Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Sorry, The Confederacy Was About Slavery

WaPo had a great article from James W. Loewen (the writer of the most excellent "Lies My Teacher Told Me" book on history) debunking five great myths of the Civil War:
1. The South seceded over states' rights.
2. Secession was about tariffs and taxes.
3. Most white Southerners didn't own slaves, so they wouldn't secede for slavery.
4. Abraham Lincoln went to war to end slavery.
5. The South couldn't have made it long as a slave society.

Here's Loewen on myth #1:

Confederate states did claim the right to secede, but no state claimed to be seceding for that right. In fact, Confederates opposed states' rights -- that is, the right of Northern states not to support slavery.

On Dec. 24, 1860, delegates at South Carolina's secession convention adopted a "Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union." It noted "an increasing hostility on the part of the non-slaveholding States to the institution of slavery" and protested that Northern states had failed to "fulfill their constitutional obligations" by interfering with the return of fugitive slaves to bondage. Slavery, not states' rights, birthed the Civil War.

South Carolina was further upset that New York no longer allowed "slavery transit." In the past, if Charleston gentry wanted to spend August in the Hamptons, they could bring their cook along. No longer -- and South Carolina's delegates were outraged. In addition, they objected that New England states let black men vote and tolerated abolitionist societies. According to South Carolina, states should not have the right to let their citizens assemble and speak freely when what they said threatened slavery.

Other seceding states echoed South Carolina. "Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery -- the greatest material interest of the world," proclaimed Mississippi in its own secession declaration, passed Jan. 9, 1861. "Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of the commerce of the earth... A blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization."

The South's opposition to states' rights is not surprising. Until the Civil War, Southern presidents and lawmakers had dominated the federal government. The people in power in Washington always oppose states' rights. Doing so preserves their own.

Five myths about why the South seceded
James W. Loewen
Sunday, January 9, 2011

1 comment:

Seeker said...

Sorry, the Civil War was not about "slavery". It was about the South's insane 50 year demand to SPREAD slavery, according to the word of God (they claimed).

If you want to be candid -- that is what the Civil War was about. FOr some reason, we have not taught our children, and we were not taught, the really vile motivations of Southern leaders, as they claimed at the time.

The Southern leaders in Montgomery issued Five Ultimatums -- about three weeks before the South attacked.

Southern newspapers announced the Ultimatums with headlines such as "THE TRUE ISSUE".

All five of the Ultimatums were about the SPREAD of slavery, against the wishes of the people.

That's right -- against the wishes of the people and states.

The Ultimatums were printed in newspapers in the North too -- at least two New York papers reprinted them, although they didn't call them "The true issue"

New York editors suggested Lincoln obey the Ultimatums to avoid war.

The First ULtimatum was that (incredibly) not only that slavery be spread into the territories -- but that the US Congress must do it, by force if needed.

When the South mentioned "territories" they meant, of course, Kansas. They were saying Kansas must accept and respect slavery.

Kansas had just fought a four year bloody war against the thugs and hired killers from the South. The people of Kansas had just voted 98% to 2% to keep slavery out forever.

Never mind that, the Southern leaders FIRST ultimatum, was that slavery be spread (forced) into Kansas, by the US government.

This is so astonishing that it gives you a clue of the audacity of the Southern leaders.

Did they really think Lincoln was going to force slavery into the territories?

No. Of course not. But they were about braggado and threats. This is how they had kept slavery going for 70 years, this is how they treated people. Threats -- and then violence.

All five Ultimatums were as goofy as the first. All five completely repudiated the fig leaf of "States Rights" because they specifically stated that states would have NO RIGHTS whatsoever to decide anything about slavery, or run away slaves or their own courts system.

Every US history text book should have the Southern Ultimatums in the next-to-the last page. And on the very last page, put the Gettysburg Address by Lincoln.

Compare the two ways we could have gone -- to spread slavery by violence and threats and stomping on the pretense of human or states rights, like the South demanded under threat of war.

OR do we go by what Lincoln advocated? A govenment of the people, for the people, by the people?

Southern apologist today dare not repeat what their own leaders bragged about, what their own newspapers called "THE TRUE ISSUE" what their own new country demanded upon promise of war -- the spread of slavery.