Why did the North oppose slavery?

Kotromanic

Ad Honorem
Dec 2011
5,036
Iowa USA
a case in point was "Black jack" Logan , a war democrat
ferociously opposed to emancipation and fighting for the union not for the Negroes
he was the spokesman for the upper Midwest , before the war illinois had a statute stating than slaves were forbidden to set foot in their state
Lincoln knew his constituency pretty well and treated Logan like a bundle of dynamite with the fuse lighted
needing his electoral power for the 1864 election ,
Lincoln went out of his way to smooth his feeling against his greatest enemy ...Sherman ,
who thwarted his intent to torch wade Hampton mansion by moving a convent full of orphans inside , much to jack disgust

at the victory parade , since Sherman was receiving the army of the west salute ,
Logan as second in command led the troops to rapturous cheers of ...black jack !! black jack !!
the man was a political animal , a pretty good general and for years promoted the "bloody shirt" to be re-elected
Illinois has a north-south expanse of 400 miles, John Logan was a native of far Southern Illinois. Just stating that so that Logan's attitude is not confused as representative of the Northwest section in general.
 

Nemowork

Ad Honorem
Jan 2011
8,483
South of the barcodes
I'm trying to understand the causes of the American Civil War. Apart from the North not wanting the South states to secede, the desire to end slavery in the South is often stated as the major reason. However, from what I've read, Lincoln didn't intend to abolish slavery in the South when he became President.
Also, yes, I know that there was a difference in economic sources of wealth between North and South: North was industrialized, while the South was agrarian. However, it doesn't answer the question why would the North oppose slavery. Why oppose it, if you can make slaves work on factories? Didn't the North have to recruit Europeans to make up for work force deficit? Why wouldn't business/factory owners want some free labor? After all, they didn't mind opposing unions and paing their workers very little, so they would hardly care about being humanists.
One factor to consider is origins.

The north especially around Massachusets was based on religious emigres. Virginia was established as a merchants and commercial venture.

It meant the southern states were far more likely to think of commerce as the greater goal with slavery as an established part of business while the north was more likely to think of religious principal and purity.

Of course that falls down as a theory when the north starts becoming just as commercial with shipping, mass immigration, industry and so on but they maintain a larger percentage of people who believe in moral absolutes.
 
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Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,735
Dispargum
One factor to consider is origins.

The north especially around Massachusets was based on religious emigres. Virginia was established as a merchants and commercial venture.

It meant the southern states were far more likely to think of commerce as the greater goal with slavery as an established part of business while the north was more likely to think of religious principal and purity.

Of course that falls down as a theory when the north starts becoming just as commercial with shipping, mass immigration, industry and so on but they maintain a larger percentage of people who believe in moral absolutes.
I agree about Northern and Southern colonies starting out with different original motives. Rather than describing the 17th century Southern colonies as commercial, it might be better to say they were founded by people seeking wealth. In some ways, 17th century wealth still resembled the Medieval model with large landed estates worked by an impoverished underclass. You can see some similarities between Medieval estates with serfs and American plantations worked by slaves.
 

notgivenaway

Ad Honorem
Jun 2015
5,787
UK
Some of the northern states outlawed slavery in colonial times, or just as the USA was founded.

It's also immigration, since by the mid-19th century, the North had more non-British immigrants, and from countries where slavery wasn't common nor desired. This included Ireland (which was part of the UK and Britain had abolished slavery by then), Eastern Europe, Southern Europe, etc.

And since the North had larger coal deposits, and other fossil fuels, there was less need for slavery in the plantation sense. Slaves were used in mines in South America, but in North America and the Caribbean, the characteristic plantation model was dominant.
 
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sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
5,349
Sydney
The area around Cairo , Memphis was called "Egypt" this area was particularly vociferous both for and against slavery

Certainly there were a wide range of attitude , there were quite a lot of "Copperhead" in the Northwest
( from a pin made with a copper penny figuring Liberty)
by the same token the West Virginians wore a red bandana to demonstrate their faithfulness to the Union
the "red necks" pushed and got secession for their state against the rich planters of the coast
as far as Louisiana Red River and the uplands of Georgia there were pockets of Union sentiment

the traditional anti slavery given in the textbooks is the radical New England and Quaker version ,
this wasn't held by every Republicans , or war democrats for that matter
for many in the West , anything coming From Massachusetts was to be treated with extreme suspicion
 
Mar 2019
2
Berlin
intelligentsia in the North East were opposed to slavery for moral reasons
in the north West the locals were opposed to slavery as a form of competition for cheaper wages
a Southern writer promoted slavery as more humane than the misery of the Chicago and New England working class
he stated that they would be better off as slaves , at least their lives and health would be worth something
that didn't get him many plaudit north of the line even if in fact it was true
Lincoln was always an abolitionist, but as a lawyer he knew that slavery was legally protected in the Constitution. He ran on a platform of containment in part because he thought that was the most the North could do within the confines of the Constitution. Also, containment was a more moderate position at a time when many Northerners were opposed to abolition.Nox VidMate Mobdro


I don't know how viable it would have been to employ slaves in factories. To my knowledge, no one ever tried it, at least not to any large extent. Factories tend to work on a cycle of expanding and contracting business cycles. A factory owner can cut costs by laying off free workers, but you can't really save money by giving your slaves a week or a month off from work. They still have to be fed and housed and if the slaves were purchased on credit, as many slaves were, then those loans would still have to be repaid.
i agree
 

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
5,349
Sydney
"I don't know how viable it would have been to employ slaves in factories. To my knowledge, no one ever tried it, at least not to any large extent. "

Richmond Tredegar Iron Works were the largest steel engineering factory of the South , they could make battleships main shafts and locomotive drives
they were using slaves who were paid and had quite a high standing ,
many slaves were used as craftsmen or supervisor up to the management of large plantation
Jefferson Davis plantation had a slave manager ,
the institution of slavery was a very large phenomenon , it extended to many aspect of society

the base of it was agricultural laborers , domestic servants was the second largest category
but it could be found in the most unlikely place

the US military used slaves extensively , it didn't own but rented them

Slave labor on United States military installations 1799–1863 - Wikipedia
 
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Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
22,750
SoCal
Motives around the Civil War were mixed. The north opposed slavery on moral grounds - but that did not mean they treated the Negroes as equals, and certainly would not offer to die to get their freedom. It helped that the north did not have any economic activity suitable for slave labour.

The south understood that a system of slavery was only possible through government protection. While the South dominated the presidency and Congress, which they could as Negroes were counted towards the electoral constituency at 0.6 of a white, slavery was secure. But by the late 1850's the population of the North had grown ahead of the South to the extent that the South would lose its advantage in congress and the Presidency. Slavery had to expand - to the new states in the west and if possible into the northern states - to maintain the pro-slavery numbers in the government. Lincoln's election signalled the dominance of the pro-slave lobby was over. will never again dominate Congress and the Presidency and that it would decline.

The north was developing along the lines of free capitalist industrial production in the cities supporting independent family farms and their supporting craft industries in rural areas, quite a different socio-economic structure to the South's agrarian based industries, dominated by demense-type establishments and supplemented by family enterprises depending on slave labour. At the time of the Civil War the South were probably wealthier that the North, but with commodity price cycle already rolling out of its bull phase, the days of wealth were numbered. On the other hand the North's economic fortunes were still rising.
Good and very detailed points! However, I want to make a point here--even if the North would have been firmly in control of both the US Congress and the US Presidency, it's far from clear that it would have actually had enough support to push through a Constitutional Amendment abolishing slavery nationwide. For a constitutional amendment to succeed, it needs to get 2/3rds or more of the votes in both houses of the US Congress as well as be ratified by at least 3/4ths of all US states. I certainly don't see anti-slavery states comprising 3/4ths of all US states for an extremely long time in the absence of the American Civil War.

The only alternative course of action would be for Congress to pass a bill to abolish slavery nationwide and for the North to sufficiently stack the US Supreme Court with anti-slavery justices so that they will uphold the constitutionality of such a bill.
 

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
5,349
Sydney
While a constitutional amendment would be close to impossible to obtain ,
I think the Slave states were worried at the new Western states status and the growth of industry in the existing ones
industrial workers hated cheap slave labor , as industry grew this would become a threat to slavery
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
22,750
SoCal
This would only be an issue for the South if the South were to actually begin industrializing en masse, no?