"Sequestering" Resources-- the South and the North

Mark Lause MLause at cinci.rr.com
Tue Jul 15 13:46:45 MDT 2003

You want a contrasting interpretation of all of American history up to
the Civil War in an email.  .... Sure, I'll get right on that.  :-)

Offhand, though, any rethinking of the Civil War period should probably
encompass a number of rather important and related factors usually
absent from these discussions:

* the Southern Democratic faith that authority could be legitimately and
violently imposed on inferiors who did not consent to be governed
(sorry, that social contract terminology again) forms a common theme
informing what they tried to do in Nicaragua, Kansas, and--for that
matter--the slave states themselves in 1860-61.

* the conflict was a social struggle not a simple conflict among
sections or territories.  The language of "North" and "South" tends to
smudge this dimensions of the conflict into the assumption of a war
between distinct nations and peoples.  As an illustration of this, most
historians are coming to the conclusion that the Confederacy lost the
war first and foremost because it never really won the war for the hears
and minds of the Southern people.  Despite the conscription, military
control, etc. some one in four or one in five Southerners who fought in
the war actually bore arms for the Union.  In the end, the Confederacy
was never as popular before 1865 as it became after it was safely a

* the diverging ideas of republican order and progress are essential,
not just in consciously economic terms but encompassing a wide range of
questions touching upon the value of "free labor"....  This is where the
differences over the ideas of natural rights and the social contract
(which you disparage as meaningless) are, in fact, vital to the
divisions between secessionist and Unionist leaderships.  As an
essential dimension of this, these ideas not only divided secessionists
and Unionists but reflect marked differences among Unionists and
Republicans--the struggle for a resolution of which would shape the
course of the war and reconstruction.


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