Stupid Things People Say About the Civil War: Part 1

Brooks Simpson’s latest post got me thinking about the numerous idiotic things I’ve heard or read about the American Civil War. What I’ve discovered over the years is that most of the claims are downright laughable, even more so than the people that vociferously defend them. So here is the latest statement from “Lady Val.”

“Had slavery been the cause of secession – because secession was certainly the cause of the war – then there would have been neither secession nor war. By the time of Lincoln’s inauguration, the proposed original 13th Amendment to the Constitution (the Corwin Amendment) had passed both Houses of Congress, been ratified by one state and signed by President Buchanan (unnecessary, but an example of the popularity of the amendment). The Corwin Amendment enshrined slavery in the Constitution in perpetuity; that is, it could not later be revoked. Ergo, the South had clear and eternal protection for their “peculiar institution.” Obviously, if slavery had been the problem, those states already “out,” South Carolina, Georgia and Florida I believe, would have simply returned and all would have proceeded as before except that the noisy and (on the whole) despised radical abolitionists would have had to go somewhere else to make trouble.

But that didn’t happen. The Southern states departed because they were being (or had already been) changed from participating members of a republic into an economic colony of the rest of the Union whose money (the South paid 80% of the federal revenues) was being used for the benefit of Northern commercial and political interests. Seeing nothing ahead but political irrelevancy and a subject status in the nation, the Southern people by and large decided to leave the old compact and set up a new one as was their guaranteed right under the Constitution.

And, by the way, Lincoln NEVER campaigned for abolition. Indeed, he said that he had neither the right nor the desire to “interfere” with slavery. His entire campaign was one for high tariffs and “the American System” of corporate welfare.” (her emphasis)

Oh Lady Val, how you humor us. I may or may not respond to her goofy claims. I’m much more interested in what you, as a reader, thinks. Thoughts? Observations?


  1. Well, let’s take the last point first. Lincoln said he had no desire to interfere with slavery where it already existed. He was committed to resisting its expansion and on finding a way to set it on the road to ultimate extinction. He was very open about this, just as he was very open about the fact that, regardless of his views on race, he thought slavery was morally wrong.

  2. So why does she think South Carolina, Georgia, Texas, Mississippi, Florida, and Alabama lied when they said they were seceding because of slavery? Why does she think the object of her worship, John Singleton Mosby, lied when he said “the south” was fighting for slavery? Why does she think Tennessee lied when they issued their resolutions in January of 1861 on what it would take to resolve the secession crisis? Why does she think that Jefferson Davis and Alexander Stephens both lied?

  3. Kinda funny to think that a nation in which slavery was perfectly legal, like the U.S.A, would fight a war to eradicate slavery in a nation in which slavery was also perfectly legal. Postively hilarious, in fact. So the absurd, laughable, and ridiculous notion that slavery was the cause of the war is thoroughly negated. The Southern States declared their independence, just like the slave owning, slave-trading British colonies declared their independence.

  4. Honestly, I’m tired of trying to convince people of their idiocy when they seem so intent on wallowing in the lunacy of their claims. The documentary evidence supporting the true causes of the war is out there, cited a plethora of times by those of us that actually care about historical accuracy.

  5. That documentation is most certainly out there. No doubt about it. Over, and over again Lincoln explicitly stated the war was being fought against secession. And over and over and over again the Confederates proclaimed the war was in defense of their independence.

  6. Why the need for Independence? The question itself is farcical and insulting, implying that the people of the North were entitled to pass judgement and give their approval or disapproval on the reason the people of the South chose independence. Beyond that, and unlike the American Colonies, the Confederate States did not secede together. Virginia seceded, for example, well afetr South Carolina, and it did so because it was truly shocked and appalled that Lincoln would so grossly and violently abuse his authority. The same is true of North Carolina. So again, each state decided for itself whether to secede or not.

    • I must say I am way more interested in why you feel it is insulting to ask why a country feels the needs for independence. The question does not imply the entitlement of anyone. The American colonies, did not secede, they declared independence in the form of revolution; a treasonous affair.

      But you never did answer the question. If the Confederates fought a war, to defend the causes of their independence, then it is important to examine those causes since that was what they were defending.

  7. “To secede” means “to withdraw”. Are you really and truly saying that the American colonies did not withdraw from the British Empire? Why do you think “revolution” and “secession” are necessarily exclusive to one another? And I most certainly did answer the question; quite directly in fact. I suspect you did not like the answer, and simply chose to ignore it.

    • I asked very specifically, “why the need for secession?”. You did not answer that question, instead, you went on a rant about how such a question was insulting. So to say you “quite directly” answered the question, is a falsehood.

      The American colonies did not “Withdraw” from anything. They revolted. They overthrew colonial governments and drove British governors from their homes. This was not secession; it was rebellion.

  8. Here is how Thomas Jefferson described the events, after the Declaration was issued, and as the the debates over whether the colonies should secede from the British Empire:

    “…such a SECESSION would weaken us…”

    Game. Set. Match. And really, if you don’t conceded the point now, especially in view of your “Happy Independence Day” thread, where you said you were in “awe” of Jefferson and the Declaration, well, that would speak volumes now, wouldn’t it? And if you do manufacture some silly excuse, am I really expected to take your word over that of Thomas Jefferson?

  9. No seriously, do you really not get it? Really? There was, in fact, no lawful Union from which the colonies could secede,(the Continental Congress was most certainly not lawful Union of any kind, and it had no constitutional authority whatsoever) so the colonies were still legally members of the British Empire. The point here ( it is remarkable that I have to explain this) is that even under these circumstances, Jefferson used the term “SECESSION” to describe the simple act of political separation. Like I said, whatever silly reason you might come up with to avoid conceding the truth was fully expected.

    • I’m seriously bewildered at the points you are making.

      The colonies had no authority beyond the ‘natural rights’ under which they claimed authority. They knew this, that is why they did not declare secession, they declared independence by way of revolt. They did this knowing full well their acts meant treason!

      Jefferson used the term “secession” to explain the middle colonies possible departure from the Continental Congress and the Colonial Union. He said so. It’s in the lines before and after where you cherry picked the last quote. Again, read very closely.

      That the resolution entered into by this house on the 15th of May for suppressing the exercise of all powers derived from the crown, had shown, by the ferment into which it had thrown these middle colonies, that they had not yet accommodated their minds to a separation from the mother country:

      That some of them had expressly forbidden their delegates to consent to such a declaration, and others had given no instructions, & consequently no powers to give such consent:

      That if the delegates of any particular colony had no power to declare such colony independent, certain they were the others could not declare it for them; the colonies being as yet perfectly independent of each other:

      That the assembly of Pennsylvania was now sitting above stairs, their convention would sit within a few days, the convention of New York was now sitting, & those of the Jerseys & Delaware counties would meet on the Monday following, & it was probable these bodies would take up the question of Independence & would declare to their delegates the voice of their state:

      That if such a declaration should now be agreed to, these delegates must retire & possibly their colonies might secede from the Union:

      That such a secession would weaken us more than could be compensated by any foreign alliance:

      That in the event of such a division, foreign powers would either refuse to join themselves to our fortunes, or, having us so much in their power as that desperate declaration would place us, they would insist on terms proportionably[sic] more hard and prejudicial:

      See it now? Jefferson makes distinctions between the words “secession” and “independence”. Put your quote in context. Do you think Jefferson would suggest that “secession” (as you call it, not me and certainly not Jefferson), from Great Britain would “weaken us.” Jefferson was adamant about Independence from the onset, why would he suggest such a move would “weaken” the colonial independence movement? Get real.

  10. What seems to confuse you most, and what evidently causes your continued addlepation, is your counterfit definition of “secession”. I repeat, “to secede” simply means to withdraw from an organization of some type. It need not even be a political organization. The fact that the colonists dissolved their political connection with the British Empire satisfies, explicitly, the textbook definition. So again, it is your senseless and tortured definition of “secede” and “secession” which causes you all this embarrassment. And if you won’t take Jefferson’s word, how about a New Jersey Superior Court Judge:

    “…that act of secession, the American Revolution…”
    -New Jersey Superior Court Judge (ret.) Andrew Napolitano

    PS- Got plenty more like that. Wanna see them?

    • I never engaged in an argument of semantics, so your point is moot. I see you’re beginning to abandon your claims about Jefferson, aside from loosely referring to them. Good boy. I guess posting the entire quite, in context, contains a different meaning than randomly using a few words (not even a complete sentence)out of context. If not, I await an explanation about how Jefferson referred to the British Empire when he mentioned, “secession”.

      You are making a general statement in regards to secession. The founders defined the event as a revolution, a move towards independence. Not a secession. Why should we?

      Since Judge Napolitano is rehashing false Libertarian rhetoric,(note that I am a Libertarian and not poking fun at the party) and since he is not a “Founding Father” that defined the American revolution, his quote is irrelevant.

      All too easy.

  11. Let me get this straight. You are a student, and Napolitano is a retired Superior Court Judge, an accomplished author, and a public intellectual, yet your expertise is to be taken in preference to his? Little fella, you have gone, rather ignominiously, from addlepated to deluded.
    Talk about too easy.
    Now here is a lesson in life and logic for you little fella (courtesy of Ayn Rand). “A” is “A”; it is not “B”. And simply because you do not like what “A” is, does not mean you are entitled to deny the reality of what “A” is. “To secede” means to withdraw from an organization or entity. Period (“A” is “A”). There is no other criteria necessary to satisfy the definition of “secede” ( “A” is not “B”). The colonist withdrew from the British Empire. Therefore, by very definition, they “seceded” (“A” is “A”), from the British Empire. Whether the secession was legal or illegal, peaceful or violent, treasonous or patriotic, matters not in the least; they withdrew (“A” is “A”). If you can learn this one very simple lesson, your time spent here has been to your advantage.

    • Let’s see, Judge Napolitano, Ayn Rand….Tea Party.

      Napolitano is not considered a credentialed historian, none of his books are used as such, and his arguments do not run linear to historians in the field when he makes such comments. I discredit his comments simply because, he is a TV personality, ex-judge, and not a historian. Learn the difference.

      The logical law of identity is older than Ayn Rand but I’ll bite. Each thing has its own identity. Secession and rebellion, by way of revolution, have independent identities. That pretty much explains why the founders chose to use the words “rebellion,” and “revolution,” because those words properly described the event. Whereas secession, to the founders, described a formal withdraw from a body of which the withdrawing party entered into agreeably. This is why Jefferson used the word “secede” to describe his fear that the middle colonies would withdraw from congress, and why he did not use “secede” in the Declaration of Independence. They saw it for what it was, revolution.

      Your semantics argument is as week as your Jefferson argument, that you’ve run away from now. Good boy, you’re learning. Now run along and play. Austin/Caldwell/Clarissa/ Jennifer Cotton, you are done trolling here until you muster up the courage to reveal yourself rather than hide behind pseudonames. I’m reminded of “Amanda” in all this.

  12. [note from editor]Oh, I’m sorry Austin/Caldwell/Jennifer Cotton/Clarissa/Reed. did you expect your comment to show up here? You have earned yourself top honors. Of the thousands of people that visited this site over the years, you are only the second person to have limitations placed on you. George Purvis being the other person, you can see in his recent comments, that he has learned….well, a little anyways.

    The directives for your future use of this blog.

    1.) Post under your name. I know that requires courage, so work on it.
    2.) Stop making straw man arguments. I never said I was a credentialed historian. But in all fairness, I have done more in the field than he (Napolitano) has.
    3.) Cherry picking quotes. See George Purvis for this, but you did an excellent job of it bringing up Jefferson’s comment about secession, out of context implying wrongful meaning. Connie Chastain calls that “lying.” A lot of people had a good laugh about it.

    These are your instructions for future use. Now, I’m sure somewhere, on someone’s heritage blog you will claim a victory, or that I have silenced you. Let me start by saying, you have a very liberal definition of victory. Your points are scattered, refuted, and then you move on to another point once you’ve reached a dead end. Then accuse others of circular arguing (something you probably picked up from someone else). Secondly, you are not banned or silenced, you are required to reveal yourself or not post at all. You are also required to post quotes in their entirety rather than a few lines that fit your agenda. Until then, your comments will go to the Spam file. Have a Dixie Day! 😉

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