The major point that opponents of Confederate symbols assert is that the panoply of those monuments, flags, plaques, and other reminders honoring Confederate veterans represent a defense of historical slavery. Slavery was the cause of the war, they say, and since American society has supposedly advanced progressively in understanding, it is both inappropriate and hurtful to continue to display such memorials.
“My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or 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 this Union, and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union.”
They will [under Lincoln] have possession of the Federal executive with its vast power, patronage, prestige of legality, its army, its navy, and its revenue on the fourth of March next. Hitherto it has been on the side of the Constitution and the right; after the fourth of March it will be in the hands of your enemy. What more can you get from them under this Government?” [emphasis added]
“Whatever other reasons some of the Southern states might have given for secession are irrelevant to the question of why there was a war. Secession does not necessitate war. Lincoln promised war over tax collection in his first inaugural address. When the Southern states refused to pay his beloved Morrill Tariff at the Southern ports [monies that supplied a major portion of Federal revenues], he kept his promise of ‘invasion and bloodshed’ and waged war on the Southern states.”