The death of an institution

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The death of an institution

Post by Cold War Communist on Sun Jul 23, 2017 4:44 pm

There's much to say about the issue of the American Slave Trade, but for this topic the question pertains to how the institution of slavery in the United States would perish. There is no shortage of information on this topic so I will abstain from choosing and supporting a side in this introductory post.

How was slavery going to die in the United States? I don't think there is a question that it was going to die eventually, but was it destined to be a violent and bloody end? Or was there a chance, however large or small, that s slavery would go gentle into that good night? Please discuss.

Note: the slave trade and the institution of slavery are used synonymously in this post despite existing differences.
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Re: The death of an institution

Post by F35H on Sun Jul 23, 2017 6:43 pm

If the government wasn't so adamant on instantly abolishing it, I believe that eventually, through slow additions of laws, it could have been peacefully abolished.

Another thing, however, is the cultural differences between the north and south had been developing since revolutionary times, and because of this disagreements and laws before the civil war era put into place (such as the colonial law putting future states under the Mason Dixon line slave, and above free) couldn't have happened for peaceful assimilation.

Honestly, it depends on context. After a quick rewrite of history, it is plausible. However, even if we go down the peaceful route with slavery, I feel it is very possible for other issues to easily cause a civil war.

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Re: The death of an institution

Post by Mr Trolldemort on Sun Jul 23, 2017 8:32 pm

I personally feel like a civil war in the USA was bound to happen, no matter if it was due to slavery or not. Back then, the individual states were still much more independent than today and did not like too much federal powers, so anything that required the national government to overrule the states (on slavery for example, and for many other issues) was bound to be take negatively ,especially in the South, who felt they were quite different from the politicians in Washington DC. The issue of secession was never solved, and many felt the states had a right to leave if it no longer like the US policies, so some states were going to do it eventually (South Carolina actually tried to back in the presidency of Andrew Jackson, but it was stopped quickly)

On the other hand, due to the two party system the US has had since its beginning, the two parties in power began having completely different views and were very much opposed to each other. The Republicans were essentially just one side of the coin, as they sided with abolition of slavery and pro-industry while the democrats were pro-agriculture and slavery. Both sides felt threatened if one party gained complete power, and the Democrat South felt it had no choice but to secede if it wanted to have any say in their own affairs.
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Re: The death of an institution

Post by Crazy Boris on Sun Jul 23, 2017 9:57 pm

Honestly, there's no way that abolition would have arrived without any violence whatsoever. Even if it had been brought about through legislation alone rather than bloodshed, Slaveholders would of course be unhappy for obvious reasons and could get violent, perhaps forming something akin to the original KKK to sort of create an organized crime group to attack and terrorize freedmen, Republicans, abolitionists, and anyone else associated with the emancipation of slaves. In addition, the introduction of hundreds of thousands of new men into the Southern workforce, i think would without a doubt cause tension with poor whites, even those who would have otherwise been supportive of abolition (and maybe even free blacks who had never been slaves), who would all see this massive influx of laborers as a threat to their own employment, leading to even more violence against freedmen. Also, can't forget the racial aspect of things... I hate to stereotype Southerners as racist, but in mid-19th century America, that would have without a doubt been the norm, especially in Dixie, and a sudden influx of Afro-Americans into otherwise predominantly white communities would, without a doubt, create tension and we would probably see huge race riots erupt across the region, especially in big cities (Atlanta, Charleston, New Orleans etc.).

So, even if slavery were abolished in America through peaceful means, the aftermath would not have been as such, and actually, I could see it being even more violent than how it went during reconstruction, since without military occupation of the South to attempt to keep the peace (especially during Grant's administration), there would likely be little to curb the violence short of the whole region coming under martial law, since I could totally see local law enforcement turning a blind eye to these acts of violence. Of course, this is all speculation, I'm no expert in reconstruction or race relations or anything, but with what I do know, this is what I see as being most likely.

Of course, aside from civil war and peaceful legislation, the only other way slavery could have ended would be John Brown's dream of a massive, nationwide slave rebellion, which would be anything but peaceful, probably end in failure, and definitely set the abolitionist movement back.

So yeah, no matter what the circumstances of abolition were, there was bound to be violence, especially and primarily towards freedmen, as a result. That's the unfortunate reality of politics and society of the old south.

Now, as for if a Civil War was unavoidable, I agree with Trolldemort that it would have happened no matter what. If it hadn't been because of slavery, some other factor would have motivated some state or region to attempt secession. The power struggle between state and federal governments had been ongoing since the birth of the nation, as evidenced by things like the Hartford Convention and the Nullification Crisis. Inevitably something would have come along that would have heated up to the point where America would go to war with itself, with the South being a likely candidate for who would secede, although it could have been anywhere. The US civil war was unavoidable, but in a way, it was needed to secure the stability of the country and "unify" the nation by settling the state-vs-federal argument once and for all and creating a strong national identity that was more important than state loyalties, that's why it's considered the defining moment of US history. I don't think rebellious regions that would have resented federal supremacy would have been willing to abandon the idea of their powers being equal or above DC's through any other means that suppression through force.
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Re: The death of an institution

Post by Lord Yavimaya on Mon Jul 24, 2017 6:46 pm

If the US kept the institution, after a while the European powers would put pressure on them to end it. I do not know how long it would take. But there is NO way it could have survived until today. As the US continued to industrialize, the importance of slavery to both the North's and the South's economies would drop. I think after a while the Southern states would stop it, whether by force or just through a capitulation of the industry. I do think it is possible that the South would put it down without a fight though, given enough time. Maybe some revolts would occur, but not a full out succession.
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Re: The death of an institution

Post by Cold War Communist on Mon Jul 24, 2017 6:59 pm

My personal belief on this matter is that the institution would have died off, but it really couldn't go without violence. A number of events, particularly the Haitian rebellion and Nat Turner's rebellion, led to the South doubling down on their harsh treatment of slaves. This leads me to believe that the South would have pushed too far eventually and caused the system to collapse from within. That's just in a "non interference" scenario in which the North remains out of it.
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