Apr. 21, 2010
Slavery not the issue of the Civil War
By CHARLES E. MCMICHAEL
Special to The Telegraph
Leonard Pitts Jr. of the Miami Herald opines that “The South fought to keep slavery, period.” Please indulge a contrary view. Confederate soldiers fought to defend their families and homes from an invading and destructive army. President Abraham Lincoln and the U.S. Congress made clear that the purpose of their invasion and blockade was to “preserve the union” and preserve federal revenues.
Lincoln in his first inaugural address expressed support for the constitutional amendment to permanently preclude federal legislation abolishing slavery. He stated that he had no intent or desire to interfere with slavery where it existed. The only thing not negotiable to Lincoln was payment of the newly doubled federal tariffs of which the South paid over 80 percent.
The British and European press saw Lincoln’s invasion of the South for what it was, “a fiscal quarrel” and the North’s desire “for economic control of the South.”
The U.S. House passed a resolution July 25, 1861 to specify the war’s purpose. It explicitly stated the war’s purpose was not to interfere with “established institutions” of the states, but rather to “preserve the Union” — meaning tariff revenues.
Lincoln, in letters to Horace Greeley in August 1862, again reiterated that his war’s purpose was to “preserve the union” and that slavery was not a priority issue. “If I could save the Union without freeing any slaves, I would do it,” Lincoln wrote.
With the Emancipation Proclamation published Sept. 1862 (well over a year into the war), Lincoln essentially promised that slavery would continue in all states (including union slave states) if the seceded states would merely rescind their secession and return to the union before January 1, 1863. The Confederate states declined — clearly indicating motivations more involved than Pitts’ simplified fabrication.
Everyone is thankful that chattel slavery ended in America, but no war was necessary to end it. No other country in the world required war to abolish it. America certainly didn’t.
Pitts projects a biased and false motivation on the part of Confederates and their union attackers which is not supported by the historical record. The South did not fight to preserve slavery nor did the North attack to abolish it. Despite the relentless repetition of absurd distortions by Pitts and other revisionists, the truth doesn’t change.
The Sons of Confederate Veterans stand ready, willing and able to defend the true historical record and the good name of Confederate soldiers who are officially American veterans by Act of Congress. We unequivocally refute and condemn any suggestion that they were “traitors” or “terrorists” as recent revisionists have maliciously asserted.