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U.S. Civil war simplified
May 21, 2007 2:39 AM   Subscribe

The U.S. Civil War in four minutes. Simple yet enlightening animation showing the shifting battle lines of the war. (This is a one-link YouTube post. Thank you.)
posted by zardoz (83 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
(This is a one-link YouTube post. Thank you.)

This is a thank you in return for your one-link YouTube post. It is, in my opinion, a fine post.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:51 AM on May 21, 2007


Outstanding. In condensed form, this presentation makes it clear that this was indeed the War of Northern Aggression.

Had the South really fought a Civil War and brought the conflict into the Northeast from the get go - instead of simply defending their states from Lincoln's tyranny as the animation demonstrates - it might have turned out quite differently.
posted by three blind mice at 2:56 AM on May 21, 2007


I'm pretty sure the south lost due to a failure of political will. If they had been willing to wage total war they would have won.
posted by srboisvert at 2:59 AM on May 21, 2007


Que Music.
Dear Beloved,

Sometimes I fear that Maryland will never be considered a part of the Dirrrrty South.

Stavrogin, 1863.
posted by stavrogin at 3:08 AM on May 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yeah, although the Civil War is often trumpeted as the victory of American ideals and unity etc., I've always been vaguely troubled by the fact that despite the possible institutional immorality in the South (i.e. slavery, which wasn't the leading cause of the conflict anyway), they should have had the right to leave without being subjugated. Secession is always such a messy subject, I never know whom to align with (and it cuts to the heart of the ambiguities in justification/legitimacy in social contractarian philosophy). I'm sure lots of scholars have opinions on the legality/morality of the North in this particular war. Pointers?
posted by Firas at 3:09 AM on May 21, 2007 [1 favorite]



Nice post. The run of "Casualties" was the most striking thing. Lots of ouchies.
posted by From Bklyn at 3:12 AM on May 21, 2007


Actually, upon reading the youtube comments, I'm not sure I want to read more discussion on that particular matter. Ick.
posted by Firas at 3:14 AM on May 21, 2007 [3 favorites]


This would make an interesting Google Earth overlay.
posted by lemonfridge at 3:21 AM on May 21, 2007


You almost know without looking that when you see sepia tones and hear the BurnsFiddle™ playing you're about to learn something about the Civil War.
posted by Rhomboid at 3:21 AM on May 21, 2007 [5 favorites]


Interesting, but better done in flash. The tiny yt window made the casualties difficult to see.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 3:55 AM on May 21, 2007


instead of simply defending their states from Lincoln's tyranny as the animation demonstrates - it might have turned out quite differently.

The southerners were keeping slaves but Lincoln was the tyrant? You're huffing paint, brother.

[string of abuse I wanted to hurl redacted to make it easier on the admins this early in the morning.]
posted by Mayor Curley at 4:02 AM on May 21, 2007 [2 favorites]


I think the music the the Ashokan Lament/Farewell. Lovely music. If anyone has the chance to see the excellent Ken Burns documentary, 'tis worth it.
posted by mattoxic at 4:19 AM on May 21, 2007


The Civil War was bloody and ugly, but in the long run, it pretty much had to be done.

Now, if only people would let it go and move on...
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:21 AM on May 21, 2007


...this presentation makes it clear that this was indeed the War of Northern Aggression.

It makes no such thing clear to this Civil War non-scholar. Just because one side fought a lot smarter (from the animation it looks like the South let itself get cut up into pieces an awful lot) doesn't make them the bad guys.
posted by DU at 4:29 AM on May 21, 2007 [3 favorites]


Now, if only people would let it go and move on...

It's history, and I personally find history interesting. I like to know why we are.
posted by mattoxic at 4:29 AM on May 21, 2007


...this presentation makes it clear that this was indeed the War of Northern Aggression.
Actually, it shows that the war was largely a long meatgrinder of a stalemate with the battlefronts stuck far up into Northern territory.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:34 AM on May 21, 2007


Had the South really fought a Civil War and brought the conflict into the Northeast from the get go - instead of simply defending their states from Lincoln's tyranny as the animation demonstrates - it might have turned out quite differently.

Um, notice those little jigs up into Maryland and Pennsylvania? That battle of "Gettysburg" maybe? Please.

That said, I have some nitpicks that I won't mention. What I like is how it visualizes the western campaigns, that never get enough attention. Neat.
posted by bardic at 4:49 AM on May 21, 2007


In condensed form, this presentation makes it clear that this was indeed the War of Northern Aggression.

Oh good Christ. It's 1998 and I'm playing noobs in Starcraft all over again. ZOMG DROP TO NEW ORLEANS U HAX FAGIT

I'm really sorry the South didn't get Psi Storm in time to counter the Hydralisk rush on Atlanta, skipper. You lost. Get over it. Change your fucking flags.

Also, previous discussion on Confederate revisionist history and it's subsequent laughing off of the Blue here. Assuming 3BM isn't just trolling and might actually return to his thread, I'm guessing most of the possible follow-ups he could post are already refuted there.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 4:50 AM on May 21, 2007 [9 favorites]


Sometimes I fear that Maryland will never be considered a part of the Dirrrrty South.

As someone raised in MD, my favorite moment in touring Gettysburg multiple times is seeing Federal and Rebel MD monuments within 20 feet of each other. Truly amazing.
posted by bardic at 4:50 AM on May 21, 2007


Now, if only people would let it go and move on...

FORGET, HELL!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:52 AM on May 21, 2007


Just because one side fought a lot smarter (from the animation it looks like the South let itself get cut up into pieces an awful lot) doesn't make them the bad guys.

Oh, they tried (Vicksburg). Which again, doesn't get nearly the attention it deserves since the newspapers were all based a lot closer to Gettysburg.

If the North had let the South secede (you'll notice, not even Virginia was down with the idea until after hostilities commenced), it wouldn't have lasted very long. Macroeconomics and all that.

Of course, the North would have suffered as well. But I'll defer to Brandon Blatcher: The Civil War was bloody and ugly, but in the long run, it pretty much had to be done.

posted by bardic at 4:57 AM on May 21, 2007


Well, I was quite surprised to learn that the South reached Washington.
posted by Citizen Premier at 5:01 AM on May 21, 2007


Lincoln actually took a peek at the Confederates at Fort Stevens. They shot at him, and he was pulled to the ground, apparently.

The old forts around and in DC are park land, but not kept up very well. Then again, Ft. Reno is the epicenter of DC punk so go figure.
posted by bardic at 5:10 AM on May 21, 2007


Wow, this is really interesting. Thanks.
posted by unknowncommand at 5:20 AM on May 21, 2007


I saw this presentation on the big screen at the most excellent Abraham Lincoln Museum in Springfield, Illinois. Worth visiting if you get a chance.
posted by pineapple at 5:21 AM on May 21, 2007


Just to clarify:

My comment about moving on wasn't about forgetting the Civil War or not studying it. I was referring to the intense emotions it still stirs up and that people should move on from that. Hell, I live in Savannah, GA and can pratically feel (and sometimes hear) the anger at the North at times.

But the Civil War, like slavery, are in are past. We can only learn from them and move on to better places.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:41 AM on May 21, 2007 [2 favorites]


As a non-American (thus with no history classes on American civil war) I found this quite interesting. Could anyone tell me about those battles (?) which appear to occur deep inside Northern territory (towards the end especially)?
posted by biffa at 5:43 AM on May 21, 2007


And flapjax, . I've seen bumper stickers that say "Had I known what was going to happen, I would have picked my own damn cotton."
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:43 AM on May 21, 2007


Wow. For a moment there I thought I was going to see it reenacted at high speed by cartoon rabbits.
posted by spitbull at 5:48 AM on May 21, 2007 [2 favorites]


Watching that video, I was struck by the extended period of the time the north held what looked like a very narrow strip deep into the southern territory along the Mississippi River. How did they hold this ground for so long when they were (on the map at least) essentially surrounded? Or does the graphic not reflect the reality on the ground in this respect?
posted by adamt at 5:48 AM on May 21, 2007


adamt: I have no direct knowledge, but I'd guess those would be gunboats on the river.... that was probably as far as they could safely get from their home base in the North. I suspect the graphic is showing that the South didn't have use of that section of the Mississippi, not that the North was stationed on the banks.
posted by Malor at 5:53 AM on May 21, 2007


Wasn't a big part of the South's demise a trading embargo from Britain? Manchester stopped buying southern cotton.

I think they ran out of money, men and materiel.
posted by mattoxic at 5:58 AM on May 21, 2007


Could anyone tell me about those battles (?) which appear to occur deep inside Northern territory (towards the end especially)?

Wikipedia is surprisingly good on Civil War battles.

It's important to remember that the two capitols involved were only 100 miles away from each other. And yet, Lincoln had a hell of a time finding a general who could take Richmond. Ultimately, he had to find one who could take Atlanta, GA instead (major port and industrial center).
posted by bardic at 6:00 AM on May 21, 2007


How did they hold this ground for so long when they were (on the map at least) essentially surrounded? Or does the graphic not reflect the reality on the ground in this respect?

They held major ports along the Mississippi leading up to the prize, Vicksburg, and later New Orleans. Maybe not the water itself or the people living along it, but the means to control shipping.
posted by bardic at 6:03 AM on May 21, 2007


Interesting to see how quickly Virginia and West Virginia separated from one another.
posted by chuckdarwin at 6:03 AM on May 21, 2007


The animation is somewhat mis-leading. The Civil War was not WWII or WWI - there were no "front lines" except in local military or cultural terms, territory was not owned or controlled militarily by either side unless you physically occupied it. For example, Sherman marched to the Atlantic through Georgia, but his path didn't turn blue behind him like a video game, with the last person to touch the ground magically the new owner.

The better way to view the war is in terms of army concentrations and zones of control (militarily) and state allegiance (politcially).
posted by stbalbach at 6:34 AM on May 21, 2007 [3 favorites]


I've always been vaguely troubled by the fact that despite the possible institutional immorality in the South (i.e. slavery, which wasn't the leading cause of the conflict anyway)

If this is true, you know more about the motivations of secession than the people who seceded did.

The various articles or bills of secession, they say quite plainly that they are leaving to protect slavery. Most of them, anyhow.

they should have had the right to leave without being subjugated.

It took the war to make that happen. Oh, wait, you weren't talking about the people who were held as property.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:40 AM on May 21, 2007 [3 favorites]


I can't work up the energy to get into another argument about the causes of the Civil War, so I'll just direct people to the previous thread about it (linked to above), where we went over it ad nauseum.

If you feel you have more to add on the subject after reading the other thread, then feel free, however.
posted by empath at 6:49 AM on May 21, 2007


Ohhhh, I wish I were in the Land o' Cotton,
where Ol' Times, they are not forgotten,

Look Away, Look Away, Look Away, Dixie Land!

I wish I were in Dixie. Hooray! Hooray!
In Dixie Land I'll take my stand------
to live and die, innnnn Dixieeeeeeeeee!
posted by GalaxieFiveHundred at 6:57 AM on May 21, 2007


One thing I like about this map is it shows how the North had a relatively intelligent plan to divide and conquer the South. However, it doesn't show how the Southern generals were at severe numerical disadvantage, but were able to keep up and outsmart their opponents. The South's only hope for victory could have only came from a shorter more decisive war against the North who had far more resources.
Unfortunately the movie's brevity really seems to pretty up how ugly the civil war was, not to mention the reconstruction of the South.
posted by roguewraith at 7:00 AM on May 21, 2007


the war was largely a long meatgrinder of a stalemate

Yeah, I was struck by how many of the major battles didn't seem to change the battlefront much at all.
posted by mediareport at 7:02 AM on May 21, 2007


ROU_Xenophobe: I understand that the secessions happened for that, my point is the Northern sides didn't march on the South solely to abolish slavery. Pretty charitable reading of their intentions there, I'd say. (In other words, if the Confederacy had abolished slavery but seceeded for other reasons, do you think they would have remained independent?)

It's not really clear to me that legalized slavery is enough to delegitimize a state. I understand that most state boundaries are drawn through conflict rather than abstract contractarian principles but I'm just trying to tease out any tests one can make to determine if a polity should be self-determinant (have a right to splinter that is) or not.

Though come to think of it I suppose one can make a pretty strong case that the 'South' in the US was really nothing like a definably different nationality, so i.e. the secessions were just an aberration.
posted by Firas at 7:13 AM on May 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


Ohhhh, I wish I were in the Land o' Cotton,

Y'see, they even had the kick-ass song (I mean, compare it to Yankee-fuckin'-doodle, no contest), but they still lost the war.

But, GalaxieFiveHundred, that's "...was in the land of cotton..."
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:15 AM on May 21, 2007


they should have had the right to leave without being subjugated.

It took the war to make that happen. Oh, wait, you weren't talking about the people who were held as property.


Beautiful.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:20 AM on May 21, 2007


if the Confederacy had abolished slavery but seceeded for other reasons, do you think they would have remained independent?

No. On August 22, 1862, President Lincoln wrote:
I would save the Union. I would save it the shortest way under the Constitution. The sooner the national authority can be restored; the nearer the Union will be "the Union as it was." If there be those who would not save the Union, unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that.
The animation does a good job of illustrating the Union's "Anaconda Plan" strategy, which combined a naval blockade with a drive down the Mississippi River.

The Confederacy could never have defeated the Union militarily due to demographic and economic factors. In 1861 the population of the Union was 22,000,000; the Confederacy's population was 9,000,000 (including 3,500,000 slaves). The Union had 71% of the railroad miles, 90 percent of manufactured items, and 97 percent of firearms manufacture.

The Confederacy could only hope that either the Union would get tired of fighting (which happened several times) or that European countries would recognize the Confederacy's independence.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:23 AM on May 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


ROU_Xenophobe: I understand that the secessions happened for that, my point is the Northern sides didn't march on the South solely to abolish slavery.

Oh. I don't really care what was in their hearts. They did march on the south, and they did force the abolition of slavery. What they thought about while they were actually abolishing slavery isn't really my concern.

(In other words, if the Confederacy had abolished slavery but seceeded for other reasons, do you think they would have remained independent?)

That's a nonsense question. The south wouldn't have seceded apart from slavery, and they wouldn't have voluntarily abolished slavery. It's like asking what ice would be like if water weren't wet, or what World War 2 would have been like if the Nazis had been semitophiles, or how the moon landings would have happened if the moon really were made of cheese.

It's not really clear to me that legalized slavery is enough to delegitimize a state.

Is to me.

I'm just trying to tease out any tests one can make to determine if a polity should be self-determinant (have a right to splinter that is) or not.

Test 1: Is the polity trying to splinter in order to keep owning human beings, or for some other reason abhorrent to all decent people?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:28 AM on May 21, 2007 [3 favorites]


While it takes a heart of cold, cold stone to not get a little teary over Sullivan Ballou's letter with Ashokan Farewell playing behind it, my sister took the reaction to the next level.

She was eight when we watched the Civil War documentary and being eight, she could not differentiate between "Major Sullivan Ballou, Civil War Soldier" and "Baloo, Care-Free Pilot from Disney's TaleSpin."

This meant that when TailSpin would come on, she would burst into tears. When my Mom would rush into the room to see what was wrong (usual suspect was me having, I dunno, shot her with a suction dart crossbow), my sister would sob out hysterically, "He's going to die! Baloo is going to ddddiiiiiieeeeeeee!!!!!!"

And that's how the Disney Afternoon got banned in our house.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:30 AM on May 21, 2007 [13 favorites]


To people interested in Civil War history and nonhistory, I highly recommend Harry Turteldove's novel, The Guns of the South, in which time travelers furnish the South with AK-47s...

The outcome is not what you might expect.

summary excerpt from above link:

The story is told alternately from the third-person perspectives of General Lee himself and of First Sergeant Nate Caudell, an actual historical figure who served in the 47th North Carolina. This enables the reader to witness events from both "the top" and "the bottom", on the battlefield in the early part of the book and later in the civilian life of the post-war Confederacy. The realities of the situation gradually reveal themselves as Lee learns more about his dubious allies, while Caudell also hears increasingly disturbing rumors about the situation at Rivington - with the concluding explosive confrontation with the AWB again seen alternately from the two distinct viewpoints.

Turtledove used historical records of an actual Confederate Army unit, the 47th North Carolina, to flesh out his list of characters. All the characters in the book are mentioned with the actual ranks they held in the 47th - including Mollie Bean, who as a woman masqueraded as a male Confederate soldier for most of the War before being wounded and captured by Union forces - as well as their civilian employment if it is known.

posted by pmbuko at 7:31 AM on May 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


This thread caused me to go and re-read that entire previous thread. I don't have much to say about it; I just thought I'd mention it.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 7:37 AM on May 21, 2007


But, GalaxieFiveHundred, that's "...was in the land of cotton..."

You're right of course. I'm looking out of my window and not seeing much except for concrete and automobiles.

If you're ever in Atlanta in the summertime and want to have what I think is a rather bizarre Southern experience, you need to visit Stone Mountain Park. Stone Mountain is the world's largest exposed mass of granite and carved onto its face are the figures of Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, and Stonewall Jackson.

There is a Laser Show every evening and at the end of the show, the carved figures come back to life for one more cavalry charge while Elvis croons his version of "Dixie". The amusing and interesting part though is that you would be hard pressed to find a more diverse and multi-cultural group of people than the crowd taking in the Laser Show on a Saturday night. Take that KKK!
posted by GalaxieFiveHundred at 7:37 AM on May 21, 2007


Seeing Atlanta "blow up" and then a few days later have to be be "blown up" again made me proud to be from Norcross.
posted by Cyclopsis Raptor at 8:06 AM on May 21, 2007


Great animation. However, I saw a comment which is one of the stupidest things I've ever read on the Internet:

mixle (29 minutes ago) marked as spam
Slavery was a hoax. I've never seen any evidence to suggest that it actually occurred on American soil. It was made up after the fact to justify Abraham Communist Lincoln's destruction of the South.


I pray to God they're being sarcastic or funny.
posted by champthom at 8:06 AM on May 21, 2007


The southerners were keeping slaves but Lincoln was the tyrant? You're huffing paint, brother.

As firas pointed out Lincoln did not march on the South to free the slaves - he did it to preserve the Union.

The Emacipation Proclaimation didn't go into effect until 1863 - two years after the war had started.

"The proclamation did not free any slaves in the border states (Kentucky, Missouri, Maryland, Delaware, and West Virginia), nor any southern territories already under Union control. It first affected only those slaves that had already escaped to the Union side, but as the Union armies conquered the Confederacy, thousands of slaves were freed each day until nearly all (estimated at 4 million) were free by July of 1865."

No argument that slavery was a terrible institution that had to be brough to an end (and the British were well on the way to achieving this) but you are fooling yourself if you think that is why Lincoln first sent his army into Virginia or that the Federal tryant was motivated by this noble cause.

The animation clearly shows that the war was fought almost entirely on Southern soil (and in the border states like Maryland) - save for one desperate foray into Pennsylvania - thus the War of Northern Aggression.

The war was fought to establish the supremacy of the Federal government over the states - this is why it was inevitable.

Huff, huff, pass.
posted by three blind mice at 8:17 AM on May 21, 2007


Looks like it's well done, but I had to bail out after a minute because I just couldn't take another note of fucking "Ashokan Farewell." Don't get me wrong, it's a beautiful piece, and for the first few thousand repetitions during the Burns doc I enjoyed it. But after enough time, I stared feeling like Alex being subjected to Beethoven. ("That! Using Ludwig van like that! He did no harm to anyone. Beethoven just wrote music!")

And anyone interested in alternate-universe stuff about the Civil War should read Bring the Jubilee.
posted by languagehat at 8:19 AM on May 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


Youtube comments make me want to wash my brain.
posted by maxwelton at 8:20 AM on May 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


"To people interested in Civil War history and nonhistory, I highly recommend Harry Turteldove's novel, The Guns of the South"

Hah! I liked Saturday Night Live's take on these 'what if they had AK47' type sore loser history rewrites.

SNL did historical enactments of things like "What if Napoleon had a Piper Cub?" They showed Napoleon flying in a little plane throwing things down on the British while swearing at them. They saw these rewrites for the nonsense that they are.

(The latest in the news: "could modern medicine have saved Lincoln?" Sure, just rush him to the MRI then do a endoscopic surgery to get the bullet.)
posted by eye of newt at 8:31 AM on May 21, 2007


Yea, I agree with languagehat, cool animation but there have to be hundreds of other songs that they could have used than, "Ashokan Farewell." I didn't bail though, just hit 'mute'.
posted by octothorpe at 8:46 AM on May 21, 2007


but you are fooling yourself if you think that is why Lincoln first sent his army into Virginia or that the Federal tryant was motivated by this noble cause.

Federalism, to me, is the establishment, at the national level, of baseline standards of liberty and justice.

I believe the more enlightened of the Framers also had this in mind.

This is not tyranny, and anyone familiar with the 10-20 years prior to the war would know that Lincoln was no autocratic tyrant.

I do fear, however, the Federalists chances in the upcoming Civil War II, since JesusLand has now apparently taken over the USAF.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 9:27 AM on May 21, 2007


Could someone please post an "Iraq Civil War simplified" link?
posted by william_boot at 9:29 AM on May 21, 2007


YT comments are generally the gold standard against not actively moderating web conversations. Those bastards should be actively mocked for idiotic spelling and atrotious thinking
posted by edgeways at 9:35 AM on May 21, 2007


"Iraq Civil War simplified"
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 9:35 AM on May 21, 2007 [3 favorites]


Cool post. However,

You almost know without looking that when you see sepia tones and hear the BurnsFiddle™ playing you're about to learn something nothing about the Civil War.

The damned fiddle music establishes a feeling that the war was a tragedy and mistake instead of an ugly necessity and one of the greatest triumphs of American ideals. A noble but hapless South is cut to pieces by a powerful and aggressive north in a series of body blows and dismemberments.

But another way to look at the same map is as the march of freedom. Union armies marching south were often overwhelmed by "contra-bands," enslaved black Americans who took the opportunity to shake off their bondage and flee towards the sound of the guns and freedom. It was in no small part the need to do something with all these newly freed people that forced the North to begin using black troops.

So imagine the same animation, but with the Battle Hymn of the Republic instead of Ashokan Farewell (which is not even period music, I believe it was written in the 1980s). Instead of the iconic Masta Lee and Jefferson Davis in the corners put Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman. Replace the body counter with the number of Americans freed from bondage each year of the war with an occasional animated arrow showing especially large numbers. Make the Union areas the lighter color and the Confederate areas darker. You'd have quite a different narrative, and one that would better reflect the true meaning of the war in American history.
posted by LarryC at 9:39 AM on May 21, 2007 [10 favorites]


As firas pointed out Lincoln did not march on the South to free the slaves - he did it to preserve the Union.

That's true as far as it goes, but oh, good great humping god, I just read that thread you're about to rehash. Please. Just. Don't.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:43 AM on May 21, 2007


Tha said, how do I create these kinds of animations? I have been experimenting a bit with digital history and I can see a lot of uses for animated maps.
posted by LarryC at 9:44 AM on May 21, 2007


I was being snarky, Heywood, but your link is astounding. (And upsetting.)
posted by william_boot at 10:34 AM on May 21, 2007


I'm just trying to tease out any tests one can make to determine if a polity should be self-determinant (have a right to splinter that is) or not.

Firas, if you are genuinely interested in exploring this issue, there is probably no better place to start than the Lincoln-Douglas debates.

To grossly over-simplify, Douglas' arguments were based on the idea of "popular sovereignty," while Lincoln countered that the Union was founded on something other than self-determination - in other words, there is a principle more fundamental than democracy. Heywood Mogroot expressed this well above:

Federalism, to me, is the establishment, at the national level, of baseline standards of liberty and justice.

I believe the more enlightened of the Framers also had this in mind.

posted by Urban Hermit at 12:01 PM on May 21, 2007


Very cool, Urban Hermit, I'll read up on those. I'm very genuinely interested in the issue, I just come at a deadlock every time. I generally don't like bloody irredentists or secessionists because I don't think forming a hypernationalistic state on the border of a larger one solves anyone's problems (I generally come out in favour of stability and the status quo) but I also never understand what gives a government the right to disallow the splintering.

In fact everything I've said in this thread is a bit of a tangent (me personally thinking out loud about a more generic issue) because social contract philosophy is pretty heavy on my mind right now so I was trying to think about how you could say a state is illegitimate because it has slavery and came up with, well, slaves don't vote—but then, what about states where women didn't have the right to vote? Or even contemporary ones where people can't vote? What's the meaningful different from a state legitimacy standpoint between a state that doesn't allow group X to vote and a state that allows group X to be treated as property? I'm sure there is a major difference, I just can't think of it.

I'm currently doing some analysis on a paper by A. John Simmons called Justification and Legitimacy and I totally agree with him here:
As Rawls puts it: “The exercise of political power is legitimate only when it is exercised in fundamental cases in accordance with a constitution, the essentials of which all reasonable citizens as free and equal might reasonably be expected to endorse.” [...] So the Lockean notions of justification and legitimacy are both “pushed” toward a Kantian middle ground where the distinction between them virtually disappears: the Rawlsian argument that shows a type of state to be justified also shows all tokens of that type to be legitimate.

In fact it seems clear that contemporary Kantian and hypothetical contractarian political philophies have illicitly appropriated the justificatory force of voluntarism while being (like Kant) in no real way motivated by it.
Notions like ROU_Xenophobe's "abhorrent to all decent people" inevitably have that Kantian contractarian appeal built-in to them, i.e. if somebody is reasonable then he'll accept these reasonable laws. Sort of circular.

Like I said, I'm personality-wise in favour of stability, peace, status quo ante etc. over abstract dictat (so for example, I'll pick a liberal dictator over an illiberal democracy any day) but philosophically the only justified stance seems to me to be a radically libertarian/pseudo-anarchist one.

Leaves me fairly confused, but at least nobody depends on me for an answer. Lincoln didn't have that liberty.
posted by Firas at 12:40 PM on May 21, 2007 [2 favorites]


I was expecting the actual deployment movements of the armies/cavalries/navies. still, impressive and similar simplified glimpse at what the frak was occuring.

I've never squared the circle of refusing to allow secession, seeing as how it was included in our founding documents.

and as for the comment that the south could have clearly won had they only 'committed' themselves to it, they were committed to defending their lands/means of life, while the north had a huge schism as to whether to bother to try and keep the states which had revolted. Had the north fully committed itself with all resources, countless lives could have been spared.

and most casualties were from sickness, not violence. the camps were miserable, and disease rampant.

I'm a big fan of Sherman, his viewpoint was most acute from those i've read, especially his anger at the chickenhawks of the day. he basically led (under orders) one frontal assault (vicksburg, I think?) and refused to reexperience the slaughter that resulted. it pushed him to master flanking tactics, and most of his battles saw the enemy move back or surrender.

but nice link, thanks!
posted by Busithoth at 12:46 PM on May 21, 2007


I too would like to see a configurable flash version of this. Lazyweb, to your task!
posted by mecran01 at 12:50 PM on May 21, 2007


Federalism, to me, is the establishment, atn the national level, of baseline standards of liberty and justice.

A means to an end Heywood Mogroot, but Lincoln was focused on the means and not the end. Lincoln abolished slavery as a military tactic - not as a moral one.

"My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause." The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln edited by Roy P. Basler, Volume V, "Letter to Horace Greeley" (August 22, 1862), p. 388.
posted by three blind mice at 1:17 PM on May 21, 2007


u r avoiding the issue of why the union needed "saving" in the first place, 3bm.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 1:22 PM on May 21, 2007


Well, I was quite surprised to learn that the South reached Washington.

Resupply was difficult in the Rockies, and they were triumphant at the Battle of Pocatello, but it was Bloody Coeur d'Alene that finally finished it for the South.
posted by dhartung at 1:38 PM on May 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


three blind mice, try all you want, but the fact that Lincoln was not first and foremost an abolitionist does not diminish the greatness and rightness of the Union cause at the time. To put it another way, sometimes the right thing is done for the wrong reason. In this case, the right thing was done for a collection of mixed reasons.

As for the Emancipation Proclamation not actually freeing any slaves, I agree -- the problem was that 95% of them were still in the south, and had to be freed by bullet and bayonet.
posted by bardic at 3:54 PM on May 21, 2007


To form an analogy, I'm not at all convinced FDR gave much of a damn about European Jews in death-camps. We certainly didn't start fighting WWII to save them.

But in fact, slavery was far more intermingled into the economy and culture of the south than anti-semitism was in parts of Europe. I hope you can see my larger point though. Honestly, I don't think I can name one war that was waged for lily-white motives.
posted by bardic at 4:11 PM on May 21, 2007


A Jeffersonian View of the Civil War rebuts the conventional wisdom.
posted by kirkaracha at 4:35 PM on May 21, 2007


Eh, weak article. I don't think we need to put on kid gloves to teach the Civil War as great, wonderful North beating the silly, evil South. Then again, just because we know there were plenty of northerners who didn't give a damn about the slaves, and that Lincoln was more interested in preserving the Union rather than helping them out, doesn't make the entire moral underpinning of the effort suspect.

And sure, I can sympathize with the notion that part of what the South was fighting for was state sovreignty against over-reaching Federal power. But this pales in comparison to what the Confederate flag means to, say, a descendant of an American slave.
posted by bardic at 4:54 PM on May 21, 2007


Except the idea of the South fighting for state sovereignty against Federal power is shown to be bullshit by their own actions, bardic.

The Southern states were perfectly happy to use the Federal government to overrule State's Rights when that Federal power was being used to support the institution of slavery; see, for example, Dred Scott or fugitive slave laws.
It was only when that Federal power was being used in opposition to slavery that their panties got in a bunch.

They didn't give a shit about state's rights in the abstract. They cared about slavery; if the Federal government would act to support slavery they would support the Federal government against the states. If the Federal government acted against slavery, they supported the states against the Federal government. In either case, it was slavery that mattered to them.
posted by Justinian at 5:00 PM on May 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


Hah! I liked Saturday Night Live's take on these 'what if they had AK47' type sore loser history rewrites.

SNL did historical enactments of things like "What if Napoleon had a Piper Cub?" They showed Napoleon flying in a little plane throwing things down on the British while swearing at them. They saw these rewrites for the nonsense that they are.


Harry Turtledove has written tons of what-if alternate history novels; his Civil War series make up a sizable but still minor fraction of his output. One of his most popular series involves aliens attacking Earth in 1942. Another introduced magic to the Byzantine empire. Somehow I don't think he's really all that sore about the South losing the war.
posted by chrominance at 5:06 PM on May 21, 2007


They held major ports along the Mississippi leading up to the prize, Vicksburg, and later New Orleans.

No. Union forces took New Orleans about a year prior to the Siege of Vicksburg.
posted by raysmj at 8:31 PM on May 21, 2007


The South won. Lincoln was an idealist.
posted by blacklite at 10:47 PM on May 21, 2007


Talking of alternative histories, that New Orleans link above is an 1862 edition of Harper's Weekly describing the adventures of the Royal Navy in underground tunnels in the 1870s.
posted by vbfg at 2:06 AM on May 22, 2007


How do I create these kinds of animations?

I haven't tried it yet, but timemap.net seems like an interesting option
posted by dnial at 7:09 PM on May 22, 2007


It's gone now. New link?
posted by Eideteker at 10:55 AM on May 26, 2007


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