Confederacy about freedom not slavery
Mr. Collins – I read with interest and take exception to your one-sided view of the conflicts leading to Secession, the Civil War and formation of the Confederacy.
While Slavery certainly was the emotional issue, historians still differ today on the exact causes. So for you to definitively state slavery as the cause is perplexing.
Common sense would lead you to doubt your own conclusion. If accept the statistics that show that 80%+ of Southerners did not own slaves, why did they fight for it so desperately? Would you fight for something you don’t have? Why were rich slave owners in Mississippi and Louisiana among those who opposed the act of Secession, if the new nation was founded entirely on slavery? Why did Lincoln wait two years before issuing an Emancipation Proclamation? Why did South Carolina threaten Secession in 1832 (was it over slavery – or tariffs)? Why were free blacks in the South among the first to volunteer to fight for the Confederate cause in 1861?
While Southerners fought for a nation that believed in slavery, they did not fight for slavery. There is an important distinction there. States Rights meant then just what it means now – the rights of states to conduct their own affairs without the meddling of big government. It is with interest that I notice that states like Texas and Louisiana today are rejecting the big government stimulus package and using the word ‘Secession" 150 years later to assert their rights and rights of their citizens.
Read your history more deeply. One should not forget a multitude of factors like the differences between the two regions, agricultural and industrial; the fact that people of that time thought of their state as their "Country"; high tariffs on exported goods that conveyed revenues from the people of the South to support Northern industries (It is reported in 1861 that Lincoln said ‘Let the South go? Where will we get our revenues?!"). And of course the issue of big government vs. a decentralized government championed by the likes of Jefferson and Hamilton. There is also the consideration of media – newspapers began being widely read in North and South, with opinion columns inflaming the passions of each region against the other.
Politics also played a part. The South felt the North wanted to take away their political power in a Union they did more than their share to create. H.L. Mencken said it best when commenting on Lincoln’s Gettysburg speech:
“The Union soldiers in that battle actually fought against self-determination; it was the Confederates who fought for the right of their people to govern themselves. What was the practical effect of the battle of Gettysburg? What else than the destruction of the old sovereignty of the States, i.e., of the people of the States? The Confederates went into battle free; they came out with their freedom subject to the supervision and veto of the rest of the country—and for nearly twenty years that veto was so effective that they enjoyed scarcely more liberty, in the political sense, than so many convicts in the penitentiary.”
The so-called Civil War and ill-fated Confederacy deserve better than to be branded as a war for or against slavery. It is such an oversimplification and extremely disheartening to hear even true Southerners parroting the propaganda. Sadly the Politically-Correct school system presents the story in this way and persons such as your self perpetuate the falsehood to the destriment of all.
Atlanta Journal Constitution