Don’t deny war was about slavery

April 10, 2011


It is not safe ... to trust $800 million worth of negroes in the hands of a power which says that we do not own the property. ... So we must get out ...” — The Daily Constitutionalist, Augusta, Ga., Dec. 1, 1860

“(Northerners) have denounced as sinful the institution of slavery. ... We, therefore, the people of South Carolina ... have solemnly declared that the Union heretofore existing between this State and other States of North America dissolved.” — from “Declaration of the Causes of Secession”

“As long as slavery is looked upon by the North with abhorrence ... there can be no satisfactory political union between the two sections.” — New Orleans Bee, Dec. 14, 1860

“Our new government is founded upon ... the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race is his natural and moral condition.” — Alexander Stephens, vice president of the Confederacy, March 21, 1861

On Tuesday morning, it will be 150 years since the Civil War began.

The bloodiest war in U.S. history commenced with the bombardment of a fort in Charleston Harbor. President Abraham Lincoln was careful to define it as a war to restore 11 rebellious southern states to the Union — and only that.

For those 11 states, it was a war for property rights — property being defined as 4 million human beings. They feared the federal government would not allow the business of trading in human beings to expand to the new territories in the West.

By the time the war ended, four years almost to the day later, Lincoln’s view had changed. He had come to see himself and the war he had prosecuted through 48 bitter months of turmoil and tears, as tools of the Almighty’s judgment upon the nation for having allowed the evil of slavery.

The South would change its view as well. It would begin to spin grand, romantic fables of a “Lost Cause” that had been fought for “state’s rights” or constitutional principle, or any other reason it could invent, so long as it was not slavery. Jefferson Davis, who before the war had flatly declared “the labor of African slaves” the cause of the rebellion, would write after the war that slavery had nothing to do with it.

Thus, the South entered a conspiracy of amnesia that, for many, continues to this day. As in Virginia naming April Confederate History Month last year in a proclamation that did not mention slavery. And recent attempts in Mississippi to honor Confederate hero Nathan Bedford Forrest, who led a massacre of unarmed black people and helped found the Ku Klux Klan. And the “Secession Ball” South Carolina hosted in December to, as one man put it, “honor our ancestors for their bravery and tenacity protecting their homes from invasion.”

So this seems an apt moment to speak in memory’s defense. As Confederate battle flags flap from truck grills and monuments, as tourists gather around pigeon-stained statues of dead rebels baking under the Dixie sun, as Southern apologists seek glory in acts of treason, and as all of the above studiously avoid coming too close to the heart of the matter, to its cause, it is worth remembering that their forebears were not as circumspect.

To the contrary, they said clearly and without shame that they fought for slavery.

If that makes someone uncomfortable, good. It should.

But you do not deal with that discomfort by telling lies of omission about yesterday. You do not deal with it by pretending treason is glory. No, you deal with it by listening to the hard things the past has to say — and learning from them.

This nation took so much from the men and women it kidnapped. It took dignity, it took labor, it took family, it took home, it took names. In the end, the last thing any of us has is the memory of ourselves we bequeath the future, the reminder that we were here.

And to their everlasting dishonor, some of us want to take that, too.

— Leonard Pitts Jr. is a columnist for the Miami Herald.


Liberty_One 7 years, 2 months ago

How many times is this ridiculous lie going to be repeated? It wasn't the South that sent an army across the Potomac. Lincoln invaded the South and he did not invade the South over slavery.

It is no coincidence that Pitts is a supporter of a big, centralized government, and a promoter of the myth that the war was about slavery. He is lying to promote his agenda of centralizing power in the national government's hands and reducing the power of the states and the liberty of their citizens. He hopes, like others who support big government, that by repeating this lie over and over again that ideas like states rights, individual liberty and property rights become associated with slavery, or at the very least racism.

Just watch the comments that will inevitably appear criticizing me or my views (more likely criticizing me). I guarantee every one of the posters behind those comments will have a history of advocating for bigger, more centralized and more powerful government and for less individual rights, in particular property rights.

Maddy Griffin 7 years, 2 months ago

Wow! I've read Pitts' columns for years and never got that impression. Lincoln went to war to re-unite the 11 states back into the fold. This could NOT have been done without abolishing slavery.People are NOT, nor should they have ever been considered property, although a lot of battles have been fought for that reason. Women were once thought of as property too.

jafs 7 years, 2 months ago

What sort of compromise would you suggest?

Either slavery is ok and legal, or it's wrong and illegal.

Since the South clearly wanted to continue the practice, and those in the North didn't, I don't see room for a compromise there.

jafs 7 years, 2 months ago

I'm just going by the quotes in the article.

It's clear that they portray the South as wanting to continue slavery and the North as wanting to end it.

beatrice 7 years, 2 months ago

Well Deacon, at least you are adding links rather than plagiarizing outright for a change. Nice to see the improvement.

tomatogrower 7 years, 2 months ago

The war wouldn't have happened if it wasn't for slavery. Who is really trying to whitewash history? Slavery was a black stain on our county's history. I'm sure you would like to think all of those African men and women immigrated, probably illegally to the US on their own. I'm sure you would like to believe that it was just the big bad government trying to tell people what to do with their property, because you are a devote libertarian. But people are not property. Plenty of people fought on the side of the North to restore the union, but also to force the South to give up slavery. And don't go on about how the slave's life was better than living in Africa, and about how wonderfully fed and treated they were, then say, "I'm not a racist." Maybe you aren't a racist and you'd happily keep white slaves too, but anyone who can defend slavery, and even suggest that it had nothing to do with the Civil War is brainwashed. I know you want to live in a black white, simplistic world, but there are always more things involved in wars than just 1. I hope it doesn't confuse to your mind too much to realize that the Southern states were protecting state's rights and their right to leave the union, and a major reason for that is they wanted to keep their slaves. Hope that isn't too complicated for you.

Bob_Keeshan 7 years, 2 months ago

Dear fools -- if the South had decided to abolish slavery, would there still have been a Civil War?

Yeah, thought so.

No slavery = no Civil War. Period. All other issues were peripheral.

jafs 7 years, 2 months ago

According to the quotes in the story, the decision to secede was about slavery.

They are very clear statements of that connection.

So, they decide to secede, and then there's a war to prevent that. The whole thing started with slavery.

By the way, what would you have done to prevent/eliminate slavery?

Though I agree that, without that issue, there's no good reason to force states to be part of a union - if they want to leave, why not simply let them?

jafs 7 years, 2 months ago

You're kind of missing the point there.

If slavery is the cause for secession, and secession is the cause of the war, ...

Let's say that the South secedes and continues slavery - once no longer part of the union, the North has no power to change that.

Then what?

tomatogrower 7 years, 2 months ago

The big bad government passed laws banning slavery. But that doesn't jive with your libertarian views, since slave owners consider slaves their property, and libertarians are all about protecting property rights.

Bob_Keeshan 7 years, 2 months ago

"Of course there still would have been a war without slavery" Wow, super compelling argument.

Bob_Keeshan 7 years, 2 months ago

Here's my support -- The Civil War. Maybe you've heard of it.

Flap Doodle 7 years, 2 months ago

Lenny hit the "recycle" button for this week's column.

mom_of_three 7 years, 2 months ago

Liberty one - I would like to know where you received your "information" and where your history degree is from. Because I think you have been reading too many Confederate history and neo-confederate history books.

mom_of_three 7 years, 2 months ago

Yeah, I don't think we are reading the same material. And dont pretend to know me.

mom_of_three 7 years, 2 months ago

It was the south that fired on ft. sumter, when it was a federal institution.
So yeah, i think it was the south that started the fight. so when that happened, troops were sent to the south to take on the Southern army (because you don't want them to attack you in your neck of the woods, do ya). The corwin amendment was passed in hopes of saving the union, because by this time, they knew war would be inevitably since the southerners had already threatened it.
I can't debate with someone who obviously knows it all.
See you guys, enjoy the weather.

Olympics 7 years, 2 months ago

I believe YOU were asked to provide some (any) sources for your strident opinions.

mom_of_three 7 years, 2 months ago

"the abolitionist movement was a tiny minority." yes, it was a small group, however, it was a radical group,with its own newspapers and supporters in congress. Philanthropists and business men also helped support abolitionists (not to be be confused with anti-slavery - two different ideologies). However, abolitionists were so much of a concern to the South that the Southerners in congress passed legislation to prohibit men such as john quincy adams from introducing letters and petitions against slavery for years. And it was illegal in the south to mail or have any anti-slavery or abolitionist pamphlets. And two of the leading abolitionists women were from South Carolina and their lives threatened if they ever returned.
small group, but very influential it seems.

mom_of_three 7 years, 2 months ago

actually, the gag rule I am talking about was started in 1836 or so. Long before your 1861 corwin amendment.
Uncle tom's cabin came out in 1852. That's about the time many in the north became concerned with slavery in the south.

tomatogrower 7 years, 2 months ago

Do you know anything about Kansas history? The South felt very threatened, because the abolitionists were creating an imbalance in Congress that would eventually lead to Congress banning slavery. They saw this happening soon and decided to leave the union instead of waiting for that day. Lincoln decided to save the Union, by going to war, but to say slavery had nothing to do with the war is simplistic at best, denial of a nasty part of our history at worse. By the way, do you honestly think that the quotes that Pitts used at the beginning of this column are lies? Do you really think that the Southern states just one day woke up and decided to not be a part of the Union? Do you really think that their filthy, immoral dependence on slaves to do their dirty work is something to defend?

jafs 7 years, 2 months ago

You keep missing a logical point.

If the south wanted to secede to preserve slavery, and the war was because the south wanted to secede, it follows logically that slavery was the original cause.

If a causes b, and b causes c, then a is the original cause of c.

jafs 7 years, 2 months ago

Not her fault.

But her decision to leave set the chain of events into motion.

jafs 7 years, 2 months ago

"Not her fault"

Didn't you read that part?

jafs 7 years, 2 months ago

You seem to lack a distinction between the idea of cause and the idea of blame.

Also, bozo is correct - a women deciding to leave her husband is a very poor analogy to slavery in the South.

You'd have to pick something that is inherently wrong and harms another to make a good analogy.

jafs 7 years, 2 months ago

Then you'd have to include that she wanted to leave her husband (and take their child) in order to continue abusing their child.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 2 months ago

"So by that logic, if a woman wants to leave her husband, and he beats her and locks her in the house, it's her fault he beat her?"

There's nothing remotely analogous here to the topic at hand.

tomatogrower 7 years, 2 months ago

I believe that Pitts is trying to point out that it's a shame that the South wants to rewrite history to hide their past scum bag ancestors. Those are my words, not his, but that's what he is saying. Try reading the article again.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 2 months ago

What's your point-- that the Confederates weren't racist?

tomatogrower 7 years, 2 months ago

So as soon as you get rid of all us "leebrals" you can go back to doing what your ancestors did, and kidnapping people to work for you? Defend slave owners all you want, but that's all the big wigs of the south were, dirty scum bag slave owners. And some would go back to the "good ole days" again if they could.

Rich Noever 7 years, 2 months ago

My my Mr Pitts, must have been a slow news day. Born Again has it right. Pull the strings and Larryville Loons will dance. Nothing changes. And by the way, if you don't agree with me, you're racists Hah!

tomatogrower 7 years, 2 months ago

So you do believe we should have kept slavery?

Rich Noever 7 years, 2 months ago

Keep it in the past. Quit throwing the racist bomb all the time. It is lame.

tomatogrower 7 years, 2 months ago

It is part of the past. Southerners just want to ignore it. If you ignore it you will repeat it. I wonder how many of the former slaves are invited to these celebrations?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 2 months ago

It's interesting watching the hardcore libertarian get so twisted up in his little campaign of revisionist history.

The motivation? My guess is that the worship of "property rights" is just so basic to his religion, that even when that property is human beings, he can't stand to see his slave-holdiing forebears attacked by folks like Pitts.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 2 months ago

"Just watch the comments that will inevitably appear criticizing me or my views (more likely criticizing me). I guarantee every one of the posters behind those comments will have a history of advocating for bigger, more centralized and more powerful government and for less individual rights, in particular property rights."

So a prophylactic strawman is "calling it?"

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 2 months ago

Actually, I advocate for a very mixed economy and government.

But in your religion, every infidel of my sort is a "socialist."

jafs 7 years, 2 months ago

So, how do you reconcile your belief that slavery is wrong with your belief in states' rights?

Should southern states have had the right to continue slavery?

Should the nation as a whole have outlawed slavery, thus limiting states' rights?

jafs 7 years, 2 months ago

So states' rights are not absolute - I bet that if the nation had outlawed slavery, that would have been what led to the Civil War - the South would have revolted at that. Some have suggested on these comments that it was in fact the South's recognition that the nation was headed in that direction that prompted their desire to secede.

If you'd said what you just said earlier, you could easily have prevented the many misunderstanding that have arisen.

Believing that slavery is wrong, how can you support the idea of secession, if slavery isn't illegal yet? That means the South can leave the union, and continue the practice.

No longer part of the union, whatever the North then does wouldn't have any sway in the South.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 2 months ago

"you are trying to associate concepts like states' rights, secession, nullification property rights etc. with slavery and racism."

But that's precisely what the Confederacy did. And no wonder, given that its leaders were almost exclusively slave owners looking to protect their economic interests (ie, the slaves that did all the work.)

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 2 months ago

"Can't you answer a simple question?"

It wasn't even A question. It was several questions, mostly tangentially related to the question at hand, if at all.

"Are states' rights, secession and nullification about slavery and racism or not?"

In 1861, most certainly they were.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 2 months ago

I would expect that there are many reasons that people might hold such views. Jeffersonian views may, or may not, play a part.

I wouldn't be surprised if some of those holding such views are indeed racist, and looking for ways to separate themselves from "mud" people, or whomever else.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 2 months ago

I'm sure you have some obscure point you're driving at, but I'm not in the mood to guess.

jafs 7 years, 2 months ago

I'm sure there are many people who aren't racist who believe in those things.

However, the idea of states' rights and the ability to ignore/nullify federal laws leads to the very real possibility of abuse, and is problematic in many ways.

When the laws are bad, it seems like a good idea, ie. WI and fugitive slave laws. But, it can just as easily be used when the laws are good, and protect people from harm/abuse.

Michael Lindsey 7 years, 2 months ago

FYI, googled Corwin Amendment and got this from wikipedia: Outgoing President James Buchanan endorsed the Corwin Amendment by taking the unusual step of signing it. Abraham Lincoln, in his first inaugural address, supported the Corwin Amendment: "[H]olding such a provision to now be implied Constitutional law, I have no objection to its being made express and irrevocable."[4][5] Just weeks prior to the outbreak of the Civil War, Lincoln penned a letter to each governor asking for them to support the Corwin Amendment.[6] However, Presidents play no formal role in the amendment process

Boosh 7 years, 2 months ago

Don't Let The Man Get You Down / And the Sign Said Long Haired Freaky People...


beatrice 7 years, 2 months ago

Even if Pitts approaches the subject of race (more specifically, race relations) with frequency, does that make what he has to say incorrect?

tomatogrower 7 years, 2 months ago

He isn't talking about race, he is talking about slavery and the rewriting of history. You brought up race.

weeslicket 7 years, 2 months ago

as a long-time reader of american history magazine and american heritage magazine, i would respectfully encourage anyone to take out a subscription. the topics are timely and informative, and the writing is excellent.

as you can imagine, many of the articles over the past year have had to do with the civil war, its causes, and its results. if one doesn't want to comprehend what mr. pitts is saying, perhaps one could read what historians are writing.

also, does anyone else remember the republican congress making a point to read the constitution aloud for us at the beginning of their most recent session?? quess which parts of the constitution were "redacted". http://www.theroot.com/views/skipping-over-slavery-constitution

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 2 months ago

There were plenty of ancillary issues that were contributory causes to the Civil War, but the basic issues was economic, and the economy of the South was based on chattel slavery-- its plantation owners couldn't run their businesses without it.

The South wanted to be able to expand that institution into new states and territories, and the industrial North did not-- which is the reason why many historians think that the Civil War started in eastern Kansas and Western Missouri, in the fight over whether Kansas would be a slave or free state, not in S. Carolina, where slavery was firmly entrenched.

But as the quotes Pitts supplies amply demonstrate, it was a fight over slavery, even if the mostly racist North was willing to put up with it a little while longer in order to save the Union.

George Lippencott 7 years, 2 months ago

OK. Just who is it that is trying to deny that the war was about slavery??

The examples are mostly about association - last I looked a right we all share. Not sure I would want to go to a secessionist ball but those who do have that right - however misguided. There will always be outliers.

Extending such activity to some sort of general ignorance of slavery is a real stretch. My ancestors (those in this country) fought for the union. The outcome ended slavery as a legal institution. I suspect they knew that.

geekin_topekan 7 years, 2 months ago

I am going to guess that Lib-1 also denies that slaves were the only source of nooky that many southern "Christian gentlemen" had?

LeCroix 7 years, 2 months ago

To ignore the issue of slavery and the part it plays in the civil war and time period is foolish.

However, the civil war was not fought about slavery.

It was fought to preserve the Union and to keep certain state rights.

Abraham Lincoln and the North had a sole purpose of preserving the Union, not fighting to get rid of slavery. The South had a sole purpose of preserving their way of life.

There is no denying that the main right in question for the South, was a state's right to choose whether it would become a free state or a slave state.

This is what caused most of the problems as the South wanted to expand slavery into the western territories and the North did not.

The North for the most part was only against the expansion of slavery westward. They did not have major opposition to the Southern states who were already part of the Union keeping the practice.

The main reason the South did not agree to having no slave states in the west, was because they feared this would eventually cause a uneven balance of power in the government and this uneven balance could threaten the current slave states ability to have slaves.

beatrice 7 years, 2 months ago

Interesting conclusion LeCroix: the southern states took action out of fear of an uneven balance of power that could threaten the then existing slave states ability to have slaves.

Okay. To summarize, you are claiming that the southern states did all they did, including leaving the union, in order to maintain their ability to own slaves. The northern states then fought the southern states over their actions.

Either way you slice that pie, it comes back that the main ingredient to the war was indeed slavery. Thus, the war really was over slavery after all. You have contradicted your opening with your conclusion.

jafs 7 years, 2 months ago


Because the "state's rights" in question were the right to own slaves.

LeCroix 7 years, 2 months ago


My opening was the conclusion. I simply expanded on the role of slavery to the time period.

I pointed out the war was simply about preserving the Union. Had the North not cared about preserving the Union, they would have just let the South go peacefuly. Slavery was not an issue for the North in fighting the civil war.

In no way did the North engage in the Civil War to fight the South over slavery. Slavery was a reason that the South suceeded, but not a reason for the war. The South did not attack the North over slavery and the North did not fight the South because they had slaves. The North fought for preservation of the Union. They did not fight over expansion of slavery, existing slavery, or anything to do with slavery.

To suggest otherwise is to ignore history.

jafs 7 years, 2 months ago

Except that since slavery was the reason the south wanted to secede, all the rest follows from that.

LeCroix 7 years, 2 months ago

Most southerners did not even own slaves nor did they own plantations. Most of them were small farmers who worked on farms with their families. They were fighting for their rights. They were fighting to maintain their lifestyle and their independence the way they wanted to without the North controlling them. It wasn't soley about slavery.

jafs 7 years, 2 months ago

"There is no denying that the main right in question for the South was a state's right to choose whether it would become a free state or a slave state"

From your post.

You can't have it both ways.

LeCroix 7 years, 2 months ago

Very true, that is from my post. Good job of copy and paste.

Like I said there is no denying that the main right in question for the South was a state's right to choose whether it would become a free state or slave state.

No one has attempted or is denying this. I did not debunk this previous statement with my last post.

I simply pointed out to you that slavery, while one of the MAIN reasons, was not the ONLY reason for Southern succession.

Had the South chose to succeed regardless of the issue of slavery, it is highly likely the North would have fought to preserve the Union. I say highly likely, because no one will ever know and to claim otherwise is foolish.

It is possibility that even if the North would have been 100% on board with slavery, the South which was a very different place politically, economically, and socially would have succeeded evenutally anyways.

Again we will never know, but historical evidence points to it as a distinct possibility.

The only point now and the only point in posting all day is that the Civil War was fought by the North to preserve the Union. It was fought by the South so that they may become their own independent nation. It was not a fight over whether an individual had a right to own another individual.

notaubermime 7 years, 2 months ago

I would agree that the North did not fight to end slavery. The society of the North just wasn't there yet. The writing was on the wall that slavery's days were numbered, but the political clout just wasn't sufficient for it.

I would not agree that the South would have started a war if it were not for the issue of slavery. In the years leading up to the civil war, many people lost their lives over the issue of slavery. To my knowledge, that cannot be said of the South's other grievances. The South may not have been happy about a few issues, but there was only one that they were willing to kill for.

jafs 7 years, 2 months ago

Sorry, your post is self-contradictory, as has been pointed out a few times.

We don't know what would have happened if things had been different, as you mention, other than that things would have been different.

However, if the main reason the South wanted to secede was to preserve the right to own slaves, then that was the original cause of what happened.

The reason the South wanted to be independent was to preserve the institution of slavery, and sugarcoating that or using euphemisms is a bad idea - that's how I read the point of this column.

LeCroix 7 years, 2 months ago

Using your line of reasoning, why isn't the cause of the civil war the crops that were grown in the South? It was the man power needed to raise crops that made owning slaves important. Without crops in the South, then there would be no need for slaves.

So without crops, there is no need for slaves, no need for sessession.

Thus under your line of reasoning, crops would be closer to the 'original cause' of what happened.

Why stop at crops? Why not go back and back and back and blame it on the early settlers of the New World?

If they never came there would not be large agricultural operations growing crops, no need for man power, no need for secession to protect such manpower and no civil war.

Yep, blame it on Jamestown.

Sounds pretty ridiculous doesn't it.

jafs 7 years, 2 months ago

Because the decision to enslave other human beings is not a value neutral natural phenomenon like "crops".

It is a decision made by human beings.

As is the decision to secede.

There is no "need" for slaves, and no "need" to secede, in my view.

They are choices - first, the choice to enslave other human beings, and second, the choice to attempt to leave the union in order to maintain the first choice.

Bob_Keeshan 7 years, 2 months ago

For instance -- the right to human property.

Next week, Tom will be along to remind all the leftists that Lincoln was a Republican and one of "his".

tomatogrower 7 years, 2 months ago

Hey, Tom. Your buddy Murdoch may end up losing his empire, if the law suits come rolling in. Then where would you get your filtered news?


tomatogrower 7 years, 2 months ago

So you like the idea that your hero's employees break privacy laws. Big Brother is Tom's buddy.

weeslicket 7 years, 2 months ago

did you read the article, or only look at the pictures?

Bob_Keeshan 7 years, 2 months ago

You know that first state capitol in Lecompton?

It was built because of slavery.

No slavery = No Civil War.

Mike Ford 7 years, 2 months ago

as a person who grew up in Jonesville, Moss Bluff, and Shreveport, LA, and travelled the length of Mississippi from 1974 to 2009, I can say unequivically that slavery is why the Civil War was fought. I went past Vicksburg on I-20 as a child which was a reminder of why Jonesville didn't celebrate the Fourth of July when Vicksburg was under siege in 1863. Only Yankees celebrated this holiday in Jonesville, LA in 1975, 110 years after the end of the US Civil War. Jonesville was majority Black because of plantations existing near the Ouachita and Red Rivers back then. Natchez was 50 miles east. I love how conservative revisionists don't want to man up and own what was done then and what has continued to this day. I will be at a reconciliation service between a denomination thats owning it's transgressions and apologizing to Native Americans for what it's church people did in the past destroying culture, splitting tribal leadership and stealing lands in the process. Yes this issue is about African slavery, but Native peoples were also enslaved and also owned African slaves at times. As a historian I own this. Some of my ancestors owned slaves. I own that. I have a conscience. I don't have American amnesia like Tom Shewmon and the neocons.

Armored_One 7 years, 2 months ago

I suppose it would be a waste of energy and time to point out that the Declarations of Secession from nearly every 'Confederate' state prominantly states that slavery was a leading cause of their choice to leave the Union.

No one has ever said that the Civil War was fought over slavery and no other reason, but you are a complete fool if you buy into this apologetic nonsense that slavery had nothing to do with it.

And just in case someone decides to claim that I am just remembering them wrong, since I have been out of school longer than I was in it, I just searched for them online and read them before posting.

Olympics 7 years, 2 months ago

Fyi...Liberty, you got a little spittle on the corner of your mouth.

jafs 7 years, 2 months ago

Just about everybody except Libertarians/anarchists supports those things more than you do.

So it's not really that telling a point.

And, when asked, you actually say that the nation should have outlawed slavery, not that individual states should have the right to decide.

So, you are not as extreme in favor of states' rights as you seemed to be at first.

jafs 7 years, 2 months ago

There's plenty of room for a middle ground.

But, the idea of nullification is that states can simply ignore federal laws - there's no middle ground there. Either the federal laws must be followed, or the states have the right to ignore them.

Similarly, with slavery, either states should have the right to decide if they want to be a slave state, or they shouldn't.

So, there are choices to be made.

jafs 7 years, 2 months ago

But states can then make the decision about whether a given law is unconstitutional or not.

So, instead of having a consistent interpretation of the constitution which applies in all states, and to all citizens, we could have multiple ones in differing states.

That kind of kills the whole point of having a country based on a constitution and certain rights/principles.

jafs 7 years, 2 months ago

Then I think it's a bad idea.

It means that each state can interpret basic fundamental rights differently, and deny them at will.

As I said, it kind of kills the whole point of creating a system that guarantees all citizens the same rights - eg. all men are created equal, etc.

jafs 7 years, 2 months ago

Not at all necessarily true.

States are also outlawing gay marriage, etc.

People aren't all libertarians - many believe that the state should legislate moral issues, get tough on crime, etc.

Let's take another example - Miranda rights. Those have been well established in order to protect people from the power of the state. Without that decision being valid in all states, states can simply do away with it, giving the police more power.

jafs 7 years, 2 months ago


It could go either way.

But giving the states more power doesn't necessarily protect individual rights.

jafs 7 years, 2 months ago

But in doing so, the states get more power and freedom, as you have in fact pointed out.

Mike Ford 7 years, 2 months ago

Tom, you poor soul. In my forty one years of life having a father who is a historian and works at the Liberty Memorial as a World War One Historian and living all over this country because of his ministerial work, I learned about many cultures and histories. I've been to places like Gettysburg, Corinth, Shiloh, Bryce Crossroads, Vicksburg, and the like. I've also been to Poverty Point, Wounded Knee, Little Bighorn, and the Medicine Wheel. I was taken to the Lorraine Motel in 1973 as an example of remembering the sacrifice of people like MLK and I went past the Sumner School in Topeka many times in the 1990's. I feel sorry for ignorant people like you who when confronted with your narrow Linwood views flip your weakness onto to the others you annoy with your comments like some O' Reilly wannabe. Don't admit anything. Your Walter Mitty comments already speak to your ignorance.

Mike Ford 7 years, 2 months ago

I'm not a nobody like you tom constantly using the LJworld chatroom to try and reach to larger conservative blogs to gain creditibility with the nonsense you spew on here. You want props on the Daily Caller or Powerline or some other fascist rightwing garbage room and they connect to all the garbage you spew on here. We others know you have higher aspirations tom. You want to take your nonsense nationwide. You want to be one of those one sided conversation dimwits on faux and friends. Too bad Linwood won't let you.

verity 7 years, 2 months ago

It seems to me that there are usually multiple motives for anything one does and my observation has been that often what somebody thinks is their motive has little or nothing to do with the actual reason that they did something. I have the feeling that a lot of people just went blindly marching to their death without having much of an idea about why they were doing it.

A much more interesting topic to me is whether the Civil War could have been avoided or if a number of people were determined to bring it on, both sides thinking that it would be short and quick and their side would win. (Wasn't God on both sides?)

weeslicket 7 years, 2 months ago

verily; from verity: "...or if a number of people were determined to bring it on, both sides thinking that it would be short and quick and their side would win. (Wasn't God on both sides?)"

oddly enough, that is exactly what both sides believed. and so it was finally brought upon us. even unto now.

verity 7 years, 2 months ago

"even unto now"

Yep, still fightin' it, aren't we?

Bob_Keeshan 7 years, 2 months ago

OK, try it this way -- Slavery is abolished in 1854 rather than passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act.

Ergo, no "pro-slavery" and "anti-slavery" forces converge on Kansas. And yes, those names are in quotes because that is what the individuals involved referred to themselves as. Pro-slavery and Anti-slavery.

Also, no Dred Scott decision. Nothing that is the political history of the US during the 1850's.

When do the Southern states secede and for what reasons?

Also, who is elected President in 1856 and also in 1860? Again, Slavery is no longer at issue as it has been universally abolished.

Which Southern states secede? What reasons do they give?

Bob_Keeshan 7 years, 2 months ago

No, that's not the question.

The question is explain how the Civil War happens with slavery abolished. Thanks.

kugrad 7 years, 2 months ago

If you actually read much history you'd know the answer to this question :" Why, if you are a poor white southerner, would you fight and die so a rich man can keep his slaves?(from libertarian one's post)."

The Confederate army asked themselves the same thing. Once they realized the war was really over slavery - a realization historians recognize- they labled the war as, "A rich man's war and a poor man's fight." [actual quote of common Civil War confederate slogan]. Many of them were going to quit midway through the war. Jefferson Davis then ordered the conscription of ALL southern men of fighting age (but only 40% came) and extended the term of service for all veterans. So, 2 years into the war, the confederate army asked the same questions being asked here. It's not like there is really any debate over this. All I am posting are widely known facts.

kugrad 7 years, 2 months ago

I'm not lying. Maybe you should do some of your "research" off the internet and actually study the Civil War. I would imagine that the saying was, in fact, used as you say. But it was also used as I say. By the way, I didn't say they were fighting to protect their slaves, but that they were fighting to protect their property. They did not distinguish slaves from property. The confederate soldiers certainly became aware that the war was not about their soverignty and they were not happy about that realization. This is why enlistment changed from voluntary to forced.

You are not a civil war expert, so quit pretending.

kugrad 7 years, 2 months ago

Not as convenient as you putting words in my mouth so you can knock down the straw man I never put up.

I know I'm not perfect, but your tone is often authoritarian and derisive, which is why others respond to you the way you do. I know I'm guilty of the same things sometimes, but face it bro, you make a habit of it. It isn't just your raging libertarian extremism that puts people off, it's your attitude.

weeslicket 7 years, 2 months ago

Liberty_One says: What's funny is people like Bob here think that Lincoln was some outspoken abolitionist and that's why the southern states seceded when he was elected. Naturally this produces the kind of confused post above where he assumes that with the issue of slavery over that there wasn't any other contentious issues that would divide the country.

  1. actually, no. historians have never concluded that lincoln was "an outspoken abolitionist". neither was his competitor, stephen douglas (after whom our county was named).
    he was "disinterested" in the resolution to the conflict of a black man's future position in america. he really didn't care. and he said so. and that was pretty much the zeitgeist of the era.

  2. also a quote: 'one' assumes that with the issue of slavery over that there wasn't any other contentious issues that would divide the country. true. as is typical of any period in history, there were always contentious issues.

But Every Gosh Darn One Of Them Revolved Around Slavery! every single one of them.

  1. please, please provide a link that explains how slavery was NOT the linch pin in all of this. even from our very foundings in the constitution. (all men are created equal, except for certain classes of people who count as five-eights) (also, the 5/8s people don't have a voice. providence has decreed their voice be spoken by the fully vested, whole persons, who claim them as personal property.)

Hudson Luce 7 years, 2 months ago

"But why would the South want to secede? If the original American ideal of federalism and constitutionalism had survived to 1860, the South would not have needed to. But one issue loomed larger than any other in that year as in the previous three decades: the Northern tariff. It was imposed to benefit Northern industrial interests by subsidizing their production through public works. But it had the effect of forcing the South to pay more for manufactured goods and disproportionately taxing it to support the central government. It also injured the South's trading relations with other parts of the world.

In effect, the South was being looted to pay for the North's early version of industrial policy. The battle over the tariff began in 1828, with the "tariff of abomination." Thirty year later, with the South paying 87 percent of federal tariff revenue while having their livelihoods threatened by protectionist legislation, it became impossible for the two regions to be governed under the same regime. The South as a region was being reduced to a slave status, with the federal government as its master.

But why 1860? Lincoln promised not to interfere with slavery, but he did pledge to "collect the duties and imposts": he was the leading advocate of the tariff and public works policy, which is why his election prompted the South to secede. In pro-Lincoln newspapers, the phrase "free trade" was invoked as the equivalent of industrial suicide. Why fire on Ft. Sumter? It was a customs house, and when the North attempted to strengthen it, the South knew that its purpose was to collect taxes, as newspapers and politicians said at the time." (from http://www.lewrockwell.com/rockwell/civilwar.html)

see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tariff_of_1828

"If it be conceded, as it must be by every one who is the least conversant with our institutions, that the sovereign powers delegated are divided between the General and State Governments, and that the latter hold their portion by the same tenure as the former, it would seem impossible to deny to the States the right of deciding on the infractions of their powers, and the proper remedy to be applied for their correction. The right of judging, in such cases, is an essential attribute of sovereignty, of which the States cannot be divested without losing their sovereignty itself, and being reduced to a subordinate corporate condition. In fact, to divide power, and to give to one of the parties the exclusive right of judging of the portion allotted to each, is, in reality, not to divide it at all; and to reserve such exclusive right to the General Government (it matters not by what department to be exercised, is to convert it, in fact, into a great consolidated government, with unlimited powers, and to divest the States, in reality, of all their rights, It is impossible to understand the force of terms, and to deny so plain a conclusion." (from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Carolina_Exposition_and_Protest)

jafs 7 years, 2 months ago

If all of that is true, why didn't the South say that was the reason for secession, and avoid the whole issue of slavery?

And, of course, states are not sovereign countries - they are part of one country.

The idea that they can either be completely independent, or lose all of their rights, is extreme. As part of one country, with underlying principles and a constitution, they have some freedoms, but are also constrained/bound by those principles.

jafs 7 years, 2 months ago

Ok, I'll take your word for it.

There was also a time in which it was debated whether the protections from government intrusion in the constitution applied to state governments, or just the federal one.

Where do you stand on that one?

jafs 7 years, 2 months ago

That conflicts with the idea that individual states are separate countries, and should be able to set their own interpretations of the constitution.

According to that view, it would be more consistent to say that the 14th amendment is wrong, extending the power of the federal government too much, and interfering with states' rights.

jafs 7 years, 2 months ago

Maybe I didn't say it well.

The point is, either states are little countries, loosely organized, or they're part of one country.

As loosely organized little countries, a majority of them shouldn't be able to vote on things which will affect the others, ie. constitutional amendments.

It's more consistent with that view to say that the bill of rights, and whether it applies to individual states or not, should be left to the individual states to decide.

jafs 7 years, 2 months ago


2/3, 3/4 aren't complete consensus.

That leaves plenty of states who don't agree with it.

The idea that states should be free to operate independently isn't consistent with the idea of those sorts of decisions.

Hudson Luce 7 years, 2 months ago

and this is interesting, too: "The five tribal governments of the Indian Territory — which became Oklahoma in 1907 — mainly supported the Confederacy, providing troops and one general officer. On July 12, 1861, the newly formed Confederate States government signed a treaty with both the Choctaw and Chickasaw Indian nations in the Indian Territory. After 1863 the tribal governments sent representatives to the Confederate Congress: Elias Cornelius Boudinot representing the Cherokee and Samuel Benton Callahan representing the Seminole and Creek people. The Cherokee, in their declaration of causes, gave as reasons for aligning with the Confederacy the similar institutions and interests of the Cherokee nation and the Southern states, alleged violations of the Constitution by the North, claimed that the North waged war against Southern commercial and political freedom and for the abolition of slavery in general and in the Indian Territory in particular, and that the North intended to seize Indian lands as had happened in the past." (from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confederate_States_of_America#Seceding_states) and also http://www.civilwarhome.com/cherokeecauses.htm

julienstockwell 7 years, 2 months ago

Thank you, golden coin-person, for defending whatever it is that you're defending for whatever reason.

ferrislives 7 years, 2 months ago

Liberty_One (anonymous) replies "Of course there still would have been a war without slavery. The war wasn't about slavery at all. What makes you think any different?"

To make that kind of blanket statement about a war that you weren't a part of is pretty ridiculous, isn't it Liberty_One. No, the war wasn't only about slavery. But yes, that was definitely one of the issues involved.

Pitts does have it right that among other things, the war was about property rights (e.g. slaves = property) for southerners, which in-turn means one of the main issues was slavery. I don't know how you or anyone could argue that fact.

ferrislives 7 years, 2 months ago

Do you really think that the South thought the North would just let all of those Southern states secede without a consequence? Do you think that could happen successfully now without a response from the federal government? Even if you split those two instances (secession and the war), one definitely provoked the other, regardless of which side you're on. And to act as if the South was completely innocent in the war itself is very naive. There were problems on both sides of the border, and the present-day South just likes to act as if that's not true.

From what I've read, even Lee understood by the end of the war that their mistake was being pro-slavery to the end. Maybe if they had changed that one stance, the history books would look more kindly on them. But that was their choice, and they'll live with it.

ferrislives 7 years, 2 months ago

"Yes, they really did think they would be let go. That was in fact the majority position of northerners as well. Most northern newspapers were in fact advocating to let them go peacefully. I can provide numerous citations if you want."

I'm sure that you can show me proof of some Americans who believed they'd let it go, but anyone with a brain would know that the North wasn't going to do that. Just as you said: Lincoln didn't win the South. And the fact that he wouldn't let something like that go is why.

"Who is acting that way? The South was just as bad as the North--they started printing money, raising tariffs, conscripting the population etc."

I hear a lot of current-day Southerners who say that the South just wanted to live in peace, and the North did everything wrong. My point is that nothing is that simple, and both sides need to realize that there were a lot of atrocities on each side. In my opinion, one of those included slavery.

All in all, the South lost, and I'm glad that they did. Although I'm a big believer in state's rights, there should have been no place for slavery in America. It went completely against why we were founded in the first place, regardless of if our forefathers had slaves themselves. Every other civilized nation abolished it long before, and that's why the South ended up by themselves without support from others.

ferrislives 7 years, 2 months ago

Interesting and valid points.

Regardless, I'm still glad that the North won, because I can't be for sure that the South would have ever gotten rid of slavery. Even if they eventually had ridden themselves of it, I think that race relations would be even worst at this point. But we'll never know.

Thanks for the thought-provoking yet civil commentary. It's been nice Liberty_One.

verity 7 years, 2 months ago

It seems like most commenters (note that I said "most") believe that, even though there were many and complex reasons why the Civil War was fought, they all go back to slavery. Obviously there is not a simple yes/no answer.

I'm still interested in people's opinion as to whether the Civil War could have been avoided. Bob Keeshan presented some interesting "what ifs."

Personally I don't give Lincoln quite the hero status that he has in our history. From the history I have studied, I have the feeling that his election pretty much guaranteed that the southern states would secede. Also it was his (mentally disturbed) southern wife who was an abolitionist long before he was. (One might argue that he never actually believed in abolition, only did it for effect.)

What might have happened if Douglas had been elected in 1860?

What would have happened if the Kansas-Nebraska Act had not been passed?

Could there have been a working compromise that would gradually have brought slavery to an end? Would it have become economically unfeasible and ended on its own? (Before anyone jumps on me about this, I am not advocating that slavery should have been allowed to exist.)

Could the outcome have been any different or were we fated to fight a war that effectively destroyed the southern states?

Have we learned a lesson or could this happen again?

verity 7 years, 2 months ago

Upon rereading my comment, I realize it might be construed that I believe that Mary Lincoln's mental instability had something to do with her abolitionist views. I don't.

Darrell Lea 7 years, 2 months ago

Nice! 168 comments showing on the header below the headline, and not one comment visible to the reader. That's one heck of a tantrum!

I support Mr. Pitts in his writing endeavors, and agree with the fundamental assertions of the article.

Darrell Lea 7 years, 2 months ago

OK - now I can see the comments...? It must be magic!

beatrice 7 years, 2 months ago

‘I think it is high time that we recognize the contribution of our forbearers who worked tirelessly — men like John Quincy Adams, who would not rest until slavery was extinguished in the country.’ -- Michele Bachmann

As Representative Bachmann, a favorite Republican among Tea Party followers, has pointed out, the founding fathers ended slavery, so how could the Civil War have been fought over slavery? I mean, the Civil War was the battle between the U.S. and Mexico after all, fought in like 1912 or something, which is way after the founding fathers created all 50 states as free states in 1776. You people really need to learn your American history.

weeslicket 7 years, 2 months ago

"the way we weren't" from time magazine (it's the civil war article tom shewmon referenced) http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2063679,00.html

funny quote towards the end: "Robust controversies rage and always will, but the distortion and occluded memory that shaped the Lost Cause story is found now only on the academic fringe. What energy exists in the modern version comes from a clique of libertarians who view the Union cause as a fearsome example of authoritarian central government crushing individual dissent. Slave owners make odd libertarian heroes, but by keeping the focus narrowly on Big Government, this school uses the secession cause to dramatize issues of today."

tbaker 7 years, 2 months ago

Roughly 2% of men who fought for the Confederacy owned slaves. It is therefore absurd to believe the issue of slavery is what compelled these men to leave their families and risk their lives and fortunes so that a tiny, super-rich minority of the Southern population's ability to keep slaves was protected. Every time this topic comes up on this blog the matter of slavery vs. state rights is always framed in such a way to insure there is no moral equivalence made between these two reasons but this belies the fact slavery was a "legal" enterprise before the Civil War. When that changed, the government did not help former slave owners recover their financial losses from a formerly legal activity. They simply expected them to see the moral merits of ending slavery more than off-set their financial losses. Forcing the South to appreciate the moral value of abolition was therefore done at the expense of "states rights" from the Southern perspective. Far away men in different states from different cultures imposing their will on a distant, peaceful population. What else would bring men out to die in the hundreds of thousands? Government was very, very local in those days. The concept of far-away people telling you how to live was repugnant to rural society of the era. Men simply did not fight to protect some rich guy's ability to own a slave. That said, since the North won the war, the cri de coeur was / is slavery and (once again) Pitts, et all trots out the same old ideological ignorance with his superficial treatment of the subject. Anything that is seen to diminish the moral supremacy of the slavery motive behind the war is the target of the demagogue. Such were the motives of many "Lawrence Men" of that era. Consider the origins of the term "Jay Hawk" and the motives behind Quantrill's raid on Lawrence. Slavery was certainly an ingredient in the toxic political stew brewing at the time however, like all insurgencies, the Civil War fought right here in eastern Kansas and Western Missouri was full of very local, very personal motives that were far more important to the men doing the fighting than was the cause of slavery.

Scott Morgan 7 years, 2 months ago

Think of the secession as the first act of a divorce. The lady, or man in the marriage was caught doing the dirty deed with another. Slavery is the dirty deed act. One living a slovenly existence equates to different economic bases.

One partner dominates the other in setting rules and guidance in the marriage. This would be representation.

A dozen other things always cause concern in a bad marriage. Who can say why and what pushed the couple into separation?

A dozen years later does the couple claim the reason they split was one of them pumping the pool boy or gal like a crazed dog in heat?

Thus who really knows what the Civil War was really about.

notaubermime 7 years, 2 months ago

Follow the blood. War is a violent act. How many issues elicited a violent response prior to the Civil War? I can only think of one.

That is, unless you can think of an instance when one congressman brutally caned another over strong statements made about the tax code.

Frederic Gutknecht IV 7 years, 2 months ago

This country was formed by and for gawd and cursechins, by jeepers!~) That's why slavery were part of the picture! I say that there sybil war was about money/power/land/control. It was evil. Slavery was a big part of that evil, and so the power of the "good" and "bad", but had to be give up because of those, more important, concerns. Remember that no politician can fool all of the people all of the time, unless they are desperate to be fools, and Lincoln seems to have fooled a lot of people, maybe even his own self. He did manage to get a gem in his crown for it.

weeslicket 7 years, 2 months ago

well, i guess i can sleep well tonight understanding that the great civil war between the states had nothing to do with slavery. nighty-night all.

tbaker 7 years, 2 months ago

For the political elite whose opinions were front and center in the print media of the day and for the historians of the era - yes - slavery was most certainly the cental issue behind the Civil War. This fact is not in dispute.

Nonetheless, the hundreds of thousands of men who picked up a gun, left home, family, career, etc, and decided to fight against the Union Army, slavery was not their chief motivation. Like I said, men were not risking their lives to protect some rich guy's ability to own a slave. They were not lining up and charging head-long into cannon grape-shot and being dismembered and slaughtered in their thousands in order to preserve the institution of slavery. This fact is just as well documented. Slavery was definately the issue the politicians used to start the war, but it most certainly was not the reason the men of the Confederate Army fought it.

gl0ck0wn3r 7 years, 2 months ago

Meh. It's a little hard to parse that out given that the entire economy depended on free labor. Did poor whites own slaves? No. However, they certainly benefited from that pool of labor. Sure, many poor whites didn't immediately identify protecting slavery as a reason to fight - but they fought to protect an economy and a "way of life" that was built on slavery... So yeah, it was the reason they fought it even if they didn't understand that.

weeslicket 7 years, 2 months ago

false statement: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/military/jan-june11/civilwar_04-12.html

and, Ken Burns: "The black-white rift stands at the very center of American history. It is the great challenge to which all our deepest aspirations to freedom must rise. If we forget that--if we forget the great stain of slavery that stands at the heart of our country, our history, our experiment--we forget who we are, and we make the great rift deeper."

all of ken burns's documentaries are excellent. highly recommend watching this one again.

Mike Ford 7 years, 2 months ago

to the poster speaking of the Five Tribes siding with the Confederacy this is not entirely the case. Yes they signed treaties with Albert Pike and the Confederacy, but, Cherokee Chief John Ross was a Keetowah or Pin Indian who was against slavery and was forced to flee to Kansas as pro-slavery Cherokee leader and Confederate Military leader Stand Watie chased Mr. Ross into southern Kansas. That fight was more about Mr. Watie being one of the signers of the Echota Treaty which removed the Cherokees from GA, AL, TN, and NC, and wanting vengeance on those anti removal Cherokee leaders who punished people like Major Ridge and Elias Boudinot with death for signing the Cherokee Removal treaty in the 1830's. Furthermore, there were Creek leaders like Opathleyahola who led anti slavery pro North Indians as refugees to between Leroy and Quenemo, Kansas in the early 1860's. Many of the tribes that signed the Confederate loyalty treaties with Albert Pike later renounced them. Quapaw, Seneca-Shawnee, and Wyandotte people were relocated as refugees near Ottawa, kansas, on Ottawa tribal lands in this time and Captain Falleaf led a unit of Delaware soldiers who fought along the Union peoples who were plotting to take their lands near Lawrence. Munsee Chief Ignatius Caleb who is a ancestor of many of the Munsee people in Pomona, KS now fought in the Battle of Honey Springs in Indian Territory as a Union Indian. Osage warriors acted as home guard on their southern kansas lands before the state of kansas and the lawrence, leavenworth, and galveston railroad along with us senator samuel pomeroy plotted to steal their lands in the early 1870's. This whole US civil war thing opens up a huge can of worms that no one wants to deal with.

jayhawklawrence 7 years, 2 months ago

I think the reasons for the war may simply come down to economics.

Economies based on slavery are inherently flawed and disfunctional.

The economy of the North which became the foundation of today's modern economy, had to overcome the slavery system in order for it to succeed and it proved to be far more powerful.

It came down to something as simple as mathematics and the problems that are caused when people try to support inefficient and seriously flawed economic policies.

A confrontation was inevitable for the country to succeed.

Having sound economic policies are the key to a nations health and well being. I think that is the main point.

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