Confederate States of America

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We prefer, however, our system of industry... where the white man cannot labor... brought into usefulness by the labor of the African... Join us, in forming a Confederacy of Slaveholding States. ~ Address of South Carolina to the Slaveholding States

The Confederate States (C.S.), also known as "the Confederacy", was a declared but unrecognized country that existed in the continent of North America from 1861 to 1865, during the American Civil War.


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Quotes[edit]

Alphabetized by author or source.
No bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law denying or impairing the right of property in negro slaves shall be passed... The right of property in said slaves shall not be thereby impaired. ~ The Constitution of the Confederate States of America
We are fighting to maintain the Heaven-ordained supremacy of the white man over the inferior or colored race. ~ William Thompson
The Confederacy's existence were predicated on slavery, on preserving and defending it. ~ William Davis
Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite ideas; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth... ~ Alexander H. Stephens
Confederate soldiers from slaveholding families expressed no feelings of embarrassment or inconstency in fighting for their own liberty while holding other people in slavery. Indeed, white supremacy and the right of property in slaves were at the core of the ideology for which Confederate soldiers fought. ~ James M. McPherson
We need to understand what the Confederacy stood for. It's all been romanticized. The whole thing was based on white supremacy. ~ Tom Turnipseed
The southern man could see no reason of state, of law, or of religion which required him to yield his most ancient rights and his most valuable property to the new-born zeal of adversaries whom he more than suspect of being actuated by mere malignity under the guise of philanthropy. All that he knew or had ever known of the policy of the state, of religion, or of law was on the side of slavery. ~ Ward Hill Lamon
As time passes, people, even of the South, will begin to wonder how it was possible that their ancestors ever fought for or justified institutions which acknowledged the right of property in man. ~ Ulysses S. Grant
Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves; and, under a just God, can not long retain it. ~ Abraham Lincoln
Slavery was the caus beli... Every life that has been lost in this struggle was an offering upon the altar of African Slavery. ~ The Macon Telegraph (January 1865)
The religion that makes men rebel and fight against their government is not the genuine article, nor is the religion the right sort which reconciles them to the idea of eating their bread in the sweat of other men's faces. It is not the kind to get to heaven on. ~ Abraham Lincoln
We, of South Carolina, hope soon to greet you in a southern Confederacy, where white men shall rule our destinies, and from which we may transmit to our posterity the rights, privileges, and honor left us by our ancestors. ~ John McQueen
Strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces. ~ Abraham Lincoln
Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery... There was no choice left us but submission to the mandates of abolition, or a dissolution of the Union... ~ Declaration of the Causes which Induce the Secession of Mississippi
The issue before the country is the extinction of slavery... No man of common sense, who has observed the progress of events, and is not prepared to surrender the institution... The time for action has come... Now or never... The existence of slavery is at stake. ~ Charleston Mercury (3 November 1860)
Slavery was at the root of what the Civil War was all about. ~ James McPherson
Governments of the various States, and of the confederacy itself, were established exclusively by the white race, for themselves and their posterity; that the African race had no agency in their establishment; that they were rightfully held and regarded as an inferior and dependent race... ~ Declaration of the Causes which Impel Texas to Secede
Slavery as it exists amongst us; the proper status of the negro... This was the immediate cause of the late rupture... ~ Alexander H. Stephens
Unless there had been a separation from the north, slavery would be abolished... ~ Henry Benning
Any man who pretends to believe that this is not a war for the emancipation of the blacks... is either a fool or liar. ~ The Vidette (November 1862)
The destiny of the Southern master and his African slave... That destiny does not stop short of the banks of the Amazon. The world of wonders in the animal and vegetable kingdom, of riches incalculable in the vast domain, watered by that gigantic stream, is the natural heritage of the Southron and his domestic slave. ~ George Bagby
The south would carry out its threat to secede and set up a separate government, the corner-stone of which should be, protection to the 'Divine' institution of slavery. ~ Ulysses S. Grant
Citizens of each state shall be entitled to all the privileges and immunities of citizens in the several states, and shall have the right of transit and sojourn in any state of this Confederacy, with their slaves... ~ The Constitution of the Confederate States of America
The assault upon and reduction of Fort Sumter was in no sense a matter of self-defense on the part of the assailants. They well knew that the garrison in the fort could by no possibility commit aggression upon them. ~ Abraham Lincoln
What can we do to satisfy our Southern brethren? No assurances that we give them that we will have no intention of interfering with the institution of slavery where it exists will satisfy them. We must get rid of all anti-slavery sentiment. ~ Abraham Lincoln
The south went to war on account of slavery. South Carolina went to war, as she said in her Secession proclamation, because slavery would not be secure under Lincoln. ~ John S. Mosby
The Confederacy sought to overthrow our constitutional government. When the Confederates fired on Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, they were not merely firing at 'Federals' or the Union army. They were firing at the United States Army and the U.S. flag. ~ Frank Scaturro
The Confederate experience is dotted with episodes that are not particularly admirable. ~ William Davis
No slave in this State shall be emancipated... ~ Constitution of the State of Alabama
The General Assembly shall have no power to pass laws for the emancipation of slaves. ~ Constitution of the State of Florida
The negro, subordination is his place. ~ Alexander H. Stephens
Where cotton's king and men are chattels... ~ Union Dixie
We saw the Confederate States, based upon the idea that our race must be slaves, and slaves forever, battered to pieces and scattered to the four winds. ~ Frederick Douglass
Because I love the South, I rejoice in the failure of the Confederacy. ~ Woodrow Wilson
This war, let it be long or let it be short, let it cost much or let it cost little... shall not cease until every freedman at the South has the right to vote. ~ Frederick Douglass
Shoot down the Confederacy and uphold the flag; the American flag. ~ Frederick Douglass
The Confederacy enacted the first conscription laws in American history. ~ Eric Foner
The Confederacy started the war by firing on the American flag. ~ James McPherson
How do you get poor people who don't even own the shirt on their back, let alone slaves, to go fight to go keep your slaves for you? You've got to convince them that their skin is more important than their economic interest. ~ Tim Wise
The south was right... Looking upon African slavery... I for one, have ever considered it one of the greatest blessings... ~ John W. Booth
The country and the army are mainly dependent upon slave labor. ~ Joseph E. Brown
You cannot make soldiers of slaves... The moment you resort to negro soldiers your white soldiers will be lost... ~ Howell Cobb
I understand that your fabric of opposition to the Government of the United States has the right of property in man as its corner-stone. ~ Benjamin F. Butler
Negroes... don't arm them. The day you make soldiers of them is the beginning of the end. ~ Howell Cobb

A[edit]

  • We prefer, however, our system of industry, by which labor and capital are identified in interest, and capital, therefore, protects labor–by which our population doubles every twenty years–by which starvation is unknown, and abundance crowns the land–by which order is preserved by unpaid police, and the most fertile regions of the world, where the white man cannot labor, are brought into usefulness by the labor of the African, and the whole world is blessed by our own productions. All we demand of other peoples is, to be let alone, to work out our own high destinies. United together, and we must be the most independent, as we are the most important among the nations of the world. United together, and we require no other instrument to conquer peace, than our beneficent productions. United together, and we must be a great, free and prosperous people, whose renown must spread throughout the civilized world, and pass down, we trust, to the remotest ages. We ask you to join us, in forming a Confederacy of Slaveholding States.
  • We hold as undeniable truths that the governments of the various States, and of the confederacy itself, were established exclusively by the white race, for themselves and their posterity; that the African race had no agency in their establishment; that they were rightfully held and regarded as an inferior and dependent race, and in that condition only could their existence in this country be rendered beneficial or tolerable.
  • Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery, the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of the commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun. These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization. That blow has been long aimed at the institution, and was at the point of reaching its consummation. There was no choice left us but submission to the mandates of abolition, or a dissolution of the Union... We do not overstate the dangers to our Institution...

B[edit]

  • The truth is, we shall see the Southern Cross ere the destiny of the Southern master and his African slave is accomplished. That destiny does not stop short of the banks of the Amazon. The world of wonders in the animal and vegetable kingdom, of riches incalculable in the vast domain, watered by that gigantic stream, is the natural heritage of the Southron and his domestic slave. They alone can achieve its conquest and lay its untold wealth a tribute at the feet of commerce, the Queen consort of King Cotton.
  • I have ever held the South was right. The very nomination of Abraham Lincoln, four years ago, spoke plainly... Looking upon African slavery... I for one, have ever considered it one of the greatest blessings, both for themselves and us...
  • The country and the army are mainly dependent upon slave labor for support.
    • Joseph E. Brown, Journal of the Senate at an Extra Session of the General Assembly of the State of Georgia, Convened under the Proclamation of the Governor (25 March 1863), p. 6
  • Will you suffer your soldier, captured in fighting your battles, to be in confinement for months rather than release him by giving for him that which you call a piece of property, and which we are willing to accept as a man? You certainly appear to place less value upon your soldier than you do upon your negro. I assure you, much as we of the North are accused of loving property, our citizens would have no difficulty in yielding up any piece of property they have in exchange for one of their brothers or sons languishing in your prisons.

C[edit]

  • The issue before the country is the extinction of slavery... No man of common sense, who has observed the progress of events, and is not prepared to surrender the institution... The time for action has come – now or never... The existence of slavery is at stake.
  • The new paradigm in social attitudes and the fuller use of available evidence has favored a massacre interpretation. Debate over the memory of this incident formed a part of sectional and racial conflicts for many years after the war, but the reinterpretation of the event during the last thirty years offers some hope that society can move beyond past intolerance.
    • John Cimprich, as quoted in Fort Pillow: A Civil War Massacre and Public Memory (2005), Louisiana State University Press, pp. 123–124
  • The proposition to make soldiers of our slaves is the most pernicious idea that has been suggested since the war began. It is to me a source of deep mortification and regret to see the name of that good and great man and soldier, General R. E. Lee, given as authority for such a policy. My first hour of despondency will be the one in which that policy shall be adopted. You cannot make soldiers of slaves, nor slaves of soldiers. The moment you resort to negro soldiers your white soldiers will be lost to you; and one secret of the favor with which the proposition is received in portions of the army is the hope that when negroes go into the Army they will be permitted to retire. It is simply a proposition to fight the balance of the war with negro troops. You can't keep white and black troops together, and you can't trust negroes by themselves. It is difficult to get negroes enough for the purpose indicated in the President's message, much less enough for an Army... Use all the negroes you can get, for all the purposes for which you need them, but don't arm them. The day you make soldiers of them is the beginning of the end of the revolution. If slaves make good soldiers our whole theory of slavery is wrong. But they won't make soldiers. As a class they are wanting in every qualification of a soldier. Better by far to yield to the demands of England and France and abolish slavery and thereby purchase their aid, than resort to this policy, which leads as certainly to ruin and subjugation as it is adopted; you want more soldiers, and hence the proposition to take negroes into the Army. Before resorting to it, at least try every reasonable mode of getting white soldiers. I do not entertain a doubt that you can, by the volunteering policy, get more men into the service than you can arm. I have more fears about arms than about men, For Heaven’s sake, try it before you fill with gloom and despondency the hearts of many of our truest and most devoted men, by resort to the suicidal policy of arming our slaves.
  • No slave in this State shall be emancipated by any act done to take effect in this State, or any other country.
    • Article IV, Section 1, Constitution of the State of Alabama (1861)
  • The importation of negroes of the African race from any foreign country other than the slaveholding States or Territories of the United States of America, is hereby forbidden...
  • Citizens of each state shall be entitled to all the privileges and immunities of citizens in the several states, and shall have the right of transit and sojourn in any state of this Confederacy, with their slaves...
  • Down with the eagle!
    • "Confederate Battle Cry of Freedom"
  • To secure the proper police of the country, one person, either as agent, owner or overseer on each plantation on which one white person is required to be kept by the laws or ordinances of any State, and on which there is no white male adult not liable to do military service, and in States having no such law, one person as agent, owner or overseer, on each plantation of twenty negroes, and on which there is no white male adult not liable to military service; And furthermore, For additional police for every twenty negroes on two or more plantations, within five miles of each other, and each having less than twenty negroes, and of which there is no white male adult not liable to military duty, one person, being the oldest of the owners or overseers on such plantations;… are hereby exempted from military service in the armies of the Confederate States;… Provided, further, That the exemptions herein above enumerated and granted hereby, shall only continue whilst the persons exempted are actually engaged in their respective pursuits or occupations.
  • Resolved by the Congress of the Confederate States of America, in response to a message of the President, transmitted to Congress at the commencement of the present session, that, in the opinion of Congress, the commissioned officers of the enemy ought not to be delivered to the authorities of the respective States as suggested in the said message, but all captives taken by Confederate forces ought to be dealt with and disposed of by the Confederate Government.
  • Sec. 2. That, in the judgment of Congress, the proclamations of the President of the United States dated respectively September twenty-second, eighteen hundred and sixty-two, and January first, eighteen hundred and sixty-three, and other measures of the Government of the United States and of its authorities, commanders and forces, designed or intending to emancipate slaves in the Confederate States, or to abduct such slaves, or to incite them to insurrection, or to employ negroes in war against the Confederate States, or to overthrow the institution of African slavery, and bring on a servile war in these States, would, if successful, produced atrocious consequences, and they are inconsistent with the spirit of those usage which in modern warfare prevail among civilized nations; they may, therefore, be properly and lawfully repressed by retaliation.
  • Sec. 3. That in every case, wherein, during the present war, any violation of the laws or usages of war among civilized nations shall be, or has been, done and perpetrated by those acting under the authority of the Government of the United States, on the persons or property of citizens of the Confederate States, or of those under the protection or in the land or naval service of the Confederate States, or of any State of the Confederacy, the President of the Confederate States is hereby authorized to cause full and ample retaliation to be made for every such violation, in such manner and to such extent as he may think proper.
  • Sec. 4. That every white person, being a commissioned officer, or acting as such, who, during the present war, shall command nergroes or mulattoes in arms against the Confederate States, or who shall arm, train, organize or prepare negroes or mulattoes for military service against the Confederate States, or who shall voluntarily aid negroes or mulattoes in any military enterprize, attack or conflict in such service, shall be deemed as inciting servile insurrection, and shall, if captured, by 'put to death, or be otherwise punished at the discretion of the court.
  • Sec. 6. Every person charged with an office punishable under the preceding resolutions shall, during the present war, br tried before the military court attached to the army or corps by the troops of which he shall have been captured, or by such other military court as the President may direct, and in such manner and under such regulations as the President shall prescribe, and, after conviction, the President may commutate the punishment in such manner and on such terms as he may deem proper.
  • Sec. 7. All negroes and mulattoes who shall be engaged in war, or be taken in arms against the Confederate States, or shall give aid or comfort to the enemies of the Confederate States, shall, when captured in the Confederate States, be delivered to the authorities of the State or States in which they shall be captured, and dealt with according to the present or future laws of such State or States. Approved May 1, 1863.
  • The papers don't say much about it but the truth is these slaveholders, these three hundred and fifty thousand chivalrous southern gentlemen, who own some four million of poor ignorant fellows who pushed to the front and mowed down by Union bullets don't know what they are fighting for.
  • Some of the boys asked them what they were fighting for, and they answered, 'You Yanks want us to marry our daughters to the niggers.'
    • Chauncey Herbert Cooke, letter to family (10 May 1864)
  • This increasing unification has well-nigh obliterated State lines so far as concerns many relations of life. Yet, in a country of such enormous expanse, there must always be certain regional differences in social outlook and economic thought. The most familiar illustration of this is found in the history of slavery. The Constitution did not interfere with slavery, except to fix a time when the foreign slave trade should be abolished. Yet within a generation the country was confronting a sharp sectional division on this issue. Changing economic conditions made slavery profitable in the south, but left it unprofitable in the north. The resulting war might have been avoided if the south had adopted a policy of ultimate abolition. But as this method was not pursued the differences grew sharper until they brought on the great conflict.
  • The end of slavery in 1865 did not eliminate the problems of racist gun control laws; the various Black Codes adopted after the Civil War required blacks to obtain a license before carrying or possessing firearms or Bowie knives; these are sufficiently well-known that any reasonably complete history of the Reconstruction period mentions them. These restrictive gun laws played a part in the efforts of the Republicans to get the Fourteenth Amendment ratified, because it was difficult for night riders to generate the correct level of terror in a victim who was returning fire. It does appear, however, that the requirement to treat blacks and whites equally before the law led to the adoption of restrictive firearms laws in the South that were equal in the letter of the law, but unequally enforced. It is clear that the vagrancy statutes adopted at roughly the same time, in 1866, were intended to be used against blacks, even though the language was race-neutral. The former states of the Confederacy, many of which had recognized the right to carry arms openly before the civil war, developed a very sudden willingness to qualify that right. One especially absurd example, and one that includes strong evidence of the racist intentions behind gun control laws, is Texas.
  • To talk of maintaining our independence while we abolish slavery is simply to talk folly.
    • Courier (24 January 1865), Charleston.
  • On Palm Sunday, at Appomattox Court House, the spirit of feudalism, of aristocracy, of injustice in this country, surrendered, in the person of Robert E. Lee, the Virginian slave-holder, to the spirit of the Declaration of Independence and of equal rights, in the person of Ulysses S. Grant, the Illinois tanner. So closed this great campaign in the 'Good Fight of Liberty'. So the Army of the Potomac, often baffled, struck an immortal blow, and gave the right hand of heroic fellowship to their brethren of the west. So the silent captain, when all his lieutenants had secured their separate fame, put on the crown of victory and ended civil war. As fought the Lieutenant-General of the United States, so fight the United States themselves, in the 'Good Fight of Man'. With Grant's tenacity, his patience, his promptness, his tranquil faith, let us assault the new front of the old enemy. We, too, must push through the enemy's Wilderness, holding every point we gain. We, too, must charge at daybreak upon his Spottsylvania Heights. We, too, must flank his angry lines and push them steadily back. We, too, must fling ourselves against the baffling flames of Cold Harbor. We, too, outwitting him by night, must throw our whole force across swamp and river, and stand entrenched before his capital. And we, too, at last, on some soft, auspicious day of spring, loosening all our shining lines, and bursting with wild battle music and universal shout of victory over the last desperate defense, must occupy the very citadel of caste, force the old enemy to final and unconditional surrender, and bring Boston and Charleston to sing Te Deum together for the triumphant equal rights of man... Inferior race? Was it they who carved the skulls of our boys into drinking-cups and their bones into trinkets? Was it they who starved and froze our brothers into idiocy and madness at Andersonville and Belle-Isle? Was it they who hunted our darlings with bloodhounds, or hung faithful Union men before the very eyes of their wives and children? Come! Come! Brothers of my race, whether at the north or south, these things which we all execrate and abhor were the work of men of our own color.

D[edit]

  • We recognize the fact of the inferiority stamped upon that race of men by the Creator, and from the cradle to the grave, our Government, as a civil institution, marks that inferiority.
    • Jefferson Davis, reply in the Senate to William H. Seward (29 February 1860), Senate Chamber, U.S. Capitol. As quoted in The Papers of Jefferson Davis, Volume 6, pp. 277–84. Transcribed from the Congressional Globe, 36th Congress, 1st Session, pp. 916–18
  • All peoples part with their myths reluctantly, and historians are at some risk when they try to dismantle those of the Confederacy... Myths simply throw roadblocks in the path to enlightenment, and it is from truth that we have the most to learn. One man's truth, however, can be another's myth, and only through dispassionate and disinterested dissection of such stories can we tell the difference. The Confederate experience is dotted with episodes that are not particularly admirable.
  • Legalistic Southerners tried to view the Constitution as a contract. Unfortunately, that viewpoint breaks down when viewed as a lawyer views a contract. There are very few ways to legally break a contract unilaterally.
  • [A]lways there had been the complicated factor of the one institution that peculiarly set the South apart from the North, slavery... Southern states had embraced the Union only insofar as it served to protect their rights to hold property in slaves, and to spread slavery as the nation expanded and the institution itself became intertwined as a defining element in the struggle for national power itself. In slavery could not spread as new states were formed, then the existing slave states would be doomed to perpetual minority in representation in Congress, guaranteeing that if the day came when Northern antipathy to slavery itself became hot enough, the majority could use the government to subvert the Constitution and abolish the institution where it already existed. In short, the South could not affort to lose any battle over slavery, nor even over issues on its periphery.
  • Inextricably intertwined in the question was slavery, and it only became the more so in the years that followed. Socially and culturally the North and South were not much different. They prayed to the same deity, spoke the same language, shared the same ancestry, sang the same songs. National triumphs and catastrophes were shared by both. For all the myths they would create to the contrary, the only significant and defining difference between them was slavery, where it existed and where it did not, for by 1804 it had virtually ceased to exist north of Maryland. Slavery demarked not just their labor and economic situations, but power itself in the new republic... [S]o long as the number of slave states was the same as or greater than the number of free states, then in the Senate the South had a check on the government... Even in 1832 there were those in the South who confessed that the tariff was only a battlefield, not the war. If they did not fight their ground and win on the tariff, soon enough they would be fighting for something even closer to their hearths, slavery itself.
  • [R]ace had never been a defining element in successful nation states. The true definition always depended far more on distinctions in language, culture, and political institutions. Southerners spoke precisely the same language as Northerners, so there was no distinction there... The only substantial difference between them, and the one that divided them politically almost since birth, was their system of labor... [T]he South had a far better chance of preserving its institutions and quirks of culture by remaining a part of a larger nation... Thanks to slavery, in the South capital and labor were combined in nearly four million sweating field hands picking cotton and planting rice.
  • To the old Union they had said that the federal power had no authority to interfere with slavery issues in a state. To their new nation they would declare that the state had no power to interfere with a federal protection of slavery. Of all the many testimonials to the fact that slavery, and not states rights, really lay at the heart of their movement, this was the most eloquent of all.
  • The true purpose of all government is to promote the welfare and provide for the protection and security of the governed, and when any form or organization of government proves inadequate for, or subversive of this purpose, it is the right, it is the duty of the latter to alter or abolish it. The Bill of Rights of Virginia, framed in 1776, reaffirmed in 1860, and again in 1851, expressly reserves this right to the majority of her people, and the existing constitution does not confer upon the General Assembly the power to call a Convention to alter its provisions, or to change the relations of the Commonwealth, without the previously expressed consent of such majority. The act of the General Assembly, calling the Convention which assembled at Richmond in February last, was therefore a usurpation; and the Convention thus called has not only abused the powers nominally entrusted to it, but, with the connivance and active aid of the executive, has usurped and exercised other powers, to the manifest injury of the people, which, if permitted, will inevitably subject them to a military despotism.
  • We, therefore the delegates here assembled in Convention to devise such measures and take such action as the safety and welfare of the loyal citizens of Virginia may demand, having mutually considered the premises, and viewing with great concern, the deplorable condition to which this once happy Commonwealth must be reduced, unless some regular adequate remedy is speedily adopted, and appealing to the Supreme Ruler of the Universe for the rectitude of our intentions, do hereby, in the name and on the behalf of the good people of Virginia, solemnly declare, that the preservation of their dearest rights and liberties and their security in person and property, imperatively demand the reorganization of the government of the Commonwealth, and that all acts of said Convention and Executive, tending to separate this Commonwealth from the United States, or to levy and carry on war against them, are without authority and void; and the offices of all who adhere to the said Convention and Executive, whether legislative, executive or judicial, are vacated.
  • The Revolution was about creating a new system of government built on new principles while the secessionists were trying to maintain the same government that they said was oppressing them and building it on the principle of slavery. The Revolutionaries spoke of not wanting to be slaves while the secessionists spoke of wanting to maintain slaves. That paradox just keeps coming up all the time. How do you have a country built on liberty, equality, and freedom while at the same time you enslave your fellow man, deny equality based on gender and race, and say you are a nation of free people? This is why I personally say the Revolution has not ended. It certainly had not ended in 1861 because the Civil War and more specifically the struggle to end slavery in America was part of the egalitarian process set forth by the Revolution itself. It is still ongoing today because of the need to firmly establish equality today. The Civil War did not have to be a war. Slavery was going to end in some manner via legislation at some point, but the slave owners chose war instead. The results were different directly due to those slave owners making that choice. Everything they opposed came to pass with far, far worse consequences for them and the country as a whole had they not chosen to fight a war in order to perpetuate the expansion of slavery in America.
    • Jimmy Dick, as quoted in Chat-Room (18 February 2014), Crossroads.
  • My argument against the dissolution of the American Union is this. It would place the slave system more exclusively under the control of the slave-holding states, and withdraw it from the power in the northern states which is opposed to slavery. Slavery is essentially barbarous in its character. It, above all things else, dreads the presence of an advanced civilization. It flourishes best where it meets no reproving frowns, and hears no condemning voices. While in the Union it will meet with both. Its hope of life, in the last resort, is to get out of the Union. I am, therefore, for drawing the bond of the Union more completely under the power of the free states. What they most dread, that I most desire... The dissolution of the Union would not give the north a single advantage over slavery, but would take from it many. Within the Union we have a firm basis of opposition to slavery. It is opposed to all the great objects of the Constitution. The dissolution of the Union is not only an unwise but a cowardly measure; fifteen millions running away from three hundred and fifty thousand slaveholders. Mister Garrison and his friends tell us that while in the Union we are responsible for slavery. He and they sing out 'No Union with slaveholders', and refuse to vote. I admit our responsibility for slavery while in the Union but I deny that going out of the Union would free us from that responsibility. There now clearly is no freedom from responsibility for slavery to any American citizen short to the abolition of slavery. The American people have gone quite too far in this slave-holding business now to sum up their whole business of slavery by singing out the cant phrase, 'No union with slaveholders'. To desert the family hearth may place the recreant husband out of the presence of his starving children, but this does not free him from responsibility. If a man were on board of a pirate ship, and in company with others had robbed and plundered, his whole duty would not be preformed simply by taking the longboat and singing out, 'No union with pirates'. His duty would be to restore the stolen property.
  • Southern gentlemen who led in the late rebellion have not parted with their convictions at this point, any more than at any other. They want to be independent of the negro. They believed in slavery and they believe in it still. They believed in an aristocratic class, and they believe in it still. Though they have lost slavery, one element essential to such a class, they still have two important conditions to the reconstruction of that class. They have intelligence, and they have land. Of these, the land is the more important. They cling to it with all the tenacity of a cherished superstition. They will neither sell to the negro, nor let the carpet-bagger have it in peace, but are determined to hold it for themselves and their children forever. They have not yet learned that when a principle is gone, the incident must go also; that what was wise and proper under slavery is foolish and mischievous in a state of general liberty; that the old bottles are worthless when the new wine has come; but they have found that land is a doubtful benefit, where there're no hands to till it.

E[edit]

  • The Creator of the Universe had stamped them, indelibly, with a different color and an inferior physical and mental organization. He had not done this from mere caprice or whim, but for wise purposes. An amalgamation of the races was in contravention of His designs or He would not have made them so different. This immense number of people could not have been transported back to the wilds from which their ancestors were taken, or, if they could have been, it would have resulted in their relapse into barbarism. Reason, common sense, true humanity to the black, as well as the safety of the white race, required that the inferior race should be kept in a state of subordination. The conditions of domestic slavery, as it existed in the South, had not only resulted in a great improvement in the moral and physical condition of the negro race, but had furnished a class of laborers as happy and contented as any in the world.

F[edit]

  • Rally round the flag, boys—
    Give it to the breeze!
    That's the banner that we bore
    On the land and seas.
    Brave hearts are under it,
    Let the traitors brag,
    Gallant lads, fire away!
    And fight for the flag.
    Their flag is but a rag—
    Ours is the true one;
    Up with the Stars and Stripes!
    with the new one!
    Let our colors fly, boys—
    Guard them day and night;
    For victory is liberty,
    And God will bless the right.
    • James Thomas Fields, "The Stars and Stripes"; reported in Florence Adams and Elizabeth McCarrick, Highdays & Holidays (1927), pp. 182–83
  • The more fiercely the Confederacy fought for its independence, the more bitterly divided it became.
  • This fight is against slavery; if we lose it, you will be made free.
  • Facts will demonstrate to the Northern people that Negro soldiers cannot cope with Southerners.

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  • Let us not commit ourselves to the absurd and senseless dogma that the color of the skin shall be the basis of suffrage, the talisman of liberty. I admit that it is perilous to confer the franchise upon the ignorant and degraded; but if an educational test cannot be established, let suffrage be extended to all men of proper age, regardless of color. It may well be questioned whether the negro does not understand the nature of our institutions better than the equally ignorant foreigner. He was intelligent enough to understand from the beginning of the war that the destiny of his race was involved in it. He was intelligent enough to be true to that Union which his educated and traitorous master was endeavoring to destroy. He came to us in the hour of our sorest need, and by his aid, under God, the Republic was saved.
  • The party of Lincoln, called the Republican party, under its present name and organization is of recent origin. It is admitted to be an anti-slavery party, while it attracts to itself by its creed, the scattered advocates of exploded political heresies, of condemned theories in political economy, the advocates of commercial restrictions, of protection, of special privileges, of waste and corruption in the administration of Government; anti-slavery is its mission and its purpose.
  • As soon as slavery fired upon the flag it was felt, we all felt, even those who did not object to slaves, that slavery must be destroyed. We felt that it was a stain to the Union that men should be bought and sold like cattle.
  • As soon as slavery fired upon the flag it was felt, we all felt, even those who did not object to slaves, that slavery must be destroyed. We felt that it was a stain to the Union that men should be bought and sold like cattle.
  • There had to be an end of slavery. Then we were fighting an enemy with whom we could not make a peace. We had to destroy him. No convention, no treaty was possible – only destruction.
  • It was very much discussed whether the South would carry out its threat to secede and set up a separate government, the corner-stone of which should be, protection to the 'Divine' institution of slavery.
  • I had known General Lee in the old army, and had served with him in the Mexican War; but did not suppose, owing to the difference in our age and rank, that he would remember me, while I would more naturally remember him distinctly, because he was the chief of staff of General Scott in the Mexican War.

    When I had left camp that morning I had not expected so soon the result that was then taking place, and consequently was in rough garb. I was without a sword, as I usually was when on horseback on the field, and wore a soldier's blouse for a coat, with the shoulder straps of my rank to indicate to the army who I was. When I went into the house I found General Lee. We greeted each other, and after shaking hands took our seats. I had my staff with me, a good portion of whom were in the room during the whole of the interview.

    What General Lee's feelings were I do not know. As he was a man of much dignity, with an impassible face, it was impossible to say whether he felt inwardly glad that the end had finally come, or felt sad over the result, and was too manly to show it. Whatever his feelings, they were entirely concealed from my observation; but my own feelings, which had been quite jubilant on the receipt of his letter, were sad and depressed. I felt like anything rather than rejoicing at the downfall of a foe who had fought so long and valiantly, and had suffered so much for a cause, though that cause was, I believe, one of the worst for which a people ever fought, and one for which there was the least excuse.

  • The Union cause has suffered, and is now suffering immensely, from mistaken deference to rebel slavery. Had you, sir, in your inaugural address, unmistakably given notice that, in case the rebellion already commenced were persisted in, and your efforts to preserve the Union and enforce the laws should be resisted by armed force, you would recognize no loyal person as rightfully held in Slavery by a traitor, we believe the rebellion would therein have received a staggering if not fatal blow.

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  • In the South, where in many places the African race largely predominates, and, as a consequence, the two races would be continually pressing together, amalgamation, or the extermination of the one or the other, would be inevitable. Can Southern men submit to such degradation and ruin? God forbid that they should... [T]he election of Mr. Lincoln cannot be regarded otherwise than a solemn declaration, on the part of a great majority of the Northern people, of hostility to the South, her property and her institutions - nothing less than an open declaration of war - for the triumph of this new theory of Government destroys the property of the South, lays waste her fields, and inaugurates all the horrors of a San Domingo servile insurrection, consigning her citizens to assassinations, and her wives and daughters to pollution and violation, to gratify the lust of half-civilized Africans.
  • The southern slave's eagerness to be free and willingness not just to leave but to fight, the Union army's embrace of their plight, the physical destruction of the plantation, and the psychological humiliation of the plantation class, all this illustrated that an apartheid state, once cracked, shatters and can ever be reconstituted again. From the freeing of the slaves Sherman's men gained the moral imperative... In turn, from Sherman's men the slaves at last could prove they too were human, even more humane than their masters.
  • Fellow citizens, in the name of your rights and liberties, which I believe have been trampled upon, I refuse to take this oath. In the name of the nationality of Texas, which has been betrayed by the Convention, I refuse to take this oath. In the name of the Constitution of Texas, I refuse to take this oath. In the name of my own conscience and manhood, which this Convention would degrade by dragging me before it, to pander to the malice of my enemies, I refuse to take this oath. I deny the power of this Convention to speak for Texas....I protest....against all the acts and doings of this convention and I declare them null and void
    • Sam Houston, as quoted in Sam Houston (2004), by James Haley, University of Oklahoma Press, pp. 390–91
  • Let me tell you what is coming. After the sacrifice of countless millions of treasure and hundreds of thousands of lives, you may win Southern independence if God be not against you, but I doubt it. I tell you that, while I believe with you in the doctrine of states rights, the North is determined to preserve this Union. They are not a fiery, impulsive people as you are, for they live in colder climates. But when they begin to move in a given direction, they move with the steady momentum and perseverance of a mighty avalanche; and what I fear is, they will overwhelm the South.
    • Sam Houston, as quoted in Sam Houston (2004), by James Haley, University of Oklahoma Press, p. 397
  • This is the last disgusting death-rattle of a corrupt and outworn system which is a blot on the history of this people. Since the civil war, in which the southern states were conquered, against all historical logic and sound sense, the American people have been in a condition of political and popular decay. In that war, it was not the Southern States, but the American people themselves who were conquered. In this spurious blossoming of economic progress and power politics, America has ever since been drawn deeper into the mire of progressive self-destruction. The beginnings of a great new social order based on the principle of slavery and inequality were destroyed by that war, and with them also the embryo of a future truly great America that would not have been ruled by a corrupt caste of tradesmen, but by a real Herren-class that would have swept away all the falsities of liberty and equality.
  • You say you are fighting for liberty. Yes you are fighting for liberty: liberty to keep four millions of your fellow-beings in ignorance and degradation;–liberty to separate parents and children, husband and wife, brother and sister;–liberty to steal the products of their labor, exacted with many a cruel lash and bitter tear;–liberty to seduce their wives and daughters, and to sell your own children into bondage;–liberty to kill these children with impunity, when the murder cannot be proven by one of pure white blood. This is the kind of liberty–the liberty to do wrong–which Satan, Chief of the fallen Angels, was contending for when he was cast into Hell.

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  • Our plain view of the war is simply this. For a long series of years the people of the North differed with those of the South upon the question of slavery and the relations between the states and Federal government. All peaceable means of adjustment were resorted to and failed to reconcile us. At last the controversy was referred to that tribunal from whose decision there is no appeal–to the tribunal of war,–the arbitrament of the sword.
  • The southern man could see no reason of state, of law, or of religion which required him to yield his most ancient rights and his most valuable property to the new-born zeal of adversaries whom he more than suspect of being actuated by mere malignity under the guise of philanthropy. All that he knew or had ever known of the policy of the state, of religion, or of law was on the side of slavery. It was his inheritance in the land descended from his most remote ancestry.
  • The law of nations knows of no distinction of color, and if an enemy of the United States should enslave and sell any captured persons of their army, it would be a case for the severest retaliation, if not redressed upon complaint.
    • The Lieber Code of 1863, United States Department of War, referring to Confederate enslavement of captured U.S. soldiers.
  • The world has never had a good definition of the word liberty, and the American people, just now, are much in want of one. We all declare for liberty; but in using the same word we do not all mean the same thing. With some the word liberty may mean for each man to do as he pleases with himself, and the product of his labor; while with others the same word may mean for some men to do as they please with other men, and the product of other men's labor. Here are two, not only different, but incompatable things, called by the same name — liberty. And it follows that each of the things is, by the respective parties, called by two different and incompatable names — liberty and tyranny.
  • You say you are conservative — eminently conservative — while we are revolutionary, destructive, or something of the sort. What is conservatism? Is it not adherence to the old and tried, against the new and untried? We stick to, contend for, the identical old policy on the point in controversy which was adopted by "our fathers who framed the Government under which we live;" while you with one accord reject, and scout, and spit upon that old policy, and insist upon substituting something new. True, you disagree among yourselves as to what that substitute shall be. You are divided on new propositions and plans, but you are unanimous in rejecting and denouncing the old policy of the fathers... You charge that we stir up insurrections among your slaves. We deny it, and what is your proof? Harper's Ferry? John Brown? John Brown was no Republican, and you have failed to implicate a single Republican in his Harper's Ferry enterprise. If any member of our party is guilty in that matter, you know it or you do not know it. If you do know it, you are inexcusable for not designating the man and proving the fact. If you do not know it, you are inexcusable for asserting it, and especially for persisting in the assertion after you have tried and failed to make the proof. You need to be told that persisting in a charge which one does not know to be true, is simply malicious slander. Some of you admit that no Republican designedly aided or encouraged the Harper's Ferry affair... But you will not abide the election of a Republican president! In that supposed event, you say, you will destroy the Union, and then, you say, the great crime of having destroyed it will be upon us! That is cool. A highwayman holds a pistol to my ear, and mutters through his teeth, 'Stand and deliver, or I shall kill you, and then you will be a murderer!' To be sure, what the robber demanded of me, my money, was my own, and I had a clear right to keep it, but it was no more my own than my vote is my own, and the threat of death to me, to extort my money, and the threat of destruction to the Union, to extort my vote, can scarcely be distinguished in principle... What can we do to satisfy our Southern brethren? No assurances that we give them that we will have no intention of interfering with the institution of slavery where it exists will satisfy them. We must get rid of all anti-slavery sentiments from our state constitutions... The Democrats cry John Brown invasion. We are guiltless of it, but our denial does not satisfy them. Nothing will satisfy them but disinfecting the atmosphere entirely of all opposition to slavery. They have not demanded of us to yield the guards of liberty in our state constitutions, but it will naturally come to that after a while. If we give up to them, we cannot refuse even their utmost request. If slavery is right, it ought to be extended; if not, it ought to be restricted, there is no middle ground. Wrong as we think it, we can afford to let it alone where it of necessity now exists; but we cannot afford to extend it into free territory and around our own homes. Let us stand against it!
  • This Union, the Constitution, and the liberties of the people shall be perpetuated in accordance with the original idea for which that struggle was made, and I shall be most happy indeed if I shall be an humble instrument in the hands of the Almighty, and of this, his almost chosen people, for perpetuating the object of that great struggle.
    • Abraham Lincoln, address to the New Jersey Senate (21 February 1861); in Roy P. Basler, ed., The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (1953), vol. 4, p. 236.
  • The Union is much older than the Constitution. It was formed, in fact, by the Articles of Association in 1774. It was matured and continued by the Declaration of Independence in 1776. It was further matured, and the faith of all the then thirteen States expressly plighted and engaged that it should be perpetual, by the Articles of Confederation in 1778. And finally, in 1787, one of the declared objects for ordaining and establishing the Constitution was to form a more perfect Union...

    Apprehension seems to exist among the people of the Southern states that, by the accession of a Republican administration, their property and peace and personal security are to be endangered. There has never been any reasonable cause for such apprehension...

    I hold that, in contemplation of universal law and of the Constitution, the Union of these states is perpetual. Perpetuity is implied, if not expressed, in the fundamental law of all national governments. It is safe to assert that no government proper ever had a provision in its organic law (constitution) for its own termination. Continue to execute all the express provisions of our national Constitution, and the Union will endure forever....

    Plainly, the central idea of secession is the essence of anarchy. A majority, held in restraint by the constitutional checks and limitations... is the only true sovereign of a free people. Whoever rejects it does of necessity fly to anarchy or to despotism....

    No State upon its mere motion can lawfully get out of the Union.... There needs to be no bloodshed or violence; and there shall be none, unless it be forded upon the national authority....

    In your hands, my dissatisfied countrymen, and not in mine is the momentous issue of civil war. The government will not assail you. You can have no conflict without yourselves being the aggressors. You have no oath registered in heaven to destroy the government, while I have the most solemn one to 'preserve, protect, and defend' it...

    We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.

  • We, on our side, are praying Him to give us victory, because we believe we are right; but those on the other side pray to Him, look for victory, believing they are right. What must He think of us?
  • The assault upon and reduction of Fort Sumter was in no sense a matter of self-defense on the part of the assailants. They well knew that the garrison in the fort could by no possibility commit aggression upon them. They knew, they were expressly notified, that the giving of bread to the few brave and hungry men of the garrison was all which would on that occasion be attempted, unless themselves, by resisting so much, should provoke more. They knew that this government desired to keep the garrison in the fort, not to assail them, but merely to maintain visible possession, and thus to preserve the Union from actual and immediate dissolution, trusting, as herein before stated, to time, discussion, and the ballot box for final adjustment; and they assailed and reduced the fort for precisely the reverse object, to drive out the visible authority of the federal union, and thus force it to immediate dissolution. That this was their object the executive well understood; and having said to them in the inaugural address, 'You can have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressors', he took pains not only to keep this declaration good, but also to keep the case so free from the power of ingenious sophistry as that the world should not be able to misunderstand it... This issue embraces more than the fate of these United States. It presents to the whole family of man the question whether a constitutional republic, or democracy—a government of the people by the same people—can or can not maintain its territorial integrity against its own domestic foes. It presents the question whether discontented individuals, too few in numbers to control administration according to organic law in any case, can always, upon the pretenses made in this case, or on any other pretenses, or arbitrarily without any pretense, break up their government, and thus practically put an end to free government upon the earth. It forces us to ask, Is there in all republics this inherent and fatal weakness? Must a government of necessity be too strong for the liberties of its own people, or too weak to maintain its own existence?
  • This is essentially a people's contest. On the side of the Union it is a struggle for maintaining in the world that form and substance of government whose leading object is to elevate the condition of men; to lift artificial weights from all shoulders; to clear the paths of laudable pursuit for all; to afford all an unfettered start and a fair chance in the race of life. Yielding to partial and temporary departures, from necessity, this is the leading object of the Government for whose existence we contend.
  • It might seem at first thought to be of little difference whether the present movement at the South be called 'secession' or 'rebellion'. The movers, however, well understand the difference. At the beginning they knew they could never raise their treason to any respectable magnitude by any name which implies violation of law. They knew their people possessed as much of moral sense, as much of devotion to law and order, and as much pride in and reverence for the history and Government of their common country as any other civilized and patriotic people. They knew they could make no advancement directly in the teeth of these strong and noble sentiments. Accordingly, they commenced by an insidious debauching of the public mind. They invented an ingenious sophism, which, if conceded, was followed by perfectly logical steps through all the incidents to the complete destruction of the Union. The sophism itself is that any State of the Union may consistently with the National Constitution, and therefore lawfully and peacefully, withdraw from the Union without the consent of the Union or of any other State. The little disguise that the supposed right is to be exercised only for just cause, themselves to be the sole judge of its justice, is too thin to merit any notice. With rebellion thus sugar coated they have been drugging the public mind of their section for more than thirty years, and until at length they have brought many good men to a willingness to take up arms against the Government the day after some assemblage of men have enacted the farcical pretense of taking their State out of the Union who could have been brought to no such thing the day before.
  • With some the word liberty may mean for each man to do as he pleases with himself, and the product of his labor; while with others the same word may mean for some men to do as they please with other men, and the product of other men's labor.
  • In this great struggle, this form of government and every form of human right is endangered if our enemies succeed. There is more involved in this contest than is realized by everyone. There is involved in this struggle the question whether your children and my children shall enjoy the privileges we have enjoyed. I say this in order to impress upon you, if you are not already so impressed, that no small matter should divert us from our great purpose. There may be some irregularities in the practical application of our system. It is fair that each man shall pay taxes in exact proportion to the value of his property; but if we should wait before collecting a tax to adjust the taxes upon each man in exact proportion with every other man, we should never collect any tax at all. There may be mistakes made sometimes; things may be done wrong while the officers of the government do all they can to prevent mistakes. But I beg of you, as citizens of this great republic, not to let your minds to carried off from the great work we have before us. This struggle is too large for you to be diverted from it by any small matter. When you return to your homes rise up to the height of a generation of men worthy of a free Government, and we will carry out the great work we have commenced. I return to you my sincere thanks, soldiers, for the honor you have done me this afternoon.
    • Abraham Lincoln, speech to the One Hundred Sixty-fourth Ohio Regiment (18 August 1864), delivered at Washington, D.C.
  • One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union, even by war; while the government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it... Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with, or even before, the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces; but let us judge not that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered; that of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has his own purposes.
  • Between 1890 and about 1970, northerners found it less embarrassing to let Dixie tell the story of the cause it lost than to reminisce about the cause they had abandoned. The Civil War had been about something other than states' rights after all. It began as a war to force or prevent the breakup of the United States. As it ground on it became a struggle to end slavery. At Gettysburg in the fall of 1863, Abraham Lincoln was already proclaiming 'a new birth of freedom', black freedom. Conversely, on their way to and from Gettysburg, Lee's troops seized scores of free black people in Maryland and Pennsylvania and sent them south into slavery. This was in keeping with Confederate national policy, which virtually re-enslaved free people of color into work gangs on earthworks throughout the south.
    • James W. Loewen, Lies Across America: What American Historic Sites Get Wrong (1999), p. 350
  • During the civil war, northern Democrats countered the Republican charge that they favored rebellion by profession to be the 'white man's party'. They protested the government's emancipation of slaves in the District of Columbia and its diplomatic recognition of Haiti. They claimed Republicans had nothing but 'nigger on the brain'. They were enraged when the U.S. Army accepted African American recruits; and they made race a paramount factor in their campaigns. In those days before television, parties held coordinated rallies. On the last Sunday before the election, Democratic senators might address crowds in each major city. Local officeholders would hold forth in smaller towns. Each of these rallies featured music. Hundreds of thousands of songbooks were printed so the party faithful might sing the same songs coast to coast. A favorite in 1864 was sung to the tune of 'Yankee Doodle Dandy'. The new national anthem, 'Nigger Doodle Dandy'.
    • James W. Loewen, Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong (2007), New York: New Press
  • Ideas made the opposite impact in the Confederacy. Ideological contradictions afflicted the slave system even before the war began. John Brown knew the masters secretly feared their slaves might revolt, even as they assured abolitionists that slaves really liked slavery. One reason his Harpers Ferry raid prompted such an outcry in the South was that slave owners feared their slaves might join him. Yet their condemnations of Brown and the 'Black Republicans' who financed him did not persuade Northern moderates but only pushed them toward the abolitionist camp. After all, if Brown was truly dangerous, as slave owners claimed, then slavery was truly unjust. Happy slaves would never revolt... White Southerners founded the Confederacy on the ideology of white supremacy. Confederate soldiers on their way to Antietam and Gettysburg, their two main forays into Union states, put this ideology into practice: they seized scores of free black people in Maryland and Pennsylvania and sold them south into slavery. Confederates maltreated black Union troops when they captured them.
    • James W. Loewen, Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong (2008), p. 193
  • According to Confederate ideology, blacks liked slavery; nevertheless, to avert revolts and runaways, the Confederate states passed the 'twenty nigger law', exempting from military conscription one white man as overseer for every twenty slaves. Throughout the war, Confederates withheld as much as a third of their fighting forces from the front lines and scattered them throughout areas with large slave populations to prevent slave uprisings. When the United States allowed African Americans to enlist, Confederates were forced by their ideology to assert that it would not work; blacks would hardly fight like white men. The undeniable bravery of the 54th Massachusetts and other black regiments disproved the idea of black inferiority. Then came the incongruity of truly beastly behavior by southern whites towards captured black soldiers, such as the infamous Fort Pillow massacre by troops under Nathan Bedford Forrest, who crucified black prisoners on tent frames and then burned them alive, all in the name of preserving white civilization...
  • Some Confederate soldiers switched sides, beginning as early as 1862. When Sherman made his famous march to the sea from Atlanta to Savannah, his army actually grew in number, because thousands of white southerners volunteered along the way. Meanwhile, almost two-thirds of the Confederate army disappeared through desertion. Eighteen thousand slaves joined Sherman, so many that the army had to turn some away. Compare these facts with the portrait common in our textbooks of Sherman's marauders looting their way through a united south. The increasing ideological confusion in the Confederate states, coupled with the increasing strength of the United States, helps explains the Union victory... Many nations and people have continued to fight with far inferior means and weapons... The Confederacy's ideological contradictions were its gravest liabilities, ultimately causing its defeat.
  • Neo-Confederates also won western Maryland. In 1913, the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) put a soldier on a pedestal at the Rockville courthouse. Montgomery County never seceded, of course. While Maryland did send 24,000 men to the Confederate armed forces, it sent 63,000 to the U.S. Army and Navy. Nevertheless, the UDC's monument tells visitors to take the other side: 'To our heroes of Montgomery Co. Maryland / That we through life may not forget to love the Thin Gray Line'. In fact, the Thin Grey Line came through Montgomery and adjoining Frederick counties at least three times, en route to Antietam, Gettysburg and Washington. Lee's army expected to find recruits and help with food, clothing and information. They didn't. Maryland residents greeted Union soldiers as liberators when they came through on the way to Antietam. Recognizing the residents of Frederick as hostile, Confederate cavalry leader Jubal Early demanded and got $300,000 from them lest he burn their town, a sum equal to at least $5,000,000 today. Today, however, Frederick boasts what it calls the 'Maryland Confederate Memorial', and the manager of the Frederick cemetery — filled with Union and Confederate dead — told me in an interview, “Very little is done on the Union side” around Memorial Day. “It’s mostly Confederate.”
  • 'The Thin Grey Line' came through Montgomery and Frederick counties at least three times, en route to Antietam in 1862, Gettysburg in 1863, and Washington in 1864. Lee's army expected to find recruits and help with food, clothing, and information. This did not happen, although the army did kidnap every African American it came upon, dragging them back into Virginia as slaves. In a further irony, on the courthouse grounds not far from the Confederate monument, a historical marker tells of J.E.B. Stuart's 1863 raid nearby, in which he captured 'as many as a hundred' African Americans and enslaved them, but they are invisible. The marker only mentions the capture of '150 U.S. wagons'. During the first invasion, Maryland residents greeted Union soldiers 'as liberators' when they came through on their way to Antietam, according to historian William F. Howard. During the last invasion, when Confederate cavalry leader Jubal Early came through, he demanded and got $300,000 from the leading merchants of Frederick, lest he burn their town, a sum equal to at least five million dollars today.

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  • To a good many southerners the events of 1861–1865 have been known as 'The War of Northern Aggression'. Never mind that the South took the initiative by seceding in defiance of an election of a president by a constitutional majority. Never mind that the Confederacy started the war by firing on the American flag. These were seen as preemptive acts of defense against northern aggression...
  • The Alabama Democratic convention [instructed] its delegates to walk out of the national convention if the party refused to adopt a platform pledging a federal slave code for the territories. Other lower-South Democratic organizations followed suit. In February, Jefferson Davis presented the substance of southern demands to the Senate in resolutions affirming that neither Congress nor a territorial legislature could impair the constitutional right of any citizen of the United States to take his slave property into the common territories.
  • Slavery was at the root of what the Civil War was all about. If there had been no slavery, there would have been no war, and that ultimately what the Confederacy was fighting for was to preserve a nation based on a social system that incorporated slavery. Had that not been the case, there would have been no war. That's an issue that a lot of Southern whites today find hard to accept.
  • Once the decision was made to use black soldiers to put down the rebellion, the conviction began to grow that blacks who fought for the Union were far more deserving of rights and political power than Southern whites who fought to destroy the country. And I think that is the fundamental reason for the transformation of attitudes of a lot of Northerners. Southern slaves were now friends of the Union, they were fighting, risking their lives to preserve this Union against their masters who were killing northern soldiers and were traitors trying to destroy the great republican experiment of 1776. That sort of attitude persisted through, I'd say, about 1868 or 1870.
  • Confederate soldiers from slaveholding families expressed no feelings of embarrassment or inconsistency in fighting for their own liberty while holding other people in slavery. Indeed, white supremacy and the right of property in slaves were at the core of the ideology for which Confederate soldiers fought.


  • It would be wrong, however, to assume that Confederate soldiers were constantly preoccupied with this matter. In fact, only 20 percent of the sample of 429 Southern soldiers explicitly voiced proslavery convictions in their letters or diaries. As one might expect, a much higher percentage of soldiers from slaveholding families than from nonslaveholding families expressed such a purpose: 33 percent, compared with 12 percent. Ironically, the proportion of Union soldiers who wrote about the slavery question was greater, as the next chapter will show. There is a ready explanation for this apparent paradox. Emancipation was a salient issue for Union soldiers because it was controversial. Slavery was less salient for most Confederate soldiers because it was not controversial. They took slavery for granted as one of the Southern 'rights' and institutions for which they fought, and did not feel compelled to discuss it. Although only 20 percent of the soldiers avowed explicit proslavery purposes in their letters and diaries, none at all dissented from that view. But even those who owned slaves and fought consciously to defend the institution preferred to discourse upon liberty, rights, and the horrors of subjugation.
  • While one or more of these interpretations remain popular among the Sons of Confederate Veterans and other Southern heritage groups, few professional historians now subscribe to them. Of all these interpretations, the states' rights argument is perhaps the weakest. It fails to ask the question, states' rights for what purpose? States' rights, or sovereignty, was always more a means than an end, an instrument to achieve a certain goal more than a principle.
    • James M. McPherson, This Mighty Scourge: Perspectives on the Civil War (2007). Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 3-9
  • The bottom line in the Civil War, after all is said and done, showed that every Confederate state was a slave state and every free state was a Union state. These facts were not a coincidence, and every Civil War soldier knew it.
  • For it and its perpetuation we commenced and have kept at war.
    • Memphis Appeal, regarding slavery, as quoted in Macon Telegraph and Confederate (31 October 1864)
  • The south went to war on account of slavery. South Carolina went to war, as she said in her Secession proclamation, because slavery would not be secure under Lincoln... I am not ashamed of having fought on the side of slavery, a soldier fights for his country, right or wrong, he is not responsible for the political merits of the course he fights in. The South was my country.

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  • As ensigns of an unholy cause the Confederate flags are, and of right ought to be, odious to the eyes of loyalty.
  • I know enough of the southern spirit that I think they will fight for the institution of slavery even to extermination.

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  • It looked queer to me to see boxes labeled 'His Excellency, Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America'. The packages so labeled contained Bass ale or Cognac brandy, which cost 'His Excellency' less than we Yankees had to pay for it. Think of the President drinking imported liquors while his soldiers were living on pop-corn and water!

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  • If they want eternal war, well and good; we accept the issue, and will dispossess them and put our friends in their place. I know thousands and millions of good people who at simple notice would come to North Alabama and accept the elegant houses and plantations there. If the people of Huntsville think different, let them persist in war three years longer, and then they will not be consulted. Three years ago by a little reflection and patience they could have had a hundred years of peace and prosperity, but they preferred war; very well. Last year they could have saved their slaves, but now it is too late.

    All the powers of earth cannot restore to them their slaves, any more than their dead grandfathers. Next year their lands will be taken, for in war we can take them, and rightfully, too, and in another year they may beg in vain for their lives. A people who will persevere in war beyond a certain limit ought to know the consequences. Many, many peoples with less pertinacity have been wiped out of national existence.

  • War is the remedy our enemies have chosen. Other simple remedies were within their choice. Yon know it and they know it, but they wanted war, and I say let us give them all they want; not a word of argument, not a sign of let up, no cave in till we are whipped or they are.
  • The South began the war by seizing forts, arsenals, mints, custom-houses, etc., etc., long before Mr. Lincoln was installed, and before the South had one jot or tittle of provocation... You cannot qualify war in harsher terms than I will. War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it; and those who brought war into our country deserve all the curses and maledictions a people can pour out. I know I had no hand in making this war, and I know I will make more sacrifices today than any of you to secure peace. But you cannot have peace and a division of our country. If the United States submits to a division now, it will not stop, but will go on until we reap the fate of Mexico, which is eternal war.
  • I was satisfied and have been all the time, that the problem of war consists in the awful fact that the present class of men who rule the south must be killed outright than in conquest of territory.
  • Still on the whole the campaign is the best, cleanest and most satisfactory of the war. I have received the most fulsome praise of all men from the President down, but I fear the world will jump to the wrong conclusion that because I am in Atlanta the work is done. Far from it. We must kill three hundred thousand I have told of so often, and the further they run the harder for us to get them.
  • Responsible scholars recognize the persistence and depth of racism among white northerners during the Civil War period. It's a key component in constructing the narrative of the sectional crisis, the war, and Reconstruction. One of the reasons Lincoln hesitated in issuing a proclamation of emancipation was because he knew it would arouse opposition in the free north among Democrats. None of that, however, has anything to do with the centrality of slavery in southern society or the reasons why secessionists advocated separation and independence, to protect slavery from the threat posed by Lincoln's election and the long term implications of the Republican triumph in 1860. Moreover, pointing to the existence of northern racism does not make it disappear from southern society. Nor does it necessarily follow that because in 1861 most white northerners did not support going to war to destroy slavery, let alone to secure black equality, that white southerners did not go to war to protect a society and a way of life that was ultimately grounded upon and supported by the enslavement of several million human beings. To deny that is to deny historical reality.
  • So, what's next? Will this debate subside or continue, as people look to other uses of Confederate icons and symbols? Is this simply about a flag that is as much a symbol of resistance to civil rights and equality as it was a symbol for soldiers whose performance on the battlefield might have secured the independence of a republic founded upon the cornerstone of white supremacy and inequality? One thing is clear: it has not been a good ten days for Confederate heritage advocates. Between licence plates, several SCV divisions rebuking other Confederate heritage groups for outrageous and childish behavior, and the fallout from Charleston, it may be that in 2015 people marked the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War by doing to Confederate heritage what Grant and Sherman did to the Confederacy itself in 1865.
  • Once we understand that the flags in question are those of an army, we can have a more intelligent discussion about what those armies did, such as the fact that the Army of Northern Virginia was under orders to capture and send south supposed escaped slaves during that army's invasion of Pennsylvania in 1863.
  • We have dissolved the late Union chiefly because of the negro quarrel. Now, is there any man who wished to reproduce that strife among ourselves? And yet does not he, who wished the slave trade left for the action of Congress, see that he proposed to open a Pandora's box among us and to cause our political arena again to resound with this discussion. Had we left the question unsettled, we should, in my opinion, have sown broadcast the seeds of discord and death in our Constitution. I congratulate the country that the strife has been put to rest forever, and that American slavery is to stand before the world as it is, and on its own merits. We have now placed our domestic institution, and secured its rights unmistakably, in the Constitution. We have sought by no euphony to hide its name. We have called our negroes 'slaves', and we have recognized and protected them as persons and our rights to them as property.
  • Religious character to the present struggle. Anti-slavery is essentially infidel. It wars upon the Bible, on the Church of Christ, on the truth of God, on the souls of men.
  • African slavery as it exists amongst us; the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization. This was the immediate cause of the late rupture... 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... This idea, though not incorporated in the constitution, was the prevailing idea at that time. The constitution, it is true, secured every essential guarantee to the institution while it should last, and hence no argument can be justly urged against the constitutional guarantees thus secured, because of the common sentiment of the day. Those ideas, however, were fundamentally wrong. They rested upon the assumption of the equality of races. This was an error... Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite ideas; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth. This truth... With us, all of the white race, however high or low, rich or poor, are equal in the eye of the law. Not so with the negro. Subordination is his place.

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  • It should be constantly kept in view, through all the bloody phases and terrible epochs of this relentless war, that slavery was the caus beli, that the principle of State Sovereignty, and its sequence, the right of secession, were important to the South principally, or solely, as the armor that encased her peculiar institution, and that every life that has been lost in this struggle was an offering upon the altar of African Slavery.

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  • Soldiers had enlisted for twelve months only, and had faithfully complied with their volunteer obligations; the terms for which they had enlisted had expired, and they naturally looked upon it that they had a right to go home. They had done their duty faithfully and well. They wanted to see their families; in fact, wanted to go home anyhow. War had become a reality; they were tired of it. A law had been passed by the Confederate States Congress called the conscript act. A soldier had no right to volunteer and to choose the branch of service he preferred. He was conscripted. From this time on till the end of the war, a soldier was simply a machine, a conscript. It was mighty rough on rebels. We cursed the war, we cursed Bragg, we cursed the Southern Confederacy. All our pride and valor had gone, and we were sick of war and the Southern Confederacy... A law was made by the Confederate States Congress about this time allowing every person who owned twenty negroes to go home. It gave us the blues; we wanted twenty negroes. Negro property suddenly became very valuable, and there was raised the howl of "rich man's war, poor man's fight." The glory of the war, the glory of the South, the glory and the pride of our volunteers had no charms for the conscript.
  • I yield to no one precedence in love for the South. But because I love the South, I rejoice in the failure of the Confederacy.
  • Fast forward to the civil war era. You have rich white folks in the south, where I come from, standing up and admitting that the reason they are willing to secede from the union, and the only reason they ever articulated publicly ever, was to maintain and extend slavery and white supremacy. Not only where it already existed, but into the newly acquired, that is to say, stolen territories, from Mexico to the west. Now we lie about it, and say it wasn’t about slavery, and say it was about states’ rights. Yes, the right of the states to keep and maintain slaves, exactly. But back then, they had no shame. So they didn’t try to cover it up. They openly said it. But once again, the rich didn’t want to go do the work, are you kidding? No. They are going to get poor people to go fight for them. And the poor folks didn’t even own slaves. Now think, how do you get poor people who don’t even own the shirt on their back, let alone slaves, to go fight to go keep your slaves for you? You’ve got to convince them that their skin is more important than their economic interest. Because, think about it. If I am a farmer who has to charge you a dollar a day, or two dollars a week to work on your farm, and harvest that tobacco or pick that cotton, but you can get a black person to do it for free because you own them, whose going to get the job? Not me. In other words, slavery actually undermined the wages and the wage based the economic floor of the typical white working class, or low-income person. But they were told, 'If these people are free, they are going to take your jobs.' No fool. They’ve got your job. That’s the point.

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Historians' analyses
Primary source documents