…… Although I have never Sought popularity by any animated Speeches or Inflammatory publications against the Slavery of the Blacks, my opinion against it has always been known and my practice has been so conformable to my sentiment that I have always employed freemen both as Domisticks and Labourers, and never in my Life did I own a Slave. The Abolition of Slavery must be gradual and accomplished with much caution and Circumspection. Violent means and measures would produce greater violations of Justice and Humanity than the continuance of the practice. Neither Mr. Mifflin nor yourselves, I presume, would be willing to venture on Exertions which would probably excite insurrections among the Blacks to rise against their Masters and imbrue their hands in innocent blood. …
Letter from President John Adams to Quaker Abolitionists, January 24, 1801 (Emphasis added)
AMERICAN SLAVERY WAS CONTINENTAL
Humanity is a dirty business and slavery among its oldest commerce. In America, slavery was a continental enterprise from early colonial days. New England and the Crown initiated the Slave Trade. Their slave ships supplied the plantations of Rhode Island, the farms and homes of New Hampshire, Connecticut and Massachusetts alongside Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, New York and points South.
With the birth of the United States, the Northern States did not abandon slavery. They outlawed it within their jurisdictions but continued the Slave Trade from New England and New York delivering Africans to the Caribbean and South America long after Jefferson signed the slave trade ban. Between 1859 -1861 alone, New York sent as many as 170 slave ships to Africa to gather slaves for Cuba. So long as the ships sailed, Northern bankers and insurers financed them.
The South has taken the brunt of criticism for slavery because Northern (in particular, New England) slave history and racism have been cloaked invisible. But, then, the North won the War and the North has had a morality to prove. Their historians do not take themselves to recounts such as “A Southside View of Slavery” by the Boston minister, Nehemiah Adams, D.D., who wrote of his sojourn in the South over 3 months in 1854. This good minister returned to Boston without his preconceived beliefs about slavery he had found in the banners of abolitionist writings and lectures. He did not change to accept slavery as any moral good. Few people anywhere in the 1850’s did. He remained an abolitionist but was no longer of the unthinking, emotive, rabid variety that led and structured the movement since the appearance of William Lloyd Garrison.
Rabid abolitionists were merchants of indifference to Southern life. Absorbed in a cultural demeaning of all things Southern, they rarely or never traveled South to understand. Today, like those abolitionists, many refuse to understand the vanities in human nature. Racism is a virulent vanity. It is irrational hatred that survives only in a cultural vacuum that needs stridency to continue. It resides only in humans and not in nature. It remains blind with self-importance.
But the South never hated Black Americans. At worst, they feared them – in no small part because of the contemptible abolitionist trumpet for violence and insurrection. From our Black and White birthing together in the 17th century, there was reciprocal and integrated activity, mutual reliance and a daily exchange of life’s needs. Despite slavery, through working the soil and seasons together, White and Black Americans learned to respect each other’s humanity from experiencing one another within the human grind to survive and prosper. Southerners held more than we accept today a true personal intimacy and affection of community founded in the fact that they were historically twined together and bound to the land. The land was the home of their birth, their toil and their death. They were kin of soil and sometimes blood. They weren’t going to be rid of one another and they knew it. The soil didn’t plant in them the alienated life forms Puritan New England practiced. They neither could nor would ever accept the Puritan alienation of forgoing the humanity in their lives. They accepted they would till Heaven, in one way or another, hand in hand, live and die together. They were One People.
They mixed their cultures, their workaday tasks, sometimes their families. They prayed in the same Christian churches. Fairly often lived in the same house. Together they created the Southern Identity where folks of each race worked, lived, aspired and mourned the fragility of the soil and the human heart. Each had a criminal element that harmed everyone. Each could sustain great works and lives of loyalty.
As children they often played together. Sometimes as adults they dallied together. Though their burial grounds could be separate, their affections and longing, their memories, good or bad, peaceful or violent, laced them together. They had struggled and worked the land for eachother and for success. So when they buried one another, they most often stood by the grave of a loyal master or a loyal slave. Race played its part but, more importantly and most often, so did the qualities and character of the individual. They learned to see one another as persons.
For even within slavery, the South made way for an individual’s personal worth. While there was always servitude, there was not always slavery. Today we find historians writing of wealthy Black families in the antebellum South. We read of slaves who lived on their own in towns or on other farms. Free Blacks owned their own farms or homes. Free and slave tradesmen, merchants, domestics made their own money but, if a slave, gave the master his share.
More than the laws of the States, how a slave was treated rested with the master or mistress, white or black. State laws dimmed before any master: slaves could marry and “jump the broomstick” on their wedding day celebrated with all the hands of the farm or neighbors in their town including master and mistress present. An overwhelming percentage of slave families stayed together. It was uncommon that a family was separated due to a sale of a member. Most often a sale was of an entire family or an individual at an age when he or she would normally leave home. They could learn to read and write as Frederick Douglass learned in Baltimore when his mistress, against the objection of his master, her husband, taught him to read and write. Many taught and many did not. Some masters took pride in teaching their slaves to read and write.
Sometimes, it was not the master, as when Stonewall Jackson taught Bible classes in Lexington. He taught the slaves from town and surrounding farms, who attended with their masters’ permission, how to read so they could find their own salvation in Christian beliefs. There were folks in Lexington who argued against his Christian work, but he stood against them. Neither town, county nor State moved on him. Today the descendants of those slaves still honor Jackson for his loyalty and devotion to them. As he was to demonstrate later on the battlefield, he was not named Stonewall because he weaned his beliefs from watered milk.
To its eternal discredit, the North truly disdained unto rank hatred and fear Black Americans and with few exceptions kept them down and/or out of their States. White men rarely shook the hands of Black men as men and women daily did in the South. The simple affability of Southern courtesy brought horror to the mind and heart of the North.
Northern draconian segregation laws insured there could be little or no reciprocity of human contact, much less culture. The worth of the individual barely existed in the North. Between White and Black the grind of humanity working toward a common success was so often unknown. The North feared itsown molestation by Black folks. It was common to hear the South treated their slaves far better than the North treated their servants. As Sir Charles Lyell observed, “It is notorious that the hardest taskmasters to the slaves are those who come from the northern free States”.
While we have photographs and narratives of some Southern slaves, and though the majority of ex-slave interviews taken in the 1930’s speak to a much more complex, entangled, temperate and struggled world than America admits, we have no photographs or narratives of the tens of thousand African corpses littered at the bottom of the seas by the North’s Slave Ships along the Transatlantic Slave routes. Sold by their African enslavers to an uncaring, commercial Northern people, they remain unseen and never to be seen, unheard and far beyond hearing.
In 1863, Robert Shufeldt, United States Consul in Havana, reported that “However humiliating may be the confession … nine tenths of the vessels engaged in the slave trade are American,” as quoted by Hugh Thomas, “The Slave Trade”, p.773.
Slavery was always an enterprise across racial lines both in Africa and America. The Europeans did not open new slave commerce on the coasts of Africa. They bought into an enterprise long in existence. Africans selling Africans, Europeans enslaving Europeans or any ethnic or racial group enslaving their own or another when profitable is never startling.
In the South, the first court case to return an African slave to his master was litigated in 17th century Virginia. That master, Anthony Johnson, a native-born African, was maybe a former slave or maybe an indentured servant. By mid-century he was a master and he wanted his slave, John Casor, returned. Johnson was suing another master, Robert Parker, and he won. From Johnson in Virginia through Andrew Durnford of St. Rosalie’s Plantation in Louisiana to the Ellison family and their cotton gin factory in Charleston, South Carolina in 1865, and through many Black families inbetween, Black Americans were among the many masters profiting by holding Black Americans in slavery.
THE HAMMER AND ANVIL OF PURITAN WRATH
“The North is too frequently portrayed as more sinned against than sinning …. It is not necessary to be an apologist for the antebellum South to recognize that northern attitudes toward the South did little to foster North-South understanding and … frequently exacerbated sectional tensions rather than defusing them.”
“… the North looked … to a time when the nation would reflect all that was best in northern society.”
Susan-Mary Grant in North Over South, p. 19-21
Before they arrived in Massachusetts Bay the Puritans were a self-gratifying people. Though Winthrop spoke to them of becoming a ‘city on the hill’ for their own perfection (and he was speaking only to them), with the coming years and their success in secular pursuits they cast themselves to engage Empire wherever they might go.
They were a top-down society where government went into their homes, their families, their farms and shops. They learned to bow before walking. So it was not really surprising they placed themselves in all walks of life above everyone including the earlier settled Pilgrims. For if anyone could prove God had not chosen them, they would remain convinced they were. That is all a people need to forge civil religion and/or engage war. Vanity is our most subtle vice. Tendrils run through us as if it were our nature itself. When it hardens into outward expression, the dice of hate and war are thrown.
Long before radical abolitionism in the 1830’s, New England and its followers practiced a constant hammer of cultural aggression. The South was the anvil on which they fashioned their angst against worlds unlike themselves. By the 1820’s New England’s ingrained intellectual and spiritual culture stood itself high on the figurative corpse of a demented, untalented, vicious and irreligious South – a South their minds imagined spread like a pathological, cultural disease. Always frightened of losing power, many of their important leaders had gone full bore to secede from 1794 to 1815. When that failed because the daily people would not follow (or so thought John Quincy Adams), their intellectuals and ministers turned up the clang and kept clanging their own superiority till by the 1850’s an uncrossable bridge of memory would separate North and South forever, with or without war. The Gulf States had enough and left.
Consolidation of government is the Iron Knot of Tyranny and the furnace of Nationalism. Northern Nationalism was a supremacist doctrine that spun loose from New England with their emigrants to the upper tier of Northern States. To them, the South was foreign, unknown and strangely alluring
Meanwhile, the South remained content to differ, family by family, locale to locale, State to State in agrarian and commercial pursuits. It had always been so. The South was a culture of Black and White families and subsidiarity in governance.
Despite historical hullabaloo about Southern Nationalism, there was none and could be none. Nationalisms are defined by consolidation. The South by belief and practice are individual faces. There can be no Southern Face, only Southern faces. Meanwhile, the North dims the features of faces and attempts to create, to everyone’s detriment, a Consolidated Northern Face, a gargoyle of features that describes no human grace and degrades humanity.
Many of our 1787 Founders understood their heritage differences. Some, like Rufus King and Oliver Ellsworth, believed them irreconcilable and urged peaceful separation.
Slavery allowed prurient New England to indulge its preternatural wrath on others while drawing curtains over the wealth from its own historical domestic and agrarian slavery … and its on-going Slave Trade. By 1830, though unlawful throughout the North, some 6,079 slaves remained in Northern bondage (1830 Census: PA – 403, NJ – 2254, NY – 76, DE – 3292 and 54 in all of New England). Northern financial and shipping interests remained tied to the African-Caribbean-South America Slave Trade and turned blinkered eyes to its cruelty.
In the South slavery was a home business, a labor force entwined with familial, commercial and religious obligations. In 1860, all the Gulf States but Texas had slave populations over 44% of total population. South Carolina and Mississippi at 55%. Slavery was not unseeable on distant high seas, but always in your neighborhood.
Prior to the 1830’s the South engaged emancipation openly. There were many more abolition societies in the South than the North. Then the rise of militant abolitionists stiffened and stifled Southern efforts to abolish and/or ameliorate slavery. William Lloyd Garrison, Charles Sumner and their ilk urged immediate emancipation with no programs for the education of former slaves into a free society and no compensation for slave owners. Alongside this idiocy, they offered unrepentant violence and dissolution of everything Southern. Though Garrison claimed pacifism, his rhetoric rode the crest of a bullet. Webster agreed abolitionists did more to harm the slaves than help because they put Southerners in fear of their lives and sometimes enfeebled efforts to bring slaves a better life within slavery.
When the North abolished slavery, it did not mean the slaves were emancipated. Many thousands were sold South. Not always lawfully. Professor Nell Painter, telling the story of Sojourner Truth, a New York slave born around 1797, illiterate and one of our greatest Americans in any century, relates how Truth’s young son, “Peter was only one of thousands of black New Yorkers illegally sold into perpetual bondage in the South”. Sojourner Truth, A Life, A Symbol, p. 33-35.
The North’s cultural wrath has been one of the persistent hysterias of hatred and indifference in history. It remains today a secularized Puritan mythology that never looks itself in the face.
Across the human game of civilization, Northern stridency came from intellectuals, politicians, religious and cultural icons – Parker, Beecher, Sumner, Wade, Stevens and their dementing clans. Self-anointed, they sacramentalized their society and embraced themselves holier in all things human and close to the divine. Two of their most esteemed thinkers, Emerson and Thoreau, compared the death of John Brown, a man of murderous psychosis, to the death of Jesus Christ. Emerson called him a man of “simple, artless goodness”. Well … maybe not at Pottawatomie.
Most White Americans believed Black Americans inferior. But the North embedded that crude fiction in a flawed science. Two of their great scientists, Samuel George Morton of the University of Pennsylvania and Louis Agassiz of Harvard, led the proponents of ‘scientific racism’. Morton was its founder.
In 1854, our lonely country splintered by Puritan hate, a sectional Party dedicated to Northern White people came along. They called themselves Republicans, not the Nationalists they were. Their founders wanted a consolidated General government to support their dreams of Empire.
With the 1860 take-over of the General government by the Republican Party, the 1787 Constitution as the South understood it, received from Jefferson, Macon, Taylor, Calhoun and Madison, was in present danger to be overthrown beyond the South’s chances to moderate. There were, on the other hand, fewer and fewer proponents of limited government in the North. The Mercy Otis Warrens were gone. The economic and political policies of Hamilton and Clay controlled Washington. Republican leaders had recognized they did not need Southern electoral votes to capture the country’s wealth and power. For them the road to domination was open, reachable and unstoppable. Though they were a purely sectional Party, there was one problem: they needed the South’s wealth to succeed. The Gulf States merely said, “No more.”
America today, toe to heel with popular historical myth, forgets Lincoln intended no interference with slavery in the South. He only demanded their money. The South knew that. The problem was not the prosaic Lincoln. It was the Republican Party.
Would the South knuckle and throw aside its agrarian, free trade and Christian history to welcome into their homes the national mercantilism and avant-garde Christianity of the North? If the South did not, would the Republican Party bring war to create economic and cultural nationalism?
THE CONFEDERACY: TOWARDS A TRUE FEDERAL REPUBLIC
In the fervid fermentation of America’s historical brew the Confederacy was a Slave Republic. That view has sloppily spilt into everyday American consciousness. Yet it doesn’t take vast amounts of reading to determine whether the Confederacy was a Slave Republic. It takes the understanding of one document, the Confederate Constitution. None other, no amount of Cornerstone speeches or political emissaries to Union Slave States, no diaries, letters home, newspaper articles or editorials, no history articles – none save the CSA Constitution answers the question. The reason is direct and simple: only a Constitution defines and describes the fundamental sovereignty from which procedures and powers of a General government apply throughout the land. So the issue is: does the CSA Constitution mandate slavery in the States? Was it lawful throughout the Confederacy for Slave and Free States to co-exist? If lawful, could the General government extinguish this freedom?
Very few read the CSA Constitution (including Southerners) and fewer take the effort to understand. The Confederate Constitution outlines the intense political and economic conflicts between North and South back to colonial times. It does not mirror the US Constitution.
The two are cousins in a far ranging family. Each exemplifies the time and circumstances of its creation. 1787 was an attempt to straddle two (2) regional cultures: the North Atlantic and the Southeast Atlantic. In 1861 the Gulf States had no such chore. They were (with exceptions in Louisiana) children of the Southeast Atlantic. They would return to a governance they believed was their forefathers’ true creation and their birthright.
Seven (7) differences (there are more) track the fundamental reorientation Confederate Founders adopted for their new, common country. They began by expressing clearly the sovereignty of the States.
First, the phrase “We, the People of the United States…” was eliminated. This is the phrase Albert Taylor Bledsoe called the most fractious and disputed in the 1787 Constitution. The original 1787 phrase enumerated the States with the clear meaning the peoples in each of the States separately held sovereignty. The change to the inflatable phrase “We, the People …” was made by the Style Committee with no authority to change substance. Yet immediately after ratification Northern mercantilist politicians turned up the volume on this phrase and destroyed its original, modulating sound.
In its place the CSA wrote, “We, the people of the Confederate States, each State acting in its sovereign and independent character …”. Transparent, iron-lock clarity returned to American government. In the Confederacy there could never be an argument about sovereignty. Sovereignty, the fundamental power to govern, was only in the States.
Second, Article 1, Sec. 1 of the 1787 Constitution reads ‘all legislative powers herein granted …’. But the CSA Constitution reads ‘all legislative powers herein delegated …’. The words have distinct legal meanings: what is ‘granted’ is gone, what is ‘delegated’ never leaves but held as on an iron chain to return whenever the delegator decides.
The Confederacy’s General government was not of “dual sovereignty” but “borrowed sovereignty”. The CSA States individually loaned specific sovereign powers to the General government to perform specific tasks. Unlike 1787, they granted their General government no sovereignty of its own.
The reason is this: for Jeffersonians sovereignty resides first, wholly and undifferentiated in our person because this is how our Creator creates us. We, then, participate in the governance of our family and religion. Extending ourselves, we share power within our local community and, in turn, within our State. If a General government is created between our State and another, the power to govern is only loaned. Never granted. For the CSA these were bedrock principles of government.
The CSA Founders understood any division of sovereignty is a denial of human tendencies rooted in the vanities of our nature. When we deny our human nature, we produce soon or late a scenario of unending, unyielding struggle, a conflict for ultimate power.
Looking back, we can be forgiven for thinking “dual sovereignty” was a ploy agreed to by Hamilton, Wilson and their nationalistic friends so the Articles of Confederation would be discarded and the 1787 Constitution approved. At the start of Washington’s first term, they mounted a sturdy, coordinated attack with their mercantilist programs. Hamilton meant to increase the power of the General government into a consolidated government. His early “Federalists” wanted a mercantilist empire no different from Great Britain. This would necessarily give rise to and support a truly consolidated, national government.
With the elimination of “We, the People …” and the deliberate change from “grant” to “delegate”, the CSA cut the constitutionally-enthralled Gordian Knot entangling the United States in constant turmoil since 1787. In effect, the 1787 Founders had not created (in Lincoln’s phrase) “one, common country”. Rather, by granting particulars of sovereignty to a new General government (as if sovereignty were a bundle of sticks to parcel at will without harm), they effectively created a new 14th State, an unaligned entity, separate and with its own engine for wealth and power called ‘the General Government’. Capable now of wielding its own power, the General government itself, meant to bring forth a “more perfect” union, became the battlefield for disunion.
Third, the CSA Founders eliminated the “General Welfare” clause in the 1787 Preamble and Article 1, Sec. 8. Nothing was substituted for it in the Preamble. In Article 1, Sec. 8, they substituted ” … to … carry on the Government of the Confederate States …”. The CSA would not argue about the meaning of a clause already by 1861 stretched far beyond its original compass. They would not tolerate again a coverlet for generalized policies that might or might not help every State and would ultimately, as with the National Bank, chip away the sovereignty of the States.
Fourth, each Confederate State had the power to impeach any General government official, including any judge, who had jurisdiction solely within its own borders. The 1787 Constitution has no such counterpart. After impeachment, the official or judge went before the Confederate Congress for trial. The official may or may not be found guilty but the impeaching State had cleared its soil of a renegade General government official.
Fifth, the CSA Founders ingrained their agrarian culture into Constitutional economics. They made unlawful: 1) protectionist tariffs for any industry; 2) funds “to promote or foster any branch of industry” or “for any internal improvements intended to facilitate commerce”; 3) “bounties from the Treasury” for favored organizations, for example, were it around then, Planned Parenthood; 4) overruns on government contracts.
They did more: they made Omnibus Bills unlawful, required each Congressional bill to have but one purpose, with the bill’s purpose expressed in the title and the legislation within it limited to that purpose. The CSA Founders had gutted politics as usual which the United States had practiced to distraction.
Sixth, the Presidency. On March 30, 1861, Robert H. Smith, a prominent delegate from Alabama to the CSA Convention gave a speech at Temperance Hall in Mobile, Alabama. He was at heart a Unionist who fought secession until the Republican take-over of the General government.
Smith said about the office of President:
“Prominent among the evils of the old government, felt and acknowledged by all, was the mode of electing the President, the tenure of his office and his re-eligibility. The chief officer of the nation had come to be the appointee of a mere self-constituted and irresponsible Convention, and the measures of Government had received direction in advance, not so much from the wisdom and for the good of the people as for the triumph of the party …”
In truth, the Presidency was always a troublesome Constitutional office. Perhaps only the status and character of Washington gave it promise. In 1814 the Hartford Convention proposed an Amendment directed at the Presidency. “The same Person shall not be elected President of the United States a second time; nor shall the President be elected from the same State two terms in succession.” 47 years later he CSA Founders took their cut at the marble.
Tenure would be one (1) term of six (6) years. No re-eligibility. The Vice-President was eligible for the Presidency but the President was forever ineligible for the Presidency and Vice-Presidency. Another 90 years would pass before the United States would solve its eligibility problem.
Then, they cut further. They attempted and, at least, partially succeeded to cripple the Spoils System of Presidents from Jackson forward. The CSA President when removing Executive Officers that were not principle officers could do so only for specifically stated causes and the Senate must be notified in writing. It was a first and sure step toward establishment of a true Civil Service 22 years before the United States would create one in 1883 under President Chester A. Arthur.
But they did more: they made the President more accountable for spending General government funds through a line-item veto and by mandating budgets and expenditures begin in the Executive and not the Congress – but if in the Congress a 2/3 vote for approval was required.
Patrick Henry gave approval to the 1787 Constitution because he said there was an amendment process. He did not foresee what Smith called, “a practical negation of the power to alter the document”. He was reflecting on its national character. Though Smith remained dissatisfied with how the President was elected, his great hope for the protection and vibrancy of his new Constitution lay in the Amendment process so different from the 1787 Article. He knew the CSA process was federal, not national.
And it was. Seventh, and finally, the CSA Amendment Process was entirely in the hands of the States: “Upon the demand of any three States, legally assembled in their several conventions, the Congress shall summon a Convention of all States, to take into consideration such amendments to the Constitution as the said States shall concur in suggesting at the time when the said demand is made; and should any of the proposed amendments to the Constitution be agreed on by the said Convention – voting by States – and the same be ratified by the Legislatures of two-thirds of the several States, or by conventions in two-thirds thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the general Convention – they shall thence forward form a part of this Constitution. But no State shall, without its consent, be deprived of its equal representation in the Senate.”
This is one of the two essential changes. The other is the locus of sovereignty. Unlike 1787, the CSA General government cannot initiate a Constitutional Convention. Nor can it introduce, increase, change, nullify, approve or reduce the amendments for the Convention to consider. Only the States would determine the future. No element of the General government has a say. It is bound completely as an agent of the States.
Reviewing these seven fundamental differences, none of which establish or even mention slavery, we realize there is something more thoughtful and pervasive than just slavery causing secession. So what did the CSA do with slavery?
FEBRUARY 4, 1861 – MARCH 11, 1861
The CSA Founders met in Montgomery, Alabama, on February 4, 1861. Texas arrived early March and immediately assimilated. The delegates were a Congress in the morning and, when needed, a Constitutional Convention in the afternoon. On February 8 they accepted a Provisional Constitution to guide them till a Permanent was acceded to.
The Confederacy was not born that February 4th. This was a meeting among seven (7) free, independent and sovereign States to decide whether or not they should confederate to form a General government. Any State could walk and be gone.
Delegates cut across the political spectrum: 3/5 were Democrats, 2/5 were Whigs. Surprisingly to us today, near 40% were Unionists, i.e., against secession. Only one delegate did not own a slave. Average age was just above 47 years. All had spent their entire lives under the blistering gales of the North. 75 % were college graduates. 84% were trained in the law. There was no Madison short-handing the substance of arguments. The public record is a simple one of proposals and votes. Only South Carolina and Georgia were among the original 13 American States
The man chosen to lead the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis, fought secession till he had to accept, after serving on the Committee of 13 as a US Senator, that the Republican Party would brook no compromise. Lincoln as President-Elect insured there would be none. He knew what he was elected for. Republicans would never negotiate the issues causing secession. The glint of gold lit their way.
Alexander Stephens, chosen Vice-President, a Unionist, fought secession through the Georgia Secession Convention. Then he followed his State. He would lead and win the fight for Free States in the Confederacy.
On February 28, 1861, a draft document was presented for debate. On March 10, debate and voting done, it went to the States and was published to the world. Mississippi acceded on March 26, 1861, becoming the necessary 5th State to approve. The Confederacy was born. South Carolina acceded on April 3 and Florida on April 22, 1861, completing the circle of 7 States. Less than 5% of all the members composing the ratifying conventions voted against ratification. Lincoln had promised war and unity was paramount to their resolve.
President Davis would explain that the CSA Constitution was the 1787 Founders’ true Constitution and the CSA Founders agreed. They were attempting to re-start the principles from Jefferson through Calhoun, to take their part of America back to the original ideas, beliefs and understanding of their forefathers. They hoped the long history of political and economic trauma between North and South, between Jefferson and Hamilton could now end.
But on March 11 when Northern leaders read the new Constitution, an outcry of economic doom bounded across their financial landscape. ‘Economic Freedom and Free Trade’ was the CSA banner. The Gulf States had enshrined in their fundamental law not slavery but the South’s perennial insistence on a low tariff, no government funds for favored industry or private organizations, no internal improvement funds “to facilitate commerce” except for securing safety along the coastline, no overruns on Government contracts, no Congressional logrolling or pork barreling, and a decisive cut in the Spoils System.
The wheels of Northern finance, driving the Republican Party, turned to abide on their ledgers. The railroads could not allow it, nor the iron furnaces of Pennsylvania, nor the fishermen and cotton mills of New England. Northern commerce would never again accept a low tariff and never a General government without subsidies for their gain. They had worked long and hard for the Morrill Tariff and would never retreat. They had subsidies from the 1st Congress in 1789 onward. Republicans could not accept the evisceration of their expansive economic programs. They wanted their tariff monies today and their subsidies in a forever tomorrow.
Politicians and newspapers quickly followed. Republican Party leaders, pragmatic and lost caring any notion for peaceful union, reminded Lincoln, who needed no reminding, of his Inaugural’s demand that the Gulf States collect tariffs for his government or war would come. Those tariffs year to year paid near or over 75% of the national budget. They were the financial girders of Northern commercial success supplying the subsidies they could not see their fortunes without. The Public Dollar Disease had them in a fateful grip.
They badgered Lincoln for a “necessary war” to avoid economic collapse and install their Republican agenda, the agenda he knew so well he had been elected to install. His Party would now “save the economy”. So he led us to war under the banner of “saving the Union” – once so voluntary and now so long ago.
Virginia, North Carolina, Arkansas, Tennessee and Missouri had voted to remain in the Union. None took part in the CSA Convention. None stepped forward to join. Only Lincoln’s call for war compelled them into the Confederacy while the Compact of our 1787 Founders withered into the final throes of dying.
THE ARTICLES, SECTIONS, CLAUSES
“Slavery was less the cause than the occasion for war.”
Anne Norton, Alternative Americas, p. 311
No amendments were ever made to the Confederate Constitution. There was neither time nor opportunity. Every foundational imperative on slavery is contained in the following Articles, Sections and Clauses.
This Constitution does not camouflage slavery under a pretentious rubric of civility and liberty. At the same time, and also true of the 1787 Constitution, there is no Article, Section or Clause establishing slavery nor to disestablish slavery. The meaning is clear: slavery does not run with the land. Slavery was never a Constitutional mandate either in the 1787 or the Confederate Constitution. The issue abides solely in the independent and sovereign States. Every President from Washington through Lincoln agreed.
A constitution is not a penumbra of feelings for changeable use to accommodate changeable agendas. Law is to be read as clear text. We are not sensing our way through a spray of verbal mist as in a novel or poem, essay or oration. We are reading what is on paper, front and center, before our eyes. Both the 1787 and 1861 Constitutions provide an overall security net for slavery. Neither mandate slavery. Neither have the power to establish or disestablish slavery anywhere. The founding States of both countries conveyed no such powers.
1.2.3 (Persons included for Representation) “Representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several States … according to their respective numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole number of free persons, including those bound to service for a term of years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three-fifths of all slaves …”
This is identical to the 1787 Constitution except for use of the word ‘slaves’. Neither in 1787 nor in the Confederacy was this meant to devalue the slave as a human being. Slavery had already done that. Rather it was a slave’s value for political representation and direct taxation.
The 3/5 Rule began with the 1783 Impost during the Articles of Confederation. Under the Articles of Confederation the General government had no taxing power. The Impost of ’83 was a proposal by John Dickinson of Pennsylvania to pay off the General government’s war debt. It was based on population. The South, which stood for land taxation rather than population taxation, argued slaves were personal human property so should not be counted part of the population. The North wanted all slaves counted. All the States had slaves, but the South had many, many more than the North.
The Impost failed because Hamilton and his New York wanted the tax paid in specie. Yet everyone had already accepted a 3/5 assessment of the slave population for taxation.
In 1787 the Constitutional proposal was not about taxation but political representation. This time the South wanted full recognition of each slave and the North wanted none. Both had slaves but the South a far greater number. The Convention deadlocked till Gouverneur Morris combined taxation and representation and the 3/5 standard was revived. Thereby the North got its wish for lesser political representation from the South and the South got lesser taxation though not the political representation they wanted – a compromise that saved the Union for another day.
During the Confederate sessions both South Carolina and Mississippi, with Black Americans comprising 55% of their populations, contended for full recognition of all slaves for representation. Obviously the other Confederate States were not willing to cede that much political power to them. In so doing, they denied a defining element of a Slave Republic.
1.9.1 (Bars Foreign Slave Trade) “The importation of Negroes of the African race, from any foreign country other than the slaveholding States or Territories of the United States of America, is hereby forbidden; and Congress is required to pass such laws as shall effectively prevent the same.”
No such prohibition exists in the 1787 Constitution. In 1774 the 1st Continental Congress under their Articles of Association (AoA) written to the King, resolved not to purchase another slave from British ships if their complaints were not addressed by a specific date. These AoA did not constitute a union. Nor did they announce the secession of separate, sovereign and independent States. They were an expression from colonies united in distress attempting to avoid war by reaffirming colonial loyalty to the Crown. No matter Lincoln’s mythical, mystical words in his 1st Inaugural, they established neither union nor secession nor a new government. Lincoln was either ignorant or he lied.
Come May 1776, the 2nd Continental Congress faced open, de facto warfare. 5 colonies had already seceded and become sovereign States. Still, the Congress believed in the need for a unitary declaration of secession and the formation of a General government to prosecute the war England was forcing on them.
Three documents came forth: the Declaration, the Articles of Confederation (AoC) and the Model Treaty or Free Trade Plan. While the Declaration went into effect immediately, Jefferson’s condemnation of slavery was stricken. The AoC and the Free Trade Plan do not mention slavery.
True to their new status after secession, the Southern States began separately to end the importation of slaves: Virginia in 1778, Maryland in 1783, South Carolina in 1787 (though it re-opened the Trade from 1803 until 1808), North Carolina in 1794 and Georgia in 1798.
In 1787 there were 8 Northern States and 5 Southern. In Philadelphia the New England States, their slave ships in league with Southern slaveholders except Virginia, had stopped Virginia’s efforts to end the Trade permanently. Instead, Congress was prohibited from legislating a ban until 1808. The ban was not mandatory. Congress was free to never ban the Trade. But if a ban was passed, Congress was still free to reinstate the Trade at a later time. Despite George Mason’s best efforts, the worms survived the cooking of the cake.
In early 1807, Jefferson, looking forward to ban the Trade as soon as January 1808, arrived, began the process for necessary legislation. He happily signed the legislative ban into law.
Some suggest the Confederate Slave Trade ban was necessary to achieve recognition in Europe. There’s some truth in that, but, in truth, it turned no heads. Only victory in warfare could do that. We do better with history when we accept the self-interest of wealth and power. Their transfers and their growth are the entrenched guidons of government.
The CSA allowance of slaves from the United States recognizes the internal slave trade and familial slave relations between the Confederate and Union Slave States along the border. Slave owners were highly conscious of the effects of slavery upon slave families. The CSA needed a practical, lawful avenue to allow slave families to be united in the Confederacy whenever likely.
On the afternoon of February 28, 1861, President Davis sent his first veto message to the Confederate Congress. Congress had passed legislation enabling the constitutional ban and detailing punishment for those convicted. It spelled out the options for return of the Free Africans to Africa. Davis said he had carefully considered this bill “in relation to the slave trade and to punish persons offending therein”. He objected to the option that if the Free Africans could not be returned to Africa and all other options insuring their freedom could not be met, then these Free Africans could be sold on the internal Slave markets.
Davis wrote, “This latter provision seems to me in opposition to the policy declared in the Constitution, the prohibition of African Negroes, and in derogation of its mandate to legislate for the effectuation of that object.” He, therefore, vetoed the legislation. There was no attempt to override.
Establishing the Slave Trade would be a critical leg in upholding a Slave Republic. Instead, here was the first American Constitutional Mandate to end this noxious commerce that New England had begun and was still engaged in at this very time.
1.9.2 (Congress can bar slaves coming from States remaining in the United States) “Congress shall also have power to prohibit the introduction of slaves from any State not a member of or Territory not belonging to this Confederacy.”
There was no need for this in 1787. All the original States were involved with domestic slavery and New England was heavily into the Transatlantic Slave Trade. In 1861 this was a safeguard against Union slave states outlawing slavery and the owners “selling South”. At this time there were 7 Slave States in the Confederacy and 8 Slave States in the United States.
“Selling South” happened whenever a Northern State outlawed slavery and did not require the masters to free their slaves within their State. The irrefutable truth about Northern abolition is that emancipation was not always required and slaves were often sold South. That brought double relief to the North: 1) their moral feelings felt cleansed, and 2) with fewer Black people about, White people could not be “corrupted”.
1.9.4 (Congress cannot deny or impair slavery) “No bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law denying or impairing the right of property in Negro slaves shall be passed.”
This is the Article some claim establishes a Slave Republic. It’s hardly true. Both the 1787 and CSA Constitutions have an Article 1.9 which prohibits the General government to legislate bills of attainder and ex post facto laws. Both have an Article 1.10 which denies the States the power to pass such laws. In both Constitutions Article 1.9 applies only to the General government and Article 1.10 applies only to the States.
While the CSA 1.9 prohibits the General government legislating against slavery, CSA Article 1.10 does not mention slavery in any regard. It’s entirely committed to ex post facto and other non-slavery related issues, e.g., excessive bail, entering treaties, laying duties on tonnage and so forth.
So proponents claiming CSA Article 1.9 stops the States from becoming Free States is incorrect. It is solely a prohibition against the General government. If the CSA Founders meant to stop the States from becoming Free States, they would have had to provide that prohibition in Article 1.10.
The Confederacy’s addition to 1.9 denying power to the General government to disestablish the institution of slavery was done so the prohibition would be explicit. Slavery was already implicitly outside the General government’s power when the CSA Founders abolished ‘dual sovereignty’. Slavery, as with any State creation, resided in the sovereignty of their respective peoples.
Lincoln and the Republican Party held to this view. They made this clear with their passage of the original 13th Amendment named the Corwin Amendment after Republican Representative Thomas Corwin of Ohio who introduced the Amendment in the House while Republican Senator William Seward of New York introduced it in the Senate. It passed Congress and was going through the States for ratification, where a few had already approved the measure, when Sumter stopped its progress.
At the Hampton Roads Peace Conference on February 3, 1865, Lincoln was hoping to talk the Confederate States back into the Union. He and Seward refused to address the South’s quest for independence. Rather they argued that the return of the CSA States could stop passage of the Second 13th Amendment banning slavery in the United States if they re-joined immediately and voted against passage. (It is a depth-defying question whether Lincoln ever understood the South or felt the need to.)
Saying he already had conversations with political leaders, Lincoln offered to work for a $400 million reimbursement for slaves already freed by the war. Whether Lincoln could actually produce such a result is conjecture. Stanton and the Radical Republicans would not be lightly dealt with and Lincoln most often gave in to them. Interestingly, Seward immediately jumped up arguing against the President’s proposal. But Lincoln tempered him saying, “Ah, Mr. Seward, you may talk so about slavery if you will, but if it was wrong in the South to hold slaves, it was wrong in the North to carry on the slave trade, and it would be wrong to hold onto the money the North procured by selling slaves to the South, without compensation, if the North took the slaves back again.”
It would be Lincoln’s last attempt to keep slavery alive in order to end the war and/or gain compensation for slave owners. He had several times before and lost.
4.2.1 (Privileges and Immunities) “The citizens of each State shall be entitled to all the privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States, and shall have the right of transit and sojourn in any State of the Confederacy, with their slaves and other property; and the right of property in said slaves shall not be thereby impaired.”
To clear old, stale air: this Clause never operates under natural rights law. It is only under positive law.
While the right of transit with slaves and other property was not enunciated in 1787, it was parcel within the meaning of that Constitution. This seeming amplification by the CSA was neither a new understanding nor a new protection. It had been recently reinforced in 1856 with the holding in Dred Scott.
Because of Dred Scott, in 1861 the US Congress could not legislate to prohibit slaves in the territories. The CSA was tracking the historical meaning of this clause and contemporary, explicit US law. Both Dred Scott and the CSA were correct for the very reasons our US Founders reproduced this Clause from the law of the British Empire.
Explaining the historical backdrop and origination of the Privileges and Immunities clause, David Hutchison in his “Foundations of the Constitution” wrote, “It was a well-known principle of the law of England that a subject was entitled to all the rights, privileges, and immunities of the inhabitants of every other colony or dominion regardless of his place of residence in the Empire. There was an imperial citizenship which of right enjoyed all the rights, liberties, privileges, and immunities of citizenship in all parts of the British Empire”.
Many of our Founders were British lawyers. Grounded in British law, they obviously understood the Clause’s fundamental impact on the unification of the independent States. In Federalist 80, Hamilton wrote this clause “may be esteemed the basis of the union.”
The reason is straightforward: there can be no sense of unity where a citizen of one State, acquiring or producing property in his own State, is at risk of losing that same property when he travels with it to a State with different property laws.
The Clause existed in fuller form in the Articles of Confederation, Article IV: “The better to secure and perpetuate mutual friendship and intercourse among the people of the different States in the union, the free inhabitants of each of these States … shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of free citizens in the several States; and the people of each State shall have free ingress and regress to and from any State, and shall enjoy all the privileges of trade and commerce … as the inhabitants thereof respectively … “.
With the exception of Louisiana, slaves in Union or Confederate States were held as personal property. If a slaveholding family were to move habitation or merely travel for any reason, the slaves necessarily must also as they were an integral part of their families. Most slaveholding masters worked in the fields with their slaves. The view that masters were aloof with alien slaves doing their whimsical bidding is careless, ignorant and vicious abolitionist propaganda.
4.2.3 (Fugitive Slave Clause) “No slave or other person held to service or labor in any State or Territory of the Confederate States, under the laws thereof, escaping or lawfully carried into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labor; but shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such slave belongs, or to whom such service or labor may be due.”
This Fugitive Slave Clause closely parallels the 1787 Constitution with the exception of the plain use of “slave” and the inclusion of “Territory” and “lawfully carried”.
Since the United States and the Confederacy were now separate governments, no fugitive slave laws would apply to both unless a treaty were signed between them. The chances that might happen were less than minimal. North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, Arkansas would have no obligation to protect the CSA slave owner’s property rights or deliver the slave back.
For this simple reason (among others) astute observers of the political scene such as Salmon P. Chase, Lincoln’s Treasury Secretary, saw the Gulf States’ secession as the death-knell of slavery. He was more than likely correct. Jefferson Davis and Alexander Stephens agreed. Hardly assurance to those who insist the Gulf States seceded to create and expand a Slave Empire.
In 1842 in Prigg v. Pennsylvania, Justice Story, a nationalist, held the administration of the Fugitive Slave Clause, though “self-executing”, was “exclusively” under Federal jurisdiction. The States had a constitutional duty to uphold the slaveholder’s right in his slave but enforcement was left to the “national Congress”. Though Prigg held the Pennsylvania personal liberty law in question to be unconstitutional, the decision ushered in another smattering of Personal Liberty laws whereby some States legislated (differently for each State) that State officials were not or need not co-operate with federal authorities. That was clearly not the intent of Prigg.
Jefferson’s Resolutions of 1798 required a people in convention vote to nullify a federal law. He was cognizant the 1787 Constitution demanded the States obey federal law and only a vote from the people in convention, acting in their sovereign capacity, could nullify a federal law. When South Carolina had voted its refusal to collect the Tariff in 1832, it properly used the people in convention procedure. But Northern Personal Liberty laws were passed solely on votes of the legislatures. Therefore, in Jeffersonian eyes they violated the Constitution. To the South, these Personal Liberty laws were another demonstration of the North’s disdain for the Rule of Law, another instance where the 1787 Compact was violated by the North’s refusal, again, to follow the Law of the Land they had agreed to follow in the beginning.
Before he was sworn into office, Lincoln sent messages to Republican operatives in States with Personal Liberty laws to have them repealed.
4.3.3 (Governance of Territories prior to Statehood) “The Confederate States may acquire new territory; and Congress shall have power to legislate and provide governments for the inhabitants of all territory belonging to the Confederate States, lying without the limits of the several States; and may permit them, at such times, and in such manner as it may by law provide, to form States to be admitted into the Confederacy. In all such territory, the institution of negro slavery, as it now exists in the Confederate States, shall be recognized and protected by Congress and by the territorial government; and the inhabitants of the several Confederate States and Territories shall have the right to take to such Territory any slaves lawfully held by them in any of the States or Territories of the Confederate States.”
This issue of migration with slaves into the territories was the key contention over slavery from 1820 to 1861. The South always maintained that the territories were the birthright of all the States until a new State was formed and admitted to the Union. Then, the people of the new State were sovereign and could be slave or free.
But keeping slaves out of the territories meant keeping small Southern slaveholding farmers and merchants out of a chance for greater prosperity that should be open to all Americans. 72% of slaveholders owned 10 or fewer slaves and the master worked the fields and stores with them. For the South, the refusal to allow any American to homestead in a territory with or without slaves was unconstitutional. The Dred Scott opinion on how the Founding Generation viewed Black Americans compared to Taney’s own more enlightened time caused not a stir of public outrage. But its holding that the territories by right of the Privileges and Immunities Clause are open to all Americans brought a firestorm. Northern White people refused to live alongside Black people, free or slave.
A rope of three fears undergirded Republican opposition: 1) their fear hiding under the cloak of slavery’s immorality their outright racist refusal to let Black Americans live among them, 2) fear that Free Blacks and loaned-out slaves would take jobs from Whites, and 3) fear that mere association with Blacks promoted inferiority and “corruption” within the White population.
This last fear was so entrenched, particularly in New England’s twisted mythology, that it fostered the fantastical claim that Jefferson, by merely living beside Black Americans, somehow by osmosis, was a Negro president – almost 200 years before Toni Morrison made the same claim about Bill Clinton although for different reasons. In the serendipity annals of American history, Barack Obama is more accurately our Third, not First Negro President.
The South was not a land of plantations. Rather a land of small farmers with few slaves (1 – 10) who comprised overwhelmingly the greatest number of slaveholding families. Among all slave owners, 20% owned only one, 55% owned 5 or less, 72% owned 10 or less, 88% less than 20. These were the ones most affected by laws like the Missouri Compromise.
A farmer in 1861 owning 20 slaves or more is considered a “plantation”. That would be 12% of slaveholders. Large plantations, 50 or more slaves, comprised only 3% of slaveholders. These farmers were not disposed to move. It was not economically feasible though a son or a daughter might with a few slaves
That States such as Illinois, Indiana and even in 1867 Oregon refused to allow Free Black Americans entry either completely or only with substantial hindrance demonstrates the North’s scorn of Black people. As David Wilmot of Pennsylvania made clear, his Proviso (though never passed) to restrict slaves from entering new land above a certain longitude grew from his concern for White people. He admitted he cared little for the welfare of Black Americans. Senator Lyman Trumbull of Illinois who beat Lincoln for the Senate seat in 1855 said the same. The Republican Party was for White people only. These men knew, as did everyone, that if slaves settled into new territory, their emancipation would follow.
Willing to protect slavery where it already existed and despite the Privileges and Immunities Clause’s reinforcement by Dred Scott, the Republican Party was committed to find a way to overturn or ignore the Constitution and its interpretation by the Supreme Court.
The Missouri Compromise was clearly unconstitutional to Jefferson who roared it was a “fire bell in the night”. Not until the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854 was the Compromise eliminated. In 1856 Dred Scott agreed with Jefferson and the US territories were open to slavery.
The 7 States seceding to form the Confederacy were giving up any chance of settling the territories of the United States. Only one territory seceded: Arizona and the Confederacy did recognize her. But there were about 7 slaves in Arizona and no one expected more. Climate and terrain proved it inhospitable to slavery. If the slaveholders of the Gulf States were to engage new land where slavery might be established, it must be by conquest outside the boundaries of the United States and across the waters of the Caribbean or the Gulf of Mexico or through Texas itself to Mexico – where the Mexican people would not take kindly to slavery already abolished in 1829, over 30 years before.
ADMITTING OTHER STATES
4.3.1 (Admittance of Other States) “Other States may be admitted into this Confederacy by a vote of two thirds of the whole House of Representatives and two thirds of the Senate, the Senate voting by States; but no new State shall be formed or erected within the jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the junction of two or more States, or parts of States, without the consent of the legislatures of the States concerned, as well as of the Congress.”
This is similar to the 1787 Constitution with two differences: the numerical vote to admit and the use of the word “other” rather than ‘new’. The CSA use of ‘other’ recognized that established States of the United States or elsewhere might wish to join its Confederacy. The 2/3 vote was a critical compromise between those wanting only Slave States and those demanding also Free States.
In 1787 a new State could “be admitted by the Congress” with only a majority vote. But the Confederacy had a constitutional mandate for a 2/3 vote. (The criteria of a 2/3 vote for “new” or “other” States was neither new nor unheard of. It was a proposed Amendment from the Hartford Convention in 1814.)
Though slavery is not mentioned, slavery was the major hurdle in this Clause’s development. Likely the Confederacy would not have held together if a compromise had not been reached. It was a battle between the promise of greater wealth and economic security and the perceived need by some for additional societal harmony and security. Alexander Stephens, Robert Toombs (with Jefferson Davis in support) pushed for Free States. Robert Rhett, T.R.R. Cobb and their associates wanted only Slave States.
An intense line of Southern fear existed from the 1804 massacre order by Dessalines in Haiti where all whites were murdered to a Free Black, Denmark Vesey’s revolt in 1822 in South Carolina to Nat Turner’s revolt in Virginia in 1831, to Garrison’s first histrionic blast to Beecher’s Rifles in Kansas to John Brown’s treason in Virginia and the North’s refusal to return for trial in Virginia Brown’s associates who escaped. Finally, Lincoln’s sadistic, cynical “war measure”, the Emancipation Proclamation, hoping to incite an uprising of slaves within the borders of the Confederacy to riot and kill White people and, perhaps, cause a weakening of the frontline Confederate armies.
Surprising only to the North, the free and slave Black Americans of the South remained loyal to their families and States in overwhelming numbers. The North, even today, still tutored under Puritan wrath, cannot comprehend that Black and White Southerners, on any day in any year, free and slave, are One People and the Southland is their land and their home.
Antebellum Americans in the South, with few exceptions, held slavery a moral evil, an inherited struggle that was also a structural pillar of its culture and wealth. A monumental societal program of practical and civic education beyond the funds of individual States was needed so freed slaves could live successfully as Free people. So personal manumission remained the norm. Jefferson had planned the territories would be a place where free Blacks could go and set up new lives for themselves. But the North would tolerate no assimilation.
Northern political and commercial houses knew slavery and the Slave Trade was a continuing basis of Northern wealth as well. But that truth never stopped them from espousing their vanity of self-elation. Their wealth and power class never proposed a program of emancipation and assimilation into American society with or without national funds. The cost and human endeavors of Black freedom would remain Southern issues.
One Northern abolitionist, who understood this peculiar dilemma over the struggle for Black freedom, after visiting Georgia, Virginia and South Carolina in 1854, wrote the following:
“What had the South done to injure us, except through our sensibilities on the subject of slavery? What have we done to her, but admonish, threaten, and indict her before God, excommunicate her, stir up insurrection among her slaves, endanger her homes, make her Christians and ministers odious in other lands? And now that she has availed herself of a northern measure (the Fugitive Slave laws) for her defense, we are ready to move the country from its foundations. We ought to reflect, whether we have not been enforcing our moral sentiments upon the South in offensive ways, so as to constitute that oppression which makes even a wise man mad.
“All this time we have overlooked the intrinsic difficulties of the evil which the South has had to contend with; have disagreed among ourselves about sin per se, and about the question of immediate or gradual emancipation, and yet have expected the South to be clear on these points, and to act promptly. …. What has she ever done, except in self-defense, in our long quarrel, which, upon reconciliation, would rankle in our memory, and make it hard for us to forgive and forget? Positively, not one thing. We have been the assailants, she the mark; we the prosecutors, she the defendant; we the accusers, she the self-justifying respondent.
“Unless we choose to live in perpetual war, we must prevent and punish all attempts to decoy slaves from their masters. Whatever our repugnance to slavery may be, there is a law of the land, a Constitution, to which we must submit, or employ suitable means to change. While it remains, all our appeals to a “higher law” are fanaticism.” Nehemiah Adams, D.D. “A Southside View of Slavery” pp.127-128.
Rhett and his associates were not aiming to keep slaves in slavery. No one argued against State manumission laws. The hard truth is that the Gulf States had suffered more than their share of abolitionist wrath. The hounds of rabid abolitionism including clergy, urging slaves to revolt and murder for freedom never left Southern ears. Rhett and Cobb wanted to insure the hounds would not return with the admittance of Free States.
Stephens, Toombs and Davis knew the CSA needed expanding commercial trade to survive. They looked to Europe and the Caribbean but also closer to home, to the Mississippi and the Union States along its shores. They wanted the river open for domestic and foreign commerce. Missouri, Arkansas and Tennessee are at this time Union States. The CSA Founders dreamt that one day Union States doing commerce up and down the Father of Waters would come within the Confederacy. The great economic truth is that by keeping New Orleans open to Free Trade with a low tariff, the commercial traffic on the Mississippi would naturally flow to the Confederacy. That gave good reason for commerce along the banks of the great river and foreign shipping to prefer business with the Confederacy.
Some claim that admission of Free States was near impossible because the CSA Constitution requires a 2/3 vote of the States for a new State while the US does not. But that can hardly be true. The Confederacy used 2/3 voting to insure a stronger consensus than a mere majority in areas of serious import. For example, a 2/3 vote was required when an appropriation bill originated in Congress rather than in the Executive, a 2/3 vote was required for taxing exports, a 2/3 vote for impeachments, a 2/3 vote for amendments to the Constitution and a 2/3 vote to override a Presidential veto including a line-item veto.
There were only 7 States in the CSA. Five (5) is the 2/3 vote of 7, one more than a mere majority. Five (5) or 2/3, was the number of States necessary to bring this Constitution into reality. Had the Republican Party not invaded the South, those original 7 would have stood alone. Perhaps, forever.
SLAVERY MOTIONS TABLED OR VOTED DOWN AT CSA CONVENTION
The following motions were made to change the Preamble. They were tabled or lost in a vote on February 28, 1861
- Every free white citizen of any one of the Confederate States shall be deemed a citizen of the Confederate States.
- Every free white citizen of any one of the Confederate States at the time of its ratification of this Constitution, and every person born of parents domiciled in any of the States or Territories of the Confederate States, shall be deemed a citizen of the Confederate States.
- All free white citizens of the several States forming this Confederacy at the time of the adoption of this Constitution are hereby declared to be citizens of the Confederate States. And all persons hereafter declared to be citizens by any one of the States (except aliens or persons having one-eighth or more of African blood in their veins) shall be citizens of the Confederate States.
The following proposals for inclusion in the body of the CSA Constitution were tabled or lost in a vote on the date next to each.
- No person of African descent or being alien born and unnaturalized shall be qualified as an elector in any State. 3/1/61
- Removal of the 3/5 rule in the census of slaves for representation. 3/1/1861
- Congress may prohibit the importation of slaves. 3/5/1861
- Congress shall have the power to prohibit or to regulate the importation of slaves. 3/5/61
- The importation of Negroes born in Africa is forbidden. 3/5/1861 (This was an attempt to loosen the strict prohibition of the Slave Trade by forbidding African importation but allowing the trade with non-African born Negroes.)
- The importation of slaves from the slaveholding States of the United States is forbidden after July 1, 1862. 3/5/1861
- No State shall remain in this Confederacy which does not authorize slavery within its limits. 3/6/1861
- No State may be admitted which denies the right of property in slaves or does not fully protect such property. 3/6/1861
- No free State shall be admitted except by consent of all the legislatures of the States. 3/7/1861
- No free State shall be admitted into the Confederacy. 3/7/1861
- During the debates on the CSA Fugitive Slave Clause there were two motions to shift the costs of recapturing a slave where there was interference in returning the slave by the State where the slave had fled. The first was to shift all expenses including the value of the slave to the violating State. When that failed, a second attempt was immediately made, this time to shift the cost to the CSA General government. Both failed. 3/7/61
- No State shall be admitted which denies the right of property in Negro slaves or the right of the master to recapture his slave. 3/8/1861
- No State can abolish slavery without consent of all other States. 3/9/1861
- No State shall remain in this Confederacy which does not authorize the institution of slavery within its limits. 3/9/1861
Alexander Stephens, a slaveholder but no secessionist, who earned Yankee fame calling slavery the Cornerstone of the Confederacy, led the struggle to stop the nationalization of slavery. He won. Slavery could be established and undone only by the sovereigns, the people of each State. It would not be the Law of the Land as also it never was in the United States.
To think and believe otherwise is to yield to emotion and vapors of self-importance, to turn away from the Rule of Law … like the abolitionist of venom of antebellum America.
The name of Pickering will live when that of Adams will be lost in oblivion. William Lloyd Garrison in a Letter to the Salem Gazette, June 11, 1824
Pickering is a man whose “manners are forbidding, whose temper is sour and whose resentments are implacable … I am mistaken if this dictator does not get himself ensnared in his own toil …”
Abigail Adams to her sister, Mary Cranch, December 11, 1799, quoted in John Adams, by Page Smith, Vol.II, p. 1023
George C. Rable in his “The Confederate Republic” notes that Robert Rhett “believed that the Confederacy must be a slaveholders’ republic in the purest sense. This meant eliminating the constitutional prohibition against the African slave trade, repealing the three-fifths clause and excluding free States from the Confederacy.” p. 50.
Rhett lost each point. Most importantly, he lost where he needed to win: the General government held no power over slavery at all.
Accused of leaving their Mother Union to begin a war to preserve and spread slavery, it is cold comfort the warm South created no Slave Republic nor had contiguous land to bring slavery without conquest. Down our history Southerners continue to be misunderstood. Perhaps, true federalism is too complex for humans to endure and understand. Or, maybe, too complex for New England.
Nor did the Gulf States begin the war Lincoln contrived when his Party demanded it. They just refused as they would have at our beginning to acquiesce to the Republican nationalization of the United States where they would pay the Republican tariffs for the Republican commercial Empire. They seceded to reform the present, recapture the past and themselves live the future in peace. But they mistakenly allowed Lincoln’s vagaries of military and political events corner them into believing they must fire on Sumter.
John Adams’ exhortation to the Quaker abolitionists went unheeded. With his passing in 1826, America lost a preeminent, wise and pragmatic leader. He understood human nature. He already foresaw while President the result radical abolitionism would bring. He had to contend in his own Administration with political and cultural attitudes of demented self-importance from the likes of Timothy Pickering. Pickering, no matter his acknowledged talents, was the embodiment of a Puritan sniffing over humanity. For vanity is the throne of entitlement.
From his pedestal among Federalists, Pickering led New England’s fight for secession from 1796 – 1815. The only reason he failed, in the opinion of John Quincy Adams, was that the common people were not behind him though many of the elite were.
Pickering lived till 1829, long enough to imbue a young William Lloyd Garrison with fiery abolitionist views (coming from Pickering’s own father) so absolute that Garrison had two singular visions: 1) indifference to Southern lives, and 2) secession of the North from the United States. Would that New England could ever have the courage to do so.
Slavery was the quagmire for a sound boom where the North entangled the South in its irrational, vindictive, death-prospering Puritan wrath. Garrison’s absolutism mirrored Pickering’s demand to devolve from any semblance of Jeffersonian government. They and their kind could endure American blood spinning away human lives, damning both sides to the tragedy of needless death – the loss of a generational flower of American youth. We died due to unquenchable Puritan zeal. Their vanity bloated their veins for wealth and for Empire while they hid behind slavery.
On April 12, 1861, the war ships of the Republican Party lay just outside Charleston harbor causing Beauregard to open fire on Sumter. Gustavus Fox whose plan Lincoln put into effect to draw the Confederacy into firing the first shot was on board urging its Commander to allow the ships to engage. The Commander refused, likely because Seward had given crossed signals to the Navy. If Seward hadn’t, the outcome would have been a battle where everyone could see why the Confederacy fired on Sumter. Instead, those ships remain hidden under a shroud of bloodstained propaganda where the Confederacy began the war and Lincoln, poor Lincoln, wanted only peace. But it was Lincoln and his Party who intended war all along unless the Gulf States did their bidding.
On April 13, 1861, Sumter fell. That April day was the 118th birthday of Thomas Jefferson, a humanely inspired man, who, as much or more than anyone, argued for “government by consent of the governed”. He warned the consolidation of wealth leads to the tyranny of consolidated government. He was the President who in 1801 in his 1st Inaugural told New England if they truly wished to secede (they had been grumbling about secession since at least 1794), though he thought it was an error on their part, he would not interfere. They could leave because it was their choice to leave. The United States would wish them well. They could go and live in peace.
60 years later, neither Lincoln nor the Republican Party sustained such moral and political character. With Lincoln as their front man, the Republican Party, eyes glazed on their ledgers and the future dominion of Empire, brought fratricidal war to our once, and so long ago, uncommon country.
The wrath of man does not bring the righteousness of God. James 1.20