Negotiating with the secessionists.

jgoodguy

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My two cents worth is the secessionist states were determined to bring on a conflict. There was a popular fantasy of a second revolution, a second bid for independence from an oppressive tyrant. They wanted 13 states, just like 13 colonies and so accepted Missouri and Kentucky whether they had decided or not! The Union did not act like Britain had - the British did not want the American colonies badly enough to bring the full weight of their impressive military to the fight. I do believe negotiations would not have been productive unless Lincoln nodded his head yes to everything the Confederates wanted. After the shooting war opened, he simply could not negotiate, at least not openly, because his position was there was nobody to negotiate with. Such a procedure would legitimatize the secession and recognize the CSA.
Lincoln also believed that he did not have the authority to grant secession, only Congress and Congress was not in session. Lincoln took office on March 4, 1861, was not briefed about Fort Sumter by Buchanan. Steward's meddling did not help and Fort Sumter was fired on April 12, 1861 about 6 weeks after Lincoln took the office. If the South wanted a negotiation, there was time, but the default was war and not peace.
 

diane

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Lincoln also believed that he did not have the authority to grant secession, only Congress and Congress was not in session. Lincoln took office on March 4, 1861, was not briefed about Fort Sumter by Buchanan. Steward's meddling did not help and Fort Sumter was fired on April 12, 1861 about 6 weeks after Lincoln took the office. If the South wanted a negotiation, there was time, but the default was war and not peace.
Agreed. Buchanan was about as much help as a broken leg! Seward thought the prairie lawyer was too much of a rube to handle the situation and he would be the quiet power behind the throne as it were. Sending the Powhatan down to Florida was undermining the president big time and he heard of it. There was no doubt left in his mind as to who the president was and who wasn't the president when that was over! However, damage was done. It's kind of ironic that Davis took over from the SC governor to prevent something crazy happening at Ft Sumter...and it happened because of that.
 

jgoodguy

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Agreed. Buchanan was about as much help as a broken leg! Seward thought the prairie lawyer was too much of a rube to handle the situation and he would be the quiet power behind the throne as it were. Sending the Powhatan down to Florida was undermining the president big time and he heard of it. There was no doubt left in his mind as to who the president was and who wasn't the president when that was over! However, damage was done. It's kind of ironic that Davis took over from the SC governor to prevent something crazy happening at Ft Sumter...and it happened because of that.
Exactly, plus Davis had searing headaches, caused in part by facial neuralgia, exacerbated an already prickly personality along with the slaveowner attitude that Yankees were mudsills beneath him. Nitroglycerin in shaky hands vs pyromantic around a powder keg.
 

diane

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Exactly, plus Davis had searing headaches, caused in part by facial neuralgia, exacerbated an already prickly personality along with the slaveowner attitude that Yankees were mudsills beneath him. Nitroglycerin in shaky hands vs pyromantic around a powder keg.
There's always been a lot of talk about Lincoln's health, but he was actually quite healthy. When he visited McClellan's army, he impressed the men by holding an axe out at arm's length by its end - for quite a while. He also ran out the back door of the White House when the stables caught fire, leaping tall hedges in a single bound and plowing through fancy ponds to get his dead son's pony out of there. Didn't spend hours and even days with migraine and stomach ache, and he could see out of both eyes. (And we won't even get into Alexander Stephens!) Lincoln also had the ability to turn enemies into life-long friends - Davis could turn friends into life-long enemies.
 

diane

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yes an asset for the Union.
The slave owner's attitude that he held was a good asset for the Union as well. It kept him from using N B Forrest to his full potential - he was an ignorant slave trader and lower than a Yankee! He was also a bright commander who knew how to scare the bejabbers out of the enemy. It wasn't until Davis was helping carry the cavalryman's coffin to the cemetery that he noticed he should have used Forrest's talents way better than he had. That's why I count arrogance and pride as a great factor in the Confederates' loss and their inability to compromise, discuss civilly or even be tolerant of anything other than my way or the highway. As evidence, we have Davis' tome to the Confederacy - basically, why we did what we did. Too late, for sure! He wanted a trial, too, for that purpose - to clear everybody's name and show the ideals of the Confederate states was correct and constitutional. That was hind side of four - those trials and legal arguments should have been made before Ruffin pulled the lanyard at Ft Sumter.
 

VBano

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nonsense from Politico about avoiding the US Civil War through negotiation
I read the Politico article at

It has interesting facts but a lot of unconvincing speculation. One fact they omit is the leverage lost by the hot-head secessionists with respect to the FSA and westward expansion. Lincoln was right in rejecting the outrageous southern demands but he could have made other concessions that were reasonable. (tariff relief, and the releasing the control of Federal properties in the South). I hear lots of speculation about consequences but no arguments for or against legislation that could be made in 1860 to provide a path to legal secession. Maybe that would take too long but that is insufficient reason to miss a chance for a more peaceful outcome.
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5fish

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Steward's meddling did not help and Fort Sumter was fired on April 12, 1861 about 6 weeks after Lincoln took the office
Here is a link to how Lincoln con Davis into firing the first shot of the war...

 

5fish

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Here is an article on why Davis chose to be aggressive...


But there were more powerful inducements to initiate action. Self-restraint by the Confederacy risked demoralization and loss of honor, and zealots in South Carolina might seize the initiative and attack the fort, anyway. An aggressive course also promised to bring the upper South into the Confederacy, and a united South might compel the Union to refrain from fighting and to recognize southern independence. Regardless of the North's response, southern unity would bring diplomatic recognition and support from France and England. In the end, the benefits of immediate action, when combined with the perceived legitimacy of the Confederacy's cause, led to the fateful decision of April 10.
 

Union8448

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Here is an article on why Davis chose to be aggressive...


But there were more powerful inducements to initiate action. Self-restraint by the Confederacy risked demoralization and loss of honor, and zealots in South Carolina might seize the initiative and attack the fort, anyway. An aggressive course also promised to bring the upper South into the Confederacy, and a united South might compel the Union to refrain from fighting and to recognize southern independence. Regardless of the North's response, southern unity would bring diplomatic recognition and support from France and England. In the end, the benefits of immediate action, when combined with the perceived legitimacy of the Confederacy's cause, led to the fateful decision of April 10.
There were critical issues in Virginia. And it may have been that Kentucky was already drifting away from secession. The US administration and the British were already opening a dialogue. When Lincoln decided he was not going to be able to retain Virginia, there was no longer any reason to wait.
 

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I read the Politico article at

It has interesting facts but a lot of unconvincing speculation. One fact they omit is the leverage lost by the hot-head secessionists with respect to the FSA and westward expansion. Lincoln was right in rejecting the outrageous southern demands but he could have made other concessions that were reasonable. (tariff relief, and the releasing the control of Federal properties in the South). I hear lots of speculation about consequences but no arguments for or against legislation that could be made in 1860 to provide a path to legal secession. Maybe that would take too long but that is insufficient reason to miss a chance for a more peaceful outcome.
________________________________
The Republican party was dependent on its abolitionist minority for votes and money in New England. The northern Democrats most likely felt personally betrayed by the southerners. When it became a northern mans turn to run, in the form of Stephen A. Douglas, the southern Democrats split the party.
None of the other compromises, there had been at least three, had solved the problem. The political currents behind the Manifest Destiny view of American expansion were not going to accept any further compromises.
 

5fish

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I read the Politico article at

It has interesting facts but a lot of unconvincing speculation. One fact they omit is the leverage lost by the hot-head secessionists with respect to the FSA and westward expansion. Lincoln was right in rejecting the outrageous southern demands but he could have made other concessions that were reasonable. (tariff relief, and the releasing the control of Federal properties in the South). I hear lots of speculation about consequences but no arguments for or against legislation that could be made in 1860 to provide a path to legal secession. Maybe that would take too long but that is insufficient reason to miss a chance for a more peaceful outcome.
________________________________
Here are paragraphs from your link outlining a compromise and Lincoln's thoughts...

Throughout the winter, special House and Senate committees convened to explore potential compromises. Simultaneously, a group of veteran political leaders gathered in Washington as an unofficial “peace convention” to consider a range of measures intended to appease the Deep South. One proposal, offered by the Kentucky Sen. John Crittenden, would have extended the Missouri Compromise line across the continent and protected the institution of slavery in perpetuity through an irrevocable constitutional amendment; another would have required the Northern states to abrogate their “personal liberty laws,” meant to protect free Black Americans from capture under the provisions of the Fugitive Slave Act.

Here from your link...

But Lincoln held firm. “The tug has to come,” he privately told several congressmen, “and better now, than any time hereafter.” Even if the states threatening secession were in earnest, he wanted Republicans to hold firm. “We have just carried an election on principles fairly stated to the people. Now we are told in advance, the government shall be broken up, unless we surrender to those we have beaten, before we take the offices. In this they are attempting to play upon us, or they are in dead earnest. Either way, if we surrender, it is the very end of us, and of the government.”

I ask @VBano where is the compromise? Is it going back to the old rules of the Mason-Dixon line adding one free state and one slave state each time but enforcing the Fugitive Act this time and adding a Constitutional amendment to protect slavery...

Lincoln is right for he won an election and he and his party have the legal right to rule as they see fit within the laws of the land. If he surrendered to the mobsters of the South it would delegitimize our constitution and the votes of millions of people. I ask you @VBano where is the compromise?

If you think about a compromise would have caused as much harm to the United States as the Civil War. The answer Southern mobsters should have accepted the results and fought within the system to protect their way of life, Slavery.

Lincoln decided to accept the compromise to avoid war. Many Northern states and the Abolistished may have started calling for secession because their votes do not mean anything and lost state sovereignty because of the Fugitive Slave Act...
 

5fish

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1860 to provide a path to legal secession.
In 1860 legal secession was not in the cards. The South wanted out and the North was trying to find a way to keep the Nation whole. No one had agreed the states could leave peacefully or not. I point out that from the start the seceding states were arming for war so leaving peacefully was not in their plans...
 

Union8448

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People in Kentucky and some people in Virginia probably wanted a compromise that preserved the union and extended slavery. I am not aware that northern Democrats wanted a compromise. They probably did not want a bloody Civil War, but the also wanted to be politically free from slavery, so they start winning election in the northern states.
There had been a compromise in 1856 creating the Kansas/Nebraska situation. That compromise led directly to escalating violence.
 

Union8448

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Its fun to think that there was a magical solution and that the 21st century politicians had skills that were lacking in the 19th century. But I don't the secessionists were negotiating. The new administration of 1861 was the best chance for the secessionist movement. And delay affects the tactical situation, and a long day would have created overwhelming strategic power in the paid labor section of the US.
 

5fish

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I hear lots of speculation about consequences but no arguments for or against legislation that could be made in 1860 to provide a path to legal secession
I think this path was not up to Lincoln but early up to Buchanan and his cabinet. He had connected the Southern leaders and Southerns in his cabinet.
He picked a cabinet that was pro-slavery and the country still fell into civil war. He should have been the one to stop the movement to secession but he vacillated and his pro-southern political partners abandoned him and the nation. He sucks up the Southerns his whole political career and it did not pay off for him.

Here is a link comparing Buchanan and Lincoln cabinets...


Here is a link many in his cabinet resigned from joining the secession movement...


The first southern secessions occurred during the “lame duck” period of Buchanan’s presidency, in the months between Abraham Lincoln’s victory in the November 1860 election and Lincoln’s inauguration in March 1861. The first to secede was South Carolina in December 1860. By February, six more states had seceded, and many of Buchanan’s southern cabinet members had resigned.


President Buchanan, dismayed and hesitant, denied the legal right of states to secede but held that the Federal Government legally could not prevent them. He hoped for compromise, but secessionist leaders did not want compromise.

Then Buchanan took a more militant tack. As several Cabinet members resigned, he appointed northerners, and sent the Star of the West to carry reinforcements to Fort Sumter. On January 9, 1861, the vessel was far away.

Buchanan reverted to a policy of inactivity that continued until he left office. In March 1861 he retired to his Pennsylvania home Wheatland–where he died seven years later–leaving his successor to resolve the frightful issue facing the Nation.
 

Union8448

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The idea that Congress could excuse states from the US does not seem reasonable.
The dissenters from secession had rights too. And they had the right to demand the US maintain their presence in the US. The US had a duty to those citizens imposed by the Constitution. If 3/4ths of the states agreed to break up the US, then it could happen. Taken as a whole, this seems like a discussion intended to harm the current US.
 

Union8448

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The slave owner's attitude that he held was a good asset for the Union as well. It kept him from using N B Forrest to his full potential - he was an ignorant slave trader and lower than a Yankee! He was also a bright commander who knew how to scare the bejabbers out of the enemy. It wasn't until Davis was helping carry the cavalryman's coffin to the cemetery that he noticed he should have used Forrest's talents way better than he had. That's why I count arrogance and pride as a great factor in the Confederates' loss and their inability to compromise, discuss civilly or even be tolerant of anything other than my way or the highway. As evidence, we have Davis' tome to the Confederacy - basically, why we did what we did. Too late, for sure! He wanted a trial, too, for that purpose - to clear everybody's name and show the ideals of the Confederate states was correct and constitutional. That was hind side of four - those trials and legal arguments should have been made before Ruffin pulled the lanyard at Ft Sumter.
Forrest was a great tactician. But he was using up very expensive livestock at an unsustainable rate.
 

VBano

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In 1860 legal secession was not in the cards.
I think it is more instructive to imagine what could have been in the cards before you speculate what others might do. My scenario is this: In 1859/60, your congressman is concerned about dealing with potential secession and warfare. Presidential candidates are talking about actions that could escalate to war. He is asking you to weigh in with your arguments on dealing with secession. So far I have heard no arguments, only speculation reflecting the hot bleed-driven news at the time.
 

5fish

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He is asking you to weigh in with your arguments on dealing with secession.
My arguments today would be against it... I am a Florida boy so back then I might have been four square for slavery. Lincoln avoided the secession argument during the campaign. It was driven by slavery supporters...


During the four-way campaign in 1860, Lincoln was demonized as a black Republican whose election would split the Union.

“Lincoln was pictured in many quarters not only as a black Republican but ‘as an Abolitionist; a fanatic of the John Brown type; the slave to one idea, who, in order to carry that out to its legitimate results, would override laws, constitutions, and compromises of every kind’, as a Robespierre ready to overturn the whole fabric of society.”1

Lincoln tried to avoid adding fuel to the attacks on him. During the 1860 campaign, he refrained from making any policy pronouncements


Lincoln told one journalist: “I know the justness of my intentions and the utter groundlessness of the pretended fears of the men who are filling the country with their clamor. If I go into the presidency, they will find me as I am on record – nothing less, nothing more. My declarations have been made to the world without reservation. They have been often repeated; and now, self-respect demands of me and of the party that has elected me that when threatened, I should be silent.”3 As far back as 1856, Mr. Lincoln had told a Republican convention in Illinois: “We say to the southern disunionists, we won’t go out of the Union, and you shan’t.”4
 
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