Thursday, February 1, 2018

Slavery or States' Rights

The debate continues on the causes of the Civil War. The Lincoln Administration wanted to save the Union. 
My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. 
 However, Lincoln opposed slavery and its extension to the Western territories.

The Confederacy struggles with several issues: Did the Southern States secede to maintain and extend slavery, because their states' rights were ignored by the North, and/or because the North raised an army to attack the South after Fort Sumter. 

Alexander Stephens, the vice president of the Confederacy, said in his cornerstone speech that "disagreements over the enslavement of Africans" was the "immediate cause" of secession.

The new [Confederate] Constitution has put at rest forever all the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institutions — African slavery as it exists among us—the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization. This was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution. Jefferson, in his forecast, had anticipated this, as the "rock upon which the old Union would split." He was right. What was conjecture with him, is now a realized fact. But whether he fully comprehended the great truth upon which that rock stood and stands, may be doubted. The prevailing ideas entertained by him and most of the leading statesmen at the time of the formation of the old Constitution were, that the enslavement of the African was in violation of the laws of nature; that it was wrong in principle, socially, morally and politically. It was an evil they knew not well how to deal with; but the general opinion of the men of that day was, that, somehow or other, in the order of Providence, the institution would be evanescent and pass away... Those ideas, however, were fundamentally wrong. They rested upon the assumption of the equality of races. This was an error. It was a sandy foundation, and the idea of a Government built upon it—when the "storm came and the wind blew, it fell.
The question about states' rights being the cause should ask, "What state right were the Southern States trying to protect?" The obvious answer is the preservation of slavery in their state.

In the next blog, I will examine the articles or causes of secession in three states: South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia. 


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