RE:   "Five Myths about Why the South Seceded" by James W. Loewen
—–Original Message—–
From: Bryan Fox
Subject: RE: "Five Myths about Why the South Seceded" by James W. Loewen
The only thing worse than a historian who calls himself a "Lincoln scholar" is a sociologist who does the same. This truth was on display recently in a January 9 Washington Post article entitled "Five Myths about Why the South Seceded" by one James W. Loewen.
Tariffs certainly were an issue in 1860. Lincoln’s official campaign poster featured mug shots of himself and vice presidential candidate Hannibal Hamlin, above the campaign slogan, "Protection for Home Industry." (That is, high tariff rates to "protect home industry" from international competition).
(I)n his first inaugural address Lincoln announced that it was his duty "to collect the duties and imposts," and then threatened "force," "invasion" and "bloodshed" (his exact words) in any state that refused to collect the federal tariff, the average rate of which had just been doubled two days earlier.
(T)he notorious Morrill Tariff, which more than doubled the average tariff rate (from 15% to 32.6% initially), was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives during the 1859–60 session of Congress, and was the cornerstone of the Republican Party’s economic policy. It then passed the U.S. Senate, and was signed into law by President James Buchanan on March 2, 1861, two days before Lincoln’s inauguration, where he threatened war on any state that failed to collect the new tax.
It was the Morrill Tariff that Lincoln referred to in his first inaugural address, not the much lower 1857 tariff, as Loewen falsely claims.
Jefferson Davis, like Lincoln, highlighted the tariff issue in his February 18, 1861 inaugural address, delivered in Montgomery, Alabama (The Papers of Jefferson Davis, vol. 7, pp. 45–51).  Davis proclaimed here that the economy of the Confederacy would be based on free trade. Indeed, the Confederate Constitution of 1861 outlawed protectionist tariffs altogether, and only allowed for a modest "revenue tariff."
Contrary to Loewen’s ignorant diatribe, both Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis announced to the world in 1861 that tariff policy was indeed a paramount political issue: In their respective inaugural addresses, Lincoln threatened "invasion" of any state(s) that failed to collect his tariff, while Davis promised to defend against any such invasion.
The tariff controversy was not the only cause of the war, and I have never argued that it was (despite lies to the contrary told about me by such people as historian Jeffrey Hummel). But it was obviously an important cause of the decades-long conflict between North and South.
The rest of Loewen’s Washington Post article is about as accurate as his uninformed rantings about tariff policy. This was the Post’s second attempt to "correct the record" of the "Civil War," which began 150 years ago this year, in the first nine days of 2011. The government’s company newspaper is apparently terrified that the public will get wind of the truth and begin questioning the foundational myth of the federal Leviathan state.