People keep talking about slavery, but what is slavery? Slavery is a socioeconomic system where the mode of production is slave labour.
The US Civil War was about economics, not slavery.
People here claim that the Southern states' economies would have collapsed without slavery. That's exactly the point. But nobody is willing to go
further to explain why this was the case.
The reason why had to do with cotton. Cotton was the staple resource of the Southern states, and as such it was their key export. Cotton was
produced on plantations. Plantations raised monocrops. Without crop rotation practices, this made it hard to actually produce cotton in a cost
effective manner, except with slavery.
So why did the South depend on cotton production so much? Because it was the key export to the Northern states. The North would take the cotton and
produce textiles, which would then be exported to Europe. Refined goods are far more profitable than raw resources derived from a primary economy,
thus the North was far wealthier.
The Southern economy was weak by comparison, and the two camps of North and South formed by economic reality over time. Wealth equals power,
specifically political power, and the North wanted political power over the South.
At some point, some invented created a machine that essentially industrialized the production process of cotton, creating vastly more output of raw
cotton. The South's key mistake, in my opinion, occurred at this point: instead of using that opportunity to commit to emancipation and a capitalist
economy, they vastly expanded slavery to save more money. Why did this happen? Because the slave owning minority were the backbone of Southern
economies, had the wealth and thus political power, and would lose their power and status if the mode of production was shifted from slavery to wage
Anyway, the South became much richer in general because of all of this. Then the North became concerned, probably for two reasons: the first being
that importing substantially more cotton could inflate the economy, and secondly, that the South could afford to just cut the North out of the trade
process completely. What the North had that the South did not was textile factories (for refining cotton into textiles) and, most importantly,
shipping ports for Atlantic trade.
This is why the North enforced the increased tariffs on slaves via federal legislation. It's not hard to imagine why the South would be pissed that
the North was using the federal government to enforce their own economic dominance within the Union, ESPECIALLY since the Feds were never supposed to
wield such authority under the original constitution. This can be argued against concerning that the constitution promised universal rights, which is
reasonable to assume applies to all peoples, but it is also hard to deny that 1776 USA was all for slavery.
Anyway this all ended up with succession and war. The war itself was particularly interesting because the Confederacy had high morale and were
kicking ass for the first while. The North had to spend and borrow a lot of money just to mobilize an army of its own. However, due to economic
geography, it turned into a war of attrition that the Confederacy could not keep up with.
The reasons for this revolved around the geographical location of the Confederacy itself. To the south was Mexico, who the USA just fought a war
with; they were obviously not going to help the Confederacy. To the North was the Union, that had shipping ports that propped up their economy during
the war. The Confederates were essentially isolated without much ability to export anything. They had ports but the North were allied with Britain,
whom I believe received support in exchange for war loans (though I'm not sure of the details), and the allied Union and British navies would control
any trade along the Confederate coast.
The whole emancipation of the slaves thing occurred years into the war as a strategic move by Lincoln. Slave owners in the South, who also happened
to be exempt from military service, were terrified of the idea of releasing slaves due to fear of violent reprisals; so the promise of emancipation
was a successful psychological campaign.
But by that point, the North had restructured its economy and cut dependence on cotton. After creating a massive Union army, they also developed many
new and innovative military technologies that became key exports. This included repeating rifles, gattling guns, a new generation of naval ships
(based on the ironclad), etc etc.. and in knowing that they were going to win, they knew they could dominate the southern economy any way they wanted
to for their own use.
The Republic thus became the Empire.
edit on 8172017 by TheStalkingHorse because: (no reason given)