Neo Confederates and Revisionist Civil War History

Page 1.

It seems to me that we are witnessing a resurgence of Neo Confederate sentiment in the news and around the country in recent months. The most recent and high profile example is when Robert McDonnell issued a proclamation recognizing April as Confederate History Month. Obviously this is a very touchy subject, but I think we should take the time to revisit US history of that time period and understand the complexities of the Lincoln administration. I believe this is the most misunderstood period of American history and the one most subject to revisionist impulses by modern historians. Now, obviously given modern connotations of the Confederate flag and racial tensions that exist, modern Neo-Confederates are almost unanimously considered to be racists. Furthermore, many people who express even the slightest support for the ideas of succession, interposition, nullification or any State’s Rights are frequently vilified as racists. To state first, I know nothing about Robert McDonnell. He absolutely should have first and foremost denounced slavery before advancing any notion of revisiting Confederate history. But I don’t know whether or not he is a racist. I DO know that many people who are absolutely NOT racists are vilified by this term for their desire to use the tools of State’s Rights to combat what many see as unconstitutional federal laws and an increasingly belligerent, hostile Federal Government that is less and less responsive to the will of the people. The purpose of this thread is to show the ignorance of most people to the true history of the Civil War and its implications. Without further ado, lets get into it:
1. The Founders were overwhelmingly against slavery and desired to create a nation that respected freedom for all men. That is why they put “all men are created equal” in the Constitution. Unfortunately, slavery was such an integral part of the economy (as it was in most of the world) they were not able to abolish it at the time of the Revolution. They fully expected that slavery would be phased out in a peaceful and orderly fashion.

In 1774, Benjamin Franklin and Benjamin Rush founded America’s first antislavery society. John Jay was president of another similar society in New York. When William Livingston, singer of the Constitution and governor of New Jersey, heard of the New York society, he wrote:

“I would most ardently wish to become a member of it [the society in New York] and… I can safely promise them that neither my tongue, nor my pen, nor purse shall be wanting to promote the abolition of what to me appears so inconsistent with humanity and Christianity… May the great and the equal Father of the human race, who has expressly declared His abhorrence of oppression, and that He is no respecter of persons, succeed a design so laudably calculated to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke.”

As you can see, the Founders opposition to slavery went beyond words. Many participated in concrete action supporting abolishing slavery. Other founders who were actively involved in these societies included: Richard Bassett, James Madison, James Monroe, Bushrod Washington, Charles Carroll, William Few, John Marshall, Richard Stockton, Zephaniah Swift, and many more.

As if I haven’t already made my point, I offer a few more quotes to show the Founders views on slavery:

“I can only say that there is not a man living who wishes more sincerely than I do to see a plan adopted for the abolition of it [slavery].”
-George Washington

“[M]y opinion against it [slavery] has always been known… [N]ever in my life did I own a slave.”
-John Adams

“[W]hy keep alive the question of slavery? It is admitted by all to be a great evil.”
-Charles Carrol

“Domestic slavery is repugnant to the principles of Christianity… It is rebellion against the authority of a common Father. It is a practical denial of the extent and efficacy of the death of a common Savior. It is an usurpation of the prerogative of the great Sovereign of the universe who has solemnly claimed an exclusive property in the souls of men.”
-Benjamin Rush

There are many many more such quotes. It is important to note that the actions of the founders translated into tangible victories for the Abolitionists. Pennsylvania and Massachusetts abolished slavery in 1780. Connecticut and Rhode Island did so in 1784. New Hampshire did in 1792. Vermont in 1793, New York in 1799, and New Jersey in 1804. This was the manner in which the founders advocated abolishing the institution they so despised. They would be horrified and appalled at the notion that a powerful central government is claimed to be justified in the name of freedom. They correctly believed that allowing the central government to grab unconstitutional power, even in the name of eliminating something so immoral as slavery, would in the long run be an affront to EVERYONE’S liberties, over time effectively making us all slaves to an all powerful state.

**2. The Civil War was not fought over slavery. It was fought to destroy the original intent of the Constitution and to establish a much more powerful central government in violation of the Founders wishes. It was also fought over economic concerns. **

“My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that”
-Abraham Lincoln

The greatest motivation was to destroy the founders vision of the country, abolishing the notion of succession. Lincoln wasn’t a great man, he was a tyrant. If someone were to ask the question, “Which president committed the most unconstitutional acts as president?”, the answer would be Lincoln, by a country mile. Lincoln caused a war that killed more than 650.000 Americans, more than all other wars combined. But wait, you are probably saying, didn’t the Confederacy fire the first shots at Fort Sumter? Yes, but Lincoln made a significant attempt to provoke the south to fire the first shot, refusing the many opportunities he had to prevent such a violent outcome. The confederates had sent peace commissioners to Washington to offer to pay the Souths portion of the national debt. Furthermore, Napoleon the Third of France offered to broker a compromise. Yet, Lincoln refused to see any of them. He was determined to go to war. Lincoln promised not to send warships to Fort Sumter, even as he gave the orders for them to approach. Noted historian Shelby Foote wrote that, “Lincoln had maneuvered [the Confederates] into the position of having either to back down on their threats or else to fire the first shot of the war.” After Fort Sumter, Lincoln wrote to his naval commander Gustavus Fox thanking him for provoking the reaction he was looking for:

“You and I both anticipated that the cause of the country would be advanced by making the attempt to provision Fort Sumter, even if it should fail, and it is no small consolation now to feel that our anticipation is justified by the result.”

The abuses of the Constitution, the laws of morality, and the flat out illegal activity engaged in by Lincoln and his army are almost unfathomable to us today. Lincoln’s soldiers and agents raped women, burnt courthouses, burnt homes and destroyed and robbed banks. Lincoln locked up over 3000 newspaper reporters in the North because they published articles that were critical of him.

After Lincoln died, the Supreme Court unanimously condemned what he did.

Lincoln gave absolutely no thought to the notion of slavery as a cause for the war. In fact, up to that point, the Abolitionist movement was gaining steam and there were several court challenges that claimed that the Constitution already made slavery illegal and made clear the founders opinion on the subject. There was an amendment proposed to the Constitution called The Corwin Amendment which was pushed by defenders of slavery which contained this language:

“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.”

Thus, this amendment would have explicitly established that the federal government was complicit in allowing slavery to continue unhindered. Lincoln supported this Amendment! Robert E Lee opposed this Amendment. Robert E Lee was a devout Abolitionist who opposed slavery on moral and religious grounds. A few quotes of his:

“There are few, I believe, in this enlightened age, who will not acknowledge that slavery as an institution is a moral and political evil.”

“Is it not strange that the descendants of those Pilgrim Fathers who crossed the Atlantic to preserve their own freedom have always proved the most intolerant of the spiritual liberty of others?”

These views reflected a significant and growing southern movement opposed to slavery for moral and religious reasons. Why, then would Lee proceed to lead an army in support of the institution? The answer is, he didn’t. Robert E Lee retired his position in the United States Army because he couldn’t stand to watch any army, especially the Union army trample and destroy his beloved Virginia.

Thus many got involved in one side or another for various reasons. There were abolitionists who supported the South. There were racist slave owners in the North. The truth of that period of time was that the Abolitionist movement was gaining strength and there were members throughout every state. However, the lasting result of that war was that the Southerners were universally demonized and blamed for slavery, when there is plenty of blame to go around. The tragedy is that the result of this war has been an ever more divided country and lingering racism and bigotry that continues to this day. The lingering pain and harm caused by using a barbaric method (war) to deal with a problem which could have and should have been resolved peacefully is incalculable. Next time you feel the need to denigrate the South for all the problems of slavery, you should stop and reconsider history and acknowledge the racism and prejudice prevalent in the North in that time. Speaking of which…

Page 2.

3. Abraham Lincoln was an unabashed racist who had no desire to create equality between the races.

“I will say, then, that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races—that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of making voters or jurors of Negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this, that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I, as much as any other man, am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.”

In Lincoln’s first Inaugural address, he made very clear that a primary reason for tension between the North and South was economic in nature:

*"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.

[…]

The power confided to me will be used to hold, occupy, and possess the property and places belonging to the Government and to collect the duties and imposts; but beyond what may be necessary for these objects, there will be no invasion, no using of force against or among the people anywhere."*

http://www.bartleby.com/124/pres31.html

One book that crushes the romantic myth of Lincoln as “The Great Emancipator” was titled Forced into Glory: Abraham Lincoln’s White Dream, by noted black historian Lerone Bennett Jr. He compellingly argues that Lincoln was a crude bigot who habitually used the N word and enjoyed blackface-minstrel shows and demeaning “darky” jokes. He supported the pre-Civil War “Black Laws,” which stripped African Americans of their basic rights in his native Illinois, as well as the Fugitive Slave Act, which compelled the return to their masters of those who had escaped to free soil in the North. Bennet’s main argument was that the Emancipation Proclamation was “a ploy” to keep slaves in bondage until he could build support for his ultimate “solution” for ending slavery, a ridiculous plan he called “colonization”, which would ship the black population to Africa or South America. Bennett claims that Lincoln’s fondest dream was of a “lily-white America without Native Americans, African Americans and Martin Luther Kings.”

His book, in the words of University Historian W. Fitzhugh Brundage, contains the “most systematic, best-researched and compelling critique of Lincoln’s [beliefs about race] that I know of.” Yet no major newspapers reviewed it and it was almost completely ignored by mainstream sources. There is obviously an agenda to keep alive the notion of Lincoln as “the greatest president” (or at least one of the greatest). It is especially noteworthy that this book was written by an educated and respected black man who was heavily involved with Civil Rights.

To sum up the message in Bennett’s own words:

“Lincoln must be seen as the embodiment, not the transcendence, of the American tradition of racism…We need to confront slavery and apologize for it to put it behind us…Everywhere we look today, Civil War issues are exploding–in South Carolina and Mississippi with the Confederate flag, with the renewed call for reparations for slavery. We’ve not dealt with those issues yet and we’re not going to be free until we do.”

Compare Lincoln’s quotes to those of the Founding Fathers as posted earlier. It is crazy that many denigrate the name of the Founders by claiming they harbored racist beliefs, yet they essentially deify a true racist. Sign of the times. The essential reason for this is that power defends power. Since the Civil War facilitate a massive expansion of Federal power, revisionist historians have undertaken the task of transforming Lincoln into an anti slavery hero, commonly thought of as our greatest president, since entertaining the truth would be an attack on their power. It would be a great threat to those with a vested interest in defending the status quo to consider that perhaps our society would be better if we adhered to the Founders vision of the Constitution and society in general.

4. Before The Civil War, Succession and State’s Rights were used by Abolitionists to promote the cause of ending slavery.

In addition to the actions of the Founding Fathers as noted earlier, libertarian icon Lysander Spooner defended State’s Rights and their use in pursuing the Abolitionist cause. In the introduction to The Lysander Spooner Reader, George H. Smith describes Spooner as “one of the greatest libertarian theorists of the nineteenth (or any other) century . . .” He argued for the unconstitutionality of slavery, central banking, the postal monopoly, legal tender laws, and myriad other offenses against liberty. And his “contempt for government was rivaled only by his contempt for fellow libertarians who compromised their principles”.

Spooner and his entire family were abolitionists for decades before the war. He famously wrote The Unconstitutionality of Slavery in 1845, making him a hero of the abolitionist movement.

Spooner, like many abolitionists of his day, defended the Jeffersonian right of Nullification by juries of the Fugitive Slave Act. If you don’t know, the Fugitive Slave Act stated that runaway slaves must be returned to their masters. Spooner believed that slaves who fled to states where slavery was illegal should be protected. Furthermore, he advocated for slave insurrections and supported and defended those who helped run the underground railroad, aiding slaves in their quest for liberty.

Spooner even defended the right of the South to secede from the Union. He saw through Lincoln’s phoniness and quest for empire at the expense of hundreds of thousands of American lives. In his famous 1870 essay, “No Treason” Spooner made clear his views on the war. He understood the Northern business interests that controlled the Republican Party of the time. He called them “lenders of blood money” and they had “for a long series of years previous to the war, been the willing accomplices of the slave-holders in perverting the government from the purpose of liberty and justice . . .”. It was these interests that had monopolized and profited from the transatlantic slave trade, which was always centered in Providence, Rhode Island and Boston, Massachusetts.

Spooner wrote that the Northern financiers of the war who lent millions to the government did not do so for “any love of liberty or justice,” but for “the control of Southern markets” through tariff extortion. Mocking the argument of the “lenders of blood money” as they addressed the South he wrote: “If you [the South] will not pay us our price [i.e., a high tariff] . . . we will secure the same price (and keep control of your markets) by helping your slaves against you, and using them as our tools for maintaining dominion over you; for the control of your markets . . .”

Spooner noted the insider deals that were made by controlling interests at the time. In return for financing a large part of Lincoln’s war machine “these holders of the debt are to be paid still further – and perhaps doubly, triply, or quadruply paid – by such tariffs on imports as will enable our home manufacturers to realize enormous prices for their commodities; also by such monopolies in banking as will enable them to keep control of, and thus enslave and plunder, the industry and trade of the great body of the Northern people themselves”. The war had led to “the industrial and commercial slavery” of all Americans, both North and South.

Lysander Spooner was certainly not alone in his views. There were many who could see that Lincoln’s agenda and war were in fact harmful to the cause of truly eradicating slavery and ending prejudice. Those at the time who truly cared about liberty and equality for all men adhered to the model our founders gave us in achieving these ends, rather than kowtowing to an authoritarian government capable of taking away ALL rights, both for blacks and whites.

5. All other nations got rid of slavery without a civil war. The policy our government should have taken would be to buy the slaves from the slave owners and release them. This is what Great Britain did and many other nations as well.

If we would have been able to pursue a peaceful means of abolishing slavery, countless lives would have been saved and we could have continued on the model of government our Founders envisioned, finally living up their admonition that “all men are created equal”. Furthermore, the lingering racism and tension that exists even to this day would have been avoided. No, racism would not have been eliminated. But the truth is that the South was devastated. They lost the war, all their possessions and were not compensated for their purchase of slaves. I am certainly not defending them for that last point, but what if the Federal government did pay them compensation for their purchase of slaves as proposed above? It would allow a much better outcome for the Abolitionist movement, cost much less than the Civil War and prevented the lingering hatred and bigotry that raged on for more than a century. I truly believe the horrors of Jim Crow laws, the lynching of black men and many of the great evils that continued for many decades could have, to a large degree, been avoided had we taken this more sensible route that other nations took. The Civil War destroyed the economy of the South the way the Treaty of Versailles destroyed Germany. There is obviously no justification for the way that black people were treated in the South, but just as the Treaty of Versailles allowed the conditions that gave rise to Hitler, the unintended consequences of the Civil War have to be considered. It created a deep seated resentment among many Southerners and directly contributed to a huge uptick in violence towards blacks and racial bigotry that persisted for many decades.

Links for further research:

http://albensonjr.com/mrlincolntheracist.shtml

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,996904,00.html

http://www.scvcamp469-nbf.com/blackhistoriandocumentslincoln.htm

http://praxeology.net/EHH-WMP.htm

http://www.christiananswers.net/q-wall/wal-g003.html

http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig/pearlston1.html

Conclusion:

To those who read my last thread, you know I am a Libertarian, which means I hold individual liberty to be the highest ideal worth defending. Yet, when I or another libertarian raises the issue of states rights or nullification, it raises peoples suspicions about racism, though bigotry as a concept is antithetical to the libertarian philosophy of tolerance. The charge of racism is a crutch used by weak minded people who inherently lack the grown up skills of debate and argumentation. I do believe there is a profound ignorance of civil war history among todays populace. The views I have expressed here are very well documented. I hope when somebody claims that slavery was the primary or only reason for The Civil War, you will be able to correct them.

The reason I am bringing this up, apart from so many Neo Confederates showing up in the news lately, is the very real possibility and necessity of States reaffirming their sovereignty and using tools such as Nullification to reign in an out of control Federal Government in the very near future. Do you oppose any use of States Rights in this day and age? What do you think would happen in the event of a very real and acknowledged Federal bankruptcy? My guess is that States will become the dominant form of government one way or the other, and believe me for those considering the use of States Rights in dealing with the Feds and their overreaching and increasingly belligerent stance toward the voting populace, racism is the farthest thing from their minds.

So, I am opening this up for debate. I want to stress that I am not defending Neo Confederates. I am disgusted when I see someone flying a Confederate Flag because I know the racist connotation that it takes these days. But that doesn’t change the truth about our history and the true motivations behind The Civil War. So, where do I go wrong here? Are these views new to you? Its probably not what you were taught in school, yet it is never too late to learn the truth. If you’ll notice, nearly every major event in US history that facilitated a massive expansion of power by the Federal Government is presented in a positive light in textbooks. Unfortunately history is frequently “revised” to support a certain group or belief system at the expense of the truth.

Discuss.

What’s “succession”? Don’t you mean “secession”? I make typos myself, but you’ve misspelled the word consistently.

The South seceded because it wanted to preserve slavery. That was the number one “States’ Right” that concerned the wealthy slaveowners.

Give me time to go through your links. One at Amazon is really interesting–the one star reviews point out the errors quite well.

You’ve clearly taken a lot of time to write this. I appreciate the alternative perspective. I knew Lincoln was a racist from a class I took last term (American Racism.)

My issue with ‘‘state’s rights’’ is that it has historically and consistently been used as a way to preserve the racial order in the south.

During the passage of the Social Security Act in 1935, Democrats would only sign on if they were guaranteed the exclusion of domestic and agricultural laborers from key benefits of the legislation. It was explicitly stated on the House Floor that this exclusion was solely to keep blacks in line, and that the meddling federal government should recognize the right of the states to preserve that racial order.

It happened again in the 1950s with the GI Bill. Southern legislators loved the GI Bill, because it gave local and state power over administration of these benefits. What resulted is of course an entire race of people were left out of this wonderful opportunity for upward mobility that the rest of the nation’s veterans enjoyed.

Those are two recent examples, but obviously that trend has gone back forever.

I have never assumed that people interested in state’s rights were racist. But neither does it seem accurate to deny that state’s rights have historically been the major mechanism preserving institutional racism throughout history. I still see potential for that today – not only with racism but with women and sexual minorities as well. While lovers of liberty may be sincere, “state’s rights” in their actual expression generally mean the right to discriminate.

I distinctly remember one lecture in an American History class in college. The upshot was that there were different abolitionist societies for different races owing to racism: a Whites’ abolitionist society and a Blacks’ abolitionist society. The enlightened Whites were enlightened enough to want to do away with slavery but not so enlightened as to agree with true equality.

This thread will not go well if the opening arguments are so clearly incorrect.

First, "all men are creartewd equal was placed in the Declaration of Independence and does not appear in the Constitution. Those words were written by a man who valued his own property so highly that he could not bother to free his own slaves until his death 50 years after the signing of his bold words.

Beyond that, do you have any evidence that the Founders were “overwhelmingly against slavery”? A couple of statements from a small handful of non-slaveowning participants in either of the Philadelphia conventions does not make your point. There were a few abolitionists among the Founders, but I have seen no evidence that it was a prevalent belief.

Sorry, this is even more wrong than the simplistic claim that the North fought to free the slaves.

The idea that the war was fought with the intention of forming a powerful central government is wthout any basis in fact. That such was the result–being necessary to prosecute the war–is undeniably true, but claiming that anyone set that forth as the primary objective requires more than patched together quotes taken out of context.

The more accurate statments would be:
The South seceded in order to preserve and maintain slavery while the North fought to preserve the Union. Without slavery, there was no secession, and without secession, there was no war.

And was slavery a special point regarding secession?

The Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union.

A Declaration of the Immediate Causes which Induce and Justify the Secession of the State of Mississippi from the Federal Union.

Georgia’s declaration of secession.

A Declaration of the Causes which Impel the State of Texas to Secede from the Federal Union.

There are also the reports from the Democratic Party Convention in Savannah, prior to the war in which people such as Jefferson Davis began calling for the breaking of the Democratic Party for the express purpose of ensuring that Douglas could not be the Democratic candidate with the further expressed views that they needed to secede in order to preserve their slaves.
Further there is Confederate Vice President Alexander H. Stephens’s “Cornerstone Speech”.

= = =

Even if Lincoln had been the monster you need for him to be, your premises are filled with errors and your conclusdions fail from that point.

Contrary to the opinion in the OP, I was unaware that there’s been a massive revival of neo-Confederate apologist sentiment in the U.S., apart from the idiot in Virginia proclaiming Confederate Warped History Month. And I’m not sure there’s much significance to that flap, apart from representing another spasmodic attempt by Lost Causers to keep their delusions alive.

There was an opinion piece in the New York Times yesterday by the editor of Newsweek, attempting to link this incident to a general right-wing uprising over Obama and loss of their demographic, which struck me as nonsense. I suppose it’s inevitable that a few people will try and use Civil War history to try to justify their libertarian views (or vice versa), but most conservatives are probably find this as embarassing and revolting as liberals.

If you want a serious discussion about state’s rights and whether federal powers are excessive, the completely wrong way to go about it is to try to practice Civil War revisionism to paint the South in a glorious light.

Someone with more time and stomach for this than me (hi, tom) will be happy to dredge up the contentious threads on this subject and/or specifics of state secession proclamations which clearly demonstrate the South’s overriding preoccupation with preserving slavery as the reason for going to war. And it’s irrefutable that they did precipitate the war by attacks on federal installations, never mind the gobbledygook about how they were “forced” into a position of either having to back down from their threats or attack.

Part A is correct (they lost), Part B is nonsense (the North did not run around confiscating everybody’s posessesions - as an example, Grant’s peace terms at Appomattox allowed for Confederate troops to take horses home to help in resuming farming, when they easily could have been appropriated as military contraband), and as for Part C (non-compensation for slaves) - cry me a river.

Southern seccession was motivated by the desire to maintain the institution of slavery, and that’s the end of it. It really is that simple. Everything else was, and is, bullshit rationalization.

The OP does not help himself much with an already fact challenged OP by also repeatedly misspelling the word “seccession” (while simultaneously accusing his audience of being uneducated), and Jeff Beck-level demogoguery with regards to current politics.

GLENN Beck.

And remember, Glenn Beck plays a shitty guitar.

If you don’t know the difference between the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, you’re off to a very rocky start in terms of convincing anyone that you have a command of U.S. history.

I oppose the use of States Rights because they don’t exist and have never existed. Individuals have rights, states have powers.

I would mention the Cornerstone Speech, which clearly laid out the purpose of secession was to preserve slavery. A claim otherwise is simple Revisionism.

I have to concur in the skepticism on this point. The list provided in the OP hardly constitutes a majority, let alone "overwhelming,"of the Americans I would classify as “Founders.”

In any event, I’m not sure how much difference it makes to the argument what proportion of Founders were for, against, or indifferent to slavery. Clearly some of them fell into each category, and the compromise system they established obviously allowed for it, so what’s the point in arguing about the numbers who held each viewpoint?

tomndebb agrees (agree?) that the powerful central government (and the disempowering of individual States) was the result. And, obviously, the ending of slavery at that particular moment in history was another result. So the question is, what evidence or argument is there to support either of these, or both, or some other objective, as the motivation for Lincoln’s prosecution of the war (including the various measures employed in the North).

Lincoln’s own statements just before, and for some time after, the start of shooting, were that ending slavery was not his objective. The actions of his administration and armies support this notion; slaves in territories controlled by Union armies, even after the Emancipation Proclamation, were not promptly freed.

If “preserving the Union” was the only objective, and ending slavery was immaterial–as Lincoln did say–then why was the response to secession to raise troops? Why not diplomacy? Why not concessions to the Southern states, to induce them to stay in, or return to, the Union? (Recall that some states, Virginia included, in fact did not leave the Union until after Lincoln had made clear that the force of arms would be brought to bear, and the seceded states invaded.) Why the rush to war? Why not leave the seceded states alone for a year or two as some other plan was tried?

(Note, I am here leaving aside the question of whether it was “right” or “legal” for Lincoln to wage war on seceded states under any circumstances at all.)

Isn’t the OP’s argument related to the North’s reasons?

Nobody can seriously argue that the first group of seceding states (cotton and rice states of the Deep South) were not motivated (at least in part) by an interest in perpetuating slavery. They said so. There is not much need to keep relinking to South Carolina’s declaration, for example. And nobody that I’m aware of is arguing that perpetuating slavery is defensible.

Yes, some Confederate batteries fired on Sumter. The question here should be, why was Sumter garrisoned? Federal troops had already been peacefully withdrawn from other forts in the territory of seceded states. The garrison at Sumter had the opportunity to leave. Okay, so it was “federal property.” In the volatile climate of the times, though, would not a prudent President have cooperated with the wishes of the governors in question (at least temporarily), and make every possible effort to resolve the matter by other means, before embarking on the very grave course of war, and provoking further secessions? Why keep this hot stick in the secessionist eye, if not to provoke shooting?

Lincoln’s actions in the first months after assuming the Presidency did not relieve the crisis in any way, but deepened it. Why would he do this, if war–and the federal powers allegedly “necessary to prosecute” it–were not the desired end?

Bet that performance got rave reviews.

I really love the idea that Lincoln somehow maneuvered the South into firing as if it absolves them of any responsibility. The ideas posted in the OP aren’t anything new as this version of history is the one that was favored by the United Confederate Veterans (now the Sons of Confederate Veterans) as well as the United Daughters of the Confederacy. The so called “Lost Cause of the Confederacy.”

[ol]
[li]Southern generals represented the best in society while Northern generals were scum.[/li][li]Slavery was, at best, a necessary evil. For the most part it was a benign system, the slaves were treated well, and they were happy.[/li][li]Slavery had nothing to do with the war it was about state’s rights.[/li][/ol]

That’s just a little bit of the Lost Cause perspective. If you’re interested in a bit more http://www.scv.org/pdf/ConfederateCatechism.pdf will link you to a PDF of the Confederate Catechism that is similar to the OP.
Odesio

The Fifth Dimension sings the Declaration of Independence (Youtube video) :slight_smile:

Thaddeus Stevens aside, can you name a white American back then who wasn’t an unabashed racist with no desire to create equality between the races? I’ve read Bennett’s book, and I think it’s largely a piece of crap. Lincoln didn’t like slavery. He argued for the stopping of its spread, and during the war, he abolished it where he legally could, and, where he legally couldn’t, pushed for, first, a compensated emancipation plan, and then, when that failed, an amendment to get rid of it.

I don’t understand this false dichotomy that you see when so many people talk about Lincoln. Either he’s completely pure and a sainted lover of everyone regardless of race, or he’s an unabashed cynic who secretly is fine with slavery, and uses it as an excuse to become a bloodthirsty tyrant.

As he put it in his own words, in his debates with Douglas:

Who said that?

There were hotheads on both sides, but as President, Lincoln had the most power to control the situation. It seems to me that he made very poor decisions, unless we understand war and consolidation of federal power to be (at least part of) his aim.

Some were, some weren’t. I happen to believe that some of the most sterling examples of character among generals of this war were on the Southern side (Lee and Jackson), and that some of the most reprehensible were on the Northern (Sherman), but it would be silly to argue that either side’s generals were all good or all bad.

I wasn’t aware that this particular sentiment was very controversial. Some Northerners expressed it at the time.

In any case, the character of individual commanders has little or nothing to do with any of the larger political arguments.

Who said that?

Thanks for the link, looks interesting. I don’t know that I’ll agree with all of it.

By the way, extreme and/or nonsensical assertions can be found to “support” most political positions; pointing out the extremity or nonsense of these arguments does not mean that you are making a case against the positions themselves, particularly when the people you’re talking to haven’t necessarily made those arguments.