The year 1860 was the first time the United States Government was strong enough to defeat a major section of the country that separated itself from the Union. When New England was considering secession in 1814 at the Hartford Convention, nobody thought that the central government was strong enough to force it back into the Union.
All this requires some knowledge of economic history, I suppose, but it is obvious to just about anybody who has studied the period. Between 1850 and 1860 Northern industry grew predominant. In the 1850s Europe fought the Crimean War and was in no mood to intervene in the Civil War.
So the people who destroyed the South were not its enemies.
The people who destroyed the South were those like Wade Hampton and Robert E. Lee who kept the South from seceding in 1850.
More than one historian has pointed out that the death of President Taylor doomed the South,, for a very weird reason. Taylor himself was a plantation owner from Louisiana.
In fact, Jefferson Davis was his son in law.
But, like Andrew Jackson, another unapologetic slave holder, Taylor was ready and willing to fight if the South seceded, and he was absolutely opposed to the Compromise of 1850, which would not have passed over his veto. The Southern States would have seceded.
But Taylor died in office and his successor, Vice President Millard Fillmore, took over and signed the Compromise of 1850.
This was such a convenient presidential death that well over a century later Taylor’s corpse was actually exhumed and checked for poisons.
If it had not been for the influence of Wade Hampton, who bragged about it until his death, South Carolina would have led the way out of the Union then as it did later.
As a result, what happened to the South was the worst thing possible, an UNSUCCESSFUL secession in 1860.
Historically those who compromise and wait too late to take action end up excusing themselves by bragging about how they stopped the “extremists” when there was still time to do something.
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