Fred Hiatt: Five Years Late and Many Dollars Short
Final Exam: Journalism 1

Why Did the North Fight?

Matthew Yglesias asks:

I’ve always thought there was something about the Lincoln administration’s determination to fight and win the Civil War that was a bit odd. Secession gave the regionally based Republican Party large congressional majorities that wouldn’t exist if southern states had representation in congress. What’s more, the Republican Party’s controversial policy objective of banning slavery from the western territories could have been easily achieved by the much more modest policy of simply ensuring military control over the territories. Some fighting in border states such as Maryland, Tennessee, Missouri, and Kentucky is easy to understand but why try to reconquer the Deep South?

two reasons:

  1. The goal was not to keep slavery out of the territories but to put slavery on the path to ultimate extinction. Letting the Deep South go does not accomplish that.

  2. The union must be preserved because without union sooner or later the pieces of the USA would fight a bloody war. (I know, I know.)