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The Real Reason the South Left the Union

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Tragic recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia raise new questions about an old debate. Why did Southern states leave the Union in the first place, resulting in a war that killed more than 700,000 Americans?

Mississippi, the 2nd of 11 states that ultimately seceded from the federal government, gave a clear explanation in its 1861 declaration of secession: “Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery—the greatest material interest of the world,” the delegates affirmed.

They saw slavery as essential to their survival, claiming that, “none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun … and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization.” While individuals who fought for the Confederacy may have been decent and even noble, no one should pretend the Confederate cause was honorable.

As the great Mississippian and Nobel Prize-winner William Faulkner famously declared, “The past is never dead. It’s not even passed.”

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  1. Roland Sternfels  •  Aug 21, 2017 at 9:40 pm

    While I agree that the Confederate cause was not honorable, they should have had the right to leave. 75 year prior there was another group of people that wanted to leave their original country.

    • Ty  •  Aug 22, 2017 at 9:15 pm

      I love it when confederate apologists and yes, some conservatives, show their true colors. You would rather have had the south secede, and maintain and preserve slavery for who knows how many decades into the future, rather than have the big bad federal government come on and STOP that EVIL institution and human subjugation.

      PURE IDEOLOGY over Human LIFE and DECENCY and even your sacred GOD. The abolitionists of the time who were DEEPLY religious would not have been in favor of that, but strains of conservatism today Worship a HIGHER god, the GOD of limited government and federal power. So who CARES that the feds and the balance of power of the nation was against slavery, the confederate states were not, so they ought to be able to bail rather than bend the knee to the will of the nation?

      Tantrum throwing LOSERS. One wonders what SCALE of human EVIL would be enough to tip the scales away from your affinity for self determination? Not even trying to preserve a SLAVE nation seems enough for some, in 2017.

      I'd be open to a state or group of states leaving if they REALLY wanted to, but if the reason was to preserve an evil institution like slavery, I'd of course be opposed to it. But then, I'm not a moral monster.

      • Averien  •  Aug 23, 2017 at 5:23 pm

        Ty, friend, your writing style is awful. Stop with the unnecessary capitalization, please.

        Second, your visceral hatred for all things right-wing rather blinded you to the fact that his message wasn't a left-vs.-right argument; it was a question about what right the Union had to compel other states to remain in the Union.

        The quirk about the Civil War is that the South rebelled because of slavery, but the Union didn't fight to keep them in to abolish slavery (though that became an added purpose of the war mid-way through). It was about preserving the Union… and what right did they have to do that? That's his contention.

        And Roland, to that– they had every right. The issues that were presented from the South were deceitful at most levels, and paranoid at every other level. There was no legitimate cause to leave the Union, be it slavery or anything else. Lincoln wasn't going to dissolve it, and the North didn't have the power to on its own. Their own understanding that the institution *SHOULD* be demolished led them to impart that ambition on everyone else. But, lacking anything like British oppression (which was both real and over-sold by the colonies), they manufactured.

        One of the tenants of the American Revolution was that such bonds of nationhood should not be dissolved lightly. The South utterly failed that rubric.

      • Troy Lee  •  Nov 1, 2017 at 11:46 pm

        The north didn’t fight the war to free the slaves you brainwashed imbecile! They didn’t give a damn about blacks, hell they didn’t even intergrate the yankee army or pay blacks the same as white soldiers. Do you actually think any white man n the 19th century would have died to free blacks? In the south the black soldiers served with the whites and were paid the same, and before you spout off that there were no black confederate soldiers there are accounts of yankee officers that saw regiments of black confederate soldiers fully armed, even Fredrick Douglass States this fact. At least the south had the balls to stand up to government tyranny more than a yellow yankee would do.

  2. Nani Tavares  •  Aug 22, 2017 at 12:22 am

    First, an admission. I do not have slavery or anything like it in my personal history. I just find it ironic that people who would fight for our ideals of right and wrong, survival and growth, cannot understand when a group is willing to fight for theirs because those ideals are now so anathema to ours. Remember that for literally the whole of humanity, since one group conquered another, there has been slaves and masters. As blatantly evil as it seems to us now, slavery WAS the way of life for most people. Having slaves were no more barbaric than having multiple wives or children working in the fields. Am I making excuses for slavery? In a way I guess I am but not to say it was a good way of living, certainly not for those who were slaves, wives, or children of the poor. It is an EXPLANATION as to why a person can be of good character and support bad ideals. The South wanted to leave the union the same way that some pro-lifers wish that California would secede. The day may come when abortion will be seen as the genocide it is and any person or state that openly supports abortion may be seen as evil.

    The day HAS already come when most people see the evil that slavery, child labor and polygamy is and we should be ready to tell the story of not how America has failed but in how it has grown. THAT is the story of the confederacy and the legacy that deserves to be respected. We fought, we came together, and we are now one in a history that belongs to us all.

  3. Jim Bird  •  Aug 22, 2017 at 3:32 pm

    It was the American Civil War that ENDED slavery throughout most of world. As Michael points out, we killed 700,000 (and maimed at least another 700,000) in our Civil War. Western Europe was basically stunned by what we did and why we did it. The message was " ….. ALL men are created equal." Our constitution said it and we convinced all Americans to live by those principles no matter what you color, creed or religious affiliation.

    The Civil War ended in 1865. In 1870 Italy became the first Western European country to unify its little kingdoms under one flag, followed by Germany one year later in 1871, and followed very quickly by the rest of Western Europe. The American Civil War effectively ended European slavery (Feudalism) almost instantly. The American constitution became THE document to emulate, especially for new and emerging nations, for liberty and freedom worldwide BECAUSE it was based on the INDIVIDUAL not some top-down form of statist governance. America was the FIRST nation to put that in writing in its founding documents. And yes, to this day, the United States continues to be the #1 country people want to immigrate to, more than all other countries in the world combined.

    Today we see all those personal freedoms being more than eroded by the Democratic Party.

  4. Nani Tavares  •  Aug 22, 2017 at 11:49 pm

    I have notice that many try to judge the past by today's standards. In doing so, they not only malign the morality of this nation and all humanity that practiced slavery, polygamy, child labor and a whole host of things we find repugnant now, but they dishonor the progress that this nation and mankind has made. How awfully sad to have such a dark belief in life that instead of finding joy in our enlightenment, one dwells on the past. I am not talking about "remembering" the past, which we must do to not repeat our errors. I am talking about hammering it to the point where it is liken to mental torture.

    And then they talk about "monsters".

  5. Bill  •  Aug 23, 2017 at 2:54 pm

    Ty, try reading some history. the federal government ruled with the "Taney decision" on dredd scott vs sandford that slavery was legal EVERYWHERE! The slave power won in the courts, but lost on the battlefield.
    It was big government(fugitive slave act, taney decision) and widespread southern support for lynching Elijah live joy, illegal invasion and ballot stuffing in Kansas that made slavery possible.
    It was the Republican Party that fought for "states rights," the right to be free soil and free from slavery. When the free soil republicans won in 1860, the south(lead by SC, and later LA, FL, etc)fought to have it all….they got nothing
    That made

    • Ty  •  Aug 23, 2017 at 3:59 pm

      Southern states fought to maintain slavery. They thought, for GOOD reason that the abolitionist sentiment that was stronger in the north would NOT be content to allow slavery to stand in southern states, and those southern soon to be confederates would not TOLERATE such a possibility.

      And note, IF that really did come to pass, and the republican party (A PARTY with a stronger presence in non confederate states!) with abolitionist support DID work to eventually remove slavery in southern states, that would be in DIRECT VIOLATION of states rights !!!!!!!! Do you UNDERSTAND that? It's clear as day.

      You think there is some INTRINSIC nobility and righteousness in advocating for states rights? Then You MUST be a fool conservative. This is why I keep talking about the conservative sickness of latching onto IDEOLOGY over consequences, ignore the latter, so long as the ideological check boxes are marked off, WHATEVER happens is A-O-K.

      If one was trying to fight against slavery and jim crow, there would be times in the past to want to shore up a states rights argument, and other times when one would want to use Federal power to supersede states rights. ONLY a FOOL thinks that federal power could ONLY lead to negative consequences.

      Last point on the republican party. I know you all love holding onto your association with the abolitionist movement and Lincoln. The republican party was the party of Lincoln, but it also later became the party of the descendants of confederates in southern states. THAT power base was all too happy to champion "states rights" to oppose bills like the 1964 civil rights bill. I must have posted this stat a dozen times already, but I'll post it again to expose the big DECEPTION people like Dinesh Tell when they focus on the racist past of the democratic party as if that was a function of the party at their core.

      ANTI black attitudes, opposition to civil rights legislation was FAR more region based than party based. The modern republican party inherited the descendants of the confederacy. Like I said in another post, the people arguing for the war of northern aggression, vote republican not democrat. Why? Because they are not the same as Rockefeller republicans, Medved republicans, they are the kind of republicans that were so pissed off at having the "big bad federal government" come in and tell they they could no longer lean on the STATES RIGHTS to segregate society, and maintain state sponsored discrimination, and even discrimination that seeped into employment.

      THOSE were their irritations, and they hide behind the sterile term of states rights as a shield from the FURY they deserve.

      Most southern republicans today are NOT the type I am lambasting, but a lot of them in the south still are, and THOSE are the people who decry the statues being moved, and the confederate flag of their "proud" history being taken down.

  6. Nani Tavares  •  Aug 24, 2017 at 1:32 am

    When the bill came before the full Senate for debate on March 30, 1964, the "Southern Bloc" of 18 southern Democratic Senators and one Republican Senator led by Richard Russell (D-GA) launched a filibuster to prevent its passage.[16] Said Russell: "We will resist to the bitter end any measure or any movement which would have a tendency to bring about social equality and intermingling and amalgamation of the races in our (Southern) states."[17]

    The most fervent opposition to the bill came from Senator Strom Thurmond (D-SC): "This so-called Civil Rights Proposals, which the President has sent to Capitol Hill for enactment into law, are unconstitutional, unnecessary, unwise and extend beyond the realm of reason. This is the worst civil-rights package ever presented to the Congress and is reminiscent of the Reconstruction proposals and actions of the radical Republican Congress."[18]

    From the link listed above regarding the 1964 civil rights law.

    Do Liberals read what they quote? Or are they so used to spinning that they don't get how their insisting that Democrats weren't against civil rights but was fighting for STATE RIGHTS sound? Ok, let us give them that, let us say that this was all about state sovereignty, so Liberals was willing to DENY equality to Blacks because of state rights? Are we supposed to buy that? Really?

    • Ty  •  Aug 24, 2017 at 2:22 pm

      I'm starting to wonder if conservatives are incapable of processing information that shows their party or the arguments people in their party make (Dinesh) in a bad light.

      Did YOU (that was for you Averien) read the link?

      Let's look at the senators:

      Here is a gem.

      "After Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Russell (along with more than a dozen other southern Senators, including Herman Talmadge and Russell Long) boycotted the 1964 Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City."

      He was a Senator from Georgie (former confederate state), THAT was the variable that made him so hostile to civil rights, he and other SOUTHERN democrats were pissed.

      So was another southern democrat, one you listed as some sort of argument against the democrats? Strom Thurmand? Where was he from? Oh right, the center of ROT in the south, South Carolina, a state that just barely remove the confederate flag from the capitol. Thurmand went one step further, he actually did what MANY southern democrats did, switch to the republican party! Like I said before, the party of Lincoln became the home for southern segregationists. These were regional attitudes that stuck to those men from their southern states, whatever their party.

      And you completely ignored the vote totals listed by Region!!! Why Nani? Does that data not comfort you? Deal with it. The modern republican party inherited former southern segregationist democrats. The good news is most of them area dead, but their effects still linger in the attitudes of men and women living in Southern states who vote republican. An awful lot are NOT fond of Lincoln, do not think the war was truly over slavery, some even think the north was in the wrong. Don't pretend you have not heard the same damn thing from conservative callers, those people are not voting democrat.

      So the next time Dinesh comes on one of these radio shows and you conservatives roll around on the ground like hungry Dogs eagerly awaiting that next bit of red meat of it being the DEMOCRATS that are the heart of racism to tear into (as opposed to the MUCH bigger influence of regional attitudes in the south), remember what I wrote here. Or don't, and stay in the twilight zone of conservative Dogma, it's only the liberals that were the problems !!!!

      • Ty  •  Aug 24, 2017 at 2:28 pm

        I forgot to add this. Remember Zell Miller?

        "Democrat" from Georgia (where else?), another southern state, and look at who he supported. That's right, the republican party. Large chunks of those southern democrats basically became conservative republicans

      • Nani Tavares  •  Aug 24, 2017 at 11:32 pm

        Sigh. I didn't ignore anything. I need no comfort because I am proud of this country's evolving to where we are today. Those who insist on judging yesterday by today's standard ignores the progress and the morality that stopped slavery, provided gender equality, and allowed children to be children that THIS nation shared and continues to share with the world. They are so busy finding fault and attributing the sins of humanity to this country , they fail to be grateful. I believe, and it is MY belief, that one of the greatest sins against a relationship is ingratitude. It poisons the relationship of parents/children, married couples, families, friends.

        Liberals will never be happy, not just because socialism does not work but because they come from a very dark place of judgment, intolerance and disrespect. This is why they twist history…and ultimately want to tear it down and make it disappear.

  7. Bill  •  Aug 24, 2017 at 8:59 pm

    "And note, IF that really did come to pass, and the republican party (A PARTY with a stronger presence in non confederate states!) with abolitionist support DID work to eventually remove slavery in southern states, that would be in DIRECT VIOLATION of states rights !!!!!!!! Do you UNDERSTAND that? It's clear as day."
    Ignore what happened, and rant in fantasy land.
    I'm sure you're against federally licensing physicians and hospitals and insurance coampaniea to break the mafia of "states rights" licensing? Even the Swiss cantons don't suppose the free movement of federally licensed medical professionals

  8. Rizzo  •  Aug 27, 2017 at 10:31 am

    Oh Ty… the Consummate Historical illiterate you are. Keep up the good work.
    Just like the lawless mobs, who tear down these statues, you expose exactly how dumb and radical your side is.

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