Monday, January 12, 2009


When a Herald guest columnist asserts the nobility of the Southern Cause during the Civil War and contends that it is important to honor those who raised arms against the United States, then he should have to address the fact that hundreds of thousands of deaths were caused because the South fought to preserve the institution of slavery. The final event leading to the Civil War was the November 6, 1860, election of the first Republican President, Abraham Lincoln. Southern states seceded before Lincoln took office on March 4, 1861, because they feared the anti-slavery platform of the Republican Party, founded in Jackson, Michigan in 1854 by persons opposing the expansion of slavery into Kansas.

The first shots of the Civil War were fired by South Carolina's militia on January 9, 1861, to prevent the resupply of United States troops in Fort Sumter near Charleston. South Carolina had seceded from the United States on December 24, 1860, when its legislature adopted a "Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union." The words "rights of states" were used- but in the context of arguing the rights of slave owners in the South to their "property." The "Causes" included a complaint about the Northern States' failure to enforce the Fugitive Slave Act:

"The same article of the Constitution stipulates also for rendition by the several States of fugitives from justice from the other States. The General Government, as the common agent, passed laws to carry into effect these stipulations of the States. For many years these laws were executed. But an increasing hostility on the part of the non-slaveholding States to the institution of slavery, has led to a disregard of their obligations, and the laws of the General Government have ceased to effect the objects of the Constitution. In many of these States the fugitive is discharged from service or labor claimed.... The right of property in slaves was recognized by giving to free persons distinct political rights, by giving them the right to represent, and burthening 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."

The Confederacy's president, Jefferson Davis, defended slavery in a speech in Montgomery, Alabama, on April 29, 1861, arguing that Southern slavery “elevated [African slaves] from brutal savages into docile, intelligent, and civilized agricultural laborers.” He justified the Southern States' decision to secede from the Union as being necessary to insure the continuation of “the labor of African slaves... under the supervision of a superior race” which was “indispensable” to the “wants of civilized man.” Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens said that slavery was the "cornerstone" of the Confederacy.

The 1860 census counted 462,198 slaves in Georgia, 44 percent of the total population of 1,057,286. There were almost four million slaves in the Confederacy at the onset of the Civil War. The result of the South losing the war was freedom for those millions of human beings. Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862, which freed slaves in any States still in open rebellion on January 1, 1863. On January 13, 1865, Congress enacted the Thirteenth Amendment, which prohibited slavery in the United States and any place under their jurisdiction. It became part of the United States Constitution after ratification on December 6, 1865.

The Southern States' war to preserve slavery caused the greatest slaughter of American troops (Southern and Northern combined) in history- an estimated 624,000 dead. The next highest totals were from World War II, 405,399 deaths, and World War I, 116,516.


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