Thursday, June 01, 2006

The American Civil War was Fought over Slavery

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.
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.
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.


At 6/02/2006 11:10:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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

At 6/02/2006 11:20:00 AM, Blogger nicolaepadigone said...

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

At 6/05/2006 07:28:00 AM, Blogger DannyHSDad said...

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....

At 6/05/2006 10:03:00 AM, Blogger nicolaepadigone said...


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.


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