In our modern society, there still exists a large segment of the population who believes that the Civil War was not an issue of slavery, but of states' rights. The do-gooder Federal Government decided to arbitrarily exercise its power to usurp the right of the Southern States to have free labor. How dare they! Many people still use this rallying cry of "States' Rights" to justify their hatred of the Federal Government...

Let me begin that saying that the notion that the Civil War was not about slavery is utter rubbish. If you truly believe that "States' Rights" was the issue, let's discuss the right in question -- the right to completely override and subjugate the rights of another human being in order to completely eliminate the cost of labor. The white supremacist magazine, Southern Partisan, is one of the most outspoken critics of the federal government. They proudly uphold the philosophies of David Duke and Lee Harvey Oswald, selling those famous "Death to Tyrants" T-Shirts sporting a picture of Abe Lincoln (a shirt Timothy McVeigh was wearing when he was apprehended, the smart guy that he is). How ironic that John Ashcroft, our new Republican Attorney General, supports this publication. He told them in an interview:

Your magazine also helps set the record straight. You've got a heritage of doing that, of defending Southern patriots like Lee, Jackson and Davis. Traditionalists must do more. I've got to do more. We've all got to stand up and speak in this respect, or else we'll be taught that these people were giving their lives, subscribing their sacred fortunes and their honor to some perverted agenda.

Interesting. I believe he means slavery was the perverted agenda. So what was the good, justifiable agenda? The right to reserve the right to have slaves? Or the right to pursue a war that kills hundreds of thousands of people over the right to reserve the right to have slaves? Some might say "The Union started the war," but give me a break. Did the South really expect to peacefully split entirely from the Union without any retaliation, simply because they wanted a limitless source of free labor? Before I continue, let me remind you that Abraham Lincoln was our country's first Republican president. He was obviously completely against the notion of slavery, but also made large efforts to claim that the war was about preserving the union, and not ending slavery. This was necessary to rally his troops for patriotic reasons rather than (non-nationalistic) ideological ones. What's strange is how people seem to be interested in certain state's rights, while completely ignoring others. And what, exactly, is so patriotic about leading one half of a country to war with another over such an atrocious "right?"

There are several examples of state's rights being usurped with little complaint from any side. There's the drinking age, for one. Each state would be able to make their own decision if it weren't for the fact that they would be denied highway funding for doing so. Cannabis was first outlawed by passing a federal tax that made it so expensive to legally manufacture that it was de-facto illegal (I believe the tax rate was $100 per ounce of marijuana, hemp fiber, whatever). There are drug laws in place that force states to suspend licenses for minor cannabis possession. Student loans can be stolen away as well. During our last presidential election, the Supreme Court essentially usurped from Florida its own power to decide its own elections. Nary a cry was heard from the Republicans on this issue. They will tell you that Roe vs. Wade is a state's right issue, because it denies the states the right to execute abortion doctors and imprison "abortion victims."

So why are some people still up-in-arms over the right to own slaves? Well, for one, the Old Testament seems to outright condone slavery. The Book of Exodus spends a lot of time describing the proper treatment of slaves, including how to beat them without incapacitating them (which would make them useless to you). I find it ridiculous that people can say, with a straight face "The Civil War was about sovereignty, not slavery." What they're really saying is "The Civil War was about the right of the states to completely deny the rights of another group of people for completely arbitrary, cruel reasons." The Civil War was a devastating, bloody war, with over six hundred thousand deaths involved. I guess it's hard for the sympathizers of the old South to admit "We were wrong," but I find it outrageous that our current Attorney General of the United States of America is on their side.

Some things just don't die. but here goes my two cents.

The civil war was NOT about slavery. It was about State's Rights. And no, it wasn't the right to oppress people either. When you start talking like that you become a demagogue, just stirring up passions and completely ignoring the facts.

The South was an agrarian economy while the North was industrialist. The issue that caused the South to secede from the Union was the North's increasingly harsh infringements upon the South's economy. Up to this point, slavery was not an issue.

The South determined that the best course of action for it was to break away from the US. Now, consider for a moment that when the colonies seceded from England, they said it was not only their right, but their 'God given duty' to do so. The form of government in England caused to much suppression of freedoms in their land, so they said, "up your's" and started their own government. You would think that a country that originated in that manner would understand when a member state decided it could do better on it's own. But no.

When South Carolina seceded from the Union and the other Southern states followed suit and formed the Confederacy, they viewed this as a legal implementation of Article I, Section 10 of the Constitution wherin is stated:

No state shall, without the consent of Congress, ... enter into any agreement or compact with another state... unless actually invaded, or in such imminent danger as will not admit of delay.

The South's very livelyhood and method of production, slaves or no slaves, was in danger from the North. They did not believe that these dangers would, or could, be addressed in the congress. They were being forced to pay a tariff imposed by the federal government to help subsidize the Northern industrialists. In 1858, the South was paying 87% of the tariff revenue.

Furthermore, they Confederacy did not commit a treasonous act.

In Article III, Section 3:

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them...

In 1860, Abraham Lincoln promised not to interfere with slavery, but to "collect the duties and imposts". When Ft. Sumter was reinforced by Northern troops to impose these taxes, the South made a preemptive strike against what would have cost them their livelihoods. Even before the war, Lincoln had promised to leave slavery intact, to enforce the fugitive slaves laws, and to support an amendment that would forever guarantee slavery where it then existed.

The issue of slavery was invoked by the North as a moral pretext for the war. It was designed to ignite the passions of the masses. Do you really think the Northerner's would have died to get some taxes for the already prosperous industries?

Karl Marx was quoted as saying, "the war between the North and the South is a tariff war. The war is further, not for any principle, does not touch the question of slavery, and in fact turns on the Northern lust for sovereignty."

This war was also the event which changed our nation from a loosely tied federalist central government into the invasive, bureaucracy we have today that invades our everyday lives with questionable legal precedents like the Roe v. Wade case.

Looking back to the issue of slavery. When Abraham Lincoln issued The Emancipation Proclamation it freed those slaves held "within any State or designated part of a State the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States." It didn't apply to slaves in West Virginia and areas and states not in rebellion.

Slavery was not abolished in the Northern states until the 13th Amendment a full two years later.

After the Civil War came a period of punishment by the North. They destroyed the entire economic base for the Southern States and caused years of damage. If the North had truly been interested in the abolition of slavery and the equality of blacks and whites, they would have helped the slaves by striving to provide a better economy where they could prosper. Instead they inflicted another form of slavery upon them, as most of the newly freed slaves had no skills in demand and the economy in the South was to poor to provide jobs anyway.

one last note... this conflict is incorrectly referred to as the civil war. A civil war is a conflict between two factions of a nation seeking to gain control of that nation. To call this conflict the American Civil War is as correct as calling the American Revolution the English Civil War. It is more correctly referred to as "The War of State's Rights", "The War Between the States", "The War for Southern Independence", or "The War of Northern Aggression". Personally I'm kinda fond of that last one ;-)

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