(June 12, 2018) As noted in “The Place Where Bullies Go”, Civil War FaceBook groups and similar online talk boards are generally hostile to Southern participants. They overflow with members who are reinforced by “administrators” and “moderators” with a pathological hatred of anyone voicing an opinion, or merely providing facts, that fail to endorse the interpretations of James McPherson, Eric Foner and their acolytes. In reality, the “administrators” and “moderators” are nothing more than anti-Southern censors. Here’s an example.
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The dominant majority of members in such groups insist that slavery was the cause of the Civil War because all other sectional differences could have been compromised. For purposes of argument a Southerner might agree that slavery was the chief reason that the initial seven cotton states seceded but disagree that it was the reason Northerners chose to fight. After all, the remaining Union-loyal states could have permitted the Southern cotton states to secede in peace. If the Northern states had not insisted upon war they could have let the cotton states leave and keep the four upper-south sates of Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina and Virginia without bloodshed. Those states only joined the Confederacy—thereby doubling its white population—after Northerners decided to militarily coerce the cotton states back into the Union.
Most discussion group members don’t like to explain why the North chose to fight because it might disclose the violent tyranny of their ancestors. One reason, which they are loath to even consider, is that Northerners wanted to avoid the economic consequences of disunion. The loss of New York’s dominance in cotton trade and the impact of low Confederate tariffs on Northern industry—which would thereby lose markets in the Southern states to European manufacturers—would likely have triggered an economic depression.
As a fall-back, the controlling group of board members next typically point to Fort Sumter as the reason Northerners chose to fight. But there are two problems with that. First, if the fort’s garrison had abandoned it and returned to the North there would have been no Southern call to fire on Sumter. Second, even after it was bombarded (without fatalities) Northerners could have declined to escalate the episode into a war.
When I mentioned the second point in one online group, it was immediately ridiculed. I was asked to provide an example of when the United States ever “appeased” such an affront. When I cited North Korea’s 1968 seizure of the U. S. S. Pueblo—presently again in the news—the censors erased my remark because “the Pueblo incident happened in the modern era and is therefore not applicable to Civil War discussion.”
Yet the same forum permitted a lengthy thread about racial lynchings in the South including examples that were well within the twentieth century and all of which were beyond the group’s “official” 1877 cutoff for discussion content. The censors had no objection to that confab because . . . well, that’s different, see?