So what if the war was about slavery?

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Duncan

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This is simple not true and not supported by the evidence at the time. After the southern rebellion was beaten they did change their tune and try to claim it wasn't about slavery but right before and during the war they were crystal clear that slavery was the reason they were rebelling. All other consideration were a distant second.

"Then, the subjects of controversy between the two parties were merely questions of domestic policy, important it is true, but not vital; now, questions affecting our liberties as a people, and, it may be, our existence as a nation, are under discussion." (Emphasis mine)

"Upon these questions the parties are arrayed, and the contest approaches. Upon the one side the Democratic party, buoyant with the recollection of many victories gained in the cause of the country; on the other Freesoilers, black Republicans and Abolitionists, consolidated and combined. These, sir, are the two great contending political forces that divide the country. All others are mere political atoms, that cannot and will not be felt, except so far as they may affect the contest between the two main organizations." (Emphasis mine)

"Such, gentlemen, are the parties to the contest. The issue between them should be clearly understood, especially here at the South. I assert, and shall maintain it with the proofs, that this issue is, whether African slavery shall be abolished here in the States, where it now exists? Let us not be deceived upon this point. Men may talk about our rights in the territories, but depend upon it they are not the questions now in issue. The abolition of slavery here at home is the design of our opponents. This is the bond that cements all the anti-slavery elements in one solid column against us."

March 9, 1860

John W. Ellis Governor of Georgia

In view of such effects and consequences here from the mere possession of one branch of Congress we ought not to shut our eyes to the effects of the possession of the government in all of its departments by any Black Republican. It would abolitionize Maryland in a year, raise a powerful abolition party in Va., Kentucky, and Missouri in two years, and foster and rear up a free labour party in [the] whole South in four years. Thus the strife will be transferred from the North to our own friends. Then security and peace in our borders is gone forever. Therefore I deeply lament that any portion of our people shall hug to their bosoms the delusive idea that we should wait for some "overt act." I shall consider our ruin already accomplished when we submit to a party whose every principle, whose daily declarations and acts are an open proclamation of war against us, and the insidious effects of whose policy I see around me every day. For one I would raise an insurrection, if I could not carry a revolution, to save my countrymen, and endeavor to save them in spite of themselves. – Letter from Senator Robert Toombs to Alexander Stephens-February 10,1860
The anti-slavery party contends that slavery is wrong in itself, and the Government is a consolidated national democracy. We of the South contend that slavery is right, and that this is a confederate Republic of sovereign States.

—Laurence Massillon Keitt (D-SC), Speech to the House, January 1860.



We recognize the fact of the inferiority stamped upon that race of men by the Creator, and from the cradle to the grave, our Government, as a civil institution, marks that inferiority.

—Senator Jefferson Davis (D-MS) (29 February 1860)

We prefer, however, our system of industry, by which labor and capital are identified in interest, and capital, therefore, protects labor–by which our population doubles every twenty years–by which starvation is unknown, and abundance crowns the land–by which order is preserved by unpaid police, and the most fertile regions of the world, where the white man cannot labor, are brought into usefulness by the labor of the African, and the whole world is blessed by our own productions. All we demand of other peoples is, to be let alone, to work out our own high destinies. United together, and we must be the most independent, as we are the most important among the nations of the world. United together, and we require no other instrument to conquer peace, than our beneficent productions. United together, and we must be a great, free and prosperous people, whose renown must spread throughout the civilized world, and pass down, we trust, to the remotest ages. We ask you to join us, in forming a Confederacy of Slaveholding States.

—Convention of South Carolina, Address of the people of South Carolina to the people of the Slaveholding States. December 25, 1860.

Our people have come to this on the question of slavery. I am willing, in that address to rest it upon that question. I think it is the great central point from which we are now proceeding, and I am not willing to divert the public attention from it.

—Laurence Massillon Keitt (D-SC), South Carolina secession debates. December 1860.

Better, far better! endure all the horrors of civil war than to see the dusky sons of Ham leading the fair daughters of the South to the altar.

William M. Thomson to Warner A. Thomson. February 2, 1861.

The South is now in the formation of a Slave Republic. This, perhaps, is not admitted generally. There are many contented to believe that the South as a geographical section is in mere assertion of its independence; that, it is instinct with no especial truth—pregnant of no distinct social nature; that for some unaccountable reason the two sections have become opposed to each other; that for reasons equally insufficient, there is disagreement between the peoples that direct them; and that from no overruling necessity, no impossibility of co-existence, but as mere matter of policy, it has been considered best for the South to strike out for herself and establish an independence of her own. This, I fear, is an inadequate conception of the controversy.

—L.W. Spratt, The Philosophy of Secession: A Southern View. February 13, 1861.

Isham Harris, Governor of Tennessee, January 7, 1861, (Messages of the Governors of Tennessee, p. 255); "The systematic, wanton, and long continued agitation of the slavery question, with the actual and threatened aggressions of the Northern States and a portion of their people, upon the well-defined constitutional rights of the Southern citizens; the rapid growth and increase, in all the elements of power, of a purely sectional party,..."



Henry M. Rector, Governor of Arkansas, March 2, 1861, Arkansas Secession Convention, p. 44 "The area of slavery must be extended correlative with its antagonism, or it will be put speedily in the 'course of ultimate extinction.'....The extension of slavery is the vital point of the whole controversy between the North and the South...Amendments to the federal constitution are urged by some as a panacea for all the ills that beset us. That instrument is amply sufficient as it now stands, for the protection of Southern rights, if it was only enforced. The South wants practical evidence of good faith from the North, not mere paper agreements and compromises. They believe slavery a sin, we do not, and there lies the trouble."

S. C. Posey, Lauderdale County, Alabama, speaking to the Alabama Secession Convention on Jan. 25, 1861: "Mr. President, the fierce strife we have had with the Northern States, which has led to the disruption of the Government, is a trumpet-tongued answer to this question. They have declared, by the election of Lincoln, “There shall be no more slave territory–no more slave States.” To this the Cotton States have responded by acts of secession and a Southern Confederacy; which is but a solemn declaration of these States, that they will not submit to the Northern idea of restricting slavery to its present limits, and confining it to the slave States."

John Tyler Morgan, Dallas County, Alabama; also speaking to the Alabama Secession Convention on January 25, 1861: "The Ordinance of Secession rests, in a great measure, upon our assertion of a right to enslave the African race, or, what amounts to the same thing, to hold them in slavery."

Isham Harris, Governor of Tennessee, January 7, 1861, (Messages of the Governors of Tennessee, p. 255); "The systematic, wanton, and long continued agitation of the slavery question, with the actual and threatened aggressions of the Northern States and a portion of their people, upon the well-defined constitutional rights of the Southern citizens; the rapid growth and increase, in all the elements of power, of a purely sectional party,..."

I could literally post another 100 quotes on southerners themselves proclaiming slavery as the reason they rebelled. Even states that didn't mention slavery in their secession ordinances talk almost exclusively of slavery at their secession conventions.

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I only need two quotes to demonstrate why the war was fought;

" “If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it;" - Abraham Lincoln, 1862

"“to sustain a government capable of vindicating its just and rightful authority, independent of ni**ers," - William Sherman

The war had absolutely nothing to do with slavery, as you can see above.

PS- Sorry, I had to edit Sherman's remark. It was so foul, hateful, and filthy, it would have been, quite properly, censored. I'm sure you understand. Thanks.
 
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Duncan

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Nope.

Did you froget the Declarations of Secession by the slaveholding states?

They were pretty clear that slavery was the main concern for their rebellion.


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Their secession was perfectly lawful and peaceful, as proved by their secession documents (you can show me a federal statute forbidding secession maybe?). The war was fought to preserve Confederate independence, and for no other reason.
 
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Duncan

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I love the “they were just simple farmers who didn’t own slaves who just wanted to preserve their states’ rights!”

1.What states’ right was in question at the time of secession?

2. Was the southern economy largely dependent upon slavery?

3. Did they or did they not establish an almost identical federal government with an almost identical constitution?

If their concern was truly the individual liberty of states to govern themselves without federal oversight, they did a miserable job of creating such a nation when they essentially recreated the USA (with slavery protection enthused in their constitution). These arguments are weak, illogical, and frankly I have no idea why so many people insist on making them. These men took oaths to fight only for the USA, then violated those oaths and went to war with said country. They were by definition traitors, and it’s a shame that the Lost Cause movement has been so successful in permeating these lies about the CSA over two centuries later.

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" They were by definition traitors"

Gasp!! Not Traitors?! And Slave-owners?! Oh noes!! By the way, do you mean traitors and slave-owners like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and John Hancock? Those kind of traitors and slave-owners? It really is a shame that the Revolutionary War movement has been so successful in permeating these lies about the USA over a century and a half later.
 

unionblue

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Their secession was perfectly lawful and peaceful, as proved by their secession documents (you can show me a federal statute forbidding secession maybe?).

Sorry, but again, not keeping with actual, historical fact. Unilateral secession was not lawful nor peaceful. Long before Lincoln had even been sworn in, the slaveholding South had committed numerous acts of war and theft.

There is no provision or mode within the US Constitution that permits the act of secession. Even Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court, Roger Taney, said so, hence no effort by the slaveholding States to apply for secession under that document or the law.


The war was fought to preserve Confederate independence, and for no other reason.

A cause is needed in order to aspire for independence, as the need for such does not happen in a political or social vacuum.

Slavery, as declared by the slaveholding States themselves, was the reason for secession and civil war.

Unionblue
 

BuckeyeWarrior

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I only need two quotes to demonstrate why the war was fought;

" “If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it;" - Abraham Lincoln, 1862

"“to sustain a government capable of vindicating its just and rightful authority, independent of ni**ers," - William Sherman

The war had absolutely nothing to do with slavery, as you can see above.

PS- Sorry, I had to edit Sherman's remark. It was so foul, hateful, and filthy, it would have been, quite properly, censored. I'm sure you understand. Thanks.
I have seen that quote from Abraham Lincoln many times. For some reason those that argue that the war wasn't about slavery also leave out the last paragraph. Here is the entire letter.
Executive Mansion,

Washington, August 22, 1862.

Hon. Horace Greeley:

Dear Sir.

I have just read yours of the 19th. addressed to myself through the New-York Tribune. If there be in it any statements, or assumptions of fact, which I may know to be erroneous, I do not, now and here, controvert them. If there be in it any inferences which I may believe to be falsely drawn, I do not now and here, argue against them. If there be perceptable in it an impatient and dictatorial tone, I waive it in deference to an old friend, whose heart I have always supposed to be right.

As to the policy I "seem to be pursuing" as you say, I have not meant to leave any one in doubt.

I would save the Union. I would save it the shortest way under the Constitution. The sooner the national authority can be restored; the nearer the Union will be "the Union as it was." If there be those who would not save the Union, unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause. I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors; and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views.

I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official duty; and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men every where could be free.

Yours,
A. Lincoln.

With that belief Lincoln was morally head and shoulders above the leaders of the southern rebellion.
 

BuckeyeWarrior

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Their secession was perfectly lawful and peaceful, as proved by their secession documents (you can show me a federal statute forbidding secession maybe?). The war was fought to preserve Confederate independence, and for no other reason.
Can you show me in the constitution were this secession is? I can't seem to find it. I have found this though;
"This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding." Article 6 Clause 2

I can't see how the constitution can be supreme if a state can just vote and say I'm outta here.
 

Man Perkins

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" They were by definition traitors"

Gasp!! Not Traitors?! And Slave-owners?! Oh noes!! By the way, do you mean traitors and slave-owners like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and John Hancock? Those kind of traitors and slave-owners? It really is a shame that the Revolutionary War movement has been so successful in permeating these lies about the USA over a century and a half later.
You can go back and read any of my prior posts on this thread and you’ll find that I’ve shared this exact sentiment. The founding fathers were no more morally justified or less hypocritical than the CSA. If you’re trying to make the argument that the CSA should get a pass because the USA was also bad, please don’t.

To expand and clarify:

- the founding fathers were slaveholders, as were the founders of the Confederacy

- the founding fathers were traitors, as were the founders of the Confederacy

- the founding fathers have successfully been generally whitewashed by American history, as have the founders of the Confederacy to a large extent

Just in case that wasn’t already made abundantly clear for those who feel that this must be a discussion in which exclusively either the CSA or the USA was in the wrong and committed evil acts and defended immorality.
 
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Potomac Pride

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This is simple not true and not supported by the evidence at the time. After the southern rebellion was beaten they did change their tune and try to claim it wasn't about slavery but right before and during the war they were crystal clear that slavery was the reason they were rebelling. All other consideration were a distant second.

Isham Harris, Governor of Tennessee, January 7, 1861, (Messages of the Governors of Tennessee, p. 255); "The systematic, wanton, and long continued agitation of the slavery question, with the actual and threatened aggressions of the Northern States and a portion of their people, upon the well-defined constitutional rights of the Southern citizens; the rapid growth and increase, in all the elements of power, of a purely sectional party,..."

Henry M. Rector, Governor of Arkansas, March 2, 1861, Arkansas Secession Convention, p. 44 "The area of slavery must be extended correlative with its antagonism, or it will be put speedily in the 'course of ultimate extinction.'....The extension of slavery is the vital point of the whole controversy between the North and the South...Amendments to the federal constitution are urged by some as a panacea for all the ills that beset us. That instrument is amply sufficient as it now stands, for the protection of Southern rights, if it was only enforced. The South wants practical evidence of good faith from the North, not mere paper agreements and compromises. They believe slavery a sin, we do not, and there lies the trouble."

S. C. Posey, Lauderdale County, Alabama, speaking to the Alabama Secession Convention on Jan. 25, 1861: "Mr. President, the fierce strife we have had with the Northern States, which has led to the disruption of the Government, is a trumpet-tongued answer to this question. They have declared, by the election of Lincoln, “There shall be no more slave territory–no more slave States.” To this the Cotton States have responded by acts of secession and a Southern Confederacy; which is but a solemn declaration of these States, that they will not submit to the Northern idea of restricting slavery to its present limits, and confining it to the slave States."

I could literally post another 100 quotes on southerners themselves proclaiming slavery as the reason they rebelled. Even states that didn't mention slavery in their secession ordinances talk almost exclusively of slavery at their secession conventions.
The issue of slavery was an important topic of discussion at the secession convention of the southern states. However, for the states of the upper south, slavery was really not the deciding factor that led to their secession. You mentioned the comments of the Governors of both Arkansas and Tennessee in your post. Both of these states had originally wanted to remain in the Union. In fact, Arkansas had even voted against secession at their convention in March of 1861. However, subsequent events would result in a dramatic change following Ft. Sumter. Lincoln's call for troops to suppress the south in April 1861 resulted in the recall of the secession convention in a special session. The delegates at the convention were in agreement on one major issue - any attempt to coerce the southern states to remain in the Union would be a legitimate reason for Arkansas to secede. Subsequently, the convention then voted overwhelmingly to secede from the Union in May 1861. The convention delegates considered Lincoln's call for troops to be an abuse of federal power and an attempt to subjugate the south.

This is specifically referred to in the Arkansas Ordinance of Secession in May 1861 which states:

“…….he (Abraham Lincoln) has, in the face of resolutions passed by this Convention, pledging the State of Arkansas to resist to the last extremity any attempt on the part of such power to coerce any State that seceded from the old Union, proclaimed to the world that war should be waged against such States, until they should be compelled to submit to their rule, and large forces to accomplish this have by this same power been called out, and are now being marshalled to carry out this inhuman design, and to longer submit to such rule or remain in the old Union of the United States would be disgraceful and ruinous to the State of Arkansas.”

As for Tennessee, this state initially held a public referendum in Feb. 1861 and voted not to even hold a secession convention. However, President Lincoln’s subsequent call for troops to be used against the deep South forced the state to reevaluate their decision. Even many of those who had been staunch Unionists could not abide the use of force against their fellow Southerners. The state legislators called for another public referendum and the voters decided to secede by a clear majority in June 1861. The state of Tennessee considered Lincoln’s use of troops as an illegal attempt to coerce the south and a violation of the sovereignty of the states.
 

Duncan

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I have seen that quote from Abraham Lincoln many times. For some reason those that argue that the war wasn't about slavery also leave out the last paragraph. Here is the entire letter.
Executive Mansion,

Washington, August 22, 1862.

Hon. Horace Greeley:

Dear Sir.

I have just read yours of the 19th. addressed to myself through the New-York Tribune. If there be in it any statements, or assumptions of fact, which I may know to be erroneous, I do not, now and here, controvert them. If there be in it any inferences which I may believe to be falsely drawn, I do not now and here, argue against them. If there be perceptable in it an impatient and dictatorial tone, I waive it in deference to an old friend, whose heart I have always supposed to be right.

As to the policy I "seem to be pursuing" as you say, I have not meant to leave any one in doubt.

I would save the Union. I would save it the shortest way under the Constitution. The sooner the national authority can be restored; the nearer the Union will be "the Union as it was." If there be those who would not save the Union, unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause. I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors; and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views.

I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official duty; and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men every where could be free.

Yours,
A. Lincoln.

With that belief Lincoln was morally head and shoulders above the leaders of the southern rebellion.

"I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official duty;"

Thank for acknowledging that the official war policy of the United States, as clearly expressed by President Lincoln himself, was exclusively to prevent Confederate Independence, and had nothing at all to do with slavery. I genuinely appreciate it.

"and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men every where could be free."

"With that belief Lincoln was morally head and shoulders above the leaders of the southern rebellion."

"We profess to have no taste for running and catching ni**ers" - Abraham Lincoln (on the FSL)

Sorry I had to edit Lincoln's foul, filthy, and dehumanizing description of African-Americans. In it's original form, it would have been, quite properly, censored. And maybe not quite as moral as his ridiculous mythical legend leads people to believe.


PS- No comment on Sherman's view of the war and African-Americans? That's OK, I understand.
 
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DanSBHawk

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I have seen that quote from Abraham Lincoln many times. For some reason those that argue that the war wasn't about slavery also leave out the last paragraph. Here is the entire letter.
Executive Mansion,

Washington, August 22, 1862.

Hon. Horace Greeley:

Dear Sir.

I have just read yours of the 19th. addressed to myself through the New-York Tribune. If there be in it any statements, or assumptions of fact, which I may know to be erroneous, I do not, now and here, controvert them. If there be in it any inferences which I may believe to be falsely drawn, I do not now and here, argue against them. If there be perceptable in it an impatient and dictatorial tone, I waive it in deference to an old friend, whose heart I have always supposed to be right.

As to the policy I "seem to be pursuing" as you say, I have not meant to leave any one in doubt.

I would save the Union. I would save it the shortest way under the Constitution. The sooner the national authority can be restored; the nearer the Union will be "the Union as it was." If there be those who would not save the Union, unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause. I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors; and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views.

I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official duty; and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men every where could be free.

Yours,
A. Lincoln.

With that belief Lincoln was morally head and shoulders above the leaders of the southern rebellion.
This is why these arguments are never settled. You point out that a quote is deliberately and repeatedly taken out of context, and rather than some acknowledgement or admission of the point you made, the discussion veers wildly into some new out-of-context quote.

This is not a rational discussion, and it's not changing anyone's thinking.
 

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