Why Florida Seceded From the Union

On this day in 1861 the state of Florida formally seceded from the Union.  A number of the secession conventions issued “declarations of causes” to explain why they decided to sever ties with the United States, though at the time Florida chose not to publish its statement.  The unpublished document was recently discovered in a Florida archives. [h/t to James Epperson]

By the agency of a large proportion of the members from the non slaveholding States books have been published and circulated amongst us the direct tendency and avowed purpose of which is to excite insurrection and servile war with all their attendant horrors. A President has recently been elected, an obscure and illiterate man without experience in public affairs or any general reputation mainly if not exclusively on account of a settled and often proclaimed hostility to our institutions and a fixed purpose to abolish them. It is denied that it is the purpose of the party soon to enter into the possession of the powers of the Federal Government to abolish slavery by any direct legislative act. This has never been charged by any one. But it has been announced by all the leading men and presses of the party that the ultimate accomplishment of this result is its settled purpose and great central principle. That no more slave States shall be admitted into the confederacy and that the slaves from their rapid increase (the highest evidence of the humanity of their owners will become value less. Nothing is more certain than this and at no distant day. What must be the condition of the slaves themselves when their number becomes so large that their labor will be of no value to their owners. Their natural tendency every where shown where the race has existed to idleness vagrancy and crime increased by an inability to procure subsistence. Can any thing be more impudently false than the pretense that this state of things is to be brought about from considerations of humanity to the slaves.

It is in so many words saying to you we will not burn you at the stake but we will torture you to death by a slow fire we will not confiscate your property and consign you to a residence and equality with the african but that destiny certainly awaits your children – and you must quietly submit or we will force you to submission – men who can hesitate to resist such aggressions are slaves already and deserve their destiny. The members of the Republican party has denied that the party will oppose the admission of any new state where slavery shall be tolerated. But on the contrary they declare that on this point they will make no concession or compromise. It is manifest that they will not because to do so would be the dissolution of the party.

I agree with Gordon Rhea that white Southerners in the Deep South made themselves perfectly clear as to why they believed secession was their only recourse following the election of Abraham Lincoln.  There is no reason why we shouldn’t take them at their word.

[Image from Florida Memory Project]

119 thoughts on “Why Florida Seceded From the Union

  1. James F. Epperson

    Thanks for the pointer. I would be remiss if I did not mention that Dr. Dwight Pitcaithley pointed out the existence of the document to me, and I was able to talk the family into a detour to Tallahassee on a vacation so I could get a copy from the archival source.

    Reply
  2. Scott MacKenzie

    I liked this bit at the end of the first paragraph: “Can any thing be more impudently false than the pretense that this state of things is to be brought about from considerations of humanity to the slaves.”

    How about this! I visited Olustee Battlefield in November. The monument there, dedicated in 1912, offers a very different reason for secession:

    “To the men who fought and triumphed here in defense of their homes and firesides, this monument was erected by the United Daughters of the Confederacy aided by the State of Florida in commemoration of their devotion to the cause of liberty and state sovereignty. 1912.”

    They just walk into these things.

    Reply
    1. Andy Hall

      The traditional Lost Cause narrative (“states’ rights,” “defense of their homes and firesides”) is itself revisionist history, albeit a very old one. It’s the politically-correct narrative for a late-19th century audience.

      Reply
      1. Scott MacKenzie

        Oh I agree, but its persistence in the late 20th and early 21st centuries makes an even greater mockery of one of great tragedies in American history.

        Reply
      2. Michael C. Lucas

        Andy Hall,
        The only thing revisionist is the perpetuation they were fighting for slavery.

        “An incursion has been instigated and actually perpetuated into a sister State the inevitable consequences of which were murder rapine and crimes even more horrible. The felon chief of that murderous band has been canonized as a heroic martyr by public meetings by the press and pulpit of all of the Northern States – others of the party have been demanded by the Governor of the State they invaded and their surrender refused by the Governors of two States of the Confederacy, demanded not as fugitives from service but as fugitives from justice charged with treason and murder.”

        Reply
        1. Kevin Levin Post author

          Perhaps you could spend a few minutes and interpret how the references to slavery ought to be interpreted.

          Reply
          1. Michael C. Lucas

            Andy,
            Unlike Mr. Levin, I did not take it out of context to disagree with their views. He, like yourself on the other hand have distorted their views more times than I can count.

            Tst tst tst, Embarrassing!

            Reply
              1. Michael C. Lucas

                No you have set the context by inferring that the excerpt defines slavery as their “cause,” thereby disenfranchising their overall”causes”, for secession.

                Reply
            1. Andy Hall

              The “Declaration of the Causes which Impel the State of Texas to Secede from the Federal Union” mentions some variant of the word “slave” twenty-two times, Michael. Excluding common parts of speech (e.g., “the,” “and,” “of,” etc.), “slave” is the second-most common noun appearing after “states,” more than “federal,” or “Texas,” or “government.”

              That’s taking nothing out of context, Michael. The members of the Texas Secession Convention prepared that document explicitly to explain and justify their actions to their fellow citizens, and to those like us who came after. We really ought to trust them on this.

              I’d wondered whether your previous failure even to acknowledge that document, much less address its content, was intentional. Now we know.

              Reply
              1. Corey Meyer

                Andy,

                Just did a quick search of the Florida document for the following terms…

                Slave- 14, usually as slaveholding as in slaveholding states.
                Slavery-2
                Tariff(s)- 0
                Tax- 0
                Taxes- 0

                Just a little FYI

                Reply
              2. Michael C. Lucas

                Andy Hall, I do trust them, just not your revisionists judgement. I will not buy into the ignorance that blinds you.

                I am sorry you cannot distinguish the difference or meaning, between what is slavery, a slave holding state and a non-slaveholding state. That you are blind to the causes other than slavery. Your ignoring their rights as the Republican Government did in 1861.

                15 out of the 22 times slave is mentioned refer to the distinction of the states, whether slave holding or non-slave holding. Your ignoring their many grievances regarding acts of Northern(non-Slave-holding) States aggression and crimes against the Southern (Slave-holding) States, of their disenfranchisement, high tariffs, the (Northern) expansion of power, as well as murder, rapine, thievery, etc….

                The ignorance lies within the belief that only slavery could divide the nation to such a degree. Well there have been many dividing issues which have led to the deaths of many Americans. Dividing the states as much against the federal government as slavery did. The advances in education and communication, have changed the dynamic of what divides us, so secessions and wars, such as the War between the States, have been averted.

                Rather than seeking positive solutions in the 1850′s, animosity was perpetuated by Northern Aggression, and an arrogance of authority over others which remains to this day, it is evident throughout the numerous blogs, media and literature which perpetrate it:

                Texas Causes:
                “The controlling majority of the Federal Government, under various pretenses and disguises, has so administered the same as to exclude the citizens of the Southern States, unless under odious and unconstitutional restrictions, from all the immense territory owned in common by all the States on the Pacific Ocean, for the avowed purpose of acquiring sufficient power in the common government to use it as a means of destroying the institutions of Texas and her sister slave-holding States.

                By the disloyalty of the Northern States and their citizens and the imbecility of the Federal Government, infamous combinations of incendiaries and outlaws have been permitted in those States and the common territory of Kansas to trample upon the federal laws, to war upon the lives and property of Southern citizens in that territory, and finally, by violence and mob law, to usurp the possession of the same as exclusively the property of the Northern States.

                The Federal Government, while but partially under the control of these our unnatural and sectional enemies, has for years almost entirely failed to protect the lives and property of the people of Texas against the Indian savages on our border, and more recently against the murderous forays of banditti from the neighboring territory of Mexico; and when our State government has expended large amounts for such purpose, the Federal Government has refuse reimbursement therefor, thus rendering our condition more insecure and harassing than it was during the existence of the Republic of Texas.

                These and other wrongs we have patiently borne in the vain hope that a returning sense of justice and humanity would induce a different course of administration.

                When we advert to the course of individual non-slave-holding States, and that a majority of their citizens, our grievances assume far greater magnitude.

                The States of Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan and Iowa, by solemn legislative enactments, have deliberately, directly or indirectly violated the 3rd clause of the 2nd section of the 4th article [the fugitive slave clause] of the federal constitution, and laws passed in pursuance thereof; thereby annulling a material provision of the compact, designed by its framers to perpetuate the amity between the members of the confederacy and to secure the rights of the slave-holding States in their domestic institutions– a provision founded in justice and wisdom, and without the enforcement of which the compact fails to accomplish the object of its creation. Some of those States have imposed high fines and degrading penalties upon any of their citizens or officers who may carry out in good faith that provision of the compact, or the federal laws enacted in accordance therewith.

                In all the non-slave-holding States, in violation of that good faith and comity which should exist between entirely distinct nations, the people have formed themselves into a great sectional party, now strong enough in numbers to control the affairs of each of those States, based upon an unnatural feeling of hostility to these Southern States and their beneficent and patriarchal system of African slavery, proclaiming the debasing doctrine of equality of all men, irrespective of race or color– a doctrine at war with nature, in opposition to the experience of mankind, and in violation of the plainest revelations of Divine Law. They demand the abolition of negro slavery throughout the confederacy, the recognition of political equality between the white and negro races, and avow their determination to press on their crusade against us, so long as a negro slave remains in these States.
                For years past this abolition organization has been actively sowing the seeds of discord through the Union, and has rendered the federal congress the arena for spreading firebrands and hatred between the slave-holding and non-slave-holding States.

                By consolidating their strength, they have placed the slave-holding States in a hopeless minority in the federal congress, and rendered representation of no avail in protecting Southern rights against their exactions and encroachments.

                They have proclaimed, and at the ballot box sustained, the revolutionary doctrine that there is a ‘higher law’ than the constitution and laws of our Federal Union, and virtually that they will disregard their oaths and trample upon our rights.

                They have for years past encouraged and sustained lawless organizations to steal our slaves and prevent their recapture, and have repeatedly murdered Southern citizens while lawfully seeking their rendition.

                They have invaded Southern soil and murdered unoffending citizens, and through the press their leading men and a fanatical pulpit have bestowed praise upon the actors and assassins in these crimes, while the governors of several of their States have refused to deliver parties implicated and indicted for participation in such offenses, upon the legal demands of the States aggrieved.

                They have, through the mails and hired emissaries, sent seditious pamphlets and papers among us to stir up servile insurrection and bring blood and carnage to our firesides.

                They have sent hired emissaries among us to burn our towns and distribute arms and poison to our slaves for the same purpose.
                They have impoverished the slave-holding States by unequal and partial legislation, thereby enriching themselves by draining our substance.

                They have refused to vote appropriations for protecting Texas against ruthless savages, for the sole reason that she is a slave-holding State.
                And, finally, by the combined sectional vote of the seventeen non-slave-holding States, they have elected as president and vice-president of the whole confederacy two men whose chief claims to such high positions are their approval of these long continued wrongs, and their pledges to continue them to the final consummation of these schemes for the ruin of the slave-holding States.

                For these and other reasons, solemnly asserting that the federal constitution has been violated and virtually abrogated by the several States named, seeing that the federal government is now passing under the control of our enemies to be diverted from the exalted objects of its creation to those of oppression and wrong, and realizing that our own State can no longer look for protection, but to God and her own sons– We the delegates of the people of Texas, in Convention assembled, have passed an ordinance dissolving all political connection with the government of the United States of America and the people thereof and confidently appeal to the intelligence and patriotism of the freemen of Texas to ratify the same at the ballot box, on the 23rd day of the present month.

                Adopted in Convention on the 2nd day of Feby, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-one and of the independence of Texas the twenty-fifth.”

                Reply
                1. Kevin Levin Post author

                  Your ignoring their rights as the Republican Government did in 1861

                  There was no Republican government when Florida seceded in January 1861.

                  15 out of the 22 times slave is mentioned refer to the distinction of the states, whether slave holding or non-slave holding. Your ignoring their many grievances regarding acts of Northern(non-Slave-holding) States aggression and crimes against the Southern (Slave-holding) States, of their disenfranchisement, high tariffs, the (Northern) expansion of power, as well as murder, rapine, thievery, etc….

                  Why does Florida bother at all to refer to slave holding or non-slaveholding states at all? Perhaps you can explain the context of the references to “murder, rapine, thievery, etc…” What are they referring to? Another reader suggested that the reference is to John Brown, which makes perfect sense. If you disagree than you need to make a case.

                  Reply
                  1. Michael C. Lucas

                    Corey and Kevin, do you people read?
                    Andy Hall stated January 10, 2012 at 2:50 pm
                    “The “Declaration of the Causes which Impel the State of Texas to Secede from the Federal Union” mentions some variant of the word “slave” twenty-two times, Michael. Excluding common parts of speech (e.g., “the,” “and,” “of,” etc.), “slave” is the second-most common noun appearing after “states,” more than “federal,” or “Texas,” or “government.”

                    Followed by Michael C. Lucas January 11, 2012 at 12:10 am
                    to Andy Hall,
                    “15 out of the 22 times slave is mentioned refer to the distinction of the states, whether slave holding or non-slave holding. Your ignoring their many grievances regarding acts of Northern(non-Slave-holding) States aggression and crimes against the Southern (Slave-holding) States, of their disenfranchisement, high tariffs, the (Northern) expansion of power, as well as murder, rapine, thievery, etc….”

                    Reply
                    1. Kevin Levin Post author

                      It’s a bit difficult to follow these threads, but I still don’t see anything that challenges what the conventions in Texas and Florida refer to as the major reason behind secession. Clearly, we disagree regarding how to interpret these documents. The official documents clearly reflect their personal and public correspondence.

                    2. Andy Hall

                      The Texas “Declaration of Causes” makes not a single reference to tariffs, or tax, or imposts, or revenue.

                      The fact that this document repeatedly groups Texas along with South Carolina, Mississippi, and others that would form the Confederacy as a “slave-holding state,” while decrying the actions of “non-slave-holding states,” really does tell the reader how they defined both themselves and their opponents around the central issue of the period. They made no apologies, and no attempt to hide their views on the matter.

                2. Andy Hall

                  From your long quote above:

                  to use it as a means of destroying the institutions of Texas and her sister slave-holding States.

                  and

                  have deliberately, directly or indirectly violated the 3rd clause of the 2nd section of the 4th article [the fugitive slave clause] of the federal constitution, and laws passed in pursuance thereof

                  and

                  They demand the abolition of negro slavery throughout the confederacy, the recognition of political equality between the white and negro races, and avow their determination to press on their crusade against us, so long as a negro slave remains in these States.

                  and

                  They have for years past encouraged and sustained lawless organizations to steal our slaves and prevent their recapture, and have repeatedly murdered Southern citizens while lawfully seeking their rendition.

                  and

                  They have, through the mails and hired emissaries, sent seditious pamphlets and papers among us to stir up servile insurrection and bring blood and carnage to our firesides.

                  and

                  They demand the abolition of negro slavery throughout the confederacy, the recognition of political equality between the white and negro races, and avow their determination to press on their crusade against us, so long as a negro slave remains in these States.

                  These are, in your view, “other” grievances separate and apart from the protection of slavery as an institution, and slaveholders’ property rights?

                  Reply
                    1. Andy Hall

                      Instead of accusing me of “cherry-picking,” maybe you can explain how these examples — and there are others — are not references to perceived threats to the institution of slavery and slave-holders’ property rights. After all, you are the one posting this material here, ostensibly in an effort to show that Texas’ secession was motivated by other issues.

                      It’s a little amusing that even the complaint about the national government failing to secure the frontier from Indian attack — a gripe that would be repeated again and again against Richmond under the Confederate governors of Texas in the years following — is framed in terms of the national government’s increasing opposition to slavery, saying that Congress refused to appropriate funds “for the sole reason that [Texas] is a slave-holding State.”

                      You accuse me and others of seeing the entire conflict through the lens of slavery. But you know what? Those who propelled my state out of the Union and into the Confederacy absolutely saw it that way.

                    2. Michael C. Lucas

                      Andy,
                      You are mistaken, because you are therefore disenfranchising their rights as United States citizens as they understood their rights at that time. Slaves only had rights according to the State laws they were within, and in accordance with the legislation agreed constitutionally agreed upon, within the compromises that had been made. Texas and the Southern States are defending themselves, families, slaves, and friends, their property, their livelihood. As I have said repeatedly that Slavery is an issue. But it is not the cause conflict, conflict over Power was the cause. They seceded in self defense from further infringement on Southern citizen’s rights vs. the expansion of Northern citizens interference to dictate to them what rights they had.

                    3. Andy Hall

                      @Michael:

                      The “power” they feared was increasing political power of Northern states, due to increased representation in Congress as a result of immigration and the admission of new, free territories into the Union. Slaveholding states, along with some supporters from Northern states, had long held sway over Congress with what was derided at the time as “Slave Power.” Even when they could not completely block legislation they deemed contrary to their interests, they did wield sufficient power to modify or ameliorate it — thus the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, passed in conjunction with the Compromise of 1850. But through the following decade, “Slave Power” was clearly slipping, and it was obvious to all observers. The election of a “Black Republican” administration in November of 1860, which campaigned on a platform of restricting the institution of slavery to those places where it already existed, was the final straw that pushed them over the edge. They saw that they couldn’t control the game anymore, so they quit.

                      You also write:

                      “You are therefore disenfranchising their rights as United States citizens as they understood their rights at that time.”

                      I’m not disenfranchising anyone, and neither did Abraham Lincoln or the “Black Republicans.” Citizens of the soon-to-be Confederate States found themselves increasingly on the losing end of a national trend that was increasingly intolerant of slavery as an institution, and unwilling to give it more political power (through its expansion into new territories) than it already had. They didn’t like it, but there’s nothing inherently tyrannical about it. Democracy doesn’t necessarily result in outcomes that we — as individuals, or as a region — want it to. But that doesn’t make the outcome any less legitimate.

                    4. Andy Hall

                      And I’m still waiting for your explanation of how all that slavery stuff ended up in your citation of all the reasons Texas’ secession wasn’t fundamentally about slavery. ;-)

                    5. Michael C. Lucas

                      The “power” they feared was increasing political power of Northern states, due to increased representation in Congress as a result of immigration and the admission of new, free territories into the Union. Slaveholding states, along with some supporters from Northern states, had long held sway over Congress with what was derided at the time as “Slave Power.” Even when they could not completely block legislation they deemed contrary to their interests, they did wield sufficient power to modify or ameliorate it — thus the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, passed in conjunction with the Compromise of 1850. But through the following decade, “Slave Power” was clearly slipping, and it was obvious to all observers. The election of a “Black Republican” administration in November of 1860, which campaigned on a platform of restricting the institution of slavery to those places where it already existed, was the final straw that pushed them over the edge. They saw that they couldn’t control the game anymore, so they quit.

                      Congrats! Andy your so much closer! But the South advocated equal power not control of the game, they were human. Their compromises demonstrate their willingness to compromise. Where as the unwillingness by Northern states to dominate expansion and be non-compliant with the compromises is in question. Greed of Power! The documentation and actions of the North to dominate that power is why the South seceded.

                    6. Andy Hall

                      “But the South advocated equal power. . . .”

                      How does that work, exactly? There’s nothing inherent in the Constitution (or representative democracy generally) that one particular group of states should have “equal” representation or power. What groups? What states?

                      The Founders struggled with this, eventually settling on equal representation in the Senate (two senators per state), with proportional representation on the House, based on population. The slaveholding states came off pretty well in representation in the House of Representatives, in fact, what with the Three-Fifths Compromise; Virginia had two more seats in the House than Massachusetts in the 36th Congress (1859-61), even though the latter had a larger free population. New Jersey had more than twice as many free residents as South Carolina, but only five seats to South Carolina’s six.

                      “Equal” political power? Sorry, Michael, the slaveholding states had plenty of political power, and then some.

                    7. Andy Hall

                      I should have added here that the apportionment of representatives in the 36th Congress was based on the 1850 census, but (as mentioned earlier) their grasp was clearly slipping through the expanding population in the free states and territories. This was a particularly strong theme with James D. B. DeBow, a former superintendent of the U.S. Census, published extensive tracts justifying the institution of slavery as an economic and moral good. The ongoing shifts in population, and the imminent further loss of representation of the slave-holding states, were very much on the minds of many fire-eaters.

  3. Jonathan Dresner

    I was most intrigued by the line “slaves from their rapid increase (the highest evidence of the humanity of their owners[)] will become value less.” Their defense of slavery rests on the fact that slave owners, barred from importing new slaves, were allowing them (and forcing them, etc.) to breed? And the fact that their continued population increase after liberation (which contradicts the argument, but who cares?) would lower the value of their labor?

    Wow.

    Reply
  4. Bernard

    Very interesting find, though it also adds a new twist for those who wish to downplay the tariff issue as a secession grievance:

    “The revenues of the General Government are almost entirely derived from duties on importations. It is time that the northern consumer pays his proportion of these duties, but the North as a section receiving back in the increased prices of the rival articles which it manufactures nearly or quite as much as the imposts which it pays thus in effect paying nothing or very little for the support of the government. As to the sacrifice of lives which recent acquisitions have caused how small is the proportion of Northern blood shed or laurels won in the Mexican war.”

    Certainly this passage is secondary to slavery in the document, but does it not also contain the southern complaint against tariffs that the “Lost Cause” camp likes to make, and others often deny entirely?

    Reply
    1. Ray O'Hara

      The complaint the South paid more tariffs or that the tariff burden fell more on it doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.

      Reply
      1. Beezley

        Then it should be rather easy for you to scrutinize, should it not? The text of what Florida said is there. So let’s have it.

        Reply
      2. Bernard

        As a rule of thumb, import tariffs tend to disproportionately burden sectors of the economy that rely upon international trade. Since trade operates in both directions, that means exporters are merchants are usually hit the worst, as they directly suffer when other countries retaliate and when import traffic – which finances our exports by facilitating the international currency flow of the dollar – declines.

        The northern economy had relatively few major exports in 1860. But the entire southern economy in 1860 was built around exporting cotton and other cash crops to Europe. Ergo the south would bear the economic brunt of a major tariff increase.

        Reply
        1. Ray O'Hara

          The South exported raw caotton, a protective tariff on that would just raise the cost for their own mills and make their finished product more expensive on the world market,
          As England depended on that cotrton they wouldn’t do that.
          Tobacco was also a big Southern export, a protective tariff on that would just raise prices on their own butt fiends.

          The South hated domestic tariffs because they felt it made imports more expensive and forced them to by from the hated Yankees.

          The North exported much finished product which would be targeted by a protective foreign tariff.

          So I can’t agree with tyour argument

          Reply
          1. Bernard

            “The South exported raw caotton, a protective tariff on that would just raise the cost for their own mills and make their finished product more expensive on the world market”

            You are only half correct. The protective tariff would indeed raise the south’s production costs. But the world price for cotton is set by markets beyond the south alone, so they’d be unable to pass it on to their trading partners. That’s why the southerners considered themselves aggrieved by the tariff. There is no reason why we shouldn’t take them at their word.

            Reply
    2. Jim Dick

      The Tariff of 1857 was voted on overwhelmingly by the Southern congressmen. It was the lowest tariff in US history. A new and higher tariff could not be passed unless the southern congressmen and their allies supported it. The issue of the tarifff was dredged from the past as it was an old wound for Southerners, but in reality it was really a non-issue in 1860.

      Reply
      1. Beezley

        You’re arguing against a strawman.

        The Tariff of 1857 was never an issue for the secessionists. It was low, so naturally they supported it.

        They were irked about the then-pending Morril Tariff of 1861. It was essentially going from low taxes to high taxes, and everything Lincoln said in his campaign indicated he supported the tax hike.

        Reply
        1. Jim Dick

          The only reason the Morrill Tariff passed is because the Southern congressmen left Congress because they were attempting to secede from the lawful government of the United States. The tariff would never have passed if they had stayed. You overlooked this fact didn’t you?

          Reply
          1. Bernard

            “The tariff would never have passed if they had stayed.”

            You severely oversimplify the tariff issue in 1860, perhaps intentionally.

            The Morrill Tariff Act of 1861 actually passed the House of Representatives on May 10, 1860 – 7 months before secession started – by a vote of 105-64. It was still pending before the Senate when secession started. While the seceding Senators certainly removed some of the opposition, it is difficult to know the “alternate history” of how the vote would have turned out for certain if they remained.

            What we do know though is that the southerners saw the Republicans pick up 3 new Senate seats in the election and a new president who campaigned in favor of the tariff. Just as they had with slavery, they interpreted the election results as a threat to the existing low tariff and seceded accordingly.

            Reply
            1. Jim Dick

              It passed the Senate in February 1861 by a vote of 25 to 14. The fourteen senators from the seven Deep South states had left Congress and did not vote. Had they stayed instead of running away the vote would have been 25 to 28 which would have resulted in the failure of the bill. Also, it would almost certainly never made it out of committee to be voted upon in the Senate, but because the 14 southern senators left Congress they didn’t have enough votes from the bill being brought to the floor.
              This also needs to note that there were some senators who abstained as a result of the southern senators leaving. They would have voted to kill the tariff had they stayed.
              The Morrill Tariff is a piece of legislature that would have failed but instead, it passed directly as the result of the fourteen senators abandoning their duties in the legally elected government of the United States of America in order to follow the illegal orders of states that were attempting to secede from the Union. So whenever the Morrill Tariff is brought up, it is done so from an incorrect assessment that it would have passed. It would not have passed. Thus, the anguish over it is a complete and utter fabrication designed to generate support for the Lost Cause lie.

              Reply
              1. Bernard

                Jim Dick – There are several errors in your history. I’ll elaborate below:

                1. The Morrill Tariff already made it out of committee back in June when it was called up onto the floor, then tabled into the winter session. So that’s a non-starter.

                2. You’ve provided no evidence that all of the abstaining senators were opposed to the bill. So that’s an unfounded assumption.

                3. You completely sidestepped the issue of how the 1860 election changed the composition of the Senate, and with it the prospective fortunes of the tariff bill after inauguration day. Hint: it shifted 3 seats in favor of the Republicans, plus a new president who was committed to getting the tariff hiked.

                There is no way of knowing exactly when it would pass the Senate if the southerners had kept their seats. But we do know that a tariff hike was becoming more and more likely with each passing day when they resigned. And we also know they were angered by the tariff because they openly said so.

                And as with slavery, there is no reason why we shouldn’t take them at their word.

                Reply
                1. Jim Dick

                  Again, you are incorrect with your assessements. In the Senate the bill had not left the finance committe, but when the fourteen senators of the southern states that illegally left the Union left Congress, Senator Hunter of Virginia was unable to prevent it being brought to the floor in February 1861.
                  If you look at the list of senators who abstained, eight were Democrats, one was a Republican, and four were absent. Thus following party line votes, 36 senators would have voted against the bill with only 26 confirmed for it with four abstentions that even if they did vote for the bill would only have brought the total to 30 which would not have passed the bill.
                  Also, it passed AFTER the secession of the Deep South so the argument still fails that it was a major issue.
                  The fact remains that the tariff was needed due to the financial situation of the country which the 1857 was alleged at that time to be the reason for the Panic of 1857.
                  So when we read the secession declarations of the Deep South states that illegally attempted secession, they’re arguing against a tariff that their elected representatives voted for. The South essentially gave up their right of representation.

                  Reply
                  1. Bernard

                    “In the Senate the bill had not left the finance committe, ”

                    That is simply incorrect. It had ALREADY reached the Senate floor in June. On June 15 they voted to postpone the debate on the tariff bill “until the second Monday in December next.”

                    http://memory.loc.gov/ll/llcg/054/0100/01973027.tif

                    You are also incorrect to assume it would have been a party line vote in December. The tariff issue broke on sectional lines, not party lines, as the House vote proved. A Democrat from Pennsylvania was just as likely to support it as a Republican from Rhode Island.

                    And you are incorrect that it was a simple “finance” bill. The historical consensus on the Morrill Tariff has long held it to be the first landmark bill of the sustained U.S. policy of protectionism that lasted until World War I.

                    “So when we read the secession declarations of the Deep South states that illegally attempted secession, they’re arguing against a tariff that their elected representatives voted for.”

                    I suppose that explains why Robert Toombs at the Georgia Secession Convention went on a tirade against “the infamous Morrill bill” then?

                    Nice try, bub, but your history is simply wrong.

                    And I’ll point out – once again – that you completely sidestepped the issue of the Morrill Tariff passing the Senate AFTER inauguration day when the new Senate had a stronger Republican voting bloc and a new president who campaigned in favor of the tariff.

                    Reply
                    1. Jim Dick

                      Bernard, go look at a history book. It reached the floor of the HOUSE in June, but not the Senate. Look up the records of the 36th Congress. Also your math is totally wrong. The Democrats would have retained power in the 37th Congress but too many of them left when their states illegally left the Union. Only one Democrat voted for the Morrill Tariff and he was from Pennsylvania. So the numbers clearly show that this tariff would never have passed no matter how you try to argue that it would have. It also only passed AFTER the states attempted their illegal secession.
                      You’re arguing about something that is not the cause of the Civil War in a vain attempt to legitimatize the illegal secession and treason of the Southern states. Toombs was railing about the HOUSE version while the Georgia secession convention was going on. The tariffs were always a sore point with the South, but this particular tariff was not going to pass. It only passed because those senators left Congress. You can twist it any way you want to, but the fact of the matter will always remain that the supporters of this tariff never had the votes to pass it.
                      It’s a waste of time arguing this with you repeatedly because you’re not looking at the numbers and dates that match up with the actual historical events. It was tabled for the committee and only when the southern senators left did the ability to get it out of the committee occur. If anything this is just another example of the fear mongering that the secessionists used to cause secession.

                    2. Bernard

                      Jim Dick – Go look at the link I posted above. I’ll even share it again here since you seem to have difficulty reading.

                      http://memory.loc.gov/ll/llcg/054/0100/01973027.tif

                      It is to a page in the SENATE debates from the Congressional Globe where they voted on June 15, 1860 to postpone the Senate floor debate on the Morrill Tariff until December. I’ve fully documented that it was already on the Senate floor, no matter how fervently you insist otherwise. Nonetheless you persist in your errors. But let us continue to deconstruct them:

                      You persist in sidestepping the issue of the Republican gains in the new Senate by avoiding their effects on the outcome. But the errors in math are all yours. First, there were actually 12 missing senators at the time of the Morrill Tariff vote – not 14 – as the two from Texas did not resign their seats until after inauguration day. Second, the Republican margin of gain in the election was more than the hypothetical difference of 14 nos + 12 missing southerners, most of the abstentions being paired off and thus canceling each other out. And third, the Republicans could easily absorb a Northern Democrat abstention turning to a “no” vote because they still had the Vice President to break a tie.

                      You also say “Toombs was railing about the HOUSE version while the Georgia secession convention was going on.” That’s all fine and dandy, but to quote historian Frank W. Taussig the Morrill Tariff “was accepted by the Senate in the session of 1861 **without material change**.” Ergo it was the same bill.

                      The bottom line: there is ample evidence that the secessionists had a problem with the Morrill Tariff and stated so openly. There is no reason why we shouldn’t take them at their word.

                2. James F. Epperson

                  Let me just point out that tariffs are paid by the consumers, i.e., the people buying imported or protected goods, and there were a lot more consumers in the North. The tariff-as-a-cause issue is simply a non-starter. It is indeed mentioned in a few places, but only a few.

                  Reply
                  1. Bernard

                    James – That’s not entirely true though. The whole point of “protecting” an imported good is to tax it so high that people DO NOT buy it and therefore DO NOT pay the tax, causing them to take their business instead to an untaxed home industry. And where were most of those home industries? The North, hence the southern complaint.

                    As this Florida resolution demonstrates, those “few” places that the tariff is complained about do seem to be growing in number and specificity. As with slavery, there is no reason why we shouldn’t take them at their word.

                    Reply
              2. Ray O'Hara

                The Morrill Tariff shows the biggest mistake the South made by seceding,
                It took away its power and any say over any legislation passed.
                as you correctly note the South had blocked it in the Senate and it was only after they left that is could be passed.

                Also as the South was dependent on Northern banks for loans they erected a new barrier between them and those banks

                The Pyrophagi did not think the whole secession issue through

                Reply
    3. Margaret D. Blough

      As was pointed out by Lawrence Keitt, a leading fire-eater who gave his life for the Confederacy at Cold Harbor, the tariff issue was irrelevant. It was an ancient grievance. You are aware, aren’t you, Bernard, that the foremost grievance of the American Revolution was taxation without representation. There was no tariff in US history up to the point of the Civil War and the resignation of senators and representatives from the rebel states that was passed, indeed could have been passed without Southern votes. The most recent tariff before secession began was the tariff of 1857 that reduced rates and increased exemptions to the point that many free state citizens blamed it for the Panic of 1857 and the resulting depression. The cotton states did not feel the impact of that Panic and depression which resulted in Sen. James Hammond’s King Cotton speech in the US Senate in which he gloated over that. In William Freehling’s excellent book on the Nullification Crisis, he showed how even that event, ostensibly over tariffs, was related to slavery.

      Reply
      1. Beezley

        Margaret – You oversimplify your history by neglecting the internal discussion that occurred around the tariff within the secession conventions. Keitt’s ambivalence to the tariff issue cannot be fully understood outside of the context that it was effectively an answer to Robert Barnwell Rhett, who pressed hard (and successfully, I might add) to make sure a tariff plank was included in South Carolina’s secession address to the other slaveholding states:

        “The Southern States now stand in the same relation toward the Northern States, in the vital matter of taxation, that our ancestors stood toward the people of Great Britain. They are in a minority in Congress. Their representation in Congress is useless to protect them against unjust taxation, and they are taxed by the people of the North for their benefit exactly as the people of Great Britain taxed our ancestors in the British Parliament for their benefit. For the last forty years the taxes laid by the Congress of the United States have been laid with a view of subserving the interests of the North. The people of the South have been taxed by duties on imports not for revenue, but for an object inconsistent with revenue — to promote, by prohibitions, Northern interests in the productions of their mines and manufactures.”

        The same is true of Georgia, where Robert Toombs’ effort to add a tariff plank cannot be understood except for the context that he was answering a counterpoint from Alexander H. Stephens, a then-opponent of secession and subscriber to the pro-tariff Whig economic philosophy. Toombs’ speech itself is lengthy and comprises a chapter in the economic section of Kenneth Stammp’s well-known book on the Causes of the Civil War. And like Rhett, he too was successful in carrying his convention on a tariff plank.

        The Panic of 1857 was caused by international factors wholly unrelated to the tariff issues, as James L. Huston’s book amply demonstrates. It is therefore a false flag except to note its use by some of the more virulent protectionists as pro-Morrill propaganda.

        Reply
        1. Jim Dick

          The page you posted a link to shows that H.R.338 (the tariff bill) was adjourned to the second session which took place in December of 1860. If you use the search function for the Congressional Globe just type in H.R. 338 for the 36th Congress, Senate. You can do that at this page http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/hlawquery.html. The information it gives you is illuminating. Senator Robert M.T. Hunter of Virginia was the Finance Committee chairman. As you look at the June records of the Senate you will see where Hunter used his position to keep the motion tabled until the Senate adjourned the first session. It never came to the floor during the first session as a result.
          In the second session, it was brought back to the Senate as a committee of the whole and then returned to the finance committee on the same day, December 11. On the 12th an amendment was added. On the 20th Hunter recommended it be postponed to March 4th. However, on January 18th, 1861 Senator Cameron moved to make it the special order of the day Wednesday next. This was because four states were attempting secession at this point; Georgia would follow suit the next day. New York City presented a petition on the 20th asking for the bill to be postponed until the next session.
          On the 23rd of January the bill was brought up and postponed. On the 24th a select committee was formed with Hunter, Simmons, Bigler, Gwen and Fessenden as members. Fessenden asked to be excused from the committee and Collamer was appointed to his place. On the 26th Louisiana said they were seceding. On the 1st of February Texas joined the secession movement bringing the total to seven states attempting to leave. The bill was postponed on the 1st to the 6th. On the 6th it was brought up and adjourned for the day. Note that some of the senators from the illegally seceding states were still present. It was adjourned on for the next few days, but on February 16th they passed several amendments to the bill before adjourning. They amended it further on the 18th and 19th and 20th with the bill being voted and passed on the 20th.
          A look at who voted reveals the lines were on a party basis. Only one Democratic senator voted for it. You can see this at this link where you can also access the original document. http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/D?hlaw:11:./temp/~ammem_eaJi::
          There were 13 vacant Democratic seats and two vacant seats from Kansas at this point. One seat was still occupied by Hemphill of Texas. There were a total of 68 seats or 34 states at this point. The vote, 25 to 14, reflected the missing southern senators. Hemphill did not vote or was missing. The Kansas seats couldn’t be filled until their legislature met to fill their seats. The Democrats had a majority until the Southern senators left. When you add the missing senators to the vote it comes to 25-28. Thirteen senators were missing; 11 were Democrats, 1 was a Know Nothing, and the last was a Republican. The famous Lost Cause argument fails here.
          It fails even more about the 37th Congress. The Senate would have been composed of 36 Democratic senators, 29 Republicans, one Unionist, and two from Kansas. The Democrats would still have kept their majority. The bill would probably not have passed but we will of course never know. The Republicans only got a majority in the Senate because the Southern senators left Congress. The discussion on this issue is not open any more. The Morrill Tariff only passed because the South left Congress. This is a rock solid fact. Disagreeing with it is an exercise in futility. It only passed AFTER they left! So when seven states whined about this tariff they did so over one they had the power to stop.

          Reply
          1. Bernard

            Jim Dick – Once again, you are simply wrong about your history. HR 338 had already been taken up by the full Senate which was operating as a Committee of the Whole (i.e. debating the bill on the floor of the chamber). In fact, it was called up from the calendar by Hunter to be considered before the full senate. The motion to bring it up was overwhelmingly in favor.

            See: http://memory.loc.gov/ll/llsj/051/0600/06710671.gif

            The postponement motion didn’t come up until later, AFTER debate was well underway in the Senate, operating as a Committee of the Whole. It placed the bill on the table until December, when the full Senate voted to RESUME consideration on December 11.

            See: http://memory.loc.gov/ll/llsj/052/0000/00370037.gif

            Notably, the vote to resume debate was 29 to 27 in favor on largely sectional lines. And it was taken BEFORE any southern senators departed. In other words, your claim that the south could bottle the tariff up as long as they remained is unsupported by the actual votes.

            And as a final point of historical error in your post, there were only 12 vacant seats when they took the final vote on Morrill. Sens. Hemphill and Wigfall of Texas were BOTH recorded present in their seats until after inauguration day. They also attended Lincoln’s inauguration a few days later and only departed on March 23rd at the end of the opening special session of the 37th Congress.

            Reply
            1. Bernard

              I should also note – it was RECOMMITTED to Senate Finance from the Committee of the Whole, mainly so the protectionist majority of that committee could continue to tweak the bill.

              Even though Hunter was chair, the tariff’s supporters also had the majority on the Finance Committee BEFORE any states seceded. Simmons, Bigler, and Collamer were all in favor of the tariff. The minority faction of Hunter and Gwin were opposed, but powerless to stop it.

              Reply
              1. Jim Dick

                You’re trying to cast this in a sectionalist rift when it wasn’t. There were factions in the North that opposed the Morrill Tariff as well. Notice that NYC sent in a petiton opposing it. While the Republicans did campaign on it, the senators were elected by the state legislatures. That meant they often did not comply with the party’s interests, but on their state or the group controlling the state’s interests. No matter how you slice or dice it, the end result is that it only was debated and amended after six state’s senators left Congress. (I was off on Wigfall because he didn’t vote on it on Feb 20. I thought he was in Charlestown.)
                There’s no point in arguing this endlessly because we each have our opinons. I took the liberty of looking up the Tariff and what I found (other than the garbage from the Lost Cause groups) was that almost all historians thought it would not have passed unless the Southern senators left Congress which they did. Even Lew Rockwell couldn’t say it would have passed no matter what the Southern senators did.
                Hunter was not powerless to stop the passing of the bill becaue the Senate record clearly shows him getting it passed over multiple times. The pro-tariff group couldn’t muster enough votes to prevent it from being tabled until the second session. That right there shows that it couldn’t pass.

                Reply
                1. Bernard

                  “You’re trying to cast this in a sectionalist rift when it wasn’t.”

                  The House vote conclusively says otherwise, and the Senate seems to have followed suit.

                  “Notice that NYC sent in a petiton opposing it.”

                  Yet how did New York’s senators vote on the bill? King & Seward – Aye.

                  “There’s no point in arguing this endlessly because we each have our opinons.”

                  The difference is mine are grounded in facts. You’ve shown a habit of simply making stuff up or, worse, stating things that are directly counterfactual.

                  “The pro-tariff group couldn’t muster enough votes to prevent it from being tabled until the second session. That right there shows that it couldn’t pass.”

                  Actually, the tablers only succeeded because it saved everyone from having to take a stance on record going into an election. As soon as they returned and BEFORE the south seceded, Hunter lost every vote to bring it up for consideration. That suggests very strongly that you have jumped the gun in declaring it dead-on-arrival before the southerners left the Senate. It also suggests that others who share your position have either not studied the issue closely, or are simply wrong about their claims.

                  See: http://memory.loc.gov/ll/llsj/051/0600/06710671.gif

                  Reply
  5. Michael C. Lucas

    If your going to post an excerpt from a document only to suggests that your view is truth, beware of the full context which smashes all the hypocrisy of your view.

    The people of the State of Florida assembled in Convention having declared the separation of the state from the confederacy of the United States of America and resumed all the powers granted to the Government of that Confederacy, it is due to ourselves to our – late – confederates and to the civilized world that we should set forth the causes which have forced us to adopt this extreme measure fraught as it is with consequences the most momentous. We have not acted in haste or in passion but with the utmost deliberation and from what we regard as immeasurable necessity.

    An incursion has been instigated and actually perpetuated into a sister State the inevitable consequences of which were murder rapine and crimes even more horrible. The felon chief of that murderous band has been canonized as a heroic martyr by public meetings by the press and pulpit of all of the Northern States – others of the party have been demanded by the Governor of the State they invaded and their surrender refused by the Governors of two States of the Confederacy, demanded not as fugitives from service but as fugitives from justice charged with treason and murder.

    Laws clearly constitutional and as decided to be by the Federal Judiciary as well as by the Courts of all the non slaveholding States where the question has been presented for adjudication have been by counter legislation rendered inoperative, laws without the power to pass which none will deny that the Constitution would not have been adopted.

    The nullification of these laws by the Legislatures of two thirds of the non slaveholding States important as it is in itself is additionally as is furnishing evidence of an open disregard of constitutional obligation, and of the rights and interests of the slaveholding States and of a deep and inveterate hostility to the people of these States.

    The Congressional halls where the members should meet with fraternal feelings, a just regard for the interests of all the States there represented and respect for the feelings of all its members has been prostituted to the daily denunciation and vituperation of the slave holding States as sanctioning oppression robbery and all villainies, thus subjecting the members from these States to the degradation of gross and constantly repeated insults, and compelling the exclusion from our public press of the debates of our national Legislature or the circulation of the most incendiary matter.

    By the agency of a large proportion of the members from the non slaveholding States books have been published and circulated amongst us the direct tendency and avowed purpose of which is to excite insurrection and servile war with all their attendant horrors. A President has recently been elected, an obscure and illiterate man without experience in public affairs or any general reputation mainly if not exclusively on account of a settled and often proclaimed hostility to our institutions and a fixed purpose to abolish them. It is denied that it is the purpose of the party soon to enter into the possession of the powers of the Federal Government to abolish slavery by any direct legislative act. This has never been charged by any one. But it has been announced by all the leading men and presses of the party that the ultimate accomplishment of this result is its settled purpose and great central principle. That no more slave States shall be admitted into the confederacy and that the slaves from their rapid increase (the highest evidence of the humanity of their owners will become value less. Nothing is more certain than this and at no distant day. What must be the condition of the slaves themselves when their number becomes so large that their labor will be of no value to their owners. Their natural tendency every where shown where the race has existed to idleness vagrancy and crime increased by an inability to procure subsistence. Can any thing be more impudently false than the pretense that this state of things is to be brought about from considerations of humanity to the slaves.

    It is in so many words saying to you we will not burn you at the stake but we will torture you to death by a slow fire we will not confiscate your property and consign you to a residence and equality with the african but that destiny certainly awaits your children – and you must quietly submit or we will force you to submission – men who can hesitate to resist such aggressions are slaves already and deserve their destiny. The members of the Republican party has denied that the party will oppose the admission of any new state where slavery shall be tolerated. But on the contrary they declare that on this point they will make no concession or compromise. It is manifest that they will not because to do so would be the dissolution of the party.

    Additional territory is generally only acquired by conquest or purchase. In either case the slaveholding States contribute at least this equal proportion of men or money – we think much more than an equal proportion. The revenues of the General Government are almost entirely derived from duties on importations. It is time that the northern consumer pays his proportion of these duties, but the North as a section receiving back in the increased prices of the rival articles which it manufactures nearly or quite as much as the imposts which it pays thus in effect paying nothing or very little for the support of the government. As to the sacrifice of lives which recent acquisitions have caused how small is the proportion of Northern blood shed or laurels won in the Mexican war.

    Last and not least it has been proclaimed that the election of a President is an authoritative approval of all the principles avowed by the person elected and by the party convention which nominated him. Although that election is made by little more than one third of the votes given. But however large the majority may have been to recognize such a principle is to announce a revolution in the government and to substitute an aggregate popular majority for the written constitution without which no single state would have voted its adoption not forming in truth a federal union but a consolidated despotism that worst of despotisms that of an unrestricted sectional and hostile majority, we do not intend to be misunderstood, we do not controvert the right of a majority to govern within the grant of powers in the Constitution.

    The representative principle is a sufficient security only where the interest of the representative and the Constituent are identical with the variety of climate productions and employment of labor and capital which exist in the different sections of the American Confederacy creating interests not only diverse but antagonistic.

    The majority section may legislate imperiously and ruinously to the interests of the minority section not only without injury but to great benefit and advantage of their own section. In proof of this we need only refer to the fishing bounties, the monopoly of the coast navigation which is possessed almost exclusively by the Northern States and in one word the bounties to every employment of northern labor and capital such a government must in the nature of things and the universal principles of human nature and human conduct very soon lead as it has done to a grinding and degrading despotism.

    It is in no weak and imaginary fear of the consequences but that we regard them as certain and inevitable that we are prompted by every consideration of duty and honor and of policy to meet the issue now instead of leaving it to those who are to come after us who will be less able to vindicate their rights and honor, nor is it without the sincerest sorrow that we are about to separate from that noble band of patriots in the nonslaveholding states who have faithfully vindicated our Constitutional rights that we have been impelled by every consideration which should have influence with honorable men to declare our separation from the confederacy of the United States of America trusting for the maintenance of that declaration to the virtue courage and patriotism of our people and to that God who guided our fathers through similar trials and dangers.

    Reply
    1. Kevin Levin Post author

      Thanks for copying and pasting it once again. If I was trying to cover up anything I probably would not have made it a point to provide a link. What hypocrisy? If you are going to make that charge it should be in the direction of the Florida convention. Sounds like your issue is with them and not me.

      Reply
      1. Michael C. Lucas

        Yes Kevin, you have put a link up, but no, my concern is with the fact your point is to take their words out of context with their causes to support your view. Slavery is but one issue integral to their causes for secession. Objectively, their words decree adamantly the sense of threat from the Republican controlled Government as they understood it. “An incursion has been instigated and actually perpetuated into a sister State the inevitable consequences of which were murder rapine and crimes even more horrible.” That slavery is inclusive to them is a given, because they are slave states. We differentiate between states as eastern and western, northern and southern, blue and red, for them it was also “Free and Slave”. Now that war had been brought to bear, Union armies invading the south by Lincoln’s call to arms, Floridians and other Southern (slave) states had every real sense of threat and justifiable cause to defend themselves. Lincoln, upon taking his oath of office, stated that he would not do exactly what he did do! Attacking the Southern states and their citizens’ rights, he fulfilled every prophecy that John C. Calhoun knew would occur and every fear of every citizen of states which seceded. To ignore their concerns, by blanketing over their causes as solely about slavery, is a distortion of the meaning of their words. It disenfranchises their humanity, and therein lies the problem with politically correct revisionism. I doubt very seriously Lincoln’s agenda would have been supported by the Northern states if they had seen it beforehand, as a crusade solely against slavery.

        Reply
        1. Kevin Levin Post author

          That slavery is inclusive to them is a given, because they are slave states.

          But what about being a slave state do they believe constitutes a sufficient reason to sever ties from the Union? Are you sure you weren’t a circus performer in a previous life? What did they feel threatened? They actually tell us why?

          Now that war had been brought to bear, Union armies invading the south by Lincoln’s call to arms, Floridians and other Southern (slave) states had every real sense of threat and justifiable cause to defend themselves. Lincoln, upon taking his oath of office, stated that he would not do exactly what he did do!

          How is any of this relevant? Lincoln hadn’t even taken office at this point. There was no call to arms. There was no war. In fact, that was exactly the position of the conditional unionists in the Upper South.

          It’s becoming more and more difficult to take you seriously.

          Reply
          1. Jim Dick

            All Michael does is repeat the same old Lost Cause stuff which is cherry picking a few facts to build a case around while ignoring everything else that repudiates their position.
            Look at the feeble excuse for the words free states and slave states. He completely ignores the context of the sentences they are in. The Lost Cause is an abject pathetic failure. He can’t be taken seriously because he only reiterates the same information over and over while ignoring everyone’s fact based evidence that clearly shows he is wrong. Intelligent people can read the information provided and make their own opinions based upon facts and not opinions.

            Reply
          2. Michael C. Lucas

            Rebuttal to Kevin Levin’s comments January 10, 2012 at 2:00 pm

            K.L.: “But what about being a slave state do they believe constitutes a sufficient reason to sever ties from the Union?”
            M.L.: Despotism by the Union!

            K.L.: “Are you sure you weren’t a circus performer in a previous life?
            M.L.: Is that a professional question? “It’s becoming more and more difficult to take you seriously”, Kevin.

            K.L.: “What did they feel threatened?”
            M.L.: Their sovereign rights.

            K.L.: “They actually tell us why?”
            M.L.: Yes, they do, but you are cherry picking slavery solely as a single argument and ignoring the other issues.

            M.L. : Now that war had been brought to bear, Union armies invading the south by Lincoln’s call to arms, Floridians and other Southern (slave) states had every real sense of threat and justifiable cause to defend themselves. Lincoln, upon taking his oath of office, stated that he would not do exactly what he did do!
            K.L.:”How is any of this relevant?”
            M.L.: Its relevant because it asserts their reasons for secession.

            K.L.: “It’s becoming more and more difficult to take you seriously.”
            M.L.: We can trade insults or we can can be professional. I prefer the latter!

            Reply
            1. Kevin Levin Post author

              Florida claimed to assert its sovereign right in response to what they perceived as a threat to slavery.

              You still don’t seem to understand the basic timeline of events. Florida seceded before Lincoln took office. THERE WAS NO “CALL TO ARMS.” THERE WERE NO “ARMIES INVADING.”

              So much for what you call a rebuttal.

              Reply
              1. Dave Jordan

                “An incursion has been instigated and actually perpetuated into a sister State the inevitable consequences of which were murder rapine and crimes even more horrible. The felon chief of that murderous band has been canonized as a heroic martyr by public meetings by the press and pulpit of all of the Northern States – others of the party have been demanded by the Governor of the State they invaded and their surrender refused by the Governors of two States of the Confederacy, demanded not as fugitives from service but as fugitives from justice charged with treason and murder.”

                I don’t think this is referring to Lincoln at all. I believe this is referring to John Brown’s attempted insurrection and the refusal of officials in the north to extradite members of the Secret Six to Virginia for trial.

                Reply
                1. Kevin Levin Post author

                  The felon chief of that murderous band has been canonized as a heroic martyr by public meetings by the press and pulpit of all of the Northern States

                  I think you nailed it, Dave.

                  Reply
                  1. Michael C. Lucas

                    Kevin Levin January 10, 2012 at 5:01 pm

                    K.L.: “Florida claimed to assert its sovereign right in response to what they perceived as a threat to slavery.”
                    M.L.: As I said, you are cherry picking slavery solely as a single argument and ignoring the other issues.

                    K.L.: “You still don’t seem to understand the basic timeline of events. Florida seceded before Lincoln took office. THERE WAS NO “CALL TO ARMS.” THERE WERE NO “ARMIES INVADING.”

                    M.L.: The reference to Lincoln asserts they were right in their reasoning. Again your taking words out of context. It is not in reference to John Browns raid which they referred to. It is however proof to the future calamity and usurpation they envisioned.

                    Reply
                    1. Eric Jacobson

                      “The felon chief of that murderous band has been canonized as a heroic martyr by public meetings by the press and pulpit of all of the Northern States – others of the party have been demanded by the Governor of the State they invaded and their surrender refused by the Governors of two States of the Confederacy, demanded not as fugitives from service but as fugitives from justice charged with treason and murder.”

                      So Michael claims the above quote references Lincoln. Perhaps he would like to explain who the “others of the party” are and why they are “fugitives from justice…” I cannot wait to hear the answer.

                    2. Kevin Levin Post author

                      I already pointed this out to Michael, but he doesn’t seem to understand the question.

                    3. Michael C. Lucas

                      Kevin and Eric, I have answered that argument, In regards to the Florida Causes, AGAIN NO! I WAS NOT REFERRING TO LINCOLN OR THE PRESIDENT, AS “THE LEADER OF THAT (JOHN BROWNS) INCURRING BAND” IN CORRELATION WITH THE FLORIDA CAUSES. But in that distinction Lincoln certainly did lead the band in doing the very same thing.

                    4. Kevin Levin Post author

                      The document is a justification based largely on what had already taken place and not on what might happen. So, who or what exactly are they referring to? Answer the question.

                    5. Michael C. Lucas

                      As you know, in reference to the Florida Causes paragraph two, line two.
                      “An incursion has been instigated and actually perpetuated into a sister State the inevitable consequences of which were murder rapine and crimes even more horrible. The felon chief of that murderous band has been canonized as a heroic martyr by public meetings by the press and pulpit of all of the Northern States – others of the party have been demanded by the Governor of the State they invaded and their surrender refused by the Governors of two States of the Confederacy, demanded not as fugitives from service but as fugitives from justice charged with treason and murder.” answer John Brown

                      The election had taken place and Lincoln was inaugurated that January it was likely written in that time frame, but it is not dated or titled. Why hasn’t it been published before? Was it a draft? Regardless their sentiments transcend regarding the actions of Brown, Lincoln, the Republicans, the North and the Union.

                    6. Kevin Levin Post author

                      It’s hard to take you seriously when you don’t even have a grasp of basic facts. Lincoln was elected in November and took office in March, not January.

                    7. Michael C. Lucas

                      Kevin,
                      Its hard to take you seriously when all you do is look for reasons to make snide remarks! I could make a blog on all of your insults, typos, errors, early morning excuses! So keep picking, the record is here and we can go at it! Or we can compromise to understand the truth period that the war was over Power. That Slavery was an issue, as were Tariffs, Republicanism, Agrarianism, Industrialism, Utopias, Manifest Destiny, Immigration, Expansion, etc… which were all issues that brought the war on. Slavery did not bring the war on by itself, there were other factors, to ignore those factors is an error. To perpetuate that error is to distort history and you have done a fine job.

                    8. Kevin Levin Post author

                      You can’t understand “the truth” if you can’t get the most basic facts right.

                    9. Michael C. Lucas

                      Kevin,
                      Yes your right in 1861 March 4 was Lincolns inauguration, which was the established date prior to the twentieth amendment in 1933. The date established today for the Presidents inauguration is January 20th.

                    10. Corey Meyer

                      Michael,

                      I was wonder if you could provide us a list of books or documents that would help us understand where your understanding of the war and secession is coming from.

                      I would really like to know where you are getting the idea that the causes of the war were things like Utopias or the tariff.

                      I would think that someone who has gone to college and served in the US Military would have a better grasp of the history of this country and a better ability to interpret historical documents.

                      Thanks….Corey

                    11. Michael C. Lucas

                      Kevin,
                      What do you base your concerns on the Government by? Isn’t it based largely on what has already taken place with a real and present estimation on what might happen? You surely vote. Is not your vote a gamble, on what good or calamity might happen if you choose one candidate vs. another? Consider this has a group, political candidate or party ever threatened your livelihood and well being? Are you so different from being a Confederate, that if a very real threat affected your very livelihood and families well being, that you would not defend them? They did so in accordance with the laws and the Constitution. When their rights were threatened they seceded.

                    12. Eric A. Jacobson

                      Michael, So you said it wasn’t a reference to John Brown and now you’re saying it’s not a reference to Lincoln. Perhaps you might actually tell us who the Florida declaration is referring to, and since you didn’t answer my question the first time, who are the “fugitives from justice…?”

                    13. Michael C. Lucas

                      Eric, I retract nothing. I never said the paragraph in question was not in reference to Brown. As for your question regarding fugitives, specifically those relative to John Browns raiders, Osborne Anderson, Owen Brown, Barclay Coppoc, Francis Meriam, and Charles Tidd. In addition to them were the secret six, Thomas Higginson, Samuel Howe, Theodore Parker, Franklin Seaborn, Gerritt Smith, George Stearns. Likely as well as any found guilty by association who supported them.

                    14. Eric A. Jacobson

                      Actually, for the record, this is what you said:

                      “The reference to Lincoln asserts they were right in their reasoning. Again your taking words out of context. It is not in reference to John Browns raid which they referred to. It is however proof to the future calamity and usurpation they envisioned.”

                      But thanks for your denial.

                    15. Michael C. Lucas

                      Eric, Your late as usual,

                      “The reference to Lincoln asserts they were right in their reasoning. Again your taking words out of context.” This is in reference to an earlier comment regarding the discussion of secession period.

                      “It is not in reference to John Browns raid which they referred to.” To the Florida secession cause document alone.

                      “It is however proof to the future calamity and usurpation they envisioned.” They all envisioned the same calamity!

                      But its good to know funding Franklin Battlefield supports your blog time!

                    16. Kevin Levin Post author

                      Make sure you let us know when you do anything comparable to the work that Eric has done at Franklin.

                    17. Eric A. Jacobson

                      Michael,

                      Your efforts as a historian are amateurish at best. One of the first things any bona fide historian must possess is objectivity, and that is sorely lacking from any post I have ever seen you make. That said, my record in the historic community and the work I have done, and will continue to do, speaks for itself. My job also entails ongoing education, which means from time to time tackling distortions and absorbing cheap shots from those with agendas. It comes with the territory. Let me know when you have accomplished anything beyond arguing online and telling anyone who disagrees with you that they are wrong, or “late as usual.”

                    18. Matt McKeon

                      “An incursion…”
                      It doesn’t refer to Lincoln, but John Brown. It’s pretty clear.

                      “Laws clearly constitutional…” refers to the Fugitive Slave Act, and the personal liberty laws passed by some free states to prevent their free black residents from being kidnapped.

                      “The halls of Congress…” criticism from free state senators like Charles Summer. Maybe harking back to the overturning of the “gag rule.” Again about slavery.

                      “books have been published” Abolitionist materials and Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Again about slavery.

                      “consign you to an equality with african..” well, that’s pretty obvious.

                      “Not acquire anymore territory for slavery” that’s pretty obvious

                      Who can read this and not think they’re motivated by slavery?

                  2. Dave Jordan

                    Thanks. I get lucky every once in a while.

                    Thanks to Jim E for sharing this document. I confess that I have not studied the secession justifications from the other southern states. Does anyone know if any of the other state mention John Brown and his raid in their reasons for secession? I think it was the the reaction in the north to this raid that concerned white southerners much more than the raid itself. I hate to get into “presentism” mode, but perhaps many of the white southerners felt much like many of us felt when we saw on TV the gleeful reaction of some Islamic groups around the world to the 9/11 attacks.

                    Reply
                    1. James F. Epperson

                      Dave Jordan of Kalamazoo? Nice to see you here—this is a good blog. (Dave runs the Kalamazoo CWRT, which has invited me to speak on several occasions.)

                    2. Margaret D. Blough

                      It was a frequent grievance. However, they don’t mention the brutal, near fatal attack on Sen. Charles Sumner on the floor of the US Senate by Rep. Preston Brooks (S.C.) with Rep. Lawrence Keitt delaying aid from reaching Sen. Sumner, Although Brooks was in which the slave states lionized Rep. Brooks (including sending him canes, the weapon which he used on Sen. Sumner). It is true that Sen. Sumner insulted a Senator related to Rep. Brooks during his ‘Crime Against Kansas’ speech but. under the Speech and Debate Clause of the Constitution, there is legislative immunity for that. The fact that neither Representative was punished in any way and the fact that Rep. Brooks was virtually canonized for nearly beating to death a helpless older man for his speech in the US Senate enraged Northerners.

                    3. Dave Jordan

                      Jim Epperson will be speaking (on a different topic) to the Kalamazoo Civil War Round Table on April 20th. (Shameless plug)

                      Margaret- I agree, Brooks’ attack on Sumner was reprehensible, and the approval with which Brooks’ actions were met with by some southerners also added to the growing rift between the two sections. An attack or raid by a nut job, by itself, is an unfortunate incident. It is the approval of that attack by people in another part of the country that creates the anger and resentment against the other section. My point (and I do have one) is that I don’t think the effect on southern attitudes of the widespread approval in the north of John Brown’s raid is fully appreciated.

                    4. Michael C. Lucas

                      Charles Sumners words were also reprehensible. Though Sumners deservedly earned his condemnation, his beating by Brooks was also reprehensible. But the acceptance of a conspiracy against fellow Americans and their murder isn’t? Could we expect any recourse other than the steps the South took to defend themselves accordingly, especially when a President is elected who’s party and constituents support the murder of their fellow citizens? What reasonable feeling or evidence of friendship was there for peace to remain?

                    5. Kevin Levin Post author

                      But the acceptance of a conspiracy against fellow Americans and their murder isn’t?

                      There was plenty of mudslinging and accusations of conspiracy to go around.

                      Could we expect any recourse other than the steps the South took to defend themselves accordingly, especially when a President is elected who’s party and constituents support the murder of their fellow citizens?

                      Perhaps you could explain this point with some evidence.

                    6. Michael C. Lucas

                      Radical Republican Abolitionists, Charles Sumners, Thaddeus Stevens, Frederick Douglas, numerous others.

                      Though the latter and Lincoln openly denounced that Republicans had anything to do with Browns actions directly. Republicans did openly support that Browns cause was just, and that is fact. They denounced his actions as wrong, but they supported him by their actions of accolades for John Browns martyrdom.

                      The New York Times, even declared the Republicans practiced Browns teachings, they just omitted his name.

                      Frederick Douglas – Not only guilty of association but supported Brown with funding.

                      You ever hear of John Browns body smoldering in the grave? There isn’t much evidence of it being sung by Confederates.

                      The South took them at their word, and acted accordingly to defend themselves.

                    7. Kevin Levin Post author

                      That hardly counts of widespread support among Republicans. Lincoln himself denounced Brown.

                      The South took them at their word, and acted accordingly to defend themselves.

                      At least you are now beginning to see the light. I couldn’t agree more with this statement.

                    8. Michael C. Lucas

                      Kevin, I said Lincoln renounced it, yes the Republicans adamantly supported John Browns intentions, just not his actions. At least until they took up arms themselves invading the South, then the North was certainly supporting Browns actions and absolutely justifying the Souths resolve in their secession and defense. If they had allowed for the South to rise or fall on its own accord. Then the South would have been wrong in its assertions.

                    9. Kevin Levin Post author

                      At least until they took up arms themselves invading the South, then the North was certainly supporting Browns actions and absolutely justifying the Souths resolve in their secession and defense.

                      This is so overly simplistic that it is almost laughable. Most white northerners would have denied in 1861 that their rush to enlistment had anything to do with John Brown. I recommend that you read Russell McClintock’s Lincoln and the Decision for War: The Northern Response to Secession.

                    10. Eric A. Jacobson

                      Completely laughable. The contention that “the North” as a whole was supportive of Brown’s actions when, as Michael himself says regularly, Federal soldiers by and large enlisted to defend the Union is ludicrous, and laughable. Let’s not forget Michael, you insist that Northerners didn’t care about blacks or slavery (except of course for, as you say, abolition agitators), so why would they sign up to die based on what Brown thought?

                    11. Michael C. Lucas

                      Kevin and Eric, though I earnestly pray for you people, I expected no less in your remarks. Kevin, your right they did deny it, it’s called plausible deniability, but their actions prove otherwise. The Republicans were supportive of Brown’s intentions before the war and then after, directly by taking up arms against the south as John Brown had. As you and Eric contend, the common Southern Soldier did not necessarily fight for slavery, I contend that neither did the common Union soldier did not necessarily fight for Slavery. Then why do you protest that the war was over slavery? In regards to the Republicans and Brown, it is not a consideration only on my part, that Republicans supported Brown, but of thousands, if not millions who viewed it as that. The New York Herald stated they agreed with it! What is truly sad, is your inability to comprehend the meaning of the comment. While your laughing, you ignore that you both have fallen into your own trap. You have flipped back and forth that the war was over slavery, but have just admitted that it was not why the Republicans and the North took up arms to fight the war. Then you decree they fought only to end slavery, but not because they agreed with Brown. Pray tell, what other excuse did they fight for? Could it be for their own greed of political, economic expansion of power? Well at least John Brown, died an honest man for what he believed in!

                    12. Kevin Levin Post author

                      I appreciate your taking the time to read my blog, but I have no interest in engaging you further on this topic. Thanks again.

                    13. Eric Jacobson

                      Michael,

                      “Then why do you protest that the war was over slavery?”

                      You have been provided the same answer to this same question dozens of time by me, and who knows how many other times by other people. So what’s the point in answering if you keep asking the same question? You already know the answer. Like Kevin, I’m not interested in continuing what is clearly a pointless endeavor.

        2. Ray O'Hara

          It took a Constitutional Amendment to end slavery.
          if all the slave states had opposed it as they wiould have it would have required a 52 state Union to do so.

          Reply
  6. Dwight T. Pitcaithley

    This has been an interesting exchange that points out, yet again, the importance of primary sources in understanding the past.

    The Florida declaration of secession has to be placed in a different category from the other four declarations. Not only was it never approved by Florida’s secession cenvention, it is a hand-written draft that, we assume, was not even approved by the comittee charged with developing it. Why the convention aborted the effort mid-way through the process remains — for now — a bit of a mystery.

    The other “official” declarations stand as the best and most authorative justifications for secession available to us today. South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, and Texas specifically developed their declarations to explain to the people of those states (and to the nation as a whole) why they voted to secede. Having studied them at length, and the convention journals from which they emerged, I see no reason why we should not take them at their word. All of them make clear that the rise of the Republican Party and the election of a Republican president threatened the continued existence of the institution of slavery. As Mississippi declared: There was no choice left us but submission to the mandates of abolition, or a dissolution of the Union, whose principles had been subverted to work out our ruin.

    In answer to an earlier question, all four of the declarations make some mention of John Brown’s raid.

    For an interesting twist on the tariff issue, look at Georgia’s declaration which takes some pains to argue that while the tariff was an important subject earlier in the nation’s history, it did not play a role the secession movement of the late 1850s and early 1860s.

    Dwight

    Reply
    1. Kevin Levin Post author

      Thanks so much for taking the time to comment and for lending some insight on these matters. I am very much looking forward to our panel on the Civil War sesquicentennial in April at the OAH.

      Reply
  7. Dan Weinfeld

    I think this document makes the matter more complicated than necessary. The status of this resolution is unclear. Why were the resolution committee members discharged without presenting their “grievances” – at least on the convention record? Are these just a discarded draft, not intended for dissemination, reflective of little more than the concerns of their author? Their effort seems to have become an afterthought by the spring session. Perhaps Prof. Pitcaithley has more background information.

    The Florida convention journal itself is much more explicit and concise on the reasons for secession. If you want a clear statement of intentions, you don’t need to look far. Just go to the convention journal available at:
    http://www.archive.org/stream/journalofproceed00flor#page/18/mode/2up

    Look at the reasons given by the convention president, “on the record,” on pages 7 and 8. He talks about slavery and nothing else. Again, in the preamble accompanying the resolution calling for secession, (approved by the convention delegates by a vote of 62 to 5) slavery is the only reason stated (pp. 18-19). Note however the Committee presenting the ordinance for secession (pp. 25-26) focuses on the constitutional right to secede and vaguely invokes “equal rights” while the ordinance itself (p. 31) gives no reason.

    Reply
  8. Dwight T. Pitcaithley

    Being a primary source junkie, I am interested in the documention that supports the claim that Republicans adamantly supported John Brown. Certainly some Republicans did. Many others did not, enough, in fact, to include a plank in their Chicago platform that read: “we denounce the lawless invasion by armed force of the soil of any State or Territory, no matter under what pretext, as amongst the gravest of crimes.” This direct reference to the Harpers Ferry raid seems to say that the official position of the Republican Party was in opposition to John Brown and his odd scheme for freeing slaves.

    Reply
  9. Pingback: Yes…I Believe They Mentioned Slavery | Cosmic America

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