Skip to comments.Lincoln's Tariff War
Posted on 12/30/2013 5:18:21 PM PST by dontreadthis
When Charles Adams published his book For Good and Evil, a world history of taxation, the most controversial chapter by far was the one on whether or not tariffs caused the American War between the States. That chapter generated so much discussion and debate that Adams's publisher urged him to turn it into an entire book, in the form of When in the Course of Human Events: Arguing the Case for Southern Secession.
Many of the reviewers of this second book, so confident were they that slavery was the one and only possible reason for both Abraham Lincolns election to the presidency and the war itself, excoriated Adams for his analysis that the tariff issue was a major cause of the war. (Adams recently told me in an email that after one presentation to a New York City audience, he felt lucky that "no one brought a rope.")
My book, The Real Lincoln, has received much the same response with regard to the tariff issue. But there is overwhelming evidence that: 1) Lincoln, a failed one-term congressman, would never have been elected had it not been for his career-long devotion to protectionism; and 2) the 1861 Morrill tariff, which Lincoln was expected to enforce, was the event that triggered Lincolns invasion, which resulted in the death of hundreds of thousands of Americans.
"We are going to make tax slaves out of you," Lincoln was effectively saying, "and if you resist, there will be an invasion." That was on March 4. Five weeks later, on April 12, Fort Sumter, a tariff collection point in Charleston Harbor, was bombarded by the Confederates. No one was hurt or killed, and Lincoln later revealed that he manipulated the Confederates into firing the first shot, which helped generate war fever in the North.
(Excerpt) Read more at mises.org ...
We should be burn8ng washington down due to income tax then.
I’ll bring the gas if you want to strike the first match.
50% of Southern financial assets were slaves. They could not imagine a life without theses assets, nor could they imagine a phasing in of freedom from slaves to employees.
Cooler heads would have saved many lives.
“50% of Southern financial assets were slaves.”
Where did you get this information?
He made it up.
It was either in or about the Killing Lincoln book by BOR.
It’s not an exact number, it is a magnitude.
No one wants to light the match....
Where did you get that figure “50% of the South’s assets were slaves”? That’s rubbish.
Well, but could you, in the interest of maintaining the integrity of the citation, locate the original Denny’s place-mat from which BOR sourced the information?
Except that the Morill tariff was passed with southern cooperation after the South Carolina pretended secession, and was signed by Buchanan without Lincoln’s involvement.
Aside from the facts, is is a wonderful theory.
thanks for that
It was the tariffs, the slaves, the competing cultures, the competing economic interests, a redux of Federalist vs anti-Federalist arguments, an Abe Lincoln with less than 40% of the vote raising an army to invade his own country, and dozens more reasons all played out with bayonets and cavalry.
There were as many reasons for it as there were people who fought in it.
The truth, as we know, is never so simple or neat as we are taught in school. Whether Weekly Reader in grade school or a PhD dissertation at Harvard, all are at best but summary and at worst, shameless advocacy.
A good way look at the complexity of the last civil war would be to ponder what would the jingoists 100 years from now opine caused our second civil war.
Abortion vs pro-life?
Gun culture vs the anti-gun culture?
Taxes payers vs tax eaters?
Big Government snooping vs libertarians?
Liberty vs tyranny?
Renewables and the EPA vs King Coal and Big Oil?
Homosexual rights vs Southern Baptists and Catholics?
Wall Street vs Main Street?
Free Traders vs Fair Traders
Pro illegal immigrant vs anti-illegal immigrant
Paper vs plastic?
and the list goes on.
All would be right.
In singularity, not enough to kill over. In total, well where is that damn bayonet.
The South was run by democrats at the time.
The majority of ex saves became share croppers on the exact same plantations that they were once slaves. Seems like mistreated ex slaves would put as much distance between themselves and their ex owners, but that does not seem to be the case.
well-reasoned. thank you
Fort Sumter was under-construction fort intended to defend Charleston Harbor against seaborne attack. Not one dollar of taxes was ever collected there.
The truly funny part of the idea that the South seceded over taxation (besides the fact that almost nobody in the South said so at the time) is that had secession been successful the South (and North) would almost certainly have both had to impose much greater taxes on their citizens.
Even if the US had allowed the CSA to withdraw peacefully, there were still infinite sources of conflict: borders, trade, fugitive slaves, territories, etc. Almost certainly both sides would have felt obliged to maintain much heavier military forces than those of the pre-1860 US Army. It is entirely likely a European-style arms race would have developed.
It seems pretty unlikely, also, that the South would have been willing to leave its coasts open to blockade by the absence of a navy.
Armies and navies are very expensive and must be paid for. The South would probably have had to raise its tariff much higher than that of 1860 to pay for all this.
The CSA put in place a provision in its Constitution prohibiting protective tariffs, but again it seems likely this would have been repealed or circumvented in short order. Surely the CSA would have wanted armaments that were domestically produced, not produced by its potential enemy or subject to blockade. In fact, that’s exactly what it did during the war, generally quite successfully
So if secession had been successful, within a short time the CSA would have had higher taxes than under the Union, and a protective tariff or its equivalent to boot. Then Alabama and Texas could have gotten their panties all bunched up about Virginia and Tennessee making all the money off the government-supported protected industries.
Lincoln was a statist in many ways. Many of the Whigs were.
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