By Reed Lannom – August 21, 2019
In her Aug. 11 column (“Confederate statue foes must be enlisted to craft ‘context’ for its display”), Lauren Ritchie recently asked readers to provide “context” that the Civil War was all about slavery, in order to fully explain a Confederate statue slated for a museum in Lake County.
Putting aside the political and economic causes of the Civil War, when assessing the men themselves, the personal motivations of most who did the fighting on either side, had nothing to do with slavery. The truth is most Southern soldiers (80% owned no slaves) would have considered themselves to be fighting to defend their homes; just as most Union soldiers were motivated to defend the Union. It seems preposterous that very many of them were thinking “We must keep the slaves!” or “We must free the slaves! As they charged into a hail of cannon and musket fire.
Here are a few points that prove the Civil War was not all about slavery:
· Lincoln’s proclamation calling for an invasion of the South on April 15, 1861, was for two stated reasons: collection of federal tariffs and protecting federal forts. Lincoln said nothing about slavery either then or in his First Inaugural Address on March 4, 1861, other than he endorsed the Corwin Amendment guaranteeing slavery forever.
· The four “Upper South” states (Virginia, North Carolina, Arkansas and Tennessee) rejected repeated overtures from the Confederacy to join the Confederate States of America. The Virginia Legislature had rejected secession as recently as April 4 by a two-to-one margin. Likewise, Tennessee, North Carolina and Arkansas each had rejected secession that winter. They only joined the CSA after Lincoln’s call for 75,000 volunteers to invade the seven “Deep South” states.
The “Upper South” refused Lincoln’s demand that they contribute soldiers, resources and safe passage for the federal army to invade the “Deep South.” The “Upper South” refused to invade their Southern brethren.
· The “Upper South” did not believe the federal government had a right to invade a sovereign state. They believed that states’ rights, state sovereignty and “consent of the governed” preempted central federal government authority. They believed the U.S. Constitution was a voluntary union compact that gave them the right to recall their delegated powers to the central government and voluntarily leave the Union of States.
· In Virginia, North Carolina, Arkansas and Tennessee lived 52.4% of white Southerners, according to the 1860 census. Which means a majority of Southerners in power in 1861 (at that time, just as in the South, most Northern states did not allow black freedmen the right to vote) seceded over the central federal government’s stated objective to invade the “Deep South”; and, thereby violate the U.S. Constitution as a voluntary union compact.
· The “Upper South” states, the majority of white Southerners, did not secede over slavery. The “Upper South” states fought for “consent of the governed”; and, “state sovereignty” as a full partner in an equal co-ordinate state/federal government enshrined in a voluntary union compact as was originally conceived by the Founding Fathers, according to the Federalist Papers and several states’ ratifications of the Constitution.
· And, all total, seven of the 11 sovereign Southern states constituting the CSA and the majority of its population, said nothing in any of their secession documents (whether it be their ordinances, legislative acts or resolutions) about slavery provoking their secession from the Union.
Slavery was a primary cause of the Civil War. But in a context quite different than assigning exclusive blame for slavery on the South. Historian Allan Nevins, a professor at Columbia not known as a Neo-Confederate, said the North and the South were equally responsible (as Lincoln said they were at Hampton Roads Conference) for not facing the conjoined problems of “ending slavery and race-adjustment.”
There was a massive financial commitment of compensated emancipation, education and job training for slaves by both the North and South, which was crucial to alleviate 200-plus years of slavery. In the absence of Northern and Southern leaders’ being willing to shoulder that burden and, the North refusing to allow blacks to move North if they desired — leaving the entire massive burden for the South to sort out — the North and South descended inexorably into the much costlier maelstrom of the Civil War.
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Web Source: Civil War Wasn’t Just About Slavery/Commentary