And the Truth behind the Civil War
Seven score and seventeen years ago, Abraham Lincoln gave one of the greatest speeches in American history.
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
About 3 years and… about 7 months ago I and my wife visited Gettysburg, and the pictures here were taken by me, personally.
The battlefield today is a monument. A remembrance of one of the darkest periods of our nation’s history.
And also one of the brightest moments.
It was a dark period, dark because it came to this. Dark because a large part of the nation wanted to continue an evil.
It was a bright moment, bright because our forefathers were willing to go to extreme lengths to right what was wrong. Bright because an even larger part of our nation wanted to end an evil.
Certain angry militant aspects of this nation today want to destroy all remembrance of that dark time, because it also destroys the remembrance of the light.
They tell us that America has never paid for the sin of slavery.
The battle of Gettysburg was halfway through the war. 7000 people died on that field. 33,000 more were wounded. 10,000 more were missing.
2.5% of the national population died, that’s over 8 million by today’s numbers.
Revisionists try and argue that the war wasn’t fought over slavery. That’s flat out wrong. Just reading the actual statements of the politicians and newspapers leading up to the war (which are on the wall at the Gettysburg battlefield museum) shows the truth.
Denying the truth, that the war was primarily fought for the abolition of slavery, is strategic by these revisionists.
After all, if the war wasn’t fought over slavery, then the people didn’t die over slavery. And if the Union soldiers didn’t die to free the slaves, and the confederates didn’t die trying to keep the slaves, then the atonement for that national sin was never paid.
If that price was never paid, then restitution is still owed.
But that atonement WAS made.
620,000+ people paid the price with their lives. 40%+, never identified. Unknown bodies in a battlefield. Attesting to that sin, and to its price. A receipt stamped PAID. Paid in blood.
Vice President of the CSA, Alexander H. Stephens, said the following: ”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, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and normal condition.”
Charleston Mercury (newspaper) March 26, 1861: “for years, the Southern peoples have … endured the unceasing assaults of Northern interests, Northern ambition, and Northern fanaticism placed in direct antagonism to their just rights and vital institutions.”
March 27: “Anti-slavery has been taken in with their mothers’ milk, grown with their growth and strengthened with their strength, until so thoroughly assimilated into their constitutions as to become a part of their political principles, their ethics, and their religious faith.”
April 5: “If we have but the wisdom to keep our Confederation one of pro-slave republics exclusively, and not to mix it of states having different domestic institutions and antagonistic views. No more of ‘the irrepressible conflict,’ and hands off with the North, is clearly our policy.” (That doesn’t look like state’s rights to anyone)
Excerpts and summaries from the various Declarations of secession:
Georgia first two sentences: The people of Georgia having dissolved their political connection with the Government of the United States of America, present to their confederates and the world the causes which have led to the separation. For the last ten years we have had numerous and serious causes of complaint against our non-slave-holding confederate States with reference to the subject of African slavery.
In total it mentions “slave” or slavery 35 times
Texas, after a very lengthy and bloviated introductory statement listing their history, in which they mention slave or slavery thrice: (seriously, this thing reads like a freshman in college trying to meet the required number of words) The controlling majority of the Federal Government, under various pretences and disguises, has so administered the same as to exclude the citizens of the Southern States, unless under odious and unconstitutional restrictions, from all the immense territory owned in common by all the States on the Pacific Ocean, for the avowed purpose of acquiring sufficient power in the common government to use it as a means of destroying the institutions of Texas and her sister slaveholding States.
In total it mentioned slave 23 times.
Mississippi, first 2 sentences: In the momentous step which our State has taken of dissolving its connection with the government of which we so long formed a part, it is but just that we should declare the prominent reasons which have induced our course.
Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery– the greatest material interest of the world.
In total they mention slave 7 times. (Their document is 1/3rd as long as Texas’, so it’s mentioned proportionally the same)
South Carolina. They go on a 7000 word recap of the Declaration of Independence, the revolution, the articles of confederation, and the constitution before finally getting to the point: “The greater number of the contracting parties held slaves, and they had previously evinced their estimate of the value of such a stipulation by making it a condition in the Ordinance for the government of the territory ceded by Virginia, which now composes the States north of the Ohio River.”
In the remaining 6000 words they mention “slave” 18 times
Virginia was brief, the only grievance mentioned specifically was “to the oppression of the Southern slaveholding States.”
Arkansas was brief, did not list any specific grievance except the election of Lincoln.
Alabama was also brief, citing 2 issues, the election of Lincoln and solidarity with “slaveholding states” and “in order to frame a provisional as well as permanent Government”
North Carolina, Louisiana, Florida and Tennessee were brief, and made no mention of any reason, just declared independence.
Furthermore, the Constitution of the confederacy in Article 1, Section 9.4 specifically outlaws any law that that would impair the right to own slaves. Article 4 section 1.3 bans the freeing of slaves. Article 4 section 3.3 requires all new territories be slave-holding territories.
So for all their talk about “states rights” they specifically ELIMINATED the right of states to be non-slave states.
The confederacy often referred to the union “attacking” South Carolina, but the war began on April, 1861, when Confederate General Pierre P.T. Beauregard, under orders from CSA President Jefferson Davis began opening fire on the Union fortification, Fort Sumter. A circular bombardment from several positions surrounding the fort. After the opening volleys, fire was, naturally, returned. The Union abandoned the fort.
Some counter the argument by incompletely quoting Lincoln himself. An oft quoted statement by Lincoln only quotes the opening line: “if I could save the union without freeing any slave, I would to it” and ends there. But his actual statement closed with (emphasis mine) “I intend no modification of my OFT-EXPRESSED personal wish that all men everywhere could be free.”
Abraham Lincoln, writing to Alexander H. Stephens, Dec 22, 1860: “You think slavery is right and should be extended; while we think slavery is wrong and ought to be restricted. That I suppose is the rub. It certainly is the only substantial difference between us.”
Another counter argument is that the emancipation proclamation did not apply to the slave holding states in the north, of where there were a small handful. The reality is, Lincoln was a politician, he needed to defeat the enemy in front of him first, and keep his allies. Without defeating the confederacy, he could not free anyone. And without maintaining the loyalty of these “border states”, he risked losing the entire nation into chaos. So yes, a BRIEF compromise was struck with these border states that allowed them to work out their own issues, and before the end of the war, all but 2 of these border states had ended slavery all on their own. BY Passing their own laws, it prevented rebellion against the Union. DC also had slavery ended by it’s own law during the war.
By the time the 13th amendment was ratified, there were 40,000 known slaves in the “border states”. That may sound like a lot, but by comparison, the south had 4 Million. New Jersey had 16. Not 16 thousand, sixteen individuals.
This is not to say, of course, that every single confederate soldier was personally fighting for slavery. This war, like all wars, was about what the leaders of the nations at war decided, and while slavery was the pre-eminent reason for the war, it’s not unreasonable to assume that some of the boots on the ground were simply “defending their home.” But just like National Socialist Germany, the troops, regardless of their personal reasons, were still ultimately fighting to defend evil.