November 7, 1864: Davis Proposes Enlisting Slaves in the Confederate Army

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Jefferson Davis

On November 7, 1864 Jefferson Davis made his annual speech to the Second Confederate Congress.  Most of the speech was a valiant, albeit largely delusional, attempt to place a happy face on the desperate military situation confronting the Confederate States.  However, there is one section which finally brought out into the open the question of enlisting slaves in the Confederate Army.  Long rumored to be under consideration, bringing it before Congress was a testament to how bad the military prospects were for the Confederacy, the protestations of Davis to the contrary notwithstanding.  However, even at five minutes to midnight for the Confederacy, Davis still raised the proposal as a possible move in the future, not an immediate policy.  To many members of the Congress it must have seemed ironic that a War begun in defense of slavery, had now reached such a dire pass that they were being asked to liberate slaves to preserve their new nation.  Here is the portion of the speech of Davis dealing with the issue: 

 

In this aspect the relation of person predominates so far as to render it doubtful whether the private right of property can consistently and beneficially be continued, and it would seem proper to acquire for the public service the entire property in the labor of the slave, and to pay therefor due compensation, rather than to impress his labor for short terms ; and this the more especially as the effect of the present law would vest this entire property in all cases where the slave might be recaptured after compensation for his loss had been paid to the private owner. Whenever the entire property in the service of a slave is thus acquired by the Government, the question is presented by what tenure he should be held. Should he be retained in servitude, or should his emancipation be held out to him as a reward for faithful service, or should it be granted at once on the promise of such service; and if emancipated what action should be taken to secure for the freed man the permission of the State from which he was drawn to reside within its limits after the close of his public service? The permission would doubtless be more readily accorded as a reward for past faithful service, and a double motive for zealous discharge of duty would thus be offered to those employed by the Government—their freedom and the gratification of the local attachment which is so marked a characteristic of the negro and forms so powerful an incentive to his action. The policy of engaging to liberate the negro on his discharge after service faithfully rendered seems to me preferable to that of granting immediate manumission, or that of retaining him in servitude. If this policy should commend itself to the judgment of Congress, it is suggested that, in addition to the duties heretofore performed by the slave, he might be advantageously employed as a pioneer and engineer laborer, and, in that event, that the number should be augmented to forty thousand.

Beyond this limit and these employments it does not seem to me desirable under existing circumstances to go.

 A broad, moral distinction exists between the use of slaves as soldiers in defense of their homes and the incitement of the same persons to insurrection against their masters. The one is justifiable, if necessary, the other is iniquitous and unworthy of civilized people; and such is the judgment of all writers on public law, as well as that expressed and insisted on by our enemies in all wars prior to that now waged against us. By none have the practices of which they are now guilty been denounced with greater severity than by themselves in the two wars with Great Britain, in the last and in the present century, and in the Declaration of Independence in 1776, when an enumeration was made of the wrongs which justified the revolt from Great Britain. The climax of atrocity was deemed to be reached only when the English monarch was denounced as having ‘excited domestic insurrection among us.’

The subject is to be viewed by us, therefore, solely in the light of policy and our social economy. When so regarded, I must dissent from those who advise a general levy and arming of the slaves for the duty of soldiers. Until our white population shall prove insufficient for the armies we require and can afford to keep in the field, to employ as a soldier the negro, who has merely been trained to labor, and, as a laborer, the white man accustomed from his youth to the use of arms, would scarcely be deemed wise or advantageous by any; and this is the question now before us. But should the alternative ever be presented of subjugation, or of the employment of the slave as a soldier, there seems no reason to doubt what should then be our decision. Whether our view embraces what would, in so extreme a case, be the sum of misery entailed by the dominion of the enemy, or be restricted solely to the effect upon the welfare and happiness of the negro population themselves, the result would be the same. The appalling demoralization, suffering, disease, and death, which have been caused by partially substituting the invaders’ system of police for the kind relation previously subsisting between the master and slave, have been a sufficient demonstration that external interference with our institution of domestic slavery is productive of evil only. If the subject involved no other consideration than the mere right of property, the sacrifices heretofore made by our people have been such as to permit no doubt of their readiness to surrender every possession in order to secure independence. But the social and political question which is exclusively under the control of the several States has a far wider and more enduring importance than that of pecuniary interest. In its manifold phases it embraces the stability of our republican institutions, resting on the actual political equality of all its citizens, and includes the fulfillment of the task which has been so happily begun—that of Christianizing and improving the condition of the Africans who have by the will of Providence been placed in our charge. Comparing the results of our own experience with those of the experiments of others who have borne similar relations to the African race, the people of the several States of the Confederacy have abundant reason to be satisfied with the past, and to use the greatest circumspection in determining their course. These considerations, however, are rather applicable to the improbable contingency of our need of resorting to this element of assistance than to our present condition. If the recommendation above, made for the training of forty thousand negroes for the service indicated, shall meet your approval, it is certain that even this limited number, by their preparatory training in intermediate duties, would form a more valuable reserve force in case of urgency than threefold their number suddenly called from field-labor, while a fresh levy could to a certain extent supply their places in the special service for which they are now employed.

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45 Comments

  1. Let anyone who claims that the Civil War “wasn’t about slavery” explain why Davis’s proposal went nowhere even coming as, you say at five minutes to midnight.

    An Irishman, Gen. Patrick Cleburne [sp?] proposed just such a scheme in 1862 and was soundly rejected. Even though he was an excellent field commander he was never promoted again after that.

  2. From “Confederate Emancipation” by Bruce Levine
    “Once unleashed, especially in newspapers, the idea of slave soldiers and Confederate emancipation met fierce opposition. Critics repeatedly labeled any form of the plan an “insult” to white soldiers and “embarrassing” (p. 41, 48) before the world. Some raised the specters of slave revolt and miscegenation, while other critics rehearsed familiar proslavery arguments about the inherent inferiority of black people, and the benign, natural character of slavery.
    Plantation mistress, Catherine Edmondston, condemned any attempt to arm slaves because it would “destroy at one blow the highest jewel in the crown.” “Our independence,” chimed in North Carolina governor, Zebulon Vance, “is chiefly desirable for the preservation of our political institutions, the principle of which is slavery.” And one Brig. Gen. spoke for most Confederate officers when he announced: “if slavery is to be abolished then I take no more interest in our fight” (p. 53, 56-58).
    Davis and Lee were never the enlightened advocates of emancipation their Lost Cause defenders, as well as some distinguished biographers, have fashioned. They were staunch Confederate nationalists, determined to do whatever it took to win a war of southern independence, and in so doing, preserve ultimate control over blacks in the post-war South. Among some Confederate leaders, a growing realization of two conditions drove them to support emancipation through soldiering: one, that by 1864 the demise of slavery in this war could not be stopped, and two, most difficult of all to square with their values, that slaves dearly wanted their freedom. Those Confederates who supported black enlistment coupled with emancipation did so in the hope of controlling the lives, prospects, and especially the labor of the people they would free.
    The rhetoric of a Lee or a Cleburne is similar to Otto von Bismarck’s assertion: “If there is to be a revolution, we want to make it rather than suffer it” (p. 107).Only in Virginia were any blacks actually mustered into companies, at most perhaps 200 men. None saw meaningful combat and some of those who did wear Confederate gray did so as a means of running away to Union lines.

  3. As a Southerner, I will say this much. The Confederacy deserved to lose the Civil War because of slavery. However, most Southerners object to the way the South was treated by Sherman during the War and by Radical Republicans after the War.

  4. Mico, it depends on which southerners you’re talking to. As a black southerner, I view Sherman as a mixed bag. He didn’t care much for black people and viewed them as a nuisance to his army. While there is not, in any reasonable history of which I’m aware, any instance of his soldiers having been cited as raping white southern women, there a number of complaints of them raping black women. There is also that instance in Georgia where he pulled up his pontoon bridges and left black freed slaves who had been following his army to the tender mercies of the confederate cavalry. However, the destruction attributed to him by white southerners has been shown to be greatly exaggerated. Even Shelby Foote wrote that southerners have a penchant of saying things like “Sherman’s Yankees burned my great-granddaddy’s farm”, in areas where Sherman never was. However it is true that he and his soldiers were especially brutal in South Carolina. They wanted to make it pay for having started the war. He was much less so in Georgia and North Carolina. His taking the war to the deep south homefront definitely shortened the war and the total amount of killing and carnage.
    My view of reconstruction isn’t shaped by “Gone with the Wind” or “Birth of a Nation”, and neither should yours be. In truth, corruption by the so-called “carpetbag” government of the republicans were probably not much worse than the “redeemer” governments that came after, which can be judged by the fact that tax rates, school assessments, etc were pretty much kept in place after the “radical republicans” were replaced by “redeemer democrats”. For an interesting and non-biased view, read “Redemption-The Last Battle of the Civil War” by Nicholas Lemann.

  5. “There is also that instance in Georgia where he pulled up his pontoon bridges and left black freed slaves who had been following his army to the tender mercies of the confederate cavalry.”
    BPS, thanks for that tidbit – I’d never heard of it. Do you know when and where it happened?
    BTW, another check in the plus column for Sherman was what he did when he arrived in Savannah. He discovered that the Union army was jailing freed slaves who had refused conscription. He rightly saw the hypocrisy in this position and freed them.

  6. The point is, yes, slavery is evil. But the constitution does not permit the federal govt or a group of states to invade and conquer a state or group of states that has a law the invader considers evil.

    If abolition of slavery was the reason for the war, it must be admitted (as is the truth) that the federal leviathan acted unconstitutionally.

    Of course, slavery as the cause of the war is an old canard. lincoln didn’t give a damn about freeing slaves, his own stated reason for invading the south was to preserve the so-called union, a cause of arguable constitutionality. Slavery as a cause was an cynical afterthought when Lincoln needed to gin up support for his unpopular war. But grafting this issue onto the war’s justification didn’t add to the war’s constitutional justification, it detracted from it.

  7. “But the constitution does not permit the federal govt or a group of states to invade and conquer a state or group of states that has a law the invader considers evil.”

    The constitution clearly allows the Federal government to act against rebellions and insurrections and that is all secession amounted to.

    “If abolition of slavery was the reason for the war, it must be admitted (as is the truth) that the federal leviathan acted unconstitutionally.”

    Defense of slavery is why secession occurred. One part of the nation may not leave the nation solely because it did not like the outcome of a Presidential election.

    “Of course, slavery as the cause of the war is an old canard. lincoln didn’t give a damn about freeing slaves, his own stated reason for invading the south was to preserve the so-called union, a cause of arguable constitutionality. Slavery as a cause was an cynical afterthought when Lincoln needed to gin up support for his unpopular war. But grafting this issue onto the war’s justification didn’t add to the war’s constitutional justification, it detracted from it.”

    Lincoln always hated slavery but he understood, and constantly stated, that he had no constitutional power to interfere with slavery where it existed. After secession Lincoln was able to use the war powers to end slavery where it existed in areas in rebellion. He then pushed for a constitutional amendment to end slavery, refusing last minute attempts by representatives of the Confederacy near the end of the war to negotiate a peace if slavery were preserved.

  8. The individual citizen who is a person has civil rights within the U.S. Constitution. Dred Scott was declared to be only three quarters person and the rest Negro by the U. S. Supreme Court’s Chief Justice Roger B. Taney.
    .
    What you are saying is that because the slave was declared not a full person and therefore not a full citizen; that the Constitution did not protect and provide for him; that the northern states were forced by our Constitution to ignore that the African American was enslaved in the southern states. For Americans who fought the Revolutionary War and won freedom for “all men created equal” and “endowed with unalienable rights”…”Liberty”, the Constitution holds the same rights and privileges “for ourselves and our posterity” as does the Declaration of Independence.
    .
    It is a simple matter that Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney either did not read or could not have read America’s founding principles. Washington Irving’s Icabod Crane of Sleepy Hollow comes to mind or maybe The Headless Horsemen.

  9. “The rhetoric of a Lee or a Cleburne is similar to Otto von Bismarck’s assertion: ‘If there is to be a revolution, we want to make it rather than suffer it'”

    1. Lee fought for Virginia and for the Confederates because VA joined the Confederacy.

    2. Please name a single quote attributed to Lee that fits the arrogance/thinking of the relative attitude in the quote above referenced in regard to Lee.

    3. I would not fight against Arkansans in this day and time. Would you fight against and kill/imprison the citizens of your state and local communities. These things are not as simple & forthright as you are attempting to make them in hindsight.

  10. “After secession Lincoln was able to use the war powers to end slavery where it existed in areas in rebellion. He then pushed for a constitutional amendment to end slavery, refusing last minute attempts by representatives of the Confederacy near the end of the war to negotiate a peace if slavery were preserved.”

    Lincoln only freed slaves once it became advantageous to the Union cause. Note the following quote from a personal letter AL wrote during the heart of the Civil War.

    “I would save the Union. I would save it the shortest way under the Constitution. The sooner the national authority can be restored; the nearer the Union will be ‘the Union as it was.’ If there be those who would not save the Union, unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause. I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors; and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views.”

    “I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official duty; and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men every where could be free.”

  11. He wrote that to Horace Greeley Barbara, the publisher of the New York Tribune. At the time that he wrote that letter Lincoln had already drafted the Emancipation Proclamation which awaited only a Northern battlefield victory for its announcement to the world. Lincoln in this letter, which he assumed Greeley would publish, was laying the groundwork for public acceptance in the North and the Border States of Emancipation as an action of military necessity. Emancipation by itself was highly unpopular in the Border States and among quite a few Democrats in the North. Lincoln knew he had to bring public sentiment with him, or both Emancipation and the War would be lost. Framing it as an act of military necessity was all important in winning over that public sentiment, as well as vesting in Lincoln the power to emancipate as a war act, something he otherwise lacked any power to do.

  12. For my fellow Southerners reading this blog: I don’t think someone raised outside of the rural Southern culture can understand the attitudes that still remain re: government’s attempt to tell you what to do–attitudes in part which most likely descended through the blood from our ancestors who were fighting their governments for freedom in Europe –like Irish/Scottish plantation owners–long before coming to the southern US and ended up fighting the fed govt here in America.)

    I have been told and have witnessed first hand that the Yankees in several of their cities actually comply with the jaywalking laws in their vicinities & are expected to do so. We, here in the South, generally ignore such laws & many others and would never think of complying with such a govt demand unless it were strictly convenient for us to do so.

    For the Yankees: I don’t expect you to understand our reasoning surrounding lack of compliance with government demands. 😉

  13. “I have been told and have witnessed first hand that the Yankees in several of their cities actually comply with the jaywalking laws in their vicinities & are expected to do so.”

    That is certainly not true in Chicago Barbara. In Chicago autos can barely be kept from jaywalking let alone pedestrians!

  14. “He wrote that to Horace Greeley Barbara, the publisher of the New York Tribune. At the time that he wrote that letter Lincoln had already drafted the Emancipation Proclamation which awaited only a Northern battlefield victory for its announcement to the world. Lincoln in this letter, which he assumed Greeley would publish, was laying the groundwork for public acceptance in the North and the Border States of Emancipation as an action of military necessity. Emancipation by itself was highly unpopular in the Border States and among quite a few Democrats in the North. Lincoln knew he had to bring public sentiment with him, or both Emancipation and the War would be lost. Framing it as an act of military necessity was all important in winning over that public sentiment, as well as vesting in Lincoln the power to emancipate as a war act, something he otherwise lacked any power to do.”

    Assuming all of the reasoning you attribute to AL regarding this letter is accurate (we do not know that for sure because he never said it in any documented format which we can see today)–that still does not make what AL wrote in the letter any less true. Lincoln was about saving the Union in his execution of the Civil War.

  15. Of course he was since that was his duty as President to hold the Union together. That the War allowed him to end slavery, which he hated, did not break his heart. God loves irony, since He provides so much in human history. The Confederacy was created to defend slavery. But for secession, Lincoln would have spent a frustrating four years as President with the Democrats in the Senate blocking virtually all his initiatives. The Peculiar Institution of the South would have been left untouched. Instead, the slaveholders, most of them, went crazy after Lincoln was elected, hugely overreacted to a phantom menace to slavery, and provided the catalyst for the destruction of slavery.

  16. Barbara wrote “The rhetoric of a Lee or a Cleburne is similar to Otto von Bismarck’s assertion: ‘If there is to be a revolution, we want to make it rather than suffer it’”
    1. Lee fought for Virginia and for the Confederates because VA joined the Confederacy.
    2. Please name a single quote attributed to Lee that fits the arrogance/thinking of the relative attitude in the quote above referenced in regard to Lee.
    3. I would not fight against Arkansans in this day and time. Would you fight against and kill/imprison the citizens of your state and local communities. These things are not as simple & forthright as you are attempting to make them in hindsight.
    In Elizabeth Brown Pryor’s book “Reading the Man: A Portrait of Robert E. Lee through His Private Letters” , which she wrote using a recent cache of Lee’s letters found in a trunk in an Alexandria, VA bankvault, she shows that much of the conventional wisdom about Robert E. Lee is not true, via his own words. From an article she wrote in the NYT:
    “The conventional wisdom holds, for example, that Lee disdained secession, but once his state took that step he was duty bound to follow. But these documents show that he was not actually opposed to disunion in principle. He simply wanted to exhaust all peaceful means of redress first, remarking in January 1861 that then “we can with a clear conscience separate.”

    Nor was he against the pro-slavery policies of the secessionists, despite postwar portraits of the general as something of an abolitionist. He complained to a son in December 1860 about new territories being closed to slaveholders, and supported the Crittenden Compromise, which would have forbidden the abolition of slavery. “That deserves the support of every patriot,” he noted in a Jan. 29, 1861 letter to his daughter Agnes. Even at the moment he reportedly told Francis Blair that if “he owned all the negroes in the South, he would be willing to give them up…to save the Union,” he was actually fighting a court case to keep the slaves under his control in bondage “indefinitely,” though they had been promised freedom in his father-in-law’s will.”
    I do think that by refusing to fight a guerilla conflict after April 1865, surrendering completely and after the war counselling reconciliation , he did our republic an immeasurable service.
    Regarding your third point, Mrs. Pryor writes-
    “Like many border-state families, the Lees and their friends were sharply divided on the issues. When Lee consulted his brothers, sister and local clergymen, he found that most leaned toward the Union. At a grim dinner with two close cousins, Lee was told that they also intended to uphold their military oaths. (Samuel Phillips Lee would become an important admiral in the Union navy; John Fitzgerald Lee retained his position as judge advocate of the Army.) Sister Anne Lee Marshall unhesitatingly chose the northern side, and her son outfitted himself in blue uniform. Robert’s favorite brother, Smith Lee, a naval officer, resisted leaving his much-loved berth, and Smith’s wife spurned her relatives to support the Union cause. At the same time, many of the clan’s young men, such as nephew Fitzhugh Lee, were anxious to make their mark for the South in the coming conflict, creating a distinct generational fault line.”
    I live in Virginia, but born in Mississippi. If abortion caused a rift in the U.S. like slavery did, I’d fight with the pro-life states, even if it meant fighting against home state, family, friends.

  17. Don wrote: “But for secession, Lincoln would have spent a frustrating four years as President with the Democrats in the Senate blocking virtually all his initiatives. The Peculiar Institution of the South would have been left untouched.”
    You’re largely right Don, but I think Lincoln, and perhaps the electorate as well, might have viewed his presidency as successful if he had been able to, inspite of the legal ramifications of the Dred Scott decision, stop the spread of slavery to new states and territories. He said of slavery ” I would like to so set it in the public mind that it would eventually wither away”. Do you think he would have been successful, had the southern states not succeeded?

  18. Absent Supreme Court change BPS, I don’t see how he could have been. Any nominees to vacancies would have to have been confirmed by the Senate, and doubtless the slavery issue would have made for stormy confirmation hearings. Now if he had been able to get the Homestead Act, a big if, through Congress it would have rendered the slavery issue in the territories moot, as wave after wave of Northern settlers departed for the West. No secession and what Lincoln’s administration would have been like as a result is a fascinating What If of our history.

  19. BPS: Thank you for the information though I am not sure how you perceive the first or 2nd question to be answered by your responses.

    Re: your response to my 1st and 2nd statement: Conventional wisdom re: Robert E. Lee is determined strictly by the person you are talking to/reading from in many instances. The accusations that you have indicated Ms. Pryer is making against REL (i.e. that he supported slavery and was all for secession and wanted the Civil War to start) have been around for a very long time. One of my English students in a special ed English class and I researched those things about a decade ago and found many errors in that line of thought. So those ideas re: REL didn’t just suddenly appear because some new letters were found in a vault. I am not sure how those quotes answer my questions re: REL. REL did indeed state that he could not fight against the state of Virginia. The people of that time period saw their states in a different way from how we see them today and the individual states often had a lot more freedom/political power then than our states have today.

    “Lee Enters The Civil War With The Confederacy”

    “Several states of the Deep South seceded in protest over the 1860 election of Abraham Lincoln as president, and the newly formed Southern Confederacy offered Lee the rank of brigadier general. He ignored that offer, but the bombardment of U.S. troops in Fort Sumter at Charleston, South Carolina, on April 12–14, 1861, placed him in a difficult position. His former commander, Winfield Scott, offered him command of the army of volunteers being raised to suppress the rebellion; that same day, Virginia voted in favor of secession. Lee did not support secession, but he would not fight against his native state. He resigned his officer’s commission, wrote Scott a personal message of thanks and regret, and became a major general of Virginia troops, commanding all military forces of the state.”

    http://www.historynet.com/robert-e-lee

    “Because of his reputation as one of the finest officers in the United States Army, Abraham Lincoln offered Lee the command of the Federal forces in April 1861. Lee declined and tendered his resignation from the army when the state of Virginia seceded on April 17, arguing that he could not fight against his own people. Instead, he accepted a general’s commission in the newly formed Confederate Army. ”

    http://www.civilwar.org/education/history/biographies/robert-e-lee.html

    Re: your response to the my 3rd statement: Your beginning premise is false. The Civil War was not begun in the human realm because slavery was moral or immoral. It was begun because there were some Southern idiots who fired on a fort held by the US military. It was continued in the human sense to not allow the Union of the United States to break apart. Often moral issues come up in great conflicts as slavery came up during the Civil War. AL thought that the Civil War might be God’s judgement on the entire nation (North & South/abolitionists & pro-slavery folks) because of the evil of slavery. Moral issue of slavery was addressed by Lincoln later in the war-and then as a military/political tactic-not at the beginning of the war. What I have read leads me to strongly believe that AL always viewed slavery as a moral wrong. However, in his 2nd inaugural address, he clearly states that neither the Union nor the Confederacy began the war believing that slavery would be ended by the conflict.

    “These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union even by war, while the Government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it. Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with or even before the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding.”

    “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

    http://www.bartleby.com/124/pres32.html

    Yes, I note that AL said in his 2nd inaugural that slavery was the “cause” of the war, however he never said that when he was campaigning for president the first time around. He said that he would fight to keep the nation one united entity.

  20. Just one more thing. It really irks me when people try to prove that Robert E. Lee supported slavery and therefore chose to fight for the Confederacy.

    “There are few, I believe, in this enlightened age, who will not acknowledge that slavery as an institution is a moral and political evil. It is idle to expatiate on its disadvantages. I think it is a greater evil to the white than to the colored race.”

    “Their emancipation will sooner result from the mild and melting influences of Christianity than from the storm and tempest of fiery controversy. This influence, though slow, is sure.”

    http://www.sonofthesouth.net/leefoundation/Lee%20on%20Slavery.htm

  21. “In Chicago autos can barely be kept from jaywalking let alone pedestrians!”

    Donald,

    I have friends from Chicago, and they have told me about some of the unique practices with vehicles in that city! LOL

    Some of the Yankee cities to which I was specifically referring in my jaywalking comments are places s.a. Morristown, NJ and Washington DC.

    In Washington DC, I started calmly walking across the street with a police officer standing nearby-as usual I was not in a cross walk–I was promptly and firmly grabbed by one of my horrified Yankee friends who yelled that I was going to be given a ticket. It took me two hours to figure out what behavior my friend found so objectionable. 😀

  22. Re: “The Confederacy was created to defend slavery.”

    1. Most of those who did the actual fighting for the Confederacy were not slave owners and/or did not own large numbers of them.

    2. Just because a person fought on the Confederate side did not mean their motivation was simply to perpetuate the evil of slavery.

    3. Most of those who did the actual fighting for the Union were not fighting to end slavery.

    4. Again, these things are not as simple as some would make them in hindsight.

  23. Without a doubt the whole purpose behind the creation of the Confederacy was to defend slavery. The men in the ranks could have any number of reasons to be fighting, including the fact that they were conscripted to do so in many cases, but without slavery there would have been no Confederacy and no war. The thinking of the Confederate leadership at the beginning of the War was well illustrated in Vice-President Alexander Stephen’s Cornerstone speech:

    “The new constitution has put at rest, forever, all the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institution African slavery as it exists amongst us the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization. This was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution. Jefferson in his forecast, had anticipated this, as the “rock upon which the old Union would split.” He was right. What was conjecture with him, is now a realized fact. But whether he fully comprehended the great truth upon which that rock stood and stands, may be doubted. The prevailing ideas entertained by him and most of the leading statesmen at the time of the formation of the old constitution, were that the enslavement of the African was in violation of the laws of nature; that it was wrong in principle, socially, morally, and politically. It was an evil they knew not well how to deal with, but the general opinion of the men of that day was that, somehow or other in the order of Providence, the institution would be evanescent and pass away. This idea, though not incorporated in the constitution, was the prevailing idea at that time. The constitution, it is true, secured every essential guarantee to the institution while it should last, and hence no argument can be justly urged against the constitutional guarantees thus secured, because of the common sentiment of the day. Those ideas, however, were fundamentally wrong. They rested upon the assumption of the equality of races. This was an error. It was a sandy foundation, and the government built upon it fell when the “storm came and the wind blew.”

    Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner- stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.”

    http://teachingamericanhistory.org/library/document/cornerstone-speech/

    The Confederates fought valiantly for a cause they deemed right, but at the core of that cause was human slavery.

  24. Thank you for replying to my comments Barbara. The book by Elizabeth Brown Pryor, “Reading the Man: A Portrait of Robert E. Lee Through His Private Letters”, Viking, 2007, is rather more recent than your research 10 years ago and may bare your perusal. It is not some revisionist potshot at Lee, but quotes extensively from a cache of Lee’s letters, previously unknown to modern scholars. You are absolutely right when you write “these things are not as simple as some would make them in hindsight”. Lee was a complex man and a genius, but neither all good (as some white southerners think) nor all bad (the same can be said of Lincoln). I’m familiar with the history you quote about Lee and Lincoln and thank you for the reminder. Though it was not my intention to irk you, Mrs Pryor’s book suggest there is more to the story re: Lee’s decision to fight for the South and his views on slavery and black people in general. Even the quote from the 1856 letter from Lee is, let us say, not consistent with his actions in the court case to try to keep the Custis slaves, and a letter after the war to one of his sons instructing him never to hire blacks. And you should google the Crittenden Compromise. Your original point #2 asked for quotes or actions of Lee which reflect his sympathy with the relative attitudes of the slave society of which he was a member. Your point #3 asked about fighting against one’s home community. I showed that some of Lee’s close relatives stuck with the Union, and don’t see where I mentioned the morality of slavery so I’m not sure what you mean by my beginning premise is false. (Perhaps part of your point 3 was truncated?) While I agree that many, perhaps most of the soldiers fought in the rebel army to protect their homes and not necessarily to defend slavery, it is a simple fact of history that the Confederacy was formed as a government to protect and perpetuate “negro” slavery. The U.S. Constitution does not mention the word “slave” or “slavery” except in the amendments that end it. The framers were rightly ashamed of slavery, and hoped it would wither away in time. The Confederate constitution expressly protects “negro slavery”.
    Thanks again for your reply. I suggest you read Mrs Pryor’s book.

  25. “without slavery there would have been no Confederacy and no war”

    That is a flatly true statement.

    Re: VP Stephens–leadership often has strong and/or extreme views in relation to the man on the street. Stephens’ speech would lead one to believe that he was either a horrid rascist or knew how to portray one very well. I have no interest in defending Stephens. It is Lee’s motivation of fighting for his home state that I am defending.

    I have done extensive reading of civilian & military members’ journals & letters written during the Civil War. They were not interested in debating slavery–they expressed other concerns & interests. Now, it is my understanding that, of those registered to vote (white males) during this time period, there was a larger amount of political participation & interest than we have in our modern times.

  26. “Your original point #2 asked for quotes or actions of Lee which reflect his sympathy with the relative attitudes of the slave society of which he was a member.”

    I meant to request a quote showing Lee wanted the South to start the Civil War. That was my understanding of the quote being proffered.

    Thank you for the info on the book. My preference is original source documents. I would very much like to read the letters. Although, in doing so in this day & time it is difficult to determine some of the meaning as context is very important–just the plain reading would not be enough. Thanks, again.
    😀

  27. “Dred Scott was declared to be only three quarters person”

    Actually, he was declared to not be a person at all, with “no rights that the white man is bound to respect” and no standing to sue for his freedom. The declaration of an entire class of human beings as non-persons is the biggest thing that Dred Scott v. Sanford and Roe v. Wade have in common.

    You all might be interested to know that Dred Scott’s great-great-granddaughter, Lynn Jackson, lives in the St. Louis area and has started a foundation devoted to his memory. She recently appeared with Alveda King, MLK’s niece and noted pro-life activist, at a rally to pray for peace in Ferguson, Missouri:

    http://www.thedredscottfoundation.org/dshf/

  28. Elaine Krewer:
    “”Dred Scott was declared to be only three quarters person”

    Actually, he was declared to not be a person at all, with “no rights that the white man is bound to respect” and no standing to sue for his freedom. The declaration of an entire class of human beings as non-persons is the biggest thing that Dred Scott v. Sanford and Roe v. Wade have in common.”
    .
    ” and no standing to sue for his freedom”
    Reading our founding principles, I found no reason to believe that personhood is required to be eligible for equal Justice under the law or in the Supreme Court. “all men are created equal” The Declaration of Independence. “Human existence is the criterion for the objective ordering of human rights” Francisco Suarez.
    .
    If Dred Scott had no standing in a court of law, then Scott had diplomatic immunity as belonging to another sovereignty, the country from whence he had come and in the analysis, Dred Scott had diplomatic immunity given him by “their Creator”, and Amendment 9, some 70 years before.
    “ Amendment 9 – Construction of Constitution. Ratified 12/15/1791.
    The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”
    Thomas Aquinas’ definition of a person is an “individual substance of a rational nature”
    It seems that Dred Scott was denied his humanity by the Supreme Court, the ultimate bias as Scott fulfilled the definition of a rational being in that Scott knew that he was a man, a free man and had the reason, the knowledge, and the ability to bring lawsuit in the court. (This government is trying to give animals, non-rational animals the ability to sue in a court of law. It has got to be the absolute punishment for abortion and slavery)
    The state and its court does not give life, nor personhood, nor sovereignty.
    .
    Even in Roe v. Wade, the court said that it did not know if the unborn was human, yet the court did not give the man within the womb the benefit of a doubt…and all with a straight face.

  29. Thank you, Elaine Krewer for the information about the work of Dred Scott’s great-great-granddaughter, Lynn Jackson. I hope this give pro-abortionists pause to remember their own humanity.

  30. “Dred Scott was declared to be only three quarters person”

    “Actually, he was declared to not be a person at all, with “no rights that the white man is bound to respect” and no standing to sue for his freedom. The declaration of an entire class of human beings as non-persons is the biggest thing that Dred Scott v. Sanford and Roe v. Wade have in common.”

    Thank you for reminding us that the US Supreme Court also declared that blacks were inferior to whites–thereby pointing out that the Union govt was far from morally clean itself. And remains unclean today.

  31. “Thank you for reminding us that the US Supreme Court also declared that blacks were inferior to whites–thereby pointing out that the Union govt was far from morally clean itself. And remains unclean today.”

    Of course the Dred Scott decision was attacked by Lincoln and would have been overruled by the Court in due time based upon Lincoln’s appointments if slavery had not been abolished by Lincoln before a case could arise.

    As for Mary’s statement, I assume that she is referring to the three-quarters provision in the constitution regarding congressional representation. This was an attempt to limit the power of the slave holding states. The slave owners wanted their slaves to be counted in censuses as equivalent to free persons. The three-quarters compromise resulted.

  32. The North saw the Negro as a black man, a human being. The South saw the Negro as an institution (of slavery).
    .
    Our founding principles are predicated on the human being that no institution can claim as its own without the consent of the individual person.
    .
    Roe v. Wade saw the unborn as a part of the woman’s body. The unalienable Right to Life sees the unborn as an individual human being. (creating mothers and fathers)

  33. Dred Scott and Roe v. Wade must be neck-in-neck as the WORST Supreme Court decisions ever! The evidence is that Lincoln didn’t plan to enforce Dred Scott. In the book “Natural Rights and the Right to Choose” by Hadley Arkes, he cites two occurances of this early in Lincoln presidency. A black man had applied for a passport or visa (whatever they had in those days) to travel to Germany for medical school and another black man had applied for a patent. Since Dred Scott had declared them non-citizens, these had been denied by the government official involved. Lincoln reversed the officials decisions and order the passport and patent issued.

  34. “Of course the Dred Scott decision was attacked by Lincoln and would have been overruled by the Court in due time based upon Lincoln’s appointments if slavery had not been abolished by Lincoln before a case could arise.”

    This is an unprovable assumption as we have no way to show that it would have actually taking place. Possibly wishful thinking. Real life has shown us that Republican SCOTUS appointees cannot be counted upon to vote (woops! I mean rule) according to the thinking/policies of the president who appointed them–after all they are life time appointees and there is no one who can over rule them. Also, Roe vs Wade has stood for 41 years now.

  35. Dred Scott was in 1858. The Emancipation Declaration was in 1863. Davis’ proposal to enlist slaves was in 1864. Roe v. Wade is in 1973.
    .
    With no standing to sue, nor standing to be a citizen, the individual (the Negro slave) (the unborn) was to go her own way as the Supreme Court told the atheist, Madalyn Murray O’Hair. Lincoln said: “One man cannot own another man”

  36. “This is an unprovable assumption as we have no way to show that it would have actually taking place. Possibly wishful thinking.”

    Complete and total rubbish. Lincoln got five appointments to the Supreme Court during his administration. The idea that these Justices would not have overturned Scott, if they had had the opportunity, at a time when the country was at war with the Confederacy and the President, who had attacked the Scott decision, was successfully backing an amendment abolishing slavery, betrays a complete lack of understanding on your part for the history of this period. The simple fact is that Lincoln was an ardent foe of slavery and the War, fought by the Confederacy in defense of slavery, gave him the opportunity to act to end it, and his appointments reflected his desire to rid the country of that stain.

  37. “Complete and total rubbish. The idea… betrays a complete lack of understanding on your part for the history of this period.”

    It is very interesting that you feel you can predict political/historical events with certainty–ones that never took place & that involved multiple people and multiple interchangeable events which would have needed to taken place–shows complete misunderstanding of the nature and predictability of politics.

  38. Complete and total rubbish again Barbara. If you are going to continue to comment on this blog in regard to the Civil War, I will expect you to display basic knowledge of the facts. People who pontificate about history but clearly do not know what they are talking about are one of my pet peeves and I have little tolerance for it. You clearly are quite defensive about the history of the Confederacy and slavery, and that is your prerogative. However, on this blog commenters are not allowed to twist historical facts in order to put lipstick on a favored pig.

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