View single post by Mark
 Posted: Thu Jun 9th, 2011 02:40 am
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Joined: Mon Mar 30th, 2009
Posts: 434

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Pender, may I offer a couple thoughts?

1) Oral tradition is probably less accurate than historical documents (letters, diaries, contemporary speeches, etc)-I should think that former Confederates were just as (if not more) anxious to justify their struggle to their children and grandchildren as they would be to the public at large. The "lost cause" movement also helped white Southern children make sense of the awful destruction and abject failure of the Confederacy.

2) As you point out, Lincoln constantly admitted that he could do nothing to forbid slavery in places where it already existed as slaves were property and thus protected by the constitution. However, the Republican platform called for the restriction of slavery in the federal territories. Both sides considered this tantamount to destroying the institution. If you look at the Southern state's secession documents and the Confederate Constitution, they all have a common thread-protection of the right of a state to hold another person to chattel slavery.

3) I think you are partially right on the Davis trial. I think federal prosecutors would have had a hard time proving treason (as defined in the US Constitution) and that is why they did not press any charges. However, I also think that most Americans (both southern and northern) wanted to put the war behind them as soon as possible-there was no ground swell for hanging Jeff Davis after the war ended.

4) Consider the evidence produced in Joe Glathaar's book, "Soldiering in the Army of Northern Virginia." By considering the number of soldiers who owned slaves and adding those who came from families who owned slaves (remember that most soldiers were just starting out in life and had not had accumulated enough money to buy much chattel of any kind) you arrive at a figure of about 46% of soldiers in the ANV had a clear tie to slavery. I am not saying that every southern soldier was fighting to keep his slaves, however, I am saying that the vast majority would have said (and did say in their letters and diaries) that they were fighting to preserve a way of life (which was inarguably based on chattel slavery) from encroaching Yankeedom.

Just some things to think about.



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