Your Article "Should we celebrate secession, treason, and the defense of slavery? "
 
From: cliftonpalmermclendon@yahoo.com
To: jting@whyy.org
 
Dear Mr. Ting:
 
I open with some definitions taken from Webster’s Third New International Dictionary of the English Language Unabridged (Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc.; 1981)
 
BIGOTRY: Obstinate and unreasoning attachment to one’s own belief and opinions with intolerance of beliefs opposed to them.
 
IGNORANCE: A lack of knowledge, either in general or of a particular point.
 
PREJUDICE: Unreasonable predilection for or objection against something; or an opinion or leaning adverse to anything without just grounds or before sufficient knowledge; or an irrational attitude of hostility directed against an individual, a group, a race, or their supposed characteristics; or an opinion or judgment formed beforehand or without due examination.
 
Your remarks show that you lack knowledge as to the causes for the War of 1861-1865, and particularly the motivation of the Southern States in seceding and fighting. You also show an obstinate and unreasoning attachment to your own belief and opinions about that War, with intolerance of beliefs opposed to them; and an unreasonable objection and irrational attitude of hostility against the Sons of Confederate Veterans arising from an opinion formed without just grounds and before sufficient knowledge.
 
Do you also refer to the patriots of 1776 as traitors for seceding from Britain, then fighting a war to secure that secession? If not, you are at best dealing from a double standard.
 
Since you lack knowledge, I am glad to enlighten you:
 
The Confederate States seceded for the same reason that thirteen States seceded from Britain in 1776, Mexico from the Spanish empire in 1818, and Texas from Mexico in 1836 – to escape an overweening, intrusive government and form a government that pleased them better; a government by the consent of the governed as against a government crammed down their throats. (In all four cases, the seceded entities were called upon to fight to secure their secessions. That the Confederates were defeated while the colonists, Mexicans, and Texans were not does not negate secession as a true principle. The truth of a principle is inherent in the principle itself; it does not depend upon the success of those espousing the principle.)
 

 

The  secessions of the Confederate States were not triggered by slavery, but by taxation. By 1860, the Southern States were paying some 80% of the cost of running the Federal government – most of that money as protective tariffs to prop up Northern industry – while only receiving some 20% of the benefits of Federal expenditures. Between his election in November 1860 and his inauguration in March 1861, Lincoln announced that he wanted even higher tariffs.
 
If the seceded States had wished to preserve slavery, all they had to do was re-join the Union and ratify the Corwin Amendment, which stated: “No amendment shall be made to the Constitution which will authorize or give to Congress the power to abolish or interfere, within any State, with the domestic institutions thereof, including that of persons held to labor or service by the laws of said State.”
 
If you are intellectually honest, you will write and publish another column refuting this one.
 
We shall see.
 
Clifton Palmer McLendon
Gilmer, Texas