Most haters of the South claim that the principal reason for secession of the Southern States in 1861 was the desire to keep the South a White man’s country by perpetuating Negro slavery. If true, slavery was much better protected within the Union than without.
With the Compromise of 1850, the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, and the Dred Scott decision in 1857, Southerners had won their right to settle in the territories with their slaves. Outside the Union, Southerners would not have this right. The importation of slaves into the United States was illegal. If, as often claimed, slavery needed to expand into the territories to survive, then secession would have destroyed slavery without a war.
If the Southern States remained in the Union, the United States government would have apprehended runaway slaves and returned them to their owners. The most efficient and effective fugitive slave laws in the history of the United States were in force on the eve of secession. If the Southern States were an independent country, slave holders would lack this guarantee. That the United States would enter into a treaty with the Confederacy to return runaway slaves was doubtful.
The main threat of the Republican Party to slavery was its opposition to slavery in the territories, which was contrary to the Supreme Court’s ruling. Anyway, Southerners gave up this right when they seceded. The Republican platform acknowledged the right of each State to control its own domestic institutions.
In its platform the Republican Party stated that it did not intend to abolish slavery. Its platform declared:
The maintenance inviolate of the rights of the states, and especially of each state, to order and control its own domestic institutions, according to its own judgement, exclusively, is essential to the balance of power on which the perfection and endurance of our political fabric depend.According to the Republican Party’s platform, emancipation was a decision that each State should be free to make for itself.
The Republican Party’s position on the territories had little to do with an abhorrence for slavery and nothing to do with egalitarianism. It had everything to do with the North’s version of White supremacy. Northerners, as well as many Southerners, who moved to the territories, were opposed to slavery in the territories because slavery meant Blacks, and they did not want Blacks around.
Those who claim that slavery was the cause of the War never explain why the Southern States would secede to protect slavery when slavery was better protected within the Union than without. Even the “Great Emancipator” Lincoln said in his inaugural address on March 4, 1861, “I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the states where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.”
Congress did not perceive that the War was, at least at its beginning, a war to free slaves. In January of 1861, Congress adopted a resolution declaring that it recognized:
Slavery as now existing in fifteen of the United States, by the usage and laws of those states, and we recognize no authority, legal or otherwise, outside of a state where it exists, to interfere with slaves or slavery in such states.A Republican-controlled House of Representatives adopted a resolution in February 1861 declaring “that neither the Federal Government, nor the people, have a purpose or a constitutional right to legislate upon or interfere with slavery in any of the states of the Union” and “that those persons in the North who do not subscribe to the foregoing propositions are too insignificant in numbers and influence to excite the serious attention or alarm of any portion of the Republic.”
To make perfectly clear that it did not intend to abolish slavery, Congress adopted the following constitutional amendment:
Article 13. No amendment shall be made to the constitution which shall authorize or give to Congress the power to abolish, or to interfere within any state, with the domestic institution thereof, including that of persons held to labor or service by the laws of said state.On July 22, 1861, the United States Congress, with both houses controlled by the Republican Party, adopted a resolution that expressed its purpose for waging the War. The resolution read:
This war is not waged, on our part, in any spirit of oppression, nor for any purpose or conquest or subjugation, nor for any purpose of overthrowing or interfering with the rights or established institutions of those states; but to defend and maintain the supremacy of the constitution, and to preserve the Union, with all the dignity, equality and rights of the several states unimpaired; that, as soon as these objects are accomplished, the war ought to cease.Not only was the abolishment of slavery not even considered at issue, but Congress stressed that slavery would be preserved.
The feelings of most Northerners towards the War were expressed in the lyrics of a popular tune at the time:
To the flag we are pledged, all its foes we abhor,Charles Adams supports this feeling: “With respect to the slave issue, most Northerners did not care much about black men in bondage, any more than they cared about the Indian in the West or poor illiterate workers in factories.” The abolitionist Lysander Spooner saw that slavery was not the cause of the War. In his pamphlet No Treason, he wrote, “The pretense that the ‘abolition of slavery’ was either a motive or justification for the war is a fraud of the same character with that of ‘maintaining the national honor.’”
And we ain’t for the nigger, but we are for the war.
Even the news media in Europe understood that the War was not started with the purpose of freeing the slaves. The All the Year Round of London wrote, “Who in the United States thinks of freedom for the slaves? Nobody. It is only in Europe that they trouble themselves about that.” The Quarterly Review of London expressed the same opinion, “We have seen that he [Lincoln] was prepared to give slavery more protection than it had ever before enjoyed.”
If slavery was not the cause of the War, then what was the cause?
Charles Adams cogently argues in his book Good and Evil, The Impact of Taxes on the Course of Civilization that taxation, not slavery, was the primary cause for Southern secession. He writes, “Freedom from oppressive taxation had caused the American Revolution. . . . The War of Rebellion, as it was officially called, had at its core what had been at the core of most rebellions from our earliest historical records.” Freedom from oppressive taxation is what the Southern States sought through secession and not the preservation of slavery. As Adams writes, “Southerners saw themselves as tribute-paying vassals of the North every time they bought Northern goods or paid import taxes.”
With the Dred Scott decision, the South had won its struggle to preserve the American system of slavery. The Republicans claimed that they did not seek to end that system. What did the Republicans seek that caused the Southern States to strive for independence? The Republicans wanted to raise tariffs. This was accomplished in 1861 when President Lincoln signed the Morrill Tariff, which doubled the existing rate. Southerners had to make a choice. They could choose to pay excessive prices for Northern goods — thus, fatting the pockets of Northern industrialists. They could choose to buy foreign goods and pay the tariff — thus, fatting the federal treasury that was controlled by Northern industrialists. They could choose to transfer their wealth to the North (“federal taxation had an economic effect of shifting wealth from the South to the North,” as Adams writes), or they could do as their forefathers had done in 1776 and choose independence. They chose independence to subjugation.
Before the war, Lincoln had no intentions of freeing the slaves. He emphatically said that he had no purpose to interfere with slavery and that he had no lawful right to do so. Appeasement was his policy on slavery. However, taxation was another matter. He would allow the Southern States to secede peacefully if the United States government could continue to collect the tariffs. (When he was asked, “Why not let the South go?” Lincoln answered, “Let the South go! Where then shall we get our revenue?”) Adams describes Lincoln’s attitude toward slavery and tariffs as follows:
In Lincoln’s supposedly conciliatory address, there was one remark that is bound to have caught Southern attention. Lincoln promised that there would be ‘no bloodshed of violence,’ and ‘no use of force’ against the seceding states; even the mails would be abandoned. . . . But taxes were another matter. Lincoln would ‘collect the imposts, but beyond what may be necessary for these objects, there will be no invasion, no using of force against or among the people anywhere.’ In other words, the South could secede as long as it paid its taxes to the North! No wonder the South fired on Fort Sumter. Lincoln had given it an ultimatum of taxes or war.Lincoln gave the South a choice: subjugation or secession. He had been elected on a platform of high tariffs, and he would carry through his pledge for raising the tariffs even if it meant war. As Pat Buchanan puts it: “The protectionist North simply could not tolerate a free-trade South.”
In his summary of Adam’s book, Buchanan writes:
Adams thesis: Lincoln could not stand before the bar of history and say he had bathed his country in blood to deny Southerners the same right to go free their fathers had invoked 85 years before. He could not say Vicksburg and Antietam had been about taxes. So Lincoln made the abolition of slavery his great moral crusade — but only as an afterthought.The Southern States saw the North using the power of the federal government to transfer wealth from the South to the North. John C. Calhoun saw this transfer of wealth and described it as follows:
[The North has adopted] a system of revenue and disbursement, by which an undue proportion of the burden of taxation has been imposed upon the South, and an undue proportion of its proceeds appropriated to the North. . . . The South, as the great exporting portion of the Union, has in reality paid vastly more than her due proportion of the revenue. . . .In 1860 in his urging for secession, Edmund Ruffin noted, “The Northern states would not have attained half of their present greatness and wealth, which have been built upon the tribute exacted from the South by legislature policy.” The policy referred to was the North’s policy of high import tariffs. The Republican Party would accelerate this transfer of wealth. Shortly after the War, Edward Pollard again echoed this concern: “. . . in every measure that the ingenuity of avarice could devise the North exacted from the South a tribute, which it could only pay at the expense and in the character of an inferiour [sic] in the Union."
Southerners also sought independence to preserve their agrarian socioeconomic system. As Donald Davidson so aptly observed:
But the South feared, with some justice, that the Northern imperialism did most emphatically mean the substitution of an industrial system for an agrarian system south of the Potomac. Anticipating that event and finding itself without recourse, since it was out-voted under the Federal system, the South strove for independence.The South’s failure to gain independence resulted in the industrial system (also known as mercantile-industrial system and finance capitalism) supplanting the agrarian system.
As important as, if not more important than, the political, economic, and social issues, were the theological issues. The theological differences separating the North and South were extensive. The most vocal group in the North was the Unitarian Transcendentalists — man can save himself. The predominant religious belief in the South was Old School Calvinism — man is totally dependent on God for salvation. The North saw man in the abstract. The South saw man as he really is. The difference between these two religious views could not, and cannot, be made compatible. Southern clergymen vigorously supported secession to protect their theology. They were convinced that the North was becoming a godless land. (Have not events since the War proved them right?)
Benjamin Kendrick and Alex Arnett explain the reason for secession:
By 1860 the South differed so radically from the rest of the United States as to render it culturally and economically a separate nation. To give those cultural and economic facts legal sanction was the fundamental justification for secession and the establishment of the Confederate States of America.The South had become a nation with its own culture and economy. Secession gave the South its own political system.
The London Times saw the War as a lust for empire by the North and a desire for independence by the South. In 1861, the London Times wrote, “The contest is really for empire on the side of the North and for independence on that of the South, and in that respect we recognize an exact analogy between the North and the government of George III, and the South and the thirteen revolted provinces.” This view was echoed by The Quarterly Review of London in 1862:
For the contest on the part of the North is now undisguisedly for empire. The question of Slavery is thrown to the winds. There is hardly any concession in its favor that the South could ask which the North would refuse, provided only that the seceding States would re-enter the Union. . . . Away with the pretense on the North to dignify its cause with the name of freedom to the slave!In 1861, Karl Marx, who was an opponent of the South, summarized the war as follows:
The war between the North and the South is a tariff war. The war is further, not for any principle, does not touch the question of slavery, and in fact turns on the Northern lust for sovereignty.In summary, the North started the War not to free slaves, but to enslave Southerners. The enslavement of Southerners remained the primary objective throughout the War and continues to this day.
As for the South, Ulrich Phillips describes the fire-eaters, the advocators of Southern independence, as being guided by “the conviction, false or true, that an overpowering North was going to use federal authority sooner or later to impose Northern will for the promotion of Northern advantage and the indulgence of Northern impulse, mulcting the South financially and destroying the Southern industrial and social order quite regardless of local consequences.” Hence, the avant-garde of secession was guided as much, if not more, by economic and political reasons as social reasons. Phillips averred that the force keeping slavery alive in the South was a desire to protect White civilization and culture.
Slavery may have been the South’s solution to the race problem and the protection of White civilization. The North’s solution was to segregate and ostracize Blacks to the very lowest rung of society. Most Northerners agreed with Abraham Lincoln when he said, “What I would most desire would be a separation of the white and black races.” Although Blacks were ostensibly free in the North, they were not much better off than the slaves of the South. Many were materially worse off.
Mr. Sidney Fisher, a Philadelphia lawyer and Maryland planter, described the plight of the Black man in the North as follows:
But though the negro in the North is not a slave, he is made an outcast and a pariah. . . . He may not lay a finger on one of those three wonderful boxes, the ballot box, the jury box and the cartridge box, . . . by which freemen defend their rights. . . . The spirit of caste drives the negro out of the churches, theatres, hotels, rail-cars, steamboats, or assigns to him, in them, a place apart. It drives him into the cellars, dens and alleys of towns, into hovels in the country; and it does all this without laws. . . .The solution to the race problem and the preservation of White civilization often endorsed by many Northerners and by even more Southerners before the advent of the abolitionist was repatriation. Lincoln also supported this solution. If the Confederate’s principal motivation was the desire to keep the South a White man’s country, then repatriation would have certainly achieved that goal much more permanently and effectively than slavery.
General Lee probably summed up the primary reason for secession when he stated, “All that the South has ever desired was that the Union, as established by our forefathers, should be preserved, and that the government as originally organized should be administered in purity and truth.”
President Davis offered to the Confederate Congress this explanation:
By degrees, as the Northern States gained preponderance in the National Congress, self-interest taught their people to yield ready assent to any plausible advocacy of their right as majority to govern the minority. Without control, they learn to listen with impatience to the suggestion of any constitutional impediment to the exercise of their will, and so utterly have the principles of the Constitution been corrupted in the Northern mind that, in the inaugural address delivered by President Lincoln in March last, he asserts a maxim which he plainly deems to be undeniable, that the theory of the Constitution requires, in all cases, that the majority shall govern. And in another memorable instance the same Chief Magistrate did not hesitate to liken the relations between States and the United States to those which exist between the county and the State in which it is situated, and by which it was created. This is the lamentable and fundamental error in which rests the policy that has culminated in his declaration of war against these Confederate States.Or, as Otto Scott would explain about 110 years later:
Southern anger rose steadily under a Northern barrage that insisted the South revolutionize itself, dislocate its economy, and change its pattern of relations between the races — all to please the consciences of men in another region who would suffer no pain, loss, or change of status from such changes.On April 29, 1861, in his first address to the people of the Confederacy, President Davis expressed the sentiment of the South when he said:
We feel that our cause is just and holy; we protest solemnly in the face of mankind that we desire peace at any sacrifice save that of honor and independence; we ask no conquest, no aggrandizement, no concession of any kind from the States with which we were lately confederated; all we ask is to be let alone; that those who never held power over us shall not now attempt our subjugation by arms. This we must resist to the direst extremity. The moment that this pretension is abandoned the sword will drop from our grasp, and we shall be ready to enter into treaties of amity and commerce that cannot but be mutually beneficial. So long as this pretension is maintained, with a firm reliance on that Power which covers with its protection the just cause, we will continue to struggle for our inherent right to freedom, independence and self-government.Thus, the South wanted peace. The North wanted war. The South did not want to conquer the North or overthrow the government of the United States. The North, however, wanted to conquer the South and overthrow the government of the Confederate States.
To his dying day, President Davis insisted that the War was fought over two basic issues. The first was whether the federal government should be a limited government (the South’s position) or an unlimited government (the North’s position). Second was whether a free people had a right to withdraw from a union that they had voluntarily entered (the South’s position) or should be forced to remained in a union that they no longer desired to be a part of (the North’s position). He asserted that “the government of the United States broke through all the limits fixed for the exercise of the powers with which it had been endowed, and, to accomplish its own will, assumed, under the pleas of necessity, powers unwritten and unknown in the Constitution, that it might thereby proceed to the extremity of subjugation.”
Confederates feared that Lincoln and the Republican Party were going to subvert the republican government of the United States into a democratic government and destroy the United States as a federation by corrupting them into a consolidated empire. These fears were not ill-founded because both of these evils came to pass when the South was conquered.
Even Lincoln’s Secretary of State, William Seward, admitted that the United States government under Lincoln’s leadership was to become a despotic government when he wrote to the Minister to England in 1861: “Only an imperial and despotic government could subjugate thoroughly disaffected and insurrectionary members of the States.” Nor was this despotism reserved solely for the seceding States. In October and November of 1861, the Saturday Review reported:
The arrest of the newly-elected members of the legislative assembly of Maryland before they had had any time to meet, without any form of law or prospect of trial, merely because President Lincoln conceived that they might in their legislative capacity do acts at variance with his interpretation of the American Constitution, was as perfect an act of despotism as can be conceived. . . . It was a coup d'etat in every essential feature. . . . The land of the free is a land in which electors may not vote, for fear of arrest, and judges may not execute the law, for fear of dismissal — in which unsubmissive advocates are threatened with imprisonment and hostile newspapers are suppressed.In 1862, The Quarterly Review of London described Lincoln’s tyrannical rule as follows:
There is no Parliamentary authority whatever for what has been done. It has been done simply on Mr. Lincoln’s fiat. At his simple bidding, acting by no authority but his own pleasure, in plain defiance of the provisions of this Constitution, the Habeas Corpus Act has been suspended, the press muzzled, and judges prevented by armed men from enforcing on the citizens’ behalf the laws to which they and the President alike have sworn.Lincoln was determined not to let the Constitution or law stand in the way of his dictatorship and tax collection.
The North was ostensibly fighting for civil rights and civil liberties. The South has often been accused of fighting to stifle civil rights and civil liberties. But during the War, civil rights and liberties were preserved in the South and trampled in the North. (The treatment of civil rights and liberties during wartime is the highest test of a country’s commitment to these ideals.) Robert Penn Warren, who was a pro-Unionist, compares the preservation of civil rights and liberties in the South and the disregard of civil rights and liberties in the North as follows:
Despite the most violent, and sometimes venal, attacks on the government, not one newspaper in the Confederacy was ever suppressed, or even censored. The suspension of the writ of habeas corpus was, indeed, allowed three times, but only in moments of grave crisis and only with strict limitations of time and place; and when in the last desperate months Davis, who had been extremely tender in such matters, asked for a renewal of the power, he was refused by his Congress on the ground that it might encourage a dictatorial encroachment on democratic rights.
Over against this we may remember that more than 300 newspapers were, at one time or another, suppressed in the North; Lincoln, without any by-your-leave from Congress, acting on what he termed a ‘popular necessity,’ suspended the writ of habeas corpus; that in the North upward of 15,000 persons were arrested on the presidential order, without any shadow of due process of law.Lincoln himself admitted that he would not be a good president when he uttered, “No man is good enough to govern another man, without the other’s consent.” Thus, he acknowledged his unfitness to govern the South. However, he so eagerly wanted to govern Southerners, not only without their consent but also against their clear rejection of him, that he was willing to become a tyrant and sacrifice hundreds of thousands of lives to satisfy his lust for power and his evil ego.
H. L. Mencken, who may be accused of being an iconoclast but who can hardly be accused of being a fire-eating unreconstructed rebel, succinctly summed up the War when commenting on the battle of Gettysburg and the Gettysburg Address:
Think of the argument in it [the Gettysburg Address]. Put it into the cold words of everyday. The doctrine is simply this: that the Union soldiers who died at Gettysburg sacrificed their lives to the cause of self-determination — ‘that government of the people, by the people, for the people,’ should not perish from the earth. It is difficult to image anything more untrue. The Union soldiers in that battle fought against self-determination; it was the Confederates who fought for the right of their people to govern themselves. What was the practical effect of the battle of Gettysburg? What else than the destruction of the old sovereignty of the States, i.e., of the people of the States: The Confederates went into battle free; they came out with their freedom subject to the supervision and veto of the rest of the country — and for nearly twenty years that veto was so effective that they enjoyed scarcely more liberty, in the political sense, than so many convicts in the penitentiary.Mr. Mencken answers the question about what rights Southerners were, and have been, denied. They were denied the right of political self-determination. They were denied the ultimate States’ right — the right to secede peacefully. The right of political self-determination and the right to secede were the primary rights and reasons for which the Upper South fought. The States of the Upper South did not secede until President Lincoln made the suppression and denial of these rights perfectly clear by calling for troops with which to invade the States of the Lower South.
The South fought for liberty and against enthrallment, for limited government and against omnipresent, omnipotent government, for the decentralization and dispersal of political power and against the centralization and concentration of political power, for a republican form of government and against a democratic form of government, for an agrarian-based economy and social system and against a commercial-industrial based economy and social system, for free trade and against mercantilism, for a free market economy and against a governmentally manipulated and controlled economy, and for fundamental Christian principles and against rationalized Christian principles. In short the South fought for all those liberties, freedoms, rights, and privileges generally enjoyed by Americans before the War but, for the most part, lost since the War. To modernize the Southern cause in the words of E. Merrill Root, “The South fought unconsciously an anticipatory battle against the collectivism, the Communism, the ‘Liberalism’ of today that cause death and woe.” According to Donald Davidson, “the cause of the South was and is the cause of Western civilization itself;” it was “the cause of civilized society, as we have known it in the Western World, against the new barbarism of science and technology controlled and directed by the modern power state.”
Mr. P. S. Whitcomb correctly described the position taken by the North when he wrote:
In setting up the sovereignty of the Union as a basis for making war against the seceding States and as a fence against European interference, he [Lincoln] was acting upon the same principle that if one man chooses to kill another, neither that man nor any third man has a right to object. The logic of the Civil War was that the right to govern is paramount over the right to live, that man is made for government, rather than that government is made for man, and that for men to claim the right of self-government is to deserve and incur the death penalty.In 1861, The Quarterly Review of London described the hypocrisy of the North's position, “It does seem the most monstrous of anomalies that a government founded on the ‘sacred right of Insurrection’ should pretend to treat as traitors and rebels six or seven million people who withdrew from the Union, and merely asked to be let alone.” This view was supported by The Cornhill Magazine, “With what pretense of fairness it is said, can you Americans object to the secession of the Southern States when your nation was founded in secession from the British Empire.”
The people of the South agreed with Alexander Stephens’ statement:
Under our system of government, as I view it, there is no rightful power in the General Government to coerce a State, in case any one of them should throw herself upon her reserved rights, and resume the full exercise of her Sovereign Powers. Force may perpetuate a Union. That depends upon the contingencies of war. But such a Union would not be the Union of the Constitution. It would be nothing short of a Consolidated Despotism.The South held, and correctly so, that the States existed before the United States. The States voluntarily federated together and created the Union and the United States government. The North held that the United States preceded the States, and, therefore, the States were creatures of the United States. The North erred (probably deliberately to justify its invasion, conquest, subjugation, pillage, and enslavement of the South). John C. Calhoun, the greatest political thinker ever born in the Western Hemisphere, described this error in his Fort Hill Address, “The error is in the assumption that the General Government [the federal government] is a party to the constitution compact. The States . . . formed the compact, acting as sovereign and independent communities.” Furthermore, he said, “Not a provision can be found in the Constitution authorizing the general government to exercise any control whatever over a state. . . .” George Mason, the author of the Virginia Declaration of Rights on which the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution is based, described the position that the South would take decades later when he wrote, “The very idea of converting what was formerly a confederation to a consolidated government, is totally subversive of every principle which has hitherto governed us.”
The War was fought, as Carl Sandburg put it, over a verb. The South referred to the United States in the plural: The United States “are.” The North referred to the United States in the singular: The United States “is.” Before the War the United States were referred to in the plural. After the War the United States were referred to in the singular. As a result of the War, the United States became the United State.
As for the emancipation proclamation, it was illegal and hypocritical. It was illegal because President Lincoln had no legal authority to issue such a proclamation. It was hypocritical because he proclaimed freedom to slaves in areas under the control of the Confederates while offering no freedom to slaves in the areas under the control of the Union. Lincoln recognized his proclamation to be merely an expedient war measure. In September before his proclamation, he told a delegation of abolitionists, “I raise no objection to slavery on legal or Constitutional grounds. . . . I view this matter as a practical war measure, to be decided on according to the advantages or disadvantages it may offer to the suppression of the rebellion.”
As for the holy abolitionists, they were the founders of modern-day terrorism. Their paragon of sainthood, John Brown, is the father of modern-day terrorism. In The Secret Six: John Brown and the Abolitionist Movement, Otto Scott documents that the leading abolitionists financed John Brown. The abolitionists were, as Ralph Waldo Emerson so aptly described them, “narrow, self-pleasing, conceited men, and affected us as the insane do.” Emerson surely knew the abolitionists, for he associated with them closely. Charles Pitts describes the abolitionists as follows:
Although the abolitionists claimed to disdain force, they cheered the bloody deeds of John Brown in Kansas and, while walking in righteousness, they paused long enough to hear the whispered sex-laden fabrications of the good Grimke sisters, Sarah and Angelia. They concurred when Frederick Douglas, an escaped slave, preached his interpretation of the doctrine of no hope for redemption without the shedding of blood. In a rally at Tremont Temple in Boston one lone ‘aye’ was registered in favor of nonviolence in response to a query by William Lloyd Garrison. Uncle Tom’s Cabin became a legitimate source book for sermon texts, practically accepted by some as of divine inspiration.The abolitionists would not rest or have peace until the last Southerner had been exterminated. Their philosophical descendants still feel this way.
The abolitionists advocated a war of genocide. Theodore Dwight Weld declared, “every slaveholder has forfeited his right to live.” The Southerner must be annihilated at all cost, even at the cost of the beloved Negro. Abolitionist James Redpath stated his willingness to sacrifice the Negro when he authored the following, “if all slaves in the United States — men, women and helpless babes — were to fall on the field or become the victims of vengeance . . . if only one man survived to enjoy the freedom they had won, the liberty of that solitary negro . . . would be cheaply purchased by the universal slaughter of his people and their oppressors.” In spite of all their platitudes about the virtues of the Negro, the abolitionists valued him so lowly that they were willing to sacrifice all living breathing Negroes for the sake of one free Negro in the abstract. So much for their sophism. (The modern day descendants of the abolitionists have not changed. They still hate Southerners so much that they are willing to sacrifice all their beloved Negroes to destroy these despised Southerners. They are willing to breed every living breathing Negro out of existence in order to breed Southerners out of existence so that some abstract Negro will be the White man’s equal if not his superior.)
It was, however, the North who bought the slaves in Africa, brought them to the United States, and sold them to Southerners. In the words of Richard W. Weaver, “New England sold the slaves to the South, then later declared their possession immoral and confiscated the holding.” The Yankee got his money from the Southerner, and then he took the property that he sold the Southerner.
Union victory did bring about emancipation of the slaves. However, the emancipation had much more to do with money than morality. The primary reason slavery was abolished was because it was not capable with the Northern industrialists’ vision of the industrialization of the United States. The slavery system of the South carried with it the moral obligation to take care of slaves in sickness and old age. The industrialists of the North had no such obligations towards their factory wage slaves. Their workers were left to their own resources in sickness and old age — if they survived that long. In the end the War was, in the words of John Peale Bishop, “the war waged in order to commit the country to industry.” From now on the country would invest its economic resources in the applied sciences.
As for the Unionists, they exceeded all in duplicity and hypocrisy if they were fighting to preserve the Union. As soon as they fired the first shot — or historically more correct, made the firing of the first shot necessary — they destroyed the Union. As an editorial in The Daily Picayune so aptly put it:
The favorite form of expression in which these resolves are clothed is that, it is the first and highest duty ‘to maintain the Union.’ But a Union upheld by a war, which is made necessary by the revolting of many large and powerful States from an unfriendly and oppressive Government[,] is condemned at once by the act. When armies and fleets are employed to keep a confederation of States together, it is a mockery to send them forth as messengers of union. It is for the subjugation of the minority section to the will of the majority, and every element which makes it a circle of consenting States in a harmonious Union disappears under the crushing process. To talk of war, therefore, as the means of perpetuating a Union is a mockery. It might perpetuate a Government, but that Government will cease to be a federative one, and will contain within itself essential traits of a military despotism — the retention, by superior force, of an unwilling people in political bondage, to a Government which they had unanimously risen to throw off. The Government so established, if such a monstrous thing could ever be established, would have no principles remaining in common with those which make the theory of the constitution of the present Government, a departure from which has brought on the present convulsion. A war to ‘maintain the Union' is simply, therefore, a war to extinguish the Union, and to maintain a Government such as was never contemplated by any of the States which compose it, and which would not be tolerated by any State now, if there were a question of creating or restoring a Government.Charles Adams put the Unionist argument in perspective when he wrote:
The Constitutional issue was always very thin and hardly very moral. It became rather unavoidable in an age of Western imperialism — for the ‘Empire’ motive for the Civil War to override all others. The preservation of the Empire is really what the preservation of the Union was all about.The North has always blamed the South for starting the War because Northerners claim that the South fired the first shot. A Confederate prison guard adequately refuted this fallacious charge when a Union officer whom he was guarding attempted to blame the South for the War by asking, “Who fired the first gun of this war?” The Confederate private responded like a sage, “John Brown at Harper’s Ferry, sir. He fired the first gun. And Mr. Lincoln, in attempting to reinforce Sumter, fired the second gun. And the Confederates have acted on the defensive all of the time. We did not invade your country, but you invaded ours; you go home and attend to your own business and leave us to ours, and the war will close at once.” Or as Horace Greeley, a founder of the Republican Party and editor of the New York Tribune, put it, “The Confederacy had no alternative to an attack upon Fort Sumter except its own dissolution.”
The North never seems to tire of calling Southerners rebels. In fact one of the North’s favor names for the War is the “War of the Rebellion,” which ranks right behind the fallacious and malevolent term “Civil War.” Southerners did exactly what Abraham Lincoln said that they had a right to do when in 1848 he said, “Any people whatever, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up and shake off the existing government and form a new one that suits them better. This is a most valuable and, a most sacred right.” Unfortunately the South lacked the military might to make right. Whenever Southerners hear the charge that secession was rebellion and treason, they need to remember the words of John B. Gordon, “To the charge of the North that secession was rebellion and treason, the South replied that the epithets of rebel and traitor did not deter her from the assertion of her independence, since these same epithets had been familiar to the ears of Washington and Hancock and Adams and Light Horse Harry Lee.”
Nay, the Southern States had even a greater right to secede from the United States than the American colonies did from the British Empire. The Southern States were independent sovereigns before they voluntarily entered the United States. They remained independent sovereigns while they were in the Union. They had a constitutional right to leave the Union. The colonies were creatures of the British government. They never had an existence independent of Great Britain until they won independence in 1783. They had no legal right to secede from the British Empire.
In 1863 a French writer appropriately and descriptively wrote, “Russia and the United States proclaim the liberty of the serf and the emancipation of the slave, but in return both seek to reduce to slavery all who defend liberty and independence.” Also that year British General Sir Wolseley aptly described the War when he commented, “The military despotism of one portion of the States under the dictatorship of an insignificant lawyer attempts to crush out the freedom of the rest.”
One aspect of the War should never be forgotten. The North invaded the South. The South did not invade the North until the War was well underway. It was the North that sought to destroy, and eventually succeeded in destroying, the government of the South. The South never sought to destroy the government of the North. The Northern leadership knew that they were invading a foreign country and seeking to conquer it and destroy its government. Union General William T. Sherman admitted as much in his Memoirs when he wrote, “I always acted on the supposition that we were an invading army.”
As a result of the War, the Constitution was nullified — or at least its underlying principles were if not its words although the Fourteenth Amendment went a long way towards nullifying its words. The Union was changed from a federation of States to a consolidated empire of provinces. Government of the people, by the people, and for the people perished in the South.
The actions of the Unionists just prove Abbot C. Martin’s observation: “A Nazi is simply a Yankee carried to the logical conclusion.”
The War ended with the North carrying the day on the battlefield. As Richard Weaver rightly wrote, “The North reaped the victory and the South the glory.” In that brief moment of glory, the Confederacy achieved more than the United States ever have. According to John Peale Bishop, “. . . the Confederacy, for all the brevity of its formal existence, achieved more surely the qualities of a nation than the enduring Republic has been able to do.” Never has a nobler nation been born than the Confederate States of America. Never has a purer nation been destroyed than the Confederate States of America. Or as Philip S. Worsley wrote, “No nation rose so white and fair, none fell so pure of crime.” She was the fairest of all countries.
Donald Davidson summarized the result of the War in Attack on Leviathan as follows:
The South was defeated and was hauled back, in the status of a subject province, into the shell of the old Union. In that condition, though with the barren comfort of technical political rights for its states, the South remained. For from the moment of Southern defeat the regional imperialism of the Northeast began its effective reign.(In the almost 70 years that have elapsed since he wrote these words, not much has changed to remove this Yankee yoke from the South.)
What did the Northerner achieve with his victory? According to Kenneth Stampp, a Northern historian, “. . . what the Yankee achieved . . . were the shoddy aristocracy of the North and ragged children of the South.” The Black plantation slave was freed. The emancipation of the industrial wage-slave would wait to another day. As Andrew Lytle commented, “. . . the fall of the Confederacy removed the last great check to the imperialism of Big Business.”
1. Beverly B. Munford, Virginia's Attitude Toward Slavery and Secession (Richmond, 1909), p. 193.
2. Ibid., pp. 193-194.
3. Ibid., p. 194.
4. Ibid, p. 194.
5. Ibid, p. 195.
6. Ibid., p. 195.
7. Ibid., p. 197.
8. Charles Adams, For Good and Evil: The Impact of Taxes on the Course of Civilization (Lanham, 1993), p. 337.
9. Ibid., p. 323.
10.Charles Adams, “The Second American Revolution: A British View of the War Between the States,” Southern Partisan, XIV (First Quarter, 1994), p. 17.
11. Ibid., p. 17.
12. Adams, For Good and Evil, p. 337.
13. Ibid, p. 328.
14. Ibid., p. 337.
15. Raphael Semmes, Memoirs of Service Afloat, During the War Between the States (Baltimore, 1869), p. 59.
16. Adams, For Good and Evil, p. 334.
17. Pat Buchanan, “Abolition of Slavery Was Only an Afterthought,” Citizen Informer (Spring, 1994), p. 9.
18. Ibid., p. 9.
19. John C. Calhoun, Union and Liberty: The Political Philosophy of John C. Calhoun, ed. Ross M. Lence (Indianapolis, 1992), pp. 578-580.
20. Adams, For Good and Evil, p. 328.
21. Edward A. Pollard, The Lost Cause; A New Southern History of the War of the Confederates (New York, 1867, reprinted 1970), p. 62.
22. Donald Davidson, The Attack on Leviathan: Regionalism and Nationalism in the United States (Chapel Hill, 1938), p. 111.
23. Benjamin J. Kendrick and Alex M. Arnett, The South Looks at Its Past (Chapel Hill, 1935), p. 69.
24. Charles L. C. Minor, The Real Lincoln from the Testimony of His Contemporaries (1928, reprinted 1992) p. 112.
25. Adams, “The Second American Revolution,” p. 18.
26. Ibid., p. 20.
27. Ulrich B. Phillips, The Course of the South to Secession, ed. E. Merton Coulter (New York, 1939), pp. 128-129.
28. William F. Freehoft, “Southern Sampler,” Southern Partisan, XI (First Quarter, 1991), p. 44.
29. Phillips, p. 125.
30. Rod Gragg, “The Quotable Robert E. Lee,” Southern Partisan, (Fourth Quarter, 1989), p.
31. Warren L. McFerran, “States’ Rights: Foundation of the Federal Republic,” The New American (June 6, 1988), p. 35.
32. Stephen Cain, “The Question Still Lives,” The Freeman (May, 1993), p. 194.
33. Minor, p. 63.
34. Ibid., pp. 113-114.
35. Adams, “The Second American Revolution,” p. 17.
36. Robert Penn Warren, The Legacy of the Civil War (New York, 1961), p.36-37.
37. Tibor R. Machan, “The Fear of Individualism,” The Freeman (July 1993), p. 259.
38. William F. Freehoff, “Southern Sampler,” Southern Partisan, XI (Third Quarter, 1991), p. 49.
39. Donald Davidson, Southern Writers in the Modern World, (Athens, 1958), p. 45.
40. Ibid., p. 45.
41. Paul S. Whitcomb, “Lincoln and Democracy,” in The Real Lincoln from the Testimony of His Contemporaries (1928, reprinted 1992), p. 259.
42. Adams, “The Second American Revolution,” p. 16.
43. Ibid., p. 17.
44. Calhoun, p. 382.
45. William F. Freehoff, “Southern Sampler,” Southern Partisan, XI (Second Quarter, 1991) p. 33.
47. Kent H. Steffgen, The Bondage of the Free, p. 158.
48. Charles F. Pitts, Chaplains in Gray: The Confederate Chaplains' Story, (St. John, 1957), pp. 17-18.
49. Warren, pp. 21-22.
50. Ibid., pp. 20-21.
51. William F. Freehoff, “Southern Sampler,” Southern Partisan, IX (Third Quarter, 1989), p. 9.
52. John Peale Bishop, The Collected Essays of John Bishop Peale, ed. Edmund Wilson (New York, 1948), p. 452.
53. McFerran, p. 35-36.
54. Adams, “The Second American Revolution,” p. 19.
55. Michael A. Grissom, The Last Rebel Yell, (Nashville, 1991), p. 313.
56. Minor, p. 81.
57. William Freehoff, “Southern Sampler,” Southern Partisan, VI (Winter, 1986), p. 45.
58. William F. Freehoff, “Southern Sampler,” Southern Partisan, V (Fall, 1985), p. 46.
59. E. A. Pollard, Southern History of the War, Vol. II (1861, reprinted 1977), p. 142.
60. Cain, p. 194.
61. William F. Freehoff, “Southern Sampler,” Southern Partisan, IX (Fourth Quarter, 1989), p. 43.
62. Bishop, p. 5.
63. “Southern Sampler,” Southern Partisan, VII (Spring, 1987), p. 57.
64. Davidson, Attack on Leviathan, pp. 111-112.
65. C. Vann Woodward, The Burden of Southern History (New York, 1960), p. 76.
66. Sheldon Vanauken, “Old Western Man: C. S. Lewis and the Old South,” Southern Partisan, XIV (First Quarter, 1994), p. 34.
Copyright © 1995 by Thomas Coley Allen.
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