Debunking Civil War Myths – Long Proven Wrong

The Victors Write the War History, but Should Their Lies be Immortal?


[Editors Note: I was 46 before I learned that Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation did not free a single slave  anywhere ….Jim W. Dean]

                 … by  Steve Scroggins

Lincoln's Proclamation Did Not Free a Single Slave

The most persistent and pernicious Big Lie regarding the so-called “Civil War”— more properly called the “War to Prevent Southern Independence”— is this:

Noble and saintly yankees fought the war to abolish slavery; evil Confederates fought to preserve it. 

The historical record incontrovertibly refutes this Big Lie and yet it lives on, repeated incessantly by many who know better, and by many, many more who accept without challenge what they were taught in government schools.

The proverbial phrase “the victors write the history” was well-known well before the war.

In fact, General Patrick R. Cleburne, arguing for freeing slaves in exchange for military service, warned what would happen should the South’s bid for independence fail:

 “… Every man should endeavor to understand the meaning of subjugation before it is too late. … It means that the history of this heroic struggle will be written by the enemy; that our youth will be trained by Northern school teachers; will learn from Northern school books their version of the War, will be impressed by all influences of history and education to regard our gallant dead as traitors, our maimed veterans as fit objects for their derision. …to establish sectional superiority and a more centralised form of government, and to deprive us of our rights and liberties.” –Major General Patrick Cleburne, C.S.A. (Jan. 2, 1864)

Gen. Patrick Cleburne

Cleburne’s warning was indeed prophetic.   The Big Lie is the official myth taught in virtually every public school in the country. Jim Dean noted this above, and he even went to a fancy prep school for two years in Massachusetts.

It is the myth believed and repeated incessantly by most Americans who never looked any deeper than the textbook they were issued in junior high history class. And when FDR’s New Dealers migrated from government service to academia in Southern universities, they made sure the Big Lie was taught down here in the South.

The facts and the historical record, which we will review below, are widely and easily available, but unfortunately most Americans don’t see it as their duty to understand American history in more depth than was offered in the superficial, comic-book summary they heard in government schools.

“It is a testament to the effectiveness of 140 years of government propaganda that a 308 page book filled with true facts about Lincoln could be entitled “The Lincoln No One Knows.” It is not a matter of a poorly-performing government education system but quite the opposite:

The government schools have performed superbly in indoctrinating generations of American school children with a pack of lies, myths, omissions, and falsehoods about Lincoln and his war of conquest.

As Richard Bensel wrote in Yankee Leviathan, any study of the American state should begin in 1865. The power of any state ultimately rests upon a series of government-sponsored myths, and there is none more prominent than the Lincoln Myth.” –Thomas DiLorenzo, from The Unknown Lincoln

The Sons of Confederate Veterans has as its mission statement what is commonly called “The Charge,”  issued by General Stephen Dill Lee, who was then the Commander General of the United Confederate Veterans. 

The Charge is a reflection of Cleburne’s warning above, and a stated desire to keep alive the memory of the Confederate soldier’s true history and motivation and the founding principles he fought to defend.

Gen. Stephen. D. Lee

” To you Sons of Confederate Veterans, we submit the vindication of the cause for which we fought; to your strength will be given the defense of the Confederate soldiers’ good name, the guardianship of his history, the emulation of his virtues, the perpetuation of those principles he loved and which made him glorious and which you also cherish. 

Remember, it is your duty to see that the true history of the south is presented to future generations.”  Lt. General Stephen Dill Lee, Commander General, United Confederate Veterans, New Orleans, Louisiana, 1906

First, let’s establish HOW the war was started, then we’ll proceed to WHY.

South Carolina seceded December 20th, 1860.  Major Robert Anderson, commanding U.S. forces in Charleston, moved the garrison in Fort Moultrie (Sullivan’s Island across the harbor East of Charleston proper) –which he deemed indefensible– to Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor.  He made this move in stealth in the middle of the night on December 26th. 

Major Anderson

South Carolina officials were understandably infuriated, but Anderson refused to evacuate  Sumter.  President Buchanan was a lame duck; he didn’t want a war started on his watch, but refused to issue orders either way. 

South Carolina officials made clear that the U.S. Army staying in Sumter was NOT an option and that resupply or reinforcements would be viewed as a hostile act.

On January 9th, an unarmed steamer, the Star of the West, approached Charleston harbor intent on reinforcing Sumter with more troops and ammunition (see diagram below).  Charleston batteries fired warning shots near the ship and the Star of the West turned and fled. 

By February, South Carolina had joined six other states in the Confederate States of America.  Confederate officials pressed for the evacuation of Fort Sumter and Fort Pickens (Pensacola, FL).  Buchanan stonewalled and the crisis escalated.  Lincoln would inherit the crisis March 4th.

“[T]he Union … will constitutionally defend and maintain itself… In doing this there needs to be no bloodshed or violence, and there shall be none unless it be forced upon the national authority.

The power confided to me will be used to hold, occupy, and possess the property and places belonging to the Government and to collect the duties and imposts; but beyond what may be necessary for these objects, there will be no invasion, no using of force against or among the people anywhere.” –Abraham Lincoln, from inaugural address, March 4, 1861.

Lincoln essentially declared war in his inaugural address March 4th in which he promised not to invade or attack any one EXCEPT…EXCEPT to hold the forts and property of the U.S. government for the purpose of collecting tariffs.   In essence, he was denying the right of secession and promising to invade the southern states and force them back into the Union.  

 Lincoln refused to meet with Confederate emissaries sent to negotiate full payment for U.S. properties now within  the jurisdiction of the C.S.A.  Secretary of State Seward gave mixed signals, suggesting that evacuation of the forts was likely — in fact, all senior U.S. military officers recommended immediate evacuation to Lincoln.

Instead, Lincoln ordered a flotilla of war ships with additional troops and supplies to Charleston, then advised Confederate officials that it was coming to “resupply” Sumter, “by force if necessary.” 

Rather than wait for war ships and the greater likelihood of loss of life on both sides, the Confederates decided to force a surrender before they arrived.  Anderson was given a final chance to evacuate Sumter, given a deadline and told when the bombardment would commence.  He replied that he would not evacuate.

The bombardment commenced on April 12th and Anderson surrendered on April 14th due to fears the magazine (with powder and ordnance) would ignite.  No one was killed during the bombardment and Anderson’s garrison was allowed to peacefully leave the fort .

CSA Flag Flies at Fort Sumter - Later to be Replaced

Though he made force necessary, Lincoln had succeeded in provoking the Confederates to fire the first shots and it had the desired effect: it incited a war fever in the North.    On April 15th, Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers to invade the southern states to force their return to the Union, or as he phrased it, to quell “a rebellion.”

As a result of Lincoln’s call for a coercive force, four more states seceded in protest to join forces with the C.S.A.  Virginia seceded April 17th and North Carolina, Arkansas and Tennessee followed in short order.

The stealthy taking of Fort Sumter was an act of war.  The stated intention to insert more men and ammunition BY FORCE was another act of war.  The bombardment of Fort Sumter to force its surrender was an act of war, but it was NOT the first act of war in the conflict.

Now, let’s review the WHY of the war.

There would have been no war if Lincoln had not ordered invasions and naval blockades of southern states.  The southern states made known they wanted a peaceful separation.  The answer to WHY the southern states fought the war is painfully obvious:  Self Defense. Duh!  Because their country was being invaded!

In the same Inaugural Address (March 4th, 1861) in which Lincoln promised to use force to collect the tariffs (protect U.S. tax revenues), Lincoln reiterated his previous statements that he had no intent, no lawful right and no inclination to interfere with slavery where it existed.

He went on to say that he supported the proposed Constitutional Amendment (the Corwin Amendment) that would constitutionally enshrine slavery beyond the reach of the U.S. Congress.

The proposed amendment reads as follows:

“No amendment shall be made to the Constitution which will authorize or give to Congress the power to abolish or interfere, within any State, with the domestic institutions thereof, including that of persons held to labor or service by the laws of said State.”
 As noted earlier, Lincoln called for troops to launch an invasion April 15th.  He ordered a naval blockade, and made various preparations for war beginning April 15th without a Congressional declaration of war.  When Congress finally convened in July, it basically rubber-stamped his actions thus far.

But Congress also approved the Crittenden-Johnson Resolution on July 25th, specifically stating the purpose of the war was to reunite the southern states into the U.S.A.   It was clearly stated the war’s purpose was to “preserve the Union” and NOT to overthrow or interfere with “the rights or established institutions of the states” (slavery).  This unequivocal statement from Congress and Lincoln’s unequivocal support for the Corwin Amendment directly contradict the official Big Lie.  But there’s more.   As you’ll see below, Lincoln’s stated purpose remains the same 16 months into the war.

At this point (July 1861), it seems clear that if the Confederate States’ purpose was merely to “preserve slavery,” then its best option would have been to end hostilities and rejoin the Union.  It was independence the South was committed to maintain and it was Southern Independence that the North intended to prevent by force if persuasion failed.
“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.” –Abraham Lincoln, from letter to Horace Greeley, Aug. 22, 1862
Horace Greeley

Horace Greeley

Over 16 months after the war began (Aug. 22, 1862), Lincoln wrote to Horace Greeley of The New York Tribune, an open letter in response to a Greeley editorial, in which Lincoln essentially said that slavery was not relevant to the war.   He stated that his “paramount object” was to “preserve the union,” and that slavery had no bearing on the war effort.

This was just days before the Emancipation Proclamation extended the offer, once again, to preserve slavery if the southern states would simply lay down their arms and return to the Union.

The Emancipation Proclamation didn’t free any slaves in any territory controlled by the U.S. government.  It was generally seen as a farce by both Americans and the British press.
“We show our sympathy with slavery by emancipating slaves where we cannot reach them and holding them in bondage where we can set them free.”  —Secretary of State William Seward

“The Union government liberates the enemy’s slaves as it would the enemy’s cattle, simply to weaken them in the conflict. The principle is not that a human being cannot justly own another, but that he cannot own him unless he is loyal to the United States.” –London Spectator, 1862

Right up to very near the end of the war, the South could have saved slavery simply by returning to the Union.

Independence was the southern goal.

 General John B. Gordon, in his book Reminiscences of the Civil War (p. 19) summarized it this way:

General John B. Gordon

General John B. Gordon

“But slavery was far from being the sole cause of the prolonged conflict. Neither its destruction on the one hand, nor its defense on the other, was the energizing force that held the contending armies to four years of bloody work. I apprehend that if all living Union soldiers were summoned to the witness-stand, every one of them would testify that it was the preservation of the American Union and not the destruction of Southern slavery that induced him to volunteer at the call of his country. ….No other proof, however, is needed than the undeniable fact that at any period of the war from its beginning to near its close the South could have saved slavery by simply laying down its arms and returning to the Union.” —General John B. Gordon, from Reminiscences of the Civil War, page 19

The North’s primary purpose was to prevent southern independence.  It’s the North that betrayed the Founding principle of “consent of the governed” from that celebrated secession document, the Declaration of Independence.
How can any American deny the right of secession and at the same time celebrate Independence Day and the principle it embodies?  As Greeley put it in his editorial in the New York Tribune December 17th, 1860:

If the Declaration of Independence justified the secession of 3,000,000 colonists in 1776, I do not see why the Constitution ratified by the same men should not justify the secession of 5,000,000 of the Southerners from the Federal Union in 1861… We have repeatedly said, and we once more insist that the great principle embodied by Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence that government derives its power from the consent of the governed is sound and just, then if the Cotton States, the Gulf States or any other States choose to form an independent nation they have a clear right to do it… And when a section of our Union resolves to go out, we shall resist any coercive acts to keep it in. We hope never to live in a Republic where one section is pinned to the other section by bayonets.”   —Horace Greeley, NewYork Tribune, Dec. 17, 1860. 

In December of 1860 and January of 1861, many newspapers across the North and Midwest echoed Greeley’s sentiments to “let the South go in peace.”  But the bankers, railroads and shippers soon informed the press of the financial implications of southern independence.

The editorial tune changed dramatically in February and March of 1861 to “No, we must NOT let the South go,” and “what about our shipping?” and “what about our revenue?”  As the New York Times noted on March 30th, “We were divided and confused until our pockets were touched.”  [ See Northern Editorials on Secession, Howard C. Perkins, ed., 1965 — See Sample editorials here. ]

All the powder keg needed was a spark to ignite a war.  Lincoln sent the war ship flotilla to Charleston and it was on.  Lincoln had his excuse.

There you have it.  The North prevented southern independence because it threatened their financial interests.  The South wanted independence for its own best interests, in the tradition of the American Founders.  It sought peaceful separation, but fought in self-defense when invaded and blockaded.

The current best estimate for death toll of the war is 750,000 American soldiers and at least 50,000 southern civilians.  Adjusted to current population, that’s the equivalent today of 8 million Americans dying in four years.

The Official Big Lie was created and maintained to obscure the overthrow of the Founding Principles, and the true motivations that resulted in tragic and unnecessary death on an epic scale.

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17 Responses to "Debunking Civil War Myths – Long Proven Wrong"

  1. Roger Young  April 20, 2012 at 7:55 am

    It seems almost everyone thinks the South imported the slaves from Africa to facilitate their own wealth. Not true! England brought the slaves to the colonies and insisted they be used to increase production of raw materials needed by England for herself and for trade with other counties. (Ref 4, Pg124) Of all the Colonies, Virginia received the most slaves. (Ref 21) The Colony protested to the King to stop this practice in 1771 (Ibid): however, by the first U. S. census, Virginia had 293,000 slaves or 42 per cent of all slaves in the United States (Ref 17). The slave trade became very profitable to the United States maritime industry. So, exactly where were the home bases of all these maritime slave ships? Starting in Colonial days, most sailed from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. The ports of Boston, Providence, Newport, and New Haven became the center of the slave trade (Ref 19) and this commerce matched or exceeded the commercial trade of New York. (Ref 8) However, New York did not let this condition go unnoticed for long and soon surpassed the largest of the New England ports in the slave trade. In 1859, New York had 85 slave ships in port for refitting. (Ref 22) Meanwhile, Virginia did not have any ships, private or State owned, involved in the slave trade. (Ibid) On the other hand, it did not take long before New Hampshire joined in the slave trade with both private and State owned slave ships. (Ref 5) The largest fleet of slave ships belonged to the DeWolfs of Bristol, Rhode Island, who was in the business from 1769 through 1820. (Ref 15) Note their trade went beyond 1808 when the practice became illegal via the Constitutional agreement. The culpability of Northern slave ships in the spread and delivery of slaves to U. S. shores must not be overlooked when judging the conduct of the Slave states and the Southerner. However, logic concludes that such an awarding endeavor must have included some Southern ships at one time or another; and their contribution to the total picture, no matter how slight, must be noted. Of the total of 9,500,000 slaves who survived the trips, approximately 570,000 were brought to the Colonies and the United States. (Ref 21, Ref 6). Perhaps as many as five Southern slave ships (Ref 22) may have been responsible for 3-4 per cent of the slaves brought to our shores.

    At this point, I would like to point out a factor which is not well known despite books and TV documentaries. The English and the U. S. Northern slave traders did not raid African shores to captured innocent villagers for enslavement. The individuals were already slaves belonging to tribal chiefs or black slave traders. (Ref 7, Pg 61; Ref 21; Ref 5) The ruling African aristocracy of kings and nobles were responsible for the slave trade. The slaves included thieves, murders, and domestic personal slaves; however, most were prisoners of full scale wars among the Africans. (Ref 3, Pg 317) Most of these POW slaves came from Ggana, Ouidah, Yoru, and Benin. (Ibid) Nation building by conquest, slavery and slaughter is the bane of mankind. China, India, Greece, Rome, Mongols, Europe, Incas and, believe it or not…African tribal Kings, Princes, and war chiefs all made their mark. White Europeans did not introduce slavery to Africa. In an ironic way, the slave trade solved a problem for the black African conquers of what to do with a large hostile population base which could rebel. After enslavement, it was common for conquers worldwide to slaughter the conquered population to secure control. Ridiculous scenario? One only needs to look at recent history. Note the slaughter by Germany, Russia, communist China, Cambodia, Rwanda, and the Uganda leaderships in the 1900s.

    During the drafting of the Constitution, the Northern colonies ensured they would play a pivotal role in sustaining slavery for the next five decades. A committee was formed to offer a compromise on the importation of slaves. Representatives from New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia composed the committee. Note six of the eleven were slave colonies, yet the committee returned to the Convention with the date of 1800 to stop the importation of slaves. This action did not go well with the Northern slave traders. After the initial report, they managed to modify the report to the year 1808. It has been estimated that these years allowed another 100,000 slaves to be legally imported. (Ref 4, Pg100-101) Unfortunately, the illegality of importing slaves did not deter the DeWolfs and others from either smuggling or boldly breaking the law to bring slaves to the South. Yet, this abomination was not the power which locked the South into slavery; yet the power did exist, and had existed since the early days of the Colonies.

    In the early 1830s the anti-slavery and the radical abolitionist painted an exceptionally bad picture of the sinful and mean slave owners. One who owned slaves could not possibly be a Christian. (Ref 21; Ref 9) Despite the headway the abolitionists were making in the northern tier of the South, (Ref 2) the picture of a naked slave, in shackles, being driven to auction block was but one picture presented as a routine event. (Ref 4, Pg 10-14) The slaves were also pictured as “down trodden,” reduced to the level of brutes by the yoke of slavery, and their humanity crushed (Ref 4, Pg 18). Reverend Nehemiah Adams in his book, A Southside View of Slavery published in 1854, was astounded that the verbal pictures were untrue. His comment about the picture of slavery in the South by Uncle Tom’s Cabin to be “ … still the whole impression of the book on my mind was a falsehood” (Ref 4, Pg100) which reveals the ignorance he and most Northerners had about the South’s administration of the slavery system they inherited. Also, Reverend Adams commented on the North’s treatment of the South –“We (the North) have been the assailants, she the mark; we the prosecutors, she the defendant; we the accusers, she the self-justifying respondent.” (Ref 4,Pg 128) Others such as Sir Charles Lyell in Travels in North America in the Years 1841-1842, The Earl of Carlisle, James Strickland, (Ref 21) and Fredrick Law Olmstead, who was staunchly against slavery, found much of the accusations false; Mr. Olmstead, however portrayed Southern society to be shiftless, indolent, and rundown. (Ref 12, Pg 96) On the whole, especially among the majority slave holders on the small farms, a paternal relationship between master and slave existed which was warm and in some respects benevolent. (Ref 7, Pg 292) However, one cannot claim that cruelties did not occur; they did, but these incidents were the exception.

    Proof of slave treatment? The slaves themselves provided the proof during the War. Examples of black slaves and black free men fighting for the Confederacy are found in comments of personal observations, newspapers, and in the records of the Confederate Army. To whit: the “Richmond Howitzers” had black men manning number 2 battery; and there was two “regiments” one free and one slave, in the battle of the first Battle of Bull Run. Dr. Lewis Steiner, Chief Inspector of the United States Sanitary Commission, observed that Stonewall Jackson had approx 3,000 Negroes in his command and “…..Most of the Negros had arms, muskets, sabers, bowie knives, dirks , etc. …and were manifestly an integral portion of the Southern Confederate Army.” Frederick Douglas reported “…. Colored men in the Confederate Army doing duty not only as cooks, servants, and laborers, but real soldiers, having muskets on their shoulders, and bullets in their pockets.” (Ref 22) A number of black servants captured at Vicksburg declined freedom and chose to go to prison with their fellow white soldiers. (Ref 21; Ref 17) Frank Bailey, a New York soldier, wrote home “there is no mistake but the rebels have black soldiers for I have seen them brought in as prisoners of war, I saw one who had the stripes of a orderly sergeant on his coat.” (Ref 20, Pg 71) It is estimated that over 65,000 Black men served in the Confederate Army with approx 13,000 serving in the front ranks as armed soldiers. (Ref 22) While the vast majority of the men who served in the Confederate Army had no slaves, (Ref 17) one must recognize that those who did have slaves left their families with their slaves in complete trust that the family would be protected and cared for. Note, during the entire War, the slaves did not revolt; not even when Gen. Sherman declared them free as he marched to the sea. This kind of loyalty and steadfastness from 4 million slaves and free Blacks (Ibid) does not come from a cruel, mean, unbearable, and oppressive lifestyle. However, loyalty and steadfastness of the slaves were not the powers which locked the South into slavery. Despite all that is said, control of slave labor was complete.

    The tariff policies of the Unite States government played a key part in the secession of the South.
    Import tariffs have been a routine way to raise income for governments for a very long time. By 1828 the tariff tax to protect our industrial revolution averaged 50% and lasted for 14 years until 1842. Naturally, Great Britain increased their import taxes in response, which reduced their purchases of Southern cotton and other products. This tariff protection for the “New England Industrialist” gave our “home grown” industrial revolution a big boost. With the invention of the cotton gin in 1793, cotton became the leading factor in the success of our industrial revolution and the revitalization of the Southern economy. At first the demand for cotton and other Southern products was so great that tons were sold despite the tariff; and, naturally, as time went by, the North wanted longer and more protection. The South became somewhat wealthy and invested in land and more slaves; slaves which the North happily furnished. The North, using the power of the “slave ship profits,” invested in the textile and other industry. However, times change and as exports dropped because of the tariff, the South demanded and got a reduction from the 50 per cent average of 1842 to a 20 per cent average over a period of 10 years. This reduction simply was too little too late. By 1846 the average was down from 50 per cent to 42 percent. The South needed another reduction in 1846 to 21-23 per cent. At first, times were again good for the South and the U. S. Government’s revenue went from $30M in 1847 to $50M in 1850.( Ref 24;Ref 25) Unfortuantly, this estimate is by an unknown author which has been used by many other researchers Specific data from the Treasury Dept is not available; however, there are indicators of a sharp upturn in revenue. Dr. Phillip W. Magness noted in his doctoral dissertation for George Mason University in 2009 that an average tariff of 23.57% brought in more revenue than specific duties equivalent to 41.3%. Also, the National Bureau of Economic Research published research on textile production by Lance E. Davis and H. Louis Stetter III in 1966 which pointed out yearly production of thousands of yards of cloth increase 39.65 % between the years 1844-1846 and the years 1848-1850. (Note that Lincoln was a member of the House during this period and should have known that a decrease in the 1861 tariff was needed, not an increase. However, he was indeed a man of his time and catered to those who financed his Party and his election to the determent of his country.) Once again times changed and Southern exports dropped because the 21-23% tariff was too high. This is how the devastation of this policy worked. As the exports dropped, the Southern farmer was left with only one customer…a group called by some as the New England Industrialist! This group, in collusion with each other (no reference), would purchased cotton and other products from the South at “discount prices,” and later, at “fire sale prices.” This policy allowed the New England Industrialist to sell his goods to Americans at a cheaper price than England. (Ref 10; Ref 13; Ref 24; Ref 18) Even in the good times, vast amounts of Southern wealth were literally being stolen by the already very wealthy New England Industrialist. This deed was easily accomplished by Northerners, and some Englishmen acting as commodity brokers who arranged credit, insurance, warehousing, and shipping. This activity reduced the income of cotton and other products by up to 20 per cent. (Ref 12, Pg 92) Since the North virtually controlled all aspect s of shipping and finance, very little of these earnings went to Southerners. This process was known as “factoring” which is described as a commission merchant which acted as agent for planters. The system required the delivery of crops to the factor long before the actual sale. The factor would advance a loan at 8-12 % interest pending actual sale. I am sure to mimumize the risk, the loan was heavily discounted from the anticipated sale price. Usually a contract to sell an entire crop was made before the harvest with a heavy penalty against the farmer for failure to deliver the required amount. The system tended to reduce the risk of the factor financing and shift it entirely to the farmer. The farmer, in good times or bad times, could easily find himself in a downward spiral of indebtedness because he must also refund part his advance if prices were unfavorable to his contract. (Ref 25, Pg88) These 14 years of economic rape of the South’s wealth reduced the Southern economy to the point of collapse. Did the South contribute to their own collapse by investing their meager capital in land and more slaves? Perhaps, but where could they invest without some control of finances and some control of shipping and distribution? In addition to facing an economic collapse, the South watched as the Federal Government spent tariff money, earned on Southern exports, in the North to the tune of five times the amount spent in the South. (Ref 13) By 1859, one more up tick of the tariff would virtually kill all profits from exports from the South which would result in multi-state bankruptcies and Southern economic collapse. Historically, the South was changed from a colony of England to a colony of the North. However, as devastating as the tariff was to the Southern economy, it was not the power which locked the South into slavery.

    As the South was short changed on the sale of goods and distribution costs by the New England Industrialist, they had to borrow from Banks, capitalized by the Northern interest through New York, New York, (Ref 16) for the next crop using both the land and the slaves as collateral. However, if the Southern planters were never quite able to pay off the loan, the next year, and the next year; and the next year, they borrowed a little more. In a few short years, the South was indebted to the banks for just enough to lose their lively hood for pennies on the dollar. Banking was the real power which locked the South into slavery and banking had been under total control of the North since colonial days.

    The North indeed became the money lenders to the South (Ref 6) Why? Simply because the North, primarily New England and New York, had cash from the slave trading ships and industrialization to capitalize the banks. As cotton became the major crop, banks and financial houses in New York supplied the loan capital to purchase land, slaves, (Ref 16) and, of course, to make loans utilizing land and slaves as collateral. J.P. Morgan Chase has recently reported their historic connection to slavery. The company revealed two banks in LA, the Citizens Bank and the Canal Bank, accepted approx 13,000 slaves as collateral and received ownership of approx 2,250 slaves through default of loans. (Ref 9) In another incident, a suit was filed by descendants of slaves charging 17 financial institutions of underwriting and supporting slavery. Some of these 17 institutions were: FleetBoston Financial Corp, Aetna, Chase Manhattan Bank, New York Life Insurance Co, Lehman Bros., AIG, and Brown Brothers Harriman. The suit was dismissed, but not for lack of evidence, but for late filing by “non slaves.” (Ref 11) The Northern banks made money on both ends of the slave trade by financing their own imported slaves and financing slave trading among the slave holders in the South. In 1860, New York had 303 banks with over $111millon in capital and Virginia had 65 banks with slightly over $16 million. (Ref 23, Ltr 4). New York had 4.7 times the number of banks and 6.9 times the capital of Virginia’s banks. This type of capital imbalance in favor of the North was true throughout the South Even if all of the Southern banks were Southern owned, they could not stop the Northern banks from foreclosing by refinancing the loans. Now, if the Southerner was “land and slave rich but cash poor” in a collapsing 1857 panic economy, how were the loans going to be repaid? How was the actual take over going to be accomplished? Since the banks were owned by the North, they could allow the banks to foreclose, and then the bank owners could buy the property and the slaves at even lower price than the bank loan and simply allow the bank to go bankrupt for lack of capital. At the time of the War, the South had approximately 4 million slaves with an economic value of approximately $4 billon dollars.(Ref 17) If only 25% of this value was the amount being financed by the Northern banks at any one time, $1billion would be in play earning 3-5% annually which makes slavery very profitable. Now, if the bank forecloses, the Northern owners can take over the slaves for 25 cents on the dollar, thereby increasing their wealth by $3 billion (by ratio) and still foreclose on the farms and plantations. This situation had existed for many years, so why take over now? Remember the tariff Lincoln was going to increase? I think this request was made by the Northern bankers because of the 1857 panic. This panic was triggered by the collapse of western real estate and railroad stock prices (Ref 1). (Note, that in these days most “western” development was north of the Mason-Dixon Line. The Northern banks had over extended themselves and needed help from Lincoln, and Lincoln was going to get the money from a tariff increase. Also, the Northern banks were extremely short on reserves compared to bank deposit liabilities. (Ref 1) If the Northern bankers had raided the reserves of their Southern banks, then most of the Northern banks and their owners were in deep trouble. The South was not only expected to pay for the economic expansion of the North but also to bail out the personal wealth of Northern bank owners and by extension, New England industrialists. In the end, the United States government confiscated about $3 billion worth of Southern property, which is equivalent to about $3 trillion 1990 dollars. (Ref 14)

    Throughout the 1820-50s, the South faced three gigantic and overwhelming economics forces each and every year. The tariff not only produced funds to run the government, it produced the funds to protect an entire industrial revolution, paid New England fisherman for fish not caught and relived the maritime industry and Northern states of maintaining lighthouses for Northern ports while Southern states received far less than 50% of the tariff income, paid for their own lighthouses, and received no fishing protection or industrialization support. Meanwhile the Southerners were paying top dollar for goods from the North. The “factoring’ system, used in the marketing of Southern products, kept most Southern farmers on the verge of terminal bankruptcy year after year. The factors, supported by Northern and English banks, shortchanged the amount of crop sale advance payment and charged very high interest rates. The Northern Banks not only financed the slave trade at a very good profit, they had access to the farmers earnings through the factoring advance payment system and they stood by to accept land and unencumbered slaves as collateral when the farmer needed funds to refund pay Factor advancements when called and pay older bills. The South was indeed a colonial possession of the North! Two questions remain. If the banks had been prevented from financing slaves or accepting anyone as collateral, would slavery have died out? Yes, slavery would probably have died out. Next, if Lincoln had refuted the tariff increase the North wanted in186I, would the South have seceded? Yes, the South would have seceded. Note neither of these reasons addressed the three juggernaut force of the three economic systems noted above. One may also note that the War would have occurred even if the Southern laborers were composed of small families, poor Whites and free Blacks.

    How in the world did this plan unfold without public detection? I think the Northern public was too busy thinking the “trouble” was going to be over slavery. I also think the Southern leadership knew full well what was happening, but the Northern leadership, including Lincoln, thought the South was all bluff and in the end, after a call up of 75,00 Northern troops, would do as they were told! Bottom line, I think known data of the Northern economic “industrial power structure” points directly to their need to have the southern slave system in place and functioning in order to finance slavery for profit, to continue the domination of the Southern economy, and to save themselves from ruin due to the 1857 panic. They were undoubtedly shocked when the Southern States seceded.

  2. Jim W. Dean  April 17, 2012 at 11:26 am

    My, my. We are coming full circle. Gordon just did this piece on neo-slavery, not the PR spin kind, since it’s been going on so long but the forms change. We may have to add a Lysander Spooner quote to beef it up!! 🙂

  3. Steve Scroggins  April 17, 2012 at 6:12 am

    Thanks, beausoleil. Lysander Spooner was indeed a harsh critic of the war and the hypocrisy of the post war propaganda. Himself a staunch abolitionist, he minced no words in suggesting that the result of the war was to ENSLAVE EVERYONE and that political slavery was no better than chattel slavery. The government now claimed ownership of a man’s property and income and claimed the right to dispose of either as the government saw fit. THAT was indeed the central thrust in my commentary entitled With Slavery, Injustice For All. That was also the central thrust of Jeffery Rogers Hummel’s book, Emancipating Slaves, Enslaving Free Men.

  4. beausoleil  April 16, 2012 at 10:39 pm

    These are the words of Lysander Spooner, that pretty much sums it all up:
    “All these cries of having “abolished slavery,” of having “saved the country,” of having “preserved the union,” of establishing “a government of consent,” and of “maintaining the national honor,” are all gross, shameless, transparent cheats—so transparent that they ought to deceive no one — when uttered as justifications for the war, or for the government that has suceeded the war, or for now compelling the people to pay the cost of the war, or for compelling anybody to support a government that he does not want.

    The lesson taught by all these facts is this:
    As long as mankind continue to pay “national debts,” so-called—that is, so long as they are such dupes and cowards as to pay for being cheated, plundered, enslaved, and murdered — so long there will be enough to lend the money for those purposes; and with that money a plenty of tools, called soldiers, can be hired to keep them in subjection. But when they refuse any longer to pay for being thus cheated, plundered, enslaved, and murdered, they will cease to have cheats, and usurpers, and robbers, and murderers and blood-money loan-mongers for masters.

    Inasmuch as the Constitution was never signed, nor agreed to, by anybody, as a contract, and therefore never bound anybody, and is now binding upon nobody; and is, moreover, such an one as no people can ever hereafter be expected to consent to, except as they may be forced to do so at the point of the bayonet, it is perhaps of no importance what its true legal meaning, as a contract, is. Nevertheless, the writer thinks it proper to say that, in his opinion, the Constitution is no such instrument as it has generally been assumed to be; but that by false interpretations, and naked usurpations, the government has been made in practice a very widely, and almost wholly, different thing from what the Constitution itself purports to authorize. He has heretofore written much, and could write much more, to prove that such is the truth. But whether the Constitution really be one thing, or another, this much is certain—that it has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it. In either case, it is unfit to exist.”

  5. Steve Scroggins  April 14, 2012 at 9:57 pm

    Gerald, thanks for the info. Could you post or send privately to my email the ISBN number, the author’s or editor’s name(s), the title of the book and the copyright date? Would like to look into acquiring that book, or an excerpt of the “causes” section. Some time ago, I read or skimmed a book that analyzed and compared a list of history text books… but I think it was much more recent (80s, 90s).

    They’ve obviously gone more PC and put more emphasis on “diversity” than on the most significant events. Thus, recent high school grads are more likely to know about Harriet Tubman or the Underground Railroad than James Madison or the Constitutional Convention. As one author wrote, History is what people of one period deem important about a past period. What’s left in and what’s left out tell a lot.

  6. Jim W. Dean  April 14, 2012 at 4:16 pm

    Quite a surprise to hear this Gerald. Thanks for sharing. It appears that not only politics is local but history, also.

    I once had a textbook saleman explain to me that they were not in the history business…that if people would buy a history book filled with garbage they would be happy to sell they as many as they wanted. That was part of my early education on how rampant the spin was.

  7. geraldparker  April 14, 2012 at 1:04 pm

    Public education in the Long Beach Unified School District, at least, in the 1950s was remarkably free of cant and bias. I still have MY junior high school history of the U. S. of A. and it was so good that I have kept it all these long years, unlike the vast majority of texts that I used back then. We actually were taught that states rights was the major issue of the War Between the States, not slavery. We learned about the abuses of the Barons of Industry. Ha! the `50s, in Long Beach and Lakewood, California, at least, were quite enlightened compared to the decline that followed!

  8. Steve Scroggins  April 12, 2012 at 9:26 pm

    Thanks for the ping, Frank.

  9. Sweet Tina  April 12, 2012 at 7:04 pm

    Excellent article! And dont forget the Zionist Carpetbaggers!

  10. beausoleil  April 12, 2012 at 8:29 am

    When we all unite against liars and criminals, those that we call ‘bankers and industrialists’, they are doomed. It is a Union of the Honest that will destroy the Union of Criminals. Both the Bible and the Koran call for all people to join hands in prayer against the ‘the liars’. When we look at others solely in terms of their honesty or dishonesty, then we form a spontaneous Union of Truth, and it is only the Union of Truth that will save us. This article is the kind of truth that will set us all free from voluntary slavery of ignorance.

  11. joeortiz  April 11, 2012 at 10:28 pm

    The bottom line, as always, is that the Pharisaical banksters always got their way, as is duly noted in the following paragraph you included in your article:

    “In December of 1860 and January of 1861, many newspapers across the North and Midwest echoed Greeley’s sentiments to “let the South go in peace.” But the bankers, railroads and shippers soon informed the press of the financial implications of southern independence.

    The editorial tune changed dramatically in February and March of 1861 to “No, we must NOT let the South go,” and “what about our shipping?” and “what about our revenue?” As the New York Times noted on March 30th, “We were divided and confused until our pockets were touched.”

    Americans from both the North and the South have been victimized by the Zionist Cabbalists, who (when researched thoroughly) ignited white flag incidents (such as the Secret Six who gave John Brown funds to incite African American revolts) to create enmity between American brothers and sisters from both south and north. They (Zionists are extremely clever and know how to toy with our ethnic pride and tribal cultures to rise above Americanism ideology resulting on conflicts and wars. As we all know, no one benefits more by wars than the banksters. And their (Machiavellian ploys) continue to rule our emotions rather than sound logic.

  12. Steve Scroggins  April 11, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    DJdonoughe: On the contrary, sir, I agree that slavery was an intense issue in the context of the period. Rhetoric over the issue indeed caused friction over decades and prepared the powder keg for a spark.

    The Radical Abolitionists were inciting violence and bloody revolution and with the Haitian Revolution of 1791-1804, in which the slaves slaughtered their white (French) masters (whom they outnumbered ten to one), made these fears all the more real. The idea was reinforced by the Virginia rampage of Nat Turner in 1831 (55 murders). The hateful rhetoric of the Radicals certainly made many southerners feel they would be safer outside the Union. It’s ironic that abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison advocated for northern secession to separate from the evil of slavery, but no one called him a traitor or burned his house down.

    The Radical Abolitionists were NOT a majority in the North; they were a wing of what became the Republican Party, but Lincoln did not seek their counsel. His reply to Greeley made the point emphatically: Slavery was Irrelevant to the War.

    There were more abolition societies in the South than in the North at one point…until the Radicals crossed the line, which tended to silence southern abolitionists. Terrorists like John Brown added fuel to the fire. He was funded by wealthy abolitionists such as the Secret Six — this further fueled animosity in the South. The wife of one of the Secret Six, Julia Ward Howe, even authored a song, what Laurence M. Vance called “Blasphemy In Song,” also known as The Battle Hymn of the Republic, which called for southern annihilation and glorified the murderer John Brown.

    No one is arguing that slavery was right. But I disagree with you that the “Civil War [sic] was absolutely about slavery.” Since you acknowledge that Lincoln had no intent to abolish slavery, how do you leap to such absolute certainty on what the war was about?

    Congress made it clear that “preserving the Union” was its war goal and explicitly said it’s NOT about “domestic institutions.” Lincoln also made that clear repeatedly. The majority of Yankee soldiers wrote that they were fighting to preserve the Union. You are entitled to your opinions, DJ, but not your own facts.

    The Southern soldier was fighting PRIMARILY in self-defense, because the South was invaded. They were defending their homes and firesides from an invader. Many slaves, free blacks, Jews and Indians fought on the Confederate side, too, defending their people, their homeland against an invader. The black Confederates certainly weren’t fighting to preserve slavery.

    Chattel slavery was doomed in the western Christian world by 1850 and most likely would have disappeared in North America in the 19th century and most certainly WITHOUT A WAR. No other country in the world required war to end slavery; America certainly didn’t either. Brazil, a former Portuguese colony, abolished slavery in 1888 and was the last in the western hemisphere.

    African slavery was a world-wide tragedy, not something “peculiar” to the American South. Keep in mind that only about five percent of Africans brought across the Atlantic were brought to what became the U.S. The rest of the 12 million or so went to Spanish, British, French, Portuguese and Dutch colonies in the Caribbean and South America. All those empires and former colonies ended slavery without a war. The one violent exception was Haiti. *[ Sources: Thomas, Hugh: The Slave Trade; Sobran, Joseph: “Slavery in Perspective” ]

    Joseph Sobran in his brief essay SLAVERY IN PERSPECTIVE (link above) wrote:

    Thomas indirectly punctures another cherished American notion: that Abraham Lincoln “ended slavery.” Lincoln is mentioned only three times, very briefly, in the entire book. Against the huge backdrop of the slave trade, he was only a local, marginal, and rather tardy figure. By 1850 it was clear that slavery was doomed throughout the Christian world. But just as we exaggerate our role in fostering slavery, we exaggerate our role in destroying it. We Americans tend to be self-important even in our self- flagellations. –Joseph Sobran, 2001

    My central thrust in this commentary was simply to crush the “saintly yankee” myth and its corollary, the “evil Confederate” myth. It was not an attempt to write a comprehensive history. Obviously, slavery was an issue of contention and friction between the sections. But it was NOT the cause or purpose of the war. The historical record backs me on this, DJ. Your indoctrination is deep, DJ, as it is for most Americans… and it’s difficult at first to realize that long-held beliefs are simply not true.

  13. djdonoughe  April 11, 2012 at 8:46 am

    You are on track to say that most Americans incorrectly believe that Lincoln was an abolitionist. His open letter to Horace Greeley is an excellent document and example of his agenda. However, you fail as a historian to recognize the intensity of slavery as an issue in the social and political context of the period. Indeed, Lincoln invaded the South and many citizens involved in the fighting were protecting their personal and financial interests (as the Northern blockades were especially detrimental); but nevertheless, they were also defending an anachronistic and immoral system of enslavement. The Civil War was absolutely about slavery, whether Lincoln directly cared about it or not, and you fail to acknowledge this essential truth.

  14. Jim W. Dean  April 10, 2012 at 7:33 pm

    Hi Steve, Glad to see you back in action with another well researched piece. With what Americans are learning they have been hoodwinked on current history, it is just a small step to suspect that the historical spinning is not an recent invention. It started long ago.

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