Civil War in the New Republic

There was a great divide in the newly founded Republic following the Louisiana Purchase between the traditional agricultural-based Southern states, where remnants of aristocratic Tory values still survived, and the industrialised Whig-controlled northern states. The cotton gin and the use of slave labour in the South had been altering the balance of economic power at the expense of the North. Their irreconcilable differences came to a head and the South declared Independence and elected its own democratic government.

Despite their own principle that “governments derive their authority from the consent of the governed” (meaning male, white, property owners) this was overruled by President Lincoln who finally after foolish Confederate military provocation authorised a war to reimpose a union of all the states by stamping out the newly independent government of the Southern States. The North won the war and proceeded to occupy the South and impose their ideology on them by force. The abolition of slavery, already carried out by Britain throughout their empire half a century earlier, only became an issue later in the war, whose original raison d’etre was to stop the United States from splitting in two. The unexpected resistance by the ill-equipped Southern armies and the initial horrific bloodshed could not easily be justified by appeals to national unity so Lincoln introduced a powerful moral issue, the abolition of slavery, to build up fanatical motivation in the Northern armies. North American natives did not need to be liberated since they weren’t even regarded as useful slaves but as wild animals.

After the war with its bitter aftermath, racial discrimination replaced slavery and still runs deep in the American psyche. The extermination of the Native Americans at the hands of the Whigs was even worse than slavery and contrasts with the much better treatment they received at the hands of the Tories in Canada. When the Americans invaded Canada in 1813 and sacked York (Toronto today) they were so horrified that Native American tribemen formed part of the defending British army that they made it clear that they would execute any British soldiers they captured for the crime of treating Indians as truly human beings.

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