A President, born while George Washington was still in office, yet has a grandson who is still alive. He was the first Vice-President to ascend to the Presidency due to the death of the President. He was a slaveholder who owned 40 slaves, yet opposed slavery. He signed a treaty that outlawed slave trading by sea.

While he was in office, he pissed off his party (Whig) by vetoing their bill to create a national bank because he was a strict constructionist who believed strongly in states rights. He had a strong dislike for the Federal Government, believing that the more populous northern states were using it as a cudgel to beat down the more agricultural southern states. The Tariff of 1828 was a great example of this- the tariff placed a 38% tax on some imported goods and a 45% tax on certain imported raw materials, especially iron products, as well as wool and cotton textiles. The target of these taxes were the southern states, and most of the southern states were demanding secession over the taxes.

The manufacturing-based economy in the Northeastern states was being undersold by manufactured items from Britain. The major goal of the tariff was to protect the factories by taxing imports from Europe, thereby forcing the agrarian southern states to buy northern goods at higher prices. This also prevented the southern states from selling their products overseas, because the loss of European nations’ ability to sell their manufactured goods to the Union meant that they no longer had the money to purchase the south’s agricultural goods. This in turn forced southern farmers to sell cotton to northern mills at lower prices. South Carolina refused to pay the tax. President Jackson was advocating for the use of military force, with Congress voting against it.

John Tyler, being one of the main opponents of Jackson’s plan, was forced out of the Democrat party and would eventually cause him to join the (northern based) Whigs, where he was elected to be the Vice President in 1840. After only 31 days, President Harrison died of pneumonia, and Tyler became President. Members of his own party attempted to use him as an empty suit to carry out the party’s wishes, and he refused, which caused the party to expel him.

When Tyler, who was from Virginia, vetoed tariffs that would further damage the south, the Whigs in the House of Representatives began the first impeachment hearings in this nation’s history. John Quincy Adams, an abolitionist who disliked slaveholders like Tyler, condemned Tyler’s use of the veto and attacked his character when pushing for impeachment. He survived, and finished out President Harrison’s term.

If you think that the Civil war was about slavery, you would be taking a shortsighted view that has been pressed by the North. The real story here is that the northern states had for years been using their numerical superiority to force the south to pay large sums of money to support northern industry.

We see the same thing playing out today, although the lines aren’t north-south. The lines are a bit more geographically muddy. Still, many of the things that happened nearly two hundred years ago have well defined parallels today.

Categories: Presidency


GreenCross4Safety · January 1, 2024 at 9:20 am

Thank you for the history lesson. Have a happy new year!

Dirty Dingus McGee · January 1, 2024 at 11:35 am

The ink wasn’t even dry on the papers that were the foundation of this great experiment called the USA, before the ideas were being subverted. The “haves” always were trying to find a way to keep the “have not’s” from ever moving up. Same as it ever was, same as it always will be.

As a side note though, being a resident near metro Atlanta, I would welcome a return of W. T. Sherman to Atlanta. Seems it would be the only way to excise that cesspool of the rot that has overtaken it.Let the Phoenix rise again, or at least try.

Beans · January 1, 2024 at 11:53 am

If the Civil War was about slavery, then why did it take an act of Congress after the war to abolish it in the North?

Thanks for the history, Tyler was a very interesting person and fought the Swamp. Amazing that presidents used to do the right thing and weren’t just meat puppets of their parties.

John in Indy · January 1, 2024 at 11:55 am

One little known fact relevant to this analysis is that prior to the 20th century, almost all Federal revenue came from tariffs and trade duties, with the rest coming from excise taxes, etc, as the Income Tax had not yet been authorized.
The economic interests of the Federal government were directly opposed to those of the Southern States, and in favor of the North.
Slavery was the basis for much Northern popular hostility, but it was not the trigger of the Civil War.
An argument could also be made that the War was not a “civil war” in the historic sense, as the South did not seek to control the entire country, as in the English Civil War (Cromwell vs the Royalust Cavaliers), but only to separate their economies from the United States. Contemporary Southern writings made a point that slavery was a major factor, but IMO, this was more because a large portion of Southern investment was in slaves, and in the resource based economy they supported.
Britain had made compensation for slaves freed a part of their acts to eliminate slavery in Britain.

Joe Blow · January 1, 2024 at 12:26 pm

The lines appear to be rural vs urban, IMO.
I see it frequently when I have contact with urban people, or come across a tee vee… it’s like they live in a different world.

    Anonymous · January 1, 2024 at 11:22 pm

    I think, that the lines have always been ‘rural vs. urban’. BECAUSE rural is surrounded by capital goods (plants and animals human can eat, burn for heat, weave into or skin and wear as clothing, minerals humans can dig up and roast into pottery and metals, etc.); but this capital has been carefully removed from urban, which redirects the attention of people living there. Suburbs are a prison.

    JaimeInTexas · January 5, 2024 at 8:12 am

    I cannot believe I just remembered the Simpson’s episode of Apu’s citizenship oral exam.


Lord of the Fleas · January 1, 2024 at 1:09 pm

The situation is similar in Canada today, only the divide is east-west, with the east milking the west for all its worth. (Not likely to see a war of secession, though the country will almost certainly break up in the next ten years.)

    Divemedic · January 1, 2024 at 8:59 pm

    I went to your link, expecting a Canadian website to get it wrong. I couldn’t find a thing in that article with which I disagreed.

Nolan Parker · January 1, 2024 at 9:08 pm

I was taught that slavery was the reason for the war. As an adult and having seen so many lies and changing things in Texas history books, so as not to offend certain people, I started thinking.
If it was about slavery, why wasn’t the Emancipation Proclamation put out at the beginning of it? Did some digging and decided it wasn’t Slavery.. But in Odessa Texas, if my answer to the question wasn’t just Slavery, it would have gotten the red X. Now I know More! Thanks

    Divemedic · January 2, 2024 at 7:52 am

    Look up the Corwin Amendment, then ask yourself the following questions:
    1 If the Southern States seceded because of slavery, then why wouldn’t the Corwin Amendment have satisfied them and prevented the Civil war?
    2 If the northern states had such a strong opposition to slavery that they were willing to go to war against the other states in the union to eliminate it, then why did two thirds of both houses of Congress pass this Amendment?
    3 If Lincoln were so keen on freeing the slaves, then why did he state his support of the Corwin Amendment?

tfourier · January 2, 2024 at 6:44 am

Actually no Three Fifths Compromise, no Civil War. And no rise of the Democratic Part as a national force in the 1820’s either. Or Whigs for that matter. The South got the political benefits of the slaves “votes” at the Federal level while the slaves stayed slaves.

Once read an interesting bio of Buchanan written in the 1880’s by a Virginia state politician. Turns out there was a strong repeal movement at the state level in the 1840′ /early 1850’s s in a bunch of the Southern states. They were trying to organize an abolition with compensation like the one in the British and French empires. But the Northern Abolitionist Movement of the 1850’s killed it dead due to the virulence of its anti-South rhetoric. All Southerns are evil. etc. And a total refusal to recognize the economic element. Abolition did mean economic ruin for most Southern states because so much capital had been wasted on slaves. Especially by the small time slave owners.

One thing the Southern Civil War Revisionists fail to recognize is just how little support the Confederacy had in Europe. Basically none. And the Union position that a Confederacy would be easy pickings for European powers was correct. Just like Mexico was for the French during the Civil War. Emperor Maximilian?

It was the British who actually enforced the Monroe Doctrine militarily with the Royal Navy and they would have kept in their own interest a Union US off-limits for European interference. But a Confederacy that would have soon fallen apart into independent states would have been far more tempting for European powers than the malaria swamps of the Central American states.

If there had been no shooting war in 1861 there still would have been no Confederacy by 1871. Most states would have left long before. Based on what they were saying and doing up to 1861. And most would have fallen fairly quickly into the same weak and decrepit conditions as the Central America states. Which had declared their independence from the Mexican Empire in the 1820’s and 1830’s

There was an interesting book about the 1860 election campaign published in December 1860 by a French journalist Cucheval-Clarigny and published in British newspapers. So it was written without the befit of hindsight.

Cucheval-Clarigny had little good to say about the Republicans but his description of the facts on the street about slavery in the South and especially the politics of slavery is very unflattering. For the Southerns who wanted to fight in 1861 it most definitely was to defend slavery. And the most belligerent were not the big slave owner, but the layabout smalltown loudmouths who owned a single slave. Or wanted to.

So there were many non-slavery factors involved in getting to early 1861. But when it came to firing the first shots, and returning those shots, both sides had reduced the conflict by that stage to slavery first and last. The only “moral reason” strong enough to kill your brothers. By the hundred of thousands.

So yeah, it was all about slavery. When it came to actually killing people in battle.

    Divemedic · January 2, 2024 at 8:01 am

    If that was indeed the case that slavery was the cause of the Civil war on both sides, then explain to me why the northern states approved the Corwin Amendment, why the southern states seceded despite the Corwin amendment, and why two of the the last three states to abolish slavery were Union, and not Confederate, states? (Delaware, Kentucky, and New Jersey)

    ruralcounsel · January 5, 2024 at 12:35 pm

    An easy ex post facto rationalization for the bloody war, repeated ad nauseum by the Northern victors.

    It plays so much better than “we want to make the southern states buy OUR goods and pay them less for THEIR cotton” and “let’s force the southern states to bear the burden of funding the federal government.” In other words, it wasn’t a war about morality so much as a war about money and power. Just like most wars.

JaimeInTexas · January 2, 2024 at 9:35 am

No 3/5 agreement , no Constitution of 1787, no United States Of America, and the keeping of the Republic.
1) New England States due to War Of 1812 – threat, authority to secede.
2) New England States due to Texas’ Annexation – threat, authority to secede.
3) South Carolina due to Tariffs Of Abomination – threat, claims of right to secede. threat,
4) South Carolina and others due to actions by the uSA Congress and POTUS 1st Inaugaral speech’s explicit threat of invasion of taxes not collected – secession executed.

Lincoln, while a Congressman in opposition to the Mexican-American War, did claim that a State has the authority/power to secede.

anonymous coward · January 3, 2024 at 6:13 am

Every news media ran with the sound bite. Not one said, the causes of the civil war, has been the subject of entire books. You can’t really understand the causes of the civil war without reading up on John C. Calhoun.

    Divemedic · January 3, 2024 at 9:21 am

    This post was one that I had prewritten in anticipation of my move. I wrote this post before that sound bite even happened. Coincidence.

C · January 3, 2024 at 10:27 am

You are a brave man to post this. I’ve always said the civil war was about economics than slavery. Then out comes the autistic screeching about “lost cause” propaganda. Nevermind all the propaganda behind Lincoln and the abolition movement. Truth is they didn’t give a shit about the morality of slavery. It was more about protecting their bottom line than anything else.

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