History

Slavery and the Civil War

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In Reason's August/September 2001 issue, Contributing Editor Charles Oliver demolished the myth that slavery had nothing to do with the Civil War. As Oliver wrote:

Just look at what those fighting the war had to say. If we do that, the lines are clear. Southern leaders said they were fighting to preserve slavery….

Perhaps the most famous statement came from Confederate Vice President Alexander H. Stephens. In 1861, in Savannah, Georgia, Stephens bluntly declared that slavery was "the immediate cause of the late rupture and the present revolution." He said the United States had been founded on the false belief that all men are created equal. The Confederacy, in contrast, had been "founded upon exactly the opposite idea; 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 moral condition."

There's plenty more along those lines. Read the whole thing here.

Perhaps somebody should hand a copy to Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell, who just declared April to be "Confederate History Month" and failed to include a single reference to the crime of slavery in his official proclamation. When the Washington Post questioned him about this offensive and historically illiterate omission, McDonnell said, "there were any number of aspects to that conflict between the states. Obviously, it involved slavery. It involved other issues. But I focused on the ones I thought were most significant for Virginia."

Deep thoughts! Here's something else to think about: Richmond, Virginia was the capital of the Confederacy during the Civil War. The Confederacy wanted to preserve and extend the slave system. That makes slavery one of the issues that are "most significant for Virginia."