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Monday, October 2, 2017

Economic Rape of the South Led to Secession

When Union troops tried to resupply Fort Sumter, South
Carolina fired on the fort. The only casualty was a donkey,
but it gave Lincoln an excuse to call up 75,000 troops to stop
secession and force Southern states to remain in the Union.
Some critics believe he deliberately provoked the battle to
justify the war against the Southern states.
It's important to understand the major role economic issues played in the South's decision to secede. The states of the South represented about one fifth of the U.S. population, but they were paying over 80% of the tariffs levied by a Congress controlled by the Northern states. The actual amount involved according to Charles Adams writing in his book When in the Course of Human Events was about $107.5 million being charged at federal ports on goods coming into the country. The South, more dependent on imports than the mercantile North ended up paying about $90 million of this total compared to $17.5 million from the Northern states. That was a disparity of 83% of tariff taxation being picked up by the South and only about 17% from the North.

Add to this the fact that of about $261 million in U.S. exports in 1860, the South was responsible for about $214 million vs. about $47 million from the North. Since the South had to pay the retaliatory tariffs at foreign ports of entry, they were experiencing a double whammy. There were other unfairly levied taxes as well. And with the North ruling in Congress, the tariffs were being increased. Abraham Lincoln raised the tariff to 40% by the beginning of the war and almost 50% by the war's end. The federal government was also heavily subsidizing northern industries and westward expansion which the South knew would lead to more and higher tariffs. Remember, there was NO income tax at the time and the bulk of government revenue was coming from the tariffs which, as Adams shows, were economically raping the Southern states primarily for the benefit of the North.

Still not convinced that tariffs played a major role? Read some of the articles and editorials from the newspapers of the time. Primary sources from the time always give a more accurate picture than later articles and historians worth their salt focus on them.

On December 10, 1860 the Chicago Daily Times warned of the economic impact of Southern secession:
In one single blow our [Northern] foreign commerce must be reduced to less than one-half what it now is. Our coastwise trade would pass into other hands. One-half of our shipping would lie idle at our wharves. We should lose our trade with the South, with all its immense profits. Our manufactories would be in utter ruins. Let the South adopt the free-trade system, or that of a tariff for revenue [a small tariff] and these results would likely follow.
The day after South Carolina seceded the Philadelphia Press wrote:
The government cannot well avoid collecting the federal revenues at all Southern ports, even after the passage of secession ordinances; and if this duty is discharged, any State which assumes a rebellious attitude will still be obliged to contribute revenue to support the Federal Government or have her foreign commerce entirely destroyed.
When some of the Southern states declared slavery among the compelling issues leading to secession, the North American Review in Boston wrote:
Slavery is not the cause of the rebellion...Slavery is the pretext on which the leaders of the rebellion rely 'to fire the Southern heart,' and through which the greatest degree of unanimity can be produced...Mr. Calhoun, after finding that the South could not be brought to sufficient unanimity by a clamor about the tariff, selected slavery as the better subject for agitation. 
Southern papers too identified economic issues as the major bone of contention. The New Orleans Daily Crescent wrote in January 1861:
They (the South) know that it is their import trade that draws from the people's pockets sixty or seventy millions of dollars per annum, in the shape of duties, to be expended mainly in the North, and in the protection and encouragement of Northern interests. These are the reasons why these people do not wish the South to secede from the Union. They (the North) are enraged at the prospect of being despoiled of the rich feast upon which they have so long fed and fattened, and which they were just getting ready to enjoy with still greater gout and gusto. They are as mad as hornets because the prize slips them just as they are ready to grasp it.
Texas Congressman John H. Reagan said this on January 15, 1861:
You are not content with the vast millions of tribute we pay you annually under the operation of our revenue laws, our navigation laws, your fishing bounties, and by making your people our manufacturers, our merchants, our shippers. You are not satisfied with the vast tribute we pay you to build up your great cities, your railroads, your canals. You are not satisfied with the millions of tribute we have been paying you on account of the balance of exchange which you hold against us. You are not satisfied that we of the South are almost reduced to the condition of overseers of northern capitalists. You are not satisfied with all this; but you must wage a relentless crusade against our rights and institution. 
Lincoln himself, a man who had little interest in slavery, who publicly stated his main concern was keeping the Union together, made his motivation clear. When a Virginia delegation met with him the day after the firing on Fort Sumter, urging patience and the evacuation of Northern troops from the Fort in order to prevent war, assuring him that in time the Union would be preserved, his response was telling:
If I do that what will become of my [tariff] revenue? I might as well shut up housekeeping at once. 
Robert L. Dabney, a Presbyterian minister, Confederate chaplain, and later biographer of Stonewall Jackson, wrote of Lincoln:
He was shrewd enough to see that the just and liberal free trade policy proposed by the Montgomery (first Confederate) government would speedily build up, by the help of the magnificent Southern staples, a beneficent foreign commerce through Confederate ports; that the Northern people...could never be restrained from smuggling across the long open frontier of the Confederacy; that thus the whole country would become habituated to the benefits of free trade, so that when the schism was healed (as he knew it would be healed in a few years by the policy of Virginia), it would be too late to restore the iniquitous system of sectional plunder by tariffs, which his section so much craved. Hence when Virginia offered him a safe way to preserve the Union, he preferred to destroy the Union and preserve his tariffs. The war was conceived in duplicity, and brought forth in iniquity.
In March 1861 Congress passed the Morrill Tariff taxing most foreign goods an average of 40% on the dollar, iron goods at over 50%. If the South was allowed to leave the Union and practice free trade the North faced an economic catastrophe. As August Belmont, Northern financier, diplomat, horse breeder and racer (The Belmont Stakes is named for him) wrote after South Carolina seceded, it was "now a question of national existence and commercial prosperity."

In other words, the South must be forced to remain in the Union so the North could continue its economic rape. Slavery was never a major issue with Northern capitalists and their politicians; it was always about the money! And for the South it was primarily about free trade and the same issues that led the thirteen colonies to declare independence from England -- unfair taxation.


Jim Dorchak said...

As a South Carolina boy, I can say I totally agree with you on your point. Especially after having studied the history and going and seeing the places that were important to the civil war. It was part of our growing up in SC to go see these battle fields and historic places like Fort Sumter in Charleston and down in Beaufort as well as the upstate. The south figured out that they did not need the north to process their cotton. The north did not much like that. After the war many northern carpet baggers set up mills in the South. Hey why not? Cheap land cheap labor cheap everything. It was legal stealing at its best!
The great depression in many minds was the 1930s, but to quite a few in the south it was the time after the civil war.
I love a quote that I heard after Trump was elected. (although I am not totally sold on Trump)
"The Democrats have not been this mad since the Republicans set free their slaves".

In either case now I live in the DEEP SOUTH, Southern Chile South America and there are no longer the problems created by the race baiters in the former United States of America. Ciao from Chile.

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

Thanks Jim. Great comment. I think anyone who really studied the problems leading up to the Civil War would be less inclined to fall for the simplistic explanations, i.e., North good, South bad mantra.

mary said...

What would possibly cause you to rehash the Civil War on this of all days? Are you living in your own personal bubble somewhere? I'm beginning to believe all of the trad catholic bloggers are truly bonkers.

S. Armaticus said...

Hi Mary Ann:

Very good post.

If this subject interests you, which appears to be the case, I suggest picking up a copy of Robert Fogel's Without Consent or Contract. He is the authority of the economics of slavery, not to mention a Nobel Laureate ('93), in that discipline.

In WCorC, he lays out the false economic argument that the South was in any way "backwards", and was in fact more advanced than the North in many areas. What the South lacked was manpower, mostly due to the mid-19th century immigration to the North. This is what tipped the scale.

Oh, the irony of history...

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

Actually, Mary, my husband and I were on the road all day Monday. We usually pray the rosary and listen to books on tape when we travel. We did not hear about the massacre until late in the afternoon when we turned on the news. As for your snide comment about "trad Catholics being bonkers" well, it seems to me that name-calling and contempt for the personhood of those with whom you disagree is the fuel of hate that causes demonic actions. And I ask you the same question -- What could possibly make you leave such a nasty comment after what happened Sunday night? I'm offering my Mass this morning for you and the poor, evil soul who committed the atrocity as well as all the victims and their families.

And the reason I've been writing about the Civil War is because of the demonization of the South, the defamation of all those in the Confederacy, and the false and lying "history" surrounding it. The hate we've seen in the past few years is like nothing I've ever seen in my life and I'm no Spring chicken. And much of the hate is stirred up using lies and rewriting history. So it's high time people talked about the truth.

mary said...

You can spin the confederacy and the civil war any way you want, but there is one irrefutable fact. In 1861 the southern states of the USA allowed human beings to own other human beings. In 1865 the practice of people owning people in the USA was ended. People who try to spin the civil war instead of simply saying owning people was a mistake and it should not be celebrated disgust me. Frankly, I prefer that you not pray for me.

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...


What I find interesting is that people who condemn the Confederacy say almost nothing about the continued slavery today, not to mention the selling of little children for sex and the massive murder of the unborn.

And I'll keep on praying for you because you don't disgust me, I only deplore your ignorance. But that can be fixed when people are truth-tellers and willing to actually study history. That's up to you.

By the way, do you have ANY problem with the virtual slavery of immigrant workers in the North? Read Upton Sinclair's The Jungle. "Sinclair wrote the novel to portray the harsh conditions and exploited lives of immigrants in the United States in Chicago and similar industrialized cities." Before you are so willing to condemn the South read about the exploitation of the North. The Norwegians were wage slaves to northern capitalists and many lived worse than black slaves on the plantation. That doesn't justify slavery, but it does put it in perspective. And you appear to have very little problem with the 600,000 killed in an unnecessary war. Slavery was going to end. Perhaps it would have ended in the same time period as the Civil War. We'll never know. What I do know is that simplistic re-writing of history demonizing one group is a way of lying, not to mention feeling superior which you clearly do as you look down on others with "disgust."

mary said...

Most of my ancestors were workers in those factories in the North and several of them fought in the civil war against the confederacy. You're not informing me of anything I don't know. However, they also moved freely around in order to find work that they felt was better for them and volunteered to fight. They CHOSE. Slaves had no choice. This is the end of my comments. It's pointless to continue.

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

You missed the point, Mary. I wasn't justifying slavery. I was pointing out the exploitation of Northern business interests who had no problem paying starvation wages to their immigrant slaves.

But you're right, it's pointless to continue the discussion because you're good and I'm evil and disgusting. I will immediately go take a shower. LOL!

rohrbachs said...

"Perhaps it would have ended in the same time add the civil war. "
No. Read the cornerstone speech, again. Read Jeff Davis. Read the reasons the seceding states gave. Read the cornerstone speech, again. Those primary sources said it going to end.

Tariff protest does not excuse violation of inalienable rights. The communists could give all sorts of economic excuses for their totalitarian behavior but it wouldn't make it right.

I could make more economic arguments about the tariffs butthe point should remain, inalienable rights prevail.

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

I agree slavery is wrong. Is war less wrong? How many lost their inalienable right to life? -- tens of thousands in one day at Antietam. Even more in three days at Gettysburg. So by your logic which appears to say I support slavery because I point out the part the North played in the injustice, you must support war since you defend the injustices of the North.

rohrbachs said...

Yes, war is less wrong because it is *sometimes* right. Slavery is never right. The war was just because it blocked the Confederates from making slavery the permanent *cornerstone* of their republic. It is likely that slavebreeding would have been the engine that maintained and perhaps mushroomed the slave regime, rather than it being attenuated.

Our present eugenic society owes much to that vile institution of slavebreeding. We can't begin to correct the present until we have acknowledged the past. It is a democrat past, from slavery to Confederacy Jim Crow to KKK to Wilson watching the KKK movie to the Byrd family right up to the Civil Rights Act. Then the Democrats "switched" and passed the racism bag to the Republicans. Why are Republicans so willing to hold the bag for the Democrats?

I know that there were Marxist influences on Lincoln, and racist attitudes in the North, too. One could even argue it would be harder for the South to slave-ocrat separately as they wouldn't have the noxious "fugitive slave" assist when slaves escaped north. BUT there was at least no formal declaration that the North, or the US *would be* a slave regime. Permanently. As there was in the Confederacy.

My prior comment should have read "Those primary sources said it [slavery] is NOT going to end." I am glad Lincoln fought the war and brought about the end of slavery, even if he didn't originally mean to. I wish the Confederacy would not have determined to be a slave gulag regime, including the right to breed slaves and to dislocate families. I wish the Confederacy would not have inadvertently played into the Marxists hands by establishing such a noxious regime. But they did, and I am not going to revere it. (Even if my own ancestors did).

Mega Schultz said...

Hi Mary Ann, I am not my daughter, Maria. I'm Sue, her mom. But I don't know how to sign out of her account! Thank you for an excellent article & titles of books that we can read to learn more.
Like most American kids who grew up in the 1960's, we were taught the Civil War was all about slavery. It wasn't until I served at a Catholic mission in Kentucky & spent some time at Ft. Mc Clellan, Alabama during the summer of 1978 that I learned the truth from Southerners. You have to go to the source to learn the truth!
If I'd lived in the South during the years leading up to the Civil War, I'd have hated what the North was doing to our area of the country too. Even today, we watch the Northern bankers & financiers enslaving all Americans with usurious interest rates on home mortgages & small business loans. They lie about the true amount we're paying & a loan document that should be less than one page ends up being nearly 100 due to all the twisting of truth.
States' rights was also a major cause of the Civil War, a debate that has been resurrected in our own day. Slavery was just one issue among many. Was it the most important issue? Without a doubt! But, it was far from the only one!
Thank you for an excellent article!

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

Did you ever fight in a war, Rohrbachs?

If you are correct and slavery is the primary evil, how do you explain Jesus never saying one word about it? Slavery was common in the Roman Empire, in fact the centurion's servant spoken in scripture may very well have been a slave, and yet there is not one story about Jesus urging the Romans to free the slaves. His silence clearly did not mean slavery was right, but it clearly was not the paramount evil. St. Paul told slave holders to treat their slaves with dignity, that they would have to answer to God for their behavior. Did he approve of slavery? Of course not.

In view of the massacre on Sunday, I can't imagine thinking about the horrendous massacres at Antietam and Gettysburg with the attitude they were justified because slavery was wrong. How cavalier you are about the carnage! Put yourself in the field at Gettysburg with rifles and canon fire and bodies falling around you. No...ending slavery a few years sooner did not justify that.

Emancipation was already being discussed all over the South. Two event that slowed its accomplishment were the slave rebellions in Haiti after the French Revolution when slaves rose up and killed most of the white inhabitants including women and children and Nat Turner's rebellion in Virginia in 1931 when his band killed around 65 whites most of the victims being women and children. Emancipation was being discussed in the Virginia legislature at the time and those events were fresh in the minds of the population who were no doubt concerned about what would happen from mass freeing of the slaves. And so they set the issue aside.

You seem to want a simplistic answer to what was a complex situation. I've read the cornerstone speech and many others from those supporting slavery. They illustrate the division at the time. None of us knows what would have happened if the South had been left alone, except for one thing.

We would not have the massive federal government we have today and states would have more sovereignty.

In view of the history of abortion which was forced on the country by federal judiciary fiat, I think it is likely that we would not have the massive abortion (not to mention the federal imposition of gay rights) we have today. Most states didn't want abortion. Even states like New York, among the first to allow it, repealed their permissive abortion law in 1972 after only two years. Abortion continued because of Rockefeller's veto.

We'll never know what would have happened had the South been able to restrain the tyranny of the centralized government we have today, but frankly I suspect the black family would be much better off and that many black babies murdered by permissive abortion would be alive.

rohrbachs said...

Jesus never encouraged the Jews to fight against their oppression, either. But here we were in the 20th century fighting Hitler in a just war.

I have been to Antietam, Gettysburg, Bull Run, Appomattox, Wilderness, Fredericksburg, saw the hospital sites at Lynchburg and Richmond. I am appalled at the horror and carnage but, unlike you, feel that it was the fault of the Confederacy. Their president, vice president, and only state declarations of causes of secession all said, "We're doing this to keep slavery and white supremacy." This would not have been ending slavery a few years later if they could help it.

I agree that the South was frightened, indeed seized up, by the slave revolts. However, not frightened enough to do the right thing. Their doubling down on racism after the Civil War in the form of Jim Crow shows that they were only going to yield authority over their dead bodies. I agree that their predicament was precarious and growing more precarious with each additional slave they bred. Even more complicating is the untold debt the slavemasters were consigned to by British financiers.

Perhaps if the South had resigned themselves to emancipation instead of secession, there would have been NO opening for the war to happen, and the Marxists to rush in and establish a bloated national government. I missed the evidence that anything the South did would have been able to restrain the federal government.

The Black family would surely be better off without big gov, we just disagree what brought it about. The Confederacy gave Marx the straw man to knock down and make himself look more virtuous. Another reason to mislike the Confederacy.

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

And you see no blame on the part of the carpetbaggers and the draconian treatment of the South by the North after the war as contributing to Jim Crow? Stealing the property of Confederate officers, taking away their right to vote while giving the vote to freed slaves had no impact on race relations?

I think we are finished. You are determined to demonize the Southerners and treat the North like saints. Your comment about the Jews is a red herring and totally irrelevant to the discussion.

Slavery would have collapsed of its own economic weight. "Breeding slaves" as you put it was completely economically unfeasible. How many years would it take to get a field worker? And how many slaves would need to be housed and fed while they took care of raising the children?

Secession was constitutional. The North just didn't want to let their cash cow go. And that is primarily what the war was about -- money. Emancipation would not have ended the economic rape of the South by Northern capitalists.

I'm not posting any more of your comments on this. I think I've been more than generous in giving you space to denounce the demonic South with almost no facts, just repeating the same statement about the cornerstone speech over and over. Start your own blog.

MaryP said...

People in the north owned slaves also.