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You are here: MacNN Forums > Community > MacNN Lounge > Political/War Lounge > Could the Civil War have been averted? Was Lee a good man?

Could the Civil War have been averted? Was Lee a good man?
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The Final Dakar
Games Meister
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Oct 31, 2017, 07:00 PM
Topic brought to you courtesy of CoS John Kelly.
But the lack of an ability to compromise led to the Civil War, and men and women of good faith on both sides made their stand where their conscience had them make their stand.
Robert E. Lee was an honorable man who gave up his country to fight for his state
I have no idea what compromise would have averted the civil war. I've done my fair share of reading history and my conclusion was the seeds were sown for the civil war with the 3/5th compromise and that the next 75 years was full of compromises to delay the inevitable.

As for Lee, that's more complicated, but given his statements I found his work for the confederacy hypocritical.
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Oct 31, 2017, 09:27 PM
The only compromise I can think of is to make slavery uneconomic, so it fades out on its own. What they needed was harvesting machines, most especially a cotton harvester. Those first turned up in the 1940s, though they could have appeared in the 1930s if the Great Depression wasn't in the way of financing.

However, this would mean tolerating slavery an extra 80+ years (70+ if the 1930s were targeted). Three to four extra generations lost to slavery. Even if you used a time machine to appear in 1850 with complete harvester plans, there's a depressingly-long list of things you'd need to invent to introduce harvesters early.

Internal combustion engine - steam was too heavy, would compact the soil.
Pneumatic tires, again so the soil could be reused in future.
Oil wells and transportation infrastructure for fuel.
Refineries to process the fuel.
Assembly line, to make consistent parts, for reliability and low cost.

Plenty more infrastructure is implied, like drop-forging for engine and carburator parts. Most of the above parts or processes were nominally invented in the late 1800s, but didn't get the kinks worked out until after 1900.

I'm not seeing what compromise could have averted the Civil War. It's more likely John Kelly is uninformed about history, technology, and economics.
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Oct 31, 2017, 09:56 PM
I am still surprised that people feel that there is a need to discuss this after all this time. Some of our ancestors have fought for effed up causes, for various reasons and with varying degrees of conviction. We need to face this to do better in the future.

After 150+ years black people in the US still have not improved their share (as measured as % of GDP), they are still overrepresented when it comes to poverty and all that. Suggesting that technology would have forced the South to shift away from a slave-based economy is a bit facile, there are plenty of other jobs that are not mechanized which slaves (and de facto slaves) could be used for such as house work and other menial tasks. Nor would technological progress alone ended the blatant abuse of human rights.
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Nov 1, 2017, 11:55 AM
Originally Posted by The Final Dakar View Post
As for Lee, that's more complicated, but given his statements I found his work for the confederacy hypocritical.
I'd be curious for you to expand on this. My reading is that history has 'white-washed' him so to speak, and he was a flat-out racist bastard. I don't think he wanted war, but there is no indication he was morally conflicted about fighting to keep africans enslaved.
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