Civil war and the movies, North vs. South

Discussion in 'The Study' started by billc, Jan 3, 2012.

  1. billc

    billc Grandmaster

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    Something I have noticed in more than a few movies about the civil war and its immediate aftermath, the South is almost always shown in a positive light, and the North as the bad guys. This subject came to me after reading a review of the show "Hell on Wheels," about building a railroad line after the civil war. Apparently, the people who are from the North, treat former slaves horribly, while the people from the south on the show are respectful of the former slaves. This show isn't alone. The "Outlaw Josey Wales," shows Josey Wales as a decent guy, even having been a member of "Bloody" Bill Andersons guerilla band. The northerners in the movie kill former p.o.w.'s and conducted the raid that killed Wales family. Even the Mathew Broderick movie about the first Black military unit in the civil war showed the northerners as bad in most ways, except for Broderick and his fellow officers.

    My question is, why does hollywood constantly show sympathy toward the slave holding south, and show the anti-slavery north in a bad light? Is it because the North was Republican and the South was Democrat? Is that the problem? Any thoughts?
     
  2. Bob Hubbard

    Bob Hubbard Retired

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    Well, the North did launch an illegal invasion of an independent nation, ravage the land as they went, steal property, rape with impunity and so on.
     
  3. MAist25

    MAist25 Blue Belt

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    Except the Confederacy was not an independent nation.... Abraham Lincoln and the United States never recognized the Confederate States of America to be a sovereign nation because it is unconstitutional to secede from the Union. Once you become a state, you are always a state. There is no backing out of the Union. That is why it is known as a civil war and not a war between two countries...

    But the OP does bring up an interesting point. I do know that as soon as General Lee surrendered to General Grant at Appomattox Courthouse and the war was over, Lincoln wanted the south to be treated as Americans, not as a conquered people of a foreign nation and he wanted to provide them with aid and rebuilt the south, even though there were some restrictions on the people of the south such as the inability to hold governmental positions and such. Honestly, I just think it depends on the viewpoint of the writers and directors of the films. Not many of them are historians and the way they portray historical events cannot be taken as factual. People of the south often still feel as though they were victims and that they were invaded by another country (being the North) and that the north destroyed their way of life, etc. It's all about perspective.
     
  4. granfire

    granfire Sr. Grandmaster

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    I guess that is the eternal argument. If states can join, why can't they leave the union?

    Perspective, indeed.

    And I can't say I have seen anything depicting the South as anything but sympathetic, true. It is an interesting point to ponder (since history is written by the victors)

    But the republican/democrat spiel? billi, you are silly!
     
  5. MAist25

    MAist25 Blue Belt

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    ^^ I think the fact that you can join but cannot leave is very important for our nation. To give states the ability to leave destroys the system of checks and balances we have by giving states wayyyy too much power. The fact that states cannot leave strengthens the Union. We are the UNITED States of America, not the Come and Go as You Please States of America. If a territory wants to become a part of this country, then you are in for the long run, not just until you feel like it. If states could simply leave, think about what would happen during major events such as wars and elections. A few states arent happy about getting involved in a war, so they leave, the Union weakens. Some states arent happy about a president who gets elected, so they leave (Civil War), weakens the Union. If states had this much power there would be no United States of America.
     
  6. Bob Hubbard

    Bob Hubbard Retired

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    I disagree.

    Revisiting the Past - The Road to War : Causes
    Researching the Past - An examination of the concept of Secession
    Revisiting the Past : Part 3 - An re-examination of the concept of Secession
    Revisiting the Past : Pt 4 - The Institution of Slavery as a cause for war. By Bob Hubbard
    US Civil War Myths and Facts
     
  7. MAist25

    MAist25 Blue Belt

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    Ughh, I guess it is my duty as a history major to argue back, although it seems you know what you're talking about when it comes to the Civil War. I guess It's time to break out the old history books and see if I have a chance haha
     
  8. MAist25

    MAist25 Blue Belt

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    Lincoln explains that all power that a state holds is given to it by the Union and the Constitution because they were never states "in substance or in name" outside of the Union. He maintains that no state has ever been sovereign because history shows that: 1) The Union is older than any of the states; 2) The Union created them as states; and, 3) The Union gave to them any power that they might possess. Lincoln argues that it was "some dependent colonies" which made the Union; then, the Union cast off their old dependence, making them states and now only dependent upon the Union itself. Therefore, no state ever existed outside, or without, the Union. In other words, they became states only by their coming into the Union, and all power that they might possess is dependent upon them remaining a part of the Union. They have no power by virtue of being states, and the relationship that they share with the Union is permanent and binding for all times. The connection that holds the states to the Union is based principally upon the contractual agreement made at the signing of the US Constitution. The people of the several states, and not the states separately, acted by means of the ballot-box to agree to the contract that the Constitution sought to establish. Therefore, Lincoln brings to light two points: 1) It was the sovereignty of the people, and not of the individual states, which was responsible for formulating the contract; and, 2) Once the Constitution is ratified by the people of the several states, and the contract becomes a binding law, then neither party can absolve themselves from the contract unless a specified term of the contract has been broken. The United States is contracted to both protect the natural rights of the citizens of each state and to "guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government." The people of the states, in return, join the Union, agreeing to abide by the laws of that Government, including the law against rebellion. Because no terms of that contract have been broken by the federal government, and because the people only, and not a state separately, is sovereign, there can be no claim to Constitutional secession—only illegal rebellion.

    This is a section written by Jason Stevens from his thesis titled, "Abraham Lincoln's Understanding of the Nature of the Union: Secession, Slavery, and the Philosophical Cause".
     
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  9. Bob Hubbard

    Bob Hubbard Retired

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    Lincoln was wrong.

    http://www.martialtalk.com/forum/sh...vil-War-Myths-and-Facts&p=1240638#post1240638
    (See posts 52 on for more)

    Virginia specified at ratification:
    When Virginia seceded they specified:

    However, let us assume he was correct. Your quote made 2 important points.
    Virginia at ratification stated "The People of Virginia".
    At secession again stated "the people of Virginia"
    and cited injury. So Mr. Stevens was either incorrect or Lincoln was.

    I apologize for being brief in reply. I do enjoy the topic, but much of the 'data' I can bring up is in the previous mentioned threads so I'll probably refer to them a lot.

    Now if you want a real interesting bit, there's the question on if the entire Constitution is even legal, since the authors were not authorized to write it, just fix the Articles of Confederation. Fix, not replace. ;) (Though thats best done in a new topic)
     
  10. jks9199

    jks9199 Administrator Staff Member

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    Regarding States that were nations outside the Union... You might consider the historic Republic of Texas. Texas existed as a sovereign nation before joining the United States of America.

    Though, apparently, each of the original Colonies were also considered nations prior to the adoption of US Constitution. I'll have to reread some history and the Articles of Confederation. (Which, as Bob said, leads to the whole question of the legality of the US Constitution.)
     
  11. MAist25

    MAist25 Blue Belt

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    So you are saying that the people of Virginia have the right to secede when they are being oppressed. But they never were oppressed, Lincoln never wanted their to be a war and did nothing to threaten the southern way of life. He never wanted to end slavery in the south, he simply did not want slavery to spread elsewhere. In what ways did Lincoln oppress the people? Remember, the people of Virginia and of all the other southern states and all the states of the Union collectively voted Abraham Lincoln in as their president. Our government is based on a majority rule, and the southern states were hypocritical in that when the majority rule didnt go their way, they simply decided to leave based on their own majority rule. As a person you can leave, but you cant take the state with you.

    And I agree that the legality of the Constitution would make for an interesting discussion, but I don't think the founding fathers cared too much about authorization lol
     
  12. Bob Hubbard

    Bob Hubbard Retired

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    first inaugural: "The power confided in me, will be used to hold, occupy, and possess the property, and places belonging to the government, and to collect the duties and imposts; but beyond what may be necessary for these objects, there will be no invasion--no using force against, or among the people anywhere"

    He wanted the lucrative import tariffs from Southern ports, without which the Federal government would have gone broke. Under Lincoln Federal tarrifs went from 15% ro 37.5% to 47.06%, effectively beggaring the Southern importers. I would call excessive tax hikes oppression.
    (Source: Frank Taussig in Tariff History of the United States)

    Not true.
    December 20, 1860, South Carolina seceded.
    Lincoln became president in March 1861."no ballots were cast for him in ten of the fifteen Southern slave states, and he won only two of 996 counties in all the Southern states"
    [link]

    Now here is a question.
    "As a person you can leave, but you cant take the state with you."
    If every single person in Virginia wanted to leave, what should they do? Pack their bags and head for Canada?
    What happens to the physical land that forms Virginia?


    As to legality of secession, I'm saying right now, in 2012, any US State may secede as there is -nothing- in the US Constitution forbidding it.
    And as it says clearly in the 10th Amendment: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."
    The fact that -7- US states have considered it and brought it up for discussion within the last 10 years, says others agree with that idea.
     
  13. Bob Hubbard

    Bob Hubbard Retired

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    An excellent step by step on the legality of secession.
    http://www.endusmilitarism.org/secessionlegality.html

    It brings up a point I made in 1 or more of those links above.

    If a State can't leave, and in fact it was a rebellion, why the whole farce of "readmittance" then?

    Also some cite Texas v. White as the 'USSC answer'.
    To quote:
    This implies that if a State wishes to leave, the other States can say yea/nay to it.

    Of course, the USSC has changed it's mind in the past and things that used to be legal no longer are, and vice versa.
     
  14. MAist25

    MAist25 Blue Belt

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    Hmm, I just did some more research and it seems that you are correct in that there is nothing in the Constitution that specifically denies states the right to secede and that the 10th amendment gives all powers not expressly given to the federal government by the Constitution to the state governments. The only thing I can think of in defense would be to ask who authorized the secessions in each of the states because in order to secede, the people of the state would have needed to vote for the secession as I understand it. Did each state actually have separate votes on whether or not to secede from the Union and if so, how accurate and legitimate were they? How much were they tampered with? Were blacks allowed to vote or were their voices silenced?
     
  15. jedtx88

    jedtx88 Yellow Belt

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    Okay...Do you realize that bigotry ran rampid on both sides of the Mason Dixon line? Also I can see sympathizing with the south most of those fellows were marching barefoot by 1862. Seriously the real rebel yell was probably something along the lines of "I get that one's boots!"
     
  16. punisher73

    punisher73 Senior Master

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    If I remember correctly from history class, Texas actually has it in their State Constitution to have the ability to split into 5 different states.
     
  17. punisher73

    punisher73 Senior Master

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    Lincoln and slavery wasn't really the issue, it was the southern states leaving and taking with them most of the money that the northern states were enjoying through the textile trade. If you ask a southerner what the Civil War was about they will usually tell you that it was over State's rights. If you ask a northerner they will usually tell you it was all over slavery...History is written by those who won it and they will usually vilify the loser and turn it into a moral cause instead of a money cause.

    Lincoln never freed the slaves in the Emmancipation Proclomation because he truthfully really didn't care (Quote from Lincoln in a debate “I have no purpose to introduce political and social equality between the white and black races, and I have never said anything on the contrary.”). He only freed slaves in the southern controlled states, if the north controlled that territory and there were slaves, they continued to be slaves. Why? Because he didn't want them to upset the apple cart. Even Lincoln's top Gen. Grant stated if he “thought this war was to abolish slavery, I would resign my commission, and offer my sword to the other side.”

    Less than 20% of southerners (that counts the family as a whole, if you only count the head of the household the % is more around 5%) owned black slaves and those that did usually only had 1 and worked the fields along side them. The stereotypical "Gone with the Wind" plantation with lots of slaves was a rarity. That also does not take into account 3,000 or so black slave owners who owned black slaves.

    Slavery needed to go, and at least the war accomplished that, but it was not the goal or purpose of the war just a good side effect. As to why Hollywood always portrays it that way is probably because alot of people feel that way. Lincoln did things during the war to the Constitution that make the Patriot Act look tame (suspending Habeus Corpus and imprisoning certain people who spoke out).
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2012
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  18. Bob Hubbard

    Bob Hubbard Retired

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    The duly elected representative governments in each state voted on it I believe. Though Virginia might have held a public vote "Ratified, 23 May 1861, by a referendum vote of 132,201 for and 37,451 against."
    As to blacks voting, don't be silly. They like women weren't people then. They didn't vote North or South. :D
     
  19. Bob Hubbard

    Bob Hubbard Retired

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    A reason why Hollywood treats the Civil War the way it does is because people love lost causes. You identify with the underdog. There was no greater Lost Cause, no greater Underdog in US history. Some of the causes were abhorrent (ie slavery), both sides committed atrocities (the prison death camps for example), the war was brutal with families split forever. But there were nobles in command, on both sides. Lee, Jackson and Longstreet, Chamberlain, and many others. The South has thousands of monuments to their generals. Stone Mountain is a popular tourist attraction, despite the desire of a few narrow minded folks to blast it back to bare granite. Holidays are held and flags unfurled every year, all Confederate. The Lost Cause is big business, and Hollywood is business. Don't piss off your target audience.
     
  20. Big Don

    Big Don Sr. Grandmaster

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    The only time Southerners aren't portrayed as gibbering idiots (hello Larry the Cable guy) is in Civil War movies.
    This annoys me.123
     

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