How democratic was Southern secession?

Perhaps less than you might think.  There is a new paper by Mario L. Chacon and Jeff I. Jensen:

We use the Southern secession movement of 1860-1861 to study how elites in democracy enact their preferred policies. Most states used specially convened conventions to determine whether or not to secede from the Union. We argue that although the delegates of these conventions were popularly elected, the electoral rules favored slaveholders. Using an original dataset of representation in each convention, we first demonstrate that slave-intensive districts were systematically overrepresented. Slaveholders were also spatially concentrated and could thereby obtain local pluralities in favor of secession more easily. As a result of these electoral biases, less than 10% of the electorate was sufficient to elect a majority of delegates in four of the six original Confederate states. We also show how delegates representing slave-intensive counties were more likely to support secession. These factors explain the disproportionate influence of slaveholders during the crisis and why secessionists strategically chose conventions over statewide referenda.

Not entirely unlike the first American secession!

For the pointer I thank the excellent Kevin Lewis.


Plus also the idea that it was "democratic" inherently assumes that the slaves' votes were inherently irrelevant.


This is a rather glaring omission from the analysis. In fact, slaves were a majority of the population in both SC and MS, and well over 40% in AL, GA (48%), LA, and FL. It's an excellent bet that secession was a definite minority position in most or all of the Confederate states.

But that's rather a fatuous argument. "Democratic" must presumably mean according to the rules of the franchise at the time. Otherwise you could argue that nothing was democratic before, for instance, women's suffrage, or the extension of the franchise to 18-year olds.

Separate issue: how wide was adult, white, male suffrage in the southern states at the time? More extensive than at independence? Universal?

There were poll taxes, but property qualifications had pretty much gone by the boards about 30 years earlier, South Carolina a notable exception. They were not severe taxes like the taille collected in Restoration France. IIRC, about 40% of the white male citizen population had the franchise ca. 1815 and over 90% twenty years later. In European countries at the time, single-digit shares were generally the order of the day until the 1850s. Prussia ca. 1851 had instituted a constitution which extended suffrage to most, but the population was divided into tax classes with the bulk of representation accorded a modest minority of the population. About a decade and a half later you began to see broad suffrage without these contrivances in various countries - Britain foremost among them. In the States, the black population was enfranchised after the Civil War, but then Southern blacks were kicked off voter rolls with various legal and extralegal measures between 1877 and about 1901. As late as 1910, about 90% of the black population lived down South, so that meant the vast majority of blacks were without suffrage (Tennessee the exception). That began to break down after the 2d World War when a critical mass of Southern blacks acquired enough self-confidence to go toe-to-toe with local officials. In loci like Louisiana, the share of adult blacks registered went from about 3% ca. 1948 to 20% in 1959. Then Congress passed legislation in 1960 providing for the appointment of federal registrars and the dam really began to collapse.


I've always grinned at the Prussian system: a wide franchise, but various decisions refused to the parliament and instead reserved to the Kaiser and his crew.

You could argue that. And you would have some sort of point, especially about women. But the big difference in those cases is that there is not a good reason to suppose that the segment of the population not entitled to vote would have voted vastly differently than those who were allowed to vote.

In the 2012 Presidential election Obama won the women's vote by 56-44, while Romney carried the men by 54-46. Those are big gaps, but they are nowhere near the gap that would have appeared between slaves and non-slaves in secession referenda. And of course, at the time of secession, it is likely that hypothetical women's votes would have been closer to men's votes than they are today.

Of course, you can accept the rules of the franchise in place at the time, and argue that the conventions were undemocratic because the method of selecting delegates did not reflect the wishes of eligible voters. But that's just picking the rules you want to criticize and those you want to accept.

Now, I don't suppose that Chacon and Jensen are so stupid that they just forgot about the slaves, and in fact their paper does not ask the question Tyler asks in the title of this post. I don't suppose Tyler is either, but his choice of title is bizarre. The obvious answer is "not at all democratic."

Lincoln and Republicans were not advocating freeing of slaves, just prohibiting expansion of the territory where slaves were allowed.

Conservatives today criticize Justice Tanney, but he was a strict construction is like Justice Thomas and Scalia in ruling that once a slave always a slave if in a slave state.

Lincoln freeing the slaves applied only to those slave owners in rebellion. It was a tactic of war, not of morality.

Would slaves have reasoned that war would end in the punishing defeat of the South that no one expected or wanted, and that resulted only out of angry frustration.

Taney went well beyond the latter of the Constitution in his opinion that slaves were not even legal persons with recourse to the courts. Nothing in the Constitution gets you there. In fact, slaves are gingerly referred to as "persons" in a the very few references to them.


I don't get what your point is.

I don't know how the slaves would have reasoned about a likely war. I am willing to bet that they would have thought they, or maybe their children, were going to be better off in the union than in a separate CSA, formed mostly to protect slavery.


Taney's Dred Scott decision was not about slavery in the slave states. It was about whether a slave-owner could bring a slave into a "free state" without the slave becoming free. The Taney Court ruled that he could. This, of course, meant that there were no more "free states" since anyone could go to a slave state, buy slaves, and bring them back to the "free state."

That's why it was such a big deal.

Roger Sweeny,

I hadn't thought of that. Thanks.

But at the time of secession, emancipation was not on offer from the federal government. It wasn't until well into the war that Lincoln decided to abolish slavery and he was able to get political and popular support for it.

No, emancipation wasn't on offer.

But I think the slaves would have understood quite well that it was more likely to come, and come sooner, without secession.

....... the idea that it was “democratic” also inherently assumes that a majority of the electorate votes for their representatives.

But even today, none of your elected representatives in America took office with a numerical majority vote of the electorate. Not even close to majority rule, now or then.

Yawn. Oligarchy, not democracy. The electorate never seems able to change things.

BUT that is based on being taught "voting never works" which means in reality, "I'm never elected dictator when I vote, so government never does what I want it to do for me."

It's still interesting that, of the people who could vote, there was such distortion. Gives the lie to the "uniform white supremacy" interpretation and supports the "also a class war with useful idiots among the poor" one.

Whether or not they were useless idiots, hundreds of thousand of both northern and southern, white males "voted" with their lives by enlisting, fighting, and dying in the Confederate and Federal Armies. In other words, the demos/people did not oppose secession, conquest, and civil war, else there would not have been 600,000 KIA or a civil war.

FYI - Lincoln was elected with 40% the popular vote (only white males). Even an economist can recognize that 40% of white males isn't the majority.

Have female and 18 year-old suffrage corrected the problem of irrationality among the electorate?

One should remember that conscription was widely used in the Civil War by both North and South-- and the South instituted it first

Wasn't successful. The number actually conscripted into the Union Army was in the low five digits. Most who did not enlist recruited a substitute or paid a full bounty and were excused.


.......... "– Lincoln was elected with 40% the popular vote ..... Even an economist can recognize that 40% of white males isn’t the majority. "

Yes, American academics can recognize it and are quite comfortable with minority rule.

Note that only 30% of the U.S. electorate voted for Obama in 2012.
(and that electorate includes women, blacks and 18-year olds now)

That was my immediate reaction as well.

I'm guessing that Southern secession was about as popular among black slaves as George Wallace was for their grandchildren.

I lived in Alabama from 1973-1992. You know that George Wallace was very much dependent on the black vote right? Like he would not even come close to winning the elections I lived through without the blacks overwhelmingly voting for him. Maybe I am just responding to a troll? Or maybe you really are super ignorant? Please let us know as this affects my judgement about the average IQ of people on this website.

In fairness to Cooper, Wallace (and his 1st wife as a decoy) fought 1 election at a time when it was difficult for blacks to register to vote, 1 election when procedures without wretched impediments were a novelty, and 1 election when Albert Brewer was hustling for black votes. He competed for black votes only in 1974 and 1982.

I was referring to George Wallace circa the 1968 presidential bid when he was deeply disliked by black voters for running on a segregationist platform, not the later George Wallace who managed to redeem himself.

I should have been more specific.

He had a (D) after his name. That sufficed for black voters in Alabama. Gerald Ford never did anything which required redemption and received between 8% and 17% of the black vote depending on which source you consult.

In 1962, Wallace ran for governor on a segregationist platform (and declared in his inaugural address, "Segregation today, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever). But by the time of his 1968 presidential campaign, he was running as a "get the federal government out of our lives" conservative.

'Perhaps less than you might think. '

Being a Virginian, I doubt it. Unless one is unaware of Loudoun County's divisions, or how West Virginia was created.

'the electoral rules favored slaveholders'

This seems extremely unsurprising - see the examples above in terms of Virginia.

it is extremely unsurprising but it's not picked up on during high school/history 101.

the big white little white fights (to adopt terms i've seen in regards to haiti) are central to understanding antebellum politics especially how slavery really did directly challenge free white political liberties on many levels. our focus on race and racism of slavery is a useful corrective to earlier thought but we shouldn't forget the leading arguments at the time which was that even if you grant slavery a modicum of moral legitimacy it is in deep tension with white egalitarianism.

The South had four classes of men.

Around 5%-6% of southerners were rich enough to own slaves.

39% of the population were slaves.

2% were free blacks (some of whom owned slaves)

The rest were poor white Yeoman farmers.

Only the first group was deeply interested in slavery as an economic institution. The poorer whites just didn't want to live in a world where blacks had the same rights as they did.

Slavery wasn't the motivating factor that caused hundreds of thousands of white southerners to join the cause. Fear of living in a world where they were outnumbered by people they hated was the motivating factor.

What would Mississippi politics have looked like if all of those slaves had full voting rights in 1860?

But slavery in the slave States was not at issue.

The issue was slavery in Kansas, Texas, et al.

The power of slave states WAS at issue. Until 1850, for every free state, there was a slave state. The admission of California as a free state changed that, though one of its Senators was pro-slavery. Requiring all new states to be free states meant an inevitable diminution of "the slave power." As indeed happened with the admission of Minnesota in 1858, Oregon in 1859, and finally Kansas as a free state on January 1, 1861. Furthermore, everyone assumed that there would eventually be a number of new states made out of the western territories.

There was a new world coming and slave-holders were not looking forward to it.

Re: Around 5%-6% of southerners were rich enough to own slaves.

We should however remember that the class of slave owners included bot only people who had actual legal title to a slave, but also their families (Spouses and children, maybe grandchildren too). A much larger class of people had a vested personal interest in slavery than your numbers imply.

Lots of people had a vested interest against it. Slaves did lots of manual labor work at lower prices than free white labor. They lowered wages for the Scots-Irish that did much of the Confederate fighting. While the elites did secede because of slavery, many of the fighting men were simply defending their land and people from the same English they had fought for many years on the borderlands. You just can't seperate this conflict from its English predecessors.

Ah, but white people were told that that they were above mere manual labor because they were the superior race. John C Calhoun based his politics of slavery on that claim. White people that did do manual labor were looked down (sometimes even by the house servant class of slaves) as nothing but "po' white trash".

West Virginia was created in a much less democratic manner than the Confederacy. First of all, the Pierpont Union government in Wheeling was an unelected group of men claiming to be the state government of Virginia. Though some of those men had been state senators and delegates they were not elected as such for Wheeling. Contrary to what conventional history tells us, West Virginia's delegates at the Richmond convention did not walk out, only about a baker's dozen out of 49 delegates. Most of them returned to Richmond in June, while many of their counties were overrun by Union soldiers, and they signed Virginia's ordinance of secession, 29 of the 49 delegates. The information is available on a pdf file at the Virginia Memory website. I would add a link but I don't know if this site allows it.

The people of West Virginia never supported the Pierpont government, it was always a minority government held in power by Federal troops. The vote for statehood in Oct. 1861 was 18,408 in favor. The 50 counties of West Virginia held 77,211 voters. The voting under Pierpont was not free, you had to swear loyalty to Pierpont's government. Union troops of course maintained the polls and in many cases also voted in the polls.

Most of the territory of the state consisted of counties that had voted with the rest of Virginia for the Confederacy and were included without their consent. One of the "fathers" of West Virginia, Peter Van Winkle (from New York) stated on Dec. 7, 1861, as he was helping to write the new state constitution-

"Well, sir, if these counties are inhabited by secessionists, some disposition has got to be made of them. They must be, as some remarks made by gentlemen here seem to point to - they must be exterminated by exile or death, or remain where they are. But in either case, sir, we want the territory. If they are going to remain upon it, still we want it."

There were only two counties, Preston and Monongalia, where the vote for statehood was over half the available voters.

West Virginia was the only border state that did not give the majority of its soldiers to the Union, it was about a 50/50 split. (Mark Snell, "West Virginia and the Civil War", pg. 28)

plus there's the slight problem that West Virginia's formation is clearly unconstitutional - the constitution says that you can't form a state out of another state without the approval of the state's legislature - and Virginia never approved it.

It was approved retroactively after the war and pursuant to a deal whereby West Virginia agreed to assume its share of Virginia antebellum public debt.

Of the 15 slave states, 4 never seceded and 4 didn't secede until after the fighting started at Fort Sumter. Think how much less bloody the Civil War would have been if Lincoln had figured out a way to cajole Virginia to stay in the Union. Virginia is north of all the other states that seceded: a panhandle now in West Virginia reaches as far north as Pittsburgh. The secession of Virginia, the prime battleground of the coming war, on April 17, 1861 was the disaster that kept the Civil War going so long.

Yet, Lincoln didn't seem to pay much attention to the secession problem during his first 6 weeks in office. He devoted much of his time to petty duties like interviewing Republican applicants for local post office jobs.

Lincoln's secretary of state William Seward felt that Lincoln was in over his head. Seward wrote a memo on April 1, 1861 proposing a plan to unify American sentiment by responding to the French machinations in Mexico and the Spanish in the Dominican Republic as violations of the Monroe Doctrine. Lincoln saw this as a personal challenge and brought Seward to heel. In all the mano-a-mano excitement, Seward's clever concept was forgotten.

Eventually, Lincoln upped his game, but four years of war and 750,000 American deaths ensued.

After Buchanan released the Army of its oaths and abandoned supplies Lincoln had to wait. Otherwise he would have been the aggressor. Ft Sumter was April 12, First Bull Run/Manassas was July 21.

The idiotic attack on Ft Sumter was lethal to later Copperhead rhetoric.

'Think how much less bloody the Civil War would have been if Lincoln had figured out a way to cajole Virginia to stay in the Union.'

Or think how less bloody the Civil War would have been if Turner's slave revolution had actually worked out, creating a Commonwealth of Virginia rid of slavery.

'Nat Turner (October 2, 1800 – November 11, 1831) was an enslaved African American who led a rebellion of slaves and free blacks in Southampton County, Virginia on August 21, 1831, that resulted in the deaths of 55 to 65 white people. In retaliation, enraged white militias and mobs killed more than 200 black people in the course of putting down the rebellion.

Turner led a group of slaves carrying farm implements in a rebellion against slavery. As they went from plantation to plantation they gathered horses and guns, freed other slaves along the way, and recruited other blacks that wanted to join their revolt. During the rebellion, Virginia legislators targeted free blacks with a colonization bill, which allocated new funding to remove them, and a police bill that denied free blacks trials by jury and made any free blacks convicted of a crime subject to sale and relocation. Whites organized militias and called out regular troops to suppress the uprising. In addition, white militias and mobs attacked blacks in the area, killing an estimated 200, many of whom were not involved in the revolt.

In the aftermath, the state quickly arrested and executed 57 blacks accused of being part of Turner's slave rebellion. Turner hid successfully for two months. When found, he was quickly tried, convicted, sentenced to death, and hanged. Across Virginia and other southern states, state legislators passed new laws to control slaves and free blacks. They prohibited education of slaves and free blacks, restricted rights of assembly for free blacks, withdrew their right to bear arms (in some states), and to vote (in North Carolina, for instance), and required white ministers to be present at all black worship services.'

And it likely would have kept the Republican Party for ever being born - with the effect that we would not be so entertained by that party's current presidential candidate.

And do note that the Commonwealth of Virginia actually created a legal framework to literally enslave the previously non-enslaved as punishment - somehow, it is hard to compare Lincoln's disrespect for the property rights of slave owners to that of a state ruled by slave owners deciding to make people who were not previously property into property to disposed of as the state desired.

you honestly think a successful slave revolt keeps things peaceful? no, shit goes crazy (also its success isn't a plausible hypothetical, lincoln acting differently is).

nate turner's revolt also almost sort of lead to abolition of slavery in Virginia stymied by the sort of undemocratic representation talked about here. by abolish slavery we would mean "kick the blacks out" (if slavery was abolished it would have involved stuff like that succeeding making slavery a near exclusively lower south thing. it's not as pretty a picture though) either by emigration or selling them to the deep south.

Yeah, he needs to read up on some history. The one example of black slaves rising up is Haiti. They massacred all the whites and descended into the modern hell hole we know today.

It's substantially more complicated than that....

For example, the first two times Le Cap was burnt down during the revolution, it was still some variation of whites fighting whites.

You're attributing 200 years of mismanagement to a single portion of a complicated chain of events. One could as easily say the Terror is the direct antecedent of the France we know today.

You’re attributing 200 years of mismanagement to a single portion of a complicated chain of events. One could as easily say the Terror is the direct antecedent of the France we know today.

One might also remark that he ignores the rest of the Caribbean, which is much more affluent and has had a fairly congenial political life.

Sometimes it was the colored massacring whites.

And whites imposed slavery...yeah, not going to make friends that way.

The Caribbean as a whole is far poorer then the OECD. A few of the Islands manage to thrive off tourism, tax evasion, or oil drilling (the scraps of white people).

There is a strong correlation between white dominance and prosperity. The Bahamas for instance were ruled directly by a foreign white power until the 1970s. They still technically have Queen Elizabeth as head of state and the Privy Council in London serves as the highest appellate court for the Bahamas.

The Caribbean as a whole is far poorer then the OECD. A few of the Islands manage to thrive off tourism, tax evasion, or oil drilling (the scraps of white people).

1. Most places in the world are less affluent than the OECD.

2. Only Trinidad and Aruba have much in the way of petroleum.

3. Tourism and finance account for perhaps 25-30% of the value added in the economies of the more affluent Caribbean states.

The best missed opportunity for a political end to American slavery was the 1790s. It could have been written into the Constitution that all persons born to slaves after 1804 (or punt the date far enough into the future to reach a compromise) would not be property, but rather indentured through their 21st birthday. The Maryland and Virginia delegates were lukewarm and slightly embarrassed on the point of being slaveholders in an ideologically free country, Georgia had hostile Spaniards and natives on its borders and had no good options than to sign up for a strong federal government, and at that point, what were the Carolinas going to do?

A full-scale slave revolt that involved tens of thousands of people instead of hundreds of people would have been regarded as a threat to the security of the United States.

America is not Haiti.

Don't forget, Andrew Jackson was president in 1831. You think he would have allowed a slave revolt to succeed?

Lincoln may or may not have been in over his head, but his decisions need to be judged without the benefit of hindsight. I don't think any experts were expecting such a prolonged bloody war. Also, we can now see that the end of slavery in America was probably inevitable no matter what happened, but that was far less clear at the time. Concessions to keep the nation together, but prolonging slavery, need to be viewed through that lens.

Starting a war with France and/or Spain in order to resolve a domestic dispute seems like a laughably bad idea. And it wouldn't have solved the underlying problem, only delaying it.

not forseeable?

was it?

1. not sure that's true given slavery and industrialization stuff like richmond iron works that started poping up 2. look at foner's "free labor free soil free men", there were conceptual arguments smart people believed taht slavery would die boxed in.

"only delaying it."

except as this post hints at delay was the thing feared by the fire eaters. there wasn't a real majority in the (non SC) south for leaving the union over a pre emptive slavery fight. by 1860 the border south wouldn't rise with the upper south to defend slavery. would the upper south rise in 1875? hard to say but fireeaters would fear the answer is no.

starting the war seems like a stupid idea but delay really probably helps the union.

The end of slavery being inevitable is mostly wishful thinking. The southern states were not becoming more lenient on slaves over time, but rather harsher and more rigid. Given their self-concept as a righteous minority surrounded by enemies, coupled with a fervent belief that slaves were better off as slaves, they had no reason to suddenly give up and reverse course. Mechanization would have eventually weakened the economic basis of slavery, but even vestigial systems can carry on for a surprisingly long time. It's not unbelievable that slavery would still be around today were it not ended forcibly.

IT was ended only because the South declared war on the North and attacked the US military, and then as a tactic of war, slaves were freed if the owner was in the rebellion. To the Victor the spoils - Lincoln gave away the spoils to the spoils.

It is impossible to imagine slavery persisting in the South down through today. In the late 19th century the European powers busied themselves trying to suppress slavery in Africa and the Middle East (which was a major reason or at least pretext for "the scramble for Africa"). The growing hostility in Europe to slavery was a reason Brazil abolished it. A CSA victorious the Civil War would have been compelled at some point to also eliminate slavery. Quite possibility a bellicose CSA trying to seize more Lebensraum for slavery in the Caribbean would have given the European powers the needed causus belli to get the job done.

Maybe, but your scenarios still result in the South being forced to give it up, possibly even through military action, rather than the usual idea of them just kind of coming to their senses at some point. It seems unthinkable for slavery to persist, but that could be because it didn't. Or another way to put it, the outcome of the Civil War was itself a huge blow to the concept of slavery, and without that particular outcome the history may have unfolded quite differently.

Matt. most European nations had already abolished slavery or were in the process of doing so. Brazil was the only (sort of) western nation that kept slavery longer than the US (the Dutch didn't finish with abolition in their colonies until 1871, but they had started the process ten years earlier). The Civil War came late in the history of abolition. One reason that Britain and France did not ally with the CSA is because both nations found slavery abhorent.

"I don’t think any experts were expecting such a prolonged bloody war." Thousands of years of history teaches that wars often last longer than "experts" might expect. It's very hard to be an expert about the future. Just consider the failures of economists.

We are reading Walter Stahr's Seward: Lincoln's Indispensable Man. Seward, Lincoln's Secretary of State, considered at the time the number two man in the government, spent much of the first months of Lincoln's term trying to keep states from seceding. Though a long-time anti-slavery man, he tried to get a message to Southerners, "Don't worry; we're committed to keeping slavery out of the free states, but we're not going to do anything about the slave states, at least not now." It was enough to keep in the Union the slave states of Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland, and Delaware.

I'll be deep in the cold, cold ground before I recognize Missourah!

Keeping slavery out of the territories was exactly the reason the South seceded. If no more slave states could be added to the union then eventually the South would become such a minority that they would be subject to the whims of anti-slavery factions in the other states. The failure to turn Kansas into a slave state despite illegal and even violent tactics was the handwriting on the wall that made secession the only future the slave-owning South could see.

In his inaugural address, Lincoln tacitly endorsed the Corwin Amendment, which provided that "the Federal Government shall never interfere with the domestic institutions of the States, including that of persons held to service." This was intended to limit the insurrection to the Deep South.

You seem to be forgetting that it was the South not Lincoln which forced the issue by firing on Ft Sumter, and on a federal fort in Florida as well.

And then there is Texas which actually held a plebiscite.

The pattern of counties voting against is well studied and aligns very closely to the trans Appalachian south, even the weird outlier: Angelina County. There is an immense literature on this topic in old state historical society journals begging to be looked over.

While the conventions were rigged it is hard to imagine what actual confederate state other than NC would have gone differently and I have a hard time seeing how that would have worked.

All the non slaveholding whites were still utterly opposed to Lincoln and abolition by Republicans, unionist sentiment was not going to stopped because of a packed convention. Tennessee and West Virginia are the key arguments here.

Tennessee fractured much like Virginia. However it remained intact after the war. The Eastern third of the state was largely Appalachian small farmers and was either agnostic or anti-slavery. Also, the Vice President at the end of the Civil War, Andrew Johnson, was Tennessean.

Yes. East Tennessee was strongly pro-union.

One effect of this is that after the war it was a Republican stronghold, and has remained one through the days of the "Solid South" up to the present.

What are the options on the table? that's where sailer gets close to a decent point. these are highly contingent events pushed by a powerful and smart minority in the deep south that got lucky.

The only smart people in the South moved out of the South.

The South was overall depressed economically before the war, and was worse off for a century after the war.

Ironically, LBJ changed the dynamics of the South in several ways, mostly by injecting huge amounts of cash into the economy of the South through direct and corporate welfare.

Eg, defense related spending is heaviest in the South and toward Texas. A huge redistribution of wealth by big government.

"Ironically, LBJ changed the dynamics of the South in several ways, mostly by injecting huge amounts of cash into the economy ..." by enacting Medicare.

John Breckenridge won an outright majority of the popular ballots in six of the seceding states. South Carolina still had their state legislature select their electors, but the situation there was likely much the same; there was not one dissenting vote at the secession convention in December 1860. Lincoln was not on the ballot in 10 slave states and received < 3% of the popular vote in 3 of the 5 slave states where he was on the ballot.

Keith D. Dickson, "US Civil War for Dummies" - "People tend to associate the concept and word secession only with the South. Actually the first region to threaten to secede, or leave the Union, was New England. New England was a stronghold of the Federalist Party. During the War of 1812, New England, despairing over the United States’ apparent defeat and never supporting the war in the first place, threatened to leave the Union. In fact, the Federalists began organizing a convention to take the New England states out of the Union. The enthusiasm for this bold act quickly disappeared as news of American battlefield victories and a peace settlement arrived. The Federalists slunk away in shame and soon disappeared as a national political party."

Though a relatively small faction at the time, abolitionists in the 1830s openly called for secession (if not an outright Puritan jihad).

If we follow the same reasoning, Brexit is unlikely to happen.

They already held the referendum. Interestingly, if Cameron had held the promised referendum within a year of his election, brexit would have probably gone down by a three to one margin. But he put it off into the future, and by the time the vote came, there had been four years of european financial and political ugliness, and a brand new migration problem. There's a lesson in there somewhere for people who think they can predict the future.

Yes but British elite is clearly against it so they will follow the same kinds of strategies to make it not happen.

"if Cameron had held the promised referendum within a year of his election": what?

He was elected in May 2015 and had his referendum on June 2016. That's near as matters a year.

The referendum was advisory and non-binding. Theresa May is acting as though she wants to go through with it in some way, but seems open to negotiating a compromise and that is what I think will happen.

People living in Appalachia were generally against secession and were forcibly kept in the Confederacy. The obvious exception is the people in western Virginia, who bordered Union states and were able to secede from the secessionists thanks to military intervention (with ironically enough George McClellan beating Robert E. Lee), creating the new state of West Virginia. Those living in western North Carolina, eastern Tennessee, and northeast Alabama had to wait several years for Union offensives to "liberate" them. Lincoln was especially concerned about eastern Tennessee, and had an army sent to Knoxville, which became precarious after the Confederate victory at Chickamauga. But that army managed to hold on (with Burnside of all people defeating Longstreet) until the Union was able to resume the offensive.

Freehling argues, convincingly IMO in _The South Vs. the South_, that southern support for the Union was a key factor in the Union victory.

Today, West Virginia arguably is politically more like a southern state than a northern one despite its anti-Confederate origins.

Unlike the other states with Appalachian areas, I haven't seen or read of South Carolina and Georgia having to deal with major anti-Confederate factions.

The Appalachian "overmountain men" also played a key role during the Revolutionary War, reversing a string of defeats and destroying a British detachment at the Battle of Kings Mountain.

The Scotts-Irish of Appalachia helped win the revolutionary war, the war of 1812, the civil war, the world wars, and mined the coal that fueled America. As a reward they get replaced with non-whites and told they are bitter clingers that just need to die off already, a wish they are complying with.

Did I somehow miss the replacement of these people? Last time I traveled through any of the border states (as recently as two months ago, in West Virginia) white people, of whatever ancestry, formed the overwhelming bulk of the people I saw there. Perhaps it's different in whatever parallel universe you inhabit?

They've been replaced politically in the governing coalition. Socially and culturally too. It's amazing that people believe coal miners kids have white privilege, but apparently liberals actually believe that.

Your right though that Appalachia is so poor that most immigrants don't even want to move there. They have been physically replaced the same way people in many of our urban centers have been.

West Virginia has a personal income per capita about 20% below national means; it's not that poor. What's salient is that there is little in the way of receiving social networks in West Virginia and that none of the recent immigrant streams are niched to work in the sort of industries you have in West Virginia, nor have they been recruited by West Virginia employers. Immigrants settle in California because that's where their relatives are, you have a diverse array of employments in large cities, and some share of the immigrant population was niched fo provide labor in the fruit and vegetable sector.

White Southerners left the Democratic party voluntarily. No one forced them out

They're fat like the Deep South.

Blaming Lincoln for the secession is equivalent to blaming African Americans for slavery. As for "how elites in democracy enact their preferred policies", not much has changed in the South (or the nation) in 155 years.

sure but an under remarked point in this sort of argument is that it matters a great deal what secession is. was it the legitimate strong expression of the popular will or a fever? If it's a fever one can consider if president/doctor Lincoln made the right prescription. the real culpability for secession either lies with "the south" or "the fire eaters" like hammond. there is a distinction to be made (though even the fire eater view needs to blame people who voted).

but defeating a rump south's objections (remember border south didnt' rise) doesn't mean the core unease goes away.

if we ignore the moral problems of pushing for slavery to continue longer for the sake of a thought experiment, it would be fascinating to see the next 10 years of american politics play out if 1860 had been settled peacefully (upper south never votes to leave union, exposed and that probably forces small deep south is forced to come to terms to some degree). but perhaps that's an impossible hypothetical and

No it isn't. Certainly Africans (not Americans) have their share of the blame.

That's like saying the residents of East Germany have their share of the blame for Communism. It is true in a very literal sense -- the leaders and supporters of the Communist regime there were indeed Germans -- but it ignores a lot of rather important details about where the regime got its financial and military support from and the fact that it had many opponents at home.

Not at all. West African polities had slavery before the arrival of Europeans. The first European traders (Portuguese) were looking for gold, and offered horses as barter furhter north (today's Senegal etc.), but more to the south, it was too hot for horses to survive, so the Europeans hit on the idea of bying slaves in one place, and selling them for profit (gold!) in another.

Sleeping sickness (a form of encephalitis) is what made horses non-viable in much of tropical Africa.

Not really, Virginia did not secede until Lincoln called up the troops. Lots of men felt duty bound to defend their land, even though they did not benefit from slavery. Like Sailer said, a better man as President could have kept a lot more of VA in the union. Most of VA from the Shenandoah valley and west never had any love for the descendants of the Cavaliers in the tidewater. How long would the confederacy have lasted without Jackson's men?

Doubtful. Like Sailer you completely leave off the goad of Ft Sumter. There was no way the United States would not respond to that attack. No nation could have done so and retained a shred of power at home or on the world stage.

come one Sumter was nothing-I believe no Union casualties, even. Andrew Jackson dealt with similar threats by dividing South Carolina from the upper south and destroying the threat. Lincoln could easily have set Sumter aside until he had brought VA in.

It doesn't even make sense, why threaten VA with invasion in order to punish South Carolina? Those aren't states that even liked each other much. And VA had not decided one way or another.

If your troops are attacked (and on your own soil) your troops you respond-- period. No nation with any pretense of power or authority would have stood down in the face of that attack.

And Virginia was not threatened with invasion. If Virginia and North Carolina (the lats to secede) has stayed in the Union federal troops could have marched right down to South Carolina and dealt with the traitors there-- and inconveniencing no one in those states any more than they did proceeding through, say,. Ohio or Pennsylvania.

I believe this is a true story about the origins of slavery in the colonies and so the USA. But's there's a certain irony given your statement. My understanding is that the very first slave was created from a lawsuit brought by a black man -- the judge hearing and ultimately allowing the result was white. So could one blame an African American for slavery? Maybe.

But I agree with the larger point -- I don't think we can easily blame one person on the event of the Civil War -- and it may well simply be that Slavery or even State Rights are sufficient or even necessary for the event to occur. We may simply be such that we're going to have significant internal conflicts and some will turn violent. I think the only real question is will all (note, I am suggesting we'll see more--no clue when) maintain the geographic polity of will the brand that wants the exit succeed in splitting the union so we have 3 (or is it 4 -- always forget if Mexico is N.A. or C.A.) countries rather than the current 2 (or 3 if Mexico is N.A.)

Yes, the succession and Civil War were about slavery

Yes, they were.

This is my favorite example of the hi-lo confluence of knowledge. Uneducated morons think that the civil war was just about slavery. Real, educated people who've been to good universities know that it was about an industrialized manufacturing hub in labor conflict with an agrarian society, and tariffs and social engineering and the failure of early capitalistic systems. Actual historians know it was pretty much just about slavery.

And it's "Secession", not "succession". Pedantry away!!!

It was a multi-faceted conflict, but the critical factor was indeed slavery.

Yep. Yet for some, "Not exclusively about slavery" has managed to turn into "Not even a bit about slavery".

I am frankly surprised by how many people I've met who claim it was not about slavery without having ever read a single state's Articles of Secession (which uniformly flag slavery as a big deal).

It's very simple.

When it is mentioned that the USA fought a horrific war against the Confederacy to end slavery, liberals and academics need to loudly insist that it had nothing to do with slavery, lest the USA end up looking good for doing it. (The volume of these cries will quadruple if it is pointed out the President was Republican at the time.)

These same people, of course, are terribly offended by seeing the Confederate flag... because they simultaneously insist that the entire point of the Confederacy was slavery.

Got it?

In the modern day people from the North call people from backward racist hicks that deserve to be burned in a fire or something. So in response they can either say, "fuck it lets join the KKK," or try to come up with some story about how the war wasn't about slavery. People want to be able to maintain their dignity and live a functional life, if you make being an open racist the only way to do that then maybe they will finally give up on trying to detach southerness from slavery and become open racists to defend themselves.

Fundamentally Northerner's just don't understand what its like to live around so many blacks, something I realized when I moved from the North to Baltimore. Launching some kind of social and political war against people who have to deal with that and calling them the great satan isn't helping.

>calling them the great satan isn’t helping.

Of course it's helping! It has helped the Democrat party acquire an ironclad lock on ruling US cities for the last 50-100 years.

Unless you were referring to the citizens of these cities. In which case, yes, they are screwed. But I hardly see how that's relevant.

When it is mentioned that the USA fought a horrific war against the Confederacy to end slavery, liberals and academics need to loudly insist that it had nothing to do with slavery, lest the USA end up looking good for doing it."

Seriously? I never saw someone who was not a (rabid) right-ringer denying slavery was the main reason for the secession, the same way most Holocaust deniers sound like they would love to finish the job the nice Nazi fellows didn't start at all.

"The volume of these cries will quadruple if it is pointed out the President was Republican at the time."

His adversaries would probably feel quite at home in today's "states' rights" party, though.

I am frankly surprised by how many people I’ve met who claim it was not about slavery without having ever read a single state’s Articles of Secession (which uniformly flag slavery as a big deal).

Acknowledging a conventional narrative which is derived from the outside story limits the speaker's opportunities to be one-up on you. Conspirazoid discourse (see the Kennedy assassination subculture or the John Birch Society) has much the same attraction for a certain sort, as does Paulbot babble about the origins of the 2d World War or about the Federal Reserve, as does much revisionist discourse about the origins of the Cold War.

Couldn't find the video; here's the transcript:

It was a continuation of the American Revolution, which was a continuation of the English Civil War. Slavery was just one factor and not a humanitarian one since the planned extermination of the native population became even more important after the defeat of the South. While freeing black slaves might have given the Northeast Puritans a warm, fuzzy feeling inside it didn't encourage them to give those landless, penniless darkies any realistic economic plan for the future. Headquartered in their intellectual bubble on the Charles River, the Puritans happily forgot all about the ex-slaves and moved on with their economic dominance of the rest of the country. The descendants of those slaves are, of course, supposed to meld seamlessly into the modern society or spend their lives incarcerated. The Puritans, while no longer spreading fire and brimstone form the pulpit, still advocate draconian policies for those that don't follow their particular moral guidelines and have succeeded in an amazing level of repression. Democracy had little input in this sad history.

"The Puritans, while no longer spreading fire and brimstone form the pulpit, still advocate draconian policies for those that don’t follow their particular moral guidelines and have succeeded in an amazing level of repression."

For example?

Were the southerners in Sherman's path the first victims of modern Total War? Maintaining dignity after that might be a challenge. And, Hound-like (got), their brothers did it.

No. Sherman's "total war" had a long pedigree. What do you think the Mongols did? Caesar in Gaul? Indeed, compared to much that happened before and after Sherman was mild as a choir boy in the South. Consider a visit to Kiev after the Mongols were done with it. Or Carthage when it was indeed "delenda" by the Romans.

He asked about "modern Total War."

The "modern" era is generally considered to have begun c. 1500. The Thirty Years War in the 17th century was, by that standard, modern-- and vastly more destructive than the American Civil War.

"The descendants of those slaves are, of course, supposed to meld seamlessly into the modern society or spend their lives incarcerated."

Part of melding seamlessly into modern society is to NOT commit the crimes that get you incarcerated.

Your 'just" is doing a lot of work there.

A more accurate statement is that slavery was the one essential cause of the Civil War. Other factors existed, but they would not have led to war.

This isn't news and understates democratic limits. read say freehling (though this provides some interesting reinforcement).

Remember in 1832 South Carolina stood alone. the fire eaters got lucky

Obviously this was posted to relate to Trump, but the fact is that Trump is the product of MORE democracy, not less.

The Republican 2016 primary was much more open than, say, the Democrat 2016 primary. Republicans did not have "superdelegates", i.e. unelected party insiders whose vote at the convention counted just as much as the elected delegates did.

If the Republican 2016 primary had been less democratic (by using the Democrat-style superdelegates to "correct" the mistakes of the democratically elected delegates), Trump would not now be the Republican nominee.

And if the Democrat 2016 primary had been more democratic, without those unelected superdelegates, Hillary would have had a much harder time becoming the nominee.

if gop had been more democratic and used straight percentage of vote division of delegates trump wouldn't have won.

if dems less democratic and used Winner take all/district by district mix of gop hillary cleans up

The American system of first-past-the-post voting is in itself non-democratic and should be abolished.

Whether it's "non-democratic" depends on your precise definition of the term, but I agree that ranked choice voting would be preferable. I'm on the fence as to whether I'd prefer a parliamentary-style system. The electoral college, OTOH, is bunkum.

It's passably adapted to societies wherein the sources of division in a population tend to be highly correlated with each other in their display so a two-party system is natural. It also tends to promote two party systems where they're not really a reflection of social divisions on the ground. The thing is, the US is one of the few political societies of any dimension where cross-cutting cleavages are just not that salient. Britain was such a society for the first 3 decades of the postwar period, but not anymore. Ordinal balloting making use of the alternate vote or single-transferrable-vote would be better adapted to most places than would 1st past the post. You likely should avoid party-slate systems except on the local level.

What are you even talking about?

The Republican convention might have been contested with superdelegates, but he won by enough of a margin over his competitors that having the nomination taken away by hypothetical super delegate would've been very problematic for the Republican party.

Clinton, on the other hand, won handily in both the vote count and delegate count before the superdelegates are even factored in. It was the Bernie folks that were going around petitioning supers to break with the party and primary results and given the nomination to Sanders.

Criticize the Dem's process if you want (they cut the power of super delegates by a third in the aftermath, so they'd probably agree with you) but there's no need to re-write very-recent history.

If this is an oblique Trump reference it is probably about how few actually like the guy (or Clinton). As of 8/30 "Clinton's net favorability is -11 at 41/52, down 5 points from when it was -6 at 45/51 a month ago. Trump's net favorability is -27 at 33/60, also down 5 points from -22 at 36/58 on our last poll."

It might be a poor system that produces net unliked candidates.

Sad or funny that it comes down to who is unliked less.

So maybe the only thing keeping me from being president is that The People like me too much?

You must do the Pivot. You must be as unlikeable and untrustworthy as possible to get the nomination, then you pivot and starts to behave like a likeable human being to be elected.

Alas, then I shall not be president. I do not dance well, and was once told that I did not turn well on the football pitch. :-(

"we first demonstrate that slave-intensive districts were systematically overrepresented. "

That reflected how states drew their state/federal level districts. For example I read a book on the Antebellum US leading up to the Civil War. There was a chapter on the fight over districts in Virginia where the district maps favored the slave owning areas in the Tidewater at the expense of low slavery areas west of the Blue Ridge areas parts of which would become West Virginia.

Michael thanks for the comment. Could you please pass the reference to the book you mentioned? M

Historical fact: James Madison died a hated man, considered a traitor to his class, for trying to increase the representation on the mountainous areas of Virginia by pushing to apply the federal 3/5 compromise to state representation in Virginia. (Instead Virginia counted slaves at 100% when apportioning representation, guaranteeing the Tidewater counties inordinate political power in Richmond)

I hope someone in the MR community decides to name their fantasy football team Excellent Kevin Lewis.

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