This is very lengthy, so I intend to post it in segments instead of one complete article.
Authors preface: Two years ago I wrote an lengthy article regarding the Civil War. My friend, and publisher, thought it good enough to put into book form. The resulting work The Civil War, (The Truth You Have Not Been Told) was printed and bought by a handful of people. That being said, I wish I had held off writing it in the first place. Since its publication I have learned so much more regarding the pivotal event in our nation’s history, and more importantly, the events which led to it happening in the first place.
This effort is, therefore, an attempt to further enlighten you as to what really happened, and fill in the blanks left by my previous work. As with my other effort, I would like to open with a quote from the dvd Warriors of Honor, (New Liberty Videos) as I believe it applies even more now than when I first penned my earlier thoughts.
“A nation that is ignorant of its past is a nation that is ripe for deception, and manipulation. Therefore, it is not what happened, but rather what people believe happened which determines the present actions of a nation.”
Part 1: The Roots of the Civil War
Just over 150 yrs ago, a crisis that had begun at the Constitutional Convention, which was never fully resolved, came to a head and the United States found itself at war…with itself. I’m speaking of the Civil War, or as I prefer to call it, The War of Northern Aggression. Most people in America are taught that the cause of the war was slavery. Although slavery played a part, it was not the only reason our nation was torn asunder at the cost of over half a million lives. The damage to our country cannot be limited only to lives lost either, the damage done to states rights has never been repaired, and no matter what you have been taught in school, you probably do not know the entire story. The facts behind the Civil War are why it is so vital that people know the true history of their country. But history is often written by the victors, and matters are made worse when people with an agenda to silence the truth regarding history get to decide which version you are taught.
The roots of the Civil War can be traced all the way back to the War for Independence, specifically two men; Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton. Although both men came to believe that our nation required a central government to better manage the affairs of the nation, that is about all they agreed upon.
Thinking back on the states that existed back in 1787 it truly is amazing that the delegates who attended the convention in Philadelphia even came to the compromise they did which led to the drafting of our Constitution. At that time each state considered itself a sovereign and independent entity. Religious, cultural, and economic beliefs were different between the states themselves, and even more so between the Northern and the Southern states.
At the time the Constitution was being written the Southern States had much more land than the smaller Northern States, and yes, they also owned the majority of the slaves as well. I really can’t tell if this led them to hold more loyalty to their native state than the union, but from reading the notes regarding taken during the Constitutional Convention it is clear that the Northern States feared the power wielded by the larger and more populous Southern States. The argument over equal representation in government was a huge hurdle to overcome. The Northern states would not agree to any Constitution which granted representation based solely upon population. An agreement was came to which divided Congress into two bodies, a Senate with equal representation, and authority over the representatives held by the states, and a House with representation based upon population, and the representatives accountable to the people. This was one of the checks our Founders created to keep one entity from gaining more power than the other.
What does this have to do with the Civil War? Like I said, I can’t be sure what was in the minds of many of the delegates to the convention, but it seems that the Northern States favored a union which would grant them strength in numbers, while the Southern States favored a greater sense of state sovereignty, which leads us to two men, Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton.
Jefferson was born in this country and was taught from an early age the love of ‘his country’. Yet his country is not what you call ‘your country’ today. While Robert E. Lee was leading the Confederate Army against the Union he stated, “I tremble for my country when I hear of confidence expressed in me.” Lee was speaking of the state of Virginia. Jefferson spoke of his ‘country’ as well, referring to Virginia, not the union of states which comprised the United States of America.
During the Revolutionary War Jefferson made some questionable choices as governor, preferring to save his energies in the preservation of his ‘country’, his state, than come to the aid of the rest of the nation when called upon to do so by General Washington. Not to say Jefferson did not support the cause of independence, he did. It is just that his loyalty to his native state was of much greater importance to him than to the other states. To be fair, General Washington was also too focused on retaking New York from the British and remained almost completely idle for close to 3 yrs while the British were wrecking havoc and chaos in the South. That must have not set well with Jefferson either.
Having been raised to have loyalty first to his state, then to his country, and having studied extensively on the forms of government, Jefferson came to believe that greater state authority, and more power to the people themselves were the cure for bad governance and a strong defense against a tyrannical central government.
Then there was Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton was not born in the U.S. He was a bastard child born in the West Indies and orphaned at age 11. There is no doubt that he was smart, and skillful at finding the right people to help him advance in both stature, and position. Yet his having been born outside the country meant that he held no loyalty to an individual state that Jefferson did.
Instead of his fate leading him to political office, as it did for Jefferson, Hamilton felt that his rise to power and glory could only come by proving himself in battle. With a war for independence raging what better place for Hamilton to achieve his goals?
During his time in the war Hamilton saw the suffering and loss caused by a weak an ineffective Congress. He witnessed firsthand how Congress could not raise the funds required to feed, clothe, provide arms, and generally manage an army that was fighting for the good of the nation in its entirety.
In some ways Hamilton saw the bigger picture better than Jefferson did. This may have come from his serving in a cause he felt would benefit the nation as a whole, while Jefferson’s loyalty was stronger for the State of Virginia than to the Union as a whole. Not to say Jefferson did not support the idea of a union, just that it was a lesser priority than the defense of his ‘country’.
At one point during the Revolution, while the British were attempting to retake South Carolina Hamilton feared that if they succeeded then North Carolina, and eventually Virginia would fall to the British. He understood that if this happened the South would be in British hands while the Northern States would be both economically and physically weaker. It may lead to his general attitude towards General Washington, who although he served under, he had no real loyalty to, or respect for.
When the War for Independence was finally won, that division of thought, that belief that our country needed a strong central government, as eschewed by Hamilton, and the belief that the states, and the people, should hold more power than the central government, were to become the festering sore that would erupt into open revolt nearly 3/4 of a century later.
Part 2: The Unsettled Question
Both Hamilton and Jefferson saw firsthand how a weak central government was ineffective in raising revenue and managing an army during wartime, they differed greatly in their beliefs as to the proper balance of power which should exist between a federal government and the states and the people.
After the war Jefferson retired from public service, only to have his happiness shattered when his wife passed away. He mourned her loss deeply and wandered Monticello aimlessly until the call came for him to serve his country abroad. He relished the thought of getting away from surroundings that reminded him of his loss. So Jefferson was sent to France to serve as ambassador. So Jefferson was not present in the United States during the period that produced our Constitution. But he had a good friend, and strong ally in James Madison who kept Jefferson up to date on the proceedings, while the two shared thoughts and ideas via letters written to each other.
Hamilton also retired from public service to become a lawyer, but when the call arose for delegates to attend a convention in Philadelphia to revise the ineffective Articles of Confederation, Hamilton was chosen to attend. He jumped at the offer, believing that this was an opportunity he could not pass up, one which he could actually act upon his hope to create a stronger central government.
Hamilton’s plan which would have created a lifelong executive, failed but there is an issue that was discussed, but never fully resolved, that bears discussing. As I’ve already stated, the idea of representation was a big obstacle that needed to be overcome before the delegates would agree to establishing a new system of government.
One of the issues discussed was slavery. With most of the slaves being held by the Southern States that issue was of great importance to them. The Southern States wanted them counted for purposes of selecting a apportionment of representation in Congress. The North did not. Eventually the 3/5’s compromise was agreed upon and included in the Constitution. This clause can be found in Article 1, Section 2, paragraph 3.
Yet the Constitution also indirectly mentions slavery in Article 1, Section 9 where it states, “The Migration and Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a Tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.”
What this did is important, as it was a large factor in leading up to the Civil War and what happened during that conflict. The delegates to the Constitution worked together, in what we would call a bipartisan effort, to ensure that the best system possible might be produced to manage our fledgling young republic. Compromises had to be come to for that to work, and the acceptance of slavery as an institution in the South was one of those compromises. Although slavery was repulsive to many Northerners, the delegates knew that to try and force the elimination of the practice would lead to the Southern states rejecting any plan. So they agreed to let it stand. But they also agreed to leave an opening to put an end to the importation of new slaves after the year 1808 and to prohibit the expansion of slavery into any state that may later be admitted to the Union.
Even Jefferson, who owned slaves, was repulsed by the institution itself. He felt it a ‘blot’ upon our nation and hoped that one day they would be emancipated. But Jefferson also held deeply rooted prejudices towards the Africans themselves. He felt that the two races could never co-exist, and he stated as much in his Notes on the State of Virginia. Jefferson believed that were the two races to remain intermixed that eventually one, or the other, would rise up and eliminate the other. What Jefferson hoped would happen is that they would be educated, and expatriated to a location outside the United States to live as their own independent people.
Years later, as president during the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln would also consider the expatriation of slaves to Guyana or Belize. He even attempted such an effort, sending 450 freed slaves to Haiti, resulting in disaster as disease and starvation led to the survivors having to be rescued and returned to the U.S.
Lincoln also agreed with the belief that the two races were unequal. No matter what you have been taught in school history proves the belief that he felt they were wrong. At an assembly in Charleston Illinois in 1858, Lincoln publicly declared “I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races, that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality…”
More importantly, Lincoln said, “… I will add to this that I have never seen, to my knowledge, a man, woman, or child who was in favor of producing a perfect equality, social and political, between negroes and white men.” I will go over this in greater detail later, I only wanted to make you aware that slavery was considered legal and the belief that the Civil War was fought to free the slaves is either wrong, or at the least, unconstitutional.
Note, this is all historical fact, not the workings of my imagination. It is also why a true understanding of our nation’s history is essential for you to understand what is happening today in this country.
The important point I am trying to make here is that the Constitution recognized slavery as an institution. Therefore, the claim that the North went to war to end slavery, if true, would mean that the North invaded the South to end something the Constitution recognized as a legal practice. It matters not if the institution of slavery is repulsive, it was lawful and therefore not one of the things that a president could just come out and abolish, let alone take a nation to war to do so.