American Civil War

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From these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion. That we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain. That this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth. ~ Abraham Lincoln
The triumph of the Union is dispensable not only to the existence of our country to the well being of mankind. ~ Horace Greeley
Under his rule, assisted by the greatest captain of our age, and his inspiration, 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
We made a thoroughfare for freedom and her train, sixty miles in latitude, three hundred to the main. Treason fled before us, for resistance was in vain! ~ Henry Clay Work
The south began the war by seizing forts, arsenals, mints, custom-houses, et cetera, et cetera, long before Mister Lincoln was installed, and before the south had one jot or tittle of provocation. ~ William Tecumseh Sherman
Allow the Union and peace once more to settle over your old homes at Atlanta. ~ William Tecumseh Sherman
I myself have seen in Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Mississippi, hundreds and thousands of women and children fleeing from your armies and desperadoes, hungry and with bleeding feet. In Memphis, Vicksburg, and Mississippi, we fed thousands upon thousands of the families of rebel soldiers left on our hands, and whom we could not see starve. ~ William Tecumseh Sherman
War comes home to you; you feel very different. You deprecate its horrors, but did not feel them when you sent car-loads of soldiers and ammunition, and moulded shells and shot, to carry war into Kentucky and Tennessee, to desolate the homes of hundreds and thousands of good people who only asked to live in peace at their old homes, and under the government of their inheritance. ~ William Tecumseh Sherman
Soldiers knew that they were there to free slaves. ~ Kelley L. Ross
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. ~ Brooks Donohue Simpson
Anti-slavery sentiment was a large factor in the development of the war. As well as preserving the Union, many soldiers enlisted in response to slave-power and slavery itself. ~ Adam Thomas
We are sometimes asked, in the name of patriotism, to forget the merits of this fearful struggle, and to remember with equal admiration those who struck at the nation’s life and those who struck to save it, those who fought for slavery and those who fought for liberty and justice. I am no minister of malice. I would not strike the fallen. I would not repel the repentant; but may my 'right hand forget her cunning and my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth', if I forget the difference between the parties to that terrible, protracted, and bloody conflict. ~ Frederick Douglass
War is war, and not popularity-seeking. If they want peace, they and their relatives must stop the war. ~ William Tecumseh Sherman
War is the remedy our enemies have chosen. Other simple remedies were within their choice. You 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! ~ William Tecumseh Sherman
Thank God for the iron in the blood of our fathers, the men who upheld the wisdom of Lincoln, and bore sword or rifle in the armies of Grant! Let us, the children of the men who proved themselves equal to the mighty days, let us, the children of the men who carried the great Civil War to a triumphant conclusion, praise the God of our fathers that the ignoble counsels of peace were rejected; that the suffering and loss, the blackness of sorrow and despair, were unflinchingly faced, and the years of strife endured; for in the end the slave was freed. ~ Theodore Roosevelt
The south had $2,000,000,000 invested in slaves. It was very natural, that they should desire to protect, and not lose this amount of property. Their action in this effort, resulted in war. ~ Sterling Cockrill
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. ~ Ulysses S. Grant
We ask you to join us, in forming a Confederacy of Slaveholding States. ~ Address of South Carolina to the Slaveholding States
Without slavery the rebellion could never have existed; without slavery it could not continue. ~ Abraham Lincoln
By arming the negro we have added a powerful ally. They will make good soldiers and taking them from the enemy weaken him in the same proportion they strengthen us. ~ Ulysses S. Grant
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. ~ Abraham Lincoln
Let us die, to make men free. ~ Julia Ward Howe
What the war meant, then, is briefly expressed in the song of Sherman's men, Marching Through Georgia. The flag that makes you free. ~ Kelley L. Ross
He did not say a monument to what, but he meant, I am sure, to leave it as a monument to the loyalty of our soldiers, who would bear all the horrors of Libby sooner than desert their flag and cause. ~ David Dixon Porter
Hurrah, hurrah! For equal rights, hurrah! Hurrah for the dear old flag with every stripe and star. ~ "The Bonnie Flag With the Stripes and Stars"
We think slavery is wrong and ought to be restricted. ~ Abraham Lincoln
Hurrah! Hurrah! We bring the jubilee! Hurrah! Hurrah! The flag that makes you free! ~ "Marching Through Georgia"
There are only two sides to this question. Every man must be for the United States or against it. There can be no neutrals in this war; only patriots and traitors. ~ Stephen Arnold Douglas
Freedom and peace enjoyed by all, as never was known before, our Spangled Banner wave on high! ~ "Union Reply to The Bonnie Blue Flag".
There were Union men who wept with joyful tears, when they saw the honored flag they had not seen for years! Hardly could they be restrained from breaking forth in cheers, while we were marching through Georgia. ~ Henry Clay Work
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. ~ Ulysses S. Grant
Slaves are human beings. Men, not property. That some of the things, at least, stated about men in the Declaration of Independence apply to them as well as to us. I say, we think, most of us, that this charter of freedom applies to the slave as well as to ourselves, that the class of arguments put forward to batter down that idea, are also calculated to break down the very idea of a free government. ~ Abraham Lincoln
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. ~ Abraham Lincoln
The copperheads of the North need not complain of them being placed on an equal footing with the white soldiers, since the white soldier himself does not complain. After a man has fought two years, he is willing that any thing shall fight for the purpose of ending the war. We have become too familiar with hardships to refuse to see men fight merely because their color is black. ~ L. Grim
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. ~ James Abram Garfield
There have been men who have proposed to me to return to slavery the black warriors of Port Hudson and Olustee to their masters to conciliate the south. I should be damned in time and in eternity for so doing. The world shall know that I will keep my faith to friends and enemies, come what will. ~ Abraham Lincoln
Once let the black man get upon his person the brass letters 'U.S.'; let him get an edge on his button, and a musket on his shoulder and bullets in his pocket, and there is no power on earth which can deny that he has earned the right to citizenship. ~ Frederick Douglass
Many have the idea that the entire negro race are vastly their inferiors; a few weeks of calm unprejudiced life here would disabuse them I think. I have a more elevated opinion of their abilities than I ever had before. I know that many of them are vastly the superiors of those, many of those, who would condemn them to a life of brutal degradation. ~ Charles Augustus Hill
I have given the subject of arming the negro my hearty support. This, with the emancipation of the negro is the heaviest blow yet given the Confederacy. The South rave a great deal about it and profess to be very angry. ~ Ulysses S. Grant
Whatever negroes can be got to do as soldiers, leaves just so much less for white soldiers to do, in saving the Union. Does it appear otherwise to you? But negroes, like other people, act upon motives. Why should they do any thing for us, if we will do nothing for them? If they stake their lives for us, they must be prompted by the strongest motive. Even the promise of freedom. And the promise being made, must be kept. ~ Abraham Lincoln
Negro troops are easier to preserve discipline among than our white troops, and I doubt not will prove equally good for garrison duty. All that have been tried have fought bravely. ~ Ulysses S. Grant
Let history record that on the banks of the James 30,000 freemen not only gained their own liberty, but shattered the prejudice of the world, and gave to the land of their birth peace, union and glory. ~ Godfrey Weitzel
Its organization was an experiment which has proven a perfect success. The conduct of its soldiers has been such to draw praise from persons most prejudiced against color, and there is no record which should give the colored race more pride than that left by the 25th Army Corps. ~ Godfrey Weitzel
No human power can subdue this rebellion without using the emancipation lever as I have done. ~ Abraham Lincoln
I am anxious to get as many of these negro regiments as possible, and to have them full, and completely equipped. I am particularly desirous of organizing a regiment of heavy artillery from the negroes. ~ Ulysses S. Grant
Oh aid of the slaves' liberation and roll on the liberty ball. We'll finish the temple of freedom, and make it capacious within. That all who seek shelter may find it, whatever the hue of their skin. Success to the old fashioned doctrine, that men are created all free, and down with the power of the despot, wherever his stronghold may be. ~ "Lincoln and Liberty"
The people are everywhere calling, for Lincoln and liberty too! ~ "Lincoln and Liberty"
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 and present revolution. ~ Alexander H. Stephens
Exactly what 'Evils' were being suffered by the southern states that moved them to leave the Union? Well, the threat of the abolition of slavery. As Ulysses S. Grant said, this in fact was 'one of the worst causes ever'. The evils were being practiced by the slave states, not suffered by them, and they wished to leave the Union in order to continue practicing their evils without opposition. ~ Kelley L. Ross
My poor friends, you are free, free as air. You can cast off the name of slave and trample upon it; it will come to you no more. Liberty is your birthright. God gave it to you as He gave it to others, and it is a sin that you have been deprived of it for so many years. But you must try to deserve this priceless boon. Let the world see that you merit it, and are able to maintain it by your good works. Don't let your joy carry you into excesses. Learn the laws and obey them; obey God's commandments and thank Him for giving you liberty, for to Him you owe all things. ~ Abraham Lincoln
Don't kneel to me, that is not right. You must kneel to God only, and thank him for the liberty you will hereafter enjoy. I am but God's humble instrument; but you may rest assured that as long as I live no one shall put a shackle on your limbs; and you shall have all the rights which God has given to every other free citizen of this republic. ~ Abraham Lincoln
In reference to you, colored people, let me say God has made you free. Although you have been deprived of your God-given rights by your so-called masters, you are now as free as I am, and if those that claim to be your superiors do not know that you are free, take the sword and bayonet and teach them that you are; for God created all men free, giving to each the same rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. ~ Abraham Lincoln
I am ready to submit to any responsibility which belongs to me as a senator from a slaveholding state. I have heard something said on this and a former occasion about allegiance to the south. I know no south, no north, no east, no west, to which I owe any allegiance. I owe allegiance to two sovereignty, and only two. One is the sovereignty of this Union, and the other is the sovereignty of the state of Kentucky. ~ Henry Clay
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. ~ Declaration of the People of Virginia Represented in Convention at Wheeling
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. ~ Declaration of the People of Virginia Represented in Convention at Wheeling
Unless there had been a separation from the North, slavery would be abolished in Georgia. ~ Henry L. Benning
Confederates openly celebrated the cause of establishing a slaveholding republic and the defense of white supremacy. They embraced it as the foundation of their new nation and as an improvement on the nation from which they left behind. It constituted their understanding of Confederate exceptionalism. ~ Kevin Levin
Southern slave owners, were engaged in one of the most vile businesses of human history. Even worse, they were justifying it with a pure racism that served to all but completely dehumanize their African bondsmen. This became one of the worst poisons in American history. ~ Kelley L. Ross
If things are allowed to go on as they are, it is certain that slavery is to be abolished. By the time the north shall have attained the power, the black race will be in a large majority, and then we will have black governors, black legislatures, black juries, black everything. Is it to be supposed that the white race will stand for that? ~ Henry L. Benning
Both parties deprecated war, but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish, and the war came. ~ Abraham Lincoln
Painfully convinced of the unutterable wrongs and woes of slavery, profoundly believing that, according to the true spirit of the constitution and the sentiments of the fathers, it can find no place. ~ Charles Sumner
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. ~ Abraham Lincoln
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. ~ William Tecumseh Sherman
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. The United States does and must assert its authority, wherever it once had power; for, if it relaxes one bit to pressure, it is gone. ~ William Tecumseh Sherman
Never forget that victory to the rebellion meant death to the republic. ~ Frederick Douglass
Our great and necessary domestic institution of slavery shall be preserved. ~ Southern Punch
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
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. ~ Abraham Lincoln
If a minority, losing an election, can break up the government rather than accept the results of the election, free government is impossible. ~ Harry V. Jaffa
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
The Confederate States of America came into existence to preserve African American slavery and white supremacy. After slavery's legal abolition, the defenders of white supremacy quite logically looked back upon the slaveholders' republic as their true forebears. ~ Bruce Levine
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. ~ Declaration of the Causes which Impel the State of Texas to Secede
Secession was required to preserve slavery. Why should non-slaveholders care? Because slavery was the will of God, and those who opposed the institution, the abolitionists, were by definition anti-God. More to the point, secession was necessary to preserve white supremacy. ~ Gordon Rhea
A blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization. ~ Declaration of the Causes which Induce and Justify the Secession of the Mississippi
Southern slaveholders believed that African slavery was one of the great organizing institutions in world history, superior to the 'free society' of the north. ~ T.N. Coates
We have dissolved the late Union chiefly because of the negro quarrel. ~ Robert H. Smith
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. ~ Robert H. Smith
What was the reason that induced Georgia to take the step of secession? This reason may be summed up in one single proposition. It was a conviction, a deep conviction on the part of Georgia, that a separation from the North was the only thing that could prevent the abolition of her slavery. ~ Henry L. Benning
The seizure of free blacks and escaped slaves by the Army of Northern Virginia was widespread, systematic, and countenanced by officers up to the highest levels of command. This event, and others on a much smaller scale, were so much part of the army's operation. ~ Andy Hall
We of the south contend that slavery is right. ~ Laurence M. Keitt
South Carolina cites, loosely, but with substantial accuracy, some of the language of the original Declaration. That Declaration does say that it is the right of the people to abolish any form of government that becomes destructive of the ends for which it was established. But South Carolina does not repeat the preceding language in the earlier document, 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal'. ~ Harry V. Jaffa
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
The Confederate States were established explicitly to preserve and expand the institution of slavery. Alexander Stephens, the Confederacy's vice president, said so himself in 1861, in unambiguous terms. ~ Gordon Rhea
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. ~ Alexander H. Stephens
While the rest of the western world followed an historic trajectory dedicated to abolishing slavery and bringing an expanded meaning to the concepts of human rights and participatory democracy, the south marched off in an opposite direction. The Confederacy was a nation dedicated to the proposition that all men are not created equal, and that the government's job is to preserve and ensure that inequality. ~ Gordon Rhea
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. ~ George William Bagby
As a national emblem, it is significant of our higher cause, the cause of a superior race. ~ William Tappan Thompson
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. ~ Howell Cobb
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. ~ Howell Cobb
The collapse of white supremacy would be so cataclysmic that no self-respecting Southerner could fail to rally to the secessionist cause, they argued. Secession was necessary to preserve the purity and survival of the white race. This was the unvarnished, near universal message of southern political leaders to their constituencies. ~ Gordon Rhea
The raison d'être of the Confederacy was the defense of slavery. It follows that, as the paramount symbol of the Confederate nation and as the flag of the armies that kept the nation alive, the St. Andrew's cross is inherently associated with slavery. This conclusion is valid whether or not secession was constitutional. It is valid whether or not most southern soldiers consciously fought to preserve slavery. ~ John M. Coski
It is no accident that Confederate symbols have been the mainstay of white supremacist organizations, from the Ku Klux Klan to the skinheads. They did not appropriate the Confederate battle flag simply because it was pretty. They picked it because it was the flag of a nation dedicated to their ideals: 'that the negro is not equal to the white man'. ~ Gordon Rhea
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. ~ Brooks Donohue Simpson
South Carolina and the original seven Confederate States left the Union in order to preserve slavery, pure and simple. ~ Kelley L. Ross
Bury him in the common trench with the niggers. ~ Johnson Hagood
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... 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. ~ Adolf Hitler
Rioters were mostly Irish Catholic immigrants and their children. They mainly attacked the members of New York's small black population. For a year, Democratic leaders had been telling their Irish-American constituents that the wicked Black Republicans were waging the war to free the slaves who would come north and take away the jobs of Irish workers. ~ James M. McPherson
That means nigger citizenship. Now, by God, I will put him through. That will be the last speech he will ever make. ~ John Wilkes Booth
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. ~ Sam R. Watkins
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. ~ Sam R. Watkins
We are fighting to maintain the Heaven-ordained supremacy of the white man over the inferior or colored race. ~ William Tappan Thompson
During the war, not only was the south the first to institute conscription, but southern civilian Unionists, in several instances, were massacred by Confederate forces. ~ Kelley L. Ross
We cannot treat negroes taken in arms as prisoners of war without a destruction of the social system for which we contend. ~ John R. Eakin
The Confederate experience is dotted with episodes that are not particularly admirable. ~ William C. Davis
If we cannot justify the south in the act of secession, we will go down in history solely as a brave, impulsive, but rash people who attempted in an illegal manner to overthrow the Union of our country. ~ Clement A. Evans
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
That infuriates some people; they want me to tell them these were horrible traitors that deserved to be killed. But traitors to what? They were actually loyal to the country they had been raised in all their lives. ~ Richard B. McCaslin
Many persons believed, or pretended to believe, and confidently asserted, that freed slaves would not make good soldiers; they would lack courage, and could not be subjected to military discipline. Facts have shown how groundless were these apprehensions. ~ Edwin M. Stanton
The slave has proved his manhood and his capacity as an infantry soldier. ~ Edwin M. Stanton
Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery— the greatest material interest of the world. ~ Declaration of the Secession of Mississippi
There had to be an end of slavery. ~ Ulysses S. Grant
African slavery as it exists amongst us the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization. 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
Where cotton's king and men are chattels, Union boys will win the battles. ~ "Union Dixie"
As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide. ~ Abraham Lincoln
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. ~ William C. Davis
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. South Carolina ought to know what was the cause for her seceding. The truth is the modern Virginians departed from the teachings of the Father's. ~ John S. Mosby
No bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law denying or impairing the right of property in negro slaves shall be passed. ~ Constitution of the Confederate States of America
The General Assembly shall have no power to pass laws for the emancipation of slaves. ~ 1861 Constitution of the State of Florida
Because I love the South, I rejoice in the failure of the Confederacy. ~ Woodrow Wilson
The war was a terrible war, but it was a war for human freedom, and if the south had succeeded and if slavery had been extended, the United States, or part of it, might very well have been on the side of Hitler in the Second World War. We would not have been the bastion of freedom we have been in the twentieth century. ~ Harry V. Jaffa
Wars produce many stories of fiction, some of which are told until they are believed to be true. ~ Ulysses S. Grant

The American Civil War (ACW), also known as the War of the Rebellion, the Great Rebellion, and several other names, was a civil war that was fought in the United States of America from 1861 to 1865. Fearing that the future of slavery was in jeopardy, eleven slave-holding U.S. states located in the southern United States declared their secession from the country and formed the Confederate States, also known as "the Confederacy", sparking war. Led by Jefferson Davis, they fought against the United States, also known as "the Union", led by Abraham Lincoln, which consisted of every free U.S. state as well as five slave-holding states, known as "border states". In 1865, after four years of heavy fighting, the Confederacy surrendered, and slavery was abolished in the United States.

Conflict Brewing: The Secession Crisis (1860–1861)[edit]

  • If you raise the standard of rebellion, your green fields will be wash'd with the blood of your people and your country laid desolate by the flames of civil discord! If you attempt to pull down the pillars of the Republic, you shall be crush'd into atoms.
  • At what point shall we expect the approach of danger? By what means shall we fortify against it? — Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant, to step the Ocean, and crush us at a blow? Never! — All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest; with a Buonaparte for a commander, could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years.

    At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.

  • I am a Southern man and a slaveholder! A kind and merciful one, I trust, and none the worse for being a slaveholder. I say, for one, I would rather meet any extremity upon earth than give up one inch of our equality, one inch of what belongs to us as members of this republic! What! Acknowledged inferiority! The surrender of life is nothing to sinking down into acknowledged inferiority!
  • Painfully convinced of the unutterable wrongs and woes of slavery; profoundly believing that, according to the true spirit of the constitution and the sentiments of the fathers, it can find no place under our national government.
    • Charles Sumner, as quoted in Freedom National, Slavery Sectional (27 July 1852), by C. Sumner, United States Senate.
  • The Autocrat of all the Russias will resign his crown, and proclaim his subjects free republicans sooner than will our American masters voluntarily give up their slaves.
  • I protest against that counterfeit logic which concludes that, because I do not want a black woman for a slave I must necessarily want her for a wife. I need not have her for either, I can just leave her alone. In some respects she certainly is not my equal; but in her natural right to eat the bread she earns with her own hands without asking leave of any one else, she is my equal, and the equal of all others.
  • What shall be done with the free negro? We have settled the slavery question as far as we are concerned; we have prohibited it in Illinois forever; and in doing so, I think we have done wisely, and there is no man in the State who would be more strenuous in his opposition to the introduction of slavery than I would; but when we settled it for ourselves, we exhausted all our power over that subject. We have done our whole duty, and can do no more. We must leave each and every other State to decide for itself the same question. In relation to the policy to be pursued toward the free negroes, we have said that they shall not vote; whilst Maine, on the other hand, has said that they shall vote. Maine is a sovereign State, and has the power to regulate the qualifications of voters within her limits. I would never consent to confer the right of voting and of citizenship upon a negro; but still I am not going to quarrel with Maine for differing from me in opinion. Let Maine take care of her own negroes and fix the qualifications of her own voters to suit herself, without interfering with Illinois, and Illinois will not interfere with Maine.
  • Slavery, throughout its entire existence in the United States, is none other than the most barbarous, unprovoked and unjustifiable war of one portion of its citizens against another portion, the only conditions of which are perpetual imprisonment and hopeless servitude, or absolute extermination, in utter disregard and violation of those eternal and self-evident truths set forth in our Declaration of Independence.
  • I, John Brown, am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land can never be purged away but with blood. I had as I now think, vainly flattered myself that without very much bloodshed, it might be done.
    • John Brown, as quoted in a note that he had at his execution (2 December 1859), most sources say it was handed to the guard, but some dispute that and claim it was handed to a reporter accompaning him; as quoted in John Brown and his Men (1894), by Richard Josiah Hinton.
  • The anti-slavery party contend that slavery is wrong in itself, and the Government is a consolidated national democracy. We of the South contend that slavery is right, and that this is a confederate Republic of sovereign States.
    • Laurence M. Keitt, as quoted in "Congressman from South Carolina, in a speech to the House" (25 January 1860), The Congressional Globe.
  • 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 still insist that our doctrines and declarations necessarily lead to such results. We do not believe it. We know we hold to no doctrine, and make no declaration.
  • 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.
  • Look at the magnitude of this subject! One sixth of our population, in round numbers, not quite one sixth, and yet more than a seventh, about one sixth of the whole population of the United States are slaves! The owners of these slaves consider them property. The effect upon the minds of the owners is that of property, and nothing else, it induces them to insist upon all that will favorably affect its value as property, to demand laws and institutions and a public policy that shall increase and secure its value, and make it durable, lasting and universal. The effect on the minds of the owners is to persuade them that there is no wrong in it. The slaveholder does not like to be considered a mean fellow, for holding that species of property, and hence he has to struggle within himself and sets about arguing himself into the belief that slavery is right. The property influences his mind.
  • Slaves are human beings. Men, not property. That some of the things, at least, stated about men in the Declaration of Independence apply to them as well as to us. I say, we think, most of us, that this charter of freedom applies to the slave as well as to ourselves, that the class of arguments put forward to batter down that idea, are also calculated to break down the very idea of a free government, even for white men, and to undermine the very foundations of free society. We think slavery a great moral wrong, and while we do not claim the right to touch it where it exists, we wish to treat it as a wrong in the territories, where our votes will reach it. We think that a respect for ourselves, a regard for future generations and for the God that made us, require that we put down this wrong where our votes will properly reach it. We think that species of labor an injury to free white men. In short, we think slavery a great moral, social, and political evil, tolerable only because, and so far as its actual existence makes it necessary to tolerate it, and that beyond that, it ought to be treated as a wrong.
  • Slavery is the question, the all absorbing topic of the day. It is true that all of us, and by that I mean, not the Republican Party alone, but the whole American people, here and elsewhere, all of us wish this question settled, wish it out of the way. It stands in the way, and prevents the adjustment, and the giving of necessary attention to other questions of national house-keeping. The people of the whole nation agree that this question ought to be settled, and yet it is not settled. And the reason is that they are not yet agreed how it shall be settled. All wish it done, but some wish one way and some another, and some a third, or fourth, or fifth; different bodies are pulling in different directions, and none of them having a decided majority, are able to accomplish the common object.
  • 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.
  • You people of the south don't know what you are doing. This country will be drenched in blood, and God only knows how it will end. It is all folly, madness, a crime against civilization! You people speak so lightly of war; you don't know what you're talking about. War is a terrible thing! You mistake, too, the people of the North. They are a peaceable people but an earnest people, and they will fight, too. They are not going to let this country be destroyed without a mighty effort to save it … Besides, where are your men and appliances of war to contend against them? The North can make a steam engine, locomotive, or railway car; hardly a yard of cloth or pair of shoes can you make. You are rushing into war with one of the most powerful, ingeniously mechanical, and determined people on Earth, right at your doors. You are bound to fail. Only in your spirit and determination are you prepared for war. In all else you are totally unprepared, with a bad cause to start with. At first you will make headway, but as your limited resources begin to fail, shut out from the markets of Europe as you will be, your cause will begin to wane. If your people will but stop and think, they must see in the end that you will surely fail.
    • William Tecumseh Sherman, comments to David F. Boyd at the Louisiana State Seminary (24 December 1860), as quoted in The Civil War: A Book of Quotations (2004) by Robert Blaisdell.
  • I can anticipate no greater calamity for the country than a dissolution of the Union. It would be an accumulation of all the evils we complain of, and I am willing to sacrifice everything but honour for its preservation. I hope, therefore, that all constitutional means will be exhausted before there is a resort to force. Secession is nothing but revolution. The framers of our Constitution never exhausted so much labour, wisdom, and forbearance in its formation, and surrounded it with so many guards and securities, if it was intended to be broken by every member of the Confederacy at will. It is intended for 'perpetual Union,' so expressed in the preamble, and for the establishment of a government, not a compact, which can only be dissolved by revolution, or the consent of all the people in convention assembled. It is idle to talk of secession: anarchy would have been established, and not a government, by Washington, Hamilton, Jefferson, Madison, and all the other patriots of the Revolution.
  • 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.
  • 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, whose principles had been subverted to work out our ruin.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • But not to be tedious in enumerating the numerous changes for the better, allow me to allude to one other though last, not least. The new constitution has put at rest, forever, all the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institution. 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 and present revolution. Jefferson in his forecast, had anticipated this, as the 'rock upon which the old Union would split'. He was right.
  • 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. 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.
  • If we cannot justify the South in the act of Secession, we will go down in History solely as a brave, impulsive but rash people who attempted in an illegal manner to overthrow the Union of our Country.
  • 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.
  • We have much to say in vindication of our conduct, but this we must leave to history. The bloody conflict between brothers, is closed, and we 'come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.' The South had $2,000,000,000 invested in Slaves. It was very natural, that they should desire to protect, and not lose this amount of property. Their action in this effort, resulted in War. There was no desire to dissolve the Union, but to protect this property. The issue was made and it is decided.
  • 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.
  • It is a revolution; a revolution of the most intense character; in which belief in the justice, prudence, and wisdom of secession is blended with the keenest sense of wrong and outrage, and it can no more be checked by human effort for the time than a prairie fire by a gardener’s watering pot.
    • Judah P. Benjamin, Senator from Louisiana, on the secession movement in the South (1860). Reported in Allan Nevins, The Emergence of Lincoln (1950), p. 387.
  • Let us, then, bestow a few thoughts upon what the 'Abolition of Slavery' means. In the first place, it means the annihilation and end of all negro labor, agricultural especially, over the whole South. It means a loss to the planters of the South of, at least, FOUR BILLION dollars, by having this labor taken from them; and a loss, in addition, of FIVE BILLION dollars more, in lands, mills, machinery, and other great interests, which will be rendered valueless by the want of slave labor to cultivate the lands, and the loss of the crops which give to those interests life and prosperity. It means, again, the turning loose upon the turning loose upon society, without the salutary restraints to which they are now accustomed, more than four millions of a very poor and ignorant population, to ramble in idleness over the country until their wants should drive most of them, first to petty thefts, and afterwards to the bolder crimes of robbery and murder.
  • But the abolition of slavery means, further, that the negro is not only to be made free, but equal also to his former master, in political and civil rights; and , as far as it can be done, in social privileges. The planter and his family are not only to be reduced to poverty and want, by the robbery of his property, but to complete the refinement of the indignity, they are to be degraded to the level of an inferior race, be jostled by them in their paths, and intruded upon, and insulted over by rude and vulgar upstarts. Who can describe the loathsomeness of such an intercourse;—the constrained intercourse between refinement reduced to poverty, and swaggering vulgarity suddenly elevated to a position which it is not prepared for? It has hereto fore resulted in a war between the races, and the extermination of one or the other; or it has become so intolerable, that expatriation has been preferred as an evil more easily to be borne.
  • In the Southern slaveholding States, where menial and degrading offices are turned over to be per formed exclusively by the Negro slave, the status and color of the black race becomes the badge of inferiority, and the poorest non-slaveholder may rejoice with the richest of his brethren of the white race, in the distinction of his color. He may be poor, it is true; but there is no point upon which he is so justly proud and sensitive as his privilege of caste; and there is nothing which he would resent with more fierce indignation than the attempt of the Abolitionist to emancipate the slaves and elevate the Negroes to an equality with himself and his family.
  • It is totally unnecessary for the gentleman to remind me of my coming from a slaveholding state. I know whence I came, and I know my duty, and I am ready to submit to any responsibility which belongs to me as a senator from a slaveholding state. I have heard something said on this and a former occasion about allegiance to the south. I know no south, no north, no east, no west, to which I owe any allegiance. I owe allegiance to two sovereignty, and only two. One is the sovereignty of this Union, and the other is the sovereignty of the state of Kentucky. My allegiance is to this Union and to my state; but if gentlemen suppose they can exact from me an acknowledgement of allegiance to any ideal or future contemplated confederacy of the south, I here declare that I owe no allegiance to it; nor will I, for one, come under any such allegiance if I can avoid it.
    • Henry Clay, speech in the Senate (14 February 1850), in response to a speech by Senator Henry S. Foote of Mississippi, who had 'lectured' Clay on the allegiance which he owed to the southern U.S. as a senator from a southern U.S. state. From The Life, Correspondence, and Speeches of Henry Clay (Vol. 3); ed. Calvin Colton: A. S. Barnes & Co., 1857.
  • Whatever is calculated to weaken or impair the strength of [the] Union,—whether originating at the North or the South,—whether arising from the incendiary violence of abolitionists, or from the coalition of nullifiers, will never meet with my unqualified approval.
    • Sam Houston, as quoted in Sam Houston (2004), by James Haley, University of Oklahoma Press.
  • 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.
  • If things are allowed to go on as they are, it is certain that slavery is to be abolished. By the time the north shall have attained the power, the black race will be in a large majority, and then we will have black governors, black legislatures, black juries, black everything. Is it to be supposed that the white race will stand for that? It is not a supposable case. Although not half so numerous, we may readily assume that war will break out everywhere like hidden fire from the earth, and it is probable that the white race, being superior in every respect, may push the other back. They will then call upon the authorities at Washington, to aid them in putting down servile insurrection, and they will send a standing army down upon us, and the volunteers and Wide-Awakes will come in thousands, and we will be overpowered and our men will be compelled to wander like vagabonds all over the earth; and as for our women, the horrors of their state we cannot contemplate in imagination. That is the fate which Abolition will bring upon the white race. But that is not all of the Abolition war. We will be completely exterminated, and the land will be left in the possession of the blacks, and then it will go back to a wilderness and become another Africa or Saint Domingo.
  • We know that if Mexico is acquired, the South will demand it for slavery and the North for free institutions. We must forego, for the present, new conquests, unless the love of acquisition is stronger than the love of domestic peace.

    Suppose it to be conceded that the Constitution should be amended, what amendment will satisfy the South? Nothing less than the protection of slavery in the territories. But our people have pronounced against it. All who voted for Mr. Lincoln or Mr. Douglas — over 3,300,000 citizens — voted against this claim. Less than 1 million voted for it. Should the great majority yield to a meager minority, especially under threats of disunion? This minority demand that slavery be protected by the Constitution. Our fathers would not allow the word 'slave' or 'slavery' in the Constitution, when all the states but one were slaveholding. Shall we introduce these words when a majority of the states are free and when the progress of civilization has arrayed the world against slavery? If the love of peace, and ease, and office should tempt politicians and merchants to do it, the people will rebel. I assure you, whatever may be the consequence, they will not yield their moral convictions by strengthening the influence of slavery in this country.

    Recent events have only deepened this feeling. The struggle to establish slavery in Kansas; the frequent murders and mobbings, in the South, of Northern citizens; the present turbulence and violence of Southern society; the manifest fear of freedom of speech and of the press; the danger of insurrection; and now the attempt to subvert the government rather than submit to a constitutional election — these events — disguise it as you may, have aroused a counterirritation in the North that will not allow its representatives to yield, merely for peace, more than is prescribed by the letter and spirit of the Constitution. Every guarantee of this instrument ought to be faithfully and religiously observed. But when it is proposed to change it, to secure new guarantees to slavery, to extend and protect it, you awake and arouse the antislavery feeling of the North to war against slavery everywhere....

    Without disrespect to South Carolina, it would be easy to show that Shay's Rebellion and the Whiskey Insurrection involved the government in greater danger than the solitary secession of South Carolina. But the movement becomes imposing when we are assured that several powerful states will very soon follow in the lead of South Carolina; and when we know that other states, still more powerful, sympathize with the seceding states, to the extent of opposing, and perhaps resisting, the execution of the laws [of the United States] in the seceding states....

    Disunion is war! God knows, I do not threaten it, for I seek to prevent it in every way possible. I speak but the logic of facts, which we should not conceal from each other....

    If war results, what a war it will be! Contemplate the North and South in hostile array against each other. If these sections do not know each other now, they will then.

    We are a nation of military men, naturally turbulent because we are free, accustomed to arms, ingenious, energetic, brave, and strong. The same qualities that have enabled a single generation of men to develop the resources of a continent would enable us to destroy more rapidly than we have constructed....

    How can we avert a calamity at which humanity and civilization shudder? I know no way but to cling to the government framed by our fathers, to administer it in a spirit of kindness but, in all cases, without partiality to enforce the laws.... Let us cling to each other in the hope that our differences will pass away, as they often have in times past. For the sake of peace, for the love of civil liberty, for the honor of our name, our race, our religion, let us preserve the Union, loving it better as the clouds grow darker. I am willing to unite with any man... who is willing to rely on the Constitution as it is for his rights, and who is willing to maintain and defend the Union under all circumstances, against all enemies, at home or abroad.

    • Rep. John Sherman (Republican-Ohio), letter to Philadelphians (22 December 1860). He sent a copy to his brother, William Tecumseh Sherman, who would later command the Union armies in the West.
  • 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.
  • If the confederacy is broken up, the government is dissolved, and it behooves every distinct community, as well as every individual, to take care of themselves.

    When disunion has become a fixed and certain act, why may not New York disrupt the bands which bind her to a venal and corrupt master.... Amid the gloom which the present and prospective condition of things must cast over the country, New York, as a free city, may shed only light and hope of a future reconstruction of our once blessed confederacy.

    • New York City Mayor Fernando Wood, address to the City Council, recommending that, with the Southern states seceding from the United States, New York City should become an independent city-state (1861).
  • They appealed to the Constitution, they appealed to justice, they appealed to fraternity, until the Constitution, justice, and fraternity were no longer listened to in the legislative halls of their country, and then, sir, they prepared for the arbitrament of the sword; and now you see the glittering bayonet, and you hear the tramp of armed men from your capital to the Rio Grande.
    • Senator Robert Toombs, remarks on the secessionists in the United States Senate (January 7, 1861); reported in the Congressional Globe, vol. 38, p. 267.
  • 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.

  • On! ye patriots to the battle. Hear Fort Moultrie's canon rattle. Then away, then away, then away to the fight! Go meet those Southern Traitors with iron will and should your courage falter boys, remember Bunker Hill. Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! The stars and stripes forever! Hurrah! Hurrah! Our Union shall not sever! As our fathers crushed oppression deal with those who breathe Secession. Then away, then away, then away to the fight. Though Beauregard and Wigfall. Their swords may whet. Just tell them Major Anderson. Has not surrendered yet. Hurrah! Hurrah! Our Union shall not sever! Is Virginia, too, seceeding? Washington's remains unheeding? Then away, then away, then away to the fight. Unfold our country's banner. In triumph there and let the rebels desecrate that banner if they dare. Hurrah! Hurrah! Our Union shall not sever! Volunteers, be up and doing. Still the good old path pursuing. Then away, then away, then away to the fight. Your sires, who fought before you have led the way. Then follow in their footsteps and be as brave as they. Hurrah! Hurrah! Our Union shall not sever! On! ye patriots to the battle. Hear Fort Moultrie's cannon rattle then away, then away, then away to the fight. The star that lights our Union shall never set! Though fierce may be the conflict we'll gain the victory yet. Hurrah! Hurrah! Our Union shall not sever!
  • One-sixth, and a little more, of the population of the United States are slaves, looked upon as property, as nothing but property. The cash value of these slaves, at a moderate estimate, is $2,000,000,000. This amount of property value has a vast influence on the minds of its owners, very naturally. The same amount of property would have an equal influence upon us if owned in the north. Human nature is the same, people at the south are the same as those at the north, barring the difference in circumstances. Public opinion is founded, to a great extent, on a property basis. What lessons the value of property is opposed, what enhances its value is favored. Public opinion at the south regards slaves as property and insists upon treating them like other property.
  • On the other hand, the free states carry on their government on the principle of the equality of men. We think slavery is morally wrong, and a direct violation of that principle. We all think it wrong. It is clearly proved, I think, by natural theology, apart from revelation. Every man, black, white or yellow, has a mouth to be fed and two hands with which to feed it, and that bread should be allowed to go to that mouth without controversy.
  • Our treatment of the negro has lacked humanity and filled the country with agitation and ill-feeling, and brought the nation to the verge of ruin.
  • When the dark and vengeful spirit of slavery, always ambitious, preferring to rule in hell than to serve in heaven, fired the southern heart and stirred all the malign elements of discord, when our great republic, the hope of freedom and self-government throughout the world, had reached the point of supreme peril, when the Union of these states was torn and rent asunder at the center, and the armies of a gigantic rebellion came forth with broad blades and bloody hands to destroy the very foundations of American society, the unknown braves who flung themselves into the yawning chasm, where cannon roared and bullets whistled, fought and fell. They died for their country.
  • Timid men said before Mister Lincoln's inauguration, that we have seen the last president of the United States. A voice in influential quarters said, 'Let the Union slide'. Some said that a Union maintained by the sword was worthless. Others said a rebellion of eight million cannot be suppressed; but in the midst of all this tumult and timidity, and against all this, Abraham Lincoln was clear in his duty, and had an oath in heaven. He calmly and bravely heard the voice of doubt and fear all around him; but he had an oath in heaven, and there was not power enough on earth to make this honest boatman, backwoodsman, and broad-handed splitter of rails evade or violate that sacred oath.
  • The south was not far behind the north in recognizing Abraham Lincoln as the natural leader of the rising political sentiment of the country against slavery, and it was equally quick in its efforts to counteract and destroy his influence. Its papers teemed with the bitterest invectives against the 'backwoodsman of Illinois', the 'flat-boatman', the 'rail-splitter', the 'third-rate lawyer', and much else and worse.
  • From the close of the nullification episode of 1832–1833 to the outbreak of the Civil War, the agitation of state rights was intimately connected with the new issue of growing importance, the slavery question, and the principle form assumed by the doctrine was the right of secession. The pro-slavery forces sought refuge in the state rights position as a shield against federal interference with pro-slavery projects.
  • As a natural consequence, anti-slavery legislatures in the North were led to lay great stress on the national character of the Union and the broad powers of the general government in dealing with slavery. Nevertheless, it is significant to note that when it served anti-slavery purposes better to lapse into state rights dialectic, northern legislatures did not hesitate to be inconsistent.
  • The old Soviet constitution created a right to secede. The United States Constitution does not. Although some secessionists in the American South, invoking state sovereignty, claimed to find an implicit right to secede in the founding document, it was more common to invoke an extra-textual 'right to secede' said to be enshrined in the Declaration of Independence. In any case, no serious scholar or politician now argues that a right to secede exists under United States constitutional law. It is generally agreed that such a right would undermine the spirit of the original document, one that encourages the development of constitutional provisions that prevent the defeat of the basic enterprise of democratic self-government.
  • As the roll call proceeded, and vote after vote was recorded in the affirmative, the spectators in the gallery broke into applause. Seventy delegates responded “aye” before there was a single negative vote. Then the name of Thomas P. Hughes of Williamson county was called. “No!” came the response. The effect was electrical. Immediately there was a demonstration of disapproval among the spectators, but order was quickly restored and the roll call proceeded. The next three votes were in the affirmative and there was applause. The secretary then called the name of William H. Johnson of Lamar county. He voted “no,” and again there was a demonstration of disapproval. Quiet was no sooner obtained, however, than the name of Joshua Johnson of Titus county was called, and he, too, voted in the negative. A roar of disapproval went up, but the chairman demanded order and the next name was called.
  • The response was in the affirmative and the crowd applauded. Then there were sixty-four “ayes” in succession before another negative vote was cast. The spectators applauded popular favorites as they announced their votes. Reagan, the brilliant member of congress, was cheered. There were cheers also for Runnels, the former governor, whom Houston had defeated at the previous election. And so it went. Finally the secretary called out, “Shuford! ” This was A. P. Shuford of Wood county. He voted in the negative and there was a flutter of disapproval. Eight more affirmative votes came next, and then the secretary reached the name of James W. Throckmorton of Collin county. Throckmorton arose. “Mr. President,” he said, speaking in tones that were audible throughout the hall, “in view of the responsibility, in the presence of God and my country — and unawed by the wild spirit of revolution around me, I vote “no.” For the first time the Unionists in the audience found their voices, and there was scattered cheering. But the expressions of disapproval were more pronounced and hisses came from all parts of the gallery. Throckmorton again addressed the chair. “Mr. President,” he said, “when the rabble hiss, well may patriots tremble!” A mighty shout went up from the gallery. Only a small percentage of the crowd was Unionist in sentiment, but, small as it was, it spontaneously responded to Throckmorton’s declaration.
  • Above the hoots and jeers there was prolonged cheering, and it was with extreme difficulty that President Roberts restored order. Two other delegates, L. H. Williams and George W. Wright, both of Lamar county, voted “no” before the close of the roll call. Then the result was announced and both the delegates and the spectators broke into cheers. Out of one hundred and seventy- four delegates, only seven had voted against the ordinance. An impromptu procession, which included a number of ladies, entered the hall, led by George M. Flournoy, who carried a beautiful Lone Star flag. A wild frenzy of cheering followed, and it continued for several minutes as the flag was installed in a place of honor over the platform. Texas had taken the first step toward reassuming her independent station.
  • The news got abroad in the town, and everywhere there was wild enthusiasm. Only the few who disapproved the action and who felt that evil days were ahead failed to join in the rejoicing. Among the latter were the seven delegates who voted against the ordinance. It had taken a superior order of courage for them to face that unfriendly crowd and vote their convictions, for they could not fail to know that the attitude of the crowd represented the attitude of an overwhelming majority of the people of the state. They were conscious of the fact that they had participated in a historic proceeding and had made themselves conspicuous by the part they had played. They believed the time would come when their votes would be judged otherwise than they were judged by the crowd that jeered them. In order to leave a lasting record of the event, therefore, they decided to have themselves photographed in a group. This they did in due course. The photograph is reproduced in this volume (see page 342), thus being printed in a book for the first time, sixty-six years after the event it commemorates.
  • South Carolina cites, loosely, but with substantial accuracy, some of the language of the original Declaration. That Declaration does say that it is the right of the people to abolish any form of government that becomes destructive of the ends for which it was established. But South Carolina does not repeat the preceding language in the earlier document: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal'.
  • Did the southerners, in general, have a right to secede, on the basis of moral self-determination? Yes, but this is an unreal argument, because southerners never would have considered secession if they had not thought it necessary to preserve slavery.
  • Since I joined the Libertarian Party, I have encountered many people prepared to defend the right of the Confederate States to secede from the Union. Similar arguments have even been made by the economist Walter Williams in his newspaper columns, even though he himself is black and, one might imagine, would particularly appreciate the liberation of the slaves by the Union Army.
  • The argument that slavery would 'naturally' have been abolished in the course of time in the South, as it was peacefully abolished in Brazil by 1888, creates a couple of problems. One is that the South was not Brazil. Brazilian society included much more intermarriage and much less in the way of stark black/white racism than in the South. Even though slavery in Brazil probably had been much more brutal than in the United States, the Catholic Church at the same time had always strongly affirmed the equal humanity of the slaves, and recognized slave marriages. In the South, on the other hand, the humanity of the slaves received little recognition from the law, slave marriages had no legal standing, as in Roman slave law, and the religion of most slave holders was perfectly willing to degrade the descendants of Ham to intrinsic inferiority. That take on the Old Testament, together with Aristotle's idea of 'natural slaves', fostered agreeable rationalizations for slavery and racism. Thus, the social and intellectual dynamic in the South does not compare with Brazil. At the same time, we must ask whether the abolition of slavery in Brazil was a consequence of the kind of precedent set by the American Civil War. If the war had not occurred, and slavery had continued in the South, abolishing slavery in Brazil might have seemed much less like the thing to do, especially if the Confederacy had decided to reopen the slave trade with Africa, which had previously ended because of the agreement of powers like Britain and the United States. It is now often forgotten, or ignored, that Africans were still perfectly willing to sell slaves and actually protested when Britain and others began to suppress the slave trade.
  • There were many reasons why the south did not appeal to the right of revolution. One reason was that there were no abuses that they had been subject to, comparable to the ones enumerated in the Declaration of Independence. Lincoln, in his inaugural address, said that there was not a single constitutional right which anybody could point to, to say that that had been violated. They were exercising this right as something that was to their pleasure, for their own purposes, but that had nothing to do with the constitution, and yet they were claiming it as a Constitutional right to withdraw from the Union.
  • I do not believe that we can treat government as a contract at will, something that can be unilaterally terminated for good cause, bad cause, or no cause. To dissolve the bonds of government, as the Declaration of Independence says, is not something undertaken lightly. We expect such action to be for cause, with the declaration itself detailing the sorts of things that would discredit the legitimacy of a government. Unfortunately, the Cause of the Southern States was, as Ulysses S. Grant said, 'one of the worst for which a people ever fought, and one for which there was the least excuse'. I have lost all patience with modern apologists for Confederate secession, despite their often bona fides and libertarian credentials–the principle is vicious in implication and anarchist in effect.
  • Woods writes 'that the slavery debate masked the real issue: the struggle over power and domination', p. 48. Talk about a distinction without a difference. It is akin to stating that the demands of sugar lobbyists for protective quotas mask their real worry: political influence. Yes, slaveholders constituted a special interest that sought political power. Why? To protect slavery.
  • In sum, the commissioners described one apocalyptic vision after another, emancipation, race war, miscegenation. The collapse of white supremacy would be so cataclysmic that no self-respecting Southerner could fail to rally to the secessionist cause, they argued. Secession was necessary to preserve the purity and survival of the white race. This was the unvarnished, near universal message of southern political leaders to their constituencies.
  • 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.
  • In such a situation, where a wrong is inflicted and justice denied, South Carolina had a right to either violent or non-violent resistance. Secession would be a form of violent resistance, and so justified. However, in 1860 South Carolina was not afraid of injustice, but of justice. Despite what some now say, it was not the continuing problem of tariffs that pushed the 'fire-eaters' over the edge. It was the 'Black Republicans'. While persons have the right to exercise their rights, like voluntary association, for good reasons, bad reasons, or no reasons, no one has the right to any action whose purpose is to perpetuate crime and escape from justice. Southern slave owners, although we may say, as Lincoln, Grant, and Sherman actually did, that they were acting in good faith, nevertheless were engaged in one of the most vile businesses of human history. Even worse, they were justifying it with a pure racism that served to all but completely dehumanize their African bondsmen. This became one of the worst poisons in American history. It had already infected Constitutional Law through the Dred Scott decision, which held that no black person was a citizen of the United States or had any rights that need be recognized by white people. This monstrous doctrine did not end with the Civil War. Even when the slaves were free, and their rights enshrined in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, the Southern die-hards, given a free hand by the withdrawal of Federal forces in 1877, created regimes of Jim Crow and Segregation that disenfranchised, terrorized, and oppressed black people for another century.
  • One can sympathize with those whose ancestors fought and died in the American Civil War. In our eyes, the attempt to show that they fought well can easily turn into the desire to find a just cause for the struggle itself. Unfortunately, this has led some people to propound the view that the Confederacy did not leave the Union for the sake of slavery, but instead for such things as the North’s tariffs and taxes.1 The foremost document of the new nation, the Confederate Constitution, confutes this historical revisionism. The clearest articulation of a society’s philosophy of law is a written constitution. The Confederate Constitution explicitly upheld the institution of slavery. In Article I, Section 9 we read "No...law denying or impairing the right of property in negro slaves shall be passed." In Article IV, Section 2 it is written that "The citizens of each State shall be entitled to all the privileges and immunities of citizens of the several States, and shall have the right of transit and sojourn in any State of this Confederacy, with their slaves and other property; and the right of property in said slaves shall not be thereby impaired." Finally, Article IV, Section 3 states that for all newly acquired territories, "The institution of negro slavery, as it now exists in the Confederate States, shall be recognized and protected by Congress and by the territorial government; and the inhabitants of the several Confederate States and Territories shall have the right to take to such Territory any slaves lawfully held by them in any of the States or Territories of the Confederate States." The framers of the Constitution desired to make the institution of slavery sacrosanct.
  • If it is indeed the case that the South seceeded due to Northern tariffs and taxes, not in defense of slavery, the Confederates would have fallen into two classes: a) those who did not know what was in the Confederate Constitution, and hence did not know they were upholding the institution of slavery, or b) those who did know they were upholding the institution of slavery, but thought that it was a "necessary evil" to be borne in the cause of opposing the North’s tariffs and taxes. Either alternative does not make secession look like a just cause. For those of the first class, they would have very little notion of what their government legally stood for, including those aspects of the Constitution which constrained the federal government from protective tariffs and redistributionist taxation. For the Confederates who regarded slavery as a necessary evil, where is their sense of priorities? I’ll agree with them that tariffs and taxation may be tyrannical. But when compared to the enslavement of a large percentage of the population, how could the Confederate States presume to throw stones? We are left with more mundane or less inspiring motives as operating in the Confederate States: non-ideological bases for secession (e.g., hubris, duty, paranoia, war-hysteria) and/or the overt defense of slavery.
  • There was little hope that a separate Northern Republic would have been all that helpful in ending slavery in the South. If the Southern States were allowed to secede, the United States would not then necessarily have become an active agent in fomenting slavery rebellions. That would not have been diplomatic or friendly to a sovereign neighbor, and the prospect of some nearby state becoming another Haiti would have been agreeable to few. Similarly, the availability of the North as a refuge for runaway slaves is wishful thinking. In modern terms, most Northern opinion, even much Abolitionist opinion, which also was nowhere near a majority in the North before the war, was blatantly racist. Few wanted to see an influx of free blacks into the North. There were many places where that already was not tolerated, and such practices would harden in the future when there actually was a large influx of blacks into the North after the turn of the century, fleeing Segregation, lynchings, etc. Many of those long opposed to slavery, including Abraham Lincoln himself, wanted and expected that freed slaves would go back to Africa, and they had no intention of receiving free blacks into American society on terms of citizenship and equal rights. The Civil War itself changed some of that, but it does not do to forget what attitudes there were prior to that transformation–and how the Civil War itself was instrumental in some of the positive changes, as with Lincoln abandoning the 'back to Africa' program. Another problem with the 'natural abolition' argument is its questionable morality. Even if the South had abolished slavery by 1888, like Brazil, that would have left a whole further generation of people to grow up in slavery. Usually, if we see someone being assaulted or robbed or raped, and we are able to protect them from the attacker, it is our moral duty to intervene. We do not comfort ourselves that in time the attack will 'naturally' end, and so everything will be all right. No, everything will not be all right. Every moment of the attack is more harm and more of a wrong done. It is our duty, if we are able to do so, to come to the aid of the victim immediately.
  • If the secession of the Southern States could not reasonably be expected to create conditions that would very soon end slavery, we must then admit the immorality of allowing it. It is simple enough to assert in abstraction that southern states had a right to secede, and that is that, as though slavery was not even an issue; but if a crime is being committed, it is our duty to stop it. Also, even if we concede that slave holders were acting in good faith, based on centuries of tradition, and were not morally culpable, it is still obvious that no burglar, even if acting in good faith, should be allowed to leave the premises of the burglary with goods that are not his just because an innocent person would ordinarily have the right not to be detained where they did not want to be. The extra factor is the possession of goods that are someone else's property. The 'good faith' burglar may be innocent of crime, but we will require him to part with the improperly acquired property. Were slave owners then to be allowed to leave a judicial regime in free possession of goods, persons, that are not theirs and could well be judged stolen? If slavery was one of the greatest evils that human beings ever inflicted upon each other, is that a factor that can simply be overridden and ignored in relation to freedom of association and the political 'consent of the governed'? Indeed, that is to recognize the same freedom in the slave owners that is simultaneously denied in the slaves. This is a paradoxical form of moral discrimination, to say the least. If our moral duty is to come to the aid of victims of criminal assault, if we are able to do so, then the moral duty of northerners was to come to the aid immediately of enslaved human beings in the south, just as John Brown and Frederick Douglass originally thought. But if it was the duty of true abolitionists to take up arms, it would be perverse not to do so just because the political rationale at large was otherwise somewhat morally confused. Thus, even if other northerners fought to 'save the Union' rather than to free the slaves, that could have been accepted, as it was by Douglass, as sufficient for the commission of the proper purpose.
  • Hummel seems to take Lincoln at his word that he would free no slaves in order to save the Union. However, no 'Fire Eaters' in the south believed that kind of thing for a minute; and it is their suspicion that drove events. South Carolina and the original seven Confederate States left the Union in order to preserve slavery, pure and simple. They would not live under a regime dominated by a Party dedicated to ending slavery, just as earlier abolitionists did not want to live under a regime, though they did anyway, that tolerated slavery. The border states that subsequently seceded, like Virginia and Tennessee, did so more on the constitutional principle that force should not be used to prevent secession–though even that principle, curiously, only appealed to slave states with a sufficiently dominant slave holder political faction. Since Lincoln subsequently issued the Emancipation Proclamation at very nearly the first political opportunity to do so, we might suspect too that he was more than willing to 'save the Union' as a means to freeing the slaves.
  • Jefferson saw the future well enough to know where trouble would come from. Thus, not only were there deficiencies in the Constitution, but it was clear to him that something would have to be done about slavery or there would be hell to pay. And there was. Jefferson today is easily faulted for racism and for not freeing his own slaves, but the Civil War would not have surprised him: He already saw it coming in 1820.
  • 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, as quoted in This Mighty Scourge: Perspectives on the Civil War (2007). Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 3-9.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Secession was required to preserve slavery. Why should non-slaveholders care? Because slavery was the will of God, and those who opposed the institution–the abolitionists–were by definition anti-God. More to the point, secession was necessary to preserve white supremacy, to avoid a race war, and to prevent racial amalgamation. For Southerners to remain in the Union, be they slave-owners or non-slave-owners, meant losing their property, their social standing, and the 'sacred purity of our daughters'. Tariffs appear nowhere in these sermons and speeches, and 'states' rights' are mentioned only in the context of the rights of states to decide whether some of their inhabitants can own other humans. The central message was to play on the fear of African barbarians at the gate. The preachers and politicians delivered on their promise. The Confederate States were established explicitly to preserve and expand the institution of slavery. Alexander Stephens, the Confederacy's vice president, said so himself in 1861, in unambiguous terms.
  • While the rest of the western world followed an historic trajectory dedicated to abolishing slavery and bringing an expanded meaning to the concepts of human rights and participatory democracy, the south marched off in an opposite direction. The Confederacy was a nation dedicated to the proposition that all men are not created equal, and that the government's job is to preserve and ensure that inequality.
  • The era of the Revolution was when the Northern states did begin to end slavery. Vermont ended slavery outright in 1777, Massachusetts in 1780, and New Hampshire in 1783. The other Northern states started a phase-out, like Jefferson contemplated for Virginia: Pennsylvania in 1780, Connecticut and Rhode Island in 1784, New York in 1799, and New Jersey in 1805. New York's phase-out was complete by 1818. Since Jefferson hoped that the process might simply continue in the South, he was alarmed by the Missouri Compromise in 1820–'a firebell in the night'–because it signaled the permanent division and hardening of the country into slave and free and the end of the gradual process that had worked in the North. Jefferson's fear about the polarization of the county and his consequent opposition to the Missouri Compromise is now sometimes given, by historians who delight in trashing the heroes of American history, a distorted representation as an advocacy of the expansion of slavery.
  • The states with the largest proportions of slaves and slave-holders seceded earliest.
  • South Carolina and the other states decided not to go before the Supreme Court despite the fact that the Constitution requires them to. The Constitution says 'all cases' and it specifically includes 'controversies between two or more states'. South Carolina's specific complaint on December 24, 1860 was, 'The States of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa, have enacted laws which either nullify the Acts of Congress or render useless any attempt to execute them'. Instead of going to the Supreme Court with this complaint, South Carolina chose to declare, on its own, the U.S. Constitution 'has been deliberately broken and disregarded by the non-slaveholding States, and the consequence follows that South Carolina is released from her obligation'. By issuing an ordnance instead of obtaining a judgment, South Carolina produced a meaningless declaration that President Lincoln rightly considered 'legally void'. Between the time of South Carolina’s declaration and the war, Lincoln became President on March 4, 1861 and went about things business as usual, assuming correctly that all states including the seceding states were still part of the union. President Lincoln didn’t have to sue in the Supreme Court to bring the seceding states back because they never left. Secession declared was not secession accomplished. After South Carolina finally took un-ignorable military action against the USA at Ft. Sumter on April 12, 1861, President Lincoln asked Congress to give him authority to undertake a war to put down the rebellion.
  • Even South Carolina argued that secession was extra-constitutional. In the Declaration, South Carolina does bring up the tenth amendment, but not as a justification for secession; instead the tenth amendment is offered to buttress the argument that South Carolina was and continued to be an independent sovereign state when it ratified the Constitution and afterwards. South Carolina's rationale for secession was a new 'fundamental principle, namely: the law of compact'. This principle is in neither the Declaration of Independence nor the Constitution. South Carolina on its own, 1, characterized the Constitution as a compact, 2, claimed that it was 'deliberately broken and disregarded by the non-slaveholding States' and 3, declared that 'the consequence follows that South Carolina is released from her obligation'. South Carolina was not claiming to follow the Constitution when it declared secession. On the contrary, South Carolina was claiming that the Constitution was broken and therefore no longer applicable to South Carolina. South Carolina was claiming to follow something else entirely, the law of compact. South Carolina was not appealing to the Supreme Court to interpret secession as part of the Constitution. South Carolina was 'appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world'. And I think we all know how that turned out.
  • There is no right of secession. The arguments are moot because in the ratification process the issue was brought up. Patrick Henry pointed out to the Virginia Ratification Convention that once Virginia joined the Union under the Constitution there would be no going back. Secession is an abomination and not permissible without the consent of the federal government. It would have been interesting to see what would have happened had Jefferson Davis not decided to attack Fort Sumter in order to hold the failing Confederacy together. The way things were beginning to be discussed, it is very likely that some states would have given up on the idea and opened discussions with Washington on reconciliation. Lincoln without a doubt would have welcomed them back by saying that they had never left. One by one the states would have come back into the Union with a few holding out for a while, but eventually giving up. Actually, saying come back is wrong. They would have resumed their normal place with little to no penalties and the whole thing would have been a footnote in political history. Instead, Davis ordered the attack because he knew that the Confederacy was going to collapse without additional support and that many were questioning the rash choice made by a minority of people in each state. So instead of a footnote we have volumes of pages of men killing each other because a few were so desperate to retain some form of political power and their type of society that they were willing to destroy everything instead of allowing change to occur naturally.
  • Secession is not mentioned in the Constitution. That does not make it a power of the states. The argument brought up that because it is not in the Constitution, therefore it must be legal is a silly argument. The counterargument to that is if it is not in the Constitution, it is not permitted fits just as well. The concept of leaving the union was brought up in the ratification process and shown to be incompatible with being in the union to begin with. This 'legal because it isn't in the constitution or the tenth amendment' garbage is the usual crap from the Lost Cause crowd in adherence with their Confederate Catechism. It is not how the Constitution is interpreted and it certainly is not how the constitution is examined by scholars and legal experts. Only a little tiny fringe element believes the Lost Cause version of secession’s legality. They repeat it like a mantra because everything else shows that they’re wrong.
  • The declaration was a nice document. Notice the part about all men being equal? Ending slavery was part of fulfilling that document. Therefore the south was blocking the fulfillment of the promises made in the declaration. It is ironic that secessionists want to claim the declaration, yet reject the issue of equality it contains. As we have been finding out, equality is one of the main principles of the American Revolution. We are still striving to fully realize that promise. The people that advocate secession whether it was in 1860 or today only claim the Declaration in an attempt to deny the principles of the American Revolution. It is a big paradox and one the big reasons why secession today will not occur again.
  • When we ask an ignorant secessionist to show where secession is allowed in writing in the Constitution all they can do is rely on a discredited and false interpretation of the Constitution which has been rejected for over two centuries. They keep repeating it thinking it will come true, but instead it continues to be rejected and ridiculed for the incompetent and ignorant idea that it is. The Constitution is what it is. It was deliberately made to end the power of the state legislatures over that of the federal government. It clearly made the federal government supreme over that of the states. This was what the ratification process was all about. The only thing an ignorant secessionist can do is claim secession is a right and that is total crap. It is not a right and never has been. Therefore the tenth amendment does not apply.
  • South Carolina secessionists believed that the Constitution was a contract between the states, that the non-slaveholding states had broken it, and that SC could on its own decide that it was broken. The South Carolina secessionists claimed that the Constitution had not designated an arbiter of controversies among two or more states, but it had. Article III of the Constitution gives the power to arbitrate such disputes to the U.S. Supreme Court. South Carolina's claim of no arbiter is false. South Carolina could have brought its complaints to the U.S. Supreme Court, but it chose not to. South Carolina's belief that the Constitution was a contract between the states was also false. The Constitution begins 'We the people' and it was ratified by the states on behalf of, not in place of, the people. Finally, South Carolina's belief that the non-slaveholding states broke the Constitution is false. The non-slaveholding states were merely exercising their tenth amendment rights to govern their own domestic affairs within the Constitutional structure.
  • Secession was illegal. The Union was and is perpetual. The founders intended it so'. Madison's letter to Hamilton, 'The Constitution requires an adoption in toto, and for ever', during the New York ratification debates demonstrate that decisively. But on an even more profound scale, the ratification process itself demonstrates that the founders intended the permanence and strength of the Union. They had had it with powerful states. That's why the founders stated in Article VII that ratification had to happen in special conventions, not the state legislatures. If the founders had left it to the state legislatures, those legislatures would have rejected the document out of hand. But the special ratifying conventions were different. They were composed of delegates elected by 'We The People' of each state, not the state itself. In addition, the states liberalized voting rules by getting rid of the property qualifications. This was a special one-time-only thing in order to ensure the broadest possible participation to select delegates in order to make it as democratic as the 18th century mindset would allow. In the north, five states even allowed blacks the right to vote. When the Constitution says 'We the People' that's not just a rhetorical flourish. That's a description of the nature of the Union. See Akhil Reed Amar's excellent book The American Constitution: A Biography for this interpretation in full. Why did they do this? Because the founders did not want the national government to be a creature of the states. They had had one of those in the Articles of Confederation, and it didn’t work for them. That’s why the Constitution is very clear in Article VI that it supersedes the states; that’s why all federal and state officials MUST swear or affirm their allegiance to the U.S. Constitution, look it up. The nature of the American Union, then, is based on popular sovereignty, the idea that the people have the right to rule. The American people spoke during ratification and created a new federal government in which they vested their sovereignty. The federal government is not merely an agent of the states, as John C. Calhoun asserted; it was not and is not a compact between states. The founders specifically avoided that. So, if a state wants to leave the Union, the only possible way is for 'We the People' to agree to let it go. But there is no specific mechanism for secession in the constitution as it stands. And really, there is no way to read a right of secession into its text. It isn't there, and that's because the Founders never intended for states to break away. Therefore, secession, which would effectively destroy the Constitution, was and is illegal. And Lincoln was simply carrying out his oath of office to 'preserve, protect, and defend' it.
  • Southern planters understood that their cotton kingdom rested not only on plentiful land and labor, but also upon their political ability to preserve the institution of slavery and to project it into the new cotton lands of the American West. Continued territorial expansion of slavery was vital to secure both its economic, and even more so its political viability, threatened as never before by an alarmingly sectional Republican Party. Slave owners understood the challenge to their power over human chattel represented by the new party’s project of strengthening the claims of power between the national state and its citizens—an equally necessary condition for its free labor and free soil ideology.
  • Was slavery invented in America? No. Slavery had always existed everywhere. The slave trade in West Africa had not even been started by Europeans, but by Arabs. Instead of slaves being exported north across the Sahara, as they had been for centuries, Europeans bought them from the south and exported them across the Atlantic. Was slavery widely recognized as a wrong at the time of the American revolution? No. As we see in the statement of the Sultan of Morocco in 1842, it had not been prohibited by the 'Laws of any Sect'. Slavery was legal under Roman Law, Islamic Law, and, in general, in the Bible. The idea that slavery was wrong originated in the Enlightenment ideology of the American Revolution itself, with about half of the American colonies abolishing slavery during that era, and the Constitution anticipated the abolition of the slave trade in 1808. Support for slavery, of course, continued, not the least among African rulers who sold slaves, but also among slave owners who mostly had history, religion, custom, and law on their side. Did America just never do anything about slavery as time went on? No. The controversy, argued with fury and recrimination, dominated the early years of American politics, resulting in a terrible Civil War in which more than 600,000 Americans died.
  • Many people still believe in delusions about the Confederacy seceding for benign reasons. That’s because misconceptions about the Civil War are still too prevalent in the general public and accusations against Lincoln being racist or not being anti-slavery are part of this.
  • By the time the Constitutional Convention assembled, 1787, virtually all northern states, Vermont, Massachusetts, Philadelphia, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, were implementing some form of gradual abolition. The lone exception, New York, followed the same path in 1799 after two failed attempts, in 1777 and 1785, were defeated by the state legislature. It was the delegates from the southern states, Georgia and South Carolina, who pushed for the maintenance of the slave trade in opposition of those from the other states!
  • Far from there being a consensus on the acceptance of slavery, sectional differences between the north and the south about the practice of it existed, and were subject of political contentions, from the beginning of the American nation!

The Lincoln–Douglas Debates (1858)[edit]

  • I agree with Judge Douglas, he is not my equal in many respects. Certainly not in color, perhaps not in moral or intellectual endowment. But in the right to eat the bread, without the leave of anybody else, which his own hand earns, he is my equal and the equal of Judge Douglas, and the equal of every living man.
  • I do not perceive that because the white man is to have the superior position the negro should be denied everything. I do not understand that because I do not want a negro woman for a slave I must necessarily want her for a wife. My understanding is that I can just let her alone. I am now in my fiftieth year, and I certainly never had a black woman for either a slave or a wife. So it seems to me quite possible for us to get along without making either slaves or wives of negroes.
  • You know that in his Charleston speech, an extract from which he has read, he declared that the negro belongs to an inferior race; is physically inferior to the white man, and should always be kept in an inferior position. I will now read to you what he said at Chicago on that point. In concluding his speech at that place, he remarked, 'My friends, I have detained you about as long as I desire to do, and I have only to say let us discard all this quibbling about this man and the other man-this race and that race, and the other race being inferior, and therefore they must be placed in an inferior position, discarding our standard that we have left us. Let us discard all these things, and unite as one people throughout this land until we shall once more stand up declaring that all men are created equal'. Thus you see, that when addressing the Chicago Abolitionists he declared that all distinctions of race must be discarded and blotted out, because the negro stood on an equal footing with the white man; that if one man said the Declaration of Independence did not mean a negro when it declared all men created equal, that another man would say that it did not mean another man; and hence we ought to discard all difference between the negro race and all other races, and declare them all created equal.
  • That is the real issue. That is the issue that will continue in this country when these poor tongues of Judge Douglas and myself shall be silent. It is the eternal struggle between these two principles—right and wrong—throughout the world. They are the two principles that have stood face to face from the beginning of time; and will ever continue to struggle. The one is the common right of humanity and the other the divine right of kings. It is the same principle in whatever shape it develops itself. It is the same spirit that says, "You work and toil and earn bread, and I'll eat it." No matter in what shape it comes, whether from the mouth of a king who seeks to bestride the people of his own nation and live by the fruit of their labor, or from one race of men as an apology for enslaving another race, it is the same tyrannical principle.

Douglas vs. Lincoln: The U.S. presidential election of 1860 (November 1860)[edit]

  • Under all these circumstances, do you really feel yourselves justified to break up this Government unless such a court decision as yours is, shall be at once submitted to as a conclusive and final rule of political action? 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.
  • We brand the recent reopening of the African slave trade, under the cover of our national flag, aided by perversions of judicial power, as a crime against humanity and a burning shame to our country and age; and we call upon Congress to take prompt and efficient measures for the total and final suppression of that execrable traffic.
  • The Republican Party is opposed to any change in our naturalization laws or any state legislation by which the rights of citizens hitherto accorded to immigrants from foreign lands shall be abridged or impaired.
  • The enactments of the state legislatures to defeat the faithful execution of the Fugitive Slave Law, are hostile in character.
  • The first act of the black republican party will be to exclude slavery from all the territories, from the District of Columbia, the arsenals and the forts, by the action of the general government. That would be a recognition that slavery is a sin, and confine the institution to its present limits. The moment that slavery is pronounced a moral evil, a sin, by the general government, that moment the safety of the rights of the south will be entirely gone.
  • 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.
  • If a minority, losing an election, can break up the government rather than accept the results of the election, free government is impossible. If the only alternatives to rule by a constitutional majority, I say, constitutional majority, a majority formed under the rules of the constitution with minority rights secured. There were no examples of the Republicans doing anything to prevent the opposition from having freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom of association. There was a great deal of interference with those rights in the southern states. But they lost the election according to their own rights. And Lincoln said that if people can break up the government rather than accept the results of a fairly conducted election, then the only alternatives are anarchy or tyranny. What is to prevent, he said, anyone of the states seceding from any future union?
  • You can not have free government if you can not bind the people who participate in the government to accept the results of the election. It is the exercise of our inalienable right to life that enables us, and justifies us, in forming legitimate governments. When those governments are formed, we cannot reject them because we don't like the results.
  • So exactly what 'Evils' were being suffered by the southern states that moved them to leave the Union? Well, the threat of the abolition of slavery. As Ulysses S. Grant said, this in fact was 'one of the worst causes ever'. The evils were being practiced by the slave states, not suffered by them, and they wished to leave the Union in order to continue practicing their evils without opposition. This being the case, the libertarian arguments in relation to southern secession try to ignore slavery in favor of other motives, like protective tariffs, for secession. I have examined this sort of thing elsewhere. The idea is bogus, and has been well refuted by a recent book, What This Cruel War Was Over, Soldiers, Slavery, and the Civil War, by Chandra Manning. Everyone, at the time, knew that the War was about slavery. I did not know there even were regimental newspapers in the Civil War armies, but there were; and Manning has found that in speaking of the reasons for the war, they speak of slavery, not tariffs, as do private letters, newspapers, etc. And, of course, Lincoln would not have won the election in 1860 if the Democratic Party had not split in three parts and run three candidates, Northern, Southern Unionist, and Southern Secessionist. The split was over slavery, as the Whig Party had split, not over tariffs.
  • Although slave owners would certainly have been the ones to regard slaves as less than human, it was in their self-interest to have slaves counted as full persons, since this would then give slave states greater representation and power in Congress. Anyone opposed to slavery didn't want slaves counted for apportionment at all, since that would reduce the power of the slave states. The three fifths rule was a compromise. It had nothing to do with whether slaves were fully human. It simply reflected the political fight over the power of the slave states. The result was, as the north grew faster than the south, the House of Representatives was soon dominated by the free states. The south focused its political efforts on retaining an equal number of states in the Senate. One of the causes of the Civil War was that, beginning with California in 1850, only free states were admitted to the Union. The balance of slave and free states was upset in the Senate, and there was no prospect that any new Slave State would ever be admitted to the Union. The south knew it had a losing cause and, when Lincoln was elected in 1860, chose secession. Anyone who does not acknowledge this political dynamic is simply looking for a pretext to hate America.
  • The long-term preservation of slavery was the primary motivation for secession. It was a direct reaction to the election, for the first time in the nation's history, of a Republican administration that opposed expansion of slavery into the territories. The national debate leading up to the war focused on slavery, as did last-minute attempts to avert war in 1861. Slavery permeates Lincoln's first inaugural address and also the official declarations of five of the seceding states explaining their secession from the Union.

The War Begins: The Confederacy attacks Fort Sumter (12 April 1861)[edit]

  • Fort Sumter has been on fire. [Union Army Major] Anderson [the commanding officer of Fort Sumter] has not yet silenced any of our guns.... But the sound of these guns makes regular meals impossible.
  • Showers of [cannon] balls... and shells... poured into the fort in one incessant stream, causing great flakes of masonry to fall in all directions. When the immense mortar shells, after sailing high in he air, came down in a vertical direction and buried themselves in the parade ground, their explosion shook the fort like an earthquake.
    • Major Abner Doubleday (1861). Doubleday was second-in-command at Fort Sumter and briefly commanded Union troops at Gettysburg in July 1863. He was later credited with establishing the rules of baseball.
  • Before that day, the flag had served mostly as a military ensign or a convenient marking of American territory...and displayed on special occasions like the Fourth of July. But in the weeks after Major Anderson's surprising stand, it became something different. Suddenly the Stars and Stripes flew...from houses, from storefronts, from churches; above the village greens and college quads....[T]hat old flag meant something new. The abstraction of the Union cause was transfigured into a physical thing: strips of cloth that millions of people would fight for, and many thousands die for.
  • It is, in fact, open to question whether Light-Horse Harry was as die-hard as his son claimed in his loyalty to state over nation. The elder Lee had been a fierce nationalist during and after the War for Independence. If, after the ratification of the Constitution and Washington's two terms as president, he had decided that his state was more important than the Union, it is a wonder that he did not shift his political allegiance to the Jeffersonian Republicans, the party that became the beneficiary of the Anti-Federalist legacy. Instead, Light-Horse Harry spoke passionately against the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions of 1798, in which James Madison and Thomas Jefferson introduced the idea of state nullification of federal laws, denounced Jefferson and his presidency, and, like other Federalists, distrusted the public and feared the growing excesses of 'wicked citizens... incapable of quiet'. If states could override federal laws such as the Alien and Sedition Acts, he predicted, insurrection and disunion would be the result. 'If we love the Union', wrote Light-Horse Harry, 'if we wish peace at home, and safety abroad, let us guard our own bosoms from a flame which threatens to consume all reason, temper and reflection'. He did not condone dis-unionism in his own time, so it was unlikely he would have approved the creation of the Confederate States of America or his son's prominent involvement in fighting a bloody war for the southern nation. ... These were the very things his father had warned his countrymen to avoid at all costs.

The Union responds to Fort Sumter being attacked by the Confederates[edit]

  • There are only two sides to this question. Every man must be for the United States or against it. There can be no neutrals in this war; only patriots and traitors.
  • Monday dawned, April 15. Who that saw that day will ever forget it! For now... there rang out the voice of Abraham Lincoln calling for seventy-five thousand volunteers for three months. They were for the protection of Washington and the property of the government... This proclamation was like the first peal of a surcharged thunder-cloud, clearing the murky air. The... whole North arose as one man.

    Hastily formed companies marched to camps of rendezvous, the sunlight flashing from gun-barrel and bayonet.... Merchants and clerks rushed out from stores, bareheaded, saluting them as they passed. Windows were flung up; and women leaned out into the rain, waving flags and handkerchiefs. Horsde-cars and omnibuses halted for the passage of the soldiers, and cheer upon cheer leaped forth from thronged doors and windows....

    I have never seen anything like this before. I had never dreamed that New England... could be fired with so warlike a spirit.

    • Mary Ashton Livermore, observing the mustering of troops in Boston (1861).
  • 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.
  • They forced the war upon us, for peaceful men are we. They steal our money, seize our forts, and then as cowards flee. False to their vows, and to the Flag, that once protected them. They sought the Union to dissolve, earth's noblest, brightest, gem.
  • We, on our side, are praying to [God] 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?
  • 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.
  • Forward to Richmond!
    • Demand of the New York Tribune that the Union attack the Confederacy (1861).
  • We shall crush out this rebellion as an elephant would trample on a mouse.
    • Overeager Unionist supporter at the start of the Civil War (1861).
  • The Southern rebellion was largely the outgrowth of the Mexican war. Nations, like individuals, are punished for their transgressions. We got our punishment in the most sanguinary and expensive war of modern times.
  • Lincoln raised armies on the basis of saving the Union, and a great many northerners, and even some southerners, who responded to that didn't even want to free the slaves, let alone allow full civil rights for freedmen. Of course, southerners did not believe Lincoln's stated purposes. The Deep South states seceded because an abolitionist president was intolerable to them, regardless of Lincoln's promises to leave slavery untouched in the current slave states. They didn't trust him.

The Confederacy responds to their starting the Civil War[edit]

  • If Virginia stands by the old Union, so will I. But if she secedes,... then I will follow my native state with my sword and, if need be, with my life.
    • U.S. Army Colonel Robert E. Lee, before Virginia joined the Confederacy (1861).
  • With all my devotion to the Union and the feeling and loyalty and duty of an American citizen, I have not been able to make up my mind against my relatives, my children, my home. I have therefore resigned my commission in the Army, and save in defense of my native State — with the sincere hope that my poor services may never be used — I hope I may never be called on to draw my sword.
    • Robert E. Lee of Virginia, Colonel, U.S. Army, on resigning his commission (1861). He was soon appointed to the Virginia Militia and later headed the Confederate Army.
  • Just throw three or four shells among these blue-bellied Yankees and they'll scatter like sheep.
    • Anonymous overconfident Confederate supporter (1861).

War aims[edit]

  • The 'Southern Cross' holds its place steadily in the Southern heart. It was in every mouth long before the war began; it remains in spite of all arguments against it. These arguments are ridiculous. First, we don’t see the Southern Cross in the heavens. Indeed! Do the British see the lion and the unicorn on the land or in the sea? Do the Austrians behold the double headed eagle anywhere in nature or out of it? What has seeing got to do with it? 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.
  • The General Assembly shall have power to tax the lands and slaves of non-residents higher than the like property of residents.
  • The General Assembly shall have power to create special tribunals for the trial of offenses committed by slaves, free negroes and mulattoes; and until the General Assembly otherwise provides, there is hereby created a Court in each county, which shall consist of two Justices of the Peace, and twelve citizens, being qualified Jurors of the county, who shall have power to try all cases of felony committed in their county by slaves, free negroes and mulattoes. A majority of said Court may pronounce judgment, and all trials before it shall be had upon the statement of the offense in the warrant of arrest, and without presentment or indictment by a Grand Jury. The Sheriff of the county shall act as the ministerial officer of said Court, and the citizens who, with the Justices, are to compose the same, shall be selected by said Justices and summoned to attend by the Sheriff; and appeals from the judgment of said Court shall be had to the Circuit Court of the county upon an order made by the Judge thereof, upon an inspection of the record of the trial, full minutes of which shall be made by the said Justices, and such appeal, when allowed, shall operate as a supersedeas of the judgment.
  • The General Assembly shall, in the year one thousand eight hundred and sixty-five, and every tenth year thereafter, cause an enumeration to be made of all the inhabitants of the State, and to the whole number of free white inhabitants shall be added three-fifths of the number of slaves, and they shall then proceed to apportion the representation equally among the different counties, according to such enumeration, giving, however, one representative to every county, and increasing the number of representatives on a uniform ratio of population, according to the foregoing basis, and which ratio shall not be changed until a new census shall have been taken.
  • The 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 and other property: and the right of property in said slaves shall not be thereby impaired.
  • Away down south in the land of traitors, rattlesnakes and alligators, right away, come away, right away, come away. Where cotton's king and men are chattels, Union boys will win the battles. Right away, come away, right away, come away. Then we'll all go down to Dixie, away, away! Each Dixie boy must understand that he must mind his Uncle Sam. Away, away, and we'll all go down to Dixie.
  • The road was constantly thronged with contrabands who…were making their way on “double quick,” for the land of peace and freedom. I saw the tears stream down the dark faces of those too old to leave, as those in the prime of life bid them a long adieu, and with hurried step started from the house of bondage. The attachment that exists between the slave and the master, is like the attachment between oil and water… The very institution itself hardens the heart and callouses all feelings of humanity.
  • When the battle ended and I heard that the Union Army had been defeated, I couldn't believe it. My mistress said to me, 'You know the Northern soldiers can't fight us here'. But I said, 'Ain't God the captain? He started this war, and he's right in front. He may stop in his career and let you rest up a little bit now, but our Captain ain't never been beaten. Soon He'll start out again, and you'll hear the bugle blow, and He'll march on to victory. Where the Bible says, 'Be not afraid; you shall set under your own vine and fig tree', that means us slaves, and I tell you we're going to be a free people. You all will be getting your pay sure for the way you've done treated us poor black folks. We've been killed up like dogs, and the strikes you've laid on us hurt just as bad as if our skin was white as snow. But I ain't going to run away or from my children in the river as some slaves have, for I'm as certain this war will set us free as that I stand here'. I told her just what I thought, and my mistress said, 'Fanny, you is foolish', and my master said, 'You ain't got no sense'. And I said to my master, 'When I was a young girl you sold ninety-six people at one time to pay a debt'. Then I sat down and cried, and the white people stood there and laughed at me. 'Lord', I said, 'I'd rather be dead than have my children sold away from me'.
  • It would astonish you if you should see the number of Negroes a running around our and all the other camps in this vacinity. I would hardly believe there could be the number in Slavery in the whole of Virginia. They come across the river nights in Boats to get away from their masters. I saw a couple to day who came some fourteen miles from here last night in the rain. They took a couple of their Masters Horses and rode in and then sold them for five Dollars a piece. And nice Horses they were too. The slave holders will not have one twentieth part of their Slaves left if this army should stay here for weeks and every appearance is now that we shall stay here that length of time.
  • After the rebels had all disappeared, the whole command marched down into Falmouth Village with bands playing and flags flying. We were greeted by the colored people who came running in from all directions to see the Yanks and to get near and hear the music. This was strange, for they had been told that the ‘Yanks’ were something terrible and that they had horns like an ox. One old colored woman told that her master told her that the Yanks would harness the colored people to their artillery and make them work like mules and horses. ‘But bless you honey, you Yanks are the best of people’, the old lady added.
  • On the face of this wide earth, Mr. President, there is not one... intelligent champion of the Union cause who does not feel... that the rebellion, if crushed tomorrow, would be renewed if slavery were left in full vigor... and that every hour of deference to slavery is an hour of added and deepened peril to the Union.
  • “Contrabands” still come pouring in upon our camps, very many of them seeking and finding employment, and profession uniformly the utmost anxiety to escape from their impatiently-borne thraldom. That strong attachment to “Massa” and “Misses”, which, I often heard it said at the North, would lead them to cling to their Southern homes and refuse freedom even if it were offered, I havn’t yet happened to see,– With one voice they breathe longings for a Northern home, eager to turn their backs upon their masters forever, if they can only carry their families with them. It is impossible to look upon these poor people, an abject, meek…as they seem, so anxious to emerge from their condition of involuntary servitude, into an atmosphere where they can breathe as freely as the white man does, without feeling one’s sympathies strongly enlisted. One finds the question rising involuntarily, Is not the negro a man? Warmed with the same sun, hurt with the same weapons, having the same feelings, affections, aspirations that the white man has? Why then should he be a slave to his fellow man? But I have no room for speculations here, and will only add, that your correspondent, in common with many others in the regiment and surrounding ones has secured the services of a man Friday, who was coachman and man of all work, to a prominent secessionist farmer down the Rappahannock. I find him a capital “help”–skilled and prepared to render almost any service required [line missing] and his “Massa” is a violent rebel, with two sons in the rebel army, I shall have no compunctions whatever in using the services of the “contraband” in promoting the interest of the Union cause, by promoting for the present those of one of its humblest supporters–and of giving him besides such “aid and comfort” in the matter of reaching the freedom that he craves, as shall not come in conflict with the sacred Constitution.
    • C., 20th New York State Militia soldier, letter (29 April 1862), as quoted in the Kingston Argus (7 May 1862).
  • 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.
  • If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. 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. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause. I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors; and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views. I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official duty; and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men every where could be free.
  • We the colored citizens of Queens County, N.Y., having met in mass meeting... take the present opportunity to express our opinions most respectfully and freely....

    Why not declare slavery abolished and favor our peaceful colonization in the Rebel states, or some portion of them?... We would cheerfully return there and give our most willing aid to deliver our loyal colored brethren and other Unionists from the tyranny of rebels to our government.

    • Petition of the Colored Citizens of Queens County (1862).
  • 'The people of the South', says a contemporary, 'are not fighting for slavery but for independence'. Let us look into this matter. It is an easy task, we think, to show up this new-fangled heresy, a heresy calculated to do us no good, for it cannot deceive foreign statesmen nor peoples, nor mislead any one here nor in Yankeeland.
  • In a word, the south determined to fight for her property right in slaves, and in order to do so, it was necessary for her resist the change which the abolitionists proposed.
    • Ed Baxter, at a reunion (1889), as quoted in The Confederate Battle Flag: America's Most Embattled Emblem (2006), by John M. Coski.
  • I've always understood that we went to war on account of the thing we quarreled with the north about. I’ve never heard of any other cause than slavery.
    • John S. Mosby, letter (1894), as quoted in The Confederate Battle Flag: America’s Most Embattled Emblem (2006), by John M. Coski.
  • 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 party expected for the war, the magnitude, or the duration, which it has already attained. 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.
  • If the Republicans, who think slavery is wrong, get possession of the general government, we may not root out the evil at once, but may at least prevent its extension. If I find a venomous snake lying on the open prairie, I seize the first stick and kill him at once. But if that snake is in bed with my children, I must be more cautious. I shall, in striking the snake, also strike the children, or arouse the reptile to bite the children. Slavery is the venomous snake in bed with the children. But if the question is whether to kill it on the prairie or put it in bed with other children, I think we'd kill it!
  • You think slavery is right and should be extended; while we think slavery is wrong and ought to be restricted. That I suppose is the rub. It certainly is the only substantial difference between us.
  • There have been men who have proposed to me to return to slavery the black warriors of Port Hudson and Olustee to their masters to conciliate the south. I should be damned in time and in eternity for so doing. The world shall know that I will keep my faith to friends and enemies, come what will. My enemies say I am now carrying on this war for the sole purpose of abolition. It is and will be carried on so long as I am president for the sole purpose of restoring the Union. But no human power can subdue this rebellion without using the emancipation lever as I have done.
  • Many in the South once believed that slavery was a moral and political evil. That folly and delusion are gone. We see it now in its true light, and regard it as the most safe and stable basis for free institutions in the world.
    • John C. Calhoun, regarding slavery (1838), as quoted in Time-Life Books The Civil War, vol. 1 (Brother Against Brother), Time Inc, New York (1983).
  • 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.
    • Howell Cobb, regarding suggestions that the Confederates turn their slaves into soldiers (1865). As quoted in Encyclopædia Britannica (1911), Hugh Chisholm, editor, 11th ed., Cambridge University Press. Also quoted as 'You cannot make soldiers of slaves, or slaves of soldiers. The day you make a soldier of them is the beginning of the end of the Revolution. And if slaves seem good soldiers, then our whole theory of slavery is wrong'.
  • We perceive the public journals continue to urge the measure of putting negroes into the army, and we hear people talking on the street corners in favor of the measure. Put arms in the hands of the slaves, and make them fight for us, they say. We have heretofore expressed our opinion in opposition to this measure, and shall not now repeat what we then said. In continuation of our formerly expressed views, we may add a few additional suggestions now. One speedy practical result of putting negroes in the army would be the peopling of all the swamps of the South with runaway negro deserters. Trained to the use of fire arms, they would depredate everywhere on cattle, hogs, etc., and would soon be forced to resort to robbery and plunder to gain subsistence. Attempts to arrest them would be resisted, and the horrors of a servile war would be realized. Very large numbers would desert and pursue this sort of life. If they did not do this, they would desert to the enemy. With the enemy they know they would get freedom at once. With us, they would get freedom after the war, taking our promises as true. There would exist an immediate certainty of freedom on one side; an uncertainty on the other. A well disposed, faithful, and intelligent slave in this region was recently asked by his master some questions on this very point. The view I have taken of the subject in the above remarks, are simply the views of the slave referred to, and constitutes the substance of his reply to his master. Put, said the negro, the slave into any other position in the service you choose-let him dig, drive teams, build roads, do any other duty, but do not call on him to fight.
    • Atlanta Southern Confederacy (20 January 1865), Macon, Georgia. As quoted in The Gray and the Black: The Confederate Debate on Emancipation (1875), by Robert F. Durden, Baton Rouge, Louisiana: Louisiana State University, pp. 156-58.
  • The negro is willing to work for us, but not to fight for us. We were passing into the car-shed of this city two days since. Some idle and vicious looking boys were directing some saucy conversation to a negro man of stalwart frame who stood near them. One of the boys said to the negro, “Uncle, why don’t you go and fight?” “What I fight for?’ asked the Ebon. “For your country,” replied the boy. The negro scowled and said instantly, “I have no country to fight for.” Now we think the negro was mistaken. We think his lot an enviable one, and that they constitute a privileged class in the community. As the toil of brain and muscle is daily renewed, amid uncertainties, for the procurement of bread for our wife and little ones, we often feel how happy we should be were we the slave of some good and provident owner. Then simple daily toil would fill the measure of duty, and comfortable food and clothing would be the assured reward. While, therefore, we think the negro was mistaken — that the South is emphatically his country while slavery exists — yet we have no idea he can be convinced of the fact sufficiently to take up arms and fight bravely for our cause as his cause, for our country as his country.But waiving all this, and supposing them to fight, and to so greatly aid us that we win our independence, what then? The fighting negroes are to be freed. What are we to do with them 1 Let them remain among us? If so, those who remain slaves may be so in name, but they will not be so in reality. Shall the free slaves then be sent out of the country1 out of the country whose independence they fought to obtain? Certainly no such reward as perpetual exile would-be either honorable to us, or just to them. Such an act on our part, would be a stigma on the imperishable pages of history, of which all future generations of Southrons would be ashamed. These are some of the additional considerations which have suggested themselves to us. Let us put the negro to work, but not to fight.
    • Atlanta Southern Confederacy (20 January 1865), Macon, Georgia. As quoted in The Gray and the Black: The Confederate Debate on Emancipation (1875), by Robert F. Durden, Baton Rouge, Louisiana: Louisiana State University, pp. 156-58.
  • We seek no conquest. All we ask is to be left alone.
    • Confederate President Jefferson Davis, on the war aims of the Confederacy (1861).
  • Mr. Bates was for compulsory deportation. 'The Negro would not', he said, 'go voluntary'. He had great local attachment but no enterprise or persistency. The President objected unequivocally to compulsion. The emigration must be voluntary and without expense to themselves. Great Britain, Denmark and perhaps other powers would take them. I remarked there was no necessity for a treaty which had been suggested. Any person who desired to leave the country could do so now, whether white or black, and it was best to have it so-a voluntary system; the emigrant who chose to leave our shores could and would go where there were the best inducements.
  • So we made a thoroughfare for freedom and her train, sixty miles in latitude, three hundred to the main. Treason fled before us, for resistance was in vain, while we were marching through Georgia.
  • Come all you true friends of the nation, attend to humanity's call! Oh aid of the slaves' liberation and roll on the liberty ball. We'll finish the temple of freedom, and make it capacious within. That all who seek shelter may find it, whatever the hue of their skin. Success to the old fashioned doctrine, that men are created all free, and down with the power of the despot, wherever his stronghold may be. They'll find what, by felling and mauling, our rail-maker statesman can do. For the people are everywhere calling, for Lincoln and Liberty too.
  • 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.
  • One section of our country believes slavery is right and ought to be extended, while the other believes it is wrong and ought not to be extended. This is the only substantial dispute.
  • General Orders, No. 3. The people are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property, between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them, becomes that between employer and hired labor. The Freedmen are advised to remain at their present homes, and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts; and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.
  • Thank God for the iron in the blood of our fathers, the men who upheld the wisdom of Lincoln, and bore sword or rifle in the armies of Grant! Let us, the children of the men who proved themselves equal to the mighty days, let us, the children of the men who carried the great Civil War to a triumphant conclusion, praise the God of our fathers that the ignoble counsels of peace were rejected; that the suffering and loss, the blackness of sorrow and despair, were unflinchingly faced, and the years of strife endured; for in the end the slave was freed, the Union restored, and the mighty American republic placed once more as a helmeted queen among nations.
  • What were these rights and liberties for which Confederates contended? The right to own slaves; the liberty to take this property into the territories.
  • The Confederate States of America grounded their justification of American slavery on the grounds of a fraudulent science and a crazy fundamentalism. No sane person today can regard them as other than pathetic reminders of a society, like Nazi Germany, mentally unbalanced by its commitment to human inequality.
  • Mosby, Rhett, Davis, Stephens, and other Confederates had no difficulty conceding what their descendants go to enormous lengths to deny, that the raison d'être of the Confederacy was the defense of slavery. It follows that, as the paramount symbol of the Confederate nation and as the flag of the armies that kept the nation alive, the St. Andrew's cross is inherently associated with slavery. This conclusion is valid whether or not secession was constitutional. It is valid whether or not most southern soldiers consciously fought to preserve slavery. It is valid even though racism and segregation prevailed among nineteenth-century white northerners.
  • Descendants of Confederates are not wrong to believe that the flag symbolized defense of constitutional liberties and resistance to invasion by military forces determined to crush an experiment in nationhood. But they are wrong to believe that this interpretation of the flag’s meaning can be separated from the defense of slavery. They need only read the words of their Confederate ancestors to find abundant and irrefutable evidence.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The Rebels sing the 'Bonnie Blue Flag', but we the 'Stripes and Stars', our Union flag we love so true, will conquer their stars and bars, their secesh airs, their Maryland, their contrabands of war. Our cause is right; the flag for the fight, is the one with the thirty-four stars. Hurrah, hurrah! For equal rights, hurrah! Hurrah for the dear old flag with every stripe and star.
  • We are a band of Patriots who each leave home and friend, our noble Constitution and our Banner to defend, our Capitol was threatened, and the cry rose near and far, to protect our Country's glorious Flag that glitters with many a star.
  • We are sometimes asked, in the name of patriotism, to forget the merits of this fearful struggle, and to remember with equal admiration those who struck at the nation’s life and those who struck to save it, those who fought for slavery and those who fought for liberty and justice. I am no minister of malice. I would not strike the fallen. I would not repel the repentant; but may my 'right hand forget her cunning and my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth', if I forget the difference between the parties to that terrible, protracted, and bloody conflict.
  • We are not here to applaud manly courage, save as it has been displayed in a noble cause. We must never forget that victory to the rebellion meant death to the republic. We must never forget that the loyal soldiers who rest beneath this sod flung themselves between the nation and the nation destroyers. If today we have a country not boiling in an agony of blood, like France, if now we have a united country, no longer cursed by the hell-black system of human bondage, if the American name is no longer a by-word and a hissing to a mocking earth, if the star-spangled banner floats only over free American citizens in every quarter of the land, and our country has before it a long and glorious career of justice, liberty, and civilization, we are indebted to the unselfish devotion of the noble army who rest in these honored graves all around us.
  • Did Lincoln 'initiate force' by invading the South? Well, strictly speaking, no, since the War began with the Confederate bombardment of Fort Sumter. Lincoln deliberately waited until the Confederates began the shooting. Now, it can be argued that the Confederate action was justified, because Lincoln had refused to turn over the Fort, which was, after secession, the property of South Carolina and so was being held as stolen property, which South Carolina had the right to take by force. This argument, however, raises the question of whether the slave owners of the South had a right to hold African human beings as property. If they did not, then any person of good will would have the right, indeed the duty in the right circumstances, to free those human beings. If the 'initiation of force' was supposed to be Lincoln holding the stolen property of Fort Sumter, the force had already been initiated, and renewed on a daily basis, on a far more massive and egregious scale, by all the slave owners of the South and everyone who aided and abetted their crimes. Lincoln said that he just wanted to preserve the Union, not free the slaves, but Southerners didn't believe that, which is why they seceded, and, surprise, surprise, the War ended up freeing the slaves after all. Lincoln got the Thirteenth Amendment passed by Congress in December 1864 and subsequently told the Confederates that he would consider any conditions of surrender they might propose, on the non-negotiable basis of both reunion and emancipation. Lincoln was even willing to compensate slave owners, however unwilling other Northerners were, but the Confederates would never consider the pre-conditions.
  • The soldiers knew that they were there to free slaves, and up to 25,000 freedmen ended up following the Army. That wasn't too good, since the Army itself was living off the land, and some of the blacks starved when they couldn't get enough themselves. But they knew who was for them.
  • 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.
    • William C. Davis, as quoted in Look Away!: A History of the Confederate States of America (2002), p. 97-98.
  • By the time of the Gettysburg Address, in November 1863, the North was fighting for a 'new birth of freedom' to transform the Constitution written by the founding fathers, under which the United States had become the world's largest slaveholding country, into a charter of emancipation for a republic where, as the northern version of 'The Battle Cry of Freedom' put it, 'Not a man shall be a slave'.
  • 153 years ago, had we been sitting on these heights, looking over this river in the midst of civil war, we would likely have seen something curious on the river. Rafts, hastily made, barely water-worthy, bearing families with all their possessions, pushing themselves across the river from Fredericksburg to this shore. These were former slaves, run away from bondage. They came here seeking precisely what you have achieved today. By their coming, months before the emancipation proclamation, they were doing what Americans have always done. They challenged America, as if to say, 'We have left bondage to be free. What will you do with us now?' In the spring and summer of 1862, as many as ten thousand former slaves crossed the Rappahannock River to freedom, some of them likely walking these terraces in freedom, looking down upon the river as others followed their path. These men and women and babies and toddlers and boys and girls did not see their acts as momentous for anyone but themselves, but today we can see that their acts were momentous in many ways. By challenging America to accept their determination that they would no longer suffer bondage, they pushed the nation along that arc toward justice, away from oppression. Seven months later, Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. And three years after that Congress sent to the states the Fourteenth Amendment, according these former slaves the thing they aspired to most beyond freedom. Citizenship. These people did not just walk the path to citizenship, they blazed a trail where none had existed.
  • 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.
  • In 1860, while the rest of the western world followed an historic trajectory dedicated to abolishing slavery and expanding human rights, the Confederacy dedicated itself to the proposition that all men are not created equal; that some people have the right to own other people; that the owners deserve unfettered discretion to buy and sell the owned, to separate husbands from wives, children from mothers, and to administer beatings, whippings and other punishments at will; and that government's proper role is to preserve, nurture and facilitate that social arrangement.
  • The beliefs of those who created the Confederate flag were 'sick and twisted'. The Confederate flag is directly tied to the Confederate cause, and the Confederate cause was white supremacy. This claim is not the result of revisionism. It does not require reading between the lines. It is the plain meaning of the words of those who bore the Confederate flag across history. These words must never be forgotten. Over the next few months the word 'heritage' will be repeatedly invoked. It would be derelict to not examine the exact contents of that heritage.
  • It is difficult for modern Americans to understand such militant commitment to the bondage of others. But at $3.5 billion, the four million enslaved African Americans in the South represented the country’s greatest financial asset. And the dollar amount does not hint at the force of enslavement as a social institution. By the onset of the civil war, southern slaveholders believed that African slavery was one of the great organizing institutions in world history, superior to the 'free society' of the north.
  • For too long, we were blind to the pain that the Confederate flag stirred in too many of our citizens. It’s true, a flag did not cause these murders. But as people from all walks of life, Republicans and Democrats, now acknowledge, including Governor Haley, whose recent eloquence on the subject is worthy of praise as we all have to acknowledge, the flag has always represented more than just ancestral pride. For many, black and white, that flag was a reminder of systemic oppression and racial subjugation.We see that now. Removing the flag from this state's capitol would not be an act of political correctness; it would not be an insult to the valor of Confederate soldiers. It would simply be an acknowledgment that the cause for which they fought, the cause of slavery, was wrong. The imposition of Jim Crow after the Civil War, the resistance to civil rights for all people was wrong. It would be one step in an honest accounting of America's history; a modest but meaningful balm for so many unhealed wounds. It would be an expression of the amazing changes that have transformed this state and this country for the better, because of the work of so many people of goodwill, people of all races striving to form a more perfect union. By taking down that flag, we express God's grace.
  • Confederates openly celebrated the cause of establishing a slaveholding republic and the defense of white supremacy. They embraced it as the foundation of their new nation and as an improvement on the nation from which they left behind. It constituted their understanding of Confederate exceptionalism.

The war on the home front[edit]

  • The war has stimulated the genius of our people and directed it to the service of our country. Sixty-six new inventions relating to engines, implements, and articles of warfare have been illustrated in our columns....

    Other departments of industry have also been well represented. Our inventors have not devoted themselves exclusively to the invention of destructive implements; they have also cultivated the arts of peace.

    • Scientific American magazine, year-end summary for 1861.
  • There is considerable fear felt in some quarters that this cavalry is to be followed up by a large force. Isn’t it shameful that, at this late day, anybody should be trembling for the safety of Washington? But so it is! I don’t know but what it would be better for the whole country if Washington was taken and burned. What we need is to feel that we are fighting for our lives and liberties; that is the way the rebels feel: they think that if they don’t win, they will lose every liberty. Our people seem to be in an indifferent state, not caring much about it either way; they would like to see the South conquered, if it could be done by any moderate means; but when it comes to every man and woman making some great sacrifice, they don’t think it worth while, and would rather have a disgraceful peace than a continuance of the war. They don't seem to see that in case of such a peace, to be a native of the North would be sufficient to disgrace a man, and that we should always be considered a whipped nation. Abroad, a Northern man would be despised, and rightly. I feel much stronger about the war than I ever have before, and certainly hope that I shall never live to acknowledge such a nation as the Southern Confederacy.
  • We have reproached the South for arbitrary conduct in coercing their people; at last we find we must imitate their example. We have denounced their tyranny for filling their armies with conscripts, and now we must follow their example. We have denounced their tyranny in suppressing freedom of speech and the press, and here, too, in time, we must follow their example. The longer it is deferred the worse it becomes.

    I say with the press unfettered as now we are defeated to the end of time. 'Tis folly to say the people must have news.

    • Letter from Union Gen. William T. Sherman to his brother John Sherman (1863).

Prisoners of war[edit]

  • 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.
  • I saw a sight yesterday that beats all I ever saw. A Negro boy that the Rebels left in a barn, entirely naked. His breast cut and bowels were scratched or cut and the doctor said that turpentine had been put on him and also his privates had been cut off. I went in the barn to see him but it was rather dark. He lay on his back, his legs bent, knees up, and grinding his teeth and foaming at the mouth and seemed to take no notice of anything and breast and bowels looked as if they had been cut and then burned all over. I understand the reason of the act to be because he would not go over the river with them.
  • I feel no inclination to retaliate for the offences of irresponsible persons; but if it is the policy of any General intrusted with the command of troops to show no quarter, or to punish with death prisoners taken in battle, I will accept the issue. It may be you propose a different line of policy towards black troops, and officers commanding them, to that practiced towards white troops. So, I can assure you that these colored troops are regularly mustered into the service of the United States. The Government, and all officers under the Government, are bound to give the same protection to these troops that they do to any other troops.
  • War means fighting, and fighting means killing.
  • If you surrender, you shall be treated as prisoners of war, but if I have to storm your works, you may expect no quarter.
  • Among the embers the charred remains of numbers of our soldiers who had suffered a terrible death in the flames could be seen. All the wounded who had strength enough to speak agreed that after the fort was taken an indiscriminate slaughter of our troops was carried on by the enemy with a furious and vindictive savageness which was never equaled by the most merciless of the Indian tribes. Around on every side horrible testimony to the truth of this statement could be seen. Bodies with gaping wounds, some bayoneted through the eyes, some with skulls beaten through, others with hideous wounds as if their bowels had been ripped open with bowie-knives, plainly told that but little quarter was shown to our troops. Strewn from the fort to the river bank, in the ravines and hollows, behind logs and under the brush where they had crept for protection from the assassins who pursued them, we found bodies bayoneted, beaten, and shot to death, showing how cold-blooded and persistent was the slaughter of our unfortunate troops. Of course, when a work is carried by assault there will always be more or less bloodshed, even when all resistance has ceased; but here there were unmistakable evidences of a massacre carried on long after any resistance could have been offered, with a cold-blooded barbarity and perseverance which nothing can palliate.
  • Since you did me the favor of recommending my appointment last year, I have been on duty aboard this boat. I now write you with reference to the Fort Pillow massacre, because some of our crew are colored and I feel personally interested in the retaliation which our government may deal out to the rebels, when the fact of the merciless butchery is fully established.
  • We then landed at the fort, and I was sent out with a burial party to bury our dead. I found many of the dead lying close along by the water’s edge, where they had evidently sought safety; they could not offer any resistance from the places where they were, in holes and cavities along the banks; most of them had two wounds. I saw several colored soldiers of the Sixth United States Artillery, with their eyes punched out with bayonets; many of them were shot twice and bayonetted also. All those along the bank of the river were colored. The number of the colored near the river was about seventy. Going up into the fort, I saw there bodies partially consumed by fire. Whether burned before or after death I cannot say, anyway, there were several companies of rebels in the fort while these bodies were burning, and they could have pulled them out of the fire had they chosen to do so.
  • When the rebels drove our men out of the fort, they, our men, threw away their guns and cried out that they surrendered, but they kept on shooting them down until they had shot all but a few. This is what they all say. I had some conversation with rebel officers and they claim that our men would not surrender and in some few cases they 'could not control their men', who seemed determined to shoot down every negro soldier, whether he surrendered or not. This is a flimsy excuse, for after our colored troops had been driven from the fort, and they were surrounded by the rebels on all sides, it is apparent that they would do what all say they did, throw down their arms and beg for mercy.
  • He did not say a monument to what, but he meant, I am sure, to leave it as a monument to the loyalty of our soldiers, who would bear all the horrors of Libby sooner than desert their flag and cause.
    • David Dixon Porter, as quoted in Incidents and Anecdotes of the Civil War (1885), p. 229.
  • In 1864, black Union troops were involved in operations against Lee's army outside Richmond and Petersburg, and some of them are taken prisoner. Lee puts them to work on Confederate entrenchments that are in Union free-fire zones. When Grant gets wind of this, he threatens to put Confederate prisoners to work on Union entrenchments under Confederate fire unless Lee pulls out. So Grant was willing to embrace an eye-for-an-eye, tooth-for-a-tooth retaliation policy based upon Confederate treatment of black prisoners. For Grant, it was the color of the uniform, not the skin, that mattered.
  • The affair at Fort Pillow was simply an orgy of death, a mass lynching to satisfy the basest of conduct – intentional murder – for the vilest of reasons – racism and personal enmity.
    • Richard Fuchs, as quoted in An Unerring Fire: The Massacre At Fort Pillow (2002), Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole, p. 14.
  • Whether the massacre was premeditated or spontaneous does not address the more fundamental question of whether a massacre took place. It certainly did, in every dictionary sense of the word.
    • Andrew Ward, as quoted in River Run Red: The Fort Pillow Massacre in the American Civil War (2005) New York: Viking Adult, p. 227.
  • 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.

Unionism in the Confederacy[edit]

  • I myself have seen in Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Mississippi, hundreds and thousands of women and children fleeing from your armies and desperadoes, hungry and with bleeding feet. In Memphis, Vicksburg, and Mississippi, we fed thousands upon thousands of the families of rebel soldiers left on our hands, and whom we could not see starve. Now that war comes home to you; you feel very different. You deprecate its horrors, but did not feel them when you sent car-loads of soldiers and ammunition, and moulded shells and shot, to carry war into Kentucky and Tennessee, to desolate the homes of hundreds and thousands of good people who only asked to live in peace at their old homes, and under the Government of their inheritance. But these comparisons are idle. I want peace, and believe it can only be reached through union and war, and I will ever conduct war with a view to perfect and early success.
  • Yes and there were Union men who wept with joyful tears, when they saw the honored flag they had not seen for years. Hardly could they be restrained from breaking forth in cheers, while we were marching through Georgia.
  • 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.
  • The Confederate experience is dotted with episodes that are not particularly admirable.
  • Just after midnight on August 10, 1862, nearly 100 dismounted Confederate cavalry and state militia crept across the dry Texas Hill Country toward a campsite on the banks of the clear Nueces River, where 65 men slept, with just two on watch. Suddenly the dark silence was shattered by Confederate gunfire. Before sunset, those who had not escaped were dead or captured — and the captured were quickly executed.
    • "Massacre on the Nueces" (11 August 1862), by Richard Parker and Emily Boyd, The New York Times (2012), New York: The New York Times Company.
  • The Massacre on the Nueces was hardly unique. Whereas gray-on-blue atrocities would be common during the war, Texas in 1862 and 1863 would be the scene of repeated atrocities by Confederate troops against their own fellow citizens.
    • "Massacre on the Nueces" (11 August 1862), by Richard Parker and Emily Boyd, The New York Times (2012), New York: The New York Times Company.
  • I think it was just talk. That infuriates some people; they want me to tell them these were horrible traitors that deserved to be killed. But traitors to what? They were actually loyal to the country they had been raised in all their lives. But it is not the first time and it's not the last time. We see it today. Under pressure people can do very unreasonable things. When you bring something like this to light, smelling to high heaven, it undermines the idea of a united South. To me, it makes it a more human story because we always divide. It's what we do; it's what we are. It's the nature of a democracy. Sometimes we handle it well, and sometimes we don't handle it well at all. That upsets people; they don't want to hear that Great-Great-Grandpa made a mistake.
  • Lincoln broadly abused civil liberties in his prosecution of the war and suppression of dissent in the north. True. Unfortunately, there is no side of the angels in that respect. The southern states had actually been censoring mail before the war to suppress even private discussion of abolitionism, and during the war, not only was the south the first to institute conscription, but southern civilian Unionists, in several instances, were massacred by Confederate forces.
  • 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.”

Anti-war movement in the Union[edit]

  • How are you my Abe? Is the list nearly filled

    Of the sick men and dying of wounded and killed

    Of widows and tears, or orphans unfed

    Of poor honest white men struggling for bread?

    'Dear Devil,' quoth Abe, 'I'm doing my best

    To promote the interest of you and the rest.

    • "Abe's Visitor," a poem published in a Democrat newspaper in Pennsylvania.
  • I will not consent to put the entire purse of the country and the sword of the country into the hands of the executive, giving him despotic and dictatorial power to carry out an object which I avow before my countrymen is the destruction of their liberties and the overthrow of the Union of these states....

    The charge has been made against us — all who are opposed to the policy of this administration and opposed to this war — that we are for 'peace on any terms.' It is false.... I am for peace, and would be, even if the Union could not be restored... because without peace, permitting this administration for two years to exercise its tremendous powers, the war still existing, you will not have one remnant of civil liberty left among yourselves. The exercise of these tremendous powers, the apology for which is the existence of this war, is utterly incompatible with the stability of the Constitution and of constitutional liberty.

    • Rep. Clement L. Vallandingham (D-Ohio), leader of the “Copperhead" antiwar Democrats, in a speech to the Democrat Union Association of New York (1863).
  • Rioters were mostly Irish Catholic immigrants and their children. They mainly attacked the members of New York's small black population. For a year, Democratic leaders had been telling their Irish-American constituents that the wicked Black Republicans were waging the war to free the slaves who would come north and take away the jobs of Irish workers. The use of black stevedores as scabs in a recent strike by Irish dockworkers made this charge seem plausible. The prospect of being drafted to fight to free the slaves made the Irish even more receptive to demogogic rhetoric.

The First Major Battle: Bull Run (21 July 1861)[edit]

  • Woh-who-ey! Who-ey!
    • The "Rebel Yell" shouted by Confederate troops in the attack (1861).
  • There is nothing like it on this side of the infernal region. The peculiar corkscrew sensation that it sends down your backbone under these circumstances can never be told. You have to feel it.
    • A Union soldier, on the Rebel Yell (1861).
  • Let us determine to die here, and we will conquer. There is Jackson standing like a stone wall! Rally behind the Virginians.
    • Confederate Gen. Bernard Elliott Bee at the First Battle of Bull Run, in a comment that gave Gen. Thomas Jonathan Jackson the nickname "Stonewall" (1861).
  • Soon the slopes... were swarming with our retreating and disorganized forces, while riderless horses and artillery [horse] teams ran furiously through the flying crowd. All further efforts were futile. The words, gestures, and threats of our officers were thrown away upon men who had lost all presence of mind, and only longed for absence of body [from the field of battle].
    • Union Colonel Andrew Porter, on the rout of the initially-overconfident Federal troops that ended the Battle of Bull Run (1861).
  • It is best for the country and for mankind that we make peace with the rebels, and on their own terms...
    • Advice for President Lincoln from Horace Greeley, publisher of the New York Tribune, following the Union defeat at Bull Run (1861).

The Peninsula Campaign (April – July 1862)[edit]

  • My dear McClellan. If you don't want to use the army, I would like to borrow it for a while. Yours respectfully, A. Lincoln.
  • I was left alone on horseback, with my men dropping around me.... My field [staff] officers... were all dead. Every horse ridden into the fight, my own among them, was dead. Fully one half of my line officers and half my men were dead or wounded.

The Battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia (13 December 1862)[edit]

  • A chicken could not live on that field when we open on it.
    • General E.P. Alexander, Lee's engineer and superintendent of artillery, before the Union attack on Fredericksburg (1862); reported in Bim Sherman, The Century (1886), p. 617.
  • Gone were the proud hopes, the high aspirations that swelled our bosoms a few days ago.... [The army] has strong limbs to march and meet the foe, stout arms to strike heavy blows, brave hearts to dare — but the brains, the brains! Have we no brains to use the arms and limbs and eager hearts with cunning?
    • Union Army private William Lusk, letter home after the Union defeat at Fredericksburg, blaming Gen. Ambrose Burnside, commander of the Union Army of the Potomac. The Federal attacks against high ground south of the Rappahannock River, strongly held by the Confederates, cost it 12,000 casualties (1862).

The Emancipation Proclamation goes into effect (1 January 1863)[edit]

  • He six foot one way, two foot tudder, and he weigh tree hundred pound, His coat so big, he couldn’t pay the tailor, an’ it won’t go halfway round. He drill so much dey call him Cap’n, an’ he got so drefful tanned, I spec’ he try an’ fool dem Yankees for to tink he’s contraband. De massa run, ha, ha! De darkey stay, ho, ho! It mus’ be now de kindom coming, an’ de year ob Jubilo!
  • De obserseer he make us trouble, an’ he dribe us round a spell; We lock him up in de smokehouse cellar, wid de key trown in de well. De whip is lost, de han’cuff broken, but de massa’ll hab his pay; He’s ole enough, big enough, ought to known better dan to went an’ run away. De massa run, ha, ha! De darkey stay, ho, ho! It mus’ be now de kindom coming, an’ de year ob Jubilo!
  • On the first of January 1863, we held services for the purpose of listening to the reading of President Lincoln’s proclamation by Dr. W. H. Brisbane, and the presentation of two beautiful stands of colors, one from a lady in Connecticut, and the other from Rev. Mr. Cheever. The presentation speech was made by Chaplain French. It was a glorious day for us all, and we enjoyed every minute of it, and as a fitting close and the crowning event of this occasion we had a grand barbecue. A number of oxen were roasted whole, and we had a fine feast. Although not served as tastily or correctly as it would have been at home, yet it was enjoyed with keen appetites and relish. The soldiers had a good time. They sang or shouted 'Hurrah!' all through the camp, and seemed overflowing with fun and frolic until taps were sounded, when many, no doubt, dreamt of this memorable day.
  • Abolitionists were unhappy with Lincoln for apparently making such concessions to the slavers. As it happened, of course, Lincoln made the Emancipation Proclamation at the first decent opportunity, on September 22, 1862, and the war in fact became an instrument of radical abolitionists, not only freeing the slaves, even in loyal border states, Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland, and Delaware, by the Thirteenth Amendment, but amending the constitution to guarantee civil and voting rights to them. The Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, however, were poorly enforced after President Grant.
  • Contrary to claims often made, when it formally took effect on January 1, 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation immediately freed thousands of enslaved persons across areas of the south then occupied by federal forces. As Eric Foner outlined in his Pulitzer Prize-winning history, The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery, one of the most important of these was in the Sea Islands along the South Carolina and Georgia coasts, territories that were still nominally in rebellion but had taken by federal forces early in the war, to use as a staging position for further campaigns up and down the coast. And in the Sea Islands, there was probably no bigger celebration than at Port Royal, South Carolina, where a formal ceremony was held by, and for, the first black regiment in the Union Army, the 1st South Carolina Volunteer Infantry, later re-designated the 33rd USCT. The event was so dramatic that it forms the opening scene of Stephen Ash's history of the 1st and 2nd South Carolina, Firebrand of Liberty.

African Americans recruited for the Union Army (1863–1865)[edit]

  • We must have scouts, guides, spies, cooks, teamsters, diggers and choppers from the blacks of the south, whether we allow them to fight for us or not, or we shall be baffled and repelled. As one of the millions who would gladly have avoided this struggle at any sacrifice but that principle and honor, but who now feel that the triumph of the Union is dispensable not only to the existence of our country to the well being of mankind, I entreat you to render a hearty and unequivocal obedience to the law of the land.
  • The negro troops are easier to preserve discipline among than our white troops, and I doubt not will prove equally good for garrison duty. All that have been tried have fought bravely.
  • I have given the subject of arming the negro my hearty support. This, with the emancipation of the negro, is the heaviest blow yet given the Confederacy. The South rave a great deal about it and profess to be very angry.
  • I thought that in your struggle for the Union, to whatever extent the negroes should cease helping the enemy, to that extent it weakened the enemy in his resistance to you. Do you think differently? I thought that whatever negroes can be got to do as soldiers, leaves just so much less for white soldiers to do, in saving the Union. Does it appear otherwise to you? But negroes, like other people, act upon motives. Why should they do any thing for us, if we will do nothing for them? If they stake their lives for us, they must be prompted by the strongest motive, even the promise of freedom. And the promise being made, must be kept.
  • A great many have the idea that the entire negro race are vastly their inferiors; a few weeks of calm unprejudiced life here would disabuse them I think. I have a more elevated opinion of their abilities than I ever had before. I know that many of them are vastly the superiors of those, many of those, who would condemn them to a life of brutal degradation.
  • The copperheads of the North need not complain of them being placed on an equal footing with the white soldiers, since the white soldier himself does not complain. After a man has fought two years, he is willing that any thing shall fight for the purpose of ending the war. We have become too familiar with hardships to refuse to see men fight merely because their color is black.
  • Once let the black man get upon his person the brass letters 'U.S.'; let him get an edge on his button, and a musket on his shoulder and bullets in his pocket, and there is no power on earth which can deny that he has earned the right to citizenship.
    • Frederick Douglass, whose sons Charles and Lewis served in the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, commanded by Colonel Robert Gould Shaw (1862).
  • I am anxious to get as many of these negro regiments as possible, and to have them full, and completely equipped. I am particularly desirous of organizing a regiment of heavy artillery from the negroes, to garrison this place, and shall do so as soon as possible.
  • I feel no inclination to retaliate for the offences of irresponsible persons; but if it is the policy of any General intrusted with the command of troops to show no quarter, or to punish with death prisoners taken in battle, I will accept the issue. It may be you propose a different line of policy towards black troops, and officers commanding them, to that practiced towards white troops. So, I can assure you that these colored troops are regularly mustered into the service of the United States. The Government, and all officers under the Government, are bound to give the same protection to these troops that they do to any other troops.
  • That is, by arming the negro we have added a powerful ally. They will make good soldiers and taking them from the enemy weaken him in the same proportion they strengthen us.
  • Many persons believed, or pretended to believe, and confidently asserted, that freed slaves would not make good soldiers; they would lack courage, and could not be subjected to military discipline. Facts have shown how groundless were these apprehensions. The slave has proved his manhood, and his capacity as an infantry soldier, at Milliken's Bend, at the assault upon Port Hudson, and the storming of Fort Wagner. The apt qualifications of the colored man for artillery service have long been known and recognized by the naval service.
  • We congratulate the American people upon your reelection by a large majority. If resistance to the slave power was the reserved watchword of your first administration, the triumphant war cry of your reelection is 'Death to slavery.'

    From the commencement of the titanic American strife, the workingmen of Europe felt instinctively that the star-spangled banner carried the destiny of their class....

    The workingmen of Europe feel sure that as the American War of Independence initiated a new era of ascendancy for the middle class, so the American antislavery war will do for the working classes. They consider it an earnest of the epoch to come that it fell to the lot of Abraham Lincoln, the single-minded so of the working class, to lead his country through the matchless struggle for the rescue of an enchained race and the reconstruction of a social world.

    • Letter of the Communist International to President Abraham Lincoln (1864).
  • Let history record that on the banks of the James 30,000 freemen not only gained their own liberty, but shattered the prejudice of the world, and gave to the land of their birth peace, union and glory.
  • 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.
  • Its organization was an experiment which has proven a perfect success. The conduct of its soldiers has been such to draw praise from persons most prejudiced against color, and there is no record which should give the colored race more pride than that left by the 25th Army Corps.
  • General Burnside wanted to put his colored division in front, and I believe if he had done so it would have been a success. Still I agreed with General Meade as to his objections to that plan. General Meade said that if we put the colored troops in front, we had only one division, and it should prove a failure, it would then be said and very properly, that we were shoving these people ahead to get killed because we did not care anything about them. But that could not be said if we put white troops in front.
  • My confidence in General Grant was not entirely due to the brilliant military successes achieved by him, but there was a moral as well as military basis for my faith in him. He had shown his single-mindedness and superiority to popular prejudice by his prompt cooperation with President Lincoln in his policy of employing colored troops, and his order commanding his soldiers to treat such troops with due respect. In this way he proved himself to be not only a wise general, but a great man, one who could adjust himself to new conditions, and adopt the lessons taught by the events of the hour.
  • A Chinaman can ride in the same passenger coach with white citizens of the United States, while citizens of the black race in Louisiana, many of whom, perhaps, risked their lives for the preservation of the Union, who are entitled, by law, to participate in the political control of the State and nation, who are not excluded, by law or by reason of their race, from public stations of any kind, and who have all the legal rights that belong to white citizens, are yet declared to be criminals, liable to imprisonment, if they ride in a public coach occupied by citizens of the white race. He does not object, nor, perhaps, would he object to separate coaches for his race if his rights under the law were recognized. But he objecting, and ought never to cease objecting, to the proposition that citizens of the white and black race can be adjudged criminals because they sit, or claim the right to sit, in the same public coach on a public highway.
  • Powerful racial prejudices? That was not true of Thomas Wentworth Higginson, or Norwood P. Hallowell, or George T. Garrison, or many other abolitionists and sons of abolitionists who became officers in black regiments. Indeed, the contrary was true. They had spent much of their lives fighting the race prejudice endemic in American society, sometimes at the risk of their careers and even their lives. That is why they jumped at the chance of help launch an experiment with black soldiers which they hoped would help African Americans achieve freedom and postwar civil equality.
  • Neither Hume nor Jefferson had the opportunity to meet a black man of the intelligence, education, self-taught!, and eloquence of Frederick Douglass. Lincoln did, and historical events made a difference in people's opinion in this respect. Where Hume may have appealed in vain, as he thought, for examples of black valor, in Lincoln's era the matter was settled on July 18, 1863, when the 54th Massachusetts Regiment, the first black unit raised in the north for the Union Army, assaulted Fort Wagner outside Charleston harbor. Other black units had been organized in the south from escaped slaves, and one had originally been raised in Louisiana by free blacks for the Confederate Army and then went over to the Union! This was a foolish frontal assault, common in the Civil War, that resulted in the regiment being shot to pieces and a great many of its men, including its white colonel, Robert Gould Shaw, the son of abolitionists, killed.
  • That a black regiment could withstand such punishment and acquit itself nobly vindicated those who, like Douglass, two of his own sons were in the unit, had been arguing that blacks would make as good soldiers as whites. Sergeant Carney, who returned the regimental flag to the Union lines, saying that he never allowed it to touch the ground, although suffering from five serious gunshot wounds, lived to receive, although belatedly, the Congressional Medal of Honor, the first black soldier to be so honored. The result was that by the end of the Civil War, 10% of the Union Army was black, mostly escaped and liberated slaves since blacks were only about 2% of the population of north at the time. When the war was over, and four new cavalry regiments, among other kinds, were added to the six of the regular United States Army, two of those, the 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments, were black, as were the new 24th and 25th Infantry Regiments, originally authorized as the 38th, 39th, 40th, and 41st Infantry Regiments. All the way down to World War I, mostly in West Texas and in the Philippines, those units distinguished themselves. It was a tough life, but the 9th and 10th Cavalry had the lowest desertion rate and highest reenlistment rate in the United States Army. They became known by the name given to them by the Indians whom they fought, mainly Comanches and Mescalero Apaches, the 'Buffalo Soldiers'. Black units persisted until President Truman integrated the armed services in 1948, although the 24th Infantry, still segregated, fought in Korea until deactivated in 1951. Effective integration took place under President Eisenhower.
  • The organization of federal units of black soldiers, comprised of both escaped slaves and free men, was taken as an outrage. It struck a raw nerve, never far off in the Southern psyche. Fear of a slave insurrection. The prospect of African American men in blue uniforms was taken as an extreme provocation, so much so that it was proposed in the Confederate congress, and endorsed by General Beauregard, the hero of Fort Sumter, that all Federals captured, black or white, should be summarily executed. This proposal was never adopted, but the Confederate congress did eventually pass, in May 1863, a proclamation instructing President Jefferson Davis to exercise 'full and ample retaliation' against the north for arming black soldiers. Finally, there was simple revenge. The Union army’s shelling of Fredericksburg several months before had been a particular sore point, that festered for months as the Confederate army went into winter quarters nearby. One officer, determined to fix the destruction there in his mind's eye, made a special visit to that town one last time before setting out on the road north into Maryland and Pennsylvania.

The Battle of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania (July 1863)[edit]

  • The enemy seemed to have gathered all their energies for their final assault. We had gotten our thin line into as good a shape as possible, when a strong force emerged from the scrub wood in the valley, as well as I could judge, in two lines in echelon by the right, and, opening a heavy fire, the first line came on as if they meant to sweep everything before them. We opened on them as well as we could with our scanty ammunition snatched from the field.

    It did not seem possible to withstand another shock like this now coming on. Our loss had been severe. One-half of my left wing had fallen, and a third of my regiment lay just behind us, dead or badly wounded. At this moment my anxietv was increased by a great rbar of musketry in my rear, on the farther or northerly slope of Little Round Top, apparently on the flank of the regular brigade, which was in support or Hazlett's battery on the crest behind us. The bullets from this attack struck into my left rear, and I feared that the enemy might have nearly surrounded the Little Round Top, and only a desperate chance was left for us. My ammunition was soon exhausted. My men were firing their last shot and getting ready to "club" their muskets.

    It was imperative to strike before we were struck by this overwhelming force in a hand-to-hand fight, which we could not probably have withstood or survived. At that crisis, I ordered the bayonet. The word was enough. It ran like fire along the line, from man to man; and rose into a shout, with which they sprang forward upon the enemy, now not 30 yards away. The effect was surprising; many of the enemy's first line threw down their arms and surrendered. An officer fired his pistol at my head with one hand, while he handed me his sword with the other. Holding fast by our right, and swinging forward our left, we made an extended " right wheel," before which the enemy's second line broke and fell back, fighting from tree to tree, many being captured, until we had swept the valley and cleared the front of nearly our entire brigade.

  • Our army held the war in the hollow of their hand and they would not close it.
    • President Abraham Lincoln, regretting the failure of Union Army commanders to destroy the Confederate Army before it could recross the Potomac and retreat into the safety of Northern Virginia (1863).
  • General, I have been a soldier all my life. I have been with soldiers engaged in fights by couples, by squads, companies, regiments, divisions, and armies, and should know, as well as any one, what soldiers can do. It is my opinion that no fifteen thousand men ever arranged for battle can take that position.
    • James Longstreet, as quoted in General James Longstreet: The Confederacy's Most Controversial Soldier: A Biography (1993), by Jeffry D. Wert, New York: Simon & Schuster, p. 283.
  • Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow, this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us. That from these honored dead, we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion.
  • We here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
  • 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.
  • '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.
  • On the first day of July 1863, Confederate Lieutenant General James Longstreet, writing through his adjutant, ordered General George Pickett to bring up his corps from the rear to reinforce the main body of the Army of Northern Virginia. The lead elements of the armies of Robert E. Lee and George Meade had come together outside a small Pennsylvania market town called Gettysburg. The clash there would become the most famous battle of the American Civil War, and would be popularly regarded as a critical turning point not just of that conflict, but in American history.
  • During the Gettysburg Campaign, soldiers in the the Army of Northern Virginia systematically rounded up free blacks and escaped slaves as they marched north into Maryland and Pennsylvania. Men, women and children were all swept up and brought along with the army as it moved north, and carried back into Virginia during the army’s retreat after the battle. While specific numbers cannot be known, Smith argues that the total may have been over a thousand African Americans. Once back in Confederate-held territory, they were returned to their former owners, sold at auction or imprisoned.
  • The seizure of free blacks and escaped slaves by the Army of Northern Virginia was widespread, systematic, and countenanced by officers up to the highest levels of command. This event, and others on a much smaller scale, were so much part of the army's operation that Smith argues they can legitimately be considered a part of the army’s operational objective. Smith is blunt in his terminology for these activities; he calls them “slave raids.” These ugly episodes did not spring up spontaneously; it was a violent and entirely predictable result of multiple factors that had been building for months or years. For a long time, there was growing resentment in Virginia over escaped slaves seeking refuge in Pennsylvania, where there was considerable sympathy for the abolitionist cause, and stops on the Underground Railroad. These tensions increased substantially after the outbreak of the war, as Virginia slaves learned that they could expect to be safe as soon as they reached Union territory, where they would be considered contraband. White Southerners' resentment of this situation redoubled again in the fall of 1862, with the news that the Lincoln administration would issue the Emancipation Proclamation. This further encouraged slaves to flee to the North, and made it clear to slaveholders, had it not been clear before—that defeat would put an end to the 'peculiar institution', and upend the economy and culture that went with it.
  • There are questions that serious historians will argue about as long as anyone remembers this conflict, saying that this politician’s actions were justified by that event, or that general made the right decision because he didn’t know those troops were on the other side of the river. The abduction of free blacks and escaped slaves from Maryland and Pennsylvania during the Gettysburg campaign is not one of those events. It cannot be justified, or rationalized, or denied. It can only be ignored. But it shouldn't be.
  • The Brian Farm sits a few hundred yards from where Confederates managed to temporarily pierce the Union position on July 3. From here a very different narrative about the meaning of the charge, the broader campaign and the war itself confronts visitors. Abraham and Elizabeth Brian, along with their children were not present during the battle. Like other African Americans the Brians fled as news of Robert E. Lee's invasion spread through southcentral Pennsylvania in June 1863. Rumors of kidnappings by Lee's army -- itself made up of thousands of impressed slaves and personal body servants, north of the Mason-Dixon Line served as another reminder of the precariousness of life for the region's black population. Blacks in the region were no strangers to the dangers of slave catchers, who followed their human prey north along the Underground Railroad. Confederate cavalry under the command of General Albert Jenkins took full advantage of those blacks, who were unable to flee the area. In Chambersburg Rachel Cormany watched helplessly as black women who were seized pleaded for their children to be spared. Lines that included entire families must have moved Rachel to tears as she clung to her own daughter. Black communities in McConnellsburg, Mercersberg, and Greencastle also faced the horror of being upended from their homes and families and forcefully marched south. In Mercersburg a woman by the name of Eliza and her child hid in a grain field and managed to elude marauding cavalry only to learn later that her daughter as well as her grandchildren were all captured. One member of Jenkins's cavalry recorded the routine of 'capturing negroes and horses' sending them into Maryland and returning for more 'plunder'. Accounts suggest that Confederates made little attempt to distinguish between free blacks and former slaves.
  • In Gettysburg the African American community braced for the arrival of Lee's men. Some like confectioner Owen Robinson fled, as did Lloyd Watts, who was considered to be a pillar of his church community. It made no difference that both individuals were free men, who had legal papers to prove it. Randolph Johnson chose to stay and attempted to organize a "colored company" in response to the governor's call for local recruits. Though the regiment was not accepted into state service others took part in the defense of a bridge over the Susquehanna River on June 28 against 2,500 Confederate troops in defense of the state capital of Harrisburg. It is likely that the experience of some local blacks in a military setting subsequently led them to Philadelphia, which commenced with the recruiting of blacks into the Federal army just days earlier.
  • 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.

The Siege of Vicksburg (June – July 1863)[edit]

  • If you can't feed us, you had better surrender, horrible as the idea is, than suffer this noble army to disgrace themselves by desertion.
    • A Confederate soldier besieged at Vicksburg to the Confederate commander (1863).
  • If Grant only does this thing right down there, I don't care how, so long as he does it right. Why, Grant is my man and I am his the rest of the war!
  • I do not remember that you and I ever met personally. I write this now as a grateful acknowledgment for the almost inestimable service you have done the country. I wish to say a word further. When you first reached the vicinity of Vicksburg, I thought you should do, what you finally did, march the troops across the neck, run the batteries with the transports, and thus go below; and I never had any faith, except a general hope that you knew better than I, that the Yazoo Pass expedition, and the like, could succeed. When you got below, and took Port-Gibson, Grand Gulf, and vicinity, I thought you should go down the river and join General Banks; and when you turned Northward East of the Big Black, I feared it was a mistake. I now wish to make the personal acknowledgment that you were right, and I was wrong.
  • I am well. I have the enemy closely hemmed in all round. My position is naturally strong and fortified against an attack from outside. I have been so strongly reinforced that Johnston will have to come with a mighty host to drive me away. I do not look upon the fall of Vicksburg as in the least doubtful. If, however, I could have carried the place on the 22nd of last month, I could by this time have made a campaign that would have made the State of Mississippi almost safe for a solitary horseman to ride over. As it is, the enemy have a large army in it, and the season has so far advanced that water will be difficult to find for an army marching, besides the dust and heat that must be encountered. The fall of Vicksburg now will only result in the opening of the Mississippi River and demoralization of the enemy. I intended more from it. I did my best, however, and looking back can see no blunder committed.
  • It required no effort on his part to admit another man's superiority, and his admission that General Grant was right and he was wrong about operations in Vicksburg was not intended for effect as some suppose, but was perfectly in character.

The Eastern Front (1863–1865)[edit]

  • 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.
  • I propose to fight it out on this line if it takes all summer.
    • General Ulysses S. Grant, during the campaign in Virginia (11 May 1864), commanding Union forces, on his intention to keep up offensive operations in Virginia, in contrast with his predecessors.
  • This is not war, this is murder.
    • Confederate general after viewing Union dead in the Battle of Cold Harbor (3 June 1864).
  • We have met a man this time, who either does not know when he is whipped, or who cares not if he loses his whole army.
    • Confederate officer, reflecting on U.S. Grant, the new Union commander (1864).
  • Leave nothing to invite the enemy to return.... Let the valley be left so that crows flying over it will have to carry their rations long with them.
    • General Ulysses S. Grant, the Union Army's commander, instructions for Gen. Philip Sheridan for his invasion of the Shenandoah Valley in northwestern Virginia (1864).
  • I can make this march, and I will make Georgia howl!
    • William Tecumseh Sherman, telegram to General U.S. Grant (1864), as quoted in Conflict and Compromise: The Political Economy of Slavery, Emancipation, and The American Civil War (1989), by Roger L. Ransom.
  • You might as well appeal against the thunder-storm as against these terrible hardships of war. They are inevitable, and the only way the people of Atlanta can hope once more to live in peace and quiet at home, is to stop the war, which can only be done by admitting that it began in error and is perpetuated in pride.
  • He comes through Madison on his march to the sea and we're chilling, hung out on the front fence from early morning until late in the evening, watching the soldiers go by. It took most of the day.

Lincoln vs. McClellan: The U.S. presidential election of 1864 (November 1864)[edit]

  • It is the highest duty of every American citizen to maintain against all their enemies the integrity of the Union and the paramount authority of the constitution and laws of the United States; and that, laying aside all differences of political opinion, we pledge ourselves, as Union men, animated by a common sentiment and aiming at a common object, to do everything in our power to aid the Government in quelling by force of arms the Rebellion now raging against its authority, and in bringing to the punishment due to their crimes the rebels and traitors arrayed against it.
  • We approve the determination of the government of the United States not to compromise with rebels, or to offer them any terms of peace, except such as may be based upon an unconditional surrender of their hostility and a return to their just allegiance to the constitution and laws of the United States, and that we call upon the government to maintain this position and to prosecute the war with the utmost possible vigor to the complete suppression of the Rebellion, in full reliance upon the self-sacrificing patriotism, the heroic valor and the undying devotion of the American people to the country and its free institutions.
  • As slavery was the cause, and now constitutes the strength of this rebellion, and as it must be, always and everywhere, hostile to the principles of republican government, justice and the national safety demand its utter and complete extirpation from the soil of the republic; and that, while we uphold and maintain the acts and proclamations by which the government, in its own defense, has aimed a deathblow at this gigantic evil, we are in favor, furthermore, of such an amendment to the constitution, to be made by the people in conformity with its provisions, as shall terminate and forever prohibit the existence of slavery within the limits of the jurisdiction of the United States.
  • The thanks of the American people are due to the soldiers and sailors of the Army and Navy, who have periled their lives in defense of the country and in vindication of the honor of its flag; that the nation owes to them some permanent recognition of their patriotism and their valor, and ample and permanent provision for those of their survivors who have received disabling and honorable wounds in the service of the country; and that the memories of those who have fallen in its defense shall be held in grateful and everlasting remembrance.
  • Resolved, that we approve and applaud the practical wisdom, the unselfish patriotism and the unswerving fidelity to the constitution and the principles of American liberty, with which Abraham Lincoln has discharged, under circumstances of unparalleled difficulty, the great duties and responsibilities of the presidential office; that we approve and endorse, as demanded by the emergency and essential to the preservation of the nation and as within the provisions of the constitution, the measures and acts which he has adopted to defend the nation against its open and secret foes; that we approve, especially, the Proclamation of Emancipation, and the employment as Union soldiers of men heretofore held in slavery; and that we have full confidence in his determination to carry these and all other constitutional measures essential to the salvation of the country into full and complete effect.
  • Songs such as 'Nigger Doodle Dandy' reflect the racist tone of the Democrats' presidential campaign in 1864. How did Republicans counter? In part, they sought white votes by being anti-racist. The Republican campaign, boosted by military victories in the fall of 1864, proved effective. The Democrats' overt appeals to racism failed, and anti-racist Republicans triumphed almost everywhere. One New York Republican wrote 'The change of opinion on this slavery question ... is a great and historic fact. Who could have predicted ... this great and blessed revolution?' People around the world supported the Union because of its ideology.

The Thirteenth Amendment passed: Slavery abolished (January 1865)[edit]

  • The announcement that the Amendment had been passed by a vote of 119 to 56 was received by the members on the floor and the visitors in the galleries with an outburst of enthusiasm rarely witnessed in the Capitol. Republicans sprang from their seats, and, regardless of parliamentary rules or the Speaker’s efforts to enforce silence, cheered and applauded. The men in the galleries joined in the uproar, while ladies clapped their hands, waved their handkerchiefs, and uttered exclamations of delight and enthusiasm.

U.S. President Abraham Lincoln visits Richmond (4 April 1865)[edit]

  • Don't kneel to me, that is not right. You must kneel to God only, and thank him for the liberty you will hereafter enjoy. I am but God's humble instrument; but you may rest assured that as long as I live no one shall put a shackle on your limbs; and you shall have all the rights which God has given to every other free citizen of this republic.
  • My poor friends, you are free, free as air. You can cast off the name of slave and trample upon it; it will come to you no more. Liberty is your birthright. God gave it to you as He gave it to others, and it is a sin that you have been deprived of it for so many years. But you must try to deserve this priceless boon. Let the world see that you merit it, and are able to maintain it by your good works. Don't let your joy carry you into excesses. Learn the laws and obey them; obey God's commandments and thank Him for giving you liberty, for to Him you owe all things. There, now, let me pass on; I have but little time to spare. I want to see the capital, and must return at once to Washington to secure to you that liberty which you seem to prize so highly.
  • In reference to you, colored people, let me say God has made you free. Although you have been deprived of your God-given rights by your so-called masters, you are now as free as I am, and if those that claim to be your superiors do not know that you are free, take the sword and bayonet and teach them that you are; for God created all men free, giving to each the same rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
  • No, leave it as a monument.
  • They will never shoulder a musket again in anger, and if Grant is wise, he will leave them their guns to shoot crows with and their horses to plow with. It would do no harm.

Lee surrenders to Grant at Appomattox Court House (9 April 1865)[edit]

  • Lee, the result of the last week must convince you of the hopelessness of further resistance on the part of the Army of Northern Virginia in this struggle. I feel that it is so, and regard it as my duty to shift from myself the responsibility of any further effusion of blood, by asking of you the surrender of that portion of the C.S. Army known as the Army of Northern Virginia.
  • The momentous meaning of this occasion impressed me deeply. I resolved to mark it by some token of recognition, which could be no other than a salute of arms. Well aware of the responsibility assumed, and of the criticisms that would follow, as the sequel proved, nothing of that kind could move me in the least. The act could be defended, if needful, by the suggestion that such a salute was not to the cause for which the flag of the Confederacy stood, but to its going down before the flag of the Union. My main reason, however, was one for which I sought no authority nor asked forgiveness. Before us in proud humiliation stood the embodiment of manhood: men whom neither toils and sufferings, nor the fact of death, nor disaster, nor hopelessness could bend from their resolve; standing before us now, thin, worn, and famished, but erect, and with eyes looking level into ours, waking memories that bound us together as no other bond;—was not such manhood to be welcomed back into a Union so tested and assured? Instructions had been given; and when the head of each division column comes opposite our group, our bugle sounds the signal and instantly our whole line from right to left, regiment by regiment in succession, gives the soldier's salutation, from the "order arms" to the old "carry"—the marching salute. Gordon at the head of the column, riding with heavy spirit and downcast face, catches the sound of shifting arms, looks up, and, taking the meaning, wheels superbly, making with himself and his horse one uplifted figure, with profound salutation as he drops the point of his sword to the boot toe; then facing to his own command, gives word for his successive brigades to pass us with the same position of the manual, honor answering honor. On our part not a sound of trumpet more, nor roll of drum; not a cheer, nor word nor whisper of vain-glorying, nor motion of man standing again at the order, but an awed stillness rather, and breath-holding, as if it were the passing of the dead!
  • Let all the men who claim to own a horse or mule [with the Confederate army] take the animals home with them to work their little farms.
    • Grant to Lee at Appomattox (1865).
  • I am glad to see one real American here.
    • Robert E. Lee, to Ely S. Parker at Appomattox Court House (9 April 1865), as quoted in The Life of General Ely S. Parker: Last Grand Sachem of the Iroquois and General Grant's Military Secretary Buffalo, by Arthur C. Parker, New York: Buffalo Historical Society, 1919, p. 133.
  • We are all Americans.
    • Ely S. Parker, to Robert E. Lee at Appomattox Court House (9 April 1865), as quoted in The Life of General Ely S. Parker: Last Grand Sachem of the Iroquois and General Grant's Military Secretary Buffalo, by Arthur C. Parker, New York: Buffalo Historical Society, 1919, p. 133.
  • This will do much toward conciliating our people.
    • Lee to Grant, on the latter permitting Confederate troops take their horses home to be farm animals (1865).
  • At a little before 4 o'clock General Lee shook hands with General Grant... and with Colonel Marshall left the room.... Lee gazed sadly in the direction of the valley beyond where his army lay — now an army of prisoners....

    All [Union officers present] appreciated the sadness that overwhelmed him, and he had the personal sympathy of everyone who beheld him at this supreme moment of trial....

    General Grant... saluted him by raising his hat. He was followed in this act of courtesy by all our officers present; Lee raised his hat respectfully and rode off to break the sad news to the brave fellows whom he had so long commanded....

    The news of the surrender had reached the Union lines, and the firing of salutes began at several points, but the general sent orders at once to have them stopped, and used these words...: 'The war is over, the Rebels are our countrymen again, and the best sign of rejoicing after the victory will be to abstain from all demonstrations in the field.'

    • Gen. Horace Porter, account of the Confederate Surrender at Appomattox Court House (9 April 1865).
  • Furl that Banner, for 'tis weary; Round its staff 'tis drooping dreary; Furl it, fold it, it is best. Furl that banner.
  • 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.

  • I have done for you all that it was in my power to do. You have done all your duty. Leave the result to God. Go to your homes and resume your occupations. Obey the laws and become as good citizens as you were soldiers.
    • Robert E. Lee to the soldiers of the Army of Northern Virginia, following the surrender (1865).
  • We must forgive our enemies.
    • Robert E. Lee, as quoted in A Life of General Robert E. Lee (1871), by John Esten Cooke.
  • I am rejoiced that slavery is abolished. I believe it will be greatly for the interests of the South. So fully am I satisfied of this, as regards Virginia especially, that I would cheerfully have lost all I have lost by the war, and have suffered all I have suffered, to have this object attained.
    • Robert E. Lee, statement to John Leyburn (1 May 1870), as quoted in R. E. Lee : A Biography (1934) by Douglas Southall Freeman.
  • Here Sunday, April, 9th, 1865, after four years of heroic struggle in defense of the principles believed to be fundamental to the existence of our government, Lee surrendered 9,000 men, the remnant of an army still unconquered in spirit, to 118,000 men under Grant.
    • Inscription on granite memorial marking site of the original Appomattox Court House, where the Civil War ended, Appomattox Court House National Historical Park, Virginia. Author unknown. Reported in Mary Louise Gills, It Happened at Appomattox (1948), p. 21. When the building burned several decades after the war, the county seat was moved to a new location three miles away.

Aftermath[edit]

  • During the late contest for the Union, the air was full of 'nevers', every one of which was contradicted and put to shame by the result, and I doubt not that most of those we now hear in our troubled air will meet the same fate. It is probably well for us that some of our gloomy prophets are limited in their powers to prediction.
  • 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.
  • Under his wise and beneficent rule we saw ourselves gradually lifted from the depths of slavery to the heights of liberty and manhood; under his wise and beneficent rule, and by measures approved and vigorously pressed by him, we saw that the handwriting of ages, in the form of prejudice and proscription, was rapidly fading away from the face of our whole country; under his rule, and in due time, about as soon after all as the country could tolerate the strange spectacle, we saw our brave sons and brothers laying off the rags of bondage, and being clothed all over in the blue uniforms of the soldiers of the United States; under his rule we saw two hundred thousand of our dark and dusky people responding to the call of Abraham Lincoln, and with muskets on their shoulders, and eagles on their buttons, timing their high footsteps to liberty and union under the national flag; under his rule we saw the independence of the black republic of Haiti, the special object of slave-holding aversion and horror, fully recognized, and her minister, a colored gentleman, duly received here in the city of Washington; under his rule we saw the internal slave-trade, which so long disgraced the nation, abolished, and slavery abolished in the District of Columbia; under his rule we saw for the first time the law enforced against the foreign slave trade, and the first slave-trader hanged like any other pirate or murderer; under his rule, assisted by the greatest captain of our age, and his inspiration, 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; under his rule, and in the fullness of time, we saw Abraham Lincoln, after giving the slave-holders three months' grace in which to save their hateful slave system, penning the immortal paper, which, though special in its language, was general in its principles and effect, making slavery forever impossible in the United States. Though we waited long, we saw all this and more.
  • I did more for the Russian serf in giving him land as well as personal liberty, than America did for the negro slave set free by the proclamation of President Lincoln. I am at a loss to understand how you Americans could have been so blind as to leave the negro slave without tools to work out his salvation. In giving him personal liberty, you have him an obligation to perform to the state which he must be unable to fulfill. Without property of any kind he cannot educate himself and his children. I believe the time must come when many will question the manner of American emancipation of the negro slaves in 1863. The vote, in the hands of an ignorant man, without either property or self respect, will be used to the damage of the people at large; for the rich man, without honor or any kind of patriotism, will purchase it, and with it swamp the rights of a free people.
    • Alexander II, emperor of Russia, conversation with Wharton Barker, Pavlovski Palace (17 August 1879); reported in Barker, "The Secret of Russia's Friendship", The Independent (March 24, 1904), p. 647.
  • Twenty years have passed since that event; it is almost too new in history to make a great impression, but the time will come when it will loom up as one of the greatest of man's achievements, and the name of Abraham Lincoln — who of his own will struck the shackles from the limbs of four millions of people — will be honored thousands of years from now as man's name was never honored before.
  • Last Wednesday the citizens of this city and vicinity, native Texans, assembled in the fairgrounds to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary if the liberation of the bonded Afro-American of Texas. After indulging in various pleasures, they were called to the sumptuous repasts that were spread by our energetic ladies and our worthy citizen and coadjuntor, R. B. Floyd. At 3:30 the people were called together in the amphitheater to hear the speakers of the day. The exercises were opened by the song, “Hold the Fort,” led by Presiding Elder, A. M. Ward; prayer, led by Rev. J. R. Ransom; 'John Brown's Body' was then led by Rev. Ward; E. W. Dorsey then stated why the 19th of June was celebrated. He was followed by S. O. Clayton, who in an address of twenty minutes delivered volumes of words which were impregnated with varied and bright thoughts. Closely following the speakers an animated game of base ball was witnessed; when the happy throng repaired to their homes expressing themselves highly pleased with their first Juneteenth celebration
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • After the conclusion of the American Civil War, several southern legislatures adopted comprehensive regulations, Black Codes, by which the new freed men were denied many of the rights that white citizens enjoyed.
  • There are all kinds of myths that a people has about itself, some positive, some negative, some healthy and some not healthy. I think that one job of the historian is to try to cut through some of those myths and get closer to some kind of reality. So that people can face their current situation realistically, rather than mythically. I guess that's my sense of what a historian ought to do.
    • James M. McPherson, as quoted in "An exchange with a Civil War historian" (19 June 1995), by David Walsh, International Workers Bulletin.
  • 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.
  • The piety of southerners cannot be disputed, but as Gandhi said of the Boers, it is not clear that they had ever read the New Testament. Even in terms of Old Testament imagery, however, they were at a disadvantage. No southern song could be as moving and poignant as 'Go Down Moses'. The second verse of that song says, 'Thus saith the LORD, bold Moses said, let my people go; If not I'll smite your first-born dead, let my people go.' This is not unlike what the Civil War did to the south. But even a century later, most southerners still did not think of black people as their brothers. Beaten but not chastened, they never did see General Sherman as the wrath of God.
  • What actually happened had terrible consequences. One was the great slaughter of the war itself. More than 600,000 men died in the Civil War, about equal to all the dead of all other American wars put together, some 400,000 for World War II, 100,000 for World War I, and around 50,000 for both Korea and Vietnam, at a time when the population of the country was little more than 30,000,000. Thus, more than 1% of the entire population of the United States died, rising to as much as 25% of adult white males in some Southern states. This was an appalling toll, vivid and tangible at the scenes of the worst slaughter, like Shiloh, Antietam, Gettysburg, Cold Harbor, etc., where bodies carpeted the ground. Considering that around 400,000 slaves were originally brought into the American Colonies in the first place, the words of Lincoln's Second Inaugural, that perhaps all the blood drawn by the lash would need to be repaid in blood drawn by the sword, accurately described the magnitude of the retribution. Another evil consequence was for the freed slaves themselves. Once Union occupation forces were withdrawn from the South in 1877, free slaves were at the mercy of the bitter white majority. What followed was a century of Jim Crow laws and Segregation, enforced with judicial and extra-judicial terrorism, a regime of lynchings, the Ku Klux Klan, and all but legally enforced poverty. Since the slaves had not freed themselves, they were little inclined or equipped to do what would have been necessary to maintain a truly free status. After a decade and a half of War and Reconstruction, the North was no longer interested, and could not politically maintain, an indefinite military presence in the South to enforce things like the 14th and 15th Amendments. As Segregation Laws were increasingly put in the place in the 1890s, during a period of the worst lynchings, 230 in 1892, the Supreme Court, in Plessy v. Ferguson, in effect gave federal judicial approval to the Segregation regime. After that, there was little hope of change until after World War II.
  • There was no simple and decisive 'solution' to the evil of slavery, in that the means of abolishing slavery that actually became historically available involved an exchange for hideous war dead, segregation, the promotion of federal power, and other evils. To the extent that slavery as such was decisively discredited in human history, the price may or may not have been worth it, but the price was paid and a certain decisive result was achieved. Even so, ironically, the United States is nevertheless routinely despised for having allowed slavery in the first place! And some 'civil rights' groups still demand 'reparations' for the loss of property, income, and freedom suffered by African slaves! America and Britain in particular are thus damned for an institution that they did not create, even though they both ended it, even while someone like Louis Farrakhan seeks refuge in Islam, which created the African slave trade in the first place, never condemned or abolished slavery, and which in some places still tolerates it. This is moral perversity elevated to new heights. Which is not to condemn Islam, any more than America or Britain, but just those hypocrites who don't know or don't care that Islamic Law, which in principle is flexible enough, may not have quite caught up with the 20th Century, or, in some cases, the 19th. After the price that America paid for the 13th Amendment, she only deserves honor, not contempt. Furthermore, do we need to say that the motivation to Save the Union was unworthy in itself? No union founded on injustice would deserve to be preserved, but the only injustice of the original Union recognized by most abolitionists was the injustice of slavery itself.
  • Leaders of such a catastrophe must account for themselves. Justification is necessary. Those who followed their leaders into the catastrophe required similar rationalization. Clement A. Evans, a Georgia veteran who at one time commanded the United Confederate Veterans organization, said this: 'If we cannot justify the South in the act of Secession, we will go down in History solely as a brave, impulsive but rash people who attempted in an illegal manner to overthrow the Union of our Country.'
  • The social and economic system based on chattel slavery that the seceding states had sought to protect lay in ruins. The inviolability of the Union, most of the loyal citizenry’s pre-eminent concern throughout the conflict, was confirmed on the battlefield. In the longer term, preservation of the Union made possible the American economic and political colossus of the next century.
  • 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.
  • Much as the Civil War damaged Constitutional government, this pales in comparison to the degree to which racist Segregationists discredited the Tenth Amendment by constantly invoking Federalism and States' Rights in order to justify their crimes and brutality against black people. By the 1960s, it was impossible to mention the Tenth Amendment without sounding like one of them. As with slavery itself, they were using what sounded like noble principles to hide the most appalling and disgraceful beliefs, attitudes, and actions.
  • So where does this leave us? Unlike present-day South Africa, the south had no truth-and-reconciliation commission. Our ancestors did not have to come to grips with their own history at a time when honesty might have carried the day. Instead, we are left with the post-war fantastical tall-tales of men like Stephens and Davis that race and slavery had nothing to do with the south's drive for independence, tall tales that have become grist for the mill of neo-confederates and their present day partisans. Those tall-tales and after-the-fact justifications, however, can survive only if we ignore what the south’s leaders actually said as they urged their countrymen to action. Those words are preserved in repositories such as the Charleston Library Society. They are here for the world to read. So long as libraries across the country preserve these original speeches, pamphlets, and sermons, the message remains loud and clear: You can run from the truth, but you cannot hide from it.
  • It is no accident that Confederate symbols have been the mainstay of white supremacist organizations, from the Ku Klux Klan to the skinheads. They did not appropriate the Confederate battle flag simply because it was pretty. They picked it because it was the flag of a nation dedicated to their ideals: 'that the negro is not equal to the white man.' The Confederate flag, we are told, represents heritage, not hate. But why should we celebrate a heritage grounded in hate, a heritage whose self-avowed reason for existence was the exploitation and debasement of a sizeable segment of its population? As a Southerner, a historian, and a descendant of former slave-owners, I sincerely hope that we use the opportunity of the Sesquicentennial to open a frank and civil dialogue about what happened 150 years ago. Our ancestors were unapologetic about why they wanted to secede; it is up to us to take them at their word and to dispassionately form our own judgments about their actions. It is time for Southerners to squarely face this era in our history so that we can finally understand it for what it was and move on.
  • Lincoln asked the nation to confront unblinkingly the legacy of slavery. What were the requirements of justice in the face of this reality? What would be necessary to enable former slaves and their descendants to enjoy fully the pursuit of happiness? Lincoln did not live to provide an answer. A century and a half later, we have yet to do so.
  • In the wake of Reconstruction a growing number of southerners began to argue that protecting slavery had not been the real cause of the war, and some even claimed that slavery was in fact a just institution. These ideas spread and grew into the 'Lost Cause' movement, a romantic vision of the South that would eventually gain exposure from the popularity of films including Birth of a Nation and Gone with the Wind.
  • 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.
  • The Confederate Trans-Mississippi Department did not formally surrender until June 2, 1865, two months after the fall of Richmond. During that whole time, except for a few isolated areas, Texas was not occupied by Union troops and the whole area was in a sort of limbo, still officially in rebellion but without a clear course and without a national leadership. The U.S. Navy officially took possession of Texas on June 5, but did not have soldiers to establish a formal presence. General Granger arrived with troops at Galveston on June 17, and two days later issued a series of administrative notices formally notifying all of Texas that the state was now under formal military occupation, who the key officers and departments were, and so on. The third of these notices was General Order No. 3, that formally announced emancipation under the terms of the Emancipation Proclamation of January 1, 1863. These notices were published in papers around the state, first in Galveston and then elsewhere as the news was carried inland by telegraph and railroad.
  • We didn't hang the bastards like we should have, but it's a fucking travesty that we have monuments to a bunch of treasonous slavers. Fuck Jeff Davis, fuck Robert E. Lee, fuck Stonewall Jackson, and especially fuck John Tyler, whose corpse should be exhumed, hung from a tree, burnt and buried in an unmarked ditch somewhere. To hell with all of them, to hell with Confederate pride, and to hell with any and all memorials that treat them as anything other than damned traitors who fought for slavery. We should have had them fired from cannons for what they did. They are the closest thing America has to Nazis, and we have monuments to them. Monuments! The abolition of slavery anniversary should be a national holiday, as should the anniversary of the end of the American Civil War. Maybe I'll order a cheap Confederate flag so I can burn it.
  • The Civil War ended on May 10, 1865, at Irwinville, Georgia. It was then and there that President Jefferson Davis, who personified the Confederacy more than any other single individual, was finally run to ground and captured by Union cavalry. Having fled Richmond on April 2, he was heading westward with the vain hope of continuing the fight against the Yankees in the Trans-Mississippi. By then, he had been deserted by all but his loyal wife and a handful of escorting cavalrymen. With the capture of Davis, the last flame flickering on behalf of Southern independence was well and truly snuffed out.
  • June 5, 1865. Federal forces formally took possession of Texas. Captain Benjamin F. Sands, commanding the division of the West Gulf Blockading Squadron stationed off Galveston, boarded a small Union steamer, USS Cornubia, and entered Galveston harbor, followed by another gunboat, USS Preston. Sands disembarked with a handful of other officers, but took no armed escort, and was met on the wharf by a Confederate officer. The officer escorted the Union men a few blocks to City Hall, where both Sands and the mayor of Galveston addressed a crowd that had gathered there. Both men made assurances of their goodwill and urged the population to go about their business peaceably. Sands told the crowd that he carried a sidearm that day not out of any fear for his own safety but as a sign of respect for the mayor and local officials. Then, along with the mayor, Sands continued on to the old U.S. Customs House, where he 'hoisted our flag, which now, at last, was flying over every foot of our territory, this being the closing act of the great rebellion'.
  • In the 1950s, the battle flag was revived not just as a symbol of resistance to federally mandated desegregation. The stars and bars was also a symbol of terror: of the violent intimidation of African Americans who dared assert their rights. The stars and bars promised lynching, police violence against protestors and others. And violence against churches. SC's state flag is a flag of slavery. But it is also a flag of terrorism. That terror is among other things anti-religious and particularly, anti-Christian. Churches have been bombed & burned for what it symbolizes. Ministers, worshippers, people singing hymns have been attacked time and time again by those who serve it and those who wave it. So here we are again. SC may lower the pro-terrorism, proslavery, anti-religious flag to half mast for a day. But they plan to raise it again.
  • I have no respect for your ancestors. As far as your ancestors are concerned, I shouldn't be a law professor at Georgetown. I should be a slave. That's why they fought that war. I don't understand what it means to be proud of a legacy of terrorism and violence. Last week at this time, I was in Israel. The idea that a German would say, you know, that thing we did called the Holocaust, that was wrong, but I respect the courage of my Nazi ancestors, that wouldn't happen. The reason people can say what you said in the United States is because, again, black life just doesn't matter to a lot of people.

U.S. President Abraham Lincoln is assassinated (April 1865)[edit]

  • That means nigger citizenship. Now, by God, I will put him through. That will be the last speech he will ever make.
    • John Wilkes Booth, to Lewis Powell after Lincoln last public address (11 April 1865), as quoted in Blood on the Moon (2002), by Edward Steers, Lexington, Ky.: University Press of Kentucky, p. 91. Also mentioned in Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer (2006), by James Swanson, Harper Collins.
  • There lies the most perfect ruler of men the world has ever seen. Now he belongs to the ages.
    • Edwin M. Stanton, at Lincoln's death (15 April 1865). As quoted in Abraham Lincoln: A History (1890) by John George Nicolay and John Hay, p. 302. Though "Now he belongs to the ages" is by far the most accepted quotation of this remark, it is sometimes contended that he said "Now he belongs to the angels" but occurrences of this date back only a very few years.. Stanton had originally opposed Lincoln, dubbing him "The Original Gorilla" because of his looks and frontier speech, but eventually grew to admire him.
  • As to Mr. Lincoln's name and fame and memory, — all is safe. His firmness, moderation, goodness of heart; his quaint humor, his perfect honesty and directness of purpose; his logic his modesty his sound judgment, and great wisdom; the contrast between his obscure beginnings and the greatness of his subsequent position and achievements; his tragic death, giving him almost the crown of martyrdom, elevate him to a place in history second to none other of ancient or modern times. His success in his great office, his hold upon the confidence and affections of his countrymen, we shall all say are only second to Washington’s; we shall probably feel and think that they are not second even to his.
  • I have ever held the South was right. The very nomination of Abraham Lincoln, four years ago, spoke plainly war upon Southern rights and institutions... And looking upon African Slavery from the same stand-point held by the noble framers of our constitution, I for one, have ever considered it one of the greatest blessings (both for themselves and us,) that God has ever bestowed upon a favored nation… I have also studied hard to discover upon what grounds the right of a State to secede has been denied, when our very name, United States, and the Declaration of Independence, both provide for secession!
  • The assassination of Abraham Lincoln. It was a new crime, a pure act of malice. No purpose of the rebellion was to be served by it. It was the simple gratification of a hell-black spirit of revenge. But it has done good after all. It has filled the country with a deeper abhorrence of slavery and a deeper love for the great liberator.
  • Had Abraham Lincoln died from any of the numerous ills to which flesh is heir; had he reached that good old age of which his vigorous constitution and his temperate habits gave promise; had he been permitted to see the end of his great work; had the solemn curtain of death come down but gradually, we should still have been smitten with a heavy grief, and treasured his name lovingly. But dying as he did die, by the red hand of violence, killed, assassinated, taken off without warning, not because of personal hate, for no man who knew Abraham Lincoln could hate him, but because of his fidelity to union and liberty, he is doubly dear to us, and his memory will be precious forever.
  • Lincoln, in short, did at each step what was politically possible. After his death, it was politically possible to end slavery even in states that had never seceded, Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland, and Delaware, through the 13th Amendment, to grant citizenship and equal rights to freed slaves, through the 14th Amendment, and to guarantee voting rights to free slaves, through the 15th Amendment. These were radical measures, in both name and fact. Nor are any of those civil war amendments morally or politically objectionable in themselves. If they served in the long run to help undermine constitutional government, that was because of weaknesses that already existed in the constitution, because of the later ascendancy of collectivist and statist ideologies, whose power few in the 1860s would have predicted, and because it later became politically possible to exercise the most blatant sophistries to rationalize the expansion of federal power.
  • White southerners saw Lincoln as anti-slavery and his election as a direct threat to the survival of the peculiar institution. Are you going to tell me that they were stupid or deluded? Is that any way for white southerners to honor their ancestors, by ridiculing their intelligence? Indeed, Stephen Douglas' decision to accuse Lincoln of embracing racial equality tells us that playing the race, or racism, card in the 1850s was alive and well, because Douglas believed that he would gain political traction among racist Illinois voters, who were white, after all, by associating Lincoln with the cause of black equality. Lincoln's response was thus also an issue of political survival. So was his decision not to publicize his support for limited black suffrage in Louisiana in 1864. He advanced the idea in a private letter, but waited thirteen months until he made his sentiment public, and three days after he made that sentiment public, he fell victim to an assassin's bullet because that assassin could not bear the thought of black equality. Lincoln knew he lived in a racist America, north and south.
  • Abraham Lincoln's assassination. This sickening act of violence, when added to all the others, brought a definitive feeling that an era had ended, as surely as Lincoln's election in November 1860 had precipitated it. The funeral train that carried Lincoln’s remains home to Springfield, Illinois, drew millions, and while the tragedy felt senseless, it also offered the nation a chance to mourn something much larger than the death of a single individual. To the end, Lincoln served a higher cause.

Quotes in fiction[edit]

Shenandoah (1965)[edit]

Shenandoah is a film that place in Virginia during the American Civil War. Charlie Anderson is single father and a farmer who has no slaves and who wishes to keep himself and his family out of the war.


Jacob Anderson:  They come closer everyday, pa.
Charlie Anderson:  They on our land?
Jacob Anderson:  No, sir.
Charlie Anderson:  Well, then, it doesn't concern us.

Charlie Anderson:  My corn I take serious because it's my corn, and my potatoes and my tomatoes and fences I take note of because they're mine.  But this war is not mine and I take no note of it!

Charlie Anderson:  I've got five hundred acres of good, rich dirt, here, and as long as the rains come and the sun shines, it'll grow anything I have a mind to plant.  And we pulled every stump, and we cleared every field, and we done it ourselves without the sweat of one slave.
Johnson:  So?
Charlie Anderson:  "So"!?  So, can you give me one good reason why I should send my family, that took me a lifetime to raise, down that road like a bunch of damn fools to do somebody else's fighting?
Johnson:  Virginia needs all of her sons, Mr. Anderson.
Charlie Anderson:  That might me so, Johnson, but these are my sons!  They don't belong to the state.  When they were babies, I never saw the state coming around with a spare tit!  We never asked anything of the state, and never expected anything.  We do our own living and thanks to no man for the right.  But seeing as how you're so worried about it, I'll tell ya:  If any of my boys thinks this war's right, and wants to join in, he's free to do it.  You all hear that!?  Did you hear it!?  You wanna dress up like these fellas, go ahead; here's your chance.

(None of Anderson's sons volunteer.  The soldier realises he has lost this battle.)


Charlie Anderson:  What d'you do with dead soldiers?

Sam[who has just learned he's being called to service]  I'll hav'ta leave ya; you know that, don't you?  Do you understand?
Jennie:  Do you?

Charlie Anderson[after Boy Anderson is abducted by Union soldiers]  Now it concerns us.

Charlie Anderson:  I'm not going to kill you.  I want you to live.  I want you to live to be an old man, and I want you to have many, many, many children, and I want you to feel about your children then the way I feel about mine now.  And someday, when a man comes along and kills one of 'em, I want you to remember!  Okay?  I want you to remember.

Charlie Anderson:  There's nothing much I can tell you about this war.  It's like all wars, I suppose.  The undertakers are winning it.  Oh, the politicians will talk a lot about the "glory" of it, and the old men'll talk about the "need" of it—the soldiers, they just want to go home.

Gettysburg (1993)[edit]

Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain: This is a different kind of army. If you look at history you'll see men fight for pay, or women, or some other kind of loot. They fight for land, or because a king makes them, or just because they like killing. But we're here for something new. This has not happened much, in the history of the world: We are an army out to set other men free. America should be free ground - all of it. Not divided by a line between slave state and free, all the way from here to the Pacific Ocean. No man has to bow. No man born to royalty. Here, we judge you by what you do, not by who your father was. Here, you can be something. Here, is the place to build a home. But it's not the land. There's always more land. It's the idea that we all have value - you and me. What we're fighting for, in the end, we're fighting for each other.

Thomas D. Chamberlain: I don't mean no disrespect to you fighting men, but sometimes I can't help but figure. Why you fighting this war?
Confederate prisoner: Why are you?
Thomas D. Chamberlain: To free the slaves, of course. And preserve the Union.

Gods and Generals (2003)[edit]

Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain: War is a scourge, but so is slavery. It is the systematic coercion of one group of men over another. It has been around since the book of Genesis. It exists in every corner of the world, but that is no excuse for us to tolerate it here when we find it right in front of our very eyes in our own country. As God as my witness, there is no one I hold in my heart dearer than you. But if your life, or mine, is part of the price to end this curse and free the Negro, then let God's work be done.

External links[edit]

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