Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Civil War WAS About Slavery

If I hear another Southern based (or non-Southern based) history revisionist claim that the American Civil War wasn't about slavery, I'm gonna scream.

I've been thinking about it in the wake of the recent news that the Senate passed a resolution apologizing to African Americans for slavery and Jim Crow segregation, but of course made sure that reparations wasn't part of the deal.

So let's take a trip on the way back machine to Savannah, GA. The date is March 21, 1861 and we're at the Athenaeum listening to Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens' infamous 'Cornerstone Speech'.

Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner- stone 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. [Applause.] This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.

There's been this constant drone from Confederate apologists pimping the 'it wasn't about slavery' meme. It salves their realizations (or ignoring) of the facts:

* their ancestors fought a war to perpetuate the brutal oppression of my ancestors through slavery.
*they were fighting against their own economic interests in favor of the economic interests of the planter class.

Perusing the Declarations of the Causes of Secession for each of the Southern states that seceded from the Union to form the Confederacy makes a mockery of that meme.


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.


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.


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. 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.

it's crystal clear that in perusing these declarations the issue that triggered the secession of Southern states from the Union and jumped off the Civil War was slavery.

So no, it wasn't the 'War of Northern Aggression' as you try to spin it, it was the 'War To Perpetuate Slavery'.

I thank God the South lost. It's past time the apologists get over it and the racist attitudes it still engenders almost 150 years later.


Unknown said...

Now let's get this straight, the war was really about state's rights; of course the right they really cared about was the right of states to have slavery even if it was morally abhorent. Come on, get with it!

Dan Walker said...

No the war was not about states rights. In fact, the South hated states rights.

Remember, the South went ballistic AGAINST any state having the right to decide to NOT have slavery.

That's right - the South said no state had right to limit slaver it's own borders.

Furthermore, the South said states had no rights to decide their own laws about fugitive slaves - or any black.

So the South hated states rights.

This blog listened just SOME of the official "Causes Declarations" -- you should add Florida. Florida's said just stopping the SPREAD of slavery was like burning the south to death over a slow fire - because the Negroes were getting so numerous, soon they would be worthless.

Other Southern leaders said they would have to KILL their slaves if Lincoln were elected, because Lincoln was going to free the slaves.

Davis also talked about killing the slaves, if they had to free the slaves.