GDG- NPS, Slavery and Economies

CWMHTours at CWMHTours at
Thu Jan 5 11:59:27 CST 2012

I have heard two positions on the issue of economics and  slavery.
I have heard that slavery was in decline and on it's way out  by the time 
of the Civil War.
Then I have heard that slavery was on the rise in the  1850s.
I lean towards the second.  Cotton was king, until the  war and British 
crops in Egypt.  A slave's value then was comparable to the  price of an 
automobile today.  A young healthy male was worth the price of  today's luxury 
If you were a wealthy plantation owner and owned say 100  slaves you were a 
millionaire or better.
And one way to bring a misbehaving slave into line was to  threaten to sell 
him into the deep south- La, Miss, where the lifespan was  short.
My understanding is that the premier slave markets prior to  the war were 
in DC and Alexandria (Why I don't know).  The markets in Alex  were thriving 
right up til May 1861.  In fact, it is said that the reason  for the 
retrocession of what is now Arlington county back to VA in 1846 was the  law to ban 
slave sales in DC, which would have prohibited it in  Alex.
Yes- economics and slavery.  Hand in  hand. 
Your  Most Obedient Servant,

In a message dated 1/5/2012 12:45:07 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,  
amills at writes:

Esteemed  GDG Member Contributes:
My apologies as I am not the best at getting ideas  and thoughts out of my 
head and rationalizing them so others can  understand.  

Having made my disclaimer, I am curious as to why  the war wasn't all about 

Secession caused the war and  slavery caused secession, I think based on 
emails I have read over the last  couple days, everyone agrees with this 

But what caused  slavery?  The immediate cause was the need for cheap labor 
centuries  before the civil war, so the underlying cause of slavery was 
money, ergo money  caused slavery and slavery caused secession so the root 
cause was  money?

I understand that by 1860, there was also a racial element to  America's 
slavery and part of the reason for maintaining the system was this  racial 
element but I don't think this was the major force in maintaining the  
"peculiar institution", as the major force was simply put:   money.

So why wouldn't the root cause then be economics, that without  allowing 
slavery into the territories, slavery would slowly die and as a  result, so 
would the way of life for the slave holding aristocrats of the  South and 
their desire to maintain slavery was a desire to maintain their  statuses, 
income, etc.  

One example would be Hampton Plantation  outside Baltimore.  It was one of 
the largest and richest prior to the  Civil War but slowly fell into a 
period of decline once slavery was banished  from the country until the NPS saved 
the mansion future generations (yes, I  know other organizations originally 
saved it in 1948, but didn't want to go  into all the history of it).  We 
can look at many of the James River  plantations that had to open their doors 
to the public to preserve and protect  their properties because they were 
no longer sustainable once slavery was  abolished.  

I agree that the original south seceded to protect  slavery, but underneath 
that, slavery was there to support their income /  economies, so if you 
want to say slavery led to secession which lead to the  war, why can't you 
further define it that money led to slavery which lead to  secession which led 
to war and as such, the root cause is the all powerful  dollar?

I understand this is a simplistic view and possibly an  incorrect view of 
the situation, but to me, secession caused the war and a  desire to protect 
slavery led to secession (I understand that you can't  separate slavery from 
1860 South), but the root cause of slavery was  money.  American slavery / 
chattel slavery wasn't like the Native  Americans that took slaves from rival 
tribes to help replenish their  population, or Rome that took slaves from 
captured armies.  Slaves in  those societies were not the basis of the 
economies as it was in the  Antebellum South.  

I hope this makes sense, but wanted to get  some viewpoints to see if this 
is a valid opinion or is full of  holes.


-----Original Message-----
From:  gettysburg-bounces at [mailto:gettysburg-bounces at] 
On Behalf  Of John Lawrence
Sent: Tuesday, January 03, 2012 8:48 PM
To:  GDG
Subject: Re: GDG- NPs &  Slavery

>I  am not arguing  whether not Lincoln could have  have chosen another  
>method to react to secession.  I'm not arguing Lincoln did not go  to
>war to preserve the union.   I am simply stating the   historical fact
>that secession was caused by slavery and war was the  result.
>It is impossible to have any discussion of the causes  of the war or the 
>cause secession without the inclusion of  slavery.
>The indisputable point is  slavery was the cause  of secession which was 
>the cause of the war.
>The other  what-ifs do not apply to that.
>Take  Care

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