Was Secession "legal" and "justified"?
1. If secession of a State from the United States was meant to be permitted by the Founders, why does the U.S. Constitution contain so many details about the procedures for States to join the United States, but not a word about procedures to leave it?
The U.S. Constitution replaced the earlier union among the States chartered under the Articles of Confederation ( 1781-1789 ) which spoke of it being a “perpetual Union .“ Yet, it was replaced only after a few years. Article II of the Articles of Confederation reads: “Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right, which is not by this Confederation expressly delegated to the United States, in Congress assembled.” Nowhere in the U.S. Constitution which replaced the Articles of Confederation does the word “ perpetual “ appear.
The claim to State retention of sovereignty is also reflected the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which states “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” There is nothing in the U.S. Constitution which implies the States delegated their sovereignty, freedom, and independence to the U.S. government beyond those sovereign rights loaned it. There was no need to include a procedure in the U.S. Constitution for a State to leave the Union because that was a power retained by the States. It was up to the State to determine the procedure for its secession because each State retained that right. Just as each State independently ratified the Constitution, each State could remove itself from it when any terms of the compact had been breeched.
Additionally, New York, Rhode Island, and Virginia all explicitly retained the right to withdraw from the Union as a condition under which it would ratify the Constitution. The Virginia ratification declaration states
“We, the delegates of the people of Virginia, duly elected in the pursuance of a recommendation from the General Assembly, and now met in Convention, having fully and freely investigated and discussed the proceedings of the Federal Convention, and being prepared as well as most mature deliberation hath enabled us, to decide thereon, DO, in their name and in behalf of the people of Virginia, declare and make known, that the powers granted under the Constitution, being derived from the people of the United States, may be resumed by them, whenever the same shall be perverted to their injury or oppression; and that every power not granted thereby remains with them, and at their will. That therefore no right of any denomination can be cancelled, abridged, restrained or modified by congress, by the Senate or House of Representatives, acting in any capacity by the President or any department or officer of the United States, except in those instances in which power is given by the Constitution for those purposes; and that among other essential rights, the liberty of conscience and of the press cannot be canceled, abridged, restrained or modified by any authority of the United States”
The idea that a State could leave the Union when the powers delegated to the federal government were being abused was present even before the Constitution was ratified as demonstrated by the words in Virginia ratification document.
When Congress passed the Alien and Sedition Act in 1798, only nine years after the Constitution was ratified, Madison took up the cause of States rights in writing the Virginia Resolution which declared:
That this Assembly doth explicitly and peremptorily declare, that it views the powers of the federal government, as resulting from the compact, to which the states are parties; as limited by the plain sense and intention of the instrument constituting the compact; as no further valid that they are authorized by the grants enumerated in that compact; and that in case of a deliberate, palpable, and dangerous exercise of other powers, not granted by the said compact, the states who are parties thereto, have the right, and are in duty bound, to interpose for arresting the progress of the evil, and for maintaining within their respective limits, the authorities, rights and liberties appertaining to them.Even more explicitly, the State of Kentucky that same year resolved:
That the several States composing, the United States of America, are not united on the principle of unlimited submission to their general government; but that, by a compact under the style and title of a Constitution for the United States, and of amendments thereto, they constituted a general government for special purposes — delegated to that government certain definite powers, reserving, each State to itself, the residuary mass of right to their own self-government; and that whensoever the general government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force: that to this compact each State acceded as a State, and is an integral part, its co-States forming, as to itself, the other party: that the government created by this compact was not made the exclusive or final judge of the extent of the powers delegated to itself; since that would have made its discretion, and not the Constitution, the measure of its powers; but that, as in all other cases of compact among powers having no common judge, each party has an equal right to judge for itself, as well of infractions as of the mode and measure of redress.
As a result of the trade embargo instituted by Madison fourteen years later during the War of 1812, a Federalist secession movement formed. The Hartford Convention of 1814, composed of Delegates from the Legislatures of the States of Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode-Island, and from the Counties of Grafton and Cheshire in the State of New-Hampshire and the county of Windham in the State of Vermont, voted on the question of leaving the Union - narrowly deciding to remain because delegates who had aspirations of holding federal offices felt seceding would destroy any chance of them having their dreams come true. The resulting convention report listed recommended changes to the Constitution which made it more difficult for the federal government to declare war, conscript soldiers, and interfere with international commerce. It went on to declare:
That acts of Congress in violation of the Constitution are absolutely void, is an undeniable position. It does not, however, consist with the respect and forbearance due from a confederate State towards the General Government, to fly to open resistance upon every infraction of the Constitution. The mode and the energy of the opposition should always conform to the nature of the violation, the intention of its authors, the extent of the injury inflicted, the determination manifested to persist in it, and the danger of delay. But in cases of deliberate, dangerous, and palpable infractions of the Constitution, affecting the sovereignty of a State, and liberties of the people; it is not only the right but the duty of such a State to interpose its authority for their protection, in the manner best calculated to secure that end. When emergencies occur which are either beyond the reach of the judicial tribunals, or too pressing to admit of the delay incident to their forms, States, which have no common umpire, must be their own judges, and execute their own decisions. It will thus be proper for the several States to await the ultimate disposal of the obnoxious measures, recommended by the Secretary of War, or pending before Congress, and so to use their power according to the character these measures shall finally assume, as effectually to protect their own sovereignty, and the rights and liberties of their citizens. ...
Finally, if the Union be destined to dissolution, by reason of the multiplied abuses of bad administrations, it should, if possible, be the work of peaceable times, and deliberate consent. Some new form of confederacy should be substituted among those States, which shall intend to maintain a federal relation to each other. Events may prove that the causes of our calamities are deep and permanent. They may be found to proceed, not merely from the blindness of prejudice, pride of opinion, violence of party spirit, or the confusion of the times; but they may be traced to implacable combinations of individuals, or of States, to monopolize power and office, and to trample without remorse upon the rights and interests of commercial sections of the Union. Whenever it shall appear that these causes are radical and permanent, a separation by equitable arrangement, will be preferable to an alliance by constraint, among nominal friends, but real enemies, inflamed by mutual hatred and jealousies, and inviting by intestine divisions, contempt, and aggression from abroad. But a severance of the Union by one or more States, against the will of the rest, and especially in a time of war, can be justified only by absolute necessity. These are among the principal objections against precipitate measures tending to disunite the States, and when examined in connexion with the farewell address of the Father of his country, they must, it is believed, be deemed conclusive.
As for leaving the Union, in 1832, Madison wrote to Nicholas Trist that in his opinion, States owe fidelity to the Union, "till released by consent, or absolved by an intolerable abuse of the power created." [Source] He wrote this in response to the national crisis over the Tariff of Abominations passed by Congress in 1828 which resulted in South Carolina threatening secession. His conditions for secession raises the question of who is to judge what constitutes an intolerable abuse of power. According to the Hartford Convention Report and the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions, the States "which have no common umpire, must be their own judges, and execute their own decisions." It cannot be the Supreme Court of the United States because the Court is an interested party in whether a State secedes or not.
A text used at the Military Academy at West Point up until the start of the war had a chapter devoted to the permanence of the Union that describes how a State would go about leaving the Union. The book, A VIEW OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA by William Rawls, LL.D. (1829) in chapter XXXII states:
The secession of a state from the Union depends on the will of the people of such state. The people alone as we have already seen, hold the power to alter their constitution. The Constitution of the United States is to a certain extent, incorporated into the constitutions or the several states by the act of the people. The state legislatures have only to perform certain organical operations in respect to it. To withdraw from the Union comes not within the general scope of their delegated authority. There must be an express provision to that effect inserted in the state constitutions. This is not at present the case with any of them, and it would perhaps be impolitic to confide it to them. A matter so momentous, ought not to be entrusted to those who would have it in their power to exercise it lightly and precipitately upon sudden dissatisfaction, or causeless jealousy, perhaps against the interests and the wishes of a majority of their constituents.
So, you see, the idea that a State could leave the Union was part of political life of the United States from the start. It was not something that suddenly appeared with the election of Abraham Lincoln. States, both North and South, slave and free, discussed whether remaining in the Union had value for over sixty years before South Carolina, and six other States, decided it did not.
2. If each State should have the right to secede, why didn't those who wrote and adopted the Constitution of the Confederate States of America specifically include this in their new Constitution? Other "problems" of the old U.S. Constitution, such as the failure to specifically mention slavery, were fixed, so why not this one?
The Confederate States Constitution lists all powers prohibited to the States. Secession is not one of them. It also states, copying the U.S. Tenth Amendment:
“Section 6 - State powers
6. The powers not delegated to the Confederate States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States, respectively, or to the people thereof.”
Again, there was no reason to include as right to secede for each State because it listed the powers denied to its members. The right to secede is a right retained by the States because it was not a power delegated to the Confederate government nor one prohibited by it to the States under the CSA Constitution. Even the word "delegated" indicates any powers the central government has was merely loaned to it by the member states. All political power was considered to originate from the people of each state - they being sovereign.
Additionally, the preamble to the Confederate Constitution says ”We, the people of the Confederate States, each State acting in its sovereign and independent character, ... do ordain and establish this Constitution for the Confederate States of America.” [Source] Each State in the Confederacy retained its sovereignty in its people after entering it.
The procedure for State secession not being in the U.S. Constitution was not a problem because it was not a power delegated to the U.S. government. A State, having joined voluntarily, does not need permission to leave. Each was considered bound to the Union, however, as a party to a contract, so long as the terms of the contract were being observed.
In contradiction to a premise of the question, slavery was mentioned in the U.S. Constitution. Slavery plays large in Article IV, section 2 where States were obligated to return fugitive slaves to the State from which they fled: ”No Person held to Service or Labour in one State, under the Laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in Consequence of any Law or Regulation therein, be discharged from such Service or Labour, but shall be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labour may be due.” Slaves were also to be counted with the fraction of three fifths for representation in Article I section 2. Here they are described as "all other Persons." Slavery was addressed in the U.S. Constitution, but the word itself was not used.
3. If people should have the right to break away from any government when they feel that is necessary (as the Confederate States said justified their action), why didn't the Confederate States of America permit eastern Tennessee, for example, to secede from the C.S.A., since the people there did not want to belong to the C.S.A.?
Eastern Tennessee is not a State. Tennessee is a State. The secession of a section of a State is not a power delegated to the C.S. government. That was up to Tennessee to decide whether a section of the State was to become independent of it.
If it is true that under the U.S. Constitution, States have no right of secession, why did the U.S. government permit West Virginia to secede from Virginia and join the Union as a slave state?
4. If a State could secede when its fundamental institutions were threatened, what actual threats were posed to the southern States' institutions by the election of Abraham Lincoln, who repeatedly said that he would not interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it existed, and supported a Constitutional amendment to insure that? If there were no actual threats, other than the fact that slavery would not be permitted to expand into new territory -- but it would continue just as before in the States where it existed, what was the justification for any States to secede?
Since the right to secede is retained by the State, it is up to the government of that state as a representative of its people to decide if, when, and why it is to separate from the Union. There is nothing in the U.S. Constitution that says States cannot secede. Nor does it list reasons why a state may leave the Union. That is because the U.S. government has no authority in the matter. The Union was a product of the States, no the other way round.
The reasons States seceded were not all the same. Some States left because the U.S. government was not enforcing the Fugitive Slave Acts. Fourteen states in the North had passed legislation nullifying them. In doing so, they broke the agreement they had made under Article IV, section 2 of the Constitution. This is outlined in South Carolina's Declaration of reasons for secession.
In the present case, that fact is established with certainty. We assert that fourteen of the states have deliberately refused for years past, to fulfil their constitutional obligations, and we refer to their own statutes for the proof.
The constitution of the United States, in its 4th article, provides as follows:
"No person held to service or labor in one state, under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labor, but shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such service or labor may be due."
This stipulation was so material to the compact, that without it that compact would not have been made. The greater number of the contracting parties held slaves, and they had previously evinced their estimate of the value of such a stipulation by making it a condition in the ordinance for the government of the territory ceded by Virginia, which now composes the states north of the Ohio river.
The same article of the constitution stipulates also for rendition, by the several states, of fugitives from justice from the other states.
The general government, as the common agent, passed laws to carry into effect these stipulations of the states. For many years these laws were executed. But an increasing hostility on the part of the non-slaveholding states to the institution of slavery has led to a disregard of their obligations, and the laws of the general government have ceased to effect the objects of the Constitution...
Other states left after Lincoln unconstitutionally called for troops to invade the South in April 1861. It is up to each State and its people to determine whether secession is justified. Outside permission is not needed. Each State is its own final judge in this matter.
The threats posed to the southern States' institutions by Abraham Lincoln's election was that he was a sectional president who was not likely enforce the fugitive slave laws passed to enforce Article IV, section 2, paragraph 3 of the Constitution.
South Carolina's declaration goes on to state:
"The States of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa, have enacted laws which either nullify the acts of Congress or render useless any attempt to execute them. In many of these states the fugitive is discharged from service or labor claimed, and in none of them has the state government complied with the stipulation made in the constitution."
The threat went well beyond "the fact that slavery would not be permitted to expand into new territory." The States listed above were not living up to their Constitutional obligations under Article IV. Under the principles outlined by Madison that "a breach of any one article, by any one party, leaves all the other parties at liberty, to consider the whole convention as dissolved," South Carolina was free to leave because the Constitution had been nullified by States no longer complying with acts of Congress passed to enforce Article IV, section 2.
Since the fugitive slave laws were not being enforced, but rather, undermined by many of the States, South Carolina - which paid a great deal in taxes to the federal government - had less to lose by leaving the Union than by staying. The enforcement of the constitution with regard to fugitive slaves being more of an illusion than a reality, by leaving, South Carolina lost nothing in the way of federal protection, but gained in its discontinuance of federal expense. None of the seceding States saw any realistic chance that this breach of the compact could be mended.
Texas Congressman John H. Reagan on 15 January 1861 stated a similar sentiment just prior to the secession of Texas when he said to the Northern states:
"You are not content with the vast millions of tribute we pay you annually under the operation of our revenue laws, our navigation laws, your fishing bounties, and by making your people our manufacturers, our merchants, our shippers. You are not satisfied with the millions of tribute we have been paying you to build up your great cities, your railroads, your canals. You are not satisfied with the millions of tribute we have been paying your on account of the balance of exchange which you hold against us. You are not satisfied that we of the South are almost reduced to the condition of overseers of northern capitalists. You are not satisfied with all this; but you must wage a relentless crusade against our rights and institutions."
5. Let's assume, for the purpose of discussion, that the Southern people were oppressed by the government of the United States and thus had the right to secede and form their own government,even using violence. Let's assume that they had this right because the North did not allow the Southerners to live as they wanted and to have the dignity to which all men are entitled. Wasn't there another group of people who were not permitted to live as they wanted and to have their dignity --- the slaves (by definition, a slave is not permitted to do what he or she wants to do, or to have individual dignity and rights). If Southern people had the "right" to secede, and use violence to defend their rights as human beings, didn't all slaves have the same right to defend their rights and dignity as human beings, even using violence? Would the Confederate States have agreed?
Ezra Pound said that a slave is someone who waits for someone to come and free him. The problem with the slave-master relationship is the same as that with the U.S. government-State relationship as viewed from the perspective of Abraham Lincoln and others who subscribed to the "National" rather than than the "Compact" interpretation of the Constitution: It is coercive. The slave had no legal control over the relationship with a slaveowner. There were, however, several avenues to manumission. Many slaves were freed put through an apprenticeship program and later freed by their masters. Other slaves purchased their way out of slavery. Others simply escaped their masters. A slave represented a major investment for a slaveholder. A slave was not someone who worked for free. The master was responsible for his slaves’ health, housing, clothing and was obligated to meet the needs of his slaves. Slaves often received payment for their labor which allowed them to purchase luxury items. Many slaves were satisfied with their lot despite having their freedom in someone else’s hands.
On the other hand, the States thought the association among them formalized by the U.S. Constitution was a voluntary one - until some of them decided to separate from it and discovered it was not.
The difference between the States’ relationship to that of the U.S. government and that between a master and a slave is the first was supposed to be voluntary. That is how the relationship was formed. It was supposed to be maintained on that basis. It was a compact that bound the members until such time as its terms were broken.
A slave’s relationship to his master is not voluntary. A master is permitted to use violence to maintain it. A slave, however, could not use violence against his master in order to obtain freedom. That was the nature of the institution.
The right to peacefully leave a voluntary association is not the same as a right to violently defend personal rights and dignity as a human being.
Just as indentured servants were under contract to work off their debt, the slave was expected to pull his weight for his owner. The owner was entitled to compensation for his investment. Also, because the purchase of a slave often required financing it with borrowed money, some states prohibited the freeing of a slave as long as the slave's owner was in debt.
Looking at this question from the opposite angle, if slaves had a right to their freedom, why do the States not have a right to theirs? The question equates belonging to the Union with slavery. Were the States slaves to the federal government, then? If that is true, what is the point to the Constitution, and State governments at all?
The implication of this question is the Federal government to State relationship was one held together by force or the threat of force. Does anyone believe that States voluntarily entered the Union knowing they could never leave? If they did not, then the Union was a fraud from the beginning because the States joined under false pretenses. It is evident that the States did not believe they were joining in a partnership that could never be broken, otherwise the States would not have explicitly reserved that right when they ratified the Constitution. And the writings of the founding fathers confirm that the Constitution was a compact - when violated by any party to it - could be dissolved if the breach could not be mended.
The difference between a slave with regard to a master and a State in a compact with of there States is in the nature of the relationship. A slave's relationship to his master was not voluntary. A slave owner could use violence to enforce it. The Union doesn't exist without the States who were equal parties to it. The master holds the superior position to that of the slave.
What we are discussing here is the difference between slave and free man; subject and citizen. The association among the States under the Constitution is voluntary, the institution of slavery is not a voluntary association.
The Confederate States would have agreed.
Slavery was a cause for some States seceding from the Union. It was not a cause of the war.
More specifically, the U.S. Constitution states in Article IV, Section II that "No Person held to Service or Labor in one State, under the Laws thereof, escaping to another, shall, in Consequence of any Law or Regulation therein, be discharged from such Service or Labor, but shall be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labor may be due."
The United States Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Laws of 1793 and 1850 enforce this Constitutional provision.
In reaction, fourteen states sought to nullify these federal laws. "New personal liberty laws were enacted in Vermont (1850), Connecticut (1854), Rhode Island (1854), Massachusetts (1855), Michigan (1855), Maine (1855 and 1857), Kansas (1858) and Wisconsin (1858).
The personal liberty laws forbade justices and judges to take cognizance of claims, extended the habeas corpus act and the privilege of jury trial to fugitives, and punished false testimony severely. In 1854, the Supreme Court of Wisconsin went so far as to declare the Fugitive Slave Law unconstitutional."[source.]
The nullification of federal Fugitive Slave Laws by these States was a major issue for slave holding States. Slaves were major financial investments for their masters and contributors to the local agricultural economy. Many were collateral for loans used to purchase them. The State of Mississippi, in its declaration of reasons for secession said it could not overstate this threat to its economy.
"Our 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 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." [source]
The issue, for the South, was the breaking of the agreement made when the Union was formed to protect this major financial investment.
The declaration goes on to state that "It has nullified the Fugitive Slave Law in almost every free State in the Union, and has utterly broken the compact, which our fathers pledged their faith to maintain."
Under the principles of the U.S. Declaration of Independence, a government is formed to protect rights. When it becomes destructive of those rights, the people have a duty to change or replace it. Here the seceding states say a government become destructive of its promise to protect the rights of slave holders identified in Article IV, Section II of the Constitution. With the election of Abraham Lincoln the seceding States saw little chance that that would change.
The loss of Constitutional guarantees protecting slavery made belonging to the Union a liability rather than an asset for several slave holding States. The trigger for secession was the election of a sectional, Republican president whose rhetoric portrayed the Southerner as evil. Other slave holding States, such as Arkansas, however, initially voted not to secede, but reversed that decision after Abraham Lincoln called for troops in April 1861.
The final decision for war, however, lay in the hands of the new president. He could have withdrawn U.S. soldiers from forts in States that had seceded and recognized the principles of the U.S. Declaration of Independence by allowing the seceding States to leave in peace. There was no reason the separation had to be permanent or violent.
President Lincoln stated in his first inaugural address that "I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so." and "we denounce the lawless invasion by armed force of the soil of any State or Territory, no matter what pretext, as among the gravest of crimes." He goes on to say, however, "In doing this [i.e. maintaining Federal authority] there needs to be no bloodshed or violence, and there shall be none unless it be forced upon the national authority. The power confided to me will be used to hold, occupy, and possess the property and places belonging to the Government and to collect the duties and imposts; but beyond what may be necessary for these objects, there will be no invasion, no using of force against or among the people anywhere." [source]
Fort Sumter was a duty collection post on Sullivan Island in South Carolina's Charleston Harbor. It was a federal fort doing what Lincoln stated he would use violence to protect. However, South Carolina had declared its independence months before. If independent from the Union, Fort Sumter had no legitimate purpose to remain under federal control in South Carolina territory. Fort Sumter was one of only two federal installations remaining in States that had seceded. Seceding states had already taken possession of all the others without triggering a Federal call for troops in reaction.
South Carolina troops - cadets from the military academy - took the fort by force when Lincoln sent a ship to resupply the it. Nobody was wounded or killed when the facility changed hands, but two days later, President Lincoln called for 75,000 troops to suppress secession.
1. If slavery was not the cause of the Civil War (the cause of the Southern States seceding), why did the States that seceded say, in their declarations of the reasons for their secession from the United States, that they were doing so because they felt the institution of slavery was threatened? And why did leaders of the Confederacy say the same thing, over and over?
The cause for the Southern States seceding is not the same as the cause for U.S. government attacking them. The States wanted to leave peacefully. The war was started by the U.S. government that, under Lincoln, called for troops to stop them. Lincoln’s refusal to peacefully turn Fort Sumter over to South Carolina and his call for troops were the causes of the war.
Slavery was a reason some states seceded. Or rather, State nullification of Article IV, section 2 was a reason South Carolina and other states left the union. It was not the only reason States broke with the Union. Congress had passed a new high tariff on imports which heavily burdened the exporting South. The increase in the burden of taxation, with the passage of the Morrill Tariff, was also a reason States voted to secede. Lincoln’s call for troops was the immediate cause Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Arkansas seceded. Missouri seceded because it had been occupied by Union troops and put under martial law. Kentucky similarly declared secession only after the state was invaded by the Grand Army of the Republic.
2. If slavery was not the cause of the Civil War, why did leaders of the Confederate States of America say, even toward the end of the war, that if slaves were allowed to become soldiers, that would negate the whole reason for secession from the United States and the existence of the C.S.A., and why was Maj. Gen. Patrick Cleburne castigated (and ordered not to discuss his idea) for even suggesting that the C.S.A. consider admitting slaves into the C.S.A. army? And why did Robert E. Lee's men stop, on their way into Pennsylvania in 1863 on the way to the Battle of Gettysburg, to capture Blacks and take them into the South to be sold as slaves, thus harming their ability to concentrate on warfare, supposedly their main purpose?
Most of this question is non sequitur. Again, the cause of secession and the cause of war are confused. Some states decided to secede over non-enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Acts while simultaneously having to carry the bulk of the financial burden of the federal government. It was the U.S. government that decided to go to war over secession. Much of the question is also wrong. Blacks did serve as Confederate soldiers and in State militia no matter what the "leaders" said. Slaves did serve among Confederate soldiers. They took up arms to defend their country from invasion like everyone else. For example, Maj. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest took his slaves with him to war. Before the war had ended, he freed these men who were serving with him. In case he died, he did not want them to continue as slaves. The men he freed continued to serve him as Confederate soldiers until the war ended. Slaves also performed many other duties as part of the Southern war effort whether as teamsters, nurses, fire fighters, construction labor, or simply planting and harvesting crops.
Saying slavery was not the cause of the war is not the same thing as saying the Confederacy didn't have slaves or was not interested in preserving the institution of slavery as best it could. As stated above, slaves constituted a major percentage of Southern capital. Employees today are called "human resources." That is what slaves are. They're human resources; Or more specifically, human capital. Part of warfare is capturing enemy resources for the war effort. What is being suggested here? The main task of the Confederate military was slave raiding?
One might protest that slaves had no choice in working for the Confederacy, but neither did Northern conscripts. Soldiers took orders just as slaves did. A fugitive soldier faced execution because his value to the army was zero. A captured fugitive slave retained his value.
In the North, Lincoln refused to organize regiments of Black soldiers early in the war. After being over-ruled by Congress, Lincoln finally relented, though Black soldiers were paid less than their White counterparts. In contrast, Southern free Negro soldiers were paid the same as White soldiers.
3. If slavery was not the cause of the Civil War, and if the Southern States were fighting to preserve freedom for free men, why did the leaders of the Southern States adopt laws making it illegal to even speak about the possibility that slavery was not a good system (what about free speech), and making it illegal to send anything in the mails (to White people) that in any way talked about slavery not being a good system? And why did the Southern States' leaders push (successfully) for a rule in the U.S. Congress prohibiting petitions opposing slavery to even be received, let alone discussed? Were these examples of support for freedom, or do they show that slavery (the disagreement about whether it was basically good or bad) was indeed the very core of the reason for secession and the Civil War?
Again with the non sequiturs.
It was the federal government under Lincoln that decided on war. He threatened war over Secession in his first inaugural address. The States only wanted to leave in peace. Jefferson Davis expressed his desire for peace and friendship in his inaugural address. Lincoln stated several times the war he started was not over slavery. He claimed it was to preserve the Union. To reach his end, he stated he was indifferent to the disposition of slavery except as a way to his goal. The preservation of the Union was the reason Yankees said they fought and that freeing Negroes was of no interest to them.
The Confederate Constitution had the same prohibition against making laws abridging free speech as the U.S. Constitution. The text reads "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." The question is vague, so I do not know what laws are referred to here. Any law as described would be unconstitutional. However, there are laws against incitement to violence even with free speech protections. Prohibition of anti-slavery literature may have fallen under such restrictions. There had been a history of slave violence in the South including the Nat Turner Rebellion that left around 260 people dead. Later, the abolitionist John Brown attempted to state a slave revolt at Harpers Ferry in 1859.
Lincoln, on the other hand, shuttered opposition newspapers and imprisoned his critics. He suspended habeas corpus and arrested most of the Maryland legislature. His soldiers drove the Missouri's elected government out of Jefferson City and installed a puppet governor.
If the freedoms of Southern men were not threatened by the invading Union troops, then why were the Southern States not free leave the Union? Saying Southerners were free to do anything but leave the Union is like saying a slave was free to do anything but leave the control of his master. That is, saying they never had any freedom at all.
The Declaration of Independence states that it is a self-evident truth that government is instituted among men to secure individual rights. It says men have the duty to change or replace the government if it becomes destructive of those rights; Government powers are derived from the consent of the governed.
How are the governed to non-violently withdraw their consent? Government has no just power to coercively impose it’s will upon the governed. Nevertheless, there are ample examples of a victor vilifying the conquered in order to establish perceived moral superiority and justify his rule along with the crimes committed to establish it.
The assumption upon which this question is premised is that secession had to result in war. That is not true. The Cotton States could have left the Union in peace. Instead, Lincoln invaded.
The impression from these questions is there is an obsession with slavery on the part of people who worship the federal government. There appears to be an effort to claim the moral high ground by repeating the word "slavery" over and over as THE motive for the Southern States seceding; that secession could only result in war. The assumption seems to be that Lincoln had no choice in the matter. There seems to be little interest in discussing anything else. There is a good reason for this approach to characterizing the war. This is attempt to distract from the immoral invasion of South accompanied by the looting, arson, rape, and murder by blaming the victim of the invasion. Just as a rapist will impune the morals of his victim, so too those who worship the central government love to accuse those wishing to escape its control of moral defects. Since some Southerners owned slaves, Southerners deserved to have there homes invaded and their property stolen or destroyed; their sons killed.
Lincoln had no love of Africans or people of African ancestry. He wanted them out of North America. Lincoln suppressed free speech in the North and imprisoned his critics. He suspended habeas corpus. Lincoln conscripted his troops, in itself a form of involuntary servitude. The Union army looted, raped, pillaged, burned, and murdered civilians in its campaign against Southern independence. And we are to believe all of this was justified because some people in the Confederacy owned other people? Slavery was a practice thousands of years old. Well, some people in the Union owned other people in the Union too. The States of Maryland and Delaware were slave holding states, as was West Virginia. Lincoln freed none of the slaves in those states. The slaves in the occupied states of Missouri and Kentucky also remained so until after the war was over. There is no moral high ground for the federal government in winning the war; There was only a bloody war fought to Southern exhaustion.
"Violence can only be concealed by a lie, and the lie can only be maintained by violence. Any man who has once proclaimed violence as his method is inevitably forced to take the lie as his principle." — Alexander Solzhenitsyn