Here’s a taste of paradise for your Aloha Friday:
The floor is yours. What do you want to talk about?
Goodness, what a beautiful song (and amazing photos). Looked up Kamakawiwo’ole and was sorry to see he died young. But he did pack a lot of music and life into those few years.
I asked this question years ago somewhere else, and wasn’t entirely satisfied with the answers. I think folks who didn’t know me there yet assumed (understandably) I was either looking for a superficial answer or that I was an unreconstructed rebel. As you know this NJ boy is nothing of the kind. 😉
What if Greeley’s aphorism to “let the erring sisters go in peace” picked up more support, and the Sumter crisis passed peacefully. I know there are reasons why that may have made little difference – Davis was looking for a way to precipitate war to entice the upper south to secede, and Lincoln was trying to remain consistent with his previously stated views. But if support for that position grew and Lincoln started to get the mindset that he’d keep calling Davis’s bluff (e.g. we’ll worry about getting the forts and states back a little later), might secession fever have cooled? Might the Conditional Unionists have gained ground? I know, a longshot, but I think worth a little discussion.
No collection of Hawai’ian music can ever be said to be a collection of Hawai’ian music if it doesn’t include IZ. Even today he’s still the kahuna [high priest or shaman] of the genre. There will be plenty more IZ in upcoming Fridays.
There’s one thing I [and I believe Lincoln] come up against in considering this question: Lincoln didn’t have the constitutional authority to “let the erring sisters go in peace.” His responsibility was to ensure US Law was enforced in all the states. The President can’t determine which states are and are not in the United States. So if he was going to do his job, he was going to have to enforce the law at some point. He had two extreme paths he could walk. First, he could go into Sumter guns blazing. Second, he could abjectly pull all troops out of southern states. The first would have most assuredly started a war. The second course of action would have been to abandon his responsibility and not do his job.
Whether it would have allowed Unionists to gain ground is a speculation I don’t know about. At the time of the attack on Fort Sumter Unionists were gaining in the Deep South but losing ground in Virginia for one place. Evacuating southern forts may have led to a resurgence of pro-secession morale in the Deep South and may have led to an increase in pro-secession feeling in the Upper South. It may have even added all the Upper South states but Maryland and Delaware to the confederacy.
Lincoln, as you know, chose a middle ground. He would do what he could to peacefully hold onto the forts in the South that he still had and would enforce the law where he could. He would maintain the status quo in Charleston Harbor by sending food to the garrison thus gaining time for Unionism to become resurgent in the Deep South. He broached the idea of trading Virginia for evacuating Fort Sumter with John Baldwin to take the Unionists up on their word, which itself would have done much to counteract intimidation of Unionist convention delegates in Virginia.
Anyway, that’s my take. What do you think?
Cool – I’ll look forward to more IZ. Even though I play a little ukulele (most of them are little, aren’t they?), Don Ho is all I’ve heard of coming out of Hawaii until this AM. So I owe another debt of gratitude to your blog. 😉
Absolutely – Lincoln as Chief Executive had to enforce the Constitution and would never seriously consider letting them go forever. I was framing the question more like considering him to be the amazing strategic thinker he was. That, if the “let the sisters go” theme had more support on both sides of the M-D line, then he might play the waiting game (even more patiently/passively than he did) to sway Conditional Unionists, while tacitly never giving up on returning the states and forts to the USA.
You make a good point about that strategy potentially emboldening some in the south even if it might persuade others that Lincoln was true to his word. I’ll have to think on that. But yes, the extremes were dangerous, and Lincoln’s middle ground looks even wiser in hindsight. Too bad it didn’t work. But only a certain lunatic fringe sees that as entirely Abe’s fault. 😉
Hawai’ian music has gone far beyond Don Ho. 🙂
I really think he was playing a waiting game already. By resupplying Fort Sumter he would allow the garrison to remain and keep the status quo intact. They were at the point where they had to either be resupplied or be forced to leave. Lincoln would be buying time if he was able to resupply the fort.
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