Slavery made the South more like an Old World Aristocracy than a New World Meritocracy
Democrats don’t like people of color. Never have. The Democrat Party’s lineage goes back to Thomas Jefferson’s Democratic-Republican Party. Thomas Jefferson was one of our Founding Fathers who, as the Democrats love to remind us, owned slaves. In fact, the Democratic-Republican Party was the party of the planter elite. And of slavery. While the opposition party, the Federalists, whose members included George Washington, John Adams and Alexander Hamilton, preferred manufacturing and commerce for the future of the United States. Not just plantations and slavery.
It was these southern planters who made the Three-Fifths Compromise necessary. Slaves couldn’t vote. So the North didn’t want to count them in determining the number of representatives a state had in the House of Representatives. The planter elite did not like this. As the anti-slave North had more free people and would end up controlling the government. Possibly passing anti-slave legislation. Well, without the southern states there would be no United States. So they compromised and counted some of their slaves. Giving the planter elite greater power in the new federal government than their population would otherwise have allowed. And to seal the deal they agreed not to discuss the issue of slavery again for 20 years.
The minority power in the South, the planter elite, who were Democratic-Republicans, brought a lot of slaves to the United States during that 20 year moratorium on the slavery issue. Swelling the slave population in the South. But once the 20 years were up Congress banned the slave trade. So from that point forward all slaves would have to be born on U.S. soil. But the minority power in the South had built their little fiefdoms by then. Owning large estates. With their lands worked by their large slaveholdings. Making the South more like an Old World aristocracy than a New World meritocracy. And the planter elite liked having so much power vested in so few of their hands. From having their few numbers control the federal government. To their absolute control of so many human lives on their plantations. They were an elite few. A superior people. And they liked it.
The South used the Power of the Federal Government to Suppress States’ Rights in the North with the Fugitive Slave Act
Over time as the north pursued the dreams of Washington, Adams and Hamilton immigration began to swell the population in the industrial North. Leading to the South losing their control over the House of Representatives. And threatening their elitism. By then the Democratic-Republican Party had become the Democrat Party. Which pushed to protect the institution of slavery. To protect their southern aristocracy. And their elevated status as a superior people. They used the power of the federal government where they could. Such as passing the Fugitive Slave Act to force free states against their will to return free blacks in their states to slavery. Then they argued that their states’ rights were at risk with all of the North’s abolition talk. Where the North might one day do what the South did to them. Use the federal government to force a state to do something against their will. Such as they did with the Fugitive Slave Act.
Their fight for the Senate led to further compromises to keep the union together while accommodating the planter elite. The Missouri Compromise (1820) had prohibited slavery in the new territory in the Louisiana Territory above approximately the southern border of Missouri (but permitted it within the borders of Missouri). Each state gets two senators. So with the House lost the Democrats needed more of the new states from the Louisiana Territory entered into the Union as slave states. Even those above the southern border of Missouri. Which they did with the Kansas–Nebraska Act. Which repealed the Missouri Compromise and replaced it with popular sovereignty. Where the people would chose whether they wanted to be a slave state or a free state. Setting off a mad rush by both sides to get to these territories so they could vote the slave status of these new states their way. Leading to a bloody civil war in Kansas.
Then another blow fell to the southern aristocracy. Abraham Lincoln. With the election of Republican Abraham Lincoln the southern aristocracy lost not only the House of Representatives but the presidency as well. Worse, the Republicans were an anti-slavery party. So even if they were somehow able to hold onto the Senate the Republicans in power would challenge the planter elite’s supremacy. Break up their fiefdoms. And challenge their power. Something this elite few were willing to fight to prevent. Well, they were willing to have others fight for them. To maintain the social order in the South. Leading to cries about states’ rights. And an over-powerful federal government. Despite their having used the power of the federal government to suppress states’ rights in the North with the Fugitive Slave Act.
Democrats see Benefits for Blacks as a Necessary Evil to keep them in Power
Most southerners were poor farmers. Who owned no slaves. Yet they rose to fight for states’ rights. And to protect the South from northern aggression. At least, that was what the planter elite had them believe. Who sent many of these poor farmers to their deaths in the American Civil War. When it was over approximately 8.6% of the South’s population was dead. By comparison World War II killed approximately 405,399 Americans. However, if we had suffered the same death rate as the South did in the American Civil War our World War II dead would have totaled over 12 million. This is what the southern aristocracy was willing to—and did—sacrifice to maintain their power and privilege. Their supremacy over other people. Especially over their black slaves.
Such a feeling of superiority allows you to do some pretty horrible things. Just review the history of Nazi Germany to see some of the atrocities a ‘master race’ can do. In the post-war South the Democrats did not lose with grace. They resented the martial law in the South after the war. And they hated Republican rule. Protecting their former slaves. Even allowing them to run for government office. It was all too much for the fallen southern aristocracy. To remind people of the proper order of southern society they formed the KKK. And unleashed a terror across the South. Killing their former slaves. And Republicans. To codify their white supremacy the Democrats turned to the legislature. And passed laws to segregate the ‘inferior blacks’ from their superior selves. Jim Crowe Laws. Separate but equal. With the emphasis on ‘separate’. In time pressure grew against the southern Democrats. But they held strong in Congress. Fighting against any civil rights legislation. Including the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Where Democrat Senator Robert Byrd (and former Exalted Cyclops of the KKK) filibustered against the Civil Rights Act for 14 hours and 13 minutes. To keep the blacks segregated from their superior selves.
Things are a lot better these days. But Democrat feelings of superiority die hard. Even though they would have us believe they like blacks today. Despite their past hatred of blacks. And their seething anger of having lost them from their plantations. But they found a way to ‘get them back on the plantation’. By making them dependent on government. In exchange for their vote. Which keeps them in power. Back where they believe they belong. And are entitled to be. Because they are a superior people. So benefits for blacks are a necessary evil to Democrats. For they still don’t like them. As evidenced by where they live. Where some of the richest Democrats (such as Nancy Pelosi) live in the whitest of neighborhoods. And their apparent racial purification of society. Through the guise of women’s rights. The most important thing to women, according to Democrats, is abortion. And they do their best to make abortion readily available. Especially to women of color. Like in New York City. And Mississippi. Where black women are having far more abortions than white women. Making America whiter. More like the neighborhood where Nancy Pelosi lives. And more like the color Democrats have fought to keep America since the Three-Fifths Compromise. The Fugitive Slave Act. Popular Sovereignty. The KKK. And Jim Crowe Laws.
Tags: abolition, abortion, Abraham Lincoln, American Civil War, aristocracy, blacks, civil rights, Democrat Party, Democratic-Republican Party, Democrats, elite, elite few, federal government, fiefdoms, Fugitive Slave Act, House of Representatives, Jim Crowe laws, Kansas, Kansas-Nebraska Act, KKK, Louisiana Territory, Missouri, Missouri Compromise, Nancy Pelosi, New World, North, Old World, plantation, planter elite, popular sovereignty, power, privilege, Republican, Senate, slavery, slaves, South, southern aristocracy, Southern Democrats, states' rights, superior, superiority, supremacy, Three-Fifths Compromise, white supremacy
Stores used the Incentives of Black Friday to get People to do what they Wanted
A belated happy Thanksgiving. And a belated happy Black Friday. We say belated because Black Friday was already here by the time Friday woke from its sleepy slumber. No more waiting in line Friday morning for those stores to open. No. Today if you snooze (i.e., spend Thanksgiving with the family at home) you lose. Because it’s first come first served. Which means if you wanted to get some of those deep discounts before they run out you didn’t let anything silly like celebrating Thanksgiving with the family get in your way.
Now everyone loves a bargain. It’s why we scan the Sunday sales papers. And search online for the best price. But in the Obama ‘recovery’ there isn’t a whole lot of spending going on. As there isn’t a whole lot of employment going on. Since President Obama assumed office his policies have destroyed some 10 million jobs. And one thing about unemployed people. They definitely want a bargain. Especially if they want a good Christmas for their family during the dark times of the Obama presidency.
But there is a greater lesson Black Friday can tell us other than President Obama is a bad president. Especially in things economic. Why are stores opening on Thanksgiving? Because they’re cruel and evil forcing their workers to slave away during a holiday? No. It’s not that. In fact, some employees love working on a holiday. For they get paid more working on a holiday than they normally would. Allowing them to earn extra money to give their families a good Christmas during the dark times of the Obama presidency. As it turns out shoppers and workers alike like Black Friday. For it allows each to have more for less. And that is the great lesson of Black Friday. Getting people to do what you want by offering them something they want. Or, in other words, offering them an incentive.
The Kansas–Nebraska Act of 1854 pitted Northern Republicans against Slave-Owning Southern Democrats
Slaves working in the planter South had no desire to be slaves. Yet they were slaves. Why? There weren’t slaves in the North. Only in the South. The blacks in the north chose not to be slaves. While those in the South had no choice. The planter elite in the South, the ‘Old World’ planter aristocracy, used force. And having a larger force in Washington than they normally would have (thanks to the Three-Fifths Compromise that counted slaves as three-fifths of a person for representation in Congress) they were able to use the force of government to continue to force blacks into slavery. The Southern Democrats (i.e., the ‘Old World’ planter aristocracy) were able to keep the black man enslaved until the mid 19th century. Even using the power of the federal government to override states’ rights in the North. Using the Fugitive Slave Act to force northern states to return fugitive slaves to their Southern Democrat owners. The ‘Old World’ planter aristocracy.
This is coercion. This is how you get people to do what they don’t want to do. Using the power of the federal government the Southern Democrats kept their slaves in bondage. Also, using the power of the federal government they forced those in the North who wanted to help ‘fugitive’ slaves to stay free return their slaves or else. That ‘or else’ being the full weight of the federal government coming down on them with extreme prejudice. But when the North became more populated control of the House of Representatives favored the larger populated North. Despite the Three-Fifths Compromise. Which left the Senate. And as each state got two senators how the new states entered the union mattered. For the planter elite to hold their power over the United States.
The Missouri Compromise of 1820 was an early attempt to put slavery onto the path of oblivion. Those in the North did not want it. The planter elite in the South did. So they compromised. Slavery could remain in the South to appease the planter elite but the compromise prohibited slavery in the new Louisiana Territory that Thomas Jefferson purchased above the 36°30′ parallel (about the southern border of Missouri). Except in the state of Missouri. Then came the Kansas–Nebraska Act of 1854 and the idea of popular sovereignty. Throwing the Missouri Compromise of 1820 out the window. These two states were both above the 36°30′ parallel. The Kansas–Nebraska Act of 1854 said the first people into the fledging states could choose for themselves if they would be a slave-state or a free-state. Which led to a mad rush to Kansas. And a bloody civil war there. That eventually led to the American Civil War. To settle once and for all the issue of slavery in America. Would the Southern Democrats prevail and keep the black man in bondage? Or would the Republicans free the slaves?
Obamacare is less like Black Friday and more like Slavery
Even if you flunked your history class you should know the answer to this. Abraham Lincoln and his Republicans defeated the Southern Democrats and won the American Civil War. Freeing the slaves. Of course, the Southern Democrats were not good losers. They gave us the KKK. Then the Jim Crowe Laws. The separate but equal nonsense that didn’t exist in the Republican North. The old southern aristocracy were not huge fans of the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution. All they wanted was privilege. They wanted the Old World in the New World. And the planter elite fought bitterly to keep that. Well, not them as much as their fellow southerners they lied to about states’ rights. Getting them (most of who were too poor to own a single slave) to fight and sacrifice their lives to maintain the institution of slavery. To maintain the privilege of the southern aristocracy.
So there you have examples of incentive and coercion. Black Friday incentivized people to hire in for seasonal jobs during the holiday season. And brought people into stores with deep discounting. Everyone got something they wanted. And so they did what the store owners wanted. People worked for them on Thanksgiving. And people came into the stores on Thanksgiving. Both of their own free will. Now contrast that to slavery. Where there was no free will. Only the coercion of the federal government. Where fear and intimidation compelled slaves to remain slaves. And their only incentive was to obey their masters to avoid physical harm.
With the Supreme Court ruling the penalty of Obamacare became a tax. Allowing the federal government to compel people to buy health insurance or suffer the consequences. A ‘tax’ that will grow in time. Buy insurance or else. With that ‘or else’ being the full force and fury of the IRS. Something most people would find more unpleasant than a colonoscopy. Without any anesthetic. No, a letter from the IRS is something no one wants to see in their mail. For few things will fill you with fear and dread more. This is the enforcement mechanism of Obamacare. Which they need because people otherwise wouldn’t spend more for less. Higher insurance premiums to cover things they will never need (a gay man will never need prenatal care). And sky-high deductibles that will be like having no insurance. As everything will be out of pocket until you reach that sky-high deductible. Which few people will reach unless they have a catastrophic illness or accident. This is why people are NOT signing up for Obamacare. Because Obamacare ain’t no Black Friday. Obamacare is offering nothing the people want. At prices higher than they ever had to pay for health insurance before. Leaving them with less to spend on their family. Forcing them to cut out things they once enjoyed. Which is why Obamacare will fail. Because you can’t incentivize people to make their lives worse. No, to do that you need the fearful power of the state. Just like the Southern Democrats used to maintain the institution of slavery.
Tags: American Civil War, aristocracy, bargain, Black Friday, Christmas, Civil War, coercion, dark times of the Obama presidency, deductible, federal government, free will, fugitive slaves, incentive, incentivize, insurance, IRS, Kansas-Nebraska Act, Missouri Compromise, North, Obama, Obamacare, Old World, planter, planter aristocracy, planter elite, Republicans, slavery, slaves, South, Southern Democrats, states' rights, Thanksgiving, Three-Fifths Compromise
The Slave Owners were the Social Elite and Holders of Political Power Similar to the Aristocracy in European Feudalism
General Motors (GM) required a government bailout and bankruptcy protection because of rising labor costs that prevented them from selling enough cars at a price to cover their costs while being profitable. Their problem goes back to FDR. During the Great Depression his government placed a ceiling on wages. To encourage companies to hire more people. By paying more people less money instead of fewer people more money. So businesses had to do something else to attract the best employees. And the employee benefit was born. Pensions and health care benefits. That were very generous when there was no competition and car companies could sell cars at whatever price they chose. But that wasn’t the case in the 21st century. Competition put great cost pressures on those companies with rising health care and pension costs. And the job bank paying for workers who didn’t work. Until they could be put back to work. Adding a lot of costs to each car. And sending GM into bankruptcy.
Slavery as an economic model had a similar problem. High costs. Which goes contrary to the public perception that slave labor was free labor. George Washington wanted to sell his slaves and hire paid-laborers. Because his slave families had grown so large. So he had a growing slave population. But they all weren’t working. The young children could not do the work of a young man in his working prime. Nor could the elderly. Or the sick or infirmed. (Who he couldn’t sell along with the healthier and stronger ones in their families. So he kept his slaves, keeping those families together. Freeing them upon the death of his wife. And including provisions in his will to help them integrate into free society. Giving them some job skills to help them find gainful employment so they could care for their young, elderly, sick and infirmed.) Yet Washington was feeding them all. While the growing amount of food they ate couldn’t go to market. As the years passed his costs went up and his revenue fell. Just like at GM. For both had long-term labor commitments that became more inefficient over time. Which is why slavery was a dying institution in the United States. The industrial North was slave-free. As they used more efficient paid-laborers. Drawing a lot of immigrants to those northern factories. And slavery was dying out in the South. Until the cotton gin came along. Allowing workers to comb (separating the seeds from the fiber) huge amounts of cotton at a time. Greatly opening the market for that labor-intensive cotton crop.
The typical image of the South in 1860 is endless plantations each with hundreds of slaves working the fields. Which is wrong. Most people worked a small family farm. In fact, most of the Confederate soldiers who fought in the American Civil War came from those small family farms and never owned a slave in their life. The actual numbers of large slaveholders will probably surprise you. Approximately 0.84% of the southern population owned at least 20 slaves. Only 0.05% of the southern population owned at least 100 slaves. And the number of big plantations owning at least 500 slaves? Twelve. So it was a very small population that had a vested interest in the institution of slavery. Yet the South seceded from the union over the issue of slavery. Why? Because of who those slave owners were. The social elite and holders of political power. The Planter Elite. People similar to the aristocracy in European feudalism. An Old World nobility. The very wealthy few who ruled the South. And for awhile they ruled the United States thanks to an unfair advantage they had in the House of Representatives. Where they determined their representation by not only counting the free population but by counting every slave as 3/5 a free person as well. And this southern nobility was determined to maintain their aristocracy.
Popular Sovereignty created a Bloodbath in Kansas as ‘Free’ and ‘Slave’ People raced there to Settle the State
Which was easier said than done. Because of that industrial growth in the north attracting so many immigrants that they swelled the northern population. Transferring control of the House from the South to the North. Which left only the Senate (and the presidency) for the South. As each state got two senators the race was on to admit free and slave states to the union. Which didn’t really solve anything. It only made the differences between the North and the South greater. And intensified the bad feelings between the North and the South. The North was full of abolitionist busybodies trying to tell southerners how to live. While the southerners were a bunch of immoral slaveholders. Bringing shame to the nation that was supposedly a place where all men were created equal. Words enshrined in the Declaration of Independence. Words written incidentally by a southern slaveholder. It was finally time to address the nation’s original sin.
Congress passed the Missouri Compromise (1820) after Thomas Jefferson bought the Louisiana Territory from the French. Adding a lot of new land to form states from. The compromise prohibited slavery north of the border between Arkansas and Missouri (except in the state of Missouri). They added new states in pairs. A free state. And a slave state. Maintaining the balance of power in Congress. Then came Kansas and Nebraska. Both above the Missouri Compromise line. Well, that meant two new free states. And a change in the balance of power. Which the South couldn’t have. So Senator Stephen Douglas introduced the Kansas-Nebraska Act. And the idea of popular sovereignty. The idea of letting the people in these new states decide for themselves if they should be a free state or a slave state. Creating a bloodbath in Kansas as ‘free’ and ‘slave’ people raced there to settle the state. Fighting and intimidating each other so they would be the ones to vote on making Kansas free or slave. It was anarchy.
Abraham Lincoln had reentered politics in 1854 to campaign for fellow Whig Richard Yates. Who opposed the Kansas-Nebraska Act. Democrat Stephen Douglas was making a series of speeches in Illinois. In response to one of Stephens’ speeches Lincoln gave his Peoria speech. In commenting on letting slavery into Nebraska and Kansas Lincoln said, “I hate it because of the monstrous injustice of slavery itself. I hate it because it deprives our republican example of its just influence in the world—enables the enemies of free institutions, with plausibility, to taunt us as hypocrites—causes the real friends of freedom to doubt our sincerity and especially because it forces so many really good men amongst ourselves into an open war with the very fundamental principles of civil liberty—criticizing the Declaration of Independence, and insisting that there is no right principle of action but self-interest.”
If Lincoln were Alive Today he would Likely Endorse the Republican Candidates Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan
The fallout from the Kansas-Nebraska Act splintered existing political parties apart. Created new ones that disappeared later. And gave birth to the new Republican Party. The party of George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan and Abraham Lincoln. Who became the leading spokesman of the party. The Republicans lost the 1856 presidential election but won majorities in most of the northern states. Tipping the balance of power further away from the South. When Lincoln won his party’s nomination to run for senator in 1858 he gave his ‘House Divided Speech’ saying, “A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved—I do not expect the house to fall—but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing, or all the other.”
When slave Dred Scott traveled to a free state with his owner his owner died. Scott said he was then a free man. The Supreme Court thought otherwise. Saying that Scott was still a slave because neither Congress nor any territory legislature had the authority to change that. Which meant no one could restrict the movement of slaves because no one had the right to restrict the movement of private property. Thus opening all the new territories to slavery. Making the South very happy. While infuriating the North. Who refused to enforce slave laws on the books like the Fugitive Slave Law. A provision included in the Compromise of 1850 for the states’ rights South. That called for the federal government to force northerners to return slaves or face arrest and penalties. States’ legislatures in the North passed laws saying a slave living in a free state was a free man. The Supreme Court struck down these laws. Favoring southern states’ rights over northern states’ rights. So the states just refused to help the federal government in any prosecution of a violation of the Fugitive Slave Law. Then abolitionist John Brown’s failed slave revolt at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia, further angered the South.
Then came the 1860 presidential election. That Abraham Lincoln won. Which was the last straw. The South lost both Congress and the presidency. Worse, the new president, though not an outright abolitionist, opposed the expansion of slavery. Leaving the South with one last option. Secession. Which they did. Leading to the American Civil War. Which the South lost because of everything they believed in. For an Old World nobility just could not defeat a modern industrial power. Lincoln won because he had modern factories building whatever he needed. The northern economy was large and diverse providing war financing. Railroads crisscrossed the North. A large navy controlled the interior rivers and blockaded the southern ports. Cutting off the South from the outside world and starving it. When the South desperately pursued the British for recognition Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. Making it impossible for Britain to ally itself with a nation fighting for the institution of slavery.
No president entered office with a heavier burden than President Lincoln. Standing on principle he made the hard decisions. Becoming the most hated sitting president of all time. He did not look for an easy solution like every other politician had up to his time. Only making the inevitable solution more costly. And more painful. He would do what had to be done. Regardless the price he would pay. Politically. Or personally. A cost so high that it made him a one term president thanks to an assassin’s bullet. He didn’t base his decisions on the polls. Or populist movements. But on principles. Drawn from the Constitution. And the Declaration of Independence. As well as the Bible. So if he were alive today who would he endorse in the current election? He would, of course, support his party. Out of party loyalty. And because it tends to stand on principle more than the Democrat Party. Which often used an activist Supreme Court to get what they couldn’t get in the legislature. Which tends to use populist movements and character assassination to advance their agenda. Such as the so-called war on women to scare women into voting Democrat because they can’t persuade them to based on a successful track record in office. Also, the Republicans are more pro-business and more pro-military. Which gives you the ability to win civil wars. And other wars. As well as protecting US security interests around the world. Maintaining peace through strength. For anything was preferable to the hell he went through during the four long years of the Civil War. And to have so much blood on his hands. The war being so horrific because of a policy of continued failed diplomacy when there was simply no common ground. He said that there was only one of two possible outcomes. All free. Or all slave. And he was right. But it took someone willing to be the most hated sitting president to have the courage to act to bring about the inevitable. So if Lincoln were alive today he would likely endorse the Republican candidates Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. Not the party that wants to delay the inevitable by refusing to address the systemic problems of Medicare and Social Security. And a growing welfare state. Systems a declining population growth rate can no longer fund. Because aging populations bankrupt nations with expanding welfare programs. Just like an aging workforce can bankrupt a car company like GM.
Tags: 1860, 2012 election, 2012 Endorsements, abolitionist, Abraham Lincoln, American Civil War, aristocracy, Civil War, Compromise of 1850, Constitution, cotton, Declaration of Independence, feudalism, free state, Fugitive Slave Law, house divided, House of Representatives, immigrants, Kansas, Kansas-Nebraska Act, Lincoln, Missouri Compromise, nobility, North, northern, Old World nobility, paid laborers, planter elite, popular sovereignty, Republican, Republican Party, Senate, slave, slave labor, slave state, slaveholders, slavery, South, southerners, states' rights, Stephen Douglas, Supreme Court, union
SLAVERY WAS ALWAYS a complicated issue. Many of the Founding Fathers saw the contradiction with the ideals embodied in the Declaration of Independence. And there were the economic costs. George Washington wanted to transition to paid laborers as the generations of slaves he inherited were consuming an ever growing share of his harvest. (You only pay paid-laborers; you didn’t have to house and feed them and their families.) He had whole families that included babies and the elderly long past their working prime. People would buy slaves in their working prime but wouldn’t take their parents and grandparents, too. He didn’t want to break up the families. And he couldn’t free them. Someone had to take care of those who could no longer work. So he would. Even after death. He freed his slaves in his will and directed his heirs to train and help them so they could integrate into the workforce. (Not every slave-owner, though, was as caring as Washington).
So Washington, John Adams and some of the other Founding Fathers saw slavery as an institution that would eventually wither and die. They saw it as immoral. As well as an inefficient economic system. It would just have to die out one day. So they tabled the discussion to get the southern states to join the union. But they did put an end date on the slave trade. Twenty years should be enough time they thought. And in those 20 years, the South would figure out what to do with the slaves they had. Because no one in the north could figure that one out. Who would compensate the slave owners for their emancipated ‘property’? And there were no biracial societies at that time. No one could imagine that a formerly enslaved majority will become peaceful neighbors with their former minority masters. Especially in the South.
But the cotton gin changed all of that. The one thing that slave labor was good for was big single-crop plantations. And there was none better than King Cotton. Separating the seed from the cotton was the one bottleneck in the cotton industry. Ely Whitney changed that in 1791. Cotton production exploded. As did slavery. The southern economy changed. As did the political debate. The southern economy was a cotton economy. And cotton needed slaves. The South, therefore, needed slavery.
CARVED OUT OF the new Louisiana Territory were territories that would organize into states and request admittance into the union. But would they be free or slave? The first test was resolved with the Missouri Compromise (1820). Henry Clay (the Great Compromiser) kept the peace. Saved the union. For awhile. The compromise forbade slavery north of Missouri’s southern border (approximately the 36th parallel) in the Louisiana Territory (except in Missouri, of course). Martin Van Buren saw this as a temporary fix at best. Any further discussion on the slavery issue could lead to secession. Or war. So he created the modern Democratic Party with but one goal. To get power and to keep power. With power he could control what they debated. And, once he had power, they wouldn’t debate slavery again.
During the 1844 presidential campaign, the annexation of the Republic of Texas was an issue. The secretary of state, Daniel Webster, opposed it. It would expand slavery and likely give the Senate two new democratic senators. Which was what John C. Calhoun wanted. He succeeded Webster as secretary of state. The new northern Whigs were antislavery. The southern Whigs were pro-cotton. The Whig presidential candidate in 1844 was Henry Clay (the Great Compromiser). He wasn’t for it or against it. Neither was Martin Van Buren, the Democrat frontrunner. They wished to compromise and avoid this hot issue all together.
Well, Clay wasn’t ‘anti’ enough for the antislavery Whigs. So they left and formed the Liberty Party and nominated James. G. Birney as their candidate. Meanwhile, the Democrats weren’t all that happy with Van Buren. Enter James Knox Polk. He didn’t vacillate. He pledged to annex Texas. And the Oregon territory. The Democrats nominated him and said goodbye to Van Buren.
The Whig and Liberty parties shared the northern antislavery votes, no doubt costing Clay the election. A fait accompli, President Tyler signed off on the annexation of Texas before Polk took the oath of office.
BUT ALL WAS not well. Those sectional differences continued to simmer just below the boiling point. The Fugitive Slave Law now made the ‘southern’ problem a northern one, too. Federal law now required that they help return this southern ‘property’. It got ugly. And costly. Harriet Ward Beecher’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin only inflamed the abolitionist fires in the North. And then Stephen Douglas saw a proposed transcontinental railroad that could take him to the Whitehouse.
The railroad would go through the unorganized Nebraskan territory (the northern part of the Louisiana Purchase). As Washington discussed organizing this territory, the South noted that all of this territory was above 36th parallel. Thus, any state organized would be, by the terms of the Missouri Compromise, free. With no state below the 36th parallel added, the balance of power would tip to the North. The South objected. Douglas assuaged them. With the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854. Which replaced the Missouri Compromise (the 36th parallel) with popular sovereignty. And Kansas bled.
The idea of popular sovereignty said that the people of the new organized state would determine if they were free or slave. So the free and slave people raced to populate the territory. It was a mini civil war. A precursor of what was to come. It split up the Whig and Democratic parties. Southern Whigs and Northern Democrats quit their parties. The Whig Party would wither and die. The new Republican Party would rise from the Whig’s ashes. They would address the cause, not the symptoms. And at the heart of all the sectional divides was the issue of slavery itself. It had to be addressed. As Abraham Lincoln would say in 1858, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
ZACHARY TAYLOR CHOSE Whig Millard Fillmore as his vice president to appeal to northern Whigs. When Taylor died some 2 years into his first term, Fillmore became president. His support of the Compromise of 1850 (admit California as a free state, settle Texas border, grant territorial status to New Mexico, end the slave trade in the District of Columbia and beef up the Fugitive Slave Law) alienated him from the Whig base.
In the 1856 presidential contest, the Republicans nominated John C. Frémont. The Democrats nominated James Buchanan. And Millard Fillmore (compromiser and one time Whig) ran on the American Party ticket. There was talk of secession should Frémont win. It was a 3-way race. Buchanan battled with the ‘compromiser’ in the South. And with the ‘abolitionist’ in the North. The race was close. Buchanan won with only 45% of the vote. But Frémont lost by only 2 states. He had won all but 5 of the free states. Had Fillmore not run, it is unlikely that these free states would have voted for the slavery candidate. So Fillmore no doubt denied Frémont the election.
AMERICA’S ORIGINAL TRUST buster, Teddy Roosevelt (TR), said he wouldn’t run for reelection. And he didn’t. He picked Howard Taft as his ‘successor’. TR was a progressive frontier man. He had that smile. This made him a popular and formidable candidate. Taft just wasn’t as much of a TR as TR was. So some asked TR to run again. Against his own, hand-picked ‘successor’. Which he did.
Taft won the Republican Nomination, though. Undeterred (and having a really big ego), TR formed a third party, the Progressive Party. He moved to the left of Taft. So far left that it made Woodward Wilson, the Democrat candidate, look moderate.
The 1912 presidential election turned into a 3-man race. Between 3 progressives. Taft ‘busted’ more trusts than did TR. But he just wasn’t TR. Woodward Wilson was probably the most progressive and idealist of the three. But in the mix, he looked like the sensible candidate. Roosevelt beat Taft. But Wilson beat Roosevelt. Wilson won with only 45% of the vote. And gave us the income tax and the Federal Reserve System. Big Government had come.
IN THE 1992 presidential campaign, George Herbert Walker Bush (read my lips, no new taxes) ran in a 3-way race between Democrat Bill Clinton and Ross Perot. Perot bashed both parties for their high deficits. He was a populist candidate against the status quo. He went on TV with charts and graphs. He called Reaganomics ‘voodoo’ economics. While Bush fought these attacks on his 12 years in the executive office (8 as vice president and on 4 as president), Clinton got by with relative ease on his one big weakness. Character.
Exit polling showed that Perot took voters from both candidates. More people voted that year. But the increase was roughly equal to the Perot vote (who took 19%). If anyone energized the election that year, it wasn’t Clinton. He won with only 43% of the vote. The majority of Americans did not vote for Clinton. Had the focus not been on Reaganomics and the deficit (where Perot took it), Clinton’s character flaws would have been a bigger issue. And if it came down to character, Bush probably would have won. Despite his broken ‘read my lips’ pledge.
HISTORY HAS SHOWN that third party candidates don’t typically win elections. In fact, when a party splinters into two, it usually benefits the common opposition. That thing that is so important to bring a third party into existence is often its own demise. It splits a larger voting bloc into two smaller voting blocs. Guaranteeing the opposition’s victory.
Politics can be idealistic. But not at the expense of pragmatism. When voting for a candidate that cannot in all probability win, it is a wasted vote. If you’re making a ‘statement’ with your vote by voting for a third party candidate, that statement is but one thing. You want to lose.
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