History is strange and interesting! The prolific French writer, historian, and philosopher Voltaire said, “History is a pack of tricks we play upon the dead”. This statement could not be more profound, as we can see from today’s southern conservatives the Civil War is yet to be won! The state of Mississippi; for example, just ratified that fact after a hundred fifty years.
If you are not aware, in 1865, the Civil War ended and we are into five years of untruths, unreal assessments, and in some cases outright lies. This is a critical point in 2013 when America is a more divided nation than ever. It was a hundred fifty some odd years ago, in the early morning hours of April 12, 1861, Confederate batteries fired upon federal troops occupying Fort Sumter. Union forces surrendered the next day after 34 hours of shelling starting the bloodiest war in the nation’s history, which in some quarters have yet to end.
There is no question this major event in the country’s history is significant. However, we should be candid about its causes and not allow the distortions of contemporary politics or long-standing myths cloud our understanding of why the nation fell apart. If you were a slave it was a very good thing but if you were not and white, then it was the worst thing ever. There will be a lot of misinformation that will surely come, as both sides of the debate relive this chapter of American history. So be prepared for the revisionists to create many illusions pertaining to the facts as they relate to the realities of Civil War history and the state of the Union today.
Before I go any further, let’s be clear, the war was NOT fought to free the slaves. That narrative came much later when the north was not winning and needed a reason to allow colored solders to fight. Abraham Lincoln, Honest Abe, although not a proponent of slavery, had no desire to end slavery at the onset of the war. He was for the free-labor ideology. The issue of slavery, as he stated, “was the morality and future of the slaves and of slavery”. He believed if the nation remained divided on the issue of slavery, the nation would not last. If you recall he borrowed a statement made by Jesus to support this position; “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
Actually, Honest Abe was considering the option of sending the slaves back to Africa or somewhere outside of America to solve the problem. IN FACT, as an experiment, he sent thousands to Haiti and the Dominican Republic. However, this experiment was not successful because many became ill and died causing him to reevaluate the decision. He also had another plan, which was to acquire land in South America to host this unwanted population to include other locations as well.
On the other side, the south, secessionist, saw it this way. Their leader, Confederate President Jefferson Davis, a major slaveholder, justified secession in 1861 as an act of self-defense against the incoming Lincoln administration. Abraham Lincoln’s policy of excluding slavery from the territories, Davis said, would make “property in slaves so insecure as to be comparatively worthless . . . thereby annihilating in effect property worth thousands of millions of dollars.”
The Confederate vice president, Alexander Stephens said, “Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea… Its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the Negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical and moral truth.” These guys were very straightforward in their belief that the proper status of the Negro in America’s form of civilization, if free, would be the immediate cause of the rupture.
Views such as this continue today, from various quarters, because there remains enormous denial over the fact that the central cause of the war was our national disagreement about race and slavery that translates to mean States’ Rights. For example, immigration shifts this ideological to imply the new slavery in the name of protecting free labor. I believe it was all about States’ Rights similar to today’s conservative perspective.
Let’s understand slavery was about one thing – economics based on supremacy. The institution and the economics derived from it built America and that wealth made America a powerful force in the world. Doesn’t this remind you of what we hear from the right-wing of the Republican Party? It is done from making all of us slaves to debt. Today States Rights is the contemporary from of the Citizens Counsels of old. Just remember the Tea Party’s famous mantra “we want our country back”.
Therefore, when you hear the “dog whistle” proclaiming States Rights just remember the racism and bigotry associated with its history. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…