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Let’s Re-Name the Civil War

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Even having spent two-thirds of my life in the South, I still never bought into the idea of “The War of Northern Aggression.” Despite the number of teachers and Daughters of the Confederacy who tried to convince me otherwise, it was a Southern Congressman who caned Charles Sumner in 1856; it was the Southern states who instigated rebellion against the United States government; and it was the Southern militia who fired the first shots of the war. That, folks, is Southern aggression.

Having said that, it’s equally inaccurate to call it the Civil War. Beyond the oxymoron (Yeah, yeah, “war isn’t civil,” blah blah blah), a civil war is a war between two factions of one nation. The war that occurred between 1861 and 1865 was between the United States of America and the Confederate States of America — two separate countries.

By that logic, the War Between the States doesn’t work either. It was a war between two separate and distinct national governments: some would argue that the individual states played a large part in the Confederacy, but the Union’s states were all still subservient to the Union. Virginia wasn’t fighting against Pennsylvania; it was fighting against the U.S.

And we’re not even gonna start on the endless “War to End Slavery” debate.

My suggestion: The War to Save the Union.

That’s what Abraham Lincoln and his supporters (and the Northern press) called it, at least initially. And it was, in fact, the original intention of the United States. Moreover, the South can take some comfort in what it tacitly implies: that the Unity of north and south was necessary for the survival of both. In other words, the North was acknowledging that it could not survive without the South.

It’s a term with historical precedence, it describes the aim of the victors and the outcome of the war. And it doesn’t force stubborn Southerners to acknowledge that they started it.

Any takers?

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About Michael J. West

  • Baronius

    Not a bad idea, although I’m fine with “the War Between the States”. In a sense, each state decided which side it was on. For quite a few, it wasn’t an obvious decision. By the time Maryland and Kentucky were sorting things out, it was pretty clear there would be a war. A brief, painless war.

    The war names that bother me the most are the Iraqi War (which I think of as the Second Gulf War) and World War One. The Napoleanic Wars don’t count as a world war? Mexico to Russia, Egypt to England.

    World War One is the only war I can think of whose name has been changed. Who do you talk to about changing war names?

  • Weren’t the Napoleonic Wars a series of separate wars, though?

    For War Name Changes, write:

    International Bureau of War Names
    301 M Street SW
    Washington, DC 20024

  • phil

    it should be called the War of Redneck Aggression… cause now all the southern farmers had to get up off their lazy white asses and pick cotton them selves cause dee slaves had done moved to detroit and chicago and wanted to get paid if the stayed…but instead got lynched…DOH… anyway i think John Wilkes Booth was the first modern day terrorist

  • Despite my loathing of slavery, I always felt the “Civil War” was an enigma. For, if the USA had the right to separate itself from Britain in the revolution, then did not the South have an inherent right to do the same in 1861?

    I believe (and I’ve done lots of research on this) that had the South been allowed secession, that not only would there not have been a war, but that the South would have (eventually, perhaps 5-10 years)economically failed and be forced to return to the Union (tail between the legs).

    This would have been the same end result without a shot ever being fired.

  • G. Oren


    I have to side with the South on this one. The shooting may have started at Sumter, but Lincoln was not compelled to resupply the garrison there, and his call for 75k volunteers is what drove the border states – especially Virginia – out of the Union.

    Slavery was a terrible blight on the South and the nation, but it would have withered away in tme. That Lincoln saw the war as an effort to preserve the Union and not to free the slaves is evident from his speeches at the time. Only later did emancipation become a goal of the war. That the South sought to defend itself form Northen Agression is self evident.

  • Just to set the record straight, Charles Sumner was an absolute dickhead and Preston Brooks may have overracted in beating him unconscious on the floor of the Senate, but there were a lot of people who thought Sumner had it coming. Sumner did accuse Brooks’ uncle of having sex with black prostitutes, which in those days was certainly asking for a fight.


  • Mike

    Suggest you pro-union types read works from Dr. Thomas DiLorenzo, Dr. Thomas Woods, Dr. Clyde Wilson for starters. Can be found on http://www.lewrockwell.com/columnists.html .

    I’m born / raised / educated in Ohio but after about 30 years of study have decided that the “history” being taught in government schools is 180′-out-of-phase with truth.

  • G. Oren:

    The shooting may have started at Sumter, but Lincoln was not compelled to resupply the garrison there

    It was Federal property, which Lincoln was attempting to maintain possession of. That’s pretty compelling. Remember that he sent a message to the governor of South Carolina specifically stating that he was resupplying them with provisions ONLY, no men, arms, or ammunition.

    and his call for 75k volunteers is what drove the border states – especially Virginia – out of the Union.

    You have some grounds for an argument here; however, I would argue that once the first seven states seceded, war was inevitable, Sumter or no; once war broke out, it was also inevitable that Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina would secede.

    Slavery was a terrible blight on the South and the nation, but it would have withered away in tme.

    This is the excuse that I’ve been hearing all my life. (I was raised/educated in North Carolina, and I believe what I learned there is out of sync with the truth, too.) Slavery would not simply “wither” away. People do not give up unpaid labor forces without bloody fights. And even on the off-chance that it would have simply died out, how long would it have been? Fifty years? Sixty?

    That Lincoln saw the war as an effort to preserve the Union and not to free the slaves is evident from his speeches at the time. Only later did emancipation become a goal of the war.

    I made the point from the beginning that Lincoln sought to preserve the union. The whole point of my post was that the war would be more accurately called “The War to Save the Union.” And I specifically avoided the discussion of emancipation.

    That the South sought to defend itself form Northen Agression is self evident.

    Sumter was not the south’s original act of aggression. Secession was. And yes, secession was an act of aggression against the United States because it was an act that would have destroyed the United States. The South may have seen itself as defending against northern invasion, but the Union certainly saw itself as defending against Southern subversion.

  • Baronius

    I’m sympathetic to the Southern cause, except for slavery, and if it weren’t for slavery, I would have preferred the CSA. I think they were more in line with the Articles of Confederation, for which I have a fondness.

    But you can’t take slavery out of the equation. The South tried to spin it that way, and the historical determinists of the first half of the 20th century interpreted the war in terms of inevitable economic forces. Both attempts fail. The North was convinced of its moral superiority; the Southern whites were afraid of future Nat Turners; the “inevitable” economic collapse could have been postponed. People with power don’t often give it up.

    One final point: you don’t drop out of a representitive government because of an election loss. That puts the whole election process in bad faith. (Something’s wrong with that sentence, but I can’t figure out what.) I’d like to believe that a state could leave the Union over a clear violation of the Constitution.

  • Nancy

    I’m amused by parallels between Lincoln’s spin on the civil war, and W’s spin on his: Lincoln started out with a goal to keep the southern states from seceding. Only later did he adopt the Noble Cause of ending slavery because it sounded better. W. likewise started out with a motive of retaliation & non-existant WMDs, but switched it to Bringing Democracy To The Iraqis, for the same reason: it sounds better. History repeating itself.

  • Well, I tend to think that Lincoln had a genuine crisis of conscience when he emancipated the slaves, not just a propaganda purpose. But if you like to draw the parallel feel free.

  • Nancy

    Are you familiar with his early (prior to the war) statements (oral & written) concerning blacks & slavery? He was no abolitionist; neither was Mary.

  • WTF

    The term “Civl War” is a descriptor, not a title.

    Webster’s 1828 defines it as:

    “A war between people of the same state or city”

    The American Civil War is probably what it should be defined as.

    Or… instead of renaming the conflict, how about theorizing the outcome.

    Jefferson Davis, headed a country which caused the cotton mills in England to search for raw material elsewhere, which led to cotton production in Egypt, which led to a hierarchal society, which bred Hazzbollah (sp) which, bred a terroist movement, which gave rise to Al Quiada (sp)!

    In essense. Jefferson Davis made Al Quiada (sp) possible.

    OHMYGAWD, the South has risen again!!!


  • “A war between people of the same state or city”

    But because the CSA was technically a separate state, it wasn’t a war between people of the same state.

  • bhw

    Fuck the South. They lost. If we’re going to rename the war, I say we call it “The War Wherein the North Kicked Your ‘Genteel’ Southern Slave-owning Asses, You Big, Whiny, Sore Losers.”

  • Are you familiar with his early (prior to the war) statements (oral & written) concerning blacks & slavery? He was no abolitionist; neither was Mary.

    Nancy, if I’m arguing that he had a change of heart when he emancipated the slaves, which was DURING the war, how do his statements BEFORE the war refute that argument?

  • M. S. Hunt

    To start with the U.S. congress by resolution declared that the proper name of the conmflit was The War Between The States. Slavery was introduced to the US at its earliest development, the Jamestown colony. The owner of the slave was guess what BLACKl
    Due to mechanization slavery was doomed. The real cause of the war was as with other wars economics. 75 percent of all Federal income was being spent on improving the roads schools etc in the NORTH The south knew the only way they could improve their infrastructure was to become their own masters.

  • Due to mechanization slavery was doomed. The real cause of the war was as with other wars economics. 75 percent of all Federal income was being spent on improving the roads schools etc in the NORTH The south knew the only way they could improve their infrastructure was to become their own masters.

    Horse shit.

    Ever read the South Carolina Declaration of Secession, in which the state legislature explained why it seceded?

    We affirm that these ends for which this Government was instituted have been defeated, and the Government itself has been made destructive of them by the action of the non-slaveholding States. Those States have assume the right of deciding upon the propriety of our domestic institutions; and have denied the rights of property established in fifteen of the States and recognized by the Constitution; they have denounced as sinful the institution of slavery; they have permitted open establishment among them of societies, whose avowed object is to disturb the peace and to eloign the property of the citizens of other States. They have encouraged and assisted thousands of our slaves to leave their homes; and those who remain, have been incited by emissaries, books and pictures to servile insurrection.

    For twenty-five years this agitation has been steadily increasing, until it has now secured to its aid the power of the common Government. Observing the forms of the Constitution, a sectional party has found within that Article establishing the Executive Department, the means of subverting the Constitution itself. A geographical line has been drawn across the Union, and all the States north of that line have united in the election of a man to the high office of President of the United States, whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery. He is to be entrusted with the administration of the common Government, because he has declared that that “Government cannot endure permanently half slave, half free,” and that the public mind must rest in the belief that slavery is in the course of ultimate extinction.

    What about the Mississippi Declaration of Secession?

    Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery – the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product, which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun. These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization. That blow has been long aimed at the institution, and was at the point of reaching its consummation. There was no choice left us but submission to the mandates of abolition, or a dissolution of the Union, whose principles had been subverted to work out our ruin.

    Say, what did Georgia explain as its immediate cause in the Georgia Declaration of Secession?

    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-slaveholding confederate States with reference to the subject of African slavery.

    Say, Texas, what bothered you about the states in the north?

    In all the non-slave-holding States, in violation of that good faith and comity which should exist between entirely distinct nations, the people have formed themselves into a great sectional party, now strong enough in numbers to control the affairs of each of those States, based upon an unnatural feeling of hostility to these Southern States and their beneficent and patriarchal system of African slavery, proclaiming the debasing doctrine of equality of all men, irrespective of race or color – a doctrine at war with nature, in opposition to the experience of mankind, and in violation of the plainest revelations of Divine Law. They demand the abolition of negro slavery throughout the confederacy, the recognition of political equality between the white and negro races, and avow their determination to press on their crusade against us, so long as a negro slave remains in these States.

    Of course the government of the CSA may have felt differently:

    “If slavery is wrong, our whole movement is wrong.”
    Robert Toombs,
    First Confederate Secretary of State

    Funny, the people in the South sure seemed to think that the real cause of the war was slavery.

  • Mike

    “And yes, secession was an act of aggression against the United States because it was an act that would have destroyed the United States.”

    You know exactly dick about U.S. Constitutional history, then.

    First of all, the Constitution does not contradict itself. Secession is
    not an act of aggession. It was taught at one time at West Point from the
    textbook of a Federal Judge, William P. Rawle from Pennsylvania. It
    explains in its entirety how a State goes about seceding. Believe me, this
    military academy would in no way teach treason to its cadets.

    Also, see Article IV, Section 4. How can the United States guarantee each
    State a Republican form of government by coercion? It also says that the
    United States can protect them from domestic violence only by application
    of their respective State Legislatures or the Executive Branch of said
    government. I doubt seriously a State would secede and then turn around and
    ask for it to be invaded. To put it bluntly, the Constitution forbids the
    President to make war and Congress to invade a State.

    The right of secession is reserved to the States by the Tenth Amendment.
    It plainly states that “The powers not delegated to the United States by
    the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the
    States respectively,or to the people.” Power is delegated down, not up. In
    other words, the Federal Government only has the powers that the States let
    them have or by the enumerated powers in the Constitution, period.

    If there was a law against secession, the Constitution would be very plain
    on this matter, as it was on every thing else. The right of secession was
    also worded into various State Constitutions, both North and South upon
    ratification of the U.S. Constitution. I don’t recall any of those states
    being invaded for having documented this right reserved to them.

    Here are some worthy quotes from this Nation’s founders and other
    statesmen which reinforce State Sovereignty and secession.”
    “The thirteen States are thirteen sovereignties.” James Wilson of Pennsylvania
    “Each State enjoys sovereign power.” Governor Morris
    “The thirteen States are thirteen sovereign bodies.” Oliver Ellsworth
    “The States are Nations.” Daniel Webster
    “If the Constitution is a compact, then the States have a right to
    secede.” Justice
    Joseph Story
    “If the Union was formed by the accession of States, then the Union may be
    by the secession of States.” Daniel Webster
    “If it were a consolidated government the assent of a majority of the
    people would be
    sufficient to establish it, but it is to be binding on the people of each
    and only by their own separate consent.” Alexander Hamilton
    “I the Constitution is adopted (and it was) the Union will be in fact and
    in theory an
    association of States or a Confederacy.” Alexander Hamilton

  • Beth

    “Funny, the people in the South sure seemed to think that the real cause of the war was slavery.”

    One, I believe that the claim that the Civil War was fought over slavery is one of the biggest myths in history. Secession was mainly over slavery, yes, although there were other important factors as well But the war and secession were two separate events, and secession did not have to lead to war and did not cause the war. Lincoln and the Radicals’ decision not to allow the South to go in peace was what caused the war.

    True, one can certainly say if there had been no slavery there would have been no war, at least not at that point in time. However, this does not mean the war was “fought over slavery.” Similarly, one can say that if Kuwait hadn’t had oil fields, there would have been no Persian Gulf War in 1991. But, few credible analysts would argue that that war was “fought over oil.”

    The South fought because it was invaded. It fought because it wanted to preserve its independence. If Lincoln hadn’t invaded, there would have been no war. Even after the Fort Sumer incident, which Lincoln later admitted he deliberately provoked, the Confederacy wanted peaceful relations with the North and made this wish known. But Lincoln and the Radicals weren’t interested in peaceful coexistence with the Confederacy. They wanted to destroy it.

    Halfway through the war the Radicals managed to make forceful, uncompensated emancipation the second major aim of the war. But the main purpose of the Northern invasion was always to force the Southern states back into the Union against their will.

    If the Confederacy had announced the day after it was formed that it was initiating an emancipation program that would be complete in two years or less, Lincoln and the Radicals still would have invaded. If the Confederacy had voluntarily dissolved the day that Lincoln announced his call-up of 75,000 troops to put down the so-called “rebellion” (read: Southern states peacefully leaving the Union), slavery would have continued and there would have been no war. It is simply erroneous to argue that the war was fought over slavery.

    And the South was hardly guilty of rebellion or insurrection, much less treason, unless by “rebellion” one means resistance to federal coercion. The South offered to pay compensation for all federal facilities in the Southern states and offered to pay its share of the national debt. Even James McPherson admits that the vast majority of Southern citizens supported secession, especially after Fort Sumter. Most of the conditional Unionists and cooperationists believed the Deep South had the right to secede and that a Northern invasion to coerce the Confederate states back into the Union was illegal and immoral.

    Two, I think it’s very unfair to say only that the Confederacy “championed an unforgivable violation of inalienable rights, and embrace the rich American heritage of individualism.” The Confederacy was never given the chance to outgrow its racism. Racism was nearly as bad in the North; it may even have been worse in the North in certain respects. Sadly, as you doubtless know, nearly all Americans believed in white supremacy at the time, as did the vast majority of Europeans. Furthermore, there were plenty of Southerners who were more than willing to give up slavery if that was the only way to maintain Southern independence. By late 1864, key Confederate leaders were prepared to abolish slavery in order to achieve European diplomatic recognition and thus save the Confederacy.

    It is high time that the demonization of the Confederacy cease.

  • Mike, I’m perfectly familiar with constitutional history. You’ve actually only provided two quotes that involve secession, however.

    I just happen to subscribe to the constitutional perspective that Lincoln presented in his first inaugural address.

    If the United States be not a government proper, but an association of States in the nature of contract merely, can it, as a contract, be peaceably unmade by less than all the parties who made it? One party to a contract may violate it—break it, so to speak—but does it not require all to lawfully rescind it?

    Descending from these general principles, we find the proposition that in legal contemplation the Union is perpetual confirmed by the history of the Union itself. The Union is much older than the Constitution. It was formed, in fact, by the Articles of Association in 1774. It was matured and continued by the Declaration of Independence in 1776. It was further matured, and the faith of all the then thirteen States expressly plighted and engaged that it should be perpetual, by the Articles of Confederation in 1778. And finally, in 1787, one of the declared objects for ordaining and establishing the Constitution was “to form a more perfect Union.”

    But if destruction of the Union by one or by a part only of the States be lawfully possible, the Union is less perfect than before the Constitution, having lost the vital element of perpetuity.

    It follows from these views that no State upon its own mere motion can lawfully get out of the Union; that resolves and ordinances to that effect are legally void, and that acts of violence within any State or States against the authority of the United States are insurrectionary or revolutionary, according to circumstances.

  • Beth

    Secession and Liberty
    by Thomas J. DiLorenzo

    The presidential election of 2000 showed that America is now divided into two great political classes: the productive, taxpaying class and the parasitic, live-at-others’-expense class. The latter group includes millions of welfare bums, federal, state and local government bureaucrats and “contractors,” and their massive supporting propaganda apparatus in the universities, on television, and in print journalism. Now that the vast majority of what the central government does is unconstitutional, there is almost no restraint at all on the extent to which the latter class can use the coercive powers of the state to plunder the former class.

    The federal system of government that was created by the founding fathers was designed explicitly to deter this outcome, but that system was overthrown in 1865. The founders understood that democracy would inevitably evolve into a system of legalized plunder unless the plundered were given numerous escape routes and constitutional protections such as the separation of powers, the Bill of Rights, election of senators by state legislators, the electoral college, no income taxation, most governmental functions performed at the state and local levels, and myriad other constitutional limitations on the powers of the central government.

    The most important protection was the right of secession, which Peter Applebome of the New York Times suggests we should revive in light of the election returns. This was quite natural, for the United States were founded as the direct result of a war of secession waged against Great Britain. The very principle of the American Revolution was the right of secession against tyrannical government. The founders understood that even the threat of secession would hold would-be governmental tyrants in check.

    In his 1801 First Inaugural Address one of the first things Thomas Jefferson did was to support the right of secession. “If there be any among us who wish to dissolve the Union or to change its republican form,” the author of the Declaration of Independence said, “let them stand undisturbed, as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it.”

    Jefferson and James Madison were the authors of the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions of 1798 which held that “where powers were assumed by the national government which had not been granted by the states, nullification is the rightful remedy,” and that every state has a right to “nullify of its own authority all assumptions of power by others. . .” Nullification of unconstitutional federal actions was a means of effectively seceding.

    The election of 1800 was a battle between Jefferson and the supporters of limited, decentralized government and the Federalist Party, which advocated a more powerful and centralized state. The Federalists were so bitter about their electoral defeat that they immediately began plotting to secede from the Union. The important point about this episode is that this secession movement, which was based in New England, was led by some of the most distinguished men of the founding generation and was never opposed on principle by Jefferson or anyone else. It was argued that secession might have been an unwise strategy, but no one denied that states enjoyed a right of secession.

    The leader of the New England secessionists was Timothy Pickering of Massachusetts, who had served as George Washington’s chief of staff, his secretary of war and secretary of state, as well as a congressman and senator from Massachusetts. “The principles of our Revolution [of 1776] point to the remedy – a separation,” Pickering wrote to George Cabot in 1803, for “the people of he East cannot reconcile their habits, views, and interests with those of the South and West.” “The Eastern states must and will dissolve the Union and form a separate government,” announced Senator James Hillhouse. Similar sentiments were expressed by such prominent New Englanders as Elbridge Gerry, John Quincy Adams, Fisher Ames, Josiah Quincy, and Joseph Story, among others.

    The New England secession movement gained momentum for an entire decade, but ultimately failed at the Hartford Secession Convention of 1814. Throughout this struggle, wrote historian Edward Powell in Nullification and Secession in the United States, “the right of a state to withdraw from the Union was not disputed.”

    At the outbreak of the War for Southern Independence in 1861 the vast majority of Northern opinion leaders still believed that a right of secession was fundamental, and that the South should be allowed to go in peace. The abolitionist Horace Greeley, editor of the New York Daily Tribune and the preeminent journalist of his day, wrote on December 17, 1860 that “if tyranny and despotism justified the American 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” (Howard Perkins, Northern Editorials on Secession). “Nine out of ten people of the North,” Greeley wrote on February 5, 1861, “were opposed to forcing South Carolina to remain in the Union,” for “the great principle embodied by Jefferson in the Declaration . . . is that governments derive their just power from the consent of the governed.” Therefore, if the southern states wanted to secede, “they have a clear right to do so.”

    Similar statements were made by newspapers all throughout the North on the eve of the war, and are perhaps best represented by an editorial in the Kenosha, Wisconsin Democrat, which on January 11, 1861, wrote that secession is “the very germ of liberty” and declared that “the right of secession inheres to the people of every sovereign state.”

    “If military force is used,” the Bangor Daily Union wrote on November 13, 1860, then a state can only be seen “as a subject province and can never be a co-equal member of the American union.”

    Most of the top military commanders in the war (on both sides) were educated at West Point, where the one course on the U.S. Constitution was taught by the Philadelphia abolitionist William Rawle, who taught from his own book, A View of the Constitution. What Ulysses S. Grant, Robert E. Lee, and others were taught about secession at West Point was that to deny a state the right of secession “would be inconsistent with the principle on which all our political systems are founded, which is, that the people have in all cases, a right to determine how they will be governed.”

    Lincoln never attended West Point, but he supported secession when it served his political plans. He warmly embraced the secession of West Virginia from Virginia, for example, and was glad to permit slavery in West Virginia (and all other “border states”) as long as they supported him politically. Indeed, in a July 4, 1848 speech Lincoln said, “Any people whatsoever have the right to abolish the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better. This is a most valuable, a most sacred right.” Lincoln biographers never seem to get around to quoting this particular speech.

    After the war Jefferson Davis was imprisoned in the harshest of conditions but was never tried for treason, and for good reason: The federal government knew that it had no constitutional case against secession, as Charles Adams describes in his brilliant book, When in the Course of Human Events. After his release from prison Jefferson Davis wrote what would have been his legal defense of secession in the form of a two-volume book, The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government.

    The centralization of governmental power not only leads to the looting and plundering of the taxpaying class by the parasitic class; it also slowly destroys freedom of speech and the free exchange of ideas. One of the first things every tyrannical government does is to monopolize the educational system in order to brainwash the young and bolster its political power. As soon as Lee surrendered at Appomatox the federal government began revising history to teach that secession was illegitimate. This was all a part of Lincoln’s “revolution” which overthrew the federal system of government created by the founding fathers and put into motion the forces of centralized governmental power. Peaceful secession and nullification are the only means of returning to a system of government that respects rather than destroys individual liberty. As Frank Choderov wrote in 1952: “If for no other reason, personal pride should prompt every governor and state legislator to take a secessionist attitude; they were not elected to be lackeys of the federal bureaucracy.”

    November 28, 2000

    Thomas J. DiLorenzo is Professor of Economics at Loyola College in Maryland.

    Copyright 2000 LewRockwell.com

  • Beth

    Secession, State and Liberty
    Edited with an introduction by David Gordon
    New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction, 1998, 344pp.

    by Thomas E. Woods, Jr.

    On a daily basis we are confidently assured by the organs of respectable opinion that the process of globalization is continuing smoothly, the old-fashioned conception of national sovereignty gradually giving way to the idea of supranational governance. Yet this confident note is not without a certain dissonance, for at the very moment when a New World Order is supposed to be emerging, the world finds itself confronted as never before by movements for secession, devolution, and local control. Professor Donald Livingston has observed that no more than twenty-five member states of the United Nations can claim to be free of such conflicts.

    Secession in its historical and philosophical aspects is the topic of an outstanding volume of papers first delivered several years ago at a conference on the subject sponsored by the Ludwig von Mises Institute in Auburn, Alabama. Entitled Secession, State, and Liberty, the collection is edited with an introduction by David Gordon, a brilliant intellectual historian about whom it has more than once been said, “Who needs the Library of Congress when you have David Gordon?” The result is an extraordinarily compelling work of scholarship bristling with insight and little-known facts.

    The idea of secession, although associated in the popular mind with radicalism and – inanely – even treason since the Southern states attempted to withdraw from the Union during the 1860s, was a common one during the first several generations of the republic’s existence. Tom DiLorenzo’s essay on the subject sheds important historical light on what has been anything but a merely theoretical question throughout American history. In each case DiLorenzo examines – from rumblings following the Louisiana Purchase through the War of 1812 – the matter in dispute was the wisdom and prudence of a given state’s withdrawal from the Union at a particular time; that the states had the right to withdraw was simply taken for granted.

    None of this would have startled Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson refused to view the American Union as anything more than a utilitarian political arrangement to be judged by the test of time, and he expected it ultimately to devolve into two or three independent confederacies – a development he did not view with any particular dread. He told James Madison that he was “determined…to sever ourselves from the union we so much value rather than give up the rights of self-government…in which alone we see liberty, safety and happiness.” When Daniel Webster attempted to argue against the principled states’ rights position in famous debates with Robert Hayne and John C. Calhoun during the 1830s, the best assurance he could offer them against the possibility of federal tyranny was the check provided by popular elections – an alleged safeguard to which the verdict of history has not been kind.

    In an excellent essay on “Republicanism, Federalism, and Secession in the South, 1790-1865,” Mises Institute Historian in Residence Joseph Stromberg discusses the origins of secessionist theory and, among many other examples, looks to the case of the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions of 1798. Madison and Jefferson, respectively, penned these resolves in response to the recently passed and constitutionally dubious Alien and Sedition Acts. Jefferson’s, not surprisingly, was the more radical of the two, insisting on a state’s right to “nullify” laws it considered unconstitutional; this, Jefferson insisted, was the only way to ensure that the general government would not come to oppress the states by construing the Constitution however it pleased. Liberal historians, Stromberg notes, argue disingenuously that the resolutions were part of a battle over freedom of expression only; in fact, they were the battleground of a struggle for states’ rights that would be a perennial theme throughout American history.

    Picking up Jefferson’s line of argument several decades later, John C. Calhoun, in his own defense of nullification, insisted again and again that if the federal government were allowed to determine the extent of its own powers, no mere piece of paper, however venerable, could stop it. The states had to be able to assert their sovereignty in a serious and forceful way if the federal compact were to retain its integrity as a joint agreement between equals and not to degenerate into the consolidated tyranny that the framers feared.

    For American readers the most compelling essay may be that of Donald Livingston, a world-renowned David Hume scholar and professor of philosophy at Emory University. Livingston demonstrates that the theory of the Union held by supporters of secession is grounded so much more firmly in American history than that of its opponents as to be almost laughable. To argue, as foes of secession must, that the United States was formed by the American people in the aggregate rather than by the sovereign capacity of pre-existing states is to leave the terrain of serious historical argument and descend into a vapid mythology.

    Livingston also reminds his readers of the overwhelming weight of the testimony of key American thinkers in favor of the principle that a state may freely withdraw from that Union into which it had freely entered. Thus he makes note of the important 1825 book by John Rawle, A View of the Constitution, which was so widely respected that it was used as a textbook at West Point from 1825-1840. Rawle, no friend of secession, conceded that under certain conditions it would be perfectly legal for a state to withdraw unilaterally from the federal compact. President-turned-congressman John Quincy Adams, another friend of union (albeit one who himself suggested the possibility of Northern secession over the issue of Texas annexation), observed in commemoration of the Constitution’s fifty-year jubilee:

    The indissoluble link of union between the people of the several states of this confederated nation is, after all, not in the right but in the heart. If the day should ever come (may Heaven avert it!) when the affections of the people of these States shall be alienated from each other; when the fraternal spirit shall give way to cold indifference, or collision of interests shall fester into hatred, the bands of political associations will not long hold together parties no longer attracted by the magnetism of conciliated interests and kindly sympathies; and far better will it be for the people of the disunited states to part in friendship from each other, than to be held together by constraint.

    Alexis de Tocqueville, moreover, the great French observer of American affairs, himself wrote that the Union “was formed by the voluntary agreement of the states; and these, in uniting together, have not forfeited their nationality, nor have they been reduced the condition of one and the same people. If one of the states chose to withdraw its name from the contract, it would be difficult to disprove its right to do so.”

    Clyde N. Wilson, editor of The Papers of John C. Calhoun and professor of history at the University of South Carolina, addresses the obvious objection that the states themselves are hardly bastions of liberty and culture these days. “I know there are many moral and social problems that are not solved by political arrangements, and that the level of statesmanship in the states is not much higher, if at all, than in the federal government,” he observes. “But if we are to speak of curbing the central power, the states are what we have got. They exist. They are historical, political, cultural realities, the indestructible bottom line of the American system.”

    This is precisely the point. Any effort to recover the old American republic must begin with its constituent parts, the states. And any serious thought on the subject must come to grips with the intellectually rigorous contributions – ranging in subject matter from the political theory of secession to analyses of devolutionist rumblings in Quebec and in Europe – to Secession, State and Liberty, a unique scholarly volume on a subject rarely accorded serious academic treatment. As Professor Wilson puts it, “It would be a shame if, in this world-historical time of devolution, Americans did not look back to an ancient and honorable tradition that lies readily at hand.”

    August 11, 2000

    Thomas E. Woods, Jr., a 1994 graduate of Harvard College, holds a Ph.D. in history from Columbia University and is currently a professor of history at Suffolk Community College in Brentwood, New York.

  • mike

    “Mike, I’m perfectly familiar with constitutional history. You’ve actually only provided two quotes that involve secession, however.”

    Here’s another then, from father abe:

    “Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up and shake off the existing government and form a new one that suits them better. This is a most valuable, a most sacred right – a right which we hope and believe is to liberate the world.”

  • Beth, there is one major problem with your analysis (actually, there are several major problems): Lincoln was not a Radical. In fact, the Radicals were critical of Lincoln during the war, and when Johnson attempted to implement Lincoln’s plan for reconstruction, the Radicals impeached him in order to quash it.

    I have also never seen any admission on Lincoln’s part that he deliberately provoked Fort Sumter (and everything about the situation seems to make it clear that it wasn’t what his intention). Have you got a quote or a source for that?

  • WTf

    Here’s another good quote from an old, old book called Southern Man… it was about the miniscule percentages of plantation owners, slave owners… and the common southerner who was swept up in the fray to bleed and die for the practice of slavery he didn’t ascribe to, practice or engage in. But, by virtue of his upbringing was caught in the breech and who exercised the right to protect his home, family and state (which meant quite a bit more back then, than it does today). In essence the regular day-to-day southerner was a common person, tradesman, or small farmer and did not engage with the “other” society.

    “A Christian is one who doesn’t like other men trying to subjate him, because he serve God, not men.

    He Doesen’t want to rule over men, nor does he want to be ruled by men.

    He desires independence and freedom so he may live an orderly life under Christ, without unprofitable entanglements with greedy men and petty dictators.”

    The book belonged to my Grandfather who’s dirt farming (i.e. poor) father fought in the conflict and lived the rest of his shattered life, trying to keep his shattered family fed, clothed, and protected. Thank you Phil Sheridan, for raping and killing my great grandmother and her poor teenage daughter, while you carried on the campaign to burn Virginia to the ground.

    It’s important to note that after the war, Sheridan took off to the west to kill all the Buffalo and deny the Indians their food source.

  • Nancy

    What’s that quote about “rich man’s war & poor man’s fight” or maybe vice versa? Amazing how things never change. Considering some of the comments above, are we going to fight this war all over again?

  • zingzing

    oh my so many quotes. how about “the war of southern aggression?” can’t call it “the war to save the union,” as the south certainly didn’t want to… winners write history, but do they name wars? i suppose they might.

  • “[Slavery] was established by decree of Almighty God…it is sanctioned in the Bible, in both Testaments, from Genesis to Revelation…it has existed in all ages, has been found among the people of the highest civilization, and in nations of the highest proficiency in the arts.”
    Jefferson Davis

    The assumption of the second part seems to be that the North bred bad people. Of course, any harsh feelings towards Sheridan can also be applied to Major Henry Wirz, superintendent of Andersonville Prison, and Nathan Bedford Forrest, who went on to become the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.

  • Sic Semper Tyannus

    WTF are you smoking? Most Southerners were opposed to Secession but when their native states voted to Secede they did their duty and defended their native states. All truth be known, Lincoln was a racist politician with mental disorders(depression) who saw a chance to be reelected by making Slavery the foremost issue when initially it was anything but. And he like so many other Northerners were OK with Blacks being free as long as they weren’t free in my town. In Lincoln case he wanted to repatriate them to Africa. The Confederates were doing exactly what their fathers and grandfathers had done when they stood up against George III and his crew. Nothing else. And any man of any worth would throw aside all in order to take up arms and defend his home and family from invasion. But we all know how endangered Honor and Integrity are at this particular point in time, or do we? Read James I Robertson Jr.s biography of Stonewall Jackson to see what was lost during that war. One of the more upright Americans in our nations history and so misunderstood people have no idea to what extent he worked to uplift the Black race in his native state of Virginia. Truly unbelievable. The finest military biography of the last 100 years or more if not all time.

  • Larry Fafarman

    There who think that “Civil War” is the wrong name for the war claim that a true civil war is between factions fighting for control of the same government, but there is no such restriction in the dictionary. I think that the name “Civil War” is appropriate. Anyway, what’s in a name ? For example, the civil war in Zimbabwe (then Southern Rhodesia) is usually called a “war of independence,” but no British forces were involved.

    As for the notion that slavery was the principal if not the sole cause of secession and the Civil War, no one has ever explained how the slaveowners were better off after secession than they were before it. The slaveowners were arguably worse off after secession. And all of the evidence that slavery was the “sole” or “main” cause of secession does not prove that slavery was not at least partly just a pretext for secession. Anyway, I think that people have the right to interpret history for themselves.

  • Most Southerners were opposed to Secession but when their native states voted to Secede they did their duty and defended their native states.

    Isn’t it pretty to think so?

  • G. Oren

    Amen Beth and Sic Semper Tyrannus(nice touch that). Ya’ll have well pointed out the issues inolving secession and nullification. That the South was correct constitutionally but defended a moral wrong – slavery – is the paradox of the War.

    In my view, and the view of many other paleo-cons -including Thomas Fleming, editor of “Chronicles” and former editor of “Partisan Review” – Lincoln was the incendiary that ignited the War. That he tried to appease the Black Republicans is no defense for the actions he took, and appeals to the Declaration of Independence as a lodestar of the founders thinking (a point repeatedly made by Harry Jaffa et al) doesn’t wash with the thoughts and writings of the founders themselves. Lincoln is our Julius Caesar, Cromwell and Robespiere – after him the Old Republic was dead and replaced by an increasingly omnipotent and aggressive Federal government. That the old South “died of a theory” fighting a second war of independence is another tragic paradox.

    That Lincoln himself might have been more lenient in reconstruction than the Radical Republican congress is a point that many have debated.

  • phil

    what if Lincoln hadnt been murdered…the south got in its…sic siempre tyrannus one last dirty punch

  • Jimmy L. Shirley Jr.

    I would like to weigh in on this. Some misconceptions, propaganda’s and outright lies. First of all, if the CSA had been successful, it would NOT have destroyed the USA. It would have continued to exist. Only it’s territorial size would have been reduced. Remember, our aim was not to subjugate the USA but “to be left alone”. Moreover, the USA originally existed with 13 States and, if no war had been prepared for by the US, if the original 7 had been let go in peace, there may have been no more. The US would still exist, and thrive, minus the 7.
    Second, lincoln never was a friend of the Negro, ever. To the day he died he was a White supremacist. In the book “Forced Into Glory-Abraham Lincoln’s White Dream” page 616 lincoln said this to ‘Beast’ Butler, “But what shall we do with the Negroes after they are free? I can hardly believe that the South and North can live in peace, unless we get rid of the Negroes….I believe it would be better to export them all to some fertile country with a good climate, which they could have to themselves….” This he said Wednesday, 12 April 1865.
    Also, did no one mention the olive branch he held out to the South which was rejected? The original 13th Amendment which would have made slavery perpetual? The one offered if the South would return?
    About Major Wirtz. Listen to the words of one who was imprisoned there, one Edward Wellington Boate-a Union officer- < >

  • Remember, our aim was not to subjugate the USA but “to be left alone”.

    Our aim???

    I’m going to hazard a guess and say you were never a citizen of the CSA.

  • phil

    OK my name is PHIL Sheridan..and i am a bit predjudiced when it comes to the “civil” war !!! but ..slavery did cause the war..its called The Emancipation Proclamation and idiots who say it was economics or some other bs….slavery was the king pin of southern economics. Second, Lincoln was not a rasict…You have to be objective about the standards of the day. Read the writings of contemporary blacks who met Lincoln… the war ended slavery and oh by the way Robert Byrd, Dem /Wv was a member of the kkk in the 1950s. Nothing could end rascism. Nothing can end wars. No one can even agree why they were fought. Phil Sheridan was glad to fight and defeat Robert E Lee. The aristocratic bastard had given the poor Irishman hell as class mates at West Point. America could even see another civil war someday…. If we live through the War on Terror…

  • Jimmy Shirley

    Yes, I said OUR. More and more this land all you NWO people call “AMERICA” even though the name is “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA”, through it’s national government, is doing it’s level best to declare Christianity illegal and deprive all of us of all of our Constitutional rights. Anti-Hate Bill S.1145 and New Federal Hate Bill Means Funeral of Free Speech. If this passes, it will be a crime to call homosexuality a sin or to wave a confederate flag.
    I am firmly convinced that if the yankee invaders had been able to foresee the sort of perverted government we now have, and they knew that a Southern victory would preclude this, the yanks would either have surrendered or joined OUR side. Yes, I said OUR side.

  • I think it should be perfectly legal to wave an American flag and call homosexuality a sin. I don’t agree, but it’s your right. It’s my right to say it’s a sin to wave a Confederate flag, and I do say it. So say what you will here.

    You are also welcome to exercise your right to identify yourself with the Confederate South.

    Of course, that means I’m not only within my rights to assume you are pro-slavery.

    In fact, since by using “We” you’re identifying yourself as a Confederate, it’s perfectly reasonable to guess that you believe in the divine right of white men to own slaves. I think you’ll find that even the vast majority of Confederates who DIDN’T own slaves thought it was perfectly moral and acceptable to do so.

  • I am firmly convinced that if the yankee invaders had been able to foresee the sort of perverted government we now have, and they knew that a Southern victory would preclude this

    A Southern victory would have precluded its being illegal to call homosexuality a sin? Interesting. Of course, a Southern victory would have meant that all the homosexuals in the South would have been lynched by now, so I suppose they wouldn’t NEED to call it a sin.

  • Jimmy Shirley

    The point I am making is that Congress is sliding down the middle of that slippery slope they ventured onto when they rubber-stamped lincoln’s illegal invasion of “it’s own country”, being that they did not recognise the CSA. They are making it illegal for me, or you or parson’s to call homosexuality a sin. In other words, for a parson to preach from the pulpit and call homosexuals an abomination before God, they risk prison time for it. For me to call a faggot a sinner unto God, I risk prison. And, yes, it would not bother me a bit if all homo’s suddenly died by God’s hand. And, of course he will not do that because, fortunately for them, God is not like me. Or you.
    A Southern victory would have kept the country, the CSA, or a reunited country in the future from attempting to usurp it’s Constitutional authority.

  • And, yes, it would not bother me
    a bit if all homo’s suddenly died by God’s hand.

    This, then, will be the last comment of yours I respond to, because you’ve just lost any credibility you had with me to argue the morality of ANYTHING.

  • Jimmy Shirley

    This was what I was writing about what Edward Boate wrote about his opinion of Fort Sumter at Andersonville, Georgia:
    A policy like this is the quintessence of inhumanity, a disgrace to the Administration which carried it out, and a blot upon the country. You rulers who make the charge that the rebels intentionally killed off our men, when I can honestly swear they were doing everything in their power to sustain us, do not lay this flattering unction to your souls. You abandoned your brave men in the hour of their cruelest need. They fought for the Union, and you reached no hand out to save the faithful, loyal, and decoted servants of the country. You may try to shift the blame from your own shoulders, but posterity will saddle the responsibility where it justly belongs.

    The House Resolution 97, passed 31 January 1865, became official policy dealing with Southern patriot POW’s. In the preamble, to wit: < < Rebel prisoners in our hands are to be subjected to a treatment finding its parallels only in the conduct of savage tribes and resulting in the death of mutitudes by the slow but designed process of starvation and by mortal diseases occasioned by insufficient and unhealthy food and wanton exposure of their persons to the inclemency of the weather.>> from Andersonville: The Southern Perspective, edited by J.H. Segars, Copyright 1995 page 189

  • Clint Johnson

    Curious how the reasonable question of renaming The Civil War degenerated into “All you Southerners lynch homosexuals.”

    Some questions back on the subject of slavery and The War of Northern Aggression as we prefer it down here:

    *Why did blacks and former slaves in the South buy their own slaves, starting with Anthony Johnson in the Jamestown colony in the 1600s?
    Census records show a higher percentage of blacks owning other blacks than whites owning blacks.

    Why did blacks who went back to Liberia start their own slave society?

    Why did the Northern states import all of the slaves into the nation and then after the practice was outlawed say: “Wow?! How did they get here?! We should free them all immediately!”

    Why is the largest mass grave of slaves (estimated 20,000 young, beaten, exhausted young men and women) in the middle of New York City, the most liberal city in America?

    Why didn’t Lincoln try to negotiate after Ft. Sumter considering no one was killed but two careless soldiers who blew themselves up? Could it be that the South had fallen into his trap and he was ready to issue that call for 90,000 volunteers and negotiation would have spoiled his plan?

    Why isn’t Brown University, the most liberal school in America, and founded by the most successful slave holding family in the world, bulldozed down to the ground to atone for its sins of being built on the backs of slaves?

    Just some thoughts from a Southern country boy.

  • Jimmy Shirley

    Mr. West needs to be reminded that his pompous yankee attitude is founded on myth and lies, taught in history books as truth. Below are accounts taken from eye-witness testimony and the official records. Terrorising the civilian population, it would seem, was something that the US govenment taught the modern world. The yankee’s certainly taught the world about the concept of “total war” through the actions of the yankee’s version of the SS, sherman and sheridan.
    Late in the war, the Federal authorities admitted that the influence of the United States army upon the black Southern population had produced an undesirable effect. Sarah Debro, a ninety year-old former slave, gave this account in 1937: “I waz hungry most of de time an’ had to keep fightin’ off dem Yankee mens. Dem Yankees was mean folks.”

    The following is a small sample of the atrocities committed by Northern troops against black Southerners during the War of Northern Aggression.

    Northern Missouri: On August 13, 1861, Secretary of War Simon Cameron received a letter containing information about United States military forces “committing rapes on the negroes.”

    Athens, Alabama: The court-martial record of Lincoln’s buddy Turchin dated May 2, 1862, contains information about an attempt to commit “an indecent outrage” on a servant girl. It also notes that a part of the brigade, “quarter[ed] in the negro huts for weeks, debauching the females.”

    Woodville, Alabama: The activities of the Third Ohio Cavalry in August of 1862 included this entry: “negro women are debauched.”

    Memphis, Tennessee: The Yankee soldiers had been fed a steady diet of lies about so-called slave breeding plantations and the familiarity of Southern male slave owners with their female slaves. The reality of a black race with high moral standards was incomprehensible to the Yankee invader. Therefore the Yankee ordered much of his conduct to match his preconceived notions of the accepted social relationships down South. This can be seen in this report from Memphis on April 7, 1864: “The [white] cavalry broke en masse in the camps of the colored women and are committing all sorts of outrage.”

    Bayou Grande Cailou, Louisiana: The Sixteenth Indiana Mounted Infantry sent invaders into a civilian area which resulted in the following account: “Mr. Pelton . . . reported that a soldier had shot and killed a little girl and had fired at a negro man on his plantation. I . . . proceeded to the place, where I found a mulatto girl, about twelve or thirteen years old, lying dead in a field. I learned from the negro man . . . that the girl had been shot by a drunken soldier, who had first fired at one of the men … [who] had witnessed the killing….”59 On November 20, Gen. Robert A. Cameron reported, “I heard by rumor … one of [Capt. Columbus Moore’s] men had attempted to rape a mulatto girl and had shot and killed her for resisting.”

    Augusta, Georgia: “The colored citizens wander around at all hours of the night, and many in consequence have been robbed and abused by scoundrels dressed as United States soldiers…. The conduct of the Fourth Iowa Cavalry . . . was such as reflects disgrace on both officers and men…. Firing so as to cause a colored woman to lose her arm; likewise committing robberies.”
    Bisland, Louisiana: During the invasion of Cajun Louisiana, the Yankee targeted slaves as part of the loot to be acquired. “Contraband” was a term used to denote slaves enticed or forced away from their masters’ plantations. These poor people very often would end up serving in the Federal army or working on a government plantation. When the Confederate forces recaptured the area around Bisland, Louisiana, they discovered the pathetic condition in which these former slaves were forced to live while enjoying the charity of the United States government. One account states that two thousand of these people perished as a result of following, or being forced to follow, the Federal army in retreat. In view of the shallow graves in which many had been hastily placed, the comment was made, “They have found their freedom.” The horror of a local sugar house has been described by at least two separate eyewitnesses who were either Confederate soldiers or masters searching for their former slaves. The small house was filled with dead or dying Negroes. Some were “being eaten by worms before life was extinct.” The roads “were lined with Negroes half starved, almost destitute of clothing, sick and unable to help themselves; the only question of the poor wretches, who had been two months experiencing Federal sympathy and charity, was the inquiry if their master was coming after them.” The Federal army, in spite of its abundance, did not provide for these people. When their fellow Southerners discovered short on every necessity. With their fellow Southerners discovering their plight, the Confederate army, short on every necessity, assigned transportation and such food and medicine as it had at its disposal to the salvation of these poor, suffering people. Let it be remembered that it was the compassion of their fellow Southerners and the assistance of the Confederate army that saved the lives of these black Southerners.

    Craney Island, Virginia: Both black and white Southerners were needlessly subjected to the terror of starvation by terrorist acts of United States troops. From Virginia we find one of many examples of the sufferings borne by black Southerners: “. . . the colored people . . . have been forced to remain all night on the wharf without shelter and without food; . . . one has died, and . . . others are suffering with disease, and . . . your men have turned them out of their houses, which they have built themselves, and have robbed some of them of their money and personal effects.” This communiqué was sent on November 26, 1862. Some Yankee apologists have claimed that the horror against civilians occurred only after many years of bitter war- though I am curious to know how many years of war are necessary to justify any amount of cruel and inhumane conduct against innocent civilians?

    Fort Jackson, Louisiana: On December 9, 1863, a United States officer at Fort Jackson became angry with two black drummers and fell upon them, beating them with a mule whip. The black soldiers were forced to stand in formation and watch as the white officer mercilessly flogged the young drummers. When the formation was dismissed, the black men, all Union soldiers, rushed the fort’s armory, seized their weapons, and with cries of “kill all the damn yankees” began to fire their weapons into the air. Two companies of black Union soldiers joined in and a general revolt against Yankee racial bigotry was underway. With great effort, the white officers persuaded the black solders to end their revolt and return to their quarters.

  • Jimmy Shirley

    A sample of how the yankee’s taught the modern world how to treat POW’s, since that issue has been in the news lately. Many Americans are horrified that our son’s and daughter’s would do such a thing. The truth is that has been SOP, at least since the yankee’s beat us and fundamentally changed the form of government handed down to us by the Founding Fathers. Another example of how it is that the truth in American history is not taught in the schools.
    CSA Alabama Veteran Writes
    J. G. Wilson

    Female College Huntsville, Ala., Tuesday, June 18, 1867 To the Editor of the New York Times:

    My attention has been called to an article in your paper of 3lst ult., in which, replying to some remarks of the Richmond Enquirer in regard to the treatment of prisoners, it said: “Nobody on either side ever pretended for a moment that rebel prisoners ever died in our hands or even seriously suffered for lack of food or clothing or shelter. No such charge has been made.”

    Will you then permit such charges to be made through your columns? I was captured in October, 1863, and spent six months in Camp Morton. In March, 1864, I was removed to Fort Delaware, where I remained until June, 1865. The winter of 1863-4 is well known to have been intensely severe.

    Many rebel prisoners, to my own knowledge, spent that winter without a blanket, and the scant and ragged summer clothing worn when captured. The barracks were the old cattle sheds used when the prison was a fair ground, and open enough for the winter winds to sweep through freely. Scores of the men in the dead of winter slept in these sheds, upon the bare ground without covering, huddling together like hogs to keep from freezing.

    It is well known to hundreds now living that several died, actually frozen to death, while large numbers were so badly frostbitten as to be lamed for Life.

    During the larger portion of the time the hospital arrangements were shamefully deficient, and by many of the surgeons and attendants the sick were not only grossly neglected but most inhumanly treated.

    Men barely able to crawl through weariness from insufficient food and disease consequent upon exposure, were forced, in the severest winter weather, to stand at roll call for two and often three or more hours in line, like soldiers on dress parade, and cursed like brutes or beaten over the heads with sabres or clubs, and sometimes shot at for moving a little to keep from freezing.

    In several instances prisoners were shot on most the frivolous pretexts. A quiet orderly man, an Englishman named Coats, belonging to my division was murdered in cold blood by a private of the Invalid Corps named Baker, who was a guard.

    Instead of being tried and punished, Baker, though a private, was sent next morning to take charge, as Sergeant, of our division, in which position he heaped upon the defenseless men every indignity that so inhuman a wretch could devise.

    At the very time that such a outcry was raised about the mortality among Northern soldiers in Southern prisons, the inmates of Camp Morton knew the mortaity then in proportion to the number of men to be several percent greater. At Fort Delaware our barracks were more comfortable, but the rations were miserably insufficient, and prisoners who could not obtain money from friends with which to procure extra supplies from the suttlers suffered the pangs of hunger day and night, and reduced to skeletons, and eaten up by scurvy from scantly and unwholesome food fell ready victims to disease, and died by the hundreds.

    At the close of the war, of about seven thousand men in one pen, fully one-half, if not three-fourths, were but walking skeletons, hundreds of them ruined for life with scurvy.

    It was a daily occurrence for large numbers of men to be beaten over the head with bludgeons, or kept for hours tied up by the thumbs in the most agonizing torture. A Dutch Lieutenant, Deitz, in charge of our pen, was for weeks, in the habit of coming in with a large cowhide whip and lashing the men most unmerciful — in one instance cutting a gash in the face of an Alabamian named Pardue, in which your finger could have been laid.

    It was no uncommon thing for the guards, upon the slightest pretext to fire into the quarters in which were 300 or 400 men, and several prisoners were needlessly and recklessly killed by them.

    The above, and the half has not been told are plain, unexaggerated facts, which can be substantiated by most unquestionable testimony, and for the truth of which I pledge my character and reputation as a minister of the gospel. I request the insertion of this as an act of justice.

    J. G. Wilson President of Huntsville Female College

    This statement so plain, so pointed and so full of authority compelled the editor to the Times to remark: “This letter comes from a source so respectable and responsible and its statements are so specific, that we have no hesitation in publishing it. Our Government has no excuse for inhumanity to the prisoners it captured during the war, and its honor is involved in punishing with just severity of all instances of such cruelty on the part of its agents as are specified above.”

  • Jimmy Shirley

    Here we have an example of the US government using “biological warfare” against civilians. And, again, it must be stated. Since the USA refused to recognise the CSA, they still considered the people of the South as US citizens except that they were in rebellion. So, it must also be considered that this is what they did to their own citizens. {Is not this the sort of charge against Saddam Hussein?}
    Poison Vaccines and The LA Sugar House Incident
    By Brian E. Orger
    February 21, 2001

    …….there are records of the Union army committing mass murder against whites & blacks that were on a massive scale. One such incident took place in the winter and spring of 1863 in St. Mary parish, Louisiana.

    In the archives of Louisiana, and in the book “The Conduct of Federal Troops in Louisiana …”, edited by David C. Edmonds, can be found first-hand reports of the Yankee army trying to “poison” innocent men, women, and children. The following is a letter written by one Dr. Sabatier for a report of the Yankee conduct; a report that was requested by the governor of Louisiana. (Pg. 91 – 92).

    “… when the small-pox broke out among the Federal troops, then occupying New Iberia, it was impossible in our vicinity to procure the smallest portion of vaccine matter… I used my best exertions to procure some vaccine from the Federal physicians in New Iberia, and through one of my confreres succeeded in getting a few points loaded with vaccine, which I immediately inoculated to my own children.”

    Dr. Sabatier goes on to say how his children suffered more form the vaccine than from small pox. In fact, he states, “A few days after the operation, one of my poor little baby’s arms was horribly swollen and inflamed, and on the second day appeared a pustule which had nothing of the appearance of vaccine…” Unfortunately for Dr. Sabatier many children died including his own. I sent a copy of this report to several doctors at Ochsner hospital in New Orleans, and their report back to me was that this “vaccine” was made to kill. The governor’s report goes on to state that over “two thousand perished in six weeks.” They died because of a poison passed off as a vaccine.

    ….. In the summer of 1863 another civilian doctor by the name of George Hill witnessed the Union army occupy what is today called Morgan City, at that time called Brasher. An event took place here, the likes of which would not be seen again until Hitler and the Nazis started their “final solution.”

    Dr. Hill was reported as being “a distinguished physician and surgeon of Opelousas.” But all his years as a doctor did not prepare him for what he saw.

    “In the summer of 1863, Berwick’s Bay and a portion of the Lafourche country were taken possession of by the Confederate army. I, with many others who had lost property by the raid which the Federal army made between the 20th of April and the 20th of May of this year, visited the Bay for the purpose of recovering our property. I was among the first to cross the bay; and having been informed on the night of my arrival by a gentleman named March that several of my lost Negroes were at the sugar house of Dr. Sanders (Henry Sanders), and that others were there in a dying condition, I [left] in the morning [for the] sugar house of Dr. S. and entered it by a door in the west end.

    [Original sentence says: I, in the morning as soon as sugar house of Dr. S. and entered it by a door in the west end.] -ed

    “The scene which then and there presented itself can never be effaced from my memory. On the right hand, female corpses in a state of nudity, and also in a far advanced stage of decomposition. Many others were lying all over the floor, many speechless and in a dying condition.

    “All appeared to have died of the same disease : bloody flux. The floor was slippery with blood, mucus and feces. The dying, and all those unable to help themselves, were lying with their scanty garments rolled around their heads and breasts – the lower part of the body naked – and every time an involuntary discharge of blood and feces, combined with air, would pass, making a slight noise, clouds of flies, such as I never saw before, would immediately rise and settle down again on all the exposed parts of the dying. In passing through the house a cold chill shook my frame, from which I did not recover for several months, and, indeed, it came near costing my life.

    “As I passed from the house I met with a Negro man of my own, who informed me that he had lost his wife and two children. I asked him if his friends – the Yankees – had not furnished him with medicine. He said, ‘No, and if they had, I would not have given it to my family as all who took their medicine died in twelve hours from the time of its being given.”

    This “deposition” ends with the remark that it was shown to Dr. Sanders, who was then a member of the Louisiana House of Representatives. Dr. Sanders knew of the incident and was recorded as saying, “Before the arrival of Dr. Hill, he had caused many decomposed bodies that filled the coolers to be removed and interred… A hundred others would, if necessary, add their testimony to that of these gentlemen.”

    This event has become known as the Sugar House Incident, or the Sugar House Murders and the house in which it occurred has been located by myself and a few others. Our next step is to have the area scanned by infrared imaging to locate the mass graves that should be in the area.

    Excerpts from… Black History and the War Between the States: Setting the Record Straight

  • PoP

    Abraham Lincoln, as cited in “The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln,” Roy Basler, ed. 1953 New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press:

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

    An address by Abraham Lincoln at Springfield, Illinois, on June 26, 1857 [Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Vol II, pp 408-9, Basler, ed.]:

    “A separation of the races is the only perfect preventive of amalgamation, but as immediate separation is impossible the next best thing is to keep them apart where they are not already together. Such separation, if ever affected at all, must be effected by colonization The enterprise is a difficult one, but ‘where there is a will there is a way:’ and what colonization needs now is a hearty will. Will springs from the two elements of moral and self-interest. Let us be brought to believe it is morally right, and at the same time, favorable to, or at least not against our interest, to transfer the African to his native clime, and we shall find a way to do it, however great the task may be.”

    Abraham Lincoln 1859 [Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Vol III, pp 399, Basler, ed.]

    “Negro equality, Fudge!! How long in the Government of a God great enough to make and maintain this Universe, shall there continue to be knaves to vend and fools to gulp, so low a piece of demagoguism as this?”


    Whereas on the 22nd day of September, A.D. 1862, a proclamation was issued by the President of the United States, containing, among other things, the following, to wit:

    “That on the 1st day of January, A.D. 1863, 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…

    Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana (except the parishes of St. Bernard, Palquemines, Jefferson, St. John, St. Charles, St. James, Ascension, Assumption, Terrebone, 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 Berkeley, Accomac, Northhampton, Elizabeth City, York, Princess Anne, 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.”

    NOTE – Slavery was NOT abolished in one Confederate (Tennessee) and four Union states (Maryland, Delaware. Kentucky, West Virginia, and Missouri).

    Abraham Lincoln, as cited in “The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln,” Roy Basler, ed. 1953 New Brunswick, N.J.,: Rutgers University Press:

    “Send them to Liberia, to their own native land. But free them and make them politically and socially our equals? My own feelings will not admit this.”

    Abraham Lincoln, as cited in “Abraham Lincoln: His Speeches and Writings,” Roy Basler, ed. 1946, New York: Da Capo:

    “Some ten years later, in his December 1, 1862, message to Congress, Lincoln reiterated that ‘I cannot make it better known than it already is, that I strongly favor colonization.”

    Pres. Lincoln’s response of September 13, 1862, to a call for a General Emancipation:

    “Would my word free the slaves, when I cannot even enforce the Constitution in the rebel States? And what reason is there to think it would have any greater effect upon the slaves than the late law of Congress, which I approved, and which offers protection and freedom to the slaves of rebel masters who come within our lines? Yet I cannot learn that the law has caused a single slave to come over to us.”

    “Freedom: A Documentary History of Emancipation,” Ira Berlin, 1987, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press:

    “In an April 16, 1863, letter to the War Department regarding the fate of ex-slaves should emancipation become a reality, Lincoln wrote, ”They had better be set to digging their sustinence out of the ground.'”

  • Jimmy Shirley

    “Of course, that means I’m not only within my rights to assume you are pro-slavery.”

    “In fact, since by using “We” you’re identifying yourself as a Confederate, it’s perfectly reasonable to guess that you believe in the divine right of white men to own slaves. I think you’ll find that even the vast majority of Confederates who DIDN’T own slaves thought it was perfectly moral and acceptable to do so.”

    “This, then, will be the last comment of yours I respond to, because you’ve just lost any credibility you had with me to argue the morality of ANYTHING.”

    All of these attitudes represent the true causes of the Southern Independence War. If the yankee’s had left us alone, had not engaged in insults, had not sent to the South agitators to incite servile insurrections, chances are there would have been NO WAR. The yankee’s have always thought that they know better than God, that they can judge good and evil. The Southerners sincerely believed African involuntary servitude was ordained by God and who were they to judge the Word of God. They also sincerely believed that they had a duty unto God to treat their slaves as children of God, knowing that they had to answer to Him for how they treated them.

  • American slavery was one of the most brutal forms of subjugation ever practiced in human history. Slavery in the Roman empire was mild by comparison.

    If the Southern supporters of slavery really did want to protect slaves from abusive treatment, they utterly failed in that goal. The Confederacy richly earned its defeat and humiliation. It may be true that the Northern culture, and Abraham Lincoln himself, were hardly paragons of racial egalitarianism by modern standards. That still doesn’t make the Confederacy anything better than a brutal gang of thugs.

    As for what to call the war, calling it the American Civil War is perfectly reasonable, since the Confederates failed in their attempt to establish a viable independent nation-state.

  • Jimmy Shirley


    Most of the major ills of the world have been caused by well-meaning people who ignored the principle of individual freedom, except as applied to themselves, and who were obsessed with fanatical zeal to improve the lot of mankind-in-the-mass through some pet formula of their own. The harm done by ordinary criminals, murderers, gangsters, and thieves is negligible in comparison with the agony inflicted upon human beings by the professional do-gooders, who attempt to set themselves up as gods on earth and who would ruthlessly force their views on all others — with the abiding assurance that the end justifies the means.

    — Henry Grady Weaver, The Mainspring of Human Progress, 1947. (Thanks to the Future of Freedom Foundation)

  • If Confederates really gave a damn about freedom of human beings, they’d have freed their slaves without the need for hundreds of thousands of their own countrymen to die.

  • I don’t know where this idea comes from that I am a Yankee. I was born in Kentucky and grew up in North Carolina. Didn’t leave until I was 22. I’m now 26.

    But the fact remains that Victor Plenty is right. The South — my people, whether you like it or not — lost the war because they deserved to lose. They fought bravely and valiantly for what was, ultimately, an evil cause. And all the revisionism and Yankee-bashing in the world can’t change that fact. The Confederacy, for all the potential it may have had as a nation or as an idea, cannot be conceived of as separate from the institution of slavery.

    Hard as everyone tries to turn the focus to OTHER things, none have addressed the case presented that the war was, in fact, about slavery.

    Say what you will about Lincoln, but the fact is, if he issued the Emancipation Proclamation to look good in the eyes of the North, he failed. The Emancipation Proclamation was not popular in the Union, either. Yet Lincoln did not yield; I believe that it was because he had a genuine change of heart and came to believe that slavery was a morally inexcusable institution. Frederick Douglass, who was nobody’s fool, believed it about Lincoln too.

    And if I latched on to the idea that “it would be okay if God killed all the homosexuals,” it was because it said to me that Confederate sympathizers are exactly the same as they were before. It’s just that they’ve decided to single out a different group as being less worthy human beings than everybody else.

    Frankly I’m tired of this discussion. It’s become obnoxious and the Confederacy’s sympathizers here are only reinforcing the terrible stereotypes of themselves; it depresses me. So you guys can keep commenting, but I suspect I won’t read them. I’ll conclude with this:

    Perhaps the South’s loss of the war was inevitable for political/economic/military reasons. Or perhaps it was inevitable because, as Lincoln suggested, slavery was a deep and cardinal sin that must be purged from America.

    Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with or even before the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other.

    It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes.

    “Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh.”

    If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him?

    Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”

    Abraham Lincoln
    Second Inaugual address
    March 14, 1865

  • Jimmy Shirley

    From the Slave Narratives – A “Black Confederate” from Texas, with some “old world” sentiments – a bit on the “excitable” side as well….

    Densen, Nelson Taylor – 90, Texas –
    “De most of de slaves was happy on de plantations, an dey looked on de war like dis, dat de white man was er fightin’ fer his principles, at least de ones dat understood did. I has seen so much in my long life dat I feels dat God is more an more de Great Ruler, an dat hit all works out fer de best….. “I knows dat de old order has changed. Men now must be rich, it seems ter be powerful, once hit was not so. Once men held themselves more dearly dan dey held dey possessions. In de days of Ante-Bellum de attitude was fine an bright an glorious, folks believed in de virtues of truth, chastity, an’ chivalry. Dey seem new ter be old fashioned words, whar is de chivalry dat dey lived in de days which yer is writin’ about? Does dey help ter protect de wimmen like dey did in de days of old? No, dey worl’ of finance will take away er womans home jes de same as er man’s. Whar is de demand fer virtue? In de ole days de ole time southern gentlemen demands dat his wife be virtues er he would not marry her, does dey de dis now? No, sad ter say hit looks as if de loose wimmen are de ones dat is preferred.

    “Whar would dey grandmothers say ter dem smokin? Yes, de ole fashion way is out ob date, de curtain of smoke swept away, hit seems, de beauty of de past, de sound of de spinning wheel was lost in de machinery of a later day, jes as de stately minuet was lost in de jass dances of dese day’s.

    Adams, Lewis, Mississippi
    “Followin’ de war everything was upset. We guarded our house. We guarded our white folks house. Dem carpetbaggers am up to no good. Dey tryin’ to ride into office on de black man’s coattail……. I wo’ ma lungs out tawkin to dem niggers, tryin’ to show dem to peace an’ dat de white folks was de bes’ frens’. But de was po’ deluged chilluns. Hard times come, and killins an’ I tole ma white folks I be glad to spose ma chest to bullets fo dey defense.”

    Hightower, Jim Polk

    The following is taken from a clipping of the “Southern Reporter”, date unknown.

    “After so much has been written about the town of Sardis by white citizens I thought I would try to give a little history of the old time White Southern gentlemen, and as times are so fast carring the old time whites and old time colored into that unknown world, and myself as one of the old time slaves, I thought it but right that I should give to the world some of the ways of the old time white men and old time white women. They was as a general thing kind to the slaves and only corrected them when it was needed. The slave was treated much better than the present generation can imagen. It seems that it was the highest ambition of master and mistress to teach them to be honest and to have manners and I want to say wright here that the class of our race that are yet living will not forget the first lesson that manners and good behavior will carry you father than money, and on the plantation the white boy and the niger boys would play together, fight and make up befor going to the house, for if the father and mother were told of the fighting both would get the rod.
    Then in 1861 came the War between the States and how sad it is to me just to look back and see such a band of noble young men just in the prime of life go out to the cruel war, some of them never to return home any more. Yet the Father and Mother gave them up freely to go out and fight for what they thought was their wright. They did not go out for to fight for to hold the nigers in slaves, for that was not the question when the war commenced. They fought for principal becaus that class of men and women that furnished the Soldiers of the South helt principles above dollars in slaves, and you get some of the old time white gentlmen that was men before the war and they will look down on a man that will put money before principle. We have a few of them still livin that would suffer death before they would stoop to anything low. I will just give here the names of a few of them; Capt. S.Z. Williamson, Dr. John Wright, W. H. Alexander, J. F. Lavender, T. F. Keating and Rev. W. H. Eckles, that Israelite in whom there is no guile, and we have a few others but I jest name these few.

  • Jimmy Shirley

    From an address by Lieutenant-General D. H. Hill, on Memorial Day, June 6th, 1887, at Baltimore, before the Society of the Army and Navy of the Confederate States in the State of Maryland.

    Change of views in regard to the intellectual, moral and social status of the Negro. The philanthropists used to tell of the cruelty and brutality of slaveholders to their slaves, and said that they had reduced the negroes to the lowest state of ignorance, barbarism and bestiality. But in the reconstruction period, the philanthropists underwent a radical change of views and discovered that these negroes, whom they had described as more savage and degraded than the barbarians on the Congo, were not merely enlightened and civilized enough to be freemen and voters, but also to be United States Senators and Congressmen, Foreign Ministers, Consuls and Marshals, Governors of States, Judges, Members of State Cabinets, &c. I am glad that the philanthropists found out that the Old South had trained its slaves so carefully for these high and responsible duties. No other masters in the world’s history ever gave such training to their slaves. The 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to the Constitution of the United States are the grandest possible eulogies to the Old South.
    But there was one great error in this training. The simple-hearted, confiding Southern masters, always careless of their own money, did not teach their slaves to be cautious about their investments, and tens of thousands of these credulous creatures put their money in a bank in Washington, established by the philanthropists, and lost it all.

    Results of the War. I would place first of these the general diffusion of love for the Constitution of the United States. Time was when the South-hating philanthropists denounced it as “a covenant with death and a league with hell,” gotten up by the slave-power in the interests of slavery. But in 1861, the philanthropists experienced a change of heart, and ever since have talked of the Constitution as that “sacred instrument,” that “bulwark of freedom,” that “palladium of liberty,” etc., etc. I am glad of their conversion, suspiciously sudden though it was, and I hope that they will never fall from grace. As a stalwart Presbyterian, I believe in the perseverance of the saints.

  • Jimmy Shirley

    H.L. Mencken on Abraham Lincoln

    From “Five Men at Random,” Prejudices: Third Series, 1922, pp. 171-76. First printed, in part, in the Smart Set, May, 1920, p. 141

    The Gettysburg speech is at once the shortest and the most famous oration in American history. Put beside it, all the whoopings of the Websters, Sumners and Everetts seem gaudy and silly. It is eloquence brought to a pellucid and almost gem-like perfection—the highest emotion reduced to a few poetical phrases. Nothing else precisely like it is to be found in the whole range of oratory. Lincoln himself never even remotely approached it. It is genuinely stupendous.

    But let us not forget that it is poetry, not logic; beauty, not sense. Think of the argument in it. Put it into the cold words of everyday. The doctrine is simply this: that the Union soldiers who died at Gettysburg sacrificed their lives to the cause of self-determination—”that government of the people, by the people, for the people,” should not perish from the earth. It is difficult to imagine anything more untrue. The Union soldiers in that battle actually fought against self-determination; it was the Confederates who fought for the right of their people to govern themselves. What was the practical effect of the battle of Gettysburg? What else than the destruction of the old sovereignty of the States, i.e., of the people of the States? The Confederates went into battle free; they came out with their freedom subject to the supervision and veto of the rest of the country—and for nearly twenty years that veto was so effective that they enjoyed scarcely more liberty, in the political sense, than so many convicts in the penitentiary.

  • Jimmy Shirley

    About Nathan Bedford Forrest

    The KKK of the late 1860’s bears no resemblance to the thugs and racists of the new Klan formed at the turn of the century. The Klan Forrest rode with was to fight against the Yankee scalawags and carpetbaggers who were raping the south after the war. US. Army occupation forces committed innumerable atrocities, which today would certainly be classified as international war crimes, much of it against the free blacks. General Forrest joined a citizen militia then called the Klan to protect the citizens of the South, black and white alike, from these vicious atrocities.
    Under the ‘true’ history of the time, one of the first outings that Forrest went on with the Klan was to a black man’s house who was accused of beating his wife. The black man, holding an axe, told Forrest that he ‘owned’ his wife and could beat her anytime he wanted to.” Wherein Bedford took the axe from the man, taught him some southern manners on how to treat a lady (black or white), then told him that he had better never see a mark on the woman again.
    Forrest disbanded the Klan because its mission had been achieved. Union appointed Governor Brownlow and the viscous carpetbaggers had been defeated. Primarily because Forrest told the President of the United States that if they didn’t stop stealing land and goods from Southern US citizens, abusing them, and molesting free blacks, he had the capability to start the Civil War over again. The US government was well aware that he could do exactly what he threatened to do with half a million white and several hundred thousand black soldiers standing firmly behind him.

    At a time when the northern states were passing laws ‘forbidding’ blacks to live in their territories, Bedford Forrest publicly, and at great personal risk defended the civil rights of the black people.
    Forrest said there was no reason black people could not be doctors, store clerks, bankers, or in any other jobs ‘equal’ to whites. He said they were skilled artisans and needed to be employed in those skills so that successive ‘black’ generations would not be dependent on a welfare society. (Forrest was a man of vision).
    To prove his point, when he organized the Memphis & Selma Railroad, Forrest took it upon himself to hire blacks as architects, construction engineers, foremen, train engineers, conductors, and many other high level jobs, not just laborer positions. (The first affirmative action).

    The Independent Order of Pole Bearers Association (a forerunner of the NAACP), invited General Forrest, the first white man ever invited, to speak at their convention on July 5, 1875. During his speech, too much applause, Bedford said: “I came here with the jeers of some white people, who think that I am doing wrong. I believe I can exert some influence, and do much to assist the people in strengthening fraternal relations, and shall do all in my power to elevate every man – to depress none. (Applause.) I want to elevate you to take positions in law offices, in stores, on farms, and wherever you are capable of going.” Forrest went on to say, “I came to meet you as friends, and welcome you to the white people. I want you to come nearer to us. When I can serve you I will do so. We have but one flag, one country; let us stand together. We may differ in color, but not in sentiment. Many things have been said about me which are wrong, and which white and black persons here, who stood by me through the war, can contradict. Go to work, be industrious, live honestly and act truly, and when you are oppressed I’ll come to your relief.”
    Whereupon N. B. Forrest thanked Miss Lewis for the bouquet of flowers and then gave her a kiss on the cheek. Such a kiss was unheard of in the society of those days, in 1875, but it showed a token of respect and friendship between the general and the black community and did much to promote racial harmony among the citizens of Memphis.
    It’s obvious that General Forrest did more for racial equality in his time than any other person of that era.

    When General Nathan Bedford Forrest died in 1877 it is noteworthy that his funeral in Memphis was attended not only by a throng of thousands of whites but by hundreds of blacks as well. The funeral procession was over two miles long and was attended by over 10,000 area residents, including 3000 black citizens paying their respects.

  • Oversimplifications are always falsehoods. Just as it’s true Lincoln and most of the Northerners were far less than saints, so it’s also true most of the Southerners were far better than demons.

    Yet neither the occasional black Southerner’s nostalgic recollections of happiness under slavery, nor the occasional white Southerner’s treatment of blacks with all the compassion and gallantry of noblesse oblige, can ever change the essential facts concerning the utterly inhuman brutality at the heart of slavery.

    All who fought for the Confederacy fought in defense of slavery, an act of absolute opposition to human freedom and dignity, even if they were ignorant of the true consequences of their actions.

  • Jimmy Shirley

    Re: Let’s rename the Civil War

    In 1831, long before the War of Northern Aggression, South Carolina Senator John C. Calhoun said, “Stripped of all its covering, the naked question is, whether ours is a federal or consolidated government; a constitutional or absolute one; a government resting solidly on the basis of the sovereignty of the States, or on the unrestrained will of a majority; a form of government, as in all other unlimited ones, in which injustice, violence, and force must ultimately prevail.”

    The War of Northern Aggression answered that question and produced the foundation for the kind of government we have today: consolidated and absolute, based on the unrestrained will of the majority manipulated by a controlled national media, with force, threats, and intimidation being the order of the day.

    Even Lincoln the Tyrant realized at the end what the fruit of his actions will produce.

    “I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country.

    As a result of the war, corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed.” -President Abraham Lincoln, 1865-Page 250 Democracy at Risk: Rescuing Main Street from Wall Street a Populist Vision for the Twenty-First Century. Contributors: Jeff Gates – author. Publisher: Perseus Books (Current Publisher: Perseus Publishing). Place of Publication: Cambridge, MA. Publication Year: 2000.

    Amazingly enough, Lincoln foresaw what was later to be named, “fascism”. For example, just as Lincoln acted to force and install the authority of the central Government over the Rights of the States to secede and the Right of the People to determine their own Government, Adolph Hitler made the same argument. “National Socialism, as a matter of principle, must lay claim to the right to force its principles on the whole German nation without consideration of previous federated state boundaries.”

    Lincoln’s admission of the takeover of Government coinsides perfectly with Mussolini’s definition of fascism “Fascism should more appropriately be called corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.” — Mussolini

    Does anyone really doubt that that merger has happened?

    Our Southern forefathers deeply respected and believed in the sanctity and Classical unalienable Right of Man to Liberty, Individualism, and the unbridled Right to choose the syatem of self governance, and were honorable enough and courageous enough to stand and fight for those Rights.

    And, as a result of Lincoln’s War of Northern Aggression we have today exactly what Benito Mussilini described:
    “Against individualism, the Fascist conception is for the State; and it is for the individual in so far as he coincides with the State, which is the conscience and universal will of man in his historical existence. It is opposed to classical Liberalism, which arose from the necessity of reacting against absolutism, and which brought its historical purpose to an end when the State was transformed into the conscience and will of the people.”

    “Therefore, for the Fascist, everything is in the State, and nothing human or spiritual exists, much less has value, outside the State. In this sense Fascism is totalitarian, and the Fascist State, the synthesis and unity of all values, interprets, develops and gives strength to the whole life of the people.” Benito Mussolini

    Oh, and in regard to the constant, nagging question, “Did the south have a Right to secede?”, I offer these facts.

    H. Newcomb Morse’s article in the Stetson Law Review, “The Foundations and Meaning of Secession.”

    Morse uses clear simple logic in statements like:

    Many incidents both preceding and following the War support the proposition that the Southern States did have the right to secede from the Union. Instances of nullification prior to the War Between the States, contingencies under which certain states acceded to the Union, and the fact that the Southern States were made to surrender the right to secession all affirm the existence of a right to secede . . . (Source: H. Newcomb Morse, “The Foundations and Meaning of Secession,” Stetson University College of Law, Stetson Law Review, Vol. XV, No. 2, 1986), 420.).

    Morse is right. The Federal Government made the Southern states surrender the right of secession after the War Between the States but the question is, why would the Federal Government make the South surrender the right of secession if that right did not exist? How could the Southern states have surrendered the right of secession unless they absolutely had that right in the first place? There is an irony that actions of the Federal Government itself provide some powerful evidence that the South had the legal right to secede.

    Morse argues brilliantly and persuasively on numerous points and concludes that the South unquestionably had the right to secede from the Union and it exercised that right – through conventions of the people called to decide the one issue of secession – correctly and in strict accordance with the law.

    Although he quieted down after Lincoln threatened to have have him arrested and sent to prison for spouting his views, Horace Greeley wrote on March 21, 1861: “The great principle embodied by Jefferson in the Declaration is that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.” If southerners wanted to secede, “they have a clear right to do so.” “Nine out of ten of the people of the North,” Greeley wrote, were opposed to forcing South Carolina to remain in the Union.

    Jim Welch

  • The South seceded to secure slavery. No amount of ducking and dodging will ever change that fact. No amount of quoting specious lies about how “Our Southern forefathers deeply respected and believed in the sanctity and Classical unalienable Right of Man to Liberty” will ever change the fact that they defined liberty as the right to hold other human beings in the lowest depths of subjugation, exercising their absolute and utter tyranny with no other justification than a minor difference in the hue of the skin.

    If the Southerners gave a damn about freedom, they’d have given freedom to the slaves decades before.

    If the price of ending slavery ended up including the current problems of corporatism and unbridled capitalist excesses, the slaveholding states earned the lion’s share of the blame for creating a world where that could happen.

  • Jimmy Shirley

    posted on October 20, 2005 10:22 AM:
    Slavery was a terrible blight on the South and the nation, but it would have withered away in time.

    This is the excuse that I’ve been hearing all my life. (I was raised/educated in North Carolina, and I believe what I learned there is out of sync with the truth, too.) Slavery would not simply “wither” away. People do not give up unpaid labor forces without bloody fights. And even on the off-chance that it would have simply died out, how long would it have been? Fifty years? Sixty? [I say: fifty or sixty years of peaceful manumission of slaves in such a way as it prepares them for citizenship and is accepted by the majority of Americans is much more preferable to the slaughter of 620,000 American soldiers plus an additional 50,000 civilians, not to mention the undying bitterness the consequent actions after the war brought about.]

  • Jimmy Shirley

    That the South sought to defend itself form Northen Agression is self evident.

    Sumter was not the south’s original act of aggression. Secession was. And yes, secession was an act of aggression against the United States because it was an act that would have destroyed the United States. The South may have seen itself as defending against northern invasion, but the Union certainly saw itself as defending against Southern subversion. [I say: secession ABSOLUTELY WOULD NOT have destroyed the United States. It would have merely reduced the territorial size. It existed before with 13 States and absolutely would have continued to exist without the original Deep Southern States.]

  • phil

    the south will rise again when monkeys fly out of my butt

  • Jimmy Shirley

    If the Southerners gave a damn about freedom, they’d have given freedom to the slaves decades before.[I say: they knew they had a tiger by the tail and dared not let go, without a plan. They soon found out about the slaughter the French suffered in ‘Hayti’, and they certainly did not want that to happen there. Given time, a solution would have been arrived at.]

    If the price of ending slavery ended up including the current problems of corporatism and unbridled capitalist excesses, the slaveholding states earned the lion’s share of the blame for creating a world where that could happen.[I say: ‘that price’ did not have to be. What is, is the result of yankee medlin, which they always do. Today, the yankee government is seeking to impose “democracy” on Iraq at the point of the bayonet. Who are we to tell the rest of the world how to live. It was like a Brigadier-General said in his speech at the memorial day services, ” Liberty can not be bestowed. It can only be achieved.” For the USA to try and “bestow” liberty on any people is doomed to fail because the people in question DID NOT ACHIEVE IT. Yet, the USA squelched a people’s attempt to achieve liberty in 1865, imposing it’s idea of government at gunpoint and bayonet.]

  • Jimmy Shirley

    Jefferson Davis stated that the principle which we had fought for is bound to arise again, maybe in a different area, in a different form.
    Pay attention to the Hispanic illegal immigration. They are in the process of occupying the lands that they believe were stolen from them, by Uncle Sam, and are already organising to effect the change from us to them.

  • If you can bludgeon one party into submission to “preserve a union” then wife-beaters are just “preserving their marraige”, nes pas? It was a war of independence, just like the American Revolution. A moral crusade by the north to free slaves? Puuuleeze! The South was on very firm constitutional grounds. I do have a couple of suggestions as to new names…the Great Yankee Delusion for one or the Ultimate American Hypocracy as another.

  • Someone mentioned something about who started what when, in regards to Fort Sumter. Below is an extract from the article so titled. In it, Mr Baldwin states that he told lincoln that the people of Charleston were already feeding the troops at the fort, therefore, it was unnecessary to send provisions. lincoln also divulges his true motivation, for invasion, as being money, the love of which is the root of all evil.
    If the url link works, click on it and it should take one to the whole sworn testimony.

    Col. John B. Baldwin’s Sworn Testimony Regarding His Interview With Abraham Lincoln on 4 April 1861
    Washington, D.C., 10 February 1866

    “Well,” said he, “what about the revenue? What would I do about the collection of duties?”
    Said I, “Sir, how much do you expect to collect in a year?”
    Said he, “Fifty or sixty millions.”
    “Why, sir,” said I, “four times sixty is two hundred and forty. Say $250,000,000 would be the revenue of your term of the presidency; what is that but a drop in the bucket compared with the cost of such a war as we are threatened with? Let it all go, if necessary; but I do not believe that it will be necessary, because I believe that you can settle it on the basis I suggest.”
    He said something or other about feeding the troops at Sumter. I told him that would not do. Said I, “You know perfectly well that the people of Charleston have been feeding them already. That is not what they are at. They are asserting a right. They will feed the troops, and fight them while they are feeding them. They are after the assertion of a right. Now, the only way that you can manage them is to withdraw from the means of making a blow until time for reflection, time for influence which can be brought to bear, can be gained, and settle the matter. If you do not take this course, if there is a gun fired at Sumter — I do not care on which side it is fired — the thing is gone.”

  • Jimmy Shirley

    Lincoln argued, “If one State may secede, so may another, and when all shall secede, none is left to pay the debts of the Union. Is this quite fair to creditors?” Of course, it did not follow that all the States would secede if one did, nor that any State was relieved of its share of the public debt by secession. Any schoolboy could have told Lincoln that the States would have been obligated to pay the debts even if all did secede.
    No more wicked violation of the Constitution was ever devised than the creation of West Virginia out of the territory of the Commonwealth of Virginia. To justify his course, Lincoln got off this grotesque stunt: “It is said that the admission of West Virginia is secession and only tolerated because it is our secession. Well, if we call it by that name, there is still difference enough between secession for the Constitution and secession against the Constitution.”
    Lincoln had declared secession “anarchy,” and it seems that anarchy had no terrors when it subserved his purposes. As a real truth, there was no such thing as either secession for the Constitution or secession against it. There was action in accordance with the Constitution and action in violation of it, and undoubtedly Lincoln’s action was in gross violation of his oath to act in accordance with it.
    The suspicion that words in the mouth of Lincoln had little or no weight is proved by his second inaugural, which, next to his Gettysburg address, has caught most the fancy of his admirers. In this paper, while professing “malice to none and charity to all,” he showed the greatest malice and uncharitableness possible in describing the slave owner as an incarnate demon, who did nothing but lash his slaves, without giving the least requital for their service of 250 years! The negroes were the most spoiled domestics in the world. The Southerners took the negro as a barbarian and cannibal, civilized him, supported him, clothed him, and turned him out a better Christian than Abraham Lincoln, who was a free thinker, if not an atheist. Booker T. Washington admitted that the negro was the beneficiary rather than the victim of slavery. His successor, Moton, just the other day declared that contact with the white race has been of the greatest advantage to the negro. The fact is that the South’s taking ignorant negroes and making them work was no more criminal violation of democracy or self-government than the government is guilty of today (1935) in keeping the Porto Ricans and Filipinos under political slavery. The excuse of the present United States Government is exactly that of the old slave masters: “The Porto Ricans and Filipinos are not fit for freedom.”
    Lincoln claimed that his duty was to preserve the Union, but he had taken no oath to do that, and a Union apart from the Constitution was never thought of by the Fathers.
    There was the additional fact that Lincoln knowingly violated his oath, while the Southerners thought they had conscientiously absolved themselves from any obedience to it by secession. Of course, the success of the South did not mean a dissolution of the government of the United States. As a matter of fact, Lincoln throughout his administration treated the Constitution as a door-mat and wiped his feet upon it.
    Lyon Gardiner Tyler, A Confederate Catechism (Holdcroft, Virginia: self-published, 1935).

  • Jimmy Shirley

    And another thing. Being that the proof is overwhelming that lincoln violated his oath of office in regards to his actions as President, he should be posthumously impeached. To set the record straight. It is not an outlandish idea at all. Posthumous recognition happens from time to time. Somebody is cleared of criminal charges, after they are dead, somebody is cleared of deriliction of duty after death, somebody is awarded some great medal for great and conspicuous bravery after they are dead. All for the record.

  • Gerald R. Akin

    Lincoln declared war on seven sovereign states to preserve the tax revenue for the northern industrialists and then began acts of terrorism on his own country including Virginina by shelling and invading homes just across the Potomac.

    Lincoln is to this very day responsible for more deaths in war than any other leader and is a war criminal who should have been executed.

    The pledge of allegiance (to include the idea of “…one nation, indivisible…”) was concocted after the war of northern agression to prevent school children from learning that states are to exercise constitutional rights of independence.

    General Leet did not surrender the CSA, only his Virginia army.

    Do the math. If slavery was the reason for war,then southern states wuld have prevented abolition of slavery by simply remaining in the union. In 1861 at least 22 of 33 of the existing states must vote for abolition if slavery is to be abolished. Only 18 states were for were for abolition.

  • Derrick Chapman

    How about the American War of Secession?

  • Robert

    How about calling it the war for southern independence?

  • hdluke

    Boy, do you all need a truthful history lesson!

  • Kirk D. Lyons

    How about the war to end constitutional government in America?