July 23, 2009

More than one issue involved in Civil War

To the Editor:
Cumberland Times-News

This letter is a reply to the letter submitted by Travis Callis regarding the flying of the Confederate flag (“Too many excuses about why the rebel flag isn’t offensive,” July 20 Times-News).

I agree with Callis that many times this flag is flown for the wrong reasons and used to taunt black Americans; however, I feel that Mr. Callis is just as guilty as those he refers to when it comes to ignorance and lack of historical knowledge.

Callis states that the north and Abraham Lincoln fought for the freedom of the slaves. Many people are led to believe that the sole reason for the Civil War was to abolish slavery. This is grossly inaccurate. The war was waged due to the Southern states demanding states’ rights and being denied them.

Northern states were the more industrialized and considered by Congress to be more important to the development of the country. The government began requiring that the South sell their cotton and other goods only to factories in the North rather than other countries.

A heavy tax was placed on finished materials the North produced, which made them unaffordable to the South. This was comparable to the “taxation without representation” that occurred in Great Britain. If the Northern part of the country had addressed these issues and come to a compromise with the Southern states, the South would probably have never seceded and the war would not have been fought.

If you examine the timeline of events, you will also discover that seven states seceded from the Union before Abraham Lincoln was even elected President.

It is also worth noting that the war had been going on for two years before President Lincoln decided to free the slaves. This occurred shortly after the Battle of Antietam and was intended to punish the Southern states for continuing to fight.

Most Southerners did not own slaves or even plantations at that time. They were not fighting to be able to own slaves. They were fighting for their right to live the way they wanted to — without the government dictating how they should behave.

The Civil War was fought to protect the rights of the individual citizen, one of the founding principles of this great country. It was about much more than the abolishment of slavery. Slavery was only part of the economic reasons the South formed the Confederate States.

Perhaps if the Southern states had given President Lincoln longer to fix the economic issues in the country, the North and South could have come to a compromisable agreement.

I am grateful the Northern states won the war and slavery was abolished. But as to Mr. Callis’ question of how long slavery would have existed if the South had won — we have no way of knowing. And it certainly didn’t stop segregation, did it? It wasn’t until over a century later that black Americans were given equal respect and rights in this country — even in the North.

In conclusion, I do not think the Confederate flag is a symbol of anything in this day in age. It is simply a relic of a group of our countrymen who were fed up with the way Congress was running the country and resorted to drastic measures to correct it.

Personally, I feel it belongs in a museum and not flying in someone’s front yard; however, it’s a free country, right? And, lastly, Mr. Callis, I hope you do some research so next time, you will be able to see the bigger picture.

God Bless America.

Kimberli Rowley