To those who insist the War Between the States was all, and only about slavery consider these facts
Several States voted NOT to secede until AFTER Lincoln called for troops to force the seven Confederate states back into a union they no longer wished to be in
With the attack and subsequent surrender of Fort Sumter on April 14, President Lincoln now had little choice. The seven states of the Confederacy had now made very clear that they were intent on pursuing a course different from their northern brethren. By occupying Federal installations, the Rebels had demonstrated their commitment to splitting the American Union.
Former President James Buchanan had shown a willingness to let the Southern states go their own way, feeling there was little he could do to constitutionally force them back into the fold. Lincoln, however, had shown – by word at least to this point – that he would do what was necessary to preserve the Union. He now realized that the only answer to the Confederacy was a military one.
Like most people, Lincoln miscalculated the size of the job, as well as how long it would take to accomplish it. Apparently, he felt that he could limit the scope of military operations to re-taking Federal forts, ports and other installations from the Rebels. Therefore, after receiving word of the fall of Fort Sumter, Lincoln issued a proclamation to the governors of the states who had not seceded. He appealed to the governors to send militia units to various cities in each state, in order for those units to be mustered into Federal service.
At the same time, a telegram was sent to each state’s governor by Simon Cameron, the Secretary of War. Each state was given a quota of the number of regiments and men that were to be mustered into service, as well as a list of cities where they were to gather. [Though they were in the Union, the states of California and Oregon were not included in this first call-to-arms, as they were thought to be too far removed from the action and would take too long to get any mustered troops east to participate.]
This list included the states of Arkansas, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia, who had not yet decided on their participation in secession. However, because of Lincoln’s call for volunteers, all four states opted join the Confederacy. Virginia seceded on April 17, and was ratified by the voters on May 23. Arkansas declared for the Confederacy on May 6. Tennessee seceded on May 7, and the voters agreed on June 8. Finally, North Carolina on May 20 joined the rebellion.
The reason these states left was explicitly NOT slavery. It was instead what they felt a gross overreach federal authority. Here is the response of North Carolina Governor John Willis Ellis
“Your dispatch is received, and if genuine, which its extraordinary character leads me to doubt, I have to say in reply, that I regard the levy of troops made by the administration for the purpose of subjugating the states of the South, as a violation of the Constitution, and as a gross usurption of power. I can be no party to this wicked violation of the laws of the country and to this war upon the liberties of a free people. You can get no troops from North Carolina.”
What is this? Did the governor not understand how narratives work?
Here is the response of Virginia Governor John Letcher
“I received your telegram of the 15th, the genuineness of which I doubted. Since that time I have received your communication, mailed the same day, in which I am requested to detach from the militia of the State of Virginia ‘the quota designated in the table’ which you append, ‘to serve as infantry or riflemen for the period of three months, unless sooner discharged.’
In reply to this communication I have only to say that the militia of Virginia will not be furnished to the powers at Washington for any such use or purpose as they have in view. Your object is to subjugate the Southern States, and a requisition made upon me for such an object–an object, in my judgement, not within the purview of the Constitution or the act of 1795–will not be complied with. You have chosen to inaugurate civil war, and having done so, we will meet it in a spirit as determined as the Administration has exhibited toward the South.”
What about Isham Harris, the Governor of Tennessee?
“Your dispatch of 15th instant, informing me that Tennessee is called upon for two regiments of militia for immediate service, is received. Tennessee will not furnish a single man for purpose of coercion, but 50,000, if necessary, for the defense of our rights and those of our Southern brethren.”
OK, what of Arkansas?
“In answer to your requisition for troops from Arkansas to subjugate the Southern States, I have to say that none will be furnished. The demand is only adding insult to injury. The people of this Commonwealth are freemen, not slaves, and will defend to the last extremity their honor, lives, and property against Northern mendacity and usurpation.”
It is fair to say that the reasons of other Southern States had more to do with slavery than other states. The motivations to secede did differ, but the real cause of the war was singular. Had the States been allowed to leave, as they held was their right, they would have not have fought to destroy those states that remained in the original union. In short there would have been no war. That is not a statement of absolution nor of condemnation for the Confederate States. That is just a fact. We may argue whether or not the 13 original states retained their sovereignty, and right to secede upon ratifying the Constitution. Since several states made proclamations saying they reserved such a right, I believe they did. But what really needs to stop is he smearing of Confederates as traitors. I will allow Walter Williams an opportunity to explain
Let’s look at some of the facts and ask: Did the South have a right to secede from the Union? If it did, we can’t label Confederate generals as traitors.
Article 1 of the Treaty of Paris (1783), which ended the war between the Colonies and Great Britain, held “New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, to be free sovereign and Independent States.” Representatives of these states came together in Philadelphia in 1787 to write a constitution and form a union.
During the ratification debates, Virginia’s delegates said, “The powers granted under the Constitution being derived from the people of the United States may be resumed by them whensoever the same shall be perverted to their injury or oppression.” The ratification documents of New York and Rhode Island expressed similar sentiments.
At the Constitutional Convention, a proposal was made to allow the federal government to suppress a seceding state. James Madison, the “Father of the Constitution,” rejected it. The minutes from the debate paraphrased his opinion: “A union of the states containing such an ingredient (would) provide for its own destruction. The use of force against a state would look more like a declaration of war than an infliction of punishment and would probably be considered by the party attacked as a dissolution of all previous compacts by which it might be bound.”
The U.S. Constitution would have never been ratified — and a union never created — if the people of those 13 “free sovereign and Independent States” did not believe that they had the right to secede. Even on the eve of the War of 1861, unionist politicians saw secession as a right that states had. Rep. Jacob M. Kunkel of Maryland said, “Any attempt to preserve the union between the states of this Confederacy by force would be impractical and destructive of republican liberty.” The Northern Democratic and Republican parties favored allowing the South to secede in peace.
Northern newspapers editorialized in favor of the South’s right to secede. New-York Tribune (Feb. 5, 1860): “If tyranny and despotism justified the Revolution of 1776, then we do not see why it would not justify the secession of Five Millions of Southrons from the Federal Union in 1861.” The Detroit Free Press (Feb. 19, 1861): “An attempt to subjugate the seceded States, even if successful, could produce nothing but evil — evil unmitigated in character and appalling in extent.” The New-York Times (March 21, 1861): “There is a growing sentiment throughout the North in favor of letting the Gulf States go.”
Confederate generals were fighting for independence from the Union just as George Washington and other generals fought for independence from Great Britain. Those who’d label Gen. Robert E. Lee as a traitor might also label George Washington as a traitor. I’m sure Great Britain’s King George III would have agreed.
Again, I welcome open debate over this and I am sure Mr. Williams would as well. My issue is not with debate, my issue is with those trying to simplify, or should I say dumb down the history of this conflict to good vs. evil. This is a sad tactic offered up by too many who know a little about the war, but have never devoted any time to studying it and its causes.
There is one more thing that simply must stop, and that is the comparing Confederates to Nazis, or men like Lee or Jackson to Hitler. This is as offensive as it is inaccurate. Anyone who would make such a comparison is either a fool, has never bothered to learn anything about these men or has an agenda frankly. I have been saddened and even sickened at the number of Conservatives that have gone down this road recently. Perhaps they hope adopting Leftist propaganda will bring them praise from the media or will somehow unite us? Perhaps they are naive enough to think such careless rhetoric will help save monuments to Lincoln, Sherman, Grant or of the Founding Fathers.
These video shows Jackson and Lee as a noble men which they were
Are we to allow such men to be painted as Nazis? As evil? Such an act is nothing but moral and intellectual cowardice.
The Left, of course, will never adopt any policy but that of total annihilation of all American history. That is their goal. Those monuments that they wish relocated to museums? They will soon be said to be too offensive in museums, or battlefields. The Left uses incrimentalism very well. And they will never stop. Anyone who appeases them is, in the end complicit, at least in part in the war on this nations history and heritage. Any such fool is only facilitating the eventual destruction of the story of his nation. And they are allowing the demonization of good men, including hundreds of thousands of Confederate soldiers who saw themselves as defending their homes.