Comment on Internet
My comment at the end of Part 2 of “An Inconvenient History”:
Posted By: Valerie Protopapas
Date: 2008-04-18 10:57:31
Let us look at some viewpoints that are accepted without question but which are simply untrue or misrepresented:
1. Lincoln preserved the Union. No, he did not. A "union" by its very nature is a voluntary association. "Union" achieved at the point of a gun is called "conquest" and the results of "conquest" are not reconciliation or reunion but "colonization". That is what happened to the South.
2. Slavery was the overriding issue that sparked the war. This is both true and false. Certainly, if one listens to the Southern firebrands of the immediate pre-war period, slavery seems very much the "cause celeb".
However, one must look at just why that is so. Northern abolitionists were not just demanding that slaves be freed (but remain in the South, of course!). They were sending disciples among the slaves in hopes of getting them to rise up in violent revolt against their "wicked Masters". At least one publication calling for such violence was affirmed by the United States Congress prior to secession. This is a very different thing from working to end the institution of slavery! The bloody revolt of Nat Turner had made many Southerners – especially in the Deep South – fearful of any such movement taking hold among their slaves. Even whites who did not own slaves were fearful of what would happen should a general uprising ensue.
This matter was made infinitely worse by the bloody invasion of John Brown. Brown had murdered a number of people on his way to Harpers Ferry (including a free black family) and he expected upon his arrival to be joined by all the local slaves who would rise up in revolt. When that didn’t happen, he did not have sufficient numbers to carry on and was forced to surrender. But Brown’s actions were seen to carry – and indeed did carry – the approval of radical Northern abolitionists.
As well, the matter of slavery involved the matter of private property. When Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence, the three "causes" he elucidated were originally, "Life", "Liberty" and "Property", not the Pursuit of Happiness. Jefferson and the rest of the Founders knew that private property was central to a Republic of free men. Slaves were property – no different in law than a man’s horse or his wife for that matter! People talking about – indeed demanding – that a man be forced to relinquish his property without any lawful reason were setting a precedent that could well lead to ownership by the Government or some elitist oligarchy of all of the fruits of a man’s labors. Of course, much of that concern has come to fruition as the State confiscates more and more of our livelihoods and liberties.
3. This was a "civil war". This is nonsense. A civil war is a war in which two sides attempt to gain control over the government of a nation. The English civil war was just that – a fight between Charles I and Oliver Cromwell over who would rule England. The War of Secession was no civil war. The eleven Confederate states had no designs upon ruling the "United States" nor did they (as is so often charged in so many post war writings) intend to "destroy the government". These states wished to leave the Union, something that they had a right to do under the Constitution. And while one may dispute that claim (wrongly in my opinion and that of many others more learned than myself), one cannot dispute the fact that there is nothing in the Constitution that gives the Federal Government the right to wage war on the people in those states who were signatories of that document. So, on the one hand is a debatable right while, on the other is an undebatable wrong.
Many people demand that the South "get over it". I would say that such an attitude might have been forthcoming if those presenting their version of "history" (the winner always gets to write it) were a little more truthful and factual and a little less mendacious and demagogic. Who knows? If the wrongs perpetrated against the South had been admitted to years ago, this matter might have died a peaceful death. But when society refuses to admit to wrong and "own up" to tyranny, well, the victims of that wrong and that tyranny – and their descendents – tend not to forget. Ask the Irish, the Scots, the Jews and other peoples who have been victimized in the past and you’ll see that unrepented, in fact, unreported tyranny is seldom forgotten unless those who suffered from it are extinct.