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Liberals for Slavery

On the 150th anniversary of the Civil War and the battle of Fort Sumter, MSNBC television host Rachel Maddow said on her evening program: “The fact that the first shots were fired in South Carolina specifically came as no surprise… the great pride of the South Carolina secessionists was Senator John C. Calhoun, a beloved pro-slavery politician who… championed the cause of nullification.”

The obviously anti-secession liberal host then defined the term: “Nullification—the idea that states could and should refuse to follow federal laws they didn’t like, that they thought went beyond the powers of the federal government.”

In addition to Calhoun, some of the earliest examples of nullification in the United States were in defiance of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. This act declared that slaves who escaped to free states must be forcibly returned to their masters. Many abolitionists became rabid advocates of nullification. When South Carolina seceded from the Union on December 20, 1860 it specifically listed nullification of fugitive slave laws as one of its grievances. When US Senator Jefferson Davis left Congress to become the President of the Confederate States of America he specifically denounced nullification in his farewell address.

Southern leaders denouncing nullification where it undermined the institution of slavery reinforces liberals’ argument that the Civil War was exclusively about slavery. It also seriously contradicts liberals’ argument that nullification is exclusively about slavery.

Still, was the Civil War just about slavery? Not according to President Abraham Lincoln, who wrote in 1862: “My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. 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.”

For Lincoln, preserving the Union was more important than abolishing slavery. Not surprisingly, Lincoln’s primary concern for the supremacy of federal law over state law had formerly led him to be a strong proponent of the Fugitive Slave Act.

Lincoln was for slavery before he was against it.

The same is true of his opposition to secession, Southern or otherwise. Said Lincoln in 1848: “Any people, anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up and shake off the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better. This is a most valuable, a most sacred right, a right which we hope and believe is to liberate the world.”

At that point in American history some of the most significant rumblings about secession since the Revolution had been in the North—with the loudest voices often coming from abolitionists who wanted to sever their political union with the slave-holding states.

I bring up these contradictory historical views concerning what were once considered all-American decentralist concepts, not to prove that slavery wasn’t a major issue during the Civil War. It obviously was. But it was not the only issue, not always the primary issue, and was quite frequently a wedge issue, exploited by those on both sides for the purpose of empowering political, corporate or special interests. Do liberals believe that George W. Bush’s Iraq War was just about spreading “freedom” and liberating Iraqis, as the president contended, or were there political, corporate and special interests also at stake? Is it possible that Lincoln, too, wasn’t as wholly benevolent as his speeches reflect, his flip-flopping suggests and his many critics in the antebellum South and North insisted?

If a liberal like Maddow’s primary reason for denouncing nullification or secession is these concepts’ popular association with the Old South and slavery, would Maddow have respected the Fugitive Slave Act—or nullified it? Would the liberal host have agreed with Lincoln that runaway slaves should be returned to their masters? Would Maddow have opposed abolitionists’ Northern secession? If she is opposed to nullification and secession in each and every instance—as her rhetoric heavily implies—would liberals like Maddow have occasionally found themselves in the strange position of supporting slavery?

What about today, where a de facto nullification remains in effect in California which continues to openly flout federal drug laws? Does Maddow believe residents in that state who are stricken with cancer or glaucoma deserve to be arrested for alleviating their pain with medicinal marijuana? Or does Maddow support nullification?

Liberals do not want to be confronted with these uncomfortable philosophical contradictions concerning centralization vs. decentralization—the debate that raged in 1776, 1861 and still rages today—because any such intellectual exploration toward this end threatens the very heart of the Left’s collectivist historical narrative. For progressives, the ever-increasing power of the federal government represents human liberation and political liberalization—period. This has been the Left’s clarion call from FDR to Barack Obama, and any talk of devolving centralized power—even in the name of what would typically be considered liberal causes—is heresy.

In this light, for liberals, not only was the Civil War just about slavery—it must be just about slavery. And that Lincoln simply freed the slaves is not just the end of the story—it is the only story—lest Americans begin down the dangerous path of looking at their history and government with honest and open eyes.

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#1 Comment By Matt On April 14, 2011 @ 3:26 pm

True, it was the desire for conquest and subjugation, not abolition, that drove the war between the states. While I can’t fathom why anyone would ever pay attention to Rachel Maddow, she is just repeating the fashionable account that it was a war of liberation by virtuous notherners against evil southerners.

#2 Comment By MattSwartz On April 14, 2011 @ 10:00 pm

I heard Maddow do a bit the other night where she paraded Confederate currency, Liberty Dollars, gold and silver coins, and honest money resolutions before the audience in complete glibness, as if there were not a distinction between them, these relics of neo-confederacy. She did it all with a smirk, and I was fascinated as well as horrified. She really does bear her ignorance of various topics as a badge of honor. She’s like the Mark Levin of the left. I’ve never seen someone so simultaneously proud of her education and proud to be ignorant of the specifics of her subject.

#3 Comment By clintonius On April 15, 2011 @ 2:24 am

@Matt, you’re perpetrating a myth. The Civil War was fought primarily because of abolition of slavery and emancipation of the slaves. Absurd revisionist, white, racist history is trying to re-frame the conflict as a “state’s rights” issue. No, not every Union soldier was “virtuous” but they preserve the Union and uphold the constitution. Please stop spreading the racist revisionist lie that the Civil War wasn’t about abolition. It had almost everything to do with abolition.

“If it is right to preclude or abolish slavery in a Territory, why should it be allowed to remain in the States?… In spite of all disclaimers and professions there can be but one end to the submission by the South to the rule of a sectional Antislavery Government at Washington; and that end, directly or indirectly, must be the emancipation of the slaves of the South….the people of the non-slaveholding North are not and cannot be safe associates of the slaveholding South under a common Government.”

– Delegates at South Carolina’s secession convention explain why the state should split from the Union, 1860

#4 Comment By Zac in Virginia On April 15, 2011 @ 7:27 am

I’m a socialist, and I see no point whatsoever in turning on a television to get my hard-hitting political coverage.
Maddow has been sufficiently forthright on issues related to gay and lesbian rights, but she seems to believe that speaking forcefully about an issue (any issue) makes one correct about it.
I can see why she would take up nullification in this manner, only equating it to Confederate states’ secession, given that, currently, those using the word most prominently seem to be Southern secessionists.
Between that willful ignorance (She’s a journalist! No excuse for not doing research) and her generally unflagging support for Obama, I hope her relevance declines, and soon.

#5 Comment By Brian On April 15, 2011 @ 8:30 am

Rachel Maddow = irrelevant quasi-journalist whose fifteen minutes are up.

Don’t waste your time, Jack.

We all have much bigger fish to fry.

#6 Comment By Frank On April 15, 2011 @ 9:46 am


I would be careful about just hanging only “liberals” out to dry on this one. Obviously, they are an easy target, but when it comes to States Rights and the ideas behind Nullification, those on the right often display similar levels of hypocrisy. For example, you won’t find too many “Conservative” advocates of State’s Rights supporting the overturn of DOMA, yet they should.

It also interesting to note that even the Southerners who advocated nullification in the ante bellum period used the concept of nullication and the rights of other states as one of the reasons for seccession. I guess one could say, the Seccessionists were “for Nullification before they were against it”, and in the case of the aforementioned Calhoun – a nationalists who supported high tarifs early in his political career ended up being against it, before he was for it.

Maybe what ot boils down to is that the “Great Men” of the Civil War period, where like their contemporary counterparts, just politicians as usual.

#7 Comment By eep On April 15, 2011 @ 10:26 am

I think Maddow is bought and paid for. Her job is to keep the people divided and ignorant for the sake of her boss. GE should be the target that Mr Hunter goes after. Progressivism will never work because Big Government and Big Business find a way to get in bed together. Only small societies like bands can be egalitarian. The larger the society, the less egalitarian:

Maddow’s job is to tell us how GE wants us all to think. GE is part of the military industrial complex and is in good relations with Obama so she supports Obama with his Libya action.

GE is so good at evading corporate taxes that the government owes them money. Why doesn’t Maddow rail against her boss? Jon Stewart makes fun of the silence as he educates that GE is cutting jobs in America.

She favors bailouts and GE was given government bail out money. The people aren’t being bailed out. They are being punished with higher prices.

#8 Comment By johan On April 15, 2011 @ 11:11 am

Too Clever by half. [3] here.

Slavery was the cause of the late unpleasantness.

#9 Comment By Tony J On April 15, 2011 @ 1:29 pm


“Slavery was the cause of the late unpleasantness.”

Yeah, he knows. But he also knows there’s an audience out there for someone willing to say it wasn’t – and – paint Liberals as hypocrites at the same time.

It’s a crowded market, but Jack is wielding his elbows more are more as the GOP turns into the Party of the Unreconstructed South.

#10 Comment By norman ravitch On April 15, 2011 @ 1:47 pm

There is no ethical way of condemning slavery.

#11 Comment By Matt On April 15, 2011 @ 1:53 pm

Clintonius, if you will not take Lincoln’s own word for it, then there is little hope.

Fun fact; half of the Confederacy seceded only after Lincoln initiated his invasion. Guess it wasn’t all about slavery after all. Just ask New Jersey.

#12 Comment By paul gottfried On April 15, 2011 @ 2:12 pm

Why blame Maddow for these views, which are stated far more brazenly by the Jaffaite Allen Guelzo in the New York Post (April 12)? Guelzo states the by now standard GOP-neocon views, that slavery was the only issue in the Civil War and that Lincoln had to crush “the stiffly ranked society slavery created” and impose consolidated government, lest “democracy be shattered” here and elsewhere on the globe. Jack is criticizing nothing less than the movement conservative interpretation of the Civil War.

#13 Comment By eep On April 15, 2011 @ 2:41 pm

Johan, he is arguing that the abolitionist used nullification to disobey the Fugitive Slave Act in order to do the right thing. He is saying Maddow has aligned herself with 19th century slave owners, hissing at those who favor using nullification against bad federal laws.

#14 Comment By Clown George On April 15, 2011 @ 2:58 pm


No he’s not. That ‘rebuttal’ is just an excuse to misrepresent Jack Hunter as some sort of wack-job “Neo-Confederate.” It’s a complete straw-man argument as far as I’m concerned, because the author, Howard S, responds to a bunch of things Hunter didn’t say. Hunter does indicate that the war might have had other factors driving it, and one can argue about that, but he certainly doesn’t contend that slavery wasn’t a major issue. Nor does he try and defend the secessionists as principled ‘states-righters’. In fact he makes almost the same argument that Howard does about the South’s being against nullification and states rights when it came to federal laws like the Fugitive Slave Act.
Hunter’s main point involves the idea of states rights, but not in the sense that the Civil War was more about them than about slavery. He’s challenging modern liberals like Maddow who don’t like the ideas of nullification and states rights because they associate them only with those who were pro-slavery, and that’s historically inaccurate.

#15 Comment By Downsize DC On April 15, 2011 @ 4:23 pm

Nullifcation and secession are two separate concepts. Not only would anti-nullificationists support the fugitive slave law, but also the Alien and Sedition Acts and, as Hunter points out, federal raids on medical marijuana patients.

#16 Comment By A.C. On April 15, 2011 @ 5:14 pm

The reason why the “War was all about slavery and ONLY slavery” interpretation always falls on its face is precisely because such people clinging to this phony history never accept that secession is constitutional even for a noble purpose. The Jaffaite neocons and the mainstream Left interpretation of the War always insists upon two things: it was all about slavery and therefore justified, …AND there is never any right to secede because the Union was somehow formed by “the people”, rather than the people of the sovereign states. Even seceding from the centralized power of Washington for the holiest of holy reasons, the noblest of purposes would somehow be unconstitutional. Even though such a prohibition isn’t in the Constitution. Even though this is ahistorical in American history and illogical in political philosophy and subsidiarity. This fact always reveals the real motives for Lincoln apologists. Righteous vindication in the conquering of the evil of slavery is always their excuse; their real concern is defending centralism and centralized political power in the “Union” which could never be peacefully disbanded no matter what the cause. We are to believe we somehow are simultaneously a free people and a free nation that is also an eternal Union of centralized force, no matter how tyrannical. This obvious contradiction is what led Jaffa and others to propagate the absurd “right of rebellion” alternative that is so obviously unworkable, prone to more violence and anarchy than secession ever could be and, most importantly false, and counter to American history. They’d deserve more respect if they just admitted this and were as honest as the other side, none of whom, at least no serious people, denies the importance of slavery to the War, and especially to the Confederate pols. It just wasn’t the only reason, or, for many who had no direct dog in the South’s fight, like Lord Acton and Lysander Spooner, even the most important one, politically speaking.

It doesn’t really matter anymore. The web and tools of the information revolution are sweeping this great statist myth aside slowly but surely just like all the other fairy tales of the state.

#17 Comment By A.C. On April 15, 2011 @ 5:33 pm

I agree with Prof. Gottfried about the endlessly tiresome and tedious Allen Guelzo. Why I’m still reading National Review I don’t know, but would it kill them to actually have a real debate in one of their issues like they used to, and allow Tom Woods or Donald Livingston to write a response to Guelzo’s endless series of boring ahistorical Jaffaite Lincoln pieces, of which he writes about four a year? I mean, what’s the point of running a supposedly intellectual political magazine if you’re not going to engage ANY debate? Certainly not to have any fun, that’s for sure. Surely, Rich Lowry knows there are millions of conservatives in America who know this history, no matter how many boring Guelzo pieces he runs a year. The attempt to “sell” this view as the official conservative or libertarian view of the War gets weaker every year. The Franks, Meyer and Chodorov, must be rolling over in their graves at current state of things over there, with propagandizing having replaced intellectual curiosity.

#18 Comment By Chad Rushing On April 15, 2011 @ 6:26 pm

A.C.’s insightful comments on the love of a centralized government by the the neocons and the leftists and their view of secession being heretical reminded me of a column I read not too long ago on the origin of the Pledge of Allegiance. Francis Bellamy, a socialist and defrocked minister, explicitly included the word “indivisible” in the Pledge for this reason:

“The true reason for allegiance to the Flag is the ‘republic for which it stands.’ … And what does that vast thing, the Republic mean? It is the concise political word for the Nation — the One Nation which the Civil War was fought to prove. To make that One Nation idea clear, we must specify that it is indivisible, as Webster and Lincoln used to repeat in their great speeches.”


Left socialists and right fascists are filled with glee over the fact that the “divine” Union supposedly put those rebellious Confederate states in their place. How many of them would heartily endorse the fact that Southerners who refused to take a loyalty oath to the Union would be executed? If the original thirteen colonies and the states to follow had known that forming or joining the Union was eternally irreversible, they likely would have balked at or outright rejected the idea.

#19 Comment By Peter Kirsop On April 15, 2011 @ 9:37 pm

I do not understand how anyone reading the primary documents can believe the war was not mainly about slavery. Alexander Stevens said so.
“The new constitution has put at rest, forever, all the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institution African slavery as it exists amongst us the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization. This was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution.” [5]
Jeff Davis said so
t has been a conviction of pressing necessity—it has been a belief that we are to be deprived in the Union of the rights which our fathers bequeathed to us—which has brought Mississippi to her present decision. She has heard proclaimed the theory that all men are created free and equal, and this made the basis of an attack upon her social institutions; and the sacred Declaration of Independence has been invoked to maintain the position of the equality of the races. …Had the Declaration announced that the negroes were free and equal, how was the prince to be arraigned for raising up insurrection among them? And how was this to be enumerated among the high crimes which caused the colonies to sever their connection with the mother-country? When our Constitution was formed, the same idea was rendered more palpable; for there we find provision made for that very class of persons as property; they were not put upon the equality of footing with white men—not even upon that of paupers and convicts; but, so far as representation was concerned, were discriminated against as a lower caste, only to be represented in the numerical proportion of three-fifths. So stands the compact which binds us together. ”
Calhoun said so
However sound the great body of the non�slaveholding States are at present, in the course of a few years they will be succeeded by those who will have been taught to hate the people and institutions of nearly one-half of this Union, with a hatred more deadly than one hostile nation ever entertained towards another. It is easy to see the end. By the necessary course of events, if left to themselves, we must become, finally, two people. It is impossible under the deadly hatred which must spring up between the two great nations, if the present causes are permitted to operate unchecked, that we should continue under the same political system. The conflicting elements would burst the Union asunder, powerful as are the links which hold it together. Abolition and the Union cannot coexist. …But let me not be understood as admitting, even by implication, that the existing relations between the two races in the slaveholding States is an evil:�far otherwise; I hold it to be a good, as it has thus far proved itself to be to both, and will continue to prove so if not disturbed by the fell spirit of abolition.

The neocons and the faux libertarians can delude themselves. It was that great Tory Lord Mansfield who decreed that slavery has no place in the law. It was those great Torys, Pitt and Wilberforce fighting against the French who claimed to spread liberty in the wake of Napoleon who abolished the slave trade.The liberty of the subject has always been a conservative issue, and so it remains. Slavery is not a conservative doctrine.

#20 Comment By NY Teacher On April 15, 2011 @ 9:40 pm

Hey, anyone notice the infinite degree to which Maddow was salivating when initial results showed her favorite Wisconsin Judicial candidate won? That show was a rabidly nauseating degeneration of a mainstream news show. If anyone watching suffered from vomit constipation prior, then Rachael certainly provided the liberal suppository. (Not that man-hating Maddow would appreciate this metaphor).

Bottom line (again, no pun intended, Rach), Maddow’s Democratic darlings killed other Americans just to preserve slavery. And continued to do so through the 1960s. And this is America’s “liberal” legacy? If only lynching were to be reinstated, Maddow, Byrd and Wallace would be hanging high…

#21 Comment By Interested Reader On April 16, 2011 @ 6:36 am

I find it curious that those attempting to attack this article and paint the great conflict as simply about slavery persist in using language like “primarily about…” or “mainly about…” These statements necessarily mean that there were other reasons, and they know they can never defend the “slavery-only” argument. The writer here gives no weight to the reasoning, nor does he in any way deny that the continuance of slavery was a motivating factor. He simply wishes to point out that the left (as well as the middle and right) selectively support nullification when it suits, and decry it when it doesn’t.

The fact remains that it has always been the right of every state to withhold to itself those powers not expressly enumerated to the Federal Government. We’ve simply come to a point where some are now choosing to offer that as an alternative to the two party, barely discernible power grab, and to arrest the slow, progressive moral decay that will ultimately ruin us all…

#22 Comment By Chris Mallory On April 16, 2011 @ 8:10 am

The war was fought because Lincoln (Sic Semper Tyrannis) invaded the South. No Lincoln (Sic Semper Tyrannis) invasion, no war. It is that simple.

#23 Comment By Matt On April 16, 2011 @ 9:17 am

Kirsop is confused, and apparently unable to distinguish between the secession and the war that followed. Secession was partly about the future of slavery; one need look no farther than SC’s declaration to see that. However the war was entirely about conquest. If not for the Northern invasion, the upper south would never have seceded and the matter would have ended peacefully. The war represented the conquest and subjugation of the South at the hands of the North. This was Lincoln’s entire stated purpose for waging it. One may defend this, as many have chosen to do, but let’s have no more obfuscations about it.

As for Maddow, of course she should not be blamed, as she has never had an original thought in her head. If all the respectable people were tomorrow talking about the South in glowing terms, she would have little choice but to follow along.

#24 Comment By Gil On April 16, 2011 @ 10:53 am

If the Southern States want to fire up the Civil War and try to secede again then why not just do it? Otherwise why do Southerners complain about losing a war 150 years ago? Yeah you all got your asses kicked regardless whether it was justified or not.

#25 Comment By Kunsthausmann On April 16, 2011 @ 12:28 pm

“any such intellectual exploration toward this end threatens the very heart of the Left’s collectivist historical narrative”

Indeed, it does, but that historical narrative entails the conclusion that they are illiberals, not liberals.

Now that these illiberals have begun to spit at nullificationism, there is a nice opportunity to remind them that they are the party of enslavement today just as they have been for generations in Europe, in China, and elsewhere. In fact, it’s time to remind them, again, that without leftwing collectivism and its bleeding heartedness, there would have been no Chairman Mao, no Papa Joe, and no Fuehrer.

That claim about Hitler might seem strange. After all, Hitler was a rightwinger, was he not?

Well, no. Hitler was a nanny statist. In fact, it was the Weimar constitution, a creation of leftwing do-gooders such as Hugo Preuss, that concentrated power in Berlin and even made it possible for President von Hindenburg to nominate Hitler as chancellor. Now can you imagine the Kaiser letting that guttermensch be named chancellor? I can, and it’s ridiculous to suppose that it could ever have happened.

I think it no exaggeration to claim that without German leftists, there would have been no Fueher, no WWII, and no holocaust (which, btw, killed not only Jews). In fact, without German leftists, how would Bismarck have obtained support for his warfare-welfare state, which prepared Germany for WWI?

American leftists have a lot of explaining to do, and not just about their hostility to nullificationism.

On the other hand, if leftwing illiberals in N. America get on board the nullification train, perhaps to oppose the Pentagon, look for signs that they will try to convert every province into a North Korea, which has a population close in size to that of Texas but which is squeezed into an area about the size of Ohio or Pennsylvania.

Nice work digging up that painful truth about South Carolina’s hostility to nullification, by the way.

#26 Comment By A.C. On April 16, 2011 @ 1:12 pm

Isn’t that a little silly, Gil? I’m from NJ, first of all, and second of all people should care because the truth matters, especially the truths of history. AND, because people in positions of power, (like Maddow) are constantly abusing the truth trying to portray others who actually DO care about American history as “crazy”, “racist”, blah, blah, blah.

#27 Comment By Caedmon On April 16, 2011 @ 7:58 pm

“The web and tools of the information revolution are sweeping this great statist myth aside slowly but surely just like all the other fairy tales of the state.”

Amen, and Deo Vindice

#28 Comment By Jason Calley On April 16, 2011 @ 8:42 pm

Yeah, yeah. Sure, sure. The War was fought all about slavery. The Union hated slavery so much that they had to destroy it an root it out wherever it was. Sure…sure they did. Boy did they ever fight to end slavery!

Except for slavery within the Union itself. During the war. Union slaves. Maryland? Never left the Union, had slavery during the war and even after the war was finished, after all the former Confederate states no longer had slaves, all the way up until the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment. Slaves in the Union.

Kentucky? Never left the Union, had slavery during the war and even after the war was finished, after all the former Confederate states no longer had slaves, all the way up until the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment. Slaves in the Union.

Missouri? Never left the Union, had slavery during the war and even after the war was finished, after all the former Confederate states no longer had slaves, all the way up until the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment. Slaves in the Union.

Heck, there were even slaves still being held in NEW JERSEY all the way up until the war was over! A law had been passed in NJ some years before, slowly phasing out slavery, but not outlawing it completely. New Jersey still had slaves. Similar set ups existed in some of the other Union states.

While the war was being fought, the United States Capitol Building in Washington City was still under construction. Much of the labor of building the Capitol was being done by slaves. “The Civil War was fought to end slavery!” Really?! Tell that to the slaves who lived in the Union, during the war.

Anyone who thinks that the Union was engaged in some great philanthropic quest to end slavery is so deeply deluded that the facts mean nothing to them. They are like little children who would be shocked to learn that their Mommy is not a Princess and a virgin.

#29 Comment By sleepy On April 16, 2011 @ 10:58 pm

The Civil War was foremost about the Southern states’ denial of the Northern states’ rights to determine under their states’ fundamental property law what (or who in this case) constituted property.

The confederacy deemed it appropriate to deny northern states rights.

#30 Comment By Gil On April 16, 2011 @ 11:17 pm

The American Revolution was illegal and the Americans lost then Britiain would made life harrd the Americans to make sure they didn’t try to secede again. By the same token the South tried to secede and failed and such the Northern did make life hard for the Southerners.

#31 Comment By Johnny Rebel On April 17, 2011 @ 7:49 am

Well this is no surprise, it was democrats (known as liberals today) who were the southern slave owners. It was the democrat party that had a terrorist wing called the KKK. It was democrats that lynched blacks.

Slaves escaped to the “republican north”. Look up the Robert Smalls story, he escaped Charleston and took his ship to the “republican north”. He came back to the south after the war and was elected to congress as a republican. Of course his followers were harassed by the terror wing of the democrat party, the KKK. Some of his supporters were lynched or just plain shot, BY DEMOCRATS.

So it would be no surprise that democrats would support slavery, they always have. Now they seek to enslave the whole of society with confiscatory taxes. This is nothing new for democrats.

#32 Comment By Frank On April 17, 2011 @ 7:33 pm

I find it interesting that so many people try to project their own desire for what our history was to justify what they want society today to believe.

In many respects the argument that the Civil War was about slavery does indeed hold water. However, it was about slavery and the desire to end for reason other than the moral virtues that many think today. The antebellum South’s economy was based mostly on a feudal type agrarian economic model, which required slave labor to function effectively. Compared to the North, which was primarly a manufacturing economy. IN 1861 the manufacturing output of the entire South (i.e. the states that ultimately formed the CSA equalled about 25% of the output of the State of New York). If slavery were to be abolished, the Southern economy woulod have collapsed, and the would have lost everything. They had to stop it and adapt their economy, but they couldn’t they couldn;t change their life, so they have to separate.

It is also erroneous to claim the South was “invaded”. The South started the war, they fired the first shots, and pursed a politcal path that could only lead to war, and those chose to pursue it. The reaction of the North was to be expected, and the ultimate demise of the South was necessary from the Northen perspective, because the South had to be remade in order to survive with the fuedal slave-based agrarian economy.

Finally, for those of you who like to blame the Democrate for being the “Slavemaster”, while the party of Southern secession and slavery was the Democrates in the 19th and early 20th century, this has since changed dramatically in the last 40 years. Further, let’s not pretend that the Republicans were all a bunch of morally surperior humanitarians in the 19th century. A big part of the Republican platform was based on the Freesoil and Free Labor movement, which pursue an anti-slavery agenda, not for morality, but for ecnomics. The Freesoilers and much of the Republican party wanted slavery out of the Western territories because they wanted blacks out of the West. Ultimately, this disconnect lead to the failure of reconstruction and the restoration of the race relations in the South following 1876.

19th century American was a complicated and very different place for modern Amercia. Let’s learn about it honestly and not try to use it for some modern game of ideological gotcha.

#33 Comment By Frank On April 17, 2011 @ 7:37 pm

@Johnny Reb, so are you implying that the people you have chosen to name yourself after were nothing but a bunch of authoritarian socialists?

Because the Johnny Rebs of the 19th century were all Democrats and that would make the Stars and Bars a symbol of a socialist society.

#34 Comment By Captain America On April 18, 2011 @ 10:18 am

It’s impossible to make the assertion that Lincoln was “for” slavery. His long-held view was the slavery EXTENSION was the problem. If you believe otherwise, get a good Lincoln biography, say David Donald’s, and take a look.

#35 Comment By Rossbach On April 18, 2011 @ 5:56 pm

I wonder whether Liberals would regard “sanctuary cities” as a species of nullification. After all, the entire purpose of creating these is to help illegal aliens evade federal immigration laws. I believe that Utah has gone even further than that and has created a guest worker program for illegals in that state. An added irony is that the federal government sued Arizona for attempting to help enforce federal law. Will they sue Utah for encouraging the breaking of federal law? I wonder.