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Why The War Was Started

If the Declaration of Independence justifies the secession from the British Empire of 3 million Colonists in 1776, we do not see why it would not justify the secession of 5 million Southerners from the Federal Union.....Horace Greeley

If the union was formed by the accession of States then the Union may be dissolved by the secession of States....Daniel Webster, on the floor of the U.S. Senate 2/15/1833.

Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up and shake off the existing government and form a new one that suits them better. This is a most valuable, a most sacred right, a right, which we hope and believe is to liberate the world. Nor is this right confined to cases in which the whole people of an existing government, may choose to exercise it. Any portion of such people that can, may revolutionize and make their own, of so much of the territory as they inhabit.....Abraham Lincoln in his speech in Congress in 1846.

Abe Lincoln when asked "Why not let the South go in peace?"
Lincoln replied: "I can't let them go. Who would pay for the government?"

Please choose from any of the links below:

 

How And Why Abraham Lincoln Started The War Of Northern Aggression To Protect His Own Political Career

-by Frank Conner

To justify their claims that our Confederate ancestors were like Nazi concentration-camp guards--and therefore that all Confederate symbols must now be obliterated, the civil-rights activists argue as follows: the Southern states rebelled against the Union, and started and fought the "Civil War" to protect the unspeakably-evil institution of slavery.

Those are blatant lies, and it is very important for all Southerners to know that. But because the North won the war, you have to look very hard to find the books which tell the truth.

*** John S. Tilley's "Lincoln Takes Command" and Ludwell Johnson's "North Against South" are two such books.

I took most of the material below from those books several days ago, to refute a claim in the SCV list server that Lincoln couldn't have been THAT bad a person. Well, he was.

The North's Republican party came out of nowhere in 1854, formed from the wreckage of the Whig party (the Northern Conscience-Whigs), and from the Free-Soilers and the Know-Nothings. It opposed slavery, and it demanded a powerful national-government which would subsidize Northern industrialization. The new Republican party grew very rapidly. Not surprisingly, its key bankrollers were Northern capitalists--financiers, shippers, industrialists, etc. Two of its founders and strongest political-leaders were Salmon P. Chase (first a senator and then a governor); and William H. Seward (also a governor and a senator).

There were two factors about the election of 1860 which disturbed the Southerners so badly that Southern states subsequently seceded. First was the Republican-party platform for 1860. Basically, the Northern capitalists wanted the U.S. government to tax (only) the South deeply, to finance the industrialization of the North, and the necessary transportation-net to support that. In those days, there was no income tax. The federal government received most of its revenue from tariffs (taxes) on imported goods. The Southern states imported from England most of the manufactured goods they used, thus paid most of the taxes to support the federal government. (The Northerners imported very little.) In 1860, for example, just four Southern-states paid in 50% of the total tariffs.

In 1860, the averaged tariff-rate was 18.84%; the Republicans spread the word that they were shooting for 40%--which could bankrupt many Southerners and would make life much harder for most of them. The Republican platform included a transcontinental railroad (following a Northern route); extensive internal-improvements to extend the transportation net for the Northern manufacturers; a homestead act which would eliminate the only other important source of federal funding, etc.

Second, if the Republicans somehow managed to gain control of Congress AND the White House, they would then be able to use the federal government to enact and enforce their party platform--and thus convert the prosperous Southern-states into the dirt-poor agricultural colonies of the Northern capitalists. And given the trends in demographics, the Southern states would never be able to reverse that process. The intent of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution would then have been subverted completely: the Southern states would no longer be governed with the consent of the governed--but instead bullied mercilessly by the Northern majority. Why, then, remain in the Union?

Came the election.

At the 1860 Republican convention in Chicago, Chase and Seward were the favored candidates. Lincoln was a dark horse. In national politics, he had served only in the House, and only for one two-year term--1847-49: he had left Congress 11 years earlier! Lincoln had only three things going for him: he was considered a political lightweight, who could easily be manipulated by the power brokers; he himself was from Illinois, so the convention hall was located on his own stomping-grounds; and both he and his campaign manager--David E. Davis--were extraordinarily-adroit politicians.

In 1860 the vast majority of the Republicans did not want war. But the relatively-mild Seward had earlier coined several phrases which led many to believe mistakenly that he was a warmonger. And if Seward might possibly lead the country into war, the hot-head Chase would probably do so. Lincoln the unknown murmured soothing words of peace--which went down well. Meanwhile, he and Davis manipulated that convention behind the scenes in ways that would make today's dirty-tricks advocates turn green with envy. Consequently, Lincoln won the Republican nomination.

Meanwhile, the numerically-far-stronger national Democratic-party was busy self-destructing over the issue of slavery.

So when the 1860 election-returns came in, it turned out that the Republicans had won the White House, and substantial majorities in the House and the Senate. When that message sank in, Southern states began seceding from the Union--beginning with South Carolina on 20 December 1860.

Several of them said that the main issue was the protection of slavery, but that was strictly for local consumption by people who did their thinking solely in terms of simple slogans. The Southern legislators could do their math; thus they knew full well that the only truly-safe way to protect the institution of slavery would be for the Southern states to remain in the Union and simply refuse to ratify any proposed constitutional-amendment to emancipate the slaves. For slavery was specifically protected by the Constitution, and that protection could be removed only by an amendment ratified by three-quarters of the states. In 1860 there were 15 slave states and 18 free states. Had the number of slave states remained constant, 27 more free states would have had to be admitted into the Union--for a total of 60 states--before an abolition amendment could be ratified. That was not likely to occur anytime soon. But with the Southern states seceding, the issue of slavery could then be settled by force of arms at any time.

After the Republicans gained control of the presidency and the Congress, eleven Southern states eventually seceded from the Union--specifically to avoid becoming the helpless agricultural-colonies of the Northern capitalists.

This move took the Northern capitalists completely by surprise. The South was like the little boy who was forever crying "wolf." Southern states had been threatening to secede ever since the Tariff of Abominations and the days of Calhoun; the North no longer took those threats seriously. But with the South now gone, there would be no federal funding to industrialize the North--for the Northern citizenry would certainly never agree to be taxed to pay for it. And far worse than that, the many, many Northern-capitalists who had been earning fortunes factoring the Southern cotton-crop, transporting the cotton, and buying the cotton for New England textile-mills now faced financial ruin. The South normally bought its manufactured goods from Britain, anyway. Now, as a sovereign nation, the South could easily cut far better deals with the British financiers, ship owners, and textile mills to supply the South with all of the necessary support-services--leaving the Northern capitalists out in the cold.

This was all Lincoln's fault! If he hadn't been elected, the South wouldn't have seceded; and the Northern capitalists would not now be in this mess.

So as President-elect Lincoln prepared to take office, he was in a world of hurt. He had the trappings of office--but not the power base to support him safely in office against the slings and arrows of his outrageous political-enemies. Both Seward and Chase had well-established power bases (financial backers, newspapers, magazines, personal political-organizations, etc.); both of them wanted Lincoln's job; both of them merely awaited the first opportunity to spring a political trap on him, subject him to deadly ridicule, and thereafter cut him off at the knees.

Given time, Lincoln--who, after all, did occupy the presidency--could weld together a formidable power base of his own; but right at the beginning of his term he was perilously vulnerable. He MUST now have the support of the Northern capitalists.

Lincoln was a Whig masquerading as a Republican, because that was now the only game in town. He didn't care anything about the slavery issue; he preferred to temporize with the abolitionists. But he couldn't temporize with the Northern capitalists. He would have to drag the South back into the Union immediately, or he'd (figuratively) be shot out of the saddle and discredited very quickly; then Seward or Chase would really be running the country; and Lincoln could forget all about being reelected in 1864. That was unthinkable. But there was no way Lincoln or anyone else from the Republican party could possibly talk the Southern states back into the Union at this stage of the game; so he would have to conquer them in war. (He assumed it would be a 90-day war, which the Union Army would win in one battle.)

If you read Lincoln's first inaugural-address with any care at all, you'll see that it was simply a declaration of war against the South. It was also filled with lies and specious reasoning. In 1860, the official government-charter for the U.S. was the U.S. Constitution. In writing it, the delegates to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 (some of the most-canny politicians in the country) had pointedly omitted from it the "perpetual union" clause which had been a main feature of the unworkable Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, the U.S.-government charter adopted only six years earlier in 1781. Under the Articles, no state could secede lawfully unless all states seceded simultaneously. But the Constitution--which Lincoln had just taken an oath to uphold--did not contain that clause (or any other like it); so any state could secede lawfully at any time. The South did secede lawfully. Honest Abe flat-out lied when he said that was not so; and he subsequently used his blatant lie to slaughter 623,000 Americans and Confederates eventually--in order to perpetuate himself in political office.

Lincoln needed an excuse to start his war of aggression, because Congress did not want war and would not declare war of its own volition. The most-likely hot-spot in which Lincoln could start his war was Charleston Harbor, where shots had already been fired in anger under the Buchanan administration. But the newly-elected governor of South Carolina, Francis Pickens, saw the danger--that Lincoln might, as an excuse, send a force of U.S. Navy warships to Charleston Harbor supposedly to resupply Maj Anderson's Union force holed up in Fort Sumter. So Gov Pickens opened negotiations with Maj Anderson, and concluded a deal permitting Anderson to send boats safely to the market in Charleston once a week, where Anderson's men would be allowed to buy whatever victuals they wished. (This arrangement remained in effect until a day or so before the U.S. Navy warships arrived at Charleston). Maj Anderson wrote privately to friends, saying that he hoped Lincoln would not use Fort Sumter as the excuse to start a war, by sending the U.S. Navy to resupply it.

Before his inauguration, Lincoln sent a secret message to Gen Winfield Scott, the U.S. general-in-chief, asking him to make preparations to relieve the Union forts in the South soon after Lincoln took office. Lincoln knew all along what he was going to do.

President Jefferson Davis sent peace commissioners to Washington to negotiate a treaty with the Lincoln administration. Lincoln refused to meet with them; and he refused to permit Secretary of State Seward to meet with them.

After Lincoln assumed the presidency, his principal generals recommended the immediate evacuation of Maj Anderson's men from Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor--which was now located on foreign soil. To resupply it by force at this point would be a deliberate act-of-war against the C.S.A.

It turned out that Lincoln's postmaster general, Montgomery Blair, had a brother-in law, Gustavus V. Fox, who was a retired Navy-captain, and wanted to get back into action. Fox had come up with a plan for resupplying Fort Sumter which would force the Confederates to fire the first shots--under circumstances which would force them to take the blame for the war. Lincoln sent Fox down to talk with Maj Anderson about the plan, but Anderson wanted no part of it. Lincoln had Fox pitch the plan to his Cabinet twice. The first time, the majority said that move would start a war. But the second time, the Cabinet members got Lincoln's pointed message, and capitulated.

Meanwhile, Congress got wind of the plan. Horrified, they called Gen Scott and others to testify about it; Scott and the other witnesses said they wanted no part of the move against the Confederacy in Charleston (and nor did Congress). Congress demanded from Lincoln--as was Congress's right--Fox's report on Maj Anderson's reaction to the plan. Lincoln flatly refused to hand it over to them.

Lincoln sent to Secretary Cameron (for transmittal to Secretary Welles) orders in his own handwriting (!) to make the warships Pocahontas and Pawnee and the armed-cutter Harriet Lane ready for sailing, along with the passenger ship Baltic--which would be used as a troop ship, and two ocean-going tugboats to aid the ships in traversing the tricky shallow harbor-entrance at Charleston. Fox's plan was to send 500 extra Union-soldiers to reinforce Maj Anderson's approximately-86-man force at Fort Sumter--along with huge quantities of munitions, food, and other supplies. The Confederacy would, of course, resist this invasion--in the process firing upon the U.S. flag. The unarmed tugs would, of necessity, enter the harbor first, whereupon they would likely be fired upon by the C.S.A., giving Lincoln the best-possible propaganda to feed to the Northern newspapers, which would then rally the North to his "cause."

Lincoln sent orders for the Union naval-force to begin its journey so as to enter Charleston Harbor on 11 or 12 April. Next, Lincoln sent a courier to deliver an ultimatum to Gov Pickens on 8 April, saying that Lincoln intended to resupply Fort Sumter peaceably or by force. There was no mistaking the intent of that message.

Lincoln had set the perfect trap. He had given President Davis just enough time to amass his forces and fire upon the U.S. Navy. But if Davis acquiesced instead, Lincoln need merely begin sending expeditionary forces to recapture all of the former Union-forts in the South now occupied by Confederate forces; sooner or later Davis would have to fight; and the more forts he allowed Lincoln to recapture in the interim, the weaker would be the military position of the C.S.A. As a practical matter, Davis was left with no choice.

Accordingly, the C.S.A., informed that the U.S. Navy was en route, demanded that Maj Anderson surrender the fort forthwith. Anderson refused; Beauregard's artillery bombarded Fort Sumter into junk (miraculously without loss of life inside); and Anderson then surrendered with honor intact. The U.S. Navy arrived during the bombardment--but because elements of the force had been delayed for various reasons, did not join in the fight. The Navy was allowed to transport Anderson's men back to the U.S.

Thereafter Lincoln wrote to Fox, pronouncing the mission a great success. Lincoln ended his letter by saying, "You and I both anticipated that the cause of the country would be advanced by making the attempt to provision Fort Sumter, even if it should fail; and it is no small consolation now to feel that our anticipation is justified by the result."

Folks, that ought to be plain enough for anybody to understand.

Now Lincoln had his excuse for a war (assuming that he continued to lie his head off about it--which he did); but there was no reason for him to believe that Congress would declare war against the South on his say-so. In fact, there was every indication that they would not. So instead of calling Congress into emergency session and asking them to declare war (which was their prerogative, and not Lincoln's), Lincoln simply declared war himself--by calling the C.S.A.'s defense of its sovereignty in Charleston Harbor an "insurrection" against the U.S. government. Lincoln did not call Congress into session until several months later--when his war had progressed so far that Congress could not then call it off, but as a practical matter would have to rubber stamp it.

So Lincoln started the war virtually single-handed.

Without vulnerable dark-horse Abraham Lincoln assuming the presidency in 1861, I do not believe we would have had a war. Nobody wanted one except Lincoln and a few rabid-abolitionists and some Northern-capitalists whose fortunes were threatened. I consider Lincoln a megalomaniacal sociopath whose like we have not yet seen--and I pray we never will see.

This author has an excellent new book, The South Under Siege 1830-2000

The Lincoln Myth

-by Thomas J. DiLorenzo*

There is a good reason why the Lincoln legend has taken on such mythical proportions: Much of what Americans think they know about Abraham Lincoln is in fact a myth. Let’s consider a few of the more prominent ones.

Myth #1: Lincoln invaded the South to free the slaves. Ending slavery and racial injustice is not why the North invaded. As Lincoln wrote to Horace Greeley on August 22, 1862: “My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and it is not either to save or destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it . . .”

Congress announced to the world on July 22, 1861, that the purpose of the war was not “interfering with the rights or established institutions of those states” (i.e., slavery), but to preserve the Union “with the rights of the several states unimpaired.” At the time of Fort Sumter (April 12, 1861) only the seven states of the deep South had seceded. There were more slaves in the Union than out of it, and Lincoln had no plans to free any of them.

The North invaded to regain lost federal tax revenue by keeping the Union intact by force of arms. In his First Inaugural Lincoln promised to invade any state that failed to collect “the duties and imposts” and he kept his promise. On April 19, 1861, the reason Lincoln gave for his naval blockade of the Southern ports was that “the collection of the revenue cannot be effectually executed” in the states that had seceded.

Myth #2: Lincoln’s war “saved the Union.” The war may have saved the Union geographically but it destroyed it philosophically by destroying its voluntary nature. In the Articles of Confederation, the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution, the states described themselves as “free and independent.” They delegated certain powers to the federal government they had created as their agent but retained sovereignty for themselves. This was widely understood in the North as well as the South in 1861. As the Brooklyn Daily Eagle editorialized on Nov. 13, 1860, the Union “depends for its continuance on the free consent and will of the sovereign people of each state, and when that consent and will is withdrawn on either part, their Union is gone. The New York Journal of Commerce concurred, writing on Jan. 12, 1861, that a coerced Union changes the nature of government from “a voluntary one, in which the people are sovereigns, to a despotism where one part of the people are slaves.” The majority of Northern newspapers agreed.

Myth #3: Lincoln championed equality and natural rights.. His words and, more importantly, his actions, repudiate this myth. “I have no purpose to introduce political and social equality between the white and black races,” he announced in his Aug. 21, 1858 debate with Stephen Douglas. “I, as well as Judge Douglas, am in favor of the race to which I belong having the superior position.” And, “Free them [slaves] and make them politically and socially our equals? My own feelings will not admit of this. . . . We cannot, then, make them equals.”

In Springfield, Illinois on July17, 1858 Lincoln said, “What I would most desire would be the separation of the white and black races.” On Sept. 18, 1858 in Charleston, Illinois he said: “I will to the very last stand by the law of this state, which forbids the marrying of white people with negroes.”

Lincoln supported the Illinois Constitution, which prohibited the emigration of black people into the state, and he also supported the Illinois Black Codes which deprived the small number of free blacks in the state any semblance of citizenship. He strongly supported the Fugitive Slave Act, which compelled Northern states to capture runaway slaves and return them to their owners. In his First Inaugural he pledged his support of a proposed constitutional amendment that had just passed the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives that would have prohibited the federal government from ever having the power “to abolish or interfere, within any State, with the domestic institutions thereof, including that of persons held to labor or service by the laws of said State.” In his First Inaugural Lincoln advocated making this amendment “express and irrevocable.”

Lincoln was also a lifelong advocate of “colonization” or shipping all black people to Africa, Central America, Haiti – anywhere but here. “I cannot make it better known than it already is, “he stated in a Dec. 1, 1862 Message to Congress, “that I strongly favor colonization.” To Lincoln blacks could be “equal,” but not in the U.S.

Myth #4: Lincoln was a defender of the Constitution. Quite the contrary: Generations of historians have labeled Lincoln a “dictator.” “Dictatorship played a decisive role in the North’s successful effort to maintain the Union by force of arms,” wrote Clinton Rossiter in Constitutional Dictatorship. And, “Lincoln’s amazing disregard for the Constitution was considered by nobody as legal.”

James G. Randall documented Lincoln’s assault on the Constitution in Constitutional Problems Under Lincoln. Lincoln unconstitutionally suspended the writ of Habeas Corpus and had the military arrest tens of thousands of Northern political opponents, including dozens of newspaper editors and owners. Some 300 newspapers were shut down and all telegraph communication was censored. Northern elections were rigged; Democratic voters were intimidated by federal soldiers; hundreds of New York City draft protesters were gunned down by federal troops; West Virginia was unconstitutionally carved out of Virginia; and the most outspoken member of the Democratic Party opposition, Congressman Clement L. Vallandigham of Ohio, was deported. Duly elected members of the Maryland legislature were imprisoned, as was the mayor of Baltimore and Congressman Henry May. The border states were systematically disarmed in violation of the Second Amendment and private property was confiscated. Lincoln’s apologists say he had “to destroy the Constitution in order to save it.”

Myth #5: Lincoln was a “great humanitarian” who had “ malice toward none.” This is inconsistent with the fact that Lincoln micromanaged the waging of war on civilians, including the burning of entire towns populated only by civilians; massive looting and plundering; rape; and the execution of civilians (See Mark Grimsley, The Hard Hand of War). Pro-Lincoln historian Lee Kennett wrote in Marching through Georgia that, had the Confederates somehow won, they would have been justified in “stringing up President Lincoln and the entire Union high command” as war criminals.

Myth #6: War was necessary to end slavery. During the 19th century dozens of countries, including the British and Spanish empires, ended slavery peacefully through compensated emancipation. Among such countries were Argentina, Colombia, Chile, all of Central America, Mexico, Bolivia, Uruguay, the French and Danish Colonies, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela. (Lincoln did propose compensated emancipation for the border states, but coupled his proposal with deportation of any freed slaves. He failed to see it through, however). Only in America was war associated with emancipation.

In sum, the power of the state ultimately rests upon a series of myths about the alleged munificence of our rulers. Nothing serves this purpose better than the Lincoln myth. This should be kept in mind by all who visit the new Lincoln statue in Richmond.


*Thomas DiLorenzo is the author of The Real Lincoln: A New Look about Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War (Random House, 2002) and a professor of economics at Loyola College in Maryland.

Economic Interests & the War for Southern Independence

-by Richard B. Abell, PLPOW Member

Economic interests had a great deal to do with the initiation of the War for Southern Independence. The South had been pushed to beyond reasonable tolerance. In 1860 the revenues that supported the Federal government were derived from export-import taxes (there were no sales taxes or income taxes) and essentially three-fourths of these taxes were paid by the South. The Federal government then used these monies to fund projects in the North or West - but not principally in the South that had paid the monies into the accounts! The South had to pay twice; first to export their cotton and then to import the goods purchased abroad from the profits made from the cotton sales. Further, the North was using these taxes to protect their own non-competitive industries. The South was being abused and victimized by the North. The Republican Platform of 1860 called for a high protective tariff that was anathema to the South.

There were a whole series of political issues leading up to the War and contributing to the seeking of our independence. The concept of secession was supported by President Jefferson in his famous Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions. New England was debating secession from the rest of the United States in 1803 because of their opposition to the Louisiana Purchase and again in 1814-15 because of their opposition to the War of 1812. They had actually called for a Congress of New England to be held in Hartford, Connecticut, in the spring of 1815 for the purpose of secession. The War of 1812 was concluded between Christmas 1814 and the Battle of New Orleans in January 1815 and thereby vitiated the need for the Congress which was then cancelled. New England also was on the verge of secession in 1846-47 during the Mexican War. The South was first thinking of secession as early as 1798 because of its concern over the Alien & Sedition Acts. Thought about it again in 1832 with the South Carolina Nullification crisis over tariffs, again over the Missouri Compromise issues, again in 1850, and finally in 1860. I could go on ad nausem and ad infinitum on the political issues.

An underlying and most important understanding for secession was the sociological/ historical/cultural divisions that separated the South from the North. These were very real and very deep. In many ways they still exist. In 1860 there were essentially two nations of peoples living within one political entity. Separation was inevitable. However, war was not inevitable - that was sought by Abe Lincoln who simply did not understand the South. I would refer you to one of the best books that I have ever read on this topic of cultural division within early America. See Albion's Seed by David Hackett Fischer. This 800 page tome is intimidating but well worth the read in order to understand these United States. There were essentially four groupings of British that emigrated to America from 1607 through 1776. Each represented a different geography of England, different cultural and historical experiences and different religious and philosophical perspectives. They each left for reasons of persecution by others. Upon arrival they continued their own evolution separate from England and all others. The Puritans went to New England from East Anglia and environs; the Quakers went to Pennsylvania from the Midlands; the Anglican Cavaliers to Virginia and the Carolinas from the Southeast of England; and, the Scots-Irish to the mountains of Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Kentucky, Georgia, and north Alabama. These divisions echo on the Mason-Dixon line that separates the historical South from the North. These cultural distinctions gave different values to each grouping. The peoples of the North and the South spoke the same language but had different dreams. Conflict and division were inevitable.

The above is a synopsis and not exclusive. Read, research, and make up your own mind - do not accept as Gospel what your professors dictate.

Godspeed. Deo Vindice!
.....Richard B. Abell, PLPOW member

Genesis of the Civil War

- by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr., Thursday, May 11, 2000

The historical event that looms largest in American public consciousness is the Civil War. One-hundred thirty-nine years after the first shot was fired, its genesis is still fiercely debated and its symbols heralded and protested. And no wonder: the event transformed the American regime from a federalist system based on freedom to a centralized state that circumscribed liberty in the name of public order. The cataclysmic event massacred a generation of young men, burned and looted the Southern states, set a precedent for executive dictatorship, and transformed the American military from a citizen-based defense corps into a global military power that can't resist intervention.

And yet, if you listen to the media on the subject, you might think that the entire issue of the Civil War comes down to race and slavery. If you favor Confederate symbols, it means you are a white person unsympathetic to the plight of blacks in America. If you favor abolishing Confederate History Month and taking down the flag, you are an enlightened thinker willing to bury the past so we can look forward to a bright future under progressive leadership. The debate rarely goes beyond these simplistic slogans.

And yet this take on the event is wildly historical. It takes Northern war propaganda at face value without considering that the South had solid legal, moral, and economic reasons for secession which had nothing to do with slavery. Even the name "Civil War" is misleading, since the war wasn't about two sides fighting to run the central government as in the English or Roman civil wars. The South attempted a peaceful secession from federal control, an ambition no different from the original American plea for independence from Britain.

But why would the South want to secede? If the original American ideal of federalism and constitutionalism had survived to 1860, the South would not have needed to. But one issue loomed larger than any other in that year as in the previous three decades: the Northern tariff. It was imposed to benefit Northern industrial interests by subsidizing their production through high prices and public works. But it had the effect of forcing the South to pay more for manufactured goods and disproportionately taxing it to support the central government. It also injured the South's trading relations with other parts of the world.

In effect, the South was being looted to pay for the North's early version of industrial policy. The battle over the tariff began in 1828, with the "tariff of abomination." Thirty years later, with the South paying 87 percent of federal tariff revenue while having their livelihoods threatened by protectionist legislation, it become impossible for the two regions to be governed under the same regime. The South as a region was being reduced to a slave status, with the federal government as its master.

But why 1860? Lincoln promised not to interfere with slavery, but he did pledge to "collect the duties and imposts": he was the leading advocate of the tariff and public works policy, which is why his election prompted the South to secede. In pro-Lincoln newspapers, the phrase "free trade" was invoked as the equivalent of industrial suicide. Why fire on Ft. Sumter? It was a customs house, and when the North attempted to strengthen it, the South knew that its purpose was to collect taxes, as newspapers and politicians said at the time.

To gain an understanding of the Southern mission, look no further than the Confederate Constitution. It is a duplicate of the original Constitution, with several improvements. It guarantees free trade, restricts legislative power in crucial ways, abolishes public works, and attempts to rein in the executive. No, it didn't abolish slavery but neither did the original Constitution (in fact, the original protected property rights in slaves).

Before the war, Lincoln himself had pledged to leave slavery intact, to enforce the fugitive slave laws, and to support an amendment that would forever guarantee slavery where it then existed. Neither did he lift a finger to repeal the anti-Negro laws that besotted all Northern states, Illinois in particular. Recall that the underground railroad ended, not in New York or Boston — since dropping off blacks in those states would have been restricted — but in Canada! The Confederate Constitution did, however, make possible the gradual elimination of slavery, a process that would have been made easier had the North not so severely restricted the movements of former slaves.

Now, you won't read this version of events in any conventional history text, particularly not those approved for use in public high schools. You are not likely to hear about it in the college classroom either, where the single issue of slavery overwhelms any critical thinking. Again and again we are told what Polybius called "an idle, unprofitable tale" instead of the truth, and we are expected to swallow it uncritically. So where can you go to discover that the conventional story is sheer nonsense?

The last ten years have brought us a flurry of great books that look beneath the surface. There is John Denson's "The Costs of War" (1998), Jeffrey Rodgers Hummel's "Emancipating Slaves, Enslaving Free Men" (1996), David Gordon's "Secession, State, and Liberty" (1998), Marshall de Rosa's "The Confederate Constitution" (1991), or, from a more popular standpoint, James and Walter Kennedy's "Was Jefferson Davis Right?" (1998).

But if we were to recommend one work — based on originality, brevity, depth, and sheer rhetorical power — it would be Charles Adams' time bomb of a book, "When in the Course of Human Events: Arguing the Case for Southern Secession" (Rowman & Littlefield, 2000). In a mere 242 pages, he shows that almost everything we thought we knew about the war between the states is wrong.

Adams believes that both Northern and Southern leaders were lying when they invoked slavery as a reason for secession and for the war. Northerners were seeking a moral pretext for an aggressive war, while Southern leaders were seeking a threat more concrete than the Northern tariff to justify a drive to political independence. This was rhetoric designed for mass consumption . Adams amasses an amazing amount of evidence — including remarkable editorial cartoons and political speeches — to support his thesis that the war was really about government revenue.

Consider this little tidbit from the pro-Lincoln New York Evening Post, March 2, 1861 edition:

"That either the revenue from duties must be collected in the ports of the rebel states, or the port must be closed to importations from abroad, is generally admitted. If neither of these things be done, our revenue laws are substantially repealed; the sources which supply our treasury will be dried up; we shall have no money to carry on the government; the nation will become bankrupt before the next crop of corn is ripe. There will be nothing to furnish means of subsistence to the army; nothing to keep our navy afloat; nothing to pay the salaries of public officers; the present order of things must come to a dead stop.

"What, then, is left for our government? Shall we let the seceding states repeal the revenue laws for the whole Union in this manner? Or will the government choose to consider all foreign commerce destined for those ports where we have no custom-houses and no collectors as contraband, and stop it, when offering to enter the collection districts from which our authorities have been expelled?"

This is not an isolated case. British newspapers, whether favoring the North or South, said the same thing: the feds invaded the South to collect revenue. Indeed, when Karl Marx said the following, he was merely stating what everyone who followed events closely knew:

"The war between the North and the South is a tariff war. The war is further, not for any principle, does not touch the question of slavery, and in fact turns on the Northern lust for sovereignty."

Marx was only wrong on one point: the war was about principle at one level. It was about the principle of self-determination and the right not to be taxed to support an alien regime. Another way of putting this is that the war was about freedom, and the South was on the same side as the original American revolutionaries.

Interesting, isn't it, that today, those who favor banning Confederate symbols and continue to demonize an entire people's history also tend to be partisans of the federal government in all its present political struggles? Not much has changed in 139 years. Adams's book goes a long way toward telling the truth about this event, for anyone who cares to look at the facts.

Capt. William E. Widemeyer writes...

CSA Capt. William E. Widemeyer, 6th Missouri Inf. writes to his wife at Guntown (just south of Corinth), MS AUGUST 5, 1862

Complains of not receiving mail from home, but says...

...although I am naturally of buoyant spirits, I cannot help but feel displeased and low-spirited...but look to the bright side of the future, trusting that the vile invader of our sacred rights will soon meet with just retribution for his tyrannical oppression, then, and not 'til then, will the dark cloud that now obscures our country be dispelled, and peace and prosperity smile on our [Southern] land.

Why They Fought The War
The Augusta Free Press, September 21, 2004

-by Robert Powell

....As a descendent of Confederate soldiers, three of whom paid the ultimate sacrifice, I request your open-mindedness and patience at my defense of the Confederate battleflag. Please pass this letter on to those offended by the Flag of my Fathers.

"Any society which suppresses the heritage of its conquered minorities, prevents their history, and denies them their symbols, has sewn the seed of its own destruction." Sir William Wallace, 1281.

The foundation of any offense against the Confederate flag is based on the belief that the Confederacy was formed by the Southern states to resist the North's efforts to abolish slavery. Though widely believed, this is a monstrous lie.

The North had little concern for the slave. On March 6, 1857, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled (in the Dred Scott decision) among other things that the right to own slaves was as protected by the U.S. Constitution as the rights of freedom of speech, religion and etc. It thereby struck down as unconstitutional all laws that prohibited or limited slavery anywhere the U.S. flag flew.

"Such a decision is all that slavery now lacks of being alike lawful in all the states. Welcome, or unwelcome, such decision is probably coming, and will soon be upon us."

"We shall lie down pleasantly dreaming that the people of Missouri are on the verge of making their state free, and we shall awake to the reality instead, that the Supreme Court has made Illinois a slave state." Abraham Lincoln, June 16, 1858, in response to the Dred Scott decision.

Historians mainly spin this event by teaching that this decision out raged the North and sped the coming of the Civil War, but in reality, less than four years later, on March 2, 1861, Congress passed a constitutional amendment that would prohibit the Constitution from being altered in its protection of slavery. This was primary a Northern thing because seven Southern states had already seceded from the Union. It was immediately endorsed by President James Buchanan, and on March 4, 1861, within an hour of becoming president, Lincoln endorsed this amendment in his first inaugural address.

A proposed Article 13 (unratified) read "No amendment shall be made to the Constitution which will authorize or give to Congress the power to abolish or interfere, within any state, with the domestic institutions thereof, including that of persons held to labor or service by the laws of said state."

Lincoln's response: "I have no objection to its being made express and irrevocable," he said in his first inaugural address, March 4, 1861.

Some argue that the Confederate flag is treasonous and un-American. I answer this charge by quoting two sources that are regarded as unimpeachable by most Americans - the Declaration of Independence and Abraham Lincoln.

"That to secure these rights," the Declaration reads, "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."

"Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up and shake off the existing government and form a new one that suits them better," Lincoln said in 1848, in regard to Texas seceding from Mexico. "This is a most valuable, a most sacred right - a right which we hope and believe is to liberate the world."

Therefore the Confederate flag is no more treasonous or un- American than the U. S. flag. Both were born in rebellion and revolution. They represent our veterans, especially those who never survived to enjoy "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," but gave the last full measure so that we might. They are my flags, a part of my heritage. Acts of extreme bravery, personal sacrifice and deplorable crimes were committed under both. And because they are public domain, they have on occasion been used by those with hateful agendas, and as a result some have declared them guilty by association, however this, too, is freedom.

The average Confederate soldier was the son or grandson of the Revolutionary War solder and had been taught to cherish his freedom and the Constitution. They fought to preserve the Union, only it was the spirit of the Union, not the geography of the union, as did Lincoln. The South never forgot that the Revolution was fought for freedom and independence, not Union. The North, however, seemed to never to remember this.

And one of my Confederate forefathers was a Native American, 1st Sgt. Chester R. Vann of 51st North Carolina, Company K. He lies in grave 729 in the POW Cemetery in Elmira, N.Y., along with 1,181 other North Carolinians. About 20 percent of the soldiers of the South were also nonwhite, being mostly African-Americans, Native Americans and Hispanics

Our forefathers provided us with the Bill of Rights to grants us protection for our basic freedoms, including the freedom of speech. This freedom is to protect offensive speech, as there is no need to protect nonoffensive speech. There is, however, no provision made to address the problem of our being offended by something or someone. Some would have us reverse this order; banning freedom of speech to grant the freedom from offense.

The attacks on the Confederate flag are in direct proportion to the denial of Northern participation in, protection of, and profit from slavery. The old adage that if you tell a lie, you'll have to tell another one to cover it up is certainly true here. The real reason Lincoln gave for invading the South was to collect their tariffs, customs and duties (taxes) and to gain economic control of the South. This is not a pretty motive, but it was the true cause of the Northern invasion of the South.

"I have declared a thousand times, and now repeat that, in my opinion, neither the general government, nor any other power out side of the slave states, can constitutionally or rightfully interfere with slaves or slavery where it already exists," Lincoln said on June 23, 1858.

"I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the states where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so," Lincoln said in his 1861 inaugural address.

It was the North that was attempting to protect slavery through its constitutional amendment passed on March 2, 1861 and the Crittenden-Johnson Resolution passed again on July 25, 1861. Endorsed by both political parties and backed by two U. S. presidents (one Lincoln), these acts attempted to fortify the U.S. Constitution against future amendments that would allow slavery to be abolished.

The South rejected both.

The attacks on the Old Confederacy and her symbols are exercises of the highest degrees of hypocrisy and intolerance and possible only through ignorance of history. It continues to reveal that even in the 21st century; native Southerners continue to suffer the bigotry of even those who preach tolerance and diversity.

"The contest is really for empire on the side of the North and for independence on that of the South," wrote The London Times on Nov. 7, 1861

"The war between the North and the South is a tariff war. The war is further, not for any principle, does not touch the question of slavery, and in fact turns on the Northern lust for sovereignty," said Karl Marx in 1861.

"The Northern onslaught upon slavery was no more than a piece of specious humbug designed to conceal its desire for economic control of the Southern states," said Charles Dickens in 1862.

"Unlike modern Americans who have been brainwashed by the Lincoln cult, in the 1860s the entire world knew that in his first inaugural address Lincoln pledged his support for a constitutional amendment that had just passed both the House and the Senate that would have forbidden the federal government from ever interfering in Southern slavery.

"The whole world also knew that in that same address he threatened a military invasion of any state that failed to collect the newly doubled federal tariff. The states that seceded did not intend to collect the U.S. government's tariff and send the money to Washington, D.C., so Honest Abe kept his word and waged total war on fellow citizens for four years, killing some 300,000 of them, including one of four men of military age and tens of thousands of civilians," said Thomas J. DiLorenzo.

To the end of ignorance, bigotry and intolerance.

 

   
 
Last updated on October 27, 2008
 
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