Why they fought the war

Guest View
Robert Powell
Special to The Augusta Free Press

I enjoyed James Shillinglaw’s comments in his article (Old times here are now forgotten, Monday AFP) and am determined to do what I can to set the record straight. As a descendent of Confederate soldiers, three of whom paid the ultimate sacrifice, I request your open-mindedness and patience at my defense of the Confederate battleflag. Please pass this letter on to those offended by the Flag of my Fathers.

"Any society which suppresses the heritage of its conquered minorities, prevents their history, and denies them their symbols, has sewn the seed of its own destruction." Sir William Wallace, 1281.

The foundation of any offense against the Confederate flag is based on the belief that the Confederacy was formed by the Southern states to resist the North’s efforts to abolish slavery. Though widely believed, this is a monstrous lie.

The North had little concern for the slave. On March 6, 1857, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled (in the Dred Scott decision) among other things that the right to own slaves was as protected by the U.S. Constitution as the rights of freedom of speech, religion and etc. It thereby struck down as unconstitutional all laws that prohibited or limited slavery anywhere the U.S. flag flew.

"Such a decision is all that slavery now lacks of being alike lawful in all the states. Welcome, or unwelcome, such decision is probably coming, and will soon be upon us."

"We shall lie down pleasantly dreaming that the people of Missouri are on the verge of making their state free, and we shall awake to the reality instead, that the Supreme Court has made Illinois a slave state." Abraham Lincoln, June 16, 1858, in response to the Dred Scott decision.

Historians mainly spin this event by teaching that this decision out raged the North and sped the coming of the Civil War, but in reality, less than four years later, on March 2, 1861, Congress passed a constitutional amendment that would prohibit the Constitution from being altered in its protection of slavery. This was primary a Northern thing because seven Southern states had already seceded from the Union. It was immediately endorsed by President James Buchanan, and on March 4, 1861, within an hour of becoming president, Lincoln endorsed this amendment in his first inaugural address.

A proposed Article 13 (unratified) read "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."

Lincoln’s response: "I have no objection to its being made express and irrevocable," he said in his first inaugural address, March 4, 1861.

Some argue that the Confederate flag is treasonous and un-American. I answer this charge by quoting two sources that are regarded as unimpeachable by most Americans – the Declaration of Independence and Abraham Lincoln.

"That to secure these rights," the Declaration reads, "governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness."

"Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up and shake off the existing government and form a new one that suits them better," Lincoln said in 1848, in regard to Texas seceding from Mexico. "This is a most valuable, a most sacred right – a right which we hope and believe is to liberate the world."

Therefore the Confederate flag is no more treasonous or un- American than the U. S. flag. Both were born in rebellion and revolution. They represent our veterans, especially those who never survived to enjoy "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," but gave the last full measure so that we might. They are my flags, a part of my heritage. Acts of extreme bravery, personal sacrifice and deplorable crimes were committed under both. And because they are public domain, they have on occasion been used by those with hateful agendas, and as a result some have declared them guilty by association, however this, too, is freedom.

The average Confederate soldier was the son or grandson of the Revolutionary War solder and had been taught to cherish his freedom and the Constitution. They fought to preserve the Union, only it was the spirit of the Union, not the geography of the union, as did Lincoln. The South never forgot that the Revolution was fought for freedom and independence, not Union. The North, however, seemed to never to remember this.

And one of my Confederate forefathers was a Native American, 1st Sgt. Chester R. Vann of 51st North Carolina, Company K. He lies in grave 729 in the POW Cemetery in Elmira, N.Y., along with 1,181 other North Carolinians. About 20 percent of the soldiers of the South were also nonwhite, being mostly African-Americans, Native Americans and Hispanics

Our forefathers provided us with the Bill of Rights to grants us protection for our basic freedoms, including the freedom of speech. This freedom is to protect offensive speech, as there is no need to protect nonoffensive speech. There is, however, no provision made to address the problem of our being offended by something or someone. Some would have us reverse this order; banning freedom of speech to grant the freedom from offense.

The attacks on the Confederate flag are in direct proportion to the denial of Northern participation in, protection of, and profit from slavery. The old adage that if you tell a lie, you’ll have to tell another one to cover it up is certainly true here. The real reason Lincoln gave for invading the South was to collect their tariffs, customs and duties (taxes) and to gain economic control of the South. This is not a pretty motive, but it was the true cause of the Northern invasion of the South.

"I have declared a thousand times, and now repeat that, in my opinion, neither the general government, nor any other power out side of the slave states, can constitutionally or rightfully interfere with slaves or slavery where it already exists," Lincoln said on June 23, 1858.

"I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the states where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so," Lincoln said in his 1861 inaugural address.

It was the North that was attempting to protect slavery through its constitutional amendment passed on March 2, 1861 and the Crittenden-Johnson Resolution passed again on July 25, 1861. Endorced by both political parties and backed by two U. S. presidents (one Lincoln), these acts attempted to fortify the U.S. Constitution against future amendments that would allow slavery to be abolished.

The South rejected both.

The attacks on the Old Confederacy and her symbols are exercises of the highest degrees of hypocrisy and intolerance and possible only through ignorance of history. It continues to reveal that even in the 21st century; native Southerners continue to suffer the bigotry of even those who preach tolerance and diversity.

"The contest is really for empire on the side of the North and for independence on that of the South," wrote The London Times on Nov. 7, 1861

"The war between the North and the South is a tariff war. The war is further, not for any principle, does not touch the question of slavery, and in fact turns on the Northern lust for sovereignty," said Karl Marx in 1861.

"The Northern onslaught upon slavery was no more than a piece of specious humbug designed to conceal its desire for economic control of the Southern states," said Charles Dickens in 1862.

"Unlike modern Americans who have been brainwashed by the Lincoln cult, in the 1860s the entire world knew that in his first inaugural address Lincoln pledged his support for a constitutional amendment that had just passed both the House and the Senate that would have forbidden the federal government from ever interfering in Southern slavery.

"The whole world also knew that in that same address he threatened a military invasion of any state that failed to collect the newly doubled federal tariff. The states that seceded did not intend to collect the U.S. government’s tariff and send the money to Washington, D.C., so Honest Abe kept his word and waged total war on fellow citizens for four years, killing some 300,000 of them, including one of four men of military age and tens of thousands of civilians," said Thomas J. DiLorenzo.

To the end of ignorance, bigotry and intolerance