Monday, December 13, 2010

I Read Me Some "Battle Cry of Freedom"

On work trip to Sioux Falls a month ago I had joyful the opportunity to peruse a local used bookshop. Unfortunately, I have inherited from my father the need/compulsion to leave any bookstore with a new book. So I left the store with McPherson's Battle Cry of Freedom, a one volume history of the United States Civil War.

Over 800 pages McPherson covers the social and military history of the Civil War. He explains not only the hows and whats, but also the whys. And as we approach the 150th anniversary of the Civil War more and more talk has been had about the causes for the Civil War. Some talk, alas, has veered into complete silliness with slogans that the War was about "State Rights" and "Protecting Liberty" and "Fighting for the Homeland."

Of course, that's bunk. "State's Rights"only works in the sense that the state's seceded for the right to own slaves. To quote from Mississippi's "Causes of Secession" of 1861:

In the momentous step, which our State has taken of dissolving its connection with the government of which we so long formed a part, it is but just that we should declare the prominent reasons which have induced our course.
Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery - the greatest material interest of the world. 
Or from South Carolina:
The General Government, as the common agent, passed laws to carry into effect these stipulations of the States. For many years these laws were executed. But an increasing hostility on the part of the non-slaveholding States to the institution of slavery, has led to a disregard of their obligations, and the laws of the General Government have ceased to effect the objects of the Constitution.  
The Civil War was a horror for all involved. But it is important to remember why the states seceded.

1 comment:

  1. Where is the talk about 'states rights' coming from Nate? In the 21st century, who has an interest in reframing the issues surrounding the civil war?