Let's Discuss the American Civil War

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by LordNyax113, Dec 7, 2009.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Ghost Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2003
    star 6
    It's not a debate about the definition of "invasion," it's just that the idea of "Confederates=defenders, Union=invaders" is worded to make it easier to sympathize with the Confederacy, when it does not accuately reflect the reality of the situation.

    And even if you did want to turn this into a debate about semantics, is it an "invasion" when the police break into a criminal organization's hideout? Because this is the equivalent, on a much larger scale. The Confederates were criminals/traitors, not an enemy force. They wanted independence, but they were not independent yet, and never became independent.
  2. LtNOWIS Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 19, 2005
    star 4
    It may be a sympathetic phrasing, but it's entirely factual. The state government in Richmond was a well-established government, and it declared itself hostile to the United States. The next day, the federal Army crossed the Potomac. Virginia's government marshaled military forces to defend the state against federal forces who entered the state from various directions, with the intent of capturing the state capital and government, as well as industry, land, and so forth. They did this with the will of the vast majority of the citizenry. Therefore, the CS armed forces were defending the state.

    It's invasion because there's an established political entity that's being invaded by another political entity. The state government was an actual, lawfully elected government defending long-established borders. That makes it different from something like the Whiskey Rebellion, where there wasn't a defined territory that had decided to rebel.
  3. Ghost Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2003
    star 6
    No. The state governments are inferior and subservient to the United States. The Constitution, federal laws, federal treaties, are the supreme law of the land... the federal government is the supreme government of the land. And that land includes Virginia. The state government of Virginia (and its forces) became traitors and criminals when they declared their intention to secede from the United States of America. The Confederates were the aggressors, such as when they terrorized Fort Sumter into surrendering to their illegal movement. The federal government did not intend to capture, but to reclaim Virginia from the treacherous state government. The land of Virginia already belonged to the United States. There were and are no "long established borders" between the United States and Virginia, because that state has been part of the union since ratification of the Constitution in the late 18th century.

    The Confederacy deserves zero sympathy. Yes, there were good people who died on the side of the Confederacy, but the Confederacy itself was rooted in Evil, the causes and ideology it championed were Evil. It should be seen as the American equivalent of the Nazi Party. They should never be celebrated or be shown sympathy.
  4. Espaldapalabras Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 25, 2005
    star 5
    o_O You know the Union won the war, right?

    I have no intention of defending the ideology of the Confederacy. But their history is our history just as much as the story of the Union is. I am a descendant of both. I can celebrate and feel sympathy for the life of one great great great grandfather just as much as I can for another. It really isn't comparable to the Nazis, because we are much further removed from history. I think we can look through the situation from their eyes and see why the Southerners considered it an invasion, and understand their conception of nation and statehood was different, and it took a heavy price to pay for all involved to settle the question against them.

    Regardless of how evil you feel slavery was, I don't see anybody really arguing in favor of that. And really idea of what creates a nation, and how are individual units in that nation able to act, not act, or remove themselves, is a bit more complicated that saying well the Confederacy was teh evils so discussion over. How about Taiwan? Would they be aggressors if they destroyed a Chinese military installation? What about Georgia, Chechnya, Kurdistan, ext?

    Where in the Constitution does it state that once ratified a state may not leave the union or that ratification is a commitment in perpetuity? It doesn't, and instead of listing all the terms and conditions of ratification up front, we had to resort to most terrible of options. So prior to ratification of the Constitution, which already existed as a nation, I guess you think they had the opportunity to leave when it was just the Articles of Confederation? And even after ratification, up until the Civil War, people thought of themselves as citizens of their state first, country second.

    I think enough time has passed that we don't need to spout Union talking poi
  5. LtNOWIS Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 19, 2005
    star 4
    I don't think I need to list the various persons and institutions who respected and honored Confederates in the past century and a half, from Lincoln and Grant all the way to Barack Obama. That doesn't mean it's morally correct to honor Confederate sacrifices; it does, however, indicate that it honoring them has been seen as mainstream and acceptable.

    I would point out that comparing Confederates to Nazis and terrorists is needless hyperbole. The bombardment of Fort Sumter was a conventional military operation conducted by conventional military forces: in other words, the opposite of terrorism.

    Arguably, the closest we came to the actions of the Nazis was when we sent the Army to forcibly displace supposedly inferior peoples from their land so that "civilized" people could settle there. Incidentally, Sherman and Sheridan had leading roles in that effort.
  6. JasperMereel_ Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Sep 20, 2006
    star 2
    Before, anyone demonizes the Confederacy and their ideology, here are a few things to keep in mind:

    1)Saying the Confederacy illegaly left the Union, technically, the American colonies illegally left the British Empire
    2)The men who were in the trenches doing the dirty fighting were actually farmers and poor people, not the slave owners
    3)The Union fighting to end slavery was a political move, not a moral move
    4)The main reason the Confedracy lost the war was due to several factors including:
    1)Fighting an offensive war later on instead of sticking with a defensive war of which they were masters of
    2)Lack of communication and trust between the government and the military
    3)Lack of cohesion within the ranks of the military
    4)Not employing the slaves into the war effort
    5)The weakness of the Confederate note
    Just to name a few.
  7. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2003
    star 8
    A few things occur to me.

    This seems to be at the crux of this phenomenon. You can feel proud of your heritage without endorsing every single thing and of your ancestors ever did. You know, I imagine some of them didn't have the most forward thinking views on gender equality, or race relations, either. I know the former is true of some of mine. My recognition of that fact doesn't mean I love them less or hate myself more, or anything of the sort. Why, exactly, must the Confederate cause be legitimate for you to celebrate the life of your great great great grandfather?

    And? People in the Iraqi Army weren't really likely to get much of the oil benefits from taking over Kuwait. Does that mean that's not what the Gulf War was about? I'm pretty sure the majority of wars throughout all of human history were not fought for benefits that would accrue to the rank-and-file combatants. That has no bearing on analyzing what the cause or objectives of the war were. Here, it was pretty clearly to preserve slavery.

    To some extent. But you're ignoring that part of the political calculation was the way the declaration would offer a grand moral high ground to the Union. But we'll hold off on that discussion for awhile. We'll agree that there is plenty to criticize about the Union, since it's true. Unfortunately for your argument, that has nothing to do with what we're discussing. Unlike the Union the South did have significant moral and philosophical investment in the stakes of the war. The relevant beliefs, in particular, were the inferiority/sub-human status of blacks, and that they should be a permanent, enslaved underclass serving as a source of cheap labor to white planters. Which is why the South basically devolved back to this status quo as soon as the Reconstruction failed. In summary, the Confederacy isn't bad because the Union was good. It was bad because it was bad, all by itself.
  8. Espaldapalabras Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 25, 2005
    star 5
    Why, exactly, must the Confederate cause be legitimate for you to celebrate the life of your great great great grandfather?

    Was this directed at me? I don't think most would say it was legitimate, but it's been awhile since I lived in the South. My point was more that from their point of view it is understandable why they believed it was legitimate.
  9. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2003
    star 8
    But what does that mean? Are there many cases at all of people doing things that, from their own perspective, weren't justifiable?

  10. Alpha-Red Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 25, 2004
    star 5
    You mean like how Iran having a "right" to nuclear technology is entirely factual? Or how Hamas having the right to defend itself against "Zionist aggression" is also factual? Let's also throw in the example of North Korea and how they claim they need a nuclear deterrent to defend itself against aggression from the imperialist Americans.

    IIRC, the South actually attacked the North first, and at some point they were threatening to overrun Washington D.C.

    Once you've declared war, you really don't have much right to complain when your borders are violated.

    Except it wasn't lawful, nor were the borders long-established. It's not lawful because there isn't any provision for secession in the Constitution, and the borders were recently established, not something that was there for a long period of time.
  11. LtNOWIS Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 19, 2005
    star 4
    I'm talking about this from a Virginian perspective, because this was a proclamation from the governor of Virginia that we were talking about. Virginia's governor was legitimately elected in 1859; the borders that define the commonwealth date back to colonial times.

    Virginia was still in the Union when Fort Sumter was shelled, but that doesn't mean Washington's response was wrong or illegitimate. "Invasion" is not a crime or a dirty word. We France and Germany in World War II, and Afghanistan in 2001, just for starters. Saying the North invaded a Southern state is not an insult to Lincoln or the federal Army; if it is, then Grant insulted the Union Army.

    As for rights, I didn't mention the concept.
  12. Nevermind Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 14, 2001
    star 6
    Some states were hard-liners, most notably South Carolina, and Georgia. Virginia was not entirely Confederate, because West Virginia broke away from Virginia rather secede. Missouri had the same problem. The South *did not* hold a referendum, so this important point *was not* the result of an open vote--essentially about 16 (or so) old white men decided on a war they wouldn't themselves have to fight. If you can secede, can a smaller entity inside you secede if they don't agree with you? The answer here was yes. You see how stupid the notion is, in sum.

    Was Virginia 'invaded'? No. You might argue that the South invaded the North in the Gettysburg campaign, because the intent was to sever rather than to pacify.

    "1)Saying the Confederacy illegaly left the Union, technically, the American colonies illegally left the British Empire"

    Not unless the South was a colony of the North, which they weren't.

    "2)The men who were in the trenches doing the dirty fighting were actually farmers and poor people, not the slave owners"

    For the most part, true; they weren't slave owners, but hoped to become one.

    "3)The Union fighting to end slavery was a political move, not a moral move."

    Only partially. There was a strong abolitionist movement in the North. Lincoln did not immediately free the slaves for political reasons, namely the border states that were still teetering on the brink of secession (Kentucky, Maryland). But in the end, he did decide on it because he wanted to cut off European support for the South. Once slavery became overtly the issue, the British, who would have enjoyed humiliating the North, had to back off. *Their* ordinary voters deeply despised slavery, and a group of cotton workers in England unemployed by the war famously wrote to Lincoln, telling him not to back down. At not time did Lincoln approve of slavery. Politics and morality are two different things.

    "4)The main reason the Confedracy lost the war was due to several factors including:
    1)Fighting an offensive war later on instead of sticking with a defensive war of which they were masters of."

    Joe Johnston was a defensive genius, yes, but Hood wasn't. The South had no strategic way of winning the war. Politically, it might have been done, and nearly was.

    "2)Lack of communication and trust between the government and the military"

    There was a lot political in-fighting, yes, and the Army hated the politicos. Hence the comment: "Died of an idea."

    "3)Lack of cohesion within the ranks of the military"

    The Army of Northern Virginia was pretty cohesive; the Western Army, less so, because Braxton Bragg fought with everybody.

    "4)Not employing the slaves into the war effort"

    You're arming slaves when you do that, and the South had had slave revolts before.

    "5)The weakness of the Confederate note"

    That's because the South really had no economy to support it. They knew that. Without financial help from Europe, they were cooked. They gambled too heavily on it, thinking the Brits would do it to keep the flow of cotton coming. But the Brits had political problems supporting the South--the chattering classes would have done it to screw the North, but the middle classes *did not* agree--and simply found other sources in Egypt and India.

  13. Alpha-Red Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 25, 2004
    star 5
    But "perspectives" can be horrifyingly one-sided and extreme at times. Take the Palestinian perspective that they have the right to use violence to defend themselves because Israel is such a tyrannical oppressor. Are they really justified in using violence? Or does Israel merely look like a tyrannical oppressor because it's responding to the Palestinians' use of violence first? So perspectives aren't always valid.

    In the case of Virginia, yes it has borders, yes its governor was elected. But the state borders ceased to be sovereign borders the moment the Constitution entered into force and replaced the Articles of Confederation. I don't know exactly what proclamation you're referring to right now but I'm assuming it has something to do with secession, in which case the governor did not have the legal power to make such a proclamation.

    True, "invasion" is not a dirty word....until it's used in context as a dirty word. Just like how "socialist" is not a dirty word when used in a neutral academic context, but when it's used a certain different way the meaning completely changes.
  14. LtNOWIS Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 19, 2005
    star 4
    No, the proclamation was the Confederate History month proclamation the current governor made this April and has now decided was a bad idea.
  15. Espaldapalabras Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 25, 2005
    star 5
    In the case of Virginia, yes it has borders, yes its governor was elected. But the state borders ceased to be sovereign borders the moment the Constitution entered into force and replaced the Articles of Confederation.

    Are there any causes that you would feel it justified for a state to forcibly leave the Union? What if the situations were reversed, that it was slave states that were threatening to take over the entire west, and force a change in Northern states to legalize slavery? Would a document signed two generations previously hold you to submit to that injustice?

    This is why "State's rights" really weren't the issue, because if the situations had been reversed abolitionists would have not been all that worried about preserving the Union.
  16. Nevermind Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 14, 2001
    star 6
    "state's rights" were a pretext and everybody knew it.
  17. Alpha-Red Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 25, 2004
    star 5
    Mmmk, haven't checked this thread in a while.

    I was really making more of a legal argument when I posted that. But you're right, there probably are causes where I would think it's justified for a state to secede. If that were the case, I would invoke Martin Luther King's "one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws" quote. In the case of slavery though, I probably would not have gone so far as to advocate secession as the solution even if pro-slave states were theoretically gaining the upper hand in the Union.

    Anyway, the reason I dropped back in here is because I read this New York Times article from the 1860's and thought it was interesting. I can definitely empathize with the secessionists' viewpoint, but at the end of the day I still think they're wrong.
  18. Nevermind Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 14, 2001
    star 6
    If you are going to secede, then let the counties vote.
  19. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2003
    star 8
    For what it's worth, can we point out that the Northern states were already in a situation that gave the South undue political power, and had been since the ratification of the Constitution? That, further, this power had been leveraged to push through their preferences a number of times (eg without the federal proportion, Adams would have beaten Jefferson)? Or, if you prefer, the fact that the Constitution itself bans even any attempt to outlaw slavery for the first full half century of its existence? Is this not the lop-sided balance of power your "hypothetical" situation describes?

    In which case, it's worth noting that secessionist movements never went anywhere near as far in the North as in the South. Even among the Federalists, who originated the few propositions there were, the party was deeply divided about the measure, with luminaries like Alexander Hamilton forcefully opposing it. And this, again, was just in informal discussions.
  20. Nevermind Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 14, 2001
    star 6
    The North had pandered to the South for years to preserve the Union, but the limits had been reached.

    For instance, the South had opposed (and managed to delay) a Housesteading Act; it didn't want to encourage settlement of non-slave holding Northern states because of a balance of power. So all American political issues were distorted by a despicable institution that the South insisted upon.
  21. Gonk Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 8, 1998
    star 6
    People have a tendancy to use technical truths to obfuscate the real issue.

    With the Civil War, I think there WAS some technical truths to the stance of the south in regards to state's rights. But the elephant in thier room was that very, very few of them really cared about that. We've seen this many times before: people dress thier true motives in arguments and goals which sounds much more pleasing than thier real ones.

    Yes, there are some important technical questions that were not resolved concerning state rights. No doubt there is in every nation. No matter what nation you are in, the true common reason every government will go to war to keep its land is primarily a question of power. And it is primarily for protection that the inhabitants of that land concede to that power.

    Everyone knows what was going on: the inhabitants of the south wanted the freedom from the federal government to continue restricting the freedom of certain others. The federal government at long last stated it would not give them that freedom. States rights, although rooted to some degree in fact, was then used as a convenient excuse, since the South had been pefectly willing to live with that state of affairs until it became inconvenient (and it was merely inconvenient: it was not as if the north were in any real way oppressing white southerners -- rather in order to justify thier moves, the southerners had to create a fiction for themselves that they were being oppressed in one way or another).
  22. Nevermind Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 14, 2001
    star 6
    State's rights can be carried too far. Ask California, who votes on taxes.
  23. LtNOWIS Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 19, 2005
    star 4
    150 years ago today, Confederate Army forces shelled Fort Sumter. Union forces returned fire, but were low on ammunition and did not want to use their best cannons, which were more exposed to Confederate fire.

    Re-enactment is ongoing.
  24. shanerjedi Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 17, 2010
    star 4
    West Virginia?


    edit: Oh yeah it is today. Thx LtNOWIS. [face_flag]
  25. DarthIktomi Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 11, 2009
    star 4
    After the war, the Confederates developed the lost cause: That is, that industrial and agricultural economies can't get along. And that states' rights were an issue.

    Ignore, for a second, that different economies become interdependent through trade. And everything else about it. Or that Southerners didn't care about Kansans' right to not have slavery if they didn't want it.

    That said, slavery was practiced under the Stars and Stripes and the Union Jack far longer than the Stars and Bars. We must always remember that simply opposing evil does not make you good.

    By the way, while talking about slavery, no one should ever say "white Christians" came up with the idea that slavery was evil, so popular in the bytes of Front Page Magazine. Ignoring that slaves have always seen slavery as evil, as long as there have been slaves, there have been abolitionists.
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.