The civil war was actually not fought to free the slaves. It was fought to bring the states that broke away from the Union back into one country instead of two. It wasn’t until 1863 that Lincoln decided to make freedom of the slaves a goal of the war as he felt it would demoralize the south and end the war…which it pretty much did.
Not to be too pedantic or anything, but saying the Civil War was fought over slavery isn’t as wrong as you might think. The south likes to say it was because of states’ rights, but the right they were primarily concerned about was a state’s right to slavery.
Slavery was the major issue in this country almost since its founding, and certainly for the 40 years or so leading up to the war. There were major conflicts about it, especially regarding what to do with fugitive slaves and whether or not to allow slavery in new states entering the Union. The Republican party built itself up as primarily an abolitionist party, and the fact that a Republican (Lincoln) was elected without the support of any Southern states showed the South that they did not have enough power in Washington to stop the North from imposing its will regarding slavery on the South. This was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back, and led almost immediately to secession. However, just about 100% of the animosity between North and South up to that point revolved around the slavery question, particularly in the territories.
Now, the North’s stated reason for engaging in the war was to preserve the Union, but there’s no doubt that many of the people who chose to fight for the North were abolitionists who wanted an end to slavery. It was also generally understood, on both sides, that the “peculiar institution” would not long survive if the Southern rebellion failed, particularly as the war dragged on. However, it’s also true that many of the people in the North, including the President, were not overly concerned with the rights of black people, at least at first.
So, while it may be technically true to say the war was not “about slavery”, it’s disingenuous to not acknowledge the fact that the slavery issue was the primary driver of federal politics in this country for decades before the war, and that the South’s major concern was keeping slavery as an institution as long as they could. So, the war was only 80 to 90% “about slavery”.
Also, why the hell am I posting all this stuff on Lamebook of all places?
It was terribly selfish of all those people who lived so long ago to be up to the sort of nonsense that burdens modern students with twenty vocabulary words and an annoying test at the end of a long, painful week of turning pages. They should have just eaten their gruel and stayed in.
You are posting all that stuff on Lamebook because knowledge is such a rare commodity in this here Lamebook world! No really, good job, even if there will be many comments to follow disputing much of what’s been said. Many of us not living in the USA do not know so much about the civil war yet we’re still interested, so thanks for that. (And a little thanks too to Nicole for initiating this whole discussion! Ignorance sometimes do serve a purpose, somehow.)
BTW, your blog is a rock ‘n roll hoot, many thumbs up for that as well.
@Sensible Madness #17
Thanks for the history lesson. Where I went to school we did not need to know about the Civil War. So as you could imagine I had a grim understanding at best and your comment [Blog] helped to fill in alot of blanks. Thank you.
Nicole: I am an Indigenous Australian and even I know that the (basic) reason for the Civil War was for the North to superimpose their ‘anti-slave’ laws on the south. In saying that, yes you would be a Billionaire had it not been for the Civil War.
I browse lamebook to remind me that there are far more and indeed worse idiots out there than the few that inhabit my friends list. It’s good to see a few people still have braincells too, and know how to use them. Bravo, Sensible Madness, you have successfully vaguely educated a brit about a war we were (I’m 99% sure) we had nothing to do with. In return would you like to know about some of our ridiculous monarchs?…maybe some other time then.
@Insane: not so much for the north to impose their anti-slave laws on the South. It was more that the South felt they were overpowered by the North in the federal government, and there was little to stop the North from doing so, even if the North had not shown any real interest in outlawing slavery in the South. The President’s stated policy was to contain slavery, allowing it in the states it was already allowed, but prohibiting it everywhere else, including in new states that may join the Union later. Of course, the South believed doing so would eventually leave them isolated and overwhelmingly outnumbered by free states, making an eventual blanket ban on slavery all but inevitable.
@Jenivere Britain was officially neutral, but spent a great deal of money building blockade runners to get through the Union naval blockade that surrounded the Confederacy throughout much of the war. This allowed Britain to buy Southern cotton, and gave the Confederacy some cash, but not enough to alter the course of the war in any significant way.
In fact, the Confederacy’s entire military strategy largely depended on getting either Britain or France to enter the war on their behalf. Unfortunately for them, neither nation did, although Britain felt the Confederacy would probably win. Britain toyed with the idea of officially recognizing the Confederacy and offering to mediate a peace settlement between the North and South when it looked as though the South might win in 1862. However, the Confederate defeat at Antietam made a Confederate win look highly unlikely, and the idea was dropped. The Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 put the final nail in the coffin of the idea that Britain might be persuaded to join the Confederacy, since Britain had itself outlawed slavery some 30 years earlier, and while the war had mostly been about slavery before, the Proclamation made it explicitly so.
Its a fascinating part of your history, the use of trench warfare pre WW1, the brothers that fought on different sides, the first submarine use, steel battleships etc.
Its a shame the White trash skinheads and KKK have taken the Stars and Bars and turned into their flag like that, I think it belittles the Southerns fight and their dead, why do people let them away with it ?
Also Nicole is a muppet how can you live in a country and not be a where of your own history that impacts on your culture like that ?
@Sensible Madness: Thanks again for filling in the blanks. To increase the basic level of my understanding (not being one for war knowledge) would it not be fair to say that almost all wars are started from some political agenda?
@Moneyshot NZ: “Also Nicole is a muppet how can you live in a country and not be *a where* of your own history that impacts on your culture like that ?”. classic!!!!
This is quite possibly the most intelligent “comments” page I have ever read here on lamebook. Well done. No one called anyone a douchebag or said anything idiotic with the exception of sea bea calling sensible madness “lame”. Which was, you know…lame.
You seem to be forgetting the biggest truth in all of this. Abraham Lincoln was a politician. Politicians lie in order to achieve some goal. Do you not think it possible for him to appear sympathetic to the Southeners (and slave traders/users etc.) to maintain popularity?
thank you for clarifying.
Just so you know, your drawn out post was not a complete waste of effort. I read your message in it’s entirety and it was actually enlightening in a way. You see…I had intended to post something about the Civil War NOT being about slavery, but then I read your comment and I actually have to agree with you.
Nah…. you were right dreamingawake….. it was not about slavery. Slavery was just a good way to stir things up and help to set white folks against each other. The same tactics (make it seem like a religious issue instead of a financial one) are still being used in war today.