"I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in anyway the social and political equality of the white and black races - that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race."
Who do you suppose made that quote? It sounds to me like something straight out of Hitler’s Third Reich. Or maybe it is a quote from the Grand Dragon of the KKK? I know what you must be thinking. Surely this quote is from one of the leaders of the Southern Confederacy. Maybe Robert E. Lee or Stonewall Jackson?
No, No, No, and No. I’m sure the answer will shock you, for this quote was made by none other than the 16th president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln! Lincoln, you ask? The savior of the black race? Who would have thought it? The truth is that he made this statement in 1858 in his debate with Stephen Douglas, three years before the outbreak of the War for Southern Independence.
It is said that history is written by the victors. So it is that all your life you’ve been taught that the War between the States was fought in order to free blacks from the grip of cruel Southern slaveholders. While this is certainly the more “politically correct” reason for the War Between the States, it, unfortunately, is not consistent with the historical record.
The historical record shows a much different reason…
When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
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 to 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.
True it was that slavery was a problem in the United States. In fact, slavery existed in the North and the South before the war. Truly, it was Northern slave ships that brought African slaves to the shores of Dixie. The reason that slavery was more common in the South had nothing to do with moral superiority in the North. It was strictly a pragmatic arrangement. The South, being a largely agricultural environment, with it’s wide open land and vast space easily accommodated slave dwellings. Many slaves were actually content to live on their master’s property and to serve them in exchange for the food, clothing, and shelter they received. This fact is shown by the many slaves who defended their plantations and protected the women and children from yankee invaders after the Southern boys had gone off to war. Conversely, in the North, industrialism had overrun the small amount of land in New England. Slavery didn’t work very well there because there was no extra space to keep other families on their small properties. It was much easier to get cheap labor by employing immigrant workers at pittance wages to crank out widgets in their factories. Add to this, the fact that Northerners were generally racists and did not want blacks living close to them. As an example of this hypocrisy, I remember when I was in college my history professor reading a newpaper headline declaring “Yonkers, New York decides to try racial integration.” That was 1988!
In spite of the greater slave population in the South, the real reasons for secession have nothing to do with slavery. It was, rather, an economical issue. The North bought its raw materials from the South. They would produce goods, then sell it back to the South with a large profit attached. When the South resorted to buying its goods from Europe, Northern congressmen rallied together to impose tariffs on imported goods, forcing the Southerners to buy from yankee imperialists rather than pay the high taxes on the goods from overseas. Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy, goes into great detail on this situation in his 2 volume work entitled, The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government.
In light of this economic warfare the North was waging on the South, the South decided to legally and peacefully secede from this voluntary union they had entered a short 80 years earlier. Remember what I read earlier? The Declaration of Independence states,
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 to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government.
With the election of Lincoln (getting only 40 percent of the popular vote), the South was now being governed without the consent of the governed. Therefore, they claimed the right guaranteed to them by the very document our founding fathers penned, the right to alter or abolish these political ties and to institute new government.
So, what did the war have to do with slavery? Initially, not a thing. The Confederate Constitution explicitly forbad the importation of new slaves into the country. It was a well accepted fact that slavery was a dying institution, and would soon fade into the shadows of history as industrialism began to creep its way down South. Only 1 out of every 16 Southerners owned slaves. Of those that did own them, only a tiny fraction of them owned more than 1 or 2. So, it is quite ridiculous to claim that men would risk their lives to preserve the institution of slavery when 98% of them never benefited from it. They were clearly fighting for their independence, against a strong federal government not too different than the tyrannical English monarchy they had fought in the previous century. What’s more, England, under the leadership of William Wilberforce had banned slavery there in the 1820s. Why then would they support the independence of a slaveholding Confederacy unless the South’s reasons for independence had nothing to do with slavery at all?
Why is it then that you always hear of the North as the liberator of the slaves? Lincoln’s Gettysburg address expressly delineates slavery as the primary cause of Northern aggression against the South. The answer is simply this. Early on in the war, freedom fighters from the South were winning victory after victory against Lincoln’s invading armies. Apparently, “preserving the union” wasn’t a strong enough reason for these yankee armies to continue their attacks against their brothers across the Mason Dixon line. Morale was dropping quickly. They needed a cause. And a cause was found. The radical abolitionists had had a presence in the Northern states for quite some time, even before the war. Previously most “civilized” gentlemen distanced themselves from these terrorist groups made popular through the “al-queda” like actions of a man named John Brown. Yet, when a cause was needed, the abolitionists were happy to supply it. Harriett Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin spread propaganda all across the North providing just enough reason for yankee soldiers to justify in their minds piercing their brothers in gray through with a bayonet and raping their surviving women and children. Julia Ward Howe's Battle Hymn of the Republic transformed simple imperial domination into a “righteous cause” against an evil, rebellious south land.
So, the next time you hear some yankee indoctrinated student spouting off the supposed reasons for the “Civil War” remind him of the true reasons, and let him know that although you may stifle independence for a season, you can’t defeat a true patriot indefinitely before he rises to claim his God given liberty.