09 April 2015

Treason and truth

On this day 150 years ago, General Lee surrendered to General Grant at the Appomattox Courthouse in Virginia, effectively ending the greatest and bloodiest act of treason in American history.  At a time when Confederate nostalgia is widespread on the right wing (just observe how common the display of the Confederate battle flag is in some areas -- it is even part of the state flag of Mississippi), and Confederate history and motives for secession are regularly whitewashed by people who should know better, it's worth remembering what the Confederacy was actually about, and what the Civil War was actually about.  In their own words:

"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....."

Mississippi declaration of secession

"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 assumed 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."

South Carolina declaration of secession

"This is the party to whom the people of the North have committed the Government.....The prohibition of slavery in the Territories, hostility to it everywhere, the equality of the black and white races, disregard of all constitutional guarantees in its favor, were boldly proclaimed by its leaders and applauded by its followers. With these principles on their banners and these utterances on their lips the majority of the people of the North demand that we shall receive them as our rulers. The prohibition of slavery in the Territories is the cardinal principle of this organization. For forty years this question has been considered and debated in the halls of Congress, before the people, by the press, and before the tribunals of justice. The majority of the people of the North in 1860 decided it in their own favor. We refuse to submit to that judgment....."

Georgia declaration of secession

"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."

Texas declaration of secession

"Many governments have been founded upon the principle of the subordination and serfdom of certain classes of the same race; such were and are in violation of the laws of nature. Our system commits no such violation of nature’s laws. With us, all of the white race, however high or low, rich or poor, are equal in the eye of the law. Not so with the negro. Subordination is his place. He, by nature, or by the curse against Canaan, is fitted for that condition which he occupies in our system. The architect, in the construction of buildings, lays the foundation with the proper material-- the granite; then comes the brick or the marble. The substratum of our society is made of the material fitted by nature for it, and by experience we know that it is best, not only for the superior, but for the inferior race, that it should be so. It is, indeed, in conformity with the ordinance of the Creator. It is not for us to inquire into the wisdom of His ordinances, or to question them. For His own purposes, He has made one race to differ from another, as He has made 'one star to differ from another star in glory'. The great objects of humanity are best attained when there is conformity to His laws and decrees, in the formation of governments as well as in all things else. Our confederacy is founded upon principles in strict conformity with these laws."

Alexander Stephens, Vice President of the Confederacy

That was the Confederate cause -- slavery and explicit racism drenched in self-righteous Bible-thumping.  It's no wonder certain elements today feel nostalgic for it.


Blogger Shaw Kenawe said...

This is most excellent. I was going to do a post on this, then read yours and linked to it today on my blog.

This should stop the silly arguments I've heard all my life about the Civil War not being about slavery, but about Northern aggression.

What you've provided as proof that the war was about preserving the institution of slavery should be the end of that deliberate lie.

And yes, those states who seceded from the Union were traitors. The Confederate flag is a reminder of their treachery.

09 April, 2015 07:19  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Thanks! The irony is that the Confederates themselves were at least honest in saying straight out what they were fighting for. The modern neo-Confederates don't have the guts.

10 April, 2015 03:51  
Blogger joseph said...

In 1863, Judah Benjamin proposed that the South issue its own Emancipation Proclamation. The Richmond newspaper editorialized, "If we free the slaves, why are we fighting the Civil War." When the South passed a law allowing the use of slaves in the Army, that law made clear that the slaves would remain slaves.

10 April, 2015 18:01  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Joseph: Interesting points, which again reinforce what the whole struggle was about.

11 April, 2015 05:48  

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