OUR CONFEDERATE SOLDIERS: WHY AND FOR WHAT THEY FOUGHT AND FELL
(An Address given at the Alabama Division United Daughters of the Confederacy Confederate
Memorial Day Celebration in Montgomery, Alabama April 27, 2015)
That was the 1960’s version of how and why the war began. Move forward now fifty years
to 2015. What story is the National Park Service telling today at Ft. Sumter? I had the
opportunity last month to visit Charleston, see Ft. Sumter and the beautiful new visitor center
where you board the boats to go out to the Fort. From the time you walk into the visitor center
until the time you visit the fort and leave the visitor center, the National Park Service is telling
one and only one prostituted reason for the war: slavery-slavery-slavery! Murals, displays,
interactive recordings, brochures: this war was about the South fighting to maintain slavery and
the reason Confederate soldiers served and fell was to preserve slavery while noble Lincoln and
the union were fighting to free the slaves.
It is intellectually dishonest to study everything Lincoln said about blacks before 1861 and
still believe that on April 12, 1861, he was starting a war to free the slaves. In 1818, Lincoln’s
Illinois had joined the Union as a free state; however, slavery continued there and free blacks
were oppressed by state laws known as the Black Codes, which remained in effect from 1819 until
1865. Under Illinois law, blacks
*could not vote
*could not bring suit against whites
*could not testify in court against whites
*could not serve in the militia
*could not own arms
*had to carry on their persons at all times a Certificate of Freedom or be
presumed to be a slave
In all of his time in Illinois, in the Illinois legislature and as President, Abraham Lincoln
never attempted to repeal the Black Codes in Illinois. In fact, they were not repealed until the
war ended in 1865. It is beyond dispute that Lincoln did not begin the war with the intent to
The greatest evil in America today is not racism but ignorance. People who think 880,000
southerners were willing to fight and possibly die so that 4-8 percent of the people in the south
could continue to own slaves are not only unbelievably illogical to believe that absurdity but
abysmally ignorance of the myriads of differences between the South and the North in 1860
regarding tariffs, taxes, states rights, even religion and especially their differing views of the
United States Constitution, which led to the war.
Had I been a Southerner in 1860 and my purpose was to maintain slavery I would have
stayed in the Union forever. From the drawing up to the adoption of the Constitution slavery
was unquestionably legal.
The founding fathers knew that if the Constitution outlawed slavery, it would never have
been adopted by the 13 states. Why? Because in 1789 in every one of the 13 states except
Massachusetts, slavery was legal. The first federal census of 1790 showed slaves in every state and
that there were nearly as many slaves in New York as there were in Georgia.
How was slavery abolished in six additional Northern states between 1790 and 1860? By the
acts of the duly elected legislatures of those States. By and within the sovereign States, not by
any action, coercion or military force from the federal government. Everyone understand that
slavery was legal under the Constitution. The abolition or maintaining of slavery was left to the
individual states. All to say, that even Lincoln himself, as he plainly said more than once, did not
think the federal government had any power to abolish slavery within the states.
Only when a noble reason was needed for beginning a war which costs 600,000 lives and
maimed a million more and created animosities which have not healed until this day did “freeing
the slaves” become the noble and politically correct cause of the war. By saying that the South
fought to maintain slavery, are you not saying that the North fought to free the slaves? And if
you say the north fought to free the slaves, have you ever read the Emancipation Proclamation,
and if you have how can you say the Lincoln and the north fought to free slaves? Lincoln’s
Emancipation Proclamation freed not one-not one-slave in the vast territory Lincoln controlled!
I believe it is an undeniable fact that our Confederate ancestors neither fought nor fell
to maintain slavery. The last country in the western hemisphere to abolish slavery was Brazil in
1888. Every other major Christian civilized country in the world ended slavery without a bloody
war. I do not doubt that slavery would soon have ended in the South under the economic
realities of agricultural modernization and moral suasion.
But slavery is not the reason our ancestors fell and it certainly is not the reason we honor
them on this memorial day. The fell fighting for the just cause of constitutional liberty. They fell
fighting for southern independence .They fell because the South was invaded. It is a truism that
had not 2,200,000 Yankees invaded the South, there would never have been a war. Had Lincoln
not sent more than 2 million men into the South to invade our land, burn our homes, steal our
property and kill members of our families, there would not have been a war.