Civil War Causes : States Rights & Secession

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Causes of the Civil War
A Study of States' Rights and Secession

American Civil War Causes
States' Rights, Secession, Constitution

What caused the Civil War? States Rights? Slavery?
What caused the Civil War.jpg
Secession and Civil War caused more deaths than all other previous US wars combined.

Secession Caused the Civil War

Regarding what caused the Civil War (also called Civil War Causes), the President of the United States—as commander-in-chief and chief executive—declared that the sole cause of the Civil War was secession. Lincoln chose war to suppress what he deemed a rebellion in the Southern states. If the South embraced and espoused slavery and if the South stated that the institution, alone, justified war, it was ultimately the President of the United States, possessing absolute responsibility and duty as chief executive for the nation, who, to the contrary, declared war on the South because of secession. As President, Lincoln declared that the South was guilty only of rebellion, and, without the consent of Congress and contrary to pleas from the Supreme Court, Lincoln raised an army and subsequently invaded the Southern states. Moreover, the decision to declare war or to suppress a rebellion, and to state what caused the Civil War, was proclaimed by President Abraham Lincoln himself; and he stated his position for war clearly. What caused the Civil War? Or, what were the causes of the Civil War? Secession.
 
Prior to April 15, 1861, seven Southern states, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas, had seceded from the Union. On April 15, 1861, Lincoln stated in his Call For Troops that the only cause of the Civil War was secession in the Southern states, and that troops were being called upon in order to "suppress the rebellion" and force the states back into the Union. Just 2 days after Lincoln's Call for Troops to raise an army and invade the South, Virginia seceded (April 17), followed by Arkansas, North Carolina and Tennessee. Kentucky, meanwhile, refused to recruit a single soldier for Lincoln's "wicked cause," and Maryland, a free state, was invaded by U.S. troops and placed under martial law, while Delaware, though of divided loyalty, did not attempt it. In Missouri, on October 31, 1861, a pro-CSA remnant of the General Assembly met and passed an ordinance of secession.
 
Lincoln, moreover, never stated publicly or in any document that abolishing the institution of slavery was why he called upon the troops, or to free the slaves was the cause of the Civil War. The Southern states had seceded, and Lincoln was now determined to suppress it. According to the president, secession was the cause of the Civil War.
 
"The First, Second, Ninth, and Tenth amendments [Constitution] and States' Rights have been unlawfully trampled upon by the federal government since the early days of the republic...The Civil War was not principally about slavery, and Abraham Lincoln was no friend to the slaves." Professor Thomas E. Woods, Jr., author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History. Thomas E Woods, Jr. holds an AB from Harvard and a Ph.D. from Columbia. He teaches American History, is the associate editor of The Latin Mass Magazine, and is a prolific essayist on historical subjects. He lives with his family in Coram, New York.

Was President Lincoln Guilty of the Following Criminal Acts?

Chief Justice Roger B. Taney said that Lincoln's actions were illegal, criminal and unconstitutional

  • Violation of the Constitution and his oath of office by invading and waging war against states that had legally and democratically withdrawn their consent from his government, inaugurating one of the cruelest wars in recent history.
  • Subverting the duly constituted governments of states that had not left the Union, thereby subverting their constitution right to "republican form of government."
  • Raising troops without the approval of Congress and expending funds without appropriation.
  • Suspending the writ of habeas corpus and interfering with the press without due process, imprisoning thousands of citizens without charge or trial, and closing courts by military force where no hostilities were occurring.
  • Corrupting the currency by manipulations and paper swindles unheard of in U.S. history.
  • Fraud and corruption by appointees and contractors with his knowledge and connivance.
  • Continuing the war by raising ever-larger bodies of troops by conscription and hiring of foreign mercenaries and refusing to negotiate in good faith for an end to hostilities.
  • Confiscation of millions of dollars of civilian property by his agents in the South, especially cotton, without legal proceedings.
  • Waging war against women, children, civilians and civilian property as the matter of policy (rather than as unavoidably incident to combat), e.g., Sherman's March.

Cherokee Nation Secede from the Union!

States' Rights & Secession
Constitution States Rights Secession Southern.jpg
I am sick and tired of that Constitution!

For a long time the Cherokee Nation remained neutral regarding the pending American Civil War. Other than the neutral Cherokee Nation, perhaps no people, no historian, no Pulitzer Prize winning author, no politician, and no college professor can better explain, without bias, what caused the American Civil War.
 
As you read excerpts from the Cherokee Declaration below, consider the following questions: What did the Cherokee Nation witness, state, and declare as to what caused the Civil War? Why did the Cherokee Nation finally secede from the Union and align itself with the Confederacy? Did the Cherokee Nation side with the South because of the institution of slavery or because of slaves? What caused the Cherokee Indians to sever all ties with the United States, join the Southern States, and then declare war against the United States? What great and egregious cause or causes did the Cherokee Nation experience and witness that caused it to make such a monumental Declaration? Did the neutral Cherokee Nation state that slavery was the cause of the conflict?

Declaration by the People of the Cherokee Nation of the Causes Which Have Impelled Them to Unite Their Fortunes With Those of the Confederate States of America.

      "When circumstances beyond their control compel one people to sever the ties which have long existed between them and another state or confederacy, and to contract new alliances and establish new relations for the security of their rights and liberties, it is fit that they should publicly declare the reasons by which their action is justified...
       Disclaiming any intention to invade the Northern States, the Southern States sought only to repel invaders from their own soil and to secure the right of governing themselves. They claimed only the privilege asserted by the Declaration of American Independence, and on which the right of the Northern States themselves to self-government is founded, of altering their form of government when it became no longer tolerable and establishing new forms for the security of their liberties. 
       Throughout the Confederate States we saw this great revolution effected without violence or the suspension of the laws or the closing of the courts. The military power was nowhere placed above the civil authorities. None were seized and imprisoned at the mandate of arbitrary power. All division among the people disappeared, and the determination became unanimous that there should never again be any union with the Northern States. Almost as one man all who were able to bear arms rushed to the defense of an invaded country, and nowhere has it been found necessary to compel men to serve or to enlist mercenaries by the offer of extraordinary bounties.
       But in the Northern States the Cherokee people saw with alarm a violated Constitution, all civil liberty put in peril, and all the rules of civilized warfare and the dictates of common
humanity and decency unhesitatingly disregarded. In States which still adhered to the Union a military despotism has displaced the civil power and the laws became silent amid arms. Free speech and almost free thought became a crime. The right to the writ of habeas corpus, guaranteed by the Constitution, disappeared at the nod of a Secretary of State or a general of the lowest grade. The mandate of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court was set at naught by the military power, and this outrage on common right approved by a President sworn to support the Constitution. War on the largest scale was waged, and the immense bodies of troops called into the field in the absence of any law warranting it under the pretense of suppressing unlawful combination of men. The humanities of war, which even barbarians respect, were no longer thought worthy to be observed. Foreign mercenaries and the scum of cities and the inmates of prisons were enlisted and organized into regiments and brigades and sent into Southern States to aid in subjugating a people struggling for freedom, to burn, to plunder, and to commit the basest of outrages on women; while the heels of armed tyranny trod upon the necks of Maryland and Missouri, and men of the highest character and position were incarcerated upon suspicion and without process of law in jails, in forts, and in prison-ships, and even women were imprisoned by the arbitrary order of a President and Cabinet ministers; while the press ceased to be free, the publication of newspapers was suspended and their issues seized and destroyed; the officers and men taken prisoners in battle were allowed to remain in captivity by the refusal of their Government to consent to an exchange of prisoners; as they had left their dead on more than one field of battle that had witnessed their defeat to be buried and their wounded to be cared for by Southern hands.
       Whatever causes the Cherokee people may have had in the past, to complain of some of the Southern States, they cannot but feel that their interests and their destiny are inseparably connected with those of the South...

      Urged by these considerations, the Cherokees, long divided in opinion, became unanimous, and like their brethren, the Creeks, Seminoles, Choctaws, and Chickasaws, determined, by the undivided voice of a General Convention of all the people, held at Tahlequah, on the 21st day of August, in the present year, to make common cause with the South and share its fortunes.
       In now carrying this resolution into effect and consummating a treaty of alliance and friendship with the Confederate States of America the Cherokee people declares that it has been faithful and loyal to is engagements with the United States until, by placing its safety and even its national existence in imminent peril, those States have released them from those engagements.
       Menaced by a great danger, they exercise the inalienable right of self-defense, and declare themselves a free people, independent of the Northern States of America, and at war with them by their own act [see Secession and Civil War: What Caused the Civil War?]. Obeying the dictates of prudence and providing for the general safety and welfare, confident of the rectitude of their intentions and true to the obligations of duty and honor, they accept the issue thus forced upon them, unite their fortunes now and forever with those of the Confederate States, and take up arms for the common cause, and with entire confidence in the justice of that cause and with a firm reliance upon Divine Providence, will resolutely abide the consequences." (Secession. States' Rights, Constitution, and Civil War: What Caused the Civil War? and What Caused the Civil War: Secession, States' Rights, or Slavery? By Abraham Lincoln and James McPherson.)

Tahlequah, Cherokee Nation, October 28, 1861.

THOMAS PEGG,
President National Committee.

JOSHUA ROSS,
Clerk National Committee.

Concurred.
LACY MOUSE,
Speaker of Council.

THOMAS B. WOLFE,
Clerk Council.

Approved.
JNO. ROSS.

Civil War Causes: States Rights & Secession
Civil War Causes: States Rights & Secession.jpg
Cherokee Chief John Ross

(Right) Cherokee John Ross was actually 1/8th Cherokee and 7/8th Scot. Cherokee Indians and Civil War Causes: States Rights & Secession.

(Continue reading below)

Recommended Reading: When in the Course of Human Events: Arguing the Case for Southern Secession. Review: As a historian, I have learned that the heart of any great work in history lies in the ample and accurate use of primary sources, and primary sources are the great strength of this work. While countless tomes have debated the perceived moral sides of the Civil War and the motivations of the various actors, this work investigates the motives of the primary players in the era and in their own words and writings. This gives the work an excellent realism and accuracy. The author, Charles Adams, has earned a reputation as one of the leading economic historians in the field, particularly in the area of taxes. He utilizes this background to investigate the American Civil War, and comes to some very striking conclusions, many that defy the politically-correct history of today. His thesis postulates that the Civil War had its primary cause not in slavery or states' rights, but rather in cold, hard economic concerns. Continued below...

He shows that the North used its supremacy in Congress to push through massive tariffs to fund the government, and that these tariffs fell much harder on the export-dependent South than upon the insular north. In fact, the total revenue from the "Compromise" Tariffs on the 1830s and 40s amounted to $107.5 million, of which $90 million came from the South. The majority of the revenue, moreover, was spent on projects “far from the South.” According to Adams, this disparity finally pushed the South to seek its own independence. Supporting this conclusion is the fact that the South enacted extremely low tariffs throughout the war, whereas the north enacted the Morrill Tariff of 1861, which enacted tariffs as high as 50 percent on some goods. Adams also chronicles the oft-overlooked excesses of the Lincoln Administration, and compares them to the actions of Julius Caesar. Using the letters and reports of the times, he tells how Lincoln suspended habeas corpus, trod roughshod over the Constitution, jailed thousands of U.S. citizens who dared disagree with him and even wrote a warrant for the arrest of the Chief Justice of the United States. Adams also ably uses the viewpoints of British and other Europeans to describe different contemporary views on the struggle. These provide excellent outside insight. On the whole, readers will find the book a superb and scholarly analysis, providing fresh insights into the motivations and causes of the defining war in American history. AWARDED 5 STARS by americancivilwarhistory.org

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Related Reading:
 

Recommended Reading: The South Was Right! (Hardcover). Description: Kin Hubbard said "'Tain't what a man don't know that hurts him; it's what he does know that just ain't so." Much of what people "know" about the causes, conduct, and consequences of the Civil War "just ain't so." The Kennedy brothers make a strong case that the real reasons and results of the War Between the States have been buried under the myth of Father Abraham and his blue-clad saints marching south to save the Union and free the slaves. Sure, the tone is polemical. But the "enlightened" elements of American opinion have been engaging in a polemic against the South and its people for decades… Continued below...

This book adopts the "following the money approach" to analyzing who profited most from slavery – a convincing argument that reflects that much of the wealth went to the North. It also points out that slavery was not new to Africa, and was practiced by Africans against Africans without foreign intervention. A strong case is made that the North and Lincoln held strong racist views. Lincoln proposed shipping, or transporting, blacks back to Africa  The blacks residing in the Northern states were in a precarious predicament (e.g. draft riots and lynchings in NY City). The authors, however, do not make any argument supporting slavery - their consistent line is the practice is vile. The fact that many blacks served, assisted and provided material support to Union and Confederate Armies is beyond refute. Native Americans also served with distinction on both sides during the Civil War. “A controversial and thought-provoking book that challenges the status-quo of present teachings…”

 

Recommended Reading: The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War. Description: It hardly seems possible that there is more to say about someone who has been subjected to such minute scrutiny in thousands of books and articles. Yet, Thomas J. DiLorenzo’s The Real Lincoln manages to raise fresh and morally probing questions, challenging the image of the martyred 16th president that has been fashioned carefully in marble and bronze, sentimentalism and myth. In doing so, DiLorenzo does not follow the lead of M. E. Bradford or other Southern agrarians. He writes primarily not as a defender of the Old South and its institutions, culture, and traditions, but as a libertarian enemy of the Leviathan state. Continued below...

DiLorenzo holds Lincoln and his war responsible for the triumph of "big government" and the birth of the ubiquitous, suffocating modern U.S. state. He seeks to replace the nation’s memory of Lincoln as the “Great Emancipator” with the record of Lincoln as the “Great Centralizer.” Big government is contrary to the Founding Fathers - and this captivating, readable book does a wonderful job in bringing historical context and precedence to support DiLorenzo's scholarly positions. Outstanding addition to any Civil War buff's library, public school library, and anyone that has read or owns any of the 14,000 Lincoln biographies in circulation. Pro-Lincoln and pro-North lovers will most likely disagree with most, if not all, of DiLorenzo's work. They will disagree because they have already made-up their minds about Father Abe (aka Honest Abe) and what caused the Civil War. After all, isn't it easy to just say that slavery caused everything?

 
Recommended Reading: The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History. Review: Claiming that most textbooks and popular history books were written by biased left-wing writers and scholars, historian Thomas Woods offers this guide as an alternative to "the stale and predictable platitudes of mainstream texts." Covering the colonial era through the Clinton administration, Woods seeks to debunk some persistent myths about American history. For instance, he writes, the Puritans were not racists intent on stealing the Indians' lands, the Founding Fathers were not revolutionaries but conservatives in the true sense of the word, the American War Between the States (to even call it a civil war is inaccurate, Woods says) was not principally about slavery, and Abraham Lincoln was no friend to the slaves. Continued below...
FDR's New Deal policies actually made the Depression worse. He also covers a wide range of constitutional interpretations over the years, particularly regarding the First, Second, Ninth, and Tenth amendments, and continually makes the point that states' rights have been unlawfully trampled upon by the federal government since the early days of the republic. Though its title is more deliberately provocative than accurate, Woods' attack on what he sees as rampant liberal revisionism over the past 25 years proves to be an interesting platform for a book. He's as biased as those he rails against, of course, but he does provoke thought in an entertaining way even if he sometimes tries to pass off opinion as hard facts. This quick and enjoyable read is packed with unfamiliar quotes, informative sidebars, iconoclastic viewpoints, and a list of books "you're not supposed to read." It is not a comprehensive or detailed study, but that is not its aim; instead, it offers ideas for further research and a challenge to readers to dig deeper and analyze some basic assumptions about American history--a worthy goal that Woods manages to reach.
From the Inside Flap: Everything well, almost everything you know about American history is wrong because most textbooks and popular history books are written by left-wing academic historians who treat their biases as fact. But fear not: Professor Thomas Woods refutes the popular myths in The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History. Professor Woods reveals facts that you won't be or never were taught in school, tells you about the "Books You're Not Supposed to Read," and takes you on a fast-paced politically incorrect tour of American history that will give you all the information you need to battle and confound left-wing professors, neighbors, and friends. About the Author: Professor Thomas E. Woods Jr. holds an AB from Harvard and a Ph.D. from Columbia. He teaches American History, is the associate editor of The Latin Mass Magazine, and is a prolific essayist on historical subjects. He lives with his family in Coram, New York.
 

Recommended Reading: Secession Debated: Georgia's Showdown in 1860. Review: The critical northern antebellum debate matched the rhetorical skills of Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas in an historic argument over the future of slavery in a westward-expanding America. Two years later, an equally historic oratorical showdown between secessionists and Unionists in Georgia generated as much popular interest south of the Mason-Dixon line, and perhaps had an even more profound immediate effect on the future of the United States. Continued below...

With Abraham Lincoln's "Black Republican" triumph in the presidential election of 1860, the United States witnessed ardent secessionist sentiment in the South. But Unionists were equally zealous and while South Carolina--a bastion of Disunionism since 1832--seemed certain to secede; the other fourteen slave states were far from decided. In the deep South, the road to disunion depended much on the actions of Georgia, a veritable microcosm of the divided South and geographically in the middle of the Cotton South. If Georgia went for the Union, secessionist South Carolina could be isolated. So in November of 1860, all the eyes of Dixie turned to tiny Milledgeville, pre-war capital of Georgia, for a legislative confrontation that would help chart the course toward civil war. In Secession Debated, William W. Freehling and Craig M. Simpson have for the first time collected the seven surviving speeches and public letters of this greatest of southern debates over disunion, providing today's reader with a unique window into a moment of American crisis. Introducing the debate and debaters in compelling fashion, the editors help bring to life a sleepy Southern town suddenly alive with importance as a divided legislature met to decide the fate of Georgia, and by extension, that of the nation. We hear myriad voices, among them the energetic and self-righteous Governor Joseph E. Brown who, while a slaveholder and secessionist, was somewhat suspect as a native North Georgian; Alexander H. Stephens, the eloquent Unionist whose "calm dispassionate approach" ultimately backfired; and fiery secessionist Robert Toombs who, impatient with Brown's indecisiveness and the caution of the Unionists, shouted to legislators: "Give me the sword! but if you do not place it in my hands, before God! I will take it." The secessionists' Henry Benning and Thomas R. R. Cobb as well as the Unionists Benjamin Hill and Herschel Johnson also speak to us across the years, most with eloquence, all with the patriotic, passionate conviction that defined an era. In the end, the legislature adopted a convention bill which decreed a popular vote on the issue in early January 1861. The election results were close, mirroring the intense debate of two months before: 51% of Georgians favored immediate secession, a slim margin which the propaganda-conscious Brown later inflated to 58%. On January 19th the Georgia Convention sanctioned secession in a 166-130 vote, and the imminent Confederacy had its Southern hinge. Secession Debated is a colorful and gripping tale told in the words of the actual participants, one which sheds new light on one of the great and hitherto neglected verbal showdowns in American history. It is essential to a full understanding of the origins of the War Between the States.

 

Recommended Reading: One Nation, Indivisible? A Study of Secession and the Constitution. Description: Is secession legal under the United States Constitution? "One Nation, Indivisible?" takes a fresh look at this old question by evaluating the key arguments of such anti-secession men as Daniel Webster and Abraham Lincoln, in light of reason, historical fact, the language of the Constitution, and the words of America's Founding Fathers. Modern anti-secession arguments are also examined, as are the questions of why Americans are becoming interested in secession once again, whether secession can be avoided, and how an American state might peacefully secede from the Union. Continued below…

"The federal government's growth of power at the expense of individuals and natural human communities has been the trend so long now that it has seemed inevitable. But thoughtful people of late have been rediscovering the true decentralist origins of the United States. Robert Hawes states the case beautifully for the forgotten decentralist tradition - which may be our only hope for the preservation of freedom."

 

Recommended Reading: Lincoln Unmasked: What You're Not Supposed to Know About Dishonest Abe. Description: While many view our 16th president as the nation’s greatest president and hero, Tom Dilorenzo, The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War, through his scholarly research, exposes the many unconstitutional decisions of Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln Unmasked, a bestseller, reveals that ‘other side’ – the inglorious character – of the nation’s greatest tyrant and totalitarian. Continued below...

Lincoln, tyrant and all, unlawfully trampled and trashed the U.S. Constitution and Supreme Court, and could have easily avoided Civil War. What caused the Civil War? Not slavery, but big government with Lincoln at the helm. A controversial book that is hailed by many and harshly criticized by others, Lincoln Unmasked, nevertheless, is a thought-provoking study and view of Lincoln that was not taught in our public school system. Readable, factual, and enjoyable. (Also available in hardcover: Lincoln Unmasked: What You're Not Supposed to Know About Dishonest Abe.)

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