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mazingerz88's avatar

If Gen. George Washington was still alive during the American Civil War, which side would he have fought for?

Asked by mazingerz88 (28790points) 1 month ago from iPhone

As asked.

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13 Answers

elbanditoroso's avatar

Not so sure about that @cheebdragon .

On the one hand, Washington knew of the Northern colonies dislike for slavery. And he knew that Jefferson was trying to NOT allow slavery in the Declaration.

But- being a Virginian himself, and a slave owner besides (have you visited Mount Vernon), he would have been economically in favor of retaining “states rights” which is ostensibly what the Civil War was fought about.

But this is all silly speculation. Washington died in 1799. The civil war was in 1861. The Missouri Compromise (slaves states versus free states) was signed in 1820. In between 1799 and 1861, there was the War of 1812, the Toledo War (1833), the Louisiana Purchase (1803), and dozens of other events that shaped the US.

So you can’t just say “the north” or “the south” without taking into account the various historical factors that might have changed Washington’s mind either way.

smudges's avatar

Despite having been an enslaver for 56 years, George Washington struggled with the institution of slavery and wrote of his desire to end the practice. At the end of his life, Washington made the decision to free all of the enslaved people he owned in his 1799 will.

https://www.mountvernon.org/george-washington/slavery/ten-facts-about-washington-slavery/

Blackwater_Park's avatar

Hard to say for sure but I would think it would be hard for him to see the union break up after fighting so hard to make it free. I would guess he would be on the union side.

mazingerz88's avatar

^^Thanks jellies! I was at Mt. Vernon last Sunday visiting for the first time and it got me wondering.

filmfann's avatar

What if he were alive for Viet Nam? Would he have sided with the Imperialist aggressors, or the invaded home landers fighting for their independance?

Smashley's avatar

Southerners were proud, and their honor codes were a part of the cause of the civil war in the first place. Lee was a Union man, son of a revolutionary general, married to a Custis, but decided his allegiance was to Virginia first, when push came to shove. I suspect Washington might have done the same, if he’d survived through the next sixty years and lived the antebellum.

mazingerz88's avatar

@Smashley Lee was a Union man?

smudges's avatar

@Smashley Citation for Lee being a Union man? I couldn’t find anything remotely hinting at that.

Smashley's avatar

Trained at West Point, 32 years of service in the United States Army. I’d call that a Union man.

filmfann's avatar

@Smashley Also, Lincoln offered command of the Union Army to Lee.

smudges's avatar

@Smashley I searched further and found that he was appointed Superintendent of the Military Academy at West Point. He was reluctant to enter what he called a “snake pit”, but the War Department insisted and he obeyed.

Go figure. Thanks!

Although I wouldn’t use the term “Union man” to describe him since he was born in Virginia, and turned down the offer to command the US army and instead served as General for the Confederacy.

Smashley's avatar

@smudges – the modern Union began with the modern Constitution and predates the Confederacy, and has persisted since. To declare Lee a “Union man” I mean he was trained within, and generally loyal to the union of states commonly know as the USA. He betrayed the Union after the rise of the Confederacy, yes, but he, like Benedict Arnold, might have just as easily become a great American hero, rather than a villain of its past.

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