A reply to Mr. Bearden
 
From: vaproto@optonline.net
 
Sir,
 
Certainly slavery was an issue in the war. However, if it had been the most important issue, the South could have kept slavery in perpetuity by remaining in the Union! Lincoln offered the Corwin Amendment to the Constitution which would have enshrined slavery in that document. At any time in the early part of the war, the South had only to ask re-admittance into the Union to have slavery acknowledged, accepted and legitimized in their respective states.
 
Indeed, since the money that the federal government appropriated from the South in unjust tariffs came from cotton, tobacco, rice and sugar – and all of these required slave labor to flourish – the fact is that the federal government had no desire to end slavery as long as it remained profitable for Washington and for those Northern interests who benefited from this “redistribution of the wealth”. For the South’s tax monies were not returned to that region but were sent by Washington north to support Yankee industries and shipping. And as the number of “non-Southern” states in the Union rose, the States of the  South could clearly see that they would soon become a permanent minority under an ever more powerful and expanding central government, thus returning to the tyranny that they had endured under King George: “taxation without representation”.
 
However, slavery became an even greater issue when radical abolitionists in the North sent “teachers and preachers” into the South to rouse the slaves into “servile insurrections” of the type committed by Nat Turner and attempted by John Brown just before the war began. Since Turner’s mob killed whites without regard to whether or not they owned slaves, it is understandable that all white Southerners found such attempts terrifying and enraging, especially in the deep South where the percentage of blacks in the population was large enough to be a real threat to the safety of whites in that region. Yes, slavery was a very important issue – but the purveyors of “Yankee history” fail to mention that the efforts by Northerners to instigate murderous uprisings throughout the South played a key role in that fact.
 
As for “arming the slaves”: by the time this was considered, there was reason for many whites to be concerned. Large numbers of white men who had served in the army were dead, imprisoned or maimed. All that was left in many places in the South were women, children, the old and those unable – or unwilling – to serve. The Negro population, on the other hand, remained fairly stable and the incursion of Yankee troops with their call for blacks to rise up in arms or leave their masters was becoming ever more powerful. At that point, arming large numbers of slaves who might – or might not – have been loyal was certainly problematic in the minds of many Southerners. It is easy to talk about this sort of thing now, but at the time the situation was vastly different. Bad enough that the Yankees were robbing, raping, burning and killing without adding thousands of what were considered “childlike” armed men into the situation, men who might be influenced by the enemy to turn their guns on the people of the South.
 
Finally, it is less than honest to judge the people of the 19th Century by the standards of today. The belief at the time was one of white supremacy across the board in white cultures. But just to show that there might have been some basis for that belief however much we are offended by it today, I’d like to quote a man who is considered a great humanitarian and certainly not a “racist”, Dr. Albert Schweitzer. In a book written in 1961, Schweitzer said:
 
"I have given my life to alleviate the sufferings of Africa.  There is something that all White men who have lived here like I have must learn and know:  that these individuals are a sub-race.  They have neither the mental or emotional abilities to equate or share equally with White men in any functions of our civilization.  I have given my life to try to bring unto them the advantages which our civilization must offer, but I have become well aware that we must retain this status:  White the superior, and they the inferior.  For whenever a White man seeks to live among them as their equals, they will destroy and devour him, and they will destroy all his work.  And so for any existing relationship or any benefit to this people, let White men, from anywhere in the world, who would come to help Africa, remember that you must maintain this status:  you the master and they the inferior, like children whom you would help or teach.  Never fraternize with them as equals.  Never accept them as your social equals or they will devour you.  They will destroy you."
 
One may disagree strongly with Dr. Schweitzer, but one cannot deny that he wrote what he wrote after years of working in Africa. I include this only to show that branding the South as “racist” (a Marxist concept) in order to excuse a criminal war is disingenuous to say the least! Schweitzer, a world renowned figure, was writing in the second half of the 20th century! The people who dealt with the issue in the 19th Century did so according to the culture of the time. Indeed, most states in the North had “black laws” which refused to allow Negroes to migrate to those states and while Yankee abolitionists wished to end slavery, they also wanted blacks to remain in the South or be sent to colonies in Africa or the Caribbean. This was a particular desire of Lincoln who gave a great amount of money during the war to a New York firm to set up such a colony in the West Indies.
 
The time has come – indeed it is long past – to stop using the issue of slavery as a club against the South. The people of the South saw that the Union was moving in a direction diametric to the interests and well being of their people and their culture and not just with regards to slavery. They determined to leave the Union to protect themselves from being destroyed. This was, by the way, not merely a Southern viewpoint. In a letter to a friend, the genocide, William T. Sherman said the same thing:
 
“The War which now prevails in our land is essentially a war of Races. The Southern People entered into a clear Compact of Government with us of the North, but still maintained through State organizations a species of separate existence with separate interests, history and prejudices. These latter became stronger and stronger till at last they have led to war, and have developed the fruits of the bitterest kind. We of the North are beyond all question right in our cause but we are not bound to ignore the fact that the people of the South have prejudices which form a part of their nature, and which they cannon throw off without an effort of reason, or by the slower process of natural change. The question then arises Should we treat as absolute enemies all in the South who differ from us in opinion or prejudice, kill or banish them, or should we give them time to think and gradually change their conduct, so as to conform to the new order of things which is slowly & gradually creeping into their country?”
 
Here you have the mindset of the North encapsulated completely with the simple question, “…should we treat as absolute enemies all in the South who differ from us in opinion or prejudice, kill or banish them, or should we give them time to think and gradually change their conduct so as to conform to the new order of things which is slowly & gradually creeping into their country?”
 
Frankly, it would seem that this sentiment from a man lauded by the Union and who went on to do his best to kill all the Native American peoples (I’ve got quotes from Sherman on that subject as well) shows just which side was – and which was not – the real villain in the War of Secession. The South was correct to fear the tyrant Union. Those who use the issue of slavery – while totally refusing to consider or acknowledge the North’s involvement in that “peculiar institution” – do so to obfuscate the facts and to make right wrong and wrong right.
 
Valerie Protopapas