Thursday, April 14, 2011

I Intend to Blog on This Line If It Takes All Summer

In a comment to my previous post on the Civil War, friend and frequent commentor Dave P. asserted that "the war wasn't about slavery until it was politically expedient." No sooner had I drafted a response (which had to wait until now to be posted) than another friend and frequent commentor JCC weighed in with a better version of my response:
If you read the actual secession documents passed by the Southern States attempting to leave the Union, it's very clear that the was was about slavery. South Carolina, Mississippi, etc - they knew what the war was about.

Was the North fighting to free the slaves? Nope. They were fighting to defend the Union (short for "the United States of America"). But the reason the Union was threatened? The Southern states seceded to defend the right to own slaves. It wasn't even States' Rights, because among the things that they objected to was the actions of non-slave states to impede slavery (slavery transit, blocking the recovery of runaway slaves, etc).
To expand briefly on this, I would also refer readers to the Cornerstone Speech of Confederate Vice-President Alexander Stephens. "States rights," meanwhile, was the 19th century's version of "activist judges," in that the slave states were more than happy to use the Federal government for their own ends (Fugitive Slave Act, Dred Scott decision).

So, to recap (and in so doing I do not ascribe any particular view to anyone else):

1) The cause of the Civil War was slavery.
2) The right side won.

I'm glad we had this little talk. And Mr. P., I will see you tomorrow!

1 comment:

jjv said...

The political cause of the war for the South was slavery. However, over time all wars shift focus. Also, its pretty clear Robert E. Lee was not a big slavery fan but a Virginia fan. I think the fact the war was about slavery for its prime instigators was the fact that when Robert E. Lee suggested freeing the slaves and having them fight he was until the end shouted down with the retort "what are we fighting the war for then?" Lincoln was right. Had the North won in 1861 we would have kept the South and slavery. If it had won in 1862 this still might have been the case. It may be the Lord gave us the generals we got and the South the generals it got so that the contest would continue and sharpen so that it was about whether Slavery lived or died.