Historiography of the Civil War

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Historiography of the Civil War

Unread postby WeiWenDi » Wed Apr 14, 2010 6:46 pm

This is a long-standing discussion which had been taking place in the 'Disasters, Discoveries' thread of the Current Affairs subforum. I am recreating the last two posts in full here.

Shikanosuke wrote:WeiWenDi wrote:

Okay, let's. The Constitution is merely a document which outlines the way the federal government overseeing state governments in a common federation is supposed to work. It is not supposed to be an end-all, be-all template for any legal innovations in the evolving political atmosphere of a representational republic. Hell, a number of the Founding Fathers (including Jefferson) never even intended the Constitution to survive in the form in which it was written for an entire generation, let alone 100 years; it was expected to evolve and adjust along with the society.

Agreed. But we all still bound by it. We might have all kinds of social evolution, but that doesn't change its terms and clauses. Want to change em? Amendments!

And that's what we got, a social evolution. The Northern states blossomed in population and economic strength; as they did so, they cast off slavery and began to regard it as either unnecessary or immoral (and rightly so!). The former Northerners did not want slavery to expand; the latter Northerners did not want slavery to survive. Some of the abolitionists and governments sympathetic to abolitionism began to question the existential validity of a document serving as the cornerstone of an experiment in which political equality was of paramount importance which simultaneously regarded certain people as property.

My stance, adapted from the stances of the abolitionists of the time, was that the Constitution needed reform. This was not outside the intentions of its authors. The legal push for Constitutional reform was a lot less egregious a wrong against the document than rejecting it entirely when it failed to support the local interests. However, any attempt to silence debate on the principles of the rule of law or human rights outside the Constitutional law of the time is a direct attempt to justify slavery on its own terms.

There isn't one legal argument in there. Its just rehash of the the North's attitude. Want to Constitution to reform? Pass an amendment. You never addressed the Supremacy Clause, states rights, or federalism. If you're not going to actually present a legal argument, but instead tell me how some Northners wanted "change", then don't bother. There are legal cases which embody these problems, these are not abstract historical notions. These are Constitutional law issues.

If you don't like it, then don't do it. Don't say that the historical identity or narratives of blacks don't count because they were slaves, unless you want me to say that your historical identity or narratives don't count because you lost. You don't think that's fair? Now who is engaging in moral evaluation of history?

Sorry, thats dumb. Blacks didn't count. Period. It has nothing to do with winning or losing, that was the standing agreement made in signing of the Constitution. Period.

your stance seems to be that 'moral concerns in history are irrelevant unless you're a white Southerner'.

My stance seems to be that we focus on what was legally relevant at the time. Nothing more. Blacks interests would be relevant now, not then.

That's a false equivalence. There is no 'Northern strategy'. It can be sociologically demonstrated that we do elect black representatives, and we don't object to social legislation on the basis that black people may benefit from it.

And our first Southern president enacted the Civil Rights Act. More to the point, the Southern strategy could definitely work absent racism in the Southern identity. We love guns and states rights.

WeiWenDi wrote:Shikanosuke wrote:
There isn't one legal argument in there.

Are you surprised? I'm not a legal scholar, but even I recognise when laws are unjust and need to be changed. I am aware, too, that the Constitution was not designed to dictate to me my political views, but rather to protect them and their free expression (my political and legal views stem rather from a progressive variant of the social thought of the Anglican Communion, not from the Enlightenment views of the Founding Fathers). I also recognise when I'm being dismissed by someone who has no interest in formulating an objective narrative and only in justifying the institutional injustices of his region using antiquarian legal reasoning.

Shikanosuke wrote:
Sorry, thats dumb. Blacks didn't count. Period.

And therein lies the selective reasoning of your position. Naturally, if the well-being of blacks didn't count, then the North's position for changing the laws on their behalf doesn't have a leg to stand on. You are deliberately biasing the discussion to suit your interests, and engaging in a Nietzschean distortion of the history - I was attempting to show the end result of such a distortion earlier.

Again, it seems that such distortions are okay, in your view, only if you're a white Southerner.

Shikanosuke wrote:
And our first Southern president enacted the Civil Rights Act.

WTF are you talking about, 'first Southern president'? Washington was Virginian, as were Jefferson and Madison. This claim is completely false. And you are conveniently ignoring the fact that Lyndon Johnson lost his electoral votes in the South after signing the Civil Rights Act. And ignoring the solid sociological case that 'states' rights' was and to a significant extent remains a justification for denying blacks the benefits of that legislation and the legislation that followed.

And who exactly were you planning to use those guns against?

Sorry, but you don't get to wish away the biases which have become inherent to the sociology of your region. Particularly when you are so insistent on dismissing the contributions of the former slave population to our society and to our historical narrative.

EDIT: Perhaps we should move this discussion to the World History Deliberation subforum.
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