I fully understand this will not be a popular post, so I want to start by making it very clear: I oppose slavery — in every form! That said, I heard something today to which I had to respond. I heard someone claim that the Confederacy was not about States’ rights. The thinking is, because the Confederate Constitution mandated slavery for inclusion in the Confederacy. But this is a fallacy. Look why the Confederate States seceded: because they were being told they could not continue the practice of slavery. This is the flip side of the coin. If it is not about States’ rights to say you must be a slave State, then how is it about States’ rights to say you cannot be a slave State? The truth is, the Civil War was about the right of the States to secede from the union. It could just as well have been over some other issue, but because it was over slavery, the emotion of the issue has clouded the principle involved. The key is to remember that people can choose wrongly, and in my opinion, that is what the Confederate States did chose wrongly. However, they had the right to secede, and the North took that right from them. Oh, and this is not my opinion, it is the opinion of the men who created the nation:
If any state in the Union will declare that it prefers separation… to a continuance in union… I have no hesitation in saying, ‘let us separate.’
“Each State, in ratifying the Constitution, is considered as a sovereign body, independent of all others, and only to be bound by its own voluntary act. In this relation, then, the new Constitution will, if established, be a FEDERAL, and not a NATIONAL constitution”
“If the States were not left to leave the Union when their rights were interfered with, the government would have been National, but the Convention refused to baptize it by that name.”
That the States had the right to secede was also understood by those outsiders who took the time to learn and understand the nature of the nation our founders had created:
“The Union was formed by the voluntary agreement of the states; and these, in uniting together, have not forfeited their nationality, nor have they been reduced to the condition of one and the same people. If one of the states chooses to withdraw from the compact, it would be difficult to disapprove its right of doing so, and the Federal Government would have no means of maintaining its claims directly either by force or right.”
–Alexis de Tocqueville
The true lesson to be learned from the Civil War is that it is the point where the United States — as founded — was destroyed. Lincoln presided over that destruction. He killed the Federal and ushered in the creation of a National Government. It is a classic example of how good intentions can and often lead to greater harm than leaving things to run their natural course.