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Confederate Cause

Secession in Principle - Part III

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Given that the secession was a right and that the invasion and war was unconstitutional, Yankee myth-makers had to begin immediate propaganda to disguise their motives and their naked aggression.  Confederate patriots were labeled "rebels" and "traitors."  The post-war abuse of Confederate States of America President Jefferson Davis serves to illustrate the truth of the Confederate Cause and to expose the Yankee lies.

The commander of Andersonville POW camp, Major Henry Wirz, was convicted in a sham trial where he was not allowed to present key defense witnesses and the prosecution's key witness was later identified as a deserter from the New York 7th Regiment, Felix Oeser, who perjured himself and testified under the name, De la Baume.  More on POW policies in a later section.  Wirz was convicted for the murder of two unnamed prisoners in August of 1864, at a time when he was away from the camp on sick leave.  Suffice it to say that Major Wirz was not guilty of any war crimes.  He was scheduled for execution.  On the night before his execution, a representative of the federal government came to Wirz' cell and told Wirz that he would be pardoned, his life would be spared, if he implicated CSA President Jefferson Davis as being aware of and encouraging war crimes against union prisoners.  Wirz declined to lie about Davis or any other Confederate and was hanged the next day.  Wirz' minister, present in Wirz' last hours, witnessed this brazen attempt to subborn perjury and took Wirz' final letter to his family assuring them that he was innocent of the charges.  The minister later documented the entire ugly affair.

CSA President Jefferson Davis was held in a federal prison for two years without trial. He was charged with "treason" and conspiracy in the assassination of Lincoln.  The conspiracy charge was deemed so ridiculous it was soon dropped. Davis was held in inpregnable Fortress Monroe but to inflict cruelty, Davis was shackled in chains and held in solitary confinement depite his poor health.

Davis longed for his day in court to make the case for the Confederate Cause---to prove in a court of law that he was not guilty of treason and that the Confederate States had the right to secede.  The best attorneys in the nation volunteered their services pro bono.  It would have been the "trial of the century" and reporters from around the world would have been present.  The United States government realized how flimsy their case was.  There was no way they could risk a trial.   The acquittal of Jefferson Davis would undo the propaganda of the U.S. government and show the world that the Confederate Cause was right.  The trial was canceled and the man Dishonest Abe called a "traitor" was released.  Denied the opportunity to clear his own name and that of all Confederate patriots in court, Davis expressed his case in his own two volume book , The Rise and Fall of the Conferate Government.

Author and syndicated columnist Joseph Sobran had this to say about Davis's book: "It was dry, legalistic, humorless and lacking in the stylistic felicity of a Lincoln or a U.S. Grant...But Davis's history does have one great merit:  cogency. The hundred pages he devotes to explaining secession can't be called light reading, but they show why the government didn't want to let Davis have his day in court.  These 15 chapters display a profound grasp of not only the Constitution, but of the writings of the real 'greatest generation'----of Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and Alexander Hamilton.  These are works of political philosophy that the Northern leaders, particularly Lincoln, were only dimly aware of.  If more Americans had read them, we might have been spared the Civil War."

This writer disagrees with Mr. Sobran on only one point.  The writings of President Lincoln demonstrate that he understood the Constitutional principles and secession perfectly well.  He merely decided that his own purposes and political future were more important than the Constitution.

Any fair reading of the Founding documents coupled with a reasonable understanding of the Founding principles of government make clear that secession was a right retained by the states.  The Southern states exercised these rights for reasons to be discussed at length in subsequent sections.  The United States government, controlled by the sectional Republican party of the north, for reasons primarily economic and in pursuit of political dominance, chose to violate the spirit of the Founding principles and to force a union at the point of a bayonet rather than to have government whose just powers are "derived from the consent of the governed." 

In so doing, they effectively ended the Republic as delivered to us by the Framers of the Constitution and substituted in its stead, an empire ruled by elitists in Washington.  Over the years since, the concentration of power by the federal government has increased exponentially.  Ironically, by justifying their bloody conquest as necessary to "preserve the union," these unscrupulous men (Lincoln's war party) used sophistry to disguise their destruction of the Constitution and plunder of the South, and in the process, destroyed the Union they professed to revere.

A union by force is not a a union by consent, and as Albert Bledsoe put it, "Conquest is substituted for compact, and the dream of liberty is over."  The War restored the physical boundaries of the Union but not the spirit of the Constitutional union.  The South became conquered territory to be exploited.  It is the moral equivalent of the Soviets forcing Poland and the Baltic republics to remain in the Soviet Union or the the British forcing India or the American colonies to remain in their empire.  Tyrants can always find an excuse for conquest.

Why was there a war?  Because Lincoln and his government chose not to allow the southern states to leave in peace.  The Southern states did not seek conquest or overthrow of the U.S. Government but rather simply sought to withdraw from a union they voluntarily joined---as was their right.

Why did the Southern states secede?  These issues will be addressed in the next sections.

The links below will lead the reader to a reasonably comprehensive understanding of the Confederate Cause.

  1. Secession in principle:  Part III
  2. What does the Confederate flag represent?
  3. Conclusions

....under construction

Copyright © Steve Scroggins - All rights reserved.

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