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Old October 28th, 2012, 02:43 PM   #1

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The myth that the ACW was not over slavery


Why does it persist?

If I knew nothing about the American Revolution, and wanted to learn why the American colonies rebelled, the first document I'd read would be the Declaration of Independence, since it lays out the reasons for seperation from the rebels point of view.

Likewise if I wanted to discover the reasons why the Southern States rebelled in 1861, my first stop would be the southern Declarations of Secession, since they also lay out the reasons for seperatiom from the rebel point of view. And what I'd find in reading those declarations, is a passionate defense of the institution of slavery and anger over Northern attempts to either limit it, or abolish it.

Why does the myth that the war was not over slavery continue to linger, when the Southern leadership in their own words, linked their cause with the insitution of slavery?
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Old October 28th, 2012, 02:47 PM   #2

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scaeva View Post
Why does it persist?

If I knew nothing about the American Revolution, and wanted to learn why the American colonies rebelled, the first document I'd read would be the Declaration of Independence, since it lays out the reasons for seperation from the rebels point of view.

Likewise if I wanted to discover the reasons why the Southern States rebelled in 1861, my first stop would be the southern Declarations of Secession, since they also lay out the reasons for seperatiom from the rebel point of view. And what I'd find in reading those declarations, is a passionate defense of the institution of slavery and anger over Northern attempts to either limit it, or abolish it.

Why does the myth that the war was not over slavery continue to linger, when the Southern leadership in their own words, linked their cause with the insitution of slavery?
Just out of curiosity, were there any other grievances listed besides slavery?
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Old October 28th, 2012, 02:47 PM   #3

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Because there's plenty of self-deluded Lost Causers out there.

Some of them are still spewing thinly-veiled racism. Others are genuinely ashamed of the horrors of slavery, and escape that horror by burying their head in the sand, or decorating the (admittedly, impressive) heroics of the Confederate fighting man with flowery rhetoric, ironically, about freedom and independence.

Julius Caesar said it best when he said "men will believe whatever they wish".
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Old October 28th, 2012, 03:02 PM   #4

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1. Because people who admire their ancestors, and don't want to think that they fought for a 'bad cause'.

2. Because it's easy to turn the question around and point out the moral flaws of the union. Finding examples of US soldiers who disliked Negroes is a popular method to do this. Pointing out that the union allowed slavery to continue in MD, DE, KY, and MO until 1865 is another way.

3. Because there are always the examples of white southern soldiers who expressed a liking for the Negroes, and even a disdain for slavery. These examples are used to display that the CSA was 'not racist' and 'not fighting for slavery'. This can be combined with the examples in #2 to argue that the northern states were 'racist too' and therefore equally anti-black.

4. Because the myth that the CSA fought for 'state's rights' has been spread ever since the late 1800's. Examples where CSA states used state's rights to protect their laws and way of life are used. Examples of pre-civil war southern states using the federal government to combat northern state's usage of states rights (New York and the fugitive slave act, for instance) are conveniently forgotten.
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Old October 28th, 2012, 03:06 PM   #5
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Because North Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Virginia didn't secede because of slavery. They chose not to. They seceded after Lincoln called for troops to put down the rebellion.
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Old October 28th, 2012, 03:10 PM   #6

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Just out of curiosity, were there any other grievances listed besides slavery?
There is token mention given to a couple other grievances, such as Texas' belief that they weren't getting sufficient protection from the Indians, but the vast, VAST majority of it is about slavery.

You can see them here: Declaration of Causes of Secession
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Old October 28th, 2012, 03:11 PM   #7

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The problem is that some believe either that slavery was the only reason or that slavery played no role whatsoever. The question is much more complex than that. While southerners were undoubtedly led to war by the slave-owning aristocracy, most southerners did not, in fact, fight for slavery. They viewed their struggle in the same terms as the AR. Likewise, most northerners did not fight to free slaves-at least not initially. With the exception of New England, the northern states had no desire to end slavery. Lincoln famously said he would free none, some, or all of the slaves if it would restore the union.

So was slavery the single biggest reason for the ACW? Absolutely. It just wasn't the only reason.
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Old October 28th, 2012, 03:12 PM   #8

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Because North Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Virginia didn't secede because of slavery. They chose not to. They seceded after Lincoln called for troops to put down the rebellion.
That's not entirely accurate. The so called "border" states might have joined the CSA anyway. Lincoln's call for troops just pushed them over the brink.
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Old October 28th, 2012, 03:16 PM   #9

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Lynch View Post
2. Because it's easy to turn the question around and point out the moral flaws of the union. Finding examples of US soldiers who disliked Negroes is a popular method to do this. Pointing out that the union allowed slavery to continue in MD, DE, KY, and MO until 1865 is another way.

3. Because there are always the examples of white southern soldiers who expressed a liking for the Negroes, and even a disdain for slavery. These examples are used to display that the CSA was 'not racist' and 'not fighting for slavery'. This can be combined with the examples in #2 to argue that the northern states were 'racist too' and therefore equally anti-black.
I like to say that the Lost Causers who whine that 'the North had slavery/racism too!' are like serial killers justifying their crimes because some other guy shoplifted at Wal Mart.

Quote:
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4. Because the myth that the CSA fought for 'state's rights' has been spread ever since the late 1800's. Examples where CSA states used state's rights to protect their laws and way of life are used. Examples of pre-civil war southern states using the federal government to combat northern state's usage of states rights (New York and the fugitive slave act, for instance) are conveniently forgotten.
I once had a kid tell me that the South wasn't fighting for slavery but 'state's rights'. I asked him 'their right to do what?' I didn't get any answer apart from a thoughtful and mildly bewildered expression.
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Old October 28th, 2012, 03:22 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by diddyriddick View Post
That's not entirely accurate. The so called "border" states might have joined the CSA anyway. Lincoln's call for troops just pushed them over the brink.

Might? This is history. Hard to go with "might haves". Kentucky and Missouri didn't join. I don't think Tennessee even held a secession convention until Lincoln called for troops.
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