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Thu Oct 25, 2012, 07:14 AM

How long would slavery had lasted if the South decided NOT to secede?

Let's say that Fort Sumpter was never attacked, that the Confederacy had never been founded and that Lincoln had not freed the slaves in response to the Union finding themselves in the predicament that they had.

Clearly, the slave owning states thought that Lincoln's election was the end of their world. Their worst fears were going to be realized if he declared slavery illegal and marched the troops into the South to free all of the blacks. And it's not like the South had even given him a chance to fail in dissolving slavery through due process, because they launched their attack one month after he was inaugurated.

Outside of the Southern propaganda of the time, where was the proof that Lincoln intended to unilaterally end slavery without a response to a secession? Was it even possible without the war that began from the South's attack? Was Abolition as inevitable as soon as it was?

Outside of the newly established states where slavery was prohibited, how secure was the institution in the old slave states?

In attacking the North, the Slave States eventually brought about the realization of their own fears. The South created the monster in Lincoln that they feared and through their own action, that monster came to life.

I think about the people today who are driven to create a Barack Obama that doesn't really exist. So far, they haven't acted on their fears and thus, there's no real reason to believe that those fears can be realized. All they have to do is compare the list of fears they issued four years ago in the even of Obama's election and find out that not one of them have come true.

The South in 1861 poked a bear and the bear got back at them. If they had not poked that bear, what would America look like today?

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Reply How long would slavery had lasted if the South decided NOT to secede? (Original post)
MrScorpio Oct 2012 OP
exboyfil Oct 2012 #1
redwitch Oct 2012 #2
Honeycombe8 Oct 2012 #3
Spider Jerusalem Oct 2012 #4
JPZenger Oct 2012 #5
AspenRose Oct 2012 #15
LeftInTX Oct 2012 #19
aikoaiko Oct 2012 #6
gollygee Oct 2012 #7
KurtNYC Oct 2012 #8
1-Old-Man Oct 2012 #9
HopeHoops Oct 2012 #10
porphyrian Oct 2012 #11
vinny9698 Oct 2012 #12
WinkyDink Oct 2012 #13
ieoeja Oct 2012 #14
HiPointDem Oct 2012 #17
ieoeja Oct 2012 #20
HiPointDem Oct 2012 #21
ieoeja Oct 2012 #22
HiPointDem Oct 2012 #23
ieoeja Oct 2012 #27
1-Old-Man Oct 2012 #29
reformist2 Oct 2012 #16
Egalitarian Thug Oct 2012 #18
RagAss Oct 2012 #24
Kaleva Oct 2012 #25
1-Old-Man Oct 2012 #26
JackRiddler Oct 2012 #28
yellowcanine Oct 2012 #30

Response to MrScorpio (Original post)

Thu Oct 25, 2012, 07:26 AM

1. A big question would be how much longer would the

north support the Fugitive Slave Act. Having a long continuous border in which your property could cross would have made it difficult to keep going economically. How long would Taney and his ilk run the Supreme Court?

1860 was a unique election year that may have not been repeated. Without the power of the executive branch (lets say more feckless presidents like Pierce and Buchanan) slavery could have gone on a long time. If your major churches are promoting it in the South, you are not going to see any sort of moral groundswell for change.

Would Lincoln have made it more difficult for the south to operate economically (thus driving them towards secession anyway?)? The South had been ready to go out since the 1840s with South Carolina leading the charge on tariffs.

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Response to MrScorpio (Original post)

Thu Oct 25, 2012, 07:32 AM

2. Very interesting question.

Amazing to think about really, change one piece of history and suddenly everything changes. Turn of the century? 1st World War? It is almost unimaginable that slavery here could have lasted to then but maybe. What a different world we would be living in!

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Response to MrScorpio (Original post)

Thu Oct 25, 2012, 07:59 AM

3. Not long. If I recall my history, south wanted to secede 'cause north was going to outlaw slavery...

so the south took the "states' rights" position and declared secession, and the war started.

So if the states hadn't declared secession, slavery would've been outlawed, and Lincoln no doubt would have freed the slaves, as he ultimately did.

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Response to MrScorpio (Original post)

Thu Oct 25, 2012, 08:13 AM

4. Slavery was already in decline in the border states by 1861.

Kentucky, Maryland, Delaware, Missouri, slavery was on the way out. That had more to do with the varieties of agriculture in those states than anything though; slavery was still going strong in the cotton states, and if the South hadn't seceded and there'd been no major pressure for a constitutional amendment outlawing slavery from the free states in the interim? Slavery in practice could have probably continued until the 1880's at least, and possibly until the boll weevil devastated the South's cotton production in the 1910's-1920's.

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Response to MrScorpio (Original post)

Thu Oct 25, 2012, 08:33 AM

5. Was a funny movie about that topic

About 10 years ago, there was a funny independent movie about that topic - what if the Confederacy had continued as a separate country?

To try to avert the War, Lincoln offered to support a Constitutional amendment that would prevent the Federal government from interfering with slavery within the states where slavery already existed.

If Lincoln had been more timid, he would have immediately moved US troops from Fort Sumter, before it was attacked. That might have provided time for a negotiated settlement.

If there had not been a 4 way race for President, it is possible that Lincoln would not have been elected.

I think slavery would have eventually died out for economic reasons, but it would have taken much longer.

In DC, the Federal Government actually paid each slave owner to free their slaves. There was a system of appraisals based upon the age and health of each slave.

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Response to JPZenger (Reply #5)

Thu Oct 25, 2012, 01:02 PM

15. "CSA": Confederate States of America

was the movie



"Commercial" in the movie:

&feature=related

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Response to AspenRose (Reply #15)

Thu Oct 25, 2012, 01:56 PM

19. That movie is on Netflix

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Response to MrScorpio (Original post)

Thu Oct 25, 2012, 08:47 AM

6. I would imagine that WWI would have been the end of the last of slavery


I wouldn't surprise me if a few states held out as most others disavowed slavery, but the need for black soldiers in support roles might have motivated the Federal government to finish it off.

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Response to MrScorpio (Original post)

Thu Oct 25, 2012, 08:53 AM

7. Too depressing to think about too much

Would Lincoln have started a war to free the slaves rather than to protect the union from southern states leaving the union? I feel like the answer is no.

And there is still illegal slavery of various types, but it seems unlikely it would still be legal today. I assume you mean legal slavery. I don't doubt it would have maybe stayed legal until sometime around WWI to WWII though. Maybe even until the time of voting rights.

And the there's a separate question about when the US government would have forced the issue if widespread slavery, as with the pre civil war south, continued when illegal in some states.

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Response to MrScorpio (Original post)

Thu Oct 25, 2012, 09:07 AM

8. the value of labor has declined steadily since 1820

so it seems possible that slavery would have ended when the cost of using day laborers fell below the cost of keeping slaves.

ETA: there is still slave labor in the US btw. Rich woman keeps slave in closet of mansion, March 2012:
http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/03/02/rich-new-york-woman-accused-of-keeping-immigrant-slave-in-mansion-closet/

Chained to sewing machines on Canal Street in NYC, 1998:
http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2053983,00.html

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Response to MrScorpio (Original post)

Thu Oct 25, 2012, 09:24 AM

9. As slavery died out in the south east it moved west. Canada and water would stop it eventually.

By the time of the cowardly attack on Fort Sumpter, which only had provisions for two days at the time of the attack and the attacker knew that if he waited 2 days the Fort would have been surrendered without a fight, the slave trade in Virginia, for instance, had turned into a slave breeding operation not a slave use operation. The main problem was that the land where slavery was first used wasn't very good for growing the crop that slavery was used on. That crop was rice, not the fabled cotton. Coastal Carolina, coastal Georgia, not so good for rice, but as the trade headed to the Mississippi River rice flourished and slaves were in demand. The fights to move the trade west are well documented. Unfortunately most people get all of their civil war information in grade school and the fantasized stories that are told there in the name of history are a disgrace.

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Response to MrScorpio (Original post)

Thu Oct 25, 2012, 10:09 AM

10. It's not as cut and dry now. We're in more of a Ford vs. Chevy condition rather than regional.

 

Sure, there are regional areas, but the so-called "battleground" states show the diversity and intermixing of our interests and concerns. We don't really have a situation where you can "poke a bear" now. If it came to armed conflict it would be absolute chaos.

As for when slavery would have ended, that's a hard call. If anything, the South accelerated the process, but it was inevitable, as was the right for women to vote, equal rights, and all of the gains we've had since Lincoln. What concerns me the most is the GOP effort to roll back those gains.

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Response to MrScorpio (Original post)

Thu Oct 25, 2012, 10:16 AM

11. Way too many factors to be sure, but interesting to think about. n/t

 

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Response to MrScorpio (Original post)

Thu Oct 25, 2012, 10:25 AM

12. Poor whites hated slavery for economic reasons

It was impossible for a white person to start a business when a plantation owner would compete against your family business with slave employees. There were counties in the South, GA, and Texas who were Unionist and flew the Union flag through out the war.

Also blockade runners did not smuggle weapons, but instead smuggled out cotton and tobacco to the UK and in return they would bring back luxury items to trade with the plantation owners. If you bought back weapons the Confederacy would pay you back with confederate dollars, which were nearly worthless at that time. As a smuggler you are in it for the money.
The confederate troops and the population starved because the plantation owners did not plant corn or food items, they only planted cotton and tobacco cash crops to smuggle out to the UK.

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Response to MrScorpio (Original post)

Thu Oct 25, 2012, 10:26 AM

13. Not long. England had already abolished slavery in 1833.

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Response to MrScorpio (Original post)

Thu Oct 25, 2012, 12:27 PM

14. It would have lasted until the slaves died out.


I do not believe any slave owning country in history ever maintained a domestic source of slaves. Pregnant slaves have to be cared for while providing little in return. Child slaves have to be cared for while providing little in return. Businessmen then weren't much different in their short-term view of profits than they are now.

The European powers had already cut us off from Africa. Actually, we joined them in that endeavor which was, I believe, the *only* anti-slavery action taken by the federal government before the Civil War (which made southern fears all the more ridiculous).

Southerners conquered Texas. They conquered Baja California, then lost it when they invaded Sonoma. They conquered Guatemala then lost it when they re-imposed slavery outraging their neighbors. They re-invaded Guatemala and were killed. They invaded Cuba. Twice.

The Cuban and Guatemala invasions were for the specific purpose of obtaining more slaves. They were running out of slaves. Eventually, the Black population in the United States would have died out to levels incapable of supporting slavery. Attempts to use Indians as slaves did not work very well. And while there was some talk during the Civil War about replacing Black slaves with Anglo-Saxons, that would have, of course, meant Civil War again.


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Response to ieoeja (Reply #14)

Thu Oct 25, 2012, 01:15 PM

17. according to most history i've read, slave populations in the us did expand by natural increase.

 

Rapid Natural Increase in U.S. Slave Population

How did the U.S. slave population increase nearly fourfold between 1810 and 1860, given the demise of the trans-Atlantic trade? They enjoyed an exceptional rate of natural increase. Unlike elsewhere in the New World, the South did not require constant infusions of immigrant slaves to keep its slave population intact. In fact, by 1825, 36 percent of the slaves in the Western hemisphere lived in the U.S.

This was partly due to higher birth rates, which were in turn due to a more equal ratio of female to male slaves in the U.S. relative to other parts of the Americas. Lower mortality rates also figured prominently. Climate was one cause; crops were another. U.S. slaves planted and harvested first tobacco and then, after Eli Whitney's invention of the cotton gin in 1793, cotton. This work was relatively less grueling than the tasks on the sugar plantations of the West Indies and in the mines and fields of South America.

Southern slaves worked in industry, did domestic work, and grew a variety of other food crops as well, mostly under less abusive conditions than their counterparts elsewhere. For example, the South grew half to three-quarters of the corn crop harvested between 1840 and 1860.

http://eh.net/encyclopedia/article/wahl.slavery.us


In the United States, unlike the West Indies, the slave population grew by natural increase. This was not because American owners were especially humane, but because most of the South lies outside the tropical environment where diseases like yellow fever and malaria exacted a huge toll on whites and blacks alike.

http://www.ericfoner.com/articles/123008nytimes

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Response to HiPointDem (Reply #17)

Thu Oct 25, 2012, 02:00 PM

20. "South grew half to three-quarters of the corn crop harvested between 1840 and 1860"?


1. First year of Civil War starvation was rampant in the South because they grew so little food crops.

2. The South famously predicted Europe would join them because of "King Cotton". Unfortunately for them Europe had a bad crop growth that year and needed corn from the North far more than they needed cotton. "King Corn" defeated "King Cotton".

Given that your source got this fact so completely, totally wrong, I can not put much stock in anything it says.


The American Civil War joins Genghis Khan, Napolean's Retreat from Russia, and the Nazi Retreat from Moscow as examples where most histories were written by the loser, not the winner. The problem with histories written by the loser is that they get it wrong. The loser, after all, probably wouldn't have lost had they really understood what was going on.

Even if the loser figures it out after the fact, how many autobiographies do you see written by military Generals saying, "I screwed it up"? They are almost always self serving, and Southern Generals were no exception.


Genghis Khan - most of his wars were in response to outrages by the other side; Chinese historians claimed otherwise.

Napolean .. Russia - defeated outside of Moscow in pitched battle and began retreat before the first snowflake fell; claimed he only retreated because of winter.

Nazis .. Moscow - being pushed back by the 1st ten of over 100 divisions en route on the Siberian Railroad before snow shut down the fighting. German historians honestly believed the push back was a Battle of the Bulge type of scenario that was about to collapse.

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Response to ieoeja (Reply #20)

Thu Oct 25, 2012, 02:14 PM

21. it's not the only reference that says so, but be that as it may: give me a source that says

 

the slave population in the south was declining or the rate of natural increase in that population was negative.

it's certainly the case that history is always contentious. however, plenty of history has been written that takes issue with the ruling party line. so if there's evidence the slave population was declining because deaths > births, it ought to be out there.

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Response to HiPointDem (Reply #21)

Thu Oct 25, 2012, 05:19 PM

22. I got it from "The Battle Cry of Freedom".


And that author tended to look at direct, contemporary sources. Historians often rely on the work of previous historians. So if it changed somewhere along the line, it remains changed. Take Sherman's March to the Sea.

In "The Battle Cry of Freedom" the author looked up contemporary southern diaries and newspapers articles. Source after source damned the retreating Confederates and praised Sherman's men. In particular, they praised Sherman for feeding the starving southerners. By that time the South had converted to food crops, but war time inflation was so bad that the Plantation owners were unwilling to sell the food.

First city Sherman came to he was astonished to see the people starving in the breadbasket of the south. That is when he ordered his men to start confiscating food. Not as part of a burnt earth, total war policy. But to save the southern people from starvation!

And, except for the plantation owners, of course, that is all you find in the contemporary record. Flash forward a few months and some of the same people who praised Sherman are damning him. But as we have seen many, many times in the past, Conservatives are extremely Orwellian. The problem with a military culture, and the Norman South was most definitely a military culture, is that people are raised to believe what they are told.

"Gore is so stupid, he thinks Islamic terrorism is a bigger national security threat than China! LOL!" - Bush and Cheney over and over again in 2000

"Bet you're glad Gore didn't win now?" - every GOPer in the US, 2001-09-12, the day after we were attacked by Islamic terrorists


**Note: what most amazed Sherman about this post-war revision was that his army *did* engage in a scored earth polity on the march through South Carolina. In addition to South Carolina starting the whole bloody thing, but being far away from where most of the war's action took place, escapees from Andersonville showed up at their camp the night before they entered South Carolina. Sherman said he probably couldn't have stopped what happend in South Caroline had he wanted to, and he sure as hell did not want to stop it.

But nobody was talking about that. Instead, they relocated what happened in South Carolina to Georgia for some odd reason.


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Response to ieoeja (Reply #22)

Thu Oct 25, 2012, 07:08 PM

23. "Battle cry of freedom" is searchable in google books, and here's what it says:

 

"while the slave population of the united states doubled by natural reproduction every 26 years, slaves in other new world societies experienced a net natural decrease." (p. 37)

http://books.google.com/books?id=a3nX48n4oeIC&q=natural+increase+slaves#v=snippet&q=population%20slaves%20decreased&f=false

so far as i can tell, there's nothing in that book about slave populations in the US declining or failing to increase. The opposite, in fact.

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Response to HiPointDem (Reply #23)

Fri Oct 26, 2012, 10:22 AM

27. Only read the book once. Must have read that backwards. Thanks for the correction! nt

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Response to ieoeja (Reply #20)

Fri Oct 26, 2012, 10:35 AM

29. The spread of slavery into the new territories was led more by rice and cotton than corn.

It is also very important to understand the differences in the slave trade between the old southeastern money and the newly developing agricultural lands in the west. Virginia and to a lessor extent Maryland had become slave breeding centers instead of slave labor users. Also keep in mind the types of crops where slave labor is useful, those which require full season attention. Tobacco, cotton, rice, as opposed to the field crops where large animals are (were) used for large area tillage and to the extent harvest is mechanized there too, but the rest of the time your slaves have as little to do as a John Deere harvester in December except the slaves still have to be fed (as do horses and oxen). So as slavery moved to the new territories and they grew to large enough populations to support a bid for Statehood the political maneuvering brought slavery with it as sure as clouds bring rain there wasn't much chance of that slavery being sustainable long term. As I said above, sooner or later we were going to bump up against Canada or the Pacific Ocean, and there it would end.

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Response to MrScorpio (Original post)

Thu Oct 25, 2012, 01:05 PM

16. A shockingly long time, imo. 1920 or so.

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Response to MrScorpio (Original post)

Thu Oct 25, 2012, 01:32 PM

18. Quite some time, I believe. Lincoln flatly stated that if he could preserve the Union by

 

continuing slavery, he would do so.

I think it fairly likely that the slavery would have remained in a diminished form and been folded into the Progressive Movement of the late 19th century.The whole world was going through massive social changes over that time period with the rise of Industrialization, Communism, Humanism, and Fascism. The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand did not start WWI so much as it was the spark that ignited the tensions that had been building in the preceding decades. In our legal slavery in America scenario the variables get really messy at that time, but in answer to your question, I would say slavery would have continued for another 50 years or more. It's possible that it would still be around today.

Here's another interesting what-if; What if Lincoln had let the south go?

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Response to MrScorpio (Original post)

Thu Oct 25, 2012, 07:49 PM

24. Until Jimmy Carter got elected.

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Response to MrScorpio (Original post)

Thu Oct 25, 2012, 08:10 PM

25. Slavery was becoming a system too costly to maintain.

While the first practical mechanical cotton picker wasn't available till 1943, it wasn't long before it made more economic sense to hire locals and migrants as seasonal workers then to maintain a cadre of slaves 365 days of the year.

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Response to MrScorpio (Original post)

Thu Oct 25, 2012, 09:02 PM

26. Read this editorial from the time and you will understand it a lot better

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Response to MrScorpio (Original post)

Fri Oct 26, 2012, 10:34 AM

28. Economically the South was in decline.

A war was inevitable because both the Northern and Southern economic systems required expansion. The North was the overwhelmingly superior system economically. The Civil War was as much about whether the Western states would be slave or "free," and saw a prelude with armed conflict in Kansas prior to 1860 over the question of whether the state would be slave or "free."

Culturally, the Southern elites would have denied the economics and would have never surrendered an inch on slavery without war. In the face of decline and slave rebellion they would have been capable of attempting an extermination policy.

Without the immediate perceived threat of Lincoln, I believe a war would have come inevitably within two decades of 1860, likely triggered by contests over Western territories but then necessarily enveloping the whole country in a total war. Assuming a united North - big assumption - such a conflict would have seen the South in an even weaker condition than in 1861.

Another possibility, however, would have been a Southern turn to conquest of Mexico, Cuba, and other Latin American territories as the field of expansion.

Finally, we can imagine that the slaves would have outnumbered the whites at some point... it's not completely out of the question that a widespread slave rebellion would have seen a Northern administration (if sufficiently racist) supporting the South in suppressing it!

So, in short, don't know, but we can probably agree on the likeliest scenario: War within 20 years of 1860, with the South defeated.

.

Correction to OP: Fort Sumter.

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Response to MrScorpio (Original post)

Fri Oct 26, 2012, 10:42 AM

30. I think eventually the Federal Government would have bought the freedom of the slaves. They could

have financed it with a Federal export tax on cotton and tobacco as well as an income tax.

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