Did You Know (Civil War Edition)….

That Delaware and New Jersey (and a couple of others) voted NO to the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution? That’s the amendment freeing all slaves. (They later changed their minds, but only after the amendment was already ratified, so it made no difference.)

That there were some slaves states (including DE and NJ) in the Union during the US Civil War? The war to them was to reunite the country, not to end slavery.

That Lincoln, before the war, backed a proposed amendment to guarantee that the federal government would NEVER end slavery in states that already had it?

Did you know?

6 Responses to Did You Know (Civil War Edition)….

  1. Kevin May 9, 2008 at 8:20 am #

    I did know some of that, because it gets tossed up in an argument when people posit that the civil war was “not about slavery”, but about states rights versus preservation of the union. And while I’m sure at some level this is true, that for a certain population of deep thinkers and political theoriticians the civil war was really about federalism and self-determination, most of what I’ve read that was written at the time indicates that the visceral issue that really motivated people was slavery. Since that’s what brought people to the barricades and inspired people to lay down their lives, I still argue that the Civil War was, in fact, about slavery.

    Interesting, though, how carefully the subject had to be approached, even in the midst of war. Thousands of men are marching to their death on battlefields where they used to farm, and yet the issues that put them on the field weren’t so clear-cut and shared that they could be universally declared as “black and white” differences to be resolved.

  2. BruceS May 9, 2008 at 9:01 am #

    If the war was about slavery, why did it take so long for Lincoln to “free” slaves with his Emancipation Proclamation? Why did it, even then, apply only to slaveholders who had taken up arms against the Union (don’t rebel, you can keep your slaves)? Why did Lincoln say that he would force legalized slavery on *all* States, if that would keep the Union whole?

    I wonder if anyone knows how many Union soldiers were slaveholders, or how many Confederates were anti-slavery.

  3. weeklyrob May 9, 2008 at 10:14 am #

    I think that it was most definitely about slavery. But not slavery RIGHT THEN for CURRENT SLAVE HOLDERS.

    It was about the new territories, and territories that hadn’t even been considered yet. Lincoln ran on the platform that he was opposed to any new territory allowing slaves.

    Slave holders wanted new states to have slavery. Otherwise, sometime down the track, more states and more representatives in Washington would be from non-slave states, and would/could eventually make slavery illegal (by amending the Constitution), or difficult (through a variety of methods).

    That’s why the South seceded in the first place. It wasn’t about current states’ rights (except the states’ right to secede).

    Lincoln, as I said, went to war to save the union, not to free slaves. But the only reason there was a need to do so was because of his party’s stance on slavery.

    My guess is that there were very few Union soldiers who were slave holders. First, slaves in Union states were an extreme minority, and second, wealthy people probably didn’t serve as much as the less wealthy.

  4. weeklyrob May 9, 2008 at 10:25 am #

    Oh, and I should say that the Union slave holders may have also been against Lincoln’s party and his plans for the new territories.

    They didn’t secede for lots of reasons, but it didn’t mean that they liked the direction they saw things going.

  5. BruceS May 10, 2008 at 4:39 pm #

    I’m not saying that slavery had no part in the Civil War, just that it wasn’t the central theme it’s made out to be today. Most of those fighting for the Confederacy didn’t own slaves. Some Union states practiced slavery throughout the war. Lincoln not only let these slaveholders continue their obscenity, he essentially offered rebels the right to keep their slaves if only they’d stop fighting. If the war had *not* been fought, and the Confederacy allowed to pursue independent status, how much longer would the U.S. have allowed slavery in its own lands?

  6. weeklyrob May 11, 2008 at 1:47 pm #

    I think I understand what you’re saying, but I’m saying that I think it was the central theme.

    Without the issue of slavery, there would have been no war.

    Point by point: Most of the southern soldiers didn’t own slaves, but that doesn’t mean that they were against slavery, or even that they cared one way or the other.

    But the opinion of the soldiers in a war isn’t usually where historians go to find out the central themes. What would the average soldier in Vietnam say he was fighting for?

    And yes, some Union states were slave states, but just because they didn’t rebel doesn’t mean that they agreed with the Union about the issues at hand. They had good reasons for not rebelling.

    Lincoln had no legal way to stop Union states from having slaves. There were laws and a Constitution to think about, and it wouldn’t allow him to simply delete the practice.

    The only reason he could do so for the rebelling states was because he could claim military reasons.

    Yes, before the Emancipation Proc., if the south had stopped fighting (or had never fought in the first place), they would have kept their slaves. They knew this, but as I said in my earlier comment, they weren’t worried about today’s slaves. They were worried about tomorrow’s.

    I don’t know how much longer slavery would have lasted, but I know that one state couldn’t stop another from having slaves without a Constitutional amendment, and one wasn’t likely without more non-slaves states in the Union.

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