This is an extract of my article, with small photos. You will find the complete article with full-sized photos in my e-book As American as Apple Pie !
In the travel series View America, this book narrates events and facts that are common to the entire nation.
Man's migration to America, ancient Indian cultures, New France, the French and Indian War, the 13 original Colonies, the Louisiana Purchase, the Civil War, American territorial expansion, the American Flag, American holidays, and the lighter side of... old US Laws!
This e-book is illustrated with more than 70 full-sized photos and maps.
After 1840 slavery became the hot potato of the Federal Congress. The northern politicians were squarely opposed to slavery, supposedly because it was "immoral", but probably far more because their white voters were unable to compete economically with the slave system.
Many Southern plantation owners made the rightful claim that their slaves were treated no worse than Northern factory or mine workers. These were mostly treated as virtual slaves, with industrial policies that curtailed an employee's ability to switch jobs, at least in the same locality, and were paid starvation wages.
In 1850 the Democratic party split up into factions over the theme of slavery. Congress hastily voted the Compromise Measures, whereby the extension of slavery was not allowed, but existing slavery could be retained. In fact, slavery again became politically moral...
Southern leaders gathered in Nashville to consider their position in the federal government. The predominantly agricultural south abundantly produced "milk cows" such as cotton, tobacco and sugar, but they were completely dependent on the North for industrial, commercial and banking services. Furthermore, the largest economic factor in the south were the approximately four million black slaves.
South Carolina, which had threatened to secede if the Republicans won the election, promptly did so in December 1860. Even before the inauguration of President Lincoln, in January 1861 Alabama followed suit, and it invited the other states to found a Southern Confederacy. In February 1861 Mississippi, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas seceded, and on 18 February 1861, Jefferson Davis was appointed as president of the Confederate States of America.
Everyone was preparing for the inevitable war, which officially broke out on April 12, 1861. Confederate troops opened fire on Fort Sumter, a federal fort in the harbor of Charleston (South Carolina), that controlled and taxed the state trade.
By the end of the war, the wealthy southern planter aristocracy had completely been crushed and it never regained its political power. The massive wealth of the Southern states had (silently) shifted to Massachussets, New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
The hotly debated slavery system was (silently) replaced by the just as odious sharecropping system for the next 100 years, without raising any concern in political circles. Neither did Northern worker's social conditions improve in the slightest over the same period! But then again, probably all these issues had undoubtedly been the major points on the hidden agenda...
In hindsight, this tragic civil war, with half a million deaths and the almost complete destruction of the entire infrastructure and economy of the south, can be reduced to not-so-subtle power struggles between political factions, and financial considerations of major industrialists. Though logical, this version of the facts is however not politically expedient...