Wednesday, June 13, 2018

In My Humble Opinion...

I posed the question on Sunday, the readers responded. I promised you my two cents, here it is.


On April 12, 1861, Southern artillery opened fire upon Fort Sumter, a Federal installation in Charleston harbor, South Carolina. Nearly four years later, on April 9, 1865, General Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox Court House in Virginia. While some fighting continued past that date (CSS Shenandoah was still taking prizes in June of that year), the war was effectively over.

Could the South have won that war? Not really, no. However, if Robert E. Lee had accepted the post offered to him, command of the United States Army, it's quite possible that the first battles would have gone in the North's favor, Lee was that good of a general.

On the other hand, that would have required Lee to take up arms against his home state of Virginia, which was not going to happen.

Another possibility for Southern victory would have been Lee taking James Longstreet's advice upon the second Southern invasion of the North. Take up a strong position and make the Army of the Potomac attack. Something which they had yet to prove they were any good at.

In reality, the South's only hope for victory was probably a short, sharp early victory and the seizure of Washington, DC. Many thought that should have been the outcome of First Bull Run, (First Manassas) but in reality both of the armies engaged that day were rank amateurs. None of the generals on either side had ever commanded large bodies of troops in the field, so effectively they were rookies at that level of command. Many folks don't know just how close that battle was to being a Northern victory.

But it was not to be. Could the South have hoped to tire the North of the fighting? Maybe, there were defeatist elements in the North, peace at any price, etc., etc. There are those factions in any war. Could Lincoln have been defeated in 1864? By whom I ask? McClellan, who had proven himself to be a great organizer but a completely ineffective leader in the field? No, most folks had seen through "Little Mac" by then.

The North wanted the war over, but by 1864 the South was on their last legs. Gettysburg and Vicksburg had realistically dashed all hopes of a Southern victory in July 1863. July 4th was the death knell of the Confederacy.

But what really killed the South's hopes was the individual states. Who were supposedly fighting for "states' rights" against the centralized Federal government. Does any one believe that they could have subordinated themselves to a different centralized government, only in Richmond, not Washington? One of the very reasons for their secession doomed their chances for success.


Would slavery have eventually ended in the South (and in those states kept in the Union where slavery was allowed) with a Southern victory, or no war at all?

Yes, it probably would have. The South would have seen the same agricultural advances as other nations, they would have had to industrialize further in order to compete with the rest of the industrialized world. While Europe was forced to turn to Egyptian cotton by the war, who's to say that would not have happened eventually anyway? A completely agrarian economy with very little industry wasn't a recipe for success by 1861. Furthermore, had the South become a separate nation and stayed that way past 1865 for whatever reason, the North had an interest in seeing them fail. For purely economic reasons, not to mention spite.

Would the black population of the South been better off? I doubt it. Southern society was built upon the alleged superiority of the white race, it is unreasonable to assume that just because folks of any degree of African descent could no longer be bought and sold at market, doesn't mean they would've been accepted as equals. That didn't even happen after the South had lost the war. That required more strife and bloodshed some one hundred years later.

While some argue that slavery was anathema in Europe, therefore the South would have to give it up carries no water with me. Slavery still exists in this world and I don't mean people having to work at crappy jobs for crappy wages. Human trafficking is still practiced and is a stain on humanity's conscience. It will not end until its practitioners, both providers and customers, are eradicated from the planet.


What do I really think about the causes of the Civil War?

The fear on the part of Southern politicians losing power in Congress as more free states were added to the Union. Compromises, adding a slave state for each free state, would eventually prove to be unworkable.

It was all about power, the South feared being dominated by the North, when Lincoln ran for President, the South indicated that if he was elected, they would not stand for such an outcome.

When Lincoln was elected, seven states almost immediately seceded from the union, to be followed by four more. In those days when people said they would leave the country rather than have "that man" as their President, they meant it.

I might start referring to the Civil War as The LDS War. LDS standing for, and you had to see this coming, Lincoln Derangement Syndrome. Same party, same nonsense. At least in 1861 they had the courage of their convictions. Not so much these days.

Anyhoo, that's my two cents. Your mileage may indeed (and probably does) vary.

Ball's back in your court readers, I breathlessly await your thoughts. (And Beans, I'll try and keep up this time.)



52 comments:

  1. Can’t disagree. “Woulda, coulda shoulda”, but a solidly defensible position.

    Now... if the south woulda, coulda, shoulda had AC-130 ‘s.....

    ;-)

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    1. The individual states would have held them back for use in defending the states.

      Can't let Jeff Davis have that kind of power now can we?

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    2. Yeah...Probably. Don't know anyone who's thought that way before. Well, not since 1942 anyhow.

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    3. It was also a problem in the Revolutionary War, of course, the Royal Navy was capable of dropping British troops pretty much anywhere along the coast. They probably would have if they had had better generals. Oddly enough, Cornwallis was probably the best of the lot, without first Howe and then Clinton over him (zounds! another Clinton?) the Revolution might have turned out differently. While we remember Cornwallis as the guy who lost at Yorktown, Clinton was the most culpable for that defeat, he was scared to leave New York. Apparently reinforcements were eventually sent to Cornwallis in Virginia, the ships carrying those men arrived too late.

      Jefferson, as governor of Virginia, would seldom release troops for duty elsewhere, even when Greene was screaming for troops in the Carolinas, where he ran Cornwallis ragged.

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    4. I think it can be argued that Howe was half-hearted at best in trying to suppress the rebellion. He had a lot of sympathy for the American position. As did a sizeable minority of Parliament.

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    5. The casualties suffered at Bunker Hill made him overly cautious as well.

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  2. LDS...interesting analogy.

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    1. It seems to fit, in my mind anyway.

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    2. (Republican President) Derangement Syndrome. Seems that since the start of the Republican party, a certain other party has continually pulled some sort of PSH by invoking some Derangement Syndrome. Everything old is new again. It's so much easier to get the (dumbm)asses to move in a direction by invoking 'feelings' rather than truths.

      The curse of the over-educated and reasonably smart person - to see all the zombies follow the light of untruth. Sigh.

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    3. I think you're onto something there Beans. (RPD Syndrome, sounds like a real disease.)

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    4. Everything new is old again.

      I am so tired of the party that constantly spouts 'scientific' points not being able to follow a logical argument.

      I'm beginning to think George Soros is Isaac Asimov's 'Mule' from the "Foundation Trilogy."

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    5. Beans- "I'm beginning to think George Soros is Isaac Asimov's 'Mule' from the "Foundation Trilogy." Excellent reference. In the decades since I first read that book I think that yours is the only one to reference the Mule (other than in SF realms). I'm especially fond of the FT as Isaac wrote the first book in the series in the year I was born.

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    6. I haven't read that in ages, I need to see if I've still got those books.

      If not, the library is less than a mile away!

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    7. Now you all see what I mean about all sorts of weird stuff sticking in my mind, only to come to fruition years later.

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    8. These things need to germinate.

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  3. 2 things stand out to me.:

    re: white is right part.... As I was raised by parents whose near kin lost it all in the aftermath of that war, I learned prejudice. No doubt. But I was unprepared for the viciousness I heard from northerners. Down south (maybe because we were over in Texas to the west), folks didn't like the race, but the individual could be respected and cherished. There were few black folks in my school, but the ones I knew were nice, good people. People I respected and had no qualms about calling friends. A guy in college from Maryland had great things to say about black people, but he was not gonna have "one of those" in his neighborhood.... The look on his face was like nothing I'd ever seen before... Wow... (only one example of several)

    re: Slavery..... I've come to the conclusion that the US still likes slavery. We want "immigrants" to come here to cut grass, pick crops, gut fish, and do the other menial, hard jobs that we have. How is that different? We have a servant class here now. Our congress critters want even more. More undocumented foreign workers to the point of having 'slave ships' (55 found in a semitrailer last night in San Antonio). Even to the point of having slave traders (called coyotes around these parts). Criminal gangs along the border that kidnap folks to extort ransom from the their families to take them to the US. For less than minimum wage more often than not. Until they invent a SSN or steal one out of desperation...

    For having won the war, and "freed the slaves", The United States have sure made little progress. Other than find a different group to enslave... There may be a promise of freedom for those immigrants here, but it sure looks like servitude when you get up close.... Did anything really get resolved? Other than changing the United States from "These" to "The"?

    (Man, that came out a bit somber, maybe my mood intruded a bit much...)

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    1. Yeah, I know a number of Northerners who have no problem with black folks as long as they don't have to see them, work with them, or interact with them. Kind of stunned me the first time I heard that sort of thing in high school. Guy was amazed that I would spend money on a record album of "black" music. No, he didn't say black. I mean come on, music is music (Sly and the Family Stone did the album).

      As to the servant/slave class, there are problems there, but it isn't really the same as African slavery. A lot of those folks from south of the Rio Grande are hard-working, God-fearing, family-oriented folks (yeah, I know the coyotes are not) and after a generation or two in this country tend to vote conservative.

      Conditions here are far better than where they came from, most of those illegals want to be here. Work for crap wages in the US or starve back in the home country (or be murdered by the cartels). Tough choices, but slavery it isn't.

      I don't "want" immigrants to come here to perform the "menial" tasks (no job which needs doing is menial) that others don't want to do. One way to fix that is to clean up the welfare system which would force people to take those jobs and work to better their lot in life. There are a lot of immigrants in the US who's ancestors started out at "menial" jobs but put their kids through school and now the kids have "meaningful" jobs. Not sure how a stock broker's job is more meaningful than a trash collector's job. I don't need a stock broker, I do need my trash picked up.

      I work 40 hours a week at a job which has it's ups and downs, there are days where it sure feels like servitude, but I can quit if I want to, slaves cannot quit, ever.

      But yes, there are politicians in this country who want the flow of illegals to continue, because the ones who arrived earlier and have been in the country a while know that those politicians are against everything they cherish. So they bring in newer ones who are beholden to the ruling class. Which yes, that is close to involuntary servitude but not really. Maybe more like indentured servants?

      I don't know, but the freeing of the slaves was only the start, the civil rights movement in the 1960s finally started to really shake the chains off. We're still working on it but it's better everyday, though the last administration set us back quite a ways, progress is being made. I work with folks who would never have had the chance to be engineers as little as 40 years ago, black and Latino. It's a different world than it was back then, it's not perfect but nothing ever is this side of Heaven. YMMV.

      Somber yes, but I can tell you speak from the heart, always a good thing.

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    2. Even before "The War" most northern abolitionists had no problem freeing the slaves, as long as they did not come north. Let the South deal with the issue, or better, ship them back. Which is one of the reasons many northern locations, especially cities, allowed (and in many instances encouraged) slave hunters from the south.

      Which is why, mid-war, you get open assaults of free blacks in northern cities by both conservative and liberal groups. Yay, freedom. (Remember, the Emancipation Proclamation only freed blacks in re-captured portions of the country that have previously revolted.)

      Sick world.

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    3. Real abolitionists didn't think that way, they truly believed in equality. The folks you're talking about are the ones that revisionist historians claim to exist.

      Much of what has been written of the period 1850 to 1870 is pure, unadulterated crap. Too many political agendas being pushed back then, yup, just like now.

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    4. Thanks Sarge. I completely understand the "escape from violence" desire. My wife's grandmother swam the Rio in 1943, pregnant and carrying a toddler. She was 'sold'/married off at 13 or 14 to a murderous family. She barely escaped with her life. Her great grandchildren run the gamut from investigating counterfeit money to drug addled baby machines. I think that is the new normal for the US.

      What I see living between 2 smuggling corridors is awful, tho. The folks that come here have to pay off their 'fees' incurred to get across the border, sometimes leaving a family member to the Kindness Kartel to ensure payment. I wonder if the lucky ones are left to die in Kleberg county. Entire community administrations on the border are influenced by cartels on the other side. It's truly disgusting. And the common folks wanting a better life are the meat in the grinder. I see very little difference between slavery as practiced in the 1700's and what goes on here today. Lives are bought and sold, plain and simple.

      Am I glad slavery was done away with? You bet! Happy that the North won? Some days. Proud of my kin? Surely. But most of all, I really wish we as a country could agree to stop the importation of menial laborers that are murdered, kidnapped or abused on their way to the promised land.

      And therein is the difference: Coming for the hope of a better life, as opposed to being sold to a death of over work. Only the motivation is different, the results look very similar at this end of the human trafficking pipeline.

      Nothing is perfect this side of Heaven is so true, especially in the land that is 30 minutes from the SURFACE OF THE SUN!!!! Dang, but it's hot down here this summer....

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    5. I agree with you, that there were real abolitionists, having several in my mom's side of the family. I guess I just got hit by either painting with too wide of a brush or even worse, revisionist historians (and we're still cleaning up the mess the Victorians did to medieval history. Bleh.)

      I guess what I was trying to say was that there were all shades of abolitionism. And no-where am I a fan-boy of anything slavery related. I wish the people had followed the original intent of our founders, which was to have slavery wither on the vine and die a quiet death, rather than have it end up as a rallying point for either side.

      The scary part is, of course, that the slaves under US control were far better treated than if they or their ancestors had stayed in Africa, or been enslaved to non-US controlled concerns. Overall, of course, there I go painting with a wide brush again.

      The history of Africa is one of sorrow and woe, from the earliest recorded histories to today. And one so complex that it is hard not to use a broad brush when making statements about it.

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    6. STxAR - I see your point, that is the human trafficking I referred to in the post, whether it is sex workers or laborers for the reasons you state, that truly is slavery. Those who practice it need to be eradicated from the earth. I wonder what percentage of the illegals come across on their own and how many are dragooned as you describe. The area south of the border is not under the control of any legitimate government. Which is why I'm in favor of a wall. Keep that crap south of the Rio Grande. If those governments need our assistance to clean those vermin out, sounds like a good use of force to me, rather than chasing Afghans around the mountains.

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    7. Beans - I distinguish between abolitionists and anti-slavery folks, the former are indeed anti-slavery, the latter aren't necessarily abolitionists. I view an abolitionist as one who actively participates in the goal of destroying slavery. Think the Underground Railroad and the many groups who would assist slaves once they made it to the North.

      It is tempting to paint with too broad a brush at times. And Africa is Africa, those of all races can be indicted for criminal behavior on that continent.

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    8. I'm going to have to disagree. Some of them ARE slaves, in every respect, just as those from Africa. Remember those people on Wake? They were VERY happy to have been rescued even when told they were headed back to China. They were bamboozled into believing they were coming to the "golden mountain" but their experience on the boat told them otherwise. STxAR is quite accurate.

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    9. Juvat - I get that, it's the whole human trafficking thing, those people being trafficked are truly slaves. I was trying to (badly) distinguish between them and the normal migrant worker types. Any number of slaves in the world greater than zero is a huge problem which requires force to eradicate.

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    10. Sadly, as long as people can make money on the practice and suffer no real consequences for doing so, it will continue. IMHO

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    11. As is true of all criminal endeavors.

      Sad innit?

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    12. Ah... I understand you now with your definitions. Yes, abolitionists good, anti-slavery northerners who are not abolitionists maybe not so good.

      We were both saying the same thing, just circling the point using words.

      My father's side (southern) was anti-slavery. My mother's side (northerner) was staunchly Ohio abolitionists or Illinois abolitionists. And me? Raised completely color and gender blind.

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    13. As to slavery overall, my closest connection to slavery was walking on an island where an unknown number of Korean slaves perished (part of the 'official' Japanese deathtoll.) Many islands that we conquered had large populations of Korean slaves. One of the biggest 'western' shames of the Imperial Japanese.

      But because it happened in East Asia and the Pacific, it's just not talked about. Slavery-slavery only exists on deepest-darkest Africa and deals with white Europeans ruling over Blacks. That definition, put forth by our more liberal 'friends,' just pisses me off to no end.

      And yes, dear readers, Beans got in an actual almost-fistfight argument over slavery with an actual card-carrying member of the American Communist Part (and he was a college professor, too.) In public. Over a discussion on a movie about the Tuskegee Airmen. He started it. I tossed in fact after fact that just didn't set well with his core beliefs. I tried with LOGIC to get him to see the error of his ways. (Mrs. Andrew learned that day to never take me to another function like that.)

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    14. Beans (the 2nd) - Many of the "Japanese" who survived some of the island battles were actually Korean laborers. Korea was a "colony" of the Japanese Empire from 1910 to 1945. The first ten years of that occupation was exceptionally brutal. Slaves, though perhaps serfs is a better term, the Korean word is 노비, was practiced (Korean on Korean) on the peninsula until as late as 1930. Slavery has been endemic throughout human history, in one form or another. Koreans were not exactly slaves of the Japanese, but weren't exactly equal to the Japanese. My father and mother-in-law lived in Japan until the end of the war, both spoke Japanese as well as Korean. Koreans were definitely second class citizens in Imperial Japan.

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    15. I had some staunch abolitionists along one side of the family, and all 6 brothers of that branch enlisted in the cavalry, and some a bit later when they came of age (not for lack of trying to get in early, though). Two of them stayed down south, in Memphis and the Mississippi delta region. Love played a part, but carpetbaggers, they were not. Unless you count a schoolteacher and a railroad engineer as carpetbaggers. Don't know if any ancestors fought in the Confederate Army. Some ancestors came from down south, but in that area of northern Alabama, there was considerable Unionist sentiment, as well as in Texas hill country. Too much family history lost. Including from a house fire in the 1920's in which a family (Geneva) Bible dating from before the Spanish Armada was lost. Man, to have a time machine (or projector) to go back and ask all the questions I have. Not least because most (but not quite all) family traditions have been sanitized.

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    16. Yes, funny how family traditions get that way. I suppose no one wants to think badly of their antecedents.

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  4. Harry Turtledove explores this issue in one of his series.

    Thanks for the post.
    Paul L. Quandt

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    1. Oh yes he does. FWIW, I think he is an optimist.

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  5. Some things we see nowadays is whenever new president is elected, regardless of party there is relapse of LDS.
    We have seen this with Bush (Bushitler) , Obama (birthers) and now with Trump (never...).
    One thing that could have turned the tide would be UK and France getting involved, perhaps after some skirmish of CSS vs USS in British waters invovles RN ship and she is sunk...
    (it io not my idea, Peter Tsouras made it point of divergence of his excellent alt-historyline)
    As for the fate of possible independent South I think it would eventually end up freeing slaves like Brazil did somewhere around 1880-1900). Racial equality would be long way off though... Think South Africa.

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    1. Good points Paweł, I think South Africa is exactly the model which an independent South would have followed.

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    2. Absolutely, Pawel. And the South certainly did their damndest to do as South Africa did. Many South Effrican whites knew and liked individual blacks quite well, without ever giving a thought to anything other than lower-class status for them, as a God-given decision. Others did, and were persecuted for it. Rather like two white plantation owners who were lynched in 1830s or 1840s Mississippi for being too lenient on their black slaves. Not all the South was the same, though. My wife and her sister (mostly) grew up in Texas, were raised by (Damn Yankee) parents to be anti-racist (not non-judgmental, but not to judge on color), and the one who moved to Georgia was amazed at how different race relations were there. She hadn't actually known any KKK sympathizers in Texas (though they exist), but in Georgia, she thought the animosity was extreme (where she is). "Blacks hate whites, whites hate blacks, and there's not a lot of common ground, in general." Thus nutjobs like Hank Johnson and Cynthia McKinney get elected there. Like Sheila Jackson Lee from the Houston area (that area was sugar and cotton plantations and not good for race relations, either).

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  6. So many viewpoints. Probably mainly correct. Follow the money and see who stands to gain, who is trying not to lose, and how that shapes events. I'm not the one smart enough to do it properly.

    Slavery is to me, however benign, evil.

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    1. Absolutely, completely evil.

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    2. Agree completely OldAFSarge. As much for what it does to corrupt the soul of the enslaver as it does to diminish that of the enslaved. No matter how softly gloved, it must be backed by an iron fist for it to continue. Unless you've so thoroughly "domesticated" your slaves that they really are no more than farm animals to do your bidding (see S.M. Stirling's alternate-history "Domination" series with the South African-based Draka).

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    3. I'll have to check that series out, sounds interesting.

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    4. "Under the Yoke" is the best, and probably the best one to start out with, though it is technically the 2nd book.

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    5. I just finished Stirling's "Conquistador"- had been recommended by Instapundit. Most enjoyable.

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    6. So many books, so little time.

      Thanks Ron.

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  7. I recall taking a graduate course on American diplomatic history which addressed Confederate efforts to obtain British support for their secession. A point that was made was that both Davis and Lee agreed that the Confederacy would first have to demonstrate that it was militarily viable in the face of the Union Army; this consequently motivated (in part at least) Lee's campaigns that led to Antietam and Gettysburg respectively. The Southern defeats in those campaigns killed whatever interest the British might have had in using Richmond to poke Washington in the eye....

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    1. Many Brits urged recognition of the South to tweak Washington, but too many found slavery a major sticking point. Without emancipating their slaves, European recognition was doubtful at best. Confederate victories at Antietam and Gettysburg might have been British help unnecessary.

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    2. The great majority of the British populace opposed slavery at the time, but that didn't exactly mean all that much back then. It's arguable how much it means NOW...

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    3. Yes, opposition can take many forms. There are times I wonder about our species.

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Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)