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The South Was Right, the Historians Are Wrong: Taking the Antislavery Origins of the Civil War Seriously

Why did the Southern states choose to secede when Abraham Lincoln was elected President in November of 1860? At the time, Southerners attributed “secession winter” to the fear that Lincoln and the Republicans fully intended to make war on slavery, bypassing the Constitution, which left the issue of slavery to the states. Thus, they believed, their only option was to separate from the Union.

Northern Democrats agreed, contending that Republicans intended to circumvent the Constitution’s prohibition against direct federal action against slavery. Agitation by the “Black Republicans” was responsible for the crisis. The Democrats felt vindicated when Republicans refused to compromise on the extension of slavery into the territories. In addition, the Democrats charged, the Republicans intended to refuse to enforce the fugitive slave law that had been passed in 1850 as part of the Great Compromise.

No serious historian still denies that the Southern states seceded in order to protect slavery but most argue that Lincoln and the Republicans entered upon war with no intention of attacking slavery, noting that Lincoln said so himself. According to the standard narrative, the Union turned to emancipation only reluctantly as a means to advance the Union war effort.

Of course, they are correct to point out that the Republicans denied any intention to interfere with slavery where it existed. Lincoln addressed the point directly in his inaugural speech. But it is also true that he would brook no compromise on the extension of slavery. As he wrote to James T. Hale on January 11, 1861:

We have just carried an election on principles fairly stated to the people. Now we are told in advance, the government must be broken up, unless we surrender to those we have beaten, before we take the offices…[I]f we surrender, it is the end of [the Republican Party] and of the government. They will repeat the experiment upon us ad libitum. A year will not pass, till we shall have to take Cuba as a condition upon which they will stay in the Union.

Many historians have concluded that if the North was not motivated by any substantial antislavery convictions, then the Civil War cannot be justified morally. Why fight a war the purpose of which was only to restore the Union if emancipation was only an accidental byproduct?

In his remarkable new book, Freedom National: The Destruction of Slavery in the United States, 1861-1865, James Oakes argues that the historians who deny the antislavery origins of the war are mistaken. He contends that from the outset, Republicans had slavery in their sights. Southerners understood that the antislavery threat to the South was real. Accordingly, secession was not an hysterical overreaction to Lincoln’s election but an understandable response to the fact that an antislavery majority in the North had elected an antislavery President. And indeed, Oakes contends, from the very beginning of the conflict, the Republicans worked assiduously to destroy slavery. The problem with the dominant narrative, he argues, is that too many historians have refused to take the Republicans at their word.

Oakes expands the work of Allen Guelzo, who in Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation: The End of Slavery in America, argued that from the first day of his presidency, Lincoln had his eye firmly set on ending slavery. Oakes takes nothing away from Lincoln, but demonstrates that Lincoln’s approach was reflective of the Republican Party as a whole. While there were many differences between Lincoln and the Radicals within the Republican Party, they were of far less import than those between the Democrats and the Republicans. As Lincoln himself once remarked, the difference between Charles Sumner, the Radical Republican senator from Massachusetts, and himself was six weeks.

The Republican Party grew out of the anger generated in both the Whig and Democratic Parties by the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, which repealed the Missouri Compromise prohibiting the expansion of slavery into the territories formed out of the old Louisiana Purchase that lay north of Missouri. But the Republicans inherited a coherent set of antislavery principles formulated long before the Nebraska controversy. Oakes traces the evolution of this antislavery consensus and shows how it shaped the policies of the Lincoln administration and Congress toward slavery once the war began.

The antislavery consensus that underpinned the Republican Party was based on a number of principles: 1) The Founding generation suffused the Constitution with the principles of natural law and the law of nations, which held that man’s natural condition is freedom: the Constitution is inseparable from Declaration of Independence. 2) The presumption of freedom recognized by the Constitution could be overridden only by local or municipal law—in other words freedom was “national,” holding sway wherever the Constitution was sovereign, for example in the federal territories and on the high seas, while slavery was “local,” limited to state jurisdiction. 3) While the Constitution placed slavery in the states where it existed beyond the reach of the federal government, the Constitution did enable the Federal Government to limit the expansion of slavery. 4) The slavery compromises of the Federal Constitution never included the idea that slaves were property—there could be no such thing as “property in man. ”

Republicans firmly believed that these principles provided the basis for a federal assault on slavery once Lincoln and a Republican Congress took office, notwithstanding the fact that the Constitution prohibited the federal government from interfering with slavery in the states where it existed. Just as Southern secessionists and Northern Democrats had argued, Republicans intended to ban slavery from all the Western territories, abolish slavery in Washington, D.C., withdraw federal protection of slavery on the high seas, and deny admission to any new slave states. Many Republicans, if not necessarily Lincoln, also intended to prohibit federal enforcement of the fugitive slave clause of the Constitution.

If the slave states remained in the Union, Republicans believed that this approach would permit the federal government to construct a “cordon of freedom” around the slave states that would bring about what Lincoln called the “ultimate extinction” of slavery. They assumed that because slavery was intrinsically weak this cordon of freedom would ultimately strangle slavery, forcing the slave states themselves to abolish the institution on their own.

The Republican logic of 1860 held that abolition would begin in the northernmost slaves states—Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri—where slavery was weakest. As more free states joined the Union and as more slave states abandoned the institution, slavery would wither and die. Despite Southern objections, Republicans contended that such a policy did not violate the Constitution’s ban on direct federal “interference” with slavery in the states where it already existed.

But secession by the slave states opened the way for another means to attack slavery: immediate, uncompensated military emancipation in the disloyal states, justified under the war powers of the Constitution. For many years, the official U.S. position had been just the opposite. While European writers such as Emmerich de Vattel and Jean-Jacques Burlamaqui argued that it was permissible to seize the private property of the enemy during wartime, Americans had demurred, arguing that it was impermissible for an enemy to seize private property, especially slaves, contending that to do so was to incite servile insurrection.

Indeed, John Quincy Adams had made precisely this argument when he was secretary of state during the Monroe administration, demanding that the British return slaves they had emancipated during the War of 1812. But his views changed. Adam’s argument before the Supreme Court in the Amistad case became the basis for the idea that although the federal government could not abolish slavery in a state, it could emancipate slaves in any state that was in rebellion against the United States.

Thus, states that remained loyal during the Rebellion would be provided the opportunity to accept peaceful, gradual, compensated abolition of slavery. But secession meant a war of rebellion, and such a war meant immediate, uncompensated military emancipation. Although Republicans understood that the only constitutional justification for prosecuting the war was to restore the Union, they also recognized that the effect of the war would be the destruction of slavery, an outcome that they welcomed. Of course, they understood that military emancipation had its limits: although it could free individual slaves, it could not end slavery itself.

Oakes demonstrates how the Lincoln administration, Congress, the War Department, and the slaves themselves worked in tandem from the very beginning of the war to attack slavery. Indeed, the Republican’s antislavery policy was based on the assumption that the slaves hated slavery and would take advantage of the war to claim their freedom. Hundreds of thousands did.

The Union attack on slavery began as early as May of 1861 with Major General Benjamin Butler’s contraband policy and continued with the passage of the two confiscation acts passed by Congress in 1861 and 1862, Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, and the enlistment of black soldiers in the Union army. It culminated with the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which finally drove a stake through the heart of the institution.

As noted above, Republicans had always believed that emancipation would occur first in the loyal slave states and that this dynamic would put pressure on the rebelling states. Oakes argues that in fact the reverse was the case. As Oakes notes, the loyal slave states resisted federal pressure against slavery rather than quickly surrendering to abolition. By 1862 Lincoln and the Republicans in Congress were losing patience with the loyal slave states and by 1863 the Union army was actively impressing slaves from loyal masters in these states and guaranteeing the freedom of enlistees from the loyal slave states, as well as that of their families.

When the war began, Republicans believed that slavery was inherently weak and that it would collapse under the twin pressures of voluntary emancipation in the loyal slave states and military emancipation in the Rebel states. But as Frederick Douglass observed, slavery was “the stomach” of the rebellion and indeed, it proved hard to overcome, especially once the South instituted a “counter-revolution of property” policy that was severe, violent, and bloody in response to the federal attack on slavery. Thus there were limits to what military emancipation could accomplish.

Lincoln’s reelection in 1864 ensured that the Union would be restored but not necessarily that slavery would be destroyed. Republicans believed that neither military emancipation nor state abolitionism would be enough to end slavery. That would require a constitutional amendment. Given the increased Republican majorities in both houses of Congress, passage of such an amendment would be assured when the Thirty-Ninth Congress (elected in November of 1864) opened in December of 1865, but Lincoln and the Republicans feared that if the war ended before abolition was secure, the Democrats’ charge that the Republicans had always used “military necessity” as an excuse to mask their “fanatical determination to destroy slavery” would seem to be validated. If Republicans continued to press for abolition once peace was restored, they would lose their most politically potent justification for the amendment. This accounts for the push to have the Thirty-Eighth Congress pass the amendment in January of 1865.

Oakes’s great achievement is to demonstrate that Lincoln and the Republican Party adopted a strong antislavery policy from the beginning of the secession crisis and advanced it as the war progressed. It is important to remember that emancipation did not begin on January, 1863. It had been underway since May of 1861, a mere month after the rebellion began. Lincoln was hardly a “reluctant” emancipator, but neither did he act entirely on his own, but always in accordance with the principles of the Republican Party.

Today we often act as if the destruction of slavery in the United States was inevitable. But as Oakes makes clear, slavery was too strong to be destroyed by the war alone, as the Republicans believed in 1861. It took not only a full-scale war but also a constitutional amendment to finally destroy it. No one could be reasonably sure that would happen until Lincoln and the Republicans won the elections in November of 1864.

Reader Discussion

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on September 12, 2013 at 12:53:15 pm

I've always thought Lincoln essentially honest. Assuming that to be true, he expressly articulated his view of the purpose and importance of the war in his Gettysburg address (an extension of concepts found in his Lyceum speech). Obviously, just as today Americans took many different positions on the war, a complex issue. Like today the political and rhetorical temperature had reached the boiling point such that no one trusted anyone. Lincoln would even question whether the political views of his mainly Democratic generals, many of whom were expressly NOT fighting for "niggers," was the main cause of their lack of aggression on the battlefield. If the book is as described, it is too one-dimensional.

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Ron Johnson
on September 12, 2013 at 13:16:42 pm

Which historians? The book as described seems to take essentially the conventional historian path, so I'm a bit confused.

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John Ashman
on September 12, 2013 at 15:18:40 pm

John has it pretty much exactly right. For starters, we should note that the two authors mentioned by name in the post, Guelzo and Oates, are both historians. So pretty clearly, Owens here is not talking about ALL historians. He is talking about SOME historians, presumably those whose arguments Guelzo and Oates are concerned to modify or refute.

Author writes: "According to the standard narrative, the Union turned to emancipation only reluctantly as a means to advance the Union war effort."

This is a pretty important sentence, since it is the basis for author's claim that the interpretation of Oates and Guelzo represents a radical departure from the currently dominant position--assuming, of course, that there *is* a currently dominant interpretation. Owens, however, provides us no additional information, so he is leaving us to take his word for it that a.) there does exist a single dominant interpretation to which most living historians adhere, and b.) that his characterization of this position is accurate. Since this is such an important point--without it, Owen's argument loses much of its claim to our attention in this forum--it is a striking omission, and one that weakens the force of his argument.

I should add that I think Owens does an admirable job summarizing (some of) the main points of Oate's book--and further, that I agree with him that Oate's book is well worth reading. The place where he and I part company is in his asssessment of the historiographic importance of Oates' book. He needs to do a fair bit more work in order to make his argument stick.

Thus, Owens is unconvincing in his claim that Oates (and Guelzo) represent an important paradigm shift in historical interpretation. It is possible that they do--that will be determined by seeing what future historians do with their work. To my eye (borrowing a phrase from Thomas Kuhn) Oates is writing "normal history," that extends and develops incrementally the scholarship of earlier scholars like Ira Berlin (whose essay "The Wartime Destruction of Slavery" in the volume on military matters from the FREEDOM AND SOUTHERN SOCIETY PROJECT remains necessary reading) and Eric Foner.

Owens also minimizes or neglects important evidence. Sure, some Union military officers tried to emancipate southern slaves immediately, from pretty much the beginning of the war. But it surely matters that the Lincoln administration took prompt and careful action to repudiate these efforts, and to protect the property rights of southerns in, among other things, human property.

That said, however, the argument that 1.) Southern statesmen were afraid that Lincoln and his administration would take steps to "strangle" slavery in the states in which it was legal; and 2.) there was some grounds for this fear--that it was not entirely imaginary; is, I think, pretty uncontroversial. I find it hard to imagine that many of my colleagues in my own department or elsewhere would wish to deny either of these propositions. If that is so, what is the controversy here?

All best wishes,
Kevin

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Kevin R. Hardwick
on September 12, 2013 at 15:20:53 pm

Addendum: apologies in advance. I used the word "author," as I would in an academic peer review, in place of the author's name ("Owens") as a placeholder--and I see now that when I went back through to replace the one with the other, I did not manage to catch all of them. I intend no disrespect at all to Dr. Owens, and sincerely hope none is taken.

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Kevin R. Hardwick
on September 12, 2013 at 16:45:02 pm

Kevin, what's the phrase? "A difference without a distinction"?

"but most argue that Lincoln and the Republicans entered upon war with no intention of attacking slavery, noting that Lincoln said so himself. According to the standard narrative, the Union turned to emancipation only reluctantly as a means to advance the Union war effort. Of course, they are correct to point out that the Republicans denied any intention to interfere with slavery where it existed. Lincoln addressed the point directly in his inaugural speech. But it is also true that he would brook no compromise in the extension of slavery. "

IOW "Historians have it wrong, except that they have it right, but, maybe a just little wrong....but not much"

I don't think any of this has ever been seriously debatable, it's just how you spin it and the schools simply teach that the Civil War [which wasn't a civil war] was fought over elimination of slavery [except it wasn't] and that was the dominating reason for war [when in reality it was just an ancillary].

It is the same with the Iraq war. It was fought over WMD. Period. Except that there were other reasons, the intransigence of Saddam Hussein to follow the ceasefire agreement, and to free millions of people from tyranny by a dictator [though that had terrible consequence]. Those that simply history will say one thing, those that don't will generally agree on deeper and diverse rationales, as with the [non] Civil War™.

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John Ashman
on September 12, 2013 at 18:54:10 pm

John--

You are right in a narrow sense--there were many issues involved in the politics that created the war. But slavery was implicated in most of them--states rights, tariff politics, the war with Mexico and its aftermath, the expansion of slavery into the western territories, the repeal of the Missouri compromise, the civic status of free blacks (citizen, or non-citizen?). All of these disputes had resonance in the decision to secede, and in the decisions of the Lincoln administration about how best to respond.

Generally speaking, I think we are well advised, when we want to know why statesmen do something, to take a hard look at why they say they are doing it. As we know, this is a procedure that must be used cautiously, since statesmen are not always overt in their agendas. But its a good rule of first aproximation. Here, the debates over secession are quite revealing. A book you may find worth consulting on this issue--I recommend it more broadly, but especially to John, because I think he will find it interesting and fun to read--is Charles B. Dew, APOSTLES OF DISUNION: SOUTHERN SECESSION COMMISIONERS AND THE CAUSES OF THE CIVIL WAR (2002). Charles Dew, of course, is an historian--so presumaby one of the people whose scholarship Dr. Owens writes to condemn (his title, after all, implies that ALL historians, including Oates and Guelzo, are wrong headed). But read it for yourself, and see if you think Owens is correct. (Hint: He isn't.) Good book--I recommend it.

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Kevin R. Hardwick
on September 12, 2013 at 19:05:17 pm

I left an important observation out. Dew's book, written in 2002, is in my view pretty representative of the current orthodoxy among historians (to the extent, anyway, that an orthodoxy exists). Read the squib about it on Amazon, and then read Owens, above, and then ask yourself if there is any meaningful difference between the two arguments. If Dew's argument is orthodox--and it is a well received book that is widely taught to undergraduates, so if its not orthodox, its pretty close--then what should we make of Owen's argument above. Owens gets all the details right, and draws precisely the wrong conclusion. Oates is not paving new ground--he is extending and synthesizing the arguments of an entire generation of historians like Dew, whose arguments are already very well received.

Again--what's the issue here?

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Kevin R. Hardwick
on September 12, 2013 at 21:31:09 pm

Kevin, I think it depends on whether you believe that secession caused the war. I don't believe it did. Slavery did cause secession, but the war was for reintegration of the states by force, not because of slavery. That slavery was used by the North in limited amounts to bring certain elements into the arena of war supporters is pretty obvious. "We need to bring these people back into the union and.....btw....slavery will suffer for it". I just don't draw a direct line between secession over slavery directly to war over slavery because it avoids the intermediary step where the North provoked war to rationalize a war of conquest.

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John Ashman
on September 13, 2013 at 10:21:38 am

John--

You are correct, of course. Once the South seceded, Lincoln and his administration had to decide what to do. The proximate cause of the outbreak of war was Lincoln's decision to retain federal property in the South, including most prominently the series of Federal defenses created after the War of 1812.

Can you sketch a scenario after secession in which violence did not ensue?

Lincoln justified the war as an effort to maintain the Union. Preservation of the Union was, after all, the primary purpose of the Federal Constitution, which of course secession, if permitted to succeed, would destroy. If the Federal Constitution is a good thing, opposition to secession strikes me as a necessary consequence.

All best,
Kevin

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Kevin R. Hardwick
on September 13, 2013 at 11:52:05 am

I have to break with you on the secession thing. I think it is an absolutely crucial check towards government breaking the bargain called the Constitution. If the Feds have the ability to break the Constitution at will, and they obviously do, secession is a strong counter balance. Better 50 free states than one tyrannical country.

Further, had I been Lincoln, I would have immediately pulled the troops with the permission and full awareness of the South, I'd have arranged personally for a meeting to arrange a compromise and leave the door open for reintegration of any state who wishes to rejoin and bid everyone who does not a good and healthy life. Obviously, trade pacts would have had to been worked out. This would have saved a million lives, would have resulted in the peaceful demise of slavery, would have been far better for today's blacks, who would have not have had to suffer through the passive aggressive anger of Southerners. It may have been expedient to say "Slavery is wrong, but we have no power to stop you from engaging in it", but it would have created a far better outcome. I don't see what we have today as a good outcome at all, for anyone.

It's not that the Constitution isn't a good thing, but how it is applied is often quite evil and totalitarian in nature.

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John Ashman
on September 13, 2013 at 18:03:08 pm

John--

We may be speaking past each other. I don't have an opinion one way or the other re the theoretical contribution that secession might provide to checks the federal government. Unilateral secession was found unconstitutional in Texas v. White in 1869, and thus is not a legal option at present. But whether that is a good or bad thing will require wiser counsel than mine.

I am asserting an historical fact that I think is pretty uncontroversial: the founders engaged in the project to create something better than the Articles because they worried that the federal government provided by the Articles was too weak to maintain the union. In this sense, the whole point of the Constitution is to create a federal government strong enough to prevent secession.

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Kevin R. Hardwick
on September 13, 2013 at 18:10:29 pm

Or, to put this somewhat differently: if we believe in originalism, then we also believe that secession is a bad thing. For guys like James Madison, much of the impetus to create a "more perfect union" stemmed from the perception that under the articles, it was very likely that the Union would soon break into what Madison referred to as "regional" or "partial confederations." Madison, and many others among the founders, feared that possibility for what most scholars today consider to have been sound reasons of state. This was one of the evils that the Constitution was designed to mitigate.

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Kevin R. Hardwick
on September 13, 2013 at 23:02:02 pm

Hi Kevin,

Sorry, I don't buy that concept. Here's one reason. There is nothing in the Constitution that prohibits it, just a mere implication at best. Further, no contract can be enforced if all sides don't abide by it, and the Feds certainly don't do that. SCOTUS had no power to tell Texas it couldn't leave.

But more than that. Imagine if the Constitution had said that under no circumstance may a state secede from the union. How many do you believe would sign it? More than a few? Certainly not all 13. One cannot make the leap that "we left it unsaid to make it signable, and therefore, it's enforceable". Leaving the union means losing the support and protection of the union, the trade benefits and all of that, it's not something a state would do lightly, but some did, and it was perfectly Constitutional, no matter what SCOTUS says, because the power isn't in the Constitution. How would such a thing be enforced? By an invasion. So, by signing the paper, you're agreeing in advance to a wife beating of epic proportion. You can't enforce a marriage by force, you can't enforce a union by force.

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John Ashman
on September 14, 2013 at 22:09:00 pm

I meant to put this post here -

Hi Kevin,

Sorry, I don’t buy that concept. Here’s one reason. There is nothing in the Constitution that prohibits it, just a mere implication at best. Further, no contract can be enforced if all sides don’t abide by it, and the Feds certainly don’t do that. SCOTUS had no power to tell Texas it couldn’t leave.

But more than that. Imagine if the Constitution had said that under no circumstance may a state secede from the union. How many do you believe would sign it? More than a few? Certainly not all 13. One cannot make the leap that “we left it unsaid to make it signable, and therefore, it’s enforceable”. Leaving the union means losing the support and protection of the union, the trade benefits and all of that, it’s not something a state would do lightly, but some did, and it was perfectly Constitutional, no matter what SCOTUS says, because the power isn’t in the Constitution. How would such a thing be enforced? By an invasion. So, by signing the paper, you’re agreeing in advance to a wife beating of epic proportion. You can’t enforce a marriage by force, you can’t enforce a union by force.

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John Ashman
on September 18, 2013 at 12:38:53 pm

[…] at Law and Liberty, Mackubin Thomas Owens reviews a new book by James Oakes, Freedom National: The Destruction of Slavery in the United […]

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The Importance of Being Earnest: Candor About Ideological Violations of Law and Humanity | Nomocracy In Politics
on September 20, 2013 at 16:18:09 pm

[…] at Law and Liberty, Mackubin Thomas Owens reviews a new book by James Oakes, Freedom National: The Destruction of Slavery in the United […]

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Unconstitutional Constitution Day, West Coast Straussians (Part 2), and Candor about Violating the Law and Humanity - Front Porch Republic
on September 22, 2013 at 11:00:33 am

I haven't read the posts with diligence, but I will assume that someone mentions John C Calhoun. Calhoun's arguments on the Constitution and States Rights strike me as irrefutable. How is it that an entity which created a a founding document, binds itself in perpututity to that document? And where does it say that having once agreed to it you are bound forever to it? It doesn't, it can't, the South was right.
Whatever Lincoln wanted he preempted any hope of reconcilliation or other alternatives than war. 600,000 dead, destroyed bodies and minds uncountable.

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johnt
on January 30, 2014 at 19:04:39 pm

An apologist's argument typically avoids the key issue by putting the victim on trial; and here, the author does just that from square 1, avoiding the key issue of secession-rights, in favor of standard propaganda "history."
Lincoln prefaced his invasion with a completely bogus version of American history, similar to Saddam Hussein's version-- i..e.where the law gave him the authority he claimed-- while that's not the way it really happened.
Long story short, the states of the US had the same right to secede, as the states of the UN; and by avoiding;ignoring this topic, the author simply sweeps it under the rug, in order to deny clear culpability, calling it a "civil war" instead of an outright international invasion..... i.e. a LIE.
And I believe we have enough of that.

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Sarah Goodwich
on January 30, 2014 at 19:20:47 pm

Actually there was only one issue of RELEVANCE in the "war-" the legal issue; and the American states were individually sovereign-- not collectively; this is a plain fact of law, history and intent.
Avoiding this issue, serves only to deny it by changing the subject; and thus presume that the North acted legally-- thus making the secession indeed an act of "rebellion."
However that's not what happened, and so this can be disregarded as a stalling-tactic.

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Sarah Goodwich
on March 10, 2014 at 00:46:18 am

What she said.

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Hassan Obama
on March 31, 2014 at 10:23:24 am

Reading the Federalist Papers should have put to rest this question of secession. We all know that the Civil War finally did, but it is apparent some still think that it was an illegal war of Northern Aggression (oxymoronic in my humble opinion). Those that supported a vigorous and strong national government (note, I mean in that time frame, not today's), fully believed that secession was the bane to civil good governmnet. They made it clear that our current constitution was created in an attempt to prevent secession and the natural tendencies of democracies. Granted, I am just blue coller worker in North Texas with only a BBA and not an intellectual PHD of some sort, but I find it odd that the words of those that trumpeted our constitution appear to be ignored or, at the least, muted to the point of nothingness by some. I believe Madison stated something to the effect that the reason that secession wasn't addressed is because the proposed constitution would prevent that. Subsidiarity is the key concept of the constitution and so is solidarity. While those two terms have Catholic meanings, they are clearly what our Founders designed and intended with the design of the Constitution and its intertwining of individual, state, and national interests and powers. If one truly believes that the states of right to secede, then the flip side is that the national government had the power to keep the states in. You can't have our cake and eat it too on this.

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TexasDude
on March 31, 2014 at 11:13:36 am

Lincoln wanted to amend the Constitution to make slavery the law of the land to re-unite the union.

http://abclocal.go.com/wpvi/story?section=news/bizarre&id=4379128

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Groty
on May 18, 2014 at 20:57:24 pm

The essay is so fundamentally wrong, it is almost beyond belief. As just a brief example, the claim that the Declaration and the Constitution are "inseparable" is stunning in its sheer absurdity. The Declaration was written in 1776 for the purpose of publicly justifying an illegal and traitorous secession. The Constitution, written over 11 years later in 1787, was written to establish the fundamental law of the land. Of course in the meantime, the Articles of Condeferation was adopted, then abandoned. If they were "inseparable", they would have been written and promulgated simultaneously. The fact is, they have absolutely nothing to do with each other.

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Colonel Sanders
on August 03, 2014 at 11:48:25 am

The first American Revolutionary War had a lot more to do with slavery than the second (failed) War of American Secession. No slaves were freed in Union Territory until the young republic was completely vanquished. In short it was a war between two slave countries.

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Jake
on September 16, 2014 at 11:24:43 am

Anybody that still thinks Lincoln was honest is clearly either a LIAR (Lawyer) like he was, or just plain stupid.

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Man
on October 29, 2014 at 18:21:41 pm

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on November 02, 2014 at 20:21:49 pm

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www.iife.net
on December 23, 2014 at 18:12:24 pm

Slaves were freed in Union territory during the war. The Federal government abolished slavery in Washington, D.C., with monetary compensation for the slave owners. Other slaves became free by enlisting in the military. As slave who enlisted in the military, with or without his owner's permission, was freed and his owner was paid $300.

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KAlmquist
on March 28, 2015 at 01:20:29 am

"No slaves were freed in Union Territory until the young republic was completely vanquished."

Incorrect. All slaves in Union slave states and in territory conquered by the Union were freed before the end of the War, with two exceptions.

MO, MD and WV freed their slaves by state action. TN, AR and LA did the same, albeit by puppet state governments. Somewhere between 50,000 and 100,000 slaves were immediately freed by the Emancipation Proclamation in Union-controlled territory along the Atlantic coast and in the Mississippi Valley. As Union armies advanced, all slaves were freed in territory they conquered.

The two exceptions were DE and KY, both of which refused to free their slaves and so were the only slaves actually freed by 13A. DE had something <200 slaves. KY about 50,000 when 13A took effect.

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Image of Sherman Logan
Sherman Logan
on June 15, 2015 at 21:06:26 pm
Image of Paul Chambers
Paul Chambers
on June 25, 2015 at 00:02:58 am

[…] http://www.historynet.com/african-americans-in-the-civil-war Digital History The South Was Right, the Historians Are Wrong: Taking the Antislavery Origins of the Civil War Serio…[/QUOTE] __________________ Hope is the dream of the waking man. Aristotle For there is hope of […]

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Image of Civil War Fought over .... - Political Wrinkles
Civil War Fought over .... - Political Wrinkles
on August 09, 2015 at 19:59:31 pm

What's up all, here every one is sharing such familiarity, therefore it's pleasant
to read this web site, and I used to visit
this website all the time.

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www.dealforgovernor.com
on April 12, 2016 at 12:15:14 pm

Where in the Constitution is it stated " a state is free to secede from the Union"? Answer: it doesn't. Lincoln wanted to end slavery but he was willing to tolerate it where it existed. And yet he rightly refused to allow it to expand into the western territories which is why those 13 Southern states seceded. Southerners fired on federal property at Ft Sumter which for all practical purposes was the start of the US Civil war. Lincoln's primary goal was to preserve the Union, not end slavery. The emancipation proclamation was more of a political stunt, meant to infuriate the rebels while making to clear to them the war was no longer just about preserving the Union; it was now about ending slavery. Lincoln was the greatest president this country has ever known.

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John Petz
on September 22, 2016 at 01:21:06 am

Actually, no, because slavery is a human rights violation which trumps any technical legal pretext for secession. You cannot secede from a nation because you don't like the way it protects human rights. That's it. There is no justification other than because you're a racist. The xenophobic aryans were dealt with twice in huge massacres on this globe. Don't make it happen again.

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Michael
on September 22, 2016 at 01:22:20 am

Thanks, John!!!

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Michael
on March 29, 2017 at 08:24:55 am

Exactly. What Northerners don't want to admit to day is that the Civil War boiled down to the big government and socialist ideals of their fore fathers. Lincoln was for expanding the federal governments reach in various ways, not the least of which was the implementation of a federal tax which he used to help fund the war on the South. The first state to threaten to secede was South Carolina and it was over taxes placed on imports/exports in the South to pay for the Norths big government and to redistribute wealth from the South to the North. Not nearly as noble and altruistic reason for war as emancipation.

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Billy K
on April 30, 2017 at 16:22:48 pm

oh shut up man the south did not believe in states rights at all. the South tried to force northern states to be slave catchers and tried to force slavery in northern states only a brain washed sheeple believes the south supported states rights

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Richard Chambers
on July 11, 2017 at 12:09:29 pm

[…] and that emancipation would plunge the South into a racial nightmare." The Union's plan was to cordon off the Slave States, to grow the Western frontier as free-states, and to force the South to abandon slavery overtime. […]

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Union soldier's statues!
on July 28, 2017 at 16:39:43 pm

An agrarian society reliant on "slave" labor or "indentured servantry" based in a society of Freedom. It had no place. Neither here nor in the multiple other countries it exsisted in, yep, almost all of Europe, Asia and especially Africa where tribe leaders sold underlings for let's say Profit.

Secession was based on need. A need to produce something of value the North could not, and recieve something of the betterment of those "slaves" in working the fields with technology of the North. Is that a true assesment? Well Yes.

Were there Northern Slave and Servant owners? Absolutely yes, and based on population, quite a bit more. So how was this a war of Slavery and Emancipation of a people sold by their own tribes from Africa into servitude the great downfall? It was not. Quakers in the North and eventually the Amish held all Men are free according to their worth. Hmmm, according to their worth? Ok so how does that play into a society of Nordics, Germans, English, Swiss, and mulitple others that saw it work, and never treated underlings of any race or creed as subhuman? Unless your Jewish, oops another story and I am not.

There were Negro units on the Union and Confederate side, yes you can argue that slaves were demanded to fight, but of course that's not thes case in most. Yes, you can argue it did happen, because it did! It was also behoven in the North to "ASK" negroes to fight, and offer them Freedom and Land Ownership, which rarely happened. So Lincoln was a liar and Davis was simply trying to unify an aging and dying system out of the fields with proper labor. The North would never have that and Lincoln's reelection was dependant on it.

Funny how the only President from Pennsylvania, and as we can tell of the Gay persuasion, never started this war before Lincoln. In fact slavery came up few times and he left the "We The People" to decide. Buchannon understood the institution, if you want to call it that, of slavery was allready dead. It was going to take time for it to transition into voting, freedom and liberties. Lincoln would have none of that. Buchannon knew the South would bury itself in slavery, and that they needed a solution. Not just himself, but the South as a whole knew it! Slavery and servitude was on it's way out. But Lincoln had to hasten that! The lying bull rusher he was. So now we have a War that breaks our Constitution, pits Cousins against Cousin, Brother against Brother and worst, Family against Family. All for the wondrous campaign of a President whom was a Republican and hated slavery, but really endorsed it, and allowed it in several new western states.

I vote Besides Obama, Carter, Roosevelt, and Wilson; Lincoln was a shoddy and terrible President. Jefferson Davis at least tried to comprimise with the little room he had to do so. So in the end we just vilify the flag and people of the Confederacy and Glorify the Victors, Haters themselves as the winners. Confederates were Americans! Their Fathers and Grandfathers fought in the WAR of 1812, The Revolution for god's sake! Do we really thin them un-American? Are we just simply to stupid and removed from the event to get it? Or are we taught the lies of the Victorious?

You decide. But read well. Blacks and Whites, got along much better when given a choice. Oh, by the way there were other slaves we never talk about. The Chinese, especially in San Francisco and out west. The Cuban's, The Mexican's, boy that one never ends. The Japanese in WWII and Germans. POW is still a slave! The American Indians, The Inuuit, Irish for a time during the Potato Famine, Italians for they all had mob ties...NOT! So many more, the Polish, Iranians, Jordanians(Palestinians), The Jewish of all nations, Cossaks, Greeks, Sardinians, Morroccan, shall I go on? Will we ever get it? Probably not. I assume my fellow American is obviously not from this Continent, genealogy wise, but moved and lived here through trouble and toil and raised that flag on his front porch on his own. Those that raise others, need I say where they should go? It's a young nation a work in progress and it has failed at times. But it has always upheld Freedom, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. No other Country in the history of recorded man has tried that!

Socialist, Teachers, Communist College pukes. Please do not respond, we have enough babysitting in this Country. Get balls and speak, Learn and adhere to the truth of the only Federal Republic mankind has ever known, and still taking babysteps of Freedom. Oh, by the way college pukes. You have the absolut Right to protest. But not, Burn down our neihgborhoods, Loot and cover your identities. Nor do you have the right to my money, or happiness. But you do have the Right to pursue it. Have a Great Day!

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Thomas Reinert
on August 17, 2017 at 02:44:24 am

Yeah. What he said!!!!!!!

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rick roer
on August 27, 2017 at 11:59:35 am

Two quick points:

1. The Federalist Papers were Federalist propaganda; and
2. Your argument that the actions of one generation responding to their particular time and circumstances should bind all future generations is called "original contract." The same original contract argument is used justify hereditary monarchies, aristocracies and slavery.

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EK
on September 13, 2017 at 20:38:57 pm

Smiley face

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Hihi
on May 08, 2018 at 14:06:37 pm

If Lincoln was honest, then he was ignorant of the law, which is never an excuse.
There was no "Union" created under the Articles of Association in 1774, which became a single nation in 1776-- as Lincoln claimed; rather, this union was "the Continental Association," which NEVER claimed national union among the states, and was never even named in the Declaration of Independence.
Lincoln's reasoning that "the colonies declared independence from Great Britain, not from the Union" (again referring to the Continental Association of 1774) is cretinism of the highest order, since there was no national dependence from which to declare such; the notion that their mere joint declaration made them into a single nation,rather than 13 separate nations, completely ignores the express words of the Declaration itself that they would be "free and independent states" with "the full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and do all the other things that independent states may of right do."
To claim that this intended to form a single federated nation-state of 13 subordinate federative states, is beyond absurd; it's an outright LIE.,

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Sarah Goodwich
on May 08, 2018 at 14:11:11 pm

"Preservation of the Union was, after all, the primary purpose of the Federal Constitution"

No, it's to form a more perfect Union-- which doesn't really describe turning a voluntary confederacy of free, sovereign and independent states, each supremely ruled by its respective voters, into a dictatorial empire maintained by threat of massacre.
Rather, this would REQUIRE an express act to unite the states as a single new nation-state-- which the Constitution does NOT do.
So yeah... Lincoln conquered sovereign nations, and massacred hundreds of thousands.

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Sarah Goodwich
on May 08, 2018 at 14:18:47 pm

"Further, had I been Lincoln, I would have immediately pulled the troops with the permission and full awareness of the South, I’d have arranged personally for a meeting to arrange a compromise and leave the door open for reintegration of any state who wishes to rejoin and bid everyone who does not a good and healthy life. "
That's basically what Buchanan did; and the Industrial oligarchy replaced him WITH Lincoln, for that reason, contributing to his campaign because he had expressed in 1856 that he would resist secession with military force.
So you could never have been ELECTED if you expressed such a reasonable view-- as did Douglas and most others. The entire "war" underscores the PURPOSE of secession and state sovereignty, as being the means by which the Constitution was to be maintained; i.e. to prevent an oligarchy; and so naturally, the oligarchy elected Lincoln to END secession, by supporting his campaign to ensure his election in 1860, knowing that he'd do their bidding whatever the cost-- and the industrial oligarchs didn't care if that came from tariffs on Southern-purchased imports, or military-industrial contracts manufacturing war-munitions and textiles.
This danger, was the reason that the states formed 13 separate nations, rather than one single nation; and the special-interest achieved it by re-writing history to claim the opposite o the truth.

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Image of Sarah Goodwich
Sarah Goodwich
on May 08, 2018 at 15:29:47 pm

As Lincoln said, the right of a state or a confederacy of states to secede is not governed by the Constitution and so the matter had to be decided in a trial by combat. The Unionists won that trial in 1865 but the Constitution is still silent on the matter and the Declaration of Independence still supports the right of any group that considers themselves to be a separate people to self-government. This right was re-affirmed in the Atlantic Charter and in the formation of the UN.

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EK

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