Into this volatile situation, New England abolitionists were sending money and arms. One man they financed and sent with arms was the radical abolitionist and Bible quoting Unitarian, John Brown. In May of 1856, near Pottawatomie Creek, Kansas, John Brown and six of his followers, including four of his sons, paid a night visit to several farms owned by Missouri men. They roused five men and their families from bed and brutally hacked the five men to death with swords. This was a heinous crime, but John Brown was praised in much of the Northern press where abolitionism had a strong foothold. Even today, John Brown is admired by some civil rights extremists, and it is amazing to see how many short biographies of Brown completely omit the Charles Manson style Pottawatomie killings. In 1859, John Brown would show up at the armory at Harper’s Ferry, (West) Virginia, with 21 men intending to lead a slave revolt far wider in scope and deeper in blood than his famous crimes in Kansas. Brown was captured and hanged, but the Northern press, and many influential Northern clergy and political leaders proclaimed John Brown a hero comparable to Christ. This enraged the South and made Southerners very suspect of Northern good will.
Because Northern abolitionists constantly engaged in propaganda campaigns to encourage bloody slave revolts in the South, Southerners had a fear and loathing of abolitionism. There had not been many slave revolts in the South, but the memory of the Nat Turner Rebellion in 1832 in which 60 whites, mostly women and children, were savagely murdered, was still fresh on the mind of Southerners. This fear for their families and loathing of abolitionist ideology was amplified by frequent abolitionist misrepresentation of the conditions of slavery in the South, their insulting and morally arrogant characterization of everything Southern, and their vicious verbal attacks on Southern leaders. Hence an important factor causing Southern distrust of Northern dominated government was fear of abolitionist influence on Southern slaves and Northern politicians. As it turned out, their fear of abolitionist influence on Northern politicians was not without justification. Following the war, the abolitionists aligned themselves with the Radical Republicans and made an immense contribution to the vengeful despotism of Reconstruction.
Only about 20% of Confederate soldiers owned slaves, and only about one-third came from slave-holding families. So far as slavery was concerned they only wanted the right to deal with it in their own way in their own time state by state, just as the Northern states, all of which had slavery in 1776, had done.
When Union Armies invaded the South in 1861, they had no intention of freeing the slaves. They invaded the South to enforce political unity and Northern economic and legislative dominance by bayonets. Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, on January 1, 1863, came after more than 19 months of war and did not actually free any slaves in the Union or Union held areas of the Confederacy. It was a complete fraud that has been turned into a modern civil rights icon. The Proclamation, according to Lincoln himself, was primarily a war measure, which he and others hoped would cause disorder in the South. Only later was the slavery issue used in an attempt to give tyranny a pious justification.
A major cause of Southern secession was the tariff system that exploited the South unmercifully for the benefit of Northern commercial and industrial interests. The final blow was the Morrill Tariff passed by the Senate and signed by outgoing President Buchanan two days before Lincoln’s inauguration. Passing the Morrill Tariff was a major Lincoln promise during the 1860 Republican primaries and a major plank in the 1860 Republican Convention. Lincoln strongly endorsed its enforcement in his inaugural speech.
Only one Southern Congressman had voted for this enormous tariff increase—67 percent the first year alone–that would benefit Northern interests and impoverish the South. The Morrill Tariff was so outrageously sectionalist and disparate in its generous benefits for the North and severe burdens for the South that it left no recourse but secession to the cotton producing Gulf States. Other Southern states joined them, when Lincoln revealed his plans to subjugate the South by armed force. The Morrill Tariff’s egregious disregard for the economic welfare of Southern States is an enormously important historical issue that has been suppressed by those who wish to present the Northern cause as a glorious crusade for human rights and national unity. Even recent internet information on the Morrill Tariff shows that the slavishly politically correct liberal-dominated academic and media establishments are straining every nerve to bury or minimize the significance, sectionalist greed, and disastrous consequences of this terribly partisan legislation.
Preserving the Union was the principal purpose of the war stated by the North. That might be called noble, if forcing states to bear an exploited status in an unwanted and to them unprofitable Union by gunpoint can be called noble. Should the American Colonies in 1776 have submitted gladly to continued exploitation and unjust taxation by the British? The North had more than just territory in mind when preserving the Union. Loss of the Southern States would mean loss of most tax revenues, of which over 90% were from the tariff that so burdened the South. They would also have to compete with the South’s proposed free trade policies, which would have wreaked economic havoc in the North, just as Northern tariffs had wreaked economic havoc in the South Union enforced by bayonets is despotic hypocrisy. Such a coerced union is tyranny and the enemy of liberty.
How did the role of slavery become so distorted and exaggerated as a cause of the “Civil War”? In the words of President Woodrow Wilson:
“It was necessary to put the South at a moral disadvantage by transforming the contest from a war waged against states fighting for their independence into a war waged against states fighting for the maintenance and extension of slavery…”
Unfortunately, most Americans today accept the pious fraud that the “Civil War” was all about ending slavery and “preserving” the Union. However, Lincoln’s own words, the proceedings of Congress, and a multitude of other records provide shattering documentary evidence disproving that cherished humbug.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR – Mike Scruggs, Author and Columnist
a.k.a. Leonard M. Scruggs
Mike Scruggs is the author of two books: The Un-Civil War: Shattering the Historical Myths; and Lessons from the Vietnam War: Truths the Media Never Told You, and over 600 articles on military history, national security, intelligent design, genealogical genetics, immigration, current political affairs, Islam, and the Middle East.
He holds a BS degree from the University of Georgia and an MBA from Stanford University. A former USAF intelligence officer and Air Commando, he is a decorated combat veteran of the Vietnam War, and holds the Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart, and Air Medal. He is a retired First Vice President for a major national financial services firm and former Chairman of the Board of a classical Christian school.
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