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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 5/26/10

Not Breaking A League

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"But each state, having expressly parted with so many powers as to constitute, jointly with the other states, a single nation, cannot, from that period, possess any right to secede, because such secession does not break a league but destroys the unity of a nation;"--Andrew Jackson: (1767?-1845), American General and Politician: Reply to South Carolina's Ordinance of Nullification; 1833.

Professor Thomas Farrell at the University of Minnesota at Duluth sent me an e-mail after reading my article "The Children of Cain," challenging me to answer Mr. Buchanan's article in Human Events, "The New Intolerance," without any epigrams, while keeping it under 1000 words.

Here is that answer. The original was 975 words, 1038 with President Jackson's epigram which is the source of the article's title. In order to make this acceptable for the editorial staff, I--because I am an autodidact--am going to have to add almost two pages to this article, and lead them through its arguments point by point. This is because I propose personal ideas and theories that I have been developing for thirty plus years, concerning American History from the Missouri Compromise to the Atomic Age.

The real cause of the Civil War was the clash between two diametrically opposed economic systems. The first of these was the South's: which was a large scale, agrarian system; based upon large numbers of slaves doing the majority of the work on huge plantations owned by aristocratic families who ruled their individual states to please themselves. A Roman nobleman with his latifundia from the First Century B.C.E., would not have felt out of place in the antebellum South. It was a system where the poor whites were very much dependent on patronage from the aristocrats or good luck for survival.

The first thirty years of the Nineteenth Century saw few plantations outside of the borders of the original Thirteen States south of Maryland. The large scale development of giant plantations west of the Appalachians awaited two important developments. The first of these was Andrew Jackson forcing the Cherokee and other tribes off of their ancestral lands onto the "Trail of Tears" to what is now Oklahoma. The second of these was the discovery of gold in North Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama in the 1830's.

The second of these economic systems was the North's: an industrial system just out of its infancy, well on its way to becoming the economic colossus that would dominate the world in less than a century. It repeated the mistakes of Dickens' England and Marx's Europe over the next seventy years, watching working men and women reduced to virtual bondage as the robber barons and proto-Fascists of the Gilded and Jazz Ages exploited them for their own gain. Names like Samuel Gompers, Joe Hill, Big Bill Haywood, Eugene V. Debs, and places like Haymarket, Homestead, Pullman and Ludlow came into common usage among America's workers.

It was the past against the future; the agrarian aristocracy against the industrial oligarchs; for dominion over a nation. The expected battle between Jefferson's yeoman farmers and Hamilton's mercantilist traders had been decided two decades before the Civil War. Both sides had lost. The farmers had lost to the plantation system as they had in the Roman Republic two millennia before. The mercantilists had lost to the industrialist class that rose with the arrival of the factories of the Industrial Revolution. No one in America noticed it at the time: the first full expression of manifest destiny, the War with Mexico, the subsequent annexation of Texas and California, and the gold rush to California had hidden this denouement from public view. It was as quiet a slipping away from mortal awareness as any pair of contested ideas in history.

The combat phase of the Civil War from 1861-65 had two distinct phases: before the Emancipation Proclamation and after. When President Lincoln issued the Proclamation on January 1, 1863, the war to reunite the Union became a moral crusade to end slavery as well, forestalling British and French intervention forever. The Proclamation only affected those areas still under control of the Confederacy, so had no effect on the Union's slave holding states of Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland and Delaware. Slaves in those states had to wait for the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment in December 1865 for their de jure emancipation.

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Richard Girard is a polymath and autodidact whose greatest desire in life is to be his generations' Thomas Paine. He is an FDR Democrat, which probably puts him with U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders in the current political spectrum. His answer to (more...)

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