The American Civil War, Fought Over Slavery, Begun by South Carolina

January 28, 2011 at 10:03 pm | Posted in American politics | 60 Comments

From the Archives, I offer the following post. In honor of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War

With that shot on the Union ship “Star of the West” the Civil War officially began. The causes of the Civil War are complex and deep, however one word describes the heart of the division of America that led to actual fighting: slavery.

Thousands of books have been written on the subject. My few words here will not be comprehensive, and certainly nothing to improve upon any of actual scholars who have studied the topic in full. My point here is to make clear a few things, because—and I am continually surprised at this—today’s Republicans, especially the more militant, hardcore right-wing Christian kinds, believe the South was right, that the South was innocent, and that the war was not fought over slavery. The irony is that today’s Republicans call themselves the Party of Lincoln. Heh, he’s rolling in his grave right now over what his party is thinking today! So let’s get a few things straight about the civil war that tore our country for so long.

In 1796, George Washington, America’s first president, gave his Farewell Address. In his final words to the Union, he addressed that very word, union. He said:

The unity of government which constitutes you one people is also now dear to you. It is justly so, for it is a main pillar in the edifice of your real independence, the support of your tranquility at home, your peace abroad; of your safety; of your prosperity; of that very liberty which you so highly prize. But as it is easy to foresee that, from different causes and from different quarters, much pains will be taken, many artifices employed to weaken in your minds the conviction of this truth; as this is the point in your political fortress against which the batteries of internal and external enemies will be most constantly and actively (though often covertly and insidiously) directed, it is of infinite moment that you should properly estimate the immense value of your national union to your collective and individual happiness; that you should cherish a cordial, habitual, and immovable attachment to it; accustoming yourselves to think and speak of it as of the palladium of your political safety and prosperity; watching for its preservation with jealous anxiety; discountenancing whatever may suggest even a suspicion that it can in any event be abandoned; and indignantly frowning upon the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest, or to enfeeble the sacred ties which now link together the various parts…

The name of American, which belongs to you in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of patriotism more than any appellation derived from local discriminations…

But these considerations, however powerfully they address themselves to your sensibility, are greatly outweighed by those which apply more immediately to your interest. Here every portion of our country finds the most commanding motives for carefully guarding and preserving the union of the whole.

He emphasized how a unified States would be less prone to foreign intervention, more freedom and more safety and security. He also warned against those who would attempt to weaken this union:

With such powerful and obvious motives to union, affecting all parts of our country, while experience shall not have demonstrated its impracticability, there will always be reason to distrust the patriotism of those who in any quarter may endeavor to weaken its bands.

Distrust the patriotism of those who endeavor to weaken its bands.

In contemplating the causes which may disturb our Union, it occurs as matter of serious concern that any ground should have been furnished for characterizing parties by geographical discriminations, Northern and Southern, Atlantic and Western; whence designing men may endeavor to excite a belief that there is a real difference of local interests and views. One of the expedients of party to acquire influence within particular districts is to misrepresent the opinions and aims of other districts. You cannot shield yourselves too much against the jealousies and heartburnings which spring from these misrepresentations; they tend to render alien to each other those who ought to be bound together by fraternal affection.

He continues pressing the point of the strength of a Unified States versus the separation of the states into smaller allied groups:

To the efficacy and permanency of your Union, a government for the whole is indispensable. No alliance, however strict, between the parts can be an adequate substitute; they must inevitably experience the infractions and interruptions which all alliances in all times have experienced. Sensible of this momentous truth, you have improved upon your first essay, by the adoption of a constitution of government better calculated than your former for an intimate union, and for the efficacious management of your common concerns. This government, the offspring of our own choice, uninfluenced and unawed, adopted upon full investigation and mature deliberation, completely free in its principles, in the distribution of its powers, uniting security with energy, and containing within itself a provision for its own amendment, has a just claim to your confidence and your support. Respect for its authority, compliance with its laws, acquiescence in its measures, are duties enjoined by the fundamental maxims of true liberty. The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their constitutions of government. But the Constitution which at any time exists, till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole people, is sacredly obligatory upon all. The very idea of the power and the right of the people to establish government presupposes the duty of every individual to obey the established government.

Nearly half of President Washington’s farewell address covered the important issue of unity, the United States of America. The whole being more important than the part. The national being more important than the local. Why did he spend nearly half of his farewell address focusing on this topic? Because even then, in 1796, he saw the division that would destroy his beloved country. He never named the issue, because he was a slave-owner himself, and because there were many issues which divided the nation (he does mention an issue the Western states had brought up regarding a deal with Spain). The point is that for President George Washington, what was most important was that the union would remain whole.

Unfortunately for President Washington, the union would not remain whole, but bitterly divided. Northern states that used to employ slavery, abolished the practice over the next few decades. The North also increased its population due mostly to immigration from European countries. By 1860, Northern states had a population of 22,08,250 while Southern states had a population of 9,103,332. Furthermore 39% of those 9 million Southerners were slaves while only 2% of the Northern states’ population were slaves. These numbers show many things.

1. Only about 5 million Southerners were white and only about 2.5 million of them male, who fought for their lands quite bravely in the Civil War. That so few could stand against so many Northerners is definitely romantic.

2. More importantly, in a democracy, especially a representative republic, where representatives are based on population levels, the South was constantly in the rut, losing more and more, and as such fearing the Constitutional amendment abolishing slavery. This is a very important point because as America expanded to the West, what would those new states base their laws and governance on? Would they allow slavery? If not, the South would basically lose out on its greatest asset.

Northerners were not generally for abolishing slavery.

While some in the North hated slavery because they felt that it was wrong, most people held no opinion of it at all, and some even condoned it because abolishing it would be bad for business. Without slaves there would be no cotton. Without cotton the textile industry would suffer. To many it was just that simple.

Besides, if they could abolish slavery just like that, what would the country do now with the nearly 4 million ex-slaves? No, the north, including one Abraham Lincoln was not pressing for the abolishment of slavery. There were many individuals who certainly did, but not as a whole.

It is the expansion to the west that set things in motion. If western states were against slavery, the South would lose its political clout and influence, and would expect at some future point for its way of life to cease. This was their fear. As to how founded or unfounded, I’m not sure, myself. I haven’t studied the topic enough. I do know that the North passed several laws and tariffs that pressed and choked Southern states. In 1832, South Carolina nearly seceded from the Union over tariffs. President Jackson threatened the state with invasion, stating that the state cannot simply ignore the federal government. South Carolina backed off. Here is a portion of Andrew Jackson’s proclamation regarding nullification by South Carolina:

The ordinance is founded, not on the indefeasible right of resisting acts which are plainly unconstitutional, and too oppressive to be endured, but on the strange position that any one State may not only declare an act of Congress void, but prohibit its execution- that they may do this consistently with the Constitution-that the true construction of that instrument permits a State to retain its place in the Union, and yet be bound by no other of its laws than those it may choose to consider as constitutional. It is true they add, that to justify this abrogation of a law, it must be palpably contrary to the Constitution, but it is evident, that to give the right of resisting laws of that description, coupled with the uncontrolled right to decide what laws deserve that character, is to give the power of resisting all laws. For, as by the theory, there is no appeal, the reasons alleged by the State, good or bad, must prevail. If it should be said that public opinion is a sufficient check against the abuse of this power, it may be asked why it is not deemed a sufficient guard against the passage of an unconstitutional act by Congress. There is, however, a restraint in this last case, which makes the assumed power of a State more indefensible, and which does not exist in the other. There are two appeals from an unconstitutional act passed by Congress-one to the judiciary, the other to the people and the States. There is no appeal from the State decision in theory; and the practical illustration shows that the courts are closed against an application to review it, both judges and jurors being sworn to decide in its favor. But reasoning on this subject is superfluous, when our social compact in express terms declares, that the laws of the United States, its Constitution, and treaties made under it, are the supreme law of the land; and for greater caution adds, “that the judges in every State shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.” And it may be asserted, without fear of refutation, that no federative government could exist without a similar provision. Look, for a moment, to the consequence. If South Carolina considers the revenue laws unconstitutional, and has a right to prevent their execution in the port of Charleston, there would be a clear constitutional objection to their collection in every other port, and no revenue could be collected anywhere; for all imposts must be equal. It is no answer to repeat that an unconstitutional law is no law, so long as the question of its legality is to be decided by the State itself, for every law operating injuriously upon any local interest will be perhaps thought, and certainly represented, as unconstitutional, and, as has been shown, there is no appeal.

If this doctrine had been established at an earlier day, the Union would have been dissolved in its infancy. The excise law in Pennsylvania, the embargo and non-intercourse law in the Eastern States, the carriage tax in Virginia, were all deemed unconstitutional, and were more unequal in their operation than any of the laws now complained of; but, fortunately, none of those States discovered that they had the right now claimed by South Carolina. The war into which we were forced, to support the dignity of the nation and the rights of our citizens, might have ended in defeat and disgrace instead of victory and honor, if the States, who supposed it a ruinous and unconstitutional measure, had thought they possessed the right of nullifying the act by which it was declared, and denying supplies for its prosecution. Hardly and unequally as those measures bore upon several members of the Union, to the legislatures of none did this efficient and peaceable remedy, as it is called, suggest itself. The discovery of this important feature in our Constitution was reserved to the present day. To the statesmen of South Carolina belongs the invention, and upon the citizens of that State will, unfortunately, fall the evils of reducing it to practice.

If the doctrine of a State veto upon the laws of the Union carries with it internal evidence of its impracticable absurdity, our constitutional history will also afford abundant proof that it would have been repudiated with indignation had it been proposed to form a feature in our Government…

I consider, then, the power to annul a law of the United States, assumed by one State, incompatible with the existence of the Union, contradicted expressly by the letter of the Constitution, unauthorized by its spirit, inconsistent with every principle on which It was founded, and destructive of the great object for which it was formed.

Clearly, South Carolina’s weak attempt to ignore a law passed by Congress, and then threaten the Union with secession, was rebuked strongly, and appropriately by President Jackson. Clearly also, it was an unconstitutional move by South Carolina. It is no surprise to anyone then that in 1860, South Carolina would take the first shot. But we’ll get to that soon enough.

As the nation grew larger, expanding westward, laws were passed and compromises reached to avert a bloody showdown between the North and South. The problem still arose from the fact that the North was growing in numbers far greater than the South, or slave-owning states, even though Texas was set up as a slave-owning state in the Compromise of 1850. As I showed earlier, the numbers show a huge disparity between the two sides.

As recounted here

The whole mess went up in smoke in the presidential election year of 1860. The Democratic party split badly. Stephen Douglas became the nominee of the northern wing of the party. A southern faction broke away from the party and nominated Senator John Breckinridge of Kentucky. The remnants of the Whig party nominated John Bell of Tennessee.

Into this confusion the new Republican party injected its nominee, Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln was a moderate Republican. As such he was a compromise candidate, everybody’s second choice. He was convinced that the Constitution forbade the Federal government from taking action against slavery where it already existed, but was determined to keep it from spreading further. South Carolina, in a fit of stubborn pride, unilaterally announced that it would secede from the Union if Lincoln were elected.

To everyone’s amazement Lincoln was victorious. He had gathered a mere 40% of the popular vote, and carried not a single slave state, but the vote had been so fragmented by the abundance of factions that it had been enough.

South Carolina, true to its word, seceded on December 20, 1860. Mississippi left on January 9, 1861, and Florida on the 10th. Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas followed.

What were the reasons? Let’s read the declarations of secession themselves from the various states:

Here are the Ordinances of Secession of the 13 Confederate States

Here is Georgia’s Declaration of Secession

Here is Mississippi’s Declaration of Secession

Here is Texas’ Declaration of Secession

Here is South Carolina’s Declaration of Secession.

I’ve always found Mississippi’s declaration to be most amusing:

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.

Could they be more ridiculous? In any case, at the heart of all the declarations of secession is the desire to prolong and continue the practice of slavery. The South felt the noose of the loss of political power, and instead of following the rest of the nation toward a better future, decided that their best interest no longer resided with the union. Two Southern presidents, Andrew Jackson and George Washington both stated clearly the larger union was of greater priority. Could the South learn to move on? No.

So what happened when South Carolina broke away, followed by the rest of the South? Nothing really. Not at first. The North didn’t suddenly invade the South. The South didn’t suddenly attack the North. President James Buchanan could really do nothing about the South seceding as his term was ending. Abraham Lincoln won the election in November 1860, but the first shot was fired on 10 January 1861. And of course, it all started in South Carolina.

This link explains well what happened:

The January 26, 1861 edition of Harper’s Weekly featured the following illustration, showing the First Shot of the Civil War. The first shot was fired on January 10, 1861. It was fired by the South Carolinians on Morris Island. They fired on the Union Ship “Star of the West” as it attempted to reinforce Major Anderson at Fort Sumter.

Nothing else happened until April 12, 1861, when the war began, again by South Carolina firing on Fort Sumter:

After her secession from the Union, South Carolina perceived herself as a sovereign state – the presence of Union forces in an armed fortress whose guns commanded her principal harbor was intolerable as it belied her independence. For President Lincoln the voluntary abandonment of this fortress was equally intolerable as it would be a tacit acknowledgment of South Carolina’s independent status.

Lincoln learned that the garrison at Fort Sumter was in trouble on the day he took office in March 1861. The garrison was running out of food and supplies and had no way of obtaining these on shore. The President ordered a relief expedition to sail immediately and informed the Governor of South Carolina of his decision. Alerted, General P.G.T Beauregard, commander of the Confederate military forces, realized he had to quickly force the evacuation of the fort before the relief expedition’s arrival. He would try threats first, and if these failed he would bombard the fort into submission.

The firsthand account is a fascinating read. The garrison had told the South Carolina soldiers that they were due to run out of provisions fairly soon. That did not stop South Carolina from the bombardment.

On the afternoon of April 11, waving a white flag, two members of General Beauregard’s staff were rowed across Charleston’s harbor to Fort Sumter carrying a written demand for surrender. One of the emissaries – Stephen D. Lee – wrote of the experience after the war:

“This demand was delivered to Major Anderson at 3:45 P.M., by two aides of General Beauregard, James Chesnut, Jr., and myself. At 4:30 P.M. he handed us his reply, refusing to accede to the demand; but added, ‘Gentlemen, if you do not batter the fort to pieces about us, we shall be starved out in a few days.’ The reply of Major Anderson was put in General Beauregard’s hands at 5:15 P.M., and he was also told of this informal remark. Anderson’s reply and remark were communicated to the Confederate authorities at Montgomery. The Secretary of War, L.P. Walker, replied to Beauregard as follows:”

‘Do not desire needlessly to bombard Fort Sumter. If Major Anderson will state the time at which, as indicated by him, he will evacuate, and agree that in the meantime he will not use his guns against us, unless ours should be employed against Fort Sumter, you are authorized thus to avoid the effusion of blood. If this, or its equivalent, be refused, reduce the fort as your judgment decides to be most practicable.’

” The same aides bore a second communication to Major Anderson, based on the above instructions, which was placed in, his hands at 12:45 A.M., April 12th. His reply indicated that he would evacuate the fort on the 15th, provided he did not in the meantime receive contradictory instructions from his Government, or additional supplies, but he declined to agree not to open his guns upon the Confederate troops, in the event of any hostile demonstration on their part against his flag. Major Anderson made every possible effort to retain the aides till daylight, making one excuse and then another for not replying. Finally, at 3:15 A.M., he delivered his reply. In accordance with their instructions, the aides read it and, finding it unsatisfactory, gave Major Anderson this notification:”

‘FORT SUMTER, S.C., April 12, 1861, 3:20 A.M. – SIR: By authority of Brigadier-General Beauregard, commanding the Provisional Forces of the Confederate States, we have the honor to notify you that he will open the fire of his batteries on Fort Sumter in one hour from this time. We have the honor to be very respectfully, Your obedient servants, JAMES CHESNUT JR., Aide-de-camp. STEPHEN D. LEE, Captain C. S. Army, Aide-de-camp.’

“The above note was written in one of the casemates of the fort, and in the presence of Major Anderson and several of his officers. On receiving it, he was much affected. He seemed to realize the full import of the consequences, and the great responsibility of his position. Escorting us to the boat at the wharf, he cordially pressed our hands in farewell, remarking, ‘If we never meet in this world again, God grant that we may meet in the next.’

It was then 4 A.M. Captain James at once aroused his command, and arranged to carry out the order. He was a great admirer of Roger A. Pryor, and said to him, ‘You are the only man to whom I would give up the honor of firing the first gun of the war’; and he offered to allow him to fire it. Pryor, on receiving the offer, was very much agitated. With a husky voice he said, ‘I could not fire the first gun of the war.’ His manner was almost similar to that of Major Anderson as we left him a few moments before on the wharf at Fort Sumter. Captain James would allow no one else but himself to fire the gun.

The boat with the aides of General Beauregard left Fort Johnson before arrangements were complete for the firing of the gun, and laid on its oars, about one-third the distance between the fort and Sumter, there to witness the firing of ‘the first gun of the war’ between the States. It was fired from a ten-inch mortar at 4:30 A.M., April 12th, 1861. Captain James was a skillful officer, and the firing of the shell was a success. It burst immediately over the fort, apparently about one hundred feet above.

The firing of the mortar woke the echoes from every nook and corner of the harbor, and in this the dead hour of the night, before dawn, that shot was a sound of alarm that brought every soldier in the harbor to his feet, and every man, woman and child in the city of Charleston from their beds. A thrill went through the whole city. It was felt that the Rubicon was passed. No one thought of going home; unused as their ears were to the appalling sounds, or the vivid flashes from the batteries, they stood for hours fascinated with horror.”

The rest as we know it is history. Unfortunately, the South doesn’t like the fact that they are perceived as rebels and secessionists, even though that is exactly what they were. So you get individuals like Major General John Gordon who try to justify the actions of the South. He states:

During the entire life of the Republic the respective rights and powers of the States and general government had furnished a question for endless controversy. In process of time this controversy assumed a somewhat sectional phase. The dominating thought of the North and of the South may be summarized in a few sentences.
The South maintained with the depth of religious conviction that the Union formed under the Constitution was a Union of consent and not of force; that the original States were not the creatures but the creators of the Union; that these States had gained their independence, their freedom, and their sovereignty from the mother country, and had not surrendered these on entering the Union; that by the express terms of the Constitution all rights and powers not delegated were reserved to the States; and the South challenged the North to find one trace of authority in that Constitution for invading and coercing a sovereign State.
The North, on the other hand, maintained with the utmost confidence in the correctness of her position that the Union formed under the Constitution was intended to be perpetual; that sovereignty was a unit and could not be divided; that whether or not there was any express power granted in the Constitution for invading a State, the right of self-preservation was inherent in all governments; that the life of the Union was essential to the life of liberty; or, in the words of Webster, “liberty and union are one and inseparable.”
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. In vindication of her right to secede, she appealed to the essential doctrine, “the right to govern rests on the consent of the governed,” and to the right of independent action as among those reserved by the States. The South appealed to the acts and opinions of the Fathers and to the report of the Hartford Convention of New England States asserting the power of each State to decide as to the remedy for infraction of its rights; to the petitions presented and positions assumed by ex-President John Quincy Adams; to the contemporaneous declaration of the 8th of January assemblage in Ohio indicating that 200,000 Democrats in that State alone were ready to stand guard on the banks of the border river and resist invasion of Southern territory; and to the repeated declarations of Horace Greeley and the admission of President Lincoln himself that there was difficulty on the question of force, since ours ought to be a fraternal Government.
In answer to all these points, the North also cited the acts and opinions of the same Fathers, and urged that the purpose of those Fathers was to make a more perfect Union and a stronger government. The North offset the opinions of Greeley and others by the emphatic declaration of Stephen A. Douglas, the foremost of Western Democrats, and by the official opinion as to the power of the Government to collect revenues and enforce laws, given to President Buchanan by Jere Black, the able Democratic Attorney-General.

And I might add, two of those Founding Fathers who advocated a “more perfect union and a stronger government” were Southerners, Andrew Jackson and George Washington, not to mention Thomas Jefferson.

On one major point, Major General Gordon is very right. We do need a more rounded education about the Civil War. However, let’s not revise history and portray the North as aggressors, when clearly the South began the conflict, and that at its heart this conflict wasn’t about slavery. There was no other issue that Southern states were as troubled by as the institution of slavery becoming prohibited in the nation in which they were in. As Andrew Jackson said, however, if a state were to ignore and nullify one part of the law, it would “give the power to resisting all laws,” and destroy the union.

I close with the words of Abraham Lincoln on why he fought the South’s secession:

I would save the Union. I would save it the shortest way under the Constitution. The sooner the national authority can be restored; the nearer the Union will be “the Union as it was.” … My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. … I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official duty; and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men everywhere could be free.


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  1. You may not know it right now, but you’re not thinking. Cause when you’re not thinking… you just don’t know.

    And that’s where this discussion looks like it has lead.

    “Where?” You say.

    Oh, I don’t know.

  2. You’re right Joe. I think i’ll just delete that thread of comments.

  3. wanna do it again? I’ll even throw you a bone this time.

  4. dude, you derided my personal political blog for something it is not, you said your goodbyes and now are back?

  5. Yep, actually the blog itself isn’t bad. Nice varying shades of light blue. Even your shirt is blue! The content is a bit juvenile though. So I figured maybe I’d offer you the opportunity to actually have a discussion on what you wrote and this time I won’t throw a fast ball right from the start. We can make it a T ball discussion. So here i’ll start. Gee Dan, the American civil war was about 150 years ago what does that have to do with politics today? (see, something like that. Sort of ease into a discussion you know.) Alright sport have at it.

  6. condescending too….I liked you better when you were leaving. What does it have to do with politics today? Dunno, why don’t you ask those who pine for states rights? In any case, who said a political blogger on his own site must only blog about current events? Controlling much…

  7. I understand, it sounds like you’re crusading against the “south will rise again” types. Seems a bit strawman. Anyways, so are you totally against “states rights” or something?

  8. pretty much. You must not have read the actual post. I’ll say this, if you continue this silly course of conversation I’ll just stop comments. I’m tired of the crap.

  9. No one said you had to have a political blog with spaces for comments. Anyways so check it out: what would you call the United States of America if there was no such thing as states rights… they like wouldn’t be states huh so you couldn’t call it that… what would you call it?

  10. the pretty much implies that I don’t believe states should have no rights, but I also do not believe the tenth amendment gave states the loophole to decide whatever they want with regard to federal law. I think Andrew Jackson said it best earlier in the piece. Which you would know if you actually read it.

  11. So what are some current issues regarding “states deciding whatever they want with regard to federal law”? I’m sure you must have one or two that come to mind.

  12. the health care law comes to mind. Though I hear the Bachmann types pressing other ways in which states ought to defy the federal government. In any case, are you going to talk about the causes of the Civil War (which is the focus of this post, or are you going to continue pestering me until I finally cave in to follow down the path of your questions?

  13. nah, i’m not really your intended audience, i’m sure. I think the piece is bait for “the south will rise again” types (that’s why I said the content was a bit juvenile). Slavery is bad and you can’t secede from the Union, got it and you probably have a strong unfavorable reaction to people who talk with a strong southern accent, hell I kinda do too… So what I want to know is: would you have volunteered to fight? Also what is your take on the “total warfare” and “scorched earth” strategy of General Sherman?

  14. out of curiosity, why are you even interested in my opinion about anything? Your playful manner indicates you have some sense of who I am. why on a post I’ve hoisted up from my archives, a post I wrote five years ago, but which has been my most viewed post.

  15. Oh I just find beating dead horses to be rather pointless but I think a glimpse into the mind of a dead horse beater or an individual determined to deter dead horse resuscitators can be fairly interesting, like what makes em tick you know?

    • cabinessence is someone of interest, and likely a stalker. He’s been seen ranting around The Mormonworker blogs, as well. I believe he is a “plant” within the communities of which this dried out, white dog turd hates. He is sent by the Glen Becks to annoy and distract. I didn’t assume this “guy” is even white, its the “turd” that interests me…

  16. Speaking of wars and such, you should read the latest at the WSJ about one of your favorite people …

    I read it in print, can’t think of a more savage criticism of the man I’ve ever seen.

  17. ah, Peggy Noonan…such mixed emotions over that link…not sure if I believe that Peggy Noonan or this Peggy Noonan.

  18. Nathan,

    thanks for your comment and the many examples you cite. While I have no disagreement that most everyone back then had divergent views on different matters particularly related to slavery and the Union, I go solely by the official declarations of secession from each individual state that exited the Union. Their reason, one after the other, is slavery.

    Here is the declaration from the state of 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.

    They left because they knew slavery’s time was coming to an end in the United States, and they preferred to keep it because “none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun.” Shall I quote to you from every declaration of secession why they seceded? Or shall we both agree that the reason they seceded was because slavery was going to be banned in the United States?

    Here is South Carolina’s declaration:

    The people of the State of South Carolina, in Convention assembled, on the 26th day of April, A.D., 1852, declared that the frequent violations of the Constitution of the United States, by the Federal Government, and its encroachments upon the reserved rights of the States, fully justified this State in then withdrawing from the Federal Union; but in deference to the opinions and wishes of the other slaveholding States, she forbore at that time to exercise this right. Since that time, these encroachments have continued to increase, and further forbearance ceases to be a virtue.

    Slavery yet again. They couch it in terms that states themselves can only rule on what happens within the state, but yet again, it is about slavery. Now, in my post, the reason I brought up the quotes from both George Washington and Andrew Jackson (both southerners) was that the belief among the Founding Fathers, or maybe just the one (Washington) was that local politics and local interests in the country would destroy the Union, and that at some point, for the good of the greater, one must let go of the good (if we can call slavery that) of the local. It was against the design of this country for states like South Carolina to secede. That secession was going to destroy the union as a whole. The only thing to do was to crush the rebellion and keep the Union whole. Good on Abraham Lincoln for being aggressive against lawbreaking states.

  19. Here’s Texas’ declaration, btw:

    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 slave-holding States of the confederacy. Those ties have been strengthened by association.

    That’s your reason.

    Here’s Georgia’s declaration:

    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-slave-holding 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.

    slavery, yet again.

  20. Nathan,

    What I am basically saying is that states rights was the excuse, the way they could cover their legal ass, so to speak, so that people wouldn’t confuse them breaking up the union as an illegal act. But their underlying reason was that they could see the writing on the wall. The future of the United States of America was a slave free country. They simply could not accept that. So they argued that the democratic process of the country as a whole was ‘suffocating’ their rights to slavery, and they would rather destroy the union than give up those rights to enslave the black race, because after all “only the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun.” What a bunch of spoiled rotten selfish brats. I guess they really are grandfathers to today’s Republicans…they needed and got a good spanking.

  21. Nathan,

    I appreciate your attempt here, and your comments and your insight, but I cannot be clear enough at how little interest I have in those corrupt, degenerate Southern societies that treated other human beings in such a terrible fashion. I have zero interest. My post was to dispel the notion that the Civil War was over states rights. As you seem to agree (unless I am mistaken in reading your comments) you too agree that slavery was a major component of the causes of the Civil War. I don’t care for the Southern states, I don’t care for the way of life they stood for. I am glad to God that the North won, and mourn for the amazingly long time it still took for Americans to stop being so awful toward other human beings who happened to have had a different color of skin. I understand it was a different time, but that doesn’t excuse that kind of behavior. That doesn’t excuse the pride of thinking one is better than another solely based on the color of skin. And I believe God will not excuse them either.

    • “I cannot be clear enough at how little interest I have in those corrupt, degenerate Southern societies that treated other human beings in such a terrible fashion. I have zero interest.”

      “I understand it was a different time, but that doesn’t excuse that kind of behavior. That doesn’t excuse the pride of thinking one is better than another solely based on the color of skin. And I believe God will not excuse them either.”

      You are Mormon right? So it would stand to reason that your prophet Joseph Smith would not lead you wrong on these matters. Here is what he had to say in History of the Church period 1 Vol. 2 beginning on pg. 436:

      The Prophet’s Views on Abolition. Brother Oliver Cowdery, DEAR SIR:–This place [Kirtland] having recently been visited by a gentleman who advocated the principles or doctrines of those who are called Abolitionists, and his presence having created an interest in that subject, if you deem the following reflections of any service, or think they will have a tendency to correct the opinions of the Southern public, relative to the views and sentiments I entertain, as an individual, and which I am able to say from personal knowledge are the sentiments of others, you are at liberty to give them publicity in the columns of the Advocate. In one respect I am prompted to this course in consequence of many Elders having gone into the Southern States, besides there being now many in that country who have already embraced the fulness of the Gospel, as revealed through the Book of Mormon. I have learned by experience that the enemy of truth does not slumber, nor cease his exertions to bias the minds of communities against the servants of the Lord, by stirring up the indignation of men upon all matters of importance or interest; therefore I fear that the sound might go out, that “an Abolitionist” had held forth several times to this community, and that the public feeling was not aroused to create mobs or disturbances, leaving the impression that all he said was concurred in, and received as Gospel, and the word of salvation. I am happy to say that no violence, or breach of the public peace, was attempted: so far from this, all, except a very few, attended to their own vocations, and left the gentleman to hold forth his own arguments to nearly naked walls. I am aware that many, who profess to preach the Gospel, complain against their brethren of the same faith, who reside in the South, and are ready to withdraw the hand of fellowship, because they will not renounce the principle of slavery, and raise their voice against every thing of the kind This must be a tender print, and one which should call forth the candid reflections of all men, and more especially before they advance in an opposition calculated to lay waste the fair states of the South, and let loose upon the world a community of people, who might, peradventure, overrun our country, and violate the most sacred principles of human society, chastity and virtue.
      page 437
      No one will pretend to say that the people of the free states are as capable of knowing the evils of slavery, as those who hold slaves. If slavery be an evil, who could we expect would first learn it: Would the people of the free states, or the people of the slave states? All must readily admit, that the latter would first learn this fact. If the fact were learned first by those immediately concerned, who would be more capable than they of prescribing a remedy? And besides, are not those who hold slaves, persons of ability, discernment and candor? Do they not expect to give an account at the bar of God for their conduct in this life? It may no doubt with propriety be said that many who hold slaves live without the fear of God before their eyes; but the same may be said of many in the free states. Then who is to be the judge in this matter? So long, then, as the people of the free states, are not interested in the freedom of the slaves, in any other way than upon the mere abstract principles of equal rights, and of the Gospel; and are ready to admit that there are men of piety, who reside in the South, who are immediately concerned, and until they complain and call for assistance, why not cease this clamor, and no further urge the slave to acts of murder, and the master to vigorous discipline, rendering both miserable, and unprepared to pursue that course which might otherwise lead them both to better their conditions? I do not believe that the people of the North have any more right to say that the South shall not hold slaves, than the South have to say the North shall.
      page 438
      And further, what benefit will it ever be to the slaves for persons to run over the free states, and excite indignation against their masters in the minds of thousands and tens of thousands, who understand nothing relative to their circumstances, or conditions? I mean particularly those who have never traveled in the South, and who in all their lives have scarcely ever seen a negro.

      How any community can ever be excited with the chatter of such persons, boys and others, who are too indolent to obtain their living by honest industry, and are incapable of pursuing any occupation of a professional nature, is unaccountable to me; and when I see persons in the free states, signing documents against slavery, it is no less, in my mind, than an army of influence, and a declaration of hostilities against the people of the South. What course can sooner divide our union?

      After having expressed myself so freely upon this subject, I do not doubt, but those who have been forward in raising their voices against the South, will cry out against me as being uncharitable, unfeeling, unkind, and wholly unacquainted with the Gospel of Christ. It is my privilege then to name certain passages from the Bible, and examine the teachings of the ancients upon the matter as the fact is uncontrovertible that the first mention we have of slavery is found in the Holy Bible, pronounced by a man who was perfect in his generation, and walked with God. And so far from that prediction being averse to the mind of God, it remains as a lasting monument of the decree of Jehovah, to the shame and confusion of all who have cried out against the South, in consequence of their holding the sons of Ham in servitude. “And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.” “Blessed be the Lord God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant” (Gen. ix: 25, 26).

      Trace the history of the world from this notable event down to this day, and you will find the fulfillment of this singular prophecy. What could have been the design of the Almighty in this singular occurrence is not for me to say; but I can say, the curse is not yet taken off from the sons of Canaan, neither will be until it is affected by as great a power as caused it to come; and the people who interfere the least with the purposes of God in this matter, will come under the least condemnation before Him; and those who are determined to pursue a course, which shows an opposition, and a feverish restlessness against the decrees of the Lord, will learn, when perhaps it is too late for their own good, that God can do His own work, without the aid of those who are not dictated by His counsel.

      I must not pass ever a notice of the history of Abraham, of whom so much is spoken in the Scripture. If we can credit the account, God conversed with him from time to time, and directed him in the way he should walk, saying, I am the Almighty; walk before me, and be thou perfect.” Paul says the Gospel was preached to this man. And it is further said, that he had sheep and oxen, men-servants and maid-servants, etc. From this I conclude, that if the principle had been an evil one, in the midst of the communications made to this holy man, he would have been instructed to that effect, and if he was instructed against holding man-servants and maid-servants, he never ceased to do it; consequently must have incurred the displeasure of the Lord, and thereby lost His blessings; which was not the fact.
      page 439
      Some may urge that the names man servant and maid-servant, only mean hired persons, who were at liberty to leave their masters or employers at any time. But we can easily settle this pint, by turning to the history of Abraham’s descendants, when governed by a law from the mouth of Jehovah Himself. I know that when an Israelite had been brought into servitude, in consequence of debt, or otherwise, at the seventh year he went from the task of his former master, or employer; but to no other people or nation was this granted in the law of Israel. And if after a man had served six years, he did not wish to be free, then the master was to bring him unto the judges–bore his ear with an awl, and that man was “to serve him forever.” The conclusion I draw from this, is, that this people were led and governed by revelation, and if such a law was wrong, God only is to be blamed, and abolitionists are not responsible.

      Now, before proceeding any farther, I wish to ask one or two questions: Were the Apostles men of God, and did they preach the Gospel? I have no doubt that those who believe the Bible, will admit that they were; and that they also knew the mind and will of God concerning what they wrote to the churches, which they were instrumental in building up. This being admitted, the matter can be put to rest without much argument, if we look at a few items in the New Testament. Paul says: “Servants be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; not with eyeservice as men-pleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; with good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men’ knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall be received of the Lord, whether he be bound or free. And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven: neither is there respect of persons with him” (Eph. vi: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9). Here is a lesson which might be profitable for all to learn; and the principle upon which the Church was anciently governed, is so plainly set forth, that an eye of truth might see and understand. Here certainly, are represented the master, and servant; and so far from instructions to the servant to leave his master, he is commanded to be in obedience, as unto the Lord; the master in turn, is required to treat him with kindness before God; understanding, at the same time, that he is to give an account. The hand of fellowship is not withdrawn from him in consequence of his having servants.
      page 440
      The same writer, in his first epistle to Timothy, the sixth chapter, and the first five verses, says,–“Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honor, that the name of God and His doctrine be not blasphemed. And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren: but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort. If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; he is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputing of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness’ from such withdraw thyself.” This is so perfectly plain, that I see no need of comment. The Scripture stands for itself; and I believe that these men were better qualified to teach the will of God, than all the abolitionists in the world.

      Before closing this communication, I beg leave to drop a word to the traveling Elders. You know, brethren, that great responsibility rests upon you; and that you are accountable to God, for all you teach the world. In my opinion, you will do well to search the Book of Covenants, in which you will see the belief of the Church, concerning masters and servants. All men are to be taught to repent; but we have no right to interfere with slaves, contrary to the mind and will of their masters. In fact it would be much better, and more prudent, not to preach at all to slaves, until after their masters are converted, and then teach the masters to use them with kindness: remembering that they are accountable to God, and the servants are bound to serve their masters with singleness of heart, without murmuring.

      I do most sincerely hope that no one who is authorized from this Church to preach the Gospel, will so far depart from the Scriptures, as to be found stirring up strife and sedition against our brethren of the South. Having spoken frankly and freely, I leave all in the hands of God, who will direct all things for His glory, and the accomplishment of His work. Praying that God may spare you to do much good in this life, I subscribe myself your brother in the Lord, JOSEPH SMITH

      It would seem that according to Smith, God thought slavery was ok as long as the slaves were treated kindly and were preached to of Gods word. I would argue that most slaves of the south were not beaten and mistreated as the history books would have us believe. Most slaves were christians…..which was revealed to them through their masters.
      Also apparently it was “a different time” and in that time the practice was acceptable to God and his prophets. This is your belief correct?

      • It isn’t my belief, no. I don’t care what Joseph Smith said, or what Brigham Young said. They were both wrong on the matter.

  22. Nathan,

    The fact is it was common knowledge everywhere in the country at the time that the negro was inferior to the white man

    common belief, not knowledge. Big difference. Take Alexander Hamilton, who rose out of the West Indies where some of the worst atrocities were committed against African slaves, which he saw as he grew up, who was a fierce proponent of abolitionism. Don’t make excuses for them, Nathan. It was not knowledge. It was belief. I wish there was something comparable in our time for analogy, but thankfully there isn’t. We may believe different things about different peoples, ethnicities, and so on, but we’re not killing them off these days, or enslaving them based solely on the manner of their birth.

    It isnt pretty, but as a student of history who despises people who conceal truths and twist stories, I cant be ashamed about things my ancestor believed or said. Can I?

    only if you believe it, as well. Then you ought to be ashamed.

  23. So they left the decision into the hands of the free blacks in the state, and the free blacks decided almost unanimously to stay in Virginia.

    well obviously they don’t want to leave their homes. Imagine someone coming to you and saying, “you can be free, but only free somewhere else,” and you tell them, “but I want to be free here in my home.”

    Southeners who had a full right to resign from the United States as they had willingly joined it

    I covered that in the piece. They did NOT have a right to resign from the United States. There is no such thing as a United States if the states can leave at will. The whole nature of the creation of the United States was going to be destroyed. And Lincoln made the right decision. Destroy the rebellion. As is clear over the last 150 years, that was the right call. The United States is now the world’s most powerful, successful, wealthiest nation. Good on Lincoln. It would do well to today’s Republicans to stand with Lincoln instead of standing on his grave.

    • F.Y.I. Daniel, The right to “secceed” or seperate as it would be called in today’s language is a HUMAN RIGHT. It makes NO DIFFERENCE if the constitution does or doesn’t “allow” it. If you believe otherwise then we were teh rebels and if you were alive during the colonies “seccession” from England you would probably be saying ” those Colonial bastards got what they deserved”. when England started slaughtering the colonists….right?

      I mean, Jefferson said it best when he said:

      We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

      I am pretty sure that he is talking about seccession as an inalienable right. But, we don’t want to talk about that. If it’s not in the constitution it’s not a right…..right?

      • If it’s not in the constitution it’s not a right…..right?

        pretty much. The burden of proof lies on the South to prove that the Federal government became destructive to those ends—life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. As it is, they failed, thus their rebellion was illegal and needed to be put down with the most fierce action possible. Too bad we didn’t have nukes back then…that would have taught the South a lesson.

      • The southern States nor anyone for that matter need to bear any “burden of proof” that they no longer consent to their government! Thats ridiculous! If that were so, then the colonies were committing an “illegal” act in seceeding from England. I’m sure that it was considered “illegal to king George that secession was taking place in his territory. (Colonies) And I am sure that the English didn’t think that the colonies have proven that they had become destructive of those end either! So why was it ok for the colonies, but for everyone else it’s not?

      • Nukes? Are you sure your not a neo-con at heart?

    • So it was the right call to slaughter all manner of men women and children in excess of 600,000 people in all, in order to become the next global empire, obtain riches, and success. Yeah, good job Lincoln. I think it would have been much better to let them leave…..and live.
      Slavery would have ended without the war, men would have retained their liberty in the end, WITHOUT bloodshed. I would wager to guess that the Union would have eventually survived after these ssues were resolved. If not oh well…. thats liberty. I am not so nationalistic as to believe that we Must always be a Union. I am sure all the States would have been better off without the last 100 years of Federal tyranny. Unfortunately, the worst part of the war between the States was the centralizing of power in Washington. And the best was the end of slavery. But, we could have had the latter without the former.

  24. secession and nullification were NOT inherent rights of the states.

    Look Nathan, if it were for any other reason but slavery, I really wouldn’t care that the southern states left the Union. Frankly I’d be quite happy if they left today. Texas for instance keeps threatening to secede. They don’t seem to get that at least I, among others, would love to see them go. Get out of the country if you don’t like it. However, the action would be illegal and the rest of the country would be well within its right to forcibly return the state into the Union. The rest of the country could also say, “meh, y’all want out, fine by me.” In the 1860s, that would not have worked well at all. The creation of a second nation next to the United States would have been the cause of much warfare between the two over the next 150 years. Just look at the Greek city-states, separate, but yet based on essentially the same system. Yet constantly at each others’ throats. That would have been a terrible path for our country. It would have been exploited by the European powers (not yet diminished in their imperialism) and the United States would have ceased to exist.

    George Washington, a Southerner, knew the importance of the creation of the United States and he said very clearly:

    The unity of government which constitutes you one people is also now dear to you. It is justly so, for it is a main pillar in the edifice of your real independence, the support of your tranquility at home, your peace abroad; of your safety; of your prosperity; of that very liberty which you so highly prize. But as it is easy to foresee that, from different causes and from different quarters, much pains will be taken, many artifices employed to weaken in your minds the conviction of this truth;

    He devoted quite a lot of his farewell speech on the subject of national unity over local preferences. He was a smart man. We should listen to him.

    • “That would have been a terrible path for our country. It would have been exploited by the European powers (not yet diminished in their imperialism) and the United States would have ceased to exist.

      George Washington, a Southerner, knew the importance of the creation of the United States”

      “He devoted quite a lot of his farewell speech on the subject of national unity over local preferences. He was a smart man. We should listen to him.”

      Washington is aspousing nationalist ideas! and you like what he is saying.
      Wait according to your blog nationalism is bad! George Washington was a,….dare I say it,…..a nationalist! Say it isn’t so!!! Thats what the Federalists were….They were for Nationalizing the States. Nationalism. which is bad ….remember. you can’t have it both ways. But, you are still young and don’t understand your own hipocricy yet. When you shake off the layers of indoctrination piled on you from your Government approved education, and start to realize that what you thought you believed doesn’t match up with what you know to be a fundamental truth, then your mind will truly begin to open. And the truth of these matters will matter.

      • yeah, nationalism is generally bad. But the kind of nationalism that Washington was evoking was not, because he wasn’t attempting to differentiate peoples by their national origin. That form of nationalism is bad. That’s the one that generally makes things bad.

      • So what your saying is loving your country is good as long as you don’t let it get to the point of denigrating others for not sharing the same geography?
        If I have that right then we agree. But if you are saying that being proud of your country and heritage is bad then we don’t.

  25. As for John Brown, not sure what you want.

  26. Nathan,

    Except as I pointed out earlier as crucial as the issue of slavery was to the secession crisis it is NOT what forced a state like Virginia out of the Union, not even when understanding that the institution was in danger, that the scewed Federal government was passing laws at the expense of their people and that Northern states were all protecting themselves with state laws to prevent racial assimilation at the expense of Southeners.

    And what were those laws? anti-slavery laws! The civil war was about slavery. At its core, every issue they argued over was whether or not slavery could be allowed in the future of the United States. That’s the end of all the questions. Slavery. Slavery! SLAVERY!

  27. As for John Brown, if I were alive in those days and lived in New York City (as I do now), I probably would have cheered him on, saying that those Southern bastards got what they deserved. It’s not pretty, but that is my emotional response. The state of Virginia was well within its rights to arrest and convict him for his crime (because he did commit a crime). His acts have no legal justification and he was rightly condemned.

    As for who decides that a law is wrong or right, well, that’s a far trickier question isn’t it? Because if a large enough segment of the people don’t like a law, that law will actually lose its effect and enforceability. For instance prohibition. It was a highly unpopular law and was very difficult to enforce because few actually liked it. Thankfully it was a minor law in the grand scheme of things and its removal didn’t require a revolution. Anti-slavery laws were hated enough by a large enough segment of the population that they actually rebelled against the system. If they won the war, the law would have lost its enforceability. They lost, thus the law remained in force. Over in Egypt, Mubarak’s 30 year old state of emergency laws lost their effect the moment practically everyone in Cairo took to the streets. Once unenforceable, it was no longer valid, and a change occurred. Even authoritarian laws must have the approval of the people in order for it to have validity and effect. Generally in authoritarian systems, the rule of brute force provides a larger cover for unpopular laws, but even in authoritarian systems, there is a limit.

  28. Nathan,

    We’re just going to go round in circles. You pick Virginia, the state next to the capital, next to northern states, with many “Unionists” and then are surprised that such a state would rather not talk about slavery as a reason. Go further south, sir. Go to where it all begins. You’re quoting the state of Virginia, long after South Carolina and others seceded. What was their reason, Nathan? They wanted to continue owning slaves and the rest of the country didn’t. At its core this is the argument. Plain and simple. Yes, the overall history is far more complex, but when you boil it down to its simplest form it is this: Southern states wanted to continue using slavery while the rest of the states didn’t. That’s the essential point. Slavery was the cause of the Civil War. Don’t make excuses for the south. They were NOT in the right, no matter what justification they use.

  29. Nathan,

    I am not ignoring facts. Name one other main issue that would cause southern states from feeling “subjugated” other than slavery. Don’t tell me there’s some other issue that caused conflict between the north and south when it came to westward expansion. Was there? When a new state was included in the union, what was the typical discussion between the states already in the union as to what laws would be allowed in the new state?

  30. well Nathan, I am confused as to what you are doing here also. My original post was not intended to be anything comprehensive about the causes of the Civil War. I stated:

    Thousands of books have been written on the subject. My few words here will not be comprehensive, and certainly nothing to improve upon any of actual scholars who have studied the topic in full. My point here is to make clear a few things, because—and I am continually surprised at this—today’s Republicans, especially the more militant, hardcore right-wing Christian kinds, believe the South was right, that the South was innocent, and that the war was not fought over slavery.

    That’s the whole reason for my post. Did YOU read my post? 😉

    While I appreciate greatly the minute details of this person or that state, I am truly and honestly not interested in those details in this post. I was merely correcting the charge by some that the Civil War was over states rights. It wasn’t. It was over slavery. You agree with me, or at least I think you do. You say so:

    Please Daniel dont act like I am underplaying the slavery issue. I understand how monumental the slavery question was and how it spanned a vast array of political, moral and social questions.

    For this blog post, the little details don’t matter because they don’t change the overriding point: that the Civil War was over slavery. Am I correct in saying that? I think we’re talking just a little bit past each other because it seems I am coming across as not reading your posts. I am. And the details are amazing. You truly know the history well. I guess I should just say, “thanks for your comment.” and move on. But in your first comment, you attempted to shift away from the point that you later get back to, that slavery was the overriding cause. I haven’t disagreed with you that other issues were at play. However, all issues were colored (uh, no pun intended) by slavery. This is why I say we’re just going to start going round in circles now. I appreciate you adding in cool details about this or that conflict over what to do, but in the end that doesn’t change the general point. You’re free to continue commenting if you want, but of late I haven’t written substantive posts here on my blog. I guess it’s become a bit of a fad…

  31. well I appreciate your comments Nathan. You should write your own blog, or your own book. You know the subject very well.

  32. you didn’t upset me. I only reposted this post which I wrote years ago in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War. I didn’t really want to discuss it again, but you brought very good points so I had to respond. 🙂

  33. Daniel, Here is a well written and thought out document on the”legality” and/or constitutionality of secession. I would implore you to read it with an open mind. Understand the right to sever ties with a government that a people doesn’t feel represents them is a human right regardless of any constitutional right……no matter what the reasons for their feeling that way….thats liberty.

  34. What a great piece! I am only a third of the way through, but am learning plenty already. Thanks for the link! I am always facinated with this topic.

  35. I don’t allow mises shit on my blog

  36. mises is the anarcho-libertarian guys led by Ludwig Von Mises and these days by Lew Rockwell. I’m quite sure you’ll love them. For me, their irrationality and unreasonable positions of life, the universe, and everything is not something I will allow on my blog. It’s the great thing about being dictator of one’s own blog. 🙂

    but to show that I am a nice guy, and since you say you haven’t had a chance to read that mises crap yet, here is the link colonial dude wanted to share with you. Please let me know when you read it, so then I can delete it again. 🙂

    • Have you ever read anything from mises? or are you just assuming? I am certainly no anarcho-capitalist. I don’t believe in anarchy. I would NEVER give the communist created “capitalist ” word as a label to those who believe in free makets. As it was free markets that made this Union GREAT! The focus of mises is economics and on those points they are proven right over and over again. when it comes to anarchism they are flat out wrong. In my opinion. So my point os one should never dismiss all of a person or organizations work because there might just be something to learn, or some fundamental truths that are present in learning.

      • yes, I’ve read stuff from mises. It’s pretty crappy. Poor logic. That’s all I have to say about that. Choose other sources for commenting on my blog. 🙂

  37. sure, you guys can talk about whatever you want.

  38. i don’t think you’re conservative per se. I only said that you essentially share an affinity with those guys over there in their love of the South.

    • I’ll bet you have never been to the south have you? You just like to hate them because you were told they are evil. Don’t get me wrong I am no apologist for the south’s years of slavery. It was horrible, detestable, and an afront to human liberty. But when you lump a whole group of people into the same mold and say that it was fine for them to be slaughtered like animals then you have crossed a line that no one should cross. I have been to the south and there are MANY good people there. As I am sure there was during the war between the States. Sherman and the like were just as evil if not worse than those who held the belief that blacks were somehow inferior.(which by the way most northerners believed too. Including Lincoln,
      Sherman, and Grant) He layed waste to MANY innocent people, including women and children. and from what i gather from your comments is that was A-OK in your book because the southerners were all evil discusting people who must have all owned slaves and treated them horribly. NO MAN has the right to judge and kill for that judgment, even if the cause is deeemed “noble”. The war between the States was something that never should have, and didn’t need to happen. There was slavery in MANY countries that was abolished WITHOUT war. We could have easily gone that route were it not for mistakes on BOTH the north and the south. War is NEVER the answer. And to believe that the War was all one sides fault, and was only fought over one issue is elementary at best.
      I am not saying that you are a bad person, or trying to attack you Daniel, I am just hoping to give you another viewpoint with the hope of helping you to see that things are not always so black and white.(no pun intended)

      • if Texas is a part of The South, then yes, I’ve been to “the South.” I’ve even lived there.

        as for my comments about how the South “deserved it”, please don’t take them seriously. As you guys probably see, i’ve had lots of people commenting on these posts about the civil war and I’ve generally tired of the defense people give to the South. It’s more a retroactive defense on “state rights” rather than slavery (I’m not gonna rehash it now, i’ll let you two have at it), which defense is more about modern politics than what occurred 150 years ago. So I’m just being rather childish about it. Don’t take those comments seriously. Obviously no one deserved any of the loss they suffered in that awful civil war, except those who were mean and cruel to blacks. They DO deserve it.

  39. As to the validity of secession I believe the following article by Clifford Thius sums up the debate quite nicely. Again, I know some people cannot seperate the issue of slavery from southern secession but I would like to point out that my defense is NOT for slavery….it’s for a inalienable human right.:

    Secession is in our future
    By Clifford Thius

    Can states secede? There are three levels on which this question can be answered:
    1.the inalienable right of secession,
    2.the international law of secession, and
    3.the US law of secession.
    All three say yes.

    The Inalienable Right of Secession

    The Declaration of Independence of the United States of America invokes the self-evident truths that all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that governments are formed to protect these rights and gain their just powers from the consent of the governed, and that when a government becomes abusive of these rights, it is the right — no, it is the duty — of the people to alter or abolish that government.

    To say governments were formed to protect the rights of men would be historically incorrect. Almost all governments were formed by ruthless men exerting their will over others through the use of force. Some governments, over time, evolved toward the rule of law, perhaps only because their rulers saw that this would sanction their own continued enjoyment of the wealth that they possessed. In some instances, this evolution involved one or more “revolutions” in which those who were governed were able to better establish the rule of law.

    The language of the Declaration should not be construed as an argument about the historical origins of government but, rather, as what would be true and just to an enlightened person, namely, that as persons and as communities of persons, we have the right and the duty to alter or abolish governments that become abusive of our rights. As Benjamin Franklin once put it, “Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God.”

    Virginia state flag (detail)

    The concept of an inalienable right of secession was not original to the American Revolution. It can be traced to the scholastics, to Reformation politics, and to the most ancient Greek and Hebrew writings. Without going into a dissertation on the subject, let me simply point to the flag of the state of Virginia, which was designed by Thomas Jefferson. It depicts a female warrior (Athena) standing atop a slain tyrant (Zeus).

    According to legend, Zeus, the greatest and most terrible of the gods, was supposed to be the god of law, yet he was himself lawless. When he heard that he would sire a child who would destroy him, he swallowed his wife whole to prevent it. But the child grew within him and then burst from him fully grown. This child was Athena, the goddess of victory, liberty, and peace. And, she did indeed slay her father. It should be easy to see, in this legend, how the rule of law might be established from a government formed through the use of force.

    Now, does a massive increase in taxes, in spending, and in the federal deficit constitute such an abuse of the rights of men as to justify secession under the doctrine of an inherent right to secede? I don’t think so. Ask me about the inherent right to secede when the government starts to restrict our freedom of speech, to shut down the independent media, to confiscate our guns, and to take away our children.

    The International Law of Secession

    The international law of secession is in the process of emerging at this very time. The U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights indicates that all people have the right to a country. A corollary of this is that no people should long be kept in nationless status, e.g., the Palestinians. A further corollary of this is that no people should long be kept in any subjugated status, such as by being citizens or subjects of a country from which they are alienated.

    Now, as a practical matter, consideration has to be given to whether an identifiable people exist in an identifiable place. At least, this is the current thinking. But, if these several elements come together: an identifiable people in an identifiable place that grouse under the subjugation of the larger nation, there is a growing consensus that this people and place can be severed from the larger nation, even by rebellion and with support from outside the larger nation. East Timor, Eritrea, and the devolutions of the former Soviet Union and Yugoslavia (including the ongoing situation in Kosovo) illustrate the development of the international law of secession.

    Turning to the United States, it is now well established that the country consists of so many “red” (Republican) and “blue” (Democrat) states, along with a few “purple” (battleground) states. Even in a so-called landslide, like 2008, only a few states “flip” from Republican to Democrat, and these states go from close Republican to close Democrat. Furthermore, the whole purpose of elections has become to decide whether Democrats get to raise taxes on Republicans while adjusting the Alternative Minimum Tax so as to minimize the impact on themselves, and whether Democrats get to force acceptance of gay marriage onto Republicans or whether Republicans get to force unwanted pregnancies onto Democrats. In other words, there no longer is any pretense of federalism in which domestic policy is left to the states of the Union.

    Under these conditions, it can be argued that, were either party to fall into permanent minority status, and the other party to establish hegemonic control over the so-called federal government, the people in the other party could be said to be an alienated, identifiable people in an identifiable place, and could assert a right to secede under emerging international law.

    The argument for secession under emerging international law might be strongest for Alaska. Geographically, the place is disjoint from the other states of the Union, making it an identifiable place. Furthermore, under their state constitution’s explicit right of privacy, possession of small amounts of marijuana is a right; yet, the so-called federal government imposes the costs of its war on drugs onto the citizens of Alaska.

    Furthermore, the people of Alaska have been long frustrated in developing their natural resources because of the opposition by majorities in the “lower 48.” Indeed, as a separate nation, Alaska might be the freest place in the world, with zero taxes because of its wealth in natural resources, well-established civil liberties, and a socially tolerant, live-and-let-live attitude among its people.

    Following Alaska, states such as Florida and Texas would have the next best arguments for secession under international law, since they are themselves on a seacoast and their secession would not much disrupt the road, transmission wire, pipeline or other infrastructure networks of the other states.

    States such as Utah and Kentucky, being landlocked “enclaves,” would have a relatively weak argument. On the other hand, it would be relatively easy for these states to join with other states that have already seceded or are in the process of seceding, and form a patchwork of independent republics that develop compacts to facilitate interstate travel, commerce, water flow, transmission of electricity, and so forth.

    US Law of Secession

    “The Constitution, in all its provisions, looks to an indestructible Union, composed of indestructible States.”
    – Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase speaking for the U.S. Supreme Court in White v. Texas

    The US law of secession is thought to have been decided by the US Supreme Court in White v. Texas, following the Civil War. The actual matter to be decided was relatively insignificant. The Court used the occasion to issue a very broad decision. Chief Justice Chase, speaking for the Court, said,

    The union between Texas and the other States was as complete, as perpetual, and as indissoluble as the union between the original States. There was no place for reconsideration or revocation, except through revolution or through consent of the States.

    Notice that the second sentence appears to totally contradict the first sentence.

    The first sentence I just quoted invokes words such as “perpetual,” and in so doing may create the impression that the Supreme Court decreed that no state could ever secede from the Union. But, on careful reading, the relationship between Texas and the other states of the Union is merely “as indissoluble as the union between the original States.” In other words, Texas, having been a nonoriginal state, has no greater right of secession than do the original states. As to how states might secede, the second sentence says, “through revolution or through consent of the States.”

    As to why a state might secede, either through revolution or through consent, Chief Justice Chase presciently discusses the 9th and 10th Amendments to the US Constitution, which reserve to the states and to the people thereof all powers not expressly granted to the federal government, and that the design of the Union, implicit in the very name “United States,” is the preservation of the states as well as of the Union:

    the preservation of the States, and the maintenance of their governments, are as much within the design and care of the Constitution as the preservation of the Union and the maintenance of the National government.

    The so-called United States of America ceases to exist when the political majority of the country attempts to rule the entire country as a nation instead of as a federal government. In such a circumstance, the “indestructible union of indestructible states” of which the Court speaks is already dissolved.

    As to whether “Texas” continued as a state and, furthermore, as a state of the United States during the period of rebellion, the Court made clear that it continued as both although certain rights that normally accrue to states of the United States fell into suspension. Presumably, if Texas had seceded “with the consent of the States,” Texas would have been able to free itself from the Union described as the “United States,” and could have considered joining into another Union described as the “Confederate States.”

    Also presumably, if the Confederate States of America had been able to impose their will onto the other states of the United States through force or had been able to induce the other states to consent, Texas and the other states of the Confederate States could have seceded from one Union and joined into another. But, the outcomes of wars are problematic.

    How Do “the States” Consent to Secession?

    The wide-ranging discussion of the Court in White v. Texas contains a lot of intriguing and obtuse comments. How, for example, do “the States” give consent to the secession of a state? The Constitution, as the Court says, does not envision such a thing, and does not provide a process. What if the legislatures of “the States” sent delegates to a convention that drafted a constitution for a more perfect union, which would take effect for those states that ratified it, providing that at least a two-thirds majority of them did so? For those who were not homeschooled, it may be necessary to point out that this was the process through which the Constitution of 1789 was created and through which eleven states seceded from the union provided by the Articles of Confederation, leaving Rhode Island and North Carolina as the only two states in that prior union. (Those two states eventually also seceded from the prior union, thereupon making it a nullity, and joined into the new union.)

    While the Constitution of 1789 required the secession of 9 out of 13 states, does this mean that a supermajority of the states would be necessary for consent? It seems to me that a supermajority would not be necessary, but only a simple majority, for a US version of what is called the “Velvet Revolution” in the former Czechoslovakia, now the Czech and Slovak Republics. In that country, dissolution involved nothing more earth shattering than a bunch of accountants who scurried about the country, totting up the value of the assets of the national government that would fall into the possession of each succeeding government so as to determine how to fairly apportion the national debt to the succeeding governments. Of course, in that case, both succeeding governments transitioned to membership in the European Union, guaranteeing the free flow of goods, labor and capital between them and the other members of the E.U., as well as guaranteeing certain civil liberties and democratic processes to the persons in each of the succeeding republics.

    Looking at the electoral maps of the United States of recent presidential elections, it appears that the potentially disaffected red states of a socially liberal, economically socialist blue nation constitute a nearly compact, self-contained block from the southeast coast to the Rocky Mountain west, plus Alaska. Indiana and Ohio appear as two purple states jutting into an otherwise blue Great Lakes region.

    New Hampshire is a purple state in a deeply blue New England (but, being a coastline state, it would not matter much that it was not connected by land to other breakaway states). Contrariwise, Colorado and New Mexico are two purple or blue states in the Rocky Mountain region that might wind up as enclaves of Old America amidst the independent republics of New America.

    Of course, once it becomes clear that a majority of the states — and specifically those that are the most productive — are seceding, the remaining states of Old America will have to consider their options. Would they want to bail out the corporations, the unionized public-school teachers, municipal workers, and the UAW, and the bankrupt states of California and New Jersey, among others, when the burden falls much more heavily onto them?

    A state like Minnesota, with a solid work ethic, which tends to vote Democratic in presidential elections, might think it could do better with New America than with the moochers of Old America. Even Iowa, where they bury farmers only three feet deep nowadays, so they can still get their hand out, will have to weigh the pros of the ethanol subsidies they receive versus the cons of the taxes they will have to pay to subsidize everybody else. Possibly, once the rush gets underway, the only “state” that will be left in Old America will be the District of Columbia.

  40. Nathan,
    I am going to post the piece you suggested on my blog. If you would like to dicuss it further you can visit me there. simply click on my screen name or go to: or


  41. I cleared your guys’s comments.

  42. are you suggesting I am hypocritical? That I don’t want conservatives to retroactively say the civil war was over state rights while I want to retroactively say whites were racist against blacks in the 1860s? Well, one is true and the other isn’t, Nathan. Whites were racist against blacks, and the Civil War was not fought over state rights. Pretty simple. 🙂

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