The American Civil War was Fought over Slavery

June 1, 2006 at 10:12 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 47 Comments

You know there are actually things in life that still surprise me. For instance, libertarians today apparently believe the South was right in seceding away from the Union. Not only that, but they actually believe the South did not secede due to slavery. In this article libertarians think that the South was fighting for the same freedom as in the Revolutionary War!

But, if we actually look at the original documents themselves, we find a different story. Take a look at the following official declarations of secessions from several states.

Texas

Texas abandoned her separate national existence and consented to become one of the Confederated Union to promote her welfare, insure domestic tranquility and secure more substantially the blessings of peace and liberty to her people. She was received into the confederacy with her own constitution, under the guarantee of the federal constitution and the compact of annexation, that she should enjoy these blessings. She was received as a commonwealth holding, maintaining and protecting the institution known as negro slavery – the servitude of the African to the white race within her limits – a relation that had existed from the first settlement of her wilderness by the white race, and which her people intended should exist in all future time. Her institutions and geographical position established the strongest ties between her and other slaveholding States of the confederacy. Those ties have been strengthened by association. But what has been the course of the government of the United States, and of the people and authorities of the non-slave-holding States, since our connection with them?

The controlling majority of the Federal Government, under various pretences and disguises, has so administered the same as to exclude the citizens of the Southern States, unless under odious and unconstitutional restrictions, from all the immense territory owned in common by all the States on the Pacific Ocean, for the avowed purpose of acquiring sufficient power in the common government to use it as a means of destroying the institutions of Texas and her sister slaveholding States.

Georgia

The people of Georgia having dissolved their political connection with the Government of the United States of America, present to their confederates and the world the causes which have led to the separation. For the last ten years we have had numerous and serious causes of complaint against our non-slaveholding confederate States with reference to the subject of African slavery. They have endeavored to weaken our security, to disturb our domestic peace and tranquility, and persistently refused to comply with their express constitutional obligations to us in reference to that property, and by the use of their power in the Federal Government have striven to deprive us of an equal enjoyment of the common Territories of the Republic. This hostile policy of our confederates has been pursued with every circumstance of aggravation which could arouse the passions and excite the hatred of our people, and has placed the two sections of the Union for many years past in the condition of virtual civil war. Our people, still attached to the Union from habit and national traditions, and averse to change, hoped that time, reason, and argument would bring, if not redress, at least exemption from further insults, injuries, and dangers. Recent events have fully dissipated all such hopes and demonstrated the necessity of separation. Our Northern confederates, after a full and calm hearing of all the facts, after a fair warning of our purpose not to submit to the rule of the authors of all these wrongs and injuries, have by a large majority committed the Government of the United States into their hands. The people of Georgia, after an equally full and fair and deliberate hearing of the case, have declared with equal firmness that they shall not rule over them. A brief history of the rise, progress, and policy of anti-slavery and the political organization into whose hands the administration of the Federal Government has been committed will fully justify the pronounced verdict of the people of Georgia. The party of Lincoln, called the Republican party, under its present name and organization, is of recent origin. It is admitted to be an anti-slavery party. While it attracts to itself by its creed the scattered advocates of exploded political heresies, of condemned theories in political economy, the advocates of commercial restrictions, of protection, of special privileges, of waste and corruption in the administration of Government, anti-slavery is its mission and its purpose. By anti-slavery it is made a power in the state. The question of slavery was the great difficulty in the way of the formation of the Constitution. While the subordination and the political and social inequality of the African race was fully conceded by all, it was plainly apparent that slavery would soon disappear from what are now the non-slave-holding States of the original thirteen. The opposition to slavery was then, as now, general in those States and the Constitution was made with direct reference to that fact. But a distinct abolition party was not formed in the United States for more than half a century after the Government went into operation. The main reason was that the North, even if united, could not control both branches of the Legislature during any portion of that time.

Mississippi

Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery – the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product, which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun. These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization. That blow has been long aimed at the institution, and was at the point of reaching its consummation. There was no choice left us but submission to the mandates of abolition, or a dissolution of the Union, whose principles had been subverted to work out our ruin.

That we do not overstate the dangers to our institution, a reference to a few facts will sufficiently prove.

The hostility to this institution commenced before the adoption of the Constitution, and was manifested in the well-known Ordinance of 1787, in regard to the Northwestern Territory.

The feeling increased, until, in 1819-20, it deprived the South of more than half the vast territory acquired from France.
The same hostility dismembered Texas and seized upon all the territory acquired from Mexico.

It has grown until it denies the right of property in slaves, and refuses protection to that right on the high seas, in the Territories, and wherever the government of the United States had jurisdiction.

It refuses the admission of new slave States into the Union, and seeks to extinguish it by confining it within its present limits, denying the power of expansion.

It tramples the original equality of the South under foot.

It has nullified the Fugitive Slave Law in almost every free State in the Union, and has utterly broken the compact, which our fathers pledged their faith to maintain.

It advocates negro equality, socially and politically, and promotes insurrection and incendiarism in our midst.

It has enlisted its press, its pulpit and its schools against us, until the whole popular mind of the North is excited and inflamed with prejudice.
It has made combinations and formed associations to carry out its schemes of emancipation in the States and wherever else slavery exists.
It seeks not to elevate or to support the slave, but to destroy his present condition without providing a better.

Charles Joyner writes in Callaloo cal.1 (2001) 196-198:

Some South Carolinians deny that the Civil War was fought over slavery, maintaining that it was fought over the rights of the states to control their own destinies. Slavery, they believe, was incidental.

But when South Carolina delegates walked out of the 1860 Democratic National Convention in Charleston as a prelude to secession, their spokesman William Preston minced no words in declaring that “Slavery is our King; slavery is our Truth; slavery is our Divine Right.” And a few months later when the signers of the South Carolina Ordinance of Secession issued their Declaration of the Causes of Secession, they specifically referred to the “domestic institution” of slavery. They objected that the free states have “denounced as sinful the institution of slavery.” They charged that the free states had “encouraged and assisted thousands of our slaves to leave their homes; and those who remain have been incited by emissaries, books, and pictures, to hostile insurrection.”

Moreover, in 1861, as President and Vice President of the Confederate States of America, Jefferson Davis and Alexander H. Stephens each candidly acknowledged that their new nation was created for the specific purpose of perpetuating slavery. In an address to the Confederate Congress in April of 1861 Davis declared that “a persistent and organized system of hostile measures against the rights of the owners of slaves in the Southern States” had culminated in a political party dedicated to “annihilating in effect property worth thousands of dollars.” Since “the labor of [End Page 196] African slaves was and is indispensable” to the South’s production of cotton, rice, sugar, and tobacco, Davis said, “the people of the Southern States were driven by the conduct of the North to the adoption of some course of action to avert the danger with which they were openly menaced.”

In a speech in Savannah, Stephens made it even clearer that the establishment of the Confederacy had “put to rest forever all the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institutions–African slavery as it exists among us–the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization. This was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution.” He added that the Confederacy was “founded upon” what he called “the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and moral condition.”

Running successfully for governor of South Carolina in the critical election of 1860, Francis W. Pickens left little doubt of his support for disunion and even war to perpetuate slavery. His sentiments were echoed by his old friend Edward Bryan, who declared in the campaign, “Give us slavery or give us death!” Pickens committed his state–and ours–to a ruinous course. “I would be willing to appeal to the gods of battles,” he defiantly declared, “if need be, cover the state with ruin, conflagration and blood rather than submit.” These are not interpretations by historians; they are statements made at the time by Confederate leaders explaining what they were doing and why.

After the war had been lost, and the Lost Cause was in need of justification, Davis and Stephens backed away from their original statements, casting the cause of the war in the context of “states rights.” Their revisionist interpretation, in which slavery became not the cause but merely the “question” resolved on the field of battle, still misleads many South Carolinians. The historical record, however, clearly shows that the cause for which the South seceded and fought a devastating war was slavery.

Civil War, Economic Causes of (Issue).
Gale Encyclopedia of U.S. Economic History. Eds. Thomas Carson and Mary Bonk. Vol. 1. Detroit: Gale, 1999. p175-178. 2 vols.

The economic roots of the Civil War reach almost to the beginning of English settlement in North America. The development of an economy based on the use of slave labor to produce staple crops through a plantation system in the South and a more diverse economy in the North based on free labor set the stage for the development of two economies within one country. Increasingly after 1800 the needs of these two economies were incompatible.

The Cause’ of the American Civil War , By: Spicer, John, History Review, 09629610, Sep2004, Issue 49

The causes of the American Civil War can perhaps be linked to one particular issue – that of slavery, in December 1860 Lincoln had written to the future vice-president of the Confederate states, Alexander Stephens, and reiterated his pubic pledge not to interfere with slavery where it already existed, but he also added: ‘I suppose, however, this does not meet the case. You think slavery is right and ought to be extended, while we think it is wrong and ought to be restricted. That I suppose is the rub. It certainly is the only substantial difference between us.’ Later Stephens himself seemed to confirm the significance of the issue by saying that ‘African slavery … was the immediate cause of the late rupture’, and stating that the Confederate government was based upon ‘the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery … is his natural and normal condition.’ South Carolina’s declaration of their reasons for secession cited ‘an increasing hostility on the part of the non-slaveholding States to the institution of slavery.’

As can be seen, the evidence is devastatingly clear that the South seceded from the Union due specifically to the issue of slavery. Any who wish to revise history are only working to bamboozle their audience.

UPDATED:

I have written a newer post, more detailed and comprehensive about the reasons for the civil war. Please take a look.

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  1. The CORNERSTONE of the Confederate States of America rested upon bigotry. The Civil War was an attempt to legitimize bigotry, and the economic benefits contianed therein by enslavement of others, through force of arms.

    “Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery—subordination to the superior race—is his natural and normal condition.”

    The Cornerstone Speech

    Alexander H. Stephens
    Vice President
    Confederate States of America

    March 21, 1861
    Savannah, Georgia

    Text of Speech

  2. thank you for sharing that. it should be quite clear what the reasons are.

  3. I used to believe all that you posted even though I was schooled in Christian private schools.

    Now, after reading various articles, blogs and comments on “real” Lincoln and Civil War, I see it as “the War of Northren Aggression” [in fitting with the modern victimhood mentality]. Some may say that I now accept revisionism and franky I like that: bring on the revisionism and let me sort it out on my own!

    Today, truth is harder to suppress since information and electrons are border free. Ironically, truth also maybe harder to find with lousy search engines, and too much junk out there, but that’s a different problem….

  4. dannyHSDad,

    it truly has been an illuminating discussion over on Vox’s blog about the Civil War.

    the issue at hand was state rights over federal rights, but from the South’s words, I cannot see how any other issue would have made them break away from the United States.

    I said on Vox’s blog that I believe the South never caught on to the bigger picture of the nation, and still felt the state was of higher import.

  5. I agree with you that slavery was the issue. But what exactly were the federal government’s policies that offended the southern states?

  6. Dorcas,

    Thanks for commenting. You’ve got a good question.

    The federal government set a law that all new states joining the union would bar slavery. The southern states felt that slavery was a state right, and a decision left solely to the state to decide. That’s a pretty weak position to take because it affects the status of individuals legally from one state to another, and therefore becomes a federal issue. Say a southerner goes to Boston with his slaves. In Boston are his slaves considered slaves? Can he beat them publicly in Boston? What laws guide the handling of slaves between states, but what the federal decides? Is that not what the federal government is all about? The relationship between the states? If indeed slavery affected only issues within the state, I would understand the South position. However, they were on very weak constitutional grounds. Moreover, they did not listen to the first president, George Washington, who in his farewell address, admonished his fellow citizens, especially southerners and slave owners—George Washington was a smart man; he knew the division over slavery might tear his country apart—to remember the federal takes priority over the state.

  7. Abraham Lincoln once said “I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races—that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of making voters or jurors of Negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.” Lincoln

  8. Evillyne,

    Thank you for that quote. Lincoln also said:

    “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided.

    It will become all one thing or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery, will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become alike lawful in all the States, old as well as new — North as well as South….

    He saw the division that would inevitably and inexorably lead to a division of the country. He sided himself with those pushed for new states to the Union barring slavery. The division was over new states and whether slavery would be allowed in the new states. It was not about state rights, nor even federal vs state. The South saw the inevitable. If new states to the Union were slave-free, their power base would be reduced, and their slavery-run system would die.

  9. LIES! I dont think that the south should have left, but it was for more civil rights. It wasnt untill later in the war that the issue was slavery. Foolishness….

  10. the south was foolish, but it had valid reasons.

  11. Jorge and hoothoot,

    Please see my other more comprehensive post about the reasons for the civil war. And yes, it was all about slavery, but not in the traditional way of looking at it.

  12. The civil war was not faught over slavery, slavery was the number 2 reason. The main reason the civil war began was over states rights. The south belived that states govornment should have more power than the federal govornment, and states should have the to suseed from the union. The conferates(south) tried to leave the union. They elected there own presedent, printed there own money, and made there own flag. After the north won the war the confederacy had to join the union again.

  13. Melissa,

    The issue of states rights was all about who would control slavery, so indeed slavery was the number one issue.

  14. A federal ban on issues that states should vote upon is stupidity.

  15. sure the south seceded because they felt that the states should have more power than the government. however, the government of the confederacy ended up being a centralized government in the end because Jefferson Davis noticed that the only way to win the war was to hav a centralized government in which they could raise taxes and such to support the army.

    so… yea, the south was pretty much stupid, foolish and very hypocritical.

    and slavery is immoral and corrupt and inhumane. the southerners were just really retarded.

  16. If slavery was such an important issue, why was it not ended by the exact same peaceful method used by every other civilized country in the world?

    If the Civil War was about slavery, why did Lincoln pledge to support slavery in his first inaugural address?

    Daniel, could you supply us one newspaper headline from the period of 1861-1862 stating that the war was about slavery?

    Daniel, how do you explain Congress’ explicit statement in July of 1861 that the purpose of the war was not “interference with the rights or established institutions of [Southern] states”?

    If the war was fought over slavery, Daniel, why did it take Lincoln over two years to free the slaves? Why did he then only free the slaves in the South, the part of the US that he did not have authority over?

    If the war was fought over slavery, how is it that Congress passed a Constitutional Amendment specifically protecting slavery in February and March 1861?

    If secession was illegal, how could the New England states meet in 1814 to consider it without being attacked by the Union? In 1861, the Union attacked the Maryland legislature and imprisoned most of the representatives to prevent them from discussing and voting on secession.

    When you state that the Civil War was all about slavery, you are being disingenuous. When you blithely state that the Union had passed a law barring new states from becoming slave states, you imply that this was for the reason of stopping the spread of slavery.

    That is not true.

    The reason slavery was banned in new states was political advantage, and nothing else. By barring new states from becoming slave states, the North assured that they would eventually control both houses of Congress. New, non-slave states would naturally side with the Northern states, and by making slavery such a bitterly divisive issue, the North also assured that the slave and non-slave states would be sure to vote along those lines, thus guaranteeing Northern political power.

    If slavery had not existed in 1861, the North would have found another excuse to invade and conquer the South.

  17. Charlie Tall,

    I recommend you read this post, in which I go into more detail.

    All those questions you have do not do anything to change one important fact. The civil war was indeed fought over slavery. It wasn’t fought over slaves, but the institution of slavery. The South seceded and attacked the North because the North grew in power and influence to such a degree that it was inexorably inevitable that all future states to join the union would be slave-free. The South knew their days as slave-states were numbered, and instead of going down quietly, they chose to go out in a blaze of blood and gore. They chose to bring 600,000 Americans to their deaths instead of progressing to the better world, the non-slave world.

    If slavery had not existed in 1861, the North would have found another excuse to invade and conquer the South.

    This is an interesting slander. What evidence do you have of this besides your own raw feelings that you side with losers?

  18. If slavery was such an important issue, why was it not ended by the exact same peaceful method used by every other civilized country in the world?

    Could you answer that, please?

    Your fixing of blame for the brutality of the Civil War is incorrect and an anachronism: “They [the South] chose to bring 600,000 Americans to their deaths instead of progressing to the better world, the non-slave world.”

    It is incorrect because there is no way the South could have expected the North to wage unrestricted, total warfare on both combatants and noncombatants. Indeed, after the opening battles, both the North and the South expected the war to settled immedicately.

    The cruelty and brutality of the Union, as directed personally by Abraham Lincoln, remains the nadir of our nation’s morality.

    Additionally, you might like to take a look at Grant’s military practices. His manpower supply was virtually infinite, while that of the Confederacy was nearing its limits. Therefore, Grant made it his tactical and strategic policy to sacrifice Union soldiers knowing that he could lose five for every Southerner killed and still come out ahead.

    Historically, failure to attribute events, objects, beliefs, customs, or practices to their correct time is a mark of incompetence. While slavery is today recognized as immoral and unethical, in 1861 it was the law of the land. Thus your highanded reference to “the better world, the non-slave world,” is shown to be merely an indication of biased judgement on the latter day beliefs of the observer and failure to understand that this was a different time with different values, mores, customs, and beliefs.

    The claim that the South attacked the North is ludicrous. Lincoln thanked Gustavus Fox for assisting him in provoking the Confederates in Charleston into firing on Fort Sumter. Afterwards, Lincoln pretended innocence in his message to Congress when he wrote, “And thus having chosen our course without guile and with pure purpose…”

    Lincoln manuevered the South into the position of either firing on the Star or backing down from their stated vow to defend their sovereignty.

    That the South “chose to go out in a blaze of blood and gore” is equally ludicrous and disagrees with all the evidence. I suggest you read some of the contemporary writings such as the diaries of Mary Chesnut and Sarah Morgan.

    Finally, I find your statement, “you side with losers” to be extremely provocative and improper. I would advise you to keep this exchange impersonal in the future.

    Now about the statement that you see as slander: it is commonly known that the South contributed approximately 75% of the revenues to the federal government. In return, they received about 20% of the federal largesse.

    In 1861, federal tariffs were 15%. The Confederacy set their tariff rate at 10%. New Orleans, Pensacola, Mobile, and Charleston were immediately overwhelmed with imports. Goods that had once entered through Philadelphia, New York, and Boston, now reached the midwest via New Orleans and the Mississippi, and the tariff income went with them.

    All of the imports for consumption in the South went to benefit the South rather than the Union. Exports that once sailed exclusively on Northern shipping (due to federal laws) now sailed in French and English bottoms.

    The Union was faced with bankruptcy, and they had only one ready source of revenue: the South. As it was, the Union eventually raised their tariff rates to 50% and imposed an unconstitutional income tax, which was later struck down. (However, no refunds were paid.)

    So, we can see that rather than “…an interesting slander,” it is simply common sense: “If slavery had not existed in 1861, the North would have found another excuse to invade and conquer the South” They could not afford to do otherwise.

  19. Charlie,

    If slavery was such an important issue, why was it not ended by the exact same peaceful method used by every other civilized country in the world?

    Because you’re talking about America, a country born in battle, and a country that resorts to fighting more often than not to “solve” problems.

    Historically, failure to attribute events, objects, beliefs, customs, or practices to their correct time is a mark of incompetence. While slavery is today recognized as immoral and unethical, in 1861 it was the law of the land. Thus your highanded reference to “the better world, the non-slave world,” is shown to be merely an indication of biased judgement on the latter day beliefs of the observer and failure to understand that this was a different time with different values, mores, customs, and beliefs.

    Hardly. You yourself just stated that other countries removed slavery from their midst through peaceful means. Slavery was a dying art in the world. When I said that the South was stuck in reverse and not moving to the “better world, the non-slave world”, I meant the world around at the time that did in fact turn against slavery.

    Lincoln manuevered the South into the position of either firing on the Star or backing down from their stated vow to defend their sovereignty.

    Well put. Lincoln used non-violent means to force the South into a corner. The South chose to use violence rather than solve the problem through non-violent means. Thank you for proving my point. The South began the war, began the killing.

    As for the slander comment, dude, the North would not need to invade or conquer the South if the South would not unconstitutionally secede from the Union! As the South chose to battle over the issue of slavery, that’s the reason for the Civil War.

    Historical revisionists really frustrate me.

  20. Yes, we are talking about America where the almighty dollar reigns supreme. The Yankee could settle everything else without resorting to war. New England even threatened to secede from the Union because of the War of 1812. Yet you tell us these same New England yankees chose war when a peaceful resolution was possible.

    That smacks of illogic.

    The South had proposed a gradual system of compensated emancipation, but the non-slave states killed the idea. Although all of the Northern states had allowed their slaveholders to sell their slaves so that they suffered no monetary loss, they would not consider compensating the South for what was to be a catastrophic loss.

    Again, the cause was money. Pure and simple.

    If you believe that sending a warship into the harbor of a foreign nation without permission is a peaceful act, you exist in a difference reality. By sending the Star into Charleston, Lincoln committed an act of war. Deliberately. With the intent to start a war after he had been warned that doing so would result in bloodshed.

    That hardly sounds like the South “attacked” the North. Next you’ll be telling me that the South invaded the North and burned its farms and cities.

    Today, secession is against federal law, but it is not unconstitutional. Never was, still isn’t.

    There are foolish people who believe that some holy principle prevents free and independent sovereign states that joined a voluntary union from leaving that union. Common sense and the words of the Constitution contradict them.

    If you believe that secession was unconstitutional, kindly show us the words in the Constitution that make it so. And please do not quote Article III, section 3; it does not apply.

    And let me quote something to you, “When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another…” The first sentence of the Declaration of Independence recognizes secession.

    You state that the North invaded and conquered the South because the South seceded from the Union. Yet you continue to claim that slavery was the reason for the war. This is a contradiction.

    Either the North wanted to free the slaves or the North wanted to force the South back into the Union. Which was it?

    By the way, both Lincoln and Congress stated that the conflict over states rights was the sole cause of the war. Are you saying that they were lying, that you “know” better than they did?

    That sounds much more like revisionism than my attempt to inject a little truth into the discussion.

    I challenge you to use your common sense.

    Look back on what you may have learned about the formation of the Union. Recall that the states were very concerned lest they create another tyrannical government. To prevent that, they crafted a constitution which specifically limited the powers of the federal government. In addition, they soon added the Bill of Rights to further restrict the government. Good thing, too.

    These free and independent states voluntarily created a federal government to serve them, not the other way around.

    Would you tell us now that these same states envisioned the day when this government, this servant of the people, would make war on them to force them to remain in that union?

    That is impossible for a reasonable person to believe.

  21. Charlie,

    If you believe that sending a warship into the harbor of a foreign nation without permission is a peaceful act, you exist in a difference reality.

    And therein lies the whole problem. See, the South’s secession was unconstitutional, so they were NOT a separate foreign entity. Therefore, the North did NOT send a warship into the harbor of a “foreign” nation. They sent it into the harbor of rebels who needed to be put in their place.

    I asked you to read my other post on the Civil War, where I quote TWO SOUTHERNERS, George Washington, our first president, and Andrew Jackson, another Southerner, who both pleaded with, and in some instances, forced the nation to realize that the greater importance was NOT the individual states, but the Union as a whole. The South never understood that lesson about the Union. Even when two of their own best men continually pressed for them to realize the greater priority was the Union as a whole, not the individual states.

    In fact, in George Washington’s Final Address, he speaks about the importance of the Union for nearly half (or I think it was two thirds) of his entire speech! He felt so strongly that the Union was of more importance that that is what he focused on in his final speech to the nation. Read it again. Look at what he says carefully. The South never did. They failed to listen to what their own man, George Washington, had to say about the Union.

    If you believe that secession was unconstitutional, kindly show us the words in the Constitution that make it so. And please do not quote Article III, section 3; it does not apply.

    And let me quote something to you, “When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another…” The first sentence of the Declaration of Independence recognizes secession.

    How fascinating. You wish for me to quote from the Constitution, yet you prevent me from quoting the Constitution, and then you choose to declare that the words of the Declaration of Independence (which have no legal authority) trump the words of the Constitution! Dude!

    You state that the North invaded and conquered the South because the South seceded from the Union. Yet you continue to claim that slavery was the reason for the war. This is a contradiction.

    Hardly at all. The South seceded from the Union over the issue of slavery. Thusly, the following inexorable events all had at their heart, the issue of slavery. That’s what the Civil War was always about, and that is what the Civil War will always be about, damn all historical revisionists.

    Either the North wanted to free the slaves or the North wanted to force the South back into the Union. Which was it?

    The North did not invade the South to “free the slaves.” They attacked the South because the South seceded unconstitutionally over the issue of slavery. It just so happened that from a militaristic strategic vantage point, proclaiming slaves free was the right move. You’ll note that that was the reason for the Emancipation Proclamation. A military strategy to weaken the South’s infrastructure and military strength. Quite brilliant, actually. The South so believed in their slavery economy that this was a double blow to their aims. Beautiful.

    I challenge you to use your common sense.

    I am using common sense. You, and the rest of your historical revisionist pals, refuse to accept that the South seceded over the issue of slavery, thusly the whole conflict was about the future control of the economy of slavery. It was always about slavery, and it will always be about slavery.

    Would you tell us now that these same states envisioned the day when this government, this servant of the people, would make war on them to force them to remain in that union?

    That is impossible for a reasonable person to believe.

    No it isn’t actually. It is the natural progression of the state.

  22. I am finally understanding the logic sequence you are trying to express, Dude.

    -Slavery was the most divisive issue leading to secession.

    -Slavery, therefore, was the reason for secession.

    -The North fought the war to force the Confederate states back into the Union.

    -So the Civil War was fought over slavery.

    Dude, there is a flaw in your logic. The provocation matters not at all once the resulting action has been taken. If you insult me and I walk away from you, you are not then entitled to chase me down and murder me.

    You have failed to show one iota of proof to support your contention that secession was unconstitutional! Dude!

    After the Civil War, certain Republican politicians attempted to use Article III, Section 3 to bring charges against former Confederates. The SCOTUS found agist them stating that it did not apply. So I have not prevented you from quoting the Constitution. I have merely stopped you from making a fool of yourself, Dude.

    Don’t bother to thank me for the favor, Dude.

    Your windy post about George Washington proves only that George Washington considered the union important.

    It does not prove that the union was sacred or even protected by the constitution. Indeed, I found it boring once I figured out what you were trying to say.

    If you had knowledge of any of the discussion leading to the secession of Virginia, you would know that they felt as strongly about staying in the Union as did their favorite son.

    If you had any knowledge about the origin of the Constitution, you would also know that Virginia had explicity reserved the right to withdraw from the constitutional compact should the federal government ever abuse their liberties. New York and Rhode Island did likewise.

    Virginia did not vote to secede until after Fort Sumter, as did Tennessee. The Virginians thus demonstrated their belief in the importance of the Union.

    The states were free and independent before the union was formed. They came before the Union. How can you possibly believe that the union superceded them?

    Answer: it is the natural progression of the state.

    The states delegated a few very narrowly defined and specific powers to the federal government, but kept their sovereignty for themselves. There is nothing in any of the original documents that surrenders states’ sovereignty to the Union, either specifically or implicitly.

    Let me quote another Virginian, Thomas Jefferson. He wrote, “the several States composing the United States of America, are not united on the principles of unlimited submission to their General Government; but that…they constituted a General Government for special purposes, delegated to that Government certain definite powers, reserving each State to itself, the residuary mass of right to their own self Government; and that whensoever the General Government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoratative, void, and of no force…”

    Jefferson went on to say, “…That to this compact each State acceded as a State, and is an integral party, its co-States forming as to itself, the other party…”

    “…the Government created by this compact was not made the exclusive or final judge of the extent of the powers delegated to itself; since that would have made its descretion, and not the Constitution, the measure of its powers…”

    Now, dude, perhaps you can understand that when the federal government decided to attack and kill citizens of the free, independent, and sovereign states, it was behaving unconstitutionally, and not the other way round as you mistakenly believe.

    Understanding as I do that by revisionist you mean anyone who is in possession of more knowledge than you have, or someone that does not accept the Lincolnesque rationale for destroying, not preserving, the voluntary union established by the constitution, I will do not expect you to rethink your position.

    By the way, your made two remarks that betrayed your bigotry: “…rebels who needed to be put in their place,” and “It is the natural progression of the state.”

    The first reveals your mindset, the second reeks of communism.

    Dude, you may remain secure in your ignorance and bigotry. I will not waste my time posting here again.

  23. Bye.

  24. … damn all historical revisionists.

    Pesky sons of guns. The universe as Ptolemy described is was humming along nicely until that revisionist Copernicus came along and screwed everything up with his heliocentric model.

  25. They are pesky sons of guns, Mark. And your analogy fails because it isn’t like there is somehow new evidence, or heck even new technologies of research. Ptolemy didn’t have the tools or built-up knowledge that Copernicus had. If Copernicus had lived in Ptolemy’s age, he would have come to the same conclusion as Ptolemy.

    The evidences of the American Civil War are not new. They are old. They have been around. Some people just refuse to realize they lost and move on with their lives. They would rather revise what is already known.

  26. The problem is that, sometimes, it’s the revisionists that manage to get the story out to their liking first.

    Revising the original revisionists is necessary and good.

  27. That would be true if there was an actual revision of what really happened in the first place. As there wasn’t, today’s revisionists need not bother. 😉

  28. The problem all you guys have who insist on a pro-slave South and anti-slave North perfect package history, is your inability to step into the social structure of 19th century America. No one except a fringe radical few, W. Garrison, F. Douglass, etc., thought no more of a black man than they did a horse or an Indian. The North hated slavery because they hated the black race and they wanted the whole black population along with the South’s per. inst. whipped from all American soil. The idea of the North fighting for the actual well being of blacks, free or slave, in 1861 fits about as well as Lee using helicopters at Bull Run.

  29. The war was about either one of two things: money or power. What they’ve always been fought over. What they’ll always be fought over. You can color that however you like.

    The Civil War was fought over slavery. Riiight. Just like the Iraq War is being fought for their freedom. Politicians have a way of ‘humanizing’ every war they decide to throw US into. What their actual goals were, we’ll leave for Daniel to decide.

    Mike V.
    California

  30. Thanks for your comment Mike.

  31. thank you, guy

  32. Certainly slavery was A cause for the civil war but not the primary cause for the war !!!! Lincoln knew a that the economy of the south was dependent upon slavery, before the civil war he had no intention of eliminating it.

    As Lincoln said in his inauguration speech.

    ” I have no purpose to directly or indirectly interfere with the institution of slavery in states where it now exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.”

    Even after the first shots of the war were fired, Lincoln said.

    “My paramount objective is to save the union, and it is NOT to either save or destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it.”

    The war was about money plain and simple. Every war is about money when it comes down to it. The politically correct thing to do is to make it about slavery when in fact the main color responsible for the civil war wasn’t black or white, it was green !!!!

  33. sorry daniel, charlie tall disemboweled your argument with cold hard facts. name calling and emotions do you a disservice.

  34. Slavery was only one of the issues. It was not the main one. If slavery was the main issue, why didn’t all of the slave states secede from the Union?

  35. jared,

    Which slave states didn’t secede from the Union?

  36. What really bothers me is the fact that two so called intelligent
    gentlemen such as your selves would so aggressively discuss this issue.
    Why not research this issue the correct way, interview persons with direct knowledge? Why pick and chose your quotes from articles over 100 years old? My great great grandfather was a southern land holder, and did not own slaves, he employed indentured servants. For the educated and uneducated alike, this simply means he secured passage to the U S for a person and ( by contract) they worked for him until this passage was paid back. He provided for their needs, food, clothing and shelter
    until this was paid back. A portion of these servants went on to work at the land holding after the fulfillment of the contract. This was true of 75 to 85% of the so called slave holders of the south. Believe me when I tell you,I have tons of original documentation, contracts,ledgers and and U S census documents for more than 250 persons entering the U S Under contract between 1850 to 1862. His beliefs in anti slavery were such that he declared himself neutral with the south and the north alike. So can anyone tell me why in 1863 his home was burned to the ground, his wife raped and murdered and most of the residing servants were killed or “ENSLAVED” for sexual perversions by a company of Northern troops. If slavery was the sole reason for the war, why was the only people enslaved by that company of African decent? Why was his home burned? Why was my great grandmother raped and killed? Why was most of the servants killed? He joined and fought for the Confederacy because of the atrocities suffered @ the hands of these LIBERATORS! So before you can even begin to judge others on their views, you need to look a little closer @ the people you would deem heroes, Lincoln himself nearing the end sanctioned these atrocities, to teach us ignorant southerners some manners. Do me a favor, pick your big ass up from that desk chair, grow some balls or ask your mother to give em back and take it to the street, to argue your point face to face with the people you consider intellectually deficient, YANKEE BOY!!

  37. Winston,

    Your whole argument rests on whether or not slavery was “the sole reason for the war” as you note. Slavery was the reason southern states seceded, but not the reason the Northern states fought. They fought to preserve the Union. Sorry that your great great grandfather suffered through apparently no fault of his own. Southern states should not have seceded, and they should have given up slavery. It’s their own damn fault.

  38. And the enslavement of African Americans, the slaughter of people the troops were there to defend? where was their fault? Yes I agree a majority of the southern politicians did fight for slavery, and I agree the war was a fruitless endeavor by both sides. but also for once i would like for one person to agree the North fought for $$$$ and not for any other reason, keep the union strong, what a crock . it was to keep the north strong and rich. The loss of goods and world trade alone was their reasons. If your wife was raped and murdered, would it be your own damn fault? If everyone you know was enslaved or butchered, would it be your own damn fault? No!! If this course of action was justifiable because it was our own damn fault, why did the world as a whole come together and pass sanctions against such CRIMES, It was in the news , one big convention, you may have missed that, wasn’t a very popular topic. When dealing with people with your one sided views, I just sit back count my money and revel in fact that since that useless war the Southern states have had unparalleled economic growth.We down here live a life of simple luxury, fish when we want, enjoy moderate climes, enjoy a better income to debt ratio and, believe it or not, do care about any mans right to freedom, regardless of skin color or national origin. I do not say race because we are all part of one race. The national Government should realize this FACT and stop including that in government documents if they truly want UNITY.

  39. that’s the sad part of war, Winston.

  40. […] Democratic opponent Will Hammerquist said the war was indeed fought over slavery, and indeed, the historical documents of states that seceeded tell us, yes, slavery is why they did so. James Conner at the Flathead Memo has a great take on the story as well that you’ll want to […]

  41. What “slave” states didn’t secede from the Union?

    Missouri – remained with the Union but a rival pro-Confederate faction attempted to assert itself as an alternate state government with mixed success. Quantrill caused some troubles but largely confined activities to guerrilla raids from Arkansas.

    Kentucky – Strongly pro-Union even among the landed classes. Little support for the Confederacy.

    Maryland – Might have succeeded in seceding (pun intended). Lincoln dispatched Army forces to arrest the Maryland Assembly and prevent a formal secession vote. Also set up artillery battery on “Federal Hill” in Baltimore. Had Maryland formally become a Confederate state the Union capital would, of course, had been cut off.

    Delaware – was the “First” state and still held strong Pro-Union sentiment. Though nominally a “slave” state, in fact over 90% of Negro population were freemen. No know Confederate units raised from this state.

    West Virginia – the Pro-Union part of the Virginia Commonwealth, had long-standing feuds with fellow Virginians of Richmond and Tidewater areas. War of Northern Aggression gave perfect opportunity to ironically declare secession from Virginia in the Wheeling Convention. Backed up by Union forces under McClellan. Lee, commanding Army of Northern VA, had enough keeping the more economically important parts of SE VA as well as the Confederate capital itself from being overrun by the Army of the Potomac.

    These varigated experiences of the so-called border states alone would belie the notion of slavery being the driving issue behind the so-called “Civil” War (sometimes called the War of Southern Secession or Southern Independence, or Second War of Independence, but more properly the War of Federal Aggression upon the several States). Calling the conflict “North vs. South” only calls attention to the fact that the “North” (more properly, non-South) interests controlled the Federal Government at the expense of the Southern States. Hence why they had enough and after the debacle of the 1860 election walked out.

  42. Douglas,

    These varigated experiences of the so-called border states alone would belie the notion of slavery being the driving issue behind the so-called “Civil” War

    only if the states that seceded didn’t mention IN THEIR OWN DECLARATIONS that slavery was the cause. No matter how much you guys in the south wish to revise history, you will never be able to get by the fact that the Southern states who rebelled themselves stated in their own declarations of secession that the reasons for their withdrawal from the Union was the issue of slavery. Thus it was, and thus it will ALWAYS be.

    But hey, back the racists and the tyrants.

  43. I am from MN,traveling in southern Louisiana for the past month. Racism is open and prevalent amongst the over 60 people I run into. However, the state has totally ignored the 150th anniversary of its seccession just a few days ago. Things among the younger folks seem much more balanced and integrated. When I tour antebellum homes, I hear about servants; never slaves. I like to bother the staid older tour guides by asking “Do you think slave owners got into heaven?” They go into a song and dance at how wonderful the slaves had it, and how terrible it was when the Yankees came. It is funny how far people will go to disguise the idea that the whole south, churches and all were fine with slavery, and how wonderful it was for the slaves!

  44. I am not sure who the nutcase was that created this website,, but you still failed to produce one single government document that stated the Civil war was over slavery. Lincoln himself said:
    If I could stop this civil war and leave slavery in place I would do so….
    Please name one single confederate ship that brought slaves to America,, the Dutch and the Portugese were the slave traders that brought the slaves to America. Yes Slavery was wrong but lets not forget that the northerns actually owned more slaves per household than in the south.

    • Reason-impaired. Lincoln was *WILLING* to let them have their states’ rights. Lincoln was trying to appeal to the South to not fight & come back into the Union.

      Lincoln initially felt it wasn’t worth it to escalate the war, but the problem was that slavery had been banned in the territories but the South wanted slavery to expand westward. How was that going to turn out? It would’ve turned into a civil war further west, where if a territory joined the Confederacy, non-whites could be taken as slaves (after Dred Scott).

      Your argument is disingenuine as it tries to shift the burden of the economic rationale for war to the North. No, the burden remained on the South, in its quest to expand slavery into the territories. The specter of eventually warfare was quite clear, since one of the reasons for Texas independence was that the Mexicans had banned slavery.

      Recall also that Lincoln tried for two years to avoid full-out civil war, even delaying the emancipation proclamation.

      As for your claim that northerners owned more slaves than southerners, there are no facts supporting that claim.

  45. Ronnie,

    That nutcase is me. 🙂

    Um, I’m not sure you actually read the piece or you would have seen the actual declarations of secession which specifically state that the reason the southern states left the union was over slavery.

    What does the mode of transportation have to do with anything here, Ronnie? And care to show your evidence that northerners owned more slaves per household than in the south? My guess is that you won’t.

    • We’re arguing with nutters.


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