Did the south really fight over slavery? Hear it from the horse’s mouth in his own words.

unionblue

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I notice the above is a 'post war' interview.

If the old soldier in this interview truly believes that slavery did not bring on the Civil War, then I pity him and the mental gymnastics he had to perform to get himself to say such, when the historical evidence is so clear and so oft repeated.

"...any man who pretends to believe that this is not a war for the emancipation of the blacks...is either a fool or a liar." -- From the Videte, Nov. 2, 1862, newspaper of Morgan's Confederate Brigade.
 

Wolfman0125

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I notice the above is a 'post war' interview.

If the old soldier in this interview truly believes that slavery did not bring on the Civil War, then I pity him and the mental gymnastics he had to perform to get himself to say such, when the historical evidence is so clear and so oft repeated.

"...any man who pretends to believe that this is not a war for the emancipation of the blacks...is either a fool or a liar." -- From the Videte, Nov. 2, 1862, newspaper of Morgan's Confederate Brigade.
Which came first? The emancipation of slaves or the start of the war?
 

Rhea Cole

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In 1863 Mrs Chestnut & others began to be disgusted by the kind of talk they were hearing from some of the secessionist hotheads. Before the war, it had all been about preserving slavery. The Mississippi State secession document mentions nothing else, e.g. Now as it became more & more obvious that the war was lost, those same people were changing their tune. Suddenly the war war started to preserve State’s Rights or an ill defined cause. Anything but telling the truth would do.

The phrase, “The Lost Cause” did not appear in print until the book by the same name appeared after the war. Like many books that found a movement, The Lost Cause established the themes that we are all too familiar with. Lee & Stonewall became demigods. The South fought for a cause, not to preserve slavery. Only superior numbers overwhelm noble Southern manhood. Groups such as the UDC were founded explicitly to see to it thst their hallowed dead were martyred to a higher principle, not traitors who fought to preserve a disgraceful, morally indefensible institution.

The despairing & grieving white Southern population jumped to to embrace the false narrative of The Cause. The alternative was to dwell on an unpalatable truth. The Southern states had started a war, killed 3/4 of a million soldiers & destroyed their culture in defense the reviled institution of slavery.

Fredric Douglas, John Mosby & many others decried & exposed the perverse narrative that was replacing the truth. We see something similar in our own day. By the 1890’s The Lost Cause false narrative had become Southern orthodoxy. The post at the head of this thread is testimony to that.

Sadly, repetition of the big lie still goes on today. A Google search of “The Lost Cause” will generate 63,000,000 articles exposing it as a false narrative. As it is, this post is the sad testimony of a good man who knew better perpetrating a lie. Whatever his motivation was, it is our responsibility to see that the truth is told today. There is no excuse for not knowing better.
 
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unionblue

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Which came first? The emancipation of slaves or the start of the war?
@Wolfman0125 ,

I apologize if you have seen this story before, but perhaps an incident with my grandchildren at Gettysburg might help answer your above question.

After touring all day with my grandkids, Corey and Paige, when they were both about 10 years old, telling them about the fighting between various units and such, they both grew silent for a bit.

Then Paige turned to me and asked, "But Pappaw, WHY were they all fighting here?"

These men did not fall from the sky and fought and killed each other by the thousands because they had nothing better to do.

The simple fact of history is that slavery brought on secession and secession brought on the Civil War. All knew that fact going in and that fact only got twisted AFTER the war when one of the worst reasons a people fought needed an excuse to justify such a wrong action.

Problem is, we're stuck with that fact, if we're honest enough to acknowledge it and move forward from it. No slight-of-hand or fond, rewritten memory, is going to erase that fact. I feel a lot of sympathy for that man and others like him after the war, but twisting memory is not history.

Sincerely,
Unionblue
 

unionblue

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What action or proclamation on the part of the government prevented or hindered the practice of slavery prior to the war? Yes, there was debate, but nothing had been done about it. It was all talk but nothing official.

You have to look no further than the Southern declarations of secession or Lincoln's 2nd inaugural to know slavery was THE issue that brought on the war.
 

Johnny Shafto

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Tell me if you think this is fair…
In the middle of 19th century our country’s economy was rather sharply divided between an industrialized north and an agrarian south. The southern economy, and way of life, had become dependent upon a terrible source of labor developed from years of abuse based primarily upon disrespect, profit, even greed. Perhaps it was this sudden fear of loosing a way of life that pointed the canons at Ft. Sumter. Perhaps it could be argued that although slavery was the issue, it was in some ways indirectly. It was also a fear of loosing that “southern way of life”, far removed from her perceptions of northern industrialization, that sat so heavily on her people. As with so many things money, or the lack there of, is ultimately the root of much of man’s misery. As the song says “Old times there are not forgotten.” Perhaps ultimately it may have been fear that struck the match. Sadly, if true, somewhere here may have led the path to avoidance.
 

major bill

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The path of avoidance was to compromise in a way that protected the "southern way if life". This could have been done by protecting and expanding slavery. But additional compromises would have been needed to stop industrialization in the North. Northern industrialization, based on free labor, would have at some point have moved the nation's political power to the North, so some compromises would have been needed. Some revised form of United States government would have been needed to keep the slave owners the dominant political power in the United States.
 

major bill

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Perhaps we need a new thread on what comprises could have occurred to stop industrialization in the North and convert the free labor system in the North in to a slave labor system.
 

Rhea Cole

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Tell me if you think this is fair…
In the middle of 19th century our country’s economy was rather sharply divided between an industrialized north and an agrarian south. The southern economy, and way of life, had become dependent upon a terrible source of labor developed from years of abuse based primarily upon disrespect, profit, even greed. Perhaps it was this sudden fear of loosing a way of life that pointed the canons at Ft. Sumter. Perhaps it could be argued that although slavery was the issue, it was in some ways indirectly. It was also a fear of loosing that “southern way of life”, far removed from her perceptions of northern industrialization, that sat so heavily on her people. As with so many things money, or the lack there of, is ultimately the root of much of man’s misery. As the song says “Old times there are not forgotten.” Perhaps ultimately it may have been fear that struck the match. Sadly, if true, somewhere here may have led the path to avoidance.
There is no supposing, on the other handing, conjectures or anything else… for half a century before secession the SC hotheads had sought secession. The one & the only issue in question was the preservation of slavery. Perhaps a careful record of the highly documented historic record is in order. The Nashville Convention in the 1850’s would be a good place to start. The Secession Commissioners who were tasked with exposing why the states had seceded another.
 

Philip Leigh

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According to historian William C. Davis, "The widespread Northern myth that Confederates went to the battlefield to perpetuate slavery is just that, a myth. Their letters and diaries, in the tens of thousands, reveal again and again that they fought because their Southern homeland was invaded. . ."
 

Rhea Cole

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According to historian William C. Davis, "The widespread Northern myth that Confederates went to the battlefield to perpetuate slavery is just that, a myth. Their letters and diaries, in the tens of thousands, reveal again and again that they fought because their Southern homeland was invaded. . ."
Have you ever read the documents published by the seceding states explaining why the seceded? Also, the invasion defense reason for enlisting did exist… why were they being invaded? Oh, yea… the states had seceded “.,, in order to guarantee the right to hold other human beings as property.” Davis’ misrepresentation is fatuous. I can only assume that he is ashamed of the real reason they fought.

My slaveholding relatives went to war on in full knowledge of what they were fighting for. People like Davis depict them as doofuses who didn’t know what was really going on are profoundly disrespectful.
 

rerobins

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According to historian William C. Davis, "The widespread Northern myth that Confederates went to the battlefield to perpetuate slavery is just that, a myth. Their letters and diaries, in the tens of thousands, reveal again and again that they fought because their Southern homeland was invaded. . ."
Well there is a difference between what is the root cause of the war and what mens motivation were to fight. I don’t doubt that large number of southerners didn’t fight primarily to defend their homeland.
 

unionblue

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According to historian William C. Davis, "The widespread Northern myth that Confederates went to the battlefield to perpetuate slavery is just that, a myth. Their letters and diaries, in the tens of thousands, reveal again and again that they fought because their Southern homeland was invaded. . ."
I like William C. Davis.

But I wonder how he can come to that conclusion with all the historical sources he must have seen when writing his excellent books?

And again, the reasons an individual may gave when enlisting and fighting must be made subordinate to the political goals of the individuals and leadership that led them to enlist in the first place.

Slavery, the fear that it would first be restricted, then gradually abolished, was the ultimate cause of secession. Pretending that the institution was not the first domino that led to all others falling later is just not history.

It's desperation.
 

bdtex

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And again, the reasons an individual may gave when enlisting and fighting must be made subordinate to the political goals of the individuals and leadership that led them to enlist in the first place.
Maybe to you in the 21st Century, but that doesn't mean it must to the enlisted men in the 19th Century.
 

DanSBHawk

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What action or proclamation on the part of the government prevented or hindered the practice of slavery prior to the war? Yes, there was debate, but nothing had been done about it. It was all talk but nothing official.
"Prevented or hindered" slavery? How about the government merely threatening slavery? Merely losing a national election caused slavery proponents to secede and start shooting.
 
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