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Could the South Have Been "Bought Off" in 1861?

Discussion in 'Military History' started by Volga Boatman, Feb 14, 2013.

  1. Volga Boatman

    Volga Boatman Dishonorably Discharged

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    Just from reading, it turns out that the monetary 'worth' of every slave in the Confederacy was equal to exactly half of what was spent prosecuting the war up until 1864.

    Could the North have maintained peace by the simple expedient of 'buying back' the freedom of these slaves? It would have saved the South as a political entity and country, saved the North a whole bunch of cash, and created 4 million very loyal newly freed colored people, all in the same hit!

    Shelby foote states that the Civil War arose "From a failure to compromise."

    Was this the ultimate compromise? Was the North so bent on taking apart the Southern Succession States that it missed the obvious move?

    What would the reaction in the south have been? Slave owners always objected to freeing slaves on monetary grounds, so if this particular thing was met by aboloitionists, if every slave was made free by 'buying him/her back", would the South have gone along with it?
     
  2. formerjughead

    formerjughead The Cooler King

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    The American Civil War was not about slavery; it was about preserving the States rights, Slavery was just the "hot button" topic.
     
  3. Volga Boatman

    Volga Boatman Dishonorably Discharged

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    Yes...yes....you are correct....The single most unpopular piece of legislation to come out of the Lincoln Whitehouse was The Emancipation Proclamation...thats a fact...

    But Abolitionism was also a 'hot ticket' item. Do you think the South would have come to the party with an offer like this from Rich abolitionists?

    It's only speculative, but a fair question nevertheless....
     
  4. Sloniksp

    Sloniksp Ставка

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    I'm not sure that the North was prepared nor willing to "import" 4 million newly freed black citizens...
     
  5. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    The problem that I see with this is you are only buying new, excess, or "problem" slaves. There will still be a large "core" group of slaves that the slave owners will not be willing to sell ie. those working their farms/plantations.

    Besides, if the "scheme" did work, the United States would be a far different nation than it is today. Since we are doing Shelby Foote quotes, here is this:
    "Before the war, it was said the United states 'are', grammatically it was spoken that way, and thought of as a collection of independent states. After the war, it is always the United States 'is'...and that sums up what the war accomplished, it made us an 'is'."
     
  6. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    There was also a rather deliberate effort to prevent manufacturing from gaining a real foot hold in the South. If the various policies (not all government by any means) also been reversed a "buy back" program may not have been necessary. Slave labor was simply not economically viable indeed even in agriculture it was at a dissadantage to paid labor espesially with huge numbers of immagrants. The combination of the above and a "buy back" would probably have seen the demise of slavery in another decade or two.
     
  7. Victor Gomez

    Victor Gomez Ace

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    I would think that most wars....it can be said are a failure to compromise.......after a war starts, many things get added to the list of causes as was the case in the Civil War. I liked the movie "Lincoln" because it clearly shows that the President locked on to the Emancipation Proclamation mostly as a political cause as a "tactical" move to defeat the South. A tactical move is not always born of the morality of the issue. If all the slaves were freed, the South would experience the economic impact of that which he hoped would weaken their effort and bring this war to a close.
     
  8. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    It wouldn't be "the North" buying slaves from "the South"; it would be the United States government, although presumably most of the popular and congressional support would come from the non-slave states which comprised most of the voting population. Southerners would no doubt point out that they provided a substantial share of US government revenues; indeed one of their complaints was that they paid a disproportionate share, since those revenues were largely from tariffs on imported goods. So from the slaveowners' point of view, they would be being asked to help pay to buy their own slaves.

    While the federal government ended up raising or borrowing billions to fight the war, such sums were not even thought of previously. Total federal revenues in 1860 were $56 million; southerners estimated the value of their slave property at $3-4 billion. So the proposal is for federal spending on an unprecedented scale, which would have to be financed by new sources of revenue, aka taxes, or debt - just as the war was, but very few people in 1861 expected war to be long or costly.

    Takao touches on another critical point - just because someone offers you fair market value for something - or more for that matter - doesn't mean you're obligated to sell it to him. Would slaveowners be willing to give up not just their own slaves but the whole slave system just because other people had decided it was time?
     
  9. PzJgr

    PzJgr Drill Instructor

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    If we go by your suggestion of the North buying the freedom for all of the slaves, who would do the work in their place? There would be no financial benefit to the South. As mentioned before, the war was not about slavery. Runaway slaves that made it to the North found out that treatment there was no better than it was in the South. Seems that history will be repeating itself as we look at how States' governing rights are being infringed upon more and more.
     
  10. Volga Boatman

    Volga Boatman Dishonorably Discharged

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    Who would work the plantations of the south?

    Well, poor northerners looking for a fresh start for one. There were also plenty of out of work Southerners who could have easily filled the gaps created. It mat even have touched off a 'boom' in the south, as Federal money flows into the region on an unprecedented scale. Cashed up plantation holders could easily afford to hire labourers. Certainly, no colored would have been welcomed, but one can see a few at least staying on for lack of any better place to go. Not all southern slave holders were inhuman bastards after all, and many had fathered Children by slaves, so keeping these ones around as free men sort of fosters a much healthier and happier place to be.

    Look at one of Alex Haley's slave decendants, Chicken George. George was quite highly valued on his plantation home, and he was the son of the man who ran it. George earnt his keep by training Cocks for de masser to fight, and earned a tidy sum for his father before the old boy lost the lot. Such slaves as Chicken George may well have been very happy to stick around, training fighting cocks for masser.

    With the freedom money in his pocket, george's master may well have had the financial wherewithall to actually make a 'go' of his plantation land, rather than time and money wasted fighting Cocks. It's small holders like him that would have benfitted the most. Most southerners owned no slaves, and the number without a steady income must have been quite high. So, injecting Federal money may have been the deciding issue for South Carolina and others to stay firmly in the Union. With the money flowing free, it's no stretch of the imagination to consider a North and South that did achieve compromise. Shelby Foote may well have been able to write that

    ""Buy-back compromise was the catalyst that rebuilt the Old South into a new farming powerhouse, with modern conveniances, a free working population, and a holdover of trusted retainers, former slaves who could not be parted from their homes. The United States IS a fact."
     
  11. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

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    While some still maintain that the war itself was not about slavery per se, it was the one "states right' standing firmly between agreement between the non-slavery and slavery states. And the most often mentioned (by name) states right in the Confederate Constitution.

    Lincoln proposed a plan of purchasing slaves freedom, over a time period so that slavery would slowly disappear, it was rejected by all Confederate states, but semi adopted in a couple of border states (I forget which). Since it wasn't an immediate implementation it didn't disrupt the work force as they transitioned from complete slavery to a form of period limited indentured servitude for their children, and freedom for their great grand-children, but no citizenship for any of them. Free Africans in the north rarely held the right to vote, sit on juries, or most citizenship rights. Those Northern Free blacks were Lincoln's paradigm for the southern slaves.

    Lincoln was still in favor of relocating former slaves to colonies outside of the US borders, much to the dismay of the radical abolitionists. Lincoln wasn't one of their number, he was only focused on saving the Union and famously said he would free them all if that would save the union, free some of them if that would save the union, or free none of the slaves it that would save the union.
     
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  12. Volga Boatman

    Volga Boatman Dishonorably Discharged

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    by the same token then, Lincoln would have been prepared to spend unprecedented amounts of cash to 'save the Union'....right?

    Unfortunately, no-one could gaze into their crystal ball and see that the war would cost over twice as much than if the North had put a buy-back scheme into action.

    Let's see....four million slaves at an average of 600 dollars per slave.....2.4 billion dollars. If only some had pointed out that fighting a war was going to cost far more.....then, as rightly pointed out, everyone on both sides was expecting a very short conflict. So, the possible cost difference estimates would have been skewed by this assumption.....damn it.

    You've got to wonder exactly why the Succession States rejected the offer. Was it anxiety over what would replace them? Plain cussedness at the very thought of Free blacks competing for labour with white folks?

    Of course, to some Southerners, an end to Slavery also meant an end to their various roles as the movers and shakers of the southern lifestyle. Why would you, as a relatively well off overseer, trade your position to compete with people you despised for work?

    Had the South realised that a failure to compromise meant the end of their way of life anyhow, how many of them would have traded war fever for 'buy-back' fever instead?

    Sigh....I suppose we cannot see the future enough to make the 'right' moves at the time. The Battle of 1st Bull Run should have been a northern victory to wake up southerners to the very precariousness of the existence of their lifestyle. Instead, the south was saddled with a victory they did nothing to exploit. And every victory that Robert E. Lee gained seemed to give fresh energy to Southern hopes of a compromise peace. Why oh why did they delude themselves in such a fashion? Just looking at the disparity in the amounts of money made by the 11 South states as opposed to the large amounts of cash pumping out of the great northrn cities should have told most southerners immediately that the way to co-existence was something other than a sucessful prosecution of a war they had little chance of winning.....
     
  13. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

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    He was, the south rejected the offer.
     
  14. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    You've got to wonder exactly why the Succession States rejected the offer.

    Did they? That is to say, was a formal offer ever made? Was some mechanism suggested to finance it?

    The northern states of the original 13 all abolished slavery by 1804, although most used gradual emancipation as in New Jersey:

    African Americans born to slave mothers after July 4, 1804 had to serve lengthy apprenticeships to the owners of their mothers. Women were freed at 21, but men were not emancipated until the age of 25.[SUP] [/SUP] Slaves who had been born before these laws were passed were considered, after 1846, as indentured servants who were "apprenticed for life."[SUP][/SUP]

    which was intended to ease the impact on slaveowners; as far as I know they were not offered any financial compensation.

    The key point is that southerners did not see slavery as a problem that needed to be fixed, so they saw no reason to consider anyone's proposed solutions.

    As you say, it might have been different if they knew that in four years their states would devastated and their slaves lost anyway, but crystal balls weren't the ones driving the decisions in 1861......
     
  15. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    Volga, your buy-back solution, while eminently practical could not overcome human nature. Few people North or South truly comprehend the full cost of the war. North and South were sure that one or two battles would settle the matter within less than a year's time at most. Both sides convinced themselves that nether had the stomach to stand their ground.

    By the time the reached the point where a buy-back would have been cheeper, say late '63 or early '64 too much blood had been spilled for any real compromise and certainly no vast sum of money to make it work. In effect both had made their beds and now had to sleep in them.
     
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  16. formerjughead

    formerjughead The Cooler King

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    And that is the rub. Once you start having to pay a fair wage the prices of plantation goods increase exponentially and that is a burden no northerner would have been prepared to bare.

    Slavery was replaced by legalized "share cropping" until the mid 1940's when the first successful manual cotton harvester was produced.
     
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  17. PzJgr

    PzJgr Drill Instructor

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    With Eli Whitney's invention of the cotton gin in 1793, cotton became very profitable. This machine was able to reduce the time it took to separate seeds from the cotton. However, at the same time the increase in the number of plantations willing to move from other crops to cotton meant the greater need for a large amount of cheap labor, i.e. slaves. Thus, the southern economy became a one crop economy, depending on cotton and therefore on slavery. On the other hand, the northern economy was based more on industry than agriculture. In fact, the northern industries were purchasing the raw cotton and turning it into finished goods. This disparity between the two set up a major difference in economic attitudes. The South was based on the plantation system while the North was focused on city life. This change in the North meant that society evolved as people of different cultures and classes had to work together. On the other hand, the South continued to hold onto an antiquated social order. An order that the South did recognize as antiquated but there was no help from the North to put the South onto a successful path away from slavery. If slavery was the only issue, then the only thing being done was the North's harsh criticism of the South with no suggestions for a solution nor any help thereof. Kinda like today.
     
  18. Volga Boatman

    Volga Boatman Dishonorably Discharged

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    Bloody hell!

    I had thought this was a genuine suggestion for debate. But my fellow rogues have shown me the impracticality of it all.

    Shows just what a knowledgable team we have! Salutes to Belesar, Jugs, and the always intelligent Mr. Price.....

    damn! can't salute you all! I pay homage to you all though......(Homage? You're drunk! It's disgusting! Bursting in hear at two o'clock in the morning with tales about oriental fortune tellers......"But we must see him, we have brought gifts....Gold, Frankinsence, Murhh!"....WELL why didn't you say?...he's over there....so you're astrologers are you? Well what is he then?...."Hmm?"....What star sign is he?..."Oh...umm...Capricorn"....Oh yeah! What are they like?..."He is the Son of God, our Messiah, King of the Jews..."....So thats Capricorn, is it?..."No No No No thats just HIM...)
     
  19. PzJgr

    PzJgr Drill Instructor

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    Although the majority of the American people-- including many moderate politicians like Abraham Lincoln--wanted to avoid Civil War and were content to allow slavery to die a slow, inevitable death, the most influential political leaders of the day were not. On the southern side, "fire-eaters" like Rhett and Yancey were willing to make war to guarantee the propagation of their "right" to own slaves. On the northern side, abolitionists like John Brown and Henry Ward Beecher of Connecticut were willing to make war in order to put an immediate end to the institution of slavery.

    These leaders, through either words or action, were able to convince the majority that it was necessary to go to war, and in order to convince them they justified the war with arguments that only indirectly referred to the subject of slavery (i.e., state rights et. al.).

    Southern politicians convinced their majority that the North was threatening their way of life and their culture. Northern politicians convinced their majority that the South, if allowed to secede, was really striking a serious blow at democratic government. In these arguments, both southern and northern politicians were speaking the truth--but not "the whole truth." They knew that to declare the war to be a fight over slavery would cause a lot of the potential soldiers of both sides to refuse to fight.

    The curious thing is that although slavery was the moral issue of the nineteenth century that divided the political leaders of the land, the average American had very little interest in slaves or slavery. Most Southerners were small farmers that could not afford slaves. Most Northerners were small farmers or tradesmen that had never even seen a slave.
     
  20. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    But would the elimination of slavery automatically create your "fair wage"? It certainly didn't in many norther mines or manufacturing jobs. Indeed I think I've seen analysis that indicate that one reason the North didn't go for slavery was that it wasn't economical.
     

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