Our Confederate Ancestors: Running the Blockade by Gen. Bennett H. Young

A Series on the Daring Exploits of Our Confederate Ancestors in the War Between the States.

On the prow of this lookout a couple of men were placed to make observations as to the presence of a blockader. It was awfully dark with no sound except the paddles as they stirred and pounded the waves. All sailors and passengers were ordered not to speak above a whisper, and all was quiet except the ripple that came from the prow of the craft as it plowed its way through the current of the ocean and the strokes of the paddles which were beating the water as the craft glided with all haste on its bosom of blue.

Running the Blockade

by Gen. Bennett H. Young,
Louisville, Kentucky

(From the original Confederate Veteran magazine, September, 1916, when Gen. Young was 73. He died three years later. The events he describes below occurred when he was 20.)

Bennett H. Young, 1863, age 20.
Bennett H. Young, 1863, age 20.

On the 26th of July, 1863, while riding with Gen. John H. Morgan on the Ohio raid, I was made a prisoner of war. The long march of one thousand miles from Burksville, Ky., to Salineville, Ohio, running through twenty-six days, had been a tremendous strain on the physical endurance of General Morgan's troops. When captured I was first carried to the Ohio penitentiary and left there a short while, then sent to Camp Chase and thence to Camp Douglas, Chicago, Ill., whence I escaped in January, 1864.

As the days grew darker for the life of the Confederacy, my desire to return was intensified by the misfortunes of my people. The short and easy way to return to the South would have been through Kentucky; but at that time General Burbridge, in command there, with cruel and relentless barbarity was putting to death on the slightest pretense many Confederate prisoners who were taken in that State, and my family suggested that, while I had a right to risk my own life, I had no right to risk theirs piloting me through the State of Kentucky into the Confederate lines.

The Federal sentinel whom I had bribed by paying a hundred dollars to allow me to climb the fence at Camp Douglas had also been induced by the money of other Kentucky boys to grant them the same privilege. Cash was plentiful with Morgan's men. They had postal communication with outside friends, and this accommodating "bluecoat" had driven a thriving business in trading with those restive raiders. It was said about the prison at that time that he had made about eight thousand dollars while engaged in this brokerage escape business. As the evidence of his trade began to accumulate, and as he really had enough to take care of him, certainly during the war, he wisely concluded to emigrate to Canada, where he could meet the Kentucky gentlemen whom he had obliged by permitting them to scale the walls of Camp Douglas.

The Confederate commissioners had been informed that there were a thousand escaped Confederates in Canada. This was greatly exaggerated. I was designated and commissioned to gather up such soldiers as were willing to return to the South and continue fighting. "Powder food" at that time was extremely scarce in the Confederacy, and a thousand strong, lusty cavalrymen were deemed by the Confederate government a most promising source of help in the depleted ranks of the Southern army.

Traveling from place to place where these Confederates were residing in numerous colonies, I was disappointed to find only twenty who were willing to return. The Confederate government provided the money for the transportation of all who were ready to go, and I was directed to take the men to Halifax, Nova Scotia, and from there take passage by British vessels to the Bermuda Islands, and then to reenter the Confederacy at Wilmington, N. C., or Charleston, S. C., through the numerous blockade runners that were carrying supplies through these two ports of the Confederacy.

The St. Lawrence River was closed during the winter months, and there was no railroad then from Montreal to Halifax; so I went on the first boat that passed down the St. Lawrence after the ice floes had passed out. There was a bimonthly line between Halifax and the Bermudas, and with my twenty-one men I reached St. George's, Bermuda, and had the pleasure of meeting John Newland Maffitt, who commanded the privateer Florida.

John Newland Maffitt.
John Newland Maffitt.

He was good enough to offer me a commission in the navy and desired me to go with him on his privateer, which was then lying in the harbor at St. George's, with several Federal cruisers outside waiting for his departure. One dark night he went out and started anew his career of destruction of Federal ships.

At that time St. George's was the gate that was used for the blockade line into Wilmington, and while I was there twenty-one boats were waiting for the dark of the moon.

Confederate blockade runner in St. George's Harbour, Bermuda circa 1864.
Confederate blockade runner in St. George's Harbour, Bermuda circa 1864.

These trips could be made only about ten days each month. It was impossible to enter the harbor which led up the Cape Fear River to Wilmington except in the darkest of the night, and this, as is well known, always preceded the breaking of day. At the proper season of the month St. George's harbor and town were scenes of extremest activity. Enfield rifles and power, bacon, clothing, and war materials of all kinds were hurried aboard these vessels. The risk was very great, but a safe trip of a blockade runner with a cargo of cotton outbound was worth two or three times the cost of a vessel.

Six or eight of these vessels were to leave on Sunday night. Among the gentlemen who had gone back South under my command were James S. Schooling, of Lebanon, Ky., John D. Allison, of Henderson, and J. R. Morton, afterwards Circuit Judge of the Lexington District. The war had not obliterated the scruples of a strict Presbyterian training concerning the sacredness of the Sabbath, although my experiences with Morgan had rudely shattered some of its ideas, so I decided not to go out Sunday night. Eight of the vessels were going to leave Sunday night, eight or ten more Monday night.

I had paid $150 for passage to Wilmington for the soldiers on these blockade runners. They were pure and simple money-makers. They did not gush at all over the Confederacy and its soldiers, and they demanded $250 for each passenger. They were manned largely by British officers and sailors. Very few Confederates were engaged in these expeditions. Employees received fabulous wages; ordinary seamen were paid a hundred dollars a month.

The Thistle was a spry little boat, and Schooling and Allison decided to go out Sunday night on this vessel. I suggested that they had better wait until Monday night, but they insisted that "the better the day, the better the deed," and so I shipped them on the Thistle.

There was a little vessel called the Florie that struck my eye. She was long and slender and rakish-looking and painted white, as were all these vessels, and had paddle wheels almost as big as a Mississippi River steamer.

Blockade runner, Advance, sometimes known as the A.D. Vance. The Florie probably looked like this.
Blockade runner, Advance, sometimes known as the A.D. Vance. The Florie probably looked like this.

She afterwards made several successful trips and earned fabulous sums for her owners. Her officers were almost altogether men who had resigned from the British navy. She could make over twenty knots an hour, and her officers felt that she could walk away from any blockader in the fleet.

The commander of the Florie was a young Charlestonian, not more than twenty-two years of age. Skilled in his business, nervy to a degree which bordered on recklessness, he had been given command of the Florie, which was making her first trip. That he was "dead game," none who looked into his eye would dare deny, and he struck me as a man who would capably handle all the emergencies of the adventures we were apt to meet on a hazardous voyage. He knew the North Carolina coast like a boy knows his A B C's; and whatever might betide, I felt sure he would meet the calls of the hour. He wanted us to go on his ship and said if we had no funds we could go "deadhead." I told him I had Confederate gold to pay our way.

I shipped on the Florie with four of my comrades, and we left on schedule time Monday night. All went well until the fourth day out, when we were off the mouth of the Cape Fear River about one hundred and fifty miles. The distance from the entrance to Bermuda was something like nine hundred and fifty miles. We had expected that night to make the port. Standing out a hundred and fifty miles would enable us to run in so as to pass the cordon of blockaders at about two or three o'clock in the morning.

While steaming slowly and leisurely along, our attention was called to two great columns of smoke ascending about twenty miles north. One ship was directly in line of the other, and from the amount of smoke that was escaping it was evident that each was speeding her best. They came closer and closer, and we could discover with the aid of glasses that the Thistle, which had only one smokestack, was being pursued by a Federal blockader. Closer and closer the pursuer came, and about five o'clock in the afternoon it became evident that the blockader would overtake the little vessel, which, with maddening speed and effort, was seeking to escape until the darkness of the night, when it might lose itself in the wideness of the ocean. The Florie turned south and ran out of her course a hundred miles to get rid of the blockader. When we last saw the blockader, she was so close to the Thistle that it was apparent that escape was impossible.

Upon the capture of the Thistle all the crew and passengers were lined up and required to swear that they were citizens of Great Britain. Schooling and Allison both had naturalization papers of British citizenship, which they had borrowed from sympathizing friends.

They were not undisposed to lie in this matter up to the point of swearing. At that both hesitated and said they would not perjure themselves; that they were Confederate prisoners who were returning to their country.

They were taken to Fort Warren, at Boston Harbor, and kept until sometime after the war. Both of them became prominent citizens. Schooling was prosecuting attorney of the Lebanon judicial district and Allison a leading merchant in Western Kentucky.

Floating, steaming slowly, and still circling so as to get the right position off the entrance to Cape Fear River, on the following day about five o'clock the Florie began to turn toward the port of entry.

Wilmington and the mouth of the Cape Fear River.
Wilmington and the mouth of the Cape Fear River.

It was yet a long run to the forts that defended the port of Wilmington, so vital to the Confederate cause. Every eye was scanning the horizon, and every heart, however brave, beat a little quicker as we drew near the real scene of danger. Ten hours would tell the story -- blown up, destroyed, captured, or safe in the Confederacy.

Ft. Fisher & Cape Fear Riv to Wilmington Jan. 1865. The Florie & Little Hattie went this way earlier.
Ft. Fisher & Cape Fear Riv to Wilmington Jan. 1865. The Florie & Little Hattie went this way earlier.

These were the issues we were now facing, and they were surely problems that required both courage and steady nerve. The lights were all put out, everything was done to muffle the sounds, and the ship was put to its best. Reckonings were carefully taken and then retaken. She was running something like twenty-two miles an hour.

On the prow of this lookout a couple of men were placed to make observations as to the presence of a blockader. It was awfully dark with no sound except the paddles as they stirred and pounded the waves. All sailors and passengers were ordered not to speak above a whisper, and all was quiet except the ripple that came from the prow of the craft as it plowed its way through the current of the ocean and the strokes of the paddles which were beating the water as the craft glided with all haste on its bosom of blue.

It turned out afterwards that we had miscalculated just a few minutes. The blockaders obscured their portholes, painted their sides black, and, with every light put out, it was difficult to see them on the horizon while we were thus racing along and hoping that we would not be discovered.

In an instant, without warning, the portholes of a blockader were suddenly opened, such searchlights  as they had were used to locate the presence of the blockade runner, and through his trumpet the captain of the blockader loudly demanded its surrender.

The captain of the Florie had not been trained in early life to any degree of piety, and through his trumpet he answered back: "Go to hell, damn you; go to hell!"

In an instant the blockader turned loose, and the Florie veered from her direction, so she was not more than four or five hundred feet from the ship, the form of which was now plainly to be seen. Then we began the race for life.

The first shot either scared of or knocked off the watchman in the crow's nest, and all the crew except the pilot made a wild dash to get below deck. As we carried many tons of powder in the hold, they did not seem to realize that that was the worst place they could go. The captain felt that he must have somebody in the crow's nest, and he asked me if I would go up.

There ran through my mind the idea that I was nothing but a landlubber, and the crow's nest was not the best place for a man who had not been to sea before; but the instinct of a soldier and the pride of a Kentuckian came to the rescue, and I clambered up to the crow's nest as if I really wanted to go. This, however, was not true.

It seemed to me that every ship in the world was that night off the mouth of the Cape Fear River. Shot after shot was fired; and as from the crow's nest I caught views of the blockaders on the right and blockaders on the left, it appeared to me years in which we were making that fierce flight and brave fight for life, without very much hope of getting safely away.

All the blockaders opened their portholes and strung themselves along the line through which the Florie was preparing to enter the harbor and which was not very wide. They knew well enough the road the fleeting and fleeing ship and its beleaguered crew must travel.

I had learned the amount of powder that was aboard the Florie and it was not a very comfortable thought that if a shot or shell should hit just right, about the engine or powder, the world would never find even a button off the clothing of the men who were aboard the Florie.

The minutes lengthened, the game became more exciting, the gray dawn of morning was just creeping up the eastern horizon, and as we looked with limited vision along the path we must go we still saw blockaders with, it seemed to us, no fear of the Confederate guns which commanded the mouth of the Cape Fear River. Those guns stood waiting to defend and protect the Little Florie if she could only get within their sympathetic range.

Once discovered, there was no use of hiding. The only chance of escape was to drive through the cordon where a possible opening appeared and take chances of a shot or shell sinking the little craft.

The furnace was fired with  bacon; every piece of iron and wood in the vessel trembled with the mighty strain that was placed upon it. The great paddles were driven to their utmost tension, and they seemed to lift the vessel off the face of the water, and still in the face of all this down went the word to their engineer: "Fire up! Fire up!" and he was told to "Drive harder! Drive her like hell!"

I was not so reckless as the captain. He was getting a thousand dollars a month and a percentage of the cargo that he took out, and up on the crow's nest I began to think maybe it was not such a great thing, after all, to fight for the Confederacy, and certainly a man had better take his chances through West Virginia or Tennessee or down into the Confederacy by land; and more than once I regretted that I did not take my chances with Burbridge and walk through, if needs be, from Canada to the borders of the Confederacy.

The game grew hotter and hotter and the efforts of the blockaders to catch the little vessel stronger and stronger, while up in my perch with shaded eye I sang out the dangers that were ahead down to the captain on the bridge.

I called out without a tremor in my voice: "Blockader on the right! Blockader on the left!" It looked to me that the fate of the landlubber was hard, but I was in for the whole game and resolved that, whatever came, I would do the best a landlubber knew how.

The charge was long, the pursuit fierce, the efforts to destroy relentless, but through it all a generous Providence brought the little craft. True, she had been struck several times, but she escaped a stroke at the vital spot. Battered, hammered a little, she had run through the fierce storm of shot and shell. She had successfully accomplished her purpose.

Just as the daylight gave clear vision of the surroundings, the little vessel landed at the dock under Fort Fisher, and, looking up, we saw the garrison who had been watching with eager interest the fight and flight, and above it all was the Stars and Bars, to me then a signal of safety, an object of love.

We clambered out of the little vessel onto the pier, and I walked up into the fort and kissed the folds of the red-and-white flag. The officers congratulated us on our bold and fearless conduct; but the little captain, as handsome as an Adonis, with as brave a heart as ever beat in the breast of mortal man, while receiving the congratulations of the Confederates did not seem to think that he had done anything out of the ordinary.

Looking back across the line of the harbor, we saw another blockade runner, the Will-o'-the-Wisp. She too was running the gauntlet, and she was passing through an ordeal worse than ours because she was a few minutes behind us.

Finding escape impossible, the bold captain beached the little vessel and was fortunate enough to do so under the protection of the guns of Fort Fisher. Torn by shot and shell, she lay on the beach. She had made the port, but it was after a trial as if by fire.

The things she had were precious to the Confederacy, and lighters and boats crowded around the craft to relieve her of her load of shot, shell, clothing, and provision, and in a short while she was floated safely into the harbor.

The Florie soon passed the twenty-five miles between Fort Fisher and Wilmington, and by nine o'clock we were at the dock at Wilmington. I was extremely anxious to return thanks to the beneficent Providence that had brought us safely through the excitement, danger, exposure, and experiences of the night.

I hastened to the First Presbyterian Church of Wilmington to join in its prayers and praise and to give thanks to God, who had taken care of us most wonderfully in the difficulties and dangers of the weird and soul-trying scenes of the night before.

Ordered out of the Confederacy on reaching Richmond, I had the good fortune to strike the Florie on her return trip, just a month later. She carried a thousand bales of cotton. These were packed around her smokestack, and every available space was filled with the precious fiber.

We went out on our return trip without even seeing a blockader and landed safely at St. George's, Bermuda with $750,000 worth of Confederate cotton,.

The Florie made several other trips, and in 1867, while living abroad and visiting Glasgow, Scotland, at the pier I saw the Florie. She did not look quite as smart and as trim as she did in 1864.

I went aboard her, but there was to be found no trace of anybody who made the perilous journey with me into Wilmington. I could but feel a deep attachment for the little boat which had such marvelous experiences in her career.

Gen. Bennett H. Young later in life.
Gen. Bennett H. Young later in life.

Bennett H. Young (b. May 25, 1843, d. February 23, 1919) is best known for his October 19, 1864 raid on St. Albans, Vermont, as a lieutenant, in which he and his approximately 20 men, all former Confederate prisoners who had escaped Yankee prisons to Canada, with perfect planning, looted three banks and captured $201,522. They were called 5th Company, Confederate States Retributors. Most of them made it to Canada after the St. Albans raid but were retained by Canadian authorities and faced trials but eventually were freed. They had to return the $88,000 that they had on them. Later in life, Young became a very successful attorney in Louisville, Kentucky. His philanthropy was legendary and included the founding of an orphanage for blacks in Louisville (the first), and much help toward creating the Louisville Free Public Library. He was commander-in-chief of the United Confederate Veterans from 1913 to 1916, then made "honorary commander-in-chief for life."

The Truth of Southern History Is Going to Be Told

The Truth of Southern History
Is Going to Be Told

by Gene Kizer, Jr.

(This article comes from the last section of my book, Slavery Was Not the Cause of the War Between the States, The Irrefutable Argument., available on this website. That section is entitled "Author's Final Assessment".)

Any historian who does not think the impending annihilation of the Northern economy in the spring of 1861 is the true cause of the War Between the States, is like a detective who desperately needs to solve a murder but just doesn't think motive is important.

The annihilation of the Northern economy and the rise of the South are ultimately what drove the actions of most participants, North and South, in the spring of 1861 when the war started. Ending slavery was nowhere on the Northern radar. Northerners were seeing their world crumble before their very eyes with bankruptcy and anarchy at the end of the tunnel.

Southerners were seeing 1776 and the re-founding of the American republic but with constitutionally protected free trade, low tariffs, and even more emphasis on States' Rights. In the South, power belonged to the people in their respective states -- not to a centralized government representing, as the Founding Fathers warned over and over, the tyranny of the majority.

I am interested in historical truth, and in this age of political correctness, we do not have it. Northerners, as this book proves beyond the shadow of a doubt, did not go to war to end slavery, and Southerners did not go to war to preserve it. With all that the South had to gain by being a free, independent nation on this earth, only a dull person would think that protecting slavery was all the South wanted.1

The Confederate States of America was about powerful sovereign states in which free people governed themselves. It was united by a weak federal government that was subservient to the states and the people in those states, and was not their master.

That is the main issue of the war. The North believed in a powerful central government, and the South did not.

Basil Lanneau Gildersleeve (1831–1924) of Charleston, South Carolina was a Confederate soldier during the War Between the States. He is, today, "still regarded as the greatest American classical scholar of all times."2 His 1915 book, The Creed of the Old South, is so beautifully written, so heartfelt and sincere, that you know immediately -- whether you are from the North or the South -- that it is the truth and this is what happened. It is actually a reprint of an essay that was published in 1892, only 27 years after the war. He writes:

A friend of mine, describing the crowd that besieged the Gare de Lyon in Paris, when the circle of fire was drawing round the city, and foreigners were hastening to escape, told me that the press was so great that he could touch in every direction those who had been crushed to death as they stood, and had not had room to fall. Not wholly unlike this was the pressure brought to bear on the Confederacy. It was only necessary to put out your hand and you touched a corpse; and that not an alien corpse, but the corpse of a brother or a friend.3

So much of Southern history today is not truth and is not what really happened. Esteemed historian Eugene D. Genovese had it right:

Rarely these days, even on southern campuses, is it possible to acknowledge the achievements of the white people of the South. The history of the Old South is now often taught at leading  universities, when it is taught at all, as a prolonged guilt-trip, not to say a prologue to the history of Nazi Germany. . . . To speak positively about any part of this southern tradition is to invite charges of being a racist and an apologist for slavery and segregation. We are witnessing a cultural and political atrocity -- an increasingly successful campaign by the media and an academic elite to strip young white southerners, and arguably black southerners as well, of their heritage, and, therefore, their identity. They are being taught to forget their forebears or to remember them with shame.4 (Bold emphasis added.)

Nobody who wants a career in history in this day and age can say anything good about the South. They can't risk being called a racist. We no longer learn from much of the historical discussion because so much is banned or censored, leaving a false record. The "progressives" who bring up the McCarthy era with hate-America glee are a thousand times worse with their political correctness. They represent an Orwellian anti-intellectual, anti-knowledge movement and it's cowardly because they want to control the debate through intimidation, not by producing the best scholarship and ideas.

Much of this liberal political correctness goes back to today's politics. The PC crowd believes in a giant all-powerful federal government, and that was unquestionably the main issue of the War Between the States. The North wanted a powerful federal government that it would control with its majority for its own wealth and aggrandizement.

The South wanted powerful sovereign states -- States' Rights -- and a weak federal government, which is what the Founding Fathers intended.

It is no coincidence that the blue states of the big government Democrat Party of today are mostly the old Union states of the North and West, while most of the red states, who take a Reaganesque view of the Federal Government -- "Government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem"5 -- are in the South.

So, this politically correct anti-South view of history benefits the liberal Democrat Party that worships federal power and is enthusiastically embraced by liberals who make up, effectively, 100% of academia (oh, I know the actual number is only around 90% in the Humanities where History resides but it might as well be 100% because that 10% of non-liberals better not dare go against liberal orthodoxy if they want to keep their jobs). It's partly the dirty politics of today and not a truthful examination of history.

Who controls the past controls the future:
who controls the present controls the past.6

Big Brother is absolutely correct. That's why the moral-superiority argument, that the good North went to war to end slavery, must be maintained at all costs, though they actually went to war to establish the supremacy of the Federal Government (they were called "Federals" during the war), which they would control with their majority. Truth, and the deaths of 750,000 people and wounding of over a million, are a cheap price to pay. The ends justify the means, or so the PC argument goes, and the South must be vilified that much more.

The charge of racism will not only intimidate and keep many from doing meaningful research on the South, but it also casts aspersions on much great writing of the past so that nothing is left except what the PC crowd wants you to believe -- and that is always something favorable to the growth of liberal politics and federal power.

As Winston Smith laments in 1984:

Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book has been rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street and building has been repainted, every statue and street and building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And that process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.7

That's why David H. Donald said there has been no Southern view among professional historians for over a half-century. There is a powerful Southern view but it has been subverted in an attempt to erase and rewrite history as Big Brother with his liberal bosom buddies in academia and the news media demand.

Charleston's William Gilmore Simms, according to Edgar Allan Poe, was the greatest American writer of the 19th century yet he is not studied in depth, and in most places, not at all, because he was a slaveowner. Simms wrote 82 book-length works including history and poetry. He was an expert on the American Revolution and wrote a fantastic series of big, thick Revolutionary War novels, mostly set in and around Charleston, and they cause the Revolution to jump off the pages. You are suddenly there in Charleston in 1776.

What is lost in Charleston alone by not studying William Gilmore Simms in depth, is a crime. There is a bust of Simms at the Battery, high up on a pedestal, but that's where the study of Simms ends.

The primary reason for the viciousness against the South is to cover up the enormity of the North's crime of destroying the republic of the Founding Fathers and killing 750,000 men and wounding over a million. Historians admit that the Northern victory destroyed the republic of sovereign states of the Founders and centralized power in the Federal Government.

That was not what the Founding Fathers had in mind in all their wisdom. A nation of sovereign states with a weak national government is where they saw true freedom and self-determination. That's what States' Rights are about and that is why the South fought. Centralization would give us the tyranny of the majority as the Founding Fathers warned.

So, rather than giving the South any credit, Big Brother's PC mob must rewrite history.  The Southern cause must be changed from independence to vile slavery, and the North's guilt in bringing most of the slaves here and building the infrastructure of the Old North on profits from the slave trade should be forgotten.

It is extremely enlightening to read the excellent book, Complicity, How the North Promoted, Prolonged, and Profited from Slavery. This is an important book, not only because it is well-researched and fearless, but because it is written by Northerners, and fairly recently. It was written by Anne Farrow, Joel Lang, and Jenifer Frank of The Hartford Courant and published in 2005.

This book had come about when The Hartford Courant published a story with headline "Aetna 'Regrets' Insuring Slaves."

This shocked them, to think that a Northern company and Northerners could have had anything to do with slavery. Slavery was the sin of the South, wasn't it?

To their credit, they began investigating and found that The Hartford Courant itself had run ads supporting the sale and capture of slaves. They found out that "Connecticut's role in slavery was not only huge, it was a key to the success of the entire institution," then  the floodgates opened and as a result, this is what they wrote in the Preface:

What was true of Connecticut turned out to be overwhelmingly true of the entire North. Most of what you'll read here was gleaned from older, often out-of-print texts, and from period  newspapers, largely in Connecticut, New York, and Massachusetts.

We are Journalists, not scholars, and want to share what surprised, and even shocked, the three of us. We have all grown up, attended schools, and worked in Northern states, from Maine to Maryland. We thought we knew our home. We thought we knew our country.

We were wrong.8

Let me suggest some other topics that would enlighten the country historically. How about a book on the laws in most of the Northern and Western States that forbid black people from living there. Add Northern racism in general.

How about a book on the racist nature of Northern anti-slavery, which was mostly economic and political, featuring Northern greed and racism at its worst. Even Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote in his diary: "The abolitionist wishes to abolish slavery, but because he wishes to abolish the black man."9

How about a book on the racist nature of Lincoln's "extension of slavery into the West" argument, which was racist to the core. Neither slaves nor free blacks were allowed because the West was to be reserved for white people from all over the world, and Northern institutions. That's why Lincoln and the Republicans did not want slavery in the West, because they did not want blacks in the West.

How about more books on Lincoln's strong belief that black people should be sent back to Africa or into a place suitable for them. If Lincoln had had his way, there would be no blacks in America. African-American scholar, Lerone Bennett, Jr.'s Forced Into Glory, Abraham Lincoln's White Dream, is a good start.

How about more books on Republican Party hatred and greed, which President James Buchanan said was the main cause of the war.

How about more books examining the North's economic dependence on the South, on manufacturing for the South and shipping Southern cotton. Add to that the Northern abuse of the economic system with tariffs, monopolies, bounties, and subsidies from the federal treasury that benefited the North at the expense of the South. Examine the unfair taxation issue in detail. Taxes were supposed to be uniform but Southerners ended up paying most of them while most of the tax money was spent in the North.

How long do you think Northerners would put up with paying 3/4ths of the country's taxes while 3/4ths of the tax money was spent in the South?

The economic system was hugely unfair to the South, but I understand how Northern businessmen would be aggressive within the system in pursuit of profits. I don't fault them for that. I fault historians today for perpetuating the fraud that Northerners were more concerned about ending slavery than profits or free land in the West.

There is no other way to look at the Morrill Tariff than pure Northern greed. It passed the Northern Congress in a knee-jerk fashion because Northerners, without even thinking, figured it would fall on the South. Southerners would have to pay it. It would be like more free Southern money for the North.

But the South was out of the Union and no longer had to pay astronomical Northern tariffs. This one fell on the North alone and it made entry of goods into the North 37 to 50% higher than entry into the South. It threatened to instantly rerout U.S. trade away from the high-tariff North and into the low-tariff South where protective tariffs were unconstitutional. This would destroy the Northern shipping industry almost overnight. Northern ship captains began moving South where they were guaranteed cargoes because of the South's free trade philosophy and low tariff. This added greatly to panic in the North and the North's call for war.

When the Morrill Tariff and destruction of the North's shipping industry is added to the loss of its manufacturing market because of secession, it meant the Northern economy would not recover. The Republican Party of the North pledged against the South was in serious political trouble. War was, to Lincoln, his only way out. It would solve all his enormous problems overnight.

In many ways, historical interpretations are like politics. People in different places see things differently. Evidence and logic should rule but most of the time they don't. You pull for your home team no matter what.

That's fine, but good scholarship -- truth -- demands a vigorous discussion and analysis with all sides presented accurately. If we don't have that, then we don't have history. We have propaganda and filthy politics. That's why they call this modern fraud, "political" correctness, and it is the opposite of truth.

When you get down to it, the only thing that matters is the right of secession. If the South had the right to secede from the Union, then Southerners are the heroes of American history and Northerners the villains who started a bloody fratricidal war for commercial gain.

That is how it was largely viewed in Europe during and after the war, as Charles Dickens proves. British Lord Acton (John Dalberg Acton) wrote this to Gen. Robert E. Lee a year-and-a-half after Appomattox:

. . . I saw in State Rights the only availing check upon the absolutism of the sovereign will, and secession filled me with hope, not as the destruction but as the redemption of Democracy. . . . Therefore I deemed that you were fighting the battles of our liberty, our progress, and our civilization; and I mourn for the stake which was lost at Richmond more deeply than I rejoice over that which was saved at Waterloo.10

Of course the South had the right to secede from the Union. Anybody who believes in the Declaration of Independence has to believe in the right of secession. The Declaration of Independence is the greatest Ordinance of Secession ever written.

The fact that the Constitution did not prohibit secession, and three states -- Virginia, New York and Rhode Island -- reserved the right of secession before acceding to the U.S. Constitution, proves the right of secession. Virginia, New York and Rhode Island's reserved right of secession was acknowledged and approved by the other states, which means that they had it too because all the states are equal. Horace Greeley certainly believed in the right of secession.

The secession debate in the South in the months before they left the Union, the calling of conventions, the votes, the formation of a new nation on this earth, was, as I said, the greatest expression of democracy and self-government in the history of the world. The Colonists of 1776 were a great expression too but the South in 1860-61 was so much larger and covered a continent-size landmass and represented the exact same argument as 1776, so I would give the South one up.

Or perhaps a tie.

But a tie with the Founding Fathers puts the South in pretty damn good company.


This book proves, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that the North did not go to war to end slavery or free the slaves.

The impending annihilation of the Northern economy and the rise of the South are what drove the actions of most participants, North and South, in the spring of 1861 when the war started.

Abraham Lincoln started the war the North demanded, as the Providence Daily Post asserted, "because Abraham Lincoln loves a party better than he loves his country," and 750,000 men had to die, and over a million be maimed.

Southerners are patriotic Americans and our ancestors accepted the verdict of the battlefield, though it was not a just verdict. We fought well and were proud of ourselves for standing with George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry and all the others who believed in States' Rights.

There was an ad that ran often in the back of the original Confederate Veteran magazine of 1893 to 1932 and it said, "One Country, . . . One Flag."

We, in the South, are enormously proud of that country and flag, but the truth of our glorious Southern history is going to be told.


1 Besides, the U.S. Constitution strongly protected slavery. Slavery was not in danger in the Union, and 94% of Southerners didn't own slaves anyway. Also, the Confederate Constitution allowed free states to join. Slavery was not required. Southerners wanted free states to join for economic reasons and anticipated that many would. This worried Lincoln to death.

2 Clyde N. Wilson, Abstract, The Creed of the Old South by Basil L. Gildersleeve, Society of Independent Southern Historians, http://southernhistorians.org/the-societys-southern-life-recommended-reading/11-southern-literature/11-09-southern-literature-southern-view-of-southern-culture/11-09-04/, accessed 10/11/2014.

3 Basil L. Gildersleeve, The Creed of the Old South (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1915; reprint: BiblioLife, Penrose Library, University of Denver (no date given), 26-27.

4 Eugene D. Genovese, The Southern Tradition, The Achievements and Limitations of an American Conservatism (Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press, 1994), Preface, xi-xii. Dr. Genovese passed away September 26, 2012.

5 President Ronald Reagan, First Inaugural, January 20, 1981.

6 George Orwell, 1984 (New York: New American Library, 1950), 32. This was one of the slogans of Big Brother's English Socialist Party of Oceania, INGSOC.

7 Ibid, 128.

8 Anne Farrow, Joel Lang, Jenifer Frank of The Hartford Courant, Complicity, How the North Promoted, Prolonged, and Profited from Slavery (NY: Ballantine Books, 2005), Preface, xvii - xix.

9 Ralph Waldo Emerson, diary entry, in Clyde N. Wilson, "Our History and Their Myth: Comparing the Confederacy and the Union," Confederate Veteran, Vol. 72, No. 2, March/April, 2014, 19.

10 John Dalberg-Acton to Gen. Robert E. Lee, November 4, 1866, The Acton-Lee Correspondence, http://archive.lewrockwell.com/orig3/acton-lee.html, accessed November 10, 2014.

Political Correctness Is Ignorance and Leads to a Total Lack of Historical Understanding

In my book, The Elements of Academic Success, How to Graduate Magna Cum Laude from College (or how to just graduate, PERIOD!), Chapter VIII, Papers and Writing, is one of the best and has a lot of helpful information for students and adults. I include a warning, mid-chapter, on the horrible effect of political correctness on history.

Political Correctness Is Ignorance
and Leads to a Total Lack of Historical Understanding

by Gene Kizer, Jr.

The Elements of Academic Success was inspired by the legendary book, The Elements of Style, by Professor William Strunk, Jr. and E. B. White. It is formatted the same way. There are 351 numbered topic sections in 10 chapters that cover everything a student will face in college, or an adult will face in the workplace.

(This post comes from "Papers and Writing," Chapter VIII of The Elements of Academic Success, How to Graduate Magna Cum Laude from College (or how to just graduate, PERIOD!), available on this website.)

How to do great in high school and college! - The Elements of Academic Success - How to Graduate Magna Cum Laude from College (or how to just graduate PERIOD!) - by Gene Kizer Jr - 351 Bold Topic Sentences - 360 pages by Gene Kizer Jr

257. You can not possibly understand history by using today's standards to judge the past.

You HAVE to look at the past the way the people who lived in the past looked at it. That's how you understand the past.

258. Political correctness is ignorance and leads to a total lack of historical understanding.

You can't define the past by snippets of acceptable history here and there.

For example, the South gets beat up all the time for slavery but most slave traders were New Englanders who made huge fortunes in the process. An argument can be made that the entire infrastructure of the Old North was built on profits from slave traders such as Boston's Peter Faneuil of Faneuil Hall fame. That's why most Northerners had NO problem with slavery. Less than 5% were abolitionists, and ironically, many abolitionists didn't like slavery because they didn't like blacks and did not want to associate with them.

One such person was Rep. David Wilmot, Democrat from Pennsylvania. Wilmot sponsored the Wilmot Proviso to keep slavery out of the West, though his real goal was to keep blacks out of the West, and he admitted it. Abraham Lincoln also said, in the Lincoln-Douglas Debates, that he wanted the West reserved for white people from all over the earth. No blacks allowed.

While many say that slavery was the cause of the War Between the States, Abraham Lincoln said it was not. Before the war, Lincoln favored the first 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the Corwin Amendment, which would have left black people in slavery FOREVER, even beyond the reach of Congress, where slavery already existed. That amendment passed in the Northern Congress after Southerners seceded, and was ratified by some Northern States before the war began and made it moot.

There are breaths of fresh air here and there such as the 2005 book Complicity, How the North Promoted, Prolonged, and Profited from Slavery, by Anne Farrow, Joel Lang, and Jenifer Frank of The Hartford Courant.1

History is always more complex than the self-moralizing, politically correct want you to believe.

259. Southern history as it is taught today is a "cultural and political atrocity," and students are being cheated.

Esteemed historian, Eugene D. Genovese, who passed away September 26, 2012, was disgusted with the way Southern history is taught today. He writes:

To speak positively about any part of this Southern tradition is to invite charges of being a racist and an apologist for slavery and segregation. We are witnessing a cultural and political atrocity -- an increasingly successful campaign by the media and an academic elite to strip young white Southerners, and arguably black Southerners as well, of their heritage, and therefor, their identity. They are being taught to forget their forebears or to remember them with shame. (My bold emphasis).2

A perfect example is William Gilmore Simms. According to Edgar Allan Poe, Simms was the greatest American writer of the 19th century. Simms wrote 82 book-length works including 20 that are very important in American history and literature. He understood the publishing industry of that era better than anybody and wrote about it. He chronicled American westward expansion when Alabama was the edge of the West; and his Revolutionary War novels, set in and around Charleston, are exciting, vivid history as it happened. Simms was a nationally recognized expert on the Revolution. He wrote dramatic, historically accurate scenes of when the British conquered Charleston and marched in, and when they lost the war and marched out, and everything in between. Simms also knew the local Indians extremely well and much of what is known about them is in his work, including their languages. There is a bust of William Gilmore Simms in White Point Gardens at The Battery in Charleston, high up on a beautiful pedestal.

But Simms is not studied because he was a slaveholder.

260. Young students of history and literature should examine everything.

Don't assume the War Between the States was about slavery when the economy of the North faced collapse and anarchy as the Southern States seceded. The Northern economy was dependent on manufacturing and selling to its captive Southern market, and without the South, Northern factories stood idle.

The South, on the other hand, seceded and was ecstatic at finally having control of its own economy. Southerners had always wanted free trade and immediately wrote into their constitution a prohibition on protective tariffs.

The North, at the same time, passed the astronomical Morrill Tariff, which made goods entering the North 40% to 70% higher. This was aimed at Southerners, as all the antebellum tariffs had been, so European goods would be too costly for Southerners to afford and they would have to buy from the North at higher prices.

But with the South out of the Union, Southerners were no longer obligated to pay Northern tariffs, and suddenly, much-sought-after Europeans goods were far less expensive for Southerners than Northern goods.

261. Those historians with a vested interest in maintaining that slavery caused the war are not telling you the truth. They are cheating you out of understanding much of American history.

Economic factors were HUGE in 1861 just as they are today. The collapse of the Northern economy, alone, was enough for Abraham Lincoln to want war.

Just look at our own era. We have been quite willing to go to war to maintain the free flow of oil from the Middle East because a disruption of the oil supply means economic hardship, even collapse. Gas prices would soar and cause the price of everything else to jump off the scale. Business would grind to a halt. People would lose their jobs and not have money to feed their families. They would be angry and in the street. [NOTE: This book was published in 2014 when America was still dependent on Middle East oil.]

You can imagine what would happen if supplies of oil to the United States were cut off abruptly and completely! Fortunately, that would never happen because we would go to war to prevent it. We have.

But, "abruptly" and "completely" is exactly what happened to the North when the South seceded and the Northern Congress passed the Morrill Tariff. Instantly, it would cost the rest of the world 40% to 70% more to do business with the North, so NOBODY wanted to.

The rest of the world was beating a path to the South where protective tariffs were unconstitutional and where there was a huge market for goods, and that market was wealthy because it controlled King Cotton, which had been 60% of U.S. exports alone in 1861.

The North had shot itself in the leg with the Morrill Tariff -- actually, it had shot itself in the head. Northern greed and mismanagement made the economic destruction of the North inevitable and Northern leaders were in a panic.

Don't take my word for it. Read the words of almost all Northern newspaper editors after January, 1861, when it became apparent that the North needed the South, but the South did not need the North. Northern editors were not thinking about slavery. They were thinking about their own wealth and economy, and they were all petrified. War was preferable for them just as the disruption of oil made war preferable for us.

An excellent two-volume work makes Northern newspaper editors easy to study: Northern Editorials on Secession, edited by Dr. Howard Cecil Perkins, Volumes I and II, over 1,100 pages, a 1964 reprint published by Peter Smith, Gloucester, Massachusetts. Northern Editorials on Secession was originally published in 1942 by the American Historical Association.3

262. Another major issue was unfair taxation -- British taxes were a huge issue in 1776 but were minuscule compared to what the South was paying in 1861.

For Southerners, 1861 was 1776 all over.

Southerners were paying 3/4ths of the Federal Government's taxes, but 3/4ths of the tax money was being spent in the North. Robert Toombs famously called it a suction pump sucking wealth out of the South and depositing it in the North.

The level of "taxation without representation" that led to the Revolutionary War was minuscule compared to what the South was suffering prior to seceding.

The point is that politically correct historians who tell you that it is cut and dried that slavery caused the War Between the States are being dishonest. Many are lazy because they have not been required, by vigorous academic debate, to look into other issues - especially economics. Many don't understand economics, and why should they bother. It is too easy for them to play up slavery and call anyone who disagrees a racist.

However, we have fought two Gulf Wars in our own times to guarantee the free flow of oil because a disruption would cause an economic meltdown and untold problems. No government is willing to risk that because history has shown us that an economic collapse will get out of control and lead to a collapse of the government itself, and anarchy. War is preferable.

It's true today and it was true in 1861.

So, look deeply into the entire picture and assume nothing.

263. Be a scholar.

Read primary sources. Read the words of the people of the past, their speeches, newspapers, diaries, laws and documents. Pay attention to secondary sources from historians you trust, and give no credence to those you don't. That's fair and responsible. In your writing, debunk the scholars you disagree with, and tell why they are wrong.

264. Write what you want.

Don't let political correctness chill free speech and intimidate you into not writing on a topic that interests you. Talk to your professor. The best professors will encourage you.

And if one discourages you, find a way around him/her by approaching the topic from a different angle. If he/she brings up some historian who goes against your conclusions, then YOU bring up two who support them. History should always be a vigorous debate.

Do exhaustive research and a thoughtful analysis and document everything properly. Argue with power, vigor, confidence, clearly and persuasively. Do NOT use today's standards, or lack thereof, to judge the people of the past. Understand how the people of the past viewed their lives and times, and what their standards were, and why.

That's what real scholarship is about.


1 Anne Farrow, Joel Lang, and Jenifer Frank, Complicity, How the North Promoted, Prolonged, and Profited from Slavery (New York: Ballantine Books, 2005).

2 Eugene D. Genovese, The Southern Tradition, The Achievement and Limitations of an American Conservatism (Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press, 1994), xi-xii.

3 Howard Cecil Perkins, ed., Northern Editorials on Secession, Volumes I and II (1942; reprint, Gloucester, MA: Peter Smith, 1964) by permission of The American Historical Association and Appleton-Century-Crofts, Inc.

The Dramatic Events of April, 1861 and the Beginning of Lincoln’s War: An Annotated Chronology

Remember that there is now a hostile fleet of seven sail off your harbor, directed by bitter and malignant foes. They have come here proudly scorning and contemning your position. They may attempt to enter, but I say to them this night in defiance, let them come, let them come. If they do, although we may not wrap them in flames, as we have Sumter, we will wrap them in the waves and sink them too deep ever to be reached by pity or mercy.

South Carolina Governor Francis Pickens,
Charleston, April 13, 1861.

The Dramatic Events of April, 1861
and the Beginning
of Lincoln's War:
An Annotated Chronology

by Gene Kizer, Jr.

The 750,000 deaths, and million men maimed for life in the War Between the States, exceed casualties in all other American wars combined with room to spare. The "overall mortality rate for the South exceeded that of any country in World War I and that of all but the region between the Rhine and the Volga in World War II" writes James M. McPherson in his book, Crossroads of Freedom: Antietam. Drew Gilpin Faust in This Republic of Suffering, Death and the American Civil War, says that the rate of death in the War Between the States "in comparison with the size of the American population, was six times that of World War II. A similar rate, about 2 percent, in the United States today would mean six million fatalities."

(This post comes from "An Annotated Chronology of the Secession Debate in the South," which runs from February 24, 1860 to June 8, 1861 in Part II of my book, Slavery Was Not the Cause of the War Between the States, The Irrefutable Argument., available on this website. Please see Page 141 of Slavery Was Not the Cause... for bibliographical information on the many sources used in this chronology.)

Slavery Was Not the Cause of the War Between the States, The Irrefutable Argument. by Gene Kizer, Jr. - front cover - slavery not the cause of the Civil War

April 1, 1861

Lincoln signs orders for U.S.S. Powhatan to go to sea with sealed orders. There was confusion and the Powhatan ended up going to Fort Pickens instead of Fort Sumter.

Seward sends Lincoln a list of his opinions/positions and scolding Lincoln in the process. Seward states he would favor starting a foreign war to reunite the country. Lincoln writes back that the decision was his to make and not Seward's.

April 3, 1861

Lincoln's cabinet meets again over Fort Sumter. Allan B. Magruder sent to Richmond to talk to Virginia unionists, on behalf of Lincoln.

April 4, 1861

Virginia Secession Convention rejects secession 89 to 45, for the time being.

Lincoln meets secretly with Virginia unionist John B. Baldwin. It was reported he had hoped to exchange a state for a fort, meaning he hoped to keep Virginia in the Union in exchange for evacuating Fort Sumter.

Lincoln informs Fox the resupply/reinforcement mission would go. Lincoln drafts letter to Anderson letting him know and saying he hoped Anderson could make it until April 11 or 12 when the expedition, if resisted, "will endeavor also to reinforce you."

April 5, 1861

U.S. Navy Secretary Gideon Welles orders U.S.S. Powhatan, Pawnee, Pocahontas, and Revenue Cutter Harriet Lane to Charleston to resupply/reinforce Fort Sumter.

April 6, 1861

Lincoln sends Robert S. Chew, a State Department clerk, and Capt. Theodore Talbot, to Charleston to inform Gov. Pickens that Fort Sumter would be resupplied and if no resistance was given by the Confederates, then no troops would be thrown in. Otherwise, the fort would be reinforced as well as resupplied.

Lincoln learns that Fort Pickens had not been reinforced. A messenger was sent the next day to Fort Pickens ordering the fort's immediate reinforcement.

Lincoln meets with at least seven and perhaps nine Republican governors including the governors of Indiana, Ohio, Maine, Pennsylvania, Illinois and Michigan, as well as with Virginia unionists.

April 7, 1861

Gen. Beauregard, suspecting that the Southerners were being misled by Seward's continued assertions that Fort Sumter would be evacuated, ends Anderson's cordial intercourse between the fort and city of Charleston, as the situation intensifies.

Lincoln meets with John Minor Botts, a Virginia unionist.

April 8, 1861

Virginia secession convention votes "to send a three-man commission to ask President Lincoln for a clear expression of his policy regarding the forts."

Lincoln representative Chew arrives in Charleston and reads Lincoln's message to Gov. Pickens and Gen. Beauregard.

Seward continues to mislead Confederate commissioners in Washington, so much so that they wired Gov. Pickens that they believed Fort Sumter would be evacuated.

Revenue Cutter Harriet Lane departs from New York loaded with supplies amidst much publicity.

April 9, 1861

Gustavus V. Fox departs from New York aboard the steamer Baltic, headed for Fort Sumter.

April 10, 1861

South Carolina secession convention approves Jefferson Davis as president and Alexander H. Stephens as vice-president of the Confederate States of America, then adjourns, pending recall later by President Jamison.

Confederate Secretary of War Walker wired Beauregard in Charleston and told him if he was certain Fort Sumter was to be resupplied, then he was to demand its surrender and if it refused, "reduce it." Since all of Lincoln's representatives had lied to the Confederates for weeks about evacuating the fort, Southerners were unsure if it was finally a true statement that the fort was only to be resupplied.

The U.S.S. Pawnee departed Hampton Roads for Fort Sumter.

Lincoln meets with representative of the Chiriqui Improvement Company to discuss colonization of Negroes in what is today Panama, near Costa Rica.

Confederate floating battery is moved to a position near Sullivan's Island. Confederate troop activity around Charleston Harbor intensifies. All forts are manned.

April 11, 1861

Three Confederate representatives row over to Fort Sumter under a white flag of truce and demand its surrender. They are Col. James Chesnut, a former United States senator and husband of diarist Mary Boykin Chesnut; Capt. Stephen D. Lee, later an effective and beloved Confederate general; and Lt. Col. A. R. Chisolm, representing Gov. Pickens. Anderson refused to surrender but commented that he would be starved out in a few days if not battered to pieces. The Confederates, wanting to avoid war to the very last, wired Secretary of War Walker and told him of Anderson's comment. Walker telegraphed back, "Do not desire needlessly to bombard Fort Sumter. If Anderson will state the time at which, as indicated by him, he will evacuate, and agree that in the mean time he will not use his guns against us unless ours should be employed against Fort Sumter, you are authorized thus to avoid the effusion of blood. . . .".

The three Confederate commissioners left Washington after realizing they had been lied to and misled by Seward.

April 12, 1861

Chesnut, Lee and Chisholm row back to Major Anderson arriving at Fort Sumter at 12:45 a.m. with Walker's message. At 3:15 a.m. they got Anderson's reply stating he would evacuate on the 15th but only if he did not receive supplies or additional instructions from his government. This response was unsatisfactory, with a hostile flotilla rapidly approaching Charleston. Chesnut, Lee and Chisholm wrote a reply to Anderson stating that they had the honor of informing him that Gen. Beauregard would commence firing in one hour, then they rowed over to Fort Johnson, arriving at 4:00 a.m. At 4:30 a.m., from Fort Johnson on James Island, a signal shot was fired by troops under Capt. George S. James alerting the other batteries to begin firing according to orders. Some of Fort Sumter's guns returned fire after daybreak but the small number of men under Anderson's command could do little more. The Confederate bombardment continued heavy all day. There were no deaths on either side.

In Pensacola, Union troops were landed at Fort Pickens.

April 13, 1861

Fort Sumter surrenders at 2:30 p.m. after four thousand shells had been fired in thirty-four hours of bombardment. The federal fleet, now consisting of the U.S.S. Baltic, U.S.S. Pawnee, and Harriet Lane, stayed just out of danger and did not attempt to help Anderson.

April 14, 1861

Anderson formally surrenders and salutes his colors with drums beating and a fifty gun salute. An accidental explosion kills a man, the first to die in the war.

Lincoln's Cabinet approves of "his call for 75,000 militia" and a special July 4 session of Congress.

Virginia's three-man commission which had sought from Lincoln a statement of clear policy regarding the forts, returns and states that Lincoln was "firm in his resolve to hold the forts."

April 15, 1861

Lincoln issues public proclamation calling for seventy-five thousand volunteers to invade the South, and calling a special secession of Congress to meet July 4th.

April 17, 1861

Virginia secedes with its Ordinance to repeal ratification of the U. S. Constitution and resume all rights and powers granted under said Constitution. Vote was 88 - 55. Virginia's secession had absolutely nothing, whatsoever, to do with slavery. Virginia and the states that followed her out of the Union - North Carolina, Tennessee and Arkansas - seceded because they were outraged that the Federal Government, that was supposed to be the agent of the states, would dare invade a sovereign state and kill its citizens to force them back into a government they had rejected. There was nothing in the Constitution in 1861 that gave Lincoln the authority or obligation to invade an American state.

April 19, 1861

Maryland Gov. Hicks calls convention after Baltimore mob fights with Massachusetts troops.

Lincoln calls for blockade of first seven Confederates States. It was later extended to include Virginia and North Carolina.

The blockade was Lincoln's purpose all along so he could chill military and trade alliances between the South and Europe as quickly as possible. The South with European aid would be unbeatable just as French aid in the American Revolution had turned the tide in favor of the Colonists.

Every day that went by, the South had been getting stronger, and the North, on the verge of economic collapse, weaker, so Lincoln had no reason whatsoever to wait. He needed his war as quickly as he could get it started. There had been a loud clamor for war among Republicans and the business community in the North for a while as hundreds of thousands of Northerners became unemployed and businesses shut down amidst the impending economic disaster. The North was on the verge of panic, and governments know that an economic panic will progress geometrically into anarchy. War is always preferable.

The astronomical Morrill Tariff, which had recently taken effect, was the second of a one-two punch because now, in addition to losing its Southern manufacturing market, the North was about to lose its shipping industry in one fell swoop. The Morrill Tariff made entry of goods into the North 37 to 50% higher than entry into the South. This threatened to redirect trade away from the high-tariff North and into the South where protective tariffs were unconstitutional. The world was beating a path to the South while goods rotted on New York docks. Even Northern ship captains were leaving the North for Southern ports.

The Morrill Tariff was the result of extreme Northern greed as well as ignorance of basic economics. They passed it in knee-jerk fashion thinking the South would have to pay it, as in the past, but the South was out of the Union and no longer had to pay high Northern tariffs. This one fell on them alone, and it contributed mightily to the feeling in the North that war was their only way out. As Tennessee Representative Thomas A. R. Nelson, who had submitted the Minority Report of the House Committee of Thirty-three, said in his speech entitled "Speech of Hon. Thomas A. R. Nelson, of Tennessee, On the Disturbed condition of the Country"

Commercial disaster and distress pervade the land. Hundreds and thousands of honest laboring men have been thrown out of employment; gloom and darkness hang over the people; the tocsin of war has been sounded; the clangor of arms has been heard.1 (Bold emphasis added.)

Charles W. Ramsdell proves in his famous treatise, Lincoln and Fort Sumter, that Lincoln knew that attempting to reinforce the fort would start the war. He had it first hand from his friend, Ward H. Lamon, whom he had sent to Charleston a few days earlier to make sure his reinforcement attempt would start the war. Lamon had spoken face-to-face with Confederate leaders and they told him point blank that a reinforcement attempt meant war.

The Fort Sumter crisis was the tensest hour in American history. There is no way Lincoln's reinforcement mission would not start the war and Lincoln knew it.

Northern newspapers knew it too. The Providence, Rhode Island Daily Post, in an editorial April 13, 1861 entitled "WHY?", wrote:

Mr. Lincoln saw an opportunity to inaugurate civil war without appearing in the character of an aggressor.

Abraham Lincoln got the war started and announced his blockade before the smoke had cleared from the bombardment of Fort Sumter.

Saving the country and working on ending slavery were not even on Lincoln's radar. He was the first sectional president in American history, president of the North, and he was out to establish the North, once and for all, as the dominant economic and political power in the American nation along with the Northern majority that would be enriched. He also had to save the rapidly splintering Republican Party that had so successfully used hatred and terrorism to get into power.

Even Lincoln's commander, Major Robert Anderson, inside Fort Sumter, emphatically blamed Lincoln for starting the war. Anderson was at ground zero on April 12, 1861 and this is what he wrote to Lincoln and Secretary of War Simon Cameron when informed that Fort Sumter would be resupplied and possibly reinforced:

. . . a movement made now when the South has been erroneously informed that none such will be attempted, would produce most disastrous results throughout our country. . . . We shall strive to do our duty, though I frankly say that my heart is not in the war which I see is to be thus commenced. . . . (Bold emphasis added.)

Anderson's assessment from ground zero is irrefutable.


1 Thomas A. R. Nelson, "Speech of Hon. Thomas A. R. Nelson, of Tennessee, On the Disturbed condition of the Country", Washington: H. Polkinhorn, 1861, 1-12.

Lincoln and Fort Sumter, by Charles W. Ramsdell – Part 2, Conclusion

In March to early April, 1861, as the Northern economy crumbled and political disgust with the Republican Party surged, Abraham Lincoln worked hard to start a war he thought would solve his problems overnight. On April 12, 1861, he succeeded.

Lincoln and Fort Sumter

by Charles W. Ramsdell

Part 2, Conclusion

We are to have civil war, if at all, because Abraham Lincoln loves a party better than he loves his country. . . . Mr. Lincoln saw an opportunity to inaugurate civil war without appearing in the character of an aggressor.

Providence (R.I.) Daily Post
The day after the commencement of
the bombardment of Fort Sumter,
April 13, 1861

(Lincoln and Fort Sumter is Part III of Slavery Was Not the Cause of the War Between the States, The Irrefutable Argument., and is included in Charles W. Ramsdell, Dean of Southern Historians, Volume One: His Best Work, both available on this website)

Slavery Was Not the Cause of the War Between the States, The Irrefutable Argument. by Gene Kizer, Jr. - front cover - slavery not the cause of the Civil War
Charles W Ramsdell - Dean of Southern Historians - "Lincoln and Fort Sumter" "The Natural Limits of Slavery Expansion" - Compiled by Gene Kizer Jr


Charles W. Ramsdell, "Lincoln and Fort Sumter," The Journal of Southern History, Vol. 3, Issue 3 (August, 1937), 259 - 288. Original copyright 1937, Southern Historical Association. This article, text and notes, comes verbatim from the original article. In Part 1, one footnote, vii, and a comment to footnote xii, were added by Gene Kizer, Jr. Both are so noted.

[Continued from Part 1]

On the same day Seward, intent upon the reinforcement of Fort Pickens, brought Captain M. C. Meigs of the Engineers to Lincoln to discuss an expedition to that place. On March 31 Meigs and Colonel Erasmus D. Keyes, of General Scott's staff, were directed to draw up a plan for the relief of Fort Pickens. They took it to Lincoln who had them take it to Scott to be put into final form and executed. On the next day, April 1, Seward, Meigs, and Lieutenant D. D. Porter of the navy went to the Executive Mansion and after consultation with Lincoln finished the plans for the Pickens expedition. It was to be conducted with such absolute secrecy, lest information leak out to the Confederates, that even the secretaries of War and the Navy were to know nothing of it. The orders were signed by the President himself. It was only because the same ship, the Powhatan, was selected for both expeditions that the Secretary of the Navy learned of the expedition to the Gulf of Mexico.i Energetic preparations began in New York and Brooklyn to collect vessels, men, arms, and provisions for the two expeditions.

In the first days of April came the disquieting returns from the elections in Ohio, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. April 4 proved to be an important day. Early that morning Lincoln seems to have had a mysterious conference with a group of Republican governors, said to be seven or nine in number. Among them were Andrew G. Curtin of Pennsylvania, William Dennison of Ohio, Richard Yates of Illinois, Oliver P. Morton of Indiana, Israel Washburn of Maine, and Austin Blair of Michigan.ii How did all these governors happen to be in Washington at the same time? The newspapers, in so far as they noticed the presence of these gentlemen, assumed that they were looking after patronage; but rumors were soon current that they had gone to demand of the President that he send relief to the garrison at Fort Sumter. This is not improbable since all these men belonged to the aggressive group of Republicans who had been alarmed at the rumors of evacuation and they could hardly have known what Lincoln had already planned. Several questions arise here. If Lincoln was still hesitating, did they bring pressure upon him and force him to a decision? Or did Lincoln allow them to think they  were helping him to decide? Or, if the President had not actually summoned them to a conference, did he seize the opportunity to make sure of their powerful support in case the Confederates should show fight? Were mutual pledges of action and support exchanged that morning?

Later that same morning occurred the much-discussed Lincoln-Baldwin interview. On April 2, apparently at the suggestion of Seward, Lincoln had sent Allan B. Magruder, a Virginia Unionist living in Washington, to Richmond to ask G. W. Summers, the leader of the Unionists in the State Convention, to come to see him at once or to send some other representative from that group. Magruder reached Richmond the next day. As Summers could not leave, John B. Baldwin, another leader of the group, was selected; and Baldwin and Magruder were in Washington early on the morning of April 4. They went to Seward who conducted Baldwin to Lincoln at eleven o'clock. Lincoln took Baldwin alone into a bedroom, locked the door and exclaimed "You have come too late!" In the conversation which followed, according to Baldwin's statement, the President asked why the Unionists in the Virginia Convention did not adjourn sine die, as the continuance of the session was a standing menace to him. Baldwin replied that if they should so adjourn without having accomplished anything for the security of the state, another convention would certainly be called and it would be more strongly secessionist. He then urged the President to assure peace to the country and strengthen the border-state Unionists by evacuating both Sumter and Pickens and calling upon the whole people to settle their differences in a national convention. Lincoln replied that his supporters would not permit him to withdraw the garrisons. Baldwin then warned him that if a fight started at Fort Sumter, no matter who started it, war would follow and Virginia would go out of the Union in forty-eight hours. Lincoln became greatly excited and exclaimed, "Why was I not told this a week ago? You have come too late!" This is Baldwin's account;iii but it is substantiated by several other Virginia Unionists, at least to the extent that it was what Baldwin told them when he returned to Richmond the next day.

But John Minor Botts, a violent Virginia Unionist who by invitation talked with Lincoln on the night of April 7, insisted that Lincoln then told him that he had offered to Baldwin to withdraw Anderson's force from Sumter if the Virginia Convention would adjourn sine die, that he would gladly swap a fort for a state; but that Baldwin refused the offer. When Botts offered to take the proposition to Richmond at once Lincoln replied, "Oh, it is too late; the fleet has sailed and I have no means of communicating with it."iv

Baldwin always denied that Lincoln had made any such proposal as Botts reported. Did Baldwin lie? He seems to have had a much better reputation for accuracy than Botts and his account of his journey to Washington is accurate as far as it can be checked, whereas Botts' story is full of minor inaccuracies.v Besides, Baldwin was a sincere Unionist and voted against secession to the last. Why should he have refused Lincoln's offer and failed to report it to his fellow Unionists in Richmond? Did Botts lie about what Lincoln told him? His extreme prejudices and frequently unwarranted statements on other matters would easily bring this conclusion into the range of possibility, were it not for the fact that Lincoln seems to have told much the same story to others. If Lincoln did, then the question whether the President offered to evacuate Sumter at this stage of his plan becomes an issue of veracity between Lincoln and Baldwin, which obviously places the Virginian at a great disadvantage. But let us consider other factors in the situation. Lincoln had just been holding conferences with the militant Republican governors and evidently had come to some agreement with them, else why should he greet his visitor with the exclamation, repeated later in the conversation, "You have come too late"? Certainly he could not have referred to the final orders to Fox, for those orders were given later that day. And why did he refuse on the night of April 7, if the Botts story is correct, to permit Botts to take his proposition to Richmond, alleging that the fleet had sailed, when in fact none of the vessels left New York until the next night? Is there not some basis for suspecting that Lincoln had not actually made the offer to Baldwin to evacuate Sumter because he was already bound by some sort of agreement with the Republican governors to send the expedition forward; and that later, desiring above all things to leave the impression that he had done everything in his power to avoid a collision, he dropped hints about an offer which had been flatly refused?

During the afternoon of April 4 Lincoln saw Captain Fox, who was to have charge of the Sumter expedition, and told him of his final determination to send relief to Anderson and that notification of the relief expedition would be sent to the Governor of South Carolina before Fox could possibly arrive off Charleston Harbor.vi Fox hurried back to New York to push his preparations. At some time that same day Lincoln drafted a letter to Major Anderson, which was copied and signed by the Secretary of War, informing him that relief would be sent him.vii

On the afternoon of April 6 Secretary Welles received a letter from Captain Henry A. Adams of the navy, stationed off Fort Pickens, explaining that he had not landed the artillery company at the fort in accordance with General Scott's order of March 12 because of controlling orders  from the former Secretary of the Navy to respect the truce of February 29, but stating that he was now ready to obey if ordered to land the men. Welles consulted the President and then hurried off Lieutenant John L. Worden with verbal orders to Captain Adams to land the men at once.viii This incident gave occasion for a strange statement of Lincoln which deserves notice. In his special message to Congress of July 4, he stated that the expedition for the relief of Sumter was first prepared "to be ultimately used or not according to circumstances," and intimated that, if Pickens had been relieved in March, Sumter would have been evacuated, and that it had not been decided to use the expedition until word came that Fort Pickens had not been reinforced in accordance with the order of March 12.ix The strange thing about this statement is that word was not received from Adams until April 6, while positive orders had been given two days before to Captain Fox to go ahead with his expedition and at the same time Anderson had been notified to expect it. Had Lincoln become confused about the order of these events? It does not seem probable. Or was he, for effect upon public opinion, trying to strengthen the belief that his hand had been forced, that his pacific intentions had been defeated by circumstances?

On April 1 Lincoln had passed the promise through Seward and Justice John A. Campbell to the Confederate Commissioners in Washington that he would notify Governor Pickens if any relief expedition should be sent to Fort Sumter.x When they learned of it, several members of his cabinet objected to such notification, but Lincoln insisted; he had his own reasons for so doing. The formal notice which he drafted with his own hand, dated April 6, is interesting not only for its careful phrasing but for the evident importance which he attached to it. It was embodied in a letter of instruction to R. S. Chew, an official of the state department who was to be accompanied by Captain Theodore Talbot, directing him to proceed to Charleston where, if he found that Fort Sumter had not been evacuated or attacked and that the flag was still over it, he was to seek an interview with Governor Pickens, read to him the statement and give him a copy of it. If he found the fort evacuated or attacked he was to seek no interview but was to return forthwith. The message to Governor Pickens was in these words:

I am directed by the President of the United States to notify you to expect an attempt will be made to supply Fort Sumter with provisions only; and that, if such an attempt be not resisted, no effort to throw in men, arms, or ammunition will be made without further notice, or in case of an attack upon the fort.xi

Was the purpose of this message merely to fulfill a promise? Is there no special significance in the fact that Lincoln entrusted the form of it to no one else, but carefully drafted it himself? It is unnecessary to call attention again to the fact that Lincoln was a rare master of the written word, that he had the skill of an artist in so phrasing a sentence that it conveyed precisely the meaning he wished it to convey. He could do more than that: he could make the same sentence say one thing to one person and something entirely different to another and in each case carry the meaning he intended. It is obvious that the message to be read to Governor Pickens was intended less for that official than for General Beauregard and the Confederate government at Montgomery. But it was intended also for the people of the North and of the border states. To the suspicious and apprehensive Confederates it did not merely give information that provisions would be sent to Anderson's garrison -- which should be enough to bring about an attempt to take the fort -- but it carried a threat that force would be used if the provisions were not allowed to be brought in. It was a direct challenge! How were the Southerners expected to react to this challenge? To Northern readers the same words meant only that the government was taking food to hungry men to whom it was under special obligation. Northern men would see no threat; they would understand only that their government did not propose to use force if it could be avoided. Is it possible that a man of Lincoln's known perspicacity could be blind to the different interpretations which would be placed upon his subtle words in the North and in the South?

The message was not only skillfully phrased, it was most carefully timed. It was read to Governor Pickens in the presence of General Beauregard on the evening of April 8. News of the preparation of some large expedition had been in the newspapers for a week; but as the destination had not been officially divulged, newspaper reporters and correspondents had guessed at many places, chiefly the coast of Texas and revolutionary Santo Domingo. It was not until April 8 that the guessing veered toward Charleston, and not until the next day was any positive information given in the press of the notice to Governor Pickens.xii The Confederate officials had regarded these preparations at New York with suspicion while conflicting reports came to them from Washington concerning Lincoln's designs about Sumter. The first of Captain Fox's vessels were leaving New York Harbor at the very hour that Chew read the notification to Governor Pickens. The Confederates were given ample time, therefore, to act before the fleet could arrive off Charleston. They did not know that a portion of the vessels which had left New York were really destined not for Charleston but for Fort Pickens at Pensacola. The utmost secrecy was maintained about the Pensacola expedition, thus permitting the Confederates to believe that the whole force was to be concentrated at Charleston.

The tables were now completely turned on the Southerners. Lincoln was well out of his dilemma while they, who had heretofore had the tactical advantage of being able to wait until Anderson must evacuate, were suddenly faced with a choice of two evils. They must either take the fort before relief could arrive, thus taking the apparent offensive which they had hoped to avoid, or they must stand by quietly and see the fort provisioned. But to allow the provisioning meant not only an indefinite postponement to their possession of the fort which had become as much a symbol to them as it was to Lincoln; to permit it in the face of the threat of force, after all their preparations, would be to make a ridiculous and disgraceful retreat.xiii Nor could they be sure that, if they yielded now in the matter of "Provisions only," they would not soon be served with the "further notice" as a prelude to throwing in "Men, arms, and ammunition." This, then, was the dilemma which they faced as the result of Lincoln's astute strategy.

Events now hurried to the inevitable climax. As soon as President Lincoln's communication was received General Beauregard telegraphed the news to the Confederate secretary of war, L. P. Walker. Walker at once ordered that the Sumter garrison be isolated by stopping its mails and the purchase of provisions in Charleston. On this same day the Confederate commissioners at Washington had received a copy of a memorandum filed in the state department by Seward, dated March 15, in which the Secretary declined to hold any official intercourse with them. They telegraphed the news to their government and at once, feeling that they had been deceived and knowing that their mission had failed, prepared to leave Washington. Jefferson Davis was thus, on April 8, apprised of two movements by the Federal government which, taken together or singly, looked ominous. On the following day Beauregard seized the mails as they came from Fort Sumter and discovered a letter from Anderson to the war department which disclosed that he had been informed of the coming of Fox's expedition and indicated that the fleet would attempt to force its way into the harbor. This information also was at once communicated to the Montgomery government. On the tenth came the news that the fleet had sailed from New York. Walker then directed Beauregard, if he thought there was no doubt of the authorized character of the notification from Washington (meaning Lincoln's), to demand the evacuation of Fort Sumter and, if it should be refused, "to reduce" the fort. The Davis administration had waited two full days after receiving word of Lincoln's notification before deciding what to do. It is said that Robert Toombs, secretary of state, objected vigorously to attacking the fort. "It is unnecessary; it puts us in the wrong; it is fatal!"xiv If Toombs protested, he was overruled because Davis and the rest believed that Lincoln had already taken the aggressive and they regarded their problem now as a military one. To them it was the simple question whether they should permit the hostile fleet to arrive before they attacked the fort or whether they should take Sumter before they had to fight both fort and fleet.

At two o'clock on the eleventh Beauregard made the demand upon Anderson, who rejected it but added verbally to the officer sent to him that if not battered to pieces, he would be starved out in a few days. When Beauregard reported this remark to Walker, that official informed him that the government did "Not desire needlessly to bombard Fort Sumter" and that if Major Anderson would state when he would evacuate, Beauregard should "avoid the effusion of blood." Evidently the Montgomery officials thought there was still a chance to get the fort peaceably before the fleet could arrive. Had not Lincoln so carefully timed his message with the movement of Fox there might have been no attack. But late in the afternoon of the same day Beauregard received information from a scout boat that the Harriet Lane, one of Fox's ships, had been sighted a few miles out of the harbor. It was expected that all the fleet would be at hand by next day. Nevertheless, Beauregard about midnight sent a second message to Anderson, in accordance with Walker's instructions, saying that if he would state the time at which he would evacuate and would agree not to use "your guns against us unless ours should be employed against Fort Sumter, we will abstain from opening fire upon you." To this Anderson replied that he would evacuate by noon on the fifteenth and would in the meantime not open fire upon Beauregard's forces unless compelled to do so by some hostile act "against the fort or the flag it bears, should I not receive prior to that time controlling instructions from my government or additional supplies." This answer was conditional and unsatisfactory for it was clear that, with Fox's fleet arriving, Anderson would not evacuate. Thereupon the two aids who had carried Beauregard's message, in accordance with their instructions from that office, formally notified Anderson -- it was now 3:20 in the morning of the twelfth -- that fire would be opened upon him in one hour's time.

What followed we all know. The bombardment which began at 4:30 on the morning of April 12 ended in the surrender of Anderson and his garrison during the afternoon of the following day. The three vesselsxv of the fleet which lay outside were unable to get into the harbor because of the high seas and the failure of the rest of the fleet -- the tugboats and the Powhatan -- to arrive. Although there were no casualties during the bombardment, the mere news that the attack on the fort had begun swept the entire North into a roaring flame of anger. The "rebels" had fired the first shot; they had chosen to begin war. If there had been any doubt earlier whether the mass of the Northern people would support the administration in suppressing the secessionists, there was none now. Lincoln's strategy had been completely successful. He seized at once the psychological moment for calling out the militia and committing the North to support of the war. This action cost him four of the border slaves states, but he had probably already discounted that loss.

Perhaps the facts thus far enumerated, standing alone, could hardly be conclusive evidence that Lincoln, having decided that there was no other way than war for the salvation of his administration, his party, and the Union, maneuvered the Confederates into firing the first shot in order that they, rather than he, should take the blame of beginning bloodshed. Though subject to that interpretation, they are also subject to the one which he built up so carefully. It there other evidence? No one, surely, would expect to find in any written word of his a confession of the stratagem; for to acknowledge it openly would have been to destroy the very effect he had been at so much pains to produce. There are, it is true, two statements by him to Captain Fox which are at least suggestive. Fox relates that in their conference of April 4 the President told him that he had decided to let the expedition go and that a messenger would be sent to the authorities at Charleston before Fox could possibly get there; and when the Captain reminded the President of the short time in which he must organize the expedition and reach the destined point, Lincoln replied, "You will best fulfill your duty to your country by making the attempt." Then, again, in the letter which Lincoln wrote the chagrined Captain on May 1 to console him for the failure of the fleet to enter Charleston Harbor, he said: "You and I both anticipated that the cause of the country would be advanced by making the attempt to provision Fort Sumter, even if it should fail; and it is no small consolation now to feel that our anticipation is justified by the result."xvi Was this statement merely intended to soothe a disappointed commander, or did it contain a hint that the real objective of the expedition was not at all the relief of Sumter?

Lincoln's two secretaries, John G. Nicolay and John Hay, in their long but not impartial account of the Sumter affair come so close to divulging the essence of the stratagem that one cannot but suspect that they knew of it. In one place they say, with reference to Lincoln's solution of this problem of Sumter, "Abstractly it was enough that the Government was in the right. But to make the issue sure, he determined that in addition the rebellion should be put in the wrong." And again, "President Lincoln in deciding the Sumter question had adopted a simple but effective policy. To use his own words, he determined to 'send bread to Anderson'; if the rebels fired on that, they would not be able to convince the world that he had begun the civil war." And still later, "When he finally gave the order that the fleet should sail he was master of the situation . . . master if the rebels hesitated or repented, because they would thereby forfeit their prestige with the South; master if they persisted, for he would then command a united North."xvii

Perhaps not much weight should be given to the fact that before the expedition reached Charleston his political opponents in the North expressed suspicion of a design to force civil war upon the country in order to save the Republican party from the disaster threatened in the recent elections and that after the fighting began they roundly accused him of having deliberately provoked it by his demonstration against Charleston. And perhaps there is no significance in the further fact that the more aggressive members of his own party had demanded action to save the party and that the administration newspapers began to assert as soon as the fleet sailed that, if war came, the rebels would be the aggressors.xviii

There is evidence much more to the point than any of these things. Stephen A. Douglas, senator from Illinois, died on June 3, 1861. On June 12 the Republican governor of that state, Richard Yates, appointed to the vacancy Orville H. Browning, a prominent lawyer, a former Whig, then an ardent Republican, and for more than twenty years a personal friend of Abraham Lincoln. Browning was one of the group who from the first had favored vigorous measures and had opposed compromise. He was to become the spokesman of the administration in the Senate. On July 2, 1861, Browning arrived in Washington to take his seat in the Senate for the special session which had been called to meet on July 4. On the evening of the third he called at the White House to see his old acquaintance. Now Browning for many years had kept a diary, a fact that very probably was unknown to Lincoln since diarists usually conceal this pleasant and useful vice. In the entry for July 3 Browning relates the conversation he had with the President that evening, for after reading the new Senator his special message to Congress, Lincoln laid aside the document and talked. The rest of the entry best be given in Browning's own words:

He told me that the very first thing placed in his hands after his inauguration was a letter from Majr Anderson announcing the impossibility of defending or relieving Sumter. That he called the cabinet together and consulted Genl Scott -- that Scott concurred with Anderson, and the cabinet, with the exception of P M Genl Blair were for evacuating the Fort, and all the troubles and anxieties of his life had not equaled those which intervened between this time and the fall of Sumter. He himself conceived the idea, and proposed sending supplies, without an attempt to reinforce giving notice of the fact to Gov Pickens of S.C. The plan succeeded. They attacked Sumter -- it fell, and thus did more service than it otherwise could.xix

This statement, condensed from the words of Lincoln himself by a close friend who wrote them down when he returned that night to his room at "Mrs. Carter's on Capitol Hill," needs no elaboration. It completes the evidence.

It is not difficult to understand how the usually secretive Lincoln, so long surrounded by strangers and criticized by many whom he had expected to be helpful, talking that night for the first time in many months to an old, loyal, and discreet friend, though a friend who had often been somewhat patronizing, for once forgot to be reticent. It must have been an emotional relief to him, with his pride over his consummate strategy bottled up within him for so long, to be able to impress his friend Browning with his success in meeting a perplexing and dangerous situation. He did not suspect that Browning would set it down in a diary.

There is little more to be said. Some of us will be content to find new reason for admiration of Abraham Lincoln in reflecting on this bit of masterful strategy at the very beginning of his long struggle for the preservation of the Union. Some, perhaps, will be reminded of the famous incident of the Ems telegram of which the cynical Bismarck boasted in his memoirs. And some will wonder whether the sense of responsibility for the actual beginning of a frightful war, far more terrible than he could possibly have foreseen in that early April of 1861, may have deepened the melancholy and the charity toward his Southern foemen which that strange man in the White House was to reveal so often before that final tragic April of 1865.


i John T. Morse (ed.), The Diary of Gideon Welles, 3 vols. (Boston and New York, 1911), I, 23-25. Hereafter cited as Welles, Diary. David D. Porter, in Incidents and Anecdotes of the Civil War (New York, 1885), 13-14, tells a lively and rather amusing story of the conference with Lincoln on April 1.

ii New York World, April 5, 1861; New York Herald, April 5, 7, 1861; Philadelphia Enquirer, April 6, 1861; James Ford Rhodes, History of the United States Since the Compromise of 1850, 8 vols. (New York, 1910 edition) III, 346, n. 3. John B. Baldwin, who had an interview with Lincoln later that morning, testified on February 10, 1866, "At the time I was here I saw, and was introduced to, in the President's room, a number of governors of states. It was at the time the nine governors had the talk here with the President." Report of the Joint Committee on Reconstruction (39 Cong., 1 Sess., House Report No. 30), 105. As several of these governors were in Washington for three or four days, it is possible that the conferences extended over several days, from about April 3 to 6.

iii Baldwin's testimony, Report of Joint Committee on Reconstruction, 102-107; J. B. Baldwin, Interview between President Lincoln and John B. Baldwin, April 4, 1861 (Staunton, VA., 1866).

iv Botts' testimony, Report of Joint Committee on Reconstruction, 114-19; John Minor Botts, The Great Rebellion (New York, 1866), 194-202.

v The most recent and also the most judicial summary of all the evidence is by Henry T. Shanks, The Secession Movement in Virginia, 1847-1861 (Richmond, 1934), 192-95.

vi Crawford, Genesis of the Civil War, 404; William E. Smith, The Francis Preston Blair Family in Politics, 2 vols. (New York, 1933), II, 12-13.

vii Nicolay and Hay, Abraham Lincoln, IV, 27-28.

viii Welles, Diary, I, 29-32. Worden reached Captain Adams' ship on April 12 and the men were landed that night, the very day on which the firing began at Sumter.

ix Richardson (comp.), Messages and Papers, VI, 21-22.

x Connor, John Archibald Campbell, 127-28. Lincoln chose to send the notification to the Governor, not the Confederate officers, because he could recognize the former and not the latter.

xi Nicolay and Hay, Abraham Lincoln, IV, 34.

xii New York Times, April 8, 1861; Baltimore Sun, April 8, 1861. The Richmond Examiner asserted as early as April 6 that the expedition was for the purpose of relieving Sumter.

xiii Evidently Lincoln did not expect them to retreat, for on April 8 he wrote Governor Curtin of Pennsylvania, one of the recent conferees, "I think the necessity of being ready increases. Look to it." From "Lincoln Photostats," Library of Congress; also in Paul M. Angle, New Letters and Papers of Lincoln (Boston and New York, 1930), 266. Governor Dennison of Ohio, who was still in Washington, was quoted as promising, on the same date, support to "a vigorous policy." Mt. Vernon (Ohio) Democratic Banner, April 16, 1861.

xiv That Toombs protested against the attack seems to be based wholly upon the statement in Pleasant A. Stovall, The Life of Robert Toombs (New York, 1892), 226. Stovall cites no source and U. B. Phillips in his Life of Robert Toombs (New York, 1913), 234-35, gives no other citation than Stovall. Richard Lathers attributed the same words to Toombs several days before this crisis arose in a letter which he wrote to the New York Journal of Commerce from Montgomery. See Alvan F. Sanborn, Reminiscences of Richard Lathers (New York, 1907), 164-65. Nevertheless, that Toombs was greatly concerned over the dangers in the situation is attested by the Confederate secretary of war, L. P. Walker, who quotes Toombs as saying at the cabinet meeting on April 10, "The firing upon that fort will inaugurate a civil war greater than any the world has yet seen; and I do not feel competent to advise you." Crawford, The Genesis of the Civil War, 421.

xv These were the Baltic, the Harriet Lane, and the Pawnee. The Pocahontas did not arrive until the 13th. It is an interesting question whether the Northern reaction would have been different if the Confederates had ignored Fort Sumter and concentrated their efforts upon trying to keep the fleet from entering the harbor. The fact that their chief naval officer, Captain Henry J. Hartstene, reported on April 10 that the Federals would be able to reach the fort in boats at night and that he had no vessels strong enough to prevent the entrance of the fleet may have determined the Confederates to take the fort first. Official Records, Ser. I, Vol. I, 299.

xvi Crawford, Genesis of the Civil War, 404; Robert Means Thompson and Richard Wainwright (eds.), Confidential Correspondence of Gustavus Vasa Fox, 2 vols. (New York, 1918), I, 43-44; Nicolay and Hay (eds.), Lincoln: Works, II, 41.

xvii Nicolay and Hay, Abraham Lincoln, IV, 33, 44, 62.

xviii Predictions, on the one hand, that the "rebels" would soon start a war and charges, on the other, that, to save the Republican party, Lincoln was demonstrating against Charleston in order to force the Southerners to attack Sumter are to be found in administration and antiadministration papers, respectively, during the week before the fort was fired upon. See, for instance, the Columbus (Ohio) Crisis, April 4, 1861; New York Times, April 8, 10, 1861; Baltimore Sun, April 10, 1861. When the news came of the bombardment at Charleston, the Providence Daily Post, April 13, 1861, began an editorial entitled "WHY?" with: "We are to have civil war, if at all, because Abraham Lincoln loves a party better than he loves his country." And after commenting on what seemed to be a sudden change of policy with respect to Sumter, "Why? We think the reader will perceive why. Mr. Lincoln saw an opportunity to inaugurate civil war without appearing in the character of an aggressor. There are men in Fort Sumter, he said, who are nearly out of provisions. They ought to be fed. We will attempt to feed them. Certainly nobody can blame us for that. . . . The secessionists, who are both mad and foolish, will resist us. They will commence civil war. Then I will appeal to the North to aid me in putting down rebellion, and the North must respond. How can it do otherwise? And sure enough, how can we do otherwise?" A photostatic copy of this editorial was furnished me through the kindness of Professor E. M. Coulter of the University of Georgia.

One story that seems to have had some currency was related by Alexander Long, a Democratic congressman from Ohio, in an antiadministration speech before the House on April 8, 1864, to the effect  that when Lincoln first heard the news that the Confederates had opened fire on Fort Sumter, he exclaimed, "I knew they would do it!" Congressional Globe, 38 Cong., I Sess., 1499 et seq. Long's speech aroused much excitement among the Republicans who attempted to expel him from the House on the ground that he was a sympathizer with the rebellion.

xix Theodore Calvin Pease and James G. Randall (eds.), The Diary of Orville H. Browning, 2 vols. (Springfield, Ill., 1927), I, 475-76.

Lincoln and Fort Sumter, by Charles W. Ramsdell – Part 1

In March, 1861, as the Northern economy crumbled around him, Abraham Lincoln decided war was his only way out.

Lincoln and Fort Sumter

by Charles W. Ramsdell

Part 1

Lincoln and Fort Sumter  is the most famous treatise ever written on how Abraham Lincoln manipulated events in Charleston Harbor to start a war April 12, 1861 that killed over 750,000 people and maimed a million more. Lincoln's war destroyed the republic of the Founding Fathers and established the supremacy of the Federal Government and Northern majority over the states, which was his goal all along. Charles W. Ramsdell (1877-1942), known as the Dean of Southern Historians, is brilliant and riveting. His In Memoriam at the University of Texas states: "In all that pertained to the history of the Southern Confederacy, his scholarship was decisive."

(Lincoln and Fort Sumter is Part III of Slavery Was Not the Cause of the War Between the States, The Irrefutable Argument., and is included in Charles W. Ramsdell, Dean of Southern Historians, Volume One: His Best Work, both available on this website)

Slavery Was Not the Cause of the War Between the States, The Irrefutable Argument. by Gene Kizer, Jr. - front cover - slavery not the cause of the Civil War
Charles W Ramsdell - Dean of Southern Historians - "Lincoln and Fort Sumter" "The Natural Limits of Slavery Expansion" - Compiled by Gene Kizer Jr


Charles W. Ramsdell, "Lincoln and Fort Sumter," The Journal of Southern History, Vol. 3, Issue 3 (August, 1937), 259 - 288. Original copyright 1937, Southern Historical Association. This article, text and notes, comes verbatim from the original article. One footnote, vii, and a comment to footnote xii, were added by Gene Kizer, Jr. Both are so noted.


WHEN THE CONFEDERATE BATTERIES around Charleston Harbor opened fire on Fort Sumter in the early morning hours of April 12, 1861, they signaled the beginning of the most calamitous tragedy in the history of the American people. Because the Confederate authorities ordered the attack it is generally held that they were directly responsible for the horrors of the ensuing four years. Certainly that was the feeling in the North, then and afterwards, and it became the verdict of austere historians.

Whether the war was inevitable, in any case, is a question that need not be raised here. It has been the subject of endless disputation and is one to which no conclusive answer can be given. But even though it be conceded that if the conflict had not arisen from the Fort Sumter crisis it would have sprung from some other incident growing out of the secession of the "cotton states," the actual firing of the "first shot" placed the Southerners under a great moral and material disadvantage. The general Northern conviction that the "rebels" had made an unprovoked attack upon the little Federal garrison added thousands of volunteers to the Union armies and strengthened the determination of the Northern people to carry the struggle through to the complete subjugation of the South.

The Confederate leaders who ordered the bombardment were not vicious, feeble-minded, irresponsible, or inexperienced men. As even a casual investigation will show, they had been fully aware of the danger of taking the initiative in hostilities and had hoped for peace. How then could they be so blind as to place themselves at this manifest disadvantage?

The story of the development of the Fort Sumter crisis has been told many times, but it is so full of complexities that there is little wonder that many of its most significant features have been obscured with a resultant loss of perspective. On the one hand, most accounts have begun with certain assumptions which have affected the interpretation of the whole mass of evidence; on the other, too little credit has been given to Abraham Lincoln's genius for political strategy, which is truly surprising in view of all the claims that have been made for the abilities of that very remarkable man. The purpose of this paper is to place the facts already known in their logical and chronological order and to re-evaluate them in that setting in the belief that when thus arranged they will throw new light upon this momentous affair.

The early stages of the Sumter problem can be dealt with in summary form. It is well known that six days after the secession of South Carolina Major Robert Anderson, who had been stationed at Fort Moultrie in command of all the United States forces in Charleston Harbor, abandoned Moultrie and moved his command into the new and still unfinished Fort Sumter where he thought his force would be better able to resist attack. The South Carolina authorities evidently had had no intention of attacking him for they thought they had an understanding with President Buchanan for maintaining the military status quo; but they immediately occupied Fort Moultrie and Castle Pinckney and made protest to Buchanan, demanding that Anderson be sent back to Moultrie. Buchanan refused to admit their ground of protest or to order Anderson back; then early in January he ordered relief to be sent secretly to the garrison on a merchant steamer. This vessel, The Star of the West, was forced back from the entrance of the harbor by the military authorities of the state, and the South Carolinians were with some difficulty restrained by the leaders in other Southern states from assaulting Fort Sumter. Thereafter Buchanan refrained from the use of force, partly because Anderson insisted that he was in no danger, partly because he still hoped for some peaceful adjustment, if not by Congress itself, then by the Peace Conference which was soon to assemble in Washington, and partly because he was averse during the last weeks of his term to beginning hostilities for which he was unprepared.

By February 1 six other cotton states had passed ordinances of secession and each of them, as a matter of precaution and largely because of the happenings at Charleston, seized the forts, arsenals, customs houses, and navy yards within its own borders. There were two exceptions, both in Florida. Fort Taylor, at Key West, was left undisturbed; and Fort Pickens, at the entrance of Pensacola Bay and on the extreme western tip of Santa Rosa Island, was occupied by a small Federal force much as Fort Sumter had been.

Since Fort Pickens plays a part in the development of the Sumter crisis, some explanation of the situation at that point becomes necessary. In the beginning this fort was not occupied by troops, but a  company of artillery, under Lieutenant Adam J. Slemmer, was stationed at Barrancas Barracks, across the neck of the bay about a mile and a half to the north of Pickens, and close by the Navy Yard. The town of Pensacola was some six miles farther up the bay. On January 10 Lieutenant Slemmer, hearing that the governors of Florida and Alabama were about to send troops to seize the forts and the Navy Yard and in accordance with instructions from General Winfield Scott, removed his small command to Fort Pickens. On the twelfth the Navy Yard capitulated to the combined state forces under Colonel W. H. Chase. Chase then demanded the surrender of Fort Pickens, which Slemmer refused. After some further correspondence between the two opposing officers, a group of nine Southern senators in Washington, on January 18, urged that no attack should be made on Fort Pickens because it was "not worth a drop of blood."i These senators believed that the Republicans in Congress were hoping to involve the Buchanan administration in hostilities in order that the war might open before Lincoln's inauguration. On January 29 an agreement was effected at Washington by Senator Stephen R. Mallory of Florida, and others, with President Buchanan and his secretaries of War and the Navy to the effect that no reinforcement would be sent to Fort Pickens and no attack would be made upon it by the secessionists.ii The situation at Fort Pickens then became somewhat like that at Fort Sumter; but there were certain differences. Fort Pickens did not threaten the town of Pensacola as Fort Sumter did Charleston; it was easily accessible from the sea if reinforcements should be decided upon; and there was no such excitement over its continued occupation by the United States troops as there was about Sumter.

As soon as the new Confederate government was organized the Confederate Congress, on February 12, by resolution took charge of "questions existing between the several States of this Confederacy and the United States respecting the occupation of forts, arsenals, navy yards and other public establishments." This hurried action was taken in order to get the management of the Sumter question out of the hands of the impatient and rather headlong Governor Francis W. Pickens of South Carolina, who, it was feared, might precipitate war at any time.iii In fact, the public mind, North and South, sensed accurately that the greatest danger to peace lay in Charleston Harbor.

This danger, of course, was in the irreconcilable views of the two governments concerning their respective claims to the fort. To the Washington officials Sumter was not merely the legal property of the Federal government; its possession was a symbol of the continuity and integrity of that government. To withdraw the garrison at the demand of the secessionists would be equivalent to acknowledging the legality of secession and the dissolution of the Union. There was also, especially with the military officials, a point of honor involved; they could not yield to threats of force. The attitude of the Southerners was based upon equally imperative considerations. In their view the Confederate States no longer had any connection with the government on the Potomac; they were as independent as that other seceded nation, Belgium. No independent government could maintain its own self-respect or the respect of foreign governments if it permitted another to hold an armed fortress within the harbor of one of its principal cities. When South Carolina had ceded the site for the fortification it had done so for its own protection. That protection was now converted into a threat, for the guns of Sumter dominated not only every point in the harbor but the city of Charleston itself. We may conceive an analogous situation by supposing that Great Britain at the close of the American Revolution had insisted upon retaining a fortress within the harbor of Boston or of New York. The Confederate government could not, without yielding the principle of independence, abate its claims to the fort.

During the last six weeks of Buchanan's term the situation at Charleston remained relatively quiet. Anderson and his engineers did what they could to strengthen the defenses of Sumter; while the state and Confederate officers established batteries around the harbor both to repel any future relief expedition and, in case of open hostilities, to reduce the fort. Although Governor Pickens had wished to press demands for surrender and to attack the fort if refused, he had first sought the advice of such men as Governor Joseph E. Brown of Georgia and Jefferson Davis of Mississippi. Both advised against any such action, partly because they still had some hope of peace and partly because they saw the danger of taking the initiative.iv Although Anderson was under constant surveillance, he was allowed free use of the mails and was permitted to purchase for his men fresh meats and vegetables in the Charleston market. Other necessities, which under army regulations he must procure from the regular supply departments of the army, he was not allowed to receive because that would be permitting the Federal government to send relief to the garrison and involve an admission of its right to retain the fort. Anderson consistently informed the authorities at Washington during this time that he was safe and that he could hold out indefinitely. The Confederate government, having taken over from the state all negotiations concerning the fort, was moving cautiously with the evident hope of avoiding hostilities. On February 15 the Confederate Congress by resolution requested President Davis to appoint three commissioners to negotiate with the United States "all questions of disagreement between the two governments" and Davis appointed them on February 25.v They reached Washington on March 5, the day after Lincoln's inauguration.

Southern as well as Northern men waited anxiously to learn what policy would be indicated by the new President of the United States in his inaugural address. It is not necessary to dwell long on what Abraham Lincoln said in that famous paper. He stated plainly that he regarded the Union as unbroken, the secession of the seven cotton states as a nullity. In this he merely took the position that Buchanan had taken. He also said that he would enforce the laws of the Union in all the states; but he immediately softened this declaration by saying that he would not use violence unless it should be forced upon the national authority. Then he added, "The power confided to me will be used to hold, occupy and possess the property and places belonging to the government, and to collect the duties and imposts; but beyond what may be necessary for these objects, there will be no invasion, no using of force against or among the people anywhere." And later on: "In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war. The government will not assail you. You can have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressors." How is it possible to reconcile the declaration that he would occupy "the property and places belonging to the government" with the promise that the government would not assail his dissatisfied fellow countrymen who either held or claimed the right to those places? While ostensibly addressing the Southerners, was he really directing these last soothing words to the anxious antiwar elements in the North? Although it is improbable that he had this early any definite plan in mind, his warning that the secessionists would be the aggressors, if civil war should come, may be significant in view of what he was to be engaged in exactly a month from that day.

But the inaugural should not be regarded as the declaration of a definite program; for while the new President was careful to lay down the general principle that the Union was legally unbroken, he refrained with equal care from committing himself to any course of action. If he hedged at every point where a statement of active policy was expected, it was because he could not know what he would be able to do. Caution was necessary; it was not merely political expediency, it was at that juncture political wisdom. Cautious reticence, until he knew his way was clear, was a very marked trait of Abraham Lincoln.vi There is another characteristic quality in this address. Lincoln had developed an extraordinary skill in so phrasing his public utterances as to arouse in each special group he singled out for attention just the reaction he desired. To the extreme and aggressive Republicans the inaugural indicated a firm determination to enforce obedience upon the secessionists; to the Northern moderates and peace advocates, as well as to the anxious Unionists of the border slave states not yet seceded,vii it promised a conciliatory attitude; in the seceded states it was interpreted as threatening coercion and had the effect of hastening preparations for defense.

In the latter part of the address Lincoln had counseled the people generally to avoid precipitate action and to take time to think calmly about the situation. He doubtless hoped to be able to take time himself; but he discovered within a few hours that there was one problem whose solution could not be long postponed. On the very day of his inauguration Buchanan's secretary of war, Joseph Holt, received a letter from Major Anderson in which for the first time the commander at Fort Sumter expressed doubt of his ability to maintain himself. More than this, Anderson estimated that, in the face of the Confederate batteries erected about the harbor, it would require a powerful fleet and a force of twenty thousand men to give permanent relief to the garrison. Since it was his last day in office, Buchanan had the letter referred to Lincoln; and when on March 5, Holt submitted it to the new President he accompanied it with a report sharply reviewing Anderson's previous assurances of his safety.viii Lincoln called General Scott into conference and the General concurred with Anderson. After a few days of further consideration Scott was of the same opinion and was sustained by General Joseph G. Totten, chief of the Army Engineers. These men considered the question primarily as a military problem, although Scott could not refrain from injecting political considerations into this written statement. In doing this the aged General was suspected of following the lead of Secretary William H. Seward who was already urging the evacuation of Sumter, in order to avoid precipitating hostilities at that point, and the reinforcement of Fort Pickens in order to assert the authority of the government. Lincoln accepted at least a part of Seward's plan, for on March 12, General Scott, by the President's direction, sent an order to Captain Israel Vogdes, whose artillery company was on board the U. S. Steamer Brooklyn, lying off Fort Pickens, directing him to land his company, reinforce Pickens, and hold it. Instead of sending the order overland, Scott sent it around by sea with the result that it did not reach its destination until April 1, and then the navy captain in command of the ship on which the artillery company was quartered refused to land the troops because the orders from the former Secretary of the Navy directing him to respect the truce with the Confederates had never been countermanded. The fort was not reinforced at that time, a fact of which Lincoln remained ignorant until April 6. We shall return to the Fort Pickens situation later.

Meanwhile Lincoln was considering the Fort Sumter problem. He had learned that Anderson's supplies were running short and that the garrison could not hold out much longer without relief. Although both General Scott and General Totten had advised that the relief of the fort was impracticable with the forces available, Gustavus V. Fox, a former officer of the navy and a brother-in-law of Postmaster-General Montgomery Blair, believed that it would be possible to reach the fort by running small steamers past the Confederate batteries at the entrance to the harbor. Fox had first proposed this to Scott early in February; he now came forward again with the backing of Montgomery Blair and presented his plan and arguments to Lincoln on March 13. The President seems to have been impressed, for on March 15 he asked for the written opinions of his cabinet on the question whether, assuming that it was now possible to provision Sumter, it was wise to attempt it. All, save Montgomery Blair, advised against an expedition.ix Apparently this overwhelming majority of his cabinet at first decided him against the plans, for there is considerable evidence, although it is not conclusive, that he was about to order Anderson to evacuate. Certainly rumors of impending orders for evacuation were coming from various high official circles in Washington, aside from those for which Seward seems to have been responsible.x There is the familiar story of how old Frank Blair, brought to the White House by his son Montgomery, found the President about to sign the evacuation order and protested so vigorously that Lincoln did not sign it.

Lincoln now found himself facing a most difficult and dangerous situation and the more he considered it the more troublesome it appeared. It seems reasonably certain that he never wanted to give up Sumter. As early as December 24, 1860, having heard a wild rumor that the forts in South Carolina were to be surrendered by the order or consent of President Buchanan, he had written from Springfield to Senator Lyman Trumbull that he would, "if our friends at Washington concur, announce publicly at once that they are to be retaken after the inauguration."xi After he had arrived at Washington and had taken up the burden of office he saw that the problem was not so simple as it had looked from the frontier town of Springfield. His Secretary of State, a man of far greater political experience than himself, was urging him to make his stand for the authority of the government at Fort Pickens and not Sumter, for Seward could not see how it would be possible to reinforce Sumter without putting the administration in the position of the aggressor. That would be a fatal mistake. Fort Pickens, on the other hand, could be relieved from the Gulf side without coming into direct conflict with the Confederates.

It would be extremely interesting to know what was passing through Lincoln's mind during those difficult days when, bedeviled by importunate office seekers, he could find little time for considering what he should do about the re-establishment of Federal authority in the seceded states and especially about the imperiled fort at Charleston. As was his habit, he left few clues to his reflections and it is impossible to say with assurance what ideas he picked up, examined, and discarded. One plan which he seems to have entertained for a short while, just after the adverse cabinet vote on relieving Sumter, contemplated the collection of customs duties on revenue vessels, supported by ships of war, just outside the Confederate ports; and there were hints in the press that Anderson's force was to be withdrawn to a ship off Charleston. If it were seriously considered, the plan was soon abandoned, possibly because of legal impediments or more probably because it did not fully meet the needs of the situation.xii But although Lincoln kept his thoughts to himself he must have studied public opinion closely, and we may be able to follow his thinking if we examine for ourselves the attitudes of the several groups in the North as they revealed themselves in those uncertain days of March.

It must not be forgotten that, notwithstanding Lincoln's smashing victory in the free states in November, his party was still new and relatively undisciplined. His support had come from a heterogeneous mass of voters and for a variety of reasons. The slavery issue, the drive for a protective tariff and internal improvements, the promise of free homesteads in the West, and disgust at the split among the Democrats had each played its part. Many voters had been persuaded that there was no real danger of a disruption of the Union in the event of his election. The secession of the border states had now thrown the former issues into the background and thrust to the front the question whether the discontented Southerners should be allowed to depart in peace or whether the government should, as Lincoln phrased it, "enforce the law" and in so doing bring on war with the newly formed Confederacy. As always, when a new and perilous situation arises, the crosscurrents of public opinion were confusing. As Lincoln, pressed on all sides, waited while he studied the drift, he could not fail to note that there was a strong peace party in the North which was urging the settlement of difficulties without resort to force. On the other hand the more aggressive party men among the Republicans, to whom he was under special obligations, were insisting that he exert the full authority of the government even to the extent of war. This group included some of the most active and powerful members of his party whom he could not afford to antagonize. One disturbing factor in the situation was the marked tendency of many voters who had supported him in November to turn against the Republicans, as was shown in a number of local elections in Ohio and New England. While the peace men attributed this reversal to fear of war, the more aggressive Republicans insisted that it was caused by disgust at the rumors that Fort Sumter would be given up to the secessionists.xiii Reinforcing the Northern conservatives were the majorities in the eight border slave states who had thus far refused to secede but who were openly opposed to any "coercive" action against their brethren in the Lower South. The Virginia State Convention, which had convened on February 13 and was in complete control of the conditional Unionists, was still in session, evidently awaiting his decision. Therefore, if he should adopt a strongly aggressive policy he might find himself opposed by the large group of peace men in the North while he precipitated most if not all of the border slave states into secession and union with the Confederacy.xiv If, on the other hand, he failed to act decisively, he was very likely to alienate the radical Republicans who were already manifesting impatience. In either case he would divide his party at the very beginning of his administration and increase the risk of utter failure. There was, however, some cheering evidence among the business elements of a growing irritation against the secessionists because of the depression which had set in with the withdrawal of South Carolina; and if the Confederates should add further offense to their low tariff policy or adopt more aggressive tactics with respect to the forts, this feeling might grow strong enough to overcome the peace men.

He had promised to maintain the Union, but how was he to attempt it without wrecking his chances at the very outset? It was now too late to restore the Union by compromise because, having himself rejected all overtures in December, he could not now afford to offer what he had recently refused. Moreover, there was no indication that the Confederates would accept at this late date any compromise he might proffer. He must do something, for the gradual exhaustion of the supplies of the garrison in Fort Sumter would soon force his hand. He could not order Anderson to evacuate without arousing the wrath of the militant Unionists in the North. If he continued to let matters drift, Anderson himself would have to evacuate when his supplies were gone. While that would relieve the administration of any charge of coercion, it would expose the government to the accusation of disgraceful weakness and improve the chances of the Confederacy for foreign recognition.xv If he left Anderson to his fate and made ostentatious display of reinforcing Fort Pickens, as Seward was urging him to do, would he gain as much as he lost? Was it not best, even necessary, to make his stand at Sumter? But if he should try to relieve Anderson by force of arms, what was the chance of success? Anderson, supported by the high authority of General Scott, thought there was none. If, as Captain Fox believed, swift steamers could run the gauntlet of the Confederate batteries and reach the fort with men and supplies, would they then be able to hold it against attack? Failure in this military movement might seriously damage the already uncertain prestige of the administration. Would it not be looked upon as aggressive war by the border state men and perhaps by the peace men in the North? Could he risk the handicap of appearing to force civil war upon the country? In every direction the way out of his dilemma seemed closed.

There was one remote possibility: the Confederates themselves might precipitate matters by attacking Sumter before Anderson should be compelled to evacuate by lack of supplies. But the Confederates, though watchful, were showing great caution. General P. G. T. Beauregard, in command at Charleston since March 6, was treating Major Anderson with elaborate courtesy. The government at Montgomery was in no hurry to force the issue, partly because it was quite well aware of the danger of assuming the aggressive and partly because it was waiting to see what its commissioners would be able to effect at  Washington, where Seward was holding out hopes to them of the eventual evacuation of Sumter. At some time, while turning these things over in his mind, this daring thought must have occurred to Lincoln: Could the Southerners be induced to attack Sumter, to assume the aggressive and thus put themselves in the wrong in the eyes of the North and of the world?xvi If they could, the latent irritation perceptible among the Northern moderates might flame out against the secessionists and in support of the government. The two wings of his party would unite, some at least of the Democrats would come to his support, even the border-state people might be held, if they could be convinced that the war was being forced by the secessionists. Unless he could unite them in defense of the authority of the government, the peaceable and the "stiff-backed" Republicans would split apart, the party would collapse, his administration would be a failure, and he would go down in history as a weak man who had allowed the Union to crumble in his hands. As things now stood, the only way by which the Union could be restored, his party and his administration saved, was by an unequivocal assertion of the authority of the government, that is, through war. But he must not openly assume the aggressive; that must be done by the secessionists. The best opportunity was at Fort Sumter, but the time left was short for Anderson was running short of essential supplies.

Let us examine closely what Lincoln did after the middle of March, taking care to place each movement as nearly as possible in its exact sequence. We have seen that Captain Fox made his argument to Lincoln for a combined naval and military expedition on March 13 and that the cabinet, with the exception of Montgomery Blair and the equivocal Chase, had voted against it on the fifteenth. Fox then offered to go in person to Fort Sumter to investigate the situation and Lincoln gave him permission. He arrived in Charleston on March 21 and was allowed to see Anderson that night. He and Anderson agreed that the garrison could not hold out longer than noon of April 15. Although Anderson seems to have remained unconvinced of its feasibility, Fox returned to Washington full of enthusiasm for his plan.

On the very day that Fox arrived in Charleston, Lincoln had dispatched to that city a close friend and loyal supporter, Ward H. Lamon, a native of Virginia and his former law partner in Illinois. This sending of Lamon on the heels of Fox is an interesting incident. The precise nature of his instructions has never been fully revealed. Lamon himself, in his Recollections, merely says he was sent "on a confidential mission" and intimates that he was to report on the extent of Unionist feeling in South Carolina. He arrived in Charleston on the night of Saturday, March 23; visited James L. Petigru, the famous Unionist, on Sunday and learned from him that there was no Unionist strength in the state, that "peaceable secession or war was inevitable"; and on Monday morning obtained an interview with Governor Pickens. In reply to questions the Governor stated very positively that any attempt on the part of President Lincoln to reinforce Sumter would bring on war, that only his "unalterable resolve not to attempt any reinforcement" could prevent war. Lamon, whether through innocence or guile, left the impression with the Governor, and also with Anderson whom he was permitted to visit, that the garrison would soon be withdrawn and that his trip was merely to prepare the way for that event. He left Charleston on the night of the twenty-fifth, arrived in Washington on the twenty-seventh, and reported to Lincoln what he had learned.xvii What had he been sent to Charleston to do? There must have been some purpose and it could hardly have been to prepare the way for Anderson's evacuation.xviii Does it strain the evidence to suggest that it was chiefly to find out at first hand how strong was the Southern feeling about relief for Fort Sumter and that this purpose was camouflaged by the vague intimations of evacuation? But it is quite probable that Lamon himself did not understand the real purpose, for it is altogether unlikely that the cautious Lincoln would have divulged so important a secret to his bibulous and impulsive young friend. But if there was such an ulterior purpose, Lincoln now had the information directly from Charleston that any sort of relief would result in an attack upon the fort.

According to Gideon Welles, whose account of these events was written several years later, Lincoln sometime in the latter half of March had informed the members of his cabinet that he would send relief to Sumter. During a cabinet meeting on March 29 (two days after Lamon's return), when the matter was again discussed, Lincoln, at the suggestion of Attorney General Edward Bates, again requested each member to give his opinion in writing on the question of relieving Sumter. Whether Lincoln's known determination, political pressure, or some other influence had effected it, there was a marked change from the advice given just two weeks earlier. Now only Seward and Caleb Smith were for evacuating Sumter, but they both wished to reinforce Fort Pickens. Bates proposed to strengthen Pickens and Key West and said that the time had come either to evacuate Sumter or relieve it. The rest were unequivocally for a relief expedition. Later that day Lincoln directed the secretaries of War and the Navy to co-operate in preparing an expedition to move by sea as early as April 6. The destination was not indicated in the order, but it was Charleston.xix


This is the end of Part 1 and the halfway point of Lincoln and Fort Sumter.

Click HERE to go to Lincoln and Fort Sumter, Part 2, Conclusion.

Footnotes for Part 1 are below.


i The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (Washington, 1880-1901), Ser. I, Vol. I, 445-46. Hereafter cited as Official Records.

ii Ibid., 355-56.

iii Journal of the Congress of the Confederate States of America, 7 vols. (Washington, 1904-1905), I, 47; Samuel W. Crawford, The Genesis of the Civil War: The Story of Sumter (New York, 1887), 261-62.

iv Crawford, Genesis of the Civil War, 263-68; Dunbar Rowland (ed.), Jefferson Davis, Constitutionalist, 10 vols. (Jackson, Miss., 1923), V, 36-37, 39-40.

v Journal of the Congress of the Confederate States, I, 46, 52, 55, 85-86.

vi This characteristic of Lincoln was attested to by numbers of his associates, sometimes with evident irritation. W. H. Herndon once wrote, "He was the most secretive--reticent--shut-mouthed man that ever lived." Herndon to J. E. Remsburg of Oak Mills, Kansas, September 10, 1887 (privately printed by H. E. Baker, 1917). See also A. K. McClure, Lincoln and Men of War-Times (Philadelphia, 1892), 64-68, for statements of Leonard Swett, W. H. Lamon, A. K. McClure, and David Davis. Judge Davis said, "I knew the man well; he was the most reticent, secretive man I ever saw or expect to see."

vii This note added by Gene Kizer, Jr.: The "border states" Professor Ramsdell refers to in this treatise include Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee and Arkansas since those future-Confederate states were still in the Union as the Fort Sumter drama played out. They did not secede until after the bombardment of Fort Sumter when Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers to invade the South, and they did so, not in any way because of slavery, but because they were horrified that the Federal Government would invade sovereign states and kill their citizens to force them back into a union they had voted to separate from. The Federal Government in 1861 had no constitutional authority or obligation to invade a state and force it to do anything. The Federal Government, as set up by the Founding Fathers, was supposed to be the agent of the states, not their master.

viii Anderson's letter has never been located, but see Official Records, Ser. I, Vol. I, 197-202. For Holt's letter, Horatio King, Turning on the Light (Philadelphia, 1896), 126-128.

ix Secretary Chase favored a relief expedition, but only if it would not bring on an expensive war, a position that was so equivocal that he can hardly be said to stand with Montgomery Blair. John G. Nicolay and John Hay (eds.), Abraham Lincoln: Complete Works, 2 vols. (New York, 1894), II, 11-22, for replies of the cabinet.

x The newspapers carried these reports almost every day and the belief in their accuracy seems to have been general, even among the war faction of the Republicans.

xi Gilbert A. Tracy, Uncollected Letters of Abraham Lincoln (Boston and New York, 1917), 173. Lincoln had written "confidentially" to Major David Hunter on December 22, "If the forts fall, my judgment is that they are to be retaken." A. B. Lapsley (ed.), The Writings of Abraham Lincoln, 8 vols. (New York, 1905-1906), V, 199. It will be remembered that the original draft of the inaugural had contained a declaration that he would "reclaim the public property and places which have fallen," but that this was changed at the suggestion of Orville H. Browning to a more general and less threatening statement. John G. Nicolay and John Hay, Abraham Lincoln, A History, 10 vols. (New York, 1886-1892), III, 319, 333-34, n. 12.

xii Lincoln to Chase, Welles, and Bates, March 18, 1861, in Nicolay and Hay (eds.), Lincoln: Works, II, 24-25. The Morrill tariff, passed in February, had raised rates far above the former ones while the Confederate Congress had enacted a low tariff. The difference in rates was causing anxiety to Northern importers and shippers, and also to the administration, lest it deflect imports to the South and stimulate smuggling across the new border to the great injury of the Northern ports and the loss of customs receipts. The tariff differential might even swing some of the border states over to the Confederacy. The New York Times was greatly disturbed at the prospect and roundly condemned the Morrill tariff. The issues of the Times for March 13, 15-20, and 22, intimated that the President was considering the above-mentioned plan. The legal impediments seem to have consisted in the absence of any law of Congress permitting such a procedure and the nonexistence of local Federal courts for the adjudication of cases arising out of the enforcement of the revenue laws. This tariff question may have had more influence upon the final determination of Lincoln's policy that the evidence now available shows. [Gene Kizer, Jr. Note: Beyond the shadow of a doubt, Professor Ramsdell.]

xiii These elections were not actually held until April 1 in Ohio and Connecticut and April 3 in Rhode Island, but the pre-election evidences of defection had greatly alarmed the Republicans in the latter part of March. The fusion of the Democrats and other "Union-savers" carried all the larger cities of Ohio, defeated two radical Republican congressmen in Connecticut, re-elected Governor William Sprague in Rhode Island, and won a majority of the legislature in that state. Cincinnati Commercial, April 3, 1861; Columbus (Ohio) Crisis, April 4, 1861; New York Times, March 30, April 2, 4, 1861; J. H. Jordan to S. P. Chase, March 27, J. N. and J. B Antram to Chase, April 2, and W. D. Beckham to Chase, April 2, 1861, in Chase Papers, Library of Congress. I am indebted to Mrs. W. Mary Bryant of the University of Texas for copies of these letters.

xiv There are some indications, however, that at this time Lincoln overestimated the Unionist strength in the border slave states.

xv Lincoln's special message to Congress, July 4, 1861, indicates that he had weighed some of these considerations. "It was believed, however, that to abandon that position [Sumter] under the circumstances would be utterly ruinous; that the necessity under which it was to be done would not be fully understood; that by many it would be construed as a part of a voluntary policy; that at home it would discourage the friends of the Union, embolden its adversaries, and go far to insure to the latter a recognition abroad; that, in fact, it would be our national destruction consummated. This could not be allowed." J. D. Richardson (comp.), Messages and Papers of the Presidents, 10 vols. (Washington, 1896-1899), VI, 21.

xvi It would be most surprising to find that such an idea never occurred to Lincoln, since not only were many Republicans suggesting it as a possibility, but various Republican newspapers were constantly reiterating the suggestion that if any clash came the secessionists would be responsible. The predictions of the newspapers may have been "inspired," but if so, that fact makes it more certain that the idea was being discussed in the inner circles of the administration. J. H. Jordan wrote Chase form Cincinnati, March 27, "In the name of God! why not hold the Fort? Will reinforcing & holding it cause the rebels to attack it, and thus bring on 'civil war'? What of it? That is just what the government ought to wish to bring about, and ought to do all it can . . . to bring about. Let them attack the Fort, if they will--it will then be them that commenced the war." The general idea of such an outcome was in the air; the contribution of Lincoln himself was the maneuver by which this desirable solution was brought about.

xvii Ward H. Lamon, Recollections of Abraham Lincoln (Washington, 1911), 68-79.

xviii On April 1 Lincoln sent word, through Seward, to Justice John A. Campbell that Lamon had no authority to make such a promise. Not only that but, according to the same source, he stated that "Lamon did not go to Charleston under any commission or authority from Mr. Lincoln." Henry G. Connor, John Archibald Campbell (Boston and New York, 1920), 127. The words "commission or authority" may have been a mere technical evasion of responsibility, for Lamon himself recounts the conversation between Lincoln, Seward, and himself when Lincoln asked him to go. It is possible, of course, that Justice Campbell misunderstood the exact language or meaning of Seward.

xix Howard K. Beale (ed.), The Diary of Edward Bates, 1859-1866, in American Historical Association, Annual Report, 1930 (Washington, 1933), IV, 180; Nicolay and Lay (eds.), Lincoln: Works, II, 25-28.

The Only Thing That Could Save the North Was War

The Only Thing That Could Save the North Was War

by Gene Kizer, Jr.

Major Robert Anderson, Union commander inside Fort Sumter, emphatically blames Lincoln for starting the war Lincoln had to have to save the North.

(This post is Chapter Seven of my book, Slavery Was Not the Cause of the War Between the States, The Irrefutable Argument., available on this website)

Slavery Was Not the Cause of the War Between the States, The Irrefutable Argument. by Gene Kizer, Jr. - front cover - slavery not the cause of the Civil War

Lincoln needed to start the war as fast as he could before Southerners completed trade and military alliances with England and other European countries, which they had been pursuing with great enthusiasm for months. With every second that went by, the South got stronger and the North got weaker. Lincoln knew there was no advantage, whatsoever, to waiting.

He also worried greatly about free states joining the South. The Confederate Constitution allowed it. Slavery was not required. Slavery was up to an individual state, and Southerners anticipated that many free states with economic ties to the South, especially along the Mississippi and in the West, would join the Confederacy.

The Boston Transcript saw what was happening and realized that the protection to slavery that the North was quite willing to give was not what the South wanted:

[T]he mask has been thrown off and it is apparent that the people of the principal seceding states are now for commercial independence. They dream that the centres of traffic can be changed from Northern to Southern ports. The merchants of New Orleans, Charleston, and Savannah are possessed of the idea that New York, Boston, and Philadelphia may be shorn, in the future, of their mercantile greatness, by a revenue system verging on free trade.i

The South wanted to be INDEPENDENT just as the Colonists had wanted to be independent in 1776. The South wanted freedom and self-government. It was tired of the confiscation of its hard-earned money by the North and the federal government. It was tired of 10 years of Northern hatred and terrorism.

Northern panic and Southern jubilation grew steadily until they reached a crescendo on April 12, 1861, and the orchestra wore gray in the forts and batteries encircling Charleston Harbor, and it wore blue inside Fort Sumter, led by Union Major Robert Anderson.

Anderson saw the events of the day clearly and put the blame squarely on Abraham Lincoln for starting the war that Lincoln had to have to save the Union and the North. Lincoln and Secretary of War Simon Cameron wrote to Anderson and informed him that warships and a military mission to reinforce him were en route.

Anderson and the Southerners in Charleston were standing face to face, each with a cocked gun on a hair-trigger aimed at the other's head. It had been this way for weeks, but Lincoln couldn't wait any longer. He was anxious to get a blockade set up around the ports of the South that would slow the European rush to military and trade treaties with the South. This was a critical thing for Lincoln or suddenly it would have been like the French in the American Revolution who came to the aid of the Colonists and helped mightily to secure American independence.

Once Lincoln got the war started, he could throw up his blockade and force Europeans to take a wait-and-see attitude.

Lincoln knew that sending his warships and soldiers to Charleston during the most critical hour in American history would start the war. That's why it was well publicized nationally, so everybody could get ready. He hoped the Confederates would fire first. Everything he did was designed to get that result. See Charles W. Ramsdell's famous treatise, "Lincoln and Fort Sumter,"ii Part III of this book, for proof that Lincoln started the war.

Anderson was at ground zero on April 12, 1861 and could judge both sides and pass judgment on who started the war, and he clearly blames Lincoln. This is what he writes in his response to Lincoln and Cameron:

. . . a movement made now when the South has been erroneously informed that none such will be attempted, would produce most disastrous results throughout our country. . . . We shall strive to do our duty, though I frankly say that my heart is not in the war which I see is to be thus commenced. . . . (Bold emphasis added.)

Anderson sees that the war "is to be thus commenced" by Abraham Lincoln, who had to hurry up and get it started or soon the South with European trade and military alliances would be unbeatable.

Northern greed, hatred and terrorism drove the South out of the Union and cost the North its huge captive manufacturing market in the South. It also cost the North unfettered access to bountiful Southern commodities needed in manufacturing.

More Northern greed in the form of the Morrill Tariff threatened to destroy the Northern shipping industry and send Northern ship captains South where protective tariffs were unconstitutional. The Morrill Tariff guaranteed that the Northern economy would not recover.

Northern leaders knew that they were headed for an unimaginable disaster and at the same time would have to face the South as a major competitor owning most of the trade of the United States, strongly backed militarily and financially by Europe, and with control of the most demanded commodity on the planet: cotton.

Abraham Lincoln, the first sectional president in American history, was president of the North and the North was clamoring for war. There was gloom, despair and extreme agitation in the North. Hundreds of thousands were unemployed, angry, in the street. The "clangor of arms" had been heard. Every day that went by the South got stronger and the North got weaker. There was no advantage whatsoever to waiting a second longer, so, after agonizing for weeks, Lincoln saw a way to get the war started without appearing to be the aggressor, and he took it. This was the view of several Northern newspapers as Charles W. Ramsdell points out in Part III in "Lincoln and Fort Sumter."

The threatened annihilation of the Northern economy and the rise of the South are what drove all actions in that fateful spring of 1861. Certainly not any mythical desire on the part of the North to end slavery.

The North's choices had been clear: descend into economic hell and mob rule, or fight.

If they fought, because of their overwhelming advantages at that point in history (4 to 1 in native manpower plus unlimited immigration - 25% of the Yankee army ended up being immigrants while close to 100% of the Confederate army were native-born Southerners - perhaps 200 to 1 in weapon manufacturing, an army, navy, etc.), they knew they had an excellent chance of winning everything and gaining total control of the country.

If they didn't fight, the South would surely ascend to predominance.

Of course they were going to fight and use their advantages before they lost them.

Lincoln figured the North would win easily but First Manassas proved him wrong, thus we had the bloodiest war in American history with 800,000 deaths and over a million wounded. The South was invaded and destroyed but fought until it was utterly exhausted before it was all over. It had nothing left to give or the war would certainly have continued on.

It was World War II, seventy-five years later, before the South began to recover from the destruction, but it is a certainty that if 1861 rolled around again and Southerners had the opportunity to fight for independence, they would. To the South, 1861 was 1776 all over. They believed the Founding Fathers had bequeathed to them by the Declaration of Independence, the right of self-government, and they would pay any price to achieve it.

Basil Gildersleeve, still known today as the greatest American classical scholar of all time, was a Confederate soldier from Charleston, South Carolina. He sums it up nicely in The Creed of the Old South, published 27 years after the war:

All that I vouch for is the feeling; . . . there was no lurking suspicion of any moral weakness in our cause. Nothing could be holier than the cause, nothing more imperative than the duty of upholding it. There were those in the South who, when they saw the issue of the war, gave up their faith in God, but not their faith in the cause.iii


i The Boston Transcript, 18 March 1861, in Adams, When in the Course of Human Events, 65.

ii Charles W. Ramsdell, "Lincoln and Fort Sumter", The Journal of Southern History, Volume 3, Issue 3 (August, 1937), Pages 259 - 288.

iii Basil L. Gildersleeve, The Creed of the Old South, Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1915; reprint: BiblioLife, Penrose Library, University of Denver (no date given), 26-27.

The Morrill Tariff Caused the Perfect Storm for Economic Disaster in the North

The Morrill Tariff Caused the Perfect Storm
for Economic Disaster in the North

by Gene Kizer, Jr.

Secession cost the North its Southern manufacturing market. The Morrill Tariff threatened to cost the North its shipping industry as U.S. trade was immediately rerouted away from the high-tariff North and into Southern ports where protective tariffs were unconstitutional.

(This post is Chapter Six of my book, Slavery Was Not the Cause of the War Between the States, The Irrefutable Argument., available on this website)

Slavery Was Not the Cause of the War Between the States, The Irrefutable Argument. by Gene Kizer, Jr. - front cover - slavery not the cause of the Civil War

Contrast the North and South.

Virginia Governor John Letcher was thrilled about the future of Virginia out of the Union. He had told the House of Delegates three months earlier that "We have the best port in the country; . . . if direct trade were established between Norfolk and Europe, it would give increased prosperity to every interest in the commonwealth. It would secure for us a commercial independence" and it would give us a "great interior and exterior trade" the latter from "ships sailing directly to Europe, at regular intervals from the port of Norfolk."i

The feeling in the North was the polar opposite. There was panic. Shortly after Letcher's speech, The Manchester (N.H.) Union Democrat warned:

The Southern Confederacy will not employ our ships or buy our goods. What is our shipping without it? Literally nothing. The transportation of cotton and its fabrics employs more ships than all other trade. The first result will be that Northern ships and ship owners will go to the South. They are doing it even now.ii

Governor Letcher continued with great enthusiasm:

I am entirely satisfied, that if direct trade were established between Norfolk and Europe, it would result in the enlargement of our cities, the increase of our agricultural products, the development of our resources, the creation of manufactures, the enhancement of the value of lands, the opening of the coal and mineral beds, make the stock which the state owns in her rail roads productive -- and the end would be a diminution of the state debt, as well as lower taxes.iii

The Union Democrat continued with despair:

In the manufacturing departments, we now have the almost exclusive supply of 10,000,000 of people. Can this market be cut off, and we not feel it? Our mills run now--why? Because they have cotton. . . . But they will not run long. We hear from good authority that some of them will stop in sixty days. We don't need any authority--everybody knows they must stop if our national troubles are not adjusted. An inflexible law cannot be violated. The shoe business is completely prostrate. . . .iv (Bold emphasis added.)

The Union Democrat gave the North 60 days before their mills would stop because they would have no cotton. It is no coincidence that in 55 days, Abraham Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers to invade the South.

On February 18, 1861, Jefferson Davis had said in his inaugural address as Provisional President of the Confederate States of America that the South would immediately establish the "freest trade" possible with the rest of the world:

. . . [As] an agricultural people, whose chief interest is the export of a commodity required in every manufacturing country, our true policy is peace, and the freest trade which our necessities will permit. It is alike our interest, and that of all those to whom we would sell and from whom we would buy, that there should be the fewest practicable restrictions upon the interchange of commodities. There can be little rivalry between ours and any manufacturing or navigating community, such as the Northeastern States of the American Union. It must follow, therefore, that a mutual interest would invite good will and kind offices.v

But Davis's good will could not touch the impending disaster in the North. There was no mention of slavery by the Union Democrat or anywhere else in the North because slavery was not the cause of the war. The North could care less about slavery or helping black people. The Union Democrat writes the day after Davis's inaugural:

[W]hen people realize the fact that the Union is permanently dissolved, real estate will depreciate one half in a single year.--Our population will decrease with the decline of business, and matters will go in geometrical progression from bad to worse--until all of us will be swamped in utter ruin. Let men consider--apply the laws of business, and see if they can reach any different conclusion.vi

Northern businessmen had already concluded that the Union had to be preserved or there would be "economic suicide" in the North as Philip S. Foner pointed out.

The North's Morrill Tariff, adopted March 2, 1861, two days before Lincoln's first inaugural and six weeks before the bombardment of Fort Sumter, was like pumping gasoline into a fire. It was astronomical and made entry of goods into the North 37 to 50% higher than entry into the South.

Southerners were brilliant. They had always wanted free trade so they made protective tariffs unconstitutional. Northerners were not only greedy but utterly ignorant of basic economics.

The Morrill Tariff immediately re-routed most of the trade of the United States away from the North and into the South in one fell swoop.

The North was unquestionably going to lose most of its trade and a huge amount of its wealth and power all at once. Nobody in the world wanted to do business with the North and pay 37 to 50% more for the pleasure when the beautiful sultry ports of the South -- Charleston, Savannah, New Orleans, Galveston, Mobile, et al. -- beckoned. The world, and Northern ship captains, were beating a path to the South where free trade reigned and the most demanded commodities on earth were abundant, and where protective tariffs were unconstitutional.

The Morrill Tariff is the epitome of Northern greed and abuse of the economic system, which are major, primary causes of the War Between the States. Its imminent passage had caused "a fierce onslaught by all sorts of interests." Ida Tarbell, historian and Lincoln biographer, said that protection of 20% was even given to wood-screws though there was "but one small factory for wood-screws in the country." The Rhode Island senator who had gotten this protection, Sen. James F. Simmons, was from then on known as "Wood-Screw Simmons."vii

Wood-Screw Simmons is a cute story but there is nothing cute about the 800,000 lives lost in the War Between the States or the million who were wounded.

The Morrill Tariff slammed the door shut on any possibility that the North would be able to deal with the loss of its captive Southern market and now its shipping industry. Northerners had said over and over that their labor needed protection, that they could not compete on an even basis with Europe. Out of a sense of entitlement from long years of protectionism that benefited the North at the expense of the rest of the country, they were not even willing to try.

They were also petrified of the industrialization of the South, which was a certainty. Southerners were extremely excited about developing their own manufacturing.

The secession of the South and the Morrill Tariff were the perfect storm of economic disaster for the North. The Morrill Tariff guaranteed that the Northern economy would not recover but that wasn't the worst of it.

With the goods of the world flowing into Southern ports, they would then be floated up the Mississippi and distributed throughout the rest of the country. Southerners had always wanted more trade with the West and now they would have it.

The New York Evening Post ten days after the passage of the Morrill Tariff stated the hopelessness of the Northern position:

[A]llow railroad iron to be entered at Savannah with the low duty of ten per cent., which is all that the Southern Confederacy think of laying on imported goods, and not an ounce more would be imported at New York: the railways would be supplied from the southern ports. Let cotton goods, let woolen fabrics, let the various manufactures of iron and steel be entered freely at Galveston, at the great port at the mouth of the Mississippi, at Mobile, at Savannah and at Charleston, and they would be immediately sent up the rivers and carried on the railways to the remotest parts of the Union.viii

Philip S. Foner confirms the position of the New York Evening Post:

A Southern Confederacy made economically independent of the North meant, of course, the total loss [to the North] of Southern trade [and] would very likely attract to it the agrarian sections of the Southwest and Northwest. The [Northern] merchants knew that the South had sought for years to cement economic ties with the West. Prior to the secession movement it had failed. But direct trade with England on the basis of a low tariff or free trade, together with the aid of English capital for railroad connections with the West, would be too attractive to be rejected by the Western states.ix

English capital would build factories and railroads, and the South, with its free trade philosophy and control of King Cotton, would not only dominate United States trade thanks to the Morrill Tariff, but would manufacture, ship, and compete in every respect in world commerce. There was nothing preventing this and every reason for the South to rush forward. Free trade is what it had always wanted.

Cotton and other bountiful Southern commodities would be a hop and a skip to Southern manufacturing facilities, which would be a hop and a skip to Southern ports. People would immigrate into the South and increase its wealth and power as had happened in the North for the past half century. Southerners did not need high tariffs and protectionism. They would compete on a level playing field with the rest of the world. They were enthusiastic, confident, and anxious to get going.


i Governor John Letcher, "Governor John Letcher's Message on Federal Relations to the legislature of Virginia in extraordinary session on January 7, 1861," in Journal of the House of Delegates of the State of Virginia, for the Extra Session, 1861 (Richmond: William F. Ritchie, Public Printer, 1861), Document I, iii-xxvii.

ii The Manchester (N.H.) Union Democrat, "Let Them Go!", editorial of February 19, 1861, in Perkins, ed., Northern Editorials on Secession, Vol. II, 592.

iii Letcher, "Governor John Letcher's Message on Federal Relations to the legislature of Virginia in extraordinary session on January 7, 1861," Document I, iii-xxvii.

iv The Manchester (N.H.) Union Democrat, "Let Them Go!", editorial of February 19, 1861 in Perkins, ed., Northern Editorials on Secession, Vol. II, 592.

v Jefferson Davis, "Inaugural Address," as Provisional President of the Confederate States of America, 18 February 1861, at Montgomery, Alabama in Lynda Lasswell Crist, ed., The Papers of Jefferson Davis (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1992), Volume 7, 46-50.

vi The Manchester (N.H.) Union Democrat, "Let Them Go!", editorial of February 19, 1861 in Perkins, ed., Northern Editorials on Secession, Vol. II, 592.

vii Adams, When in the Course of Human Events, 65; and Ida M. Tarbell, The Tariff in Our Times (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1911), 8-11.

viii New York Evening Post, March 12, 1861, "What Shall Be Done for a Revenue?" in Perkins, ed., Northern Editorials on Secession, Vol II, 598.

ix Foner, Business & Slavery, 284.

Harper's Weekly, April 13, 1861

Harper's Weekly
April 13, 1861

The New Tariff on Dry Goods.

Unhappy condition of the Optic Nerve of a Custom House Appraiser who has been counting the Threads in a Square Yard of Fabric to ascertain the duty thereon under the New MORRILL Tariff. The Spots and Webs are well-known Opthalmic Symptoms. It is confidently expected that the unfortunate man will go blind.

The Confederate States of America: 1861 Was 1776 All Over

The Confederate States of America:

1861 Was 1776 All Over

by Gene Kizer, Jr.

The formation of the Confederate States of America by the people of the South through their secession conventions was the greatest expression of democracy and self-government in the history of the world.

(This post is Chapter Five of my book, Slavery Was Not the Cause of the War Between the States, The Irrefutable Argument., available on this website)

Slavery Was Not the Cause of the War Between the States, The Irrefutable Argument. by Gene Kizer, Jr. - front cover - slavery not the cause of the Civil War

Southerners revered the Founding Fathers and quoted the Declaration of Independence extensively in the secession debate in the South in the months before seceding from the Union. As stated earlier, George Washington is front and center on the Great Seal of the Confederacy. The most widely quoted phrase of the secession debate comes from the Declaration of Independence:

Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. (Bold emphasis added.)

The formation of the Confederate States of America by the people of the South through their secession conventions was the greatest expression of democracy and self-government in the history of the world.

How could it not be? Millions of people in a land mass as great as Europe rose up in state after state and invoked Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, George Washington and others of their Revolutionary sires. There were only 85 years between 1776 and 1861. The Revolution and Declaration of Independence were still fresh in the minds and hearts of Southerners.

They withdrew from an economically confiscatory government run by people who hated them, and formed a new one more to their liking "laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."1 And they stood ready, with great enthusiasm, to fight for their sacred right of self-government.

Sovereignty resides with the people. The people are the sovereign.

Conventions of the people in their respective states to decide one issue, such as secession, are the infallible way to express the will of the people -- the consent of the governed. Conventions of the people are closer to the sovereign than even their legislatures, and the precedent of using a convention to decide an extremely important issue comes straight from the Founding Fathers who instructed that states use conventions to ratify the Constitution rather than their legislatures.

The just powers of the government of the Confederate States of America were granted by the people of the South in their secession conventions. The United States Government in 1861 no longer had the consent of the governed in the South or any just powers. The government of the United States had become the government of the North pledged against the South, as Wendell Phillips had proclaimed about the Republicans now in power.

Southerners were fed up with massive unfair taxation that greatly benefited the North, and years of hatred used by Republicans to rally their votes. Southerners did not trust the North and for good reason. They felt that the North was already at war with them via terrorists like John Brown who was financed in the North, then celebrated in the North for murdering Southerners. William Gilmore Simms said:

Do you not see that, when Hate grows into open insolence, that the enemy is prepared to gratify all his passions? -- that, having so far presumed upon our imbecility as to spit his scorn and venom into our very faces, he feels sure of his power to destroy!2

In each Southern state, Southerners debated secession vigorously, even ferociously, before calling conventions. They elected delegates as Unionists or Secessionists who went into the conventions and debated the issue further, then they voted. In only two states was the vote unanimous for secession: South Carolina, the first state to secede; and North Carolina, after the bombardment of Fort Sumter, when Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers to invade the South.

It is extremely important to note that only seven states seceded, at first, and formed the Confederate States of America. Virginia had called a convention but voted not to secede. Tennessee, Arkansas and North Carolina had not seceded either. That meant that when the guns of Fort Sumter sounded, there were more slave states in the Union than in the Confederacy.3

Beyond the shadow of a doubt, the secession of Virginia, Tennessee, Arkansas and North Carolina had NOTHING to do with slavery. They seceded after the bombardment of Fort Sumter when Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers to invade the South, and they did so because they were against federal coercion of a sovereign state, which they found illegal, unconstitutional and immoral. The federal government was supposed to be the agent of the people in their respective states, and not their master. No one group of states had any right or authority to make war on another group.


1 The Confederate States of America was the mirror image of the original American republic of 1776 but with improvements. The Confederate Constitution strengthened States' Rights and eliminated the "general welfare" language that gave the federal government too much power.

Protective tariffs were outlawed. Never again would one section of the country benefit at the expense of another as the North had so greatly benefited at the expense of the rest of the country and especially the South. Taxation would be uniform as the Founding Fathers intended.

Southerners were committed to free trade with the world and hoped that would include the North as Jefferson Davis said in his inaugural.

Spending for infrastructure improvements from the general treasury was also outlawed because it had been so unfair in the Union for the South to pay 3/4ths of the taxes while 3/4ths of the tax money was spent in the North.

Southerners were not against internal improvements whatsoever. They strongly encouraged them but wanted each state to decide for itself what it wanted to spend money on. They felt it was unjust to take money from the people of one state and give it to the people in another.

The Confederate Constitution, while similar to the U.S. Constitution, had a lot of practical things in it such as a single six-year term for the president so he wasn't constantly campaigning. Also, every bill had to be truthfully labeled.

Of course, slavery was not required. It was up to each individual state. Southerners expected many free states would join the Confederacy for economic reasons and this was a great concern to Abraham Lincoln.

2 William Gilmore Simms, "South Carolina in the Revolution. The Social Moral. Lecture 1", unpublished 1857 lecture housed in the Charles Carroll Simms Collection of the South Caroliniana Library, University of South Carolina, Columbia, 4-5.

3 As previously stated in Note #29 of Gene Kizer, Jr., Slavery Was Not the Cause of the War Between the States, The Irrefutable Argument. (Charleston, SC: Charleston Athenaeum Press, 2014), the eight slave states in the Union on April 12, 1861 when Fort Sumter was bombarded are Virginia, Tennessee, Arkansas, North Carolina, Maryland, Delaware, Kentucky and Missouri. West Virginia was admitted to the Union as a slave state during the war. The seven states to first secede and form the Confederate States of America are South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.

Panic in the Volatile North; Horace Greeley the Hypocrite

Panic in the Volatile North;

Horace Greeley the Hypocrite

by Gene Kizer, Jr.

In one single blow our foreign commerce must be reduced to less than one-half what it now is. Our coastwise trade would pass into other hands. One-half of our shipping would lie idle at our wharves. . . . Our manufactories would be in utter ruins. . . . millions of our people would be compelled to go out of employment.

Daily-Chicago Times
December 10, 1860

One week before South Carolina's
Secession Convention was to convene

(This post is Chapter Four of my book, Slavery Was Not the Cause of the War Between the States, The Irrefutable Argument., available on this website)

Slavery Was Not the Cause of the War Between the States, The Irrefutable Argument. by Gene Kizer, Jr. - front cover - slavery not the cause of the Civil War

When Northerners began realizing how truly dependent they were on the South, they flew into a panic. Horace Greeley is the embodiment of the North and he proved himself a hypocrite of the first order.

On December 17, 1860, the day South Carolina's Secession Convention began, Greeley published a long emotional editorial in the New York Daily Tribune affirming and supporting the right of secession as not only legal but moral. He is known for saying  that our "erring sisters should be allowed to depart in peace."

In "The Right of Secession," Greeley writes:

-- We have repeatedly asked those who dissent from our view of this matter to tell us frankly whether they do or do not assent to Mr. Jefferson's statement in the Declaration of Independence that governments "derive their just powers from the consent of the governed; and that, whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute a new government," &c., &c. We do heartily accept this doctrine, believing it intrinsically sound, beneficent, and one that, universally accepted, is calculated to prevent the shedding of seas of human blood. And, if it justified the secession from the British Empire of Three Millions of colonists in 1776, we do not see why it would not justify the secession of Five Millions of Southrons from the Federal Union in 1861. If we are mistaken on this point, why does not some one attempt to show wherein and why? . . . -- we could not stand up for coercion, for subjugation, for we do not think it would be just. We hold the right of Self-Government sacred, even when invoked in behalf of those who deny it to others . . . if ever 'seven or eight States' send agents to Washington to say 'We want to get out of the Union,' we shall feel constrained by our devotion to Human Liberty to say, Let Them Go! And we do not see how we could take the other side without coming in direct conflict with those Rights of Man which we hold paramount to all political arrangements, however convenient and advantageous.1

But three months later, as the Northern economy collapsed around him and genuine panic ensued with plummeting property values, business failures, factory closures, an imminent stock market crash, people in the streets, goods rotting on New York docks, and utter disaster on the horizon, he wanted war. The entire North wanted war. They all agreed with the New York Times: "At once shut down every Southern Port, destroy its commerce and bring utter ruin on the Confederate states."2

The hypocrisy of Greeley, as the embodiment of the North, is breathtaking.

He writes in his newspaper that "We hold the right of Self-government sacred," and we believe in the American Revolution and the Declaration of Independence, and we believe in the "just powers" of the government coming from the "consent of the governed," and we believe in the "Right of the People to alter or to abolish" a tyrannical government -- and we believe in a "devotion to Human Liberty" and the "Rights of Man" no matter how "convenient and advantageous" our current situation -- and his most hypocritical of hypocritical statements, that "we could not stand up for coercion, for subjugation, for we do not think it would be just."

He then casts all his sacred principles to the ground and spits all over them. He spits on the Revolutionary War and the Founding Fathers too, and he grinds the Declaration of Independence into the dirt with his heel because they all were secondary to his money -- and the North was with him in lockstep.3

Backtrack to December, 1860, as South Carolina's Secession Convention gets underway. South Carolina Governor Francis Wilkinson Pickens reflected the utter thrill and ecstasy of the South over its forthcoming independence. He said in his inaugural message that South Carolina would "open her ports free to the tonnage and trade of all nations, . . . . She has fine harbors, accessible to foreign commerce, and she is in the centre of those extensive agricultural productions, that enter so largely into the foreign trade and commerce of the world."4 He said South Carolina would immediately seek free trade relationships with all countries, especially England, and

it is for the benefit of all who may be interested in commerce, in manufactories, and in the comforts of artizans and mechanic labor everywhere, to make such speedy and peaceful arrangements with us as may advance the interests and happiness of all concerned.5

Contrast that with Northern panic in the same week from The Chicago Times:

In one single blow our foreign commerce must be reduced to less than one-half what it now is. Our coastwise trade would pass into other hands. One-half of our shipping would lie idle at our wharves. We should lose our trade with the South, with all its immense profits. Our manufactories would be in utter ruins. Let the South adopt the free-trade system, or that of a tariff for revenue,6 and these results would likely follow. If protection be wholly withdrawn from our labor, it could not compete, with all the prejudices against it, with the labor of Europe. We should be driven from the market, and millions of our people would be compelled to go out of employment.7 (Bold emphasis added.)

New York City was petrified and ready to secede from New York State over the certain loss of its commercial trade with the South. The situation was too "gloomy and painful to contemplate" according to Mayor Fernando Wood. He issued his "Recommendation for the Secession of New York City" on January 6, 1861 to make it clear that New York supported the South and valued its trade with the South and wanted to keep it:

When Disunion has become a fixed and certain fact, why may not New York disrupt the bands which bind her to a venal and corrupt master -- to a people and a party [Lincoln's Republicans] that have plundered her revenues, attempted to ruin her commerce, taken away the power of self-government, and destroyed the Confederacy [meaning the pre-secession Union with the Southern States intact] of which she was the proud Empire City? Amid the gloom which the present and prospective condition of things must cast over the country, New York, as a Free City, may shed the only light and hope of a future reconstruction of our once blessed Confederacy. . . .8

Northern society was volatile, anyway, wild and unstable, subject to economic panics (severe recessions/depression, bank failures, etc.). The entire decade before the war, the North was chaotic, dangerous, often a wretched place to live. The scenes in Martin Scorsese's Gangs of New York are true to life but don't even begin to tell the real story.

Widespread poverty kept the working classes hungry and in turmoil. Constant immigration from Europe increased the pressure steadily and made the North a boiler on the verge of exploding. Most immigrants arrived with little or no money yet had to survive. They headed straight to factories and "industrial misery" where a man could work for only a few brutal years before his body was ruined by black lung and other diseases due to unhealthy conditions in crude factories.

Industrial turmoil in the North mirrored Europe. European agitation was transferred to the North with "strikes and demonstrations, far-reaching, prolonged and repeated, never more volcanic in character than in the decade that preceded the Civil War."9

There was genuine concern that if the enfranchised but miserable poor ever got organized, they would vote themselves into power then confiscate the property of wealthy people and redistribute it. It had happened in other places.

Some historians believe it did happen in the North but the property taken was not that of a ruling class. It was the western lands. That is why the West was such a huge campaign issue in 1860. When Horace Greeley said, "Go West, young man, and grow up with the country," it was not just a good idea. It was the pressure valve of the Northern boiler that was about to explode -- and it released the North's surplus population to the West like steam into the wind.

William Gilmore Simms had toured the North on a lecture tour in 1856 and noted that Republican promises are "Addressed to a class, counting millions of desperate men, whom a grinding daily necessity makes reckless of every consideration of law, justice and the constitution."10 He also said the North "is all wild, disordered, anarchical, ready for chaos and disruption. And, the Northern mind, where not fanatical, is marked by a frivolity, a levity, which makes it reluctant to grapple seriously with serious things."11 In the Panic of 1857, tens of thousands of hungry workers had roamed the streets of Northern cities in mobs shouting "bread or blood!"

Republicans had rallied those voters with slogans like "Vote yourself a tariff" and "Vote yourself a farm." Historian Mary Beard wrote that "when the Republicans in their platform of 1860 offered free land to the workingmen of the world in exchange for a protective tariff" they got a "tumultuous response."12

Northern anti-slavery was in no sense a pro-black movement but was anti-black. It was a way to rally votes. Might as well substitute the term "anti-South" for "anti-slavery" because it was anti-South -- against the South -- not pro-black.

Historian James L. Huston states well the Northern attitude toward slavery:

If opposition to slavery had involved only antagonism toward racial oppression, then the northern attack would have barely existed. The North was not a racially egalitarian section seeking to establish equitable race relations in the slaveholding South.13

Many of the genuine abolitionists in the North -- the 2 to 5% mentioned by Lee Benson and Gavin Wright -- were racists. This is a great irony but many hated slavery because they hated blacks and did not want to associate with them, especially in the West.

David M. Potter states that Northern anti-slavery was "not in any clear-cut sense a pro-Negro movement but actually had an anti-Negro aspect and was designed to get rid of the Negro."14

Abraham Lincoln also wanted to "get rid of the Negro." He had always supported recolonization. As stated earlier, Lincoln's Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation is clear that "the effort to colonize persons of African descent, with their consent, upon this continent, or elsewhere, with the previously obtained consent of the Governments existing there, will be continued."

Some abolitionists such as William Lloyd Garrison had real concern for black people. Robert Toombs said Garrison was a man of conviction who would not take an oath to the U.S. Constitution because it protected slavery. Toombs said the good abolitionists like Garrison did not trust the "political abolitionists" and wanted nothing to do with them.

These political abolitionists -- the other 95 to 98% of the Northern electorate -- wanted something from the government such as free land in the West, a protective tariff, bounty, subsidy or monopoly for their businesses. Some were working men afraid of competition with slave labor, especially in the West. All had been led to believe that if they voted Republican, the Republican Party would bring them riches beyond their wildest imaginations, farms, tariffs, land, whatever they wanted. This was not a pro-black movement in any way. It was a carnival of greed and special interests.

Charles P. Roland in An American Iliad, The Story of the Civil War acknowledges the economic and racist character of Northern anti-slavery:

There was a significant economic dimension in the Northern antislavery sentiment, the fear of competition from slave labor and the awareness that work itself was degraded by slavery. Finally and paradoxically, a racial factor contributed to the Northern attitude. Antipathy against slavery often went hand in hand with racism that was similar in essence, if not in pervasiveness of intensity, to the Southern racial feeling. Many Northerners objected to the presence of slavery in their midst, in part, because they objected to the presence of blacks there.15

Alexis de Tocqueville observed the Northern racist attitude as well and said "Race prejudice seems stronger in those states that have abolished slavery than in those where it still exists, and nowhere is it more intolerant than in those states where slavery was never known."16

Many Northern and Western states had laws prohibiting free blacks from settling there including Lincoln's own Illinois. In Illinois, it was called "An act to prevent the immigration of free Negroes into this State" and it said that any free black person staying longer than 10 days "was subject to arrest and imprisonment."17

Wars are not fought over issues like slavery.

Mothers and fathers do not send their precious sons off to die because they don't like the domestic institutions in other countries.

No country in history had a war to end slavery, and neither did we. Most nations ended slavery with gradual, compensated emancipation, or some variation thereof. That's what Lincoln always favored.

The domestic institutions in other countries affect no one, but a threat to one's economy affects everyone and is extremely dangerous. It must be dealt with immediately before it gets out of hand.

An economic collapse progresses with lightning speed into panic, runs on banks, mob violence, anarchy, and the collapse of the government itself. People are desperate, have no food, no money. Men have no way to protect their wives and daughters from rape, murder, violence. Civil law breaks down and is replaced by the law of the jungle.

No government is going to let that happen. That's why we fought two Gulf Wars. Any threat to the free-flow of oil from the Middle East is a threat to our economy.


1 "The Right of Secession," The New-York Daily Tribune, December 17, 1860, in Howard Cecil Perkins, ed., Northern Editorials on Secession (Gloucester, MA: Peter Smith, 1964), 199-201.

2 The New-York Times, 22-23 March, 1861, as quoted in Adams, When in the Course of Human Events, 65.

3 If the North had granted the right of secession as Greeley had so strongly supported at first, there would have been no War Between the States. Greeley and the North could have formed a new relationship with the South and traded, done business, and been friends. However, Northerners saw their economic collapse and loss of wealth and power with no hope of regaining it. They knew 60% of U.S. exports had been cotton, alone, which they got wealthy shipping. They knew those cargoes would be irreplaceable. They knew Great Britain would supply manufactured goods to the South cheaper than the North, and that Southerners would soon manufacture for themselves. So, Northerners weighed their enormous advantages at that point in history and decided a bloody war of invasion and conquest to maintain their economic supremacy over a peace-seeking, independent South was better for them than fair economic competition in the world market. It would solve all Lincoln's political problems by causing Northerners to rally to the flag. It would also put people to work. (Bold emphasis added.)

4 Francis Wilkinson Pickens, "Inaugural Message of South Carolina Governor Francis Wilkinson Pickens," published 18 December 1860 in The (Charleston, S.C.) Courier.

5 Ibid.

6 See also Footnote #47 in Slavery Was Not the Cause of the War Between the States, The Irrefutable Argument. for the difference between tariff for revenue and protective tariff. What is meant by "a tariff for revenue" is a small tariff to raise a small amount of revenue to pay for the operation of a small federal government such as the government of the Confederate States of America. Southerners had always wanted free trade with the world. They believed in as small a tariff as possible. Contrast a small tariff for revenue with the huge protective tariffs the North loved that were punitive and meant to deter free trade so that one would be forced to buy from the North at jacked-up rates that were not determined by market competition but were jacked-up to the level of the tariff. The tariff is the perfect thing to contrast the differences in North and South. The moment the South was out of the Union, they made protective tariffs unconstitutional while the North passed the astronomical Morrill Tariff. The Morrill Tariff prevented the recovery of the Northern economy and made war Abraham Lincoln's only choice to save the North from economic annihilation. Of course, Lincoln's choice resulted in 800,000 deaths and over a million wounded out of a population of approximately 31 million.

7 Daily Chicago Times, "The Value of the Union," December 10, 1860, in Perkins, ed., Northern Editorials on Secession, Vol. II, 573-574.

8 Mayor Fernando Wood, "Mayor Fernando Wood's Recommendation for the Secession of New York City," January 6, 1861, in Henry Steele Commager, ed., Documents of American History, Sixth Edition (New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, Inc.), 374-376.

9 Charles A. Beard and Mary R. Beard, The Rise of American Civilization (New York: The MacMillan Company, 1936), Vol. 1, 633-634.

10 Simms, "Antagonisms," 72-74.

11 Simms, "Antagonisms," 36-39.

12 Beard and Beard, The Rise of American Civilization, 649.

13 James L. Huston, "Property Rights in Slavery and the Coming of the Civil War," Journal of Southern History, Volume LXV, Number 2, May, 1999, 263-264.

14 Potter, The Impending Crisis, 1848-1861, 35-36.

15 Charles P. Roland, An American Iliad, The Story of the Civil War (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1991), 3.

16 Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, trans. by George Lawrence (New York: Harper & Row, 1969), v. 1, 342, in Jeffrey Rogers Hummel Emancipating Slaves, Enslaving Free Men, A History of the American Civil War (Chicago: Open Court, 1996), 26.

17 H. Newcomb Morse, "The Foundations and Meaning of Secession," Stetson Law Review of Stetson University College of Law, Vol. XV, No. 2, 1986, footnote #28, 423.