|View single post by Texas Defender|
|Posted: Wed Sep 5th, 2007 03:08 am||
Slavery was certainly the catalyst issue that propelled north and south into war. The Founding Fathers could not resolve the slavery issue in the 18th century because the southern states were needed to help get the Constitution ratified. The issue was left to fester for more than half a century as positions on both sides gradually hardened. Many foresaw the conflict as inevitable. Some sought to buy time by various compromises. Many, no doubt, didn't want to think about it at all.
As the 19th century progressed, the cultural differences between north and south grew more profound. The north became less agricultural , and more industrial. Great immigrations came into the country due to wars and other conditions in Europe. Most of these immigrants flooded into the northern states raising northern population levels more significantly than southern ones. The north became more urban, and less and less like the south. As time passed, the attitudes of people in the two regions diverged more and more. You could say that the two regions developed different mindsets. (Or at least more different than they had had originally).
By 1860, many influential southerners viewed the northern region as attempting to destroy the: "peculiar institution" that they felt was vital to their economic interests. Some were willing to accept restrictions on expansion to the territories, and others were not. Most did not believe Mr. Lincoln's statements that he would not interfere with the institution where it already existed. They believed that there was no longer any benefit to them in the : "marriage" that they had with the northern region. To them, it was time for a : "divorce."
The Civil War was indeed about secession, which southerners believed that they had a Constitutional right to do. I'll even agree that secession had much to do with slavery. But it was only part of a larger argument. The main question behind it all was how much authority the Constitution gave the federal government over the states.
It can be said in general that northerners were more inclined to favor a stronger central government, while southerners tended to favor stronger state governments. I would venture to say that even in the middle of the 19th century, if asked where they were from, more southerners would name their state, rather than saying that they were: "Americans." Many felt no kinship to a faraway national government that they thought did not represent their interests.
I have lived for many years in both the north and the south. I would maintain that even today, more than 140 years after the Civil War ended, that there is still a divergence in thought between most in the north and most in the south. One has only to look at the electoral maps of the last two presidential elections, and that of the Election of 1860 to see similarities.
The question of secession has been settled by force of arms. One could even say that one reason that the Confederacy lost is that they were like eleven little feudal kingdoms. Sometimes they fought each other almost as ferociously as they did the yankees. But even today many in the south still resent the central government, which they feel is attempting to exercise more and more control over their lives.
The question of the extent of the authority of the federal government over the states was not settled in 1787. It was not settled in 1860. It wasn't even settled in 1865. It continues even now. No longer will opposing armies attempt to resolve it. Instead there will be posturing and pontificating politicians doing battle in Washington DC. I suspect that it will always be so.