By Al Benson, Jr.

It seems that my last article about the ongoing ‘reconstruction’ of both the South and the rest of the country as well stirred a little more interest than usual. Several folks contacted me to express agreement with my sentiments and, as always, some expressed strong disagreements. One individual informed me that slavery was the cause of the war and that "the tariff issue was null and void." I guess everyone has a right to their opinion.

In his book Discussions, Rev. Robert L. Dabney quoted a Colonel Baldwin of Virginia who had had an interview with Abraham Lincoln before Virginia seceded from the Union. Lincoln asked Colonel Baldwin "But what am I to do with those men in Montgomery…Am I to let them go on?" To which Colonel Baldwin replied "Yes, sir, until they can be peaceably brought back." To that Lincoln replied "And open Charleston, etc., as ports of entry, with their ten percent tariff. What then would become of my tariff?" So Mr. Lincoln was really concerned about ‘his’ tariff. Dabney noted of Lincoln that "This last question he announced with such emphasis, as showed that in his view it decided the whole matter. He then indicated that the interview was over and dismissed Colonel Baldwin…" So it does appear that Lincoln was indeed concerned about the tariff issue.

Then there is Lincoln’s own statement, made in 1862, to Horace Greeley, where he said: "My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or destroy slavery…" Columnist Karen De Coster has written: "Lincoln was the darling candidate of the moneyed industrialists of the North. At the core of his political tenets was a government of high import taxes, and his Republican party, whom he led, passed the Morrill tariff into law soon after taking office. To quote [Thomas] DiLorenzo, Lincoln "even promised in his First Inaugural Address to launch an invasion of any state that failed to collect its share of tariffs." He was committing himself to collecting the customs in the South, even if that meant they would secede. The free-market economics of the South were up for assault.

And columnist Joseph Sobran has observed of Lincoln that he was "…a champion of Henry Clay’s ‘American System’ of internal improvements, protective tariffs, and centralized banking–a program for expanded and centralized government." That is really what Lincoln was all about – centralized government. Sobran also noted that: "The subject of slavery didn’t interest him one way or the other for decades, and even then only very ambiguously." Sobran stated that when Lincoln finally did wake up to the slavery issue in 1854, he again followed Henry Clay’s lead. He approved of gradual emancipation and a program of colonization for black people. He didn’t really want them here.

In discussing the slavery myth, Ron and Don Kennedy, in their book The South Was Right have noted that "The absurdity of this myth can be seen by understanding that it has been estimated that from seventy to eighty percent of the Confederate soldiers and sailors were not slave owners…Who in his right mind could honestly claim that the Southern soldiers and sailors, the vast majority of whom were not slave owners, went to war against a numerically superior foe and endured four long years of hardships, all in order to allow a few rich men to keep their slaves?"

The Kennedys also noted, on pages 64-65 of their book, situations dealing with some free blacks that owned many slaves. That’s right, folks, black slave owners! That’s another little slice of history we are seldom told about. That doesn’t quite fit in with the "Simon Legree" myth that our ‘history’ books have been manipulated to produce for us and so that is conveniently left out. We don’t really need to know such things – it might confuse our thinking, you know. According to 1830 census records, more than ten thousand slaves were owned by free blacks at that time. The Kennedys also tell us that "The slave trade became the cornerstone of Yankee commerce, and furnished the financial capital for future investments in legitimate industries…" They mention several New England families that did quite well for themselves off the slave trade. But then, I guess it was alright for the Yankees to sell the slaves – it was just a sin for the Southern folks to buy them. One has to wonder, if so many beneficient Yankees were so concerned about the plight of the slaves, why didn’t they just make arrangements to free them instead of selling them? And what about Northern slave owners, of whom there were many in the early decades of the 19th century? Are they guilty, too, or is it only Southern slaveowners that should be forced to sit upon stools of repentance?

In writing about the War, Alexander H. Stephens, vice-president of the Confederacy said: "The conflict in principle arose from differing and opposing ideas as to the nature of what is known as the General Government. The contest was between those who held it to be strictly Federal in its character, and those who maintained that it was thoroughly National. It was a strife between the principles of federation on the one side, and Centralism, on Consolidation on the other… Some of the strongest Anti-slavery men who ever lived were on the side of those who opposed the Centralizing principles which led to the war."

Those who choose to defend the North and her War of Aggression against the South can not admit that it was their hero, Saint Abraham, that destroyed the foundations of the country the Founding Fathers left us and replaced those foundations with the centralized, socialist bureaucracy we suffer under today. So, to cover their backsides they vainly attempt to seize the moral ‘high ground’ by accusing the South of fighting only to preserve slavery and then they claim, somewhat backhandedly, that it was, somehow, all right for Lincoln to gut the Constitution in order to "free the slaves." But then, I suppose every king, even ‘King Lincoln’ must have his false prophets and court jesters to tell the people what he wants them to hear. Some day, [though probably not in my lifetime] the true history will be written and many Northern apologists will be caught with egg all over their faces.

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Copyright ©, 2003 Al Benson Jr.