Posted by Military History Monthly
December 11, 2012
February 10, 2013 @
Hi, I want to point out the war cannot be said to be for the freeing of the slaves. General Grant (Union side) had slaves even after Lincoln’s Proclamation, and Lincoln offered to guarantee slavery to the South before the secessions and war. I believe Grant retained his slaves for a time even after the war. Lee famously did not own slaves, though his wife (of the Washington family, same slave-owning President Washington’s family yes) did until freed and resettled by Lee.
Lincoln’s later plan for freeing the slaves involved resettling them overseas, the costs obviously being prohibitory but the point is he wasn’t seeking a multicultural, tolerant society. The Emancipation Proclamation was simply used to keep Europe out of the war and to encourage slave revolts. As you know the Proclamation did not free Northern slaves, only those of the South.
The South was of course concerned slavery would be threatened, this is one of the primary reasons for secession (as well culture, tariffs, and general economics); but the war wasn’t declared on the South to free Southern slaves. It was declared to preserve the Union. I’m aware of Fort Sumter; but regardless of how one portrays that, the North did not invade to free the slaves.
President Buchanan cited Madison (Fourth Annual Message to Congress on the State of the Union December 3, 1860) to argue “the power to make war against a State is at variance with the whole spirit and intent of the Constitution.” The war was not a moral crusade; it was a disaster Buchanan and others struggled to avoid! The tradition of Total War set by the North was continued in your own WWI and WWII. General Sherman is to the South as Cromwell is to the Irish and Scots.
If it weren’t for the cotton gin, slavery would have diminished greatly in the South well before the war. It was dying out elsewhere in the Western world, and it would have died out in the South. Many of the South’s leaders, including Lee, condemned slavery. Since America’s founding, even Jefferson, a slave owner, described it as “hav[ing] the wolf by the ears”. Southerners fought to resist an invasion, an invasion unnecessary for the ending of slavery. The North again also practiced slavery before the war’s start, and after its end. Had it been but more profitable, slavery would have expanded in the North as it did in the South.
Perhaps the British haven’t studied American history, but if they have they ought to attempt an honest and not a popular telling of it. History isn’t meant to be mythology. Much of history is open to debate, but there are solid facts as well. As a result of this false history, Southerners are persecuted. Those pointing such out are often mocked as if Southerners are, by taint of birth, monsters who continue to wrong others and unworthy of sympathy.