Response: Southern View of the Civil War

Adriana Pena disagrees on the subject of slavery with Christopher Jones and Tim Ashby, who told a story about Southerners defending their "rats": "The information about the Rebs' rights is interesting, but unfortunately, they did not fight for them, but for the privilege of denying others their rights. Let us not forget that not only they wanted to keep the slaves they had, but also to impose slavery on new territories, thus bringing slavery where there was none before, and that they continued to import slaves through the slave trade. That is, kidnapping human beings and forcing them into labor for their profit. As for the Southern armies electing their officers, I understand that pirate ships were quite democratic affairs. Should we now praise piracy as a way of life?" RH: Christopher Jones claims he was not defending slavery, but protesting against the totally negative depiction of the South and against slavery being given as the real cause of the war.

Tim Ashby respondsto Adriana Pena: "I agree with Adriana that politically the South sought to maintain slavery. However, only about seven percent of Confederate soldiers were slaveowners. These 97 percent fought against what they viewed as the industrialized North - in many ways a separate nation to them - trying to dominate their agrarian economy and culture.

There are numerous accounts of armed black Confederate soldiers engaging in combat against "Yankees." A monument at Arlington National Cemetery depicts such armed black "Rebs." General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson's valet (a free black man) was a proud member of the United Confederate Veterans and marched at the forefront of their parades in his hometown of Winchester, VA. A photo of him in this role can be seen at "Stonewall Jackson's Headquarters" in that Shenandoah Valley town.

None of this excuses slavery, which was viewed as a curse by many Southerners (e.g., Jefferson and Washington long before the Civil War). However, history is much more complex than the typically Northern viewpoint suggests. For example, cases exist of wealthy black plantation owners and slave traders who owned slaves and contributed financially to the Southern Cause"

Christopher Jones quotes Robert E. Lee: "There are few, I believe, in this enlightened age, who will not acknowledge that slavery as an institution is a moral and political evil." Christopher continues: " Obviously, Adriana has been infected by the Yankee virus. Although slavery was enshrined in the Confederate constitution, it also prohibited the importation of new slaves from outside the Confederacy. There was no effort to impose slavery on conquered territory, and the South did not wish to liquidate the US (Yankees.) The South fought only for its survival -- nothing more. In fact, President Davis tried to avoid the war altogether, but his peace offers were rebuffed by Lincoln.

I condemn slavery today and, like many in the old CSA, like Robert E. Lee, recognize that the institution could never have survived for long. But stop for a moment to ponder: Washington and Jefferson had slaves, and Napoleon reinstituted slavery in 1802! It was a thriving institution under Louis Philippe and was only abolished in 1848. The war of Southern independence was clearly about States' rights -- in many varied ways. But what irks me most is this stereotyped picture of some lustful Simon LeGree raping a black slave. In general, conditions in the Confederacy were better than the north, and this sort of rapacious behavior a wild exaggeration.

To compare the armies of the CSA to pirates is an insult"

RH:Although i have swallowed the northern version of the war, I try to understand the position of the South. However, Christopher omits attempts to expand slave territory. I refer to the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854,, which established the territories of Kansas and Nebraska. It repealed the Missouri Compromise of 1820-21 and reopened the controversy over the expansion of slavery into the new territories. The Missouri Compromise had prohibited slavery north of latitude 36"30'. The South objected to the Missouri Compromise. Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois pushed through a bill leaving it up to the settlers to decide the slavery issue. The Republican Party was founded in opposition to this act, and Kansas was rift by conflict, making the Civil War inevitable.

Adriana Pena continues her criticism of Southern slavery, mentioning "the South's opposition to the incorporation of California, as a non-slave state. Let us not forget the Kansas-Nebraska act, in which the President Pierce tried to mollify the South by changing Kansas' status from free-state to "slavery if the people wanted it" Let us not forget the Ostend manifesto of 1854 seeking to obtain Cuba in order to make it another slave territory..

Let us no forget that the Wilmot proviso offended the South because it prohibited slavery in the territory acquired from Mexico. Calhoun, the great ideologue of the desirability of slavery called on the South to stand together in protecting is interests and foresaw civil war if the South did not get what it wanted, that is slavery in newly acquired territories. The South was not defending the way of life in its own home, it was imposing its way of life in other people's homes, and threatened civil war if not allowed to have its way.

How about pressuring the Federal Government to tamper with the mails to prevent the mailing of anti-slavery literature, thus violating freedom of speech, and the sanctity of the mail? How about the Fugitive Slave Act, which turned nominally free territories into a haven for slave catchers?

You do not need to be an admirer of the Yankee ways to find offensive the system of the Confederacy, and more offensive that they sought to extend it. Sure, not all Southerners owned slaves, only the political elite did, the ones who counted when it came the time to make the decisions..

I am afraid that the view of the "poor misunderstood Southerners who only wanted to live quietly as they had always done" and that "slavery had nothing to do with it" is the post-facto justification of the losers as to why theirs was a noble cause. I can undestand who they would feel that way, but I cannot believe it. People always rearrange their pasts to make themselves look better, and quite often they end up believing it. It is human, it is understandable, but believing in it sometimes leads to believe ridiculous things (a Pole said that, if one was to judge from the testimonies of Germans who were in Poland during the war, Poland had been invaded by chauffeurs, because that was the one thing all Germans said of themselves.)"

RH: The Missouri Compromise was a strange animal.. In the early days, the East Coast states claimed their territory extended to the Mississippi.. The 36"30' line was the result of endless haggling. It separated Virginia from North Carolina and left Kentucky and Missouri north of the line. Hence the dissatisfaction in the South. Had the line extended to the West, it would have hit the Pacific just south of San Francisco. The North would have been separated from the South by a line similar to the one separating it from Canada.

Christopher Jones says: "This Yankee virus is strong, attacks the mind and poisons it. So I will have to administer an old fashioned Southern remedy: post the following quotes from that well known white supremacist Abraham Lincoln who wrote on August 22, 1862: (I have added the italics) "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."

Revealing was his letter a year later: "There was more than a year and a half of trial to suppress the rebellion before the proclamation issued, the last one hundred days of which passed under an explicit notice that it was coming, unless averted by those in revolt, returning to their allegiance. The war has certainly progressed as favorably for us, since the issue of proclamation as before. I know, as fully as one can know the opinions of others, that some of the commanders of our armies in the field who have given us our most important successes believe the emancipation policy, and the use of the colored troops constitute the heaviest blow yet dealt to the Rebellion, and that at least one of these important successes could not have been achieved when it was but for the aid of black soldiers. Among the commanders holding these views are some who have never had any affinity with what is called abolitionism or with the Republican party policies but who held them purely as military opinions. I submit these opinions as being entitled to some weight against the objections often urged that emancipation and arming the blacks are unwise as military measures and were not adopted as such in good faith.

You say you will not fight to free negroes. Some of them seem willing to fight for you; but, no matter. Fight you, then exclusively to save the Union. I issued the proclamation on purpose to aid you in saving the Union. Whenever you shall have conquered all resistence to the Union, if I shall urge you to continue fighting, it will be an apt time, then, for you to declare you will not fight to free negroes.

I thought that in your struggle for the Union, to whatever extent the negroes should cease helping the enemy, to that extent it weakened the enemy in his resistence to you. Do you think differently? I thought that whatever negroes can be got to do as soldiers, leaves just so much less for white soldiers to do, in saving the Union. Does it appear otherwise to you? But negroes, like other people, act upon motives. Why should they do any thing for us, if we will do nothing for them? If they stake their lives for us, they must be prompted by the strongest motive--even the promise of freedom. And the promise being made, must be kept."

The Lincoln Douglas debates revealed Lincoln to hold views that could be easily construed as white supremacist. Lincoln wanted to establish a strong central authority in the US. He was a power politician who had women and children hanged if they opposed him. To focus on the Missouri compromise and Slavery in the USA's new territories and ignore the constitutional prohibition of the further importation of slavery is simply a testimony to the power of Northern propaganda".

Randy Black disagrees with Adriana Pena's statement "Sure, not all Southerners owned slaves, only the political elite did, the ones who counted when it came the time to make the decisions." Randy says: "The above statement is not particularly accurate. Indians (Cherokee, Chickasaw, etc.) were slave owners across the South including throughout Arkansas and Oklahoma Territory, and those Indians were not necessarily "political elites." At the outbreak of the Civil War, it is said that 18% of the population of the State of Arkansas were slaves. The Creeks and Seminoles of Florida were famous for their slave operations".

Ronald Hilton -