In Defense of the Confederate States of America (CSA)
Debate Rounds (4)
First round is for acceptance, burden of proof is shared.
Please note that this debate does NOT mean that I in any way support the institution of slavery in the United States or in any other nation.
With that being said, I will begin.
I. The Confederate
State rights were more important to the South than slaves.
By the latter part of 1864 the CSA was moving toward ending slavery.
So why is this important? Con may argue that they only did this under Union pressure. HOWEVER. this proved that the sovereignty of the South was at least slightly more important to them than the institution of slavery.
Only a small percentage of Southerners owned slaves
In the first half of the 19th century, one-third of all southern white families owned slaves.
The South Needed Slaves
The Reconstruction Era:
The Civil War left the South in pieces for many reasons, ranging from the large destruction of property to the collapse of Confederate money which so many people had invested in.
HOWEVER, I think the main reason the South was hurt so badly was because they had to free 3 million slaves overnight. Nearly their entire economy depended on these slaves, who made up over a third of the South's population. The South knew this, and thus they were unwilling to end abolition.
II. The Union
The Union did not have much of a moral high ground
While the South was a mostly agricultural place, the North was heavily industrial. Back then, and still today, that meant a lot of factories. Now back then, there were no minimum wage laws, no air conditioning, no child labor laws, etc. The North was full of sweatshops where people, even children, worked for 14 hours a day for very low wages. If they quit their jobs, they'd be out on the streets, homeless. They were Free In Name Only (FINOs).
III. Psychology of the South
This last part may sound more emotional than logical, but please read it anyway.
It is so easy for us to sit on our moral high horse and say that the South was an evil empire. When we do this we walk away feeling good about ourselves. After all, we never were slave owners, and we tell ourselves that we'd be abolitionists if we lived back then. But let me tell you this: if you lived back then, it's quite possible that you may have supported the institution of slavery or you might've even been a slave owner yourself. We have no way of knowing these things.
We see slavery in black and white terms. Yes, slavery is black, but what we forget is that slave owners are grey. They were people, just like us. They were capable of only that which human beings throughout history have been capable of. We condemn them, seeing them as inherently immoral people.
Well, it turns out that the North did the exact same thing. The North saw the South as a region of immoral brutes who enslaved blacks. They sat on their own moral high horse and saw themselves as superior to their Southern counterparts.
In the past couple of days I have researched this subject and I have been able to see through the eyes of the slave owners of that era more clearly than I ever have before.
I can see what they were thinking, what they thought of the arrogant North that saw itself as white and the South as black (in figurative terms of morality, of course; I'm not referring to race in this usage).
So, the North was basically saying "we art righteous and holy while thou slave owners art vile sinners who shalt end up in hell unless thou giveth up thy slaves."
The South saw the North for what it was: arrogant and overly pious. Every time they heard a Northerner talk to them about the evils of slavery, they probably thought to themselves, "Who are you to judge me? You don't know me, you don't understand me, and like heck I'll never give up my slaves just because you want me to."
They saw Southern culture as simply a counterpart to Northern culture. The way they saw it, if they ever gave up slaves, they'd be acknowledging their own immorality and the Northern superiority. So, this completely turned them off to the words of the abolitionists. It was a matter of pride and refusal to acknowlege their guilt to the smug and overly righteous North.
So though slavery was indeed immoral, the North embraced an attitude which only pushed the South further away from freeing slaves.
It was also about paranoia. In the decades prior to the Confederate's rise and the Civil War, there had been a series of compromises each time a new state was added. These compromises made sure that there was about an equal number of slave and free states in the Union. HOWEVER, with events like the admission of Arizona and New Mexico as free states, the South knew that eventually the free states would far outnumber the slave states. When this happened, those arrogant Northerners could forcibly end slavery.
They also feared that Abraham Lincoln, who opposed slavery, would abolish slavery upon taking office.
So as you can see, paranoia was high in the South. They thought that their way of life, which they had been taught from the cradle to the grave was not wrong, was about to end. They figured that the only way to save the institution of slavery from the North was to form their own nation, a nation where the United States (which was spewing out more and more free states) could not force their will upon the South.
I await my opponent's rebuttal.
I interpret the resolution as an analysis of the morality of the Confederacy and the justice of their cause.
C1: The reason for secession was unjust.
Pro contends that the CSA was based more upon states rights than it was slavery. If this was true, the secession wouldn't have been a reaction to their fear that Lincoln would end slavery. Washington Post explains: "On Dec. 24, 1860, delegates at South Carolina’s secession convention adopted a “Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union.” It noted “an increasing hostility on the part of the non-slaveholding States to the institution of slavery” and protested that Northern states had failed to “fulfill their constitutional obligations” by interfering with the return of fugitive slaves to bondage. Slavery, not states’ rights, birthed the Civil War."
Indeed, it is for this reason that slavery was enshrined in the Confederate constitution. In Article 1, Section 9 of the Confederate Constitution it is declared "No bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law denying or impairing the right of property in negro slaves shall be passed."
Pro argues that it was really about states rights but this makes no sense at all. The south didn't secede just to prove it could, there had to be some sparking issue and that issue was slavery. To defend the CSA is to defend a nation who's sole purpose of existence was the preservation of slavery. Any student of the antebellum United States knows well that much of the tension that existed between the North and South since the beginning of the nation was due to slavery, from the status of slavery in the territories and the new states to bleeding Kansas.
C2: Secession was unconstitutional
When states agreed to accept the Constitution, they also agreed to a permenant union and forfeited their right to leave. The Supreme Court wrote in Texas vs. White: "The Union of the States never was a purely artificial and arbitrary relation. It began among the Colonies, and grew out of common origin, mutual sympathies, kindred principles, similar interests, and geographical relations. It was confirmed and strengthened by the necessities of war, and received definite form and character and sanction from the Articles of Confederation. By these, the Union was solemnly declared to 'be perpetual.' And when these Articles were found to be inadequate to the exigencies of the country, the Constitution was ordained 'to form a more perfect Union.' It is difficult to convey the idea of indissoluble unity more clearly than by these words. What can be indissoluble if a perpetual Union, made more perfect, is not?"
The South had no right to secede, fired the first shots of the war, and as such was unquestionably in the wrong.
A. States rights
Don't allow my opponent to gain any advocacy from his sources if he isn't explaining what they mean in the round. Honestly, this entire argument is just ridiculous because the south didnt secede just to prove they could they seceded due to slavery. There is simply no substance behind this argument.
B. Not many owned slaves
This is irrelevant--the entire economy of the south was based upon slave labor. Moreover the economic elite owned slaves even if the commoners didn't, and they were the ones who founded, led, and ultimately dissolved the new nation. Even if 90% of Confederate citizens were staunch abolitionists, if the government was controlled by the forces of evil than there is no reason tod efend the confederacy.
C. Slavery was needed
This is an easily turnable argument. The whole wretched system was based on slavery and the North was justified in intervening to end such a pervasive evil.
II. The Union
Pro attacks capitalism and the private, contractual, and voluntary relationships workers in the North entered with their companies. While the North may have had it's own set of social problems, it's entire economy was based on contractual labor as opposed to enslavement and ownership of human beings. To claim that the North was somehow morally inferior to the South simply because it was going through the same ultra-capitalist phase that nearly all nations go through in the process of industrialization is absurd.
Pro's argument that we don't know what our position would be in the past is irrelevant--just because I haven't walked in a slave owners shoes doesn't mean that I don't have the proper perspective to tell that their actions were morally wrong. To condemn the Confederacy is not to condemn every member of it or even every slave owner as an objectively terrible person but, rather, a reflection of their own society which we now know to be flawed. It doesn't matter if the North was arrogant (even if it was Pro hasn't sourced this) and it doesn't matter if the North helped to polarize the South. At the end of the day, the South was the one who had to more immoral system, seceded illegally, and fired the first shot.
History is a lot more complex than the orthodox "The civil war was a war fought by evil racist slave owners against freedom loving champions led by Honest Abe" intrepretation. However that doesn't mean that the South was in the right. The resolution is negated.
The Reason for Secession was Unjust
Con says that since the South seceded over fearing the abolition of slavery, the war must've been about slavery and not state rights, correct? HOWEVER, the South considered slavery to be a right. And Con still hasn't explained how slavery was the root cause when the South was going to abolish slavery while not abolishing the CSA. If slavery was it, wouldn't it have made sense for them to surrender the second that they decided slavery should be abolished? While there were peace negotiations in 1865 prior to the war's end, the South did not surrender and the war did not end until later.
Secession Was Unconstitutional
Con brings up the Texas V. White decision as evidence that secession was unconstitutional. HOWEVER, what Con doesn't mention is that this case took place a good 4 years after the Civil War ended. So during the time of the Civil War, the Federal Government was not delegated the power to prevent secession. And according to the Tenth Amendment:
"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."
Therefore, in 1861, states had the legal right to secede. Granted, had they seceded in 1869, perhaps it would've been illegal.
Con also says that the CSA fired the first shots of the war, most likely referring to the incident at Fort Sumter.
The Confederates had EVERY right to seize Fort Sumter. The Confederate was formed on February 4, 1861. The attack on Fort Sumter took place on April 12, 1861 and it continued until April 14, 1861. Do you know what this means? After the clear founding of the Confederacy, the Union had two whole months to withdraw its military bases from Confederate soil. And they were warned too. That Union base was trespassing on Confederate soil, it knew that it was trespassing and that it'd be attacked if it stood there much longer, and they (the defenders, under the command of Robert Anderson) had plenty of time to evacuate. But they didn't.
Also, Con neglects to mention that no one was killed at the Battle of Fort Sumter. In the aftermath several soldiers were either wounded or killed in a freak accident, but that probably wasn't anybody's fault.
Note: I already provided an answer to Con's rebuttal A.
Con's Rebuttal B.
Okay, I suppose this is true. But it only strengthens my point: the South needed slaves.
Con's Rebuttal C.
Con said that since slavery is evil (a contention that I do not disagree with, by the way), the North had a right to intervene. No...they...didn't. First of all, it wasn't their nation anymore. They'd be intervening in a foreign nation, whose only offense against them was to attack a fort which didn't belong on Confederate soil.
Of course, the US in its history has intervened many times in foreign nations over human rights abuses. But what Con doesn't seem to be getting is that the abolition of slavery overnight utterly ruined the South.
Con's Rebuttal on the Union:
Con says that being a FINO and being a slave are two very different things. How so? Both worked in horrid conditions, neither can leave (well technically the FINO can, but then he or she would starve to death; the slave, by the way, can run away or attempt to run away), and...oh, what's this? The slave owner provides housing for his slave(s). There's a point for the slave owners.
By the way, I was not saying that the North was morally inferior. I'm saying that they just barely, if at all, had any moral high ground.
Con's Rebuttal on the Psychology of the South:
Yes, slavery was wrong. But the North made their own cause harder with the way they treated the South. If Con wants proof that the North thought poorly of the South, I'll give him some.
Here are some quotes following the caning of Charles Sumner:
William Cullen Bryant of the New York Evening Post, asked, "Has it come to this, that we must speak with bated breath in the presence of our Southern masters?... Are we to be chastised as they chastise their slaves? Are we too, slaves, slaves for life, a target for their brutal blows, when we do not comport ourselves to please them?"
The Cincinnati Gazette said, "The South cannot tolerate free speech anywhere, and would stifle it in Washington with the bludgeon and the bowie-knife, as they are now trying to stifle it in Kansas by massacre, rapine, and murder."
Note that in Bleeding Kansas, the abolitionists were also doing the killing.
Before I go, I would like to say that the Civil War, in the short term, did not truly free the blacks. When many of the blacks were freed, they found themselves with nowhere to go. Thus, many of them simply continued working for their former masters on the plantations, though they went from being slaves to being FINOs.
I await con's response.
I. The reason for secession was unjust
Pro doesn't even argue this point. Thus you can conclude that the reason for secession was not states rights as Pro dubiously claimed, but rather slavery. Vote Con unless you think leaving the country over slavery is a position worth defending.
Pro argues that the South "planned" to abolish slavery. First, even if this is true it still doesn't make the CSA morally defensible. Even if the South planned to abolish slavery at some later date, fighting to preserve it in the short term is still a moral abomination. Secondly this claim is so bogus that I can't be certain that Pro isn't joking. His sources talk about a Union peace offering that the South *rejected* who's terms included maintaining the Emancipation Proclamation. One of the three terms the Union laid out for peace was "no receding, by the Executive of the United States on the Slavery question" and the offer was rejected by the South. Earlier in the round Pro cited some articles that *asserted* that the South was "moving toward" ending slavery but did not explain how.
Pros response here is a misapplication of the legal system. That secession was ruled unconstitutional after the war has no bearing on the legitimacy of the ruling. The entire basis of the case was about the validity of government actions under the CSA banner and the court ruled that Texas had, throughout the entire civil war, remained legally a state and thus all actions the confederate governments partook in were null. The ruling was based on the idea that the states had agreed to a perpetual union when they entered the country. The ruling was that states *never* had the right to secede.
This renders Pro's rebuttal about the South firing the first shots moot. The South certainly did not have "every right" to attack Fort Sumter as the fort was federal property. Remember, Texas v. White tells us that the Souths territory was always a part of the nation If there is some right to secession, Pro has not proven so.
Thus you can vote Con based on both of my arguments standing.
I. The confederacy
Only one round in, and none of Pro's subpoints here still stand. We now know that the South did secede to defend the institution of slavery from Lincoln who the perceived as a radical, most people not owning slaves was irrelevant, and the souths economy being based on slavery does not justify the existence of slavery. Pro thankfully doesn't disagree that slavery was a grevious evil, but only responds that the North didn't have the right to invade because it was not their nation. First, even if this is true the South fired the first shots when the situtaion was still very confused. Secondly, this argument is false as Texas v. White shows. Thirdly, this argument lacks moral basis, a country has every right to intervene in another to stop human rights abuses. With the defeat of the South and the passage of the 13th amendment, the uniquely evil institution of American slavery was wiped from the face of the Earth. Pro's only response is that abolishing slavery "overnight utterly ruined the south". There were many flaws with reconstruction but the abolition of slavery was not among them. Moreover if abolishing slavery "ruined" the South, this calls into question Pro's argument about the South trying to abolish slavery on its own.
II. The Union
Pro continues to deride capitalism without realizing that the fundamental difference between voluntary, paid labor and slave labor is the voluntary part. The North's industrial system unquestionably had the moral high ground because it revolved around mutually beneficial, voluntary and contractual exchanges as opposed to hereditary race based servitude and exploitation. If the North was truly worse than the South, thousands of slaves wouldn't have risked everything to try and escape to the North. Pro's comparison would probably be extremely offensive to anyone who's ever experienced slavery, and fails to recognize the sheer indignity that comes with being the "property" of another.
This is irrelevant anyway. Even if the South was the better place than the North, that doesn't mean the South had the moral high ground in the civil war.
Pro doesn't really dispute my argument that not walking in the shoes of slave owners doesn't mean we don't have the proper information to condemn their actions. I'm not even sure what Pro is arguing with his quotes. It should come as no surprise that many Northerners felt contempt for the South, and Southerners responded in kind. Some Northerners disliking the South did not give the South the right to rebel.
The resolution is negated.
The war was still over State Rights, because the Southern states considered the ability to own slaves a right. And since the South would've eventually freed their slaves anyway, was the war worth it?
Thett said that my "sources were bogus." Only one of the three sources talking about the South's move to end slavery could be considered historical revisionism. The other two are neutral sources which spoke the truth.
"Pros response here is a misapplication of the legal system. That secession was ruled unconstitutional after the war has no bearing on the legitimacy of the ruling. The entire basis of the case was about the validity of government actions under the CSA banner and the court ruled that Texas had, throughout the entire civil war, remained legally a state and thus all actions the confederate governments partook in were null. The ruling was based on the idea that the states had agreed to a perpetual union when they entered the country. The ruling was that states *never* had the right to secede."
Imagine a country where it's not against the law to murder people. So, thousands of people are murdered in this country every day. Finally, this country's government passes a law making murder illegal. NOW, all future murders can be prosecuted, but this government has no right to jail or execute people for activities which were not illegal at the time that they were committed. In this same way, secession was not illegal in 1861. Claiming that somehow it was illegal at the time because such a law was passed later is just plain stupid (please note that this is not a personal remark aimed towards Con in any way). If in this fictional country rules that all murders committed before this law would also be prosecuted, well, the country has no right to do this. In the 1920s. did the US Government have the right to jail people who drank whiskey or beer before Prohibition came into effect? I think not.
"This renders Pro's rebuttal about the South firing the first shots moot. The South certainly did not have "every right" to attack Fort Sumter as the fort was federal property. Remember, Texas v. White tells us that the Souths territory was always a part of the nation If there is some right to secession, Pro has not proven so. "
As I've proven the South did have a right, regardless of the Supreme Court's later decision. ALSO, may I remind Con that there is no official process for establishing a nation? Even in today's heavily-regulated world with the UN, there is no formal process required for a new nation to be legitimate. The group with the guns rules the country, and it's as simple as that. And the Confederate was an organized entity, with an army, state governments, and a central government. So what makes Con think there was such a process back in the 19th century?
"Only one round in, and none of Pro's subpoints here still stand. We now know that the South did secede to defend the institution of slavery from Lincoln who the perceived as a radical, most people not owning slaves was irrelevant, and the souths economy being based on slavery does not justify the existence of slavery. Pro thankfully doesn't disagree that slavery was a grevious evil, but only responds that the North didn't have the right to invade because it was not their nation. First, even if this is true the South fired the first shots when the situtaion was still very confused. Secondly, this argument is false as Texas v. White shows. Thirdly, this argument lacks moral basis, a country has every right to intervene in another to stop human rights abuses. With the defeat of the South and the passage of the 13th amendment, the uniquely evil institution of American slavery was wiped from the face of the Earth. Pro's only response is that abolishing slavery "overnight utterly ruined the south". There were many flaws with reconstruction but the abolition of slavery was not among them. Moreover if abolishing slavery "ruined" the South, this calls into question Pro's argument about the South trying to abolish slavery on its own."
I do not deny that slavery was evil. HOWEVER, did they really have to end it through war? Why not simply abolish slavery and pay the slave owners for every one of their slaves freed?
"Pro continues to deride capitalism without realizing that the fundamental difference between voluntary, paid labor and slave labor is the voluntary part. The North's industrial system unquestionably had the moral high ground because it revolved around mutually beneficial, voluntary and contractual exchanges as opposed to hereditary race based servitude and exploitation. If the North was truly worse than the South, thousands of slaves wouldn't have risked everything to try and escape to the North. Pro's comparison would probably be extremely offensive to anyone who's ever experienced slavery, and fails to recognize the sheer indignity that comes with being the "property" of another."
I am a Conservative, which means I believe in Capitalism. HOWEVER, I do not believe in utterly unregulated capitalism where workers sit in sweatshops for 16 hours a day.
Con says it's better off than slavery. After all, with Slavery you get whipped and you're somebody else's property. However, you are (unofficially, of course) the property of your employer when you work in a sweatshop. If you quit, you starve in the streets. There were few labor unions back then, and no minimum wage in the US.
That's all I'm going to say on this debate. I enjoyed this, and I hope to debate other people in the future.
P.S. The Emancipation Proclamation and even the Civil War did not end slavery in the United States.
Thanks for the debate, Pro. An interesting tidbit that makes this debate somewhat ironic is that I have several ancestors who fought for the South, including one in my direct male line. Onto the debate:
Both of my contentions completely stand and should lead to a negative ballot.
I. The reason was immoral
Pro continues to argue without any warrant that the war was over states rights but once again has completely ignored my rebuttal that the South did not secede just to prove it could. It seceded because there was an issue that sparked the split and my analysis and mainstream historical thought shows that the issue was slavery.
Pro argues that the South was going to abolish slavery anyway but recall that HE HAS NOT EXPLAINED THIS AT ALL IN ROUND. All he did was assert it and link some sources, but I'm debating Pro not his sources. Pro argues that the South needed slavery and that abolishing slavery was so bad that it "ruined" the South, then turns around and tells us that the South was going to be rid of slavery. Not to mention that slavery was enshrined in the Confederate Constitution. Moreover Pro ignores my argument that even if this was true, you can still vote Con because the *initial* reason for secession was in defense of slavery, thus rending it immoral. This contention stands and is going to lead to a con vote.
Pro tries to argue that applying the Texas v. White decision to the legality of secession is the equivalent of punishing some ex post facto, but this is simply wrong. It's not the same because the issue of secession had *never* been ruled on by the courts. It was an issue where the contract was unclear which does *not* mean that it was legal. The states agreed to a *contract* when they were admitted to the Union, which was the Constitution. The ruling was not that secession was now illegal, it was that it was *never* legal under the terms of the contract the States all agreed to upon admission to the Union. Pro argues that even today, it's unclear as to when nations can legally fracture which serves only to reinforce my case. The issue was unclear, so the South had *no right* to start firing on Federal property.
Thus the action of secession was illegal which puts the South in the wrong, legally.
Let's go over the facts in the round. The South seceded for an immoral reason, did not have the right to secede, and fired the first shots. They were unquestionably in the wrong by any standard.
My opponents case is completely in shambles at this point. You can vote Con by default as he's failing to meet his burden of proof. His only arguments are that the North didn't have to end Slavery by war, and that capitalism in the North was bad.
The first argument fails because the North had *no choice* but to go to war because it's territorial integrity was at stake and it's fort was attacked by the South. The North was fighting to preserve the Union and the South would've never accepted a peace offering without slavery anyway. The North offered one, the South rejected it.
The second argument is bogus. Pro argues absurdly that working voluntarily for a wage is the same as being owned by someone. I will not argue that conditions for workers in the North were ideal and that the reforms made since the progressive era were necessarily bad, but will reiterate my previous arguments that even if this was true is has *nothing* to do with the Civil War's morality, and that if this were actually true thousands of slaves wouldn't risk everything to try and escape to the North. If life in the North was really worse than life as a Slave in the South, we would've seen the return of white indentured servitude. That didn't happen.
The resolution is completely negated. Vote Con.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Romanii 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: The winner of this debate is rather obvious. Pro did a decent job, but his arguments were mainly just assertions followed by links that supposedly backed up his claims; Con easily showed several of those assertions to be false using primary sources (i.e. "slavery was not a major cause of the civil war"). Also, Pro contradicted himself a few times, as Con pointed out, claiming that the Confederates were about to abolish slavery, yet claiming elsewhere in the debate that slavery was a huge part of the southern economy. Also, Pro's contention that being a factory worker is just as bad as being a slave is obviously false; one gets paid, whereas the other does not... Anyways, this was a pretty interesting read, so good job to both sides!
Vote Placed by YYW 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: CON more compellingly (because he was correct, lol) explained why the confederacy fought the Civil War than PRO, whose arguments were as strange as they were nonsensical. CON argued, again, correctly (in the end), that secession was unconstitutional. PRO's understanding of historical events relating to this topic, and their meaning, is at best, questionable. Arguments, overwhelmingly, to CON.
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