The North Did Not Go to War to End Slavery.
If they had, they would have started by passing a constitution amendment abolishing slavery. They did the opposite. They overwhelmingly passed the Corwin Amendment, which left black people in slavery forever, even beyond the reach of Congress. This alone proves, unequivocally, that the North did not go to war to end slavery or free the slaves.
The North does not get to redefine, in the middle of the war, its reason for going to war. What the North proclaimed in the beginning, stands, as its reason for going to war ¾ and it is unchangeable. War measures halfway through the war, such as the Emancipation Proclamation that freed no slaves (and prevented close to a million slaves from achieving their freedom), have nothing to do with why the North went to war in the first place.
A near-unanimous resolution entitled the War Aims Resolution established early-on what the North was fighting for. It was passed by the Northern Congress in July, 1861, three months after the bombardment of Fort Sumter:
. . . That this war is not waged upon our part in any spirit of oppression, nor for any purpose of conquest or subjugation, nor for the purpose of overthrowing or interfering with the rights or institutions [slavery] of the States, but to defend and maintain the supremacy of the Constitution [which allowed and protected slavery], and to preserve the Union. . . .
Throughout the antebellum years as the country achieved its Manifest Destiny marching westward, winning the Mexican War, growing in wealth and power, no credible Northern leader said they should march armies into the South to end slavery.
Throughout the first two years of the war, almost nobody in the North said they were fighting to end slavery. To do so would risk racist Union soldiers deserting because they signed up to fight for the Union, not to free slaves whom they feared would move north and inundate their towns and cities and be job competition. Julia Dent Grant, wife of Ulysses S. Grant, might have freed her four slaves if she had thought it was an abolition war and not a war for the Union.
Most Northerners, excluding a few truly good-hearted abolitionists, accepted slavery. As stated earlier, historians Lee Benson and Gavin Wright maintain that the percentage of abolitionists in the North was "probably no more than 2 per cent, almost certainly no more than 5 per cent, of the Northern electorate," and, ironically, many of them didn't like slavery because they didn't like blacks and did not want to associate with them. Prominent abolitionist Elijah Lovejoy had been murdered by an outraged Northern mob in Lincoln's own Illinois in 1837. The mob was trying to destroy Lovejoy's abolitionist materials and his press.
By 1861, Northerners had been supporting slavery for 241 years and would continue supporting it throughout the War Between the States since five slave states, as noted earlier, fought for the North. Again, those states are Maryland, Delaware, Kentucky, Missouri and West Virginia, which came into the Union during the war as a slave state.
If the North was fighting to end slavery, it would never permit slave states to fight for the Union - or, it would have ended slavery in the Union slave states immediately.
It did the opposite and made sure by constitutional amendment and proclamation that slavery in the Union was protected, just as it was, and had always been, by the Constitution.
That's how the North really felt about slavery and freeing the slaves.
Lincoln himself took it a step further. He supported the first Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution - the Corwin Amendment - which would have left black people in slavery forever, even beyond the reach of Congress. It passed March 2, 1861, two days before Lincoln's first inaugural. It reads:
No amendment shall be made to the Constitution which will authorize or give to Congress the power to abolish or interfere, within any State, with the domestic institutions thereof [slavery], including that of persons held to labor [slaves] or service by the laws of said State.
About the Corwin Amendment, Lincoln said, in his first inaugural on March 4, 1861:
I understand a proposed amendment to the Constitution — which amendment, however, I have not seen — has passed Congress, to the effect that the Federal Government shall never interfere with the domestic institutions of the States, including that of persons held to service. To avoid misconstruction of what I have said, I depart from my purpose not to speak of particular amendments so far as to say that, holding such a provision to now be implied constitutional law, I have no objection to its being made express and irrevocable. (Emphasis added.)
Before Lincoln took office, President James Buchanan actually signed the Corwin Amendment after it had been approved by Congress and was ready to be sent to the states for ratification. Buchanan's act was symbolic only.
It is important to note that the Corwin Amendment had required a two-thirds vote in the House and Senate and it had passed with mostly Northern votes because seven Southern states were out of the Union by then and did not vote. Indeed, the bill's sponsor, Representative Thomas Corwin, was from Ohio.
Three Northern states ratified the Corwin Amendment - Ohio, Maryland and Illinois - before the war made it moot.
After the Corwin Amendment's passage, Lincoln sent a letter with a copy of the Corwin Amendment to each state's governor pointing out that Buchanan had signed it. Lincoln was making sure everyone knew of his strong support of slavery forever, even beyond the reach of Congress.
Before even mentioning the Corwin Amendment in his first inaugural, Lincoln made it clear that he strongly supported slavery and had "no inclination" to end it:
Apprehension seems to exist among the people of the Southern States that by the accession of a Republican administration their property and their peace and personal security are to be endangered. There has never been any reasonable cause for such apprehension. Indeed, the most ample evidence to the contrary has all the while existed and been open to their inspection. It is found in nearly all the published speeches of him who now addresses you. I do but quote from one of those speeches when I declare that "I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so." Those who nominated and elected me did so with full knowledge that I had made this and many similar declarations, and had never recanted them. And, more than this, they placed in the platform for my acceptance, and as a law to themselves and to me, the clear and emphatic resolution which I now read: I now reiterate these sentiments; and, in doing so, I only press upon the public attention the most conclusive evidence of which the case is susceptible, that the property, peace, and security of no section are to be in any wise endangered by the now incoming administration. (Emphasis added.)
On August 22, 1862, sixteen months into the war, Lincoln wrote to Horace Greeley, editor of the New York Tribune, in response to a letter Greeley had sent him, and reiterated:
. . . 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 that¾What 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 the Union. (Lincoln's italics.)
Exactly one month - September 22, 1862 - after writing his letter to Horace Greeley, Lincoln issued the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation and the very first paragraph states clearly that the war is being fought to restore the Union and not to free the slaves:
I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States of America, and Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy thereof, do hereby proclaim and declare that hereafter, as heretofore, the war will be prosecuted for the object of practically restoring the constitutional relation between the United States, and each of the States, and the people thereof, in which States that relation is, or may be, suspended or disturbed. (Emphasis added.)
Clearly, the North did not instigate a war to end slavery.
The focus on slavery as the primary cause of the War Between the States - even indirectly - is a fraud of biblical proportions and it prevents real understanding of American history.
Pulitzer Prize winning historian and Lincoln scholar, David H. Donald, back in the 1960s, was concerned about the overemphasis of slavery as the cause of the war. He said the Civil Rights Movement seems to have been the reason for stressing slavery as the cause of the war.
I have already proven that the North did not go to war to end slavery. There is much more evidence but the following is a good summary of the things in the beginning that show, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that the North did not go to war to free the slaves or because of slavery:
The Emancipation Proclamation states, literally, that it is a war measure, and it was not issued early on.
It was not issued before Lincoln took office, or after the bombardment of Fort Sumter, or during Lincoln's first inaugural. It was issued two years into the war - and it freed no slaves (or few).
The conditions around the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation and its timetable establish the fact that the North most certainly did not go to war on April 12, 1861 to end slavery or free the slaves.
The North's support for slavery goes back to the beginning of the country when Northern (and British) slave traders brought most of the slaves here and made huge fortunes in the process. Dr. Edgar J. McManus in his excellent book, Black Bondage in the North, writes that "Boston merchants entered the African trade as early as 1644, and by 1676 they were bringing back cargoes from as far away as East Africa and Madagascar." McManus writes:
[The slave trade] quickly became one of the cornerstones of New England's commercial prosperity . . . which yielded enormous commercial profits.
Virtually the entire infrastructure of the Old North was built on profits from the slave trade and slave traders such as Boston's Peter Faneuil of Faneuil Hall, the ironically named "Cradle of Liberty," which might have been a cradle for him but sure wasn't for the tens of thousands of black Africans he was responsible for snatching from their families and forcing into the horrors of the Middle Passage.
McManus explains the importance of the slave trade to the New England economy:
[The slave trade] stimulated the growth of other industries. Shipbuilding, the distilleries, the molasses trade, agricultural exports to the West Indies, and the large numbers of artisans, sailors, and farmers were all dependent upon the traffic in Negroes. It became the hub of New England's economy.
See also the excellent 2005 book Complicity, How the North Promoted, Prolonged, and Profited from Slavery, by Anne Farrow, Joel Lang, and Jenifer Frank of The Hartford Courant.
Let's go beyond the North's guilt for enthusiastic, widespread slave trading and look at the whole picture.
The North could not have gotten cargoes of slaves without tremendous help from blacks themselves. Black African tribal chieftains had captives from tribal warfare rounded up and waiting in places like Bunce Island off modern Sierra Leone to be picked up by slave traders from all over the world. The constant unrest in Africa today with genocides, kidnappings, never-ending warfare, people hacked to death, makes it easy to understand. Black tribal chieftains were worse then because there was no media attention on them. They made slavery easy. White people did not even have to get off the ship and usually didn't. Slavery could never have happened without those blacks in Africa who were all too willing to sell other blacks into slavery for profit.
Slavery has always existed including today. Indians enslaved other Indians. The Romans would conquer a place and kill all the men and take all the women and children into slavery. Most cultures, worldwide, had slavery at one time or another. American slavery is not the first. Only 5% of slaves in the exodus from Africa, called the African Diaspora, ended up in the United States. Many ended up in Brazil and other places in South America and the Caribbean.
Slavery is a blight on humanity but a fact of human history and we should understand the truth of it and not the politically correct lie that blames only the South. All Americans, but especially African-Americans, deserve to know the entire truth about slavery and not some white-washed version. "Truth" is why Lerone Bennett wrote Forced into Glory, to reveal that racist Abraham Lincoln deliberately did not free any slaves (or freed very few) with the Emancipation Proclamation, and, most of Lincoln's life (Lerone Bennett says all of his life) supported sending African-Americans back to Africa or into a climate suitable to them. The Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation confirms this long-held belief of Lincoln's that "the effort to colonize persons of African descent, with their consent, upon this continent, or elsewhere, with the previously obtained consent of the Governments existing there, will be continued."
There would have been no American slavery without black tribal chieftains in Africa, and British and Yankee slave traders.
The reason the South gets all the blame is because of a half-century of political correctness in which only one side of the story has been told because, if you tell the Southern side, even in a scholarly manner, you open yourself up to charges of being a racist and member of the KKK who wishes we still had slavery. Esteemed historian, Eugene D. Genovese, writes:
To speak positively about any part of this Southern tradition is to invite charges of being a racist and an apologist for slavery and segregation. We are witnessing a cultural and political atrocity ¾ an increasingly successful campaign by the media and an academic elite to strip young white Southerners, and arguably black Southerners as well, of their heritage, and therefore, their identity. They are being taught to forget their forebears or to remember them with shame. (Emphasis added.)
NAACP resolutions passed in 1987 and 1991 spewing hatred on the Confederate battle flag also intimidate scholars who would rather not weigh in or who will take the anti-South side without a fair examination of the issues. Professors know that they stand almost no chance of getting tenure if they say anything good about the South in the War Between the States. They know that we live in a shallow and superficial time and just an accusatory whiff in the air that someone is a racist, whether they are or not, will end a college history career or prevent one from getting started.
But, remember the old proverb: "The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.”
The War Between the States is the central event in American history. It should be examined thoroughly just as Lerone Bennett has examined Abraham Lincoln and given us a fresh perspective on old Honest Abe the racist who used the "n" word more than the Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, the same Abe Lincoln who wanted to ship black people back to Africa and who deliberately freed no slaves with the Emancipation Proclamation when he could have freed close to a million under Union control. There is a lot to know and think about in order to understand what really happened.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This article is Chapter Two of my book, Slavery Was Not the Cause of the War Between the States, The Irrefutable Argument., available at Charleston Athenaeum Press. (Original at link includes footnotes).
Since the 1960s, the interpretation of Southern history and the War Between the States put forth by most of the news media and academia is largely a fraud. It is driven by the racist identity politics of the Democrat Party and not historical truth.
If Southern history was interpreted objectively as it was before 1960, instead of with liberal political hate as it is today, nobody would dare remove a monument to soldiers in a war in which 800,000 were killed and over a million wounded, half of which were Confederate soldiers who were always hungry, ragged, outnumbered and outgunned, but exhibited valor such as the world had never seen.
Drew Gilpin Faust in her excellent book, This Republic of Suffering, Death and the American Civil War, uses the earlier statistics of 620,000 total deaths compiled by William F. Fox, and she writes that those deaths were "approximately equal to the total American fatalities in the Revolution, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, the Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, and the Korean War combined." If you use Hacker's statistics, you'd have to add Vietnam, both Gulf Wars, Afghanistan and the war on terror; in other words, deaths in the War Between the States were higher than all other American wars combined, with room to spare.
Faust says the rate of death "in comparison with the size of the American population, was six times that of World War II. A similar rate, about 2 percent, in the United States today would mean six million fatalities."
Confederate soldiers "died at a rate three times that of their Yankee counterparts; one in five white Southern men of military age did not survive the Civil War."
She quotes James McPherson who writes that "the overall mortality rate for the South exceeded that of any country in World War I and that of all but the region between the Rhine and the Volga in World War II."
To personalize some of those statistics, Confederate Col. George E. Purvis was quoted in Confederate Veteran magazine, March, 1897, from an article he had written about Union Gen. Henry Van Ness Boynton and the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park. Gen. Boynton, with great respect for the courage of the Confederates he faced, wanted to make it a sacred memorial, not just to Union valor, but American valor.
Col. Purvis writes that Gen. Boynton and a friend had visited the Chickamauga battlefield on a quiet Sunday morning in the summer of 1888 and heard singing in a church nearby. The general's thoughts went from those sweet sounds to the hellish and "fearful horrors of that other Sunday, when the very demons of hell seemed abroad, armed and equipped for the annihilation of mankind" almost a quarter of a century earlier:
They saw again the charging squadrons, like great waves of the sea, dashed and broken in pieces against lines and positions that would not yield to their assaults. They saw again Baird's, Johnson's, Palmer's, and Reynolds's immovable lines around the Kelley farm, and Wood on the spurs of Snodgrass Hill; Brannan, Grosvenor, Steedman, and Granger on the now famous Horseshoe; once more was brought back to their minds' eye, "the unequaled fighting of that thin and contracted line of heroes and the magnificent Confederate assaults," which swept in again and again ceaselessly as that stormy service of all the gods of battle was prolonged through those other Sunday hours.
In the "Balaklava" reference above, Gen. Boynton is noting Confederate valor far in excess of the famous "Charge of the Light Brigade" of the British cavalry against Russian forces in the Battle of Balaclava, October 25, 1854, in the Crimean War.
The unfounded bigotry against the South in history today is liberal politics and not history. Every Confederate monument that has been removed, was removed from a college campus or by a liberal Democrat starting with Mitch Landrieu in New Orleans, despite widespread support for the monuments in New Orleans and nationwide (over 60% of Americans in polls say to leave Confederate monuments alone). Michael Signer in Charlottesville couldn't remove his monuments so he covered them with tarps that are constantly removed by outraged citizens.
These Democrat Party cultural Nazis are more like ISIS when ISIS destroyed the monuments in Palmyra, "a first-century Roman city in Syria whose classical architecture was an inspiration for the facade of the U.S. Capitol."[i] Mitch Landrieu had to remove the New Orleans monuments at night with snipers in bullet-proof vests standing guard.
ISIS destroys the monuments and culture of anybody who does not agree with them. Sound familiar?
There is a rot in history in this day and age. Keith Windschuttle, in The Killing of History, brings up a 1987 book by Allan Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind, in which Bloom argues persuasively that radical theory in academia had changed things so much that
humanities and social science departments within universities [where History resides] had abandoned objectivity and truth and become hopelessly politicized.
If you doubt that academia and the fake-news media are overwhelmingly liberal (with all that that means for truth), consider that in the 2016 election, the 33 wealthiest colleges in the United States gave $1,560,000 to Hillary Clinton. They gave Donald Trump $3,000.
Around 96% of money donated by journalists went to Hillary Clinton. In numbers of journalists giving, 50 gave to Republican Donald J. Trump, while 430 gave to Clinton. That means 10% of journalists donated to Republican Trump, and 90% to Democrat Clinton.
Windschuttle writes: "Most young people today were taught to scorn the traditional values of Western culture - equality, freedom, democracy, human rights - as hollow rhetoric used to mask the self-interest of the wealthy and powerful. This teaching, Bloom argued, had bred a cynical, amoral, self-centered younger generation who lacked any sense of inherited wisdom from the past."
It is worse than just the politicization of history. Windschuttle points out that for
2,400 years history has ranked "with philosophy and mathematics as among the most profound and enduring contributions that ancient Greece made, not only to European civilization, but to the human species as a whole." History's "essence" has been to "tell the truth, to describe as best as possible what really happened."
Unfortunately today, "these assumptions are widely rejected."
Many in the humanities and social sciences "assert that it is impossible to tell the truth about the past" because "we can only see the past through the perspective of our own culture and, hence, what we see in history are our own interests and concerns reflected back at us." Because of this, supposedly, the entire point of history is no longer valid therefore "there is no fundamental distinction any more between history and myth" (Nietzsche had the same view over a hundred years ago) or between "fiction and non-fiction." In other words, nothing exists except what liberals tell us exists.
Perhaps academics are right because it is certainly fiction that slavery caused the War Between the States. As Shelby Foote said, slavery was an element in the drama but not the cause of the war. Over 94% of Southerners in over 80% of Southern families did not own slaves according to the 1860 census. Men do not charge into "the smoke of the Union musketry and the very flame of the Federal batteries" as Col. Purvis noted, so somebody else can own slaves; but they do so enthusiastically for independence, especially if their country is invaded, and especially because their sires were the patriots who won American independence in 1776.
Windschuttle reveals the outrageousness (almost to the point of stupidity) of the liberal academic mindset. This would be funny if it wasn't so pathetic:
One of the reasons the humanities and social sciences have been taken over so quickly by the sophistry described in this book is because too few of those who might have been expected to resist the putsch understood what its instigators were saying. The uninitiated reader who opens a typical book on postmodernism, hermeneutics, poststructuralism et al must think he or she has stumbled onto a new foreign language, so obscure and dense is the prose. Now, this happens to be a very effective tactic to adopt in academic circles where there is always an expectation that things are never simple and that anyone who writes clearly is thereby being shallow. Obscurity is assumed to equal profundity, a quality that signals a superiority over the thinking of the uneducated herd.
Like Big Brother said:
War is peace.
Freedom is slavery.
Ignorance is strength.
And now academia says:
Clarity is shallowness.
Obscurity is profundity.
God help us.
David Harlan points out more academic gobbledygook and liberal hate in his book, The Degradation of American History. He says that, starting in the 1960s with the Civil Rights Movement, leftist historians began criticizing American history as elitist. They said it "focused our attention on great white men at the expense of women and minorities, that it ignored the racial and ethnic diversity of national life, that it obscured the reality of class conflict." They wanted to expose the complicity of white men "in the violence and brutality that now seemed to be the most important truth about American history." They "feel no need to say what is good in American history.
Eugene D. Genovese, one of American's greatest historians before his death in 2012, wrote this in 1994:
Rarely, these days, even on Southern campuses, is it possible to acknowledge the achievements of the white people of the South. The history of the Old South is now often taught at leading universities, when it is taught at all, as a prolonged guild-trip, not to say a prologue to the history of Nazi Germany. . . . To speak positively about any part of this Southern tradition is to invite charges of being a racist and an apologist for slavery and segregation. We are witnessing a cultural and political atrocity.
Dr. Genovese goes on to say that this cultural and political atrocity is being forced on us by "the media and an academic elite."
I could go on and on, and I do in longer works that will be out later this year, so let me wrap up this article by pointing out that the monuments and memorials of both sides that went up in the early twentieth century were hugely symbolic for our reunited nation and the healing from a war that had killed 800,000 and wounded over a million. Drew Gilpin Faust writes:
At war's end this shared suffering would override persisting differences about the meanings of race, citizenship, and nationhood to establish sacrifice and its memorialization as the ground on which North and South would ultimately reunite. Even in our own time this fundamental elegiac understanding of the Civil War retains a powerful hold."
The original Confederate Veteran magazine was established and ran from 1893 to 1932. It includes the definitive account of the War Between the States and the monuments that went up to honor Southern valor and sacrifice. It was written by Confederates who participated, soldiers, generals, women, politicians. You can not find a single angry or hateful word in the entire 40 year run, nothing but the most sincere outpouring of love and respect and the memorialization of Southern - indeed American - honor, valor and sacrifice. Today's Confederate Veteran has the same standard of truth and excellence and has since the SCV took it over decades ago.
The portrayal of the Confederacy by the fake-news media and hateful liberal academia is overwhelmingly a fraud. The American Historical Association is a national embarrassment and should change its name to the American Ahistorical Association.
Monuments in the South were paid for by pennies from children and an impoverished region that had been destroyed 35 years earlier, but it found money, a little here and there over the years, to honor its warriors, leaders and their families, and courage such as the world had never seen before. As Union Gen. Boynton said, he
looked down again on those slopes, slippery with blood and strewn thick as leaves with all the horrible wreck of battle, over which and in spite of repeated failures these assaulting Confederate columns still formed and reformed, charging again and again with undaunted and undying courage.
We are in a political fight and not a history debate. We need to look at it from that standpoint and develop creative comprehensive strategies to take on and defeat our enemies. The highest priority is to develop political influence.
Observe how business people and politicians brand and market successfully. The NRA is a great example and they are under attack all the time as we are.
The SCV, UDC, reenactors and every historical organization should push for, or support efforts, to put laws on the books protecting monuments in every state where there is no law. This goes back to political influence. Our Heritage Act in South Carolina has been effective though it is constantly under attack.
Camps should make it a high priority to construct roadside battle flag memorials on private property in highly visible places. We should put 10 up for every monument that has been removed. New Orleans and Charlottesville, Baltimore, and other places should be awash with battle flags, then we should write, publish and speak constantly, and tell what those flags stand for.
Learn. Read books and increase your historical knowledge. Read my book: Slavery Was Not the Cause of the War Between the States, The Irrefutable Argument., that's at Bonnie Blue Publishing and Amazon. My book has 218 footnotes and 207 sources in the bibliography so it is full of documentation you can use.
Join the Abbeville Institute and the Society of Independent Southern Historians and participate.
Update Wikipedia articles when you see historical prejudice against the South. Review local school texts and refute them when necessary. Write letters-to-the-editor of newspapers.
Do whatever you can. Give money. Speak. Write. Share information.
We are going to have to do all this ourselves, but in the age of the Internet and social media, we have enormous power at our fingertips, and it goes along nicely with historical truth.
This piece was previously published in Confederate Veteran magazine, May/June, 2018.
The campaign was dismissed, at first, as "those Charleston Crazies, at it again," but it grew legs and took off and now was the talk of the country. It appeared Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's days on the fifty-dollar bill were, indeed, numbered.
It was Saturday, April 9th, 2033 and Marion Square in downtown Charleston, South Carolina was jam packed with TV cameras and reporters as the debate was about to begin. A huge stage was set up on the north side of Marion Square close to Embassy Suites. A huge TV screen was set up on the south side at the back of John C. Calhoun’s statue.
The Cooper River Bridge Run, with 85,000 runners, now the largest 10K in the world across the longest cable-stayed bridge in North America, had ended on Marion Square the weekend before. The place had been swarming with people, but this crowd was twice, maybe three times as large, and was getting loud and boisterous.
"May I have your attention please," blared out a deep male voice that sounded like Trace Adkins. "Welcome to democracy and freedom of speech in ACTION!"
At that, the crowd erupted and everybody cheered loudly interspersed with shrill whistling and Rebel Yells.
"I'm John G. Gailliard of the Political Science Department of Charleston College, your moderator, and we are sponsoring this nationally broadcast event!"
There was another round of hooting, hollering, whistling and clapping as Fox News, C-SPAN and others panned the crowd.
"As most of you know, negotiators for the three parties debating today have hammered out the rules, and the Congressional Delegations of every Southern state have agreed to introduce legislation in Congress supporting the position of the winner of this debate . . ." he paused then yelled right into the microphone, "and it's WINNER TAKE ALL!"
The crowd erupted again!
Earlier, the Post and Courier had published an entire section on the debate spelling out the positions of each of the three sides.
First, there was the genealogical group that had started the whole thing, the Sons and Daughters of the Confederate South, who were descended from Confederate soldiers. They were demanding that Ulysses S. Grant's picture be removed from the fifty-dollar bill and replaced with Gen. Robert E. Lee's since Grant's house was slaveholding throughout the War Between the States, and Lee's was not. Lee did not believe in slavery, unlike Grant, who just about had to have his slaves forcibly removed after the war.
At first, the public was skeptical about claims that the greatest Confederate general was not a slaveowner during the war, while the Yankee general, supposedly fighting to free the slaves, had sworn he'd join the Confederacy before he'd let his slaves go. Were there slaves in Ulysses S. Grant's house during the War Between the States? It just didn't make sense to a lot of people, especially those who rely on public education and CNN for their information.
The second position was taken by Yankees who have felt so good about themselves for supposedly ending slavery that they were willing to overlook the fact that Grant's house definitely had slaves in it, that Sherman had no problem with slavery, that five slave states fought for the North throughout the war, and that Lincoln himself, before the fighting, supported the Corwin Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which would have protected slavery forever and placed it even beyond the reach of Congress.
This second group called itself, Brothers United to Limit Lee, or B.U.L.L. They were feeling so God-awful good, they never even thought about the million people who died in the War Between the States out of a total population of 33 million. They did not care that old Honest Abe Lincoln was so racist he'd make the Grand Wizard of Ku Klux Klan blush, nor did they care that Lincoln, his whole life, favored sending blacks back to Africa. This second group just didn’t care about any of this stuff because they won and could walk around feeling good about themselves, which they had been doing for 168 years.
The third position, put forth by Scholars for Justice, had come about in sort of a logical way. These folks reasoned that Grant was not the only slave master on American money. Washington, Jefferson, all of them had been white men who owned slaves, so what we really needed to do was put a black man who owned slaves on the fifty-dollar bill. That would make things fair. Then we wouldn't have to disturb any of the other slaveowning presidents on our money, which would happen if we put the non-slaveowning Robert E. Lee on the fifty-dollar bill. With a black slaveowning man on American money, everybody would be represented except Hispanics, but they were not significant players in the War Between the States, and the Indians were all Confederates, thus they’d be covered by Gen. Lee.
William Ellison, the famous cotton gin maker from Sumter County, immediately came up because he was one of the largest slaveowners in South Carolina, and he was black. The Sons and Daughters of the Confederate South supported this position on a secondary basis because it only seemed fair. BULL was flat-out against it.
The concept that blacks willingly fought for the Confederacy -- because to Southern blacks, the South was home -- is another concept that people who rely on public education and CNN have a hard time believing, though these same people will sometimes believe that blacks fought in the American Revolution for America, and back then every American colony was slaveholding. The reason they believe blacks fought in the Revolution for America is because they know stories like Crispus Attucks, a black man and great American patriot, who was the first man killed by the British in the Boston Massacre in 1770, God rest his soul.
The night before, a fight had broken out in the courtyard of the Blind Tiger on Broad Street between one of the Sons and Daughters, and a member of BULL. There was a table full of members of the Sons and Daughters of the Confederate South drinking and talking and having a good time in their gray Confederate coats, next to a table full of BULL drinking and talking and having a good time in their blue Yankee coats, next to a table full of Scholars for Justice drinking and talking and having a good time in their stylish black coats that looked sort of like tuxedo coats but had brown elbow pads on the sleeves.
Things started out with civility and fun, but the War Between the States was only 172 years ago, and that might as well have been yesterday, so it’s understandable that emotions are always high.
“Why would you people glorify the side that wanted to destroy America?” said a member of BULL in jest, his chest poking out proudly.
“We don’t. We just wanted to be left alone to govern ourselves, like the Colonies in 1776 wanted Great Britain to leave them alone so they could govern themselves,” said a Confederate Son.
“That’s hardly the same thing,” said the BULL member.
“Oh yea, your Horace Greeley said it was exactly the same thing. If it was OK in 1776 for three million colonists to secede from Great Britain, it was certainly OK in 1861 for nine million Southrons to secede from the federal Union. That’s what your Greeley himself wrote in his New York Tribune before the war.”
“But that was treason. They had no right,” said the member of BULL.
“Au contraire, they most certainly had the right. The right of secession was never questioned by the Founding Fathers. In the beginning, even Yankees didn’t question it. You ever hear of the Hartford Convention of New England?”
“Yea, but they didn’t actually secede.”
“True, but they sure as hell wanted to. They voted to secede and sent a delegate to Washington to announce that they had seceded, but the War of 1812 ended before he got there.”
The member of BULL had picked the wrong Son to argue with, but he grabbed his mug of beer and continued on. “Don’t you think we are a great nation today? Why would you people want to destroy that?”
“We would have been two great nations, even greater. A million people didn’t have to die to prove it. We would have been friends, North and South, and all fought Hitler together and traded together and things would have been fine.”
“Including your black slaves, huh.”
“Well, you Yankees brought them all here and made huge fortunes in the process. You built the entire infrastructure of the Old North on profits from the slave trade.”
“Yea, but if there had not been a market for slaves in the South, we never would have done that.”
“True, but there were slaves in the North until massive white immigration from Europe made it cheaper to hire a white man than buy a black. Only then did Northern states phase out slavery.”
“At least we did phase it out.”
“Let me ask you this. Every Northern state used gradual, compensated emancipation. There were still slaves in the North when the war started. Many Northerners waited until just before a slave was due to be emancipated, like just before his 21st birthday, then sold him back into slavery in the South. Not a pretty record.”
“I don’t know if I believe all that.”
“It’s absolutely true, but here’s my question. If the North really wanted to end Southern slavery, why didn’t you suggest doing it in the South the same way you had done it in the North, with gradual, compensated emancipation?”
Another member of the Sons and Daughters blurted out, “Because damn Yankees were not going to spend their hard-earned sweat shop money to free blacks in the South. They could care less.”
Another Son added, “That’s right, because freed blacks going North were job competition for the Northern working man and unemployment was already so bad, there was near anarchy in many Northern cities. Ever hear of ‘Blood or Bread!’” He was referring to bad riots in Northern cities in the Panic of 1857. Of course, the South had been stable.
“I still say secession was treason,” said another BULL member.
“The first forty years of America’s existence, nobody questioned the right of secession. Do you think the colonists who fought a bloody war to be independent from the British would immediately lock themselves into another government they couldn’t get out of? Are you crazy?”
The BULL members were getting agitated. Everybody in the courtyard was tuned in with great interest because this was an excellent bar room debate that had gotten loud.”
“Oh hell, let’s have another round of beers and cool down.”
More beers were brought but soon two women were into it.
“The Southern aristocracy or slaveocracy,” said a dark-haired female BULL with a sneer, “caused the war. They weren’t gonna give up their black mistresses without a fight.”
A very pretty blonde Daughter who looked like Shannon Bream, said, “Southerners debated the issue of secession for months. Every single Southern state called a convention, elected delegates, debated the issue then voted to secede.”
“So what,” said the dark-haired BULL girl.
“The convention votes were then ratified by a popular vote of the people in every single Southern state, just like happened with the Constitution. It was pure democracy in action.”
“I can’t believe the backward South knew to do all that,” replied the female BULL.
“The ‘backward South’ supplied almost every Founding Father. Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Randolph, Mason, Henry, all of them Southerners. In 1861, Southrons believed they were heirs to the Founding Fathers. It was Yankees that had changed from the original republic.”
“Yankee progress,” said the female BULL.
“Yankee anarchy,” replied the blonde Daughter. “Massive immigration from Europe kept the North wild and needing an outlet for its extra people, which is why so many went west. Like Horace Greeley said, ‘Go west, young man, and grow up with the country!’”
The blonde Daughter took a sip of her beer then quickly added, “The South was producing most of the wealth of the nation. Yankees were stealing it with tariffs and monopolies. Like Robert Toombs said, the federal government was a ‘suction pump’ sucking wealth out of the South and depositing it in the North. Hell, the North couldn’t even feed itself.”
“Bullshit. We had great cities, all the banks, money and most of the shipping in the country.”
“That’s true, all of it earned by selling Northern goods to the South. The South was nothing but a big captive market for Northern factories. Without the South, Northern factories stood idle, and the North was nothing.”
Another Son added, “Northerners were benefiting from slavery as much as Southerners.”
One of the BULL members smirked and said, “By seceding, you were threatening our economy, the stability of our nation. We had every right to fight.”
“Fair enough,” said the Son, “so don’t go around saying the war was fought to free the slaves. That’s a pile of you-know-what. White Yankees could care less about black slaves, and damn sure didn’t want them in the North.”
There was a pause. Both sides were disgusted and on edge. The Scholars for Justice found the whole thing fascinating, as if they were at a college lecture, and everybody else in the courtyard was all ears.
“Youse guys started the war. We finished it,” said a raspy-voiced member of BULL.
“Lincoln started the war by lying to Confederates in Charleston Harbor in April, 1861. He swore he would not send troops to Fort Sumter. He lied. He knew he was starting the war. Lincoln the liar.”
“Lincoln had every right to reinforce a federal garrison under siege,” said a BULL member.
“The Charlestonians were feeding the Yankees in Fort Sumter. The fort was in sovereign South Carolina waters occupied by a hostile foreign power threatening one of our most important cities. We had every right to demand that it be evacuated.”
Another Daughter added, “Hell, we had representatives in Washington at that very time trying to pay Lincoln for all federal property in the South. He kept promising to move the troops out, but he couldn’t.”
“And just why couldn’t he,” said the dark haired female BULL member.
“Because when the first seven Southern states seceded and formed the Confederacy, the economy of the North collapsed and was in complete anarchy. Factories were closed. Ships were idle or moving South to Charleston, Savannah and New Orleans. Goods were rotting on Northern docks. Property values had gone down to nothing. Mobs were in the streets. Lincoln was starting to be hated by his own party. War solved all of his problems. Gave him ‘a magnificent burst of patriotism,’ I think, is the way one Yankee put it.”
A BULL member said, “You Southerners. You don’t get your way so you quit. You’re like a bunch of big frigg’in babies.”
“Yeah, babies tired of being robbed by Northern thieves. Southerners were paying seventy-five percent of the taxes through high tariffs and monopolies that protected Northern industry, but seventy-five percent of the tax money was being spent in the North. You damn right we were tired of all that!”
Another Son added, “Seventy-five percent was a hell of a lot more money than the British were robbing from the Colonies in 1776.”
“Good Lord. If it wasn’t for us, you’d still have slaves, wouldn’t you.”
“Always back to the slavery issue which y’all admitted was bull a few minutes ago. Yankee bull.”
“I’ve had enough of this,” said the most vocal BULL member who got up and when he did, spilled a beer on one of the Daughters. He looked at her then, without apologizing, started to walk off. A son jumped up and grabbed him and said, “Hey, you owe the lady an apology.”
The BULL member jerked his arm away and put his finger in the Son’s chest, so the Son decked him, causing both tables to empty like a baseball game brawl.
The bartender, Sean, blew a foghorn, and that deafening sound in the small courtyard backed everybody off for a moment. “We’re not puttin' up with this crap! Y’all are gonna have to leave!”
“Damn,” said one of the Scholars for Justice. “Just as it was getting good.”
Another Scholar for Justice said, “What if we moderate the discussion and keep it from elevating into fisticuffs. Could we stay then? Please?”
Both sides seemed to want to go along with that. Nobody wants to leave the courtyard of a good Charleston bar on a starry night in April.
Sean looked undecided for a second, but must have been thinking about all the beers and tips he’d miss if they left. “OK, y’all shake hands. Dammit, I mean it. If y’all are gonna stay, it’s gonna be friendly. That’s the deal. We’re all Americans, you know.”
For about twenty minutes, nothing happened. People talked in their groups, laughed. Then one of the Sons said over to the BULL members table, “You know, a nation has to say why it is fighting BEFORE it goes to war. All nations in all of history have done that. Right or wrong, they’ve all spelled out their reasons before fighting and killing other people.”
“We don’t disagree with that,” said a BULL member.
“Then why do you say the war was fought over slavery, when Lincoln himself said over and over, it was to preserve the Union. Nobody in the North, I mean NOBODY said they were marching armies into the South to free the slaves. Hell, no white Yankees would have signed up to die for Southern slaves, and you damn well know it.”
“The war was to preserve the Union when it started, then later, it was to free the slaves.”
“You mean, later, when you needed a justification for murdering and raping hundreds of thousands of people, it becomes a noble quest to free the slaves. Before that, it was to preserve the Southern tax base for the Union, am I right?”
“Hell no, you’re not right, asshole.”
One of the Scholars for Justice, a big dude, quickly stood and looked at both sides and said, “Y’all want to get kicked out of here? Cool it.”
“You Southerners fought because you wanted to keep your black mistresses,” said that same dark-haired female BULL member who brought it up earlier and was obviously titillated by the thought.
“Nope. We Southerners fought because Yankee murderers and rapists invaded the South. You invaded our country. That’s why we fought.”
Another Son said, “Hell, at first, Virginia voted against secession. They were not even gonna secede, and Virginia was the biggest Southern state.”
“Virginia was smart,” said a BULL member. “I’ll admit Lincoln tried to get Robert E. Lee to lead the Northern armies but Lee stayed loyal to Virginia.”
“So, why did Virginia secede?”
A couple Sons and a Daughter tried to answer at the same time. “Because Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers to invade the South. That’s when Virginia seceded.”
Another Son added, “Try to say Virginia seceded to preserve slavery. You’d be a liar. Virginia’s secession convention reconvened the day after Lincoln called for the invasion of the lower South, and they promptly seceded because they did not believe in federal coercion of another sovereign state. Virginia seceded on principle. It had nothing to do with slavery.”
Somebody added from a couple tables away, “And Virginia was followed by the three remaining Southern states not yet in the Confederacy, North Carolina, Tennessee and Arkansas. They all seceded right after Virginia to show their disapproval of federal tyranny and coercion.”
“So, all that proves is that Virginia is as traitorous as the rest of the South. It just took her a little longer to show it.”
“Glad you brought that up,” said a Son who had been quiet during most of this argument. “Three states, when they ratified the U.S. Constitution, specifically preserved the right of secession. Virginia, New York and Rhode Island. All three of them demanded that their right of secession be put in writing as a condition prior to accepting the U.S. Constitution. In Virginia’s Ordinance of Secession, she used the exact language from that right of secession that had been preserved and acknowledged by all the other states acceding to the Constitution seventy-nine years earlier.”
Both sides began talking among themselves and the discussion died down except for one BULL member who said that South Carolina was still a hot-headed state like their ancestors who had seceded first and started the whole thing.
That pretty blonde-haired Daughter quickly said, “South Carolina supplied approximately 60,000 Confederate soldiers to Southern armies in the War Between the States, and 40,000 of them were killed or wounded. That’s a legacy of honor, valor and sacrifice unsurpassed in American history. No money-grubbing Yankee state can touch it.”
BULL members were quiet for the first time all night, but not for long. “Yep, that’s a lot of Rebs we killed. I thought one Reb could whip ten Yankees?”
“Well, let me ask you a question. We Southrons were outnumbered four-to-one, we were out-gunned a hundred-to-one, y’all had most of the ships, factories, a functioning government and pipeline to foreign immigration to feed your army with. We had to start everything from scratch. My question to you is, how come we were still able to kill the same number of y’all, that y’all killed of us?”
“Say what?” a member of BULL said.
“That’s absolutely true. Some 350,000 Southerners died, but 350,000 Yankees died too, ‘Stiff in Southern dust,’ as the song goes. So you see, we’ve been feeling pretty good about our valor and honor all these years.”
The lights came on and “Last call for alcohol” was made. Three of the Scholars for Justice stood and addressed both groups. “This has been a fascinating discussion. Both sides have made their points. We have a proposition to make. Can you meet us tomorrow morning before the debate at Magnolia Cemetery, by Soldier’s Ground, next to the Confederate Soldier’s monument. Don’t worry, there’s Yankees buried there too. We want to address both groups together and I’m serious, you will not regret coming. Please come. Ten o’clock.”
There was some discussion in the two groups but it was agreed they would all meet on Soldier’s Ground at Magnolia Cemetery at 10 o’clock the next morning. People headed out the bar and into the beautiful Charleston night. The cool air felt good on their faces. There was a slither of a moon up there and a billion beautiful stars.
The next morning a good crowd showed up at Magnolia Cemetery by the big Confederate soldier’s monument. The Scholars for Justice had set up a podium and loudspeakers. At 10 o’clock sharp, one of the scholars walked to the podium.
“Ladies and gentlemen, thank you so much for coming. As we said last night, you will not regret it.
“At the end of the War Between the States, Gen. Robert E. Lee told his defeated Southern army to go back home and be good Americans. Southerners have done exactly that
“It is OK that we disagree on the causes of the war. I am a Southerner so, in last night’s debate, I agreed with the Sons and Daughters of the Confederate South. However, my best friend, here, William Yang, is a Yankee and disagrees with me, and I respect that.
“I want to propose something to you, but first, I want to read this beautiful poem that was written right after the War Between the States by Miss Agnes Leonard. It’s called After the Battle, and it was first published in the Chicago Journal of Commerce in June, l868, and later in Confederate Veteran magazine. Here, on this sacred ground, at Magnolia Cemetery, is a most appropriate place to read this beautiful, sad poem:
There wasn’t a dry eye anywhere. Gray-coated Southerners and blue-coated Yankees were hugging each other and shaking hands and patting each other on the back, while the Scholar for Justice reading the poem recomposed himself because it had touched him too. He had barely been able to get through it.
“We have a proposition for the Sons and Daughters of the Confederate South, and Brothers United to Limit Lee. First, we have had considerable debate among the Scholars for Justice about putting black slaveowner William Ellison on the fifty-dollar bill. It had not occurred to us at first but a lot of African Americans probably would not like the idea of a black slaveowner on our money.
“We then had a spirited debate about putting Jim Limber’s picture on there. As you know, he was the adopted black son of Confederate President Jefferson Davis during the war. We have no children on our money so we reasoned that Jim Limber would be seen as reaching out and bringing us together.
“In the end, though, we have decided that it’s time for a non-slaveowning man from that era to be on our American money. We are dropping William Ellison and Jim Limber and will support the Sons and Daughters of the Confederate South in putting non-slaveowning Gen. Robert E. Lee on the fifty-dollar bill in place of slaveowning Ulysses S. Grant.”
Blue-coated members of BULL were shaking their heads as Rebel Yells went up to the heavens from the sacred ground at Magnolia Cemetery.
Later that day, on Marion Square, right after John G. Gailliard of the Political Science Department of Charleston College had said that the debate was winner take all, he informed the crowd that the Scholars for Justice were now supporting the Sons and Daughters of the Confederate South in their quest to put Robert E. Lee on the fifty-dollar bill. The debate itself was anticlimactic as the Sons and Daughters with the Scholars soundly defeated BULL and paved the way for the first non-slaveowner from that important era of American history – Confederate General Robert E. Lee – to be honored by having his picture on our American fifty-dollar bill.
* Grant's quotation, at the beginning of the story, is documented in Footnote 24 of my book, Slavery Was Not the Cause of the War Between the States, The Irrefutable Argument., which you can find on Charleston Athenaeum Press. Here is Footnote 24 from page 16:
There is a well-known story about Ulysses S. Grant wherein Grant states that he is fighting to preserve the Union and if anybody accuses him of fighting to free the slaves, he will promptly go join the Confederacy and fight on their side. There may be some truth to it, and maybe not. Grant did own one slave whom he freed in 1859, but his wife, Julia, owned four throughout much of the war, therefore Grant's household was a slaveholding household. Grant's supposed quotation was published in 1868 in the Democratic Speaker's Hand-Book, which was a Democratic Party campaign document in the 1868 campaign when Grant was running for president as a Republican. However, in 1861, Grant was a Democrat, and, as stated, living in a slaveholding household. The Democratic Speaker's Hand-Book on page 33 states that Grant was the Colonel of the Twenty-first Illinois, stationed near Mexico in 1861, and that Grant's quotation was provided by the editor of the Randolph Citizen, a Missouri newspaper. It starts: "In a public conversation in Ringo's banking-house, a sterling Union man put this question to him [Grant]: 'What do you honestly think was the real object of this war on the part of the Federal Government?'"
'Sir, said Grant, 'I have no doubt in the world that the sole object is the restoration of the Union. I will say further, though, that I am a Democrat - every man in my regiment is a Democrat - and whenever I shall be convinced that this war has for its object anything else than what I have mentioned, or that the Government designed using its soldiers to execute the purposes of the abolitionists, I pledge you my honor as a man and a soldier that I will carry my sword to the other side, and cast my lot with that people.'
Source: Democratic Speaker's Hand-Book: Containing every thing necessary for the defense of the national democracy in the coming presidential campaign, and for the assault of the radical enemies of the country and its constitution, compiled by Matthew Carey, Jr. Cincinnati: Miami Printing and Publishing Company, 1868.
I had some correspondence with an editor of the Post and Courier July 10, 2019 when I sent them a letter for publication in response to their July 6 editorial "Don't let extremists define our national symbols."
As a result, I saw an opening to send some valuable Southern history to this newspaper and I jumped on it.
Their editorial is good in that they are alarmed at Nike removing the Betsy Ross flag as well as the Charlottesville city council ending a celebration of Thomas Jefferson, and the idiots on the San Francisco school board voting to paint over an 80-year-old work of art portraying the life of George Washington.
The Post and Courier does not want us to validate bad people who attempt to redefine patriotic symbols, but wait! THEY in the media have been doing exactly that for years ad nauseam!
The media is the primary reason we have this politically correct hate and destruction of history in the body politic.
Here is the 250 word letter-to-the-editor that got this started:
The editor wrote back and asked who the "you" was and that gave me my opening:
Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government. . .
[i] Death statistics for the war have been upped from 620,000 to between 650,000 and 850,000. These are the widely accepted statistics of historian J. David Hacker of Binghamton University. See Rachel Coker, “Historian revises estimate of Civil War dead,” published September 21, 2011, Binghamton University Research News – Insights and Innovations from Binghamton University,.
Gene Kizer, Jr. is an author and historian in Charleston, South Carolina, and founder of Charleston Athenaeum Press. He graduated magna cum laude from the College of Charleston in 2000 at middle age with History Departmental Honors, the Rebecca Motte American History Award, and the highest award for the History Department, the Outstanding Student Award. He is author of Slavery Was Not the Cause of the War Between the States, The Irrefutable Argument.; The Elements of Academic Success, How to Graduate Magna Cum Laude from College (or how to just graduate, PERIOD!); and Charleston, SC Short Stories, Book One. He married his last ex- by sneaking into Fort Johnson and saying vows on the exact ground from where the first shot of the War Between the States was fired, at 4:30 a.m. on April 12, 1861. He lives on James Island where he is also broker-in-charge of Charleston Saltwater Realty . Please contact him through Charleston Athenaeum Press.