Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Logic of Secession by H. T.

The lecture by Dr Ed Ayers, entitles “The Logic of Secession,” details the years leading up to the Civil War, and how complicated everything was during this time, and all occurred over a long period of time. Ayers detailed events such as the election of 1860, when there were many major political parties voted for throughout the country. For example, many states in middle America had voted for the Constitutional Union Party, a party of no extremes that favored Slavery, yet didn’t want to secede in order to get their way. They were mostly a part of compromises. He proved this with voting maps throughout the lecture that showed how individual counties and states had voted during the election of 1860 that brought Abraham Lincoln to power. He also described the debates that Virginia had hosted near the beginning of the Civil War which would decide whether or not to secede along with their Southern sisters. The topics of said debates were shown throughout charts on a website Dr Ayers had demonstrated to his listeners. The charts displayed frequency of words such as Slavery, which was used frequently and spiked as Virginia finally seceded from the Union, proving how their main concern was, in fact, Slavery.
The purpose of Dr Ayers’ lecture was to inform those listening of how truly complicated and unavoidable the Civil War really was. In order to do this, he used the voices of those in the South, particularly Virginia in the weeks leading up to their secession from the Union, to prove how debated the decision was. He discussed which topics they were primarily concerned with, and which ones they were not concerned with. Virginia, while somewhat different than its Southern allies, only amplified the South’s general concerns with leaving the Union and their reasons for leaving it. Voices left out were those of Northerners whom both did, and did not, have a desire to keep slavery and what their stances were on how to maintain the institution.
Things we looked at in class, such as the map of how counties voted in the election of 1860, helped us understand that it wasn’t as black and white as just the South v. the North and that there were many different views throughout both the North and the South. This really made clear the complications that states all over the United States faced in the time before and during the Civil War.
Some questions we asked ourselves were those such as for what reasons did Southern States secede from the United States and what complications they faced in doing so. From discussions in class, I was able to learn and understand that, while many Southerners tried to claim that the reason for their secession may have been due to tariffs, their primary reason was the economic advantages of having Slavery. Another conclusion we were able to draw was how some of the Northern Southern States came to secede and the complications that lead up to it. Having voted Constitutional Union in the 1860, many of these Southerners were looking for a compromise that would ensure them slavery, yet made it possible to maintain the Union as what it was leading up to the election.
Some questions that I had regarding this time period was whether there were any talks throughout more Northern states to secede, despite not having Slavery. Another idea I was pondering was how many of those middle states that had a large voter turnout for other third-party options had citizens vote to secede because of pressure from other citizens that did want to secede.