them up against “the guns of Fort Sumter and the naval forces of the United States in combination; with no possible hope of averting it, unless in the improbable event of a delay of the expected fleet for nearly four days longer.” Had the ships been several days away, the Confederates would have gladly waited until the 15th and let Major Anderson evacuate without bombarding the Fort.

I said the Confederates did not want a “cross-fire.” Here is the language Jefferson Davis employed “To have awaited further strengthening of their position by land and naval forces,” and “sending a hostile fleet against the harbor of Charleston, to cooperate with the menacing garrison of Fort Sumter. After the assault was made by the hostile descent of the fleet, the reduction of Fort Sumter was a measure of defense rendered absolutely and immediately necessary.”

I believe “cross-fire” is equivalent to “in combination,” “further strengthening of their position,” and “to cooperate with.” While it is true “a sense of frustration at the conflicting messages” played a role, my conclusion is still the same based on official correspondence - to avoid enduring fire in the front and rear, or to use Jefferson Davis’ words, to avoid enduring fire “in combination” was the controlling motive for firing upon Fort Sumter.

Most respectfully,
Nicole

brooks7md
05-21-2007, 06:44 AM
It seems that every issue that caused a North vs. South problem was solved through some sort of compromise EXCEPT the question of slavery. For this reason, it's not incorrect to say that slavery caused the war.

Patrick

tompritchett
05-21-2007, 08:01 AM
Point well taken. Thank you for the further enlightment.

bob 125th nysvi
05-21-2007, 12:27 PM
Both your last post and Mr. Stephens assertions are not based on military reality.

American warships (if they had chosen to fire) would catch very few South Carolinian positions in a "cross fire".

Only the outer harbor defenses would have been in a position to be caught by fire from two directions (Sumter and the ships) and in neither case would it have been into an unprotected flank as for example Ft. Moultrie (which Anderson abandoned) was designed to engage ships both entering and already in the harbor. Essentially the direction Ft. Sumter lay in.

The inner harbor batteries were all facing toward Ft. Sumter and essntially the ships would have had to pass the fort before they could engage the inner harbor batteries and even upon doing so would have been in the same general direction as Ft. Sumter and potential masking its fire.

A bogus argument based on a incorrect reading of the military situation.

But be that as it may, IF the South Carolinian's had waited till the American forces fired the first shot they would have held the moral high ground. And at very little military danger to themselves (even the British Navy had not been able to seize defended American ports during the war of 1812).

The real military situation is that the American coastal defenses (like Ft. Sumter) while in the hands of the American government controlled all the southern trade routes by being able to close the harbors to merchant shipping.

No trade no money. No money, no way to support the slaves or run the country.

Once again the reasons come back to supporting the slave economy upon which southern wealth was dependent.

tompritchett
05-21-2007, 02:27 PM
Both your last post and Mr. Stephens assertions are not based on military reality.

American warships (if they had chosen to fire) would catch very few South Carolinian positions in a "cross fire".

The cross-fire would occur with any boats/ships that would have been sent out to challenge the relief convoy and its mission. If I remember correctly, I did read where such ships were used. In fact, I believe that Anderson had to slip past just such a boat when he moved his troops to Sumter.

However, that does not necessarily negate your argument that the Confederates should have forced the Union to take the first shots. From a strategic point of view, having the Union fire the first shots and successfully resupply Sumter would have more than out-weighed the temporary tactical disadvantage that would have been suffered. But then, my readings have not indicated a great appreciation of the Confederacy of overall grand strategy throughout much of the war beyond the use of internal lines (railroads) to shift men around sometimes as needed and the use of raids to tie up superior numbers of Union soldiers.

goatgirl
05-21-2007, 03:13 PM
Based upon what I have read, I am not sure that your statement that there was no "great stir" is totally accurate. Rather, it is my understanding that the Northern public reaction about the Star of the West incident was the reason that Davis's Secretary of War recommended that the Confederacy not fire on Sumter.

Uhmm. This is interesting and something I would like to look into further. If you have any information or source suggestions for me to pursue I would be grateful.

goatgirl
05-21-2007, 03:21 PM
I have read Pollard's Lost Cause, and much else besides.

Sgt. Pepper,

“See E.A. Pollard’s Lost Cause” was just my way of footnoting or documenting my statement. No offense was intended. Your admirable vocabulary makes it clear you are an extensive reader. I had to look the word “armament” up just to make sure I knew what it meant.


"pretense"?

Quoting again from The Lost Cause, “A specious plea was originated for this expedition, and it was declared that its purpose was to provision a “starving garrison.” I think the word pretense applies because there was more involved then just supplying the garrison with food stores. It does not require munitions of war to feed hungry men. And if there had been no pretense, there would have been no need to hide the reinforcement soldiers below deck. As a side thought, the garrison was not starving at this point or they would not have still been alive three months later when they surrendered.


Again, "pretense"? The President does not declare war, that is Congress's function.

Again, more was involved than just feeding a “starving garrison.” True, it was constitutionally Congress’ function to call forth the militia, but President Lincoln did it anyway.


I don't see the point you're trying to make.

Here is the point. Some people say the war was started due to the Southerners firing on the flag. If firing on the flag was what started the war, the war would have been started by firing on the Star of the West.

Respectfully,
Nicole

bob 125th nysvi
05-21-2007, 07:33 PM
was well within his rights to call out the militia without Congress there was NO war.

Legally war can only exist between between TWO or more recognized governments. The CSA was NEVER recognized as a legitimate government therefore there was No war in a legal sense.

So, for example, despite much political and press statements otherwise we do not have a "war" on terror.

Lincoln was dealing with an internal rebellion/seccession not a foreign power for which it was necessary for Congress to declare war.

bob 125th nysvi
05-21-2007, 07:38 PM
The cross-fire would occur with any boats/ships that would have been sent out to challenge the relief convoy and its mission. If I remember correctly, I did read where such ships were used. In fact, I believe that Anderson had to slip past just such a boat when he moved his troops to Sumter.

While I had never heard that South Carolina used or had any naval vessels up to that point, they certainly could have been caught in a cross fire.

However if they had them I doubt that the officers in charge would have been stupid enough to obey a superior's orders to pass by a hostile battery to engage a vastly superior naval force.

Remember conventional naval wisdon at the time was if a ship engages a fort it loses. Naval commanders had yet to realize that steam power changed everything.

Bravery and chivalry are one thing, kamikazi missions are quite another.

goatgirl
05-21-2007, 08:18 PM
Mr. Bob Sandusky,

“Cross-fire” may not have been the best word to use. This is why I closed with Jefferson Davis’ words, “in combination.” Nonetheless the entire point was the same and I think the moderator understood.

As for whether it was the best choice to fire upon Fort Sumter or not, was not an issue I was discussing. President Davis thought it was necessary. Mr. Toombs thought it was fatal. Horace Greeley, in his American Conflict says "whether the bombardment of Fort Sumter shall or shall not be justified by posterity, it is clear that the Confederacy had no alternative but its own dissolution."

Respectfully,
Nicole

tompritchett
05-21-2007, 09:04 PM
While I had never heard that South Carolina used or had any naval vessels up to that point,

On page 155 Bruce Catton in The Coming Fury describes how Doubleday "saw one of the guard boats heading for his craft" as he was leading the first detachment of soldiers from Moultrie to Sumter.

tompritchett
05-21-2007, 09:27 PM
If you have any information or source suggestions for me to pursue I would be grateful. DAYS OF DEFIANCE - Sumter, Secession and the Coming of the Civil War by Maury Klein (ISBN 0-679-44747-4) on pages 202 - 205 talks about the Southern and Northern reactions immediately after hearing of the firing on the Star of the West. On page 399, he describes Toombs warning Davis during the final cabinet debate in which Davis authorizes the firing on Sumter as follows:

As the debate warmed, Toombs paced restlessly back and forth, then wheeled abruptly on Davis and snapped. "Mr. President, at this time it is suicide, murder, and will lose us every friend at the North. You will wantonly strike a hornet's nest which extends from mountains to ocean, and legions now quiet, will swarm out and sting us to death. It is unnecessary; it puts us in the wrong; it is fatal".

The next 5 years proved the truth of Mr. Toomb's dire warning.

aaronfletcher
05-22-2007, 10:30 PM
Mr. McCarty
Perhaps your teacher knows you're right or perhaps he thinks you're wrong. Remember though that slavery is a taboo and if it's in the text book then he has to teach it. I am no longer allowed to speak at a school because I came as confederate and would not refer to Abraham Lincoln as president and many times called President Davis President Davis. I also stated the fact that "Honest Abe" said in his campaign speech that he had no intentions on freeing slaves. If the confederacy was so hellbent on slavery then why was General Jackson aloud to start a black school and that was against the law. However many southern states did not like Lincoln because he was a fence rider. South Carolina promised if Lincoln was elected they would seceed and they held their word. But do not be mad at your teacher on this one, because he is probably afraid that he will be condemed for teaching the whole truth. It is only fair though that if you teach one doctrin that you should have to teach them all.

Sincerely
Aaron Fletcher

hanktrent
05-23-2007, 06:33 AM
I also stated the fact that "Honest Abe" said in his campaign speech that he had no intentions on freeing slaves....

However many southern states did not like Lincoln because he was a fence rider. South Carolina promised if Lincoln was elected they would seceed and they held their word.

A fence rider? I'd say it was a little stronger than that.

Lincoln tried to calm everyone down by saying he wasn't after their slaves. The southern states like South Carolina looked back to his earlier speeches and saw right through that.

From the southern magazine DeBow's Review, December 1860:


Mr. Lincoln may proclaim his intention to enforce the fugitive slave law, but he is bound down by the acts of his party, and will find it impossible. Indeed he is bound by his own arguments and doctrines as the real author of the higher law and irrepressible conflict, for they are but part and parcel of each other, and Mr. Seward only borrowed them as has been charged, and never satisfactorily denied. The latter doctrine Mr. Seward announced in October, 1858. Mr. Lincoln said at Springfield, Illinois, on the 17th June, 1858: "A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved--I do not expect the house to fall--but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other.". . .

[As proof, the author quoted the Pittsburgh Post]: "In a few weeks we will know whether the effect will be advantageous or injurious to the country. We shall know whether the citizens of the slaveholding States will acquiesce in the overwhelming decision of their Northern brethren that slavery must be extinguished."

They guessed the north under Lincoln was determined to take away their slaves one way or the other, by force of arms if need be, and so they seceded. And darn it, as subsequent events showed, they were right. I wish modern southern historians would give the old southerners more credit for that.

Hank Trent
hanktrent@voyager.net

Malingerer
05-23-2007, 07:59 AM
A fence rider? I'd say it was a little stronger than that.

Lincoln tried to calm everyone down by saying he wasn't after their slaves. The southern states like South Carolina looked back to his earlier speeches and saw right through that.

From the southern magazine DeBow's Review, December 1860:



They guessed the north under Lincoln was determined to take away their slaves one way or the other, by force of arms if need be, and so they seceded. And darn it, as subsequent events showed, they were right. I wish modern southern historians would give the old southerners more credit for that.

Hank Trent
hanktrent@voyager.net
Well... as they say, even a paranoid has actual enemies.

goatgirl
05-23-2007, 08:14 AM
DAYS OF DEFIANCE - Sumter, Secession and the Coming of the Civil War by Maury Klein (ISBN 0-679-44747-4) on pages 202 - 205 talks about the Southern and Northern reactions immediately after hearing of the firing on the Star of the West.

Thanks. I will see if the library has this book.

bill watson
05-23-2007, 09:03 AM
" If the confederacy was so hellbent on slavery then why was General Jackson aloud to start a black school and that was against the law. "

No, it was not against the law. I believe the actual law in that place at that time was that slaves could not be schooled without the permission of their owners. The actual laws regarding slaves and education changed from place to place and state to state, but the usual emphasis seems to have been on getting permission by the owner to interact with his property.

Jackson's school, by the way and if memory serves, was a Sunday school. It was more like missionary work than education in a traditional sense. (It speaks well of his character, of course. I'm just clarifying the details.)

tompritchett
05-23-2007, 09:21 AM
I believe the actual law in that place at that time was that slaves could not be schooled without the permission of their owners.

If I remember correctly, those laws were late in the history of slavery and primarily a reaction to abolitionists smuggling anti-slavery tracts into the South for the express purpose of stirring up discontent among the slaves and in some cases actually encouraging open revolt such had occurred in Haitti at the turn of the century.

Malingerer
05-23-2007, 09:21 AM
If the confederacy was so hellbent on slavery...
Sincerely
Aaron Fletcher
Umm, speaking of hellbent...

Methodist Rev. John T. Wightman, preaching at Yorkville, South Carolina: "The triumphs of Christianity rest this very hour upon slavery; and slavery depends on the triumphs of the South . . . This war is the servant of slavery."

reb4lee
05-23-2007, 04:07 PM
The same thing happened to me in the 7th grade. I tried saying that the confederacy at the end of the war raised a Battalion of Black troops. He didn't listen and Like you said "shot it down".
Aaron Bolis

tompritchett
05-23-2007, 04:13 PM
The same thing happened to me in the 7th grade. I tried saying that the confederacy at the end of the war raised a Battalion of Black troops. He didn't listen and Like you said "shot it down".

While there is considerable documentation of resistance by the leaders of the Confederacy toward freeing slaves to fight for the Confederacy, I have never seen any references of any similar sentiments toward freemen fighting in ranks. I know that there is considerable documentation on Blacks fighting in ranks and serving as support personnel to the Confederate armies. I am just curious if anyone has ever run into resistance at the highest level to freemen serving as soldiers.

Malingerer
05-24-2007, 05:36 AM
The same thing happened to me in the 7th grade. I tried saying that the confederacy at the end of the war raised a Battalion of Black troops. He didn't listen and Like you said "shot it down".
Aaron Bolis
Did you tell your teacher about the part where they waited till a month before the end of the war before passing the legislation authorizing Black troops? Yep, even with stark defeat staring them in the eye, Confederate leaders found the idea of Black troops just too repugnant to contemplate. Here's a sample quote from one of those leaders:"If slaves will make good soldiers, then our whole theory of slavery is wrong." Howell Cobb, Georgia. Oh wait, here's another one: "it is abolition doctrine . . . the very doctrine which the war was commenced to put down." North Carolina Standard, Jan. 17, 1865.

tompritchett
05-24-2007, 08:04 AM
If slaves will make good soldiers, then our whole theory of slavery is wrong."

Peter, have you ever seen any similar comments made about the suitability of freemen to serve as soldiers?

Malingerer
05-24-2007, 08:50 AM
Peter, have you ever seen any similar comments made about the suitability of freemen to serve as soldiers?
Tons. Give me a couple of days and Ill post a few. Racism ran pretty deep on both sides of the Potomac.
*I'm making the assumption that by 'freemen', you mean northern Blacks.

bill watson
05-24-2007, 01:59 PM
"I'm making the assumption that by 'freemen', you mean northern Blacks."


Not necessarily. There were free blacks everywhere in the South. SC had 5,000 free blacks at the start of the war. All the other Southern states had more than that, I think.

tompritchett
05-24-2007, 02:04 PM
*I'm making the assumption that by 'freemen', you mean northern Blacks.

No I was referring to blacks who were not slaves. As Bill mentioned they were there. On my old computer I had the 1860's breakdown by state but I have not transferred those files over yet.

Malingerer
05-25-2007, 05:51 AM
No I was referring to blacks who were not slaves. As Bill mentioned they were there. On my old computer I had the 1860's breakdown by state but I have not transferred those files over yet.
Sorry for the mistaken assumption. It certainly would have been easier to find quotes from Northern soldiers regarding their attitudes about serving with freemen given that 179,000 served in the Union army. Finding remarks reflecting the attitudes of Confederate soldiers regarding serving with freemen will be a bit tougher for obious reasons. On a brighter note, I do have a source for Confederate quotes regarding their attitudes about fighting freemen in the Union army if interested.

flattop32355
05-25-2007, 07:38 AM
I told him LINCOLN started the war not the firing on fort Sumpter.

Ya know, I don't remember Mr. Lincoln ever firing a single shot in anger at anyone in the Confederacy. Go figure!


The confederates were just seizing what they saw as THEIR land. Lincoln called up for 75000 90 day troops that could have dealt with the seceded states except it brought more states to secede and fight back. Without the new states it is doubtable that the war would last as long as it did. The south didn't start a war. it doesn't make sense.

Now you're entering the territory of differing opinions, thoughts, viewpoints, etc. Not everyone agrees (as you've been so reminded by your history teacher) on the root causes of the war. Suffice it to say, the reasons are multiple, complexly interwoven, and varied from individual to individual and state to state. Any of the simple answers we so cherish are inadequate to the task of full explanation.


They wanted to be independent. Why start a war with a nation with twice the resources you have?

Same arguement could have been made about us going to war with Britain in 1776.


Lincoln in a letter quoted in the South Carolina discussion even says that his primary goal is to preserve the Union and not to free slaves if he doesn't have to. and my teacher still stares this in the face and says "You can't trust Internet" even when I point out the letter is in a book I have, word for word! :confused:

One of the reasons the American Civil War will remain alive for many, many more years is that it depends upon where you sit as to how you see the reasons for the war. Logical arguments can be made from a number of different perspectives, which will appear illogical to anyone looking at it from other positions, or who refuse to see things from anywhere but where they are.

Your teacher is not a moron because he chooses to see things from a different perspective than you; after all, if you're like me, you still don't know all there is to be known about the war and its causes. Agreeing to disagree is the better part of valor at times, rather than insisting that "I'm right, you're wrong". And he is correct that not all internet sources are reliable or accurate. We can't even agree here on a number of issues.

bill watson
05-25-2007, 11:03 AM
I found an interesting site.

http://www.forrestsescort.org/blacks.htm

Forget the text.

What I find particularly interesting is the black men at the Confederate reunions.

Surely that is a self-selecting group?

My memory tells me one black legislator in either Georgia or Mississippi was a Confederate army veteran, who delivered an eloquent speech in, I believe, 1892, in support of Confederate veterans. Surely someone whose memory is better than mine can produce the fellow's name?

There were a number of fellows who served in the Confederate army of their own choice, but to accept that you have to understand more about how the south really worked than we've got room for in this forum.

bill watson
05-25-2007, 11:05 AM
Here's another. Mr. Casey carried the 6th SCVI flag at an Antietam reenactment a few years back.

http://www.scvcamp469-nbf.com/theblackconfederatesoldier.htm

Malingerer
05-25-2007, 11:59 AM
There is no shortage of anecdotal evidence to suggest a few Blacks, slaves and freemen, served in various capacities in the Confederate army including under arms. As I recall, various members of the Apache tribe served under Crook to track down other Apaches. It has been ever thus throughout history that various groups have served their oppressors in oppressing themselves. Emmit Tills murderers had help from a few local Blacks. But here's the thing: nearly 10% of the Union army was composed of Black troops by the end of the war. I would be amazed if Black fighting men in the Confederacy exceeded 1/100th of that. Southern Blacks didn't like being slaves and tens of thousands saw joining the Union Army as a way to end slavery. This is why the numbers are so disproportionate.

bill watson
05-25-2007, 12:45 PM
I was initially surprised to find any, a few years back, and it led me to re-think what I thought I knew about the South.

In any event, I merely wanted to show that it is not out of the question to think some opinions about black Confederate soldiers who were freemen rather than slaves might exist among white Confederate soldiers. Where they did exist, they were in with the white guys, one way or another, as teamsters, musicians, etc.

tompritchett
05-25-2007, 12:54 PM
I was initially surprised to find any, a few years back, and it led me to re-think what I thought I knew about the South.

In any event, I merely wanted to show that it is not out of the question to think some opinions about black Confederate soldiers who were freemen rather than slaves might exist among white Confederate soldiers. Where they did exist, they were in with the white guys, one way or another, as teamsters, musicians, etc.

That is what was so weird about even the South that I grew up in. As a race blacks were looked down on but as individuals they were not - at least by those whites "with class".

bill watson
05-25-2007, 10:04 PM
Bingo.

Add to that "We've got rules that sound stringent, but in reality we do whatever it takes to make things work" and you've pretty much unlocked the doors to where they keep the epiphanies and insights. :-)

goatgirl
05-26-2007, 07:14 AM
My memory tells me one black legislator in either Georgia or Mississippi was a Confederate army veteran, who delivered an eloquent speech in, I believe, 1892, in support of Confederate veterans. Surely someone whose memory is better than mine can produce the fellow's name?


I am not sure if this is the one you are referring to for this man was a former slave not a free man of color, but a Mississippi representative, John F. Harris gave a speech in 1890 for the funding of a Confederate monument.

“…I was sorry to hear the speech of the young gentleman from Marshall County. I am sorry that any son of a soldier should go on record as opposed to the erection of a monument in honor of the brave dead. And, Sir, I am convinced that had he seen what I saw at Seven Pines and in the Seven Days’ fighting around Richmond, the battlefield covered with the mangled forms of those who fought for their county and for their country’s honor, he would not have made that speech.

"When the news came that the South had been invaded, those men went forth to fight for what they believed, and they made no requests for monuments….but they died, and their virtues should be remembered. Sir, I went with them. I too, wore the gray, the same color my master wore. We stayed four long years, and if that war had gone on till now I would have been there yet….I want to honor those brave men who died for their convictions. When my mother died I was a boy. Who, Sir, then acted on the part of a mother to the orphaned slave boy, but my ‘old missus’? Were she living now, or could speak to me from those high realms where are gathered the sainted dead, she would tell me to vote for this bill. And, Sir, I shall vote for it. I want it known to all the world that my vote is given in favor of the bill to erect a monument in honor of the Confederate dead.”

bill watson
05-26-2007, 11:35 AM
Thank you, I believe that's the man. :-) The details get fuzzy after you've been reincarnated a few dozen times .....

reb4lee
08-13-2007, 08:02 AM
While there is considerable documentation of resistance by the leaders of the Confederacy toward freeing slaves to fight for the Confederacy, I have never seen any references of any similar sentiments toward freemen fighting in ranks. I know that there is considerable documentation on Blacks fighting in ranks and serving as support personnel to the Confederate armies. I am just curious if anyone has ever run into resistance at the highest level to freemen serving as soldiers.

Tom,
I know that was posted a while back but I found a few thing's to what is said above. The first is that I was reading a book(forgot which one it was) and that at gettysburg 7 black troops were captured with full kit and rifle(confederate) on July 1st. Also forgot where but it was an account near the end of the war about a black company (confederate) defending a wagon train from union calvary. They defended for about an hour then were driven back. Hope that helps

reb4lee
08-13-2007, 09:48 AM
This is the source for waht I said before.
The black confederate's at gettysburg story was in [U] On the bloodstained field 2[U] By Gregory A Coco


(Article by Charles Rice, America's Civil War, November 1995)


Private R.M. Doswell was hastening back to his unit after carrying an order when something attracted his attention. The young Virginian had just spotted one of the new Confederate companies of black soldiers, "a novel sight to me." the black Confederates were guarding a wagon train near Amelia Court House on the retreat from Richmond.
Doswell reined in about 100 yards to the rear of the wagon train and watched in fascination as a Union cavalry regiment formed up to charge. The black Confederates fired their weapons like veterans and drove back the overconfident Federals. The horse soldiers re-formed for another charge. This time they broke up the wagon train and scattered the defenders. The black soldiers were captured and disarmed. Doswell suddenly realized his own danger and rode away without being noticed. The date was April 4, 1865. Five days later, Lee would surrender his Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox Court House.
The Couragous black soldiers who served in the various Northern armies have been much publicized and praised. Their brothers who fought for the South have been almost totally ignored. In actual fact, black Americans marched to war with the Southern armies from the very beginning in early 1861. In contrast, the Federal government refused to allow black men to serve in its ranks until well into the conflict. It was 1863 before the North began using black troops in any large number, and only then after considerable opposition.

jthlmnn
08-13-2007, 12:27 PM
I would call attention to two aspects in the articles cited above.

First there is no indication from either of them that African-American men, whether slave or free, were accepted into the the rank and file of the Confederate Army in any significant number. Their assigned roles in the Confederate army were supportive: laborers, cooks, servants, etc. This is specifically noted further on in the article cited from the American Civil War web site. As noted from Freemantle's diary, there were occasions when some of these men donned the kit and took to the lines. These were notable exceptions. These men acted so without orders and without official sanction. The citation of the incident at Gettysburg does not change this. 7 men of color, even in full kit, does not support an assertion of Confederate acceptance of Black men "under arms" as part of an organized unit.

Second is the inescapable fact that the Confederate government was resisting the use of Blacks as armed fighting men as late as March of 1865. When the law permitting such use was finally passed, it was done only because it had the support and encouragement of Robert E. Lee. Even so, the numbers who enlisted were small and they were pelted with mud when paraded past the citizens of Richmond.

This does not exonerate the Federals from their own acts of prejudice and racism (and such acts were plentiful). The comparison still makes for a glaring contrast, however:

-about 179,000 men of color UNDER ARMS and in uniform in the Union army
- ? in the Confederate
-about 37,000 of these men killed in a Union uniform
-? killed wearing a Confederate uniform
-As a matter of policy, the Confederate government refused to recognize Blacks as soldiers (ergo ineligible for exchange) and sent most captives into slavery. This led to the collapse of the exchange system in 1863.
-Those responsible for collecting slaves for Confederate service (as laborers)
constantly complained that many owners hid or moved their slaves to PREVENT their being taken into service, in any role.

The presence of a Black man in Confederate uniform and under arms was and is notable and interesting precisely because it was a rare and exceptional occurence.

tompritchett
08-13-2007, 02:08 PM
Second is the inescapable fact that the Confederate government was resisting the use of Blacks as armed fighting men as late as March of 1865.

Correct me if I am wrong here, but everything that I have read indicates that the resistance was to the use of slaves as armed fighting men. There was no mention of freemen.


The presence of a Black man in Confederate uniform and under arms was and is notable and interesting precisely because it was a rare and exceptional occurence.

I will agree with you here. One major factor here was the freed blacks were always a small minority in the overall and black populations of their states. I will also grant that most of the blacks that seen with the various Confederate armies were there in a support role, both skilled (teamsters, blacksmiths, etc.) and unskilled. However, nothing that I have seen to date would indicate that freemen were specifically excluded from serving under arms in the Confederate arms while I have seen reports of documentation for isolated instances of blacks under arms.

huntdaw
08-13-2007, 06:20 PM
I never paid much attention to this thread until today.

One thing that struck me about 'goatgirls' posts was that all of her sources are very biased contemporary Southern accounts with no balance at all. Pollard, for example, was quite the fire-eater and one cannot accept his work as anything but the views of an ardent secessionist. So of course, his writings are going to advance the agenda that helps Southern apologists. Alexander Stephens would be in the same category.

You might want to quote more objective sources if you are trying to argue a point.

To try to minimize slavery as a major issue of the war is absurd. It cannot be denied.

I teach American history part-time at the college level, am a historian by profession and manage and develop interpretation for an 1860's state historic site. I am often asked about causes of the war and what role slavery played in it.

I usually respond that slavery was certainly one of the main foundations of the war. Other reasons were built upon it that compounded the issue. But, while slavery was one of the main issues for the war it was not necessarily the reason that the individual went to war. Those reasons could be vary widely.

There are bad teachers everywhere but we don't know the tone of voice used with this one. We don't know the inflections and body language used which might have made the instructor defensive and circle the wagons so to speak. If our young student wants to really understand all of this he needs to read, read and read. Don't just look at internet sites - get real books that are written by people that have done real research in primary documents and given thought to the matter. Then read some more to see how others view the events. And, if you want to understand slavery better, understand how people on all sides of the issue felt -not just a one-sided argument that seems to be the point of focus here.

Curt-Heinrich Schmidt
08-13-2007, 07:01 PM
Hallo!

Sometimes it is about being right, and sometimes it is about the other guy hqaving to be wrong. (And the two are not always the same). Or making oneself right and the next lad wrong.
Different folks hold to different beliefs and understandings.

IMHO, with three degrees- one of which being a BA in History (18th and 19th Century American, with a specialization in the Rev War and Civil War eras)- that and a $5 bill will get you a cup of coffee at most restaurants these daze...
:-)

Seriously, IMHO... in brief and to over-generalize...

The Civil War was "about" the Constitutional issue of whether states who had voluntarily initially formed a Union had, or did not have, the right/ability/power, to unform or leave that Union.
What brought that issue to a head was the rise of the States' Rights Movement and the perception that the slavery dominated Southern agrarian economy and way-of-life was not being represented in the more industrialized "Northern federal politics."
Meaning, IMHO, had there been no slavery in the South, there would not have been a Constitutional Crisis attempting to be resolved by force of arms.
(The War ended in 1865 with the issue still unresovled.. the South just lost the ability to continue the dispute.)

IMHO, students do not have to agree with teachers or professors.
However, IMHO, they should be prepared to "defend" their views and positions, and also be willing to receive poor grades as the price of Principle as Life is rarely if ever, Fair.

Curt-Heinrich Schmidt
Socratic Interlocutor Mess

Who once received a "C" in Chinese Art because he unsuccesfully argued that "art" lies in the eye of the beholder (objet trouve) as a perception while the professor argued that "art" has to be created by man (and that a piece of driftwood cannot be perceive4d as "art" (objet d' art).
The Professor controlled the grades... ;-)

And whose American born father-in-law (whose ancestors immigrated from England in 1841) believed that Adolf Hitler was the greatest and best thing that ever happened to the German people.

jthlmnn
08-14-2007, 10:02 AM
Correct me if I am wrong here, but everything that I have read indicates that the resistance was to the use of slaves as armed fighting men. There was no mention of freemen.



I will agree with you here. One major factor here was the freed blacks were always a small minority in the overall and black populations of their states. I will also grant that most of the blacks that seen with the various Confederate armies were there in a support role, both skilled (teamsters, blacksmiths, etc.) and unskilled. However, nothing that I have seen to date would indicate that freemen were specifically excluded from serving under arms in the Confederate arms while I have seen reports of documentation for isolated instances of blacks under arms.

Tom,
This reply goes beyond your above posts and is addressed to more colleagues than yourself.

You are correct in that the 1865 discussion and law addressed the use of slaves. I overgeneralized, there. Below is what I have seen regarding free Black men serving the Confederacy as armed soldiers, and what reservations I have on some of these points.

While I have seen newspaper reports from the era of small groups (company size, at best, most platoon size) of freemen here and there offering their services to various governors, nothing is mentioned as to whether these offers were accepted or to what role these men might have been assigned.

A sanitary commissioner is quoted as having seen a thousand or more Black men under Confederate arms at one time, with Jackson's command in 1862, in Maryland. He does not mention, and I cannot find, any record of a unit of Black men that large in a State Militia or the Confederate Army, other than the one listed below (and they are in the wrong place).

Frederick Douglas is often quoted as stating that there are Black men under Confederate arms, so why should the Union be reluctant to use them? I have no reason to doubt the quote, but Douglas does not mention numbers, name units, or locations. I imagine that two Black men serving the Confederacy as soldiers would have been too many for him. Being an orator of the times, hyperbole was definitely in his arsenal of verbal weapons, as well.

I have found only one recorded unit of significant size of Black freemen, The 1st Louisiana Native Guard. They were a militia unit with a long history around New Orleans. (Back to the war of 1812.) They were taken out of action with the fall of New Orleans, however. Maybe 10% of this unit joined the Federal incarnation that carried the same name.

Tennessee did authorize the conscription of freemen of color in 1861, but the Tennessee State Library and Archives states that most evaded the sheriffs sent out to enforce the act.

It is also frequently noted that N.B. Forrest had 30-some slaves and freemen in his command, some asserting that they were part of his bodyguard. I have not seen anything to contradict this. I would, however, ask how significant a number is 30-40 out of Forrest's entire command?

The citations of Confederate pension records do indicate that individual men of color may have served as combat soldiers, but most do not specify any particular role. The numbers from these sources might, at best, support the assertion for a handful of men in each of a small number of regiments.

I do not doubt for a second that were were freemen and slaves who actively took up arms for the Confederacy, for reasons as varied as any of the White soldiers. The records do not currently support any assertion of significant numbers of Black men under Confederate arms. The scholars cited by many websites that maintain otherwise (Bearrs & Jordan, for example) have stated that these sites have quoted them out of context, misquoted them, or have in other ways abused the data and conclusions from their works.

From this, I would conclude that the numbers asserted by some websites (30,000-90,000 armed Black Confederate soldiers) are not supportable and grossly inflated. From what is known about the White perception of Black inferiority (North & South), and the Southern fears of slave revolts, I would have a difficult time featuring the welcoming of large groups/numbers of armed Black men (even freemen) with open arms.