Around 60.1% of the electorate voted against Abraham Lincoln in 1860. The loser in the next five presidential elections got more popular votes than Lincoln.
The Introduction to
Slavery Was Not the Cause of the War Between the States,
The Irrefutable Argument.1
(enhanced with captioned photographs)
by Gene Kizer, Jr.
Slavery was and is a horrible institution. There is nothing in this book, whatsoever, that defends slavery in any way, form or fashion.
The War Between the States is the central event in American history and, by far, our bloodiest war. It is important to know exactly what caused it and why.
In Part I of this book, I argue that slavery was not the cause of the War Between the States. There is absolute, irrefutable proof that the North did not go to war to free the slaves or end slavery. The North went to war to preserve the Union as Abraham Lincoln said over and over.
The reason Lincoln needed to preserve the Union was because, without it, the North faced economic annihilation, the magnitude of which easily made war preferable. Economic problems multiply geometrically. By the time Lincoln was inaugurated on March 4, 1861 there was gloom, despair and panic in the North with thousands of business failures, hundreds of thousands of people out of work, serious trouble with the stock market, threatened runs on banks, and Northern ship captains heading South because of the South's low tariff. There was no talk whatsoever of ending slavery. Just the opposite. There were guarantees galore of preserving slavery forever.
Just use common sense. If your house is on fire, you don't care about your neighbor's barking dog or anything your neighbor is doing. You have to put out the fire or lose your house. It's just that simple.
The North's economic house caught fire in the winter of 1860 to 61 when the first seven Southern States seceded. The North quickly discovered that manufacturing and shipping for the South were the sources of most of its employment, wealth and power. Cotton alone was 60% of U.S. exports in 1860. Without the South, the North was headed for bankruptcy. By the spring of 1861, the North's house was a raging inferno.
The latest death statistics for the War Between the States have raised it from 620,000, to between 650,000 and 850,000. These are the widely accepted statistics of historian J. David Hacker of Binghamton University. He splits the difference and uses 750,000.2 I believe it was on the higher end of his range so I use 800,000 in this book.
The wounded usually end up, statistically, as a multiple of deaths. For example, in WWII we lost 405,399 and had 670,846 wounded, which is 1.65.3 Sometimes the multiplier is higher, sometimes lower, and I realize that a higher percentage died of disease in the War Between the States, but the number of wounded would still be astronomical, well over a million to add to the 800,000 dead.
If the soldiers of World War II were killed at the same rate as the War Between the States, we would have lost 3,870,000 instead of 405,399; and we would have had 6,385,500 wounded instead of 670,846.
That the South, with less than 1/4th the white population of the North, did not hesitate to fight for its rights and liberty, says everything about the courage of Southerners and their desire for independence.
Especially when one considers the other huge advantages of the North such as 100-to-1 in weapon manufacturing, 19-to-0 in marine engine manufacturing, a merchant marine fleet, a standing army, a substantial navy with fleets of war ships, and a functioning government over 60 years old that had relationships with most of the countries on the earth.
The North also had access to unlimited immigration, and 25% of Union soldiers ended up being foreign born.4
The War Between the States was a completely unnecessary war.
Historians know that the Crittenden Compromise (late 1860) would almost certainly have prevented the war. It was based on the old Missouri Compromise line that had worked well for 30 years. Slavery had been prohibited north of the line and allowed south of it.5
The Crittenden Compromise had widespread support, North and South, from good men trying to prevent war, but Abraham Lincoln shot it down. Lincoln had political allies to pay back so he would not compromise on slavery in the West. He had no problem with slavery where it existed. He just didn't want it "extended," so he supported the Corwin Amendment, which left black people in slavery forever, even beyond the reach of Congress, where slavery already existed.
The defeat of the Crittenden Compromise at the behest of the partisan Lincoln is a major tragedy of world history, and more bitterly so because slavery was not extending into the West. There were few slaves in the West after being open to slavery for 10 years. Esteemed historian David M. Potter writes that the Crittenden Compromise had widespread support from Southerners as prominent as Robert Toombs as well as strong support in the North and West, and "if these conclusions are valid, as the preponderance of evidence indicates, it means that when Lincoln moved to defeat compromise, he did not move as the champion of democracy, but as a partisan leader."6 Potter's choice of words is far too kind.
Abraham Lincoln was the first sectional president in American history.
Around 60.1% of the electorate voted against him. The loser in the next five presidential elections got more popular votes than Lincoln.
Of the total 4,682,069 votes cast in 1860, Lincoln received 1,866,452, which is 39.9%. The eighteen states voting for him were all above the Mason-Dixon line plus California and Oregon. He received no electoral votes in fifteen of the thirty-three states. His name was not even on the ballot in ten Southern states. Lincoln's opponents together totaled 2,815,617, which was almost a million votes more than he got.
Potter makes it clear that Lincoln had absolutely no voter mandate to not compromise with the South at this critical juncture in our country's history. With a large majority of voters, excluding slavery from the territories was a non-issue. Potter writes:
[A] majority, not only of the voters as a whole, but even of the voters in states which remained loyal to the Union, regarded the exclusion of slavery from the territories as non-essential or even undesirable, and voted against the candidate who represented this policy. When Lincoln was inaugurated, the states which accepted him as President were states which had cast a majority of more than a half a million votes against him, and even when the outbreak of war caused four more states to join the Confederacy, the remaining Union still contained a population in which the majority of the electorate had opposed the Republican ticket.7
Potter notes that part of Lincoln's uncompromising position was political fear that any compromise on slavery in the territories, after campaigning on it, meant the dissolution of the Republican Party, which was made up loosely of so many diverse groups of non-related voters such as those who wanted a tariff or bounty or subsidy for their business, or free land, or were Northern racists who didn't want blacks near them in the West.
It is a tragedy of unfathomable proportion that Lincoln killed the Crittenden Compromise. The Crittenden Compromise would have prevented the war and 800,000 deaths and over a million wounded, and would have given the country time to work on ending slavery.
Most other nations on earth, as well as the Northern States, used gradual, compensated emancipation to end slavery. The Northern capital, Washington, DC, freed its slaves a year into the war with compensated emancipation, which proves slavery could have been abolished quickly and bloodlessly if the will had been there, North and South.
It is a regrettable fact, but slaves were property and governments that wanted to end slavery in their countries were glad to compensate slaveowners for the loss of their property.8
It is not just racial either. One of the largest slaveowners in South Carolina was William Ellison, the famous cotton gin maker in Sumter County, who was black. There were a lot of black slaveowners and I'm sure they would want to be compensated along with whites.
Gradual, compensated emancipation was Lincoln's strong belief and desire as well, as he stated in the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation with respect to the Union slave states.9 Lincoln talked and wrote about gradual compensated emancipation at many other times and places as well.
But ending slavery was not the goal of the Republican Party in 1856 and 1860. Taking over the government so they could rule the country for their own benefit and aggrandizement was their goal.
George Washington had warned that sectional political parties would destroy the country but Wendell Phillips proudly proclaimed that the Republican Party is the first sectional party in American history and is the party of the North pledged against the South.
For the entire decade of the 1850s, Republicans used the most virulent hatred against the South to rally their votes. Republicans celebrated John Brown's terrorism and murder of Southerners, and Republicans endorsed Hinton Helper's The Impending Crisis of the South as a campaign document. Helper's book
urged class agitation against slavery or, failing that, the violent overthrow of the slave system by poorer whites. Helper concluded that slaves would join with nonslaveholders because 'the negroes . . . in nine cases out of ten, would be delighted with the opportunity to cut their masters' throat.'10
William H. Seward, soon to be Lincoln's secretary of state, said "I have read the 'Impending Crisis of the South' with great attention. It seems to me a work of great merit, rich yet accurate in statistical information, and logical in analysis."
Lincoln's predecessor, President James Buchanan, in an article he wrote entitled "Republican Fanaticism as a Cause of the Civil War," said The Impending Crisis "became at once an authoritative exposition of the principles of the Republican Party. The original, as well as a compendium, were circulated by hundreds of thousands, North, South, East, and West."11
Southerners would have been crazy not to secede from a country now ruled by a party that called for their throats to be cut. Republicans were not a great political movement trying to solve the difficult slavery issue with good will. Most people in the North (95 to 98% according to historians Lee Benson and Gavin Wright) were not abolitionists.12 They did not care about freeing the slaves who would then come North and be job competition.
No Republican could be elected in the North on the platform of directly ending slavery but they could agitate on slavery in the West with good results. It was a hot political issue driven as much by rallying votes -- vote Republican: 'Vote yourself a farm,' 'Vote yourself a tariff!' -- as it was by Northern racism. Lincoln himself stated in the Lincoln-Douglas Debates that the West was to be reserved for white people from all over the earth.
The West was important in the presidential campaigns of 1856 and 1860 because the North needed the West for its surplus population, as both Horace Greeley and Lincoln stated. "Go West, young man!" said Horace Greeley.
Lincoln added that he wanted those white Northerners and immigrants to reach the West with Northern institutions in place, which meant no blacks allowed. Period. Neither slaves nor free blacks were welcome in Lincoln's West.
Greeley, editor of the New-York Tribune, believed in the right of secession and wrote passionately about it until he realized it would affect his money, then he wanted war.
Slavery in the West was a bogus issue anyway, as stated earlier. Slavery was not going beyond the Mississippi River and they all knew it.
Republican James G. Blaine said that slavery in the West was "related to an imaginary Negro in an impossible place."
Lincoln scholar Richard N. Current writes that "Lincoln and his fellow Republicans, in insisting that Congress must prohibit slavery in the West, were dealing with political phantoms."
He points out that Congress "approved the organization of territorial governments for Colorado, Nevada, and Dakota without a prohibition of slavery" because they did not think it was necessary.
In 1860, there were only two slaves in Kansas and 15 in Nebraska, and that was after being open to slavery for 10 years. As stated above, Current did not believe slavery would have lasted another generation, even in the deep South.13
Charles W. Ramsdell wrote an article entitled "The Natural Limits of Slavery Expansion" and he also concluded "that slavery had about reached its zenith by 1860 and must shortly have begun to decline, for the economic forces which had carried it into the region west of the Mississippi had about reached their maximum effectiveness. It could not go forward in any direction and was losing ground along its northern border."14
The New Mexico territory had also been open to slavery for ten years and there were only twenty-nine there in 1860, though that figure was challenged by William H. Seward. He said there were twenty-four.15
It is a great irony that Northern anti-slavery was mostly economic or racist. Paraphrasing historian David Potter, Northern anti-slavery was in no sense a pro-black movement but was anti-black and designed to get rid of blacks.
Many Northern and Western States had laws on the books forbidding free black people from even visiting, much less living there, including Lincoln's own Illinois. If a black person stayed too long in Illinois he was subject to arrest and imprisonment by the sheriff.
In 1859, Oregon, which, as stated, voted for Lincoln in 1860, became the 33rd state and this was part of its constitution:
No free negro, or mulatto, not residing in this state at the time of the adoption of this constitution, shall ever come, reside, or be within this state, or hold any real estate, or make any contract, or maintain any suit therein; and the legislative assembly shall provide by penal laws for the removal by public officers of all such free negroes and mulattoes, and for their effectual exclusion from the state, and for the punishment of persons who shall bring them into the state, or employ or harbour them therein.16
In Part II of this book, I argue the right of secession. No American who believes in the Declaration of Independence -- in the just powers of the government coming from the consent of the governed -- can doubt the right of secession. Horace Greeley certainly didn't. He believed in it thoroughly until he realized it was going to affect his money.
The secession conventions of the South and the creation of the Confederate States of America are the greatest expression of democracy and self-government in the history of the world.
In state after state, in a landmass as great as Europe, Southerners rose up against what they viewed as a dangerous, economically confiscatory government now run by people who hated them and whose campaign documents called for their throats to be cut.
The Southern states called conventions to decide the one issue: Secession. A convention to decide one issue is closer to the people than even their legislatures.
That's why the Founding Fathers in the Constitutional Convention of 1787 decided that conventions of the people in each state would be used to ratify the Constitution. That's where the convention precedent started, with the Founding Fathers and the ratification of the Constitution.
Southerners followed suit with their conventions to decide secession. They debated the issue fiercely then elected delegates as Unionists and Secessionists who went into their state conventions and debated more.
Seven states voted to secede, then they formed a democratic republic that was the mirror image of the republic of the Founding Fathers of 1776 but with States' Rights strengthened and an economic system based on free trade. Southerners had always wanted free trade with the world as opposed to the heavy protectionist tariffs that had benefited the North to the detriment of the South the entire antebellum period.
Slavery was not the cause of the War Between the States. Once you understand the true cause -- the imminent economic annihilation of the North which was coming fast -- all other actions taken by Lincoln and everybody else make infinitely more sense.
Abraham Lincoln needed to start his war as quickly as he could. He needed the blockade of the South in place as fast as possible to keep Europeans and especially the English from forming trade and military alliances with the South, which the South had been aggressively pursuing.
Lincoln announced his blockade before the smoke had cleared from the bombardment of Fort Sumter.
In Part III, Charles W. Ramsdell's famous treatise, Lincoln and Fort Sumter, shows in magnificent detail how Lincoln started the war in Charleston Harbor.
I hadn't read this brilliant piece in several years but had to type in every word for this book and I am deeply pleased that every single word written by Mr. Ramsdell strongly supports the argument of this book -- that the inevitable economic annihilation of the North is the reason Abraham Lincoln had to have his war and get it started as quickly as he could.
Mr. Ramsdell states also that the North's gaping self-inflicted wound, the Morrill Tariff, kicked in and greatly added to the panic and call for war in the North as the Northern shipping industry faced rerouting away from the high-tariff North and into the low-tariff South where protective tariffs were unconstitutional.
Arguing history is very much like arguing a case in a court of law. All you can do is present your evidence in as persuasive a manner as possible and hope the jury agrees with you.
My argument is thoroughly documented and I believe it is irrefutable.
Gene Kizer, Jr.
Charleston, South Carolina
October 31, 2014
1 Gene Kizer, Jr., Slavery Was Not the Cause of the War Between the States, The Irrefutable Argument. (Charleston and James Island, SC: Charleston Athenaeum Press, 2014).
2 Rachel Coker, "Historian revises estimate of Civil War dead," published September 21, 2011, Binghamton University Research News -- Insights and Innovations from Binghamton University, http://discovere.binghamton.edu/news/civilwar-3826.html, accessed July 7, 2014.
3 United States military casualties of war,
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_military_casualties_of_war, accessed August 1, 2014.
4 James M. McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom, The Civil War Era (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988), 606.
5 The Missouri Compromise was superseded by the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854, which opened up the territory north of the Missouri Compromise line (latitude 36--30' north) to slavery. This made the Missouri Compromise irrelevant.
6 David M. Potter, Lincoln and His Party in the Secession Crisis (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1942; reprint, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1979), 200.
7 Potter, Lincoln and His Party in the Secession Crisis, 200.
8 As stated, ending slavery did not have to be too gradual as long as compensation to slaveowners was included. The successful Washington, DC 1862 compensation program proved it could work and be more immediate than gradual, although that is a small example. There would definitely need to be programs in place to help the new freedmen incorporate into society but that could have been done and is what serious people, as opposed to fanatics, were pushing. It was certainly Lincoln's position most of his life. Historian Richard N. Current believed slavery would not last another generation, and that seems a reasonable assessment.
9 Paragraph two of Abraham Lincoln's Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation issued September 22, 1862 "By the President of the United States of America" reads:
That it is my purpose, upon the next meeting of Congress to again recommend the adoption of a practical measure tendering pecuniary aid to the free acceptance or rejection of all slave States, so called, the people whereof may not then be in rebellion against the United States [Maryland, Delaware, Missouri, Kentucky and later West Virginia] and which States may then have voluntarily adopted, or thereafter may voluntarily adopt, immediate or gradual abolishment [sic] of slavery within their respective limits; and that the efforts to colonize persons of African descent, with their consent, upon this continent, or elsewhere, with the previously obtained consent of the Governments existing there, will be continued. (Emphasis added.)
10 Ronnie W. Faulkner, 2006, "The Impending Crisis of the South," NCpedia sketch on Hinton Rowan Helper's book, The Impending Crisis of the South: How to Meet It (New York: Burdick Brothers, 1857). NCpedia is the Encyclopedia of North Carolina, The University of North Carolina Press: http://ncpedia.org/print/2723, accessed July 31, 2014. The article also states that Hinton Helper was "A racist to the core, he advocated white supremacy."
11 The quotations of William H. Seward and President James Buchanan come from an article by Buchanan, "Republican Fanaticism as a Cause of the Civil War," an essay in Edwin C. Rozwenc, ed., The Causes of the American Civil War (Boston: D.C. Heath and Company, 1961), 62.
12 Lee Benson, "Explanations of American Civil War Causation" in Toward the Scientific Study of History (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1972), 246, 295-303, in Gavin Wright, The Political Economy of the Cotton South, Households, Markets, and Wealth in the Nineteenth Century (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1978), 136.
13 Richard N. Current, The Lincoln Nobody Knows (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1958), 95-97.
14 Charles W. Ramsdell, "The Natural Limits of Slavery Expansion" in Edwin C. Rozwenc, ed., The Causes of the American Civil War (Boston: D. C. Heath and Company, 1961), 150-162
15 For an excellent report on an in-depth conversation between U. S. Supreme Court Justice John A. Campbell, William H. Seward, Stephen A. Douglas, John J. Crittenden and others on the extension of slavery, see Honorable John A. Campbell, "Memoranda Relative to the Secession Movement in 1860-61," in the "Papers of Honorable John A. Campbell - 1861-1865.," Southern Historical Society Papers, New Series - Number IV, Volume XLII, September, 1917, (Reprint: Broadfoot Publishing Company and Morningside Bookshop, 1991), 3-45.
16 Taliaferro P. Shaffner, The War in America: being an Historical and Political Account of the Southern and Northern States: showing the Origin and Cause of the Present Secession War (London: Hamilton, Adams, 1862), 337-38.