FAQ ABOUT THE WAR FOR SOUTHERN INDEPENDENCE

AND BELIEFS OF NEO-CONFEDERATES

 

 

QUESTION

ANSWER

1.  Wasn’t secession treason and weren’t the Confederates traitors for trying to leave the Union?

No.  It was clearly understood in the earliest days of the United States that states who could join the Union of their own free will could also leave it of their own free will.  Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton both stated this clearly.  Also, some states, like Virginia and New York, joined the Union with the express proviso that they could later leave it if they so chose.  Also, the right of secession was widely understood in American law, and the right of secession was even taught at West Point before the war.  After the war, Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States, was not tried for treason because the Northern politicians had good reason to believe they would lose the trial.  Clearly, secession is NOT synonymous with treason.

 

Liberal and Northern writers often describe our Confederate ancestors as “traitors.”  Since they do not have a valid argument over the legality of secession, they resort to name-calling and insult.

2.  Then why did Abraham Lincoln declare the seceding states to be “in rebellion”?  What laws did the Confederates break by seceding, if any?

Abraham Lincoln was a politician and a lawyer, and politicians and lawyers are trained to argue a point of view, often regardless of the actual facts or laws.  The Confederates broke no laws by seceding from the United States, and the term “rebels” is really an erroneous description of the Confederates that was meant to denigrate them.

3.  Didn’t the Confederates really secede to safeguard the theory of white supremacy?

No.  This is an argument by modern politicians who want to remold history to suit modern political agendas and to give their Northern ancestors a glorious but undeserved rectitude.  In the 1860s, virtually all white people believed in “white supremacy,” North, South, East and West.  Abraham Lincoln himself was a white supremacist and said so in public statements.  The erroneous notion of white supremacy was not in doubt or in dispute at that point in history.

4.  Didn’t the South start the war by firing on Fort Sumter?

No.  It is widely understood among historians and politicians that it is not he who fires the first shot that starts a war, but he who made the first shot necessary.  By refusing to yield or negotiate in good faith to transfer Fort Sumter to South Carolina, the United States was guilty of an act of war.  Indeed, there is irrefutable evidence that Lincoln intended to start the war and push the South into firing the first shot for propaganda purposes.

 

A similar example can be seen in World War II, where the USA fired the first shot on the Japanese, i.e., at a midget submarine trying to sneak into Pearl Harbor.  The USA fired the first shot, but Japan is guilty of starting the war.

5.  Wasn’t the War really over slavery?

The question is too ambiguous to do it justice, and that is why Northern historians and politicians try to keep it that way.  They never come out and say that the North fought the war out of a sense of morality and a belief in racial equality, because it is easily refuted.  They try to pass this fiction off as truth by insinuation rather than an overt statement to that effect, knowing it usually will not be challenged.

6.  All right, then how did slavery impact the war?

Basically, the dispute over slavery was not that it should be ended, but that the Federal Government should have the right to stipulate whether new states entering the Union could enter as non-slave states or slave states.  The South felt strongly that the question should be decided by the people of the states, not the Federal Government, as there was no Constitutional basis for it.  This is the argument of “States Rights,” that the rights not specifically delegated to the Federal Government are reserved for the states.   The dispute over states rights was that the South believed, correctly, that the Federal Government was exceeding its Constitutional authority.

 

The question of slavery in the new states impacted the struggle between North and South for political dominance.  New slave states would give the South more Congressional representation and thus more political muscle to resist the high tariffs imposed by the North.  The North opposed the expansion of slave states for reasons of political control, not because they had moral qualms over slavery.

 

The impact of slavery on the war deserves more than a brief discussion.  We recommend “Myths and Realities of American Slavery” by John C. Perry.

7.  Surely the “Civil War” wasn’t fought merely over a legal principle?  There had to be more to it than that.

You’re right.  The war was fought over the right of the South to secede and form its own nation.  The real reason the war was fought was over economics and control of territory – “the right to tax and rule” — basically what almost all wars are fought over.  After the war, Northern politicians and historians attempted to put a noble face on their conquest by claiming that freeing the slaves for reasons of morality and brotherhood were their true motivations all along.  Don’t believe them.  Abraham Lincoln stated clearly on several occasions that “preserving the Union” (by brute force) was his sole aim, and that anything he did with regard to the slaves was merely in support of that goal.

8.  Why was it so important to the North to keep the South in the Union?  Surely it wasn’t worth the deaths of 600,000 American soldiers.

It wasn’t that important to all Northerners, many of whom wished to let the South go in peace.  But it was important to Abraham Lincoln, whose major goal was to raise tax revenues by increasing the tariff on imported goods to record heights.  Lincoln wanted the revenue for internal improvements like an intercontinental railroad and to establish a mercantilist system based on the English model – a system of corporate welfare and political patronage that would greatly increase the power of the Republican Party.  The North’s high tariffs on imported goods fell most heavily on the South, even though most of the tax money was spent on Northern improvements. With the South gone, most of the tax revenues were gone too, and the Southern ports would be tariff-free or nearly so, creating a free trade zone in the South that would shift foreign imports from Northern ports to Southern ones.  This would have been financially devastating to the North. The old advice of “follow the money” surely applies to the “Civil War.”

9.  Well then, what was the Emancipation Proclamation all about?  Didn’t that free all the slaves?

The Emancipation Proclamation freed no slaves at all.  It theoretically freed only slaves in states and territories “in rebellion,” and did not apply to any states or territories under Union control.  Lincoln himself stated that the proclamation was a war measure only. He hoped it would pressure the Southern states to return to the Union.  He also believed the proclamation would encourage slave rebellions throughout the South and help the North win the war.  He was wrong, as the slaves were generally loyal to the South.

10.  What is a “Neo-Confederate”

The word “neo” means new, or the same thing in a different time period.  The liberal media and leftist politicians use it to show contempt for the Southern heritage movement, so to help them find this website, we have adopted it.  Besides, we enjoy irritating them.  To us the term describes anyone who believes the South was right in its war for independence and that the Northern version of history is seriously flawed, deficient and biased.

11.  Why do Neo-Confederates work so hard to save Confederate monuments, flags, songs and other icons?  Isn’t it because you have a secret racist agenda?

We have no racist agenda, secret or otherwise.  We work hard to preserve our heritage because the Confederacy was our nation that was taken away from us illegally and immorally in war, and our ancestors slandered by Northern sympathizers for the past 140 years.  We see the Southern defeat as an unrighted wrong that still aches in Southern memory.  The implication that we are closet-segregationists or “white supremacists” is merely the disingenuous attempt by liberal politicians and media pundits to create a bogeyman with which to frighten and motivate their electoral constituencies.

12.  If you have no racist agenda, why do the liberals continually insinuate that you do?

The liberals have become increasingly Machiavellian in their approach to politics, and wish to smear traditional Southern conservatives, and the Party who receives their votes (the GOP), as “racist.”  They refuse to accept that Confederate heritage is valued for any other reason than race hatred. It is politically expedient for liberals and leftist Democrats to use Confederate symbols as motivational props to convince racial minorities that their civil rights will be imperiled if they do not vote for Democrats.  They repeat these falsehoods over and over to create a Pavlovian response in their constituencies.  We believe these liberal/leftists are ruthless and unprincipled, and will manufacture racial divisions in order to get elected.  Racial healing and trust are absolutely NOT their real agendas.

13.  The South practiced slavery.  No matter how you cut it, slavery is wrong, immoral and evil, isn’t it?

First off, slavery was not solely a Southern institution.  It was still being practiced in some Union states, though at a reduced level, and some Union generals owned slaves. 

 

To modern eyes (including ours), slavery is wrong, immoral and evil.  However, the Southerners of 1860 didn’t live in modern times.  All historical events must be viewed in context and cannot fairly be judged by modern standards.  We have 145 years of hindsight; the Southerners of 1860 did not.    They were merely the heirs of a system that existed several generations before them and on which the South’s economy had grown dependent.  For the most part, slaves were well treated, well fed and well clothed, and much love and trust often existed between master and slave. 

 

With the growth of democracy, slavery was falling into disrepute among the nations of the world and was being ended in many.  For the South, however, immediate emancipation without compensation (as insisted upon by the Abolitionists) would have meant financial devastation for black and white alike.   There was no easy out for the South.  If the South had been left alone, Southern slavery would have died a natural death with the coming of mechanization, just as it died out, peacefully, in many other countries.