A Note On The Sectional Slavery Conflict In The United States



A Note On The Slavery Sectional Conflict In The United States

A Passage From The Rise Of American Civilization


Charles Beard

Vol. II pp 4-6

Here’s a little food for thought on the slavery conflict leading to the Civil War.

“As the years passed, the planting leaders of Jefferson’s agricultural party insisted with mounting fervor that the opposition, first of the Whigs and then of the Republicans, was at bottom an association of interests formed for the purpose of plundering productive management and labor on the land. And with steadfast insistence they declared that in the insatiable greed of their political foes lay the source of the dissensions which were tearing the country asunder.

“There is not a pursuit in which man is engaged (agriculture excepted), exclaimed Reuben Davis of Mississippi in 1860, “which is not demanding legislative aid to enable it to enlarge its profits and all at the expense of he primary pursuit of man–agriculture…. Those interests, having a common purpose of plunder, have united and combined to use the government as the instrument of their operation and have thus virtually converted it into a consolidated empire.. Now this combined host of interests stands arrayed against he agricultural states; and this is the reason of the conflict which like an earthquake is shaking our political fabric to its foundations.” The furor over slavery is a mere subterfuge to cover other purposes. “relentless avarice stands firm with its iron heel upon the Constitution.” This creature, “incorporated avarice” has chained “the agricultural states to the northern rock.” and lives like a vulture upon their prosperity. It is the effort of Prometheus to burst his manacles that provokes the assault on slavery. “These states struggle like a giant,” continued Davis, “and alarm these incorporated interests, lest they may break the chain that binds them to usurpation; and therefore they are making this fierce onslaught upon he slave property of the southern states.”

The fact that free-soil advocates waged war only on slavery in the territories was to Jefferson Davis conclusive proof of an underlying conspiracy against agriculture. He professed more respect for the abolitionist than for the free-soiler. The former, he said, is dominated by an honest conviction that slavery is wrong everywhere and that all men ought to be free; the latter does not assail slavery in the states’’ he merely wishes to abolish it in the territories that are in due course to be admitted to the Union.

With challenging directiness, Davis turned upon his opponents in the Senate and charged them with using slavery as a blind to delude the unwary: “What do you propose, gentlemen of the Free-Soil party? Do you propose to better the condition of the slave? Not at all. What then do you propose? You say you are opposed to the expansion of slavery…. Is the slave to be benefited by it? Not at all. It is not humanity that influence you in the position which you now occupy before the country…. It is that you may have an opportunity of cheating us that you want to limit slave territory within circumscribed bounds. It is that you may have a majority in the Congress of the United States and convert the Government into an engine of northern aggrandizement. It is that your section may grow in power and prosperity upon treasures unjustly taken from the South, like the vampire bloated and gorged with the blood which it has secretly sucked from its victim…You desire to weaken the political power of the southern states; and why? Because you want, by an unjust system of legislation, to promote the industry of the New England states, at the expense of the people of the South and industry.”

Such in the mind of Jefferson Davis, fated to be president of the Confederacy, was the real purpose of the party which sought to prohibit slavery in the territories; that party did not declare slavery to be a moral disease calling for the severe remedy of the surgeon; it merely sought to keep bondage out of the new states as they came into the Union– with one fundamental aim in view, namely, to gain political ascendance in the government of the United States and fasten upon the country an economic policy that meant the exploitation of the South for the benefit of northern capitalism.”

End of quote.

That must certainly have been part of it but it was only one element of the plan to punish Whites in the South.



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