161 years ago in December, South Carolina set into motion a series of deadly calamities from which America still hasn’t fully recovered. These treasonous absurdities are mostly remembered now as statues of dudes on horses. Absurdly, Americans argue about these horse statues endlessly. Defenders of the monuments say the Civil War wasn’t about slavery and the statues are only about honoring their Southern heroes. People who are telling the truth say the Confederacy was a stupid idea, and it fell apart because stupid people did stupid things.
These monuments litter the South like tombstones to the rebellion that its own president, Jefferson Davis, says “died of a theory.” Allegedly, this theory was that eleven states could coordinate in their own mutual interests without the strong hand of a centralized government.
The theory stated that like minded states would cooperate in a time of war since victory would benefit them all. In reality, states refused to send troops to other states, states failed to send tax revenue to the central government, they didn’t cooperate very well, and Confederate states even threatened to secede from the CSA. This “theory” had already been tested in the Articles of Confederation and failed miserably. Nevertheless, they persisted.
Jefferson’s real-time revisionism falls flat because the Confederacy was clearly about preserving and expanding slavery. Cut and print. How do we know this? They said it. Over and over and over. In fact, Confederates never shut the hell up about slavery as the reason for their secession. They blabbed to the media, and they even put it all over their letters of secession that they sent to Washington, Richmond, and anybody who would listen. Let’s look at a few.
South Carolina — December 1860
On December 20, 1860, a South Carolina secession convention voted unanimously to secede from the United States. Four days later, on Christmas Eve, they adopted a declaration of secession called “Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union.” Merry Christmas, y’all. This year, you get a stocking full of treason.
In their awfully-titled declaration, the South Carolina convention states that they will secede because “a geographical line has been drawn across the Union, and all the States north of that line have united in the election of a man to the high office of President of the United States, whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery.”
So, that’s that on South Carolina. What about Mississippi?
Mississippi — January 1860
Not even a full month after South Carolina seceded, Mississippi followed suit. (It’s worth noting that the first two states to secede were the only states with majority-Black populations.) In its very originally titled declaration,
“Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of Mississippi from the Federal Union,” the Mississippi government states, “Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery—the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of the commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun.”
So much for the noble “theory” in Mississippi. Georgia and Texas also produced declarations of secession that are much the same, so I won’t bother with them here except to say that Georgia’s declaration is an honestly great essay. The language is clear, concise, thorough, and quite poetic. Whichever murderous traitor wrote that should be ashamed he used his powers for evil.
The other Confederate states either didn’t produce official declarations of secession, or they were lost to time; however, they did speak endlessly about secession to newspapers in their states. What?! Politicians running their mouths to journalists? Who’s ever heard of such a thing?
One Alabama politician said Abraham Lincoln would consign White Southern “wives and daughters […] to satisfy the lust of half-civilized Africans.” That’s about the gist of all of the public statements: some empty nonsense about freedom and then an uncontrolled outburst that White women might sleep with Black men. That’s basically the whole Confederate reason to exist.
Enough about the individual states; they clearly declared that they were leaving so they could protect slavery from Abraham Lincoln and the “Black Republicans.” What about the government they formed? Did the Confederate government ever express an official position on the peculiar institution?
The Cornerstone Speech
On March 12, 1861, Confederate Vice-President Alexander Stephens delivered a speech that came to be known as the Cornerstone Speech. He outlines the differences between the US and CS, as well as some reasons for secession. Then, to close his speech, he makes every 21st Century Lost Causer into a liar.
Take it away, Alex:
“[The ideas of the US Constitution] rested upon the assumption of the equality of races. This was an error. It was a sandy foundation, and the government built upon it fell when the ‘storm came and the wind blew.’ Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner-stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition [emphasis added]. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.”
So, there you have it. The individual states and the Confederate States government all agree that the Confederacy was designed to strengthen slavery. 161 years to the month after South Carolina started the dominoes falling, we’re still debating something that’s already been settled.