The Confederacy: America's Worst Idea

The Confederacy: America’s Worst Idea

By Stephanie McCurry
10/4/2010 • american history magazine

Richmond, Va., lies in ruins at the end of the Civil War, April 1865. [Library of Congress]
Richmond, Va., lies in ruins at the end of the Civil War, April 1865. [Library of Congress]

“Our government is founded upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man”-Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens

In December 2010, America marked a unique and largely embarrassing anniversary: 150 years ago a group of South Carolina politicians called a convention of “the people” and voted themselves out of the Union. Within weeks, six more states in the Deep South joined them and the United States was brought to the brink of war. The secessionist states hazarded all: their own future and that of their children and their children’s children; slavery itself, on which the bulk of their wealth depended; and the fourth largest economy in the world.

Jefferson Davis and other Confederate leaders cast secession as a wholly constitutional move designed simply to restore government to what the Founding Fathers had in mind. Davis would enshrine that version of the South’s motives in his postwar memoirs and it became a staple of the mythology of the Lost Cause. The goal of secession was merely to protect the rights of “sovereign” states from “tremendous and sweeping usurpation” by the federal government, Davis wrote. “The existence of African servitude was in no wise the cause of the conflict, but only an incident.” All too many historians fell for the pitch. In doing so they lost sight of the true nature of what the Confederates attempted to do: build a modern antidemocratic nation dedicated to the proposition that all men were not created equal. There can be no doubt about their intentions. What they wanted was a proslavery country.

If Confederates really started out to make a new nation, not restore an old one, there was also little reliable about their claim that the states had a guaranteed right under the U.S. Constitution to peacefully secede—a right, it is worth noting, that they did not extend to states in the Confederate Constitution. As Jefferson Davis knew all too well, secession was tantamount to a declaration of war.

In March 1861, the Vice President of the Confederate States of America, Alexander Stephens, offered a political manifesto for the slaveholders’ new republic. The original American republic “rested upon the assumption of the equality of the races,” Stephens explained. But “our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite ideas: its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery is his natural condition. This, our new government, is the first in the history of the world based upon this great truth.”

When representatives of the new nation sat down in Montgomery, Ala., to write their constitution, proslavery proposals were rendered concrete. They purged the document of euphemisms adopted in the original U.S. Constitution, brazenly using the term “slaves” instead of “other persons” and binding the Congress and the territorial governments to recognize and protect “the institution of negro slavery.” They also guaranteed citizens the right of sojourn and transit in any state and territory with “their slaves and other property.” The centerpiece of the Confederate Constitution—the clause that upends any attempt to cast it as simply a copy of the U.S. Constitution—was a wholly new clause, which eliminated any opportunity for the new government ever to change the law of slavery. “No bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law denying or impairing the right of property in negro slaves shall be passed.”

The power to define “citizens” fell to the individual states in their sovereign capacity and they embraced the task with energy. Most defined citizenship as the right to vote and limited that right to white men born or naturalized in the U.S. before 1860. Alabama went further by allowing all white male residents, including foreign nationals, to vote. “Let there be but two classes of persons here—the white and the black…keep all the white men politically equal—the superior race—let the negro be subordinate and our government will be strong and our liberties secure.”

Secession was the South’s big gamble. Proslavery Southerners could have played a wait-and-see game, as many unionists advised. But for those mostly Deep South Southerners who orchestrated secession in the fall of 1860 and winter of 1861, the election of Abraham Lincoln presented a risky but desperately sought opportunity to bring the crisis of slavery to a head. They went all in.

With war came the reckoning. The South’s proslavery and antidemocratic experiment was tested at every point, not just by the enemy armies arrayed against them but by the very people—the slaves and the white women—who the Confederate founders had counted out. Indeed one of the most compelling parts of the Civil War story, and perhaps the least well understood, was the way Confederates’ vision of the political future was tried—and found wanting—by its own people in the war. The Confederate project faced a political as well as a military testing.

It could hardly have been otherwise. The new nation was built on a very slim basis of democratic consent: Of the roughly 10 million people who lived in the Confederate States of America at the beginning of the war, 3.5 million were enslaved and disenfranchised and another 3 million, white women, had none of the political rights of their male counterparts. Only about 1.2 million people—the total number of adult white males qualified to vote—had ever been consulted about the wisdom of secession and willingness to risk war. That is what politicians meant when they talked of the consent of “the people.” But that vision of the people proved utterly inadequate to the nation-building project Confederates launched in 1861, as the chrysalis state confronted and attempted to surmount the structural problems of a slave regime at war. In attempting to escape history, Confederates had lowered themselves into its most dangerous currents.

War immeasurably upped the ante in the white man’s new republic. As the new Confederate government turned to its white citizens to support and defend the bid for national independence, it faced the necessity of building support among those whose consent for war had never been solicited. Then began a relentless process in which government officials and military men all the way up the chain of command scrambled to execute policies designed to build a state and wage war, while preserving slavery and feeding and protecting a civilian population of women increasingly denied the support of their men. There would be far more of “the people” to contend with in the making of history in the Civil War South than the Confederate founders bargained on.

Chief among the problems that reared up in the context of war was the way the institution of slavery limited the power of the federal government itself and compromised its sovereignty. As Jefferson Davis once said, slavery was a form of government for those not fit to govern themselves: Slavery was the slaves’ state, and masters the authority to which they owed allegiance. In other words, slaves were beyond the reach of the state; the government could access them only as the property of their masters. A state that could not claim the allegiance of a big segment of the adult male population faced inherent dangers, ones that were exacerbated by war.

At one level the problem was obvious: The Confederacy’s population of 10 million was dwarfed by the Union’s 22 million and, in addition, 40 percent of the adult men were en­slaved and not available for military service. By 1862, as a result, the Confederacy was driven to take drastic measures by instituting widespread conscription. When all was said and done, Confederate armies enlisted a staggering 75 to 85 percent of the white military age male population. To say it stressed the limits of popular support for war is an understatement. When combined with exceptions the government was forced to make for slaveholders—including the exemption of one white man for every 20 negroes on a plantation and the decision to allow the purchase of substitutes—conscription quickly raised cries of rich man’s war, poor man’s fight.

The social and political impact on the home front can hardly be exaggerated. This was an agrarian society, whole regions of it populated by yeoman and poor white families. There had never been any expectation that women could make subsistence on those farms without the labor of men. And they could not. By 1863, with husbands and sons in the war and the countryside stripped of men, the food crisis in the Confederacy reached starvation proportions. At that point it also turned into a political and policy crisis, provoked by women who mobilized to insist on the fulfillment of promises made to them by government officials when they took their men. This politics of subsistence, and the new political class of “soldiers’ wives” who made it, was one entirely unanticipated element of the Confederate reckoning war had wrought.

In the spring of 1863, soldiers’ wives took direct action in a wave of spectacular food riots. Mobs of women—numbering from a dozen to more than 300 and armed with navy revolvers, pistols, repeaters, bowie knives and hatchets—carried out at least 12 violent attacks on stores, government warehouses, army convoys, railroad depots, saltworks and granaries. The attacks occurred in broad daylight, and were all perpetrated in the space of one month, between the middle of March and the middle of April 1863. It was truly a Confederate spring of soldiers’ wives’ discontent.

That wave of riots had a measurable impact on Confederate war policy, forcing revisions of conscription and tax policy. It also prompted the development of a massive welfare program by the states that, in allocating scarce funds and foodstuffs to the relief of soldiers’ wives and children, dwarfed anything undertaken in the North. In the heart of Confederate national territory, the mass of Southern women had emerged as formidable adversaries of the government in the long struggle over its military policies. By insisting that the state live up to its promises to protect and support them, even taking up arms to do so, these poor white women, who had never participated in politics before, stepped decisively into the making of history.

If the political assertiveness of poor white Southern women did not bring down the Confederacy, it did represent a powerful challenge to the Confederate vision of “the people” and the republic and speaks directly to the pressures and ruptures of war in a slave society. Any state that took their men would ultimately have to answer to them.

The reckoning with Confederate slaves was even more direct and consequential. At the birth of the republic Thomas Jefferson had warned that slavery destroyed slaves’ love of country and made them allies of any foreign power that sanctioned their emancipation. Slavery, he predicted, turned slaves into enemies and nurtured traitors at the American breast. Secessionists seemed heedless of the dangers. They gave no thought to what slaves would do, discounted entirely the matter of slaves’ allegiance. But moving decisively to grasp the opening history offered, slaves made their loyalty and allegiance count and created a significant problem of treason in the Confederacy.

The problem was evident first to masters on plantations, who, as early as January 1861, found evidence of “sedition”: powder and guns in slave quarters, insurrectionary plots and networks of slave communication providing valuable intelligence to the enemy. These slave activities had crucial consequences not just for owners, but for the Confederate government and military as well. Confederate politicians had begun the war boasting of slavery as an element of strength. But when they demanded the labor of male slaves to support the war—a policy called impressment—the government and military soon found themselves in a losing conflict with slaveowners unwilling to surrender valuable property. Even greater resistance came from slaves themselves. An engineer in charge of building defensive works in northern Virginia said slaves refused to “do labor that will thwart the Federals, who they look upon as fighting for their freedom.”

The mix of compromised state sovereignty and slaves’ resistance created intractable problems for military commanders. They knew that slaves posed a danger to their operations but could not pursue them as they would other “persons” caught providing aid and comfort to the enemy. The dilemma came to an official head early, in Pensacola Harbor in March 1862, when a Confederate officer initiated a court-martial of six slave men caught escaping to the enemy at Fort Pickens. The charges? “Attempt to violate the 57th Article of War…holding correspondence with, or giving intelligence to, the enemy.” “Who ever heard of a negro slave being arraigned before a court martial for a violation of the Articles of War?” their incredulous master railed. Who indeed? In charging slaves with treason, the officer posed profound questions about their political status and membership in the body politic. Did slaves owe allegiance to the state? Could they be traitors? Were they subject to military law?

Those questions reverberated all the way up the chain of command to the office of the secretary of war, but could not be resolved. Confederate commanders needed to be able to recognize slaves as traitors, if only to contain the damage they posed to the military. But how could that be adopted as official policy without profound damage to the status of slaves as property whose only allegiance was to their masters? If slaves were traitors, clearly they were no longer just slaves.

By a long circuitous route President Jefferson Davis and General Robert E. Lee eventually were forced to contend, as the Pensacola officer had, with the humanity of the slaves whose status as property they had seceded to secure. By 1864 and 1865 officials at the highest reaches of the Confederate government attempted to win slaves over to the cause—even considering emancipation to do so—because they needed their military service. Incredible as it might seem, they wanted to enlist slaves as soldiers.

In a tightly controlled top-down way that included the public solicitation of General Lee’s approval of the plan, President Davis, Secretary of State Judah Benjamin and Virginia Governor William Smith struggled—but mostly failed—to gain the support of the public and Congress for the use of slaves in the Confederate Army. In the last days of the war, two companies of black soldiers were raised and drilled on the streets of Richmond, but the Confederate Congress refused to the bitter end to condone the emancipation of any slave men who might serve.

The story of arming slaves and how Confederates arrived at that juncture is the most dramatic kind of reckoning they had brought on themselves. It is also one potent measure of the political incoherence their national project had come to by the end of the war. Davis and his Cabinet had been forced to do the unthinkable: undermine owners’ paramount claim to their slaves and move to enlist slave men to save the slaveholders’ republic. That episode does not suggest that Confederates chose independence over slavery, as so many insist; it is, rather, a profound indication of the structural problems faced by a slave regime at war. And it is the ultimate measure of what slaves wrought in Confederate political life.

The Confederate political project was undone by the very people who had been taken for ciphers in it. Military defeat was coupled with political failure. Given the proslavery and antidemocratic aspirations of the Confederate States of America, there was a certain justice in that. By April 1865, the Confederacy was in ruins. A nation founded in a risky bid to render slavery and the power of American slaveholders permanent had failed spectacularly, bringing down the most powerful slave regime left in the Western world.

As we approach the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, it is critical for us to go back to that moment in time when the Confederate experiment was launched and take a clear-eyed look at what they attempted to do. It is not enough to stop at abstract discussions about the constitutionality of secession. More troubling is the question of why secessionists insisted on exercising that claimed right. What kind of nation did they aspire to build? And what kind of country would have resulted had they been allowed to go peacefully or had they, somehow, succeeded in war?

Ironically, it’s unlikely that in December 1860 anyone North or South could have imagined a scenario in which, within four years, Southerners would face the total, immediate and uncompensated emancipation of 4 million slaves. Even as late as December 1862, Abraham Lincoln proposed an amendment that would have extended the life of the institution to 1900. But in seceding to secure the future of slavery, Southerners created arguably the only set of conditions—war-borne and state-sponsored emancipation—under which slavery could be totally and immediately destroyed as an institution in American life.

Had the Confederates succeeded—or had the war ceased with anything short of total defeat and un-negotiated surrender—African-American Southerners would have faced generations more of enslavement, with all the horrific assaults on their personal safety, human rights and dignity that institution guaranteed. When we remember the war, and talk about its causes, we ought to remember that. And we should count ourselves lucky that we were spared the future the Confederate States of America promised.


Stephanie McCurry is the author of Confederate Reckoning: Power and Politics in the Civil War South.


Read reactions to Stephanie McCurry’s article.

88 Responses to The Confederacy: America’s Worst Idea

  1. Garret says:

    Well written and excellent points. Once again, it’s vital to keep the story straight if we are to learn from history.

  2. baldknobber says:

    I think this was a good, well-written analysis, except for one big omission. While the role of female and slave dissent and resistance was covered, no mention was made of the approximately 100,000 white males, from the 11 officially-seceded states, who fought for the Union. Or the approximately 250,000 white males from the border slave states (MO, KY, MD, DE), who also fought for the Union.

    These men were not just a loss to the potential manpower of the Confederacy, but they were also a gain to that of the Union. They represented the discontent, or outright hostility, toward the CSA that was manifest in parts of the south, especially in the Appalachians and the Ozarks.

    For more on this, I recommend the books “Lincoln’s Loyalists”, and “The South vs The South”.

  3. Matthew says:

    This essay, while well written, lacks an even-handed approach towards America’s Civil War. This is something I’ve noticed with a lot of “historical” main-stream publications when they attempt to speak about such a complicated subject- which to this very day can give way to heated debate. When studying such efforts by men like William Wilberforce, who encouraged England to emancipate their slaves peacefully decades before America did so in a costly, exceedingly violent war that shredded half our nation, expanded our government to unprecedented levels, spilled the blood of many civilians, and truly did little for Civil Rights for almost a hundred years, you have to wonder if more could have been achieved through education and peaceful motives. Two wrongs don’t make a right – and in this case, both the Union and the Confederacy were wrong. Also, our nation is not a Democracy – it’s a Constitutional Republic.To read more on this subject, I’ve written my own essay on our Civil War. I’ve tried to be even-handed, though I’m sure there would be those who would naturally disagree. Check it out: “American Slavery: 150 years of Constitutional Rejection” over at

  4. battalion says:

    This is an extremely biased article.

    The ideas presented are reminiscent of the Northern propaganda rags printed during the war.

    • liberty1a5 says:

      And this is why I do not have a subscription to this magazine anymore. They have become much to slanted in their telling of history. Give me facts, not opinions, and let me decide for myself. History is subjective anyway. It’s like the difference between a war hero and a war criminal…it all depends on which side you were on. Winner = war hero, Loser = war criminal.

    • Scott_Virginia says:

      I completely agree with you guys. You take slavery out of the argument and I back the Confederacy 100 percent. You can’t even have an intelligent discussion on the Civil War these days. You are automatically labeled a racist. What BS. I know who I’d sign up for if I lived back in those days.

  5. […] Stephanie McCurry | American History  | Single Page  | 4 comments  | Print This Post  | Email This […]

  6. Robert Schwemer says:

    very well said battalion, brief, concise and to the point.

  7. Trent says:

    How is this “This is an extremely biased article.

    The ideas presented are reminiscent of the Northern propaganda rags printed during the war.”???

    The Confederacy was an oligarchy based on the political and economic power of slaveholders. The country they created was unequal to the task of doing anything except allowing plantation owners to continue making everyone else do the real work. Perhaps an explanation from mr. northern propaganda about the benefits and wonders of the Confederacy?

  8. james says:

    The slavery issue could have been avoided if our Federal Gvmt would have just compensated the slave owners as Britain had done.As far as the War of the States was concerned the Southern States were right .The Federal GVMT has become a behomoth devouring our rights and destroying our ability to restore them.The states have become a toothless voice for the people.One only has to look at our national debt to see the fact, that since this war took place everything the south said has come to fruition.Its good that slavery was abolished but thats not what the war was about.Centralized Gvmt with a mercantilest economy was the focus of Mr.Lincoln and the whig/republican true aim.

    • Brian says:


      I think that i you study the subject you will find that Lincoln tried the idea of compensated emancipation in the border states. There, where slavery was less important to the local economy than in the Deep South, one might expect that if a deal along those lines was possible it might have occurred. The fact is that border state slaveowners rejected this kind of compromise, and this led directly (the next day!) to Lincoln’s decision to issue the Emancipation Proclamation It was a major turning point in the war, and one that advocates of gradualism should not forget. I love McCurry’s closing sentence: Americans SHOULD be grateful that the slaveholders’ republic went down in defeat.

  9. baldknobber says:

    Was “Glory” propaganda?

    I get a kick out of seeing Confederate flag license plates or car decals, in places like the Ozarks of MO or AR, or in east TN, KY, or western NC. Odds are better than even, that the Civil War-era ancestors of the proud owner of those symbols, opposed or even fought against the forces serving under that flag.

    I had them on both sides. While the individual motivations of my Confederate ancestors may have had nothing to do with slavery, I don’t pretend that the cause they served did not. I take pride in their bravery, their sacrifice, but I know that my Union ancestors served a more noble cause.

  10. Matthew says:

    I have no doubt that men and women who fought and sacrificed under each “side” (Federal and Confederacy) believed it was a noble cause. But let’s not forget that this was also the first war that is seen as a modern war – modern in that the Federals disregarded principles of Just War in order to break the back of the south. And how about civilians strung up for their beliefs, pastors silenced, “Copperheads” in the north ostracized for wanting peace, and towns burned to the ground? Yes. Noble. And let’s not forget the nobility of the war reducing men into clouds of red mist from cannon fire.

    Baldknobber – I’m from Missouri, and I can tell you that there was nothing good about “border” states in the war. True, the entire South suffered terribly for their path, but border states more so from the civilian acts of terrorism and lack of order. We suffered miserably.

    As for Glory – moving story…for a Hollywood film, While elements are from history, let’s not forget it was made as a form of entertainment.

    It’s no use crying of spilled milk, but this horrific war may have been avoidable, and our nation possibly would have emerged much stronger and evocative of a “beacon on the hill” in much more profound ways. Instead, we now have a nation where the use of force, extreme sacrifice, and hardship (which is still felt to this day) has become our legacy.

  11. baldknobber says:

    Matthew – I understand the turmoil and the suffering of the border states. I, too, am from MO. Most of my ancestors were in the Ozarks, while one branch of the family was still in east TN. They all experienced it firsthand, on both sides. I did not mean to claim that the methods or the means of the war were noble. They saw it at its most ugly, most brutal. Unionists in Tennessee risked more than those in Massachusetts. Confederates in Missouri risked more than those in the Deep South, at least for longer periods of time.

    My ancestors who rode with Shelby, or marched under Parsons, probably thought their cause was noble, or at least worth fighting for. The same goes for those who rode under Curtis, or marched under Thomas. The former had no slaves, while the latter had no enlightened views of racial equality. We have a hard time understanding their motivations from a century and a half on.

    I just think that, in the end, the Union cause was the more just and noble of the two.

  12. Lordhoot says:

    I believed that Article I, Section 10 of the US Constitution clearly define that south did not have any constitutional rights to do what they did. The fact that they were the primary aggressor make their fate more deserving. But this is something you simply cannot get through to people who are lost in their ideals of the “Lost Cause”. They will claims to their dying breath that the war was NOT over slavery. They will claims to their dying breath that blacks actually supported the Confederacy and above all they will claims that their rights are more important then those of others who form the majority. Simple fact was, that the pro-Confederate white in 1861 were the minority who was trying impose their will on the majority of the nation’s whites. Large minority of whites in the south were anti-Confederate.

    While I do not blame the Confederates of that period of doing what they did, I cannot wonder why any modern Americans still think that the Confederacy is a good idea TODAY?? It is interesting that for all the state’s rights talk, Jefferson Davis and his folks were trying to create a strong centralized government for the Confederacy equal to that of the federal entity. Davis did all he could to crush state’s rights ideals during the war and if the south did win, they would have to deal with a strong centralized government from Richmond…instead of from Washington DC. And if is the true legacy, if the Confederacy existed today, all these southern states would be under the thumb of Richmond as they are under Washington DC in real life.

    • JR says:

      The fundamental question is not whether or not the Confederacy was a good idea. Its whether or not the legal right to secede existed. I argue it most certainly existed. I have no sympathy for the Confederacy but neither do I have any for “Father” Lincoln as most peope here do. Now to comment on your comments. The centralization of the confederacy was a war time event. What happens during war is never a measure of how government works during peace times. During the American Revolution colonial governments were seeking more and more direction from the Continental Congress. War does that always. The Confederate Constitution called for a very decentralized union. At least when Davis suspended Habeus Corpus he did it it with the approval of their congress.

      Contrary to the mythology it did NOT require each state in the Confederacy to accept slavery but left it to each state to decide. It did require that they recognize other states rights in it but left it to each to decide. Perfect? No but neither was the early constitution of the United States either. Also for those who bother to read the Confederate Constitution (CC) it called for the total ban of importation of slaves something the US version never did. One of Jefferson Davis’ first vetoes was against a billl that he said violated not only the letter but the intent of the CC ban on slave importations.
      The fact is that slavery was a huge blemish on this whole nation but spares the self righteoussness of supposed northern enlightenment. Northern treatment of blacks was actually worse than in the south according to De Tocqueville in his Democracy in America.

      Davis was more of a realist and wrote on one occasion to his wife his belief that whether the south won or not, he foresaw the eventual end of slavery. He believed it was slaveholders obligation to prepare slaves for that day. Perhaps this sounds paternalistic but compare this with northern treatment of free blacks during this time which was worse.

      While I agree that the south most certainly involved the protection of salvery, no one ever accused the southerner of being smart and here they weren’t. Why? Lincoln was the slave owners best friend. Lincoln was no abolitionist and made many of them angry. Lincoln in order to spare disunion was willing to support the Corwim Amendment to the US Constitution that would have made slavery permanent.

      How does Article I section 10 forbid secession? It doesnt. All it does is define what states may not do within the union. It says nothing about states powers to withdraw from the union. The right to seced is inherent in a sovereign body. Thats it. If the states are not sovereign then they do not. If they are they do not need that right to be spelled out in the document since the US Constitution was intended to limit and enumerate the federal powers delegated, not surrendered, to it.

      I want to make it clear that I dont believe that the south had strong reasons to secede but I most certainly believe that the right existed. The Civil War did not settle that question.

      • Whale says:

        The states were NOT sovereign, they were between 1783 and 1789, but when the US Constitution was ratified by the PEOPLE, not the states, the state legislatures NEVER would have voluntarily given up power that they had under the AoC. The PEOPLE are sovereign in the USA and they removed sovereignty from the states, gave some to the Fed, some back to the states and kept the remainder for themselves.


      • JR says:

        To whale,

        You are simply wrong. You make a false distinction between the states and the people. It was the people not in the aggregate but the people of the several states who were teh parties. You are clearly unfamiliar with Henry’s correspondence with Madison where Madison clearly rejects your view that it was the people as a whole that ratified the constitution. As Madison put it, it was “the people as composing thirteen sovereignties”. In Federalist #39 Madison again dismisses your views out of hand regarding the parties to ratification by saying they ratified ““not as individuals composing one entire nation, but as composing the distinct and independent States to which they respectively belong.”

        Also it is apparent you havent read what the document itself has to say. Article 7 reads plainly that “The Ratification of the Conventions of nine States, shall be sufficient for the Establishment of this Constitution between the States so ratifying the Same”. Between the States. They understood the people as the states.

        Richard Henry Lee and John Randolph were rightly perplexed that Patrick Henry could even suggest that it could be otherwise. Henry was not a the convention. Of course it was the people of Virginia, etc. and not of the majority of all the people they declared otherwise it would overrule a state whose majority did not acede to it. This would have been unacceptable.

        Another historical blunder you make is to confuse sovereignty with power.
        The states did not surrender sovereignty but DELEGATED power. They gave the power to coin money, make treaties, etc but they were clear that they could recall those powers. Hamilton who was no fan of state governments made this point in his Federalsit # 9 where he says “The proposed Constitution[…] leaves in their possession certain exclusive and very important portions of sovereign power”. Hamilton understood that sovereignty is INDIVISIBLE but sovereign power can be shared, delegated, or retained.

        You also seem to be utterly confused between states & state governments. The soveriegn people are the states but this is not to be confused with state governments. Governments are not sovereign but merely agents of sovereignty.

        To say that the people removed sovereingty from the states is to say the least a bad comedy routine that would have been greeted with the wildest howls in the conventon hall. Even the most ardent nationalists would have never spoken that way.

      • whale says:

        JR, you are simply wrong. Madison KNEW that sending the US Constitution to the states, meaning the state legislatures, would result in the defeat of the ratification because the state legislatures would NOT give up their powers to anyone as had been shown for the previous 11 years. They did what they wanted when they wanted without regard for the Congress. The PEOPLE of the United States are sovereign, not the states and not the Federal Government.

        Under the Articles of Confederation, the United States were a compact of sovereign states under the US Constitution, the United States is a nation governed by the PEOPLE.

      • JR says:

        You are simply regurgitating your mantra again. I noticed you did not interact with the statements I provide from Madison (direct and indirect). His response to Henry tells us very clearly that the constitution was not sent to the people in the aggregate. This was not a national plebiscite. He responded to Henry by observing that if it was to be submitted as a national plebiscite then the constitution would already have been ratified at the time of his writing since a majority of the people had already voted for it. However since it required a majority of STATES (9) then Henry’s suspicions were unfounded. Once again you are extremely confused and uninformed. The constitution was not submitted to legislatures but to the sovereigns, the people composing “thirteen sovereignties”. It is your straw man view that thinks that when it is stated that when the states ratified that means the legislatures did so. Wrong.

        Let me once again provide a fuller quote of Madison and maybe you can interact with it. I know it mght make you uncomfortable to read it but its what he said and ignoring it doesnt make it go away.

        “The people—but not the people as composing one great body; but the people as composing thirteen sovereignties. Were it, as the gentleman asserts, a consolidated government, the assent of a majority of the people would be sufficient for its establishment; and, as a majority have adopted it already, the remaining states would be bound by the act of the majority, even if they unanimously reprobated it. Were it such a government as is suggested, it would be now binding on the people of this state, without having had the privilege of deliberating upon it. But, sir, no state is bound by it, as it is, without its own consent. Should all the states adopt it, it will be then a government established by the thirteen states of America, not through the intervention of the legislatures, but by the people at large”

        No one is denying the people are sovereign as I stated in my response to you However there is NOTHING absolutley NOTHING to indicate that it was the states’ intentions to forfeit there sovereignty. That is your wishful thinking. The resolutions they passed indicated very clearly that in voting to ratify they were not placing themselves into an unlimited submission to the federal gov’t. Furthermore they made it clear they could recall those powers they delegated.

        Rhode Island’s resolution when it finally joined the union stated forcefully

        “That the powers of government may be reassumed by the people, whensoever it shall become necessary to their happiness:—That the rights of the States respectively, to nominate and appoint all State Officers, and every other power, jurisdiction and right, which is not by the said Constitution clearly delegated to the Congress of the United States or to the departments of government thereof, remain to the people of the several States, or their respective State governments to whom they may have granted the same. . ”

        This speaks powerfully to their intentions & belies your claim of a historical howler that they wanted to relinquish their sovereingty.

  13. Don says:

    The author slipped right past a couple of points that need to be expanded upon. Briefly, The South provided 60% of the national revenue through the excise taxes they paid on export and import of cotton. That industry depended on the labor of slaves. Immediate emancipation would destroy that industry economically and all those who were employed in it, or were in supporting roles. ,

    The Republican Party had a very hard core of members who favored immediate emanciaption without compensation. In effect they would have destroyed the South without a war. They ignored a fairly long history of men of prominence in the South who favored gradual emancipation with compensation, and with some preparation for freedom, such as that finally offered in 1965 rather than 1865. The aggesiveness of the Abolitionists caused such ideas in the South to fall out of favor. In short if you threaten someone with economic destruction, the chances are he will fight you.

    While there were certainly regiments of escaped slaves in the Union Army, there were many slaves who accompanied and supported the Confederate Army in logistical roles, as well as a few who actually took up arms. The fact that hired slaves refused to work, belies the fact that the work got done. In point of fact, there were many slaves who continued in the work they had always done, and served masters loyally to the end. A number even continued to work in the same place after emancipation.

    As to the implication that secession was born in the South; that is utter nonsense. A brief look and the Hartford Convention will put an end to that canard. Secession was a widely accepted, if not unanimously accepted, doctrine before the war. New England considered it in 1812 and again in the Mexican War.

    The Confederacy was slapped together in a few months and it is a wonder that it lasted so long. It did so on the rifles of an army that was made up predominantly of non slave holders. It was an Army that had Northerners in it as well as Southerners.

    One of my iron rules in discussing the Civil War is that there was enought bad behavior on both sides to prevent any side claiming and undisputed postion on moral high ground, despite the fact that the abolition of slavery was a great good n the long run.

    • Whale says:

      You have used faulty facts and logic several times in your post.

      Slaves being forced to work as laborers digging trenches for southern armies in no way denotes black support for those armies.

      The Democrats controlled Congress, the Executive and Judicial branches of the Federal Government for the vast majority of the 80 years prior to the Civil War, they could have pushed through gradual emancipation with compensation at any time, they never did. When Lincoln offered it as a compromise to end the war, it was rejected.

      The Hartford convention was not a convention of states with authorized representatives, most of the representatives were proposed locally and NOT given any authorization to speak on behalf of the state legislatures. It was called for by Mass. Federalists, not the Mass Legislature. Second, the Hartford convention NEVER advocated secession, that is not only a canard, it is a lie. The report from the Hartford Convention that was approved of by the unauthorized convention and to be presented to President Madison called for several amendments to the US Constitution, there was no mention of secession and although they discussed secession at the convention, the discussion was tabled by the delegates long before the resolutions that were to be presented to the President were voted on.

      The amendments offered were the following:

      First. – Representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this union, according to their respective numbers of free persons, including those bound to serve for a term of years, and excluding Indians not taxed, and all other persons.

      Second. – No new State shall be admitted into the union by Congress in virtue of the power granted by the Constitution, without the concurrence of two-thirds of both Houses.

      Third. – Congress shall not have power to lay any embargo on the ships or vessels of the citizens of the United States, in the ports or harbors thereof, for more than sixty days.

      Fourth. – Congress shall not have power, without the concurrence of two-thirds of both Houses, to interdict the commercial intercourse between the United States and any foreign nation or the dependencies thereof.

      Forth. – Congress shall not make or declare war, or authorize acts of hostility against any foreign nation, without the concurrence of two-thirds of both Houses, except such acts of hostility be in defense of the territories of the United States when actually invaded.

      Sixth. – No person who shall hereafter be naturalized, shall be eligible as a member of the Senate or House of Representatives of the United States, nor capable of holding any civil office under the authority of the United States.

      Seventh. – The same person shall not be elected President of the United States a second time; nor shall the President be elected from the same State two terms in succession.


      • JR says:

        The only thing faulty here is your personal understanding of early American history. It is true that the convention did not end up calling for secession but it most certainly was inspired by that spirit. Massachusetts was negotiationg for a seperate peace with Britain during the War of 1812 and wanting to create a seperate New England Republic. No one at the time thought of secession as treasonous. It did reflect the spirit of the states, for example Conneticut courageuosly refused to allow its militia to come under federal authority for the purpose of invading Canada.

        As for the delegation of Mass. you couldnt be more wrong as usual. The very opposite is true. They were called for by both of the Mass. Houses. The link you include provides absolutley no information on that point. You really should be familiar with the more serious historical sources. For example, an excellent resource is a book by Theodore Lyman called A Short Account of the Hartford Convention Taken from Offical Documents. The title is actually longer. It was published in 1823.

        This is what he Lyman says on page 6, “On the 18th of October the delegates from Massachussets were chosen in a convetion of the two Houses” (p.6)
        Lyman also states “We have taken the votes of the House of Representatives as expressing more emphatically the will of the people, and it appears that three quarters of all the citizens of this commnwealth were, in 1814, in favor of the Hartford Convention” (p.7)

        Again to reiterate, you are simply wrong to say these were not authorized conventions. Do you know where the convention was held? In the Connecticut Senate chamber. The twelve delegates from Massachussets then were clearly an expression of the people and they were most certainly official delegates duly appointed by the legislature of Massachussets and not by local/municipal politics. The votes that occured in the local level was for the approval of the conventions but would be later ratified by the state legislatures The delegates from Connecticut & R.I. were also officially sanctioned by their respective states.

      • whale says:

        JR, as usual, your understanding of history is completely flawed. The Hartford Convention was not an action by the various legislatures, it was a FEDERALIST convention, not a general convention made up of members from both the Federalist and Democratic-Republicans.

        An example of your so called “authorization” is from Lyman’s book itself.

        “A certificate of the proceedings of a Convention in the County of Windham, in the State of Vermont, appointing the Hon William Hall, represent the people of that county in this convention was read.”

        The Federalists in MA sent several prominent Federalists to the convention to ensure that nothing extreme came out of the Convention and they succeeded. Their determination as to what was extreme was a document that advocated secession.

        CT, RI, and MA wanted their militia to remain state and defend their shores and wanted a portion of the taxes collected in the state to remain there so that she could pay her militia to protect her borders because the Federal Government was completely unable to protect the Atlantic Coast from the British Navy.

        The call for a convention of New England states by the Mass. Legislature was a call for a discussion on amendments to the Constitution, not secession. For many of the most prominent Federalists, the intention of the Convention was the embarrassment of the Madison administration and the Democratic-Republicans and force them into concessions.

        Wishes do not make your statements true, historical fact is required and the Democratic-Republicans pushed the myth of the Hartford Convention as a secession movement not with historical fact, but with political intent to defeat their rivals. The concept of secession was so linked with treason, despite your claims, that the lies of the Democratic-Republicans tolled the death of the Federalist Party.


      • JR says:

        You seem to have selective memory so let me help you remember what you wrote.

        Whale, “The Hartford convention was not a convention of states with authorized representatives, most of the representatives were proposed locally and NOT given any authorization to speak on behalf of the state legislatures. It was called for by Mass. Federalists, not the Mass Legislature”

        Yet they were most certainly authorized as Lyman states clearly again “On the 18th of October the delegates from Massachussets were chosen in a convetion of the two Houses” (p.6)

        You see the difference? You are wrong and Lyman is right. They indeed were authorized. I already acknowledged that secession was not part of this convention. I was countering your main claim that they were not authorized reps for their respective states. The fact that it was dominated by federalists means nothing. The Dem-Rep were a minority party. The Mass. Legislature still authorized it and as Lyman wrote this was the will of the people.

        You say “The call for a convention of New England states by the Mass. Legislature was a call for a discussion on amendments to the Constitution, not secession”.

        Now you admit that they were in fact called by the legislature of Mass. but you excuse it because it was only about amendments. Fine. You are still factually in error,,,,again. I was arguing against your embarrasing assertion that they were not state authorized. You are trying to salvage your credibilty or whats left of it by trying to do some damage control.

        Yes Lyman did describe VT’s call for delegates as a
        “A certificate of the proceedings of a Convention in the County of Windham, in the State of Vermont, appointing the Hon William Hall, represent the people of that county in this convention was read.”

        Do you how many people represented VT? One! Just one! The Hon. Hall was it. This is from that link you provided in your own posting. This is not indicative of what the larger New England states did. You are wrong that, to use your words , “most of the representatives were proposed locally” Wrong. Also its simply not true that the federalsits spoke on one voice. There were more hardcore Federalist who did in fact try to push for secession. They lost out but your misleading when you say “the” federalists as if they were all of one mind.

        As for your description as to why the states of New England nullified federal attempts to call up their militia, the use of thier miliita for an iinvasion of Canda was a real possibility since conquest of Canada was the goal since the revolution. Connecticut refused to call up its militia unless it was threatened “by an actual invasion of any portion of our territory.” They woud not take part in invading for conquest and not take part in sending their militias for duty outside their states.
        Mass. governor Caleb Strong rightly noted three conditions for federal control over the state militias. To execute the laws of the Union, to suppress insurrection, or to repel invasion. Connecticut refused for the same reason. So you are partly right but you refuse to go further and spell out the reasons for their refusal.

        Lastly you are wrong that secession was the reason for the federalists death. Federalists were by and large strong nationalists, pro union. There death was due to their, in part, being pro British at the wrong time. This was also the party of Hamilton. The Alien & Sedition Acts did them in and so did the Revolution of 1800. During times of war anything seen as disloyal is treason. Secession is rooted in the earliest American politcal traditions. For you to say otherwise reflects a serious deficiency in your history. Based on your posts I really dont consider you a serious thinker or student of history. Your reading apprehension skills are very poor. I dont think you even bother to read what you refer to. You make claims but when presented with statements to the contrary you ignore them. I presented to you what Madsion has said on the issues on the other posts but you choose not to interact perhaps thinking it will all go away. I wish life was that easy. In summary you have not even come close to supporting your views except to recycle the same story and invoking the specter of treason.

  14. Montana Sam says:

    I suspect that the author of this biased piece voted for Comrade Obama and the federal dictatorship that this administration is inflicting on the entire nation to the point of tyranny. Which was the point of the Civil War, the tyranny being inflicted by another Illinois socialist, Abraham Lincoln. A dictatorial central government that was not the intention ot the Constitution. Slavery would have died out without a costly war, it was not a viable institution. The end result of the war was the freeing one group of people from slavery in exchange of making all people slaves of the federal government in Washington. We are not states united, but states subjected.

    Also Lordhoot is grossly misrepresenting Article 1, section 10 of the Constitutions. That article has to do with monetary and trade issues. It does further say that states may not keep troops or ships of war unless under threat of invasion, which was what the North was threatening to do.

    • Whale says:

      The north was threatening war? It was Jefferson Davis who called for 100K troops in his inauguration day speech, a month before Lincoln was inaugurated and called for peace. The US Army had around 2000 troops east of the Mississippi River when the southern states started to secede, not exactly an invasion force.


  15. Dave says:

    An interesting article, yet why was it written ? Was it just to condemn 19th century American politics ? She does a good job, as most do these days, of generally condemning slavery. How about condemning child labor in the Northern factories ?

    I saw no mention of the Hartford Convention. No mention of how secession was largely thought to be a right of the people. No mention of how the SCOTUS could not render a ruling on the legality of secession. Even the U.S. Constitution talks of the experiment to form a government. It certainly didn’t sound binding ?

    Now another thing. Of course the war of the rebellion was bad. The country is still suffering from that event. Yes it freed the slaves. What was gained in the 150 years since that war ? The Southern states were decimated by vengeful Union armies. The contemporary Europeans have pointed this out. The then known rules of war were thrown away. The Southern states were an economic wreck. Possibly still are. Just look at the latest census data. The former Confederate States, The South, leads the poverty list. One might think the newly freed slaves could leave the area for greener pastures up North. But no this was not possible either. Read the northern papers of the 1860’s and 1870’s. They are full of reports of freed slaves being turned away by farmers and tradesmen.

    Ms. McCurry, write another article please. This one is full of omissions.

    • Whale says:

      There is “No mention of how secession was largely thought to be a right of the people” because it wasn’t. Your claim is COMPLETELY unjustifiable. There is .”No mention of how the SCOTUS could not render a ruling on the legality of secession.” because the southern states never brought a lawsuit to the USSC for a decision, they made their own decision as to what course they would take and that course was war.

      Further, the USSC DID speak directly as to the ability of the Federal Government to put down rebellions within states and enforce federal laws was decided in MARTIN V. MOTT, 25 U. S. 19 (1827)

      The fact that the Federal Government could call up the militia from the states and take whatever action was necessary to put down a rebellion was a given fact of life supported by Democrat Presidents Jefferson, Jackson and Pierce and certified by the US Supreme Court. If anyone in the rebellious states knew this fact to be true it was Robert E Lee, for it was his father who commanded the troops which went into western PA and put down the Whiskey Rebellion.


  16. Arthur says:

    There are those who claim that succession was against the constitution. I must therefore assume that they support the reunification of Virginia by any means available.

    • Whale says:

      Succession is a vital part of the US Constitution, secession is not.


      • JR says:

        The constitution was a limitation of the federal govt’s powers. Secession is not required to be explicitly spelled out in the document. If we grant the view that the states are soveriegn then secession is an inherent right in any political soveriegn. Its theirs regardless of whether its located in the document. Its only be taking the mistaken view that they are not sovereign does your “it has to be mentioned in the constitution” argument make sense.

      • whale says:

        The US Constitution is a limitation of the Federal Government’s powers AND a limitation on the powers of the STATE governments.

        “If we grant the view that the states are sovereign”, but we don’t, the states are NOT sovereign under the US Constitution. They were sovereign under the Articles of Confederation where a specific article of the AoC declares EXPRESSLY that the states are sovereign.

        “Article II. Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every Power, Jurisdiction, and right, which is not by this confederation expressly delegated to the United States, in Congress assembled.”

        Where is such an article expressly granting state sovereignty found in the US Constitution? No where! Amendments to the Constitution wishing to inject such an article into the US Constitution were discussed at the Constitutional Convention and defeated. The same article was suggested to be part of the Bill of Rights and again was defeated.

        This was the VERY article that was causing the problems of the Congress under the AoC, why would they allow states to remain sovereign if they were attempting to fix the problems of the AoC? They wouldn’t.

        The definition of sovereignty is the claim to be the ultimate political authority, subject to no higher power as regards the making and enforcing of political decisions. In the international system, sovereignty is the claim by the state to full self-government, and the mutual recognition of claims to sovereignty is the basis of international society.

        Are states sovereign? Absolutely not, they have none of the powers necessary to claim sovereignty, those powers were taken from the states and given to the federal government. Finally, they are not the ultimate political authority, that authority again rests with the US Constitution according to article 6:

        “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.”

        The entirety of your opinion is based upon the faulty assumption that states are sovereign, therefore your logic and your conclusion are proven false.


      • JR says:

        Another ‘whale’ of a historical fiction. The states delegated powers to the federal gov’t. The federal govt was the agent of the states. The states could recall those powers. The limitation on the states came from their own respective constitutions. Your understanding of the notion of sovereignty is uninformed. Sovereignty is indivisible. It is the powers of sovereignty that can be delegated or recalled.

        When I stated if “we grant the view” it was not to simply argue by assertion but to point out what I should have spelled out, namely that you are smuggling unargued assertions into your argument. Therefore a discussion of what constitutes sovereignty is need first. The states were not sovereign because there was an article inserted in the AofC. A very embarrassing and freshman view. The article was an EXPRESSION of such sovereignty.

        The constitution did grant the new general gov’t more powers to function more efficiently. But to assert that it surrendered sovereignty is something that even Hamilton or Marshall did not hold to. Hamilton wished for it, to be sure, but he knew that the new union did not strip the states of sovereignty. The states indeed understood themselves as sovereign because they made it clear in their resolutions. They DELEGATED not SURRENDERED these powers and made it clear they could be recalled. Interestingly, even before Virginia ratified the constitution they voted to honor a treaty they had with France regardless if the new federal gov’t would honor it or not. They understood their position.

        If your view of Article 6 is correct then the constitution would never had been approved. The laws are supreme only as far as those few and enumerated powers, as Madison put it, were granted. This was not an open ended article granting sovereignty. In that sphere of limited powers granted the federal govt could act unhindered. They do so with the approval of the states

        “The definition of sovereignty is the claim to be the ultimate political authority, subject to no higher power as regards the making and enforcing of political decisions”. They did not grant this view to the federal gov’t. Jefferson and others called this “political slavery”. That definition belongs to the people of the several states.

        Furthermore Madison did not believe that the powers granted to the general govt were all that different or new.

        “If the new Constitution be examined with accuracy and candor, it will be found that the change which it proposes consists much less in the addition of NEW POWERS to the Union, than in the invigoration of its ORIGINAL POWERS. The regulation of commerce, it is true, is a new power; but that seems to be an addition which few oppose, and from which no apprehensions are entertained. The powers relating to war and peace, armies and fleets, treaties and finance, with the other more considerable powers, are all vested in the existing Congress by the articles of Confederation. The proposed change does not enlarge these powers; it only substitutes a more effectual mode of administering them”

        You seem to be really confused historically. Your ignorance of political theory as laid out in early American writings is not surprising. First you claim that the states were sovereign under the AofC but you posit that sovereignty in government. Whereas sovereignty in republican thinking is always a quality of the people. Government is only the agent. Then you say that sovereignty was lost by virtue of some fictitious transference. Now the general gov’t is sovereign? If you say “Oh no,no its still with the people!” then what is the federal government? Is sovereignty with it? Can it be divided? Early American thinking was that it could not be divided. The federal government like state gov’t is merely the agent of sovereignty. But even without holding to these principles of sovereignty even Marshall believed the states could be thought of as sovereign in their sphere of power. He rejected your absolutist claim that the states were not sovereign.

        So historically and philosophically you can’t even get your argument straight for me to even shoot it down. Think about what your position is before presenting it.

  17. Tom Hebert says:

    Years ago the wartime diary of the sophisticated

    Mary Chestnut of Richmond was published. It received a Pulitzer. It was also mentioned in another book of recent vintage that makes the case that the reason the South lost is that it lost the will to fight, mostly because it felt, at its core, that slavery was the cause of the rebellion and that most Southerners had come to the conclusion that slavery was wrong. Chestnut wrote: Brutal men with unlimited power are the same all over the world. . . . I am always on the women’s side. . . . I do not write often now – not for want of something to say, but from a loathing of all I see and hear. . . . Why dwell upon it? The weight that hangs upon our eyelids – is of lead. . . . Is anything worth it?

    We know from other sources that she was against slavery since a young woman. But apparently she wasn’t alone, and that by war’s end, the South had largely come to accept the fact that slavery was surely not worth fighting for. And dying.
    Tom Hebert

  18. Rebellion says:

    History as told by the victors, what else would one expect? Ask the govt how they even showed the native Indians that the federal way was best for Indians… not!

  19. baldknobber says:

    Kinda funny that the idea of a Confederacy seems to be more popular now, than it was in 1865. Seems the Lost Cause has gained more luster, the more time goes by.

  20. james says:

    Baldknobber–There were some solid principles that the confedercy stood for,states rights,no tariffs or low tariff etc.The slavery issue was obviously wrong and could have been resolved with financial reimbursement such as Britain had done.Its not that i or others support the Confederates idea of secession just against the fantasy that the War of the States was only about slavery.

  21. Raul Hernandez-Baquero says:

    Very sad that after we lost 620,000 Americans in the Civil War , still the northern /invation propaganda continue here spreding what it WAS NOT THE TRUTH , the war was all about politics, power and bussines not about SLAVERY , this issue came in on Jan 1 1863 when the POWERFUL yankees were lossing the war, battle after battle !!! TWO years AFTER the war !!! when Abraham Linconl ( who was elected with the northern vote only, no one in the South vote for him ) wrote the Emancipation Proclamation document ( it saids negros will be free but had to go back to African or live in colonies in South America ) nice eh ??? now, you tell me if this is not the TRUTH !! .sorry but you NEVER will convince the South !!

    • Whale says:

      First of all, the Yankees were not losing the war in 1862, the ONLY period of time when it was thought that the Yankees were losing the war was after the Battle of Bull Run when it was the only action going on. During the rest of the war Union advances were being made on all fronts except Virginia.

      Second, the Emancipation Proclamation did NOT state that slaves would be freed but HAD to be deported back to Africa or S America.

      Whereas, on the twenty-second day of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-two, a proclamation was issued by the President of the United States, containing, among other things, the following, to wit:

      “That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State, or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free; and the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom.

      “That the Executive will, on the first day of January aforesaid, by proclamation, designate the States and parts of States, if any, in which the people thereof respectively, shall then be in rebellion against the United States; and the fact that any State, or the people thereof, shall on that day be in good faith represented in the Congress of the United States by members chosen thereto at elections wherein a majority of the qualified voters of such State shall have participated, shall in the absence of strong countervailing testimony, be deemed conclusive evidence that such State, and the people thereof, are not then in rebellion against the United States.”

      Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, by virtue of the power in me vested as commander-in-chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, in time of actual armed rebellion against authority and government of the United States, and as a fit and necessary war measure for suppressing said rebellion, do, on this first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and in accordance with my purpose so to do, publicly proclaimed for the full period of one hundred days from the day first above mentioned, order and designate as the States and parts of States wherein the people thereof, respectively, are this day in rebellion against the United States, the following, to wit:

      Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana (except the parishes of St. Bernard, Plaquemines, Jefferson, St. John, St. Charles, St. James, Ascension, Assumption, Terrebonne, Lafourche, St. Mary, St. Martin, and Orleans, including the city of New Orleans), Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia (except the forty-eight counties designated as West Virginia, and also the counties of Berkley, Accomac, Northampton, Elizabeth City, York, Princess Ann, and Norfolk, including the cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth), and which excepted parts are, for the present, left precisely as if this proclamation were not issued.

      And by virtue of the power and for the purpose aforesaid, I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated States and parts of States are, and henceforward shall be, free; and that the Executive government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of said persons.

      And I hereby enjoin upon the people so declared to be free to abstain from all violence, unless in necessary self-defence; and I recommend to them that, in all cases when allowed, they labor faithfully for reasonable wages.

      And I further declare and make known, that such persons of suitable condition, will be received into the armed service of the United States to garrison forts, positions, stations, and other places, and to man vessels of all sorts in said service.

      And upon this act, sincerely believed to be an act of justice, warranted by the Constitution, upon military necessity, I invoke the considerate judgment of mankind and the gracious favor of Almighty God.

      In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

      Done at the city of Washington, this first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States of America the eighty-seventh.

      Abraham Lincoln

      He did advocate for colonization because he thought that it was what would be best for both blacks and whites, however, he abandoned that idea after talking with black leaders like F Douglas. He certainly believed that the black soldiers and sailors who he allowed to be inducted into the army and navy with his Emancipation Proclamation had earned the right to be American citizens.

      I will tell you that your post is not the truth, because the facts state otherwise.


      • Whale says:

        The reason that Lincoln did not receive many, if any votes, in southern states, was that southern states had made it a crime to advocate for any anti-slavery position and they considered Republicans to be Anti-Slavery so any Republicans in southern states who attempted to gather enough signatures to place Lincoln on that states ballot would have been arrested. You can not receive any votes if you are never allowed onto the ballot in the first place by unconstitutional laws.


  22. Jon says:

    The article is spot on & well done. While I certainly have some issues as to some of the posters above, the one posted by Raul takes the cake.

    First of all, the issue of slavery didn’t come up 2 years into the war. That is sheer nonsense. The Deep South, which seceded in 1860-early 1861, flat said it was seceding over the issue of slavery. There were people in the North who wanted the war to be over slavery from the beginning, but Lincoln was smart enough to know that the border states would never go for such a thing. The North changed the war politically in the Fall of 1862 with the issuing of the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. Up to that time, the war aims for the North were the restoration of the Union…..after that it was the restoration of the Union & moving towards the freedom of the slaves. Why was Lincoln elected in the North? Was it because the South was afraid to put him on the ballot & see the numbers generated? The certainly left him off the ballot in the majority of the Southern states-hard to vote for someone who isn’t on there is there?

    In no way, shape or form was the North “lossing the war” (I assume the author means “losing”, but this may simply be an indicator of the level of education or intelligence as such). To claim that is to ignore the entire Western & Trans-Mississippi theater, not to mention what was happening along the Eastern coast. I guess such battles as Pea Ridge, Forts Donnelson & Henry, Shiloh, Island Number 10, New Orleans, Iuka, Corinth, Mill Springs, Fort Pulaski, Perryville, Stones River, Antietam, etc were all part of the collective imagination of historians?

    Finally, the Emancipation Proclamation said NOTHING about forcibly resettling the freed slaves. Here is a transcript of the EP & I challenge you to find ANYTHING about colonization in it:
    The idea of colonization had been brought up prior to the EP & Lincoln had endorsed the idea. But colonization was not MANDATORY, it was to be VOLUNTARY. And after Lincoln met with a large group of black leaders who told him the majority of blacks had no intention of colonizing another country, Lincoln change his mind & did not back the plan afterwards.

    What is it about the word “truth” that makes you Lost Causers salivate so much? Forget truth-truth is a concept that can manipulated to fit whatever agenda you are trying to push. Look at the facts-something in which Raul is sadly lacking.

  23. Arthur says:

    “the Lost Cause has gained more luster”

    Every time you feel the Federal Government’s hand wriggling in your pocket you might find yourself wishing that the Civil War had not established the principle that the Feds get to do whatever they want – both to correct a great wrong and to commit great wrongs of their own.

  24. baldknobber says:

    Good comment, Jon. As I said, I have several Confederate ancestors. I have respect and admiration for them, and for many of the CSA’s soldiers and military leaders. But some of these Lost Causers seem to never let the truth get in the way of an established mythology.

    Slavery was not the only issue of the Civil War, but it was the central issue. No one stormed Marye’s Heights, or Cemetery Ridge, over a tariff.

    Arthur – The Civil War did not establish the primacy of the Federal Govt in the everyday lives of most Americans. Our Federal Govt was largely laissez-faire in its nature, from 1865 to 1933.

  25. Skipperbob says:

    Slavery was the ONE issue that drove everything else about this war. So there would be no misunderstanding – the Confederate Congress made the point repeatedly – their goal was to protect and expand slavery. The fact that there are those still today unwilling to accept this speaks to their sad and willful ignorance.

    As far as the right of secession goes – when New England states made rumbles about trying it, no less a patriot than John C. Calhoun called them traitors for trying to destroy the US. Funny how he changed his tune later.

    “States Rights?” What a joke to make that claim – the Confederate govt made it illegal for a state to try and leave the Confederacy – they instituted a draft for soldiers before the Union did – governors of states were threatened with arrest if they did not lend support to Confederate armies operating in their states – and any opposition to Confederate control was ruthlessly put down – the number of pro-union civilians lynched in the South is well documented. Lincoln may have treated some Copperhead leaders harshly, but there were no lynchings of any sort against anyone opposed to the war in the North.

    It is sad that there are still those who work so hard to perpetuate a myth to try and defend actions that at any other time would be called treason.

  26. Jon Harris says:

    This is complete revisionism. I’m canceling my subscription. Read my review of Stephanie McCurry’s rag here.

  27. […] economy in the world.” – Stephanie McCurry, American History Magazine, downloaded from on […]

  28. james says:

    It is sad that there are still those who work so hard to perpetuate a myth to try and defend actions that at any other time would be called treason–
    Sounds like you would have made a great statesman defending the empire for King George.

  29. Macman says:

    The email teaser for this article asked, “…can we finally admit the truth about why the South lost the Civil War?”

    Without denying the content of the article, I think the answer is pretty clear: the Confederacy lost the Civil War because they started it. In the months immediately following the secession it was by no means a done deal that war would happen. Was there tension and concern about war breaking out? Certainly. Were there plenty of people on both sides interested in war? Yes, but until the spark of Fort Sumter, Lincoln could not seriously expect the country to follow him to war. Some have said that Lincoln held fast to Fort Sumter and other Federal properties precisely to start a shooting war. If so, fools and hot-heads in South Carolina obliged him, but even if not, war was inevitable only after the Confederacy starting the shooting.

    The author of the article suggested that secession was tantamount to a declaration of war, and to take it that far, I would have to disagree. Wars often follow secession attempts, but the enthusiasm in the north for war was limited as long as they remained unattacked and their honor intact.

  30. Patrick Carroll says:

    It’s amusing (and yet sad) to me that so many people insist on viewing the American Civil War (or any war, for that matter) from a good-guys-won perspective. It’s a sure way to obscure at least half the facts and distort the meaning of the rest.

    When one gets to the point where he can view history dispassionately, he sees that there were noble and ignoble thoughts and actions on both sides, that many things happened besides (though including) the extremes of horror and selflessness, and that the true meaning of it all is not limited to official policy statements or the outcome of the war and what it supposedly settled.

    As long as Billy Yank is a hero and Johnny Reb a villain (or vice versa), the war is still going on in the hearts and minds of partisan researchers and history buffs. And in my opinion, the war can never be truly understood until it finally ends.

  31. rudy says:

    The war of southern independence, was not fought strictly over slavery,which is an awful institution-shameful. It is a fact that only 7% of southerners owned slaves, and 3% of these were blacks who owned black slaves. This is not taught in this country, because of two reasons-1.this a country or society that is well reflected in this biased article. A society that has been taught that southerner were, and still are ignorant hillbillies, with no morals. A society that is biased because of ignorance of the truth. 2- this ignorance is not their fault. It is what generations have been taught. This is because to the victors belong the spoils. After the war of southern independence the northern government re-wrote the history books in a manner that reflected them as the heroes. This history was forced on generations until it was accepted. Lincoln did abolish an free the slaves. The slave in the southern states, while slavery remained in the north until after the war. Lincoln “the great emancipator” planned after the war to deport all black africans back to africa or to island nations. These facts are available, if you want the true history. They are hard to find, because society does not want the truth. Other truths are that the south was the 4 th largest economy in the world. The money was in the south. The federal government, honest abe placed unfair taxation on the south. 70% of the revenue from taxes came from the southern states. They could not let the south susede from the union. That is the real reason That lincoln and his northern machine declared war on the south. Do your research and don’t believe all you read in the bias media. Try to be open minded and think for yourself.

    • Whale says:

      You have so many factual errors in your post.

      Lincoln advocated VOLUNTARY colonization before and during the war, until he met with black leaders in 1862 after he had authorized the US army and navy to enlist blacks, he completely abandoned the idea of colonization.

      You state that honest Abe placed unfair taxation on the south, how can that be when the south declared themselves free 3 or 4 months before Lincoln was ever inaugurated? He couldn’t. At the time the south rebelled, the taxes were at their lowest point since 1816.

      You tell people to do research, I beg that you actually will.


  32. Lisa Knight says:

    Based on the inaccuracy and incredibly biased views of this article, I will not be renewing my subscription to this magazine.
    The fact is The Civil War was not fought over freeing slaves, it was faught over states rights. Thats why the two opposing sides were known as Federalists and Anti-Federalists since the authorship of the Constitution. Slavery, a disgusting and evil institution, was an issue during the Civil War, but it was not what was driving the Confederacy.
    I’m all in favor of different views, but when an American History magazine prints some thing this inaccurate and biased, I must exercise this only power I have and that is to not spend my hard earned money on it.

    • Whale says:

      The two opposing sides were ONLY called Federalists and Anti-Federalists from 1787-1796 when the Anti-Federalists became Democratic-Republicans

      Neither Federalist or Anti-Federalist had been a term in use for 60 years before the Civil War.

      The state legislatures of the rebellious southern states made many pronouncements as to their reasons behind secession and the majority of them mentioned SLAVERY.


    • dfdgb says:

      I agree with this comment. Why should a UNITED STATES magazine be biased against their own people.

  33. […] Pero dejemos a Gilpin faust y vayamos a McCurry, que ha publicado un breve texto sobre el asunto en historynet: […]

  34. Jack Conroy says:

    I can’t believe these ridiculous comments about “state’s rights.”

    First, the article’s correct: the Confederate cause was all about slavery, whatever the CSA otherwise claimed.

    Second, no man or state has the right to enslave a human. The Civil War corrected a moral wrong that the Founders did not, or would not, address.

    Third, with respect to Patrick Carroll’s remark, sometimes a war isn’t good-guys-versus-bad-guys. Sometimes it is. The Confederacy was about slavery (see article). They were the bad guys.

    By the way, I’m from Texas and I have ancestors that fought for the Stars and Bars.

    I think people who defend the Confederacy argue from emotion, not reason.

    • dfdgb says:

      Well all things considered the north did burn down the south after the war was over. And also the south wasn’t all about slavery, there’s more to the war than that!

  35. Philip L says:

    Another article that buys into the myth that the Civil war was a war of liberation. The article fails to mention that during the so-called Civil war the United States government was fighting a war against native American villages. A war that picked up speed after the south was subjugated. While it can be argued the south was founded upon the theory of white supremacy the same was true for the Union. Did women have the right to vote in New York, New England? No. Was it possible for an African-American be elected president of the United States in 1863? No. How many women served openly in the US Army?
    Secondly, was succession “constitutional?” Was expansionist war against native Americans constitutional? The right to succeed is in the declaration of Independence. “When in the course of human events…etc.” Subsequent history has proved the south justified that the right of self-determination has been an American policy since 1917.
    The whole premise of the article is absurd and myopic and merely rehashes Lincolnophile propaganda.

    • Whale says:

      How could ANY black man or woman or any white woman run for President in 1863? According to the Dred Scott decision, which was the law of the land, blacks were not citizens of the United States and thus could NOT run for President. Your ranting fails to take into account minor things like THE LAW. The 14th amendment overturned the Dred Scott decision, until it was ratified, blacks were residents, not citizens and could not vote, sit on a jury or run for office.

      The right to REBELLION is mentioned in the Declaration of Independence, secession is not mentioned at all. Furthermore, the DoI is not a a part of instruments of government, it declared ourselves free from Britain, it has NO LEGAL weight or bearing upon how our government is run. The basis of our government has been and can only be found in the Articles of Confederation and the document that superseded the AoC, the United States Constitution and the right to secede is nowhere mentioned in that document.


  36. Chuck Bridges says:

    The attempts to justify a war of aggression against the South are ludicrous. Slavery, used by Northerners to turn their war of plunder into some kind of holy crusade, was a legal institution in the entire United States at the time the war started (though slavery had been abolished in some states, as members of the Union they had no choice but to recognize it as legal in the rest of the country). The future status of the slaves, and of free blacks, for that matter, was an issue for the citizens of the United States to decide through the political process, not a war. The blacks were not citizens and, legally, had no dog in the fight. Unpleasant? Ugly? Perhaps, but that was the situation. The Southern states had every right to leave the Union. The contention that the Founding Fathers intended to give the central government the authority to kill 600,000 Americans to force an unwilling region to stay in the Union to be economically raped, is simply ridiculous. The Northern majority was using its power in Congress to strip wealth from the South and transfer it to the North. No sane group of people would have stood by and accepted this. The South the aggressor? Hmmm. Odd claim. The last time I checked Ft. Sumter was in Charleston, SC. Lincoln should have evacuated the fort when asked. He deliberately provoked a fight. the South never, at any time, was any threat to the North, it is institutions, or independence, much less democracy. As Jefferson Davis said, the Confederacy only wanted to be left alone. The South an oligrachy? Ha! The South was far more democratic than the North and would remain so. One has to laugh out loud at Northerners who use this argument. Take a look at the “democracy” the North´s victory has handed down to us. This country is a naked plutocracy, a direct result of the Northern victory, which handed the whole country over to finance capitalists and Northern industrialists. I find particularly amusing the bizarre attempt by Feminist McCurry to somehow rope so-called “Women´s Rights” into this subject. Southern women overwhelmingly supported the Confederacy´s war effort, they correctly sensed that the North´s war was an assault on all they held dear. Feminism is a modern disease. It did not exist in the antebellum South, where normal relations between women and men were the norm. The current sorry state of male/female relations in the United States can be traced in a direct line back to the fringe crackpots who played such a major role in stoking the fires of Northern fanaticism in the years before the war (with New England having pride of place in terms of the sheer number of weirdos produced per capita). As for the Southerners who fought for the Union, or at least spent the war hiding out in corncribs and under hay bales, I would caution anybody about claiming them as ancestors. With the exception of a handful of principled Whigs and the inhabitants of small areas of the South that had strong commercial connections to the North that swayed their political sympathies, the majority of the “Southerners” who fought in Union Army units were either recent immigrants to the South or what would be known as “white trash.” Allow me to instruct Northerners that the term “white trash” does not refer to a poor white man. The poor can be and are often entirely respectable. “White trash” when used to describe a man has a moral, not an economic, meaning. The Union Army regiments made up of so-called Southerners were unreliable, usually only vaguely “loyal” to the Union, and full of miscreants of the worst description. The garrison of Ft. Pillow, Tennessee, overrun by the troops of General N.B. Forrest in 1864, was composed of exactly this kind of human garbage, and they got what they had coming to them. The former slaves that fought at Ft. Pillow obviously had good reason to join the Union Army. I wish to emphasize that this is not in any sense a defense of slavery, a shameful instituion that only by terrible historical accident survived in such a strong state up to the 1860´s( the invention of the cotton gin and the tremendous growth in demand for cotton in the world; the U.S. economy was largely financed by cotton exports from 1810 on). The point that Northerners just don´t get is that slavery was not an American institution, it was a hemispheric institution and responsibility for it lies with all of the European states that colonized the New World. New Englanders and Northerners in general were as much a part of the system as anybody, even if they did not own slaves. They sold the food that fed the slaves, the cloth that clothed them, and spun the cotton they grew, Likewise tobacco and sugar. Southerners had no unique guilt for it, and that is what we demand you recognize. Further, you Northerners deserve no credit for belatedly turning against slavery. Abolishing it would not cost you a dime and you knew it. Rank, stinking hypocrisy. The only innocent parties in this mess were the slaves (and the blacks in general) and those few Northern Abolitionists who did indeed blame both North and South for this ghastly situation. Was the South right to secede? No, I think they made a terrible mistake, but they made their decision and stood with it. “And never look back…….,” was the position they took. What Lincoln should have done is stand back, let tempers cool, and reach out to the more moderate elements in the South. This probably would have both saved the Union and forced the WHOLE country to confront the issue of slavery as a national, not regional, issue. Hindsight is 20/20, of course.

    • Whale says:

      And the CITIZENS of the United States spoke about their decision in 1860 and it was to reject forced slavery throughout the Union and to put in a Federal Government that would keep slavery restricted to those states in which it was still practiced. The north did not invade the south to free the slaves, the north invaded the south ONLY after the south claimed the right to seceded and took up arms in rebellion AND opened fired on US troops. It was the SOUTH who rejected the decision of the PEOPLE and resorted to the gun..


  37. baldknobber says:

    As I wrote above, I had ancestors on both sides. My Union ancestors were mostly from the Ozarks of south MO, and the Appalachians of east TN. As Mr. Bridges so eloquently calls them, “white trash”. They neither hid under corncribs, nor under hay bales. They were poor, and had little to no “commercial connections” to the North. They had been Southerners for over a hundred years, not recent immigrants. They risked their lives, their homes and property, to remain loyal to the Union, and to fight under the Old Flag. They were among the 350,000 or so “white trash” who did so.

    I am proud to claim them as ancestors, as I am proud to claim their contemporaries, also ancestors of mine, who fought under Sterling Price, and Jo Shelby. I am also proud, to not have such a blinkered, narrow-minded, and slanderously revisionist view of history as some other commenters here.

    I’ve never had any use for those who equate the Stars and Bars to the swastika, a twisted and distorted view if there ever was one. Neither have I any use for those who besmirch loyal Union Southerners as somehow not “Southern”, or as traitors. That is a twisted and distorted view, as well.

    My Union and Confederate ancestors may well have hated one another, and fought to kill each other. In most cases, they buried these animosities, or at the very least suppressed them, to live peacefully and civilly side-by-side after the war. A good example for us today, I would say.

  38. Joseph says:

    It is clear that the South was already having a unity and cooperation problem among the CSA. Some of the states wouldn’t entrust their regiments to fight for other states. But since the whole conglomeration was based on ignoble reasoning, it is easy to see why it collapsed and no foreign powers would support it.

    A tale of two rebellions. One was noble, based on good principles, the other was ignoble based on greed and bondage. One produced the Declaration and Constitution, the other brought Civil War and nearly destroyed the nation.

  39. NYYPhil777 says:

    In my opinion, I grade this essay a C. Well-written, but what turns me off is a bias. This writer apparently sympathized with the Union side of the Civil War just so he could keep his job. So the South lost. But a new CSA should have re-emerged when Hurricane Katrina struck and FEMA did absolutely nothing but follow the “do what you’re told” policy and think all and only about itself. And yet more support was given to the victims of that tsunami in Haiti. Our founding fathers are spitting in their graves, and if they were still alive, I bet they would sympathize with a southern states nation. The CSA was a genius idea, and it should still be really considered.

    • NYYPhil777 says:

      In addition to what I said on 3/19/2012, I would bet money that even if the CSA did win the Civil War, the new southern nation would have eventually banned slavery in the 1890s. The CSA would have taken advantage of the Second Industrial Revolution, almost rendering slavery obsolete as work shifted to factories and monopolies from “King Cotton” and slave plantations. I also bet that the CSA would be a first-rate nation in today’s world, unlike what the USA is becoming. The CSA didn’t exactly start the Civil War, it was Abraham Lincoln’s aggressive policies that wanted to end slavery and silence the voice of southern people. Now I wonder where self-centeredness began in American politics. The CSA was not evil, it just should have been left alone doing its job. After all, live and let live.

  40. Donna Richardson says:

    The Confederacy was evil. Robert E. Lee was the greatest traitor in U.S. history. All he had to do was sit home, but he prolonged the deaths in the worst imaginable cause for at least two years. Any apologizing for this awful cause fails to read their own documents, which base secession on the right to treat black people as property. Horrors.

  41. RJW13 says:

    …And this editorial slant’s precisely why I allowed my subscription to Weider’s “America’s Civil War Magazine” to lapse. I don’t expect or want some kind of neo-Confederate rally, but I do expect some degree of editorial balance or at least sense of fairness from the authors of the articles. Unfortunately, it was rapidly becoming one after another leftist historian with an ideological axe to grind. Might I suggest “The Civil War Monitor” as an example of a well-written, balanced alternative Civil War publication that doesn’t go the “moonlight and Magnolias” route?

  42. dfdgb says:

    this is horrible. The war wasn’t just over slavery, that’s not the only reason the south left. They weren’t horrible people, just human beings, and all humans do some things wrong.

    • dfdgb says:

      In addition anyone who thinks the Confederacy was evil is wrong. Why don’t you tell someone in the south that you think they are evil. If they were evil than how can they live in our society today. There have been many times that i can think of that seceding from the Union was a possibility.

  43. […] The Confederacy: America’s Worst Idea ( Share this:FacebookTwitterGoogle +1StumbleUponTumblrLinkedInRedditDiggPinterestPrintEmailLike this:Like Loading… This entry was posted in History, Politics and tagged American Revolution, Articles of Confederation, Bill of Rights, Congress, Constitution, Continental Congress, Daniel Shays, Massachusetts, Shays' Rebellion, United States, United States Congress, United States Constitution. Bookmark the permalink. […]

  44. […] Another huge sign of just how popular the CSA was with the masses was the desertion rate of the Confederate military, which by the end of the war, left the CSA to use its Home Guard units to round up deserters, usually running roughshod over due process in the process. Though a long, dry obvious bit of Oscar Bait, and boasting a largely British/Australian cast (poorly) playing Southerners, the movie Cold Mountain is a wonderful example of just how popular the Confederacy was with the general populace (ie, not very). […]

  45. Brown says:

    This is a well-written bias essay. It merely repeats Northern propaganda and modern history books that are written by the winning side. It barely takes into account the other side -hence it being bias- with the quote from Jefferson Davis. Saying that Davis used what he said to cover what was actually occuring is a unfounded accusation to support ones opinion. Davis wasn’t the only one to say secession was about states rights. While slavery was part of the reason, it wasn’t the main one. Some historians even believe that had the South won, slavery would have disappeared before the end of the century since the main buyer of Southern cotten, Britian, was become anti-slavery; it would have been crippling to the economy if slavery had continued. Slavery was only made the cause of the war when the Emancipation Proclamation was signed so the drafted men of the North would have a reason to fight. The Civil War did NOT start to end slavery, thus this essay is baseless.

    • JJ says:

      While I agree that state rights were a bit of the reason, it wasn’t the main reason. If it had been, the civil war would most likely have happened in 1828 after the Tariff of 1828 was passed. It hurt the South economically and took away its rights because the more populated Northern states were getting whatever they wanted, with the South’s opinion not being completely heard.

  46. […] spectacularly, bringing down the most powerful slave regime left in the Western world. … The Confederacy: America's Worst Idea […]

  47. phil says:

    Well actually Delaware and Maryland still had slavery even after the war, hippocrates or liers, either way it’s the same to me

  48. Awake says:

    Ladies and gentlemen, I submit that what we see happening in the United States today is an apt illustration of why the Confederate flag was raised in the first place. What we see materializing before our very eyes is tyranny: tyranny over the freedom of expression, tyranny over the freedom of association, tyranny over the freedom of speech, and tyranny over the freedom of conscience.

    In 1864, Confederate General Patrick Cleburne warned his fellow southerners of the historical consequences should the South lose their war for independence. He was truly a prophet. He said if the South lost, “It means that the history of this heroic struggle will be written by the enemy. That our youth will be trained by Northern school teachers; will learn from Northern school books their version of the war; will be impressed by all of the influences of History and Education to regard our gallant debt as traitors and our maimed veterans as fit subjects for derision.” No truer words were ever spoken.

    History revisionists flooded America’s public schools with Northern propaganda about the people who attempted to secede from the United States, characterizing them as racists, extremists, radicals, hatemongers, traitors, etc. You know, the same way that people in our federal government and news media attempt to characterize Christians, patriots, war veterans, constitutionalists, et al. today.

    Folks, please understand that the only people in 1861 who believed that states did NOT have the right to secede were Abraham Lincoln and his radical Republicans. To say that southern states did not have the right to secede from the United States is to say that the thirteen colonies did not have the right to secede from Great Britain. One cannot be right and the other wrong. If one is right, both are right. How can we celebrate our Declaration of Independence in 1776 and then turn around and condemn the Declaration of Independence of the Confederacy in 1861? Talk about hypocrisy!

    In fact, southern states were not the only states that talked about secession. After the southern states seceded, the State of Maryland fully intended to join them. In September of 1861, Lincoln sent federal troops to the State capital and seized the legislature by force in order to prevent them from voting. Federal provost marshals stood guard at the polls and arrested Democrats and anyone else who believed in secession. A special furlough was granted to Maryland troops so they could go home and vote against secession. Judges who tried to inquire into the phony elections were arrested and thrown into military prisons. There is your great “emancipator,” folks.

    And before the South seceded, several northern states had also threatened secession. Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island had threatened secession as far back as James Madison’s administration. In addition, the states of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware were threatening secession during the first half of the nineteenth century–long before the southern states even considered such a thing.

    People say constantly that Lincoln “saved” the Union. Lincoln didn’t save the Union; he subjugated the Union. There is a huge difference. A union that is not voluntary is not a union. Does a man have a right to force a woman to marry him or to force a woman to stay married to him? In the eyes of God, a union of husband and wife is far superior to a union of states. If God recognizes the right of husbands and wives to separate (and He does), to try and suggest that states do not have the right to lawfully (under Natural and divine right) separate is the most preposterous proposition imaginable.

    People say that Lincoln freed the slaves. Lincoln did NOT free a single slave. But what he did do was enslave free men. His so-called Emancipation Proclamation had NO AUTHORITY in the southern states, as they had separated into another country. Imagine a President today signing a proclamation to free folks in, say, China or Saudi Arabia. He would be laughed out of Washington. Lincoln had no authority over the Confederate States of America, and he knew it.

    Do you not find it interesting that Lincoln’s proclamation did NOT free a single slave in the United States, the country in which he DID have authority? That’s right. The Emancipation Proclamation deliberately ignored slavery in the North. Do you not realize that when Lincoln signed his proclamation, there were over 300,000 slaveholders who were fighting in the Union army? Check it out.
    One of those northern slaveholders was General (and later U.S. President) Ulysses S. Grant. In fact, he maintained possession of his slaves even after the War Between the States concluded. Recall that his counterpart, Confederate General Robert E. Lee, freed his slaves BEFORE hostilities between North and South ever broke out. When asked why he refused to free his slaves, Grant said, “Good help is hard to find these days.”

    (Yet Americans – especially blacks and the nation’s youth – have been brain washed to believe as fact that Lee harbored slaves and the south was for slavery. All lies. Blacks captured, chained and shipped their own people to America, put them on auction blocks and sold their own for profit. Most of the blacks received far better living conditions in America than they could ever have obtained in Africa – same holds true today – sadly. The War was NOT about slavery – it was about abominable TAXATION and planned destruction of the south’s economy!!!!! Very much like when the colonists seceded from England and formed this nation.)

    The institution of slavery did not end until the 13th Amendment was ratified on December 6, 1865.
    Speaking of the 13th Amendment, did you know that Lincoln authored his own 13th Amendment? It is the only amendment to the Constitution ever proposed by a sitting U.S. President. Here is Lincoln’s proposed amendment: “No amendment shall be made to the Constitution which will authorize or give Congress the power to abolish or interfere within any state with the domestic institutions thereof, including that a person’s held to labor or service by laws of said State.”

    You read it right. Lincoln proposed an amendment to the U.S. Constitution PRESERVING the institution of slavery. This proposed amendment was written in March of 1861, a month BEFORE the shots were fired at Fort Sumter, South Carolina.

    The State of South Carolina was particularly incensed at the tariffs enacted in 1828 and 1832. The Tariff of 1828 was disdainfully called, “The Tariff of Abominations” by the State of South Carolina. Accordingly, the South Carolina legislature declared that the tariffs of 1828 and 1832 were “unauthorized by the constitution of the United States.”

    Think, folks: why would the southern states secede from the Union over slavery when President Abraham Lincoln had offered an amendment to the Constitution guaranteeing the PRESERVATION of slavery? That makes no sense. If the issue was predominantly slavery, all the South needed to do was to go along with Lincoln, and his proposed 13th Amendment would have permanently preserved slavery among the southern (and northern) states. Does that sound like a body of people who were willing to lose hundreds of thousands of men on the battlefield over saving slavery? What nonsense!

    The problem was Lincoln wanted the southern states to pay the Union a 40% tariff on their exports. The South considered this outrageous and refused to pay. By the time hostilities broke out in 1861, the South was paying up to, and perhaps exceeding, 70% of the nation’s taxes. Before the war, the South was very prosperous and productive. And Washington, D.C., kept raising the taxes and tariffs on them. You know, the way Washington, D.C., keeps raising the taxes on prosperous American citizens today.

    This is much the same story of the way the colonies refused to pay the demanded tariffs of the British Crown-albeit the tariffs of the Crown were MUCH lower than those demanded by Lincoln. Lincoln’s proposed 13th Amendment was an attempt to entice the South into paying the tariffs by being willing to permanently ensconce the institution of slavery into the Constitution. AND THE SOUTH SAID NO!

    In addition, the Congressional Record of the United States forever obliterates the notion that the North fought the War Between the States over slavery. Read it for yourself. This resolution was passed unanimously in the U.S. Congress on July 23, 1861, “The War is waged by the government of the United States not in the spirit of conquest or subjugation, nor for the purpose of overthrowing or interfering with the rights or institutions of the states, but to defend and protect the Union.”
    What could be clearer? The U.S. Congress declared that the war against the South was NOT an attempt to overthrow or interfere with the “institutions” of the states, but to keep the Union intact (by force). The “institutions” implied most certainly included the institution of slavery.

    Hear it loudly and clearly: Lincoln’s war against the South had NOTHING to do with ending slavery–so said the U.S. Congress by unanimous resolution in 1861.
    Abraham Lincoln, himself, said it was NEVER his intention to end the institution of slavery. In a letter to Alexander Stevens who later became the Vice President of the Confederacy, Lincoln wrote this, “Do the people of the South really entertain fears that a Republican administration would directly, or indirectly, interfere with their slaves, or with them, about their slaves? If they do, I wish to assure you, as once a friend, and still, I hope, not an enemy, that there is no cause for such fears. The South would be in no more danger in this respect than it was in the days of Washington.”

    Again, what could be clearer? Lincoln, himself, said the southern states had nothing to fear from him in regard to abolishing slavery.

    Hear Lincoln again: “If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it.” He also said, “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 idea that the Confederate flag (actually there were five of them) stood for racism, bigotry, hatred, and slavery is just so much hogwash.

    In fact, if one truly wants to discover who the racist was in 1861, just read the words of Mr. Lincoln. On August 14, 1862, Abraham Lincoln invited a group of black people to the White House. In his address to them, he told them of his plans to colonize them all back to Africa. Listen to what he told these folks: “Why should the people of your race be colonized and where? Why should they leave this country? This is, perhaps, the first question for proper consideration. You and we are different races. We have between us a broader difference than exists between almost any other two races. Whether it is right or wrong I need not discuss; but this physical difference is a great disadvantage to us both, as I think. Your race suffers very greatly, many of them, by living among us, while ours suffers from your presence. In a word, we suffer on each side. If this is admitted, it affords a reason, at least, why we should be separated. You here are freemen, I suppose? Perhaps you have been long free, or all your lives. Your race is suffering, in my judgment, the greatest wrong inflicted on any people. But even when you cease to be slaves, you are yet far removed from being placed on an equality with the white race. The aspiration of men is to enjoy equality with the best when free, but on this broad continent not a single man of your race is made the equal of a single man of our race.”

    Did you hear what Lincoln said? He said that black people would NEVER be equal with white people–even if they all obtained their freedom from slavery. If that isn’t a racist statement, I’ve never heard one.

    Lincoln’s statement above is not isolated. In Charleston, Illinois, in 1858, Lincoln said in a speech, “I am not, nor have ever been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races. 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; 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 from living together on social or 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.”

    Ladies and gentlemen, in his own words, Abraham Lincoln declared himself to be a white supremacist. Why don’t our history books and news media tell the American people the truth about Lincoln and about the War Between the States?

    It’s simple: if people would study the meanings and history of the flag, symbols, and statues of the Confederacy and Confederate leaders, they might begin to awaken to the tyrannical policies of Washington, D.C., that precluded southern independence–policies that have only escalated since the defeat of the Confederacy–and they might have a notion to again resist.

    By the time Lincoln penned his Emancipation Proclamation, the war had been going on for two years without resolution. In fact, the North was losing the war. Even though the South was outmanned and out-equipped, the genius of the southern generals and fighting acumen of the southern men had put the northern armies on their heels. Many people in the North never saw the legitimacy of Lincoln’s war in the first place, and many of them actively campaigned against it. These people were affectionately called “Copperheads” by people in the South.

    I urge you to watch Ron Maxwell’s accurate depiction of those people in the North who favored the southern cause as depicted in his motion picture, “Copperhead.” For that matter, I consider his movie, “Gods And Generals” to be the greatest “Civil War” movie ever made. It is the most accurate and fairest depiction of Confederate General Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson ever produced. In my opinion, actor Stephen Lang should have received an Oscar for his performance as General Jackson. But, can you imagine?

    That’s another thing: the war fought from 1861 to 1865 was NOT a “civil war.” Civil war suggests two sides fighting for control of the same capital and country. The South didn’t want to take over Washington, D.C., no more than their forebears wanted to take over London. They wanted to separate from Washington, D.C., just as America’s Founding Fathers wanted to separate from Great Britain. The proper names for that war are either, “The War Between the States” or, “The War of Southern Independence,” or, more fittingly, “The War of Northern Aggression.”

    Had the South wanted to take over Washington, D.C., they could have done so with the very first battle of the “Civil War.” When Lincoln ordered federal troops to invade Virginia in the First Battle of Manassas (called the “First Battle of Bull Run” by the North), Confederate troops sent the Yankees running for their lives all the way back to Washington. Had the Confederates pursued them, they could have easily taken the city of Washington, D.C., seized Abraham Lincoln, and perhaps ended the war before it really began. But General Beauregard and the others had no intention of fighting an aggressive war against the North. They merely wanted to defend the South against the aggression of the North.

    In order to rally people in the North, Lincoln needed a moral crusade. That’s what his Emancipation Proclamation was all about. This explains why his proclamation was not penned until 1863, after two years of fruitless fighting. He was counting on people in the North to stop resisting his war against the South if they thought it was some kind of “holy” war. Plus, Lincoln was hoping that his proclamation would incite blacks in the South to insurrect against southern whites. If thousands of blacks would begin to wage war against their white neighbors, the fighting men of the southern armies would have to leave the battlefields and go home to defend their families. THIS NEVER HAPPENED.
    Not only did blacks not riot against the whites of the south, many black men volunteered to fight alongside their white friends and neighbors in the Confederate army. Unlike the blacks in the North, who were conscripted by Lincoln and forced to fight in segregated units, thousands of blacks in the South fought of their own free will in a fully-integrated southern army. I bet your history book never told you about that.

    If one wants to ban a racist flag, one would have to ban the British flag. Ships bearing the Union Jack shipped over 5 million African slaves to countries all over the world, including the British colonies in North America. Other slave ships flew the Dutch flag and the Portuguese flag and the Spanish flag, and, yes, the U.S. flag. But not one single slave ship flew the Confederate flag. NOT ONE!

    By the time Lincoln launched his war against the southern states, slavery was already a dying institution. The entire country, including the South, recognized the moral evil of slavery and wanted it to end. Only a small fraction of southerners even owned slaves. The slave trade had ended in 1808, per the U.S. Constitution, and the practice of slavery was quickly dying, too. In another few years, with the advent of agricultural machinery, slavery would have ended peacefully–just like it had in England. It didn’t take a national war and the deaths of over a half million men to end slavery in Great Britain.

    America’s so-called “Civil War” was absolutely unnecessary. The greed of Lincoln’s radical Republicans in the North, combined with the cold, calloused heart of Lincoln himself is responsible for the tragedy of the “Civil War.”

    And look at what is happening now: in one instant–after one deranged young man killed nine black people and who ostensibly photo-shopped a picture of himself with a Confederate flag–the entire political and media establishments in the country go on an all-out crusade to remove all semblances of the Confederacy. The speed in which all of this has happened suggests that this was a planned, orchestrated event by the Powers That Be (PTB). And is it a mere coincidence that this took place at the exact same time that the U.S. Supreme Court decided to legalize same-sex marriage? I think not.

    The Confederate Battle Flag flies the Saint Andrews cross. Of course, Andrew was the first disciple of Jesus Christ, brother of Simon Peter, and Christian martyr who was crucified on an X-shaped cross at around the age of 90. Andrew is the patron saint of both Russia and Scotland.

    In the 1800s, up to 75% of people in the South were either Scotch or Scotch-Irish. The Confederate Battle Flag is predicated on the national flag of Scotland. It is a symbol of the Christian faith and heritage of the Celtic race.

    Pastor John Weaver rightly observed, “Even the Confederate States motto, ‘Deovendickia,’ (The Lord is our Vindicator), illustrates the sovereignty and the righteousness of God. The Saint Andrews cross is also known as the Greek letter CHIA (KEE) and has historically been used to represent Jesus Christ. Why do you think people write Merry X-mas, just to give you an illustration? The ‘X’ is the Greek letter CHIA and it has been historically used for Christ. Moreover, its importance was understood by educated and uneducated people alike. When an uneducated man, one that could not write, needed to sign his name please tell me what letter he made? An ‘X,’ why? Because he was saying I am taking an oath under God. I am recognizing the sovereignty of God, the providence of God and I am pledging my faith.

    May I tell you the Confederate Flag is indeed a Christian flag because it has the cross of Saint Andrew, who was a Christian martyr, and the letter ‘X’ has always been used to represent Christ, and to attack the flag is to deny the sovereignty, the majesty, and the might of the Lord Jesus Christ and his divine role in our history, culture, and life.”

    Many of the facts that I reference in this column were included in a message delivered several years ago by Pastor John Weaver. I want to thank John for preaching such a powerful and needed message. Read or watch Pastor Weaver’s sermon “The Truth About The Confederate Battle Flag” here:
    The Truth About The Confederate Battle Flag

    Combine the current attacks against Biblical and traditional marriage, the attacks against all things Confederate, the attacks against all things Christian, and the attacks against all things constitutional and what we are witnessing is a heightened example of why the Confederate Battle Flag was created to begin with.

    Virtually every act of federal usurpation of liberty that we are witnessing today, and have been witnessing for much of the twentieth century, is the result of Lincoln’s war against the South. Truly, we are living in Lincoln’s America, not Washington and Jefferson’s America. Washington and Jefferson’s America died at Appomattox Court House in 1865.

    Instead of lowering the Confederate flag, we should be raising it.

  49. Jake says:

    Many brilliant comments to an insulting and poorly researched article.

  50. timmy says:

    this story is complete bullshit ! why not take a look at Abe Lincolns first inaugural address where he promised to enshrine slavery in the constitution so it could never be abolished. the war of northern aggression was not fought over slavery, it was about tariffs mostly. lincoln also promised bloodshed if the south refused to pay the tariffs that he TRIPPLED on all goods entering southern ports. instead of continuing to spread this lying bullshit, i hope people will start talking about the atrocities committed by the armies of the north. sherman and other generals burned the south to the ground killed all the livestock and raped and pillaged everything in there path. american history is a LIE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  51. Tim Jones says:

    The tariff issue and ‘internal improvements’ were intricately linked to the issue of Southern Slavery. It’s complicated, but not overwhelmingly.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

, , , , ,