The lie that I speak of in the title of my blog is the falsehood that the Confederacy, during the United States Civil War, fought for state’s rights. This lie has its corollary that the South did not fight, in any way, to promote slavery.
Like any long-standling lie, it is pervasive as exemplied by on-line comments (some even submitted in 2010), of which here are some examples:
From The American Prospect (April 7, 2010):
As most fifth graders know, the Civil War was NOT fought over any slavery issue. It was fought for State’s Rights.
From The Washington Post (April 7, 2010):
Some of you…need a Confederacy month since you obviously don’t have a clue about the reasons behind the Civil War. The war was really about State’s Rights and Northern aggression. Slavery was a very small part of it.
From the Civilization Fanatics Forum (May 21, 2005):
The stars and bars isn’t about hatred. It isn’t about slavery. I live in the south. It stands for a war we fought for state’s rights, not slavery.
And again from The Washington Post (April 8, 2010)
[Virginia Governor Robert] McDonnell does support liberty and the right not to be intruded on by the Federal Gov’t. which the South fought for, state’s rights and independence.
Like any lie, it is comforting, it is intoxicating, and it is also 100% dead-wrong.
The reason I can state for a fact that the South did not fight for state’s rights is because 150 years today, the first state to secede from the Union, South Carolina, listed the reason it was leaving.
One hundred and fifty years ago today, the state of South Carolina adopted its Declaration of Causes as to why it was seceding from the Union.
While you click on the link and read the document itself, I’ll wait…..
I hope you took notice of the fact that the main reason South Carolina gave for leaving the Union was the fact that the federal government was not doing its job in enforcing Section 2 of Article IV of the United States Constitution which stated:
No person held to service or labor in one State, under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labor, but shall be delivered up, on claim of the party to whom such service or labor may be due.
South Carolina, according to the Declaration, is upset that several states have passed laws that either nullify this portion of the Constitution or either do not do enough to return fugitive slaves to their owners.
What else have the non-slave States done that so irked South Carolina? Again, let’s go to the Declaration and see…:
Those States have assume the right of deciding upon the propriety of our domestic institutions; and have denied the rights of property established in fifteen of the States and recognized by the Constitution; they have denounced as sinful the institution of slavery; they have permitted open establishment among them of societies, whose avowed object is to disturb the peace and to eloign the property of the citizens of other States. They have encouraged and assisted thousands of our slaves to leave their homes; and those who remain, have been incited by emissaries, books and pictures to servile insurrection.
It’s all about their “domestic institutions” and “rights of property”, which are fancy words for the “institution of slavery”.
Fascinating, isn’t it?
South Carolina is actually arguing against state’s rights. Several Northern states are doing what they feel is right in attempting to curb the practice of slavery, even if it means going against the U.S. Constitution, and South Carolina is upset that the federal government is not doing enough to rein in these wayward states.
Equally fascinating to note that the main gripe of South Carolina is all about slavery and how the Northern states have not done enough to return fugitive slaves.
So, in their own words, the people of South Carolina assert that they seceded because of slavery and not for state’s rights. In fact, South Carolina was fighting against the rights of states as they wanted the federal government to do more to stop the non-slave states from passing and enacting laws that contravened Section 2 of Article IV.
So, next time you hear some pundit, on-line commenter, or yuckster in your office tell you how the South fought for state’s rights, just point them to the actual Declaration by South Carolina, and then ever so politely, tell them they fell for a 150-year-old lie.