Why did the American Civil War last so long?

Code Blue

Ad Honorem
Feb 2015
3,600
Caribbean
#21
Why did the American Civil War last so long--specifically for a whopping four years?
Is four years really "whopping?" Of course, the war could have ended sooner with the same side winning based on material advantage. However, I don't see anything extraordinary about the length, especially given that the CSA does not have to "win" per se. They only have to survive.
 
Feb 2016
4,180
Japan
#23
The disparity between the two factions did give a certain inevitability to the south’s defeat.
However the time it took to acieve that result would depend on the conduct of the men In charge.
The North did not perform well at first. And that bought the South time.
 
Likes: notgivenaway

betgo

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
5,784
#25
As far as the south being Unionist, the planters controlled the state governments, and ordinary people did not want to secede over slavery. The upper south was also sort of dragged into it. The deep south planter were not popular, as they were making huge profits off particularly brutal plantations.

The problem for the north is that when the south was invaded, most people were not Unionists. Plus the prospect of the slaves becoming free, and slaves in the Union Army was scary. There were also a significant percentage of men who owned some slaves or otherwise had a financial stake in the slave system.
 

betgo

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
5,784
#27
It doesn't make sense that people who didn't own slaves would want this big war over slavery. The walkout from the Democratic election assured Lincoln's election, which was the reason given for secession. I am not sure how democratic elections were in the south without secret ballot and mostly planters or slave owners elected.

There were only referendums on secession in Virginia, Tennessee, and Texas. In Tennessee secession was based on a rigged referendum with no vote of a convention or legislature to secede. Virginia voted first not to secede and then to secede by a close vote. This was then confirmed by a 5-1 vote to secede in an obviously rigged referendum.
 

Chlodio

Ad Honorem
Aug 2016
3,485
Dispargum
#28
There has been a lot of discussion over why Southerners who did not own slaves fought for the Confederacy. Part of the answer is that slavery maintained a system of racial segregation that most white Southerners wanted to keep in place. Another part of the answer is the American dream - you might be poor now but one day you might be rich and then you can own slaves. A third explanation is that slavery gave poor white Southerers someone to look down on. Some people feel better about themselves if they can look down on someone else.

Yes, there were Southerners who could convince themselves they were not fighting for slavery but against a tyranical federal government or for other reasons.
 

Code Blue

Ad Honorem
Feb 2015
3,600
Caribbean
#29
Betgo, the short answer to my question - surmise or data - is apparently "surmise." You might consider when doing so that slavery, secession and war may be related, but they don't conflate perfectly.
 

Maki

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
2,291
Republika Srpska
#30
It doesn't make sense that people who didn't own slaves would want this big war over slavery.
Slavery may have mainly benefitted the rich elite, but under slavery even the poorest whites had a higher status than blacks. Add to this that many Southerners aspired to become slaveowners (however unlikely that may have been). That being said, the Confederacy did put in some effort to convince poor whites to support the secession. They mainly used the white supremacy argument, claiming that abolition would lead to blacks marrying white girls and other similar things.