Economic Motivations

(Of the Other Guy)

Politicians tend to be wealthy, and tend to advocate the special interests of the wealthy. This is true now. It was true in the mid 19th Century. However, politicians don't blatantly advertise their association with the economic interests of the upper classes. They would far prefer to speak of noble sounding idealistic reasons for casting their votes. This section therefore features politicians accusing the other side of using political means for economic gain. How much is truth, and how much is political smear tactics, must be left for the individual to judge. Still, the converse must also be remembered. When a politician speaks of noble reasons for voting for profitable measures that benefit himself and his friends, how much can his commitment to ideals be trusted? Does this page represent worthless and biased political smears, or are the more idealistic reasons on subsequent pages involving rights, laws, God and freedom to be more suspect?

Abe Lincoln's New Haven speech proposes that the wealth represented by slaves effects the moral judgement of the slave owners.

Look at the magnitude of this subject! One sixth of our population, in round numbers -- not quite one sixth, and yet more than a seventh, -- about one sixth of the whole population of the United States are slaves! The owners of these slaves consider them property. The effect upon the minds of the owners is that of property, and nothing else - it induces them to insist upon all that will favorably affect its value as property, to demand laws and institutions and a public policy that shall increase and secure its value, and make it durable, lasting and universal. The effect on the minds of the owners is to persuade them that there is no wrong in it. The slaveholder does not like to be considered a mean fellow, for holding that species of property, and hence he has to struggle within himself and sets about arguing himself into the belief that Slavery is right. The property influences his mind. The dissenting minister, who argued some theological point with one of the established church was always met by the reply, "I can't see it so." He opened the Bible, and pointed him to a passage, but the orthodox minister replied, "I can't see it so." Then he showed him a single word - - "Can you see that?" "Yes, I see it," was the reply. The dissenter laid a guinea over the word and asked, "Do you see it now?" [Great laughter.] So here. Whether the owners of this species of property do really see it as it is, it is not for me to say, but if they do, they see it as it is through 2,000,000,000 of dollars, and that is a pretty thick coating. [Laughter.] Certain it is, that they do not see it as we see it. Certain it is, that this two thousand million of dollars, invested in this species of property, all so concentrated that the mind can grasp it at once -- this immense pecuniary interest, has its influence upon their minds.

Robert Toombs succession address to the Georgia legislature suggests the north is using southern tax money to benefit northern industry. This paragraph speaks of but one of many issues Toombs covers, several of which are economic, several of which echo the complaint printed below. Tooms speech supports the claim that the south correctly saw and attempted to prevent the current day problems with Big Government.

Even the fishermen of Massachusetts and New England demand and receive from the public treasury about half a million of dollars per annum as a pure bounty on their business of catching codfish. The North, at the very first Congress, demanded and received bounties under the name of protection, for every trade, craft, and calling which they pursue, and there is not an artisan in brass, or iron, or wood, or weaver, or spinner in wool or cotton, or a calicomaker, or iron-master, or a coal-owner, in all of the Northern or Middle States, who has not received what he calls the protection of his government on his industry to the extent of from fifteen to two hundred per cent from the year 1791 to this day. They will not strike a blow, or stretch a muscle, without bounties from the government.

Soon to be Confederate Vice President Stephens takes exception to this, saying the issues Toombs raised are not sectional or controversial, are not proper cause for succession. His speech rebuts many of the economic issues that Toombs proposed as justifying secession.

The next evil that my friend complained of, was the Tariff. Well, let us look at that for a moment. About the time I commenced noticing public matters, this question was agitating the country almost as fearfully as the Slave question now is. In 1832, when I was in college, South Carolina was ready to nullify or secede from the Union on this account. And what have we seen? The tariff no longer distracts the public councils. Reason has triumphed. The present tariff was voted for by Massachusetts and South Carolina. The lion and the lamb lay down together - every man in the Senate and House from Massachusetts and South Carolina, I think, voted for it, as did my honorable friend himself. And if it be true, to use the figure of speech of my honorable friend, that every man in the North, that works in iron and brass and wood, has his muscle strengthened by the protection of the government, that stimulant was given by his vote, and I believe every other Southern man. So we ought not to complain of that.