Kevin Williamson on the US civil war

Southerners — and some conservative sentimentalists — tell themselves two convenient lies about the Civil War. One is that the Confederate cause was an honorable one, the other is that the war wasn’t really about slavery. Neither of those stands up to very much scrutiny, and the former is mostly false in no small part because the latter is almost entirely false.

There were honorable men fighting on the Southern side, to be sure, and their fight was an honorable one to the extent that risking life and limb on behalf of one’s home and people is generally honorable. General Lee is widely considered to have been an honorable military man, and so was Field Marshal Rommel. But General Lee’s cause was destroying the United States of America to facilitate slavery. The historical record, including practically every Confederate document explaining Southern separation, makes that clear enough. That the abolitionists were imperfect in their commitment to the liberation of the slaves and that there were Southern men of conscience who detested slavery and yet fought on behalf of its preserver does not change any of that. The War Between the States wasn’t about cotton tariffs.

Read the whole thing – very good.

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72 Responses to Kevin Williamson on the US civil war

  1. Zulu Kilo Two Alpha

    “My paramount object in the struggle is to save the Union, and is not to either save or destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery and the coloured race, I do because it helps save the Union. ”

    Abraham Lincoln, “Letter to Horace Greely, August 22, 1862.”

  2. mundi

    Lincoln wrote letters to anyone and everyone often with opposing views. He wanted power and lied whenever it served his end, just like most politicians.

  3. anonandon

    With respect, the proposed solution – “do nothing” – has been tried in the culture wars. So how is that working out for you?

  4. This thread should be good, I like it when Sinc trolls his commenters with uncomfortable truths.

  5. Jannie

    Its a fact that Lee was personally opposed to slavery, he saw it as a moral evil which was more damaging to the slavers than the slaves. It is said he never travelled south of Virginia to see the worst of the slavery in the deep south, his wife’s family slaves were well treated and some were freed and there was support for Liberian back to Africa schemes. Supposedly his loyalties were to his State, and he rejected an offer of command of the Union forces. That Lee was a decent man was recognised by friend and enemy.

    But Lee personally was responsible for the war taking four years. Without his military genius the South would have folded within 18 months and the war would have been mostly a guerrilla affair. If Lee had fought for and commanded the Union instead of the woeful McLennan, the war would have been over in 3 months.

    Lee does not inspire me much, he was an honourable man maybe, but he was a bloody minded pedant as well. From a military perspective he did not flinch from taking awful losses to obtain questionable tactical advantage, and in fact wasted more of his troops than did, “butcher” Grant.

    Grant was the much greater man. He greatly admired Lee for his military skill, but disdained him for making the war such a long and bloody affair.

  6. alexnoaholdmate

    The Civil War was about union. Many northern boys – especially in the midwest or the border states – would not have gone to war to end slavery. They went to preserve the Union.

    However, the Union was threatened because of slavery in the first place. Had there been no slavery, there would have been no problem. And Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation – which didn’t free a single slave, north or south – made the war about something bigger, and transformed it into a true crusade, just when it was faltering.

    Williamson is right: the South was fighting a bad cause. Honourable men, God bless them, can fight for bad causes – that’s often what makes them honourable men in the first place, that they’ll do their duty even when they don’t believe in it – but that doesn’t make the cause honourable in itself.

    Lastly, I cannot recommend enough Harry Jaffa’s Pulitzer Prize-winning works on Lincoln, his ideology, and the leadup to the war. Should be required reading for all conservatives and libertarians.

  7. Muzzlehatch

    Dude the American Civil War was quite a while ago and any semblance between it and current circumstances amount to malice and war mongering propaganda.

  8. candy

    Prof D. would be right about all this, since he’s a very knowledgeable chap.

    But I think the Civil War is not the point here. From what I’ve read Antifa seeks to erase white culture, by achieving “peace through violence”. White is white supremacy to them, nothing is just “white”.

    The Left have finally found the way to destroy Trump. I think he’s a good man and his speech after Charlottesville was appropriate and considered. It’s hard to see how he can fight the label of white supremacist/Nazi, though. People fear being accused of that more than anything. It’s a devastating thing to be accused of. I wonder if he will survive this?

  9. Paul Farmer

    I disagree with this article………….one can find hundreds of articles and research papers on the US civil war that says it wasn’t primarily about slavery……….and Lincoln makes this point himself on a number of occasions……..to rebutt the weight of history as flippantly as this author does to make a convenient abstraction to push his point, which is essentially don’t sweat the small stuff if you’re a conservative because Lincoln was a republican and just let the various City Councils rip down the statues because its wiser not be drawn into a historical debate with leftists because you will lose. That may or may not be good advice but I disagree with his proposition that the war was always in the main about slavery………that’s historical rubbish.

    Most articles I have read frames the issue of States rights at the top, not slavery. States rights isn’t some cute historical throw away of only academic interest . People are forgetting that the United States was the first of its kind, a federation of States united by their war against England which delivered them a Constitution that preserved essential liberties and recognized the powers of States under that Constitution not to be bullied around by a Federal Government……..something that today is all too often forgotten about………and a principle I would contend even to today has merit…….it was too the people of that time something worth fighting for……..the issue of slavery complicated things enormously and turned what was the moral high ground into the moral low ground because they saw no distinction between States rights and the right to retain slaves.

    For anyone who has read of the accomplishments of Robert E Lee on the battlefield…………he made a number of brilliant and decisive victories at the battle of the second Bull Run and the Battle of Chancellorsville and arguably he almost single handedly won them the War despite the South always being outgunned and outmanned with the North having superior resources in every way. Many historians agree he was a better general than Ulysses S Grant was on the Union side. Some of us can appreciate Lee for what he achieved without trying to recast him against some moral ledger based on today’s political correctness. I despair because tearing down a statute of such an important figure in one’s history makes a nation poorer not wiser………..and conservatives shouldn’t be afraid to call it out for what it is and not cower to the ignorant leftists who are bit by bit are rewriting history.

  10. Muzzlehatch

    candy
    #2475549, posted on August 21, 2017 at 8:06 pm

    What if CNN Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine DO succeed in destroying Trump ? What do they imagine they will bring under thier leardership? Any chance the Trump voters might get a bit Bolchievek? Waddya reckon?

  11. JC

    Thanks Sinc

    I missed it, as I read the National Review.

    The writer makes some really good points. I’ve been really torn on the statue issue. On the one hand I can see no real point in taking down these statues seeing they are so old and belong to another era… sort of like Rome’s.. as the writer points out.

    On the other hand I can see how could offend African Americans, but they should calm down and loosen up a little. If you are offended, don’t look at them.

  12. Zulu Kilo Two Alpha

    For anyone who has read of the accomplishments of Robert E Lee on the battlefield…………he made a number of brilliant and decisive victories at the battle of the second Bull Run and the Battle of Chancellorsville

    Granted, (no pun intended) those battles were the high-water mark of the Confederacy, but Gettysburg was the first battle Lee fought, without “Stonewall” Jackson, and it could be argued that it was downhill from there.

  13. JC

    Most articles I have read frames the issue of States rights at the top, not slavery. States rights isn’t some cute historical throw away of only academic interest .

    Lol.. Yea, state rights to own and hold slaves. If slaves tried to run they would be lynched with the support of the state. Wonderful view of state rights. You doofus.

    These state rights you strongly support were basically laws that enslaved human beings and could be bought, sold and raped.

    If Lincoln’s motives were questionable slavery would not have been disbanded immediately on defeat.

  14. JC

    I despair because tearing down a statute of such an important figure in one’s history makes a nation poorer not wiser………..and conservatives shouldn’t be afraid to call it out for what it is and not cower to the ignorant leftists who are bit by bit are rewriting history.

    Any protests around here when the statues to Lenin and Stalin were taken down in the former Soviet Union? How about Saddam’s?

  15. alexnoaholdmate

    Most articles I have read frames the issue of States rights at the top, not slavery. States rights isn’t some cute historical throw away of only academic interest

    Yes – states’ rights to continue with the institution of slavery without interference from the Federal Government. And – the most explosive issue of the time – the right to bring their slaves with them into the new Federal territories.

    Lincoln hated slavery, but he admitted the government had no power to do anything about it in states where it existed. But by firmly opposing its spread in the new territories he made it clear he saw it as a dying institution, and anything that would hurry along its demise he was in favour of.

    His election was the spark that caused secession – but the point is this: no slavery, no problem.

  16. JC

    Who is he anyway? Just some random quisling? Some dope? Lincoln himself would never have repeated the war over had he known the carnage it would bring.

    Harry Hindsight is a wonderful thing, FF.

  17. Muddy

    Candy,
    I think a potential tactic is to latch onto a word and overuse it to the point that it becomes so diluted, there is simply no power left in it. Take ‘racist’ for example. I have stated on here previously that I am a proud racist, not because I believe in stereotyping populations of people (life has taught me that stereotypes seldom have validity), but because I want to own and redefine the word and concept until its use as a weapon becomes negligible. Yet many on here still use the term in the same manner as our ideological enemies. Every human on the planet capable of a reasonable level of cognition has prejudices of one type or another. These prejudices are inescapable. I personally believe that any private individual should be allowed to discriminate against another person if they so choose. Thought control has never worked and will never work.
    Don’t be afraid of labels. Use and abuse them until they fade into obscurity.
    That’s the theory anyway.

  18. Eyrie

    So Abe, was it worth half a million dead?

  19. alexnoaholdmate

    …but Gettysburg was the first battle Lee fought, without “Stonewall” Jackson, and it could be argued that it was downhill from there.

    Jackson is overrated. Good tactical leader – great at knowing exactly what to do at the precise moment of a battle – but a poor strategic general.

    The fact that Lee managed to keep Grant out of Richmond for so long is all the proof needed of his genius. And Grant’s too, actually – any other Union general would have given up as the pile after pile of dead men added up. Lincoln knew he needed a general that wouldn’t crack under the pressure of that horrible arithmetic, and he knew Grant was it. Anyone else – McClellan, Burnside, Hooker – would have cracked (Sherman would have managed, but he was busy…)

  20. Neil

    Any protests around here when the statues to Lenin and Stalin were taken down in the former Soviet Union? How about Saddam’s?

    I think the IRA blew up Nelsons Pillar in Dublin not that long ago. And the statue of Queens Victoria outside the QVB in Sydney used to be in Dublin

  21. JC

    I personally believe that any private individual should be allowed to discriminate against another person if they so choose. Thought control has never worked and will never work.

    How do you reconcile the utility problem?

    The power company that supplies your town is owned by someone who doesn’t want to supply non-whites. It has a monopoly on supply. Explain how your guiding principle reconciles this problem.

  22. BrettW

    Could we import the unwanted statues from USA and use them as bollards in CBD’s here ?

  23. Muddy

    If it’s a privately owned business, then they should not be forced to do business with those they choose not to do business with. If the market does not provide an alternative, it’s candle time I guess.

  24. JC

    One more thing.. anyone who supports the Confederacy’s moronic argument with regard to state rights would have to disagree with the Declaration of Independence and subsequently, the US Constitution.

    “All Men are created equal”.

    The South savaged this guiding principle.

  25. JC

    If it’s a privately owned business, then they should not be forced to do business with those they choose not to do business with. If the market does not provide an alternative, it’s candle time I guess.

    You find workable?

  26. Marcus Classis

    Southerners — and some conservative sentimentalists — tell themselves two convenient lies about the Civil War. One is that the Confederate cause was an honorable one, the other is that the war wasn’t really about slavery. Neither of those stands up to very much scrutiny, and the former is mostly false in no small part because the latter is almost entirely false.

    This is wholly uncontroversial.

    The convenient lies were, however, entirely necessary, as Lee discussed just after Appomatox to Grant. At least third of his men were perfectly prepared to take to the hills with their weapons and wage a guerrilla war for decades. So two convenient lies were necessary to stop this from happening and allow the most peaceful reconciliation of the Confederacy into the Union as possible. The first was that t the Confederate cause was an honorable one. It wasn’t and everyone knew it, but it allowed ‘Johnny reb’ to hang up his rifle and go back to the farm with a sense of ‘well at least I fought the good fight in a good cause and even the damnyankees realise that, so I won’t take to the hills and keep fighting’.

    The other was that ‘the war wasn’t really about slavery’: and there was at least a little bit truth in that because for a percentage of southerners and northerners it was not. This was a very convenient lie because if it was ‘not about slavery’ then there was no problem with liberating the slaves.

    And that was a prize beyond gold because it drove a huge wedge between the rich slave-owning southern Democrats and the population in general, most of whom had never owned slaves anyway. They could say ‘well, WE fought for states rights’. Of course everyone understood that the rich slave-owning Democrat elite had run the place politically and economically and that it had indeedy been about their slaves and their privileges, the lie allowed the population to turn on them. This was a huge boon to reconciliation. Which was why when they fought back they invented the KKK and fought reconciliation tooth and nail.

    They still are, having joyously re-enslaved US blacks via welfare and the destruction of the black family.

    Remember what that racist bastard LBJ said about his ‘Great Society’ welfare black-enslavement program: QUOTE “this will have those niggers voting for us for the next hundred years” UNQUOTE. Senator Byrd and the rest of the Democrat-run KKK loved the idea. They still do.

  27. Marcus Classis

    BrettW
    #2475591, posted on August 21, 2017 at 8:49 pm
    Could we import the unwanted statues from USA and use them as bollards in CBD’s here ?

    Stuff that, I’d love to have one of Forrest on my front lawn! Man was a genius of a cavalry commander.

  28. Zulu Kilo Two Alpha

    Stuff that, I’d love to have one of Forrest on my front lawn! Man was a genius of a cavalry commander.

    The “Black Rights Matter” movement is attempting to dig up his grave..

  29. alexnoaholdmate

    The power company that supplies your town is owned by someone who doesn’t want to supply non-whites. It has a monopoly on supply. Explain how your guiding principle reconciles this problem.

    The contract to supply the town – hell, even just the government buildings – has non-discrimination clauses in it. You want the contract, you agree. Problem solved.

    It works both ways. You may be the monopoly supplier, but you still need access to offer your product, especially considering the land your power infrastructure is on – or towers over – is owned by the public.

    No anti-discrimination, no customers. No customers, no business. What business owner would put everything he’s worked for at risk just because he doesn’t want to supply people he will never actually see or have to personally with with his product?

  30. Muddy

    I don’t wish to derail this thread by digressing too far, but are you advocating the necessity for state intervention in a private market to ensure ‘equality?’

  31. Marcus Classis

    ZK2A:

    The “Black Rights Matter” movement is attempting to dig up his grave..

    Which proves they are bone-headed imbeciles with a monty-grade intellect.

    I can think of nothing that will inflame things more – to the point of the wannabe grave-desecrators being hosed down with semi-auto fire. NBF was a right swine of a man in many ways (but not all, of course, even Stalin liked his kids), yet his military reputation means he is highly admired.

  32. alexnoaholdmate

    One more thing.. anyone who supports the Confederacy’s moronic argument with regard to state rights would have to disagree with the Declaration of Independence and subsequently, the US Constitution.

    “All Men are created equal”.

    The basis of Lincoln’s entire argument against the institution. He believed it meant what it said – and slavery was simply not compatible with that Declaration.

    And it’s worth pointing out, by the way, that even the Founders understood slavery was a fundamental contradiction. We hear all the time about how they were all slave owners themselves. But most at the time assumed it would die out over the next century or so, and were ambivalent about their own slaves (Washington especially seems to have had a major guilty conscience over his slaves).

    But then the cotton gin came along and made slavery economical again, and so…

  33. Muddy

    Obviously this libertarian thing is beyond my cognitive ability.

  34. JC

    I don’t wish to derail this thread by digressing too far, but are you advocating the necessity for state intervention in a private market to ensure ‘equality?’

    Equality? No. I don’t think you even understand your own points if you consider this to be an equality argument. It’s an issue over the issue of discrimination and the provision of an essential service. And yes, there is a cause for federal government intervention when another arm of the state demands blacks have to sit at the back of a the bus.

  35. alexnoaholdmate

    I don’t wish to derail this thread by digressing too far, but are you advocating the necessity for state intervention in a private market to ensure ‘equality?’

    Don’t know if you’re talking to me or JC – but I would argue that the state, just like a private player, has the right to decline to do business with a partner whose policies it finds offensive.

    Works both ways.

  36. stackja

    W. T. Sherman memoirs relate:
    “Louisiana Seminary of Learning and Military Academy” established by W. T. Sherman, Superintendent, and Professor of Engineering, etc.
    Later the students, library, apparatus, etc., were transferred to Baton Rouge, where the same institution now is, under the title of the Louisiana University.
    W. T. Sherman went on to other endeavours.

  37. Zulu Kilo Two Alpha

    yet his military reputation means he is highly admired.

    Aren’t you reinforcing the argument? A brilliant military reputation, earned serving a morally repugnant cause, like the defence of slavery? Similar to some of the Wehrmacht generals of the Second World War?

  38. stackja

    RE Lee was offered command of the US Army to fight CSA.
    RE Lee was a Virginian. RE Lee could not fight against Virginia.
    Appomattox ended the need to fight.

  39. Marcus Classis

    Southerners — and some conservative sentimentalists — tell themselves two convenient lies about the Civil War. One is that the Confederate cause was an honorable one, the other is that the war wasn’t really about slavery. Neither of those stands up to very much scrutiny, and the former is mostly false in no small part because the latter is almost entirely false

    .

    This is wholly uncontroversial.

    The convenient lies were, however, entirely necessary, as Lee discussed just after Appomatox to Grant. At least third of his men were perfectly prepared to take to the hills with their weapons and wage a guerrilla war for decades. So two convenient lies were necessary to stop this from happening and allow the most peaceful reconciliation of the Confederacy into the Union as possible. The first was that t the Confederate cause was an honorable one. It wasn’t and everyone knew it, but it allowed ‘Johnny reb’ to hang up his rifle and go back to the farm with a sense of ‘well at least I fought the good fight in a good cause and even the damnyankees realise that, so I won’t take to the hills and keep fighting’.

    The other was that ‘the war wasn’t really about slavery’: and there was at least a little bit truth in that because for a percentage of southerners and northerners it was not. This was a very convenient lie because if it was ‘not about slavery’ then there was no problem with liberating the slaves.

    And that was a prize beyond gold because it drove a huge wedge between the rich slave-owning southern Democrats and the population in general, most of whom had never owned slaves anyway. They could say ‘well, WE fought for states rights’. Of course everyone understood that the rich slave-owning Democrat elite had run the place politically and economically and that it had indeedy been about their slaves and their privileges, the lie allowed the population to turn on them. This was a huge boon to reconciliation. Which was why when they fought back they invented the KKK and fought reconciliation tooth and nail.

    They still are, having joyously re-enslaved US blacks via welfare and the destruction of the black family.

    Remember what that racist bastard LBJ said about his ‘Great Society’ welfare black-enslavement program: QUOTE “this will have those n i g g e r s voting for us for the next hundred years” UNQUOTE. Senator Byrd and the rest of the Democrat-run KKK loved the idea. They still do.

  40. C.L.

    Southerners — and some conservative sentimentalists — tell themselves two convenient lies about the Civil War. One is that the Confederate cause was an honorable one, the other is that the war wasn’t really about slavery. Neither of those stands up to very much scrutiny.

    On the contrary; that several strands of cultural hostility between the North and the South were part of the mix explaining the outbreak of war is the orthodox historiography. It shouldn’t be too hard to grasp either because the same hostilities endure to the present day.

  41. Marcus Classis

    ZK2A:

    Aren’t you reinforcing the argument? A brilliant military reputation, earned serving a morally repugnant cause, like the defence of slavery? Similar to some of the Wehrmacht generals of the Second World War?

    I do not think so. Lee and Forrest’s cause was not honourable or moral, irrespective of their own consideration of it as a ‘states rights’ issue. I can admire their professional capability as field commanders as a separate issue entirely, and do. Lee was a fairly moral and ‘nice’ man personally; Forrest was a swine: both prostituted their professional talent for a repulsive and immoral cause.

    Does not mean I can’t assess their professional performance and find the way they commanded their field forces to be excellent.

    I was on a team that assessed the 911 attack. The team report expressed cold professional admiration for their innovation, opsec, for the way they exploited a weakness in our systems to achieve their intent. Every member of that team was also in an absolute fury about what those murdering mohammedan vermin had done.
    I lost a professional associate in the Pentagon strike. But only via a calmly professional analysis of how they had done what they did could defences against a repeat be developed.
    The defences were developed. They have worked.

  42. Marcus Classis

    CL:

    On the contrary; that several strands of cultural hostility between the North and the South were part of the mix explaining the outbreak of war is the orthodox historiography. It shouldn’t be too hard to grasp either because the same hostilities endure to the present day.

    Of course. It was a highly complex issue and there were many causes, each giving a grater or lesser impetus to what happened.

    I was discussing only the ‘two convenient lies’.

    There is a massive historiography to explore if one wishes to. But you’d need a couple of spare lifetimes to read it all.

  43. Ye gods!

    It’s not about what the war was about.

    Monuments stand as a question about an aspect of history. They are not telling you what to think, BUT to think. Why is this so hard?

    Destruction of monuments are intolerance of speech, writ large.

    Demanding that something that asks you a question is offensive, is to be offensive in itself. Arguments against free speech are fundamentally about stopping people from saying things you agree with.

    In that context, the merits of the American civil war are irrelevant. Nothing that is said or done can change the simple fact that it happened.

  44. Tim Neilson

    Any protests around here when the statues to Lenin and Stalin were taken down in the former Soviet Union?

    Not from me. Are there any statues of Zhukov? I would have objected to them being taken down, but I think that Stalin and the Politburo were very careful to downplay his role so there weren’t any that needed saving. That’s the real analogy to statues of Lee, Jackson, Forrest, JEB Stuart and the like.

    How about Saddam’s?

    Not from me. I don’t see him as any sort of war hero, so if the Iraqis decide to get rid of his statues that’s their business.

  45. visions

    I studied US civil was whilst doing post grad studies in US many years ago and have been fortunate enough to visit nearly all civil war battle sites and without going into a long discussion write Paul Farmer is the closest to what many serious authors of us civil war studies have stated. Stackja comments re Lee not fighting against Virginia is also factually correct. One confederate general one doesn’t here lot about was AP Hill – many authors regarded him as possibly the best general on either side. there was also Nathan Bedford Forrest who became notorious as a leader in the creation of the KKK.
    When I lived in Virginia I went with my kids to Charlottesville and had picnics close to where the Leee monument is – never.a problem – no KKK or neo nazis ever.
    So as to not repeat history we must learn from the past and destroying US confederate monuments is not helpful – at the risk of sounding a little paranoid I fear it is another attempt by the left to control our lives – I know my conservative US friends are worried – but what the heck- we are all getting on and won’t be around too much longer so it will be up to some younger conservatives to take up the good fight.

  46. Nerblnob

    Any protests around here when the statues to Lenin and Stalin were taken down in the former Soviet Union?

    Outside of Moscow and SPb, most statues of Lenin are still standing. Haven’t seen any Stalins.

    I’m in far eastern Russia just now, a massive Lenin outside the train station. A common sight.

    Been going to Siberia and further east on business for over ten years now.

    Formerly occupied EE states, different matter of course.

  47. rickw

    Relevance of this to today?

    Scratching for a rationale for the demolition of statues and monuments that were so offensive they stood unnoticed for more than 100 years?

    The Left are no different to the Taliban, they understand the importance of destroying all traces of previous societies.

  48. rickw

    On the other hand I can see how could offend African Americans, but they should calm down and loosen up a little. If you are offended, don’t look at them.

    Before this all started, African Americans would have walked in those parks had picnics in those parks and not noticed. This is absolutely confected outrage. In any case, Antifa have take the lead on this and there hasn’t been a bigger bunch of stupid crackers since the Democrat KKK were in full swing.

  49. A Lurker

    The Civil War was about union. Many northern boys – especially in the midwest or the border states – would not have gone to war to end slavery. They went to preserve the Union.

    In the end it all boils down to the acquisition and retention of power by the elite of the time.
    Can’t have those southern states going off and doing their own thing now can we?

  50. Patrick James

    From the very founding of the United States, it was clearly stated and understood that each State reserved to itself the right to secede from the compact. When the southern states seceded, they were simply exercising their rights as they had existed from the beginning. It is interesting that with Trump’s succession to the position of the elected king of America, aka president, the cause of secession is being talked about by such states as California.

    The main source of information for me on this has come from Tom Woods, who is associated with the Mises Institute in American. I found the following speech to be fascinating. I changed my mind on what I thought the American Civil War was about.

  51. max

    SECESSION
    I am a great believer in secession. I just do not believe in the armed form. Armed secession is sometimes valid as a defensive measure against an illegitimate invasion by the central civil government, but only rarely in history has armed secession not strengthened the political power of the secessionists more than the central government from which the secessionists are seceding.
    Secession is first of all a moral rebellion. People perceive that the civil government under which they operate has become inherently immoral. Also, the government shows no sign of reforming itself.
    Secession begins when someone offers a moral critique that begins with the individual. Moral reform is above all self-reform. If it is not grounded in a call for self-reform, it is just one more call for a transfer of power to a new group of power-seekers.
    https://www.garynorth.com/public/13994.cfm

    So, when Lincoln won election of 1860, the fire-eater politicians of South Carolina seceded. They were followed by the other southern states. John Brown achieved the goal of his agenda posthumously: abolition. He had hoped to launch a slave rebellion. He launched a southern white rebellion. That is why Brown is the most successful fanatic in American history. He was a man of the consummate evil, and the result was a murderous Civil War.

    https://www.garynorth.com/public/13967.cfm

    Southern generals led about 400,000 young men to their deaths in a vain attempt to defend slavery. That’s the bottom line. Textbooks have it right. The South seceded on one basis alone: the defense of chattel slavery. That was not why Lincoln invaded, but that’s why South Carolina seceded. The rest of the South followed South Carolina’s lead.

    https://www.garynorth.com/public/17019.cfm

  52. Nathan

    Sinclair and others: I suggest you read Thomas DiLorenzo’s books “The Real Lincoln” and “Lincoln Unmasked” if you consider Williamson’s claim that the war was about slavery as valid. One thing is for sure, that the North’s war on the South was certainly not honourable.

    https://www.amazon.com/Real-Lincoln-Abraham-Agenda-Unnecessary/dp/0761526463

    https://www.amazon.com/Lincoln-Unmasked-Youre-Supposed-Dishonest/dp/0307338428

  53. test pattern

    On Lee

    ‘Would he have watched and urged a deputy sheriff to beat run away slaves? IMO he might have done that. He felt a keen responsibility to guard his wife’s extensive property and whatever it was that his children would inherit. He was the legal guardian of that property under laws then common in the US. It should be noted that in 1862 he sent papers across the lines manumitting the remaining 150 slaves at Arlington in accordance with the terms of his father in law’s will. Before the war he had required his wife to live on his army pay whenever she was not resident on her property.

    He could be very hard. In Pennsylvania he issued an order to his forces saying that anyone who molested the German farmers in the neighborhood would be severely punished. Several were shot. In the dark winter of Mine Run he insisted that a Confederate who had been taken prisoner and had then joined the Union Army to later desert back to his own side, be shot for desertion when he was captured by his own Louisiana Regiment. The court-martial had recommended mercy, but he insisted. They shot him tied to a post out in no man’s land with Meade’s army watching. The man’s last words of loyalty to his comrades who were required to kill him are too painful to repeat.

    Was he a great general? IMO he was not. He was a military engineer who began the war with a rudimentary understanding of tactics but steadily improved until his health broke down in 1864. His notion that the CSA had to beat the eastern Union Army on northern soil was suicidal in light of the disparity of resources on the two sides.

    No, he was a great soul who seems to have thought nothing of himself and a great leader. The men of the A of NV followed him to the end with a devotion that no general deserves as the agent of their destruction.’

    http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2017/08/the-marble-man-and-his-wifes-slaves.html

  54. vicki

    Inertia on the part of the majority in the face of a concerted Leftist campaign to destroy our culture is, rather, the very WORST course of action to take.

  55. Haidee

    Interesting reading above.
    But if you want to know just about everything about the Civil War, ask Kim Beazley.
    True

  56. Yohan

    One is that the Confederate cause was an honorable one, the other is that the war wasn’t really about slavery. Neither of those stands up to very much scrutiny, and the former is mostly false in no small part because the latter is almost entirely false.

    Its well known that Abraham Lincoln was willing to let the south keep slavery legal if it meant keeping them in the Union. This fact alone shows what a liar Kevin Williamson is.

    Only dumb boomer conservatives read National Review and think it gives an honest accounting of history. On the right (neo-con right) they are the foremost proponents of the Lincoln Cult.

  57. Yohan

    The evidence that Lincoln was a racist who hated black people is overwhelming. Its through all his public statements and private letters. By todays standards he is worse than David Duke.

    But cuckolded conservatives, so desperate to prove that GOP isn’t racist, have rewritten history to pretend the Civil War was about freeing the slaves.

    Lincolns last administrative acts before his assassination were collecting data on US ships to arrange a massive deportation of black people back to Africa.

  58. Fisky

    But cuckolded conservatives, so desperate to prove that GOP isn’t racist, have rewritten history to pretend the Civil War was about freeing the slaves.

    The Civil War was more about the South keeping the slaves than it was the North freeing them. The South was passionate about maintaining slavery, while the North preferred to keep the country together. But whatever hypothetical compromises the North, including Lincoln, might have been prepared to make, the 1850s proved that it was constitutionally impossible to have a half-free country. Either slavery would apply everywhere, or it would apply nowhere. So the logic of the Civil War made it an abolitionist cause, even if that wasn’t necessarily the most important thing for Northerners.

  59. Yohan

    Fisky this is an ex post facto rationalization. It was an absolute non factor at the time.

    Something that is also never mentioned is why the North were dead against slavery; because they didn’t want blacks living in their communities, and they didn’t want blacks driving down their wages. So their fierce opposition to slavery was not based on human rights, it was simply racist.

  60. Fisky

    Fisky this is an ex post facto rationalization. It was an absolute non factor at the time.

    No, slavery was not a non-factor at the time, because there had been a violent struggle in the years preceding over which states would be admitted as slave or free, including a virtual civil war in Kansas, and there was a supreme court decision that basically forced Northerners to hand freed slaves back to the South. All of this made slavery rather an important issue. Probably the most important issue.

    Something that is also never mentioned is why the North were dead against slavery; because they didn’t want blacks living in their communities, and they didn’t want blacks driving down their wages.

    That kind of makes slavery an issue, not a non-issue.

  61. Yohan

    Dont take words out of my mouth. You gave an explanation

    the North, including Lincoln, might have been prepared to make, the 1850s proved that it was constitutionally impossible to have a half-free country. Either slavery would apply everywhere, or it would apply nowhere. So the logic of the Civil War made it an abolitionist cause,

    I stated this reasoning is a non factor in why the war started, and it is. No one cared about this, except for a small number of politicians that are now promoted as being important.

    The Civil War was about tarrifs, secession and trade policy. It was not about slavery.

    All of this made slavery rather an important issue. Probably the most important issue.

    If you want to continue to eat propaganda about the US civil war, be my guest.

  62. Fisky

    I stated this reasoning is a non factor in why the war started, and it is. No one cared about this, except for a small number of politicians that are now promoted as being important.

    The Civil War was about tarrifs, secession and trade policy. It was not about slavery.

    But it obviously wasn’t a non-factor, because it consumed public debate all through the years leading up to the start of the civil war, and one of the chief protagonists, Lincoln, fought an election campaign on the issue. It was an obsession among both parties every time a new state was admitted, because it tipped the balance in the electoral college. Also, the South owned about 4 million humans as a capital asset, working for free. That’s a huge investment that they were rather keen on not giving up.

    So I agree that slavery was not the only motivation for the North – obviously keeping the union together drove their behaviour as much as trying to stamp out slavery. But to suggest it wasn’t a factor is absurd. It was probably the main factor explaining the South’s actions.

  63. JC

    The Civil War was about tarrifs, secession and trade policy. It was not about slavery.

    lets see what the South had to say, shall we?

    Georgia:

    The people of Georgia having dissolved their political connection with the Government of the United States of America, present to their confederates and the world the causes which have led to the separation. For the last ten years we have had numerous and serious causes of complaint against our non-slave-holding confederate States with reference to the subject of African slavery.

    Mississippi:

    In the momentous step which our State has taken of dissolving its connection with the government of which we so long formed a part, it is but just that we should declare the prominent reasons which have induced our course.

    Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery— the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth.

    South Carolina:

    The people of the State of South Carolina, in Convention assembled, on the 26th day of April, A.D., 1852, declared that the frequent violations of the Constitution of the United States, by the Federal Government, and its encroachments upon the reserved rights of the States, fully justified this State in then withdrawing from the Federal Union; but in deference to the opinions and wishes of the other slaveholding States, she forbore at that time to exercise this right. Since that time, these encroachments have continued to increase, and further forbearance ceases to be a virtue.

    The ends for which the Constitution was framed are declared by itself to be “to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.”

    These ends it endeavored to accomplish by a Federal Government, in which each State was recognized as an equal, and had separate control over its own institutions. The right of property in slaves was recognized by giving to free persons distinct political rights, by giving them the right to represent, and burdening them with direct taxes for three-fifths of their slaves; by authorizing the importation of slaves for twenty years; and by stipulating for the rendition of fugitives from labor.

    We affirm that these ends for which this Government was instituted have been defeated, and the Government itself has been made destructive of them by the action of the non-slaveholding States.

    Texas:

    Texas abandoned her separate national existence and consented to become one of the Confederated Union to promote her welfare, insure domestic tranquility and secure more substantially the blessings of peace and liberty to her people. She was received into the confederacy with her own constitution, under the guarantee of the federal constitution and the compact of annexation, that she should enjoy these blessings. She was received as a commonwealth holding, maintaining and protecting the institution known as negro slavery—the servitude of the African to the white race within her limits—a relation that had existed from the first settlement of her wilderness by the white race, and which her people intended should exist in all future time. Her institutions and geographical position established the strongest ties between her and other slave-holding States of the confederacy. Those ties have been strengthened by association. But what has been the course of the government of the United States, and of the people and authorities of the non-slave-holding States, since our connection with them?

    Appears these states were more than a little concerned about the slavery issue.

  64. Yohan

    lets see what the South had to say, shall we

    I should be more clear – The [reason why Lincoln started the] Civil War was about tarrifs, secession and trade policy. It was not about slavery. And this is 100% correct.

  65. JC

    The [reason why Lincoln started the] Civil War was about tarrifs, secession and trade policy. It was not about slavery. And this is 100% correct.

    That’s interesting , because the South attacked the north first.

    Abraham Lincoln is sworn in as 16th President of the United States of America. April 12, 1861 – At 4:30 a.m. Confederates under Gen. Pierre Beauregard open fire with 50 cannons upon Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina. The Civil War begins.

  66. Yohan

    That’s interesting , because the South attacked the north first.

    South Carolina has seceded the year before, and the Union garrison at Fort Sumter had refused to evacuate. As a sovereign state they were within their rights clear them out. This was not an attack on Union territory.

    But this is besides the point. The facts are clear that Lincoln started the civil war to keep the Union together, and for economics reasons, not some grand gesture to end slavery. It only became that later.

  67. Fisky

    But this is besides the point. The facts are clear that Lincoln started the civil war to keep the Union together, and for economics reasons, not some grand gesture to end slavery. It only became that later.

    I’m not sure that Lincoln did start the civil war. The 1857 Supreme Court case by the pro-slavery side to force the North to seize and return their human “property” where they escaped, meant that the North’s jurisdiction was more compromised and aggressed against than that of the South.

  68. Yohan

    Lets just say we agree that SC decision was an abomination. The South was in violation of the constitution by allowing slavery in the first place.

  69. Arky

    Some people would be better off as slaves.
    Not everyone is cut out for freedom.

  70. stackja

    USA Constitution needed to be amended.

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