I am quite sure that this article may stir the hornets to flight nevertheless; it is a subject that is gradually coming to light in this country after decades of revisionist history promoted by the victor of the conflict.
1850 Speech by the Honorable Jefferson Davis on the Floor of the United States Senate.
“If I have a superstition, sir, which governs my mind and holds it captive, it is a superstitious reverence for the Union. If one can inherit a sentiment, I may be said to have inherited this from my revolutionary father.
And if education can develop a sentiment in the heart and mind of man, surely mine has been such as would most develop feelings of attachment for the Union. But, sir, I have an allegiance to the State, which I represent here. I have an allegiance to those who have entrusted their interests to me, which every consideration of faith and of duty, which every feeling of honor, tells me is above all other political considerations. I trust I shall never find my allegiance there and here in conflict.
God forbid that the day should ever come when to be true to my constituents is to be hostile to the Union. If, sir, we have reached that hour in the progress of our institutions, it is past the age to which the Union should have lived. If we have got to the point when it is treason to the United States to protect the rights and interests of our constituents, I ask why should they longer be represented here? Why longer remain a part of the Union?
If there is a dominant party in this Union which can deny to us equality, and the rights we derive through the Constitution; if we are no longer the freemen our fathers left us; if we are to be crushed by the power of an unrestrained majority, this is not the Union for which the blood of the Revolution was shed; this is not the Union I was taught from my cradle to revere; this is not the Union in the service of which a large portion of my life has been passed; this is not the Union for which our fathers pledged their property, their lives, and sacred honor.
No, sir, this would be a central Government, raised on the destruction of all the principles of the Constitution, and the first, the highest obligation of every man who has sworn to support that Constitution would be resistance to such usurpation. This is my position.”
There is, and will be, much controversy about the causes of the War for Southern Independence however, when the evidence is logically weighed the conclusions become very clear. One of the most common and apparently intentional misconceptions is that slavery was the primary cause of the conflict however, that simply cannot be the case when reading the events of the period.
If you read the actual events, the proposals given by numerous high-raking politicians of the day and editorials that plastered the newspapers of the time then it is absolutely impossible for one to come to the conclusion that slavery was the cause of the war.
The first and perhaps the strongest evidence that the war had absolutely nothing to do with slavery was Lincoln himself. Had slavery been the primary cause of the war, or even an ancillary cause then Mr. Lincoln would have never attempted to make a deal with the Southern States to support an Amendment to the Constitution to forever protect the institution of slavery, all they had to do was agree not to Secede. It was a deal that the South could have easily accepted especially if that was the reason for the South's Secession, but that was not even the reason the South craved disunion. The Southern People could have avoided the entire conflict and destruction of their country had they simply accepted Lincoln's deal, but the deal did not address the real reasons behind the South's desire to Secede from the Union.
To reiterate, slavery could not have been the reason for Lincoln waging war on the South since he offered to save and protect slavery forever if only the South remain in the Union. On the other hand, slavery could not have been the reason for the South's Secession since they could have easily saved and protected the institution of slavery simply by agreeing to Lincoln's deal and remaining in the Union.
Even the act of Secession itself was not the cause of the War, nor was Lincoln a dye-hard Unionist prior to the events that lead up to Secession. Lincoln and indeed, the entire country was well aware of the Right of Secession because it had been taught and espoused by just about every educational institution and politician from the time of the Ratification of the Constitution. In fact, every single Resolution for Constitutional Ratification included clauses declaring the Right of Secession if the federal government or a majority of the Several States did not adhere to the Articles of the Constitution. It was taught in every Military Institution in the country, including West Point, until after the War when the doctrine and all textbooks that expounded the Right were systematically purged by the Radical Republican Party.
So, if slavery and secession were not the real reasons behind the War, what was? It appears that money was the only reason for the War; it was the only reason behind Lincoln's actions. This fact becomes evident when reading excerpts from many of the Northern Newspapers, many expressing the view even prior to Lincoln's Inauguration. For a few years prior to 1960, many of the Northerners, including newspapers and politicians, including Lincoln expressed that the South should Secede and the sooner the better in their minds.
So what changed? It was one of those “eureka” moments that caused a drastic change in the hearts and minds of the Northern people when they realized that without the heavy and unequal tariff income levied on the South that the North and indeed, the federal government itself would be forced into economic ruin by the disunion of the South. So, the real reason was the utter devastating prospect that if the South left the Union that the government's coffers would be bled dry with the lost of revenues and likewise, that the Northern economy would be decimated.
Lincoln himself stated that if the South was allowed to secede: “What then will become of my tariff?”
Now, it was evident that the Northern newspaper editors were well aware of the issues at hand and also aware of what was needed to secure the Tariffs for the federal government and protection of Northern manufacturers, even as far back as 1860 [you will notice that during that period slavery was never mentioned]:
“In one single blow our foreign commerce must be reduced to less than one-half what it now is. Our coastwise trade would pass into other hands. One-half of our shipping would lie idle at our wharves. We should lose our trade with the South, with all of its immense profits. Our manufactories would be in utter ruins. Let the South adopt the free-trade system or that of a tariff for revenue and these results would likely follow.”
“In the enforcement of the revenue laws [the heavy, one-sided Tariffs] the forts [like Fort Sumter] are of primary importance. Their guns cover just so much ground as is necessary to enable the United States to enforce their laws. Those forts the United States must maintain. It is not a question of coercing South Carolina, but enforcing the revenue laws. The practical point, either way, is whether the revenue laws of the United States shall or shall not be enforced at those three Ports, Charleston, Beaufort and Georgetown, or whether they shall or shall not be made free ports, open to the commerce of the world, with no other restriction upon it than South Carolina shall see proper to impose. Forts are to be used to enforce the revenue laws…not to conquer a State.”
When South Carolina seceded on December 21, 1860, the Northern newspapers were quick to suggest:
“The government cannot well avoid collecting the federal revenues at all Southern Ports, even after the passage of secession ordinances; and if this duty is discharged, any State which assumes a rebellious attitude will still be obligated to contribute revenue to support the federal government or have her foreign commerce entirely destroyed”
Now, once again concerning the reasons behind the actions of the Southern States in their urge to cuts the binding ties of the union, if you look at the actions of the Congress of the 1860 and the platform of the Radical Republican Party of 1860 then you would quickly recognize that the South had very few alternatives. By early 1861 there was one of the highest tariffs in history imposed upon the South by Congress called the Morrill Tariff. In the House, Rep. John H. Reagan of the State of Texas stated about the long list of punitive tariffs:
“You are not content with the vast millions of tribute we pay you annually under the operation of our revenue laws, our navigation laws, your fishing bounties, and by making your people our manufacturers, our merchants, our shippers. You are not satisfied with the vast tribute we pay you to build up your great cities, your railroads, your canals. You are not satisfied with the millions of tribute we have been paying you on account of the balance of exchange, which you hold against us. You are not satisfied that we of the South are almost reduced to the condition of overseers of Northern Capitalist. You are not satisfied with all this; but you must wage a relentless crusade against our rights and our institutions.”
Indeed, the reasons for the South's desire to break the bind of union was the same as our Founders, it had much more to do with over-taxation without representation than any other issue. Lincoln was basically in the pocket of the Northern industrialist and was obligated to them to impose heavy tariffs on the South while maintaining protection for the Northern manufacturers. However, it was not only the desire for trade protectionism that the North desired, but also the aggrandizement of what they saw as Empire. In the Quarterly Review in Britain, commentary stated:
“Fate has indeed taken a malignant pleasure in flouting the admirers of the United States. It is not merely that their hopes of its universal empire have been disappointed; the mortification has been much deeper than this. Every theory to which they paid special homage has been successively repudiated by their favorite statesmen. They were Apostles of Free Trade: America has established a tariff, compared to which our heaviest protection-tariff has been flimsy. She has become a land of passports, of conscriptions, of press censorship and post-office espionage; of bastilles and lettres de cachet [this was a letter that bore an official seal which authorized the imprisonment, without trial of any person named in the letter] There was little difference between the government of Mr. Lincoln and the government of Napoleon III. There was the form of a legislative assembly, where scarcely any dared to oppose for fear of the charge of treason.”
Ah yes, the government of Lincoln, one where fear ruled not only the average man and woman on the street, but in every Newspaper, every church, every Legislature and even the courts.
To ensure the execution of the Tariffs imposed upon the South, Lincoln imposed a de facto blockade when the South decided to declare a tariff-free trade zone in the Southern State Ports for all Southern products imported and exported to Europe. Of course, this would circumvent the heavy Tariffs of the North on the South and thereby would deplete the coffers of the federal government and endanger the economic viability of Northern Industrialists. Why on earth would The State Republic of South Carolina dare to fire on a federal fort Sumter? Was it out of shear pleasure; was some crazy man in charge of the Battery on Charleston Harbor? Did they just want to start a War with the North? Could it be that they were protecting their Constitutional Rights as one of the Several States that voluntarily entered into the Constitutional Convention to join this federation based upon the ideals of federalism called the United States of America and that those Rights and its Sovereignty to exercise, by the Consent of the Citizens of The Republic of South Carolina, their desire to defend their economic interests against the infringement by a powerful and rich force within Congress?
Yes, Lincoln was pressured by some extremely strong special interests, to impose a blockade against the Sovereign States that made up the South. Under the guise of supplying Fort Sumter, Lincoln, in effect, ensured action by the South to begin the War he and his Industrialist patrons so desperately wanted and needed. It was the perfect ploy to demonize the South while allowing the North and the federal government to remain pure. It worked exactly as planned!
Read the archives for yourself, in newspapers like the Chicago Daily Times, in the 1860, Dec 10 edition, before the War started the editorial of that paper stated the real reason for the War:
“In one single blow our foreign commerce must be reduced to less than one-half what it now is. Our coastwise trade would pass into other hands. One-half of our shipping would lie idle at our wharves. We should lose our trade with the South, WITH ALL ITS IMMENSE PROFITS. Our manufactories would be in utter ruins. Let the South adopt the free-trade system, or that of a tariff for revenue, and these results would likely follow.”
The Philadelphia Press in their 1861 edition proposed one of the most interesting ideas that made its way to Lincoln, January 15. This also seems to be the basis for Lincoln's Inaugural Address. The paper said that: If South Carolina were to take the forts by force, this would be levying war against the United States and high treason against the Constitution” In other words, if South Carolina could be “tricked” into firing on the Forts in Charleston Harbor, that would be enough to go to War to stop the State from Seceding and thus reeking havoc on Northern and government revenues. The paper went on to say:
“In the enforcement of the revenue laws, the forts are of primary importance. THEIR GUNS COVER JUST SO MUCH GROUND AS IS NECESSARY TO ENABLE THE UNITED STATES TO ENFORCE THEIR LAWS. Those forts the United States must maintain. IT IS NOT A QUESTION OF COERCING SOUTH CAROLINA, BUT OF ENFORCING THE REVENUE LAWS. The practical point, EITHER WAY, is whether the revenue laws of the United States shall or shall not be enforced at those three ports.”
YES, LINCOLN TOOK NOTE.
Like Lincoln, on March 2, 1861, The New York Evening Post headed its editorial with these words: “WHAT SHALL BE DONE FOR A REVENUE?”
“That either the revenue from duties must be collected in the ports of the “rebel states”, or the port must be closed to importations from abroad, is generally admitted. If neither of these things de done, our revenue laws are substantially repealed; the sources which supply OUR TREASURY will be dried up; we shall have no money to carry on the government; the nation will become bankrupt before the next crop of corn is ripe. There will be nothing to furnish means of subsistence to the army; nothing to keep our navy afloat; nothing to pay the salaries of public officers; THE PRESENT ORDER OF THINGS MUST COME TO A DEAD STOP.”
It went on with an amazing disclosure of the real reasons why the North and why Lincoln did not want, nor could allow the South to secede from the Union:
“WHAT, THEN, IS LEFT FOR OUR GOVERNMENT? SHALL WE LET THE SECEDING STATES REPEAL THE REVENUE LAWS FOR THE WHOLE UNION IN THIS MANNER? Or will the government choose to consider all foreign commerce destined for those ports where we have no custom-houses and no collections as contraband, and stop it, when offering to enter the collection districts from which our authorities have been expelled?”
In less than two weeks of a barrage of such editorials, Lincoln took that fateful action that would ensure the shelling of Fort Sumter; he sent reinforcements to the Fort. It was the action he needed to fulfill his deed of treachery and begin the long destructive path into un-Constitutionalism, and Treason against the duly elected government of the United States.
The War was totally about tariffs and the desire of certain Radical Republicans to create a “nation-state” and that is exactly what was created by this war, a centralized national government with the power to impose its national will over the State Republics which were Sovereign and too powerful in the eyes of certain people and special interests.
Of course, there were no illusions behind the reasons of the War in the South; they were fighting for what they saw as the original Constitutional Republic and the ideals upon which it was founded. The New Orleans Daily Crescent stated that the causes of secession were simply this:
“The know that it is their import trade that draws from the people's pockets sixty to seventy millions of dollars per annum, in the shape of duties, to be expended mainly in the North, and in the protection and encouragement of Northern interests. These are the reasons why these people do not wish the South to secede from the Union. They, the North, are enraged at the prospect of being despoiled of the rich feast upon which they have so long fed and fattened, and which they were just getting ready to enjoy with still greater gout and gusto. They are mad as hornets because the prize slips them just as they are ready to grasp it.”
For a very interesting discourse on the reasons behind the War read Charles Dickens, yes the same author that wrote A Christmas Carol, his discourse on the subject is extremely enlightening and extremely honest in its condemnation of Lincoln, the federal government and the extremely powerful special interests that helped guide Lincoln's hand toward outright tyranny and eventual destruction of the South.
Continue to Part 2…
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