Civil War was about ‘secession, not slavery’, says reader
1/25/2024, 6 p.m.
Marc H. Morial, in excoriating Nikki Haley, parrots the tiresome myth of American history by claiming the Civil War (which it was not, by definition) was “about” slavery, quoting slavery as one among the reasons for the secession of the Southern states.
He is wrong. The war was not “about” slavery, (nor “about” states’ rights, as one often hears as a counter-argument.) The war was about secession. As the noted historian Barbara Tuchman accurately called it, (in her book “The March of Folly, from Troy to Vietnam,”) it was “the North’s war against the South’s secession.”
The Ordinances of Secession were essentially Declarations of Independence, not declarations of war. Peaceful withdrawal from a voluntary union of sovereign states was the choice of the Southern states that seceded. War to prevent their departure from the Union was President Abraham Lincoln’s choice.
President Lincoln said in his first inaugural that he was waging war against the South to “save the Union and collect the revenue.” (In other words, to save the Union in order to collect the tariff revenues from the South.) Follow the dollar and know the truth.
President Lincoln did not wage war against the South to free the slaves. He said so himself in his first inaugural. Are we to call “Honest Abe” a liar? And two years later he said in his famous Emancipation Proclamation that slavery was all right as long as you were loyal to his government, proven six months later when he admitted West Virginia, a so-called “Slave State,” into the Union. And if the war was “about” slavery, why was slavery constitutional in the United States throughout the war?
In spite of Mr. Morial’s assertion, Virginia didn’t secede over the slavery issue. She, along with the other states of the upper South, seceded when President Lincoln called for her troops to invade the seven seceded States. These accusations of “Lost Cause Myths” and other righteous hyperventilations are nothing more than what true historians call “presentism,” the twisting of history to confirm to the politics of the present. And as Thomas Carlyle said in one of his latter-day pamphlets, it is a damned lie and nothing other, and, like all lies, it is cursed and damned from the beginning.
H.V. TRAYWICK JR.