The American Civil War (ACW), also known as the War of the Rebellion, the Great Rebellion, and several other names, was a civil war that was fought in the United States of America from 1861 to 1865. Fearing that the future of slavery was in jeopardy after the election of an anti-slavery U.S. president, eleven slave-holding U.S. states located in the southern United States declared their secession from the country and formed the Confederate States, also known as "the Confederacy", sparking war. Led by Democrat Jefferson Davis, they fought against the United States, also known as "the Union", led by Republican Abraham Lincoln, which consisted of every free U.S. state as well as five slave-holding states, known as "border states". In 1865, after four years of warfare, the Confederacy surrendered, and slavery was abolished in the United States.
== Quotes ==
=== Conflict Brewing: The Secession Crisis (1860–1861) ===
==== Contemporaries ====
The Constitution requires an adoption in toto, and for ever. It has been so adopted by the other States.
James Madison, letter to Alexander Hamilton (20 July 1788).It is of infinite moment, that you should properly estimate the immense value of your national Union to your collective and individual happiness; that you should cherish a cordial, habitual, and immovable attachment to it; accustoming yourselves to think and speak of it as of the Palladium of your political safety and prosperity; watching for its preservation with jealous anxiety; discountenancing whatever may suggest even a suspicion, that it can in any event be abandoned; and indignantly frowning upon the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest, or to enfeeble the sacred ties which now link together the various parts.
George Washington, Farewell Address (17 September 1796).While, then, every part of our country thus feels an immediate and particular interest in Union, all the parts combined cannot fail to find in the united mass of means and efforts greater strength, greater resource, proportionably greater security from external danger, a less frequent interruption of their peace by foreign nations; and, what is of inestimable value, they must derive from Union an exemption from those broils and wars between themselves, which so frequently afflict neighboring countries not tied together by the same governments, which their own rivalships alone would be sufficient to produce, but which opposite foreign alliances, attachments, and intrigues would stimulate and embitter.
George Washington, George Washington's Farewell Address (17 September 1796).Not only do I pray for it, on the score of human dignity, but I can clearly forsee that nothing but the rooting out of slavery can perpetuate the existence of our union, by consolidating it in a common bond of principle.
Attributed to George Washington, John Bernard, Retrospections of America, 1797–1811, p. 91 (1887). This is from Bernard's account of a conversation he had with Washington in 1798. Reported as unverified in Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations (1989)If you raise the standard of rebellion, your green fields will be wash'd with the blood of your people and your country laid desolate by the flames of civil discord! If you attempt to pull down the pillars of the Republic, you shall be crush'd into atoms.
John Campell, writing to New England Federalist David Campell (12 July 1812).I will say, finally, that I despair of the republic while slavery exists therein. If I look up to God for success, no smile of mercy or forgiveness dispels the gloom of futurity; if to our own resources, they are daily diminishing; if to all history, our destruction is not only possible, but almost certain. Why should we slumber at this momentous crisis? If our hearts were dead to every throb of humanity; if it were lawful to oppress, where power is ample; still, if we had any regard for our safety and happiness, we should strive to crush the Vampire which is feeding upon our life-blood. All the selfishness of our nature cries aloud for a better security. Our own vices are too strong for us, and keep us in perpetual alarm; how, in addition to these, shall we be able to contend successfully with millions of armed and desperate men, as we must eventually, if slavery do not cease?
William Lloyd Garrison, Address to the Colonization Society (4 July 1829).To say that any State may at pleasure secede from the Union, is to say that the United States are not a nation because it would be a solecism to contend that any part of a nation might dissolve its connection with the other parts, to their injury or ruin, without committing any offense.
Andrew Jackson, Proclamation against the Nullification Ordinance of South Carolina (11 December 1832).At what point shall we expect the approach of danger? By what means shall we fortify against it? — Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant, to step the Ocean, and crush us at a blow? Never! — All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest; with a Buonaparte for a commander, could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years.At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.
Abraham Lincoln, The Perpetuation of Our Political Institutions: Lincoln's address to the Young Men's Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois (27 January 1838).Many in the south once believed that slavery was a moral and political evil. That folly and delusion are gone. We see it now in its true light, and regard it as the most safe and stable basis for free institutions in the world.
John C. Calhoun, regarding slavery (1838), as quoted by in Time-Life Books The Civil War, vol. 1 (Brother Against Brother), Time Inc, New York (1983).Congress has no power, under the Constitution, to interfere with or control the domestic institutions of the several States; and that such States are the sole and proper judges of everything pertaining to their own affairs, not prohibit by the Constitution; that all efforts, by abolitionists or others, made to induce Congress to interfere with questions of slavery, or to take incipient steps in relation thereto, are calculated to lead to the most alarming and dangerous consequences, and that all such efforts have an inevitable tendency to diminish the happiness of the people and endanger the stability and permanency of the Union, and ought not to be countenanced by any friend to our Political Institutions.
Democratic Party Platform of 1844 (18 June 1844).I am a southern man and a slaveholder! A kind and merciful one, I trust, and none the worse for being a slaveholder. I say, for one, I would rather meet any extremity upon earth than give up one inch of our equality, one inch of what belongs to us as members of this republic! What! Acknowledged inferiority! The surrender of life is nothing to sinking down into acknowledged inferiority!
John C. Calhoun, speech in the U.S. Senate (19 February 1847).All efforts of the abolitionists or others made to induce congress to interfere with questions of slavery, or to take incipient steps in relation thereto, are calculated to lead to the most alarming and dangerous consequences.
Democratic Party Platform of 1852 (18 June 1852).Painfully convinced of the unutterable wrongs and woes of slavery; profoundly believing that, according to the true spirit of the constitution and the sentiments of the fathers, it can find no place under our national government.
Charles Sumner, Freedom National, Slavery Sectional (27 July 1852), United States Senate.The Autocrat of all the Russias will resign his crown, and proclaim his subjects free republicans sooner than will our American masters voluntarily give up their slaves.
Abraham Lincoln, letter to George Robertson (15 August 1855).I protest against that counterfeit logic which concludes that, because I do not want a black woman for a slave I must necessarily want her for a wife. I need not have her for either, I can just leave her alone. In some respects she certainly is not my equal; but in her natural right to eat the bread she earns with her own hands without asking leave of any one else, she is my equal, and the equal of all others.
Abraham Lincoln, speech at Springfield, Illinois (26 June 1857).All I ask for the negro is that if you not like him, let him alone. If God gave him but little let him enjoy.
Abraham Lincoln, speech in Springfield, Illinois (17 July 1858).What shall be done with the free negro? We have settled the slavery question as far as we are concerned; we have prohibited it in Illinois forever; and in doing so, I think we have done wisely, and there is no man in the State who would be more strenuous in his opposition to the introduction of slavery than I would; but when we settled it for ourselves, we exhausted all our power over that subject. We have done our whole duty, and can do no more. We must leave each and every other State to decide for itself the same question. In relation to the policy to be pursued toward the free negroes, we have said that they shall not vote; whilst Maine, on the other hand, has said that they shall vote. Maine is a sovereign State, and has the power to regulate the qualifications of voters within her limits. I would never consent to confer the right of voting and of citizenship upon a negro; but still I am not going to quarrel with Maine for differing from me in opinion. Let Maine take care of her own negroes and fix the qualifications of her own voters to suit herself, without interfering with Illinois, and Illinois will not interfere with Maine.
Stephen Arnold Douglas, Speech in Ottawa, Illinois (21 August 1858).Why, then, in the absence of all control over the subject of African slavery, are you agitated in relation to it? With Pharisaical pretension it is sometimes said it is a moral obligation to agitate, and I suppose they are going through a sort of vicarious repentance for other men's sins... Who gave them a right to decide that it is a sin? By what standard do they measure it? Not the Constitution; the Constitution recognizes the property in many forms, and imposes obligations in connection with that recognition. Not the Bible; that justifies it. Not the good of society; for if they go where it exists, they find that society recognizes it as good...
Jefferson Davis, Speech in Boston (11 October 1858).It is not at all surprising that the people of the South are so indifferent to the rights of the African race. For, as far as the negro is concerned, the press, the pulpit, the bench, the bar, and the stump, conspire with a unity of purpose and pertinacity of zeal, which is no less lamentable than extraordinary, to eradicate every sentiment of justic and brotherhood from their hearts. They sincerely believe Wrong to be Right, and act on that unhappy conviction.
James Redpath, as quoted in The Roving Editor: or, Talks with Slaves in the Southern States (1859).The anti-slavery party contend that slavery is wrong in itself, and the Government is a consolidated national democracy. We of the South contend that slavery is right, and that this is a confederate Republic of sovereign States.
Laurence M. Keitt, as quoted in "Congressman from South Carolina, in a speech to the House" (25 January 1860), The Congressional Globe.We recognize the fact of the inferiority stamped upon that race of men by the Creator, and from the cradle to the grave, our Government, as a civil institution, marks that inferiority.
Jefferson Davis, reply in the Senate to William H. Seward (29 February 1860), Senate Chamber, U.S. Capitol. As quoted in The Papers of Jefferson Davis, Volume 6, pp. 277–84. Transcribed from the Congressional Globe, 36th Congress, 1st Session, pp. 916–18.If the Republican Party of this nation shall ever have the national house entrusted to its keeping, it will be the duty of that party to attend to all the affairs of national housekeeping. Whatever matters of importance may come up, whatever difficulties may arise in the way of its administration of the government, that party will then have to attend to. It will then be compelled to attend to other questions, besides this question which now assumes an overwhelming importance; the question of Slavery. It is true that in the organization of the Republican party this question of Slavery was more important than any other; indeed, so much more important has it become that no other national question can even get a hearing just at present... For, whether we will or not, the question of Slavery is the question, the all absorbing topic of the day
Abraham Lincoln, "Allow the humblest man an equal chance" speech (6 March 1860), New Haven, Connecticut.Look at the magnitude of this subject! One sixth of our population, in round numbers, not quite one sixth, and yet more than a seventh, about one sixth of the whole population of the United States are slaves! The owners of these slaves consider them property. The effect upon the minds of the owners is that of property, and nothing else, it induces them to insist upon all that will favorably affect its value as property, to demand laws and institutions and a public policy that shall increase and secure its value, and make it durable, lasting and universal. The effect on the minds of the owners is to persuade them that there is no wrong in it. The slaveholder does not like to be considered a mean fellow, for holding that species of property, and hence he has to struggle within himself and sets about arguing himself into the belief that slavery is right. The property influences his mind.
Abraham Lincoln, "Allow the humblest man an equal chance" (6 March 1860), New Haven, Connecticut. As quoted in Lincoln on Democracy, by Mario Matthew Cuomo and G.S. Boritt, pp. 176-177.Slaves are human beings. Men, not property. That some of the things, at least, stated about men in the Declaration of Independence apply to them as well as to us. I say, we think, most of us, that this charter of freedom applies to the slave as well as to ourselves, that the class of arguments put forward to batter down that idea, are also calculated to break down the very idea of a free government, even for white men, and to undermine the very foundations of free society. We think slavery a great moral wrong, and while we do not claim the right to touch it where it exists, we wish to treat it as a wrong in the territories, where our votes will reach it. We think that a respect for ourselves, a regard for future generations and for the God that made us, require that we put down this wrong where our votes will properly reach it. We think that species of labor an injury to free white men. In short, we think slavery a great moral, social, and political evil, tolerable only because, and so far as its actual existence makes it necessary to tolerate it, and that beyond that, it ought to be treated as a wrong.
Abraham Lincoln, "Allow the humblest man an equal chance" (6 March 1860), New Haven, Connecticut. As quoted in Lincoln on Democracy, by Mario Matthew Cuomo and G.S. Boritt, pp. 176-177.Slavery is the question, the all absorbing topic of the day. It is true that all of us, and by that I mean, not the Republican Party alone, but the whole American people, here and elsewhere, all of us wish this question settled, wish it out of the way. It stands in the way, and prevents the adjustment, and the giving of necessary attention to other questions of national house-keeping. The people of the whole nation agree that this question ought to be settled, and yet it is not settled. And the reason is that they are not yet agreed how it shall be settled. All wish it done, but some wish one way and some another, and some a third, or fourth, or fifth; different bodies are pulling in different directions, and none of them having a decided majority, are able to accomplish the common object.
Abraham Lincoln, "Allow the humblest man an equal chance" speech (6 March 1860), New Haven, Connecticut.The way to abolish slavery in America is to vote such men into power as well use their powers for the abolition of slavery.
Frederick Douglass, The Constitution of the United States: Is It Pro-Slavery or Anti-Slavery? (26 March 1860), Glasgow, United Kingdom.My argument against the dissolution of the American Union is this. It would place the slave system more exclusively under the control of the slave-holding states, and withdraw it from the power in the northern states which is opposed to slavery. Slavery is essentially barbarous in its character. It, above all things else, dreads the presence of an advanced civilization. It flourishes best where it meets no reproving frowns, and hears no condemning voices. While in the Union it will meet with both. Its hope of life, in the last resort, is to get out of the Union. I am, therefore, for drawing the bond of the Union more completely under the power of the free states. What they most dread, that I most desire.
Frederick Douglass, The Constitution of the United States: Is It Pro-Slavery or Anti-Slavery? (26 March 1860), Glasgow, United Kingdom.The dissolution of the Union would not give the north a single advantage over slavery, but would take from it many. Within the Union we have a firm basis of opposition to slavery. It is opposed to all the great objects of the Constitution. The dissolution of the Union is not only an unwise but a cowardly measure; fifteen millions running away from three hundred and fifty thousand slaveholders. Mister Garrison and his friends tell us that while in the Union we are responsible for slavery. He and they sing out 'No Union with slaveholders', and refuse to vote. I admit our responsibility for slavery while in the Union but I deny that going out of the Union would free us from that responsibility. There now clearly is no freedom from responsibility for slavery to any American citizen short to the abolition of slavery. The American people have gone quite too far in this slave-holding business now to sum up their whole business of slavery by singing out the cant phrase, 'No union with slaveholders'. To desert the family hearth may place the recreant husband out of the presence of his starving children, but this does not free him from responsibility. If a man were on board of a pirate ship, and in company with others had robbed and plundered, his whole duty would not be preformed simply by taking the longboat and singing out, 'No union with pirates'. His duty would be to restore the stolen property.
Frederick Douglass, The Constitution of the United States: Is It Pro-Slavery or Anti-Slavery? (26 March 1860), Glasgow, United Kingdom.The enactments of the state legislatures to defeat the faithful execution of the Fugitive Slave Law, are hostile in character.
Democratic Party Platform of 1860 (18 June 1860).South Carolina is too small for a republic and too large for an insane asylum.
James Petigru (1860), as quoted in Too large to be an asylum (13 February 2010) by Ken Burger, the Charleston Post and Courier.You people of the south don't know what you are doing. This country will be drenched in blood, and God only knows how it will end. It is all folly, madness, a crime against civilization! You people speak so lightly of war; you don't know what you're talking about. War is a terrible thing! You mistake, too, the people of the North. They are a peaceable people but an earnest people, and they will fight, too. They are not going to let this country be destroyed without a mighty effort to save it … Besides, where are your men and appliances of war to contend against them? The North can make a steam engine, locomotive, or railway car; hardly a yard of cloth or pair of shoes can you make. You are rushing into war with one of the most powerful, ingeniously mechanical, and determined people on Earth, right at your doors. You are bound to fail. Only in your spirit and determination are you prepared for war. In all else you are totally unprepared, with a bad cause to start with. At first you will make headway, but as your limited resources begin to fail, shut out from the markets of Europe as you will be, your cause will begin to wane. If your people will but stop and think, they must see in the end that you will surely fail.
William Tecumseh Sherman, comments to David F. Boyd at the Louisiana State Seminary (24 December 1860), as quoted in The Civil War: A Book of Quotations (2004) by Robert Blaisdell.I can anticipate no greater calamity for the country than a dissolution of the Union. It would be an accumulation of all the evils we complain of, and I am willing to sacrifice everything but honour for its preservation. I hope, therefore, that all constitutional means will be exhausted before there is a resort to force. Secession is nothing but revolution. The framers of our Constitution never exhausted so much labour, wisdom, and forbearance in its formation, and surrounded it with so many guards and securities, if it was intended to be broken by every member of the Confederacy at will. It is intended for 'perpetual Union,' so expressed in the preamble, and for the establishment of a government, not a compact, which can only be dissolved by revolution, or the consent of all the people in convention assembled. It is idle to talk of secession: anarchy would have been established, and not a government, by Washington, Hamilton, Jefferson, Madison, and all the other patriots of the Revolution.
Robert E. Lee, letter to his son, G. W. Custis Lee (23 January 1861).The weights should be lifted from the shoulders of all men, and that all should have an equal chance. This is the sentiment embodied in that Declaration of Independence. Now, my friends, can this country be saved upon that basis? If it can, I will consider myself one of the happiest men in the world if I can help to save it. If it can't be saved upon that principle, it will be truly awful. But, if this country cannot be saved without giving up that principle. I was about to say I would rather be assassinated on this spot than to surrender it.
Abraham Lincoln, speech at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (22 February 1861); quoted in Roy P. Basler, ed., The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, vol. 4 (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1953), p. 204.Now, in my view of the present aspect of affairs, there is no need of bloodshed and war. There is no necessity for it. I am not in favor of such a course, and I may say in advance, there will be no blood shed unless it be forced upon the government. The government will not use force unless force is used against it.
Abraham Lincoln, speech at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (22 February 1861); quoted in Roy P. Basler, ed., The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, vol. 4 (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1953), p. 204.We have dissolved the late Union chiefly because of the negro quarrel. Now, is there any man who wished to reproduce that strife among ourselves? And yet does not he, who wished the slave trade left for the action of Congress, see that he proposed to open a Pandora's box among us and to cause our political arena again to resound with this discussion. Had we left the question unsettled, we should, in my opinion, have sown broadcast the seeds of discord and death in our Constitution. I congratulate the country that the strife has been put to rest forever, and that American slavery is to stand before the world as it is, and on its own merits. We have now placed our domestic institution, and secured its rights unmistakably, in the Constitution. We have sought by no euphony to hide its name. We have called our negroes 'slaves', and we have recognized and protected them as persons and our rights to them as property.
Robert Hardy Smith, as quoted in An Address to the Citizens of Alabama on the Constitution and Laws of the Confederate States of America (1861), Mobile, p. 19. As quoted in The Confederate Constitution of 1861: An Inquiry into American Constitutionalism (1991), by Marshall L. DeRosa, Columbia, Missouri: University of Missouri Press, p. 66.Brought Mississippi into her present decision. She has heard proclaimed the theory that all men are created free and equal, and this made the basis of an attack upon her social institutions; and the sacred Declaration of Independence has been invoked to maintain the position of the equality of the races.
Jefferson Davis, Last speech before the U.S. Senate (21 January 1861), Washington, D.C.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.
Alexander H. Stephens, The Cornerstone Speech (21 March 1861).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... Jefferson in his forecast, had anticipated this, as the 'rock upon which the old Union would split'. He was right.
Alexander H. Stephens, The Cornerstone Speech (21 March 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 normal condition. With us, all of the white race, however high or low, rich or poor, are equal in the eye of the law. Not so with the negro. Subordination is his place.
Alexander H. Stephens, The Cornerstone Speech (21 March 1861).If we cannot justify the South in the act of Secession, we will go down in History solely as a brave, impulsive but rash people who attempted in an illegal manner to overthrow the Union of our Country.
Clement A. Evans, as quoted in The Myth of the Lost Cause and Civil War History (2000), by Alan T. Nolan and Gary W. Gallagher, pp. 13-14.The true purpose of all government is to promote the welfare and provide for the protection and security of the governed, and when any form or organization of government proves inadequate for, or subversive of this purpose, it is the right, it is the duty of the latter to alter or abolish it. The Bill of Rights of Virginia, framed in 1776, reaffirmed in 1860, and again in 1851, expressly reserves this right to the majority of her people, and the existing constitution does not confer upon the General Assembly the power to call a Convention to alter its provisions, or to change the relations of the Commonwealth, without the previously expressed consent of such majority. The act of the General Assembly, calling the Convention which assembled at Richmond in February last, was therefore a usurpation; and the Convention thus called has not only abused the powers nominally entrusted to it, but, with the connivance and active aid of the executive, has usurped and exercised other powers, to the manifest injury of the people, which, if permitted, will inevitably subject them to a military despotism.
Declaration of the People of Virginia Represented in Convention at Wheeling (13 June 1861).We, therefore the delegates here assembled in Convention to devise such measures and take such action as the safety and welfare of the loyal citizens of Virginia may demand, having mutually considered the premises, and viewing with great concern, the deplorable condition to which this once happy Commonwealth must be reduced, unless some regular adequate remedy is speedily adopted, and appealing to the Supreme Ruler of the Universe for the rectitude of our intentions, do hereby, in the name and on the behalf of the good people of Virginia, solemnly declare, that the preservation of their dearest rights and liberties and their security in person and property, imperatively demand the reorganization of the government of the Commonwealth, and that all acts of said Convention and Executive, tending to separate this Commonwealth from the United States, or to levy and carry on war against them, are without authority and void; and the offices of all who adhere to the said Convention and Executive, whether legislative, executive or judicial, are vacated.
Declaration of the People of Virginia Represented in Convention at Wheeling (13 June 1861).We have much to say in vindication of our conduct, but this we must leave to history. The bloody conflict between brothers, is closed, and we 'come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.' The South had $2,000,000,000 invested in Slaves. It was very natural, that they should desire to protect, and not lose this amount of property. Their action in this effort, resulted in War. There was no desire to dissolve the Union, but to protect this property. The issue was made and it is decided.
Sterling Cockrill, as quoted in letter to Andrew Johnson (18 September 1865), Courtland, Alabama.Our plain view of the war is simply this. For a long series of years the people of the North differed with those of the South upon the question of slavery and the relations between the states and Federal government. All peaceable means of adjustment were resorted to and failed to reconcile us. At last the controversy was referred to that tribunal from whose decision there is no appeal–to the tribunal of war,–the arbitrament of the sword.
Ladies of Greenbrier County, West Virginia, as quoted in letter to Andrew Johnson (22 September 1865).It is a revolution; a revolution of the most intense character; in which belief in the justice, prudence, and wisdom of secession is blended with the keenest sense of wrong and outrage, and it can no more be checked by human effort for the time than a prairie fire by a gardener’s watering pot.
Judah P. Benjamin, Senator from Louisiana, on the secession movement in the South (1860). Reported in Allan Nevins, The Emergence of Lincoln (1950), p. 387.Let us, then, bestow a few thoughts upon what the 'Abolition of Slavery' means. In the first place, it means the annihilation and end of all negro labor, agricultural especially, over the whole South. It means a loss to the planters of the South of, at least, FOUR BILLION dollars, by having this labor taken from them; and a loss, in addition, of FIVE BILLION dollars more, in lands, mills, machinery, and other great interests, which will be rendered valueless by the want of slave labor to cultivate the lands, and the loss of the crops which give to those interests life and prosperity. It means, again, the turning loose upon the turning loose upon society, without the salutary restraints to which they are now accustomed, more than four millions of a very poor and ignorant population, to ramble in idleness over the country until their wants should drive most of them, first to petty thefts, and afterwards to the bolder crimes of robbery and murder.
John Townsend, The Doom of Slavery in the Union: It's Safety Out of It (29 October 1860)But the abolition of slavery means, further, that the negro is not only to be made free, but equal also to his former master, in political and civil rights; and, as far as it can be done, in social privileges. The planter and his family are not only to be reduced to poverty and want, by the robbery of his property, but to complete the refinement of the indignity, they are to be degraded to the level of an inferior race, be jostled by them in their paths, and intruded upon, and insulted over by rude and vulgar upstarts. Who can describe the loathsomeness of such an intercourse;—the constrained intercourse between refinement reduced to poverty, and swaggering vulgarity suddenly elevated to a position which it is not prepared for? It has hereto fore resulted in a war between the races, and the extermination of one or the other; or it has become so intolerable, that expatriation has been preferred as an evil more easily to be borne.
John Townsend, The Doom of Slavery in the Union: It's Safety Out of It (29 October 1860)It will be to the non-slaveholder, equally with the largest slaveholder, the obliteration of caste and the deprivation of important privileges... The color of the white man is now, in the South, a title of nobility in his relations as to the negro.
John Townsend, The Doom of Slavery in the Union: It's Safety Out of It (29 October 1860)In the Southern slaveholding States, where menial and degrading offices are turned over to be per formed exclusively by the Negro slave, the status and color of the black race becomes the badge of inferiority, and the poorest non-slaveholder may rejoice with the richest of his brethren of the white race, in the distinction of his color. He may be poor, it is true; but there is no point upon which he is so justly proud and sensitive as his privilege of caste; and there is nothing which he would resent with more fierce indignation than the attempt of the Abolitionist to emancipate the slaves and elevate the Negroes to an equality with himself and his family.
John Townsend, The Doom of Slavery in the Union: It's Safety Out of It (29 October 1860)It is totally unnecessary for the gentleman to remind me of my coming from a slaveholding state. I know whence I came, and I know my duty, and I am ready to submit to any responsibility which belongs to me as a senator from a slaveholding state. I have heard something said on this and a former occasion about allegiance to the south. I know no south, no north, no east, no west, to which I owe any allegiance. I owe allegiance to two sovereignty, and only two. One is the sovereignty of this Union, and the other is the sovereignty of the state of Kentucky. My allegiance is to this Union and to my state; but if gentlemen suppose they can exact from me an acknowledgement of allegiance to any ideal or future contemplated confederacy of the south, I here declare that I owe no allegiance to it; nor will I, for one, come under any such allegiance if I can avoid it.
Henry Clay, speech in the Senate (14 February 1850), in response to a speech by Senator Henry S. Foote of Mississippi, who had 'lectured' Clay on the allegiance which he owed to the southern U.S. as a senator from a southern U.S. state. From The Life, Correspondence, and Speeches of Henry Clay (Vol. 3); ed. Calvin Colton: A. S. Barnes & Co., 1857.Whatever is calculated to weaken or impair the strength of [the] Union,—whether originating at the North or the South,—whether arising from the incendiary violence of abolitionists, or from the coalition of nullifiers, will never meet with my unqualified approval.
Sam Houston, as quoted in Sam Houston (2004), by James Haley, University of Oklahoma Press.Fellow citizens, in the name of your rights and liberties, which I believe have been trampled upon, I refuse to take this oath. In the name of the nationality of Texas, which has been betrayed by the Convention, I refuse to take this oath. In the name of the Constitution of Texas, I refuse to take this oath. In the name of my own conscience and manhood, which this Convention would degrade by dragging me before it, to pander to the malice of my enemies, I refuse to take this oath. I deny the power of this Convention to speak for Texas... I protest... against all the acts and doings of this convention and I declare them null and void.
Sam Houston, as quoted in Sam Houston (2004), by James Haley, University of Oklahoma Press, pp. 390–91.Let me tell you what is coming. After the sacrifice of countless millions of treasure and hundreds of thousands of lives, you may win Southern independence if God be not against you, but I doubt it. I tell you that, while I believe with you in the doctrine of states rights, the North is determined to preserve this Union. They are not a fiery, impulsive people as you are, for they live in colder climates. But when they begin to move in a given direction, they move with the steady momentum and perseverance of a mighty avalanche; and what I fear is, they will overwhelm the South.
Sam Houston, as quoted in Sam Houston (2004), by James Haley, University of Oklahoma Press, p. 397.The South is now in the formation of a Slave Republic...
L.W. Spratt, The Philosophy of Secession: A Southern View (13 February 1861), "THE PHILOSOPHY OF SECESSION: A SOUTHERN VIEW", Presented in a Letter addressed to the Hon. Mr. Perkins of Louisiana, in criticism on the Provisional Constitution adopted by the Southern Congress at Montgomery, Alabama, by L. W. Spratt, Editor of the Charleston Mercury, 13 February 1861.If the confederacy is broken up, the government is dissolved, and it behooves every distinct community, as well as every individual, to take care of themselves.When disunion has become a fixed and certain act, why may not New York disrupt the bands which bind her to a venal and corrupt master... Amid the gloom which the present and prospective condition of things must cast over the country, New York, as a free city, may shed only light and hope of a future reconstruction of our once blessed confederacy.
New York City Mayor Fernando Wood, address to the City Council, recommending that, with the Southern states seceding from the United States, New York City should become an independent city-state (1861).They appealed to the Constitution, they appealed to justice, they appealed to fraternity, until the Constitution, justice, and fraternity were no longer listened to in the legislative halls of their country, and then, sir, they prepared for the arbitrament of the sword; and now you see the glittering bayonet, and you hear the tramp of armed men from your capital to the Rio Grande.
Senator Robert Toombs, remarks on the secessionists in the United States Senate (January 7, 1861); reported in the Congressional Globe, vol. 38, p. 267.I know there is a God, and that He hates injustice and slavery. I see the storm coming, and I know that His hand is in it. If He has a place and work for me–and I think He has–I believe I am ready. I am nothing, but truth is everything. I know I am right because I know that liberty is right, for Christ teaches it, and Christ is God. I have told them that a house divided against itself cannot stand, and Christ and reason say the same; and they will find it so.
Abraham Lincoln, anecdote registered by novelist Josiah Gilbert Holland, in his Life of Abraham Lincoln (1866), Chapter XVI, p. 287. University of Nebraska Press, as something that Lincoln said in a conversation with educator Newman Bateman, in the Autumn of 1860.If it is worth a bloody struggle to establish this nation, it is worth one to preserve it.
Oliver P. Morton, speech (22 November 1860), as quoted in Indiana in the Civil War Era, 1850–1880: History of Indiana III (1995), by Emma Lou Thornbrough. Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society, p. 102The Union is much older than the Constitution. It was formed, in fact, by the Articles of Association in 1774. It was matured and continued by the Declaration of Independence in 1776. It was further matured, and the faith of all the then thirteen States expressly plighted and engaged that it should be perpetual, by the Articles of Confederation in 1778. And finally, in 1787, one of the declared objects for ordaining and establishing the Constitution was to form a more perfect Union...Apprehension seems to exist among the people of the Southern states that, by the accession of a Republican administration, their property and peace and personal security are to be endangered. There has never been any reasonable cause for such apprehension...I hold that, in contemplation of universal law and of the Constitution, the Union of these states is perpetual. Perpetuity is implied, if not expressed, in the fundamental law of all national governments. It is safe to assert that no government proper ever had a provision in its organic law (constitution) for its own termination. Continue to execute all the express provisions of our national Constitution, and the Union will endure forever...Plainly, the central idea of secession is the essence of anarchy. A majority, held in restraint by the constitutional checks and limitations... is the only true sovereign of a free people. Whoever rejects it does of necessity fly to anarchy or to despotism...No State upon its mere motion can lawfully get out of the Union... There needs to be no bloodshed or violence; and there shall be none, unless it be forded upon the national authority...In your hands, my dissatisfied countrymen, and not in mine is the momentous issue of civil war. The government will not assail you. You can have no conflict without yourselves being the aggressors. You have no oath registered in heaven to destroy the government, while I have the most solemn one to 'preserve, protect, and defend' it.
President Abraham Lincoln, First Inaugural Address (4 March 1861).On! ye patriots to the battle. Hear Fort Moultrie's canon rattle. Then away, then away, then away to the fight! Go meet those Southern Traitors with iron will and should your courage falter boys, remember Bunker Hill. Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! The stars and stripes forever! Hurrah! Hurrah! Our Union shall not sever! As our fathers crushed oppression deal with those who breathe Secession. Then away, then away, then away to the fight. Though Beauregard and Wigfall. Their swords may whet. Just tell them Major Anderson. Has not surrendered yet. Hurrah! Hurrah! Our Union shall not sever! Is Virginia, too, seceeding? Washington's remains unheeding? Then away, then away, then away to the fight. Unfold our country's banner. In triumph there and let the rebels desecrate that banner if they dare. Hurrah! Hurrah! Our Union shall not sever! Volunteers, be up and doing. Still the good old path pursuing. Then away, then away, then away to the fight. Your sires, who fought before you have led the way. Then follow in their footsteps and be as brave as they. Hurrah! Hurrah! Our Union shall not sever! On! ye patriots to the battle. Hear Fort Moultrie's cannon rattle then away, then away, then away to the fight. The star that lights our Union shall never set! Though fierce may be the conflict we'll gain the victory yet. Hurrah! Hurrah! Our Union shall not sever!
Frances J. Crosby, Dixie For The Union.Both parties deprecated war; but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive; and the other would accept war rather than let it perish. And the war came.
Abraham Lincoln, Second Inaugural Address (1865), Washington, D.C.One-sixth, and a little more, of the population of the United States are slaves, looked upon as property, as nothing but property. The cash value of these slaves, at a moderate estimate, is $2,000,000,000. This amount of property value has a vast influence on the minds of its owners, very naturally. The same amount of property would have an equal influence upon us if owned in the north. Human nature is the same, people at the south are the same as those at the north, barring the difference in circumstances. Public opinion is founded, to a great extent, on a property basis. What lessons the value of property is opposed, what enhances its value is favored. Public opinion at the south regards slaves as property and insists upon treating them like other property.
Abraham Lincoln, speech at Hartford, Connecticut (5 March 1860), Evening Press.On the other hand, the free states carry on their government on the principle of the equality of men. We think slavery is morally wrong, and a direct violation of that principle. We all think it wrong. It is clearly proved, I think, by natural theology, apart from revelation. Every man, black, white or yellow, has a mouth to be fed and two hands with which to feed it, and that bread should be allowed to go to that mouth without controversy.
Abraham Lincoln, speech at Hartford, Connecticut (5 March 1860), Evening Press.We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.
Abraham Lincoln, first inaugural address (4 March 1861).Our treatment of the negro has lacked humanity and filled the country with agitation and ill-feeling, and brought the nation to the verge of ruin.
Frederick Douglass, Our Composite Nationality (7 December 1869), Boston, Massachusetts.When the dark and vengeful spirit of slavery, always ambitious, preferring to rule in hell than to serve in heaven, fired the southern heart and stirred all the malign elements of discord, when our great republic, the hope of freedom and self-government throughout the world, had reached the point of supreme peril, when the Union of these states was torn and rent asunder at the center, and the armies of a gigantic rebellion came forth with broad blades and bloody hands to destroy the very foundations of American society, the unknown braves who flung themselves into the yawning chasm, where cannon roared and bullets whistled, fought and fell. They died for their country.
Frederick Douglass, as quoted in "The Unknown Loyal Dead" (30 May 1871), Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington County, Virginia.Timid men said before Mister Lincoln's inauguration, that we have seen the last president of the United States. A voice in influential quarters said, 'Let the Union slide'. Some said that a Union maintained by the sword was worthless. Others said a rebellion of eight million cannot be suppressed; but in the midst of all this tumult and timidity, and against all this, Abraham Lincoln was clear in his duty, and had an oath in heaven. He calmly and bravely heard the voice of doubt and fear all around him; but he had an oath in heaven, and there was not power enough on earth to make this honest boatman, backwoodsman, and broad-handed splitter of rails evade or violate that sacred oath.
Frederick Douglass, as quoted in Oratory in Memory of Abraham Lincoln (14 April 1876), Lincoln Park, Washington, D.C.The south was not far behind the north in recognizing Abraham Lincoln as the natural leader of the rising political sentiment of the country against slavery, and it was equally quick in its efforts to counteract and destroy his influence. Its papers teemed with the bitterest invectives against the 'backwoodsman of Illinois', the 'flat-boatman', the 'rail-splitter', the 'third-rate lawyer', and much else and worse.
Frederick Douglass, as quoted in Life and Times of Frederick Douglass (1881), p. 364The southern man could see no reason of state, of law, or of religion which required him to yield his most ancient rights and his most valuable property to the new-born zeal of adversaries whom he more than suspect of being actuated by mere malignity under the guise of philanthropy. All that he knew or had ever known of the policy of the state, of religion, or of law was on the side of slavery. It was his inheritance in the land descended from his most remote ancestry.
Ward Hill Lamon, Recollections of Abraham Lincoln, 1847-1865 (1895), p. 63
==== Historians ====
This increasing unification has well-nigh obliterated State lines so far as concerns many relations of life. Yet, in a country of such enormous expanse, there must always be certain regional differences in social outlook and economic thought. The most familiar illustration of this is found in the history of slavery. The Constitution did not interfere with slavery, except to fix a time when the foreign slave trade should be abolished. Yet within a generation the country was confronting a sharp sectional division on this issue. Changing economic conditions made slavery profitable in the south, but left it unprofitable in the north. The resulting war might have been avoided if the south had adopted a policy of ultimate abolition. But as this method was not pursued the differences grew sharper until they brought on the great conflict.
Calvin Coolidge, "The Reign of Law" (30 May 1925), speech at the Memorial Exercises, Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington County, Virginia.From the close of the nullification episode of 1832–1833 to the outbreak of the Civil War, the agitation of state rights was intimately connected with the new issue of growing importance, the slavery question, and the principle form assumed by the doctrine was the right of secession. The pro-slavery forces sought refuge in the state rights position as a shield against federal interference with pro-slavery projects.
Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., as quoted in The Causes of the Civil War: Revised Edition, by Kenneth Stampp, p. 68-69As a natural consequence, anti-slavery legislatures in the North were led to lay great stress on the national character of the Union and the broad powers of the general government in dealing with slavery. Nevertheless, it is significant to note that when it served anti-slavery purposes better to lapse into state rights dialectic, northern legislatures did not hesitate to be inconsistent.
Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., as quoted in The Causes of the Civil War: Revised Edition, by Kenneth Stampp, p. 68-69The old Soviet constitution created a right to secede. The United States Constitution does not. Although some secessionists in the American South, invoking state sovereignty, claimed to find an implicit right to secede in the founding document, it was more common to invoke an extra-textual 'right to secede' said to be enshrined in the Declaration of Independence. In any case, no serious scholar or politician now argues that a right to secede exists under United States constitutional law. It is generally agreed that such a right would undermine the spirit of the original document, one that encourages the development of constitutional provisions that prevent the defeat of the basic enterprise of democratic self-government.
Cass Sunstein, Designing Democracy: What Constitutions Do, p. 95As the roll call proceeded, and vote after vote was recorded in the affirmative, the spectators in the gallery broke into applause. Seventy delegates responded “aye” before there was a single negative vote. Then the name of Thomas P. Hughes of Williamson county was called. “No!” came the response. The effect was electrical. Immediately there was a demonstration of disapproval among the spectators, but order was quickly restored and the roll call proceeded. The next three votes were in the affirmative and there was applause. The secretary then called the name of William H. Johnson of Lamar county. He voted “no,” and again there was a demonstration of disapproval. Quiet was no sooner obtained, however, than the name of Joshua Johnson of Titus county was called, and he, too, voted in the negative. A roar of disapproval went up, but the chairman demanded order and the next name was called.
Wharton's History of Texas, from Wilderness to Commonwealth, Vol. 4, pp. 336-38The response was in the affirmative and the crowd applauded. Then there were sixty-four “ayes” in succession before another negative vote was cast. The spectators applauded popular favorites as they announced their votes. Reagan, the brilliant member of congress, was cheered. There were cheers also for Runnels, the former governor, whom Houston had defeated at the previous election. And so it went. Finally the secretary called out, “Shuford! ” This was A. P. Shuford of Wood county. He voted in the negative and there was a flutter of disapproval. Eight more affirmative votes came next, and then the secretary reached the name of James W. Throckmorton of Collin county. Throckmorton arose. “Mr. President,” he said, speaking in tones that were audible throughout the hall, “in view of the responsibility, in the presence of God and my country — and unawed by the wild spirit of revolution around me, I vote “no.” For the first time the Unionists in the audience found their voices, and there was scattered cheering. But the expressions of disapproval were more pronounced and hisses came from all parts of the gallery. Throckmorton again addressed the chair. “Mr. President,” he said, “when the rabble hiss, well may patriots tremble!” A mighty shout went up from the gallery. Only a small percentage of the crowd was Unionist in sentiment, but, small as it was, it spontaneously responded to Throckmorton’s declaration.
Wharton's History of Texas, from Wilderness to Commonwealth, Vol. 4, pp. 336-38Above the hoots and jeers there was prolonged cheering, and it was with extreme difficulty that President Roberts restored order. Two other delegates, L. H. Williams and George W. Wright, both of Lamar county, voted “no” before the close of the roll call. Then the result was announced and both the delegates and the spectators broke into cheers. Out of one hundred and seventy- four delegates, only seven had voted against the ordinance. An impromptu procession, which included a number of ladies, entered the hall, led by George M. Flournoy, who carried a beautiful Lone Star flag. A wild frenzy of cheering followed, and it continued for several minutes as the flag was installed in a place of honor over the platform. Texas had taken the first step toward reassuming her independent station.
Wharton's History of Texas, from Wilderness to Commonwealth, Vol. 4, pp. 336-38The news got abroad in the town, and everywhere there was wild enthusiasm. Only the few who disapproved the action and who felt that evil days were ahead failed to join in the rejoicing. Among the latter were the seven delegates who voted against the ordinance. It had taken a superior order of courage for them to face that unfriendly crowd and vote their convictions, for they could not fail to know that the attitude of the crowd represented the attitude of an overwhelming majority of the people of the state. They were conscious of the fact that they had participated in a historic proceeding and had made themselves conspicuous by the part they had played. They believed the time would come when their votes would be judged otherwise than they were judged by the crowd that jeered them. In order to leave a lasting record of the event, therefore, they decided to have themselves photographed in a group. This they did in due course. The photograph is reproduced in this volume (see page 342), thus being printed in a book for the first time, sixty-six years after the event it commemorates.
Wharton's History of Texas, from Wilderness to Commonwealth, Vol. 4, pp. 336-38The decision came from what seemed to many white Virginians the unavoidable logic of the situation: Virginia was a slave state; the Republicans had announced their intention of limiting slavery; slavery was protected by the sovereignty of the state.
Edward Ayers, In the Presence of Mine Enemies: The Civil War in the Heart of America 1859-1863 (2003), p. 141In fact, the state rights defense of secession in 1860-1861 did not really appear in force until after 1865 as builders of the Lost Cause myth sought to distance themselves from slavery.
William Davis, as quoted in The Cause Lost: Myths and Realities of the Confederacy (1996), Kansas: University Press of Kansas, p. 180Woods writes 'that the slavery debate masked the real issue: the struggle over power and domination', page 48. Talk about a distinction without a difference. It is akin to stating that the demands of sugar lobbyists for protective quotas mask their real worry: political influence. Yes, slaveholders constituted a special interest that sought political power. Why? To protect slavery.
Jeffrey Rogers Hummel, Thomas Woods and His Critics: A Review Essay" Part IILegalistic Southerners tried to view the Constitution as a contract. Unfortunately, that viewpoint breaks down when viewed as a lawyer views a contract. There are very few ways to legally break a contract unilaterally.
William C. Davis, as quoted in The Cause Lost: Myths and Realities of the Confederacy (1996), University Press of Kansas, p. 186If it is indeed the case that the South seceeded due to Northern tariffs and taxes, not in defense of slavery, the Confederates would have fallen into two classes: a) those who did not know what was in the Confederate Constitution, and hence did not know they were upholding the institution of slavery, or b) those who did know they were upholding the institution of slavery, but thought that it was a "necessary evil" to be borne in the cause of opposing the North’s tariffs and taxes. Either alternative does not make secession look like a just cause. For those of the first class, they would have very little notion of what their government legally stood for, including those aspects of the Constitution which constrained the federal government from protective tariffs and redistributionist taxation. For the Confederates who regarded slavery as a necessary evil, where is their sense of priorities? I'll agree with them that tariffs and taxation may be tyrannical. But when compared to the enslavement of a large percentage of the population, how could the Confederate States presume to throw stones? We are left with more mundane or less inspiring motives as operating in the Confederate States: non-ideological bases for secession (e.g., hubris, duty, paranoia, war-hysteria) and/or the overt defense of slavery.
Richard Shedenhelm, as quoted in "Some Doubts About The Confederate Case" (2001), by R. Shedenhelm, Open ThoughtThe south's theoretical distrust of a powerful central government was related directly to its real fear of what that would mean for the institution of slavery... The statesmen who led the secession movement were unashamed to explicitly cite the defense of slavery as their prime motive.
John Coski, The Confederate Battle Flag: America's Most Embattled Emblem (2005), p. 23Acknowledging the centrality of slavery to the Confederacy is essential.
John Coski, The Confederate Battle Flag: America's Most Embattled Emblem (2005), p. 27While one or more of these interpretations remain popular among the Sons of Confederate Veterans and other Southern heritage groups, few professional historians now subscribe to them. Of all these interpretations, the states' rights argument is perhaps the weakest. It fails to ask the question, states' rights for what purpose? States' rights, or sovereignty, was always more a means than an end, an instrument to achieve a certain goal more than a principle.
James M. McPherson, This Mighty Scourge: Perspectives on the Civil War (2007). Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 3-9Responsible scholars recognize the persistence and depth of racism among white northerners during the Civil War period. It's a key component in constructing the narrative of the sectional crisis, the war, and Reconstruction. One of the reasons Lincoln hesitated in issuing a proclamation of emancipation was because he knew it would arouse opposition in the free north among Democrats. None of that, however, has anything to do with the centrality of slavery in southern society or the reasons why secessionists advocated separation and independence, to protect slavery from the threat posed by Lincoln's election and the long term implications of the Republican triumph in 1860. Moreover, pointing to the existence of northern racism does not make it disappear from southern society. Nor does it necessarily follow that because in 1861 most white northerners did not support going to war to destroy slavery, let alone to secure black equality, that white southerners did not go to war to protect a society and a way of life that was ultimately grounded upon and supported by the enslavement of several million human beings. To deny that is to deny historical reality.
Brooks D. Simpson, "Race and Slavery, North and South: Some Logical Fallacies" (18 June 2011), CrossroadsSouthern planters understood that their cotton kingdom rested not only on plentiful land and labor, but also upon their political ability to preserve the institution of slavery and to project it into the new cotton lands of the American West. Continued territorial expansion of slavery was vital to secure both its economic, and even more so its political viability, threatened as never before by an alarmingly sectional Republican Party. Slave owners understood the challenge to their power over human chattel represented by the new party’s project of strengthening the claims of power between the national state and its citizens—an equally necessary condition for its free labor and free soil ideology.
Sven Beckert, as quoted in "Empire of Cotton" (12 December 2014), The Atlantic.Why did Southern states secede from the Union in 1860 and 1861? Read Charles Dew's clear and penetrating interpretation of what the Southern secession commissioners said and wrote at the time, making their case not just for the act of secession but for establishing a new nation based on the protection and perpetuation of its 'institutions', and one especially. Slavery... The impulses behind secession and the war secession brought about, about the motives of white Southerners who sought to establish an independent Southern nation, one based on the protection and perpetuation of its 'institutions', and one institution especially. Slavery.
J. Tracy Power, "On the Confederate Battle Flag, Slavery, Secession, and the Legacies of the Civil War" (June 2015), AcademiaMany people still believe in delusions about the Confederacy seceding for benign reasons. That's because misconceptions about the Civil War are still too prevalent in the general public and accusations against Lincoln being racist or not being anti-slavery are part of this.
David Navarro, "Race and Slavery, North and South: Some Logical Fallacies" (10 July 2015), CrossroadsBy the time the Constitutional Convention assembled, 1787, virtually all northern states, Vermont, Massachusetts, Philadelphia, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, were implementing some form of gradual abolition. The lone exception, New York, followed the same path in 1799 after two failed attempts, in 1777 and 1785, were defeated by the state legislature. It was the delegates from the southern states, Georgia and South Carolina, who pushed for the maintenance of the slave trade in opposition of those from the other states!
David Navarro, "More of the Same" (12 July 2015), CrossroadsFar from there being a consensus on the acceptance of slavery, sectional differences between the north and the south about the practice of it existed, and were subject of political contentions, from the beginning of the American nation!
David Navarro, "More of the Same" (12 July 2015), Crossroads
==== Bleeding Kansas (1854–1861) ====
===== Contemporaries =====
Slavery, throughout its entire existence in the United States, is none other than the most barbarous, unprovoked and unjustifiable war of one portion of its citizens against another portion, the only conditions of which are perpetual imprisonment and hopeless servitude, or absolute extermination, in utter disregard and violation of those eternal and self-evident truths set forth in our Declaration of Independence.
John Brown, as quoted in "Provisional Constitution and Ordinances" (1858).I, John Brown, am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land can never be purged away but with blood. I had as I now think, vainly flattered myself that without very much bloodshed, it might be done.
John Brown, as quoted in a note that he had at his execution (2 December 1859), most sources say it was handed to the guard, but some dispute that and claim it was handed to a reporter accompanying him; as quoted in John Brown and his Men (1894), by Richard Josiah Hinton.What constitutes the bulwark of our own liberty and independence? It is not our frowning battlements, our bristling sea coasts, the guns of our war steamers, or the strength our gallant and disciplined army? These are not our reliance against a resumption of tyranny in our fair land. All of those may be turned against our liberties, without making us weaker or stronger for the struggle. Our reliance is in the love of liberty which God has planted in our bosoms. Our defense is in the preservation of the spirit which prizes liberty as the heritage of all men, in all lands, everywhere. Destroy this spirit, and you have planted the seeds of despotism around your own doors. Familiarize yourselves with the chains of bondage and you are preparing your own limbs to wear them. Accustomed to trample on the rights of those around you, you have lost the genius of your own independence, and become the fit subjects of the first cunning tyrant who rises.
Abraham Lincoln's speech at Edwardsville, Illinois (11 September 1858); quoted in Lincoln, Abraham; Mario Matthew Cuomo, Harold Holzer, G. S. Boritt, Lincoln on Democracy (Fordham University Press, September 1, 2004), 128. ISBN 978-0823223459.
Variant of the above quote: What constitutes the bulwark of our own liberty and independence? It is not our frowning battlements, our bristling sea coasts, our army and our navy. These are not our reliance against tyranny. All of those may be turned against us without making us weaker for the struggle. Our reliance is in the love of liberty which God has planted in us. Our defense is in the spirit which prizes liberty as the heritage of all men, in all lands everywhere. Destroy this spirit and you have planted the seeds of despotism at your own doors. Familiarize yourselves with the chains of bondage and you prepare your own limbs to wear them. Accustomed to trample on the rights of others, you have lost the genius of your own independence and become the fit subjects of the first cunning tyrant who rises among you.
Fragment of Speech at Edwardsville, Illinois, 13 September 1858; quoted in Lincoln, Abraham; The Writings of Abraham Lincoln V05) p. 6-7.You say you are conservative, eminently conservative, while we are revolutionary, destructive, or something of the sort. What is conservatism? Is it not adherence to the old and tried, against the new and untried? We stick to, contend for, the identical old policy on the point in controversy which was adopted by "our fathers who framed the Government under which we live;" while you with one accord reject, and scout, and spit upon that old policy, and insist upon substituting something new. True, you disagree among yourselves as to what that substitute shall be. You are divided on new propositions and plans, but you are unanimous in rejecting and denouncing the old policy of the fathers... You charge that we stir up insurrections among your slaves. We deny it, and what is your proof? Harper's Ferry? John Brown? John Brown was no Republican, and you have failed to implicate a single Republican in his Harper's Ferry enterprise. If any member of our party is guilty in that matter, you know it or you do not know it. If you do know it, you are inexcusable for not designating the man and proving the fact. If you do not know it, you are inexcusable for asserting it, and especially for persisting in the assertion after you have tried and failed to make the proof. You need to be told that persisting in a charge which one does not know to be true, is simply malicious slander. Some of you admit that no Republican designedly aided or encouraged the Harper's Ferry affair... The Democrats cry John Brown invasion. We are guiltless of it, but our denial does not satisfy them. Nothing will satisfy them but disinfecting the atmosphere entirely of all opposition to slavery. They have not demanded of us to yield the guards of liberty in our state constitutions, but it will naturally come to that after a while. If we give up to them, we cannot refuse even their utmost request. If slavery is right, it ought to be extended; if not, it ought to be restricted, there is no middle ground. Wrong as we think it, we can afford to let it alone where it of necessity now exists; but we cannot afford to extend it into free territory and around our own homes. Let us stand against it!
Abraham Lincoln, Cooper Union address (27 February 1860), New York City, New York.What will be the result to the institution of slavery, which will follow submission to the inauguration and administration of Mister Lincoln as the President of one section of the Union? My candid opinion is, that it will be the total abolition of slavery.
Joseph E. Brown, letter (7 December 1860), as quoted in Secession Debated, pp. 145-159.I do not doubt, therefore, that submission to the administration of Mister Lincoln will result in the final abolition of slavery. If we fail to resist now, we will never again have the strength to resist.
Joseph E. Brown, letter (7 December 1860), as quoted in Secession Debated, pp. 145-159.
===== Historians =====
Ideas made the opposite impact in the Confederacy. Ideological contradictions afflicted the slave system even before the war began. John Brown knew the masters secretly feared their slaves might revolt, even as they assured abolitionists that slaves really liked slavery. One reason his Harpers Ferry raid prompted such an outcry in the South was that slave owners feared their slaves might join him. Yet their condemnations of Brown and the 'Black Republicans' who financed him did not persuade Northern moderates but only pushed them toward the abolitionist camp. After all, if Brown was truly dangerous, as slave owners claimed, then slavery was truly unjust. Happy slaves would never revolt.
James W. Loewen, Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong (2008), p. 193.
==== The Lincoln–Douglas Debates (1858) ====
I agree with Judge Douglas, he is not my equal in many respects. Certainly not in color, perhaps not in moral or intellectual endowment. But in the right to eat the bread, without the leave of anybody else, which his own hand earns, he is my equal and the equal of Judge Douglas, and the equal of every living man.
Abraham Lincoln, debate at Ottawa, Illinois (21 August 1858).I do not perceive that because the white man is to have the superior position the negro should be denied everything. I do not understand that because I do not want a negro woman for a slave I must necessarily want her for a wife. My understanding is that I can just let her alone. I am now in my fiftieth year, and I certainly never had a black woman for either a slave or a wife. So it seems to me quite possible for us to get along without making either slaves or wives of negroes.
Abraham Lincoln, fourth Lincoln-Douglas debate (18 September 1858).You know that in his Charleston speech, an extract from which he has read, he declared that the negro belongs to an inferior race; is physically inferior to the white man, and should always be kept in an inferior position. I will now read to you what he said at Chicago on that point. In concluding his speech at that place, he remarked, 'My friends, I have detained you about as long as I desire to do, and I have only to say let us discard all this quibbling about this man and the other man-this race and that race, and the other race being inferior, and therefore they must be placed in an inferior position, discarding our standard that we have left us. Let us discard all these things, and unite as one people throughout this land until we shall once more stand up declaring that all men are created equal'. Thus you see, that when addressing the Chicago Abolitionists he declared that all distinctions of race must be discarded and blotted out, because the negro stood on an equal footing with the white man; that if one man said the Declaration of Independence did not mean a negro when it declared all men created equal, that another man would say that it did not mean another man; and hence we ought to discard all difference between the negro race and all other races, and declare them all created equal.
Stephen Douglas, sixth Lincoln-Douglas debate, (13 October 1858), Quincy, Illinois.That is the real issue. That is the issue that will continue in this country when these poor tongues of Judge Douglas and myself shall be silent. It is the eternal struggle between these two principles—right and wrong—throughout the world. They are the two principles that have stood face to face from the beginning of time; and will ever continue to struggle. The one is the common right of humanity and the other the divine right of kings. It is the same principle in whatever shape it develops itself. It is the same spirit that says, "You work and toil and earn bread, and I'll eat it." No matter in what shape it comes, whether from the mouth of a king who seeks to bestride the people of his own nation and live by the fruit of their labor, or from one race of men as an apology for enslaving another race, it is the same tyrannical principle.
Abraham Lincoln, Debate at Alton, Illinois (15 October 1858).
==== Douglas vs. Lincoln: The U.S. presidential election of 1860 (November 1860) ====
===== Contemporaries =====
Under all these circumstances, do you really feel yourselves justified to break up this Government unless such a court decision as yours is, shall be at once submitted to as a conclusive and final rule of political action? But you will not abide the election of a Republican president! In that supposed event, you say, you will destroy the Union, and then, you say, the great crime of having destroyed it will be upon us! That is cool. A highwayman holds a pistol to my ear, and mutters through his teeth, 'Stand and deliver, or I shall kill you, and then you will be a murderer!' To be sure, what the robber demanded of me, my money, was my own, and I had a clear right to keep it, but it was no more my own than my vote is my own, and the threat of death to me, to extort my money, and the threat of destruction to the Union, to extort my vote, can scarcely be distinguished in principle.
Abraham Lincoln, Cooper Union address (27 February 1860), New York City, New York.I see the signs of the approaching triumph of the Republicans in the bearing of their political adversaries. A great deal of their war with us nowadays is mere bushwhacking.
Abraham Lincoln, Speech at New Haven, Connecticut (6 March 1860).The way to abolish slavery in America is to vote such men into power as well use their powers for the abolition of slavery.
Frederick Douglass, The Constitution of the United States: Is It Pro-Slavery or Anti-Slavery? (26 March 1860), Glasgow, United Kingdom.We brand the recent reopening of the African slave trade, under the cover of our national flag, aided by perversions of judicial power, as a crime against humanity and a burning shame to our country and age; and we call upon Congress to take prompt and efficient measures for the total and final suppression of that execrable traffic.
Republican Party Platform of 1860 (17 May 1860).The Republican Party is opposed to any change in our naturalization laws or any state legislation by which the rights of citizens hitherto accorded to immigrants from foreign lands shall be abridged or impaired.
Republican Party Platform of 1860 (17 May 1860).The enactments of the state legislatures to defeat the faithful execution of the Fugitive Slave Law, are hostile in character.
Democratic Party Platform of 1860 (18 June 1860).Douglas doesn't care whether slavery is voted up or voted down, but God cares, and humanity cares, and I care; and with God’s help I shall not fail. I may not see the end; but it will come and I shall be vindicated; and these men will find that they have not read their Bibles aright.
Abraham Lincoln, anecdote registered by novelist Josiah Gilbert Holland, in his Life of Abraham Lincoln (1866), Chapter XVI, p. 287. University of Nebraska Press, as something that Lincoln said in a conversation with educator Newman Bateman, in the Autumn of 1860.The last act of Democratic domination in this Capitol, eighteen years ago, was striking and dramatic, perhaps heroic. Then the Democratic Party said to the Republicans, 'If you elect the man of your choice as President of the United States we will shoot your government to death'; but the people of this country, refusing to be coerced by threats or violence, voted as they pleased, and lawfully elected Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States... Then your leaders, though holding a majority in the other branch of Congress, were heroic enough to withdraw from their seats and fling down the gage of mortal battle. We called it rebellion; but we recognized it as courageous and manly to avow your purpose, take all the risks, and fight it out in the open field. Notwithstanding your utmost efforts to destroy it, the government was saved. Year by year, since the war ended, those who resisted you have come to believe that you have finally renounced your purpose to destroy, and are willing to maintain the government. In that belief you have been permitted to return to power in the two Houses... Today, after eighteen years of defeat, the book of your domination is again opened, and your first act awakens every unhappy memory, and threatens to destroy the confidence which your professions of patriotism inspired. You turned down a leaf of the history that recorded your last act of power in 1861, and you have now signalized your return to power by beginning a second chapter at the same page, not this time by a heroic act that declares war on the battlefield, but you say, if all the legislative powers of the government do not consent to let you tear certain laws out of the statute-book, you will not shoot our government to death as you tried to do in the first chapter, but you declare that if we do not consent against our will, if you cannot coerce an independent branch of this government, against its will, to allow you to tear from the statute-books some laws put there by “there by the will of the people, you will starve the government to death... Between death on the field and death by starvation, I do not know that the American people will see any great difference. The end, if successfully reached, would be death in either case. Gentlemen, you have it in your power to kill this government; you have it in your power, by withholding these two bills, to smite the nerve-centers of our Government.
James A. Garfield, speech (29 March 1879)It was very much discussed whether the South would carry out its threat to secede and set up a separate government, the corner-stone of which should be, protection to the 'Divine' institution of slavery.
Ulysses S. Grant, Personal Memoirs of General U. S. Grant (1885), Ch. 16.
===== Historians =====
The Alabama Democratic convention [instructed] its delegates to walk out of the national convention if the party refused to adopt a platform pledging a federal slave code for the territories. Other lower-South Democratic organizations followed suit. In February, Jefferson Davis presented the substance of southern demands to the Senate in resolutions affirming that neither Congress nor a territorial legislature could 'impair the constitutional right of any citizen of the United States to take his slave property into the common territories.
James M. McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom (1988), p. 214.Southern political leaders were threatening to take their states out of the Union if a Republican president was elected on a platform restricting slavery.
James M. McPherson, This Mighty Scourge: Perspectives on the Civil War (2007), p. 188Shortly before the 1860 election, Frederick Douglass offered a succinct summary of the dilemma confronting opponents of slavery like Lincoln, who worked within the political system rather than outside it. Abstractly, Douglass wrote, most northerners would agree that slavery was wrong. The challenge was to find a way of 'translating antislavery sentiment into antislavery action'. The constitution barred interference with slavery in the states where it already existed. For Lincoln, as for most Republicans, antislavery action meant not attacking slavery where it was but working to prevent slavery's westward expansion. Lincoln, however, did talk about a future without slavery. The aim of the Republican Party, he insisted, was to put the institution on the road to 'ultimate extinction', a phrase he borrowed from Henry Clay. Ultimate extinction could take a long time. Lincoln once said that slavery might survive for another hundred years. But to the south, Lincoln seemed as dangerous as an abolitionist, because he was committed to the eventual end of slavery. This was why his election in 1860 led inexorably to secession and civil war.
Eric Foner, "Our Lincoln" (26 January 2009), The Nation.The long-term preservation of slavery was the primary motivation for secession. It was a direct reaction to the election, for the first time in the nation's history, of a Republican administration that opposed expansion of slavery into the territories. The national debate leading up to the war focused on slavery, as did last-minute attempts to avert war in 1861. Slavery permeates Lincoln's first inaugural address and also the official declarations of five of the seceding states explaining their secession from the Union.
Frank Scaturro, "The Confederate flag debate is revising our revisionist history" (14 July 2015), Washington Examiner.
==== State secession conventions and declarations (1860–1861) ====
We prefer, however, our system of industry, by which labor and capital are identified in interest, and capital, therefore, protects labor–by which our population doubles every twenty years–by which starvation is unknown, and abundance crowns the land–by which order is preserved by unpaid police, and the most fertile regions of the world, where the white man cannot labor, are brought into usefulness by the labor of the African, and the whole world is blessed by our own productions. All we demand of other peoples is, to be let alone, to work out our own high destinies. United together, and we must be the most independent, as we are the most important among the nations of the world. United together, and we require no other instrument to conquer peace, than our beneficent productions. United together, and we must be a great, free and prosperous people, whose renown must spread throughout the civilized world, and pass down, we trust, to the remotest ages. We ask you to join us, in forming a Confederacy of Slaveholding States.
Address of the people of South Carolina to the people of the Slaveholding States of the United States (25 December 1860).The party of Lincoln, called the Republican party, under its present name and organization is of recent origin. It is admitted to be an anti-slavery party, while it attracts to itself by its creed, the scattered advocates of exploded political heresies, of condemned theories in political economy, the advocates of commercial restrictions, of protection, of special privileges, of waste and corruption in the administration of Government; anti-slavery is its mission and its purpose.
Georgia Declaration of Causes of Secession (January 1861), State of Georgia.We hold as undeniable truths that the governments of the various States, and of the confederacy itself, were established exclusively by the white race, for themselves and their posterity; that the African race had no agency in their establishment; that they were rightfully held and regarded as an inferior and dependent race, and in that condition only could their existence in this country be rendered beneficial or tolerable.
A Declaration of the Causes which Impel the State of Texas to Secede (February 1861).The area of slavery must be extended correlative with its antagonism, or it will be put speedily in the 'course of ultimate extinction.'... The extension of slavery is the vital point of the whole controversy between the North and the South... Amendments to the federal constitution are urged by some as a panacea for all the ills that beset us. That instrument is amply sufficient as it now stands, for the protection of Southern rights, if it was only enforced. The South wants practical evidence of good faith from the North, not mere paper agreements and compromises. They believe slavery a sin, we do not, and there lies the trouble.
Henry Massey Rector, Speech to the Arkansas Secession Convention, 2 March 1861), partly cited in: David Yancey Thomas (1926), Arkansas in War and Reconstruction 1861-1874, p. 65Our 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 the commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun. These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization. That blow has been long aimed at the institution, and was at the point of reaching its consummation. There was no choice left us but submission to the mandates of abolition, or a dissolution of the Union, whose principles had been subverted to work out our ruin.
Declaration of the Causes which Induce and Justify the Secession of the State of Mississippi (1861).We do not overstate the dangers to our Institution...
A Declaration of the Causes which Induce and Justify the Secession of the State of Mississippi (1861).
=== The War Begins: The Confederacy attacks Fort Sumter (12 April 1861) ===
Fort Sumter has been on fire. [Union Army Major] Anderson [the commanding officer of Fort Sumter] has not yet silenced any of our guns.... But the sound of these guns makes regular meals impossible.
Diary of Mary Boykin Chesnut, a resident of Charleston, South Carolina (1861).Showers of [cannon] balls... and shells... poured into the fort in one incessant stream, causing great flakes of masonry to fall in all directions. When the immense mortar shells, after sailing high in he air, came down in a vertical direction and buried themselves in the parade ground, their explosion shook the fort like an earthquake.
Major Abner Doubleday (1861). Doubleday was second-in-command at Fort Sumter and briefly commanded Union troops at Gettysburg in July 1863. He was later credited with establishing the rules of baseball.I know it has been suggested that the President intentionally left those forts in a defenseless condition, that South Carolina might seize them before his successor had time to take means for their safety. I cannot believe it; I will not believe it, for it would make Mr. Buchanan a more odious traitor than Benedict Arnold. Every drop of blood that shall be shed in the conflict would sit heavy on his soul forever.
Thaddeus Stevens, Beverly Wilson Palmer, Holly Byers Ochoa (1997) The Selected Papers of Thaddeus Stevens, Volume 1: April 1865-August 1868, p. 193To a good many southerners the events of 1861–1865 have been known as 'The War of Northern Aggression'. Never mind that the South took the initiative by seceding in defiance of an election of a president by a constitutional majority. Never mind that the Confederacy started the war by firing on the American flag. These were seen as preemptive acts of defense against northern aggression.
James M. McPherson, "The War of Southern Aggression" (19 January 1989), The New York Review of BooksBefore that day, the flag had served mostly as a military ensign or a convenient marking of American territory...and displayed on special occasions like the Fourth of July. But in the weeks after Major Anderson's surprising stand, it became something different. Suddenly the Stars and Stripes flew...from houses, from storefronts, from churches; above the village greens and college quads....[T]hat old flag meant something new. The abstraction of the Union cause was transfigured into a physical thing: strips of cloth that millions of people would fight for, and many thousands die for.
Adam Goodheart, 1861: The Civil War Awakening (2011), Vintage Books. p. 22
==== The U.S. responds to Fort Sumter being attacked by the Confederates ====
===== Contemporaries =====
There are only two sides to this question. Every man must be for the United States or against it. There can be no neutrals in this war; only patriots and traitors.
Stephen Douglas, last public speech before his death, Chicago, Illinois (1 May 1861).Monday dawned, April 15. Who that saw that day will ever forget it! For now... there rang out the voice of Abraham Lincoln calling for seventy-five thousand volunteers for three months. They were for the protection of Washington and the property of the government... This proclamation was like the first peal of a surcharged thunder-cloud, clearing the murky air. The... whole North arose as one man.Hastily formed companies marched to camps of rendezvous, the sunlight flashing from gun-barrel and bayonet.... Merchants and clerks rushed out from stores, bareheaded, saluting them as they passed. Windows were flung up; and women leaned out into the rain, waving flags and handkerchiefs. Horsde-cars and omnibuses halted for the passage of the soldiers, and cheer upon cheer leaped forth from thronged doors and windows....I have never seen anything like this before. I had never dreamed that New England... could be fired with so warlike a spirit.
Mary Ashton Livermore, observing the mustering of troops in Boston (1861).The assault upon and reduction of Fort Sumter was in no sense a matter of self-defense on the part of the assailants. They well knew that the garrison in the fort could by no possibility commit aggression upon them. They knew, they were expressly notified, that the giving of bread to the few brave and hungry men of the garrison was all which would on that occasion be attempted, unless themselves, by resisting so much, should provoke more. They knew that this government desired to keep the garrison in the fort, not to assail them, but merely to maintain visible possession, and thus to preserve the Union from actual and immediate dissolution, trusting, as herein before stated, to time, discussion, and the ballot box for final adjustment; and they assailed and reduced the fort for precisely the reverse object, to drive out the visible authority of the federal union, and thus force it to immediate dissolution. That this was their object the executive well understood; and having said to them in the inaugural address, 'You can have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressors', he took pains not only to keep this declaration good, but also to keep the case so free from the power of ingenious sophistry as that the world should not be able to misunderstand it.
Abraham Lincoln, July 4th message to Congress (4 July 1861).This issue embraces more than the fate of these United States. It presents to the whole family of man the question whether a constitutional republic, or democracy—a government of the people by the same people—can or can not maintain its territorial integrity against its own domestic foes. It presents the question whether discontented individuals, too few in numbers to control administration according to organic law in any case, can always, upon the pretenses made in this case, or on any other pretenses, or arbitrarily without any pretense, break up their government, and thus practically put an end to free government upon the earth. It forces us to ask, Is there in all republics this inherent and fatal weakness? Must a government of necessity be too strong for the liberties of its own people, or too weak to maintain its own existence?
Abraham Lincoln, July 4th message to Congress (4 July 1861).This is essentially a people's contest. On the side of the Union it is a struggle for maintaining in the world that form and substance of government whose leading object is to elevate the condition of men; to lift artificial weights from all shoulders; to clear the paths of laudable pursuit for all; to afford all an unfettered start and a fair chance in the race of life. Yielding to partial and temporary departures, from necessity, this is the leading object of the Government for whose existence we contend.
Abraham Lincoln, July 4th message to Congress (4 July 1861).Much patience and forbearance, the North has always shown, toward her Southern brethren, who had each way their own; But when we made our President, a man whom we desired. Their wrath was roused, they mounted guns, and on Fort Sumter fired... They forced the war upon us, for peaceful men are we. They steal our money, seize our forts, and then as cowards flee. False to their vows, and to the Flag, that once protected them. They sought the Union to dissolve, earth's noblest, brightest, gem.
"Union Reply to The Bonnie Blue Flag".We, on our side, are praying Him to give us victory, because we believe we are right; but those on the other side pray to Him, look for victory, believing they are right. What must He think of us?
Abraham Lincoln, in 1861, as quoted in The Life of Abraham Lincoln: Drawn from Original Sources (1900), Volume 3, New York: Lincoln History Society, p. 124.As soon as slavery fired upon the flag it was felt, we all felt, even those who did not object to slaves, that slavery must be destroyed. We felt that it was a stain to the Union that men should be bought and sold like cattle.
Ulysses S. Grant, to Otto von Bismarck in June 1878, as quoted in Around the World with General Grant (1879), by John Russell Young, The American News Company, New York, vol. 7, p. 416.Forward to Richmond!
Demand of the New York Tribune that the Union attack the Confederacy (1861).We shall crush out this rebellion as an elephant would trample on a mouse.
Overeager Unionist supporter at the start of the Civil War (1861).When I say that this rebellion has its source and life in slavery, I only repeat a simple truism.
George W. Julian, Speeches on Political Questions, 1872, p. 157; Speech to the House of Representatives, 14 January 1862That allegiance from the inhabitant and protection from the Government are corresponding obligations, dependent upon each other, so that while the allegiance of every inhabitant of this territory, without distinction of color or class, is due to the United States, and cannot in anyway be defeated by the action of any pretended Government, or by any pretense of property or claim to service, the corresponding obligation of protection is at the same time due by the United States to every such inhabitant, without distinction of color or class; and it follows that inhabitants held as slaves, whose paramount allegiance is due to the United States, may justly look to the national Government for protection.
Charles Sumner in: United States Congressional serial set Vol. 1116, 1861, p. 195; Resolution's on the Theory of Secession and ReconstructionOur object should be not only to end this terrible war now, but to prevent its recurrence. All must admit that slavery is the cause of it. Without slavery we should this day be a united and happy people... The principles of our Republic are wholly incompatible with slavery.
Thaddeus Stevens, "Subduing the Rebellion" (22 January 1862), as quoted in The Selected Works of Thaddeus StevensWar is the remedy our enemies have chosen. Other simple remedies were within their choice. You know it and they know it, but they wanted war, and I say let us give them all they want; not a word of argument, not a sign of let up, no cave in till we are whipped or they are.
William Tecumseh Sherman, as quoted in letter to James Guthrie (14 August 1864), GeorgiaThe South began the war by seizing forts, arsenals, mints, custom-houses, etc., etc., long before Mr. Lincoln was installed, and before the South had one jot or tittle of provocation.
General William Tecumseh Sherman, letter to the members of the city council of the City of Atlanta (12 September 1864)The Southern rebellion was largely the outgrowth of the Mexican war. Nations, like individuals, are punished for their transgressions. We got our punishment in the most sanguinary and expensive war of modern times.
Ulysses S. Grant, regarding the Mexican–American War, as quoted in Personal Memoirs of General U. S. Grant (1885), Chapter 3
===== Historians =====
The thunderclap of Sumter produced a startling crystallization of northern sentiment... Anger swept the land. From every side came news of mass meetings, speeches, resolutions, tenders of business support, the muster of companies and regiments, the determined action of governors and legislatures.
Allan Nevins, The War for the Union: The Improvised War 1861-1862 (1959), pp. 74–75The secession and the Confederacy's existence were predicated on slavery, on preserving and defending it against containment, as virtually all of its founders from Robert Barnwell Rhett to Jefferson Davis unashamedly declared in 1861.
William Davis, Look Away!: A History of the Confederate States of America (2002), New York: The Free Press, p. 130
==== The Confederacy responds to their starting of the Civil War ====
If Virginia stands by the old Union, so will I. But if she secedes,... then I will follow my native state with my sword and, if need be, with my life.
U.S. Army Colonel Robert E. Lee, before Virginia joined the Confederacy (1861).With all my devotion to the Union and the feeling and loyalty and duty of an American citizen, I have not been able to make up my mind against my relatives, my children, my home. I have therefore resigned my commission in the Army, and save in defense of my native State — with the sincere hope that my poor services may never be used — I hope I may never be called on to draw my sword.
Robert E. Lee of Virginia, Colonel, U.S. Army, on resigning his commission (1861). He was soon appointed to the Virginia Militia and later headed the Confederate Army.Just throw three or four shells among these blue-bellied Yankees and they'll scatter like sheep.
Anonymous overconfident Confederate supporter (1861).Our people are going to war to perpetuate slavery, but the war will be its death knell.
Sam Houston, as quoted in "Revering Sam Houston, anti-Confederate patriot" (18 March 2016), by Michael Zak, Grand Old Partisan
=== War aims ===
==== Union war aims ====
===== Contemporaries =====
What a splendid cause is this on which we are engaged. I think it is the grandest that ever enlisted the sympathies of man. Nobler even than the Revolution for they fought for their own freedom while we fight for that of another race. I firmly believe that the doom of slavery is fixed and if it is not wholly rooted out by the present war, measures will be taken to wipe it out forever. If such an event can be consummated by any sacrifice of mine, it shall be cheerfully made. I could die for this as readily as I could lie down to rest at the close of a day of wearisome toil. Men have called this age dull. They can do so no more... War is bad, heaven knows, but slavery is far worse. If the doom of slavery is not sealed by the war, I shall curse the day I entered the Army, or lifted a finger in the preservation of the Union. Of the old Union we have had enough and more than enough.
Walter Stone Poor, a Union soldier from Maine, letter to George Fox (15 May 1861), Sandy Hook, as quoted in For Cause and Comrades (1997) by James M. McPherson, p. 117Mother do you know I asked myself this question. What right have I simply because I am white to be the master race, while this man knowing more than I should be a slave because he is black?
Chauncey Herbert Cooke, letter to motherI am with Fremont as many of the boys are. I have no heart in this war if the slaves cannot go free.
Chauncey Herbert Cooke, Union private from Company G of the 25th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, letter to Doe Cooke (6 January 1863)There had to be an end of slavery. Then we were fighting an enemy with whom we could not make a peace. We had to destroy him. No convention, no treaty was possible – only destruction.
Ulysses S. Grant, Around the World with General Grant (1879), p. 417.The cause of the great War of the Rebellion against the United States will have to be attributed to slavery. For some years before the war began it was a trite saying among some politicians that 'A state half slave and half free cannot exist.' All must become slave or all free, or the state will go down. I took no part myself in any such view of the case at the time, but since the war is over, reviewing the whole question, I have come to the conclusion that the saying is quite true.
Ulysses S. Grant, Personal Memoirs of General U. S. Grant (1885), Conclusion.One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union, even by war; while the government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it.
Abraham Lincoln, Second Inaugural Address (March 1865), Washington, D.C.Neither party expected for the war, the magnitude, or the duration, which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with, or even before, the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces; but let us judge not that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered; that of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has his own purposes.
Abraham Lincoln, Second Inaugural Address (March 1865), Washington, D.C.; Lincoln was alluding to Jesus' words in in Matthew 7:1 "Judge not, that ye be not judged." (KJV)If the Republicans, who think slavery is wrong, get possession of the general government, we may not root out the evil at once, but may at least prevent its extension. If I find a venomous snake lying on the open prairie, I seize the first stick and kill him at once. But if that snake is in bed with my children, I must be more cautious. I shall, in striking the snake, also strike the children, or arouse the reptile to bite the children. Slavery is the venomous snake in bed with the children. But if the question is whether to kill it on the prairie or put it in bed with other children, I think we'd kill it!
Abraham Lincoln, speech at Hartford, Connecticut (5 March 1860), Evening Press.You think slavery is right and should be extended; while we think slavery is wrong and ought to be restricted. That I suppose is the rub. It certainly is the only substantial difference between us.
Abraham Lincoln, as quoted in letter to Alexander H. Stephens (22 December 1860), Springfield, Illinois.There have been men who have proposed to me to return to slavery the black warriors of Port Hudson and Olustee to their masters to conciliate the south. I should be damned in time and in eternity for so doing. The world shall know that I will keep my faith to friends and enemies, come what will. My enemies say I am now carrying on this war for the sole purpose of abolition. It is and will be carried on so long as I am president for the sole purpose of restoring the Union. But no human power can subdue this rebellion without using the emancipation lever as I have done.
Abraham Lincoln, as quoted in interview with Alexander W. Randall and Joseph T. Mills (19 August 1864).Away down south in the land of traitors, rattlesnakes and alligators, right away, come away, right away, come away. Where cotton's king and men are chattels, Union boys will win the battles. Right away, come away, right away, come away. Then we'll all go down to Dixie, away, away! Each Dixie boy must understand that he must mind his Uncle Sam. Away, away, and we'll all go down to Dixie.
"Union Dixie"The Confederacy stands for slavery and the Union for freedom.
Abraham Lincoln, Private conversation (January 1862)This Union, the Constitution, and the liberties of the people shall be perpetuated in accordance with the original idea for which that struggle was made, and I shall be most happy indeed if I shall be an humble instrument in the hands of the Almighty, and of this, his almost chosen people, for perpetuating the object of that great struggle.
Abraham Lincoln, address to the New Jersey Senate (21 February 1861); in Roy P. Basler, ed., The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (1953), vol. 4, p. 236The world has never had a good definition of the word liberty, and the American people, just now, are much in want of one. We all declare for liberty; but in using the same word we do not all mean the same thing. With some the word liberty may mean for each man to do as he pleases with himself, and the product of his labor; while with others the same word may mean for some men to do as they please with other men, and the product of other men's labor. Here are two, not only different, but incompatable things, called by the same name — liberty. And it follows that each of the things is, by the respective parties, called by two different and incompatable names — liberty and tyranny.
President Abraham Lincoln, address at sanitary fair, Baltimore, Maryland (18 April 1864)
As quoted in The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, ed. Roy P. Basler, vol. 7, p. 301–2 (1953)If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. 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. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause. I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors; and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views. I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official duty; and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men every where could be free.
Abraham Lincoln, letter to Horace Greeley (22 August 1862)We the colored citizens of Queens County, N.Y., having met in mass meeting... take the present opportunity to express our opinions most respectfully and freely....Why not declare slavery abolished and favor our peaceful colonization in the Rebel states, or some portion of them?... We would cheerfully return there and give our most willing aid to deliver our loyal colored brethren and other Unionists from the tyranny of rebels to our government.
Petition of the Colored Citizens of Queens County (1862)Soldiers. You are about to return to your homes and your friends, after having, as I learn, performed in camp a comparatively short term of duty in this great contest. I am greatly obliged to you, and to all who have come forward at the call of their country. I wish it might be more generally and universally understood what the country is now engaged in. We have, as all will agree, a free government, where every man has a right to be equal with every other man.
Abraham Lincoln, speech to the One Hundred Sixty-fourth Ohio Regiment (18 August 1864), delivered at Washington, D.C.In this great struggle, this form of government and every form of human right is endangered if our enemies succeed. There is more involved in this contest than is realized by everyone. There is involved in this struggle the question whether your children and my children shall enjoy the privileges we have enjoyed. I say this in order to impress upon you, if you are not already so impressed, that no small matter should divert us from our great purpose. There may be some irregularities in the practical application of our system. It is fair that each man shall pay taxes in exact proportion to the value of his property; but if we should wait before collecting a tax to adjust the taxes upon each man in exact proportion with every other man, we should never collect any tax at all. There may be mistakes made sometimes; things may be done wrong while the officers of the government do all they can to prevent mistakes. But I beg of you, as citizens of this great republic, not to let your minds to carried off from the great work we have before us. This struggle is too large for you to be diverted from it by any small matter. When you return to your homes rise up to the height of a generation of men worthy of a free Government, and we will carry out the great work we have commenced. I return to you my sincere thanks, soldiers, for the honor you have done me this afternoon.
Abraham Lincoln, speech to the One Hundred Sixty-fourth Ohio Regiment (18 August 1864), delivered at Washington, D.C.He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free.
Julia Ward Howe, "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" (1861).When our land is illumined with liberty's smile. If a foe from within strikes a blow at her glory. Down, down with the traitor that tries to defile. The flag of the stars, and the page of her story! By the millions unchained, who their birthright have gained. We will keep her bright blazon forever unstained; And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave, While the land of the free is the home of the brave.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., "The Star-Spangled Banner" in: Monthly Journal, Vol. 2, 1861, p. 463The more I learn of the cursed institution of slavery, the more I feel willing to endure, for its final destruction... After this war is over, this whole country will undergo a change for the better... Abolishing slavery will dignify labor; that fact of itself will revolutionize everything... Let Christians use all their influence to have justice done to the black man.
Union soldier from Michigan, letter to wife, as quoted in Cause and Comrades (1997), by James M. McPherson, New York City: Oxford University Press, Inc., pp. 124–130.The road was constantly thronged with contrabands who…were making their way on 'double quick', for the land of peace and freedom. I saw the tears stream down the dark faces of those too old to leave, as those in the prime of life bid them a long adieu, and with hurried step started from the house of bondage. The attachment that exists between the slave and the master, is like the attachment between oil and water… The very institution itself hardens the heart and callouses all feelings of humanity.
Union soldier encountering slaves while marching into Virginia, as quoted in War at our Doors (1998), by Rebecca Campbell Light, United States: American History CompanyWhen the battle ended and I heard that the Union Army had been defeated, I couldn't believe it. My mistress said to me, 'You know the Northern soldiers can't fight us here'. But I said, 'Ain't God the captain? He started this war, and he's right in front. He may stop in his career and let you rest up a little bit now, but our Captain ain't never been beaten. Soon He'll start out again, and you'll hear the bugle blow, and He'll march on to victory. Where the Bible says, 'Be not afraid; you shall set under your own vine and fig tree', that means us slaves, and I tell you we're going to be a free people. You all will be getting your pay sure for the way you've done treated us poor black folks. We've been killed up like dogs, and the strikes you've laid on us hurt just as bad as if our skin was white as snow. But I ain't going to run away or from my children in the river as some slaves have, for I'm as certain this war will set us free as that I stand here'. I told her just what I thought, and my mistress said, 'Fanny, you is foolish', and my master said, 'You ain't got no sense'. And I said to my master, 'When I was a young girl you sold ninety-six people at one time to pay a debt'. Then I sat down and cried, and the white people stood there and laughed at me. 'Lord', I said, 'I'd rather be dead than have my children sold away from me'.
Fannie Lee, a Virginian slave, as quoted in Battleground Adventures in the Civil War (1915), by Clifton Johnson, Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, p. 150It would astonish you if you should see the number of Negroes a running around our and all the other camps in this vacinity. I would hardly believe there could be the number in Slavery in the whole of Virginia. They come across the river nights in Boats to get away from their masters. I saw a couple to day who came some fourteen miles from here last night in the rain. They took a couple of their Masters Horses and rode in and then sold them for five Dollars a piece. And nice Horses they were too. The slave holders will not have one twentieth part of their Slaves left if this army should stay here for weeks and every appearance is now that we shall stay here that length of time.
Oliver McAllaster, 35th New York soldier, letter.After the rebels had all disappeared, the whole command marched down into Falmouth Village with bands playing and flags flying. We were greeted by the colored people who came running in from all directions to see the Yanks and to get near and hear the music. This was strange, for they had been told that the ‘Yanks’ were something terrible and that they had horns like an ox. One old colored woman told that her master told her that the Yanks would harness the colored people to their artillery and make them work like mules and horses. ‘But bless you honey, you Yanks are the best of people’, the old lady added.
Wyman S. White, Union Army first sergeant, F. Company, diary entry.Although they may be poor, not a man shall be a slave.
George Frederick Root, "Battle Cry of Freedom" (1862).On the face of this wide earth, Mr. President, there is not one... intelligent champion of the Union cause who does not feel... that the rebellion, if crushed tomorrow, would be renewed if slavery were left in full vigor... and that every hour of deference to slavery is an hour of added and deepened peril to the Union.
Horace Greeley, Open Letter to Pres. Lincoln (1862).“Contrabands” still come pouring in upon our camps, very many of them seeking and finding employment, and profession uniformly the utmost anxiety to escape from their impatiently-borne thraldom. That strong attachment to “Massa” and “Misses”, which, I often heard it said at the North, would lead them to cling to their Southern homes and refuse freedom even if it were offered, I havn’t yet happened to see,– With one voice they breathe longings for a Northern home, eager to turn their backs upon their masters forever, if they can only carry their families with them. It is impossible to look upon these poor people, an abject, meek…as they seem, so anxious to emerge from their condition of involuntary servitude, into an atmosphere where they can breathe as freely as the white man does, without feeling one’s sympathies strongly enlisted. One finds the question rising involuntarily, Is not the negro a man? Warmed with the same sun, hurt with the same weapons, having the same feelings, affections, aspirations that the white man has? Why then should he be a slave to his fellow man? But I have no room for speculations here, and will only add, that your correspondent, in common with many others in the regiment and surrounding ones has secured the services of a man Friday, who was coachman and man of all work, to a prominent secessionist farmer down the Rappahannock. I find him a capital 'help'. Skilled and prepared to render almost any service required... and his 'Massa' is a violent rebel, with two sons in the rebel army, I shall have no compunctions whatever in using the services of the 'contraband' in promoting the interest of the Union cause, by promoting for the present those of one of its humblest supporters–and of giving him besides such “aid and comfort” in the matter of reaching the freedom that he craves, as shall not come in conflict with the sacred Constitution.
20th New York State Militia soldier, letter (29 April 1862), as quoted in the Kingston Argus (7 May 1862).We have more men and more resources than these traitors and five times as much money. We must beat them in the end, but we must do it by poking them, butting them whenever we see them. By God, shall a United States ship of war hesitate to go in and destroy a dozen of these wretched Mississippi steamers? I am sick of hearing my officers talk of cotton-clad boats and impregnable rams. They should pitch in and destroy them. What matters it, general, whether you and I are killed or not. We came here to die. It is our business and must happen sooner or later. We must fight this thing out until there is no more than one man left and that man must be a Union man. Here's to his health.
David G. Farragut, as quoted in A Virginia Yankee in the Civil War: The Diaries of David Hunter Strother, by David Hunter Strother, p. 161.Oh, give us a flag, all free without a slave! We'll fight to defend it, as our fathers did so brave... We'll stand by the Union, if we only have a chance.
"Give Us A Flag"Liberty! Equality! Fraternity!
Anonymous Unionist, as quoted in Richmond Daily Dispatch (13 November 1863).No Distinction of Race! No Distinction of Color!
Anonymous Unionist, as quoted in Richmond Daily Dispatch (13 November 1863).The Union cause has suffered, and is now suffering immensely, from mistaken deference to rebel slavery. Had you, sir, in your inaugural address, unmistakably given notice that, in case the rebellion already commenced were persisted in, and your efforts to preserve the Union and enforce the laws should be resisted by armed force, you would recognize no loyal person as rightfully held in Slavery by a traitor, we believe the rebellion would therein have received a staggering if not fatal blow.
Horace Greeley, letter to Abraham Lincoln (19 August 1862).Hurrah! Hurrah! We bring the jubilee! Hurrah! Hurrah! The flag that makes you free!
Henry Clay Work, "Marching Through Georgia" (1865)So we made a thoroughfare for freedom and her train, sixty miles in latitude, three hundred to the main. Treason fled before us, for resistance was in vain, while we were marching through Georgia.
Henry Clay Work, "Marching Through Georgia" (1865)Then up with our banner so glorious, the star-spangled red-white-and-blue. We'll fight 'till our flag is victorious, for Lincoln and liberty too!
"For Lincoln and Liberty Too"Come all you true friends of the nation, attend to humanity's call! Oh aid of the slaves' liberation and roll on the liberty ball. We'll finish the temple of freedom, and make it capacious within. That all who seek shelter may find it, whatever the hue of their skin. Success to the old fashioned doctrine, that men are created all free, and down with the power of the despot, wherever his stronghold may be. They'll find what, by felling and mauling, our rail-maker statesman can do. For the people are everywhere calling, for Lincoln and Liberty too.
"For Lincoln and Liberty Too"One section of our country believes slavery is right and ought to be extended, while the other believes it is wrong and ought not to be extended. This is the only substantial dispute.
Abraham Lincoln, First Inaugural Address (4 March 1861).Without slavery the rebellion could never have existed; without slavery it could not continue.
Abraham Lincoln, Second State of the Union Address (1 December 1862).The Rebels sing the 'Bonnie Blue Flag', but we the 'Stripes and Stars', our Union flag we love so true, will conquer their stars and bars, their secesh airs, their Maryland, their contrabands of war. Our cause is right; the flag for the fight, is the one with the thirty-four stars. Hurrah, hurrah! For equal rights, hurrah! Hurrah for the dear old flag with every stripe and star.
J.L. Geddes, "The Bonnie Flag With the Stripes and Stars" (1863)We are a band of Patriots who each leave home and friend, our noble Constitution and our Banner to defend, our Capitol was threatened, and the cry rose near and far, to protect our Country's glorious Flag that glitters with many a star... Hurrah, Hurrah, for the Union, boys! Hurrah! Hurrah for our forefather's Flag, that glitters with many a star... We're in the right, and will prevail, the Stars and Stripes must fly! The 'Bonnie Blue Flag' will be hauled down and every traitor die, freedom and peace enjoyed by all, as never was known before, our Spangled Banner wave on high, with stars just thirty-four!
"Union Reply to The Bonnie Blue Flag"This war, let it be long or let it be short, let it cost much or let it cost little... shall not cease until every freedman at the South has the right to vote.
Frederick Douglass, "What the Black Man Wants", speech in Boston, Massachusetts (1865)We are sometimes asked, in the name of patriotism, to forget the merits of this fearful struggle, and to remember with equal admiration those who struck at the nation’s life and those who struck to save it, those who fought for slavery and those who fought for liberty and justice. I am no minister of malice. I would not strike the fallen. I would not repel the repentant; but may my 'right hand forget her cunning and my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth', if I forget the difference between the parties to that terrible, protracted, and bloody conflict... We are not here to applaud manly courage, save as it has been displayed in a noble cause. We must never forget that victory to the rebellion meant death to the republic. We must never forget that the loyal soldiers who rest beneath this sod flung themselves between the nation and the nation destroyers. If today we have a country not boiling in an agony of blood, like France, if now we have a united country, no longer cursed by the hell-black system of human bondage, if the American name is no longer a by-word and a hissing to a mocking earth, if the star-spangled banner floats only over free American citizens in every quarter of the land, and our country has before it a long and glorious career of justice, liberty, and civilization, we are indebted to the unselfish devotion of the noble army who rest in these honored graves all around us.
Frederick Douglass, "The Unknown Loyal Dead" (30 May 1871), Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington County, VirginiaGeneral Orders, No. 3. The people are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property, between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them, becomes that between employer and hired labor. The Freedmen are advised to remain at their present homes, and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts; and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.
F.W. Emery, as quoted in General Orders, No. 3 (19 June 1865), by F.W. Emery, Galveston, Texas: Headquarters, District of Texas.Mr. Bates was for compulsory deportation. 'The Negro would not', he said, 'go voluntary'. He had great local attachment but no enterprise or persistency. The President objected unequivocally to compulsion. The emigration must be voluntary and without expense to themselves. Great Britain, Denmark and perhaps other powers would take them. I remarked there was no necessity for a treaty which had been suggested. Any person who desired to leave the country could do so now, whether white or black, and it was best to have it so-a voluntary system; the emigrant who chose to leave our shores could and would go where there were the best inducements.
Gideon Welles, as quoted in Diary of Gideon Wells (1861-1864), I, p. 152.
===== Historians =====
The bottom line in the Civil War, after all is said and done, showed that every Confederate state was a slave state and every free state was a Union state. These facts were not a coincidence, and every Civil War soldier knew it.
James M. McPherson, North & South Magazine (January 2008), Vol. 10, No. 4, p. 59It is of no surprise, then, that anti-slavery sentiment was a large factor in the development of the war. As well as preserving the Union, many soldiers enlisted in response to slave-power and slavery itself.
Adam Thomas, Grease and Slide Back Into the Union: Patriotic Essentialism, the Civil War, and Postbellum Reconstruction (2009), p. 3The United States of America fought a horrific civil war that ended slavery. Yes, slavery was the reason for the Civil War. Every southern state that seceded from the United States announced that northern opposition to slavery and to its spread to new states was the primary reason for secession.
Dennis Prager, "Why the Left Hates America" (28 July 2015), National ReviewToday's soldiers, and the democratic fallen, now occupy a prominent place in a long tradition of American liberators, extending from the American Revolution to Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. The Civil War was a touchstone in this legacy. Academic historians write that it was about sectionalism, or economics, or politics. These may have been its sources, but Abraham Lincoln knew what lay at its core, and stated as much in his Second Inaugural Address, before the conflict, slavery 'constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was, somehow, the cause of the war'. Union soldiers fought to preserve the Union, but also to end human bondage.
Joseph Morrison Skelly, "The Democratic Fallen: Let us honor those who have defended our right to self-government with their last breaths" (18 May 2007), National Review Online
The decision to make more than half of the new national flag entirely white returned some Confederates to the question of race. The Savannah Morning News argued that the preponderance of white would make clear to the world that “we are fighting to maintain the Heaven-ordained supremacy of the white man over the inferior or colored race.” It even predicted that the new banner would be “hailed by the civilized world as THE WHITE MAN’S FLAG.” Such expectations proved premature. “Purity” did become the primary association of this banner’s whiteness, and at a time when the Union turned to a war of emancipation, this resonant color could not help but conjure up something of the fears about “amalgamation” that were a part of American culture in both North and South. Yet the sort of overt reference to slavery and race that the Savannah editor expected did not become a major theme in the published record of commentary and verse. The opposition that most Confederates took to African American freedom hardly needed overt expression. Yet the tendency to skirt this theme in patriotic poetry recalled the earlier caution of risking international isolation and the alienation of southern nonslaveholders.
Robert Bonner, Colors and Blood: Flag Passions of the Confederate South (2002), Princeton University Press, pp. 115–16.By the time of the Gettysburg Address, in November 1863, the North was fighting for a 'new birth of freedom' to transform the Constitution written by the founding fathers, under which the United States had become the world's largest slaveholding country, into a charter of emancipation for a republic where, as the northern version of 'The Battle Cry of Freedom' put it, 'Not a man shall be a slave'.
James M. McPherson, The Illustrated Battle Cry of Freedom (2003)153 years ago, had we been sitting on these heights, looking over this river in the midst of civil war, we would likely have seen something curious on the river. Rafts, hastily made, barely water-worthy, bearing families with all their possessions, pushing themselves across the river from Fredericksburg to this shore. These were former slaves, run away from bondage. They came here seeking precisely what you have achieved today. By their coming, months before the emancipation proclamation, they were doing what Americans have always done. They challenged America, as if to say, 'We have left bondage to be free. What will you do with us now?' In the spring and summer of 1862, as many as ten thousand former slaves crossed the Rappahannock River to freedom, some of them likely walking these terraces in freedom, looking down upon the river as others followed their path. These men and women and babies and toddlers and boys and girls did not see their acts as momentous for anyone but themselves, but today we can see that their acts were momentous in many ways. By challenging America to accept their determination that they would no longer suffer bondage, they pushed the nation along that arc toward justice, away from oppression. Seven months later, Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. And three years after that Congress sent to the states the Fourteenth Amendment, according these former slaves the thing they aspired to most beyond freedom. Citizenship. These people did not just walk the path to citizenship, they blazed a trail where none had existed.
John Hennessey, naturalization speech (June 2015).The Confederate flag originally went up in the name of hate and white supremacy.
Kevin Levin, "Nikki Haley and Lindsey Graham to Call for Removal of Confederate Flag" (22 June 2015), Civil War Memory.The Confederate States of America came into existence to preserve African American slavery and white supremacy. After slavery's legal abolition, the defenders of white supremacy quite logically looked back upon the slaveholders' republic as their true forebears. If the country is at last really ready to cease celebrating and honoring the Confederacy and its symbols, it should do so with a full awareness of the long and poisonous traditions that makes this necessary.
Bruce Levine, "The Confederate Flag Was Always Racist: Modern-day racists who brandish Confederate symbols are not distorting their meaning." (27 June 2015), Politico.The beliefs of those who created the Confederate flag were 'sick and twisted'. The Confederate flag is directly tied to the Confederate cause, and the Confederate cause was white supremacy. This claim is not the result of revisionism. It does not require reading between the lines. It is the plain meaning of the words of those who bore the Confederate flag across history. These words must never be forgotten. Over the next few months the word 'heritage' will be repeatedly invoked. It would be derelict to not examine the exact contents of that heritage... It is difficult for modern Americans to understand such militant commitment to the bondage of others. But at $3.5 billion, the four million enslaved African Americans in the South represented the country’s greatest financial asset. And the dollar amount does not hint at the force of enslavement as a social institution. By the onset of the civil war, southern slaveholders believed that African slavery was one of the great organizing institutions in world history, superior to the 'free society' of the north.
T.N. Coates, "What this Cruel War was Over" (June 2015), The Atlantic.For too long, we were blind to the pain that the Confederate flag stirred in too many of our citizens. It’s true, a flag did not cause these murders. But as people from all walks of life, Republicans and Democrats, now acknowledge, including Governor Haley, whose recent eloquence on the subject is worthy of praise as we all have to acknowledge, the flag has always represented more than just ancestral pride. For many, black and white, that flag was a reminder of systemic oppression and racial subjugation.We see that now. Removing the flag from this state's capitol would not be an act of political correctness; it would not be an insult to the valor of Confederate soldiers. It would simply be an acknowledgment that the cause for which they fought, the cause of slavery, was wrong. The imposition of Jim Crow after the Civil War, the resistance to civil rights for all people was wrong. It would be one step in an honest accounting of America's history; a modest but meaningful balm for so many unhealed wounds. It would be an expression of the amazing changes that have transformed this state and this country for the better, because of the work of so many people of goodwill, people of all races striving to form a more perfect union. By taking down that flag, we express God's grace.
Barack H. Obama II, Remarks by the President in Eulogy for the Honorable Reverend Clementa Pinckney at College of Charleston (26 June 2015), by B.H. Obama II, Charleston, South Carolina, U.S.Slavery existed all over the world. The Egyptians had slaves. The Chinese had slaves. The Africans did. American Indians had slaves long before Columbus, and tragically, slavery continues today in many countries... What's uniquely American is the fighting of a great war to end it.
Dinesh D'Souza, America: Imagine the World Without Her (2014)The United States of America fought a horrific civil war that ended slavery. Yes, slavery was the reason for the Civil War. Every southern state that seceded from the United States announced that northern opposition to slavery and to its spread to new states was the primary reason for secession.
Dennis Prager, "Why the Left Hates America" (28 July 2015), National ReviewThank God for the iron in the blood of our fathers, the men who upheld the wisdom of Lincoln, and bore sword or rifle in the armies of Grant! Let us, the children of the men who proved themselves equal to the mighty days, let us, the children of the men who carried the great Civil War to a triumphant conclusion, praise the God of our fathers that the ignoble counsels of peace were rejected; that the suffering and loss, the blackness of sorrow and despair, were unflinchingly faced, and the years of strife endured; for in the end the slave was freed, the Union restored, and the mighty American republic placed once more as a helmeted queen among nations.
Theodore Roosevelt, The Strenuous Life (10 April 1899), Chicago, Illinois.
==== Confederate war aims ====
===== Contemporaries =====
You say you are fighting for liberty. Yes you are fighting for liberty: liberty to keep four millions of your fellow-beings in ignorance and degradation;–liberty to separate parents and children, husband and wife, brother and sister;–liberty to steal the products of their labor, exacted with many a cruel lash and bitter tear;–liberty to seduce their wives and daughters, and to sell your own children into bondage;–liberty to kill these children with impunity, when the murder cannot be proven by one of pure white blood. This is the kind of liberty–the liberty to do wrong–which Satan, Chief of the fallen Angels, was contending for when he was cast into Hell.
David Hunter, letter to Jefferson Davis (1863)I know enough of the southern spirit that I think they will fight for the institution of slavery even to extermination.
New York corporal, as quoted in For Cause and Comrades: Why Men Fought in the Civil War (1997), by James M. McPherson, New York City: Oxford University Press, Inc., p. 108As a national emblem, it is significant of our higher cause, the cause of a superior race, and a higher civilization contending against ignorance, infidelity, and barbarism. Another merit in the new flag is, that it bears no resemblance to the now infamous banner of the Yankee vandals.
William T. Thompson, Savannah Morning News (23 April 1863), as quoted in "The Birth of the Stainless Banner" (13 May 2013), by John M. Coski, The New York Times, New York: The New York Times CompanyThe Creator of the Universe had stamped them, indelibly, with a different color and an inferior physical and mental organization. He had not done this from mere caprice or whim, but for wise purposes. An amalgamation of the races was in contravention of His designs or He would not have made them so different. This immense number of people could not have been transported back to the wilds from which their ancestors were taken, or, if they could have been, it would have resulted in their relapse into barbarism. Reason, common sense, true humanity to the black, as well as the safety of the white race, required that the inferior race should be kept in a state of subordination. The conditions of domestic slavery, as it existed in the South, had not only resulted in a great improvement in the moral and physical condition of the negro race, but had furnished a class of laborers as happy and contented as any in the world.
Jubal Anderson Early, as quoted in A Memoir of the Last Year of the War for Independence in the Confederate States of America (2001), edited by Gary W. Gallagher. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, pp. xxv–xxviThe south went to war on account of slavery. South Carolina went to war, as she said in her Secession proclamation, because slavery would not be secure under Lincoln.
John S. Mosby, Letter to Samuel Chapman (4 June 1907)If it wasn't about slavery, then I don’t know what else it was about.
James Longstreet, regarding the American Civil War, as quoted in Letter to the Fauquier Times Democrat (2011), by Clark B. "Bud" Hall, Middleburg, VirginiaIn a word, the south determined to fight for her property right in slaves, and in order to do so, it was necessary for her resist the change which the abolitionists proposed.
Ed Baxter, at a reunion (1889), as quoted in The Confederate Battle Flag: America's Most Embattled Emblem (2005), by John M. Coski, p. 26.I've always understood that we went to war on account of the thing we quarreled with the north about. I've never heard of any other cause of quarrel than slavery.
John S. Mosby, letter (1894), as quoted in The Confederate Battle Flag: America’s Most Embattled Emblem (2005), by John M. Coski.'The people of the South', says a contemporary, 'are not fighting for slavery but for independence'. Let us look into this matter. It is an easy task, we think, to show up this new-fangled heresy, a heresy calculated to do us no good, for it cannot deceive foreign statesmen nor peoples, nor mislead any one here nor in Yankeeland... Our doctrine is this. WE ARE FIGHTING FOR INDEPENDENCE THAT OUR GREAT AND NECESSARY DOMESTIC INSTITUTION OF SLAVERY SHALL BE PRESERVED, and for the preservation of other institutions of which slavery is the ground work.
"The New Heresy" (1864), Southern Punch (19 September 1864), Richmond. As quoted in The Confederate Battle Flag: America's Most Embattled Emblem (2005), by John M. Coski, United States of America: First Harvard University PressThe proposition to make soldiers of our slaves is the most pernicious idea that has been suggested since the war began. It is to me a source of deep mortification and regret to see the name of that good and great man and soldier, General R. E. Lee, given as authority for such a policy. My first hour of despondency will be the one in which that policy shall be adopted. You cannot make soldiers of slaves, nor slaves of soldiers. The moment you resort to negro soldiers your white soldiers will be lost to you; and one secret of the favor with which the proposition is received in portions of the army is the hope that when negroes go into the Army they will be permitted to retire. It is simply a proposition to fight the balance of the war with negro troops. You can't keep white and black troops together, and you can't trust negroes by themselves. It is difficult to get negroes enough for the purpose indicated in the President's message, much less enough for an Army. Use all the negroes you can get, for all the purposes for which you need them, but don't arm them. The day you make soldiers of them is the beginning of the end of the revolution. If slaves make good soldiers our whole theory of slavery is wrong. But they won't make soldiers. As a class they are wanting in every qualification of a soldier. Better by far to yield to the demands of England and France and abolish slavery and thereby purchase their aid, than resort to this policy, which leads as certainly to ruin and subjugation as it is adopted; you want more soldiers, and hence the proposition to take negroes into the Army. Before resorting to it, at least try every reasonable mode of getting white soldiers. I do not entertain a doubt that you can, by the volunteering policy, get more men into the service than you can arm. I have more fears about arms than about men, For Heaven’s sake, try it before you fill with gloom and despondency the hearts of many of our truest and most devoted men, by resort to the suicidal policy of arming our slaves.
Howell Cobb, regarding suggestions that the Confederates turn their slaves into soldiers (January 1865). As quoted in Encyclopædia Britannica (1911), Hugh Chisholm, editor, 11th ed., Cambridge University Press. Also quoted as 'You cannot make soldiers of slaves, or slaves of soldiers. The day you make a soldier of them is the beginning of the end of the Revolution. And if slaves seem good soldiers, then our whole theory of slavery is wrong'.We perceive the public journals continue to urge the measure of putting negroes into the army, and we hear people talking on the street corners in favor of the measure. Put arms in the hands of the slaves, and make them fight for us, they say. We have heretofore expressed our opinion in opposition to this measure, and shall not now repeat what we then said. In continuation of our formerly expressed views, we may add a few additional suggestions now. One speedy practical result of putting negroes in the army would be the peopling of all the swamps of the South with runaway negro deserters. Trained to the use of fire arms, they would depredate everywhere on cattle, hogs, etc., and would soon be forced to resort to robbery and plunder to gain subsistence. Attempts to arrest them would be resisted, and the horrors of a servile war would be realized. Very large numbers would desert and pursue this sort of life. If they did not do this, they would desert to the enemy. With the enemy they know they would get freedom at once. With us, they would get freedom after the war, taking our promises as true. There would exist an immediate certainty of freedom on one side; an uncertainty on the other. A well disposed, faithful, and intelligent slave in this region was recently asked by his master some questions on this very point. The view I have taken of the subject in the above remarks, are simply the views of the slave referred to, and constitutes the substance of his reply to his master. Put, said the negro, the slave into any other position in the service you choose-let him dig, drive teams, build roads, do any other duty, but do not call on him to fight.
Atlanta Southern Confederacy (20 January 1865), Macon, Georgia. As quoted in The Gray and the Black: The Confederate Debate on Emancipation (1875), by Robert F. Durden, Baton Rouge, Louisiana: Louisiana State University, pp. 156-58.The negro is willing to work for us, but not to fight for us. We were passing into the car-shed of this city two days since. Some idle and vicious looking boys were directing some saucy conversation to a negro man of stalwart frame who stood near them. One of the boys said to the negro, “Uncle, why don’t you go and fight?” “What I fight for?’ asked the Ebon. “For your country,” replied the boy. The negro scowled and said instantly, “I have no country to fight for.” Now we think the negro was mistaken. We think his lot an enviable one, and that they constitute a privileged class in the community. As the toil of brain and muscle is daily renewed, amid uncertainties, for the procurement of bread for our wife and little ones, we often feel how happy we should be were we the slave of some good and provident owner. Then simple daily toil would fill the measure of duty, and comfortable food and clothing would be the assured reward. While, therefore, we think the negro was mistaken — that the South is emphatically his country while slavery exists — yet we have no idea he can be convinced of the fact sufficiently to take up arms and fight bravely for our cause as his cause, for our country as his country. But waiving all this, and supposing them to fight, and to so greatly aid us that we win our independence, what then? The fighting negroes are to be freed. What are we to do with them 1 Let them remain among us? If so, those who remain slaves may be so in name, but they will not be so in reality. Shall the free slaves then be sent out of the country1 out of the country whose independence they fought to obtain? Certainly no such reward as perpetual exile would-be either honorable to us, or just to them. Such an act on our part, would be a stigma on the imperishable pages of history, of which all future generations of Southrons would be ashamed. These are some of the additional considerations which have suggested themselves to us. Let us put the negro to work, but not to fight.
Atlanta Southern Confederacy (20 January 1865), Macon, Georgia. As quoted in The Gray and the Black: The Confederate Debate on Emancipation (1875), by Robert F. Durden, Baton Rouge, Louisiana: Louisiana State University, pp. 156-58.We seek no conquest. All we ask is to be left alone.
Confederate President Jefferson Davis, on the war aims of the Confederacy (1861).As a people we are fighting to maintain the Heaven-ordained supremacy of the white man over the inferior or colored race; a white flag would thus be emblematical of our cause.
William T. Thompson, Savannah Morning News (23 April 1863), as quoted in "The Birth of the Stainless Banner" (13 May 2013), by John M. Coski, The New York Times, New York: The New York Times Company.Oh, I'm a good old Rebel soldier, now that's just what I am. For this 'Fair Land of Freedom' I do not give a damn! I'm glad I fit against it, I only wish we'd won, and I don't want no pardon for anything I done. I hates the Constitution, this 'Great Republic', too! I hates the Freedman's Bureau and uniforms of blue! I hates the nasty eagle with all its brags and fuss, and the lying, thieving Yankees, I hates them wuss and wuss! I hates the Constitution, this 'Great Republic', too! I hates the Yankee nation and everything they do. I hates the Declaration of Independence, too!
Innes Randolph, "Oh, I'm A Good Old Rebel".War to the hilt, theirs be the guilt, who fetter the free man to ransom the slave.
"God Save the South" (1861).This fight is against slavery; if 'we lose it, you will be made free; if we whip the fight, and you stay with me and be good boys, I will set you free; in either case you will be free.
Nathan Bedford Forrest, in: United States. Congress Joint Select Committee on the Condition of Affairs in the Late Insurrectionary States. Report of and Testimony, Vol. 13, 1872, p. 34The 'Southern Cross' holds its place steadily in the Southern heart. It was in every mouth long before the war began; it remains in spite of all arguments against it. These arguments are ridiculous. First, we don’t see the Southern Cross in the heavens. Indeed! Do the British see the lion and the unicorn on the land or in the sea? Do the Austrians behold the double headed eagle anywhere in nature or out of it? What has seeing got to do with it? The truth is, we shall see the Southern Cross ere the destiny of the Southern master and his African slave is accomplished. That destiny does not stop short of the banks of the Amazon. The world of wonders in the animal and vegetable kingdom, of riches incalculable in the vast domain, watered by that gigantic stream, is the natural heritage of the Southron and his domestic slave. They alone can achieve its conquest and lay its untold wealth a tribute at the feet of commerce, the Queen consort of King Cotton.
George Bagby, "Editor's Table" (January 1862), Southern Literary Messenger (1862), p. 68.No slave in this State shall be emancipated by any act done to take effect in this State, or any other country.
The Acts and Resolutions Adopted at the 1st Session of the 12th General Assembly of Florida: Begun and Held at the Capitol, in the City of Tallahassee, on Monday, November 17, 1862, Volumes 1-2. Office of the Floridian & Journal, 1864, p. 106; Article IV, Section 1,The General Assembly shall have power to tax the lands and slaves of non-residents higher than the like property of residents.
Section 22, Article IV, Constitution of the State of Florida (10 January 1861).The General Assembly shall have power to create special tribunals for the trial of offenses committed by slaves, free negroes and mulattoes; and until the General Assembly otherwise provides, there is hereby created a Court in each county, which shall consist of two Justices of the Peace, and twelve citizens, being qualified Jurors of the county, who shall have power to try all cases of felony committed in their county by slaves, free negroes and mulattoes. A majority of said Court may pronounce judgment, and all trials before it shall be had upon the statement of the offense in the warrant of arrest, and without presentment or indictment by a Grand Jury. The Sheriff of the county shall act as the ministerial officer of said Court, and the citizens who, with the Justices, are to compose the same, shall be selected by said Justices and summoned to attend by the Sheriff; and appeals from the judgment of said Court shall be had to the Circuit Court of the county upon an order made by the Judge thereof, upon an inspection of the record of the trial, full minutes of which shall be made by the said Justices, and such appeal, when allowed, shall operate as a supersedeas of the judgment.
Section 27, Article IV, Constitution of the State of Florida (10 January 1861).The General Assembly shall, in the year one thousand eight hundred and sixty-five, and every tenth year thereafter, cause an enumeration to be made of all the inhabitants of the State, and to the whole number of free white inhabitants shall be added three-fifths of the number of slaves, and they shall then proceed to apportion the representation equally among the different counties, according to such enumeration, giving, however, one representative to every county, and increasing the number of representatives on a uniform ratio of population, according to the foregoing basis, and which ratio shall not be changed until a new census shall have been taken.
Section 1, Article IX, Constitution of the State of Florida (10 January 1861).The General Assembly shall have no power to pass laws for the emancipation of slaves.
Section 1, Article XV, Constitution of the State of Florida (10 January 1861).No bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law denying or impairing the right of property in negro slaves shall be passed.
Section 9, Constitution of the Confederate States of America (11 March 1861), p. 10.The citizens of each state shall be entitled to all the privileges and immunities of citizens in the several states, and shall have the right of transit and sojourn in any state of this Confederacy, with their slaves and other property: and the right of property in said slaves shall not be thereby impaired.
Article IV, Section 9, Constitution of the Confederate States of America (11 March 1861).The issue before the country is the extinction of slavery... No man of common sense, who has observed the progress of events, and is not prepared to surrender the institution... The time for action has come – now or never... The existence of slavery is at stake.
Charleston Mercury (3 November 1860)We are a band of brothers and native to the soil, fighting for the property we gained by honest toil!
Harry McCarthy, "The Bonnie Blue Flag" (1861), Louisiana: A.E. BlackmarAs ensigns of an unholy cause the Confederate flags are, and of right ought to be, odious to the eyes of loyalty.
National Tribune, Washington
===== Historians =====
Slavery was at the root of what the Civil War was all about. If there had been no slavery, there would have been no war, and that ultimately what the Confederacy was fighting for was to preserve a nation based on a social system that incorporated slavery. Had that not been the case, there would have been no war. That's an issue that a lot of Southern whites today find hard to accept.
James M. McPherson, "James McPherson: What They Fought For, 1861-1865" (22 May 1994), Booknotes, United States of America: National Cable Satellite Corporation[I]t is impossible to point to any other local issue but slavery and say that Southerners would have seceded and fought over it.
William Davis, The Cause Lost: Myths and Realities of the Confederacy (1996)[A]lways there had been the complicated factor of the one institution that peculiarly set the South apart from the North, slavery... Southern states had embraced the Union only insofar as it served to protect their rights to hold property in slaves, and to spread slavery as the nation expanded and the institution itself became intertwined as a defining element in the struggle for national power itself. In slavery could not spread as new states were formed, then the existing slave states would be doomed to perpetual minority in representation in Congress, guaranteeing that if the day came when Northern antipathy to slavery itself became hot enough, the majority could use the government to subvert the Constitution and abolish the institution where it already existed. In short, the South could not affort to lose any battle over slavery, nor even over issues on its periphery.
William Davis, Look Away!: A History of the Confederate States of America (2002), New York: The Free Press, p. 3White Southerners founded the Confederacy on the ideology of white supremacy. Confederate soldiers on their way to Antietam and Gettysburg, their two main forays into Union states, put this ideology into practice: they seized scores of free black people in Maryland and Pennsylvania and sold them south into slavery. Confederates maltreated black Union troops when they captured them.
James W. Loewen, Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong (2008), p. 193But for a great many of the most powerful southerners the idea of arming and freeing the slaves was repugnant because the protection of slavery had been and still remained the central core of Confederate purpose... Slavery was the basis of the planter class's wealth, power, and position in society. The South's leading men had built their world upon slavery and the idea of voluntarily destroying that world, even in the ultimate crisis, was almost unthinkable to them.
Paul D. Escott, After Secession: Jefferson Davis and the Failure of Confederate Nationalism (1992), p. 254What were these rights and liberties for which Confederates contended? The right to own slaves; the liberty to take this property into the territories.
James M. McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom (1988), p. 241Confederate soldiers from slaveholding families expressed no feelings of embarrassment or inconstency in fighting for their own liberty while holding other people in slavery. Indeed, white supremacy and the right of property in slaves were at the core of the ideology for which Confederate soldiers fought.
James M. McPherson, Cause and Comrades: Why Men of (1997), New York City: Oxford University Press, Inc., p. 106Fast forward to the civil war era. You have rich white folks in the south, where I come from, standing up and admitting that the reason they are willing to secede from the union, and the only reason they ever articulated publicly ever, was to maintain and extend slavery and white supremacy. Not only where it already existed, but into the newly acquired, that is to say, stolen territories, from Mexico to the west. Now we lie about it, and say it wasn’t about slavery, and say it was about states’ rights. Yes, the right of the states to keep and maintain slaves, exactly. But back then, they had no shame. So they didn’t try to cover it up. They openly said it. But once again, the rich didn’t want to go do the work, are you kidding? No. They are going to get poor people to go fight for them. And the poor folks didn’t even own slaves. Now think, how do you get poor people who don’t even own the shirt on their back, let alone slaves, to go fight to go keep your slaves for you? You’ve got to convince them that their skin is more important than their economic interest. Because, think about it. If I am a farmer who has to charge you a dollar a day, or two dollars a week to work on your farm, and harvest that tobacco or pick that cotton, but you can get a black person to do it for free because you own them, whose going to get the job? Not me. In other words, slavery actually undermined the wages and the wage based the economic floor of the typical white working class, or low-income person. But they were told, 'If these people are free, they are going to take your jobs.' No fool. They’ve got your job. That’s the point.
Tim Wise, "The Pathology of Privilege: Racism" (2008), Media Education Foundation.To the old Union they had said that the Federal power had no authority to interfere with slavery issues in a state. To their new nation they would declare that the state had no power to interfere with a federal protection of slavery. Of all the many testimonials to the fact that slavery, and not states rights, really lay at the heart of their movement, this was the most eloquent of all.
William Davis, Look Away!: A History of the Confederate States of America (2002), pp. 97–98.We need to understand what the Confederacy stood for. It's all been romanticized. The whole thing was based on white supremacy, but we're in a state of denial. We've got to take on the Confederacy.
Tom Turnipseed, as quoted in Lies Across America: What American Historic Sites Get Wrong (1999), by James W. Loewen, pp. 239-240Confederate victory would destroy the United States.
James M. McPherson, "No Peace without Victory, 1861–1865" (2003), American Historical AssociationMosby, Rhett, Davis, Stephens, and other Confederates had no difficulty conceding what their descendants go to enormous lengths to deny, that the raison d'être of the Confederacy was the defense of slavery. It follows that, as the paramount symbol of the Confederate nation and as the flag of the armies that kept the nation alive, the St. Andrew's cross is inherently associated with slavery. This conclusion is valid whether or not secession was constitutional. It is valid whether or not most southern soldiers consciously fought to preserve slavery. It is valid even though racism and segregation prevailed among nineteenth-century white northerners... Descendants of Confederates are not wrong to believe that the flag symbolized defense of constitutional liberties and resistance to invasion by military forces determined to crush an experiment in nationhood. But they are wrong to believe that this interpretation of the flag's meaning can be separated from the defense of slavery. They need only read the words of their Confederate ancestors to find abundant and irrefutable evidence... For a nation that survived only as long as its armies survived, the flag of the solder understandably became the flag of the nation.
John Coski, The Confederate Battle Flag: America's Most Embattled Emblem (2005)The U.S. Constitution also bent over backwards to avoid using the term 'slave' or 'slavery' in the document, but the pro-slavery CSA apparently didn't have a problem calling a spade a spade.
Jim McCullough, "The Constitution of the Confederate States of America: What was changed? And why?" (July 2006)Confederates openly celebrated the cause of establishing a slaveholding republic and the defense of white supremacy. They embraced it as the foundation of their new nation and as an improvement on the nation from which they left behind. It constituted their understanding of Confederate exceptionalism.
Kevin Levin, "The White Man's Flag" (1 July 2015), Civil War Memory
Another political pressure mounting on Lincoln was the growing demand by free African Americans to participate in the war. Many northern African Americans saw the war not only as a means of striking down the institution of slavery but as an opportunity to press their demands for full citizenship in a reunited nation. Even in the slavery-free North, African American rights were neither consistent nor secure. Suffrage was restricted to a few New England states, African Americans could not testify in court against a white defendant, and economic rights were not ensured. The justification for such restrictions in the North was that these rights were reserved for citizens of the United States, which free African Americans, not to mention slaves, were not. The conflict with the South, therefore, became a venue where African Americans, by demonstrating their loyalty and willingness to sacrifice for the benefit of the federal government, could improve their social status or even gain citizenship. Many African American leaders believed blacks should deny their services to the government until offered the reward of citizenship. Frederick Douglass told a Boston crowd, "Nothing short of open recognition of the Negro's manhood, his rights as such to have a country equally with others, would induce me to join the army in any capacity. Many other African Americans, however, eagerly volunteered their services to the federal government after the assault on Fort Sumter.
Steven J. Ramold, Slaves, Sailors, Citizens: African Americans in the Union Navy (2002), p. 34-35After the war began, hundreds of African Americans joined loosely organized military formations and presented themselves to the federal government for war service. Lincoln would have none of it. The official policy of the federal government remained, as Secretary Cameron write a group of African Americans volunteering for military service, one of rejecting African American volunteers: "This Department has no intention at present to call into the service of the Government any colored soldiers." Arming African Americans would destroy the president's claim of a war to preserve the Union, drive the border states into the Confederacy, and legitimize Southern propaganda depicting Lincoln as a tool of the radical abolitionists.
Steven J. Ramold, Slaves, Sailors, Citizens: African Americans in the Union Navy (2002), p. 35By early 1862, the Lincoln administration's determination to prevent African American enlistment was seriously eroding. The policy would soon be reversed, permitting full African American participation in the army and navy by the end of the year. As battle after battle occurred during the course of the year, the early expectation of a short war soon disappeared. With this discovery came the realization in the North that more manpower than originally estimated would be needed to win the war, manpower that African Americans, earlier rejected, were still willing to contribute. The securing of the border states also freed Lincoln's hands to create policy regarding African Americans. Union military victories in Tennessee and the upper Mississippi Valley and the suppression of pro-Confederate activities in Maryland firmly established the border states in the Union camp, reducing the need to placate local racist sentiment.
Steven J. Ramold, Slaves, Sailors, Citizens: African Americans in the Union Navy (2002), p. 36The Confederacy sought to overthrow our constitutional government. When the Confederates fired on Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, they were not merely firing at 'Federals' or the Union army. They were firing at the United States Army and the U.S. flag.
Frank Scaturro, "The Confederate flag debate is revising our revisionist history" (14 July 2015), Washington ExaminerDemocrats fought to keep an entire race in slavery during the Civil War. Now today 150 years later the same Democrat party fights to enslave EVERY American to government and in the process destroy the traditions, values and principles that have made out country great. They seek to spend us into oblivion to accomplish this slavery and blame Republicans, the Tea Party and anyone else they can find for their truly un-American obsession with enslaving the masses through government.
Ken Taylor, "150 Years Since Civil War And Democrats Still Party Of Slavery" (10 April 2011), Red StateSo, what's next? Will this debate subside or continue, as people look to other uses of Confederate icons and symbols? Is this simply about a flag that is as much a symbol of resistance to civil rights and equality as it was a symbol for soldiers whose performance on the battlefield might have secured the independence of a republic founded upon the cornerstone of white supremacy and inequality? One thing is clear: it has not been a good ten days for Confederate heritage advocates. Between licence plates, several SCV divisions rebuking other Confederate heritage groups for outrageous and childish behavior, and the fallout from Charleston, it may be that in 2015 people marked the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War by doing to Confederate heritage what Grant and Sherman did to the Confederacy itself in 1865.
Brooks Simspon, "Down it Comes: Now What?" (22 June 2015), Crossroads
=== The war on the home front ===
==== The home front ====
===== Contemporaries =====
The zeal of the people is failing.
Jefferson Davis, as quoted in Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong (2007), by James Loewen, New York: New Press, pp. 225–226.To secure the proper police of the country, one person, either as agent, owner or overseer on each plantation on which one white person is required to be kept by the laws or ordinances of any State, and on which there is no white male adult not liable to do military service, and in States having no such law, one person as agent, owner or overseer, on each plantation of twenty negroes, and on which there is no white male adult not liable to military service; And furthermore, For additional police for every twenty negroes on two or more plantations, within five miles of each other, and each having less than twenty negroes, and of which there is no white male adult not liable to military duty, one person, being the oldest of the owners or overseers on such plantations;… are hereby exempted from military service in the armies of the Confederate States;… Provided, further, That the exemptions herein above enumerated and granted hereby, shall only continue whilst the persons exempted are actually engaged in their respective pursuits or occupations.
Congress of the Confederate States of America, Twenty Nigger Law.The war has stimulated the genius of our people and directed it to the service of our country. Sixty-six new inventions relating to engines, implements, and articles of warfare have been illustrated in our columns.... Other departments of industry have also been well represented. Our inventors have not devoted themselves exclusively to the invention of destructive implements; they have also cultivated the arts of peace.
Scientific American magazine, year-end summary for 1861.There is considerable fear felt in some quarters that this cavalry is to be followed up by a large force. Isn’t it shameful that, at this late day, anybody should be trembling for the safety of Washington? But so it is! I don’t know but what it would be better for the whole country if Washington was taken and burned. What we need is to feel that we are fighting for our lives and liberties; that is the way the rebels feel: they think that if they don’t win, they will lose every liberty. Our people seem to be in an indifferent state, not caring much about it either way; they would like to see the South conquered, if it could be done by any moderate means; but when it comes to every man and woman making some great sacrifice, they don’t think it worth while, and would rather have a disgraceful peace than a continuance of the war. They don't seem to see that in case of such a peace, to be a native of the North would be sufficient to disgrace a man, and that we should always be considered a whipped nation. Abroad, a Northern man would be despised, and rightly. I feel much stronger about the war than I ever have before, and certainly hope that I shall never live to acknowledge such a nation as the Southern Confederacy.
Charles Fessenden Morse, Fairfax Station (2 January 1863)The country and the army are mainly dependent upon slave labor for support.
Joseph E. Brown, Journal of the Senate at an Extra Session of the General Assembly of the State of Georgia, Convened under the Proclamation of the Governor (25 March 1863), p. 6We have reproached the South for arbitrary conduct in coercing their people; at last we find we must imitate their example. We have denounced their tyranny for filling their armies with conscripts, and now we must follow their example. We have denounced their tyranny in suppressing freedom of speech and the press, and here, too, in time, we must follow their example. The longer it is deferred the worse it becomes.I say with the press unfettered as now we are defeated to the end of time. 'Tis folly to say the people must have news.
Letter from Union Gen. William T. Sherman to his brother John Sherman (1863)If people see the Capitol going on, it is a sign we intend the Union shall go on.
Abraham Lincoln, remark to John Eaton of Toledo, Ohio (1863), reported in Carl Sandburg, Abraham Lincoln (1939), vol. 2, p. 535 (1939). Sandburg notes that Eaton had spoken to Lincoln of "hoisting the statue of Liberty over the Capitol dome, new marble pillars to be installed on the Senate wing, a massive and richly embellished bronze door being made for the main central portal. People were saying it was an extravagance during wartime".Rally round the flag, boys—Give it to the breeze!That's the banner that we boreOn the land and seas.Brave hearts are under it,Let the traitors brag,Gallant lads, fire away!And fight for the flag.Their flag is but a rag—Ours is the true one;Up with the Stars and Stripes! with the new one!Let our colors fly, boys—Guard them day and night;For victory is liberty,And God will bless the right.
James Thomas Fields, "The Stars and Stripes"; reported in Florence Adams and Elizabeth McCarrick, Highdays & Holidays (1927), pp. 182–83.Ideas are more important than battles.
Charles Sumner, as quoted in Lies My Teacher Told Me, by James W. Loewen.Allow me to congratulate you, and, through you, the people of Oregon, that peace and prosperity surround us. The prospects for Oregon were never more promising, save the shadows from the fires of secession which are blazing around our childhood homes. Though we have had a winter of unprecedented severity and devastating floods, no traitorous hand has been raised to tear down our national flag and subvert our beloved institutions.
A. C. Gibbs (September 1862) "Governor A. C. Gibbs Inaugural Address, 1862", Oregon State Archives, Oregon Secretary of State, Source: Journals. Local Laws Oregon., 1862, Appendix, Special Message, Page 58.
===== Historians =====
Proposals for chemical weapons that arose during the American Civil War are described. Most incendiary and all biological agents are excluded. The described proposals appeared primarily in periodicals or letters to government officials on both sides. The weapons were usually meant to temporarily disable enemy combatants, but some might have been lethal, and Civil War caregivers were ill-prepared to deal with the weapons’ effects. Evidently, none of the proposed weapons were used. In only one instance was use against civilians mentioned. Among the agents most commonly proposed were cayenne pepper or other plant-based irritants such as black pepper, snuff, mustard, and veratria. Other suggested agents included chloroform, chlorine, hydrogen cyanide, arsenic compounds, sulfur, and acids. Proponents usually suggested that the chemicals be included in explosive artillery projectiles. Less commonly proposed vehicles of delivery included fire engines, kites, and manned balloons. Some of the proposed weapons have modern counterparts.
Guy R. Hasegawa, "Proposals for Chemical Weapons during the American Civil War", Military Medicine, 173, 5:499, 2008, p. 499.World War I is widely considered the first large conflict in which chemical weapons were commonly used. Chemical agents, however, have existed since ancient times, and ideas for them were plentiful during the American Civil War. Had those ideas been successfully implemented, Civil War caregivers would have been hard-pressed to provide effective care for the casualties. Fortunately, that need evidently never arose.
Guy R. Hasegawa, "Proposals for Chemical Weapons during the American Civil War", Military Medicine, 173, 5:499, 2008, p. 499.One probable hindrance to the adoption of chemical weapons by the United States was the Army’s Chief of Ordnance, Brigadier General James W. Ripley, who was notoriously hostile toward new weapons. Moreover, the use of poisons in war was commonly considered unethical, and an 1863 directive from the U.S. War Department (the “Lieber Code”) barred their use. Yet, just as some Northerners might have agreed with a snuff proponent from Vermont that “any mode of Warfare is honorable in putting down open rebellion,” some Southerners might have concurred with the Mississippian who argued that using strychnine and arsenic was justified against a foe “whose whole and sole aim is our destruction.” John Doughty considered the moral question of using chlorine and “arrived at the somewhat paradoxical conclusion, that its introduction would very much lessen the sanguinary character of the battlefield, and at the same time render conflicts more decisive in their results.” Confederate incendiaries expert John Cheves disapproved of poisoning and favored “stifling” the enemy “with the materials ordinarily used in war” as “more consonant with the spirit of the age” and “more practicable and quite as effectual.” He argued, “There is as much difference between poisoning and stifling as there is between throwing dust in a man’s eyes & putting his eyes out yet where only momentary blindness is wanted the first will do as well as the last.”
Guy R. Hasegawa, "Proposals for Chemical Weapons during the American Civil War", Military Medicine, 173, 5:499, 2008, pp. 503-504.The Civil War, infamous for having the highest American death toll of any war in history, was the last major American conflict before the greater public understood how diseases spread. It was therefore the last war where the bulk of the deaths—two-thirds, in fact—were not from bullets and bombs, but from viruses, parasites and bacteria.
Rachel Lance, ”As U.S. COVID-19 Deaths Top the Civil War’s Toll, We're Repeating Disease History”, Time, (August 14, 2021)The impact of disease on the course of the Civil War began almost as soon as the conflict was sparked. Both Union and Confederate soldiers found themselves caked in mud and sleeping in tents in improvised encampments. Without knowledge of how diseases spread, these close quarters encouraged bacteria and viruses to run rampant through the ranks. Measles, mumps, whooping cough and chickenpox ravaged the troops first while in training camps, spreading via exhaled respiratory droplets and aerosols from one soldier to the next as the germs found new paradise in the bodies of countrymen whose rural lives had largely isolated them from previous exposure. When the new soldiers finished training, they joined the armies in the field, where the so-called “camp diseases” of pneumonia, smallpox and the skin infection erysipelas quickly mounted a second wave of assault. “Theoretically, all recruits were to be vaccinated [for smallpox] coming into the army,” says Robert Hicks, PhD, former director of the Mütter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia and an expert in Civil War medical history. But in practice, he says, “that simply didn’t happen.” The Union enacted a blockade of all Southern ports early in the war, which limited the Confederates’ ability to import medical supplies. However, because every person at that time had an understanding of the power of disease, unprotected troops engaged in desperate attempts at home self-innoculations using pus from the oozing sores of infected friends and neighbors.
Rachel Lance, ”As U.S. COVID-19 Deaths Top the Civil War’s Toll, We're Repeating Disease History”, Time, (August 14, 2021)Lice, which spread typhus, were endemic, but perhaps the most infamous and preventable infections and diseases of the time were dysentery and typhoid fever. According to the accounts of both Union and Confederate officers, soldiers were resistant to even what little information the time period could provide about hygiene and sanitary practices. Confederate General Robert E. Lee tried without success to get his soldiers to bathe regularly to limit the spread of lice, but he recorded that soldiers were “worse than children [at keeping clean], for the latter can be forced.” As the years of the epically miserable war ticked by, weary soldiers increasingly took to defecating wherever convenient in their camps. Without knowledge of the basics of germ theory, they routinely relieved themselves in their own water supplies. One army surgeon at the Battle of Vicksburg said that by late 1863, the soldiers had given up so much on basic hygiene that “human excrement has been promiscuously deposited in every direction.” This pattern caused regular outbreaks of dysentery, cholera and typhoid fever that sparked cliches still in use today: the troops most susceptible to these diarrhea-inducing ailments were said not to have the “guts” for soldiering.
Rachel Lance, ”As U.S. COVID-19 Deaths Top the Civil War’s Toll, We're Repeating Disease History”, Time, (August 14, 2021)
==== Prisoners of war ====
===== Contemporaries =====
The law of nations knows of no distinction of color, and if an enemy of the United States should enslave and sell any captured persons of their army, it would be a case for the severest retaliation, if not redressed upon complaint.
War department, "Protection of coloured soldiers," July 31, 1863; in: The Political History of the United States of America, During the Great Rebellion, from November 6, 1860, to July 4, 1864 Philp & Solomons, 1865, p. 280I have forborne, sir, in this discussion, to argue the question upon any other or different grounds of right than those adopted by your authorities, in claiming the negroes as property, because I understand that your fabric of opposition to the Government of the United States has the right of property in man as its corner-stone.
Benjamin F. Butler, Autobiography and Personal Reminiscences of Major-General Benj. F. Butler (1892), p. 604Will you suffer your soldier, captured in fighting your battles, to be in confinement for months rather than release him by giving for him that which you call a piece of property, and which we are willing to accept as a man? You certainly appear to place less value upon your soldier than you do upon your negro. I assure you, much as we of the North are accused of loving property, our citizens would have no difficulty in yielding up any piece of property they have in exchange for one of their brothers or sons languishing in your prisons.
Benjamin F. Butler, Autobiography and Personal Reminiscences of Major-General Benj. F. Butler (1892), pp. 604–605Resolved by the Congress of the Confederate States of America, in response to a message of the President, transmitted to Congress at the commencement of the present session, that, in the opinion of Congress, the commissioned officers of the enemy ought not to be delivered to the authorities of the respective States as suggested in the said message, but all captives taken by Confederate forces ought to be dealt with and disposed of by the Confederate Government.
Congress of the Confederate States of America, No. 5., Joint Resolution on the Subject of Retaliation (1 May 1863).Sec. 2. That, in the judgment of Congress, the proclamations of the President of the United States dated respectively September twenty-second, eighteen hundred and sixty-two, and January first, eighteen hundred and sixty-three, and other measures of the Government of the United States and of its authorities, commanders and forces, designed or intending to emancipate slaves in the Confederate States, or to abduct such slaves, or to incite them to insurrection, or to employ negroes in war against the Confederate States, or to overthrow the institution of African slavery, and bring on a servile war in these States, would, if successful, produced atrocious consequences, and they are inconsistent with the spirit of those usage which in modern warfare prevail among civilized nations; they may, therefore, be properly and lawfully repressed by retaliation.
Congress of the Confederate States of America, No. 5., Joint Resolution on the Subject of Retaliation (1 May 1863).Sec. 3. That in every case, wherein, during the present war, any violation of the laws or usages of war among civilized nations shall be, or has been, done and perpetrated by those acting under the authority of the Government of the United States, on the persons or property of citizens of the Confederate States, or of those under the protection or in the land or naval service of the Confederate States, or of any State of the Confederacy, the President of the Confederate States is hereby authorized to cause full and ample retaliation to be made for every such violation, in such manner and to such extent as he may think proper.
Congress of the Confederate States of America, No. 5., Joint Resolution on the Subject of Retaliation (1 May 1863).Sec. 4. That every white person, being a commissioned officer, or acting as such, who, during the present war, shall command nergroes or mulattoes in arms against the Confederate States, or who shall arm, train, organize or prepare negroes or mulattoes for military service against the Confederate States, or who shall voluntarily aid negroes or mulattoes in any military enterprize, attack or conflict in such service, shall be deemed as inciting servile insurrection, and shall, if captured, by 'put to death, or be otherwise punished at the discretion of the court.
Congress of the Confederate States of America, No. 5., Joint Resolution on the Subject of Retaliation (1 May 1863).Sec. 5. Every person, being a commissioned officer, or acting as such in the service of the enemy, who shall, during the present war, excite, attempt to excite, or cause to be excited, a servile insurrection, or who shall incite, or cause to be incited, a slave to rebel, shall, if captured, be put to death, or be otherwise punished at the discretion of the court.
Congress of the Confederate States of America, No. 5., Joint Resolution on the Subject of Retaliation (1 May 1863).Sec. 6. Every person charged with an office punishable under the preceding resolutions shall, during the present war, br tried before the military court attached to the army or corps by the troops of which he shall have been captured, or by such other military court as the President may direct, and in such manner and under such regulations as the President shall prescribe, and, after conviction, the President may commutate the punishment in such manner and on such terms as he may deem proper.
Congress of the Confederate States of America, No. 5., Joint Resolution on the Subject of Retaliation (1 May 1863).Sec. 7. All negroes and mulattoes who shall be engaged in war, or be taken in arms against the Confederate States, or shall give aid or comfort to the enemies of the Confederate States, shall, when captured in the Confederate States, be delivered to the authorities of the State or States in which they shall be captured, and dealt with according to the present or future laws of such State or States. Approved May 1, 1863.
Congress of the Confederate States of America, No. 5., Joint Resolution on the Subject of Retaliation (1 May 1863).I doubt, however, whether the exchange of negroes at all for our soldiers would be tolerated. As to the white officers serving with negro troops, we ought never to be inconvenienced with such prisoners.
C.S. War Secretary Seddon, as quoted in An Unerring Fire: The Massacre At Fort Pillow, by Richard Fuchs, (Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole, 2002), p. 144.I saw a sight yesterday that beats all I ever saw. A Negro boy that the Rebels left in a barn, entirely naked. His breast cut and bowels were scratched or cut and the doctor said that turpentine had been put on him and also his privates had been cut off. I went in the barn to see him but it was rather dark. He lay on his back, his legs bent, knees up, and grinding his teeth and foaming at the mouth and seemed to take no notice of anything and breast and bowels looked as if they had been cut and then burned all over. I understand the reason of the act to be because he would not go over the river with them.
Chester K. Leach, letter to his wife (15 July 1863), Company H, 2nd Vermont Infantry, as quoted in "A Regular Slave Hunt: The Army of Northern Virginia and Black Civilians in the Gettysburg Campaign" (September 2001), by Ted Alexander, North & South.During the whole period of my employment, I have directed all my mental and physical energies to secure the success of our forces. I have never shrunk from the discharge of my duty, however hazardous, and holding no commission I have often been perplexed and put to inconvenience in doing the business of the Aeronautical Department which properly belonged to a commissioned officer. But for want of one acquainted with the business I was compelled to do it myself, I have also at all times been exposed to the danger of being treated as a spy had I fallen into the hands of the enemy.
Professor Thaddeus S. C. Lowe's resignation from the Union Army Balloon Corps, (August 1, 1863) as quoted in Army, Volume 30, (August 1980), p.41.I feel no inclination to retaliate for the offences of irresponsible persons; but if it is the policy of any General intrusted with the command of troops to show no quarter, or to punish with death prisoners taken in battle, I will accept the issue. It may be you propose a different line of policy towards black troops, and officers commanding them, to that practiced towards white troops. So, I can assure you that these colored troops are regularly mustered into the service of the United States. The Government, and all officers under the Government, are bound to give the same protection to these troops that they do to any other troops.
Ulysses S. Grant, Letter to Richard Taylor (1863), Vicksburg. Regarding Confederate executions of captured Union prisoners of war at Milliken's Bend by hanging.The river was dyed with the blood of the slaughtered for two hundred yards. The approximate loss was upward of five hundred killed, but few of the officers escaping. My loss was about twenty killed.
Nathan Bedford Forrest, regarding the Fort Pillow massacre, as quoted in Personal Memoirs, by U.S. Grant, (Library of America, 1990), p. 483.War means fighting, and fighting means killing.
Nathan Bedford Forrest, as quoted in May I Quote You, General Forrest? by Randall Bedwell.If you surrender, you shall be treated as prisoners of war, but if I have to storm your works, you may expect no quarter.
Nathan Bedford Forrest, as quoted in May I Quote You, General Forrest? by Randall Bedwell.Among the embers the charred remains of numbers of our soldiers who had suffered a terrible death in the flames could be seen. All the wounded who had strength enough to speak agreed that after the fort was taken an indiscriminate slaughter of our troops was carried on by the enemy with a furious and vindictive savageness which was never equaled by the most merciless of the Indian tribes. Around on every side horrible testimony to the truth of this statement could be seen. Bodies with gaping wounds, some bayoneted through the eyes, some with skulls beaten through, others with hideous wounds as if their bowels had been ripped open with bowie-knives, plainly told that but little quarter was shown to our troops. Strewn from the fort to the river bank, in the ravines and hollows, behind logs and under the brush where they had crept for protection from the assassins who pursued them, we found bodies bayoneted, beaten, and shot to death, showing how cold-blooded and persistent was the slaughter of our unfortunate troops. Of course, when a work is carried by assault there will always be more or less bloodshed, even when all resistance has ceased; but here there were unmistakable evidences of a massacre carried on long after any resistance could have been offered, with a cold-blooded barbarity and perseverance which nothing can palliate.
William Ferguson, as quoted in report to Stephen A. Hurlbut (14 April 1864).Since you did me the favor of recommending my appointment last year, I have been on duty aboard this boat. I now write you with reference to the Fort Pillow massacre, because some of our crew are colored and I feel personally interested in the retaliation which our government may deal out to the rebels, when the fact of the merciless butchery is fully established.
Robert S. Critchell, letter to Henry T. Blow (22 April 1864).We then landed at the fort, and I was sent out with a burial party to bury our dead. I found many of the dead lying close along by the water’s edge, where they had evidently sought safety; they could not offer any resistance from the places where they were, in holes and cavities along the banks; most of them had two wounds. I saw several colored soldiers of the Sixth United States Artillery, with their eyes punched out with bayonets; many of them were shot twice and bayonetted also. All those along the bank of the river were colored. The number of the colored near the river was about seventy. Going up into the fort, I saw there bodies partially consumed by fire. Whether burned before or after death I cannot say, anyway, there were several companies of rebels in the fort while these bodies were burning, and they could have pulled them out of the fire had they chosen to do so.
Robert S. Critchell, letter to Henry T. Blow (22 April 1864).When the rebels drove our men out of the fort, they, our men, threw away their guns and cried out that they surrendered, but they kept on shooting them down until they had shot all but a few. This is what they all say. I had some conversation with rebel officers and they claim that our men would not surrender and in some few cases they 'could not control their men', who seemed determined to shoot down every negro soldier, whether he surrendered or not. This is a flimsy excuse, for after our colored troops had been driven from the fort, and they were surrounded by the rebels on all sides, it is apparent that they would do what all say they did, throw down their arms and beg for mercy.
Robert S. Critchell, letter to Henry T. Blow (22 April 1864).The government owes to all men employed in its armies, without regard to distinction of color, the full protection of the laws of war, and that any violation of these laws, or of the usages of civilized nations in time of war, by the rebels now in arms, should be made the subject of prompt and full redress.
Republican Party Platform of 1864 (7 June 1864).We cannot treat negroes taken in arms as prisoners of war without a destruction of the social system for which we contend.
John R. Eakin, The Slave Soldiers (8 June 1864).He did not say a monument to what, but he meant, I am sure, to leave it as a monument to the loyalty of our soldiers, who would bear all the horrors of Libby sooner than desert their flag and cause.
David Dixon Porter, as quoted in Incidents and Anecdotes of the Civil War (1885), p. 229.
===== Historians =====
The new paradigm in social attitudes and the fuller use of available evidence has favored a massacre interpretation. Debate over the memory of this incident formed a part of sectional and racial conflicts for many years after the war, but the reinterpretation of the event during the last thirty years offers some hope that society can move beyond past intolerance.
John Cimprich, as quoted in Fort Pillow: A Civil War Massacre and Public Memory (2005), Louisiana State University Press, pp. 123–124.The affair at Fort Pillow was simply an orgy of death, a mass lynching to satisfy the basest of conduct – intentional murder – for the vilest of reasons – racism and personal enmity.
Richard Fuchs, as quoted in An Unerring Fire: The Massacre At Fort Pillow (2002), Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole, p. 14.According to Confederate ideology, blacks liked slavery; nevertheless, to avert revolts and runaways, the Confederate states passed the 'twenty nigger law', exempting from military conscription one white man as overseer for every twenty slaves. Throughout the war, Confederates withheld as much as a third of their fighting forces from the front lines and scattered them throughout areas with large slave populations to prevent slave uprisings. When the United States allowed African Americans to enlist, Confederates were forced by their ideology to assert that it would not work; blacks would hardly fight like white men. The undeniable bravery of the 54th Massachusetts and other black regiments disproved the idea of black inferiority. Then came the incongruity of truly beastly behavior by southern whites towards captured black soldiers, such as the infamous Fort Pillow massacre by troops under Nathan Bedford Forrest, who crucified black prisoners on tent frames and then burned them alive, all in the name of preserving white civilization...
James Loewen, Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong (2007), New York: New Press, pp. 224–225.In 1864, black Union troops were involved in operations against Lee's army outside Richmond and Petersburg, and some of them are taken prisoner. Lee puts them to work on Confederate entrenchments that are in Union free-fire zones. When Grant gets wind of this, he threatens to put Confederate prisoners to work on Union entrenchments under Confederate fire unless Lee pulls out. So Grant was willing to embrace an eye-for-an-eye, tooth-for-a-tooth retaliation policy based upon Confederate treatment of black prisoners. For Grant, it was the color of the uniform, not the skin, that mattered.
Brooks D. Simpson, as quoted in Intelligence Report (2000), SPLC.Whether the massacre was premeditated or spontaneous does not address the more fundamental question of whether a massacre took place. It certainly did, in every dictionary sense of the word.
Andrew Ward, as quoted in River Run Red: The Fort Pillow Massacre in the American Civil War (2005) New York: Viking Adult, p. 227.
==== Unionism in the Confederacy ====
===== Contemporaries =====
I myself have seen in Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Mississippi, hundreds and thousands of women and children fleeing from your armies and desperadoes, hungry and with bleeding feet. In Memphis, Vicksburg, and Mississippi, we fed thousands upon thousands of the families of rebel soldiers left on our hands, and whom we could not see starve. Now that war comes home to you; you feel very different. You deprecate its horrors, but did not feel them when you sent car-loads of soldiers and ammunition, and moulded shells and shot, to carry war into Kentucky and Tennessee, to desolate the homes of hundreds and thousands of good people who only asked to live in peace at their old homes, and under the Government of their inheritance. But these comparisons are idle. I want peace, and believe it can only be reached through union and war, and I will ever conduct war with a view to perfect and early success.
General William Tecumseh Sherman, letter to the members of the city council of the City of Atlanta (12 September 1864).Yes and there were Union men who wept with joyful tears, when they saw the honored flag they had not seen for years. Hardly could they be restrained from breaking forth in cheers, while we were marching through Georgia.
Henry Clay Work, "Marching Through Georgia" (1865).Soldiers had enlisted for twelve months only, and had faithfully complied with their volunteer obligations; the terms for which they had enlisted had expired, and they naturally looked upon it that they had a right to go home. They had done their duty faithfully and well. They wanted to see their families; in fact, wanted to go home anyhow. War had become a reality; they were tired of it. A law had been passed by the Confederate States Congress called the conscript act. A soldier had no right to volunteer and to choose the branch of service he preferred. He was conscripted. From this time on till the end of the war, a soldier was simply a machine, a conscript. It was mighty rough on rebels. We cursed the war, we cursed Bragg, we cursed the Southern Confederacy. All our pride and valor had gone, and we were sick of war and the Southern Confederacy.
Sam R. Watkins, Company Aytch, Chapter III: "Corinth".A law was made by the Confederate States Congress about this time allowing every person who owned twenty negroes to go home. It gave us the blues; we wanted twenty negroes. Negro property suddenly became very valuable, and there was raised the howl of 'rich man's war, poor man's fight'. The glory of the war, the glory of the South, the glory and the pride of our volunteers had no charms for the conscript.
Sam R. Watkins, Company Aytch, Chapter III: "Corinth".Inferior race? Was it they who carved the skulls of our boys into drinking, cups and their bones into trinkets? Was it they who starved and froze our brothers into idiocy and madness at Andersonville and Belle-Isle? Was it they who hunted our darlings with bloodhounds, or hung faithful Union men before the very eyes of their wives and children? Come! Come! Brothers of my race, whether at the north or south, these things which we all execrate and abhor were the work of men of our own color. Let us clasp hands in speechless shame, and confess that manhood in America is to be measured not by the color of the skin, but by the quality of the soul.
George William Curtis, as quoted in "The Good Fight" (1865).
===== Historians =====
The more fiercely the Confederacy fought for its independence, the more bitterly divided it became.
Eric Foner, "The South's Inner Civil War" (March 1989), American Heritage, Volume 40, Issue 2The Confederate experience is dotted with episodes that are not particularly admirable.
William C. Davis, as quoted in The Cause Lost: Myths and Realities of the Confederacy (1996), Kansas: University Press of Kansas, p. 178.Just after midnight on August 10, 1862, nearly 100 dismounted Confederate cavalry and state militia crept across the dry Texas Hill Country toward a campsite on the banks of the clear Nueces River, where 65 men slept, with just two on watch. Suddenly the dark silence was shattered by Confederate gunfire. Before sunset, those who had not escaped were dead or captured — and the captured were quickly executed.
"Massacre on the Nueces" (11 August 1862), by Richard Parker and Emily Boyd, The New York Times (2012), New York: The New York Times Company.The Massacre on the Nueces was hardly unique. Whereas gray-on-blue atrocities would be common during the war, Texas in 1862 and 1863 would be the scene of repeated atrocities by Confederate troops against their own fellow citizens.
"Massacre on the Nueces" (11 August 1862), by Richard Parker and Emily Boyd, The New York Times (2012), New York: The New York Times Company.I think it was just talk. That infuriates some people; they want me to tell them these were horrible traitors that deserved to be killed. But traitors to what? They were actually loyal to the country they had been raised in all their lives. But it is not the first time and it's not the last time. We see it today. Under pressure people can do very unreasonable things. When you bring something like this to light, smelling to high heaven, it undermines the idea of a united South. To me, it makes it a more human story because we always divide. It's what we do; it's what we are. It's the nature of a democracy. Sometimes we handle it well, and sometimes we don't handle it well at all. That upsets people; they don't want to hear that Great-Great-Grandpa made a mistake.
Richard McCaslin, as quoted in "After 150 years, a dark chapter of Gainesville's past still stirs passions" (7 October 2012), Star-Telegram.Take Kentucky. Kentucky's legislature voted not to secede, and early in the war, Confederate Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston ventured through the western part of the state and found 'no enthusiasm as we imagined and hoped but hostility … in Kentucky.' Eventually, 90,000 Kentuckians would fight for the United States, while 35,000 fought for the Confederate States. Nevertheless, according to historian Thomas Clark, the state now has 72 Confederate monuments and only two Union ones.
James Loewen, "Why do people believe myths about the Confederacy? Because our textbooks and monuments are wrong. False history marginalizes African Americans and makes us all dumber." (1 July 2015), The Washington Post.Neo-Confederates also won western Maryland. In 1913, the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) put a soldier on a pedestal at the Rockville courthouse. Montgomery County never seceded, of course. While Maryland did send 24,000 men to the Confederate armed forces, it sent 63,000 to the U.S. Army and Navy. Nevertheless, the UDC’s monument tells visitors to take the other side: 'To our heroes of Montgomery Co. Maryland / That we through life may not forget to love the Thin Gray Line'. In fact, the Thin Grey Line came through Montgomery and adjoining Frederick counties at least three times, en route to Antietam, Gettysburg and Washington. Lee's army expected to find recruits and help with food, clothing and information. They didn't. Maryland residents greeted Union soldiers as liberators when they came through on the way to Antietam. Recognizing the residents of Frederick as hostile, Confederate cavalry leader Jubal Early demanded and got $300,000 from them lest he burn their town, a sum equal to at least $5,000,000 today. Today, however, Frederick boasts what it calls the 'Maryland Confederate Memorial', and the manager of the Frederick cemetery — filled with Union and Confederate dead — told me in an interview, “Very little is done on the Union side” around Memorial Day. “It’s mostly Confederate.”
James Loewen, "Why do people believe myths about the Confederacy? Because our textbooks and monuments are wrong. False history marginalizes African Americans and makes us all dumber." (1 July 2015), The Washington Post.A third of the south's population were black slaves, which might be used for manual labor but which could not be used as soldiers. After all, if the Confederates were to give their slaves weapons, how could they be sure the slaves wouldn't immediately turn them against those who enslaved them? Even worse, many of these blacks would join the Union army if they took control of the territory in which they lived... The Confederacy started its struggle for independence vastly outnumbered in terms of the number of soldiers, vastly inferior to the Union in terms of the industrial and financial power necessary to wage war, and lacking any fleet with which to combat the naval strength of the North. Given these facts, combined with the fact that the South did, indeed, lose the war in the end, I don't blame those who claim that the south never had a chance of winning.
Jeffrey Evan Brooks, "The South Could Have Won the Civil War" (27 December 2015), The Blog of Jeffrey Evan Brooks.
==== Anti-war movement in the Union ====
===== Contemporaries =====
Yankee Doodle is no more, sunk his name and station. Nigger Doodle takes his place!
"Nigger Doodle Dandy" (1864), an anti-war song sung by northern Democrats against the U.S. war effort and the Republicans.How are you my Abe? Is the list nearly filledOf the sick men and dying of wounded and killedOf widows and tears, or orphans unfedOf poor honest white men struggling for bread?'Dear Devil,' quoth Abe, 'I'm doing my bestTo promote the interest of you and the rest.
"Abe's Visitor," a poem published in a Democrat newspaper in Pennsylvania.I will not consent to put the entire purse of the country and the sword of the country into the hands of the executive, giving him despotic and dictatorial power to carry out an object which I avow before my countrymen is the destruction of their liberties and the overthrow of the Union of these states....The charge has been made against us — all who are opposed to the policy of this administration and opposed to this war — that we are for 'peace on any terms.' It is false.... I am for peace, and would be, even if the Union could not be restored... because without peace, permitting this administration for two years to exercise its tremendous powers, the war still existing, you will not have one remnant of civil liberty left among yourselves. The exercise of these tremendous powers, the apology for which is the existence of this war, is utterly incompatible with the stability of the Constitution and of constitutional liberty.
Rep. Clement L. Vallandingham (D-Ohio), leader of the “Copperhead" antiwar Democrats, in a speech to the Democrat Union Association of New York (1863)Every wolf in sheep’s clothing, who pretends to preach the gospel, but proclaims the righteousness of man-selling and slavery—everyone who shoots down negroes in the streets, burns negro school-houses and meeting-houses, and murders women and children by the light of their own flaming dwellings, calls himself a Democrat. Every New York rioter in 1863, who burned up little children in colored asylums—who robbed, ravished and murdered indiscriminately in the midst of a blazing city for three days and nights, called himself a Democrat. In short, the Democratic Party may be described as a common sewer and loathsome receptacle into which is emptied every element of treason, North and South, every element of inhumanity and barbarism which has dishonored the age.
Oliver Hazard Perry Morton, 14th Governor of Indiana, in a speech to the Union Mass Meeting at Masonic Hall, Indianapolis (20 June 1866): as contained in Treason Exposed: Record of the Disloyal Democracy (1866), Republican Party (Ind.) State Central Committee, p. 3
===== Historians =====
Rioters were mostly Irish Catholic immigrants and their children. They mainly attacked the members of New York's small black population. For a year, Democratic leaders had been telling their Irish-American constituents that the wicked Black Republicans were waging the war to free the slaves who would come north and take away the jobs of Irish workers. The use of black stevedores as scabs in a recent strike by Irish dockworkers made this charge seem plausible. The prospect of being drafted to fight to free the slaves made the Irish even more receptive to demogogic rhetoric.
James M. McPherson, Drawn with the Sword : Reflections on the American Civil War, Princeton University, pp. 91-92During the civil war, northern Democrats countered the Republican charge that they favored rebellion by profession to be the 'white man's party'. They protested the government's emancipation of slaves in the District of Columbia and its diplomatic recognition of Haiti. They claimed Republicans had nothing but 'nigger on the brain'. They were enraged when the U.S. Army accepted African American recruits; and they made race a paramount factor in their campaigns. In those days before television, parties held coordinated rallies. On the last Sunday before the election, Democratic senators might address crowds in each major city. Local officeholders would hold forth in smaller towns. Each of these rallies featured music. Hundreds of thousands of songbooks were printed so the party faithful might sing the same songs coast to coast. A favorite in 1864 was sung to the tune of 'Yankee Doodle Dandy'. The new national anthem, 'Nigger Doodle Dandy'.
James W. Loewen, as quoted in Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong (2007), New York: New Press.Starting in 1861, anti-Civil War Democrats in the north were called 'copperheads' like the poisonous snake. The 'copperheads' wanted to appease the south and accept a negotiated peace, thereby, creating an independent Confederacy where blacks were kept in slavery. They also showed their deep opposition to the Civil War military conscription by verbally attacking Republican President Abraham Lincoln and taking their anger out on blacks, murdering and maiming blacks in virtually every northern state. Anti-Civil War Democrats in New York engaged in 'Four Days of Terror' against the city's black population from July 13 to 16 in 1863, and the anti-Civil War chant of the Democrats, as reported by one Pennsylvania newspaper, was, 'Willing to fight for Uncle Sam, but not for Uncle Sambo'.
Frances Rice, "Black Republican Frequently Asked Questions" (15 May 2015), Black Republican Blog, National Black Republican Association.
=== The First Major Battle: Bull Run (21 July 1861) ===
==== Contemporaries ====
The "Rebel Yell" shouted by Confederate troops in the attack (1861).There is nothing like it on this side of the infernal region. The peculiar corkscrew sensation that it sends down your backbone under these circumstances can never be told. You have to feel it.
A Union soldier, on the Rebel Yell (1861).Let us determine to die here, and we will conquer. There is Jackson standing like a stone wall! Rally behind the Virginians.
Confederate Gen. Bernard Elliott Bee at the First Battle of Bull Run, in a comment that gave Gen. Thomas Jonathan Jackson the nickname "Stonewall" (1861).Soon the slopes... were swarming with our retreating and disorganized forces, while riderless horses and artillery [horse] teams ran furiously through the flying crowd. All further efforts were futile. The words, gestures, and threats of our officers were thrown away upon men who had lost all presence of mind, and only longed for absence of body [from the field of battle].
Union Colonel Andrew Porter, on the rout of the initially-overconfident U.S. troops that ended the Battle of Bull Run (1861).It is best for the country and for mankind that we make peace with the rebels, and on their own terms...
Advice for President Lincoln from Horace Greeley, publisher of the New York Tribune, following the Union defeat at Bull Run (1861).
==== Historians ====
Made from a mixture of saltpeter, charcoal and sulfur, black powder is produced by pulverizing and mixing the ingredients, then rolling and pressing the material into cakes that are then dried into explosives for specific applications. Black powder was first brought to California in the late 1840s when miners used the explosive in their search for gold. At that time there were no local factories producing black powder. The miners relied on powder shipments from eastern U.S. and European companies. As the Civil War loomed in the U.S., it became a coveted commodity and the once reliable shipments became more scarce as the North and South stockpiled black powder in the event of war. By the time the Civil War began in April 1861, miners found themselves in desperate need of explosives, and John Baird, a miner from Kentucky, recruited investors to establish the California Powder Worksfactory near Santa Cruz, California. Up and running by 1864, the Powder Works factory was the sole manufacturer of black powder in the state. The company employed 275 Chinese workers and within a year produced 150,000 25-pound powder kegs.
Linda Hall Library, "The Use of Black Powder and Nitroglycerine on the Transcontinental Railroad".On May 18, 1861, a strange story appeared on the front page of Philadelphia Inquirer. The country was embroiled in a bloody civil war, nerves were running high, and a mechanical "monster," made of iron, had been discovered in the local harbor and seized by the police. It was a small submarine, built by the French inventor and immigrant Brutus de Villeroi, who was apparently searching for sunken treasure. The story caught the attention of the United States Navy, which was looking for a technological innovation to help them fight against the Confederate states' new ironclad ships. Submarines have a long history, but the Alligator was the U. S. Navy's first. The government contracted with Villeroi, who designed a bigger, 47-foot submarine. The initial design had oars, which looked like little legs and led to the sub's name, "Alligator." Later, the clumsy oars were replaced by a screw propeller turned by hand. The Alligator boasted many technological innovations. It had a device to clean the air of carbon dioxide, and a diver lockout chamber so that someone could exit the submarine under water and return. Unfortunately, it was lost at sea during a storm in 1863, before it ever got to see combat. The Alligator has been long forgotten and overshadowed by other submarines, like the Confederate CSS H. L. Hunley, which was built two years later.
Nell Grennfield Boyce, “The USS Alligator's Mysterious Designer”, NPR, (September 16, 2005).
=== The Peninsula Campaign (April – July 1862) ===
My dear McClellan. If you don't want to use the army, I would like to borrow it for a while. Yours respectfully, A. Lincoln.
U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, unsent letter to Union Army General George McClellan, the inactive commander of the Union Army of the Potomac (1862).I was in the woods May 2, 1862, when I saw your balloon about to rise. Then commenced a heavy cannonading from the Confederate works. Shots went out over our heads, tearing six branches from the trees. The balloon rose, and the firing was seen directed at the air target, shot after shot, shells exploding way up, and occasionally the sharp crack of a rifle would be heard when our sharpshooters took a chance shot - and it kept up for half a day. No damage was done, except slaughter of five old trees and great holes in the ground where the solid shot struck. At all times we were fully aware that you Federals were using balloons to examine our positions and we watched with envious eyes their beautiful observations as they floated high in the air, well out of range of our guns. While we were longing for balloons that poverty denied us, a genius arose and suggested that we send out and get every silk dress in the Confederacy to make a balloon. It was done and soon we had a great patchwork ship of many varied hues which was ready for use in the Seven Days Campaign. We had no gas except in Richmond and it was the custom to inflate the balloon there, tie it securely to an engine, and run it down the York River Railroad to any point at which we desired to send it up. One day it was on a steamer down the James River when the tide went out and left the vessel and the balloon high and dry on a bar. The federals gathered it in, and with it the last silk dress in the confederacy. This capture was the meanest trick of the war and one I have never yet forgiven.
Maj. Gen. James Longstreet's letter to Thaddeus S. C. Lowe; as quoted in Army, Volume 30, (August 1980), p.41.I was left alone on horseback, with my men dropping around me.... My field [staff] officers... were all dead. Every horse ridden into the fight, my own among them, was dead. Fully one half of my line officers and half my men were dead or wounded.
Confederate Army Colonel John B. Gordon, after the Battle of Seven Pines (May 31, 1862).
=== The Battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia (13 December 1862) ===
A chicken could not live on that field when we open on it.
General E.P. Alexander, Lee's engineer and superintendent of artillery, before the Union attack on Fredericksburg (1862); reported in Bim Sherman, The Century (1886), p. 617.Gone were the proud hopes, the high aspirations that swelled our bosoms a few days ago.... [The army] has strong limbs to march and meet the foe, stout arms to strike heavy blows, brave hearts to dare — but the brains, the brains! Have we no brains to use the arms and limbs and eager hearts with cunning?
Union Army private William Lusk, letter home after the Union defeat at Fredericksburg, blaming Gen. Ambrose Burnside, commander of the Union Army of the Potomac. The U.S. attacks against high ground south of the Rappahannock River, strongly held by the Confederates, cost it 12,000 casualties (1862).It is well that war is so terrible, otherwise we should grow too fond of it.
Robert E. Lee, comment to James Longstreet, on seeing a Union charge repelled in the Battle of Fredericksburg (13 December 1862).
=== The Emancipation Proclamation goes into effect (1 January 1863) ===
==== Contemporaries ====
But it is dreaded that the freed people will swarm forth and cover the whole land. Are they not already in the land? Will liberation make them any more numerous? Equally distributed among the whites of the whole country, and there would be but one colored to seven whites. Could the one in any way greatly disturb the seven? There are many communities now having more than one free colored person to seven whites and this without any apparent consciousness of evil from it. The District of Columbia and the States of Maryland and Delaware are all in this condition. The District has more than one free colored to six whites, and yet in its frequent petitions to Congress I believe it has never presented the presence of free colored persons as one of its grievances. But why should emancipation South send the free people North? People of any color seldom run unless there be something to run from. Hertofore colored people to some extent have fled North from bondage, and now, perhaps, from both bondage and destitution.
Abraham Lincoln, Second State of the Union Address (1 December 1862).Say, darkies, hab you seen de massa, wid de muffstash on his face? Go long de road some time dis mornin’, like he gwine to leab de place? He seen a smoke way up de ribber, whar de Linkum gunboats lay; He took his hat, and lef’ berry sudden, and I spec’ he’s run away! De massa run, ha, ha! De darkey stay, ho, ho! It mus’ be now de kindom coming, an’ de year ob Jubilo!
Henry Clay Work, "Kingdom Coming" (1862), Chicago: Root and Cady.He six foot one way, two foot tudder, and he weigh tree hundred pound, His coat so big, he couldn’t pay the tailor, an’ it won’t go halfway round. He drill so much dey call him Cap’n, an’ he got so drefful tanned, I spec’ he try an’ fool dem Yankees for to tink he’s contraband. De massa run, ha, ha! De darkey stay, ho, ho! It mus’ be now de kindom coming, an’ de year ob Jubilo!
Henry Clay Work, "Kingdom Coming" (1862), Chicago: Root and Cady.De darkeys feel so lonesome libbing in de loghouse on de lawn, Dey move dar tings into massa’s parlor for to keep it while he’s gone. Dar’s wine an’ cider in de kitchen, an’ de darkeys dey’ll have some; I s’pose dey’ll all be cornfiscated when de Linkum sojers come. De massa run, ha, ha! De darkey stay, ho, ho! It mus’ be now de kindom coming, an’ de year ob Jubilo!
Henry Clay Work, "Kingdom Coming" (1862), Chicago: Root and Cady.De obserseer he make us trouble, an’ he dribe us round a spell; We lock him up in de smokehouse cellar, wid de key trown in de well. De whip is lost, de han’cuff broken, but de massa’ll hab his pay; He’s ole enough, big enough, ought to known better dan to went an’ run away. De massa run, ha, ha! De darkey stay, ho, ho! It mus’ be now de kindom coming, an’ de year ob Jubilo!
Henry Clay Work, "Kingdom Coming" (1862), Chicago: Root and Cady.Can any colored man, or any white man friendly to the freedom of all men, ever forget the night which followed the first day of January 1863, when the world was to see if Abraham Lincoln would prove to be as good as his word? I shall never forget that memorable night, when in a distant city I waited and watched at a public meeting, with three thousand others not less anxious than myself, for the word of deliverance which we have heard read today. Nor shall I ever forget the outburst of joy and thanksgiving that rent the air when the lightning brought to us the emancipation proclamation. In that happy hour we forgot all delay, and forgot all tardiness, forgot that the President had bribed the rebels to lay down their arms by a promise to withhold the bolt which would smite the slave-system with destruction; and we were thenceforward willing to allow the President all the latitude of time, phraseology, and every honorable device that statesmanship might require for the achievement of a great and beneficent measure of liberty and progress.
Frederick Douglass, "Oratory in Memory of Abraham Lincoln" (14 April 1876), The Freedmen's Monument, Lincoln Park, Washington, D.C.On the first of January 1863, we held services for the purpose of listening to the reading of President Lincoln’s proclamation by Dr. W. H. Brisbane, and the presentation of two beautiful stands of colors, one from a lady in Connecticut, and the other from Rev. Mr. Cheever. The presentation speech was made by Chaplain French. It was a glorious day for us all, and we enjoyed every minute of it, and as a fitting close and the crowning event of this occasion we had a grand barbecue. A number of oxen were roasted whole, and we had a fine feast. Although not served as tastily or correctly as it would have been at home, yet it was enjoyed with keen appetites and relish. The soldiers had a good time. They sang or shouted 'Hurrah!' all through the camp, and seemed overflowing with fun and frolic until taps were sounded, when many, no doubt, dreamt of this memorable day.
Susie King, as quoted in Reminiscences of My Life in Camp with the 33d United States Colored Troops, p. 18
==== Historians ====
Lincoln and the Republican Party of the 1850s were able to mobilize a national majority against the expansion of slavery only because of the commitment the founders had made to the proposition that all men are created equal. The Republican opposition to slavery led to secession and civil war. After the border slave states had become committed to the war effort Lincoln took his earliest practical opportunity to announce the Emancipation Proclamation. From then on, the war for the Union became a war to abolish slavery.
Thomas G. West, Vindicating the Founders (2001), p. 35.
=== African Americans recruited for the U.S. Army (1863–1865) ===
==== Contemporaries ====
We'll fill the vacant ranks with a million freemen more, shouting the battle cry of freedom!
George F. Root, "The Battle Cry of Freedom", Chicago: Root and Cady.So rally, boys, rally, let us never mind the past. We had a hard road to travel, but our day is coming fast. For God is for the right, and we have no need to fear. The Union must be saved by the colored volunteer... Then here is to the 54th, which has been nobly tried. They were willing, they were ready, with their bayonets by their side, Colonel Shaw led them on and he had no cause to fear about the courage of the colored volunteer.
"Give Us A Flag".We must have scouts, guides, spies, cooks, teamsters, diggers and choppers from the blacks of the south, whether we allow them to fight for us or not, or we shall be baffled and repelled. As one of the millions who would gladly have avoided this struggle at any sacrifice but that principle and honor, but who now feel that the triumph of the Union is dispensable not only to the existence of our country to the well being of mankind, I entreat you to render a hearty and unequivocal obedience to the law of the land.
Horace Greeley, letter to Abraham Lincoln (19 August 1862).More than twenty years of unswerving devotion to our common cause may give me some humble claim to be trusted at this momentous crisis. I will not argue. To do so implies hesitation and doubt, and you do not hesitate. You do not doubt. The day dawns; the morning star is bright upon the horizon! The iron gate of our prison stands half open. One gallant rush from the North will fling it wide open, while four millions of our brothers and sisters shall march out into liberty. The chance is now given you to end in a day the bondage of centuries, and to rise in one bound from social degradation to the place of common equality with all other varieties of men.
Frederick Douglass, "Men of Color, To Arms!" (21 March 1863).We do not even inquire whether a black man is a rebel in arms or not; if he is black, be he friend or foe, he is thought best kept at a distance. It is hardly possible God will let us succeed while such enormities are 'practiced.
James A. Garfield, regarding slavery (1862), as quoted in Garfield: A Biography (1978), by Allan Peskin, p. 145.Corps, division, and post commanders will afford all facilities for the completion of the Negro regiments now organizing in this department. Commissioners will issue supplies, and quarter-masters will furnish stores, on the same requisitions and returns as are required for other troops. It is expected that all commanders will especially exert themselves in carrying out the policy of the Administration, not only in organizing colored regiments and rendering them efficient, but also in removing prejudices against them.
Ulysses S. Grant, order to corps, division, and post commanders, Milliken's Bend, Louisiana.The negro troops are easier to preserve discipline among than our white troops, and I doubt not will prove equally good for garrison duty. All that have been tried have fought bravely.
Ulysses S. Grant, at Vicksburg (24 July 1863), as quoted in Words of our Hero: Ulysses S. Grant, edited by Jeremiah Chaplin, Boston: D. Lothrop and Company, pp. 13-14.I have given the subject of arming the negro my hearty support. This, with the emancipation of the negro, is the heaviest blow yet given the Confederacy. The South rave a great deal about it and profess to be very angry.
Ulysses S. Grant, letter to Abraham Lincoln (23 August 1863).I thought that in your struggle for the Union, to whatever extent the negroes should cease helping the enemy, to that extent it weakened the enemy in his resistance to you. Do you think differently? I thought that whatever negroes can be got to do as soldiers, leaves just so much less for white soldiers to do, in saving the Union. Does it appear otherwise to you? But negroes, like other people, act upon motives. Why should they do any thing for us, if we will do nothing for them? If they stake their lives for us, they must be prompted by the strongest motive, even the promise of freedom. And the promise being made, must be kept.
Abraham Lincoln, letter to James C. Conkling (26 August 1863).A great many had the idea that the entire negro race are vastly their inferiors; a few weeks of calm unprejudiced life here would disabuse them I think. I have a more elevated opinion of their abilities than I ever had before. I know that many of them are vastly the superiors of those, many of those, who would condemn them to a life of brutal degradation.
Charles Augustus Hill, letter to wife (13 October 1863).The copperheads of the North need not complain of them being placed on an equal footing with the white soldiers, since the white soldier himself does not complain. After a man has fought two years, he is willing that any thing shall fight for the purpose of ending the war. We have become too familiar with hardships to refuse to see men fight merely because their color is black.
L. Grim, letter to aunt (27 June 1864).Once let the black man get upon his person the brass letters 'U.S.'; let him get an edge on his button, and a musket on his shoulder and bullets in his pocket, and there is no power on earth which can deny that he has earned the right to citizenship.
Frederick Douglass, whose sons Charles and Lewis served in the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, commanded by Colonel Robert Gould Shaw (1862).I am anxious to get as many of these negro regiments as possible, and to have them full, and completely equipped. I am particularly desirous of organizing a regiment of heavy artillery from the negroes, to garrison this place, and shall do so as soon as possible.
Ulysses S. Grant, at Vicksburg (11 July 1863), as quoted in Words of our Hero: Ulysses S. Grant, by Jeremiah Chaplin, Boston: D. Lothrop and Company, p. 13.I feel no inclination to retaliate for the offences of irresponsible persons; but if it is the policy of any General intrusted with the command of troops to show no quarter, or to punish with death prisoners taken in battle, I will accept the issue. It may be you propose a different line of policy towards black troops, and officers commanding them, to that practiced towards white troops. So, I can assure you that these colored troops are regularly mustered into the service of the United States. The Government, and all officers under the Government, are bound to give the same protection to these troops that they do to any other troops.
Ulysses S. Grant, letter to Richard Taylor (24 July 1863), Vicksburg. Regarding the Confederate executions of captured Union prisoners of war at Milliken's Bend by hanging.That is, by arming the negro we have added a powerful ally. They will make good soldiers and taking them from the enemy weaken him in the same proportion they strengthen us.
Ulysses S. Grant, letter to Abraham Lincoln (23 August 1863)Many persons believed, or pretended to believe, and confidently asserted, that freed slaves would not make good soldiers; they would lack courage, and could not be subjected to military discipline. Facts have shown how groundless were these apprehensions. The slave has proved his manhood, and his capacity as an infantry soldier, at Milliken's Bend, at the assault upon Port Hudson, and the storming of Fort Wagner. The apt qualifications of the colored man for artillery service have long been known and recognized by the naval service.
Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, letter to Abraham Lincoln (5 December 1863), as quoted in The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union (1899), by the United States Department of War, p. 1,132.We congratulate the American people upon your reelection by a large majority. If resistance to the slave power was the reserved watchword of your first administration, the triumphant war cry of your reelection is 'Death to slavery.'From the commencement of the titanic American strife, the workingmen of Europe felt instinctively that the star-spangled banner carried the destiny of their class....The workingmen of Europe feel sure that as the American War of Independence initiated a new era of ascendancy for the middle class, so the American antislavery war will do for the working classes. They consider it an earnest of the epoch to come that it fell to the lot of Abraham Lincoln, the single-minded so of the working class, to lead his country through the matchless struggle for the rescue of an enchained race and the reconstruction of a social world.
Letter of the Communist International to President Abraham Lincoln (1864).The sentiment of this army with regard to the employment of negro troops has been revolutionized by the bravery of the blacks in the recent battle of Milliken's Bend.
Charles Dana, as quoted in War of the Rebellion: The Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I. Vol. XXIV, pt. 1. War Dept. p. 106.Facts will demonstrate to the Northern people that Negro soldiers cannot cope with Southerners.
Nathan Bedford Forrest, regarding the Fort Pillow massacre, as quoted in Personal Memoirs, by U.S. Grant, (Library of America, 1990), p. 483.Negroes must be encouraged to enlist as soldiers in the service of the United States, to contribute their share toward maintaining their own freedom, and securing their rights as citizens of the United States.
William Tecumseh Sherman, "Special Field Order No. 15" (16 January 1865), Headquarters Military Division of the Mississippi, In the Field, Savannah, Georgia.What have you asked the black men of the South, the black men of the whole country, to do? Why, you have asked them to incur the deadly enmity of their masters, in order to befriend you and to befriend this Government. You have asked us to call down, not only upon ourselves, but upon our children’s children, the deadly hate of the entire Southern people. You have called upon us to turn our backs upon our masters, to abandon their cause and espouse yours; to turn against the South and in favor of the North; to shoot down the Confederacy and uphold the flag—the American flag. You have called upon us to expose ourselves to all the subtle machinations of their malignity for all time.
Frederick Douglass, "What the Black Man Wants", speech in Boston, Massachusetts (26 January 1865).Let history record that on the banks of the James 30,000 freemen not only gained their own liberty, but shattered the prejudice of the world, and gave to the land of their birth peace, union and glory.
Godfrey Weitzel, (20 February 1865), as quoted in ORR Series 1, Volume 51, Part I, p. 1202.Without the military help of the black freedman, the war against the South could not have been won.
Abraham Lincoln, as quoted in Freedom's Unfinished Revolution: An Inquiry Into the Civil War, by William Friedheim and Ronald Jackson.Let us not commit ourselves to the absurd and senseless dogma that the color of the skin shall be the basis of suffrage, the talisman of liberty. I admit that it is perilous to confer the franchise upon the ignorant and degraded; but if an educational test cannot be established, let suffrage be extended to all men of proper age, regardless of color. It may well be questioned whether the negro does not understand the nature of our institutions better than the equally ignorant foreigner. He was intelligent enough to understand from the beginning of the war that the destiny of his race was involved in it. He was intelligent enough to be true to that Union which his educated and traitorous master was endeavoring to destroy. He came to us in the hour of our sorest need, and by his aid, under God, the Republic was saved.
James Garfield, as quoted in oration delivered at Ravenna, Ohio (4 July 1865)Its organization was an experiment which has proven a perfect success. The conduct of its soldiers has been such to draw praise from persons most prejudiced against color, and there is no record which should give the colored race more pride than that left by the 25th Army Corps.
Godfrey Weitzel, (1866), as quoted in ORR Series 1, Volume 51, Part I, p. 1,202We have seen white men betray the flag and fight to kill the Union, but in all that long and dreary war you never saw a traitor under a black skin. In all that period of terror and distress, no Union soldier was ever betrayed by any black men anywhere and so long as we live we'll stand by these black allies of ours.
James A. Garfield, address at Madison Square Park (1880)General Burnside wanted to put his colored division in front, and I believe if he had done so it would have been a success. Still I agreed with General Meade as to his objections to that plan. General Meade said that if we put the colored troops in front, we had only one division, and it should prove a failure, it would then be said and very properly, that we were shoving these people ahead to get killed because we did not care anything about them. But that could not be said if we put white troops in front.
Ulysses S. Grant, to the Committee on the Conduct of the War, as quoted in Battles and Leaders of the Civil War (1884-1888), edited by Robert Underwood Johnson and Clarence C. Buel, New York: Century Co., Volume 4, p. 548My confidence in General Grant was not entirely due to the brilliant military successes achieved by him, but there was a moral as well as military basis for my faith in him. He had shown his single-mindedness and superiority to popular prejudice by his prompt cooperation with President Lincoln in his policy of employing colored troops, and his order commanding his soldiers to treat such troops with due respect. In this way he proved himself to be not only a wise general, but a great man, one who could adjust himself to new conditions, and adopt the lessons taught by the events of the hour... The war has proved that there is a great deal of human nature in the Negro.
Frederick Douglass, Life and Times of Frederick Douglass (1881), pp. 433-435Had he been in command of white troops, I should have given him an honorable burial; as it is, I shall bury him in the common trench with the niggers that fell with him.
Johnson Hagood, Confederate officer, regarding Robert Gould Shaw. As quoted in Seeking the One Great Remedy: Francis George Shaw and Nineteenth-century Reform (2003), by Lorien Foote, Ohio University Press, p. 119We would not have his body removed from where it lies surrounded by his brave and devoted soldiers. ... We can imagine no holier place than that in which he lies, among his brave and devoted followers, nor wish for him better company. What a body-guard he has!
Frank Shaw, regarding Robert Gould Shaw's resting place, as quoted in Seeking the One Great Remedy: Francis George Shaw and Nineteenth-century Reform (2003), by Lorien Foote, Ohio University Press, p. 120On the 7th of June our little force of colored and white troops across the Mississippi, at Milliken's Bend, were attacked by about 3,000 men from Richard Taylor's trans-Mississippi command. With the aid of the gunboats they were speedily repelled. I sent Mower's brigade over with instructions to drive the enemy beyond the Tensas Bayou; and we had no further trouble in that quarter during the siege. This was the first important engagement of the war in which colored troops were under fire. These men were very raw, having all been enlisted since the beginning of the siege, but they behaved well.
Ulysses S. Grant, Personal Memoirs of General U.S. Grant, Ch. 37A Chinaman can ride in the same passenger coach with white citizens of the United States, while citizens of the black race in Louisiana, many of whom, perhaps, risked their lives for the preservation of the Union, who are entitled, by law, to participate in the political control of the State and nation, who are not excluded, by law or by reason of their race, from public stations of any kind, and who have all the legal rights that belong to white citizens, are yet declared to be criminals, liable to imprisonment, if they ride in a public coach occupied by citizens of the white race. He does not object, nor, perhaps, would he object to separate coaches for his race if his rights under the law were recognized. But he objecting, and ought never to cease objecting, to the proposition that citizens of the white and black race can be adjudged criminals because they sit, or claim the right to sit, in the same public coach on a public highway.
John Marshall Harlan, as quoted in Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537, 559 (1896)
==== Historians ====
Powerful racial prejudices? That was not true of Thomas Wentworth Higginson, or Norwood P. Hallowell, or George T. Garrison, or many other abolitionists and sons of abolitionists who became officers in black regiments. Indeed, the contrary was true. They had spent much of their lives fighting the race prejudice endemic in American society, sometimes at the risk of their careers and even their lives. That is why they jumped at the chance of help launch an experiment with black soldiers which they hoped would help African Americans achieve freedom and postwar civil equality.
James M. McPherson, Drawn by the Sword: Reflections on the American Civil War, p. 91Once the decision was made to use black soldiers to put down the rebellion, the conviction began to grow that blacks who fought for the Union were far more deserving of rights and political power than Southern whites who fought to destroy the country. And I think that is the fundamental reason for the transformation of attitudes of a lot of Northerners. Southern slaves were now friends of the Union, they were fighting, risking their lives to preserve this Union against their masters who were killing northern soldiers and were traitors trying to destroy the great republican experiment of 1776. That sort of attitude persisted through, I'd say, about 1868 or 1870.
James M. McPherson, as quoted in "An exchange with a Civil War historian" (19 June 1995), by David Walsh, International Workers BulletinForty thousand Canadians alone, some of them black, came south to volunteer for the Union cause.
James W. Loewen, Lies My Teacher Told MeThe southern slave's eagerness to be free and willingness not just to leave but to fight, the Union army's embrace of their plight, the physical destruction of the plantation, and the psychological humiliation of the plantation class, all this illustrated that an apartheid state, once cracked, shatters and can ever be reconstituted again.
Victor Davis Hanson, The Soul of Battle: From Ancient Times to the Present Day (1999), New York City: The Free Press, p. 210White southerners did everything they could, even after the point where many believed the cause was lost, to avoid recruiting black men into the army.
Kevin Levin, "Black Confederates to the Rescue... Again" (24 June 2015), Civil War Memory.
=== The Battle of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania (July 1863) ===
==== Contemporaries ====
The enemy seemed to have gathered all their energies for their final assault. We had gotten our thin line into as good a shape as possible, when a strong force emerged from the scrub wood in the valley, as well as I could judge, in two lines in echelon by the right, and, opening a heavy fire, the first line came on as if they meant to sweep everything before them. We opened on them as well as we could with our scanty ammunition snatched from the field.It did not seem possible to withstand another shock like this now coming on. Our loss had been severe. One-half of my left wing had fallen, and a third of my regiment lay just behind us, dead or badly wounded. At this moment my anxietv was increased by a great rbar of musketry in my rear, on the farther or northerly slope of Little Round Top, apparently on the flank of the regular brigade, which was in support or Hazlett's battery on the crest behind us. The bullets from this attack struck into my left rear, and I feared that the enemy might have nearly surrounded the Little Round Top, and only a desperate chance was left for us. My ammunition was soon exhausted. My men were firing their last shot and getting ready to "club" their muskets. It was imperative to strike before we were struck by this overwhelming force in a hand-to-hand fight, which we could not probably have withstood or survived. At that crisis, I ordered the bayonet. The word was enough. It ran like fire along the line, from man to man; and rose into a shout, with which they sprang forward upon the enemy, now not 30 yards away. The effect was surprising; many of the enemy's first line threw down their arms and surrendered. An officer fired his pistol at my head with one hand, while he handed me his sword with the other. Holding fast by our right, and swinging forward our left, we made an extended " right wheel," before which the enemy's second line broke and fell back, fighting from tree to tree, many being captured, until we had swept the valley and cleared the front of nearly our entire brigade.
Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, in his official report on the Battle of Little Round Top, as published in the U.S. Congressional Record.Our army held the war in the hollow of their hand and they would not close it.
President Abraham Lincoln, regretting the failure of U.S. Army commanders to destroy the Confederate Army before it could recross the Potomac and retreat into the safety of Northern Virginia (1863).General, I have been a soldier all my life. I have been with soldiers engaged in fights by couples, by squads, companies, regiments, divisions, and armies, and should know, as well as any one, what soldiers can do. It is my opinion that no fifteen thousand men ever arranged for battle can take that position.
James Longstreet, as quoted in General James Longstreet: The Confederacy's Most Controversial Soldier: A Biography (1993), by Jeffry D. Wert, New York: Simon & Schuster, p. 283.Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow, this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us. That from these honored dead, we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion... We here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address (1863).
==== Historians ====
The new birth that slowly emerged in Lincoln's politics meant that on November 19 at Gettysburg he was no longer, as in his inaugural address, defending an old Union but proclaiming a new Union. The old Union contained and attempted to restrain slavery. The new Union would fulfill the promise of liberty, the crucial step into the future that the Founders had failed to take. The old Union contained and attempted to restrain slavery. The new Union would fulfill the promise of liberty, the crucial step into the future that the Founders had failed to take.
Ronald C. White, The Eloquent President: A Portrait of Lincoln Through His Words (2005), New York: Random House, p. 251.Between 1890 and about 1970, northerners found it less embarrassing to let Dixie tell the story of the cause it lost than to reminisce about the cause they had abandoned. The Civil War had been about something other than states' rights after all. It began as a war to force or prevent the breakup of the United States. As it ground on it became a struggle to end slavery. At Gettysburg in the fall of 1863, Abraham Lincoln was already proclaiming 'a new birth of freedom', black freedom. Conversely, on their way to and from Gettysburg, Lee's troops seized scores of free black people in Maryland and Pennsylvania and sent them south into slavery. This was in keeping with Confederate national policy, which virtually re-enslaved free people of color into work gangs on earthworks throughout the south.
James Loewen, Lies Across America: What American Historic Sites Get Wrong (2007), p. 350'The Thin Grey Line' came through Montgomery and Frederick counties at least three times, en route to Antietam in 1862, Gettysburg in 1863, and Washington in 1864. Lee's army expected to find recruits and help with food, clothing, and information. This did not happen, although the army did kidnap every African American it came upon, dragging them back into Virginia as slaves. In a further irony, on the courthouse grounds not far from the Confederate monument, a historical marker tells of J.E.B. Stuart's 1863 raid nearby, in which he captured 'as many as a hundred' African Americans and enslaved them, but they are invisible. The marker only mentions the capture of '150 U.S. wagons'. During the first invasion, Maryland residents greeted Union soldiers 'as liberators' when they came through on their way to Antietam, according to historian William F. Howard. During the last invasion, when Confederate cavalry leader Jubal Early came through, he demanded and got $300,000 from the leading merchants of Frederick, lest he burn their town, a sum equal to at least five million dollars today.
James Loewen, "What Does Rockville, Maryland's Confederate Monument Tell Us About the Civil War? About the Nadir? About the Present?" (19 July 2015), History News Network.The Brian Farm sits a few hundred yards from where Confederates managed to temporarily pierce the Union position on July 3. From here a very different narrative about the meaning of the charge, the broader campaign and the war itself confronts visitors. Abraham and Elizabeth Brian, along with their children were not present during the battle. Like other African Americans the Brians fled as news of Robert E. Lee's invasion spread through southcentral Pennsylvania in June 1863. Rumors of kidnappings by Lee's army -- itself made up of thousands of impressed slaves and personal body servants, north of the Mason-Dixon Line served as another reminder of the precariousness of life for the region's black population. Blacks in the region were no strangers to the dangers of slave catchers, who followed their human prey north along the Underground Railroad. Confederate cavalry under the command of General Albert Jenkins took full advantage of those blacks, who were unable to flee the area. In Chambersburg Rachel Cormany watched helplessly as black women who were seized pleaded for their children to be spared. Lines that included entire families must have moved Rachel to tears as she clung to her own daughter. Black communities in McConnellsburg, Mercersberg, and Greencastle also faced the horror of being upended from their homes and families and forcefully marched south. In Mercersburg a woman by the name of Eliza and her child hid in a grain field and managed to elude marauding cavalry only to learn later that her daughter as well as her grandchildren were all captured. One member of Jenkins's cavalry recorded the routine of 'capturing negroes and horses' sending them into Maryland and returning for more 'plunder'. Accounts suggest that Confederates made little attempt to distinguish between free blacks and former slaves.
Kevin Levin, "The Terror of Being Black at Gettysburg" (2013), History News Network.In Gettysburg the African American community braced for the arrival of Lee's men. Some like confectioner Owen Robinson fled, as did Lloyd Watts, who was considered to be a pillar of his church community. It made no difference that both individuals were free men, who had legal papers to prove it. Randolph Johnson chose to stay and attempted to organize a "colored company" in response to the governor's call for local recruits. Though the regiment was not accepted into state service others took part in the defense of a bridge over the Susquehanna River on June 28 against 2,500 Confederate troops in defense of the state capital of Harrisburg. It is likely that the experience of some local blacks in a military setting subsequently led them to Philadelphia, which commenced with the recruiting of blacks into the Federal army just days earlier.
Kevin Levin, "The Terror of Being Black at Gettysburg" (2013), History News Network.Once we understand that the flags in question are those of an army, we can have a more intelligent discussion about what those armies did, such as the fact that the Army of Northern Virginia was under orders to capture and send south supposed escaped slaves during that army's invasion of Pennsylvania in 1863.
Brooks D. Simpson, "The Soldiers' Flag?" (5 July 2015), Crossroads
=== The Siege of Vicksburg (June – July 1863) ===
If you can't feed us, you had better surrender, horrible as the idea is, than suffer this noble army to disgrace themselves by desertion.
A Confederate soldier besieged at Vicksburg to the Confederate commander (1863).If Grant only does this thing right down there, I don't care how, so long as he does it right. Why, Grant is my man and I am his the rest of the war!
Abraham Lincoln, on U.S. Grant's Vicksburg campaign (5 July 1863). When he said this, Lincoln had not yet received news of the surrender of Vicksburg the day before. As quoted in Ulysses S. Grant: Triumph Over Adversity, 1822-1865 (21 February 2000) by Brooks D. Simpson, p. 215.I do not remember that you and I ever met personally. I write this now as a grateful acknowledgment for the almost inestimable service you have done the country. I wish to say a word further. When you first reached the vicinity of Vicksburg, I thought you should do, what you finally did, march the troops across the neck, run the batteries with the transports, and thus go below; and I never had any faith, except a general hope that you knew better than I, that the Yazoo Pass expedition, and the like, could succeed. When you got below, and took Port-Gibson, Grand Gulf, and vicinity, I thought you should go down the river and join General Banks; and when you turned Northward East of the Big Black, I feared it was a mistake. I now wish to make the personal acknowledgment that you were right, and I was wrong.
Abraham Lincoln, letter to Ulysses S. Grant (13 July 1863), Washington, D.C.I am well. I have the enemy closely hemmed in all round. My position is naturally strong and fortified against an attack from outside. I have been so strongly reinforced that Johnston will have to come with a mighty host to drive me away. I do not look upon the fall of Vicksburg as in the least doubtful. If, however, I could have carried the place on the 22nd of last month, I could by this time have made a campaign that would have made the State of Mississippi almost safe for a solitary horseman to ride over. As it is, the enemy have a large army in it, and the season has so far advanced that water will be difficult to find for an army marching, besides the dust and heat that must be encountered. The fall of Vicksburg now will only result in the opening of the Mississippi River and demoralization of the enemy. I intended more from it. I did my best, however, and looking back can see no blunder committed.
Ulysses S. Grant, letter to Jesse Root Grant (15 June 1863), by U.S. Grant.The citizens of Mississippi within the limits above described, are called upon to pursue their peaceful avocations, in obedience to the laws of the United States. Whilst doing so in good faith, all the United States forces are prohibited from molesting them in any way. It is earnestly recommended that the freedom of Negroes be acknowledged, and that, instead of compulsory labor, contracts on fair terms be entered into between the former masters and servants, or between the latter and other persons who may be willing to give them employment. Such a system as this, honestly followed, will result in substantial advantages to all parties.
Ulysses S. Grant, General Orders, No. 50 (1 August 1863), Vicksburg.It required no effort on his part to admit another man's superiority, and his admission that General Grant was right and he was wrong about operations in Vicksburg was not intended for effect as some suppose, but was perfectly in character.
Joseph Gillespie, letter (December 1866).
=== The Eastern Front (1863–1865) ===
==== Contemporaries ====
If they want eternal war, well and good; we accept the issue, and will dispossess them and put our friends in their place. I know thousands and millions of good people who at simple notice would come to North Alabama and accept the elegant houses and plantations there. If the people of Huntsville think different, let them persist in war three years longer, and then they will not be consulted. Three years ago by a little reflection and patience they could have had a hundred years of peace and prosperity, but they preferred war; very well. Last year they could have saved their slaves, but now it is too late. All the powers of earth cannot restore to them their slaves, any more than their dead grandfathers. Next year their lands will be taken, for in war we can take them, and rightfully, too, and in another year they may beg in vain for their lives. A people who will persevere in war beyond a certain limit ought to know the consequences. Many, many peoples with less pertinacity have been wiped out of national existence.
General William Tecumseh Sherman, letter to Major R.M. Sawyer (31 January 1864), from Vicksburg.What? Men dodging this way for single bullets? What will you do when they open fire along the whole line? I am ashamed of you. They couldn't hit an elephant at this distance.
John Sedgwick, allegedly these were among his final words. He was serving as a Union commander in the American Civil War, and was hit by a sharpshooter's fire a few minutes after saying them, at the battle of Spotsylvania to his men who were ducking for cover, on May 9, 1864. The words have often been portrayed as if they were absolutely his last statement, with the sentence being presented as if he did not even finish it, and altered into the form: "They couldn't hit an elephant at this dist..." . Though it may be a slightly more striking version of events, it is unlikely to be true. Civil War Home site: eye-witness account.Is he really dead?
Ulysses S. Grant, after hearing of John Sedgwick's death (May 1864), as quoted in The Battles for Spotsylvania Court House and the Road to Yellow Tavern May 7–12, 1864 (1997), by Gordon C. Rhea, Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, p. 95.I propose to fight it out on this line if it takes all summer.
General Ulysses S. Grant, during the campaign in Virginia (11 May 1864), commanding Union forces, on his intention to keep up offensive operations in Virginia, in contrast with his predecessors.This is not war, this is murder.
Confederate general after viewing Union dead in the Battle of Cold Harbor (3 June 1864).We have met a man this time, who either does not know when he is whipped, or who cares not if he loses his whole army.
Confederate officer, reflecting on U.S. Grant, the new Union commander (1864).Leave nothing to invite the enemy to return.... Let the valley be left so that crows flying over it will have to carry their rations long with them.
General Ulysses S. Grant, the Union Army's commander, instructions for Gen. Philip Sheridan for his invasion of the Shenandoah Valley in northwestern Virginia (1864).I can make this march, and I will make Georgia howl!
William Tecumseh Sherman, telegram to General U.S. Grant (1864), as quoted in Conflict and Compromise: The Political Economy of Slavery, Emancipation, and The American Civil War (1989), by Roger L. Ransom.If the people raise a howl against my barbarity and cruelty, I will answer that war is war, and not popularity-seeking. If they want peace, they and their relatives must stop the war.
General William Tecumseh Sherman, letter to Henry W. Halleck (4 September 1864), whose Western Army invaded Georgia and waged total war against the Confederacy, destroying cities and property along a band 60 miles wide during his march to the seacoast at Savannah (September-December 1864).You cannot qualify war in harsher terms than I will. War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it; and those who brought war into our country deserve all the curses and maledictions a people can pour out. I know I had no hand in making this war, and I know I will make more sacrifices today than any of you to secure peace. But you cannot have peace and a division of our country. If the United States submits to a division now, it will not stop, but will go on until we reap the fate of Mexico, which is eternal war. The United States does and must assert its authority, wherever it once had power; for, if it relaxes one bit to pressure, it is gone, and I believe that such is the national feeling.
General William Tecumseh Sherman, letter to the members of the city council of the City of Atlanta (12 September 1864).You might as well appeal against the thunder-storm as against these terrible hardships of war. They are inevitable, and the only way the people of Atlanta can hope once more to live in peace and quiet at home, is to stop the war, which can only be done by admitting that it began in error and is perpetuated in pride... We do want and will have a just obedience to the laws of the United States. That we will have, and, if it involves the destruction of your improvements, we cannot help it... You have heretofore read public sentiment in your newspapers, that live by falsehood and excitement; and the quicker you seek for truth in other quarters, the better. I repeat then that, by the original compact of government, the United States had certain rights in Georgia, which have never been relinquished and never will be... When peace does come, you may call on me for anything. Then will I share with you the last cracker, and watch with you to shield your homes and families against danger from every quarter... Allow the Union and peace once more to settle over your old homes at Atlanta.
General William Tecumseh Sherman, letter to the members of the city council of the City of Atlanta (12 September 1864).I beg to present you, as a Christmas gift, the city of Savannah, with one hundred and fifty guns and plenty of ammunition, also about twenty-five thousand bales of cotton.
General William Tecumseh Sherman, telegraph message to U.S. President Abraham Lincoln (22 December 1864), following Sherman's capture of the seacoast city of Savannah, Georgia. As quoted in Southern Storm: Sherman's March to the Sea (2008), by Noah Andre Trudeau, New York: HarperCollins, p. 508He comes through Madison on his march to the sea and we're chilling, hung out on the front fence from early morning until late in the evening, watching the soldiers go by. It took most of the day... The next week... Miss Emily called the five women that was on the place and told them to stay around the house... She said they were free and could go wherever they wanted to.
E.W. Evans, interview by Geneva Tonsill
==== Historians ====
From the freeing of the slaves Sherman's men gained the moral imperative... In turn, from Sherman's men the slaves at last could prove they too were human, even more humane than their masters.
Victor Davis Hanson, The Soul of Battle: From Ancient Times to the Present Day (1999), New York City: The Free Press, p. 210Some Confederate soldiers switched sides, beginning as early as 1862. When Sherman made his famous march to the sea from Atlanta to Savannah, his army actually grew in number, because thousands of white southerners volunteered along the way. Meanwhile, almost two-thirds of the Confederate army disappeared through desertion. Eighteen thousand slaves joined Sherman, so many that the army had to turn some away. Compare these facts with the portrait common in our textbooks of Sherman's marauders looting their way through a united south. The increasing ideological confusion in the Confederate states, coupled with the increasing strength of the United States, helps explains the Union victory... Many nations and peopel have continued to fight with far inferior means and weapons... The Confederacy's ideological contradictions were its gravest liabilities, ultimately causing its defeat.
James Loewen, Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong (2007), New York: New Press, pp. 225–226.
=== Lincoln vs. McClellan: The U.S. presidential election of 1864 (November 1864) ===
==== Contemporaries ====
It is the highest duty of every American citizen to maintain against all their enemies the integrity of the Union and the paramount authority of the constitution and laws of the United States; and that, laying aside all differences of political opinion, we pledge ourselves, as Union men, animated by a common sentiment and aiming at a common object, to do everything in our power to aid the Government in quelling by force of arms the Rebellion now raging against its authority, and in bringing to the punishment due to their crimes the rebels and traitors arrayed against it.
Republican Party Platform of 1864 (7 June 1864).We approve the determination of the government of the United States not to compromise with rebels, or to offer them any terms of peace, except such as may be based upon an unconditional surrender of their hostility and a return to their just allegiance to the constitution and laws of the United States, and that we call upon the government to maintain this position and to prosecute the war with the utmost possible vigor to the complete suppression of the Rebellion, in full reliance upon the self-sacrificing patriotism, the heroic valor and the undying devotion of the American people to the country and its free institutions.
Republican Party Platform of 1864 (7 June 1864).As slavery was the cause, and now constitutes the strength of this rebellion, and as it must be, always and everywhere, hostile to the principles of republican government, justice and the national safety demand its utter and complete extirpation from the soil of the republic; and that, while we uphold and maintain the acts and proclamations by which the government, in its own defense, has aimed a deathblow at this gigantic evil, we are in favor, furthermore, of such an amendment to the constitution, to be made by the people in conformity with its provisions, as shall terminate and forever prohibit the existence of slavery within the limits of the jurisdiction of the United States.
Republican Party Platform of 1864 (17 May 1864).The thanks of the American people are due to the soldiers and sailors of the Army and Navy, who have periled their lives in defense of the country and in vindication of the honor of its flag; that the nation owes to them some permanent recognition of their patriotism and their valor, and ample and permanent provision for those of their survivors who have received disabling and honorable wounds in the service of the country; and that the memories of those who have fallen in its defense shall be held in grateful and everlasting remembrance.
Republican Party Platform of 1864 (7 June 1864).Resolved, that we approve and applaud the practical wisdom, the unselfish patriotism and the unswerving fidelity to the constitution and the principles of American liberty, with which Abraham Lincoln has discharged, under circumstances of unparalleled difficulty, the great duties and responsibilities of the presidential office; that we approve and endorse, as demanded by the emergency and essential to the preservation of the nation and as within the provisions of the constitution, the measures and acts which he has adopted to defend the nation against its open and secret foes; that we approve, especially, the Proclamation of Emancipation, and the employment as Union soldiers of men heretofore held in slavery; and that we have full confidence in his determination to carry these and all other constitutional measures essential to the salvation of the country into full and complete effect.
Republican Party Platform of 1864 (7 June 1864).
==== Historians ====
The presidential election of 1864, occurring after the spectacular Union military successes at Mobile Bay and in Georgia and the Shenandoah Valley, reaffirmed the northern majority's commitment to the suppression of the rebellion in the South and the restoration of the Union without slavery. Arguably, Abraham Lincoln's victory owed more to the Northern rejection of the Democratic Party's war-failure platform and its call for an armistice preparatory to a national peace convention than to the voters' confidence in the president's leadership.
William Harris, "The Hampton Roads Peace Conference: A Final Test of Lincoln's Presidential Leadership" (2000), Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association, pp. 30-61.Songs such as 'Nigger Doodle Dandy' reflect the racist tone of the Democrats' presidential campaign in 1864. How did Republicans counter? In part, they sought white votes by being anti-racist. The Republican campaign, boosted by military victories in the fall of 1864, proved effective. The Democrats' overt appeals to racism failed, and anti-racist Republicans triumphed almost everywhere. One New York Republican wrote 'The change of opinion on this slavery question ... is a great and historic fact. Who could have predicted ... this great and blessed revolution?' People around the world supported the Union because of its ideology.
James Loewen, Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong (2007), New York: New Press, p. 192.In 1864, Lincoln took the lead in persuading the Republican national convention to adopt a platform calling for an amendment prohibiting slavery everywhere in the United States. Because slavery was 'hostile to the principles of republican government, justice, and national safety', the platform declared, the Republican Party vowed to accomplish its 'utter and complete extirpation from the soil of the Republic'. Full emancipation became an end as well as a means of Union victory.
Sidney Milkis and Michael Nelson, The American Presidency: Origins and Development, 1776–2014, p. 179.
=== The Thirteenth Amendment passed: Slavery abolished (January 1865) ===
==== Contemporaries ====
The greatest event of this century occurred yesterday in the passage of the Constitutional Amendment in the House. The spectacle during the vote was the most solemn and impressive I ever witnessed. The result for a good while remained in doubt, and the suspense produced perfect stillness. When it was certainly known that the measure had carried, the cheering in the hall and densely packed galleries exceeded anything I ever saw before and beggared description. Members joined in the shouting, and kept it up for some minutes. Some embraced one another, others wept like children. I never before felt as I then did, and thanked God for the blessed opportunity of recording my name where it will be honored as those of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. What a grand jubilee for the old battle-scarred Abolitionists. Glorious fruit of the war. I have felt, ever since the vote, as if I were in a new country. I seem to breathe better, and feel comforted and refreshed.
George Washington Julian, journalI suppose I am politically ruined, but that day was the happiest of my life.
James Edward English, as quoted in In Memoriam: James Edward English (1891), by Anna Morris English, Michigan: Library of the University of Michigan, p. 23.The announcement that the Amendment had been passed by a vote of 119 to 56 was received by the members on the floor and the visitors in the galleries with an outburst of enthusiasm rarely witnessed in the Capitol. Republicans sprang from their seats, and, regardless of parliamentary rules or the Speaker's efforts to enforce silence, cheered and applauded. The men in the galleries joined in the uproar, while ladies clapped their hands, waved their handkerchiefs, and uttered exclamations of delight and enthusiasm.
Anna Morris English, In Memoriam: James Edward English (1891), Michigan: Library of the University of Michigan, p. 23
==== Historians ====
Lincoln had long believed that slavery was incompatible with the Union and that the nation was threaded together by a set of principles that required equality before the law... Lincoln was too respectful of procedural regularity and formal legality to completely abolish slavery by executive fiat. Instead, he worked to achieve abolition by constitutional amendment.
Sidney M. Milkis and Michael Nelson, The American Presidency: Origins and Development, 1776–2014, p. 179Confederates were terrified of what was happening to slavery.
William Davis, Look Away!: A History of the Confederate States of America (2002), New York: The Free Press, p. 159How did slavery end? We know how it ended in the United States; at a cost of one life lost in the Civil War for every six slaves freed. But that is not how it ended elsewhere.
Thomas Sowell, "The Scapegoat for Strife in the Black Community" (7 July 2015), National Review
The Civil War, a struggle between the industrial bourgeoisie of the North and the slave-owners of the South, did not achieve the real emancipation of the slaves. It is true that by an amendment to the federal constitution bourgeois-democratic rights were granted, supposedly to guarantee the new freedom. For the first time the Negroes were granted the right to vote, to hold public office, to obtain an equal education, which for a brief period were enforced by Negro militia and northern federal troops.But the northern bourgeoisie entered into a reapproachment with the overthrown southern plantation lords, thus deserting the property-less former slaves. The northern capitalists were unable to carry the bourgeois-democratic tasks of the war to the end, the taking of the land from the slave holders and giving it to the slaves. If this had been done, the former slaves would not have been forced to return to their former masters after their cowardly betrayal by the northern bourgeoisie, to obtain a livelihood.
B.D. Amis, "The Negro National Oppression and Social Antagonism"
=== U.S. President Abraham Lincoln visits Richmond (4 April 1865) ===
Don't kneel to me, that is not right. You must kneel to God only, and thank him for the liberty you will hereafter enjoy. I am but God's humble instrument; but you may rest assured that as long as I live no one shall put a shackle on your limbs; and you shall have all the rights which God has given to every other free citizen of this republic.
Abraham Lincoln, after witnessing a man bow down to him. In Richmond, Virginia (4 April 1865), as quoted in Incidents and Anecdotes of the Civil War (1885), by David Dixon Porter, p. 295.
My poor friends, you are free, free as air. You can cast off the name of slave and trample upon it; it will come to you no more. Liberty is your birthright. God gave it to you as He gave it to others, and it is a sin that you have been deprived of it for so many years. But you must try to deserve this priceless boon. Let the world see that you merit it, and are able to maintain it by your good works. Don't let your joy carry you into excesses. Learn the laws and obey them; obey God's commandments and thank Him for giving you liberty, for to Him you owe all things. There, now, let me pass on; I have but little time to spare. I want to see the capital, and must return at once to Washington to secure to you that liberty which you seem to prize so highly.
Abraham Lincoln, to a group of freed slaves. In Richmond, Virginia (4 April 1865), as quoted in Incidents and Anecdotes of the Civil War (1885), by David Dixon Porter, p. 297-298.
In reference to you, colored people, let me say God has made you free. Although you have been deprived of your God-given rights by your so-called masters, you are now as free as I am, and if those that claim to be your superiors do not know that you are free, take the sword and bayonet and teach them that you are; for God created all men free, giving to each the same rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Abraham Lincoln, in Richmond, Virginia (4 April 1865), as quoted in Recollected Words of Abraham Lincoln (1996), by Don Edward Fehrenbacher and Virginia Fehrenbacher, editor, p. 257.
No, leave it as a monument.
Abraham Lincoln, in response to talk of demolishing Libby Prison. In Richmond, Virginia (4 April 1865), as quoted in Incidents and Anecdotes of the Civil War (1885), by David Dixon Porter, p. 299.They will never shoulder a musket again in anger, and if Grant is wise, he will leave them their guns to shoot crows with and their horses to plow with. It would do no harm.
Abraham Lincoln, regarding the treatment of former Confederate soldiers. In Richmond, Virginia (4 April 1865), as quoted in Incidents and Anecdotes of the Civil War (1885), by David Dixon Porter, p. 312.Abraham Lincoln was walking their streets; and, worst of all, that plain, honest-hearted man was recognizing the 'niggers' as human beings by returning their salutations! The walk was long, and the President halted a moment to rest. 'May de good Lord bless you, President Linkum!' said an old negro, removing his hat, and bowing with tears of joy rolling down his cheeks. The President removed his own hat, and bowed in silence; but it was a bow which upset the forms, laws, customs, and ceremonies of centuries. It was a death-shock to chivalry, and a mortal wound to caste. Recognize a nigger! Faugh! A woman in an adjoining house beheld it, and turned from the scene in unspeakable disgust. There were men in the crowd who had daggers in their eyes; but the chosen assassin was not there, the hour for the damning work had not come, and that great-hearted man passed on to the executive mansion of the late Confederacy.
Charles Carleton Coffin, The Atlantic (June 1865).
=== R.E. Lee surrenders to U.S. Grant at Appomattox Court House (9 April 1865) ===
Lee, the result of the last week must convince you of the hopelessness of further resistance on the part of the Army of Northern Virginia in this struggle. I feel that it is so, and regard it as my duty to shift from myself the responsibility of any further effusion of blood, by asking of you the surrender of that portion of the C.S. Army known as the Army of Northern Virginia.
Ulysses S. Grant, letter to Robert E. Lee (7 April 1865)..The momentous meaning of this occasion impressed me deeply. I resolved to mark it by some token of recognition, which could be no other than a salute of arms. Well aware of the responsibility assumed, and of the criticisms that would follow, as the sequel proved, nothing of that kind could move me in the least. The act could be defended, if needful, by the suggestion that such a salute was not to the cause for which the flag of the Confederacy stood, but to its going down before the flag of the Union. My main reason, however, was one for which I sought no authority nor asked forgiveness. Before us in proud humiliation stood the embodiment of manhood: men whom neither toils and sufferings, nor the fact of death, nor disaster, nor hopelessness could bend from their resolve; standing before us now, thin, worn, and famished, but erect, and with eyes looking level into ours, waking memories that bound us together as no other bond;—was not such manhood to be welcomed back into a Union so tested and assured? Instructions had been given; and when the head of each division column comes opposite our group, our bugle sounds the signal and instantly our whole line from right to left, regiment by regiment in succession, gives the soldier's salutation, from the "order arms" to the old "carry"—the marching salute. Gordon at the head of the column, riding with heavy spirit and downcast face, catches the sound of shifting arms, looks up, and, taking the meaning, wheels superbly, making with himself and his horse one uplifted figure, with profound salutation as he drops the point of his sword to the boot toe; then facing to his own command, gives word for his successive brigades to pass us with the same position of the manual, honor answering honor. On our part not a sound of trumpet more, nor roll of drum; not a cheer, nor word nor whisper of vain-glorying, nor motion of man standing again at the order, but an awed stillness rather, and breath-holding, as if it were the passing of the dead!
Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, as quoted in Passing of the Armies, pp. 260-61.Let all the men who claim to own a horse or mule [with the Confederate army] take the animals home with them to work their little farms.
Grant to Lee at Appomattox (1865).I am glad to see one real American here.
Robert E. Lee, to Ely S. Parker at Appomattox Court House (9 April 1865), as quoted in The Life of General Ely S. Parker: Last Grand Sachem of the Iroquois and General Grant's Military Secretary Buffalo, by Arthur C. Parker, New York: Buffalo Historical Society, 1919, p. 133.We are all Americans.
Ely S. Parker, to Robert E. Lee at Appomattox Court House (9 April 1865), as quoted in The Life of General Ely S. Parker: Last Grand Sachem of the Iroquois and General Grant's Military Secretary Buffalo, by Arthur C. Parker, New York: Buffalo Historical Society, 1919, p. 133.This will do much toward conciliating our people.
Lee to Grant, on the latter permitting Confederate troops take their horses home to be farm animals (1865).At a little before 4 o'clock General Lee shook hands with General Grant... and with Colonel Marshall left the room.... Lee gazed sadly in the direction of the valley beyond where his army lay — now an army of prisoners....All [Union officers present] appreciated the sadness that overwhelmed him, and he had the personal sympathy of everyone who beheld him at this supreme moment of trial....General Grant... saluted him by raising his hat. He was followed in this act of courtesy by all our officers present; Lee raised his hat respectfully and rode off to break the sad news to the brave fellows whom he had so long commanded....The news of the surrender had reached the Union lines, and the firing of salutes began at several points, but the general sent orders at once to have them stopped, and used these words...: 'The war is over, the Rebels are our countrymen again, and the best sign of rejoicing after the victory will be to abstain from all demonstrations in the field.'
Gen. Horace Porter, account of the Confederate Surrender at Appomattox Court House (9 April 1865).Furl that Banner, for 'tis weary; Round its staff 'tis drooping dreary; Furl it, fold it, it is best. Furl that banner.
Abram J. Ryan, The Conquered Banner (1865).I had known General Lee in the old army, and had served with him in the Mexican War; but did not suppose, owing to the difference in our age and rank, that he would remember me, while I would more naturally remember him distinctly, because he was the chief of staff of General Scott in the Mexican War.When I had left camp that morning I had not expected so soon the result that was then taking place, and consequently was in rough garb. I was without a sword, as I usually was when on horseback on the field, and wore a soldier's blouse for a coat, with the shoulder straps of my rank to indicate to the army who I was. When I went into the house I found General Lee. We greeted each other, and after shaking hands took our seats. I had my staff with me, a good portion of whom were in the room during the whole of the interview.What General Lee's feelings were I do not know. As he was a man of much dignity, with an impassible face, it was impossible to say whether he felt inwardly glad that the end had finally come, or felt sad over the result, and was too manly to show it. Whatever his feelings, they were entirely concealed from my observation; but my own feelings, which had been quite jubilant on the receipt of his letter, were sad and depressed. I felt like anything rather than rejoicing at the downfall of a foe who had fought so long and valiantly, and had suffered so much for a cause, though that cause was, I believe, one of the worst for which a people ever fought, and one for which there was the least excuse.
Ulysses S. Grant, as quoted in Personal Memoirs of General U. S. Grant (1885), Ch. 67.I have done for you all that it was in my power to do. You have done all your duty. Leave the result to God. Go to your homes and resume your occupations. Obey the laws and become as good citizens as you were soldiers.
Robert E. Lee to the soldiers of the Army of Northern Virginia, following the surrender (1865).We must forgive our enemies.
Robert E. Lee, as quoted in A Life of General Robert E. Lee (1871), by John Esten Cooke.My engagements will not permit me to be present, and I believe if there I could not add anything material to the information existing on the subject. I think it wiser, moreover, not to keep open the sores of war, but to follow the example of those nations who endeavored to obliterate the marks of civil strife, and to commit to oblivion the feelings it engendered.
Robert E. Lee, letter (1869), as quoted in Personal reminiscences, anecdoates, and letters of gen. Robert E. Lee (1874), by John William Jones, p. 234. Also quoted in "Renounce the battle flag: Don't whitewash history" (26 June 2015), by Petula Dvorak, The Washington Post, Washington, D.C. This quote is also given as: "I think it wisest not to keep open the sores of war, but to follow the example of those nations who endeavored to obliterate the marks of civil strife, and to commit to oblivion the feelings it engendered."I am rejoiced that slavery is abolished. I believe it will be greatly for the interests of the South. So fully am I satisfied of this, as regards Virginia especially, that I would cheerfully have lost all I have lost by the war, and have suffered all I have suffered, to have this object attained.
Robert E. Lee, statement to John Leyburn (1 May 1870), as quoted in R. E. Lee : A Biography (1934) by Douglas Southall Freeman.Here Sunday, April, 9th, 1865, after four years of heroic struggle in defense of the principles believed to be fundamental to the existence of our government, Lee surrendered 9,000 men, the remnant of an army still unconquered in spirit, to 118,000 men under Grant.
Inscription on granite memorial marking site of the original Appomattox Court House, where the Civil War ended, Appomattox Court House National Historical Park, Virginia. Author unknown. Reported in Mary Louise Gills, It Happened at Appomattox (1948), p. 21. When the building burned several decades after the war, the county seat was moved to a new location three miles away.
==== Aftermath ====
The newspapers and the men that opposed the cause of the great Republic are those like the ass of the fable that dared kick the lion believing him fallen; but today as they see it rise in all its majesty, they change their language.
Giuseppe Garibaldi, letter to the American minister in ItalyI have fought a long battle with slavery; and I confess my solicitude when I see any thing that looks like concession to it. It is not enough to show me that a measure is expedient: you must show me also that it is right. Ah, sir, can any thing be expedient which is not right? From the beginning of our history the country has been afflicted with compromise. It is by compromise that human rights have been abandoned. I insist that this shall cease. The country needs repose after all its trials: it deserves repose. And repose can only be found in everlasting principles. It cannot be found by inserting in your constitution the disfranchisement of a race.
Charles Sumner, final speech in the U.S. Senate on Constitutional Amendment (9 March 1866)During the late contest for the Union, the air was full of 'nevers', every one of which was contradicted and put to shame by the result, and I doubt not that most of those we now hear in our troubled air will meet the same fate. It is probably well for us that some of our gloomy prophets are limited in their powers to prediction... Southern gentlemen who led in the late rebellion have not parted with their convictions at this point, any more than at any other. They want to be independent of the negro. They believed in slavery and they believe in it still. They believed in an aristocratic class, and they believe in it still. Though they have lost slavery, one element essential to such a class, they still have two important conditions to the reconstruction of that class. They have intelligence, and they have land. Of these, the land is the more important. They cling to it with all the tenacity of a cherished superstition. They will neither sell to the negro, nor let the carpet-bagger have it in peace, but are determined to hold it for themselves and their children forever. They have not yet learned that when a principle is gone, the incident must go also; that what was wise and proper under slavery is foolish and mischievous in a state of general liberty; that the old bottles are worthless when the new wine has come; but they have found that land is a doubtful benefit, where there're no hands to till it.
Frederick Douglass, Our Composite Nationality (7 December 1869), Boston, Massachusetts.Under his wise and beneficent rule we saw ourselves gradually lifted from the depths of slavery to the heights of liberty and manhood; under his wise and beneficent rule, and by measures approved and vigorously pressed by him, we saw that the handwriting of ages, in the form of prejudice and proscription, was rapidly fading away from the face of our whole country; under his rule, and in due time, about as soon after all as the country could tolerate the strange spectacle, we saw our brave sons and brothers laying off the rags of bondage, and being clothed all over in the blue uniforms of the soldiers of the United States; under his rule we saw two hundred thousand of our dark and dusky people responding to the call of Abraham Lincoln, and with muskets on their shoulders, and eagles on their buttons, timing their high footsteps to liberty and union under the national flag; under his rule we saw the independence of the black republic of Haiti, the special object of slave-holding aversion and horror, fully recognized, and her minister, a colored gentleman, duly received here in the city of Washington; under his rule we saw the internal slave-trade, which so long disgraced the nation, abolished, and slavery abolished in the District of Columbia; under his rule we saw for the first time the law enforced against the foreign slave trade, and the first slave-trader hanged like any other pirate or murderer; under his rule, assisted by the greatest captain of our age, and his inspiration, we saw the Confederate States, based upon the idea that our race must be slaves, and slaves forever, battered to pieces and scattered to the four winds; under his rule, and in the fullness of time, we saw Abraham Lincoln, after giving the slave-holders three months' grace in which to save their hateful slave system, penning the immortal paper, which, though special in its language, was general in its principles and effect, making slavery forever impossible in the United States. Though we waited long, we saw all this and more.
Frederick Douglass, Oratory in Memory of Abraham Lincoln (14 April 1876), Lincoln Park, Washington, D.C.We must make the Negro our friend... We can do this if we will. Should we make him our enemy under the prompting of the Yankees, whose aim is to force us to recognize him on a basis of equality, then our path lies through a way red with blood and damp with tears...
James Alcorn, letter to Amelia Alcorn, as quoted in After Appomattox: How the South Won the War, by Stetson Kennedy, p. 28.The Republic needed to be passed through chastening, purifying fires of adversity and suffering: so these came and did their work and the verdure of a new national life springs greenly, luxuriantly, from their ashes.
Horace Greeley, as quoted in Greeley on Lincoln (1893), edited by Joel Benton, p. 78.I did more for the Russian serf in giving him land as well as personal liberty, than America did for the negro slave set free by the proclamation of President Lincoln. I am at a loss to understand how you Americans could have been so blind as to leave the negro slave without tools to work out his salvation. In giving him personal liberty, you have him an obligation to perform to the state which he must be unable to fulfill. Without property of any kind he cannot educate himself and his children. I believe the time must come when many will question the manner of American emancipation of the negro slaves in 1863. The vote, in the hands of an ignorant man, without either property or self respect, will be used to the damage of the people at large; for the rich man, without honor or any kind of patriotism, will purchase it, and with it swamp the rights of a free people.
Alexander II, emperor of Russia, conversation with Wharton Barker, Pavlovski Palace (17 August 1879); reported in Barker, "The Secret of Russia's Friendship", The Independent (24 March 1904), p. 647.Twenty years have passed since that event; it is almost too new in history to make a great impression, but the time will come when it will loom up as one of the greatest of man's achievements, and the name of Abraham Lincoln — who of his own will struck the shackles from the limbs of four millions of people — will be honored thousands of years from now as man's name was never honored before.
David Dixon Porter, as quoted in Incidents and Anecdotes of the Civil War (1885), by D.D. Porter, p. 296.For the present, and so long as there are living witnesses of the great war of sections, there will be people who will not be consoled for the loss of a cause which they believed to be holy. As time passes, people, even of the South, will begin to wonder how it was possible that their ancestors ever fought for or justified institutions which acknowledged the right of property in man.
Ulysses S. Grant, Personal Memoirs of General U. S. Grant (1885), by U.S. Grant, Ch. 12.Wars produce many stories of fiction, some of which are told until they are believed to be true.
Ulysses S. Grant, Personal Memoirs of General U. S. Grant (1885), by U.S. Grant, Ch. 67.On Palm Sunday, at Appomattox Court House, the spirit of feudalism, of aristocracy, of injustice in this country, surrendered, in the person of Robert E. Lee, the Virginian slave-holder, to the spirit of the Declaration of Independence and of equal rights, in the person of Ulysses S. Grant, the Illinois tanner. So closed this great campaign in the 'Good Fight of Liberty'. So the Army of the Potomac, often baffled, struck an immortal blow, and gave the right hand of heroic fellowship to their brethren of the west. So the silent captain, when all his lieutenants had secured their separate fame, put on the crown of victory and ended civil war. As fought the Lieutenant-General of the United States, so fight the United States themselves, in the 'Good Fight of Man'. With Grant's tenacity, his patience, his promptness, his tranquil faith, let us assault the new front of the old enemy. We, too, must push through the enemy's Wilderness, holding every point we gain. We, too, must charge at daybreak upon his Spottsylvania Heights. We, too, must flank his angry lines and push them steadily back. We, too, must fling ourselves against the baffling flames of Cold Harbor. We, too, outwitting him by night, must throw our whole force across swamp and river, and stand entrenched before his capital. And we, too, at last, on some soft, auspicious day of spring, loosening all our shining lines, and bursting with wild battle music and universal shout of victory over the last desperate defense, must occupy the very citadel of caste, force the old enemy to final and unconditional surrender, and bring Boston and Charleston to sing Te Deum together for the triumphant equal rights of man.
George William Curtis, as quoted in "The Good Fight" (1865).Last Wednesday the citizens of this city and vicinity, native Texans, assembled in the fairgrounds to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary if the liberation of the bonded Afro-American of Texas. After indulging in various pleasures, they were called to the sumptuous repasts that were spread by our energetic ladies and our worthy citizen and coadjuntor, R. B. Floyd. At 3:30 the people were called together in the amphitheater to hear the speakers of the day. The exercises were opened by the song, “Hold the Fort,” led by Presiding Elder, A. M. Ward; prayer, led by Rev. J. R. Ransom; 'John Brown's Body' was then led by Rev. Ward; E. W. Dorsey then stated why the 19th of June was celebrated. He was followed by S. O. Clayton, who in an address of twenty minutes delivered volumes of words which were impregnated with varied and bright thoughts. Closely following the speakers an animated game of base ball was witnessed; when the happy throng repaired to their homes expressing themselves highly pleased with their first Juneteenth celebration
Weekly Blade (22 June 1895), Parsons, Kansas.I am not ashamed of having fought on the side of slavery, a soldier fights for his country, right or wrong, he is not responsible for the political merits of the course he fights in. The South was my country.
John S. Mosby, letter to Samuel "Sam" Chapman (4 June 1907).After the civil war, the south continued to pass restrictive firearms laws in order to deprive the newly freed blacks from exercising their rights of citizenship... After the conclusion of the American Civil War, several southern legislatures adopted comprehensive regulations, Black Codes, by which the new freed men were denied many of the rights that white citizens enjoyed.
Stefan B. Tahmassebi, "Gun Control and Racism" (1991), George Mason University Civil Rights Law Journal , p. 67.There are all kinds of myths that a people has about itself, some positive, some negative, some healthy and some not healthy. I think that one job of the historian is to try to cut through some of those myths and get closer to some kind of reality. So that people can face their current situation realistically, rather than mythically. I guess that's my sense of what a historian ought to do.
James M. McPherson, as quoted in "An exchange with a Civil War historian" (19 June 1995), by David Walsh, International Workers BulletinThe end of slavery in 1865 did not eliminate the problems of racist gun control laws; the various Black Codes adopted after the Civil War required blacks to obtain a license before carrying or possessing firearms or Bowie knives; these are sufficiently well-known that any reasonably complete history of the Reconstruction period mentions them. These restrictive gun laws played a part in the efforts of the Republicans to get the Fourteenth Amendment ratified, because it was difficult for night riders to generate the correct level of terror in a victim who was returning fire. It does appear, however, that the requirement to treat blacks and whites equally before the law led to the adoption of restrictive firearms laws in the South that were equal in the letter of the law, but unequally enforced. It is clear that the vagrancy statutes adopted at roughly the same time, in 1866, were intended to be used against blacks, even though the language was race-neutral. The former states of the Confederacy, many of which had recognized the right to carry arms openly before the civil war, developed a very sudden willingness to qualify that right. One especially absurd example, and one that includes strong evidence of the racist intentions behind gun control laws, is Texas.
Clayton Cramer, "The Racist Roots of Gun Control" (1995), Kansas Journal of Law and Public Policy (1995).Leaders of such a catastrophe must account for themselves. Justification is necessary. Those who followed their leaders into the catastrophe required similar rationalization. Clement A. Evans, a Georgia veteran who at one time commanded the United Confederate Veterans organization, said this: 'If we cannot justify the South in the act of Secession, we will go down in History solely as a brave, impulsive but rash people who attempted in an illegal manner to overthrow the Union of our Country.'
Alan Nolan, The Myth of the Lost Cause and Civil War History (2000), pp. 13-14.The social and economic system based on chattel slavery that the seceding states had sought to protect lay in ruins. The inviolability of the Union, most of the loyal citizenry’s pre-eminent concern throughout the conflict, was confirmed on the battlefield. In the longer term, preservation of the Union made possible the American economic and political colossus of the next century.
Gary Gallagher, The American Civil War, Gilder Lehrman Institute.I yield to no one precedence in love for the South. But because I love the South, I rejoice in the failure of the Confederacy.
Woodrow Wilson, Essay on John Bright, Virginia University Magazine, 19:354-370 (March 1880).Lincoln asked the nation to confront unblinkingly the legacy of slavery. What were the requirements of justice in the face of this reality? What would be necessary to enable former slaves and their descendants to enjoy fully the pursuit of happiness? Lincoln did not live to provide an answer. A century and a half later, we have yet to do so.
Eric Foner, as quoted in "The Emancipation of Abe Lincoln" (31 December 2012), The New York Times, New YorkIn the wake of Reconstruction a growing number of southerners began to argue that protecting slavery had not been the real cause of the war, and some even claimed that slavery was in fact a just institution. These ideas spread and grew into the 'Lost Cause' movement, a romantic vision of the South that would eventually gain exposure from the popularity of films including Birth of a Nation and Gone with the Wind.
As quoted in A former Confederate officer on slavery and the Civil War, by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American HistoryThe Revolution was about creating a new system of government built on new principles while the secessionists were trying to maintain the same government that they said was oppressing them and building it on the principle of slavery. The Revolutionaries spoke of not wanting to be slaves while the secessionists spoke of wanting to maintain slaves. That paradox just keeps coming up all the time. How do you have a country built on liberty, equality, and freedom while at the same time you enslave your fellow man, deny equality based on gender and race, and say you are a nation of free people? This is why I personally say the Revolution has not ended. It certainly had not ended in 1861 because the Civil War and more specifically the struggle to end slavery in America was part of the egalitarian process set forth by the Revolution itself. It is still ongoing today because of the need to firmly establish equality today. The Civil War did not have to be a war. Slavery was going to end in some manner via legislation at some point, but the slave owners chose war instead. The results were different directly due to those slave owners making that choice. Everything they opposed came to pass with far, far worse consequences for them and the country as a whole had they not chosen to fight a war in order to perpetuate the expansion of slavery in America.
Jimmy Dick, Chat-Room (18 February 2014), Crossroads.The civil war ended on May 10, 1865, at Irwinville, Georgia. It was then and there that President Jefferson Davis, who personified the Confederacy more than any other single individual, was finally run to ground and captured by Union cavalry. Having fled Richmond on April 2, he was heading westward with the vain hope of continuing the fight against the Yankees in the Trans-Mississippi. By then, he had been deserted by all but his loyal wife and a handful of escorting cavalrymen. With the capture of Davis, the last flame flickering on behalf of Southern independence was well and truly snuffed out.
Jeffrey E. Brooks, "150th Anniversary of the End of the Civil War? Not Necessarily." (9 April 2015), The Blog of Jeffrey Evan Brooks.Why should we as Texans want to be reminded of a legalized system of involuntary servitude, dehumanization, rape, mass murder?
Royce West (2011), "The Supreme Court Just Dealt the Confederate Flag a Blow, Here's How" (June 2015), The Washington Post.In the 1950s, the battle flag was revived not just as a symbol of resistance to federally mandated desegregation. The stars and bars was also a symbol of terror: of the violent intimidation of African Americans who dared assert their rights. The stars and bars promised lynching, police violence against protestors and others. And violence against churches. SC's state flag is a flag of slavery. But it is also a flag of terrorism. That terror is among other things anti-religious and particularly, anti-Christian. Churches have been bombed & burned for what it symbolizes. Ministers, worshippers, people singing hymns have been attacked time and time again by those who serve it and those who wave it. So here we are again. SC may lower the pro-terrorism, proslavery, anti-religious flag to half mast for a day. But they plan to raise it again.
Edward Baptist, Twitter (18 June 2015), as quoted in "Confederate Flag’s Place at the South Carolina Statehouse Questioned After Church Shooting" (18 June 2015), Newsweek.I have no respect for your ancestors. As far as your ancestors are concerned, I shouldn't be a law professor at Georgetown. I should be a slave. That's why they fought that war. I don't understand what it means to be proud of a legacy of terrorism and violence. Last week at this time, I was in Israel. The idea that a German would say, you know, that thing we did called the Holocaust, that was wrong, but I respect the courage of my Nazi ancestors, that wouldn't happen. The reason people can say what you said in the United States is because, again, black life just doesn't matter to a lot of people.
Paul Butler, "Paul Butler Says What’s On His Mind" (June 2015), YouTube.
=== U.S. President Abraham Lincoln is assassinated (April 1865) ===
==== Contemporaries ====
That means nigger citizenship. Now, by God, I will put him through. That will be the last speech he will ever make.
John Wilkes Booth, to Lewis Powell after Lincoln last public address (11 April 1865), as quoted in Blood on the Moon (2002), by Edward Steers, Lexington, Ky.: University Press of Kentucky, p. 91. Also mentioned in Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer (2006), by James Swanson, Harper Collins.There lies the most perfect ruler of men the world has ever seen. Now he belongs to the ages.
Edwin M. Stanton, at Lincoln's death (15 April 1865). As quoted in Abraham Lincoln: A History (1890) by John George Nicolay and John Hay, p. 302. Though "Now he belongs to the ages" is by far the most accepted quotation of this remark, it is sometimes contended that he said "Now he belongs to the angels" but occurrences of this date back only a very few years.. Stanton had originally opposed Lincoln, dubbing him "The Original Gorilla" because of his looks and frontier speech, but eventually grew to admire him.As to Mr. Lincoln's name and fame and memory, — all is safe. His firmness, moderation, goodness of heart; his quaint humor, his perfect honesty and directness of purpose; his logic his modesty his sound judgment, and great wisdom; the contrast between his obscure beginnings and the greatness of his subsequent position and achievements; his tragic death, giving him almost the crown of martyrdom, elevate him to a place in history second to none other of ancient or modern times. His success in his great office, his hold upon the confidence and affections of his countrymen, we shall all say are only second to Washington’s; we shall probably feel and think that they are not second even to his.
Rutherford Birchard Hayes, as quoted in letter to Lucy Webb Hayes (16 April 1865)I have ever held the South was right. The very nomination of Abraham Lincoln, four years ago, spoke plainly war upon Southern rights and institutions... And looking upon African Slavery from the same stand-point held by the noble framers of our constitution, I for one, have ever considered it one of the greatest blessings (both for themselves and us,) that God has ever bestowed upon a favored nation… I have also studied hard to discover upon what grounds the right of a State to secede has been denied, when our very name, United States, and the Declaration of Independence, both provide for secession!
John Wilkes Booth, as quoted in "The murderer of Mr. Lincoln" (21 April 1865), The New York Times (1865)We admired and loved him on many accounts, for strong and various reasons. We admired his childlike simplicity, his freedom from guile and deceit, his staunch and sterling integrity, his kind and forgiving temper, his industry and patience, his persistent, self-sacrificing devotion to all the duties of his eminent position, from the least to the greatest; his readiness to hear and consider the cause of the poor and humble, the suffering and the oppressed; his charity toward those who questioned the correctness of his opinions and the wisdom of his policy; his wonderful skill in reconciling differences among the friends of the Union, leading them away from abstractions, and inducing them to work together and harmoniously for the common weal; his true and enlarged philanthropy, that knew no distinction of color or race, but regarded all men as brethren, and endowed alike by their Creator 'with certain inalienable rights, among which are life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness'; his inflexible purpose that what freedom had gained in our terrible civil strife should never be lost, and that the end of the war should be the end of slavery, and, as a consequence, of rebellion; his readiness to spend and be spent for the attainment of such a triumph, a triumph, the blessed fruits of which shall be as wide-spreading as the earth and as enduring as the sun, all these things commanded and fixed our admiration and the admiration of the world, and stamped upon his character and life the unmistakable impress of greatness.
Phineas Densmore Gurley, White House Funeral Sermon for President Lincoln (19 April 1865)The assassination of Abraham Lincoln. It was a new crime, a pure act of malice. No purpose of the rebellion was to be served by it. It was the simple gratification of a hell-black spirit of revenge. But it has done good after all. It has filled the country with a deeper abhorrence of slavery and a deeper love for the great liberator... Had Abraham Lincoln died from any of the numerous ills to which flesh is heir; had he reached that good old age of which his vigorous constitution and his temperate habits gave promise; had he been permitted to see the end of his great work; had the solemn curtain of death come down but gradually, we should still have been smitten with a heavy grief, and treasured his name lovingly. But dying as he did die, by the red hand of violence, killed, assassinated, taken off without warning, not because of personal hate, for no man who knew Abraham Lincoln could hate him, but because of his fidelity to union and liberty, he is doubly dear to us, and his memory will be precious forever.
Frederick Douglass, Oratory in Memory of Abraham Lincoln (14 April 1876), Lincoln Park, Washington, D.C.
==== Historians ====
Within that doorA man sits or the image of a manStaring at stillness on a marble floor.No drum distracts him nor no trumpet canAlthough he hears the trumpet and the drum.He listens for the time to come.Within this doorA man sits or the image of a manRemembering the time before.He hears beneath the river in its choking channelA deeper river rushing on the stone,Sits there in his doubt alone,Discerns the Principle,The guns begin,Emancipates—but not the slaves,The Union—not from servitude but shame:Emancipates the Union from the monstrous nameWhose infamy dishonoredEven the great Founders in their graves …He saves the Union and the dream goes on.
Archibald MacLeish, "At the Lincoln Memorial", stanza 4, lines 1–6, and stanza 5, New & Collected Poems, 1917–1976 (1976), p. 433–35. This poem was written for ceremonies marking the centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation and was read by MacLeish at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington, D.C., September 22, 1962.White southerners saw Lincoln as anti-slavery and his election as a direct threat to the survival of the peculiar institution. Are you going to tell me that they were stupid or deluded? Is that any way for white southerners to honor their ancestors, by ridiculing their intelligence? Indeed, Stephen Douglas' decision to accuse Lincoln of embracing racial equality tells us that playing the race, or racism, card in the 1850s was alive and well, because Douglas believed that he would gain political traction among racist Illinois voters, who were white, after all, by associating Lincoln with the cause of black equality. Lincoln's response was thus also an issue of political survival. So was his decision not to publicize his support for limited black suffrage in Louisiana in 1864. He advanced the idea in a private letter, but waited thirteen months until he made his sentiment public, and three days after he made that sentiment public, he fell victim to an assassin's bullet because that assassin could not bear the thought of black equality. Lincoln knew he lived in a racist America, north and south.
Brooks D. Simpson, "Race and Slavery, North and South: Some Logical Fallacies" (18 June 2011), CrossroadsAbraham Lincoln's assassination. This sickening act of violence, when added to all the others, brought a definitive feeling that an era had ended, as surely as Lincoln's election in November 1860 had precipitated it. The funeral train that carried Lincoln's remains home to Springfield, Illinois, drew millions, and while the tragedy felt senseless, it also offered the nation a chance to mourn something much larger than the death of a single individual. To the end, Lincoln served a higher cause.
Ted Widmer, "Did the American Civil War Ever End?" (4 June 2015), The New York Times, New York
=== Quotes in fiction ===
==== Shenandoah (1965) ====
Shenandoah is a film that place in Virginia during the American Civil War. Charlie Anderson is single father and a farmer who has no slaves and who wishes to keep himself and his family out of the war.Jacob Anderson: They come closer everyday, pa.
Charlie Anderson: They on our land?
Jacob Anderson: No, sir.
Charlie Anderson: Well, then, it doesn't concern us.Charlie Anderson: My corn I take serious because it's my corn, and my potatoes and my tomatoes and fences I take note of because they're mine. But this war is not mine and I take no note of it!Charlie Anderson: I've got five hundred acres of good, rich dirt, here, and as long as the rains come and the sun shines, it'll grow anything I have a mind to plant. And we pulled every stump, and we cleared every field, and we done it ourselves without the sweat of one slave.
Charlie Anderson: "So"!? So, can you give me one good reason why I should send my family, that took me a lifetime to raise, down that road like a bunch of damn fools to do somebody else's fighting?
Johnson: Virginia needs all of her sons, Mr. Anderson.
Charlie Anderson: That might me so, Johnson, but these are my sons! They don't belong to the state. When they were babies, I never saw the state coming around with a spare tit! We never asked anything of the state, and never expected anything. We do our own living and thanks to no man for the right. But seeing as how you're so worried about it, I'll tell ya: If any of my boys thinks this war's right, and wants to join in, he's free to do it. You all hear that!? Did you hear it!? You wanna dress up like these fellas, go ahead; here's your chance.
(None of Anderson's sons volunteer. The soldier realises he has lost this battle.)Charlie Anderson: What d'you do with dead soldiers?Sam: [who has just learned he's being called to service] I'll hav'ta leave ya; you know that, don't you? Do you understand?
Jennie: Do you?Charlie Anderson: [after Boy Anderson is abducted by U.S. soldiers] Now it concerns us.Charlie Anderson: I'm not going to kill you. I want you to live. I want you to live to be an old man, and I want you to have many, many, many children, and I want you to feel about your children then the way I feel about mine now. And someday, when a man comes along and kills one of 'em, I want you to remember! Okay? I want you to remember.Charlie Anderson: There's nothing much I can tell you about this war. It's like all wars, I suppose. The undertakers are winning it. Oh, the politicians will talk a lot about the "glory" of it, and the old men'll talk about the "need" of it—the soldiers, they just want to go home.
==== North and South, Book II (1986) ====
Ulysses S. Grant: You know I can't abide curse-words, but this time I'm going to use one because I am damn tired of hearing what Lee's going to do to us! Start thinking about what we're doing to do to him. Some of you think he's about to turn a double somersault and land in our rear and on both flanks at the same time.Ulysses S. Grant: I have never been in a fight where the situation wasn't desperate at one point, colonel.Ulysses S. Grant: We have taken our last backwards step.Ulysses S. Grant: If we don't admit defeat, we're not defeated.Ulysses S. Grant: Mister Crawford, nobody is more sick of this war than I am. That's why we're moving south, to end it as quickly as possible. Lincoln said at Gettysburg we must preserve this nation so a government of the people won't perish, but you newspaper boys never pay much attention to that, did you?Ulysses S. Grant: The reporter's right; people are tired of war. If we don't destroy Lee's army? Lincoln could be defeated in November, and the Union? Gone forever. Only unconditional surrender will give us a lasting peace.Ulysses S. Grant: I'm not near the drinker some people would like to believe.
==== Gettysburg (1993) ====
Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain: This is a different kind of army. If you look at history you'll see men fight for pay, or women, or some other kind of loot. They fight for land, or because a king makes them, or just because they like killing. But we're here for something new. This has not happened much, in the history of the world: We are an army out to set other men free. America should be free ground - all of it. Not divided by a line between slave state and free, all the way from here to the Pacific Ocean. No man has to bow. No man born to royalty. Here, we judge you by what you do, not by who your father was. Here, you can be something. Here, is the place to build a home. But it's not the land. There's always more land. It's the idea that we all have value - you and me. What we're fighting for, in the end, we're fighting for each other.Thomas D. Chamberlain: I don't mean no disrespect to you fighting men, but sometimes I can't help but figure. Why you fighting this war?
Confederate prisoner: Why are you?
Thomas D. Chamberlain: To free the slaves, of course. And preserve the Union.Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain: Tell me something, Buster. What do you think of Negroes?
Sergeant 'Buster' Kilrain: Well, if you mean the race, I don't really know. This is not a thing to be ashamed of. The thing is, you cannot judge a race. Any man who judges by the group is a pea-wit. You take men one at a time.
Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain: You see to me there was never any difference.
Sergeant 'Buster' Kilrain: None at all?
Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain: None at all. Of course, I haven't known that many freedmen. But those I knew in Bangor, Portland. You look in the eye, there was a man. There was a 'divine spark', as my mother used to call it. That is all there is to it. Races are men. 'What a piece of work is man. How infinite in faculties and form, and movement. How express and admirable. In action how like an angel'.
Sergeant 'Buster' Kilrain: Well, if he's an angel, all right then. But he damn well must be a killer angel. Colonel, darling, you're a lovely man. I see a vast great difference between us, yet I admire you, lad. You're an idealist, praise be. The truth is, Colonel. There is no 'divine spark'. There's many a man alive no more of value than a dead dog. Believe me. When you've seen them hang each other the way I have back in the Old Country. Equality? What I'm fighting for is to prove I'm a better man than many of them. Where have you seen this 'divine spark' in operation, Colonel? Where have you noted this magnificent equality? No two things on Earth are equal or have an equal chance. Not a leaf, not a tree. There's many a man worse than me, and some better. But I don't think race or country matters a damn. What matters, Colonel? Is justice. Which is why I'm here. I'll be treated as I deserve, not as my father deserved. I'm Kilrain. And I damn all gentlemen. There is only one aristocracy. And that is right here. [points to his head] And that's why we've got to win this war.
==== Gods and Generals (2003) ====
Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain: War is a scourge, but so is slavery. It is the systematic coercion of one group of men over another. It has been around since the book of Genesis. It exists in every corner of the world, but that is no excuse for us to tolerate it here when we find it right in front of our very eyes in our own country. As God as my witness, there is no one I hold in my heart dearer than you. But if your life, or mine, is part of the price to end this curse and free the Negro, then let God's work be done.
==== Lincoln (2012) ====
Alexander H. Stephens: Which now extinguishes slavery. And with it our economy. All our laws will be determined by a Congress of vengeful Yankees, all our rights will be subject to a Supreme Court benched by bloody Republican radicals. All our traditions will be obliterated. We won't know ourselves anymore.
== See also ==
United States of America
== External links ==
Causes of the American Civil War
Confederate states by slave and free population
The Constitution of the Confederate States of America
"The Cornerstone Speech"