The Four Declarations of Causes for Secession
Do Not Prove the War Was Fought Over Slavery
by Gene Kizer, Jr.
A gentleman wrote me this past March stating that when arguing history, Northerners always use the four declarations of causes for secession as proof that the War Between the States was fought over slavery.
Those four declarations prove nothing of the sort.
Below, is our correspondence including the question posed by the gentleman, but first, here is some additional information:
THERE WERE 13 SOUTHERN STATES represented in the Confederate government. That 13 included Missouri and Kentucky, which were divided states that did not actually secede. They remained Union slave states - two of six Union slave states - the entire war (WHAT! UNION SLAVE STATES! I thought the war was fought over slavery with the Union fighting to end slavery! Man, they should have started with their own country. In fact, three of the six Union slave states - New Jersey, Kentucky and Delaware - had slavery several months after the war. It took the second 13th Amendment in December 1865 for slavery to end in those three Union slave states.).
Remember, the first 13th Amendment was the Corwin Amendment that left black people in slavery forever, even beyond the reach of Congress, in places where slavery already existed. It was passed by the Northern Congress and ratified by several states before the war made it moot. The Corwin Amendment was the true feeling of the North on the slavery issue though it is only one small piece of the massive evidence that the North did not go to war to end slavery. There is much more absolute proof, so much so, that it is irrefutable that the North did not go to war to end slavery. The North was fine with slavery.
Back to the six Union slave states: The Emancipation Proclamation deliberately exempted them as well as slaves in already captured Confederate territory. That prompted Lincoln's secretary of state, William H. Seward, to state "We show our sympathy with slavery by emancipating slaves where we cannot reach them and holding them in bondage where we can set them free." It also gave Charles Dickens a good laugh at Lincoln's phoniness and hypocrisy, especially since all of Lincoln's life he favored sending blacks back to Africa or into a place they could survive. See Colonization after Emancipation, Lincoln and the Movement for Black Resettlement by Phillip W. Magness and Sebastian N. Page (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2011).
All 13 states represented in the Confederate government produced a legal document such as an ordinance of secession that withdrew them from the Union. Tennessee's was called a Declaration of Independence. Most of the ordinances of secession were straight-forward legal documents referring to their ratification of the Constitution and withdrawing the state from it, proclaiming their sovereignty, etc. Alabama and Arkansas did go a little beyond pure legalese in discussing some issues but nothing like a declaration of causes.
Only four of the 13 Confederate states issued declarations of causes. Nine did not.
Those four declarations are the basis for the entire argument against the South in most people's minds though anti-South detractors often use the Marxist technique of simply ignoring substantial evidence they don't agree with. They ignore the six Union slave states, the Corwin Amendment, the War Aims Resolution (war is being waged for Union, not to end slavery) and a ton of other evidence that slavery was not the cause of the war. The North was more interested in its economic power and wealth, not ending slavery, and they sure did not want a bunch of desperate freed slaves to come North with massive crime and social problems, and be job competition. That's why so many Northern and Western states had laws forbidding free blacks from living there or even visiting for long, including Lincoln's Illinois.
Anti-slavery in the North in 1856 and 1860 was political, to rally votes in the North so Northerners could control the Federal Government and continue their bounties, subsidies and monopolies for Northern businesses, and their massive tariffs like the Morrill Tariff. It was not morality for the benefit of the black man.
Even the slavery in the West issue was based, not on concern for blacks, but the opposite: Northern racism. They didn't want slavery in the West because they did not want blacks near them in the West. Historians know this. It started with the Wilmot Proviso and is a clear fact.
The four declarations of causes are statements as to why states seceded, what their grievances were, and such. They are not declarations of war. Southerners expected to live in peace. After all, Yankees threatened to secede five times before Southerners finally did. Nobody questioned the right of secession, not even Horace Greeley during the time that South Carolina seceded in December, 1860. Greeley strongly supported the right of secession ("let our erring sisters go") until he realized it would affect his money, then he wanted war like the rest of the North.
Wars are always fought over money and power, never because one country does not like the domestic institutions in another. Would you send your precious sons off to die to free slaves in another country? Hell no.
Lincoln sent his hostile flotilla to Charleston and Pensacola to start the War Between the States in April, 1861, because a free trade South with European military alliances and 100% control of the most demanded commodity on the planet - King Cotton - would rise to dominance in North America. The North would not be able to beat the South in such a situation. That's why Lincoln wanted to use his enormous advantages at that point in history, and fight. He wanted to establish the North as the dominant cultural and economic region of our great country, and he did. It's been that way for over 150 years though many of the big cities of the North today are on a death spiral thanks to liberal wokeness that permits violent crime and discriminates against the law-biding.
The four declarations of causes all mention several reasons for seceding. All mention the many constitutional violations of the North. The North was untrustworthy.
All mention Northern terrorism against the South such as John Brown who wanted to murder Southern men, women and children with a bloody slave insurrection like they had in Haiti. Brown was financed and organized in the North, then celebrated as a hero when brought to justice. His two sons were protected by Ohio and Iowa rather than being sent back to Virginia for trial as the constitution required.
South Carolina's declaration is a fascinating constitutional and early American history lesson. It proves South Carolina's sovereignty:
Under this Confederation the war of the Revolution was carried on, and on the 3rd of September, 1783, the contest ended, and a definitely Treaty was signed by Great Britain, in which she acknowledged the independence of the Colonies in the following terms: "ARTICLE 1-- His Britannic Majesty acknowledges the said United States, viz: New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, to be FREE, SOVEREIGN AND INDEPENDENT STATES; that he treats with them as such; and for himself, his heirs and successors, relinquishes all claims to the government, propriety and territorial rights of the same and every part thereof." / Thus were established the two great principles asserted by the Colonies, namely: the right of a State to govern itself; and the right of a people to abolish a Government when it becomes destructive of the ends for which it was instituted. And concurrent with the establishment of these principles, was the fact, that each Colony became and was recognized by the mother Country a FREE, SOVEREIGN AND INDEPENDENT STATE.
Georgia's declaration goes into great detail on the economic causes of secession. As Robert Toombs said, the North was a suction pump sucking wealth out of the South and depositing it into the North constantly. The Georgia declaration states:
The material prosperity of the North was greatly dependent on the Federal Government; that of the South not at all.
This is a powerful statement as to why the Union was critical to Lincoln and the North, but was the antithesis of the States' Rights philosophy of the South.
Even Mississippi's declaration that begins with an assertion that it is identified with slavery as the basis of its economic well-being makes several critical points. It affirms the constitutional violations of the North but states about the North:
It seeks not to elevate or to support the slave, but to destroy his present condition without providing a better. / It has invaded a State, and invested with the honors of martyrdom the wretch whose purpose was to apply flames to our dwellings, and the weapons of destruction to our lives. / It has broken every compact into which it has entered for our security. / It has given indubitable evidence of its design to ruin our agriculture, to prostrate our industrial pursuits and to destroy our social system. / It knows no relenting or hesitation in its purposes; it stops not in its march of aggression, and leaves us no room to hope for cessation or for pause.
Texas's declaration of causes includes:
By the disloyalty of the Northern States and their citizens and the imbecility of the Federal Government, infamous combinations of incendiaries and outlaws have been permitted in those States and the common territory of Kansas to trample upon the federal laws, to war upon the lives and property of Southern citizens in that territory, and finally, by violence and mob law, to usurp the possession of the same as exclusively the property of the Northern States. / The Federal Government, while but partially under the control of these our unnatural and sectional enemies, has for years almost entirely failed to protect the lives and property of the people of Texas against the Indian savages on our border, and more recently against the murderous forays of banditti from the neighboring territory of Mexico; and when our State government has expended large amounts for such purpose, the Federal Government has refused reimbursement therefor, thus rendering our condition more insecure and harassing than it was during the existence of the Republic of Texas.
Read these declarations and especially know your own state's if you live in South Carolina, Mississippi, Georgia or Texas. As stated, they do mention slavery along with numerous other extremely important issues. Northern constitutional violations are extremely important. If you can't trust the North to obey the Constitution, you can't trust them with anything.
The Northern support for terrorists like John Brown was a huge issue. The North was already at war with the South. Would you stay in a country with people who sent murderers, thieves and arsonists into your peaceful towns to kill your family and neighbors, destroy your property, poison wells, encourage the unimaginable horror of bloody slave insurrections with rape and murder, from which there would be no survivors like in Haiti?
The economic theft also mentioned was huge. Southerners were paying 85% of the taxes yet 75% of the tax money was being spent in the North.1
Nobody in the North, ever a single time, suggested a workable plan for gradual, compensated emancipation such as the Northern states and all other nations on earth used to end slavery. The reason why is that Northerners were not about to spend their hard earned sweatshop money to free the slaves in the South who would then go North with crime and violence, and be job competition. They would rather do as they did and just pass laws that forbid black people from settling or even visiting Northern states for long.
One can take the anti-South position and argue that the declarations of causes indicate slavery was one of many causes for the secession of four states, but only for those four.
The other nine did not issue declarations of causes, and four of the Southern states, in which 52.4% of white Southerners lived, seceded over nothing to do with slavery. Those states were horrified that the Federal Government would illegally and unconstitutionally invade other states, kill their citizens and destroy their property to force them to obey a Northern sectional majority. Those four were Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee and North Carolina.
Nothing the North or anybody else says matters anyway. The South had the right to secede and they did so properly. Among the conclusive evidence of the right of secession is the reserved right to secede demanded by New York, Rhode Island and Virginia before they acceded to the Constitution. All the other states accepted the reserved right of secession of New York, Rhode Island and Virginia, thus they had it too, since all states entered the Union as exact equals.
Bill M. to Gene Kizer, March 13, 2021
HI Gene, I love your history books. I have just one question. I agree that the majority of the reasons the Civil War happened had to do with economics, taxation, and an overbearing Federal Government. Lincoln and the North made it clear that the reason they went to war was to "preserve the union." As for the South, many letters, speeches and papers talk about the economics of secession, but all of the States Declarations, start off with the Institution of Slavery and the election of Lincoln and his threat to Slavery as the reason they were pulling out of the Union. I just don't understand why, when you clearly lay out that Lincoln never did or said anything about going after slaves, was the South so scared and put this in the top part of their reasons for secession? Why not just say, we are tired of being economically raped? We are not being represented at the federal government level, we want the right to free trade, our own currency, we don't want to be part of this union. Thank you. Bill M.
Gene Kizer to Bill M. March 15, 2021
Bill, Good to hear from you! Your question is a great one and easily answered.
Only four out of 13 Southern states issued declarations of causes for their secession along with their ordinances of secession. Those states were: South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi and Texas. The other nine had ordinances of secession but no declarations of causes.
The four declarations of causes do mention slavery, as you say, along with numerous other things including much grievance over tariffs and taxes, and the money flowing constantly out of the South and into the North because of Northern bounties, subsidies, monopolies, etc.
They all also state that Northern hate and promotion of terrorism is a prime reason for their secession, as well as Northern violations of the Constitution. Southerners did not trust Northerners and for good reason. If somebody sent terrorists into your country to kill your citizens and poison wells, etc., would you want to stay in the same country with them? Or leave, peacefully, as Southerners did? Remember, John Brown hacked Southerners to death in Kansas, he was financed in the North, then came to Harper's Ferry to start the kind of mass murder that had taken place in Haiti. When Brown was executed, he was celebrated in the North as a hero. Brown's two sons were protected from prosecution by Ohio and Iowa. So, Northerners sent terrorists into the South to murder Southerners then they martyred the terrorists when they were brought to justice. The country was already at war. Southern secession was the South dealing with it in their way, which was to leave peacefully.
Those four declarations of causes form the entire argument against the South yet all they do is establish the grievances that led to secession. Southerners unquestionably had the right to secede. Three states - New York, Rhode Island and Virginia - had reserved the right of secession before joining the Constitution, and all the other states accepted the right of NY, RI and VA to secede if they saw fit. That gave the right of secession to all the states because they all entered the Union as equals.
Slavery as the cause of the War Between the States is such an absurdity.
No Northerner said, before the war, that they should march armies into the South to free the slaves. They could care less about the slaves as was proven by the Corwin Amendment (leave blacks in slavery forever even beyond the reach of Congress), the War Aims Resolution (the war is being fought for Union, not slavery) and legion other documents and statements.
Yankees were making money hand over fist manufacturing for the South and shipping Southern cotton. They were draining the South dry with tariffs and taxes. They weren't about to give that up then have to face the South as a major competitor with European support and 100% control of the most demanded commodity on the planet: Cotton.
The imminent collapse of the Northern economy because of Southern secession is what caused Lincoln to start the war. That, and the fact that they had the South outnumbered four to one, and outgunned 100 to one. I'll guarantee you if the North only had the South outnumbered two to one, and certainly if it was even, there would have been no war.
When the guns of Fort Sumter sounded, there were more slave states in the Union than in the Confederacy because Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina and Tennessee had not yet seceded. Those four states seceded immediately after Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers to invade the South, and their clear reason why had nothing to do with slavery. It was their abhorrence of Lincoln using the Federal Government to invade a peaceful part of the country and kill its citizens for the benefit of Northern wealth and power.
In those four states, Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina and Tennessee, lived 52.4% - a majority - of white Southerners, so it is a fact that a majority of white Southerners seceded over nothing to do with slavery.
There is a ton more evidence but this is the short answer.
As stated above, when the war started, there were eight, soon to be nine slave states in the Union with the admission of West Virginia as a slave state during the war (think about that) VERSES the seven Cotton States.
That's eight Yankee slave states verses seven Southern slave states though that number was soon to be nine Yankee slave states.
The Emancipation Proclamation did not touch the slaves in the Union slave states or in captured Confederate territory. Yankee slaves were to remain in slavery.
Unquestionably, Yankees did not go to war to end slavery; and unquestionably, Southerners did not go to war to preserve it.
Southerners went to war because they wanted to be free and independent of people who hated them and who had sent terrorists into their country to kill them.
The most quoted phrase in the secession debate in the South in the year before the war was from the Declaration of Independence: Governments are instituted among men deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed . . .
Thank you for posing this excellent question. I have a lot more coming out in the next year or two solidifying even more my already irrefutable argument.
Are you on my email list? If not, give me your email address and I'll add you. I send out a blog article every week with history, defense of monuments, etc.
Good to hear from you.
Gene Kizer, Jr.
Charleston Athenaeum Press
Bill M. to Gene Kizer, March 15, 2021
Thank you very much Gene. FYI. I agree with you about why the South went to war. I feel the same way today. I agree with Hank Williams Jr, had the South won we would have a free country. Not an overbearing corrupt Federal Government and court system. We would have had a chance. Reason I ask is because I read those 4 states and Florida’s. And they seemed to focus on Lincoln's election and slaves. Liberals and do-gooders always bring that issue up to me when I tell them today is the same as 1860. It is not and was not about slavery. I am not on your email list. I am familiar with many of the facts you listed. They are in your book. I need to re read all the declarations from the states again. Thanks
Gene Kizer to Bill M., March 15
Bill, Got you added to the list! There will be a blog article in your inbox Thursday morning. There are a lot of articles on the website (www.CharlestonAthenaeumPress.com) you will enjoy. In fact, I might use this correspondence we've had here as a blog post since it is concise and your question an excellent one. A lot of people would benefit from that. I would keep your identity and contact information private. I don't know that I definitely will post it but it would be the basis of a good post. I agree with you 1000% about old Hank Williams, Jr.! I love that song If the South Woulda Won. All the best to you! Gene
Bill M. to Gene Kizer, March 15
Thanks Gene. That is fine. I love Hank Williams Jr. And your books. Was born in the North but raised in the South when it was still the South. I read the Constitution in Law School along with all the Founding Fathers' notes. There is no doubt in my mind they would have supported the South. I worked on Wall Street and the most evil creation on the planet is the Corporation. The fact is. They were banned under the original laws in our Country. To me, the civil war was about the greed of the North Bankers, Industrialists and RR barons power over the Republicans. They wanted all the $ and power. They smelled blood. What we have and what the world has today is the Military Industrial Complex and the Corporations have merged with the Entire Federal Government including the judiciary. Outside of states pulling out of the Union, I don’t know what else can stop what we are heading for. You can use my blog. I am sick of liberals telling me that the war was all about slavery cause that is what CNN says.
Gene Kizer to Bill M., March 20
Bill, Thanks for your excellent message! I haven't been on FB in the past few days. I'm with you all the way. You are so right. I had a blog article a few weeks ago by Lysander Spooner, the abolitionist, and he said basically the same thing you just said. You are right about corporations. They are whores for money and will sell out the USA to China and others just like the NBA, Nike, Google, FB and the rest of them. Big tech is the worst. I think a lot of good people like you and me are aware of everything going on and are very concerned about it. We are at a crossroads in America and there are truly some bad people who want to take us in a horrible direction, the opposite of what we were founded on. One good thing: It will be our states that preserve something of our founding. They were supposed to be sovereign and have all the power anyway, and they might have to use it to save the country. If HR1 passes and somehow SCOTUS allows it to stand, all bets are off. I would have never in a billion years thought the Supreme Court would even consider letting an obviously unconstitutional abomination such as HR1 stand, but SCOTUS let us down badly with the election law suits the past couple months. They should have heard the Texas case as Alito and Thomas wanted. Roberts is a coward and the worst chief justice in American history so no telling what his court might do. I am so surprised at Kavanaugh and Barrett. Hopefully an election case can come up. I think Gorsuch is with Alito and Thomas now. We'll see. A lot is going to happen in the next few months. Thanks for writing! Agree with you 100% Gene
Bill M. to Gene Kizer, March 21, 2021
Hi Gene. We are in 100% agreement. I think that the Supreme Court has been compromised. Our only hope is the states. I know many of us feel the same way. Question is. How to we unite to form a coalition like the corporate communist left has?
1 Samuel W. Mitcham, Jr., It Wasn't About Slavery, Exposing the Great Lie of the Civil War (Washington, DC: Regnery History, 2020), 103.