Add this Page to Facebook!   Submit to Twitter   Submit to Reddit   Submit to Stumble Upon   Pin It!   Fark It!   Tell A Friend  
Printer Friendly Page Save As Favorite Save As Favorite View Article Stats
No comments, In Series: The Spirit that Drove Us to Civil War is Back

OpEdNews Op Eds

The Spirit that Drove Us to Civil War is Back-- Who Chose War II: Responsibility for the Civil War

By (about the author)     Permalink       (Page 1 of 1 pages)
Related Topic(s): ; , Add Tags Add to My Group(s)

View Ratings | Rate It

Headlined to H3 8/21/13

Become a Fan
  (27 fans)

opednews.com

As I argued in the previous entry, responsibility for the unusually harsh nature of American politics today can be blamed almost entirely on today's Republican Party, which makes a fight over everything.  Is it valid to say that the Civil War was the result of the same spirit driving the South?

Was one side more responsible than the other for driving the process, from say 1848 to 1861, when the United States polarized, broke apart, and plunged into a bloody Civil War?
 
Let me acknowledge the great complexity of the history on which any such judgment must rest.  Even a correct judgment would best be presented at book length.  All I will do here is say briefly how it looks to me after considerable study of the era.

The process by which the United States came to Civil War might usefully be divided into two periods.  The first would be the conflict -- mostly, but not only, political -- over slavery from, say, 1848 through 1860.  The second would start with the decision by the Southern states to secede from the Union and to up the ante by firing on Fort Sumter. 

Some landmark developments from 1848 through 1860 were: the political battle over admitting Texas as a slave state;  the Compromise of 1850; the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854; the political struggles and violence over Kansas's admission to the Union; the caning of Senator Sumner; the Supreme Court decision in 1857 in the Dred Scot case; the 1858 Lincoln-Douglas debates in Illinois; and, in 1859, John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry. 

This period reveals an intensifying insistence on the part of the South that it must prevail. 

Ever since the Founders first penned, "We the People, the South had dominated the nation politically.  But the trends of power had begun to run against the South.  But rather than accept the tides of history, or just play defense, the South went on the offensive to extend the realm of slavery and the power of slaveholders.  To do this, they had to overturn the old compromises. This in turn inflamed the North.


(In postings to come, I will document this Southern aggressiveness, this Southern insistence, this Southern overreaching,  this Southern combativeness.)

The Southern elite --in the grip, as I see it, of a destructive spirit--were the main drivers of polarization, making the slavery issue so polarizing and poisonous that compromise became further and further out of reach, and the fracturing of national unity less and less amenable to repair. 

The  North, as I see it, was basically re-active.


The polarizing figures in the North --the abolitionists--were marginal in their home region and the target of considerable hostility from other Northerners.  By contrast, the polarizing figures on the Southern side-- the "fire-eaters"-- were respectable and powerful parts of the Southern establishment.

They became increasingly dominant as the 1850s wore on.

The North, too, saw an increase in the passions of regional antagonism. But this was largely in reaction to the over-reaching of the South, and even by the eve of the outbreak of war, I would argue, the passions suitable for the conflict remained more fiercely inflamed in the South.
 
 The South's decision to secede will be the subject of the next entry.

 

Andy Schmookler, an award-winning author, political commentator, radio talk-show host, and teacher, was the Democratic nominee for Congress from Virginia's 6th District. He is the author of various books including The Parable of the Tribes: The (more...)
 
Add this Page to Facebook!   Submit to Twitter   Submit to Reddit   Submit to Stumble Upon   Pin It!   Fark It!   Tell A Friend
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Follow Me on Twitter

Contact Author Contact Editor View Authors' Articles
Related Topic(s): ; , Add Tags

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Why Do Conservatives Like Colbert? Article Plus Critique

Mel Gibson's Rant as Profound Clue

To Anti-Obamite Lefties: It Doesn't Matter If You're Right

How Important is the Loss of Friendship?

The Mystery of Obama's Relationship with Power

Power and Corruption: Just What Is Their Relationship?

Comments

The time limit for entering new comments on this article has expired.

This limit can be removed. Our paid membership program is designed to give you many benefits, such as removing this time limit. To learn more, please click here.

Comments: Expand   Shrink   Hide  
No comments