BREAKING: South Carolina Secedes from Union!

I notice in TheMomCat’s This Day In History that today marks the 150th anniversary of the adoption of the Constitution of the Confederate States of America.

Here’s something I wrote a while back on The Stars Hollow Gazette.  Something I’ve learned recently is that while the average price of a slave in 1861 was a little more than $40,000 (in inflation adjusted dollars), it’s just $90 today.

(T)his has basically turned a human being into a cheap commodity – Bales says like a Styrofoam cup that’s cheaply replaceable if damaged, “If they get sick, what’s the point of paying for medicine – it’s cheaper to let them die and acquire a new one than it is to help the ones you’ve got.”

BREAKING: South Carolina Secedes from Union!

by: ek hornbeck, Sun Dec 19, 2010 at 14:44:01 PM EST

PhotobucketThe New York Times was, typically, wrong.




Published: December 15, 1860

Emphasis in the original.

I think what’s important to remember as we celebrate the sesquicentennial is the root cause of the Rebellion.

A group of wealthy men thought it was ok to work, breed, and sell human beings like animals based on the color of their skin.

More than that, they were upset that certain Northern States were insufficiently zealous about finding their property for them when it got ‘lost’, causing significant impact to the bottom line.

And also their honor was offended that anyone could think this behavior morally wrong.  It hurt their sensitive feelings.

Alexander H. Stephens

Cornerstone Address, March 21, 1861

Our new Government is founded upon exactly the opposite ideas; 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 and moral condition. This, our new Government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.

This truth has been slow in the process of its development, like all other truths in the various departments of science. It is so even amongst us. Many who hear me, perhaps, can recollect well that this truth was not generally admitted, even within their day. The errors of the past generation still clung to many as late as twenty years ago. Those at the North who still cling to these errors with a zeal above knowledge, we justly denominate fanatics. All fanaticism springs from an aberration of the mind; from a defect in reasoning. It is a species of insanity.

One of the most striking characteristics of insanity, in many instances, is, forming correct conclusions from fancied or erroneous premises; so with the anti-slavery fanatics: their conclusions are right if their premises are. They assume that the negro is equal, and hence conclude that he is entitled to equal privileges and rights, with the white man…. I recollect once of having heard a gentleman from one of the Northern States, of great power and ability, announce in the House of Representatives, with imposing effect, that we of the South would be compelled, ultimately, to yield upon this subject of slavery; that it was as impossible to war successfully against a principle in politics, as it was in physics or mechanics. That the principle would ultimately prevail. That we, in maintaining slavery as it exists with us, were warring against a principle-a principle founded in nature, the principle of the equality of man.

The reply I made to him was, that upon his own grounds we should succeed, and that he and his associates in their crusade against our institutions would ultimately fail. The truth announced, that it was as impossible to war successfully against a principle in politics as well as in physics and mechanics, I admitted, but told him it was he and those acting with him who were warring against a principle. They were attempting to make things equal which the Creator had made unequal.

  • How the South rationalizes secession

    150 years later, a campaign to deny that the South’s exodus from the union was a revolution is in full force

    By Glenn W. LaFantasie,

    Sunday, Dec 19, 2010 11:01 ET

Is an interesting and lengthy read.  He put me on the track of Stephens’ racist sentiments and makes a Unionist case for treason, which was the official causus belli of the North.

Gone With the Myths

By EDWARD BALL, The New York Times

Published: December 18, 2010

ON Dec. 20, 1860, 169 men – politicians and people of property – met in the ballroom of St. Andrew’s Hall in Charleston, S.C. After hours of debate, they issued the 158-word “Ordinance of Secession,” which repealed the consent of South Carolina to the Constitution and declared the state to be an independent country. Four days later, the same group drafted a seven-page “Declaration of the Immediate Causes (.pdf),” explaining why they had decided to split the Union.

(A) look through the declaration of causes written by South Carolina and four of the 10 states that followed it out of the Union – which, taken together, paint a kind of self-portrait of the Confederacy – reveals a different story. From Georgia to Texas, each state said the reason it was getting out was that the awful Northern states were threatening to do away with slavery.

The ordinance is nothing special, Tenther nonsense of the type LaFantasie debunks.  The Declaration on the other hand is quite interesting-

We assert that fourteen of the States have deliberately refused, for years past, to fulfill their constitutional obligations, and we refer to their own Statutes for the proof.

The Constitution of the United States, in its fourth Article, provides as follows: “No person held to service or labor in one State, under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labor, but shall be delivered up, on claim of the party to whom such service or labor may be due.”

This stipulation was so material to the compact, that without it that compact would not have been made. The greater number of the contracting parties held slaves, and they had previously evinced their estimate of the value of such a stipulation by making it a condition in the Ordinance for the government of the territory ceded by Virginia, which now composes the States north of the Ohio River.

The same article of the Constitution stipulates also for rendition by the several States of fugitives from justice from the other States.

The General Government, as the common agent, passed laws to carry into effect these stipulations of the States. For many years these laws were executed. But an increasing hostility on the part of the non-slaveholding States to the institution of slavery, has led to a disregard of their obligations, and the laws of the General Government have ceased to effect the objects of the Constitution. The States of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa, have enacted laws which either nullify the Acts of Congress or render useless any attempt to execute them. In many of these States the fugitive is discharged from service or labor claimed, and in none of them has the State Government complied with the stipulation made in the Constitution. The State of New Jersey, at an early day, passed a law in conformity with her constitutional obligation; but the current of anti-slavery feeling has led her more recently to enact laws which render inoperative the remedies provided by her own law and by the laws of Congress. In the State of New York even the right of transit for a slave has been denied by her tribunals; and the States of Ohio and Iowa have refused to surrender to justice fugitives charged with murder, and with inciting servile insurrection in the State of Virginia. Thus the constituted compact has been deliberately broken and disregarded by the non-slaveholding States, and the consequence follows that South Carolina is released from her obligation.

The ends for which the Constitution was framed are declared by itself to be “to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.”

These ends it endeavored to accomplish by a Federal Government, in which each State was recognized as an equal, and had separate control over its own institutions. The right of property in slaves was recognized by giving to free persons distinct political rights, by giving them the right to represent, and burthening them with direct taxes for three-fifths of their slaves; by authorizing the importation of slaves for twenty years; and by stipulating for the rendition of fugitives from labor.

We affirm that these ends for which this Government was instituted have been defeated, and the Government itself has been made destructive of them by the action of the non-slaveholding States. Those States have assume the right of deciding upon the propriety of our domestic institutions; and have denied the rights of property established in fifteen of the States and recognized by the Constitution; they have denounced as sinful the institution of slavery; they have permitted open establishment among them of societies, whose avowed object is to disturb the peace and to eloign the property of the citizens of other States. They have encouraged and assisted thousands of our slaves to leave their homes; and those who remain, have been incited by emissaries, books and pictures to servile insurrection.

For twenty-five years this agitation has been steadily increasing, until it has now secured to its aid the power of the common Government. Observing the forms of the Constitution, a sectional party has found within that Article establishing the Executive Department, the means of subverting the Constitution itself. A geographical line has been drawn across the Union, and all the States north of that line have united in the election of a man to the high office of President of the United States, whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery. He is to be entrusted with the administration of the common Government, because he has declared that that “Government cannot endure permanently half slave, half free,” and that the public mind must rest in the belief that slavery is in the course of ultimate extinction.

This sectional combination for the submersion of the Constitution, has been aided in some of the States by elevating to citizenship, persons who, by the supreme law of the land, are incapable of becoming citizens; and their votes have been used to inaugurate a new policy, hostile to the South, and destructive of its beliefs and safety.

From The (South Carolina) State editorial page-

Secessionists were clear about their cause: slavery

Thursday, Dec. 16, 2010

What we found most striking in rereading the Declaration was the complete absence of any other causes. After laying out the argument that the states retained a right to secede if the Union did not fulfill its constitutional and contractual obligations, the document cited the one failing of the United States: its refusal to enforce the constitutional provision requiring states to return escaped slaves to their owners. “This stipulation was so material to the compact,” the document declares, “that without it that compact would not have been made.”


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  1. Southern army, other than dragging his body onto some battlefield, most likely had some vague idea as to what purpose/s he was fighting, but had no idea whatsoever for what or whose interests he was fighting.

    The same is true today, of course.  

    Historiography never gets written by the dead, and in the Western tradition, it is usually embellished afterwards with meaning.

    One can get a sliver of a glimpse with original source material, but often that material along with a “removed” writer, whose interest is bound to some synthetic viewpoint, falls way short.

    Thomas Nast’s cartoons were quite influential, often splashing full page imagery created out of his own, creative historical artistry, symbols lingering in suspended animation. But they were cartoons. Today’s TV News and Radio Shows are cartoons, and best seller books are churned out by entertainment companies.

    One of the more longer lasting political controversies that lingered into the 20th century was how much longer  civil war pensions should be paid to the old Northern soldiers, those same 18 year olds (survivors) when the war was fought, who still hadn’t a clue and whose 18 year old grandsons were preparing for the next experiment in bloodshed in European trenches.

    I find more truth from holding a pre-columbian stone with a face carved into it than from all the books I’ve read.

    Yet I read quite a bit. But they’re nothing more than slivers of a glimpse that the reader must reconstruct into something apprehensible for a few moments. Western history is played out on a stage. Look at the Boston Tea Party and those dudes all dressed up as Mohawk Indians. You wouldn’t find a Teapartier today found dead in such attire.

  2. which should not be glossed over or ignored, because it is also an injustice, one still prevalent today and far more so than slavery still is.

    Essentially, as the economy of the nation developed, the Northern states specialized in manufacturing goods, while the South specialized in production of raw materials such as various foods and cotton.

    The North was able to exploit this relationship, charging higher prices for manufactured goods they then sold back to the South while paying less for the South’s raw materials; inevitably impoverishing the South relative to the North.

    While some slavery has always been a part of the story of the colonies, I suspect it died off in the North because they no longer needed it as an economic crutch.  I believe it was retained in the South because the Southerners desired a non-citizen cheap labor force to maximize the (few remaining) profits for the citizenry.

    Had the South been allowed to secede successfully, they may have been able to employ against the North the same tactics which the nation as a whole had been employing against the rest of the civilized world, namely the Hamilton policy of protectionist tariffs to create economic parity.  

    Who knows?  In such an alternate history, Southern slavery might have died the same natural death that Northern slavery did, and there might not be as bitter a divide between Southern whites and blacks.

    Just to stress the point I’m trying to make, there were very few people in the North (with the obvious exception of John Brown and other abolitionists) who were ideological about slavery per se.  Abraham Lincoln himself was disinterested in slavery as a moral issue, and probably signed the Emancipation Proclamation as a wedge to further weaken the South than out of any real desire to free slaves.  As much as we like to beat our chests these days about how the South and slavery are bad, and the North and freedom are good, the real story behind the scenes is more about economics and political power than morality.

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