Friday, July 17, 2009

What the Confederates Were Really Fighting For

[Some time ago I originally posted this on Facebook. I thought it good to publish it here, with some editing and expansion, to tie in with some other posts I have here regarding the Civil War.]

Cornerstone Speech by Confederate Vice President Alexander H. Stephens, March 21, 1861 Savannah, Georgia

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.

From the Mississippi Declaration of Secession:

"..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 commerce of the earth. "


"...was received as a commonwealth holding, maintaining and protecting the institution known as negro slavery - the servitude of the African to the white race within her limits - a relation that had existed from the first settlement of her wilderness by the white race, and which her people intended should exist in all future time."


"..For the last ten years we have had numerous and serious causes of complaint against our non-slave-holding confederate States with reference to the subject of African slavery."

South Carolinia:

"The people of the State of South Carolina, in Convention assembled, on the 26th day of April, A.D., 1852, declared that the frequent violations of the Constitution of the United States, by the Federal Government, and its encroachments upon the reserved rights of the States, fully justified this State in then withdrawing from the Federal Union; but in deference to the opinions and wishes of the other slaveholding States, she forbore at that time to exercise this right."

Alabama Secession Speech: Speech of E. S. Dargan, in the Convention of Alabama, Jan. 11, 1861

I feel impelled, Mr. President, to vote for this Ordinance by an overruling necessity. Years ago I was convinced that the Southern States would be compelled either to separate from the North, by dissolving the Federal Government, or they would be compelled to abolish the institution of African Slavery. This, in my judgment, was the only alternative; and I foresaw that the South would be compelled, at some day, to make her selection. The day is now come, and Alabama must make her selection, either to secede from the Union, and assume the position of a sovereign, independent State, or she must submit to a system of policy on the part of the Federal Government that, in a short time, will compel her to abolish African Slavery.

Confederate Constitution:

"No bill of attainder or ex post facto law [, or law denying or impairing the right of property in negro slaves] shall be passed."

Jefferson Davis:

".. the labor of African slaves was and is indispensable.."

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