Pardon our dust but moving seems to create a lot of it. Just when you thought the worst of pollen season was over, thorough cleaning serves to recycle the pollen for a self-induced sneeze-a-thon. Watch for new posts once we get settled.
After the election of Abraham Lincoln, South Carolina started an avalanche of states which claimed that their bonds, first forged in the Articles of Confederation and Permanent Union and the Constitution of the United States had been dissolved. As this occurred Senators of withdrawing states often made their case for secession before the Senate. C.C. Clay of Alabama's speech was one of the more fiery ones and is very revealing. According to Clay the issue of state's rights was not the issue which caused of the exercise of their assumed right to secede was clearly over the North's antipathy for slavery. Specifically is was "...the growth and power of that anti-slavery spirit of the Northern people which seeks the overthrow of that domestic institution of the South which is not only the chief source of her prosperity, but the very basis of her social order and state polity."
The domestic institution Clay refers to is slavery, not the right to mint money, run a postal service, or issue bonds.
Clay claims that the North had in fact severed the bonds of Union well before the ordinances of secession. He lists of litany of offenses including the refusal to return fugitive slaves/criminals, refusal to allow expansion of slavery to the commonly acquired territories, murdering southern men who chased slaves in Northern states, poisoning wells, burning buildings, stealing property (slaves) ,and even denying slaveholders communion. Some of those may surprise the reader, but they clearly show the sectional embitterment that had allowed such misinformation to survive.
Clay was clear that the Northerners not only intended to impoverish the South through freeing the slaves but intended that the Southerners suffer the unendurable shame of "...demanding equality with us for our slaves..." He continues, "Thus, by our solemn verdict of the people of the North, the slaveholding communities of the South are 'outlawed, branded with ignominy, consigned to execration, and ultimate destruction.' "
It has been a common theme that Mr. Lincoln's War was about the issue of secession. That is a stretch as the South, as Mr. Clay aptly states left the Union for fear of what would happen to slavery. The Lost Cause is a wonderful fiction, but it is a fiction. Edward Pollard, the author of the Lost Cause in 1866, set the stage for essentially a romantic view of the conflict. I encourage all to read his book. Pollard essentially threw the South a lifeline to carry forth in a changing world. He attempted to enable the sacrifice of so many in a fruitless war. However, something Mr. Pollard for all the spinning his book attempts cannot avoid is that all of the states that seceded were slaveholding states and did so to protect their abilities to own other humans. There is no way to sugar coat the horrors of the institution of slavery and even with the cleverest of spinning it is impossible to ennoble its defense.
Wishing all my friends a terrific 4th of July celebration. Remember those brave men, women, and animals that gave their all so that this little experiment in a democratic form of government might exist in a world of Kings, Queens, Shoguns, Tsars, Ministers, Dictators, Chancellors, and Emperors. It's been a bumpy road at times and the building of a nation that is true to the promise of its beginnings is still a work in progress.
The above is a replica regimental flag of the 1st Kansas Volunteer Infantry, colors flown during the War of the Rebellion.
Terry A. Del Bene
Writer- "Have Words, Will Travel"