Wednesday 8 July 2015

Reader's Question: What are your thoughts on the Old South in the American Civil War?

My gut feeling is with the North, because most of the historical Americans I like best - the writers, especially - are Yankees.

I have spent periods in New England and in Texas - and much preferred New England (although I liked the hospitality and manners of the Texans) - indeed I have a love for the physical place of New England, its history and architecture; which probably exceeds that of anywhere outside my native land.

It may also be a factor that the US climate and scenery outside of Greater New England (i.e. including Upstate New York) is, mostly, alien and more-or-less unpleasant to me - it would be too hot, cold, dry or humid; and often on too large and inhuman a scale for me.

My impression is that in the American Civil War, both sides were in the wrong; and the war did far more harm than good - it was a war that should not have happened, it was not a 'just war' from either perspective.



Odin's Raven said...

I knew someone who had a distant relative who emigrated to America during its Civil War. Like many immigrants he joined the Union army to make a living. He deserted to the South because they impressed him as being the better men.

Anonymous said...

It's a difficult subject that gets almost no reasonable discussion. The best explanation of the US is the David Hackett Fischer's Albion's Seed. The New England abolitionists were in every way descendants of Oliver Cromwell- dangerous, dictatorial fanatics. The same people are a little more subtle these days, but the Supreme Court gay marriage demonstrates their attitude towards the populace.

Chattel plantation slavery isn't an attractive social system. People outside the south were willing to tolerate it there, but wanted to preserve the west for smallhold farmers. The Supreme Court however was controlled from about 1800 to the Civil War by southerners, John Marshall and Roger Taney, who were as arrogant in asserting the rights of slave owners as the neo-Puritans of New England are now in asserting whatever social policies the faculty of Harvard finds desirable.

Dred Scott, and the much less discussed Lemmon v. New York, had the Supreme Court maintaining that slavery was a legal right everywhere in the United States. The elites of New England and of the lowland South wanted a war badly. The small farmers of the Midwest and upland South got dragged in reluctantly.

The US consists of multiple civilizations. Greater New York City is a civilization unto itself. New England is another, and the common people are not like the elite. New England is very English, in its way, but so is the South. Both places are very alien to me, but if I had to pick one it would be the South.

The Continental Op said...

I am biased, as I am a Southerner.

But the war didn't really settle anything. The cultures of the North and of the South remain different. The South was and is markedly more Christian, which the North is hostile to. As can be seen in our official press, the war goes on.

knifecatcher said...

"My impression is that in the American Civil War, both side were in the wrong; and the war did far more harm than good - it was a war that should not have happened, it was not a 'just war' from either perspective."

The South seceded and the North invaded the South. The war was fought in southern territory. In what way were both sides in the wrong?

Karl said...

Lincoln in his inspired second inaugural address invited us to view the war as a divine judgment against both sides.