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Civil War Negotiations

Essay by   •  December 11, 2012  •  Essay  •  1,463 Words (6 Pages)  •  910 Views

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In our nations young history the Civil War was a major turning point that has created our modern day society of all men being free to pursue a life in which they dream. I will be discussing the arguments of both Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis (first and only president of the confederate states) in order to understand the distributive bargaining that ultimately failed and led to the Civil War.

Ultimately, both sides of the argument saw themselves as patriotic through their own interpretation of the Constitution. These two different ideologies were concluded through framing, and although each side saw the other as unethical, they both justified their actions through the use of social contract ethics. The seceding states claimed the Constitution gave the power of the State to overrule the Union if their Constitutional rights were being tampered through the power of precedence. "Government which thus perverted threatens to be destructive of our rights, we but tread in the path of our fathers when we proclaim our independence, and take the hazard" (Davis). Davis is expressing his substantive frame on the issue in that he felt it was hypocritical for the Union to overpower an individual state. This statement shows that Davis has an argument through precedence, "in the path of our fathers", which refers to why and how the Constitution was created, which gives States the right to secede just as the Union once did from their former government of England. Given this action was the essence of the Union, it was seen by those threatened of their rights as patriotic, and with just cause. Northerners on the other hand felt the States needed to obey the government that created them. The Union of the States was created "to form a more perfect union" (Lincoln), therefore the secession of states would create a less perfect Union. This statement shows the substantive frame of President Lincoln and his followers. Lincoln's statement show's that the south's views contradict everything the Constitution stands for and would not be patriotic, allowing Lincoln and his followers to claim patriotism as well. There is no doubt that both sides saw themselves as patriotic, it just happens that the south saw patriotism in the States rights given their freedom to act in for the well being of their people, and the north saw patriotism in acting for the well being of the Union, given the Union is the base of their freedom and created them as States. The outcome frames expressed here create a win-lose situation in the conflict, mostly because both parties characterized one another as unpatriotic. Unfortunately, "the only way to break the chains that bond them is through forced rebellion", as Lincoln stated in his First Inaugural Address, leaving no room for compromise in this distributive bargaining situation. In this statement Lincoln is attempting to modify the other parties perception by making it clear that he will not agree to the south's demands. Lincoln is also using the legitimate power given to him by the citizens to do what he thinks is best for the country. Throughout the negotiation process many levels of conflict occurred, but the most prominent was intergroup conflict. This made the negotiations more complex since it involved the fate of a nation. Although arguments were presented to Congress one at a time, there were many arguments taking place within the government and throughout the nation, causing more conflict and tension between the two sides as time went on. The only easy part about the negotiation process was understanding the issues because they were clearly defined in their arguments, but unfortunately the issues were too large and important to either side they were not willing to compromise anything.

I felt that Lincoln and Davis both used clear genuine ideologies in their attempts to persuade congress, although I agree with Lincoln in the sense that his thoughts were logical with his interpretations of the Constitution, while Davis' argument was more radical and given to prove a point. Although Davis' argument was more radical, both sides attempted to alter impressions through selective presentation with the same documents. This is interesting because it shows how important interpretation is in altering the negotiating process.

Through Lincoln's interpretation of the Declaration of

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