by Al Benson Jr.
Member, Board of Directors, Confederate Society of America
Back in February of 2013 (five years ago now, doesn’t seem all that long ago) I did an article for this blog called The Lincoln/Corwin “Keep your Slaves” Amendment. It discussed the Corwin Amendment, which many of you all probably never heard of. After all, it’s not one of those things the “historians” or the media make a big deal out of because it doesn’t fit their agenda of a “saintly” Lincoln who loved all blacks, or a treasonous South. Scroll back and read that article. It’s still there. That will save me having to restate much of it here. It was a amendment to the Constitution, introduced by Thomas Corwin of Ohio that would have kept slaves in bondage in perpetuity. The sainted Mr. Lincoln was in favor of it, had no problems with it. If you find that hard to believe then go back to February 2, 2013 on this blog and read it.
Lincoln stated, in his first inaugural address, on March 4, 1861 that, “I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.”
Lincoln pretty much told us what the war (for him) was all about, and it wasn’t slavery. Even the vaunted Emancipation Proclamation” (actually a war and propaganda measure) did not free any slaves in the slave states remaining in the Union, nor did it free any slaves in the Confederate States where it had no legal authority. In fact, you could really say it was the “nothingburger” of the 19th century. So, given all these considerations, it’s hard to believe that “historians” and “journalists” in our day seem unable to come to grips with the naked truth that Lincoln declared war on the South so he could drag them back into the Union and hang on to all that tariff money the South had heretofore pumped into the national economy. The South had paid for 87% of the national economy, and if the South remained out of the Union, then the Union would tank in very short order and Lincoln had to get the South back into the Union so they could continue to “remit the extortion money” to Washington so Washington would have that money to finance all those internal improvements they wanted to make up north! And those lucky Southern folks would get to pay for all that! Weren’t they just blessed???
Years ago (in 2007 to be exact) someone sent me an article by James W. King and Lt. Col. Thomas M. Nelson entitled The Ten Causes of the War Between the States. It was a good article and I hung onto it. It stated, in part, “There were 10 political causes of the war–one of which was slavery–which was a scapegoat for all the differences that existed between the North and South. The Northern industrialists had wanted a war since about 1830 to get the South’s resources (land-cotton-coal-timber-minerals) for pennies on the dollar. All wars are economic and are always between centralists and decentralists. The North would have found an excuse to invade the South even if slavery had never existed..”
Frank Conner said pretty much the same thing in his book The South Under Siege 1830-2000.
King and Nelson, in their article, listed the ten reasons for the war. After going over all their reasons, I had to conclude that they were right on target. They started off by listing the tariff; centralization vs. states rights and Christianity vs. Secular Humanism. This last one is one that few historians, or anyone else for that matter, take into account, yet it is one of the most important and critical. Of course that may be why it is so ignored today.
They listed cultural differences–another one most folks don’t ever give a thought to. We haven’t been taught to think along those lines and so most of these really critical issues just go over our heads. All we’ve been taught (or conditioned) to do is to react to lurid tales of Southern cruelty to slaves–as though the South was the sole proprietor of the slavery issue. It’s not! The North has a big slice of the proprietorship there, too, though most will never admit it, and neither will today’s spin media (excuse me, I meant “news’ media).
I already mentioned the North’s desire for control over Southern resources. Then there was slander of the South by Northern newspapers; New England’s attempts to instigate massive slave revolts in the South. Does Harper’s Ferry, Virginia come to mind here? Just about all those who financed the actions of terrorist John Brown in that gory undertaking were either New England or New York Unitarians and/or socialists. That fact was not lost on Southern folks.
Way down the list, at number 9, was slavery, and while it was an indirect cause, it was not the cause of the war–contrary to the propaganda being promulgated in today’s classrooms and newsrooms.
I expect some will not appreciate it that I keep hammering at this issue, but when you have had 150 years of propaganda passing as history and news, you have to keep hammering to create cracks in that wall of false propaganda. Until our people begin to get it right about the War of Northern Aggression we will never get it right about any of the events that followed that war. That war was our French Revolution and we have never recovered from the results of it, nor the propaganda spun about it that conditions our thinking today.
Slavery was not the cause of that war. Secession was not treason. “Racism” was every bit as prominent in the North as in the South, maybe even moreso. It just didn’t get the media attention up there. And don’t tell me it didn’t exist up there. I grew up in the North.
With the divisions we have in this country today, culturally and otherwise, it would seem that we might be better off as two separate countries. I doubt that the North will ever totally be able to purge itself of its Unitarian/socialist world view. Left to its own devices, the South might have a chance. And, if push came to shove–much of the West would be better off siding with the South, because we have the same common enemies and the same desire to just be left alone, free from bureaucracy, to live our lives as we feel God intended.
For a little more on this subject please check out my book review of Gene Kizer Jr.s book Slavery Was Not the Cause of the War Between the States published on the Abbeville Institute’s website on February 27, 2018.