Nolanesque Scatterish X-Y Chart

I don’t have “data” for this, but it’s a conceptual visualization thing I find fascinating in much the same way I enjoy a good “Nolan chart” aka a “political compass” that divides political beliefs into four quadrants:

A Nolan chart or political compass.

Disclaimer: I know these aren’t pretty. I’ve just had this on the back-burner for so long and I wanted to get it out.

I started thinking about the following chart(s) while working on a biography of a person who lived in during the Civil War. When most people think of the US Civil War, they divide the two sides into the North and South which is pretty accurate–there’s nothing wrong with that.

North versus South. Federal versus Rebel. United States Army versus Confederate States Army.

The second pair of categories most people use is Pro-Slavery vs Anti-Slavery and, for the most part, they’re correct as well. I have no moral qualms with them either.

Pro-Slavery versus Anti-Slavery

I’m not here to start an argument about what the South was or wasn’t defending–States’ Rights or a Slavery Economy–but that is where I’d like to start. What I found was one of the most interesting things about the Civil War is not what each army, as a whole, was or wasn’t fighting for but how philosophically diverse both sides were even on a small scale. Before we can see this diversity within each side, I need to mention one more pair of labels–Union vs Secessionist.

Union versus Secession

Those fighting for the South, regardless of what, specifically, they were fighting to defend, felt it was their right to have it and, regardless, didn’t think being invaded was a civilized or appropriate way to settle the matter. The rebels believed so strongly in these things they felt compelled to separate and form their own country. They wanted to secede.

If President Lincoln cared about anything more than abolishing slavery it was preserving this fragile young republic. He may or may not have been willing to wait on ending slavery and he was certainly willing to temporarily suspend the civil rights of free white people to permanently establish civil rights for all people. When one state after another seceded, threatening this precious union, Lincoln got all Patriot Act on them. Or did George W. Bush get all Abe Lincoln on terrorists? Or did they both get all Emperor Palpatine on Princess Leia?

Here’s where it gets interesting. Well, for me anyway. To make this easier (at least for you visual learners), I’ll put the North on top and the South on the bottom because that’s how they are on the map (not, like, the moral ladder or anything–I am nothing if not objective).

Four basic positions in the US Civil War.

What I find most interesting of all is that there were far more pro-slavery people in the North than there were anti-slavery people in the South. I mean, I would have assumed a) it was the other way around and b) the divide wouldn’t be so large. I had to really search to find two (I remember reading about others but when I finally got around to finishing this–such as it is–I couldn’t find more than two even with a lot of effort) Anti-slavery Confederates but finding pro-slavery Unionists wasn’t difficult at all.

Civil War leaders and their positions.



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