Aloha Friday March 20, 2015

Hawaii1

That’s me in front of my quarters on Hickam AFB, Hawai’i in 2001.

Aloha Friday is a neat custom in Hawai’i.  You wear your aloha shirt [or dress as the case may be] and things are even more relaxed than the rest of the work week [which is pretty relaxed to start with].

With that custom in mind, Aloha Friday here on Student of the American Civil War will be a bit more relaxed.  I give the agenda to you, dear Reader.  What would you like to discuss today?  Do you have any questions?  The floor is yours.

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8 comments

  1. Nice shirt. And the hat and shades really round out that “cool Hawaiian guy” look. 😉

    I think I recall that when we first met online, you and another regular at the old place both hailed from HI. Too many cobwebs in the way to tell if that is false memory or not (but her first name did pop into my head….).

    Wow, I have so many now that there are fewer outlets for ACW questions. The first one that comes to mind… As you know, Alexander Stephens was an increasingly severe critic of Davis. If Davis were assassinated or had a fatal accident in late 64, do you think Stephens might have handled the last months of the war differently? Does he see the hopeless situation after Sherman’s March (and mass desertions from the ANV) and attempt real negotiations to end the war?

    -Bert
    PS: Congratulations on the 1K+ posts!

    1. Thanks, Bert. Those were the days, right? 🙂

      I think Jack Davis has a book that includes Stephens’ role in trying to bring about a surrender. I believe it’s called An Honorable Defeat. Given an ascendancy to the presidency, Stephens may indeed have seen the writing on the wall and moved to end hostilities. Defender of slavery that he was, though, I wonder if it would have given him pause knowing that he’d be surrendering slavery as well as the confederacy. What do you think?

      1. “An Honorable Defeat” looks interesting. I just added it to my library wish list. Thanks for the tip.

        Stephens would have to accept a series of disappointments. I think he’d drop the “two separate countries” requirement (at least by late February), knowing no negotiations would happen if he stuck to it (as did happen historically). Whether or not he’d accept the end of slavery is less clear to me. As is how much Lincoln would push for after finally getting a Confederate President to accept reunification as an eventual result of the process.

        The thing that might have made the most difference could be that Stephens might have called in Lee for an honest appraisal of the Confederacy’s chances of holding out. I think Lee would have told him slim and none, and Slim just rode off into the sunset. Stephens might just have been pragmatic enough to get the best terms he could at that point.

        1. I agree he would readily drop the “two separate countries” position. I don’t know if Stephens would call in Lee or not. Davis and Lee had a very close relationship, and Lee either wasn’t consulted that way or if he was may have said there was still a chance.

  2. I have often wondered when slavery would have ended if we had not fought the Civil War. I’m guessing the Supreme Court eventually would have ended it, but could it have survived into the 20th century?

    1. It necessarily is speculation of course, but I’ve seen no evidence yet to convince me that slavery would have ended on its own anywhere before the 1970s. I base this on a number of things. First of all, it was highly profitable. Secondly, mechanization of agriculture didn’t happen until the mid-20th Century, and it was spurred on by the need to replace labor when farm workers moved to more lucrative jobs in cities. With an enslaved farm labor force, there is nothing that allows them to move to more lucrative work in cities, so no need to replace them, so no impetus for mechanization. Third, enslaved people could perform any type of job. We have migrant farm workers today who perform labor-intensive work, we have miners today, we have laborers today on construction sites–we have any number of jobs that could be done by enslaved people. There’s no reason to think that positions requiring enslaved people would dry up. Fourth, slave labor still exists in the world today. We talk about slave labor camps in China, yet we still buy their products. We talk about sweat shops in Southeast Asia and we still buy their products. We even talk about sweat shops in the US garment industry, yet no one does a thing to eradicate them and we still buy all those clothes. Those who claim world opinion would force an end to slavery would have to explain all that before they can convince me.

      What do you think?

      1. I agree, Al. I formerly held the opinion that slavery would have ended by around the 1920s as machines started taking over the work of laborers. I then learned agricultural mechanization didn’t happen until later, as well as some of the other things you mentioned. But the biggest thing to change my mind was seeing the culture of southern slave states. They simply liked having slaves, and would have found reason to keep them even if mechanization made them less necessary.

        The one place I’m not so sure – the upper south. I wonder if 1920s Virginia, seeing the trend in mechanization, might not distance itself from the peculiar institution. (?)

        1. With all the money that could be made in the slave market, I’m skeptical of Virginia giving it up willingly, Bert. Also, we have to remember slavery was more than just an economic system. It was also a system of racial control to maintain white supremacy. While an alternate system was put into place after the 13th Amendment abolished slavery, we have to remember that happened after there was no longer another choice to maintain white supremacy. Slavery was gone and they couldn’t do anything about it, so they came up with a new system. I don’t see someone coming up with Jim Crow in order to get slavery abolished.

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