Another Confederate Smackdown
Posted on January 31, 2005 Posted by John Scalzi 43 Comments
I have to say that while I understand, to a degree at least, people’s fascination with the Civil War, I’ve never understood the romanticization of the Confederacy. It didn’t last very long, it was horribly run and governed, it accomplished nothing but disaster and defeat, and it existed in the service of a horrible cause. I once angered an alumnus of Washington & Lee by suggesting that Robert E. Lee, however personally admirable he might have been in some ways, bore huge responsibility — if he had honored his oath to the Union, the war probably would have been over in six months, leaving everyone (and especially the South) better off.
One suspects that for a certain sort of infantile mind, pro-Confederacy statements provide the same sort of thrilling sense of nonconformity that Marxism has provided. This, I guess, explains the weird strain of pro-Confederate sympathy that one finds among a certain segment of libertarians. Or, of course, there’s always racism as an explanation — an explanation you’d rather believe didn’t apply, but that clearly does sometimes….
As a political force, neo-Confederate sentiment is pretty trivial at the moment, even compared to the decaying remnants of Marxism. But that’s no reason not to smack it down when it appears.
(Excerpted from his discussion of a new book called The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History, which is apparently written by a Confederate sympathizer (go here for commentary on that).)
Glenn’s position doesn’t surprise me at all, mind you — why would it? — but it’s a nice reminder that people can see the Confederacy as the craptacular mistake it was on either side of the Mason-Dixon line.
I haven’t read the book in question, so I can’t comment on it myself, although I suspect I won’t be pleased with it if I read it since, among other things, the guy writing the book calls the Civil War “The War of Northern Aggression.” My response to that has always been: Well, the CSA attempting to abscond with a third of the land mass of the United States strikes me as fairly damn aggressive.
Gosh John, don’t you get tired of beating a dead horse? Sometimes it seems like you’re trying to make those of us who have ancestors that happened to be on the CSA side of things feel bad. It’s not like we can do anything about it now. I suppose it’s easy for you to rail against it, but is it really kind? Is it what you would want to hear about whatever backwards things your people did generations ago? This is today’s “Northern Aggression,” and it does neither you nor Instapundit any credit. I can’t help but believe that you could find a way to protest against present day white supremacists without being so hateful. Now that would be productive.
For the record, I am white and I live in a city where the majority of the population is African-American and this is where I choose to live. I have more friendships and interactions among African-Americans than whites. I don’t condone the white supremacist agenda at all, and I’m in a state where it is alive and doing far too well.
“Gosh John, don’t you get tired of beating a dead horse?”
Dead horses don’t get onto the New York Times bestseller chart, Amy (with the possible exception of Seabiscuit). This jackass apparently wants to promulgate the idea that the Confederacy was perfectly right in its actions, and clearly this sort of jackassery should not be left unchallenged. The Confederacy was evil, period, end of sentence. Would that it *were* a dead horse, but clearly it’s not.
As for not being “kind”: Give me a break. One, read the disclaimer on the site, which will give you my opinion about being nice and kind and fair. Two, this isn’t about people whose ancestors are Confederates. I mean, Christ: I’m related to the guy who shot Lincoln. None of y’all have anything on me in this regard. None of us is responsible for the sins of our fathers (or in my case, our great-uncles several times over). I couldn’t possibly *care* if you had Confederate ancestors.
However, each of us *is* responsible for our own sins and stupidities, and casually deciding to defend the evil that was the Confederacy ranks high up there on the stupidity scale, and I frankly see it as a public service to slap down the Confederacy-lovers every time they raise their fetid little heads. If you think I’m *not* going to do it because it makes you feel uncomfortable, being that you had Confederate ancestors and all, you best leave now, because that’s really not going to happen.
In short: Until the Confederate horse is dead, burnt, the ashen remains stuffed in a bag and buried in the hollow of a dried-out oil well two miles below the surface of the earth, I’ll be happy to keep slapping at the Confederate sympathizers. You may think it does neither I nor Glenn any credit to do it, but Amy, you are wrong.
John, on this one I have to agree with you wholeheartedly.
While the CSA is a “dead horse” as a political entity, the legacy of racism in the United States lingers to this day. Segregation continued in the South as recently as the mid-1960s. This is why pro-Confederacy arguments are still offensive, and why the Confederate flag should not have been flown from Southern capitals until just a few years ago. The point is not the Confederacy itself, but the social structure that it represented.
Well-meaning people on the right and the left should agree on this issue. It is worth noting that in 2000, John McCain (then a Republican candidate for President) told the people of South Carolina that the stars and bars should come down from the statehouse building.
Instapundit: “One suspects that for a certain sort of infantile mind, pro-Confederacy statements provide the same sort of thrilling sense of nonconformity that Marxism has provided.”
John, you have done what I thought was impossible. You have supplied a quote from Instapundit I would be willing to post on my quotes page. I grew up in the South, and my ancestry there goes back prior to the Civil War, and I will testify that this statment rings true.
“John, you have done what I thought was impossible. You have supplied a quote from Instapundit I would be willing to post on my quotes page.”
Thanks, although to be accurate, Instapundit supplied the quote. I merely brought to the attention of non-Instapundit readers.
I question my sanity in even thinking about getting involved with this little recurring rant of John’s, but I think it might be useful to think of the following three groups (as I see it) of people who don’t uniformly bash the CSA:
1. Those who romanticize the CSA and think it’s too bad it didn’t get a chance to prove how great it could be. I suspect many of these folks don’t know as much about the CSA as they probably should.
2. Those who think the CSA was in support of a social system that needs to be brought back. These people also probably have a lot of hoods in their laundry, if you know what I mean.
3. Those who admire/respect the military forces of the CSA. These folks probably admire the military of WWII Germany, as well, and for the same non-political reasons.
For the record, I’m not a member of any of these groups, but #3 seems far and away the least harmful and offensive, IF you’re able to divorce it from the political goals it was meant to protect and/or establish. For whatever reason, these are the people I tend to run into online on a regular basis and none of ’em (to my knowledge) fall anywhere near the other two groups in other respects.
I don’t have a problem at all with the reenactors and Civil War military buffs, actually. I think you’re right, these folks are looking at the battles and the war mostly from a strategic point of view, which is generally divorced from the politics of either side. And in any event all those battle re-enactments would be strangely anti-climactic if everyone had to be on the side of the Union.
Having lived in the South for 30 years, I can testify that the pro-CSAers still need to be smacked in the face when they “rise again.”
Be proud of your relatives who fought and died, true, but remember what they fought for, and who would have lost had they won.
A review of
I blame Gone With The Wind myself. Book and movie.
One comment on the support for the CSA by some libertarians.
As one myself(small l), I know something about the subject, and I can tell you it’s generally based on three things: the dictat that “war is the health of the state”, absolutist federalism, and absolutist libertarian sentiment about Lincoln (suspending habeus corpus etc…).
Since I don’t agree with any of those philosophical points, and think that absolutist libertarians are simpleminded useful idiots (and political and moral bigots to boot), I can’t say I sympathize with their views.
Having lived in the South for 30 years, I can testify that the pro-CSAers still need to be smacked in the face when they “rise again.”
Ever notice that Southerners are more or less in charge of our government now? They sort of did rise back into national pre-eminence already.
On the sole basis of military history, I can see why the Washington & Lee alum would get ticked off about statements like Instapundit made about ending the war after six months. “Group 3” members would argue issues like this for days at a time (especially considering Lee wasn’t doing much but digging trenches around Richmond for much of the beginning of the war and General Joe Johnston was the man in charge), but I don’t think that their penchant for argument indicates their support for the social system of the South in most cases. It is easy to paint everyone with the same brush when discussing such divisive matters as the Confederacy. While one person believes they are talking about the merits of Stonewall Jackson as a military leader, the listener may believe that he is talking to a Southern apologist. People come to the subject from such a variety of viewpoints that we don’t always take the time to really listen to the actual position a person might taking before pointing out to them why they are wrong.
I am, by no means, a Southern apologist, but if I had an hour to spend with a Civil War general, it would be probably be Lee over anyone in the Federal ranks. The Confederate Army really provided some interesting character and strategic study–arguably more than the Union Army–which is likely the reason most people still discuss it today, rather than because they think the “South will rise again”. It shouldn’t, in the case of slavery and its associated evils.
As a site for bowl games in the dead of winter, however…
The unfortunate fourth group that gets mixed in with this mess is the “Dukes of Hazard” style Southern boy who names his car the General Lee and paints a Dixie flag on the roof. He doesn’t really think about the confederacy at all, he just wants to display some southern pride.
If someone could just come up with a better symbol of the south to replace that flag, I think the real CSA sympathizers would be much more isolated.
There’s more than just Southern boys who wanted a General Lee when they were a wee lad.
Forget the General Lee. I wanted Daisy.
I’m like, totally boggled at the idea that libertarians defend the Confederacy. I always thought of libertarians as being all down with the individual rights, which, it seems to me, certainly include the right to not have anybody else own you.
Amy: “I can’t help but believe that you could find a way to protest against present day white supremacists without being so hateful. Now that would be productive.”
I can’t speak for John, but I know that I have no interest in NOT being hateful against white supremacists. The reason is, I hate them.
A main reason for my hating them is that they hate me. I mean, I’m a white guy and all, but I’m Jewish and the last time I checked the white supremacist sites weren’t exactly singing the praises of Jews.
Instapundit says, “One suspects that for a certain sort of infantile mind, pro-Confederacy statements provide the same sort of thrilling sense of nonconformity that Marxism has provided.”
We had an encounter with a friend-of-a-friend the other day who likes to say shocking things. Nothing wrong with that, I do it myself. The problem is, this guy has no idea when shocking has lapsed over into appalling. I mean, like, he once told a joke about Mexicans in the presence of an ACTUAL MEXICAN, one to whom he had just been introduced. I don’t think the guy is a bigot, I think he’s just, well, an asshole. I don’t have any other way to say it.
Steve: There’s also a fourth group of people who “don’t routinely bash the CSA”: These are people who think that the North at the time was very nearly as bad, and who think that Northern defenders are hypocrites. We encountered one of those the last time this subject came up here. I compared the Confederacy to the Nazis and the Union to the Allies, making the point that, whatever the sins of the Union were, they were fighting on the side of the good in that war. The other guy responded that he saw the war as being more analogous to the Confederacy vs. the USSR. This is a defensible position, even though it’s one I don’t necessarily agree with (and my isn’t this sentence wimpy).
Courtney: “I am, by no means, a Southern apologist…. ” I’ll quibble with your language, Courtney, and suggest that the Confederacy should be distinguished from the South. The South is an excellent region of the world, home to great cooking, landscapes, people and literature (coincidentally, I listened to “Ghost Riders in the Sky,” by the Outlaws, something like eight times today). Sure, the South committed a major atrocity in the past, but what nation HASN’T?
We’ve been watching some travel documentaries on TV as we begin to think about our next international-travel vacation. Last night: Germany, specifically Bavaria. Looks like a swell region, but I have absolutely no desire to go there, and I think if I *were* to go there, I’d find the visit highly unpleasant. This is more a matter of personal taste than a moral platform, I know intellectually that Germany is a fine nation, and its present people bear no moral responsibility for the bad actions of the past (except for possibly a few who are now over 70 years old). But someone else can go there, not me.
One of Faulker’s books (Absalom, Absalom!) ends with the southern kid screaming to his college roommate, “I…don’t hate the South! I don’t!” directly after relating a ghoulish tale from his Southern Gothic upbringing in vivid detail. For me, that moment really encapsulated the feeling that a Southerner gets while reflecting on his heritage. It’s a love/hate relationship of schizophrenic proportion.
One for one, the average CSA soldier was probably worth two of his Union counterparts. The CSA fighters were resourceful, tough, self-reliant, and willing to fight to the bitter end. Rural southerners still take pride in posessing those traits. They’re admirable in and of themselves…the problem is, the soldiers were fighting for something thoroughly detestable from top to bottom. But when your sole definition of education means knowing how to ride a horse, milk a cow, and throw a left hook, you’re easily maipulated by the upper class. Southern soldiers were good fighters because surviving was probably all most of them knew how to do. In high school we learned that many slaves were supposedly terrified of the Yanks because the plantation owners had them hoodwinked into believing that they’d be subjected to something worse than slavery (what they told them, I can hardly imagine) should the north prevail.
When I look back at my heritage, I feel a pang of revulsion for the few at the top. As for the CSA soldiers who died, I feel mostly pity. They were tricked into laying down their lives for a twisted dream of freedom which would have left them enslaved had it survived.
I absolutely agree with you, Mitch, that there is an identification problem when using “the Confederacy” and “the South”. However, most folks don’t really seem to distinguish the two. As I was writing my previous post, I gave passing thought about which term I should use, then realized I’d spent a half hour of my boss’s time on the matter. So I’ll save that discussion for a later day…
Courtney: “I absolutely agree with you, Mitch, that there is an identification problem when using ‘the Confederacy’ and ‘the South’. However, most folks don’t really seem to distinguish the two.”
And the perceptions are driven by the insistence by some Southerners of keeping the identification alive, by insisting on flying the Confederate flag above capital buildings, for instance. Our Blog Host pointed that out.
The South itself is the first victim of Confederate sympathizers, because as long as the Confederate sympathizers are out there claiming to represent the South, then the rest of the world, starting with the Northern states, are going to continue to see the South as a region of stupid rednecks, hillbillies and bigots. Which it isn’t. The South is an excellent region.
I wrote this in another forum, but it occurred to me it was appropriate here.
The south needs to relive its “glory” over and over again because until recently (middle of the Reagan administration) the south was a failed region, with a failed culture; Much like Al Bundy reliving his four touchdowns in one game over and over again to escape from the failure that was Peg.
The “southern culture” failed completely by the 1970’s and rebuilt itself through the late 70s into the early 90’s until now, when it is on the edge of achieving cultural dominance in the U.S.
Oh, and in the mean time, it produced a hell of a lot of interesting literature and music, which is common among failed but still struggling, or rebuilding cultures.
As one of those dreadful “confederate sympathizers” (and apparently a masochist to boot) I thought I’d drop my two cents into this little rantfest.
First, I am not a supporter, romanticizer, or defender of slavery. What I am is a supporter of the concept of federalism and the idea that states had (and still have) a right to secede from the union. In short, I don’t condone slavery and I do believe the CSA support of slavery was evil, but I also think they had the right to go their own way if they wanted to. That is, as far as I can tell, the libertarian position espoused by such sites as LewRockwell.com and Mises.org on the War of Northern Aggression. Frankly, it is somewhat curious to me that many don’t seem to understand that position.
I’m a long-time Whatever reader, and while I have disagreed (but not without an amused chuckle) with elements of the Scalzi confederacy rants in the past, I felt I had to finally post this time to express my dismay with the way Scalzi ended his rant:
“Well, the CSA attempting to abscond with a third of the land mass of the United States strikes me as fairly damn aggressive.”
John, who does that land mass belong to? I was under the impression that our Declaration of Independance makes a pretty strong argument that the people on that land mass “own” that land, and if they choose to disassociate themselves from the political system they have historically participated in, it was (and is) their right to do so. Do you read the Declaration differently? THIS is the primary argument in favor of the Confederacy which is reflected in the title of this book (which, by the way, I have not yet read though plan to – I would hope you might do so at some point also, if for no other reason then to seed another anti-confederate rant on your part :)).
To summarize – Slavery Bad, Secession Good (or at least permissible). The fact that Lincoln opted to wage total war (suspending many constitutional protections for much of his own populace) in order to keep the Union whole was a huge crime in my book, despite the fact that one of the outcomes of the war was the abolition of slavery (which I agree with you was a good thing). I guess it comes down to whether the end justifies the means (that old chestnut). You apparently think in this case it did, I and many other “confederate sympathizers” do not.
Finally, a strong case can be made that War was primarily about taxation, not slavery, and that the conventional wisdom that it was all about freeing the slaves (though certainly a beneficial outcome of the war, the only good thing in my mind) is basically propaganda. It is documented that Lincoln on many occasions disavowed any intention of interfering with slavery in the South, and personally favored shipping all the slaves back to Africa as opposed to freeing them in America. Also, the CSA didn’t secede (not to say that they wouldn’t have, necessarily) in response to an attempt by Lincoln to free slaves, but rather an attempt to raise tariffs. In short, the same reason this great nation broke away from England (while maintaining the instution of slavery also, I might add).
“John, who does that land mass belong to? I was under the impression that our Declaration of Independance makes a pretty strong argument that the people on that land mass ‘own’ that land, and if they choose to disassociate themselves from the political system they have historically participated in, it was (and is) their right to do so.”
Leaving aside the issue that the Declaration of Independence is not actual law in the United States, clearly, one of the major issues at hand in the Civil War was whether it was state governments or the national government which were primary in the federal system of the US. The states of the CSA forwarded their opinion that it was the states who were primary; clearly, the Union had a difference of opinion. And then there was a war, and then that matter was settled, pretty definitively, on the Union side.
So, to answer your question: The land belonged to the people of the United States, and thus the government of the United States was obliged to retrieve it from those who would deprive the citizens of the United States of it.
Once again I must remind people that I am not *opposed* to the argument that the states of the CSA had a perfect right to secede, and indeed, I wish the Union had agreed, since then it squashing the CSA would then have been the simple matter of the conquest of an enemy state, and the Union would not have been obliged to reinstate the several rebellious states back into the Union. It could have simply been unorganized territory all over again. Personally, that sort of fresh start would have appealed to me. Sadly, the Union did not see it that way.
Re: The War being about Taxation — you *could* argue that, sure, but you’d have the Vice-President of the CSA disagreeing with you, as he’s on record saying “The new constitution has put at rest, forever, all the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institution — African slavery as it exists amongst us — the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization. This was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution.” Since he was *there* at the time, I’m inclined to go with him on the matter.
I agree that the Declaration isn’t a law, though given the respect for law the US showed during the War I seriously doubt it would have mattered if it was. I mention the Declaration not to provide a legal rationale, but instead to draw a pretty compelling comparison (imho) between the Revolution and the seccession of the CAS.
To turn that statement on its head, there also was no law that made seccesion ILLEGAL. In fact, there is a perfectly legal rationale for secession to be found in the tenth amendment, below:
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
Putting that diversion aside, I am dismayed to find that you are an advocate of the moral system of tyrants; Might Makes Right. To paraphrase, your argument seems to basically be that yes, there was a difference of opinion, but it has been decided on the field of battle and that’s good enough for me. Please correct me if I’m misinterpreting.
It is exactly that psuedo-argument that I reject. If you were to say that obviously the US was right to slaughter 600,000 plus citizens to free the slaves (assuming that was the reason for the war, which I’ll disagree with again later but which I freely grant here) becuase the secession was illegal, and were to offer up some arguments to that effect, you might be more convincing. The libertarian ideal I follow is that Might does NOT equal Right, and thus I must reject your argument.
Of course, then you specifically lay out that you are not opposed to the idea that secession was dandy, and would have prefered it to what really happened as it would have allowed conquering etc. for the purposes of the elimination of slavery. I have no problem with that (general antiwar arguments notwithstanding: there are far worse and very few better causes to go to war for than the elimination of slavery, so I won’t quibble about this). What I will quibble with (again) is that slavery was the cause of the war (it wasn’t, in my opinion, taxes were). To address the statements of VP of the CSA, I would think it well understand that propaganda was well utilized by both sides of the war (and how better to mobilize the poor masses to fight to defend your new country than to tap into their racism). I’m certainly not claiming any moral superiority for the CSA on that point (or any point relating to the preservation of slavery and racism). What I believe is that the VP lied, as did Lincoln (and indeed, any politician throughout history). Regardless of what was said by who, how can you explain away the fact that the president credited with prosecuting the War to End Slavery didn’t get around to actually outlawing slavery until 1863 (the war started in 1861), and even then specifically excepted certain areas (presumably because they still or currently supported the Union) from the law? Here is the relevant portion of the Emancipation Proclamation issued January 1863:
Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, (except the Parishes of St. Bernard, Plaquemines, Jefferson, St. John, St. Charles, St. James Ascension, Assumption, Terrebonne, Lafourche, St. Mary, St. Martin, and Orleans, including the City of New Orleans) Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia, (except the forty-eight counties designated as West Virginia, and also the counties of Berkley, Accomac, Northampton, Elizabeth City, York, Princess Ann, and Norfolk, including the cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth[)], and which excepted parts, are for the present, left precisely as if this proclamation were not issued.
And by virtue of the power, and for the purpose aforesaid, I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated States, and parts of States, are, and henceforward shall be free; and that the Executive government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of said persons.
Notice the exclusions of New Orleans, West Virginia, various counties, and the 4 slave states/ that never joined the CSA (the fact that there were slave states that didn’t join the CSA also helps make my point, btw). My point being, of course, that the war was much more about the tax base and the mercantilist yearnings of the industrialized Yankees than the state of slavery. Regardless of the mouthings of politicians on either side – actions speak louder than words. A moral war about slavery is a far different beast than a war about who controls the loot, I’m sure you’ll grant me that. What sympathy I have for the CSA, and for the cause of secession as a viable political alternative to tyranny (which is what you have to call what happened to the South after the Civil War, btw, unless you have a far different view of the Reconstruction period than I do). In short, my view on the War of Northern Aggresion is that after the war we had less (but not zero) slavery (a good thing!), and far, far more tyranny (a bad thing), which stretches even to the modern day (arguably – though I’m not really interested in having that argument at this point).
Since you put forth your vision for what would have been a preferable for that time period, here’s mine: The CSA secedes peacefully, and eventually (hopefully sooner rather than later) follows the lead of the US and of Europe and repeals slavery peacefully (as indeed I believe all the European powers as well as the reconstituted US did. Remember that the US still had slavery after the end of the Civil war until the passage of the thirteenth amendment.
Moreover, another version of history I would prefer (though not as much as the above, obviously) would be for the slaves themselves to revolt within the CSA and cast off the chains that bound them, as indeed would have been their right. The fact that I support the right of the CSA to break away from the union does not mean their Might over the slaves gave them the right to be slaveowners, I try to be consistent that way. Again, I must stress that slavery and the continuation of slavery is not something I support. I simply object to the widely held notion that the Union had the right to invade and subjugate the CSA, and that in fact it was a “good” thing (overall – my admission that the abolition of slavery was a good thing is in my opinion outweighed by all the bad things – primarily the 600k plus killed and the aftermath which reduced many in the south to little more than slaves, imho).
John, I don’t expect the above to persuade you to my point of view. I do hope that you will stop referring to all “confederate sympathizers” as bigots, racists, and/or morons, which , while entertaining to read, is simply not true. Accusing me of being a hopeless idealist is much closer to the mark, I’m afraid (look ma, I punned :)).
“I do hope that you will stop referring to all ‘confederate sympathizers’ as bigots, racists, and/or morons, which, while entertaining to read, is simply not true.”
I disagree. It takes a monumental act of will to set aside the fact the Confederacy was evil, which to my mind is indicative of something that is not quite pleasant in one’s mental processes. However, it seems less that you are a Confederate sympathizer and more that you are a proponent of primacy of state governments in the federal system, which is a different thing. Would for your sake you had a different example to work with.
Re: “Might Makes Right” — Might doesn’t necessarily make right, although in this particular case the side whose theory of the relationship between the state governments and the national government which I happen to agree with also was the mightier on the battlefield. Conversely, lack of might doesn’t mean one can’t be wrong. The Union’s military victory meant it could then promulgate its political theory of federalism. In other words: The Union was right *and* it kicked the CSA’s ass on the field.
Re: Stephens lying for political purposes: Eh. I disagree, naturally. As a matter of scholarship I tend to look at primary documents rather than interpretations thereof, and Stephens is rather unambiguous in his political thesis. Also, bear in mind Stephens was famously pro-slavery long before this particular speech (he and Lincoln went around and around on the subject in a series of letters). He wasn’t lying about his feelings regarding slavery, nor, given his position in the CSA government, could his position have been a minority one.
Nor do I find a political theory in which the CSA drops slavery in a timely fashion particularly persuasive, considering the effort it went through to preserve it — i.e., by consitutionally encoding it into its national fabric. I would submit that what is rather *more* likely to have happened would be subsequent divisions by CSA states into smaller and smaller political entities along slave/free lines, using the CSA’s own example as justification. I don’t expect the independence wars of those increasingly tiny states would have been any less bloody (per capita) than the Civil War. I also submit that by this particular noxious division, there would have been slavery of some sort or another well into the 20th Century.
I think trotting out the Emancipation Proclaimation is a red herring — the Union didn’t go to war to free the slaves, it went to war to preserve the integrity of the Union. That being the case, naturally it wouldn’t have made any sort of sense for Lincoln, in the middle of a war, to antagonize the slave states that were not in rebellion (especially since the CSA was technically claiming many of those states for its own). However, I don’t imagine that the slave states still in the Union were in any doubt that slavery was on its way out, one way or another — the conditions of the admission of West Virginia until the Union (in which the admission was predicated on a timetable of emancipation of the slaves in that state) made that abundantly clear.
In any event, even disregarding the Emancipation Proclaimation, I think we can all agree that the slaves of the former CSA states were freed from their condition of slavery far sooner via the 13th Amendment than they would have been by any theoretical decision by the CSA (or the various parts thereof) to free them from their shackles.
Regarding the term “The War of Northern Aggression,” it needs to be said, as often as possible, that the South fired the first shots. This was at a place called Fort Sumter. The federal government had made no move prior to that time against the rebel states, save only to maintain their position on federally-owned property, like forts, and state their intention to remain there.
Concerning the term “Might Makes Right,” the South itself acceded to this principle by fighting. One of the Confederate generals, possibly Lee himself, said as much after the war in acknowledging defeat. I don’t remember the exact quote, but it was to the effect of: “We took this question to the sword, and the sword has settled it.”
To claim that the South seceded because of tariffs or other taxation issues is laughable. Not a reputable historian would claim such a thing. We all know why the South seceded. They said it was “states’ rights.” But states’ rights to do WHAT?
Answer, to protect their rights to OWN SLAVES from a president who had declared his intention not to interfere with slavery where it existed. (He did not change this policy until much later, and indeed, the litany of areas covered by the Emancipation Proclamation only proves this point: that the Proclamation did not, in fact, free any slaves. So much for Lincoln the Abolitionist.)
Now we come to the crux of the matter, and I’m glad to see we are in agreement on something. You say:
“I think trotting out the Emancipation Proclaimation is a red herring — the Union didn’t go to war to free the slaves, it went to war to preserve the integrity of the Union.”
THAT is exactly what I, and many like-minded confederate sympathizers (not to mention many northerners before and during the civil war judging by the editorials of the time) believe was so wrong about the War of Northern Aggression. It was believed by the majority prior to the war that states did in fact have a right to secede, and therefore going to war to preserve a union in which a sizable part no longer wanted to belong was wrong (evil, even). Judging by the amount of civil rights abuses Lincoln had to undertake to persecute his war, I feel it’s fair to surmise that he should have known it too.
I would also like to point to another quote I particulary like:
“However, it seems less that you are a Confederate sympathizer and more that you are a proponent of primacy of state governments in the federal system, which is a different thing. Would for your sake you had a different example to work with.”
No truer words have ever been spoken than that final sentence. If only the CSA had had the moral terpitude to at least point towards a time when they might have freed the slaves (in their constitution, for example), let alone outlawing slavery outright in their founding documents, the history books wouldn’t find it so easy lionize Lincoln and the Union, and confederate sympathizers (which, sir, I am one, in that I believe the CSA had a right to exist independently) would have a much easier time pointing out that the Civil War was not about slavery (at least primarily), but in fact taxation and the ability to self-govern (at least, regrettably, for non-negroes). The reason I write here is to object that for you (and Glenn, and seemingly the majority) it is easy to lump confederate sympathizers based on a states rights viewpoint in with bigots and racists who venerate the CSA for pro-slavery reasons. In my experience, there are far more sympathizers who fall into the former camp than the latter, but the amalgamation of the two groups allows Union sympathizers to ignore our arguments that the War of Northern Aggression was illegal, immoral, and in fact evil in it’s own right.
I notice you still haven’t provided a reason WHY you happen to believe the North was justified in “preserving the Union”. I am very curious as to what that might be, if you feel like addressing it.
Regarding Stephens, I’ll grant you are probably right. I am sure that there was a sizeable contingent for which slavery was the main issue (majority? maybe or maybe not; I think it’s also well documented that many in the CSA despised slavery and would have gotten rid of it if they could have, I happen to believe they would have eventually been successful), and Stephens and other high level CSA politicians may indeed have been in the former camp. Slavery was evil, and so were those men. That doesn’t change the fact (in my view)that the decision to go to war against them was unjustified.
Regarding your comments on my rosy alternative version of history, you are certainly (obviously) correct that it couldn’t have happened sooner than the 13th Amendment. I’m not sure I buy that slavery as an institution would have lasted until the 20th century in that scenario (when did slavery end in the rest of the western world? I’m not sure), but reasonable people can disagree on that. There is certainly some logic on your belief that eventual dissolution of slavery in the CSA could have involved more bloodshed, even to the point of being (on a per capita basis) similar to the bloodshed that happened in the Civil War. But you must grant that it’s also possible that it might not have, and that as time progressed the overall opinion in the CSA could have moved similar to the movement that occured in the North and European nations (similar, I daresay, to civil rights in the 60’s and gay rights today) until a relatively peaceful end to slavery in the CSA could be attained. Whichever way you or I believe that might have happened, it doesn’t in my mind change that what did happen (the War and 600k+ dead) was wrong despite the fact that it brought about an earlier ending to the institution of slavery than could otherwise have been achieved. That is my point, sir.
To make a comparison of my point to current events, look at the case of that professor in Colorado who stuck his foot down his throat recently. He is getting support from Glenn Reynolds, Volokh, and other principled high profile bloggers who find his views disgusting but do NOT advocate removal of his tenured status. That seems to me to be very similar in principle to the defense of the CSA’s right to secede that I am espousing here (despite my disgust of slavery). Is their willfull disregard towards the evil that professor spewed forth make them people with not quite pleasant mental processes? I must reiterate that it is that attitude on your part that I disagree with, not your perfectly understandable disdain for slavery.
Again, I’m very interested in learning why you believe the Union was justified in invading the South, if you are interested in clueing me in.
Simon, are you asking us to believe that the CSA started a war to protect slavery from a man who you admit, and everyone had to be aware of at the time, had no intentions of doing so? AND against a nation more numerous and richer (not to mention more industrially proficient, which eventually decided the war) than themselves, AND without trying to attack the enemy capital even though it was right there within spitting distance of Richmond!!!! How stupid must they have been!!! I’d always heard that South had great generals (fomr a military perspective), but I guess it just didn’t occur to them to invade D.C. and end the war at the start by decapitating US leadership instead of dinking around with military installations within CSA territory. More on this item below, but first I chuckled to read this assertion of yours:
“To claim that the South seceded because of tariffs or other taxation issues is laughable. Not a reputable historian would claim such a thing. We all know why the South seceded. They said it was “states’ rights.” But states’ rights to do WHAT?”
Why do I chuckle? Because the book this topic owes its origin to was written by a man who holds a doctorate in history from Columbia University, I daresay most would agree he is reputable. I also point you to this interesting article on Mises.org: http://www.mises.org/fullstory.aspx?control=671&fs=rethinking+the+civil+war
Please peruse it and let me know if you are still laughing at my view that the war just might have other causes than slavery…. You may not agree but hopefully you’ll learn you can’t just dismiss my viewpoint as laughable, many reputable people just might agree with me.
Back to my first point, I’m well aware that the CSA fired the first shots at Fort Sumter. Of course, if you believe as I do that the federal government is only an extension of the will of the people, then the people of the CSA were perfectly justified in retaking military installations wholly within their borders that contained troops loyal to a foriegn power. Who do those military installations belong to if the US Government no longer has any authority in the surrounding territory? From my point of view the Union refusal to turn over those installations peacably and withdraw their military personnel to their own borders was the act of war that began the conflict. If the CSA had been interested in starting a war with the US I think it would have been far more productive to march into US territory and preemptively remove their will to invade the South by decapitating thier political leadership, don’t you think? Maybe the CSA just wanted to control the military installations within their own territory, or does this not make any sense to you?
Regarding your “Might makes Right” paragraph, sense when is fighting to defend yourself an example of tyranny? Maintaining military installations in foreign land without the people of that lands consent is certainly classified as aggression, wouldn’t you think? It follows then that the attempt to remove foreign soldiers from those installations is in fact self-defense, or do you see it differently? Finally, it should be pointed out (though I’m sure you are aware of this) that the CSA did not invade United States territory until the US had sent an army into CSA territory first (and actually, if I remember correctly, not until quite a long time after said event).
I am, however, glad to hear another voice that shares at least some of my disregard for Lincoln, thanks Simon.
“I notice you still haven’t provided a reason WHY you happen to believe the North was justified in ‘preserving the Union.’ I am very curious as to what that might be, if you feel like addressing it.”
I’ve addressed it. You keep defaulting to the argument that the South was correct in its interpretation of governmental primacy in the federal system, an interpretation that is incorrect in my opinion and in the opinion of the Union. The North was justified in going to war against the CSA because it held they were states in rebellion and the rebellion needed to be quelled. Over and done.
However, and again, even if one grants the states of the CSA had the right to secede and form their own country, it does *not* follow that the US was then obliged to let such a state continue to exist.
And this is why, really, the argument of “States Right” is pointless and immaterial as regards the CSA. If the CSA interpretation of “States Rights” was incorrect, as I believ it was, then the Union was fully justified in going to war with the rebellious states and bringing them into line. If the CSA interpretation was correct, as you believe it was, then the CSA was an entirely legal new political entity that just happened to exist on a massive tract of land that was owned by another political entity, and if the government of the CSA believed the USA would just walk away from a third of its land mass without a fight, they were even stupider than they would have been simply by being in rebellion. *Either way,* the CSA was dead meat the moment is declared its independence.
Well, John, I’m afraid that response fills me with sadness. America doesn’t really stand for democracry and self-government in your view, does it? Apparently we all exist at the pleasure of our masters who run the State, at least that’s how I read your response above. Seriously, are you even listening to yourself? Do you have the slightest feelings of cognitive dissonance between the rhetoric of the American Revolution and your theory that the USA owned the land mass that announced itself as the CSA and sought to break ties with the northern states, or that the US would have been justified in retaking that territory after it announced it’s intention to go its own way? How about any dissonance between your acceptance of forced membership within the Union vs. your disdain for forced slavery?? Any logical issues come to mind to you anywhere in there?
I guess the main question I have to ask you is: do we the people own the goverment, or does the government own us? That is what the War decided, sir, and not correctly in my view.
I take it if the State of Alaska were to vote to break away from the Union tomorrow, you would be advocating sending in the marines, yes? I believe there are active seccessionist campaigns within many states today (including Alaska, I believe). Assuming any of those movements achieve prominence (unlikely, as I’m sure you’d agree, but anything is possible) and succeed in seceding (hehehe, I slay me), I for one would shrug and wish them good luck on their own. I certainly would not advocate, and would in fact oppose, attempting to force them to rejoin the US, just as I would have during the War between the States, if I had been alive during that time period (and regardless of which side of the Mason-Dixon line I happened to live on).
To me, that is what liberty and self-government mean – the ability of people to choose their own leadership, and I honestly don’t believe your apparent view of the relationship between government and the people is in near as large a majority amongst the curent US populace as you might think. Actually, I suspect the majority of the populace don’t have an opinion about it one way or the other, as I imagine was the case back then as well.
Thanks for offering up open comments to allow viewpoints unlike your own to be shared in your space, I do appreciate it. I don’t believe either of us made much progress moving the other off their respective positions, but that’s very rare in these sort of things, I think, and not the point anyway. The point is getting what you want to say out, and I have done so. Again, I appreciate your taking the time to reply to my postings, even though frankly my respect for you has diminished (to which I imagine your reply to be, if I may be so bold as to speak for you:
“Any logical issues come to mind to you anywhere in there?”
No. Again, I don’t agree with the CSA point of view regarding the CSA states’ right to secede, so there’s no conflict on that point — the states were in rebellion and the principals of its government engaging in treason as handily defined by the US Constitution (which those states had ratified); the US was obliged to respond. Also, the CSA was fundamentally evil in its formulation, so it deserved to die, swiftly and painfully, and I’m proud I belong to the country that killed it off. Certainly the overall climate of democracy and individual rights was vastly improved in the wake of the South having its ass kicked. In all, well done, US!
But again, the point is moot; the US was not obliged to stand idly by and let the CSA unilaterally carve up the nation, and any suggestions otherwise are quite simply foolish. You are of course free to pine for a theoretical universe in which anyone can secede at any time for any reason in the name of liberty and self-government, but I’m not obliged to consider your point of view as sensible or desirable, especially when the practical application of such self-determination is the codified enslavement of other people, as it was with the CSA.
Re: Alaska seceding — by all means, if Alaskans can make a case for seceding from the Union that the rest of the US can agree with, I’m happy to let them go. On the other hand, if the Alaskans unilaterally withdrew from the US (or more accurately a group claiming to represent the Alaskans, since as has been pointed out previously in other threads, there were many many southern citizens of the US who had absolutely no desire to live in the new state of the CSA), I’d be perfectly happy to invade the state, quell the resisters, and have the so-called heads of government shot for treason (after a fair trial, of course). Certainly the heads of the CSA should have been shot for treason; pity that they were not.
Mark Ditta: “Since you put forth your vision for what would have been a preferable for that time period, here’s mine: The CSA secedes peacefully, and eventually (hopefully sooner rather than later) follows the lead of the US and of Europe and repeals slavery peacefully… ”
It’s 1863. I’m a black man and a slave in the South. Explain to me how long I should wait for a peaceful abolition of slavery. Explain to me why it’s wrong for me to demand freedom RIGHT NOW. Not in 25 years, gradually; not in five years, not next year, nowt even tomorrow or after dinner or in an hour. RIGHT NOW.
Better not make any appeals to history or to the philosophers; I don’t understand any of those things because I can’t read. It’s illegal to teach me to read.
By the way, my daughter is 12 years old, and the massa says she’s looking mighty pretty and he’s thinking of selling her to a whorehouse in New Orleans. Because that’s legal, because he owns me and owns her too.
Mark Ditta: “To me, that is what liberty and self-government mean – the ability of people to choose their own leadership….. ”
I agree with you 100%: the people do have a right to choose their own leadership, and any government that is not chosen by the people is illegitimate.
Unfortunately, the people of the Confederacy did not choose their own leaders. Only the white people did.
Scalzi: “if the Alaskans unilaterally withdrew from the US (or more accurately a group claiming to represent the Alaskans, since as has been pointed out previously in other threads, there were many many southern citizens of the US who had absolutely no desire to live in the new state of the CSA”
And many people who were residents of the Confederacy were NOT citizens, and were forced to live in chains.
Like Scalzi, the only reason I might regret the Civil War is that it denied the slaves of the Confederacy an opportunity to rise up in rebellion and slaughter their owners personally.
Thinking about this further: Mark, your argument in favor of the Confederacy rests on the argument that the Confederacy was the legitimate government of the region. However, no government that sanctions holding a significant portion of its population in chains can be said to be legitimate.
So, Mitch, prior to the 13th amendment the US government was illegitimate? How about the governments of all other slaveholding nations on earth at that time, before, and since? I’m pretty sure that if you looked at the scope of all of human history, the vast majority of societies and governments supported slavery. That doesn’t make it right, and I’m glad over the last few centuries civilization has worked it’s way past that (for the most part, I think there might still be government sanctioned “legal” slavery somewhere in Africa or Asia today, I’m not sure).
Again, I’m not trying to argue here that slavery was desirable, or make excuses for those that trafficked in slaves, regardless of the region or time peroid.
John, I think you have clarified for me my last questions for you on the matter, thanks. You are right that our first basic disagreement is over whether or not the CSA had the right to secede. I also agree that many in the south probably didn’t want to, as I bet you’ll agree that many in the north thought they had a right to.
As far as our other disagreement (re the moral cause for northern aggression regardless of whether or not seccession was legal), I have to say no, I don’t think it is foolish to hope that the US would live up to the promise of its founding by not going to war to hold on to those who have chosen to break away from the Union. How many evil things did the US government have to do to it’s own people (let alone the people in the CSA) to persecute that bloody war? Sadly, I can’t argue that it isn’t foolish to expect a politician to let a tax base slip away from him, however I already copped to being an idealist. It seems to come down to whether or not you believe the end justifies the means. Obviously you do, and just as obviously I do not.
I’m glad you’re proud to be an American, I am also, just not for the manner in which the CSA was put down. I’m simply not proud of the way our governmental system was irrevocably changed by the Civil War, nor do I agree that the CSA was any more or less evil than the US, before or after. Though I’m quite happy that slavery ended, I’m not happy with the manner in which it was ended, and not becuse I’d have prefered the heads of the leaders of the CSA or anyone else on a pike, which I’m sad to learn would apparently make you happier with the outcome of that war.
Frankly, since you’ve answered my questions regarding your views, and rejected my views for the most part, I’d say we are done here. I’ll continue to pine for that theoretical universe where morality and mutual respect for civil rights apply not just to people (citizens and slaves alike) but also to politicians. Pining is an apt term, thanks for supplying it. There certainly isn’t anything in history (well, except for the founding documents of this great nation) to suggest it will ever happen. It may be because it’s late as I write this, but pining brings to my mind that quote of Jefferson’s “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants”. Too bad in the war we are discussing, the tyrants won (heh, doubt you agree with that!).
Also coming to mind as I close out are the letters Lord Acton wrote to Lee after the end of the war, especially the following paragraph, which summarizes from that time long ago the viewpoint I hold and have been espousing today:
“Without presuming to decide the purely legal question, on which it seems evident to me from Madison’s and Hamilton’s papers that the Fathers of the Constitution were not agreed, I saw in State Rights the only availing check upon the absolutism of the sovereign will, and secession filled me with hope, not as the destruction but as the redemption of Democracy. The institutions of your Republic have not exercised on the old world the salutary and liberating influence which ought to have belonged to them, by reason of those defects and abuses of principle which the Confederate Constitution was expressly and wisely calculated to remedy. I believed that the example of that great Reform would have blessed all the races of mankind by establishing true freedom purged of the native dangers and disorders of Republics. Therefore I deemed that you were fighting the battles of our liberty, our progress, and our civilization; and I mourn for the stake which was lost at Richmond more deeply than I rejoice over that which was saved at Waterloo.”
Finally, just to recap, here are my main points one last time:
1) The Civil War was not fought over slavery, but instead primarily about the attempted economic dominance of the South by the North.
2) Slavery was evil, and I’m glad it was ended, but it could and should have been ended peacefully in the CSA as it did everywhere else in the western world. The fact that one of the results of the civil war was the elimination of legalized slavery does not excuse the fact that the war itself was immoral and evil, and not something that anyone should be proud of.
3) The CSA had the right to secede from the Union, and the right to expect the US to honor their independence. John correctly points out the hopeless idealism involved in expecting any politician to relinquish power over his subjects of his own volition regardless of the immorality of his power. Has it ever happened in history? As evidenced by the extreme measures undertaken by Lincoln to maintain his power over the CSA, it certainly didn’t happen here.
Good night all, it’s late and I think I’m rambling….
“The CSA had the right to secede from the Union, and the right to expect the US to honor their independence. ”
No, and no. Unilaterally absconding with much of the US and then treasonously attacking US forces are only two obvious and insurmountable reasons why. And before one gets all weepy about all the horrible things the US did in the course of the war, it’s worth remembering that none of it would have happened had not the CSA decided to secede. If you’re looking for the primary source of blame, head to Richmond. The idea that the CSA is some pure and innocent victim in all this is ridiculous to the point of ignorance.
You’re wrong that the CSA is no more evil than the United States; as I’ve said before, the fundamental difference is that the CSA encoded the enslavement of humans into its founding document, and the US did not. There’s a difference between doing evil (which the US has certainly done) and being evil (which the CSA certainly was).
As for “the ends justifies the means” — Certainly the ends of the CSA (the illegal dissolution of the Union; the constitutionally encoded subjugation of one group of humans as property) justified the means that the Union took to prevent them. War is a horrible, messy business, and it’s to the eternal shame of the CSA that it caused it to happen. Add the to the pile of other things that are to the CSA’s eternal shame.
“Slavery ending peacefully” — As I said, it’s a little much to believe that a country willing to break away from the US because of the issue of slavery (as ultimately the CSA did) and encoded slavery into its constitution would ever surrender the idea of slavery either peacefully and in a timely fashion. You might want to believe that slavery wouldn’t have exisited in the South into the 20th century had the CSA prevailed, but considering that 100 years after the Civil War, black Americans in the south were still systematically deprived of their fundamental constitutional rights (like, say, the right to vote), I’d say you’d almost certainly be wrong.
Mark Ditta: “So, Mitch, prior to the 13th amendment the US government was illegitimate? How about the governments of all other slaveholding nations on earth at that time, before, and since? I’m pretty sure that if you looked at the scope of all of human history, the vast majority of societies and governments supported slavery. That doesn’t make it right, and I’m glad over the last few centuries civilization has worked it’s way past that (for the most part, I think there might still be government sanctioned “legal” slavery somewhere in Africa or Asia today, I’m not sure).”
I don’t know the answer to those questions, but let me ask you a couple in reverse: Does the world community have a right to interfere in genocide in the Sudan? After all, that’s an internal matter, the private business of the legitimate government of that country, so it would be downright WRONG to interfere in that genocide, wouldn’t it?
Likewise, for most of the Taliban’s reign in Afghanistan, the world pretty much stood by and did nothing while women were brutally oppressed. Was that right? After all, the Taliban was the legitimate government of Afghanistan, wasn’t it?
“Again, I’m not trying to argue here that slavery was desirable, or make excuses for those that trafficked in slaves, regardless of the region or time peroid.”
I do think you’re trivializing the heinousness of slavery, though. In morality and ethics, we hold that it is right to committ a lesser offense to prevent a greater offense. The starving man is forgiven for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his family. Likewise, even if it was wrong for the U.N. to block the Confederacy’s secession (and I by no means concede that it was), the end result of the Civil War was that slavery was abolished in the U.S., and that was a great benefit.
I didn’t read all the above. If I repeat someone elses comments then I think they bear repeating. There is no point in arguing over this. The Civil War was fought and lost by the side that deserved to lose. The CSA no longer exists. For that I am grateful. The result of the war was the end of the Confederacy. It was not the end of Southern culture. Neither was the CSA the beginning of it.
John, I will not be ashamed of my family or my heritage. My culture is distinct and worth celebrating. The cause of the Confederacy was evil but then so was the United States’.
If a political party ever organizes to “Raise the South” and champion the CSA cause during my lifetime, I will do everything in my power to stop it. I have pride in my heritage not zealotry for reliving the mistakes of the past.
Now please stop beating this dead horse issue.
“Now please stop beating this dead horse issue.”
As I said before: When the dead horse stops trying to get up, then I will stop beating it. While it yet struggles, I’ll be there to kick it back down.
Also, a reminder: It’s my site, and I’ll do as I damn well please.
Mark: Yes, to answer your question: the South was extremely stupid to call Lincoln an abolitionist in 1860, a claim they made repeatedly, and one which Lincoln repeatedly denied.
But for examples of such stupidity in action, consider Mr. Bush’s repeated claims that Mr. Kerry would have subjected the US’s foreign policy to the UN, something that Mr. Kerry never said and had to keep denying that he’d said.
It was perhaps less stupid for the South to declare war against a stronger enemy. But they knew that their only hope of winning was to persuade Britain and France to support them, which never really happened.
The nonacademic reputuability of the book that started this topic has already been the subject of discussion. A doctorate is not an automatic guarantee of respectability. There are Holocaust deniers with doctorates in history. There are creationists with doctorates in science.
Additional – even if one grants that South Carolina had a case to reclaim Fort Sumter, the proper way to do this in a peaceful secession would have been to purchase it (which as I recall the state indeed offered to do at one point).
Taking it by military force, however, is an act of military aggression, whatever your claimed rights.
The Civil War was the War of Southern Aggression.
“But you must grant that it’s also possible that it might not have, and that as time progressed the overall opinion in the CSA could have moved similar to the movement that occured in the North and European nations (similar, I daresay, to civil rights in the 60’s and gay rights today) until a relatively peaceful end to slavery in the CSA could be attained.”
Please don’t try and equate emancipation and civil rights with people who think they need special protection to practice abnormal behavior. It cheapens the other two valid movements and makes you look like a asshat…
I think the south should rise again. If you’re goning to go onto the good old argument about if the civil war was fought over slavery, it wasn’t. The war was fought for the same reason the American revolution was fought, taxes. The southern people made up about 25% of the population, yet payed around 75% of the taxes. Only a small amount of the civil war was fought over slavery. More Yankee generals owned slaves than Confederate generals.Look at two of the greatest Confederate Generals, Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Sonewall” Jackson, neither one owned slaves. This is just the way I feel about the Confederacy rising again, sorry!
John Mark writes:
“The war was fought for the same reason the American revolution was fought, taxes. The southern people made up about 25% of the population, yet payed around 75% of the taxes.”
Uh-huh. Here’s an opposing view, from the Tax History Museum:
As for the pprofoundly dubious issue of the Civil war being about taxes and not about slavery, perhaps it’s instructive to wonder why it was about taxes. This bit, also from the Tax Museum, shows how taxation and slavery were indeed inter-related prior to the Civil War:
Funny how sooner or later it all comes back to slavery, isn’t it?