The War for Southern Independence, or Slavery?
Read the Truthful Statements from Our History
- "So far from engaging in a war to perpetuate slavery, I am rejoiced that slavery is abolished."
— General Robert E. Lee, CSA
- "There are few, I believe, in this enlightened era who would not agree with me that slavery as an institution is a moral and political evil."
— General Robert E. Lee, CSA
- "I wish to see the shackles struck from every slave."
— Lt General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson, CSA
- "Every man should endeavor to understand the meaning of subjugation before it is too late... It means the history of this heroic struggle will be written by the enemy; that our youth will be trained by Northern schoolteachers; will learn from Northern school books their version of the war, will be impressed by the influences of history and education to regard our gallant dead as traitors, and our maimed veterans as fit objects for derision... It is said slavery is all we are fighting for, and if we give it up we give up all. Even if this were true, which we deny, slavery is not all our enemies are fighting for. It is merely the pretense to establish sectional superiority and a more centralized form of government, and to deprive us of our rights and liberties."
— Maj. General Patrick R. Cleburne, CSA, January 1864, writing on what would happen if the Confederacy were to be defeated
- "Only a despotic and imperial government can coerce seceding States."
— William Seward, US Secretary of State under Abraham Lincoln, to Charles Francis Adams, minister to England, 10 April 1861
- "The sole object of this war is to restore the Union. Should I become convinced it has any other object, or that the Government designs its soldiers to execute the wishes of the Abolitionists, I pledge you my honor as a man and a soldier I would resign my commission and carry my sword to the other side."
— General Ulysses S. Grant, USA, in a letter to the Chicago Tribune, 1862
- "If I thought this war was to abolish slavery, I would resign my commission, and offer my sword to the other side."
— General Ulysses S. Grant, USA
- "Good help is so hard to come by these days."
— General Ulysses S. Grant, USA, explaining why he didn't free his slaves until the passage of the 13th Amendment, after the war
- "The more Indians we can kill this year, the less will have to be killed next year, for the more I see of these Indians, the more convinced I am that they all have to be killed or be maintained as a species of paupers."
— General William T. Sherman, USA
- "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."
— Abraham Lincoln, 22 August 1862, in a letter to Horace Greeley, editor of the New York Tribune
- "I will say, then, that I am not, nor have ever been in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races... I am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race."
— Abraham Lincoln
- "Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up, and shake off the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better. This is a most valuable, a most sacred right - a right which we hope and believe is to liberate the world. Nor is this right confined to cases in which the whole people of an existing government, may choose to exercise it. Any portion of such people that can, may revolutionize, and make their own, of so much territory as they inhabit."
— Abraham Lincoln, 12 January 1848, in a speech in Congress
- "In saving the Union, I have destroyed the Republic."
— Abraham Lincoln
- "I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so."
— Abraham Lincoln, 14 March 1861, First Inaugural Speech
- "I am a little uneasy about the abolishment of slavery in this District [of Columbia]..."
— Abraham Lincoln, 24 March 1862, in a letter to Horace Greeley, New York Tribune editor
- "I am not in favor of making voters or jurors of Negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office... I am not in favor of Negro citizenship."
— Abraham Lincoln
- "Amend the Constitution to say it should never be altered to interfere with slavery."
— Abraham Lincoln, 24 December 1860, presenting his stand on slavery to the Senate
- "[Lincoln] was an infidel of the radical type... never mentioned the name of Jesus, except to scorn and detest the idea of a miraculous conception."
— William Herndon, law partner to Abraham Lincoln
- "In that part of the Union where the Negroes are no longer slaves, have they become closer to whites? Everyone who has lived in the United States will have noticed just the opposite. Race prejudice seems stronger in those states that have abolished slavery than in those where it still exists, and nowhere is it more intolerant than in those states where slavery was never known."
— Alexis De Tocqueville (1805-1859), Democracy in America
- "The Northern onslaught upon slavery is no more than a piece of specious humbug designed to conceal its desire for economic control of the Southern States."
— Charles Dickens, 1862
- "Any reasonable creature may know, if willing, that the North hates the Negro, and that until it was convenient to make a pretence that sympathy with him was the cause of the war, it hated the abolitionists and derided them up hill and down dale... As to Secession being Rebellion, it is distinctly possible by state papers that Washington considered it no such thing — that Massachusetts, now loudest against it, has itself asserted its right to secede, again and again."
— Charles Dickens
- "The Framers had a deathly fear of federal government abuse. They saw State sovereignty as a protection. That's why they gave us the 9th and 10th Amendments. They saw secession as the ultimate protection against Washington tyranny."
— Dr. Walter Williams
- "Today's blacks clearly benefited from slavery. My wealth is far greater and I have far greater liberties than if my ancestors had remained in Africa."
— Dr. Walter Williams
- "There is a class of colored people who make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs and the hardships of the Negro race before the public. Having learned that they are able to make a living out of their troubles, they have grown into the settled habit of advertising their wrongs — partly because they want sympathy and partly because it pays. Some of these people do not want the Negro to lose his grievances, because they do not want to lose their jobs."
— Booker T. Washington
- "We of the North couldn't make slavery pay, so we are convinced that it is the sum of all villainy. Our plan is more profitable; we take care of no children or sick people, except as paupers, while the owners of slaves have to provide for them from birth to death. So how we view the issue depends on what kind of glasses we use. If we of the North were called upon to endure one half as much as the Southern people and soldiers do, we would abandon the cause and let the Southern Confederacy be established. We pronounce their cause unholy, but they consider it sacred enough to suffer and die for. Our forefathers in the Revolutionary struggle could not have endured more than these Rebels. A nation preserved with liberty trampled underfoot is much worse than a nation in fragments but with the spirit of liberty still alive. Southerners persistently claim that their rebellion is for the purpose of preserving this form of government".
— Private John H. Haley, Seventeenth Maine Regiment, USA
- "Union depends for its continuance on the free consent and will of the sovereign people of each state, and when that consent and will is withdrawn on either part, their Union is gone. A state coerced to remain in the Union is a subject province and can never be a co-equal member of the American Union."
— Bangor (Maine) Daily Union editorial, 13 November 1860
- "Lincoln's war implied, and the Gettysburg Address set to words, a firm message to the States of the Union - I love you all, and if you leave me, I'll hunt you down and kill you.' The Address was not the sagely comments of a wise statesman, rather the vain, obsessive rantings of a power-hungry demon engaging in a blood-thirsty mission of self-aggrandizement, no matter the volume of corpses required to attain it."
— Lewis Goldburg
- "This is only one among the many proofs I had witnessed of the fact, that the prejudice of color is not nearly so strong in the South as in the North. [In the South] it is not at all uncommon to see the black slaves of both sexes, shake hands with white people when they meet, and interchange friendly personal inquiries; but at the north I do not remember to have witnessed this once; and neither in Boston, New York, or Philadelphia would white persons generally like to be seen shaking hands and talking familiarly with blacks in the streets."
— James S. Buckingham, abolitionist
- "All these cries of having 'abolished slavery,' of having 'saved the country,' of havinf 'preserved the Uniopn', 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."
— Lysander Spooner, prominent Northern abolitionist, attorney, and legeal scholar, fice years after the 'Civl War'
- "The parties in this conflict are not merely Abolitionists and slaveholders, they are Atheists, Socialists, Communists, Red Republicans, Jacobins on one side and the friends of order and regulated freedom on the other. In one word, the world is the battleground, Christianity and Atheism the Combatants, and the progress of humanity the stake."
— James Henley Thomwell
- "If you bring these leaders to trial, it will condemn the North, for by the Constitution, secession is not rebellion. His [Jefferson Davis] capture was a mistake. His trial will be a greater one. We cannot convict him of treason."
— Salmon P. Chase, Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court, 1867
- "The Emancipation Proclamation... professes to emancipate all slaves in places where the United States authorities can not exercise any jurisdiction. ..but it does not decree emancipation ... in any states occupied by federal troops."
— Earl Russell, Britain's Foreign Secretary
- "The North has used the doctrines of Democracy to destroy self-government. The South applied the principle of conditional federation to cure the evils and to correct the errors of a false interpretation of Democracy."
— Lord Acton
- The Dictator Lincoln invaded the South without the consent of Congress, as called for in the Constitution; declared martial law; blockaded Southern ports without a declaration of war, as required by the Constitution; illegally suspended the writ of habeas corpus; imprisoned without trial thousands of Northern anti-war protesters, including hundreds of newspaper editors and owners; censored all newspaper and telegraph communication; nationalized the railroads; created three new states without the consent of the citizens of those states in order to artificially inflate the Republican Party's electoral vote; ordered Federal troops to interfere with Northern elections to assure Republican Party victories; deported Ohio Congressman Clement L. Vallandigham for opposing his domestic policies (especially protectionist tariffs and income taxation) on the floor of the House of Representatives; confiscated private property, including firearms, in violation of the Second Amendment; and effectively gutted the Tenth and Ninth Amendments as well."
— Thomas J. DiLorenzo
- "In his memoirs Sherman wrote that when he met with Lincoln after his March to the Sea was completed, Lincoln was eager to hear the stories of how thousands of Southern civilians, mostly women, children, and old men, were plundered, sometimes murdered, and rendered homeless. Lincoln, according to Sherman, laughed almost uncontrollably at the stories. Even Sherman biographer Lee Kennett, who writes very favorably of the general, concluded that had the Confederates won the war, they would have been 'justified in stringing up President Lincoln and the entire Union high command for violation of the laws of war, specifically for waging war against noncombatants."'
— Thomas J. DiLorenzo
- "The centralization of governmental power not only leads to the looting and plundering of the taxpaying class by the parasitic class; it also slowly destroys freedom of speech and the free exchange of ideas. One of the first things every tyrannical government does is to monopolize the educational system in order to brainwash the young and bolster its political power. As soon as Lee surrendered at Appomatox the federal government began revising history to teach that secession was illegitimate. This was all a part of Lincoln's 'revolution' which overthrew the federal system of government created by the founding fathers and put into motion the forces of centralized governmental power."
— Thomas J. DiLorenzo
- "If tyranny and despotism justified the Revolution of 1776, then we do not see why it would not justify the secession of Five Millions of Southrons from the Federal Union in 1861."
— New York Tribune, 5 February 1860
- "If it [the Declaration of Independence] justifies the secession from the British empire of 3,000,000 of colonists in 1776, we do not see why it would not justify the secession of 5,000,000 of Southrons from the Federal Union in 1861. If we are mistaken on this point, why does not some one attempt to show wherein why'?"
— New York Tribune, 17 December 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. The right to secede may be a revolutionary one, but it exists nevertheless; and we do not see how one party can have a right to do what another party has a right to prevent. We must ever resist the asserted right of any State to remain in the Union and nullify or defy the laws thereof; to withdraw from the Union is another matter. 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, New York Tribune
- "It is highly problable that has s proper election been held at any time during the year following the 4th of July, 1862, on the question of continuing the war, or arresting it on the best attainable terms, a majority would have voted for pease; while it is highly probable that a still larger majority would have voted against emancipation."
— Horace Greeley, New York Tribune
- "An attempt to subjugate the seceded States, even if successful could produce nothing but evil — evil unmitigated in character and appalling in content."
— Detroit Free Press, 19 February 1861
- "The contest is really for empire on the side of the North and for independence on that of the South..."
— London Times, 7 November 1861
- "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 in reference to the Emancipation Proclamation
- "[The Union] depends for its continuance on the free consent and will of the sovereign people of each state, and when that consent and will is withdrawn on either part, their Union is gone."
— Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 13 November 1860
- "Had (President) Buchanan in 1860 sent an armed force to prevent the nullification of the Fugitive Slave Law, as Andrew Jackson threatened to do in 1833, there would have been a secession of fifteen Northern States instead of thirteen Southern States. Had the Democrats won out in 1860 the Northern States would have been the seceding States not the Southern."
— George Lunt of Massachusetts, Origin of the Late War
- "The Union of Sovereign States, each state deriving its powers from its own people, and the federal government having only those powers granted it by the states, ended when Lincoln was allowed to eviscerate the Constitution. Lincoln did not save the Union, the Union that the delegates founded in 1788. A new Union was created in the 1860's with power over the states, power usurped by deception and maintained by force."
— Francis W. Springer, War for What?
- "The worst fears of those Boys in Gray are now a fact of American life - a Federal government completely out of control."
— Professor Jay Hoar of Maine, in a personal conversation with author Walter Donald Kennedy
- "I believe that this new doctrine preached by Mr. Lincoln and this Abolition party would dissolve the union. They try to array all the northern States in one body against the South, inviting a sectional war... to last until one or the other is driven to the wall."
— Stephen Douglas Aug. 21, 1858 (Lincoln-Douglas debates)
- "It was necessary to put the South at a moral disadvantage by transforming the contest from a war against states fighting for the independence into a war waged against states fighting for the maintenance and extension of slavery..."
— Woodrow Wilson (response to someone who asked how the role of slavery became so distorted and exaggerated as the cause of the WBTS)
- "I was canvassing for the Union with all my strength; I was addressing a large and excited crowd, large numbers of whom were armed, and literally had my hand extended upward in pleading for peace and the Union of our Fathers, when the telegraphic news was announced of the firing on Ft. Sumter and the President's call for 75,000 volunteers. When my hand came down from that impassioned gesticulation, it fell slowly and sadly by the side of a secessionist. I immediately, with altered voice and manner, called upon the assembled multitude to volunteer not to fight against, but for South Carolina. I said, if war must come, I prefer to be with my own people. If I had to shed blood I preferred to shed northern rather than Southern blood. If we had to slay I had rather slay strangers than my own kindred and neighbors."
— N.C. Gov. Zebulon Vance, April, 1961 On Lincoln's Call For Troops
- "We are in the midst of war and revolution. North Carolina would have stood by the Union but for the conduct of the national administration (Lincoln"s) which for the folly and simplicity exceeds anything in modern history." May 30, 1861
—Jonathan Worth. (Future Governor, Quaker, and avid Unionist, he believed that his state was driven out of the Union by the actions of Lincoln, which was trying to force North Carolinians to not only violate the Constitution, but also wage war on a neighboring State).
- "This State is a unit against the Lincoln Government. It is one great military camp. Some ten thousand troops are in the field. The old Union men are as determined as the original secessionists. The State is totally alienated from the Lincoln Government and will fight to extermination before they will reunite with the North."
— future N.C. gov. Jonathan Worth Dec. 7, 1861
- "I regard the levy of troops made by the administration for the purpose of subjugating the Sates of the South as in violation of the Constitution and a gross usurpation of power. I can be no party to this wicked violation of the laws of the country, and to this war upon the liberties of a free people. You can get no troops from North Carolina."
— N.C. Gov. Ellis -- In response to Lincum's Sec. of War call for troops to invade South Carolina.