U.S. CitiesCity-Data Forum Index
Go Back   City-Data Forum > General Forums > History
 [Register]
Please register to participate in our discussions with 2 million other members - it's free and quick! Some forums can only be seen by registered members. After you create your account, you'll be able to customize options and access all our 15,000 new posts/day with fewer ads.
View detailed profile (Advanced) or search
site with Google Custom Search

Search Forums  (Advanced)
Reply Start New Thread
 
Old 06-22-2010, 09:14 PM
 
Location: Parts Unknown, Northern California
37,197 posts, read 17,531,309 times
Reputation: 16908

Advertisements

Quote:
Originally Posted by noetsi View Post
Historians tend to assume (like most academics) that there is a logical reason for actions. But that is not always the case IMHO. The fire eaters were so consumed with anger and so sure of the righteous of their cause that they failed to think carefully through what they were doing. .

The above is a possibility, there are many things in history which defy normal standards of reasoning....the Iraq invasion, or all of Irish history for example.

Historians begin with outcomes and search for the rationalizations behind them. Events begin with rationalizations, and outcomes may be utterly chaotic and unrelated to original motivations. Like the Iraq invasion...and all Irish history.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message

 
Old 06-22-2010, 10:40 PM
 
Location: Metairie, La.
1,156 posts, read 1,520,845 times
Reputation: 767
Well this turned into a nice little debate between Rhett and Grand. Yet the debate has more to do with Constitutional history and a whole host of other issues.

to return to the poorly worded OP, however, one of the big questions about the CW that confounds professional historians (as opposed to history buffs) is why on earth did so many rank-and-file, ordinary Southerners, who owned no slaves, fight for a cause tied up with the issue of the expansion and maintenance of slavery? What on earth compelled these ordinary men and women (yes, women followed the armies on both sides and oftentimes women passed as men and served as soldiers, uncommon yes, but it did happen) to fight to the death for a cause that seemingly had so little to do with them? Why would Joe Suthron pick up an Enfield and march headlong into Yankee earthworks, knowing fully that death or maiming might be the result of this kind of action?

The historical orthodoxy within the profession is that southerners, the rank-and-file, nonslaveholding southerners, had a stake in the slave system and this is the reason why they fought to the death for a cause inextricably linked with slavery. In other words, these nonslaveholding southerners believed that someday they too could be a slaveowner or the local Planter in their community employed him, and so they had a financial reason or stake in the cause despite the fact they didn't own slaves.

I offer a different perspective on why the ordinary southerner fought for a cause linked with the institution of slavery. Quite simply, it was peer pressure that caused ordinary yeoman farmers to pick up that Enfield, march thousands of miles from home, and attack Yankee fortifications while knowing death might result.

If you examine the evidence regarding each state's respective secession conventions, you'll find that in most states Planter interests controlled the debate and the "referenda" regarding whether their state would secede or not. In some states it wasn't even put to a popular vote, so the ordinary nonslaveholding southerner had really no formal say whatsoever in secession.

McPherson points out in his book, For Cause and Comrades, that soldiers on both sides fought to protect their homes. Southerners believed Yankee invaders would destroy their homes, rape their wives and daughters, and steal whatever wasn't tied down. Yet this viewpoint is complicated when Yankee armies ran roughshod over most of the west (Miss., La., Alabama, Tenn.) and then southern soldiers deserted the CSA to return to their communities and protect their homes.

So why did they fight? The evidence I've seen clearly points to how the ordinary southerner had little choice whether to fight or not. Many would be ostracized in their respective communities if they did not join the cause, and in more extreme cases, the power structure in a given area imprisoned Union sympathizers or folks who refused to come down on one side or another.

Moreover, by the second year of the war, the Confederate Congress had passed a conscription act and it was enforced rather vigorously by the Confederate Quartermaster Corps. There's quite a few accounts of whole communities in the South resisting Quartermasters' recruitment efforts--even to the point of taking up arms against them--southerner fighting fellow southerner. Many communities, furthermore, used a strong homeguard to enforce conscription laws. So the ordinary southerner had a few choices: they could join the cause/CSA, or they could face ostracization from their respective communities, of they could be imprisoned for refusing induction into the CSA, or be executed by homeguards or some other pro-Confederate authority.

When you look at these choices, it's not really much of a choice. But take the first choice--to join up and serve the Confederacy. This seemed most feasible for most of the ordinary, nonslaveholding southerners. After all, they didn't know how this war was going to turn out and much of the evidence points to Southern exceptionalism in that most Southerners believed that the average Mississippi or South Carolina male could whip 10 yankees. They probably believed that the war would not last long and things would turn out better for them by serving or joining up and then using their service record to advance themselves after the war ended. And many of them did despite the South's military defeat in the conflict.

Few realized the duration of the war at its outset and fewer knew of the brutality the fighting. Joining up was the better alternative than risking their farms, homesteads, standing in society, etc. by resisting the cause--and Confederate authorities and vigilantes made examples out of those who either remained loyal to the Union or refused to take a side.

Peer pressure is why the average, nonslaveholding southerner fought to the death--and since most soldiers served with folks from their respective communities, they had to maintain their sense of manhood while seeing the elephant. Or in other words, they had to fight hard to preserve their honor, because if they did not, then tales of their cowardice might follow them home. Of course, not all did this, but most did and this is the reason why the CW caused nearly 300,000 southern deaths. By the end of the war, it has been said, that every southern man, woman, and child had at least one relative who was either killed or maimed during the war.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 06-23-2010, 05:12 AM
 
2,179 posts, read 6,494,972 times
Reputation: 1665
I believe the invention of the cotton gin & weaving loom caused the war, due to the increased need for cotton to be picked the owning of slaves became needed more than ever.
the sad thing is if people could have waited just a few more years for the industrial revolution........slavery would have died out due to the fact that machines dont need to eat,sleep or be housed
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 06-23-2010, 07:02 AM
 
783 posts, read 685,682 times
Reputation: 243
Quote:
Originally Posted by htlong View Post
I believe the invention of the cotton gin & weaving loom caused the war, due to the increased need for cotton to be picked the owning of slaves became needed more than ever.
the sad thing is if people could have waited just a few more years for the industrial revolution........slavery would have died out due to the fact that machines dont need to eat,sleep or be housed
The end of slavery probobly brought about the industrial revolutuion thanks to the end of slave labour.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 06-23-2010, 07:36 AM
 
783 posts, read 685,682 times
Reputation: 243
Quote:
Originally Posted by htlong View Post
I believe the invention of the cotton gin & weaving loom caused the war, due to the increased need for cotton to be picked the owning of slaves became needed more than ever.
the sad thing is if people could have waited just a few more years for the industrial revolution........slavery would have died out due to the fact that machines dont need to eat,sleep or be housed
Slavery as an extremly cheep source of labour disincencentivce industrial development wich was the major diffrence between the north and south.
The north that ended slavery earlier was therfore considerbly more industrialized than the agrarian south.
It was not before slavery in the south had been abolished and the Union and the Confedracy had been reunited that the industrial revolution also could spred to the south.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 06-23-2010, 10:25 PM
 
31,385 posts, read 31,151,815 times
Reputation: 14878
Quote:
Originally Posted by DiogenesofJackson View Post
one of the big questions about the CW that confounds professional historians (as opposed to history buffs) is why on earth did so many rank-and-file, ordinary Southerners, who owned no slaves, fight for a cause tied up with the issue of the expansion and maintenance of slavery?
The only reason why this might confound some historians is because for every individual there was an individual reason. Of the historians that I have read, the reasons why one soldier fought for the north or the south were as numerous and variable as the number of soldiers that fought in the war. Some fought to maintain slavery, other fought to end it. Some fought out of a since of duty to their state, while others fought out of a sense of duty to the nation. Some fought because going to war seemed like a grand and romantic enterprise. Some fought because their was a bounty to be collected for enlisting. Some fought because their neighbors, friends and brothers decided to fight and out of a sense of kinship decided that they would go off and fight too. Some fought just because they liked fighting.

I suspect that outside of the political and military leadership if you questioned every soldier in every war ever fought you will find a myriad of reasons for their participation. So, from a historian's point of view how does one classify the unclassifiable, i.e., the personal reasons that drove individuals to make individual decisions about whether or not they would engage in the enterprise of human blood letting.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 06-24-2010, 05:22 AM
 
2,179 posts, read 6,494,972 times
Reputation: 1665
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ultralight View Post
The end of slavery probably brought about the industrial revolution thanks to the end of slave labor.
maybe so, but man is always searching for ways to make jobs easier and cheaper and I truly feel that it was the timing not the loss of slave labor .
because the plantation owners simply TURNED The slaves INTO SHARE CROP FARMERS WHICH IS Just about the same cost as slavery
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 06-24-2010, 07:21 AM
 
Location: Metairie, La.
1,156 posts, read 1,520,845 times
Reputation: 767
Quote:
Originally Posted by ovcatto View Post
The only reason why this might confound some historians is because for every individual there was an individual reason. Of the historians that I have read, the reasons why one soldier fought for the north or the south were as numerous and variable as the number of soldiers that fought in the war. Some fought to maintain slavery, other fought to end it. Some fought out of a since of duty to their state, while others fought out of a sense of duty to the nation. Some fought because going to war seemed like a grand and romantic enterprise. Some fought because their was a bounty to be collected for enlisting. Some fought because their neighbors, friends and brothers decided to fight and out of a sense of kinship decided that they would go off and fight too. Some fought just because they liked fighting.

I suspect that outside of the political and military leadership if you questioned every soldier in every war ever fought you will find a myriad of reasons for their participation. So, from a historian's point of view how does one classify the unclassifiable, i.e., the personal reasons that drove individuals to make individual decisions about whether or not they would engage in the enterprise of human blood letting.
But that's what historians do--take individual evidence and draw overarching conclusions from it--of course there were individual and person reasons yet on both sides of the conflict many of these individual and personal reasons do indeed overlap. Further, the problem with nonslaveholding southern soldiers serving gallantly and gleefully in the CSA serves as a linchpin to the Lost Causers' arguments that the war had little to do with slavery. After all, if the war was indeed about slavery, then why would nonslaveholders form the backbone of the army created to protect slavery? so Lost Causers use this factoid to make an interpretive leap that divorces slavery from the Civil War, and this has been going on since the 1880s when popular accounts and reminiscences of the war first found their way into print.

So the historians' orthodoxy claims that slavery was such a crucial aspect of the Southern economy and superstructure, that nonslaveholders would rise to defend it as well as Planters, who owned anywhere from 25 to 250 or more slaves.

I agree with this to an extent, but on the local level the way people were perceived provides a much more explanatory force as to why nonslaveholders volunteered early in the conflict to "defend" slavery (yet they were signing up to defend their homes and many more didn't know what they were defending). And I think you underscored my points pretty well because brothers, friends, colleagues served together and they didn't want to disappoint the other people in their lives. In short, peer pressure, which probably explains why people join the army in any war.

In my grandfather's era in the 40s, he says he joined the Navy for two reasons: 1. he knew he'd be drafted and he didn't want to serve in the Army, 2. everyone else in his small community was joining one branch of the military or another and so he thought it was expected of him.

Likewise, I think 2 can be applied to small, tightnit, albeit some isolated, communities in the lead up to the Civil War. It was expected of southerners, even the rank-and-file, to do their duty and fight. Because of the alternatives if they didn't, many nonslaveholders joined and fought.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 06-24-2010, 11:34 AM
 
31,385 posts, read 31,151,815 times
Reputation: 14878
Quote:
Originally Posted by DiogenesofJackson View Post
But that's what historians do--take individual evidence and draw overarching conclusions from it--of course there were individual and person reasons yet on both sides of the conflict many of these individual and personal reasons do indeed overlap.
In this case the overarching conclusion simply can't be established because by any normative historical analysis that I can possibly think of since it would require probing the individual motivation of millions of combatants who left no such historical record.

Quote:
Further, the problem with nonslaveholding southern soldiers serving gallantly and gleefully in the CSA serves as a linchpin to the Lost Causers' arguments that the war had little to do with slavery.
Again that is pure supposition at best and purely wishful thinking at the worst because as I have pointed out, the scant historical record left by those who fought in the war display a myriad of personal motivations for fighting in the war, from state loyalty or the over romanticization of war as a grand adventure.

Quote:
So the historians' orthodoxy claims that slavery was such a crucial aspect of the Southern economy and superstructure, that nonslaveholders would rise to defend it as well as Planters, who owned anywhere from 25 to 250 or more slaves.
Was WWII caused by Nazi and Japanese aggression based upon the policies of the governments that led their nations into war or an attitudinal study of the private that fought it? Historians make judgments on the causes of wars based upon the policies and principles of those with the power to implement them, not the poor grunt who carried the spear or a musket.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 06-24-2010, 05:57 PM
 
Location: Metairie, La.
1,156 posts, read 1,520,845 times
Reputation: 767
Quote:
Originally Posted by ovcatto View Post
In this case the overarching conclusion simply can't be established because by any normative historical analysis that I can possibly think of since it would require probing the individual motivation of millions of combatants who left no such historical record.



Again that is pure supposition at best and purely wishful thinking at the worst because as I have pointed out, the scant historical record left by those who fought in the war display a myriad of personal motivations for fighting in the war, from state loyalty or the over romanticization of war as a grand adventure.



Was WWII caused by Nazi and Japanese aggression based upon the policies of the governments that led their nations into war or an attitudinal study of the private that fought it? Historians make judgments on the causes of wars based upon the policies and principles of those with the power to implement them, not the poor grunt who carried the spear or a musket.
I think you missed the point of my post. I never said that peer pressure caused the war. Moreover, I never stated that ordinary, nonslaveholding southerners caused the war. Issues regarding slavery did that. The point of my posts was to explain why soldiers joined a cause in which they had little no stake in.

Historians make grand explanations based on surviving facts contained in primary source data. Of course these grand explanations are subject to scrutiny, disbelief.

While historians do indeed study "the policies and principles of those with the power" to make war, any nation's ability to wage war necessarily depends on the "poor grunt[s]" who carried the weaponry or else any given nation's leaders wouldn't have the power "to implement" its war-making policies.

It's called "history from the bottom up" and historian Michael McDonnell (not to be confused with the Doobie Bros. singer) provides an ample expose on how and why ordinary Virginia men avoided military service in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War--to the point that Virginia could not live up to its quotas required by the Cont. Congress. Thus, Virginia relied on Pennsylvanians and other out of staters to defend its shores from the British. Virginia, at the time a "country" if you will, had leaders hoping to prosecute a war against the British, but were unable to do so based on a reluctant public unwilling to serve. The attitudes of the regular people are equally as important as the leaders who make policy.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Please register to post and access all features of our very popular forum. It is free and quick. Over $68,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum. Additional giveaways are planned.

Detailed information about all U.S. cities, counties, and zip codes on our site: City-data.com.


Reply
Please update this thread with any new information or opinions. This open thread is still read by thousands of people, so we encourage all additional points of view.

Quick Reply
Message:

Over $104,000 in prizes was already given out to active posters on our forum and additional giveaways are planned!

Go Back   City-Data Forum > General Forums > History
Similar Threads
Follow City-Data.com founder on our Forum or

All times are GMT -6.

© 2005-2018, Advameg, Inc.

City-Data.com - Archive 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35 - Top