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.

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4 Comments

  1. One other slave state in the Union was New Jersey. Slavery remained in New Jersey until it was abolished there by the ratification of the 13th Amendment in December 1865. The story of this is told in the book “The Ragged Road to Abolition: Slavery and Freedom in New Jersey, 1776-1865” by James J. Gigantino II. Every other state north of the Mason-Dixon Line passed laws abolishing slavery before 1800, though in many cases it was gradual abolition and many slaves there were not freed until after that date. New Jersey passed such a law just after 1800, but then repealed it in the early 1840’s and put all its slaves back into perpetual slavery. New Jersey also voted against the ratification of the 13th Amendment, as did Delaware, the other slave state in the North. Both of these two states sent every regiment they raised during the war to the Union army. Not a single regiment was raised in either state for the Confederate army.

    • Timothy,

      Thanks so much for your excellent comment!

      I knew there were slaves in New Jersey in the late antebellum period but I had no idea New Jersey was a slave state DURING the war. That means there were SIX Union slave states during the War Between the States: New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, Missouri, Kentucky, and West Virginia. I have already ordered The Ragged Road to Abolition: Slavery and Freedom in New Jersey, 1776-1865, by James J. Gigantino, II. Can’t wait to read it and have it in my library.

      It is interesting that New Jersey had a law abolishing slavery in the early 1800s then repealed it in the early 1840s. I wonder why it was repealed? That is going to be enlightening, valuable information, as is why NJ voted against the 13th Amendment along with Delaware.

      Really appreciate the information! Please write anytime.

      Gene

  2. Good Article! The facts presented align with what I have long believed about the so-called Civil War. It was more specifically a war of Northern aggression.

    I hope to see some facts and/or opinions about the so-called Gettysburg Address. I have heard that people’s comments about it in the press at the time were quite lack-luster. Also, I read somewhere that it was not the keynote speech on the particular occasion, but was perhaps an unexpected, unplanned addition to the proceedings. When I read Lincoln’s words in that address, I feel negative. I don’t see anything about freeing slaves, unless one attaches that to the words about all men being created equal. Further, I do see definitive words to the effect that Lincoln is using (taking political advantage of ) a solemn occasion to beat the drum of pumping up the effort to subdue the South through continuing the bloodshed. Most notably, I consider the words about government of the people by the people for the people perishing from the earth as disingenuous spin which has no merit whatever. Those words relate only to so-called pure democracy, which is specifically mob rule. Our republic was formed to be government of the people, by the experienced, educated, patriotic, duly installed, functionaries, for the protection of the people from whomever would seek to take away the peoples’ inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The grand goodness of Lincoln’s government could have continued if he had let the South have its freedom.

    • Lewis,

      Thank for writing!

      You bring up a lot of good points. It was a war of Northern aggression because Lincoln started it to rescue the Northern economy from the collapse that was well underway in the spring of 1861. He and the North were in a panic while Southerners were ecstatic about independence and finally having control of their own economy.

      They wanted free trade which was the opposite of the protectionism the North demanded. That protectionism resulted in millions of dollars a year flowing out of the South and directly into the pockets of Northerners. Robert Toombs called it a “suction pump.”

      Lincoln’s war had nothing to do with freeing the slaves. This is provable beyond the shadow of a doubt. Please see my article “The North Did Not Go to War to End Slavery,” https://www.charlestonathenaeumpress.com/the-north-did-not-go-to-war-to-end-slavery/.

      In recent years, so many excellent books have been written about Abraham Lincoln that bring truth to the sickening saccharine hagiography that passes for history in academia and the fake news media. You are probably familiar with Thomas J. DiLorenzo’s The Real Lincoln; Lincoln UnMasked, and others.

      The black scholar Lerone Bennett, Jr.’s Forced Into Glory: Abraham Lincoln’s White Dream, is powerful and full of excellent information and analysis.

      There is also The Unpopular Mr. Lincoln, The Story of America’s Most Reviled President, by Larry Tagg; and, The Unquotable Abraham Lincoln, The President’s Quotes They Don’t Want You to Know, by Lochlainn Seabrook.

      Another good book, Lincoln As He Really Was, by Dr. Charles T. Pace, published by Shotwell Publishing, where you can find a LOT of great books (http://www.shotwellpublishing.com/).

      From the past, there is The Real Lincoln, by Charles L. C. Minor; and Lincoln, The Man, by Edgar Lee Masters.

      These are just a few of the excellent books out there that bring a better perspective, and balance, to Lincoln scholarship.

      You are absolutely right about the Gettysburg Address. The great writer, H. L. Mencken, no friend of the South, said this in May, 1920 about the Gettysburg Address:

      “The doctrine is simply this: that the Union soldiers who died at Gettysburg sacrificed their lives to the cause of self-determination – ‘that government of the people, by the people, for the people,’ should not perish from the earth. It is difficult to imagine anything more untrue. The Union soldiers in that battle actually fought against self-determination; it was the Confederates who fought for the right of their people to govern themselves….”.

      Your last statement is right on the money. You said “The grand goodness of Lincoln’s government could have continued if he had let the South have its freedom.”

      The problem for Lincoln was that Southern independence meant the North would now have an extremely capable economic competitor on their border, a competitor that already controlled the most demanded commodity on the planet, King Cotton. That competitor with European trade and military alliances could not be beaten in a war by the North if allowed to remain independent.

      But rather than form a new trading and economic relationship with the South, Lincoln and Northern leaders decided they didn’t want the competition.

      Lincoln weighed his enormous odds – four times the white population of the South, a large pipeline to all the wretched refuse of the world with which to feed Union armies, maybe 200 times the arms manufacturing; there was not a single factory in the South capable of making marine engines but there were 19 in the North; a standing army and navy, solid financial system, relationships with all the governments of the world . . . Lincoln was a man 40 feet tall armed with modern weaponry facing a man five feet tall carrying a musket.

      Lincoln could not WAIT to fight so he started his war in Charleston Harbor.

      I do think Lincoln figured the North would whip the South easily because of their enormous advantages in resources and population. Too bad he was dead wrong and almost a million people had to die and another million be maimed for life to prove it.

      The South was worn out by Northern numbers but wrote the book on American valor, and covered the South in glory and honor forever.

      Thanks again for writing!

      Gene

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