4 thoughts on “The Sunday Question: The South and the Coming of the Civil War

  1. Chris Meekins March 6, 2011 / 8:10 am

    Daniel Croft’s “Reluctant Confederates: Upper South Unionists in the Secession Crisis.” He lays out the Scylla and Charybdis facing the Upper South unionists – this region is pivotal as Lincoln discerned and most others did as well. Plus I enjoy exploring the unionist element in the South and Croft brings clarity to the issue. Just a solid examination from a particular POV.

  2. Marc Ferguson March 6, 2011 / 10:13 am

    I suppose I’d recommend the two volumes of Freehling’s _Road to Disunion_ because they cover so many aspects of Southern society, politics and thought leading to secession. However, I do find his writing style difficult.

  3. Riley March 6, 2011 / 4:10 pm

    Lincoln’s loyalists.

    “Nearly 100,000 men from Confederate states organized into battalions to fight with the armies of the North. These “unknown soldiers of the Civil War” represented 10% of the fighting force under Gen. Robert E. Lee’s command, a significant loss to the strength of the South and an important resource for the North. They risked not only the dangers of war, but the certainty of being treated as deserters if taken prisoners. After the war their lives were endangered by the hostility of their embittered neighbors; some were beaten, “hunted down like dogs” or killed outright. There was little help from the North, struggling in the aftermath of Lincoln’s death with the formidable problems of mending the nation. Although there is a considerable literature about the black soldiers who fought with the armies of the North, Current ( Those Terrible Carpetbaggers ) contends that little attention has been paid to these forgotten white Union loyalists. Drawing on overlooked sources, he provides an original and comprehensive, state-by-state account of their struggles and contributions.”


  4. Mark March 7, 2011 / 8:12 am

    I’d recommend the Southern best seller at the time, and one that apparently Davis quoted from often, “Slavery: Ordained of God” by Pastor F.A. Ross.

    Reading this book is like removing the cataracs that have clouded your vision. It’s not the only such book – and there are hundreds, if not thousands of, speeches, sermons, newspaper articles, articulating these sentiments. Lee himself echoed these principles over and over again, though in a softer tone, but it’s the same message.

    You don’t need to this book to see what was being spoken from the pulpit to the voting booth. There are plenty of others. But in one volume, in blunt terms, this book is as good as any.

    This is no radical underground book the South was ashamed of, this was more like their version of “Common Sense” by Thomas Paine. “Slavery Ordained of God” is something like the Mien Kampf of the South. A justification for all they do.

    If you read this book, then check over many of Jeff Davis’s pre-war speeches, you see the same sentiments., and many of the same words. And it is as goofy and evil as you can get. Notice Davis never uttered one word about slavery being a gift from God AFTER the war — he totally changed his excuses.

    You see into the mind set of the Southern slave owning class, when you read “Slavery Ordained of God.” Slavery isn’t just permissible, slavery is God’s wish. Slavery was “washed by the blood of Christ”. It wasn’t just allowed — it was magical, fantastic, and God knew what he was doing when he gave us this “Divine Gift” as Davis called it.

    Not just slavery — but the TORTURE of slaves, even to death, is sanctified and justified. There is some talk of being good to your slaves, but there is also justification for their torture. You can’t beat your slave so badly they die that same day – but if they die a few days later, well, it’s your money.

    Think I’m kidding? Read the book — or the bible. All of it, of course, quoting the bible. They don”t make this stuff up. They quote chapter and verse. Naturally they over look the whole “do unto others” thing, and they never explain why blacks are slaves. Ross probably was going to do a sequel to explain such details.

    Astonishingly, the slaves even owe sexual obedience to their masters — a topic that was well known (and apparently practiced) at the time, but not politically correct to even speak about 160 years later. We have to pretend those mixed and white looking babies at Lee’ slave plantation came from Casper the travelling ghost’s DNA.

    Nor was this a radical book, that was slammed by anyone! Oh, there were people very much opposed to such nonsense — but they were not allowed to publish anything against this. Remember, it was illegal, punishable by torture, to publish books or pamphlets against this kind of trash. Preachers were ARRRESTED and subjected to torture for publically questioning slavery, and our “historians” have done a neat bit of footwork to dance around that basic bact.

    For people who don’t grasp the violent suppression of anti slavery speech and writing, I suggest you read more of the South’s own speeches, and laws, and newspapers. Douglas Southall Freemen kept forgetting to mention it.

    For example, Debow, of Debow’s Review was bragging in 1843 when he wrote that “all opposition to slavery has been silenced by the Holy Word of Almighty God”. Well, the Holy Word didn’t silence anything, but the anti-incendiary laws sure did, literally forcing out those who wrote or spoke against slavery, like Cassius Clay or Hiton Helper, or worse, arrested and tortured others who didn”t get the message. There was a fundamental and profound shift in the South after 1820, because books like “Slavery Ordained by God” were best sellers, and anything against it was contraband, illegal, and punishable.

    SO the sentiments and scriptural “facts” in the book Slavery: Ordained of God — could not be refuted aloud. If I had written post in 1859, in Mobile Alabama, my life would be in danger. That is how serious the South took objections to slavery. Most people alive in the South at the time of the Civil War had never heard a single legal sermon against slavery, or ever read a solitary legal book or pamplet even questining books like “Slavery Ordained of God”.

    You could not preach against that nonsense, you could not speak against it, you could not write against it, without serious risk to your life and limb. Southern governments told you what you could read, write and preach, fact completely left out of our history books.

    Normally, with free speech, and free religion, this kind of book could be refuted, rebutted, disgraced. And it was – in the North. Where an honest airing of ideas, and real elections were held, slavery could be shown as the vile horror it was. Hiton Helper himself said that if the South had free speech (it did not) and real elections (it had none of those either) slaver owners wouuld have been kicked out of power.

    Slavery and violent oppression can not exist where there is free speech and free press, and free religion. Where only one slant is allowed — like Slavery ORdained By God. And the slave owners knew it – that is why from 1820s on, they made such speech and writing illegal.

    George Mason wrote of these men. Mason, who signed the Declaration of Independence knew Lee’s father, he knew George Washington, and he knew slave owners — he was one.

    Mason could say the following in 1785 — but he would have been arrested and possibly tortured, if he dared to say the following in 1850:

    “[Slavery is] that slow Poison, which is daily contaminating the Minds & Morals of our People. Every Gentlemen [sic] here is born a petty Tyrant. Practiced in Acts of Despotism & Cruelty, we become callous to the Dictates of Humanity, & all the finer feelings of the Soul. Taught to regard a part of our own Species in the most abject & contemptible Degree below us, we lose that Idea of the Dignity of Man, which the Hand of Nature had implanted in us, for great & useful purposes. Habituated from our Infancy to trample upon the Rights of Human Nature, every generous, every liberal Sentiment, if not extinguished, is enfeebled in our Minds. And in such an infernal School are to be educated our future Legislators & Rulers. The Laws of impartial Providence may even by such Means as these, avenge upon our Posterity the Injury done a set of Wretches, whom our Injustice hath debased almost to a Level with the Brute Creation”

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