End to slavery wasn’t Lincoln’s goal

April 16, 2010

No honest, intelligent, educated person would argue that slavery was not an abhorrent, inhumane practice. However, I am surprised by the continued propagation of inaccurate information by supposedly honest, intelligent, educated people, including your editorial staff (April 14 editorial, "Gov. Barbour inks an insult").

According to Abraham Lincoln himself, the Civil War was not fought over the issue of slavery. Engraved on tablets in the Lincoln Memorial are his words stating that his enemies were using that argument to further their own agendas, a practice that continues today. Lincoln said his only objective was to keep the states together. He further said that if he could free all the slaves and save the Union he would. If he could free half the slaves, and keep the other half, and save the Union, he would. If he could free none of the slaves and save the Union, he would. The Civil War was fought solely over states’ rights versus an overly large, intrusive federal government.

Contrary to the thought that the South was responsible for slavery, Northern states also had slaves. George Washington owned many slaves, and while he protested in life that he was against the practice, he did not free his slaves until after his death, conveniently stated in his will. This was true of many other prominent "anti-slavery" individuals of the time.

Enslaving another human being was, is and always will be an evil practice. But slavery was not peculiar to the South, nor was it the only, or even the most important, legacy of the Confederacy.

Those of us who take great pride in our Southern heritage do so in spite of slavery, not because of it, and should be allowed to express that pride freely without ignorance of the facts, or political agendas, detracting from such expression.

Cathy Duncan