“If I do that, what would become of my revenue? I might as well shut up housekeeping at once!”
President Abraham Lincoln
In response to the suggestion by the Virginian Commissioners to abandon the custom house of Fort Sumter. Housekeeping is a euphemism for federal spending, in other words, taxing consumers to subsidize special interests, or what we would call today, corporate welfare.
““But what am I to do in the meantime with those men at Montgomery [meaning the Confederate constitutional convention]? Am I to let them go on… [a]nd open Charleston, etc., as ports of entry, with their ten-percent tariff. What, then, would become of my tariff?”
President Abraham Lincoln to Colonel John B. Baldwin
Baldwin was deputized by the Virginian Commissioners to determine whether Lincoln would use force, April 4, 1861
Following the fact that North and South were each serving a different God what was the most significant underlying cause of what is called “The Civil War?” Hint — It wasn’t slavery.
The simple fact of the matter is that the North was using the South as a milch cow to sustain its ever burgeoning Henry Clay “American system” of government Centralization and government spending on internal improvements that primarily profited the North.
There were many important people in the North upon hearing of the South’s departure were initially glad to see them go and encouraged the willing release of the South. Horace Greely, Editor of the influential “New York Tribune” wrote, “The South has as good a right to secede from the Union as the colonies had to secede from Great Britain.” The Newspaper, “The Albany Atlas and Argus” encouraged, “We must separate from them peacefully,” and then admonished the Republicans for being responsible for South Carolina’s departure. The pro-Lincoln newspaper outlet, “The Indianapolis Daily Journal,” editorialized “We are well rid of South Carolina,” and went on several sentences expressing how fortunate the Union was for her leaving ending with “If all the South follows her, let it.” The “New York Journal of Commerce” opined along the line that it was time to stop assigning blame and to face facts: “The Union is already dissolved,” and went on to admonish Washington that it was time to adopt a policy of limiting the secession, and to not go about raising and arming men to butcher their friends in the South. “The Detroit Free Press” in a matter of fact fashion offered; “The people of these States, driven to desperation by the incessant warfare of abolitionism upon their most cherished rights, have withdrawn themselves from among us…” This pro-Douglas newspaper went on to say that Washington should recognize the Confederacy or go to war and finally opined that if there was war the blame would be with the Republican party. Finally, even the pro-Republican, pro-Lincoln, “Northwest Daily Tribune” wrote that if the South opted to form an independent nation “they [would] have a clear moral right to do so.”
We see in many quarters of the North the attitude was to allow the South to leave. The North, having no fondness for the Black man would not go to war to stop the South with its slavery from leaving.
However, in other quarters in the North there was a building understanding such as recognized by Lincoln in the opening quotes that if the South was to leave the Nation to form its own Nation that the results would be the impoverishment and so diminishing of the North. Newspapers like “The Manchester Daily Mirror” connected the dots by offering: “The Southern Confederacy will not employ our ships or buy our goods. What is our shipping [worth] without it? Literally nothing. The transportation of cotton and its fabrics employs more ships than all other trade. It is very clear the South gains by this process [secession], and we lose. NO — we must not ‘let the South go.'” The pro-Lincoln “New York Evening Post” added that if the Lincoln government could not collect revenues from the seceded states, “the nation will become bankrupt.”
Here is the point that we realize what the Civil War was about, after it was about the reality that each section was serving different gods, was a matter of money. Lincoln understood this as well, as the opening quotes above by Lincoln demonstrate. The Civil war being about slavery or black men in chains was way down on the list of reasons why white men on this continent began to fight and kill one another. The Civil war, being theological in its beginnings was thus eventually economic. It was simply a matter of following the money.
The North came to the realization that it was either kill Southerners in bloody fratricidal war or it was a matter of slowing dying themselves from a severe constriction in wealth. It was true that the North had the industrial base of the nation. However, it was also true that the North needed the material goods (especially Cotton) from the South in order for the industrial base to keep whirring and humming. The North understood that other nations would be using the Southern ports of Savannah, Charleston, and New Orleans to bring their goods in where they would only have to pay 10% rate of tariff as opposed to the 47% tariff rate that the Northern ports of Boston, New York, and Philadelphia would be charging. In brief, the Yankee industrial movers and shakers began to realize that they would be left impoverished if the South was allowed to depart.
There was one more twist to the almost certain financial demise of the North if the South was allowed to leave and that was the reality that the Central government in DC would also be severely financially hamstrung. By 1860, 80-90% of federal revenue came from the Southern export trade, which was largely built on slavery. If the North was to lose the South the funds that operated the Federal Government would dry up. This fact also explains why Northern politicians sought to keep their distance from movement abolitionists. The North understood that they not only had to keep the South but they also could not touch slavery as an institution since the Southern export trade (and so their revenues) was built on the Southern slavery economy. This explain why Lincoln painstakingly went out of his way to promise the South that he had no intent on ending slavery per his first inaugural address,
“I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.”
Financially speaking, if the South was going to continue to be the North’s milch cow then the North needed to make sure Southern slavery did not go in to abeyance. What the North wanted was the South to be restricted to its geographic area to continue to be the source of revenue for the North so that the North could expand Westward as developed by Clay’s (and now Lincoln’s) American System. The South would be the North’s money base as its influence would be forever diminished in DC due to the influx of new States beholden to the North’s American System.
The war was not about slavery. If anything the Northern Titans of industry desired for slavery to continue in the South. The North hated the black man as seen by many of its state codes touching the presence of the black man in their states.
Again, I say… the war was not about slavery. Slavery was only eventually used as an excuse for the War in order to add a moral window dressing to Lincoln’s raping, murdering, and pillaging of the South. It is easy to justify a war that has the grand moral purpose of “freeing the black man.” It makes a far less inspiring motto to say “We are going to war to steal their stuff.”