The claim that the Civil War wasn’t over slavery is false.

The recent brouhaha over the Confederate flag after the mass shooting by Dylan Roof of black members of a Charleston church brought out a lot of old arguments about the Civil War by folks defending the flag. The most common of which is the claim that the Civil War wasn’t about slavery. A claim that is clearly wrong to anyone who has spent much time studying American history.

In a (possibly vain) attempt to settle the matter, the folks at Prager University enlisted the aid of Colonel Ty Seidule, Professor of History at the United States Military Academy at West Point, to speak on the topic:

That explanation is simple and concise and is something you can share with your crazy right-wing uncle the next time he starts ranting about slavery not being the reason the Civil War happened. It probably won’t convince him because those folks tend to be immune to reality, but at least you can save some typing.

Updated to add: This video should be particularly persuasive to Conservatives given that Prager University is the brainchild of Conservative radio talk show host Dennis Prager. So this isn’t the work of one of us wussy liberals, but of one of your own.

6 thoughts on “The claim that the Civil War wasn’t over slavery is false.

  1. I blame a failure of imagination on the part of the plantation owners, their economy was so tied to slavery, they couldn’t imagine a different way, even given many alternate examples. The south had other complaints, but they weren’t showstoppers.

  2. Really Moloch? Not even demented .01% types embrace treason for it’s own sake, perhaps so their decadent spawn could expand the family business, or to ensure continued access to young women who felt they had no choice, not just to be treacherous.

  3. There are plenty of other eminent historians who would disagree with his last point that it was not about preservation of the Union.

    Secession was COMPLETELY about preservation of slavery – anyone who disagrees just needs to read the proclamations of succession by the various stated.

    However if Washington had desired war to end slavery, it would have declared war immediately upon succession. It didn’t, and it wasn’t sure whether it could, because no one was quite sure of the legal position of the Confederacy – they were not sure whether states were allowed to leave the Union (probably not, but various bits of legislation are in conflict). This is why Fort Sumter was so important – it gave the US a Cassus Belli, though the White House would have manufactured one eventually, because it needed the South.

    There was no real desire for abolition across the wider North; yes there were campaigners, but these appear to be mostly small middle-class groups in their parlours. In fact during the way the idea that it was to free slaves caused riots in cites like New York. Partly this was because of the ‘social ladder’ idea in the video – the Irish, especially, were bottom of the ladder; the idea that a ‘Negro’ would be just as good as them was a major annoyance.

    Time was against the South – to their chagrin, new states must be Free, not Slave, meaning they were eventually going to be outnumbered in Congress. Lincoln however had no plans to abolish, despite what the South believed.

    And yes, the North was mostly farmland, but what the South had was the export crops, tobacco and especially cotton. The North produced little it could export to the mature industrialised nations of Europe. Britain and France stayed out of the war because to support the South would be to support slavery, and they had abolished slavery 50 years before. However they were willing to export weapons to the South (because business doesn’t see enabling the Slavers to fight as anything other than business!), and wanted – needed – the cotton. The War of 1812 was fought because of the US insistence of freedom of the seas; i.e. trading with Napoleon. Now 50 years later they were enforcing the same blockades they had complained about.*

    While the speaker quotes Lincoln, he conveniently ignores his letter of 1862

    ” If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do that.”

    In fact the whole of this letter makes it clear that abolition is merely a means to an end – preservation of the Union

    “If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy Slavery, I do not agree with them. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or destroy Slavery.”

    Full text

    The Emancipation Proclaimation was enacted to keep Britain and France out of the war, in a war to preserve the Union. In fact it was clear that it only extended to states in rebellion. If any Confederate state had returned to the Union before it became law, it would NOT have been affected

    *The alleged pressganging of US citizens during the Napoleonic is minor, and was done in circumstances that the US were also doing to other nations. It was just the more acceptable excuse for war- going “Britain is stopping us from trading with a country they and their allies are at war with” would have gained no international sympathy, especially as Napoleon had tried it with the Continental System.

  4. Let’s not forget the widely repeated claim that the confederate flag is not a symbol of racism.

    It’s just the flag that was flown in the civil war, and a flag that’s associated with the past of the south… a past of slavery and racism that, to some extent, continues to this day. Makes a lot of sense, right?

  5. Colonel Ty Seidule is full of shit. An arrogant asshole as well. With mentally constipated West Point “instructors” like him, it’s no wonder the US hasn’t won a war since the dust-up with Spain, and, one could throw in Japan perhaps, which was a navy marine operation primarily. .

    In the video, dumbass Seidule said the Emancipation Proclamation made slavery illegal. Bullshit, it was a proclamation not law which didn’t free one slave and pertained only to those territories not under control of Union Armies. Those slaves under Union control remained slaves. This measure was intended to spark an uprising in the South which didn’t happen. The proclamation as well,was issued to put a moral spin to the war which Lincoln was losing at that point and needed to buck up Northern morale. And, as a poster mentioned, caste the war in moral terms to prevent European recognition of the Confederacy.

    The quote by Alexander Stephens at the end of the Vid on the inferiority of Negros was made many times by Lincoln himself in different forms but the meaning was the same as that of Stephens. White attitudes toward blacks such as expressed by Stephens were universal at the time both North and South.

    Clearly slavery was a cause for secession but it was not the cause of the war. The loss of tariffs and all-weather ports to a hostile Confederacy meant the end of Northern crony capitalists who controlled Lincoln who, in turn, was shoveling tax money to those industrialists for “improvements” (aka, payoffs). Lincoln and his expansionism needed the South to pay the bills. The deep South states went out but it was only when Lincoln proposed an Army to invade and bring them back in did the remaining Southern states resist. The idea of the US invading its own states was odious to leaders such in as Virginia. Slavery was one aspect that caused secession, Lincoln’s intent to invade to get the ports and the money back caused the war.

    In part, the Southern economy was based on cotton which depended on slavery. However, only a small percent of whites owned slaves, around 2-3 percent. Much of Southern production was on small farms. About 3 percent of the free black population of the South owned black slaves as well.

    Egghead Ty knows little of economics. Slaves caused a tremendous drain on plantation resources, it was not free labor as Ty stated in the vid. The plantation owner had to see to the welfare of his salves, or go broke. Northern industrialists and some farmers paid “slave wages” and didn’t give a shit about the workers. They are still at it today, using slave labor overseas.

    US General Grant owned slaves until the 13th amendment was passed after the war in part by the reconstituted Southern Legislatures. Only when they rejected the 14th amendment did radical Republicans place the South under “reconstruction”. Using 4th generation warfare, Southerners made reconstruction unworkable by 1875. Robert E. Lee did NOT own slaves.

    BTW, Lincoln proposed the original 13th amendment that would have permitted slavery. Some historians believed it was actually ratified. The Confederate constitution allowed slavery but forbade the importation of slaves.

    Southern boys fought for many reasons. One, like the North, there was a draft. But unlike the North they could not buy their way out or have a newly arrived Irishman take his place.

    The Confederate battle-flag represents resistance to oppressive, centralized, unchecked state totalitarianism, that can define the limits of its own power, which we have today. It is a symbol of white resistance to black crime and black dysfunction and their inability to cope with the modern world. It is a symbol of white identity and freedom of association and resistance to white genocide.

    Colonel Ty Seidule is bald headed. It’s likely he got that way by shoving his head up his ass so often he wore the hair off.

    Ty you mentioned that you were proud of the blue uniform that defeated the South. I’m proud of my ancestors in gray who put nearly 300,000 blue bellies like you in their graves.

    Quotes for Ty to think about from movies:

    1. “There ain’t no end to doing right.” Yankee Captain chasing the outlaw Josey Wales. Typical Yankee self righteousness. The statement was to grandam sitting on the porch of the trading post from where Josey had just escaped. The Outlaw Josey Wales.

    2. “Like many of you, indeed like most of you, I’ve always been a Union man…had our Northern brethren chosen a less bellicose means of persuasion, perhaps this day would not have been thrust upon us…The Lincoln administration has requested we raise three regiments. Go tell him we have done so.’ Stonewall Jackson to the 1st brigade, Gods and Generals,

    3. “We are here to help the Vietnamese because in every gook there’s an American trying to get out.” Col in Full Metal Jacket to Joker in the aftermath of the Battle of Hue. This is the Messianic US foreign policy which assholes like Ty propagate and further.

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