Why Did The South Secede?

slaves in the familyAn interesting take from Edward Ball, author of Slaves in the Family, in the New York Times:

On Dec. 20, 1860, 169 men — politicians and people of property — met in the ballroom of St. Andrew’s Hall in Charleston, S.C. After hours of debate, they issued the 158-word “Ordinance of Secession,” which repealed the consent of South Carolina to the Constitution and declared the state to be an independent country. Four days later, the same group drafted a seven-page “Declaration of the Immediate Causes,” explaining why they had decided to split the Union.

The authors of these papers flattered themselves that they’d conjured up a second American Revolution. Instead, the Secession Convention was the beginning of the Civil War, which killed some 620,000 Americans; an equivalent war today would send home more than six million body bags.

The next five years will include an all-you-can-eat special of national remembrance. Yet even after 150 years full of grief and pride and anger, we greet the sesquicentennial wondering, why did the South secede?

I can testify about the South under oath. I was born and raised there, and 12 men in my family fought for the Confederacy; two of them were killed. And since I was a boy, the answer I’ve heard to this question, from Virginia to Louisiana (from whites, never from blacks), is this: “The War Between the States was about states’ rights. It was not about slavery.”…

[continues in the New York Times]

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  • Rooti

    Like it or not States rights was the clear loser of the Civil War. It would have been far cheaper and less costly in terms of human suffering if Lincoln had just bought the slaves and freed them. The legacy of Abe Lincoln ends up being a Federal government completely out of control and a lot of corpses produced by both sides.

    • Hadrian999

      slavery would have died out soon anyway, it’s profitability was on the way down.
      you had to feed and clothe slaves working immigrants to death was much more cost effective.

    • Nkel1764

      Let’s remember that Stes Rights were NEVER meant to be indicative of individual rights and freedoms, just look at the numbers of the people who met to seceed. they like the current set up of government and corporate, military and industrial entities only care about themselves in power…of the people, by the people and for the people gets kicked to the curb DAILY…Honestly the way I see it states rights = government/federal rights there’s no difference between the two. When we get that we’ll see the puppet master for who they are and we’ll cut the strings and get back to the truth of a republic democracy…MUCH LOVE and GOD BLESS

  • Rooti

    Like it or not States rights was the clear loser of the Civil War. It would have been far cheaper and less costly in terms of human suffering if Lincoln had just bought the slaves and freed them. The legacy of Abe Lincoln ends up being a Federal government completely out of control and a lot of corpses produced by both sides.

  • Rooti

    Like it or not States rights was the clear loser of the Civil War. It would have been far cheaper and less costly in terms of human suffering if Lincoln had just bought the slaves and freed them. The legacy of Abe Lincoln ends up being a Federal government completely out of control and a lot of corpses produced by both sides.

  • Liam_McGonagle

    I read and re-read this book “Slaves in the Family” many years ago. Loved it. Struck me as a very open, honest document of one man’s coming to terms with his family’s ambiguous moral history.

    I think I agree with Mr. Ball’s premise that this moral fig-leaf of “state’s rights” is only a ruse to protect the corrupt economic power of a local squirearchy. They gave a flying fuck about high moral principle–it was all just a conceptual framework to disenfranchise not only racial/ethnic minorities, but poor whites as well; a specific example of the “divide and conquer” paradigm.

    But this was hardly limited to the Southern U.S., so let’s not shit on them exclusively. There are many flavors of corrupt plutocracy, and the South was home to only one of them. This idea is taking on a whole new life in the modern U.S., feeding off our fantasies of empire that in turn were made viable only by the existence of the even less comptetent perversion of Marxist ideals. Somehow Americans stupidly assume that if Soviet Communism was a failure the only viable alternative must be its 180 degree opposite–ruthless feudal corpocracy.

    If we read contemporary accounts of Yankee and European visitors to the Antebellum South, we may be struck by a certain familiarity with the scenes they illustrate, of a corrupt, decaying social and physical infrastructure groaning under the weight of its own hypocrisy and stupidity.

  • Liam_McGonagle

    I read and re-read this book “Slaves in the Family” many years ago. Loved it. Struck me as a very open, honest document of one man’s coming to terms with his family’s ambiguous moral history.

    I think I agree with Mr. Ball’s premise that this moral fig-leaf of “state’s rights” is only a ruse to protect the corrupt economic power of a local squirearchy. They gave a flying fuck about high moral principle–it was all just a conceptual framework to disenfranchise not only racial/ethnic minorities, but poor whites as well; a specific example of the “divide and conquer” paradigm.

    But this was hardly limited to the Southern U.S., so let’s not shit on them exclusively. There are many flavors of corrupt plutocracy, and the South was home to only one of them. This idea is taking on a whole new life in the modern U.S., feeding off our fantasies of empire that in turn were made viable only by the existence of the even less comptetent perversion of Marxist ideals. Somehow Americans stupidly assume that if Soviet Communism was a failure the only viable alternative must be its 180 degree opposite–ruthless feudal corpocracy.

    If we read contemporary accounts of Yankee and European visitors to the Antebellum South, we may be struck by a certain familiarity with the scenes they illustrate, of a corrupt, decaying social and physical infrastructure groaning under the weight of its own hypocrisy and stupidity.

  • Hadrian999

    slavery would have died out soon anyway, it’s profitability was on the way down.
    you had to feed and clothe slaves working immigrants to death was much more cost effective.

  • Associationist

    Both slavery and involuntary servitude are still LEGAL and CONSTITUTIONAL in the United States. Read the 13th Amendment (1865) people – after “due process” is complete, and you are convicted of a “crime”, you are fair game for both of these nasty institutions. They can convict you and kill you as well. Even if you have not been convicted criminal activity, “involuntary servitude” has been forced on countless innocent Americans via the military drafts (selective service), which are obviously at direct odds with the Constitution. 13th Amendment – go read it now!

    • Nkel17

      Sadly most of us here don’t know this and we incorrectly believe “It can’t happen to me” or we’re too civilized for that…GOD BLESS and MUCH LOVE

  • Associationist

    Both slavery and involuntary servitude are still LEGAL and CONSTITUTIONAL in the United States. Read the 13th Amendment (1865) people – after “due process” is complete, and you are convicted of a “crime”, you are fair game for both of these nasty institutions. They can convict you and kill you as well. Even if you have not been convicted criminal activity, “involuntary servitude” has been forced on countless innocent Americans via the military drafts (selective service), which are obviously at direct odds with the Constitution. 13th Amendment – go read it now!

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    Well that kind puts a nail in the coffin of the BS apologists who worship the Rebellion and keep rewriting it as a ‘States Rights’ issue. Sure…states rights were on the line…but primarily because of the culture clash as a pack of spoiled, decadent, pseudo-monarchist throwbacks to European plantation fiefdoms pissed and moaned because they might not be able to keep humans as property anymore.

    The South and its antiquated ways were already doomed to failure…the only question was whether, if allowed to secede, they would fade harmlessly into irrelevance after dividing the Union…or whether they would collapse under attack from a foreign power, putting the other half of the nation at risk as well. The sniveling apologists who cling to the memory of the Antebellum South as some form of romanticized perfect existence are so pathetic its laughable…and seeing documents like South Carolina’s OWN list of grievances from that time (mentioning slavery and related anti-abolitionist sentiment and issues repeatedly) is a sweet sweet public kick to their collective ass-ignorant groins.

    As for State’s Rights…states rights are great…love em…terrific stuff…but never intended to be a license for rabid douchebaggery and 12th century barbarism.

    • E.B. Wolf

      “Spoiled, decadent, pseudo-monarchist throwbacks to European plantation fiefdoms…”

      You just perfectly described the corporate culture that’s been hollowing out this country for the last century . I guess the South did rise again.

    • Nkel14

      I guess we look back on it as a rebellion against centralized government as opposed to what it really was, a clash of property owners/planter class vs. industrialization…both with the same idea of “ownership”. Too bad The Many aren’t part of the entire process except as opposed being used like chattel or cannon fodder. But then again maybe being led to slaughter like sheep and or being the sheep dog is what we want…GOD BLESS and MUCH LOVE.

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    Well that kind puts a nail in the coffin of the BS apologists who worship the Rebellion and keep rewriting it as a ‘States Rights’ issue. Sure…states rights were on the line…but primarily because of the culture clash as a pack of spoiled, decadent, pseudo-monarchist throwbacks to European plantation fiefdoms pissed and moaned because they might not be able to keep humans as property anymore.

    The South and its antiquated ways were already doomed to failure…the only question was whether, if allowed to secede, they would fade harmlessly into irrelevance after dividing the Union…or whether they would collapse under attack from a foreign power, putting the other half of the nation at risk as well. The sniveling apologists who cling to the memory of the Antebellum South as some form of romanticized perfect existence are so pathetic its laughable…and seeing documents like South Carolina’s OWN list of grievances from that time (mentioning slavery and related anti-abolitionist sentiment and issues repeatedly) is a sweet sweet public kick to their collective ass-ignorant groins.

    As for State’s Rights…states rights are great…love em…terrific stuff…but never intended to be a license for rabid douchebaggery and 12th century barbarism.

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    Well that kind puts a nail in the coffin of the BS apologists who worship the Rebellion and keep rewriting it as a ‘States Rights’ issue. Sure…states rights were on the line…but primarily because of the culture clash as a pack of spoiled, decadent, pseudo-monarchist throwbacks to European plantation fiefdoms pissed and moaned because they might not be able to keep humans as property anymore.

    The South and its antiquated ways were already doomed to failure…the only question was whether, if allowed to secede, they would fade harmlessly into irrelevance after dividing the Union…or whether they would collapse under attack from a foreign power, putting the other half of the nation at risk as well. The sniveling apologists who cling to the memory of the Antebellum South as some form of romanticized perfect existence are so pathetic its laughable…and seeing documents like South Carolina’s OWN list of grievances from that time (mentioning slavery and related anti-abolitionist sentiment and issues repeatedly) is a sweet sweet public kick to their collective ass-ignorant groins.

    As for State’s Rights…states rights are great…love em…terrific stuff…but never intended to be a license for rabid douchebaggery and 12th century barbarism.

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    Well that kind puts a nail in the coffin of the BS apologists who worship the Rebellion and keep rewriting it as a ‘States Rights’ issue. Sure…states rights were on the line…but primarily because of the culture clash as a pack of spoiled, decadent, pseudo-monarchist throwbacks to European plantation fiefdoms pissed and moaned because they might not be able to keep humans as property anymore.

    The South and its antiquated ways were already doomed to failure…the only question was whether, if allowed to secede, they would fade harmlessly into irrelevance after dividing the Union…or whether they would collapse under attack from a foreign power, putting the other half of the nation at risk as well. The sniveling apologists who cling to the memory of the Antebellum South as some form of romanticized perfect existence are so pathetic its laughable…and seeing documents like South Carolina’s OWN list of grievances from that time (mentioning slavery and related anti-abolitionist sentiment and issues repeatedly) is a sweet sweet public kick to their collective ass-ignorant groins.

    As for State’s Rights…states rights are great…love em…terrific stuff…but never intended to be a license for rabid douchebaggery and 12th century barbarism.

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    Well that kind puts a nail in the coffin of the BS apologists who worship the Rebellion and keep rewriting it as a ‘States Rights’ issue. Sure…states rights were on the line…but primarily because of the culture clash as a pack of spoiled, decadent, pseudo-monarchist throwbacks to European plantation fiefdoms pissed and moaned because they might not be able to keep humans as property anymore.

    The South and its antiquated ways were already doomed to failure…the only question was whether, if allowed to secede, they would fade harmlessly into irrelevance after dividing the Union…or whether they would collapse under attack from a foreign power, putting the other half of the nation at risk as well. The sniveling apologists who cling to the memory of the Antebellum South as some form of romanticized perfect existence are so pathetic its laughable…and seeing documents like South Carolina’s OWN list of grievances from that time (mentioning slavery and related anti-abolitionist sentiment and issues repeatedly) is a sweet sweet public kick to their collective ass-ignorant groins.

    As for State’s Rights…states rights are great…love em…terrific stuff…but never intended to be a license for rabid douchebaggery and 12th century barbarism.

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    Well that kind puts a nail in the coffin of the BS apologists who worship the Rebellion and keep rewriting it as a ‘States Rights’ issue. Sure…states rights were on the line…but primarily because of the culture clash as a pack of spoiled, decadent, pseudo-monarchist throwbacks to European plantation fiefdoms pissed and moaned because they might not be able to keep humans as property anymore.

    The South and its antiquated ways were already doomed to failure…the only question was whether, if allowed to secede, they would fade harmlessly into irrelevance after dividing the Union…or whether they would collapse under attack from a foreign power, putting the other half of the nation at risk as well. The sniveling apologists who cling to the memory of the Antebellum South as some form of romanticized perfect existence are so pathetic its laughable…and seeing documents like South Carolina’s OWN list of grievances from that time (mentioning slavery and related anti-abolitionist sentiment and issues repeatedly) is a sweet sweet public kick to their collective ass-ignorant groins.

    As for State’s Rights…states rights are great…love em…terrific stuff…but never intended to be a license for rabid douchebaggery and 12th century barbarism.

  • Josh

    He isn’t lying. They fought for their states rights – to own slaves. Read their own succession documents….

  • Josh

    He isn’t lying. They fought for their states rights – to own slaves. Read their own succession documents….

  • warisaracket

    I won’t bother attempting to argue with anyone here as we’re all entitled to believe what we like (and usually that’s all we believe… what we like), but I found something a while ago that I thought was a good read. Anyone can find it via Google fairly easily. Search for “Causes for the Civil War by Major General John B. Gordon. Check it out if you’re interested in a slightly different point of view. It was a great read.

  • warisaracket

    I won’t bother attempting to argue with anyone here as we’re all entitled to believe what we like (and usually that’s all we believe… what we like), but I found something a while ago that I thought was a good read. Anyone can find it via Google fairly easily. Search for “Causes for the Civil War by Major General John B. Gordon. Check it out if you’re interested in a slightly different point of view. It was a great read.

  • E.B. Wolf

    “Spoiled, decadent, pseudo-monarchist throwbacks to European plantation fiefdoms…”

    You just perfectly described the corporate culture that’s been hollowing out this country for the last century . I guess the South did rise again.

  • Nkel17

    Sadly most of us here don’t know this and we incorrectly believe “It can’t happen to me” or we’re too civilized for that…GOD BLESS and MUCH LOVE

  • Nkel14

    I guess we look back on it as a rebellion against centralized government as opposed to what it really was, a clash of property owners/planter class vs. industrialization…both with the same idea of “ownership”. Too bad The Many aren’t part of the entire process except as opposed being used like chattel or cannon fodder. But then again maybe being led to slaughter like sheep and or being the sheep dog is what we want…GOD BLESS and MUCH LOVE.

  • Nkel1764

    Let’s remember that Stes Rights were NEVER meant to be indicative of individual rights and freedoms, just look at the numbers of the people who met to seceed. they like the current set up of government and corporate, military and industrial entities only care about themselves in power…of the people, by the people and for the people gets kicked to the curb DAILY…Honestly the way I see it states rights = government/federal rights there’s no difference between the two. When we get that we’ll see the puppet master for who they are and we’ll cut the strings and get back to the truth of a republic democracy…MUCH LOVE and GOD BLESS