Andrew Napolitano and the Pollardism of Slave Condemnation

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Burt Likko

Pseudonymous Portlander. Homebrewer. Atheist. Recovering Republican. Recovering Catholic. Recovering divorcé. Editor-in-Chief Emeritus of Ordinary Times. Relapsed Lawyer, admitted to practice law (under his real name) in California and Oregon. On Twitter, to his frequent regret, at @burtlikko. House Likko's Words: Scite Verum. Colite Iusticia. Vivere Con Gaudium.

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  1. Avatar Jaybird
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    says:

    I have some amount of sympathy for looking at The Civil War and its aftermath (Reconstruction, Jim Crow, etc) and saying “Surely, there must have been a better way.”

    Better than war, right? Surely that is not *THAT* high of a bar.

    But then you get into “better for whom?” questions and “well, what other ways would have made other things worse for people?” and you’re stuck with things that would have had slavery, as an institution, last even longer. This solution, buying them and freeing them, has not only the problems you’ve mentioned but you wonder whether buying a slave, if only to set them free, does something to legitimize slavery that, say, killing slave owners and those who defend slave owners definitely does *NOT* do.

    From there hypotheticals go back farther and farther in the past. Could Buchanan have done anything? Jefferson? Washington?

    Nothing obviously would have solved the moral evil of slavery and put an end to it, period, like The Civil War did.

    But, still, it’s very easy to look at the war and its aftermath and say “surely, there must have been a better way.”

    I can’t think of one, though.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Jaybird
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      says:

      I too wish for a counterfactual that would have been peaceful and led to significant justice. Haven’t thought of one yet. Seize-and-manumit was unlikely to do that, at least not the second part and maybe not the first, either.

      …Maybe I’ve been a little too hard on poor old Andy Buchanan.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Jaybird
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      says:

      I think JAN might have tipped his hand a bit when he mentioned in the second part of the video (not linked here) that many of the Union’s actions were intended to “dominate the whites in the South”. I don’t know anything about JAN and I will accept what folks have said here and elsewhere about him not being some closeted super racist, but that comment was a peculiar one. When @jaybird asks “Better for whom” and other very pertinent questions, I wonder how much the fact that the people having the screws put to them were white southerners colors the calculus.

      Video here: http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/tue-march-11-2014/exclusive—andrew-napolitano-extended-interview-pt–2
      Approximately 4 minute markReport

      • Avatar Barry in reply to Kazzy
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        says:

        “I wonder how much the fact that the people having the screws put to them were white southerners colors the calculus”

        IMHO the biggest problem with libertarianism is that it’s been blended in with neoconfederatism to the point where they’re inseparable (as a movement, not applying to all individuals). I would have thought that this would have died down by now, but it pops up with each generation (e.g., Rand Paul replicating Ron Paul’s actions).Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Kazzy
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        says:

        Barry,
        Ron paul’s neonazis were not ron paul’s libertarians. they both supported him, but for different reasons. The gun smugglers, for instance, were libertarian.Report

    • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Jaybird
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      says:

      You know, I wonder if taking out (or rather, not allowing to sunset) the first clause of Article 1 Section 9 (the one that allowed Congress to regulate the slave trade after 1808) would have changed the dynamics.

      If Congress would have not halted the importation of slaves in 1808 (which was right after an inflection point in the value of slaves due to the cotton gin), in the short term, there would have been many more slaves. But I wonder if the contradictions would have been heightened more severely, bringing the issue to open conflict earlier (including larger slave revolts, and direct action by the British Empire against America to halt the trade), leading slavery to be abolished a generation earlier. (and also giving the South a more even economy when industrialization really took off, curtailing 100 years of rural poverty being the default)

      On the other hand, this may have just entrenched the situation in the south even more, and an early conflict under Napoleonic rules of war (vice industrial rules of war) may have allowed them the parity to achieve their independent slave empire.

      There are so few jumping off points between the American Revolution and the Civil War that would enable and/or force the end of slavery in the South. Southern representatives made slavery the number one policy mover in every political action from the drafting of the Constitution, through the famous Comprises and the two wars predating the Civil War, up to the endgame of secession.Report

      • Avatar Barry in reply to Kolohe
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        says:

        “But I wonder if the contradictions would have been heightened more severely, …”

        I’m skeptical of such arguments. It would have had an effect on US-British relations, though.Report

  2. Avatar Will Truman
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    says:

    It’s not hard to look at Napolitano and say “Oh, look, another Confederate apologist” in the same vein as many Confederate Apologists. That doesn’t entirely fit with the man’s history, though. He doesn’t have a particular investment in the southern narrative as he’s not from the south, he’s not a partisan hack, and he has written quite a bit on the evils of racism (and not as a concession before getting to the “… but…”).

    So why do this? Especially when it doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. Just trying to sell some books? Maybe.

    I think @jaybird may touch on it. Due to a conversation about this post, I went back and saw Napolitano talking about an earlier book with the Cato institute. It certainly wasn’t what you would expect given his arguments here. His book combined government racism with his belief in natural rights and he was pretty convincing in believing strongly in it. He put some of Jeremiah Wright’s comments in perspective, for example, towards that end.

    He was critical of Lincoln, though. Now, for my part, God Bless Abe Lincoln. He kept the country together. He saved the South from itself (not just morally, but materially). That buys a lot of forgiveness when it comes to what he had to do in order to make it happen. It’s not unlike how I feel about the failings of the Founding Fathers. But I have a tendency to view things as… complicated. From what comparatively I know about Napolitano, I get the sense that he doesn’t do that.

    Which represents quite a dilemma. Principles are important. What principles are worth losing a war about slavery over? Or, more precisely, declining to engage in a war to prevent the proliferation of slavery? That’s… hard. He can point to ending slavery as not being his intent and there is truth to that. From the Union perspective, it was largely about preserving the Union. But the South? Well…

    It seems to me that the best way out of this conundrum, if you’re disinclined to evaluate competing moral claims, coming to the obvious conclusion, and admitting that the situation is complicated… is to uncomplicate it. If you can demonstrate that the war was unnecessary… well… conflict resolved! Equivocation possible! It’s much easier to condemn Lincoln for what he did wrong if it wasn’t in service to a necessary war that defeated evil.

    And so if I had to guess, I’d guess that’s how we got here.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Will Truman
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      says:

      I should add that I hold no brief for Napolitano. I’m not a fan, have never listened to his show. I am predisposed not to like him. The only two counter-thingies are that (a) people I respect have some good things to say about him and (b) I watched that video. My opinions are based on that, rather (in case anyone is concerned) a need to defend someone that I looked up to (if what I wrote qualifies as a “defense” which it shouldn’t).Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Will Truman
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        says:

        See that’s part of what bugs me so about this … Napolitano is someone I saw on the media and could say, yeah, he’s one of the good guys. Then this, seemingly from way out of left field. I half wondered if he’d lost a bet or something. But no, he is obviously sincere in his criticism of Lincoln and from there seems to have moved as if by gravity to the Lost Cause school.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Will Truman
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        says:

        My underinformed impression of him is that he is somebody who is big on big ideas and speaks his mind. Like Andrew Sullivan, in a way, and unlike Sean Hannity (who I consider to be disinterested in big ideas and a more deliberate commenter). Which is the sort of thing that can really endear him to people because he will say things that other people won’t because they’re more careful. But the lack of carefulness that can lead a person like that to say (or think) something you love I think can also lead him to say (or think) things that horrifies you. The same guy who is not afraid of horrifying someone else by agreeing with you being equally unafraid of horrifying you. It’s 2am and I am probably not using the right words, but I hope my point comes across.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Will Truman
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        says:

        “But no, he is obviously sincere in his criticism of Lincoln and from there seems to have moved as if by gravity to the Lost Cause school.”

        But isn’t this how things tend to be nowadays? It’s not enough to not fawn over Lincoln, it’s not enough to just criticize him… one has to go whole hog to the extreme. Who is going to buy a book that is yet another nuanced look at Lincoln, slavery, and the CW? There are millions of those. But a book by a prominent figure saying the war should never have been fought at all? Hot cakes, baby!Report

    • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to Will Truman
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      says:

      Abraham Lincoln substantially expanded the power of government in a way that deeply affected the course of the American nation and state for all the years following his presidency. If Napolitano thinks the federal government is too powerful, a lot of the reasons for its expanding power go back to Lincoln.

      And if you want to make the argument that it wasn’t necessary, and it was detrimental to America, for federal power to be expanded to the degree that Lincoln expanded it, then you need to prove that Lincoln’s actions were wrong. Which means saying either than slavery wasn’t so bad, or that it could have been ended without the Civil War.

      (Conservatives of this stripe are a lot better off going after Wilson instead, since there’s plenty for progressives to dislike about him – not only his civil liberties violations, but also the fact that he was a thoroughgoing racist who instituted segregation in DC and invited the KKK to his inauguration – and the arguments for the needlessness of the First World War are a lot stronger than those concerning the Civil War.)Report

      • Avatar Patrick in reply to KatherineMW
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        says:

        And if you want to make the argument that it wasn’t necessary, and it was detrimental to America, for federal power to be expanded to the degree that Lincoln expanded it, then you need to prove that Lincoln’s actions were wrong. Which means saying either than slavery wasn’t so bad, or that it could have been ended without the Civil War.

        I don’t know that this is true, but it certainly is the impulse among the anti-big-government folks.

        That whole “hard cases make bad law” thing applies. Certain types of crises may require that you abandon certain types of process frameworks, but if they’re rare (and slavery is certainly a rare case… kind of unique in this regard with respect to the Experiment of America, actually) then it’s not necessarily the case that a paradigm shift is necessary.

        Dump the rules, fix the problem, re-adapt the rules, basically.

        There are really only three things I can think of off the top of my head that make a credible argument for a expanded federal government being a “better” system than the more federated system we had prior to Lincoln: getting rid of slavery, the second World War, and currency stability (the last one being illustrated through the problem they have had in the EU since 2007, which we probably would not have dodged and may actually have had much earlier).

        On the flip side to that, expanded federal power has been a grab bag of successes and failures. You can point to successes, sure (integration), but there are also failures…Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to KatherineMW
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        says:

        @patrick, I’d add:

        #4 would be women’s right to vote.

        #5 would be the Clean Water and Air acts. People younger then 45 or so really don’t remember how bad things were before.Report

      • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to KatherineMW
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        says:

        Did women’s voting rights require a stronger federal government? I thought women had the right to vote in some western states (e.g., Wyoming) before they got the right to vote on the federal level, and women’s suffrage was passed by constitutional amendment.

        This isn’t an area of US history/politics that I’m highly familiar with, so I’d be interested in hearing you elaborate.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to KatherineMW
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        says:

        @katherinemw it’s a hypothetical, but: it took women working and participating in the war effort for WWI to finally convince the men in power that women deserved the right to vote. Since WWI significantly increased the size and power of the Federal Government, I say stronger federal government and sufferage went hand-in-hand.

        The Clean Air and Water Acts were also an expansion of Federal powers, relying on a strong federal government, into protecting abuse of commonly held resource — air and water.Report

      • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to KatherineMW
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        says:

        So the argument is more that the strong federal government and women’s suffrage were both simultaneously caused by a third factor (WWI), not that a stronger government produced women’s suffrage.

        World War I was an atrocious, utterly pointless waste of life that set the stage for greater atrocities in its wake, so staying out of the war would likely have been the morally better alternative even if it meant women’s suffrage took longer to achieve. It would also have avoided American involvement in the postwar situation: The world would be a very different, and possibly better, place without Woodrow Wilson’s attempts to “fix” it.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to KatherineMW
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        says:

        @katherinemw The suffrage movement began before the Civil War, and was put on hold during, picked up after.

        But suffrage didn’t happen until after the increases in federal power from WWI. I don’t know that you can say the increase in Federal power was required or that women running things at home during the war was required; they’re both part of the same thing — the war effort, and women were agitating already, they had been since the late 1840’s. That’s 70+ years; a lifetime.

        Suffrage itself was expanded federal government; taking something that had previously been determined by the states and defining the rules a the federal level; at the constitutional level. What I don’t know is if the result of expansion from the war effort that had already happened made the expansion of the federal right of suffrage easier at the time.Report

      • Avatar Jim Heffman in reply to KatherineMW
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        says:

        “it took women working and participating in the war effort for WWI to finally convince the men in power that women deserved the right to vote.”

        Ah-heh. It took women saying “we’ll vote en masse for suffragists” to convince the men in power that women deserved the right to vote.

        And note that one of their chief causes was Prohibition, and they had the full support of the KKK, who saw Prohibition as a good way to squat on Jews and Negroes.

        Which means that the biggest proponents of women’s voting rights was, um, the Ku Klux Klan.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to KatherineMW
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        says:

        @jim-heffman your comment reminds me that we’re still waiting on a post from Tod about political realignments.

        They happen. Imagine this: at that time, most white men in the south were also Democrats.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to KatherineMW
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        says:

        We’d do well to note that british women got the vote via bombs.Report

    • Avatar Barry in reply to Will Truman
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      says:

      “So why do this? Especially when it doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. Just trying to sell some books? Maybe.”

      I call this the ‘sh*t shake’ theory of libertarianism. Libertarianism is like a smoothie which had some good ingredients, plus a massive scoop of pigsh*t (i.e., neoconfederatism). It’s inseparable, on the macro level. Individual libertarians don’t have to be neoconfederates, but the libertarian movement is blended in to the point of that being a core movement position.Report

    • Avatar Barry in reply to Will Truman
      Ignored
      says:

      “It’s not hard to look at Napolitano and say “Oh, look, another Confederate apologist” in the same vein as many Confederate Apologists. That doesn’t entirely fit with the man’s history, though. He doesn’t have a particular investment in the southern narrative as he’s not from the south, he’s not a partisan hack, and he has written quite a bit on the evils of racism (and not as a concession before getting to the “… but…”).”

      As has been pointed out above, he seems to be very b*tthurt that the feelings of white (slaver-supporting) southerners were hurt. That’s an investment in the (white, confederate-supporting) southern narrative.

      “So why do this? Especially when it doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. Just trying to sell some books? Maybe.”

      He’s not just trying to sell books, in general; he’s writing and selling a particular view.Report

  3. Avatar Mike Schilling
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    says:

    Lincoln was inaugurated on March 4, 1861. Seven states had already seceded, citing the north’s disrespect for the peculiar institution, in particular their refusal to return escaped slaves, as their major grievance. At this point, does Napolitano wish that Lincoln has tried to persuade them to re-enter the Union with his plan to eliminate it entirely via compensated emancipation?

    That is literally one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard a supposedly intelligent person suggest.Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to Mike Schilling
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      says:

      Wherwere the freed slaves going to live? Were white southerners going to accept 4 million free, voting black people? If Lincoln forcibly relocated freedslaves to the North, where would they work? Would an influx of relatively cheap labor have caused problems like we saw in New York during the war?Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Chris
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        says:

        Well, we could have sent them to the free land we were giving away, what with the railroads and such. But that would have been taking land from white men…
        /sarcasmReport

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris
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        says:

        Kim, that’s part of the issue: the white southerners were not going to accept a huge influx of freed black people into their economy and their politics. You can see this simply by looking at what happened at the end of Reconstruction with the Compromise of 1877: most of the political rights that freed black people had, and which were protected by the presence of the Federal Army, were immediately stripped from them by white southerners, and the Jim Crow era began.

        The only way the South was going to get rid of slavery within an acceptable amount of time was by having it beaten from them, and the only way they were going to treat freed slaves as human beings and citizens was to have a gun pointed at their head.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Chris
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        says:

        Chris,
        what’s an acceptable amount of time?
        (I am really struggling with the answer to this — there may not be an answer.)

        I… suppose… I really ought to write a post about this. Because it really, really isn’t 1862.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris
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        says:

        Kim, now is the only acceptable time. Anything beyond now is a moral abomination. Fifty years beyond now, maybe more, is so incomprehensibly morally bad that it justifies a 5 year war with three quarters of a million deaths and countless others wounded or mentally scarred for life.

        That is how I see it, at least, and I’d bet I’m about as close to a pacifist as this place has.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Chris
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        says:

        @chris

        3/4 of a million dead in war is also a moral abomination. Ending slavery then, not later is arguably a good tradeoff, but simple assertion is insufficient.

        What worries me about claims along the line of “this is a moral abomination so this other cost is obviously worth paying” is that we tend to be so focused on the moral abomination that we don’t often bother to give equal consideration to the actual cost to be paid.

        I have not infrequently heard people say “any price is worth it,” and both my inner economist and my inner moral theorist (he’s really really small and malnourished, of course) cringe.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris
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        says:

        @jm3z-aitch , I agree, the moral calculation is logically impossible: you have what amounts to two infinitely immoral acts: slavery and war, and it is impossible to do straight calculations to determine which we should choose.

        I think the war was justified, then, by the fact that all other historically possible means for ending slavery would have either taken decades or resulted in the scenarios I was getting at above. The only way to end war and give freed slaves anything like citizenship status was with force, both through war and occupation by Federal troops.

        In fact, the greatest sin against the sacrifice of the war was the 1877 Compromise, that, though it didn’t allow for slavery to return, allowed white southerners to delay the political and economic integration of former slaves by another 80+ years.Report

      • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to Chris
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        says:

        Well, if your inner economist wants numbers: 600,000 dead, 4 million slaves freed. That comes to over six slaves liberated for each person died.

        So, the moral question is: if one person is keeping six people as slaves, abusing them, destroying their families and breaking their spirits, is it acceptable to kill him if that’s the only way of freeing these people? Or, to make it more comparable to the actual events in the Civil War – if he wants to enslave even more people and threatens to shoot you if you get in his way, is it acceptable to kill him?

        Then scale it up.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Chris
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        says:

        So, the moral question is: if one person is keeping six people as slaves, abusing them, destroying their families and breaking their spirits, is it acceptable to kill him if that’s the only way of freeing these people?

        You’re putting your thumb on the scale by stipulating that the person to be killed is asking for it. I’d be willing to kill six people like that to free one slave. What makes it a dilemma is that a lot of good people were killed.Report

      • Avatar Pierre Corneille in reply to Chris
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        says:

        @katherinemw

        That comes to over six slaves liberated for each person died.

        Speaking for myself, if I and 9 of my closest loved ones were to be murdered, but our murder were the proximate cause for 60 people’s lives being saved, I’m not quite willing to sign on to the notion that our being murdered was therefore “worth it.”Report

      • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to Chris
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        says:

        Put the shoe on the other foot, then, Pierre.

        What if you and 9 of your closest loved ones were freed or saved by the death of one person. Would you consider that to have been “worth” it?Report

      • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to Chris
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        says:

        Or, rather, if you and nine of your closest relatives were forced to remain in perpetual bondage and treated as property to be dispensed with as your owners liked, but that came with the knowledge that two people wouldn’t die, would that be okay with you?Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Chris
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        says:

        Personally, I don’t think anyone would look at the calculus being offered (600,000 dead to free 4,000,000 slaves) as a sufficient moral justification to engage in war. I know that if I were the Ultimate Decider I’d look at those numbers as justifying not going to war and to pursue other mechanisms to end slavery and likely armed conflict. So I don’t think it counts as a consequentialist moral justification for the war either.

        Maybe what I’m saying is that the moral reasoning invoked to justify the Civil War after-the-fact, given what we know now, is divorced from the actual moral justification for the War before it began. The North thought armed conflict would be over in a matter of months with little loss of life, and even that minimal anticipated cost was weighed very heavily in Lincoln’s decision-making, it seems to me.Report

      • Avatar Pierre Corneille in reply to Chris
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        says:

        @nob-akimoto

        First of all, my answer is going to be a bit argumentative, but I want to state upfront that your point is a fair one, especially on the example I gave, and your point goes directly to @jaybird ‘s question somewhere in this thread about “worth it for whom?”

        Now, on to my answer. I’ll start by saying that fortunately for me, this is hypothetical, and I don’t really know what I’d think about what’s worth what.

        So keeping in mind that it’s hypothetical, I’ll state the following, knowing full well that I have the privilege of not being the one in bondage or being the one who’s ancestors within the last 5 generations may have been in bondage

        I would like to think I would regret that fact that so many, or any, had to die to secure the freedom or to save lives. Almost definitely, I would be grateful that I was freed. Not grateful in an obsequious “thank you, sir!” way, but happy to know that something was done. (I am of course eliding the very good argument that slaves did a great deal to advance their own freedom during the war. But I’m not denying they did do much–and often suffered for it.) Maybe that’s not what I would say, but that’s what I, now and in my situation, would like to think I would say.

        So your point is well-taken. The point in what I wrote above, however, was a little different, and I think it builds onto @stillwater ‘s point. Katherine seemed to me to be making an argument that’s tempting and understandable, but ultimately erroneous, in my opinion. She seemed to be saying that a good measure of “was it worth it” is simply to look at the balance sheet: 500,000 (or so) dead + six million (and their descendants) freed = fewer people died than were freed = it was worth it.

        To me, that type of calculation elides several important questions and seeks to place a certain exchange value on suffering. Sometimes such calculations have to be made, but I think the argument elides something that needs to be put front and center when we talk about how someone else’s death was “worth it.” And that something is, suffering can be a thing in itself and infinite to itself, and an instance of suffering not easily comparable, or perhaps not comparable at all, with another instance of suffering. That claim, I admit, is more of an article of faith on my part and not something I think I can argue for in a way that will convince another who doesn’t already agree. I do suspect, however, that one can get a lot of mileage out of my point of view, and I resist any “was it worth it” calculation that declines to acknowledge it.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Chris
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        says:

        I’m not sure this “moral calculus” is a good way of reasoning stuff like this, for two reasons.

        The first is that when you engage in it, you automatically give a group a built-in justification to continue committing atrocities. Using the moral calculus rubric, it becomes more morally justifiable to take military action against a country with a state that’s not very committed to genocide than it is to take action against one that is willing to kill and be killed to commit genocide. In fact, under that runic you’re on more solid ground bombing a country that was just about to reform than you are one that refuses to reform, because the former will be quicker and less messy than the latter.

        The second is that you’re also falling into the trap of saying that the US invading a small, defenseless country is far more moral than taking action against an armed country capable of defending its’ borders, because the death toll will be so much smaller in the case of the former.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Chris
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        says:

        @jm3z-aitch “3/4 of a million dead in war is also a moral abomination. Ending slavery then, not later is arguably a good tradeoff, but simple assertion is insufficient.”

        The difference, I would argue, is that slavery is an institution and a war is an event.

        Don’t get me wrong, I’m not belittling the cost of the dead in the CW. In fact, a question I never hear posed by either side (and one I find more interesting) is, if Lincoln had known in advance how high the death toll would be, would he have let the South secede? (There may be a knowable answer to that; I don’t know.)

        But when you have regular occurring atrocities built in to the foundation of a society, as was the case with the south and slavery (or with Nazi German, for that matter), is there not an argument to be made for the pain of (relatively) quickly ripping off the band-aid, so to speak?Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Chris
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        says:

        Tod, there’s also another problem, which goes back to James’ “worth it at any cost” criticism. It’s that the specific cost of achieving a certain type of moral goal (or defending a certain moral principle) will always be justified irrespective of what that cost in fact turns out to be. Presumably, if the numbers were changed a bit so that 2.4 million folks died to free 4 millions slaves, or 6 million deaths to free 4 million slaves, or …) that “cost” would be still be justified. But the consequential justification assumes some clear moral calculus for determining if and when a certain action intended to achieve a particular goal is morally justified, but that calculus is only revealed after the fact on condition that the goal was in fact achieved. Or as James, said, it’s worth it at any price. And now we’re not talking about consequentalist justifications anymore, but rather principled ones.Report

      • Avatar Pierre Corneille in reply to Chris
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        says:

        @tod-kelly

        But when you have regular occurring atrocities built in to the foundation of a society, as was the case with the south and slavery (or with Nazi German, for that matter), is there not an argument to be made for the pain of (relatively) quickly ripping off the band-aid, so to speak?

        I really do think that’s a good question. My problem is that I both agree with you (and @nob-akimoto ) and disagree with you and I don’t know how to reconcile the two. It probably is good to “take the bandaid off quickly,” assuming that’s the only way to do it and that the bandaid won’t fall off on its own (sorry for taking the metaphor too far).

        But there’s also the point of why should it be, for example, *my* life or, for another example, Captain Yossarian’s life to effect that beneficent change?

        But then again, there’s Nob’s point of why should it be, for example, that others have to suffer or that the murderous foundation persist?

        I’ll just say I’m glad I’m not God or a president.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Chris
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        says:

        The second is that you’re also falling into the trap of saying that the US invading a small, defenseless country is far more moral than taking action against an armed country capable of defending its’ borders, because the death toll will be so much smaller in the case of the former.

        Are you referring to humanitarian intervention justifications for the use military force? If so, then I don’t think that’s a trap, since there actually is a compelling argument to be made that limited military engagement can be effective in achieving certain morally desirable goals and that the likelihood of success is measured in relation to the size of the targeted nations defense forces. {{I take no stance on whether the US ever actually does engage in this type of interventionism or achieves its aims when it claims to do so.}}Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Chris
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        says:

        Chris,
        The war, as fought, caused the Compromise of 1877, as well as Jim Crow, and a bunch of bullshit that continues to … about 49 years from now. Yes, there’s a deadline.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris
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        says:

        How did the war cause the Compromise of 1877?Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Chris
        Ignored
        says:

        Chris,
        Lincoln and Sherman left a few trusts standing [If they had really done a scorched earth policy, they could have removed most of the propaganda…]. 201 years later, and the trusts are still doing what they were set up to do. [There is a timelimit, it’s just in a few years].

        [On a different note: we still have a Prohibition Party in America — another trust. Folks get money so long as they have officers and meetings.]Report

    • Avatar Fish in reply to Mike Schilling
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      says:

      Liberia?

      Would “compensated emancipation” have also include an end to slavery, or would the right to own another person still exist? I know that by this time the South was no longer allowed to import slaves and was “restricted” to the offspring of those already in bondage, so would the expectation be that the institution would just peter out? Or would we find ourselves buying out the South again in 100 years as subsequent generations are born into bondage?Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Fish
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        says:

        To be a genuine alternative to war, it would have to include the end of slavery. Which wasn’t going to happen without a war, compensation or not. So …Report

      • Avatar Pierre Corneille in reply to Fish
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        says:

        Adding to @fish ‘s point, I’ll say that what would a US, post-compensated emancipation, look like for the freed persons, even if slavery were abolished thereby?

        I’d say, we probably would have something like the 13th amendment, but probably not the 14th or 15th or federal (and some state) measures to enforce them. We’d have, probably, a permanent underclass with no rights guaranteed by the law of the land. To some degree, that is what the US had in practice for a long time and, also to some (perhaps lesser) degree, it can be argued that’s what we have, again in practice, now. But it might be worse, in a post-compensation scheme.Report

    • Avatar Junipermo in reply to Mike Schilling
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      says:

      I am a long time lurker here, coming out from behind the online shadows to thank you for this comment.

      Some arguments do not deserve to be dignified with a serious, lengthy response. Napolitano’s Lost Cause notions fall under that category. So again, thank you.Report

  4. Avatar Kazzy
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    says:

    I’m just spit ballin’ here — these things aren’t my cup of tea — but isn’t Lincoln one of Obama’s idols? And isn’t Obama FNC’s idea of evil incarnate? Is it possible that there is some commutative property of disdain playing in, whereby Obama’s claiming of Lincoln has made Lincoln himself a persona non grata amongst the hardcore Obama haters?Report

  5. Avatar James K
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    says:

    The other problem with federal manumission (even with compensation) is that I don’t think slavery was just about economics. Slaves counted in the census (even is only 3/5 of free people) which means they increased the congressional representation and electoral college votes of slave states. They also created a permanent underclass which gave poor whites a group of people they could look down on – and everyone loves having people to feel superior toward. Manumission wouldn’t have compensated the South for losing slavery as a political or cultural asset.

    As an aside, while Early’s arguments are generally hogwash, I thought number 3’s argument about military superiority was especially ridiculous. The idea that the superior army is the one that best cultivates the manly martial virtues in its solders died when Charles the Bold tried to invade Switzerland, if not earlier. There is only one test that matters for a military and the Confederate Army failed it. All this “but the sun was in our eyes” crap just makes Early look whiny.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to James K
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      says:

      “poor whites a group of people they could look down on – and everyone loves having people to feel superior toward.”
      This doesn’t explain the whitewashing of black lineage — and more importantly, the acceptance of mixed race marriages in ScotchIrish territory.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to James K
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      says:

      yeah, about “valorous virtue”
      But the Lost Causers take it one step further: it wasn’t the north’s military might, it was active betrayal by southerners (specifically Longstreet).

      And thus we have a General, who is currently taught in West Point because his tactics were that awesome, being called a traitor to the Southern Cause — and the whole thing is entirely untrue. Mindboggling untrue.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Kim
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        says:

        Studying military tactics doesn’t really require analysis of the various generals’ politics. Benedict Arnold’s tactics are taught at West Point, too, and for good reason: the dude knew what he was doing (as did Longstreet).Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Kim
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        says:

        Burt,
        um, we’re not talking exactly politics.
        We’re talking “throwing the battle of gettysburg” (or at least that’s the latest idiocy).Report

      • Avatar Fish in reply to Kim
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        says:

        Joe Johnston takes some of this heat, too, for his Army of Tennessee and it’retreat in the face of Sherman’s advance toward Atlanta. ” Why won’t he stand and fight?” Because he couldn’t. Outmanned, outgunned, underfed…aall he and his Army of Tennessee could do was soak up blame and lose.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Kim
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        says:

        The idea that Lee would have “thrown” Gettysburg is quite possibly the most ridiculous of the many ridiculous “South shoulda won” notions out there. And that’s saying something. I would believe the moon was made of green cheese sooner than that.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Kim
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        says:

        Meade could have caught up with and destroyed the Army of Northern Virginia on its retreat from Gettysburg, allowing Richmond to be taken in mid-1863, yet failed to do so, prolonging the war by another two years. Likewise, after Meade won the war’s most famous and important battle Grant was promoted over his head and Meade spent the rest of the war in Grant’s shadow and under his close supervision. The most logical explanation of all this is that Lee and Meade fixed the battle and that Lincoln learned about it. He couldn’t fire or demote Meade without causing dangerous speculation, but he did arrange to keep Meade on a short leash.

        Honestly, I’m disappointed the rest of you didn’t figure this out.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Kim
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        says:

        Burt,
        oh, no, not lee. the idea was that longstreet turned traitor. And that was why pickett’s charge didn’t start when it was supposed to, etc etc.Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to James K
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      says:

      Manumission wouldn’t have even compensated them for the economic value of slavery. There’s no way the U.S. could have paid an amount that would have replaced the perceived material value of the economic system that slavery was/enabled/represented for them. You’re right that that system was the cultural and political heart of their civilization and as such they would never have accepted mere monetary compensation for its abolition. But even if that hadn’t been the case, the United States simply would never have been able to arrive at a number that actually represented the purely economic value to the South of this system of production which was thought of as rightfully permanent. The North never would have offered them compensation for the value of another five, ten, fifteen generations of slaves, and even as a merely economic matter, not even considering the cultural and political commitments to the system, the South would never have accepted any offer that didn’t. Indeed they might have themselves felt it impossible to put a dollar value to a permanent economic system of this kind.Report

      • Avatar Steve in reply to Michael Drew
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        says:

        Right, the political leaders of the South, inflammatorily but accurately called the Slave Power, were not going to negotiate abolition for any price. They seceded when actual abolition was not remotely on the table as a policy of the incoming Lincoln administration.

        The Napolitano idea of buying all the slaves is an old one. It could never have actually happened. Even if you get it past all the obvious initial hurdles, it fails as soon as someone says “I ain’t sellin’. Make me.”Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Michael Drew
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        says:

        Suppose the government decided to address global warming by a compensated banning of passenger cars. May 1st, you have to turn in your car in return for a check for the blue book value plus $500. We’d all be fine with that, right? We’re making a profit, so there’s no reason to push back.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew
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        says:

        Right.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew
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        says:

        …And cars don’t even have kids whom we get to think we rightfully own.Report

      • Avatar James K in reply to Michael Drew
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        says:

        @michael-drew , @mike-schilling

        That’s a very good point. Market prices are marginal prices – the price you’d be willing to pay for one more unit. But those prices aren’t as relevant when we’re talking about eliminating the entire market.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Michael Drew
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        says:

        Private property rights.

        What would it have cost to pay the slaves for what had been taken from them? What would reparation have cost? (And how do you calculate that — living slaves or 250 years of slaves?) It doesn’t seem like we should be discussing economic alternatives to ending slavery without that accounting on the table.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Michael Drew
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        says:

        Or, you do as we did, and just say it’s all over now, time to move on. Far from ideal, but ideal would have required a ludicrous amount of money.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Michael Drew
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        says:

        Reparations:

        Various estimates have been given if such payments were to be made. Harper’s Magazine has created an estimate that the total of reparations due is over 100 trillion dollars, based on 222,505,049 hours of forced labor between 1619 and 1865, with a compounded interest of 6%.[9] Should all or part of this amount be paid to the descendants of slaves in the United States, the current U.S. government would only pay a fraction of that cost, over 40 trillion dollars, since it has been in existence only since 1789.

        source: Reparations_for_slavery_debate_in_the_United_States

        I have another link, so I’ll break into two comments here.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Michael Drew
        Ignored
        says:

        Reparations 2:

        Here’s a page for the value of 2012 $100 in 1860 dollars:

        http://www.measuringworth.com/uscompare/relativevalue.php

        How does one calculate the cost in 1860? I tried, I’m too stupid.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Michael Drew
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        says:

        The usual argument against reparations these days starts by conceding that reparations to slaves would have made sense, but it makes no sense to pay whatever was owed them to their Nth-generation descendents. Which is odd coming from people who loathe inheritance taxes.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Michael Drew
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        says:

        @mike-schilling I agree.

        My moral compass would suggest that depriving another of their civil liberties, their freedom, their labor, and their family merits reparation; so I’ve some mythical settlement in 1860 of the repayment we would own living slaves; what would that have cost? Certainly if we had paid the generational debt owed, it would have far exceeded the cost of emancipation.

        But if we’re going to have a discussion of hypotheticals — that it would even have been possible to willingly have ended slavery through manumission, I think it worth while to compare that cost (which I’ve read about equaled the cost of the war on TNC’s blog), then we should also consider the value slaves lost, had they been considered fully human. Because they were, you know, human. Fully.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Michael Drew
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        says:

        Correction: some mythical settlement in 1860 of the repayment we would own living slaves

        That’s owe, not own.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to James K
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      says:

      The revisionists arguing that compensated emancipation was possible keep forgetting about the social aspects of slavery, what DuBois would latter call the psychic wage. Whites that owned slaves and plantations derived a lot of social and political prestiege from such ownership. They were astute businesspeople but they were also businesspeople that saw themselves as more like an aristorcratic elite than mere agricultural industrialists. If you take away the slaves and replace them with employees than you destroy their source of social prestiege and the thing that separaists them from businessmen in the North. For non-slaving holding whites, you might be a dirt poor peseant in everything but name but at least you weren’t slave. This feeling of superiority prevented a lot of class consiousnes in the lower classes of the South and preserved a fairly inequal system even by 19th century American standards.Report

      • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to LeeEsq
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        says:

        And in addition to that, and to the economics, there’s the fear. Pre-Civil War, the South had zero interest in having a significant population of free black people, and most of the northern and western states didn’t want any more black people either. Forget the comparison to “buying all the poppies in Afghanistan” – in terms of perceived personal danger, it would be like the federal government proposing to allow the entire population of Afghanistan to immigrate to the United States.Report

  6. Avatar Pierre Corneille
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    says:

    I’m going to dissent in part from some of the things said in the OP.

    One, historical revisionism by itself is not a bad thing. That’s what historians do. They revisit, re-research, rewrite, and argue with other historians. I don’t know anything about Mr. Napolitano other than what’s been said here and from the Jon Stewart clip. But the fact that one is “revising” history is not by itself something to be concerned about.

    That’s a pedantic quibble because when Burt says “revisionist history” he’s referring to something called “Civil War revisionism,” which has come to be shorthand for CSA apologetics. But it does rankle me when people conflate “revisionist history” with bad.

    Two, I think it’s fair to question whether a war to bring back into the union a large number of states whose leaders preferred not to remain in the union and for the first year and a half or so base that war on some fiction that the union is what’s being preserved (and not that the destruction of slavery is the purpose) is a wise course of action.

    This isn’t to say that the war wasn’t about slavery. It was always about slavery and even before it started it was always going to be about slavery. But by the time Lincoln made it indisputably about slavery–from September 1862 to January 1863–thousands had been killed in the name of preserving the union, whatever other motivations the soldiers may have had individually. And if the CSA had heeded Lincoln’s threat about an emancipation proclamation and returned to the union, then slavery would have probably been weakened, but would have persisted for however long.

    Three, some of the things that Mr. Napolitano says and is criticized by Stewart for are at least partially accurate, although Mr. Napolitano overdoes it (and to be clear, overdoing it on such an important issue is a bad thing). In the leadup to war Lincoln did try, and tried successfully, to maneuver the South into making the first shot. One strategy he could have pursued would have been, say, to send federal soldiers to southern ports to enforce tariff laws, to escort postal employees, or to secure federal property. Instead, he kept Anderson at Sumter and compelled the South to assert its supposed “sovereignty” by attacking the fort. It wasn’t an unfair trick, but it was a trick.

    And I understand that in the early months of the war, Lincoln sometimes ordered the return of slaves who fled to union lines. That’s not an enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, although it is an enforcement of the constitutional principle behind it. And for the record, in his first inaugural, he kept his cards close to his chest regarding whether or how he might enforce the 1850 law, saying that he preferred a law less likely to enslave a free person than retrieve a fugitive slave, but also hinting that he might enforce it as long as it remained law.

    Four, to suggest that the US needed to remain strong because WWI and WWII and the Cold War later happened and a strong US was needed is not a good standard for judging keeping the union intact. In the 1860s, the possibility that the Europe would need the US in 50 years time or more was not offered as a reason for preserving the union, and for all we know, world history might have evolved differently with a divided US.

    Five, this wasn’t said in the OP, but it animates the arguments made against Mr. Napolitano: I’m referring to the idea that the Civil War was “worth it.” As Jaybird says above, we have to keep account of the question “worth it for whom?” But I’m not sure it’s appropriate to say those deaths were “worth it.” Don’t get me wrong, and in keeping with Jaybird’s question, slavery was immoral, and even if it had died “naturally” or with compensation, the end result would have been a class with fewer constitutional guarantees than the 13, 14, and 15 eventually recognized. And if anything is a just cause for war, liberating people in one’s own country who are held in a system that most accurately is described as institutionalized kidnapping counts. But I’ll point out that I wouldn’t want to die before my time. If I have to die before my time, I’d prefer it be for a noble cause, but I’d prefer not die at all.

    My five points are kind of devil’s argument points, and my first one is more a quibble about terminology than anything. I can’t ignore the broader context in which Mr. Napolitano asserts his position. And the apparent fact that he supports the (in my opinion unjust) American Revolution in almost the same breath as he is critical of the Civil War. If he can somehow justify the first, I find it hard not to justify the second.Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Pierre Corneille
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      says:

      the apparent fact that he supports the (in my opinion unjust) American Revolution in almost the same breath as he is critical of the Civil War. If he can somehow justify the first, I find it hard not to justify the second.

      Now there’s a featured post begging to be written (by someone willing to limit his argument to the length of a blog post, which any trained historian might very well say he can’t in good conscience do. To say nothing of whether he has the time.).Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Michael Drew
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        says:

        You mean the unjustness of the American Revolution? That’s fairly easy.
        1) The grievances listed in the DoI were mostly overstated (the problem with documents drafted before the [citation needed] tag)

        2) The very last grievance is explicitly racist, and contains code words complaining that the Crown authorities would free slaves.

        3) Popular support for the Revolution was balanced by an almost equal support to remain Loyal. (contrast this with say, Crimea, where it looks like a majority want to break away). It got pretty ugly towards the end, as the Revolutionaries final exerted political control through the force of arms.

        4) The British Empire was correct in raising taxes. They needed someway to pay for the wars against France and the continued conflicts against Native Americans, imperial actions that helped the North American British colonists the most.

        5) The British Empire was also trying to manage the security situation in British North America through treaties with the Native American peoples, and by keeping their own Brit people on their own sides of the drawn lines. Trying to keep the peace and follow their treaty obligation was the source of at least three listed grievances (including the aforementioned last one)Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew
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        says:

        Any case can be fairly easily summarized at the level merely asserting the various judgements that constitute the case (though thank you for offering it). I was talking about a post that did some basic establishment of facts and arguing for said judgements. Notice that every judgement you offer just rests on a mere assertion of its correctness. Presumably there’s a case against each, or at least many of them that would need to be dealt with.

        By saying “there’s a post” I wasn’t challenging that the case would makable; just saying that a post long the lines I describe would be interesting and enjoyable to read.Report

      • Avatar Pierre Corneille in reply to Michael Drew
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        says:

        Pretty much what Kolohe said, with a nod toward the horrible way some Loyalists were treated added into the mix.

        I admit, I am probably too punchy on this issue. Part of it is from the question-begging self-regard that our friend Mr. Williams accuses us of. But part of it is that at least since the 8th grade, when I had to read Johnny Tremain and when I tried to write a short story explaining Lexington and Concord from a British soldier’s point of view, I’ve been very annoyed at the mob = justice aspects of American Revolution apologetics.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew
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        says:

        All I’m saying is that a fulsome post to that effect would be interesting to read – even more so than a thumbnail outline of the argument.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to Pierre Corneille
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      says:

      A divided US wouldn’t have lasted into the 20th century. The South was an unstable entity whose constituents hated each other. We would have had a united US again by 1900.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Kim
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        says:

        Mmmmmmmmaybe. We could also have had something that looks like the European Union with embittered states one by some simply declaring independence from anyone else and a historical if not particularly legal precedent granted that they could do just that.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Kim
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        says:

        Burt,
        I know someone who did a historical assessment of this for the bicentennial.
        Basically, the southern states would not have stood as a group, and would have been reabsorbed into the union piecemeal (as the “leaders” got in economic difficulties).Report

      • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Kim
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        says:

        I actually agree with Kim. The Confederate Constitution made it difficult to do much, especially as things progressed. Eventually, less pro-Confederate areas would’ve either seceded from the CSA, then eventually reabsorbed into the Union over a period of time.

        There might’ve been still a core CSA around basically South Carolina and a few other deep South states, but it would’ve been an economic and political basket case.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Pierre Corneille
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      says:

      You’re correct about my shorthand — when I refer to “revisionists” here, I refer specifically to Confederate apologists in the vein of Pollard and Early. And my tremendous disappointment to find Napolitano in that number. Other sorts of revisionism are generally interesting and intriguing (exception Holocaust denialism). I once read a fabulous pair of revisionist histories about Caligula and Claudius, the third and fourth official emperors of Rome, that still color my thought about them today contra Plutarch: many of Caligula’s antics were at least understandable and intelligent political maneuvers, and Claudius’ ascent to the throne was a good deal more calculated on the stuttering emperor’s than the CW would lead us to believe.

      Back on point for the OP: I’ve variously read that Lincoln suspended enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Law, directed that it only be enforced to return slaves escapes from Union states, was silent and left decisions about enforcement to subordinates’ discretion, and/or tolerated the Army turning away escaped slaves because of insufficient resources to feed and provide medical care. Never been quite sure which of these is true, and not sure that they all can’t be to some degree. Napolitano was the first I’d heard make the accusation that Lincoln returned fugitive slaves to Confederate states. It seems so very improbable because it would have required at least informal cooperation and trust between law enforcement authorities not to shoot each other during the handoff, while their respective nations were at war.Report

      • Avatar Pierre Corneille in reply to Burt Likko
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        says:

        @burt-likko

        Now that I’ve had all day to think about it, I think my call-out on your mention of revisionism was unfair, especially because later in your OP you do indeed clarify that you’re talking about Civil War, pro-CSA revisionism.

        I, too, don’t know enough about the Civil War or Lincoln to know how (or whether) he enforced the 1850 law. I do think Napolitano is wrong to say that Lincoln enforced it throughout the war, unless he is talking about enforcing it against slaves escaping the border states. If it’s the latter, then maybe I’d give Mr. Napolitano a half point, but that type of statement needs to be clarified.

        Having never heard of Napolitano, but finding that people at this blog who I respect admire his work, I wonder if his actual book about Lincoln is more nuanced than his performance on FOX and the “Let’s Worship a Narcissistic A$$holeJon Stewart Show.” That doesn’t excuse what Napolitano is saying, but frankly, I don’t expect much from anything that happens on Stewart, et al.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Pierre Corneille
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      says:

      “Five, this wasn’t said in the OP, but it animates the arguments made against Mr. Napolitano: I’m referring to the idea that the Civil War was “worth it.” As Jaybird says above, we have to keep account of the question “worth it for whom?” But I’m not sure it’s appropriate to say those deaths were “worth it.” Don’t get me wrong, and in keeping with Jaybird’s question, slavery was immoral, and even if it had died “naturally” or with compensation, the end result would have been a class with fewer constitutional guarantees than the 13, 14, and 15 eventually recognized. And if anything is a just cause for war, liberating people in one’s own country who are held in a system that most accurately is described as institutionalized kidnapping counts. But I’ll point out that I wouldn’t want to die before my time. If I have to die before my time, I’d prefer it be for a noble cause, but I’d prefer not die at all.”

      Debating what should have been done to end slavery seems to ignore a major underlying issue, one which could have solved the whole kit-and-kaboodle much easier: People could have just not fucking enslaved other people. I don’t know if every step taken before, during, and after the Civil War to end slavery together constitute an ideal path to emancipation. But I do know that slavery was a horrid evil and splitting hairs over which of many bad solutions might have been slightly better than the other seems to be missing the point.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Kazzy
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        says:

        (And this is not directed at @pierre-corneille as much as it is the broader conversation that folks like JAN seem to be wanting to have. Lincoln may not have been perfect, but painting him as the “bad guy” in the whole slavery/emancipation thing is just ludicrous.)Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Kazzy
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        says:

        @kazzy if Napolitano wants to play devil’s advocate to point out that Lincoln did things that were unwise, contrary to the Constitution, or otherwise subject to criticism, that’s one thing.

        Calling Lincoln one of history’s great villains is quite a different thing than that.Report

      • Avatar Pierre Corneille in reply to Kazzy
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        says:

        Fair point. The point I see it differently is that the situation in 1861 was the result of decisions made and remade since 1619 or whenever.Report

    • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to Pierre Corneille
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      says:

      Two, I think it’s fair to question whether a war to bring back into the union a large number of states whose leaders preferred not to remain in the union and for the first year and a half or so base that war on some fiction that the union is what’s being preserved (and not that the destruction of slavery is the purpose) is a wise course of action.

      There’s a good argument that the war was necessary to preserve the United States. The Southern states didn’t secede because of some specific violation of their rights. They seceded because a candidate whom they opposed was elected president in a legitimate, democratic presidential election. If any state that pleases can unilaterally leave whenever an election doesn’t go its way, you don’t have a functional, unified nation-state. (These days, referenda are generally required.) They then decided that not only could they unilaterally secede, they could annex any federal property in the South. They then fired on a federal installation, setting off the war.

      The war was about slavery – but in the sense that the South seceded and went to war out of a desire to not only retain but expand it, not in the sense that the North went to war with the objective of ending slavery. (That, as you say, came later.)

      And the apparent fact that he supports the (in my opinion unjust) American Revolution in almost the same breath as he is critical of the Civil War. If he can somehow justify the first, I find it hard not to justify the second.

      Agreed. I’ve heard very few Americans who believe that but, as justified wars (or justified revolutions) go, the American Revolution doesn’t have all that strong of a case. The primary reasons for the American revolt against the British were 1) desire not to be taxed in order to pay off the debt for a war (the Seven Years’ War; or French and Indian War, as you know it) that was fought at least partially in their defence; and 2) desire to expand their colonization into the Ohio River Valley and drive out of the Native Americans living there, something the British government was restricting them from doing. (And they were highly offended by the British policy of religious and cultural toleration in recently-conquered Québec. That’s actually one of the grievances in the Declaration of Independence.)Report

      • Avatar Pierre Corneille in reply to KatherineMW
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        says:

        @katherinemw

        I don’t have anything to quibble with in your last paragraph. (Why would I? You’re agreeing with me. Preachin’ to the choir, I say.)

        I agree with most of your other points as well. I do think the war was necessary to preserve the union, and I also, by the way, think it was necessary to end slavery if the goal of ending slavery was not just to create a permanent caste of second-class subjects in the US. (We can of course explore the possibility that the war and Reconstruction failed to ensure equal citizenship, but I think the Civil War, for all practical purposes, was necessary to such an outcome. It was not, however, sufficient.”

        Where I see things differently from you, though, is that I’m not sure that the integrity of a nation-state is really, in the abstract, worth defending by forbidding or forcibly preventing secession. It might be worth defending when the secession comes from, as you say rightly, dissatisfaction over the outcome of a presidential election. And it is especially worth defending when it comes to the possibility that preserving the nation-state can lead to an end to slavery.

        (For my political scientist friends here, I do realize the difficulty of calling the US a “nation-state,” but I do think we can say there was something like American nationhood and, say, “national statehood,” that existed ca. 1860 and was solidified in both good and bad ways after 1865.)Report

      • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to KatherineMW
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        says:

        Where I see things differently from you, though, is that I’m not sure that the integrity of a nation-state is really, in the abstract, worth defending by forbidding or forcibly preventing secession.

        I actually agree with that, intellectually – although I think there are very few cases in international affairs where nations splitting into pieces has made things better rather than worse. (The recent creation of South Sudan, for example, was supposed to end the continual violence between north and south, but just produced additional violence within the new state of South Sudan.) Trying to deal with political or cultural divisions by splitting up a country just creates new divisions.

        Emotionally…Québec hasn’t given up on secession, and I want to see my country remain whole. Unless it’s in response to serious and violent oppression over a substantial period of time, I have little sympathy for secessionist movements. But that’s not the same thing as thinking they should be violently repressed. The Civil War was a particular case, due to the reasons you state.Report

      • Avatar Pierre Corneille in reply to KatherineMW
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        says:

        Katherine,

        I more or less agree, although I’m simply just ignorant on the why’s and wherefores of the Sudan split and I, as a US citizen and resident, don’t have a personal stake in the ROC vs. Quebec issues.

        I think one of the difficulties when it comes to secession is identifying what the actual community of interest is and who speaks for “it.” I’ve seen it said here, for example, that “Crimea” appears to want to secede from Ukraine. But what makes whatever geographical boundary that delimits “Crimea” a community of interest “whose” interests must be recognized/protected?

        I know squat about Ukraine or Crimea, but in the US, an answer might be “states,” because they are denominated as the sovereign units in US governance. (Perhaps a similar thing applies to Canadian provinces, although I have a much weaker understanding of what’s going on there.) But even then we have the problem of who speaks for the interests of the state, what it means to be a “national” as well as “state citizen,” and intra-state secession movements.Report

    • Avatar Zane in reply to Pierre Corneille
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      says:

      I have to agree with @pierre-corneille about historical revisionism not necessarily being a bad thing. I certainly remember being taught in high school American History that those who impeached Andrew Johnson were scoundrels who wanted to punish the South rather than heal the country. Radical Republicans thought Johnson was too soft and wanted rid of him. It was only because they failed that our nation was able to recover from the wounds of the Civil War.

      This particular way of viewing history has been challenged since I graduated. This has been done in part by looking at the attempts by Radical Republicans to secure the rights and welfare of former slaves. At our distance, we might just interpret those attempts as worthwhile. In that light, “healing the country” can be evaluated not just in terms of “getting back to business as usual”, but also “protecting the well-being of the most vulnerable”.Report

  7. Avatar j r
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    says:

    It’s hard for me to find Napolitano anywhere near disturbing. I am disturbed by things that raise legitimate moral and ethical dilemmas or by things that are extraordinarily evil. Napolitano’s opinions are neither. He is easily dismissable on the facts alone. The idea that Lincoln took any action that was unfair towards the slave states or that goaded them to war is just plain absurd. For one thing, Lincoln was elected in November 1860, but not inaugurated until the following March; by that time seven states had already seceded.

    And in the time between the election and the inauguration, all sides in the debate tried to come to a compromise that would keep the southern state from leaving. There was a deal on the table that would have extended a line across the continent above which slavery would be prohibited but permitted below. The Republicans rejected it, because they didn’t want slavery expanding. However, both houses of congress passed the Corwin Amendment, the text of which reads as follows:

    No amendment shall be made to the Constitution which will authorize or give to Congress the power to abolish or interfere, within any State, with the domestic institutions thereof, including that of persons held to labor or service by the laws of said State.

    And Lincoln, when he came into office, sent the amendment to the states for ratification. It’s actually hard for me to envisage how Lincoln could have been any more accommodating to the slave states. And it’s important to note that the slave states weren’t just fighting for the existence of slavery where it was already enshrined, but for the expansion of it. So much for that whole “slavery was on its deathbed, if only Lincoln had let it die argument” argument.

    Also, there’s nothing new or extraordinary about this sort of Lost Cause revisionism. It started from almost the moment the Civil War came to an end and has been a major part of both the south and American history as a whole. Even before the Civil War, the ethos of those who supported slavery was one of pretend victimization, the idea that freedom for blacks would mean enslavement for whites. It segues quite nicely into the whole Tea Party “we’re losing our country” sentiment. The only notable thing about Napolitano’s opinions is how incredibly banal they are.Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to j r
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      says:

      Well, he did take the provocative action of getting himself elected president. (This is only half in jest, and as a historical cause in itself is the furthest possible thing from a joke.)Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to Michael Drew
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        says:

        Sure, but again, the Republican platform at the time was only really abolitionist in that it sough to limit the spread of slavery. Slaveholders new that they were on the losing side of history; therefore they were outwardly expansionary in hopes of delaying the inevitable. This is the incoherence of the Lost Cause position. The south wasn’t even fighting to defend slavery, which was safe at the time; it was fighting to spread slavery.Report

    • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to j r
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      says:

      The odd thing about the Corwin amendment is its futility. All that would have been needed would be for an anti-slavery amendment to supercede it would be to have the first clause read, “The mth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.”

      Surely there were people at the time who understood that? Did Corwin believe his amendment could bind future generations, or did he understand it was purely symbolic?Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to J@m3z Aitch
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        says:

        Corwin was probably using the same sort of reasoning that the Prohibitionists used. Before the Repeal of Prohibition, no part of the Constitution was ever eliminated. Prohibitions thought that if they could get Prohibition written into the Constitution that they would have it forever. Corwin was probably using the same sort of logic.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to J@m3z Aitch
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        says:

        My understanding is that it was pretty much an effort to stop the war. Although, at that time no amendment had ever been repealed, so it was uncharted territory.Report

      • Avatar Pierre Corneille in reply to J@m3z Aitch
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        says:

        Also, Lincoln, as I understand, had been pretty consistent, at least from 1857 to 1861, that the federal government had no authority to abolish slavery within states. So the Corwin amendment would have merely ratified what he understood the Constitution to require. That was his position in his first inaugural.Report

      • Avatar Barry in reply to J@m3z Aitch
        Ignored
        says:

        “The odd thing about the Corwin amendment is its futility. All that would have been needed would be for an anti-slavery amendment to supercede it would be to have the first clause read, “The mth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.””

        Incorrect; the amendment would have had to have been enacted, which was a non-trivial task (both Houses of Congress and 3/4 of states?).Report

    • Avatar zic in reply to j r
      Ignored
      says:

      And Lincoln, when he came into office, sent the amendment to the states for ratification. It’s actually hard for me to envisage how Lincoln could have been any more accommodating to the slave states. And it’s important to note that the slave states weren’t just fighting for the existence of slavery where it was already enshrined, but for the expansion of it. So much for that whole “slavery was on its deathbed, if only Lincoln had let it die argument” argument.

      My mother’s great-uncle was Hannibal Hamlin’s secretary; she was raised by her Grandparents, who knew Lincoln. I grew up listening to family discussions about the Civil War, it took me a lot of years to reconcile my child-hood hero Lincoln who freed slaves with their Lincoln, who was all about orderly, well-behaved society. There’s no doubt in my mind that we could have had a nation where slavery remained for many, many more decades, had the South not seceded, and not sought expansion of slave territories.Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to j r
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      says:

      The idea that Lincoln took any action that was unfair towards the slave states or that goaded them to war is just plain absurd. For one thing, Lincoln was elected in November 1860, but not inaugurated until the following March; by that time seven states had already seceded.

      That was secession. The war didn’t follow inexorably. It started when the Union attempted to resupply Fort Sumter. If slavery weren’t involved, would anyone be denying that this was an act of war?Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Brandon Berg
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        says:

        Which? Resupplying your own fort is not an act of war. Firing artillery at a fort, on the other hand, seems like an act of war to me.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Brandon Berg
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        says:

        Pardon me, I was incorrect. Lincoln was not merely resupplying for Fort Sumter, but sending in reinforcements as well, more than four months after South Carolina’s secession. There’s a word for sending troops into a foreign country without the permission of that country’s government: Invasion.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to Brandon Berg
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        says:

        Come one. You know the answer to your own questions. Lincoln and the rest of the U.S. government never recognized South Carolina or the CSA as a sovereign nation. If you live with a roommate and he suddenly declares his bedroom and half the living room as a separate apartment, that doesn’t mean walking to his side of the apartment is an act of burglary.

        We can go back and forth about whether states can or ought to be able to secede. Personally, I don’t find it a particularly interesting question. I’m more interested in why the southern states seceded.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Brandon Berg
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        says:

        I think you’re a bit off on this one, Brandon. J.R. Is right that Lincoln never recognized the South as a foreign country–in fact he was careful about denying it. Never in the history of the world, so far as I can think of off the top of my head, has the mere act of declaring independence/sovereignty been sufficient to establish the actuality of it.

        Second, even had Lincoln recognized the South’s independence, it would no have automatically have meant a transfer of authority over military bases. Constitutionally, those are the property of the U.S. Government, so had the South’s independence been recognized they still might have had to negotiate that issue.

        Could reinforcement be interpreted as an aggressive act, sure. It could also be interpreted as a defensive act.Report

  8. Avatar J@m3z Aitch
    Ignored
    says:

    Re: Early.
    The Confederacy … fielded a talented, brave, heroic, and morally superior military force,… and they were only defeated over time by the relentless and heartless application of overwhelming amounts of manpower and materiel, and not through inferiority at arms;

    In other words, despite their bravery and moral superiority, the Confederate army couldn’t achieve what a bunch of rag-tag Afghans have achieved?Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to J@m3z Aitch
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      says:

      See: Reconstruction.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to J@m3z Aitch
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      says:

      I think it costs us nothing today to note that indeed Confederate soldiers were as good at their craft as Union soldiers were, and sometimes better. The intelligence and capability of Confederate battle leaders like Lee, Jackson, Longstreet, Johnston, and Beauregard can also be conceded at no penalty. And there are lots of forae where the competence of Union leaders (in particular George McClellan, IMO) can be litigated, although I believe in the end we’ll find that men like Grant, Meade, Sherman, and Farragut proved themselves equal to the task set for them — and I have a soft spot in my heart for Scott, who from the beginning set out the outlines of the strategic plan that wound up working (albeit after some surgery by Grant).

      But as for the morality and honor? I do not concern myself with the morality and honor of the individual soldiers, but rather with their cause, at the 10,000-foot view. A particular soldier may have fought to defend him homestead and family, and mid-level NCOs and low-level officers may well have bought in to the hype about Lincoln the Tyrant and state’s rights as somehow discrete from the peculiar institution and all that business about loyalty to one’s state trumping all other claims to nationalism.

      But the brass? Smart guys whose job it was to understand the big picture. Lots of them were West Pointers or had other impressive academic credentials, which necessarily would have included formal instruction in enlightenment philosophy and the history of their own nation. In particular, Lee was the valedictorian of his class. (We can take at his word his claim in his memoirs to have been morally torn when asked to declare his loyalties at the outbreak of hostilities; still, he chose as he did.) The Confederacy’s political leadership? Jefferson Davis was a very bright fellow, one knew full well what the real stakes were. They get tagged with the criticism of bringing what otherwise might have been called honorable service to the benefit of the ultimate cause of the south: treason in defense of slavery.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Burt Likko
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        says:

        I’d rather we not teach Robert E Lee as an example of good generalship at West Point. It costs you and me little to admit “oh yeah, he was decent” — but it costs our military a lot if we start teaching them to emulate genuinely stupid decision making (Lee would have been a better stock trader than a general).

        And McClellan, believe it or not, was the best pick for the South — the most likely to win the war for them.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Burt Likko
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        says:

        Also,
        there’s been talk that Lee knew exactly what he was getting into, and was the victim of a certain amount of armtwisting…Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Burt Likko
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        says:

        Lincoln wanted Lee to lead the Union Army in the battle against the CSA. Lee as a Virginian actively refused the commission because he couldn’t imagine waging war against is beloved home state. That was a morally complicent act. Lee actively decided to wage war for a would be country whose existence was defined around human chattel slavery rather than for the better cause.Report

      • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to Burt Likko
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        says:

        At least in the case of say, Napoleonic marshals one can make the case they were heir to the French Revolution.

        These guys don’t have that excuse.Report

      • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to Burt Likko
        Ignored
        says:

        Also, I wonder if say had Lee chosen to lead to the Union army, would that have also helped to rob the Lost Causers of legitimate mythology? To have shown that the secessionists were in the wrong?Report

      • Avatar Patrick in reply to Burt Likko
        Ignored
        says:

        I think it costs us nothing today to note that indeed Confederate soldiers were as good at their craft as Union soldiers were, and sometimes better.

        From the hindsight perspective, they were all pretty shitty when it came to compensating for technology with tactical change.

        Granted, Europe didn’t learn any lessons from the American Civil War, either.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Burt Likko
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        says:

        @nob-akimoto

        I can’t see why. They’d have called Lee a traitor and chosen someone else as the exemplar of Southern manhood. Jackson or Forrest, perhaps.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Burt Likko
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        says:

        From the hindsight perspective, they were all pretty shitty when it came to compensating for technology with tactical change.

        Right. From a strategic perspective looking forward into the Twentieth century, the main military lesson of the U.S. Civil War is that societies win total wars with industrial dominance. The battlefield generalship lessons are of secondary importance if you’re not literally studying to be a cavalry or armor commander.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Burt Likko
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        says:

        Patrick,
        I dunno, they’re still teaching Longstreet at West Point. Have you read much about his tactics? Because it sure as Sunday sounds like you don’t know much about his tactics at all.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Burt Likko
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        says:

        What are they teaching about Longstreet at West Point?

        Europe didn’t learn anything from the Civil War for a lot of reasons: different types of armies, different logistics, and the fact that European armies were fighting their own wars with modern equipment (e.g., the Austro-Prussian and Franco-Prussian wars). Plus they were much better at formations and maneuvering than the Americans ever were on either side.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Burt Likko
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        says:

        Chris,
        Longstreet had the concept of a “Defensive attack” down pat — and it’s a concept that’s extremely useful in contemporary warfare. He was well ahead of his time, strategically speaking.

        [The idea is that as you advance, you take up defensible positions, keeping an eye on the lay of the land.]

        Lee, by contrast, is only taught as “what not to do” if that.

        [There’s another bloke from the South who was worth a damn too — spent his time going after Northern supply lines. Damned if I’ve forgotten his name though. He was basically doing blackops]Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Burt Likko
        Ignored
        says:

        Chris,
        ah, google finally reminded me!
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_S._MosbyReport

  9. Avatar zic
    Ignored
    says:

    Somehow, I feel like I’ve already read, way back in the day, Ta-Nehisi Coates take down of paid emancipation:
    http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/08/the-civil-war-isnt-tragic-cont/243791/

    To simply view the Civil War as a massive miscalculation, as Matt puts it, or a mistake is to, first, presume inevitably, and elide the fact that the Confederacy was very well could have won and made their calculation real. Beyond that, reducing the firing on Ft. Sumter to a “mistake” neglects to ask the hard questions–Why was the mistake made? What forces were at work, beyond economics, that would cause a society to make that mistake?

    In other words, it fails to confront the antebellum South as not simply a place with economic roots in slavery, but a slave society. Slavery was not merely a matter of stocks, it was a matter of citizenship, suffrage, bearing arms, and the very nature of freedom itself. In 1860, the notion that a large swath of a state could consider itself free was novel, untested, and unstable. I don’t want to repeat my post from yesterday, but I urge people to read James McPherson. Again:

    [The Civil War] was fought over real, profound, intractable problems that Americans on both sides believed went to the heart of their society and its future

    Anyone wanting to enter this debate should really go read through his series of posts, “The Civil War Isn’t Tragic,” including the profound, intractable problem that the southern economy (indeed, much of the US economy) was built on plundering the property of negros; their labor, their family, sometimes their very lives; certainly their right to self-determination. You cannot, now, argue the war without taking those perspectives, the perspective of a specific class of people held in slavery for 250 years, into account.Report

    • Avatar zic in reply to zic
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      says:

      And here’s Coates’ post, “No, LIncoln Couldn’t Have Bought the Slaves.”

      http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/06/no-lincoln-could-not-have-bought-the-slaves/277073/

      The thought-experiment, here, needs to be full gamed out. Ostensibly, in the government you have a buyer which, faced with the threat of mass violence, is willing to pay a large sum to end slavery. In slave-holders you have a seller, that does not want to sell, that has reacted violently to recent talk of selling, that, further, believes slavery is a good thing, ordained by God and the Bible. The greater country–having rejected war as an option–has no ability to compel this seller to any price. On the contrary, the country is, itself, partially dependent on slave-holders. (“By the mid 1830s, cotton shipments accounted for more than half the value of all exports from the United States,” writes Ransom.)

      Report

  10. Avatar Shazbot9
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    says:

    Napolitano has been not worthy of respect for awhile.

    He is often on the correct or at least interesting side of an issue. He was also a truther. He’s paranoid about Obama’s executive orders on immigration. He does not believe in rape exceptions to abortion. Etc.Report

  11. Avatar LWA
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    says:

    While we focus a lot on the racism aspects of Lost Cause revisionism (and for good reason), its worth pointing out that slavery is and always has been about aristocracy. Its based on the idea that humans are not equal, it takes the idea of a just and moral authority, and stretches it to cover authority that is manifestly unjust.
    The revisionists are always pointing out that few Southerners actually owned slaves- which is a telling point. The plantation owners were the 1% landed aristocracy, possessing power and privilege that even other whites didn’t have.
    The poor whites didn’t appear to resent this- it appears that they fought and bled and died to preserve this aristocracy, as perverse as it sounds.

    I don’t think it is a coincidence that this idea is appealing to a contemporary conservative, coming as it does in the midst of a national discussion about wealth inequality.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to LWA
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      says:

      Plenty of poor white southerners resented it. The borderlanders in general didn’t like the whole idea of aristocracy, just as much as they didn’t like the whole idea of slavery.Report

    • Avatar zic in reply to LWA
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      says:

      The revisionists are always pointing out that few Southerners actually owned slaves- which is a telling point.

      Yes. But those few who owned slaves also owned a lot of slaves. One of the problems in the South was the growing population imbalance — more slaves then free people — and the fears of rebellion. Combined with the agricultural problems (cotton and tobaco are soil-depleting crops, and there were no good systems of crop rotation, including a legume crop to re-fix nitrogen into the soil). Pests were also a problem.

      The southern economy needed to grow into other places to release the pressures of the slave/free population balance and access more fertile and pest-free land. The politics of this resulted in the Missouri Compromise, where Maine gained state hood at the same time as Missouri to create political balance in the slave/free states a half-century before the Civil War.

      One crucial thing to point out is that the hostilities and fear of uprising resulted in ever-more barbaric treatment of slaves; particularly breaking up family units; selling children off as soon as they were weaned (or even before, when they were babies), to selling husbands and wives away from each other; keep them from uprising by manipulating family bonds. Many of the documented run-away stories track back to this violence against family, not to unpaid labor or physical mistreatment.Report

  12. Avatar Matty
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    says:

    Minor point that I found amusing.

    From the text of the post “watch this, and particularly if you’re a national of the United States”

    In the box below “This video only plays in the United States”Report

  13. Avatar Matty
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    says:

    Kind of OT but linked – it amuses me when people describe this kind of revisionism as “defending southern culture”. Really, you come from the part of the world that gave us Mark Twain and practically created popular music and you think the best thing about your culture is that your ancestors lost a war?Report

  14. Avatar Michael Cain
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    says:

    Let me step way out on the limb here so that I’m an easy target…

    I think this is symptomatic of something larger. The Union is doomed, most likely split into three parts within 50 years. The fault lines, both policy and geography, are beginning to come into focus. Knocking Lincoln today is less about history than it is about setting the stage for the South’s future separation. JAN is almost certainly not thinking in those terms, but he does know he’s tapping into some sort of zeitgeist that requires the notion of an independent South be “rehabilitated.” Tearing Lincoln down is one way to do that.Report

    • Avatar Matty in reply to Michael Cain
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      says:

      Out of interest what are the other two parts and why do you think separation is becoming more likely?Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Matty
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        says:

        The West from the Rockies to the Pacific goes its own way. The Northeast as far West as Minnesota/Iowa (and when push comes to shove, the Dakotas and Nebraska as well). Not clear how things break exactly between the Northeast and the South (eg, which way would Missouri or Kentucky jump? or southern versus northern Virginia?). Texas/Oklahoma might go its own way.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Matty
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        says:

        An alternate way to look at it suggests as many as five pieces. There are five population “centers” big enough to support modern tech; I claim that takes 30-50 million people. And for various reasons I argue that we need to think in terms of much greater self-sufficiency in tech. The five are: (1) the NE urban corridor from Boston to Washington, DC; (2) the Great Lakes strip from NW of Chicago across to Buffalo; (3) California; (4) the DFW-Houston-San Antonio triangle in Texas; and (5) Florida/Georgia. From there, it’s a matter of everyone in between deciding which way they want to jump.

        Interestingly, the NE urban corridor has IMO the greatest needs to hold the East together. The population has rather grossly outgrown the energy and food resources that are relatively nearby.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Matty
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        says:

        East Megalopolis has access to the ocean and control of the same; it need not have continent based self sufficiency.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Matty
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        says:

        @kolohe
        It needs something in the way of goods and services that it can sell to people on the other side of the ocean, then. The NE urban corridor derives an enormous amount of income/wealth by the simple virtue of having a large part of US GDP pass through their hands — either the federal government or the finance sector — and a few percent per year “sticking” as it goes by. If/when that disappears, they will badly need something to replace it.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Matty
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        says:

        Singapore and Brussels have managed to figure out how to make it work.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Matty
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        says:

        The Brussels metro area is 1.8M people (about the same size as the Nashville metro area); Singapore is 5.3M; the NE urban corridor is 50M, projected to be pushing 70M by mid-century. Let’s consider Singapore’s energy situation in particular.

        They occupy a marvelous position along the major trade route between oil sources in the Middle East and Africa and oil consumers in the Far East and have leveraged that to sell refining and petrochemical services (and take a certain amount of what passes through as a fee, for their own use). They are, at present, almost completely dependent on pipelines from Indonesia and Malaysia for natural gas, and that NG provides 80% of their electricity supply. They are currently trying to leverage their central location in SE Asia to become the regional trading hub for LNG. They would like to do the same thing for electricity if they can get the ASEAN countries to build the necessary grid, but to fulfill that role they are completely dependent on physical proximity to Malaysia and Indonesia, through which the grid must pass to reach them.

        The NE urban corridor’s problem is an order of magnitude larger in terms of scale. They’re not “central” to oceanic trade routes to anywhere near the same degree as Singapore (as a reference point, the entire US East Coast doesn’t handle anywhere close to the container traffic that Singapore does). What I’m saying is that in a big-picture sort of way, that urban corridor has the most to lose in the case of a split, hence the greatest interest in holding things together.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Matty
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        says:

        And I still disagree. If the current city state model is too small or too unique, how about Japan? Equal levels of urbanization, with twice the population. And they manage. (just don’t talk about the war)

        The North east is where most of the money is – because it’s closest to the trade routes of other countries with money. The North East is also water self-sufficient, which is the only resource where self sufficiency matters. As for agriculture, it already gets a good chuck of its produce and fruit from Latin America already. Plus, a good chunk of the nation’s ‘breadbasket’ is actually turned over to corn as a cash crop (not to the extent that antebellum Southern ag was turned over to a cash crop, resulting in the north actually out-producing the south in food). And so much of the marginal land between the Mississippi and the Rockies depends on the federal government subsidies (in many different forms) to make it competitive. If push came to shove, ag production east of the Continental divide and above & including the Chesapeake Bay watershed could ramp up. It was the continent’s first (post-Columbian) bread basket, after all.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Matty
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        says:

        Japan is an excellent example of what it takes to manage in that situation. Their energy prices are much higher than the US prices, and they’ve been practicing efficiency for going on 70 years now (ever since they lost the war that resulted from attempts to grab other countries’ resources, including coal and oil). Not just efficiency, but austerity — small living spaces, small vehicles, very high food prices, etc.

        Anyone who’s read my stuff knows I think that reactions to the need for austerity will be one of the factors driving separation. In order to live within regional means, the NE urban corridor needs to act like Japan with respect to energy; other regions of the country, not so much or not nearly so soon. If the NE uses its financial/political muscle to impose Japanese-like austerity on the energy-rich regions, or to force energy “exports” from the energy-rich to the NE on a sufficient scale, the energy-rich will decide that they’re better off on their own.Report

    • Avatar zic in reply to Michael Cain
      Ignored
      says:

      That’s an interesting limb; one of who get’s to claim the mantle of ‘real Americans.’

      But giving the asset reallocation patterns, I don’t really think it’s all that serious, too costly for states that take in more federal money then they pay out. And less and less likely culturally as the baby boomers die off, too.

      (We sometimes have people in the northern half of Maine advocate becoming part of Canada. I think I’d like that, truth be told. Our economy and culture is much more integrated with the Canada then most people realize.)Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to zic
        Ignored
        says:

        See my comment over on the Linky Friday post: the areas that most favor secession from existing states — North Colorado, Jefferson, etc — are generally the counties that have the most to lose financially from such a separation. When I spoke briefly with the treasurer of the 51st State organization (North Colorado) at a University of Denver seminar, he was up-front that not being able to afford as many government services and regulations was a feature, not a bug. This is not going to be resolved either way over fiscal things.Report

      • Avatar Zane in reply to zic
        Ignored
        says:

        @michael-cain I suspect it’s only a feature until reality sets in. North Colorado might not lose too much income on a per-capita basis, but were Alabama (for example) to secede there would actually be job losses for the state.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to zic
        Ignored
        says:

        @michael-cain I think it does often resolve on fiscal issues, but that happens after the emotions to separate drive a deep examination of those issues, the emotions put things on the table, and then the numbers drive the decisions.

        We’re going through this on a small scale with our local school district. One of the outlying towns has a tiny elementary school population (and an elementary school, serving kids through grade 5). The costs of keeping the school open vs. busing those kids into one of the other two schools in the system (the buses already run for kids grades 6 through 12) forced the school board into voting to close the school.

        So the town in question has spent several years and a lot of money examining leaving the district; many close votes in town meetings, etc. They finally ended up opting to fund the difference they taxpayers would pay to send the kids to another school and keep their own school open. Details are still being hashed out, this week’s newspaper has an article about nursing services not being included, and what will happen without a nurse on call to serve these children.

        But when push came to shove, leaving the district was so much more expensive, even though a majority of people initially wanted it (they’re going to close our school!) on the emotional level, when it came to their local property taxes, they realized they could not afford it. I’ve talked with many residents of the town who ended up voting to stay in the district and suck up a large tax hike to keep the school open, but it was a much smaller hike then they’d have had if the seceded from the district. The numbers, when push came to shove, overruled the emotion.

        This tiny town, which has long since lost it’s industrial base of furniture manufacturing and telecommunications (home of one of the original COMSAT antennas) will have one of the highest property taxes in this part of the state. But they could have been much higher, and it will still have a school, though it may not offer an on-call nurse, it seems.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to zic
        Ignored
        says:

        Like @zic says, it’s different splitting off as a state than federal. NoCo would still have federal dollars to rely on. They’d be taking a hit, but probably not as big of a hit. On the other hand, those leaving the country would be able to do things economically that being a state in the US prohibits. This might have economically beneficial effects.

        Ultimately, the economics for the South don’t really work out for the most part. Texas could probably go and possibly (in order of decreasing likelihood of getting an invitation) Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Arkansas could be invited to join them. On the eastern side, Florida and Georgia could probably make it and throw in North Carolina and you might have something. South Carolina would probably be thrown in for geography, but only if NC aligns south.

        Part of the problem is that I’m not sure anyone would particularly want Mississippi or Alabama. South Carolina, too, if North Carolina doesn’t want to leave (and I don’t think they would. Arkansas would probably find itself in a similar situation as if Texas wanted more space they might look upward rather than eastward. I’m not sure what options, if any, Tennessee might have.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to zic
        Ignored
        says:

        I assume that Texas, with its water issues, its reliance on oil and immigration for economic viability, its sagging wages, and its stark urban-suburban/rural divide, would be a huge fishing mess on its own, with internal strife and almost immediate international conflict over resources.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Michael Cain
      Ignored
      says:

      Yeah, that’s not going out on a limb. Thoroughly non-controversial prediction.

      Seriously, we’ve survived worse than what’s going on now. Ratification of the Constitution. Election of 1800. Panic of 1873. Great Depression and New Deal. Richard Nixon.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Burt Likko
        Ignored
        says:

        No need to be polite, Burt; “What kind of a lunatic are you?” is probably a more normal response. I don’t mind, and it wouldn’t be the first time. I did 10-15 year tech forecasts for telecommunications, and used to get “What kind of a lunatic are you?” on a regular basis. But I was right more often than not. This is longer term, and more complex, but I think we’re reaching an inflection point in some important historical arcs.

        Post-revolution the former colonies still faced existential threats that drove them together. By around 1820-1830 the international threats faded (the US was simply too big for any of the Europeans to realistically invade). Manifest destiny pushed for a bigger country; the South still saw an existential threat even as that happened, with the Civil War the result. Post Civil War was a growing role in the world, culminating in WWII and the Cold War — more existential threats. Going forward, a bunch of that goes away. A shrinking global role; regional problems that demand regional solutions, not national ones; and under those conditions, the pieces big enough to handle “national” problems individually (eg, the South will be rich enough to afford its own version of Social Security).Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Burt Likko
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        says:

        I guess it’s not wholly out of the range of possibility, but it sure seems to me that there are a lot more powerful things that still bind us together than there are that drive us apart, things are seem likely to be enduring. For all the polarization of politics and a bit of political-geographical sorting going out, New Yorkers and New Mexicans and Michiganders and Mainers and Mississippians all still think of one another as sharing a common national identity, a common respect for our military, a common leader (not all of us like that leader at any one time), a shared law, a network of infrastructure, a powerful history, a pooled and integrated economy, the same heroes, the same foods, the same sports leagues. I identify as a Californian but I have no problem with the idea of my tax dollars helping out people in Kansas or North Carolina — we’re all Americans, and while I think it’s very cool to be from and to live in California, that’s an identification that I typically use to describe myself to other Americans. If abroad, or if interacting with a person from a different nation, I identify as an American. Perhaps I am guilty of projecting my own ideas on to others who may not share them.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Burt Likko
        Ignored
        says:

        Michael,

        I see the trends you talk about, and you make a good argument for their significance. What’s missing from your argument, though, is an explanation of how enough states agree to void the Constitution (and Burt’s point about how much we all think of ourselves as Americans is one of the sticking points in that).

        That’s not so much a criticism as an encouragement to tackle that part of the problem because I find your arguments on this issue worthwhile.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Burt Likko
        Ignored
        says:

        @james-hanley
        Today, you and Burt are absolutely right. Tomorrow and next year, you and Burt are absolutely right. My bet — let’s call it that — is that in 25 years you will be much less right, and in 50 years you will be wrong. When South Carolina backed down over annulment and the tariff of 1832, how many people would have bet that a shooting war was less then 30 years away? My standard bet on political issues is a beer. I have reached an age where I probably won’t live to see whether I’m right or wrong, but (not knowing exactly how old either of you are) one of you might. Burt, how much to set up a little trust that pays off in 50 years on the outcome of a bet?

        If the West views a separation as the only way to be sure that Eastern spent nuclear fuel isn’t buried here (we already know whose side of that fight I’m on); if the North is simply tired of fighting constantly in Congress with the South on social policy; if the South decides that it really, seriously, wants to be a theocracy; then, the amendment that allows dissolution passes easily. I don’t think those are all the actual issues that will settle the matter, but they rhyme.Report

      • Avatar Pierre Corneille in reply to Burt Likko
        Ignored
        says:

        @michael-cain

        No need to be polite, Burt; “What kind of a lunatic are you?” is probably a more normal response.

        My take is, the US is gonna break apart sometime. So you aren’t a lunatic by my standards, even if you might (might!) be misjudging the timeline. I do imagine if the US does break apart, it might do so under the fiction that it still exists. Like the Roman Empire kind of / sort of continued to exist until whoever abolishes the Roman Catholic Church finally arrives.Report

      • Avatar Shazbot3 in reply to Burt Likko
        Ignored
        says:

        I’ll say you’re a lunatic. Wait, a that is pretty close to a lycanthrope, what with the going crazy at the moon and all.Report

    • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to Michael Cain
      Ignored
      says:

      I don’t know. They might be able to rehabilitate an independent south to white folks, but there’s a LOT of people who simply don’t trust the Confederacy and its legacy that live in the south.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Nob Akimoto
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        says:

        One of the slowly growing trends appears to be mobility as a self-sorting mechanism — people moving to regions/areas that are more aligned with their politics/interests/whatever. 25 years ago I moved away from the Northeast (with a hit in pay even after adjusting for cost of living) because my wife and I didn’t want our kids to grow up in that “culture”. That’s not the right word, but I don’t know what else to use. Mindset? Collective attitudes? Anyway, after ten years we were still not comfortable there in a way that we were almost immediately when we moved to Denver, or that my wife had been in California before moving East.Report

      • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to Nob Akimoto
        Ignored
        says:

        Maybe for middle class folks. I don’t think most working class people have that sort of mobility, particularly not minority families.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Nob Akimoto
        Ignored
        says:

        Nob, this is a tale of there and back again. There was a great migration out of the South:

        Between 1910 and 1970, blacks moved from 14 states of the South, especially Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas to the other three cultural (and census-designated) regions of the United States. More townspeople with urban skills moved during the second migration.[1] By the end of the Second Great Migration, African Americans had become an urbanized population. More than 80 percent of blacks lived in cities. A majority of 53 percent remained in the South, while 40 percent lived in the North, and 7 percent in the West.[2]

        source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Migration_(African_American)

        Now, interestingly, there’s another migration of blacks back again (same link):

        A reverse migration had gathered strength since 1965, dubbed the New Great Migration, the term for demographic changes in which many blacks have returned to the South, generally to states and cities where economic opportunities are the best. Since 1965, economic difficulties of cities in the Northeastern and Midwestern United States, growth of jobs in the “New South” with lower costs of living, family and kinship ties, and improving racial relations have all acted to attract African Americans to the South in substantial numbers. As early as 1975 to 1980, seven southern states were net black migration gainers. African-American populations continue to drop throughout much of the Northeast, particularly with black emigration out of the state of New York,[3] as well as out of Northern New Jersey,[4] as they rise in the Southern United States.

        Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Nob Akimoto
        Ignored
        says:

        Nob,
        working class BLACK families don’t own their own homes. They’re renters, and that’s why they’re poor.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Nob Akimoto
        Ignored
        says:

        Maybe for middle class folks. I don’t think most working class people have that sort of mobility, particularly not minority families.

        Historically and at present, we have seen quite a bit of mobility from much poorer people.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Nob Akimoto
        Ignored
        says:

        @brandon-berg

        This. I see that claim not too infrequently on this here blog, and it’s always a shock to realize that there are Americans who are totally unaware of Latin American migration to the U.S.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Nob Akimoto
        Ignored
        says:

        There is a difference in the mobility of the poor and the working class. There are parts of East Texas, for example, that are almost entirely working class, primarily people who work in factories. Over the last few years those factories have been closing one after another, and the communities and the state have had a hell of a time figuring out what to do with large numbers of unemployed people, because they’re stuck there but there aren’t any comparable jobs.

        One of the most common jokes about East Texas is that no one ever leaves.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Nob Akimoto
        Ignored
        says:

        Chris,
        What’s the ethnicity over there? (asking b/c my knowledge is primarily about AA)…Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Nob Akimoto
        Ignored
        says:

        In the denser areas, about 50% white non-hispanic, and around 25% black.Report

  15. Avatar greginak
    Ignored
    says:

    While there is an element of truth to the quote “the winners write the the history books” this kind of thing also show how radically wrong that line is most of the time. We’re still discussing the South’s attempts to win the peace through their own particular understanding of history.Report

  16. Avatar Stillwater
    Ignored
    says:

    Napolitano’s argument seems based on a logical possibility, no? He seems to be saying that since it’s logically possible the Civil War would have been prevented had Lincoln purchased and freed Southern slaves, his failure to do so entails (??, is that right?) that his intentions all along were to engage in a Northern War of Aggression in any event, and slavery was just used as a (false) pretext. Is that right?

    These kinds of argument are always baffling to me. I mean, if we’re talking about a logical possibility in the premise, then the conclusion can be no stronger than merely a claim to a logical possibility: that it’s logically possible Lincoln used slavery as a false pretext for a War he wanted for other, independent reasons.

    But so what? It’s logically possible his decisions and actions were determined by Mary or the butcher down the corner, or were controlled from afar by our alien overlords. Logical possibilities don’t refudiate empirical claims since those claims aren’t necessary, they’re by definition contingent. And since the conclusion of the argument – that Lincoln’s War of Aggression had nothing to do with slavery – is an empirical claim, the (counterfactually-based) premise requires non-circular empirical evidence establishing it as an actual (rather than hypothetical) possibility for the argument to go thru. And empirically, it seems like there’s exactly no reason to believe that compensated emancipation would have prevented the civil war, unless the question is completely begged by asserting that as a matter of counterfactual fact it would have.Report

  17. Avatar Shazbot3
    Ignored
    says:

    I am bothered by the fact that he is apparently a werewolf who shaved his face, too quickly, at least judging by his hairline.Report

  18. Avatar MartinSloan
    Ignored
    says:

    The Judge is correct. Too bad the knee-jerkers don’t have the intellect to follow his train of thought.
    BTW, there is no such thing as a “southern apologist”. There is nothing to apologize for. However, the North has everything to apologize for.Report

  19. Avatar DRS
    Ignored
    says:

    Okay, I’m only starting to read this but I have an immediate problem: if you’re going to use an imbedded video or even a hotlink to an outside article, could you PLEASE summarize the point briefly and not just rely on the technology? I can’t access the video in Canada and therefore I am going to have to laboriously piece together the point from Burt’s subsequent text.

    All of you do this on occasion and it makes things unnecessarily difficult.Report

    • Avatar Pierre Corneille in reply to DRS
      Ignored
      says:

      @drs

      As somebody who doesn’t even know how to embed and who doesn’t usually like to watch videos and who prefers summaries, I’ll sign on to this request. (Also, Matty above made a similar point to yours. If I understand right, he’s from UK.)

      I often don’t watch the embedded videos because they take much more time than a simple skimming. I made an exception here and watched the entire embedded video provided (I’m in the US, so no problems there for me in terms of access). Here’s a brief summary, as I recall from the first and only time I watched it a couple days ago:

      Mr. Napolitano says that slavery was a horrible thing and needed to be done away with, but that Lincoln acted irresponsibly in his pursuit of the Civil War. Lincoln, he says, “tricked” the South into starting the war and didn’t even do much to combat slavery during the war. For example, Mr. Napolitano says that Lincoln enforced the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act throughout the enitrety of the war.

      Apparently this is all part of the moral calculus. Mr. Napolitano apparently supports the American Revolution, but acknowledges that most of the supporters were slave owners.

      In particular, Mr. Napolitano believes that Lincoln could have pursued a policy of compensated emancipation. And doing so would have spared the c. 750,000 lives lost.

      [rant about John Stewart] Throughout the “discussion,” Mr. Stewart plays to the peanut gallery, eliciting cheers and jeers from his audience against this VERY BAD MAN he’s interviewing. If I recall correctly, he at least once does that thing where he looks disbelieving at his audience or the camera as if to say “can you believe this guy? He disagrees with me and with common sense.” [/rant]Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Pierre Corneille
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        says:

        If Stewart were a serious interviewer, he’d have called JAN a pinhead, told him to shut up, and cut off his mic.Report

      • Probably. I guess I know too many Stewart worshippers who like him because he, supposedly and somehow, gets to the point and tells it like it is, unlike the enemy (read FOX) journalists. And of course, he’s so entertaining because he makes fun of people with the wrong religions and wrong accents. I personally think Colbert does a lot better with his satire than his mentor does, but I haven’t actually watched Colbert in years.

        Not to say you’re wrong. I’ll probably just have to admit to myself that I don’t like Stewart’s shtick and others do and there’s no accounting for taste and that’s the way the world works.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to Pierre Corneille
        Ignored
        says:

        The thing is, most of what Napo says is ridiculous. “Can you believe what this guy is saying?” is a pretty fair reaction to many of his statements. This sort of gets back to the long discussions about false equivalence. N says things with no historical support, that are far out, yet we are supposed to treat it like he knows what he is talking about. I’m all for discussing where he is wrong, but i’m not going to pretend he knows what he is talking about.Report

      • Well, Mr. Napolitano is certainly getting what he’s asking for, and I’d be surprised if he didn’t know the shot when he came on the air. So I don’t have much sympathy for him or his argument or any hurt feelings from his being skewered by Mr. Stewart.

        (For all I know, however, if Mr. Napolitano is indeed as thoughtful when it comes to other topics, as some here seem to suggest, then maybe he’s just trolling for people to buy what in actuality is a nuanced look at Lincoln. I have my doubts and have no plans to buy his book.)

        Mr. Stewart is who he is, and apparently what he does is invite strawmen that aren’t really strawmen because they’re real people but he wants to make fun of or humiliate them, with the Greek chorus audience throwing the metaphorical tomatoes. That’s not much different from what FOX did a few months ago with that one guy who wrote a book about Jesus and whom the FOX analyst criticized not because of the argument but because he was Muslim.

        I guess this is just one of those things I don’t like and just shouldn’t watch.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Pierre Corneille
        Ignored
        says:

        I haven’t read any of Napolitano’s books, but going by the reviews of Dred Scott’s Revenge:

        * He doesn’t have a racist bone in his body.
        * He abhors slavery.
        * He genuinely believes that Lincoln was capital-E Evil.

        It’s a weird combination, because we associate the last with Confederate apologists, and in fact he does use the same set of lies, half-truth, and smears to attack Lincoln that they do, while having little else in common with them.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Pierre Corneille
        Ignored
        says:

        Mike,

        Here’s a quotation (and article) from Murray Rothbard that might make sense of Napolitano’s views:

        It is here that we must split our analysis of the “causes of the Civil War”; for, while this analysis leads, in my view, to a “pro-Northern” position in the slavery-in-the-territories struggles of the 1850s, it leads, paradoxically, to a “pro-Southern” position in the Civil War itself. For secession need not, and should not, have been combated by the North; and so we must pin the blame on the North for aggressive war against the seceding South.

        It’s pretty consistent with what Napolitano seems to be saying. Something like: “If we take slavery out of the equation, then the South was right.”Report

      • @stillwater

        Yeah, that’s the kind of thing that makes me not wish to engage Mr. Napolitano further, at least outside this thread. I can see the abstract argument that secession as a principle can be either good or at least neutral. But secession for slavery is another thing altogether. (I’m not saying you disagree, but rather, that I disagree with what Mr. Napolitano apparently wishes to argue.)

        @mike-schilling

        I’m very suspicious of the “doesn’t have a racist bone in his body.” I argue it’s almost impossible to be white in the US and not be racist in at least some way. (Not that you disagree, just that I disagree with the reviewers.)

        Also (again, disagreeing with the reviewers), I don’t believe that acknowledging slavery to have been unjust and horrible necessarily exonerates one from the charge of lost cause revisionism. It’s true that some forays into such revisionism have ventured to suggest that slavery was beneficent, but it’s not particularly controversial, today, to say that slavery was a horrible violation of human rights and dignity.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Pierre Corneille
        Ignored
        says:

        Rothbard on the evils arising from the Civil War:

        Federal aid to education began in earnest and permanently with federal land grants for state agricultural colleges.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Pierre Corneille
        Ignored
        says:

        Mike,

        That’s a pretty standard line of argument from a segment of libertarians. Seems to me it goes like this: The fact that the federal gummint expanded as a result of the civil war is conclusive evidence that Lincoln was Evil and the war had nothing to do with … what people conventionally think it does. It was just a Big-Gummint power grab. Consequently, the war was unjustified and unjustifiable.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Pierre Corneille
        Ignored
        says:

        @pierre-corneille Regarding the rant against Stewart, I’m going to push back slightly.

        A lot of the criticism I read about Stewart judges him on a scale that he shouldn’t be judged upon. He is a comedian, doing a fake news show where they clearly often make up things just to get a good gag in. To judge him as anything more is a little unfair, and — in the case of comparing his level of journalistic professionalism as compared to Fox, MSNBC or CNN’s should be seen less as a knock against Stewart’s fairness and more as a very loud indictment against TV news today.

        So sure, he plays to an audience and does things for yucks — hell, the whole game show pastiche is about as unserious an exercise as you could imagine — but that’s his job. And to his credit, he never claims to be anything else.

        It’s like criticizing SNL’s weekend update for not taking reporting the news thoroughly and going for a quick laugh instead.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Pierre Corneille
        Ignored
        says:

        “You’re on CNN! The show that leads into me is puppets making crank phone calls! What is wrong with you?”Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Pierre Corneille
        Ignored
        says:

        @stillwater ‘s quote also makes me want to say this:

        Stewart really doesn’t bring on guests to make them straw men. If you don’t believe me, google Daily Show + Marco Rubio, Bill Kristol, Bill O’Reilly, Jim DeMindt, or any other conservative or Fox personality he’s ever had on. Or better yet, ask those people directly:

        http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2009/08/why_conservative_pundits_love.html

        Stewart actually spends more time trying to find where he and guests he does not agree with have common ground than any interviewer I have ever seen or heard — and he actually does this at the expense of laying in licks for his team. (Which is one on the left’s big complaints about the guy.)

        In fact, I have been watching Stewart for years, and I have only seen him go after someone twice in all that time. The first was when he was a guest on Crossfire, which Still quoted above, where he was daily utterly merciless with Tucker Carlson and the Guy On Crossfire Who Wasn’t Tucker Carlson. The other was when he had Jim Cramer on, and that was because Jim Cramer was making the talk show rounds saying that Stewart was lying about Cramer’s show. That was the interview where Stewart clearly set him up, asking him questions about what Cramer had reported, waiting for Cramer to claim he would never report such a thing, and then showing footage to Cramer of Cramer reporting exactly what Stewart said.

        Now, you can argue that those two instance were unfair (I certainly don’t), but it’s still just two out of hundreds (and probably thousands at this point.)Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Pierre Corneille
        Ignored
        says:

        he was daily merciless with Tucker Carlson

        That’s “Daily™ merciless”.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Pierre Corneille
        Ignored
        says:

        @tod-kelly I’m going to push back a bit against your push back. First, by pointing out that Rush Limbaugh also calls himself an entertainer. Which he is, of course, but that’s not all he is.

        The thing about Stewart is that he has a clown nose that seems to come off and on without the actual benefit of a physical clown noise to see whether it’s off or on. Yes, he wants to make funny. But I do think he also wants to inform and perhaps influence. Relevant. I think your follow-up comment (which I agree with more than your initial comment) with regard to the important people he’s had on and how he tries to find common ground is actually indicative of this. The clown nose is off when people are pointing out the good points he’s making, then it’s clown nose on (arguably retroactively) when criticism is lodged.

        This is actually not even to criticize Stewart, per se. Though I think it does matter when it comes to criticisms to Stewart. Weekend Update makes funny on stuff everybody knows about. Stewart is different than that.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Pierre Corneille
        Ignored
        says:

        First, by pointing out that Rush Limbaugh also calls himself an entertainer. Which he is, of course, but that’s not all he is.

        Let me know when a congressman feels compelled to apologize for calling Jon Stewart “just an entertainer”. Until then, I’m going to think that one of them is a highly influential political activist and the other is a comedian who neither is nor wants to be anything of the sort.

        What do you call it, again, when you compare a liberal thing to a conservative thing even though they’re wildly different?Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Pierre Corneille
        Ignored
        says:

        @will-truman But the thing is, Rush Limbaugh IS just an entertainer. He’s in no way a journalist, nor does he lay claim to that label. I feel like a broken record saying this, but what makes Limbaugh destructive to the GOP isn’t Limbaugh, it’s the GOP. Rush Limbaugh never broke into Michael Steele’s house, put a gun to his head, and force Steele to publicly apologize for ever disagreeing with him. Steele (and the rest of the GOP) did that all on their own. None of that is on Rush, as far as I”m concerned.

        And look, if someone just doesn’t find Stewart funny then I don’t have any beef against that. Hey, I don’t find The Big Bang Theory funny. We all have different tastes when it comes to humor, and that’s all fine and as it should be.

        I just think that criticizing a comedy show that leans heavily on fart and dick jokes for not living up to journalistic standards we no longer hold actual journalists to is at the very least a criticism on shaky ground, and more often than not (though not in Pierre’s case) political partisanship disingenuously disguised as media critique.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Pierre Corneille
        Ignored
        says:

        @mike-schilling I did fail to make clear that I do not consider Stewart and Limbaugh to be similarly entertainer-newsman. My bad. I figured, wrongly I suppose, that it would be pretty obvious. Not that any sentence putting a liberal and conservative in the same sentence is excusable. In any event: Yes, even while they both contain news/commentary in entertainment, they are not exactly in the same class.

        @tod-kelly I’ll give you points for consistency (though, as per the above, I think one would actually be able to draw a distinction between the two). Where I am not sold is the notion that Stewart doesn’t hold himself out as more than a funny man. Is he held to the same standard as a self-described journalistic organization? No. I don’t think that makes him immune to any and all criticisms that something he does or says is unfair. As of 2007, he was the fourth most admired journalist in America.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Pierre Corneille
        Ignored
        says:

        As of 2007, he was the fourth most admired journalist in America.

        I have to agree with Tod that what that really points to is the pathetic state of American journalism. I mean, in the same poll, number 2 was Bill O’Reilly, someone whose clown nose was attached surgically.Report

      • I’d like to thank everyone here in this part of the sub-thread. I don’t really have much to add, other than to say, unsurprisingly, that I see it more as @will-truman sees it and less as @tod-kelly sees it.

        But I think I can sign on to this:

        And look, if someone just doesn’t find Stewart funny then I don’t have any beef against that.

        On some level, a lot of my rant comes from me just not finding Mr. Stewart funny. It’s probably a mistake to take that particular aesthetic preference and generalize it to the types of criticisms Tod questions in his push back.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Pierre Corneille
        Ignored
        says:

        Stewart is in fact among the best interviewers on TV, and should really take over Charlie Rose’s gig whenever he retires.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Pierre Corneille
        Ignored
        says:

        Tod,
        I think that Cramer bit had a bit more to it than you’re seeing…
        For one thing, how did Stewart get his paws on that footage?
        Cramer seemed awful certain it wouldn’t get to a TV audience.

        Eh, comedians make a living calling out hypocrisy.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Pierre Corneille
        Ignored
        says:

        @will-truman
        Where I am not sold is the notion that Stewart doesn’t hold himself out as more than a funny man.

        He has explicitly said he’s just a comedian. There was a famous bit a few years ago where he talked to a couple of, I think, Fox guys, and he repeatedly said, “I’m a comedian. You guys are the journalists.” (He may have been a little too generous on that part.)Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Pierre Corneille
        Ignored
        says:

        James,
        yeah. He says that with an edge of sarcasm and a wry grin. He’s calling folks out on not doing their jobs.

        Why in hell was Jon Stewart the guy breaking that story on Cramer?

        (Because journalism tastes better with snark!)Report

      • Avatar Dave in reply to Pierre Corneille
        Ignored
        says:

        @stillwater

        It’s pretty consistent with what Napolitano seems to be saying. Something like: “If we take slavery out of the equation, then the South was right.”

        Based on a very flawed view of the Constitution.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to DRS
      Ignored
      says:

      This is good feedback. Thanks.Report

  20. Avatar Damon
    Ignored
    says:

    This may have been touched on above, but I’m not reading 200 comments to determine it…

    War bad
    Slavery bad.
    I’d have a bit more respect for Abe, who I generally think can be labeled as our first Presidential tyrant, if he wouldn’t have allowed the “total war” rape and pillage of the south. There was no way the south could stand against the industry of the north. They were doomed to loose, but no, we had to have Sherman’s march to the sea. It was, in no uncertain terms, a war on the not only defeat the south, but to crush it, the culture, and it’s people. That action, later, had a direct impact on how the southern states evolved after the war.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to Damon
      Ignored
      says:

      Lol. Lincoln was weak, and could have done way way more.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to Damon
      Ignored
      says:

      You’ve heard of the saying, “follow the money”?
      Yeah, think again about Sherman.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Damon
      Ignored
      says:

      The South like the Axis powers after WWII deserved to be crushed. There culture was based around human chattel slavery and racial hierarchy. It was an authoritarian, elitist system even by the standards of the time when you still had some very real absolute monarchies in the world complete with real nobilities.

      I’m also going to argue that Sherman’s March to the Sea was both not as bad as you make it out to be and necessary. You provide absolute no evidence for your accusations of horific abuses to humans. Most of the damage was done to property, not people. CSA leadership also demonstrated that the South would be needed to be brought to their knees in order to get them to surrender like Imperial Japan during WWII.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to LeeEsq
        Ignored
        says:

        Most of the damage was done to property, not people.

        Damage to property is damage to people. Especially when they’re as poor as people were in nineteenth-century…well, everywhere, really.Report

      • Avatar Damon in reply to LeeEsq
        Ignored
        says:

        Japan was willing and made several offers to surrender prior to the atom bomb being dropped, with only one stipulation–regarding their emperor. We declined as we wanted complete total surrender. As a result, we nuked two cities and killed 250K civilians. Post war analysis clearly determined we didn’t have to nuke the cities and we could have accepted a negotiated surrender anytime and not invaded the country.

        From Wikipedia Re Sherman
        “Although his formal orders (excerpted below) specified controls over destruction of infrastructure in areas in which his army was unmolested by guerrilla activity, he recognized that supplying an army through liberal foraging would have a destructive effect on the morale of the civilian population it encountered in its wide sweep through the state.[3]

        The campaign was designed by Grant and Sherman to be similar to Grant’s innovative and successful Vicksburg Campaign and Sherman’s Meridian Campaign, in that Sherman’s armies would reduce their need for traditional supply lines by “living off the land” after consuming their 20 days of rations. Foragers, known as “bummers,” would provide food seized from local farms for the Army while they destroyed the railroads and the manufacturing and agricultural infrastructure of Georgia. In planning for the march, Sherman used livestock and crop production data from the 1860 census to lead his troops through areas where he believed they would be able to forage most effectively.[4] Cotton gins and storage bins were to be destroyed because Southerners used the cotton to trade for guns and other supplies. The twisted and broken railroad rails that the troops heated over fires and wrapped around tree trunks and left behind became known as “Sherman’s neckties”.

        Yah, I kinda argue that “property damage” as you call it, in an agricultural based economy, is the same as destroying foodstuffs…those foodstuffs that weren’t taken from the civilians by the “bummers”

        ” It was an authoritarian, elitist system”. Oh, you mean, NOT like Wash DC now? Right…Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to LeeEsq
        Ignored
        says:

        Brandon,
        “What is to be expected of little girls who boast of having got a Negro flogged for being impertinent to them, and who are surprised at the ‘ungentlemanly’ conduct of a master who maims his slave? … One of the absolutely inevitable results of slavery is a disregard of human rights; an inability even to comprehend them. (Martineau 1837: 342)”

        yeah, damaging property is damaging to its owners.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to LeeEsq
        Ignored
        says:

        Damage to property is damage to people.

        Especially when people are property.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to LeeEsq
        Ignored
        says:

        Years ago I read a fairly long essay (cannot for the life of me remember who it was) that made a compelling argument that the price of letting wars go for a long period of time is that they almost always end in atrocities and end long after they should. He had two connected but slightly different arguments for why this was:

        The first is that when wars go on long enough, each side begins to “play dirty,” and this leads to an almost maniacal desire for the obvious victor to prolong the war to make the suffering greater on the other side.

        The second is that there comes a point where the leaders of an army that has been at war for years realize they are going to lose, and even as they try to offer terms of surrender that favor themselves, they know on some level that they have committed terrible, evil acts, and will err on the side of their county’s destruction to try and put off paying the price to the other side.

        I remember him using both theaters of World War II, as well as the Civil War, extensively to make his point.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to LeeEsq
        Ignored
        says:

        One of the Civil War’s chief innovations was using railroads to move troops. Destroying the other sides’ tracks was a common tactic used by both North and South.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to LeeEsq
        Ignored
        says:

        Tod Kelly, its rather hard to stop a war after its begun. This might be a compelling reason to not allow war in the first place as much as possible, it certainly should not be used as a policy preference, but once a war starts its going to follow its own logic for worse. Unless you have one side thats flatly unprepared for war than the reality is that your going to get a long war.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to LeeEsq
        Ignored
        says:

        @damon , the Japanese navy had sent a delegation to Switzerland, via Germany, in 1945 (before V.E. Day), which proposed complete Japanese surrender with not one but three conditions: the emperor remained in his position, the emperor not be tried for war crimes, and the existing Japanese constitution remain in place. This was not an official envoy, the talks never went anywhere, and the higher ups in Japan were not privy to them. What’s more, when a similar proposal (emperor stays in place) was raised at the highest levels of the Japanese government, it was explicitly rejected.

        That’s not to say that the atomic bombs were necessary. I don’t think they were, and I don’t think it ever would have gotten to the point of invasion. But the Japanese were not seriously suing for peace yet. They were starting to put feelers out to the Soviets, because entire armies were being swallowed up by Soviet forces in Manchuria, but it’s not clear what that would have meant for the U.S., or how long it would have taken for peace talks to materialize and advance between the Soviets and the Japanese.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to LeeEsq
        Ignored
        says:

        And in 1945, the spectre of what can happen when a country isn’t convincingly defeated and later decides that its previous regime stabbed it in the back was quite vivid. That’s one reason unconditional surrender was demanded.Report

      • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to LeeEsq
        Ignored
        says:

        @mike-schilling @damon Tearing up railroads was indeed commonplace on both sides. JEB Stuart’s orders during the Antietam campaign were explicitly to blow up a rail bridge in Pennsylvania (though he failed because he was tricked into thinking it was made of iron; the bridge was eventually destroyed by Lee a year later before Gettysburg). In the process, Stuart had no problem seizing plenty of civilian assets. http://explorepahistory.com/hmarker.php?markerId=1-A-5A

        And let’s not pretend that the South was above using scorched earth tactics against civilian populations whenever it had the chance: http://explorepahistory.com/hmarker.php?markerId=1-A-202
        http://www.ohiohistorycentral.org/w/Morgan's_Raid

        The fact is that war is a brutal business, not only for the soldiers, but also for civilian populations caught in its wake, regardless of which armies are involved. This has always been the case, and always will be the case. The differences are only matters of degree, not kind.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to LeeEsq
        Ignored
        says:

        My reading of history, is that significant elements of the Japanese higher command were basically bonkers and were willing to risk invasion rather than surrender. Even after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, there were enough hardliners that could make a credible threat of coup d’etat in the name of the Emperor so that the war could continue rather than having Japan surrender.

        The after the war behavior by Japanese official working with the US Occupation suggested a certain amount of non-repentence. When asked to prepare a new Constitution for Japan, the result was a cosmetically-altered version of the Meiji Constitution rather than something with substantial changes.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to LeeEsq
        Ignored
        says:

        @damon
        As a result, we nuked two cities and killed 250K civilians.

        The Tokyo firebombings killed 100,000 or more people, with a greater number of immediate deaths than in either Hiroshima or Nagasaki. And the only reason Hiroshima and Nagasaki were spared the same fate was so we’d have untouched targets for the nuclear bombs.

        One can indeed argue that the bombs weren’t necessary to end the war, but in the absence of a nuclear bombing about as many people would have died anyway.

        In fact I’m persuaded the bombs weren’t a military necessity (the purpose may have been diplomatic, the first move in the cold war against the Soviets), but as I’ve learned more about firebombing, and strategic bombing in general, I find the atomic bombings dwindle in significance, or at least in being uniquely significant. I’m not sure it matters how we kill 100,000 civilians in a single day.Report

      • Avatar Damon in reply to LeeEsq
        Ignored
        says:

        @J@m3z Aitch

        Yep, either way, firebombing or nukes, they both are war crimes.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to LeeEsq
        Ignored
        says:

        Dresden as well.Report

  21. Avatar DRS
    Ignored
    says:

    Okay, I read it and my view is this:

    1. It is impossible for human beings to be property (since 1776 in America, at least);

    2. Slavery is the illegitimate use of state power to force humans to be property;

    3. Civil War revisionism is nothing except the whining of sore losers who don’t know how lucky they had it when you consider how other losing sides in other civil wars were treated – at the very least the leaders of the Confederate side should have been hung;

    4. To suggest that slaves could have been purchased and then freed is un-American as it depends on the premise that humans could legitimately have been property in the first place;

    5. Lincoln did the best he could with what he had and is one of the few leaders of any country who actually deserves all the accolades bestowed on him;

    6. Napolitano and other Civil War revisionists are dicks.Report

  22. Avatar Barry
    Ignored
    says:

    Chris: “The only way the South was going to get rid of slavery within an acceptable amount of time was by having it beaten from them, and the only way they were going to treat freed slaves as human beings and citizens was to have a gun pointed at their head.”

    People should note that there was no prospect of the USA ending slavery in the 1860’s, and likely 1870’s and 1880’s, barring the Civil War. The slaveowners saw the generational writing on the wall, that the USA was on a multidecadal path to restricting slavery and a multigenerational path to abolishing it, and chose war.

    BTW, all should read Ta-Nesi Coates’ series on this. It’s excellent, and the commenters add a lot.

    He or somebody else had roughed out the price of buying up and freeing all of the slaves in the USA (assuming that the slaveowners would have sold, which was generally false, and that the price wouldn’t have risen sharply, which was also false).

    It came to four times the US federal budget at the time (which was probably an underestimate; see any historian for a comparison of the relative capital value of slaves to the rest of the US economy).Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to Barry
      Ignored
      says:

      The slaveowners saw the generational writing on the wall, that the USA was on a multidecadal path to restricting slavery and a multigenerational path to abolishing it, and chose war.

      In fact, they saw Lincoln’s election as a sign that the process was moving along even more rapidly than they had previously feared. It would mean that new territories would be free, and the ability of slave owners to influence policy would be greatly diminished very quickly, inevitably resulting in the curtailing and eventual elimination of the institution of slavery. So they chose to secede, fully cognizant of the fact that this would almost certainly lead to war.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Barry
      Ignored
      says:

      Barry,

      Yeah, I agree with this on two counts. The first is that the counterfactual claim – that slavery was a dying institution that didn’t require armed conflict to eliminate – has no evidential basis supporting it. If anything, the actual evidence refudiates that the counterfactual claim since southern slavers motivation for secession was a recognition of the fact that remaining part of the Union would hasten its demise. That is, the acts of seceding and instigating war were motivated by a stubborn reluctance to end slavery as an institution.

      The second is that the counterfactual claim that the war could have been avoided by purchasing slaves in order to free them is just plainly absurd. For one thing, the dollar amount required to “purchase” those slaves was beyond the means of the Federal Government. For another, it begs the question by assuming that the South wasn’t fighting politically as well as militarily to preserve the institution of slavery (which is a pretty big question to be begging, like, THE question, in fact). All the evidence indicates that the south actually was fighting to preserve the institution, of course, so the claim that it wasn’t – either factually or counterfactually or – makes no sense whatsoever.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Stillwater
        Ignored
        says:

        bit of a quibble. While the south was fighting to preserve slavery, most of it didn’t want it to go to war. They got pushed into war by some SC rednecks.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Stillwater
        Ignored
        says:

        While the south was fighting to preserve slavery, most of it didn’t want it to go to war.

        But as it turned out, those two goals – preserving slavery and not going to war – proved impossible to achieve. (Further, who wants to go to war? The claim they do makes no sense without a context, right?) Revisionists, however, disagree with the conventionally agreed upon view that the South valued preserving slavery more than they valued not going to war. And that reconstruction of history merely asserts that the South was on the brink of ending the practice voluntarily (or some such). Which of course makes no sense given actual historical evidence.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Stillwater
        Ignored
        says:

        The South was going to go to war, everyone knew it, many in the South wanted it, and all South Carolina did was determine precisely when it started.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Stillwater
        Ignored
        says:

        Stillwater,
        Hotheads generally want to go to war.
        The actual historical evidence suggests a robust debate about what to do, among southern aristos, with the bulk saying “lets not.” (note: the south not wanting to go to war does NOT preclude the north from going to war).
        Chris,
        Perhaps the North would have gone to war with the south, anyway (ceding some moral high ground while doing so, which is important when you consider England/France could have saved the south, potentially).
        The impetuous actions (as well as the historical dialogue) suggests that the South wasn’t nearly as gung-ho about going to war, and that without the sudden and impetuous attack, the “pro war” argument would have failed.

        [It’s rather an interesting counterfactual, because of Meade being in charge of the Northern Army… With his tendency to overestimate Southern forces, Lincoln might have had a much harder time going to war… (Which was probably why Fort Sumpter was fortified, actually. Taking advantage of your enemies’ stupidity is a timehonored practice in war.)]Report

      • Avatar Barry in reply to Stillwater
        Ignored
        says:

        Ta-Nesi Coates gave an example of Delaware slave owners almost unanimously refusing a proposal to purchase their slaves, *during* the Civil War, when Delaware was a tiny slave state surrounded by free states.

        Does anybody think that the overwhelming majority of slave state slave owners would have accepted such an offer?Report

  23. Avatar Barry
    Ignored
    says:

    Todd Kelly: “Rush Limbaugh never broke into Michael Steele’s house, put a gun to his head, and force Steele to publicly apologize for ever disagreeing with him. Steele (and the rest of the GOP) did that all on their own. None of that is on Rush, as far as I”m concerned.”

    The whole point is that ‘entertainers’ don’t get such apologies, only people wielding actual clout do. By your standard (which is ridiculous), a very large number of people wielding a lot of power don’t actually have power.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Barry
      Ignored
      says:

      @barry Hey, if you want to name Lassie as the leader of your party, don’t be hitting him with a rolled up newspaper after you’ve wasted $100 million on an anti-cat ads and run a soup bone in your primary. That’s all on you. He’s a fucking dog, what did you expect?Report

  24. Avatar Shelley
    Ignored
    says:

    Thank God for Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart. Except for MSNBC and Bill Moyers, they seem to be the only place left on the media where somebody like this guy can spout his “interesting” message and be called on it.Report

  25. Avatar Barry
    Ignored
    says:

    Kim

    “Burt,
    I know someone who did a historical assessment of this for the bicentennial.
    Basically, the southern states would not have stood as a group, and would have been reabsorbed into the union piecemeal (as the “leaders” got in economic difficulties).”

    The thing is that resorbing a given state would have meant paying a lot of money for a bailout – of foreigners who seceded[1]. It also would have meant likely weakening the power of the dominant political faction in the USA, the Republican Party. It would have meant dealing with a state full of people whose proven attitude towards losing an election was to leave.

    [1] Depending on US investments in that state, which would have been less due to it being a foreign country.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to Barry
      Ignored
      says:

      Barry,
      Freeing the slaves means you don’t need to bail out broken institutions. Taking a severe cut off the ruling class in general (via distribution of land or otherwise), means it wouldn’t cost nearly as much.
      And it would have meant freeing the slaves, which would have ensured a Republican Candidate for many of these states, at least for the near term.

      But, really, you’re ignoring that this is the Nationalist America who fought the Mexican War, and had Manifest Destiny as it’s motto. They were always going to want the South back — the only question is, on what terms?Report

      • Avatar Barry in reply to Kim
        Ignored
        says:

        Kim, your point was that the individual states would have reapplied due to financial distress.

        Also, this timeline involves a USA which peacefully accepted the separation of a third of the country.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Kim
        Ignored
        says:

        Barry,
        Yes, but whose financial distress? The Aristos who had financial and political power — and slaves.
        Nothing says we need to bailout them.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Kim
        Ignored
        says:

        And, Barry, you’re assuming that the states would have been “asked”. I’m assuming rather the opposite. As they got into financial difficulties, their militaries would suffer.Report

  26. Avatar Barry
    Ignored
    says:

    Kim

    “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slavery_in_the_United_States
    33% of southern families owned slaves.
    While the vast majority of these were 1-2 slaves, there was a big concentration on the 50?s and up category.”

    BTW, assuming that political power was partially (if not strongly) a function of wealth, this meant that the slaveowning part of Southern states would have been very, very dominant. Especially as the 67% would have included people directly economically dependent on slavery, even if they didn’t own slaves themselves.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to Barry
      Ignored
      says:

      Yes, I do believe that political power correlated quite strongly with number of slaves owned. I also believe that the aristo’s would not have gotten along, and that America (the North) would have been much more able to punish a relatively small amount of people (which sherman and company did do, just to a far smaller degree).Report

  27. Avatar Barry
    Ignored
    says:

    Will Truman

    “Likesays, it’s different splitting off as a state than federal. NoCo would still have federal dollars to rely on. They’d be taking a hit, but probably not as big of a hit. On the other hand, those leaving the country would be able to do things economically that being a state in the US prohibits. This might have economically beneficial effects.”

    The whole point (IMHO) is that a place like NoCo would gain two Senators, and be able to pull down some sweet federal welfare. Right now, they only get what they can get from the two Senators they share with Colorado (which might be nothing). If they were the 51st state, their leverage in the Federal Government would go way up.

    A pure welfare ploy.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Barry
      Ignored
      says:

      Having spent some time in Pullman-Moscow where Pullman (WA) is bound to Seattle and Moscow (ID) is not, it was pretty apparent that Pullman by far had the better deal. Cutting of ties with Denver for not-guaranteed federal funds would be an enormously stupid money decision.Report

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