Not About Slavery: A Defense of the CSA

Submitted by Kyleigh on Sun, 01/17/2010 - 12:22

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I wanted to wait to post this until Jackson's birthday (January 21) but I figured the 17th was close enough and that AP needed another post up. :) Before you start reading... I've lived in the North almost my whole life (I was born in Florida, but have no memories of living there). I grew up in Washington State and Michigan, thinking that the South was evil. My dad organized various history curricula to give us a primary-source, politically incorrect history program. We read BOTH sides of the story and form our own conclusions... this is mine. Enjoy!


            As a child, I remember hearing about Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson and thinking that he was the villain in the Civil War. After all, chattel slavery was wrong and should be abolished! How could anyone fight to defend it?  However, the American “Civil War” was not as simple as people often make it seem. It has been said that “he who wins the battle writes the history,” and the so-called Civil War is no exception to this saying. The Civil War was not actually fought over slavery. Yet was it even a civil war? Thomas E. Woods writes in his book, The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History, “There never was an American civil war. A civil war is a conflict in which two or more factions fight for control of a nation’s government” (Woods, pg. 61). At the time when war broke out, the United States of America had split into the Union and the Confederate States. The latter had its own constitution and government, and was thus an independent nation, which had seceded because of abuse of their rights, superior virtue of their worldview, and a different way of life. If not the American Civil War, then what should we call this brutal war that tore apart our nation after less than one hundred years of independence? Some suggest “the War Between the States.” This is misleading, as the war was not fought between individual states, such as Rhode Island against Virginia, but between the Confederate States and the United States of America. What, then, is an accurate name for the conflict? Although most of America, perhaps even the world, would disagree, the most fitting title is “The War of Northern Aggression.”

            Northern Aggression? Did not Southerners bring this terror upon themselves by refusing to abolish slavery? No. Contrary to what the majority of Americans believe, the so-called “Civil War” was not over slavery. While majority of slaves were in the south due to its agrarian economy, the South did not secede to protect slavery.  In 1827, the South had four times as many anti-slavery societies than did the North (Woods, pg. 44). Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee both called slavery a “moral and political evil” (Woods, pg. 69).

            If not slavery, then what was this terrible struggle over? President Lincoln himself said that his “paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union and is not either to save or destroy slavery” (Dwyer, pg. 87). The President continued to say that if reuniting the Union meant freeing all, some, or none of the slaves, he would do it. Although the South was wrong in the slavery issue, that was not what the war was fought over. The war  “was at root a debate over geographical equality and superiority in the Union… the slavery debate masked the real issue – the struggle for power and dominion” (Woods, pg. 43, 48). While North fought to preserve the Union, the South sought to keep their rights and heritage. Keep their rights? One may ask. Was not the South claiming false rights by seceding? By no means. When ratifying the Constitution, New York, Rhode Island, and Virginia refused to ratify unless a provision was made that “if the rights they granted to the Union were misused… it was proper for the offended state to resume its right of self-governance and withdraw from the Union” (Dwyer, pg. 27). What of the other states? If three states could secede, did that allow others to secede? The constitution “is based on the principles of co-equality – all states are equal in dignity and rights… the right of secession cited by these three states must extend equally to all the states” (Woods, pg. 63). Thus, the Southern states, later known as the Confederate States of America, had a constitutional right to secede.

            .When New York, Rhode Island, and Virginia asked for this allowance to secede, they said that the provision was for when “the rights they granted to the Union were misused.” How did the Union harm the Southern states? The answer lies in the issue of tariffs. The North protected its industry from foreign competition through tariffs, but they “were a terrible burden to the agricultural South, which had little industry to protect” (Woods, pg. 53). Instead of the booming, low-cost industry of the North, the South relied on small but abundant natural resources. Southerners could not produce finished products on their own, and were “dependent on foreign products” (Dwyer, pg. 38). The tariffs established by the North were protective tariffs, which were on imports. These taxes protected the North from foreign competition within the United States, but it caused Southerners to pay more for the supplies they needed. This took its toll on the economy, because when “planters paid more, that expense was passed throughout the rest of the economy.” (Dwyer, pg. 39)

            Northern Industry. Southern agriculture. The worldviews and cultures of the two sides went much deeper than they appeared at the surface, because they manifested themselves in daily living. These two ways of life made it difficult for the North and South to cooperate as a nation.  Was this entirely the fault of the South? Were not the Southerners a rebellious, uncivilized people deserving to be forced back into submission? While this may be the popular belief today and the notion left by the rhetoric of northern leaders, a contrast of the worldview of North and South gives one a very different impression. Perhaps the clearest way this evidences itself is in the lives of Confederate General Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson, and Union General John Pope.

            John Pope was a “brash, courageous, cocksure Midwesterner” (Dwyer, pg. 267). Upon assuming command of the Union army, he told the soldiers that he had come from the West, where “we have always seen the backs of our enemies.” Later in an address to the army, he told his men “success and glory are in the advance, disaster and shame lurk in the rear” (Pope). This worldview was the same as that of Northern culture, which one author described as “assiduous” (Dwyer, pg. 10). An assiduous culture is “a culture that is progressive, on the move, and in a hurry.” As the North became more industrialized, its vision “involved supplying… power and capital to drive the engines of commerce.” With its mindset toward the future, the North lost traditions and multigenerational vision. Conservative religion was “ill-fit for the opportunities that lay before the North” (Dwyer, pg. 11). The way that Pope treated the Confederates reflected this loss of Christianity. He encouraged men to live off the food and supplies of Virginia farms, and, among many other things, “vowed that all homes in the area of any Confederate resistance would be burned” (Dwyer, pg. 267). This demonstrates the new theory of total war. Woods writes, “the American war between the states [is] a historical watershed in that it broke deliberately and dramatically from the European code of warfare that had developed since the seventeenth century and that had forbidden targeting the civilian population” (Woods, pg. 71). Later in the war, General Sherman would break the traditional code during his March to the Sea. The total war mindset of Pope and Sherman illustrates what Jackson meant when he said, “Christianity makes man better in any lawful calling” (Dwyer, pg. 174). During so-called “revivals,” the North turned to philosophies like Unitarianism and transcendentalism, rejecting biblical truth. They sought to follow the worldview of those who encouraged the European revolutions of 1848, revolutions desiring to overthrow the old order that had been based on a biblical worldview.   

            Confederate General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson received his name for encouraging his men to stand as a “Stone Wall” at the battle of Manassas. Jackson had unwavering faith in his Creator, and so even though the outcome of the war was not known, the only thing that gave him “apprehension about my country’s cause is the sin of the army and people” (Dwyer, pg. 291). Stonewall tied his faith into every part of daily life - “thinking when he washed himself, of the cleansing blood of Calvary; as praying while he put on his garments that he might be clothed with the righteousness of the saints; as endeavoring, while he was eating, to feed upon the Bread of Heaven” (Dwyer, pg. 174). Although he finished “dead last” in his class his first year at WestPoint, Jackson ranked in the top few at graduation.  “That he did not flunk out was a harbinger of the iron will and unshakable determination that would mark him all his life,” says R.L. Dabney (Dwyer, pg. 271). In the same way, the Southern states held fast to preserving their heritage and land throughout the war. Jackson loved his wife, Anna, dearly. His love for her reflected aromatic Southern life – aromatic meaning “a more covenantal or community-oriented approach to relationships.”  Rather than pushing aside tradition and heritage as the North did, the South tied “the destiny of families and communities… into the land” (Dwyer, pg. 12). The president of the Confederate States, Jefferson Davis, sought to study the “old world order” out of which the Founding Fathers’ principles grew. While false revival reigned in the North, "a true revival continued" in the South (Dwyer, pg. 129). The men who led the Southern revival were orthodox and Reformed in their theological perspectives. Jackson himself poured out much of his time and effort into providing pastors to guide the soldiers, pastors that had sound theology and could teach the men biblical Truth He spent much time in prayer, believing that “prayer aids any man, in any lawful business… by bringing down the divine blessing” (Dwyer, pg. 174). The faith of Stonewall encouraged his men, as “the fear of God… made him so fearless of all else” (Dwyer, pg. 234).  

            “You are not content with the vast millions of tribute we pay you annually under the operation of our revenue laws, our navigation laws… you are not satisfied that we 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,” (Dwyer, pg. 48) said John H. Reagan, a Texas congressional representative around the time of the War of Northern Aggression. The conflict of the war went much deeper than slavery. Disputes over slave states and territories may have started some of the conflict, but in truth, the American “Civil” War was about the rights of states in the Union. When the United States government took away liberties that were supposed to be “secure… to ourselves and our posterity” (Constitution), then offended states had every right to secede.

            Was there a way to stop the Civil War? Perhaps there was. There are many “what-if’s” involved in the causes and outcomes of the war. If the North and South had worked together to come to terms on foreign imports for Southern industry,  if the worldview differences had been resolved, if instead of separating when trials came North and South bound together – maybe then the war could have been stopped, and once these issues were decided, then the problem of slavery could be solved. In his novel, Les Miserables, Victor Hugo writes “War is modified only by its aim. There is neither foreign war, nor civil war, there is only unjust and just war.”  With the intent of the Union solely to preserve the Union, the war was unjust. However, for the Confederate States to defend their rights, heritage, and the generations to come, was justifiable and even commendable. The Southerners’ defense of their livelihood mirrors that of the Israelites in the time of Nehemiah, when they were commanded to fight “for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes” (Nehemiah 4:14b, ESV). In doing so, the Southerners justified their side of the war, and made the American Civil war truly a war of Northern Aggression.  




Works Cited:


“The Constitution of the United States of America.” 1787. Emory Law School.            1995. <>


Dwyer, John J., The War Between the States: America’s Uncivil War.     Texas: Bluebonnet Press, 2005



Hugo, Victor Les Miserables.   London: Signet, 1987


Pope, John,  “To the Officers and Soldiers of the Army of Virginia.”   Sons of the South.2008. <>


Woods, Thomas E., Jr., Ph.D. The Politically Correct Guide to American History. Washington D.C.: Regnery Publishing Inc, 2004



Author's age when written


In the past few years, I started thinking more seriously about the morality of the Civil War. While I may not support your apparent view that the South was more Christian than the North (which I may be misinterpretting) I do think that I would more likely be on the South's side, slavery excluded. 

Formerly Kestrel

...well, Apricotpie isn't meant to be a debate forum, so I'll reserve my main reservations...

I'll just say that the effect of the essay seems a tad inconsistent -- you start out saying that the war was only partially over slavery, but then throughout the thrust of the argument, the effect is almost as if you're saying it wasn't at all over slavery -- I was unable to find one statement admitting that the South was wrong for not freeing their slaves (and in fact promoting the expansion of slavery).  I'm not arguing against your conclusion per se, (I hold neither your view nor the view against which you are arguing); rather I'm commenting that your essay seems to ignore too much of the wrong on the side of the South.  Your conclusion praises everything good about their way of life, but doesn't mention their wrongs at all, making the essay just as one-sided as the Northern view you've rejected.

"The idea that we should approach science without a philosophy is itself a philosophy... and a bad one, because it is self-refuting." -- Dr. Jason Lisle

i agree wit' what james said.

they, north & south, were both in da wrong, but even if it the war wasnt completely over slavery, does it matter? they, being da slaves, were treated less than human; they were owed and had no control of their lives.

i've read that the northerns weren't even fighting to free the slaves, but the end result: the slaves were given freedom. i must say, regardless of the what caused the war, the slaves were given freedom. and that's what should truly matter.

btw, i'm not denying Lee and Jackson weren't Christian men, but i will say this, they were wrong for defending a side who treated God's creation, humans, as dirt. sure, they were defending their home, but i would defend God's most precious creation over any thing else. all ppl were created equal, in the image of God.

but this isn't a debate forum as james said, so sorry if what i said is sounding like it. i was tryin to word it without sounding...well, like...whatever. lol. so forgive me if i come across thatta way.  

~All men were created equal, then some became Marines~
*Death smiles at everyone, Marines smile back*
gotta love the Marines!!

James - I don't remember saying anything about the war being only partially over slavery.
The intent of this is to lay out the causes of the war, and slavery is not one of those, else I would have discussed it in detail. I mentioned it only to prove that the war was NOT over slavery, but, in Lincoln's own words, to preserve the Union (and he himself admitted that he didn't care whether slavery stayed or went).
It was not a war over whether the slaves stayed or went, it was a war over state or federal supremacy.
If slavery was an issue in the war, then the South's side of the war would be faulty. However, it wasn't, and I belive the South had every right in doing what they did.

Also, to say that the slaves had no control of their lives is not true. Yes, in some cases it was chattel slavery. BUT not all of it was. I've read many of Jackson's letters to his "esposita" and often times he mentions their slaves, like part of the family, and treated just as well. Slavery is in the Bible. In the hands of Christian men, it can be an acceptable, even useful thing. But many slave owners were not truly believers, and their treatment of their slaves mirrored this.

Jackson and Lee did NOT defend the South because of slavery. Jackson would have fought for the North in that issue, but he believed in the constitutional right of state sovereignty, and so he fought with Virginia.

If the war had been over slavery, I would be on the side of the North. But the war was not over slavery. I wouldn't even say that the war itself ended slavery. The Emancipation Proclamation did NOTHING (read it. Lincoln had no power over the slaves in another country, and freed none in the Union).

Anyway, I'm going long and getting debate-ish. But research it, read the primary sources. R.L. Dabney's book "The Life and Campaigns of Lieut. Gen. T.J. Stonewall Jackson" has a wonderful chapter on secession. Read the Emancipation Proclamation. I'm learning more not to trust history books but go to primary source documents.

I understand now that you think slavery had absolutely NOTHING to do with the war whatsoever, other than perhaps as Northern Propaganda.  We disagree more than I realized.  True, you did not explicitly say that the war was only partially over slavery, yet you did give that impression at the beginning of your essay.  It would probably be helpful if you changed your essay title from "More than Slavery" to "Not about Slavery."  Also, you should probably change the statement "the American 'Civil War' was not as black-and-white as people often make it seem" to something like "the American 'Civil War' is black-and-white, but the other way around from what most people think."  Your opinion is clear in the middle and end of the essay, but it's fuzzy at the very beginning.

"The idea that we should approach science without a philosophy is itself a philosophy... and a bad one, because it is self-refuting." -- Dr. Jason Lisle

Kyleigh, I agree with you on almost all points in this. However, some of the statements could be better proved. I'm not sure how, since I'm not very good at this sort of thing myself. You ought to read R.L.Dabney's 'A Defense of Virginia'. It's really good. I am really glad to read a defense of the CSA (I was born in Florida, and lived there for almost twelve years). God bless :)

The best stories are those that are focused, unassuming, and self-confident enough to trust the reader to figure things out. --

Laura Elizabeth - Oh I want to read "In Defense of Virginia" so badly, but haven't been able to get my hands on it. I wish I could support these more as well. Living over here we have limited resources so I used what we had. And I was born in Florida, too. :) 

James - thanks for your helpful criticism. I've made some modifications. :) 


You can get it online at The Confederate Reprint Company. I wasn't criticizing, though :) It's a really good book that my dad had me read for school last year. Here's a link to it:

The best stories are those that are focused, unassuming, and self-confident enough to trust the reader to figure things out. --

I am in complete agreement with Kyleigh's conclusion that the War of Northern Aggression had nothing to do with slavery, but rather, unjust tariffs imposed on the South. The North wanted a 40\% tariff and the South refused, drawing the line at 10\%. Abe Lincoln then proposed a 13th Amendment to the Constitution in March of 1861. It is the only proposed constitutional amendment that was signed by a sitting president, and reads thusly: "No amendment shall be made to the Constitution which will authorize or give congress the power to abolish or interfere within any state with the domestic institutions thereof, including that a person's held to labor or service by laws of said state."  Lincoln also stated in many of his correspondences that he had no intention of interfering with slavery. He offered the 13th Amendment to establish PERMANENT slavery if the South would agree to the proposed tariff. As Kyleigh previously illustrated, Lincoln's only interest was in saving the Union. Not many realize that that there were 300,000 slaveholders in the Northern armies at the time they first engaged in battle. Slavery, right or wrong, was agreed upon and practiced by all 13 colonies in 1776, not just in the South. Two obvious conclusions can be established from the foregoing: 1) The North was not interested in freeing slaves, but instead was willing to sell the blacks out for money; 2) That if the issue was simply over slavery, all the South had to do is accept the proposed tariff and thereby eliminate the necessity of war. Lincoln's eventual freeing of the slaves was simply a war measure. Ironic that the South gets most of the blame for slavery, isn't it? This brings me to the hue and cry raised over the Confederate Battle flag. Of the 324 years that the institution of slavery existed in this country, the Confederate flag flew only 4 of those years. Wanna know what flag flew over slavery the other 320 years? You guessed it - the good ole' stars and stripes! It's due to the historic ignorance cultivated by Political Correctness that the precious symbols of our Southern Heritage is being robbed from us!

                                                                  Louie D. Durrence

You are not satisfied with all this; but you must wage a relentless crusade against our rights and institutions."

and now, in the interests of reporting what he actually said and not what you wish that he had said, here's the rest of the quote:

"And now you tender us the inhuman alternative of unconditional submission to Republican rule on abolition principles, and ultimately to free negro equality and a government of mongrels or a war of races ... Our own Government succeeded because none but the white race, who were capable of self-government, were enfranchised with the rights of freemen. The irrepressible conflict propounded by abolitionism has produced now its legitimate fruits-- disunion. Free negro equality, which is its ultimate object, would make us re-enact the scenes of revolution and anarchy we have so long witnessed and deplored in the American governments to the south of us."


Sorry, you need to learn the real history of the South, FROM the South, at the time.

For example, the Southern Ultimatums, issued in Montgomery at the same time they created the CSA.

No one every told you about the Five Ultimatums?   Well, that's  no surprise, you haven't learned anything true like that.

All five Southern Ultimatums were for the SPREAD of slavery.   The Southern newspapers joyous headlines about the ULtimatums were things like "THE TRUE ISSUE!!"  in the Richmond Enquire Saturday morning, March 21, 1861. 

All five Ultimatums -- not just one -- were about the SPREAD of slavery. Go read your own leader's statements, their own ultimatums, as expressed in your Southern newspapers, with great glee.

THE SPREAD of slavery.  Slavery was "Ordained by God".   Your Vice President said before and after the Ultimatums that the entire white world would follow the South's "great moral truth" that God ordained the white man to enslave the black race -- world wide. 

Your same Vice President blunty said the Civil War was about slavery.  And of course, your newspapers and leaders proudly and loudly issued their Ultimatums to SPREAD slavery --- or face war.  That is what an Ultimatum means.

You really have only been told a sanitized, and deeply distorted, version, so distorted that your Founding Fathers of the South would laugh at anyone who said they weren't about slavery.

After the war, as Confederate leader John Mosbey said, men made up all kinds of excuses for why they fought.  But he never heard any reason BUT the spread of slavery, at the time.   Later, and this is the version they handed to you , it was not about slavery.

BUt your own leaders said it was.   They issued war ultimatums for the spread of slavery.  Your newspapers bragged about it. Your leaders said God ordained the spread of slavery world wide.

Learn real history.

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