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"The American people, North and South, went into the (Civil) war as citizens of their respective states, they came out as subjects. And what they thus lost they have never got back." -- H.L. Mencken

 

The American Civil War: Not So Civil
 

by
History buff since childhood and voracious reader on the topic. I've also examined original correspondence from the era this article covers and visited many important sites related to it.

A civil war involves two parties:

  1. The existing government.
  2. The insurgents rising against that government.

By definition, a civil war is one in which the insurgents fight for possession of the government's means of power. This involves such things as:

  • Seizing government buildings.
  • Replacing existing bureaucrats and officials with its own bureaucrats and officials.
  • Seizing the Treasury and gaining control of the currency.

In effect, it's a violent change of ownership. This is not at all what the Confederacy did in the War of 1861.

In the War of 1861, the Confederacy didn't fight for possession of anything the North had. It seceded from the North and was subsequently invaded by the North. The Confederacy already its own government, currency, government offices, and institutions. It had an elected President, a capitol, and a complete government in place. It just wanted its independence from a union that was no longer playing by the rules. The war was started to prevent that independence.

Why did Confederacy secede? It wasn't because of slavery, as the disinformed will tell you. Slavery wasn't even an issue until late in the war, and Lincoln made it an issue to prevent England and France from joining the war on the side of the Confederacy following the Battle of Antietam (this is well-documented in the historical literature).

When Lincoln did make it an issue, he used the Emancipation Proclamation as his tool. But if you read the text of the proclamation, you see that it didn't outlaw slavery in any of the Union states or in the border states the Union needed to win the war. It outlawed it only in the Confederacy--where the Union didn't have control. Very manipulative and disingenuous, but it had the intended effect.

So, what did lead to secession? The underlying issue was federalism vs. confederation.

  • Federalism means a strong central government. An example today is North Korea. This is where we're headed.
  • Confederation means an alliance of states (countries). An example today is the European Union. This is where we started.

The Constitution contained compromises between the two philosophies, but the differences were not resolved. They would continue to stew for decades. There was talk of war and succession, even as the ink dried on the Constitution. The federalists pushed the envelope time and again, ultimately culminating in a war to decide between the federalist viewpoint and the confederation view the founding fathers had.

Because the federalists won, the War of 1861 transferred the bulk of power from the states to the central government. Whether this was good or bad is still a point of contention. Consider it from just the civil rights point of view, and you see there isn't a clear answer:

  • On the one hand, civil rights are easier to enforce from a central position. The abolition of slavery is a prime example (not truly abolished by law until the 1970s, and then de facto forced on everyone in an albeit less onerous form).
  • On the other hand, civil rights are easier to abuse from a central position. The atrocities committed at Waco and the long history of killings and other abuses committed by IRS employees are prime examples.

Revisionists pick up on the slavery issue, ignoring how emancipation was so poorly executed that it served as a means to abuse people of color even further. If we look at the results this is what we see. To wit, slaves were too valuable to lynch. Once no longer a slave, a person of color no longer had economic value. So, the price tag for lynching somebody was very low. The incidence of lynching went from about zero to epidemic proportions once slaves were "freed." This doesn't make slavery good or desirable, but being lynched while your family is terrorized isn't exactly the same as being a free person.

Slavery was not an issue until late in the war. Union soldiers didn't rally to "free the slaves." Read the various historical accounts of how people of color were treated in the North and by the Union soldiers, and the whitewashed (no pun intended) history peddled by school textbooks is exposed for the fraud it is.

One reason for "freeing" the slaves was to remove from the South their ability to feed their army. The Union had slaves in its own army, the whole time. Another reason was to give the appearance to the anti-slavery Europeans that this was a noble fight instead of an illegal power grab.

The central issue of the War of 1861 was the power struggle between two factions that were in opposition at the founding of the nation. The federalists eventually emerged as the victors, and consequently we are today "enjoying" the financial devastation wreaked by a $9 trillion federal debt foisted upon us by a federalist power that is not subject to checks, balances, or even recall. That power also controls the ballots, rendering federal elections moot.

A couple more definitions:

  • In a democracy, the people elect the government officials. This has its dangers, which is why Washington and Jefferson warned against it.
  • In a republic, elected officials elect the top elected officials. One model for this was the Roman Senate. This also has its dangers, which is why the Federalists were opposed to it.

The Constitution contained a compromise between the two philosophies. That was a bicameral (two house) system. Thus, we had the House of Representatives elected by the people and the Senate elected by the state legislatures. This worked well for the people and for the various states.

From these concepts also rose the Democratic Republican Party. Its opposition included the Federalist Party and the Whig Party. Because the DR was so appealing, it dominated and could not be beaten in the election process over the long term. So the solution was to infiltrate and destroy it from within. Once that occurred, things very rapidly progressed to the War of 1861.

Half a century later, freedom would take a nosedive for everyone. 1913 was a year of total insanity (it gave us the IRS, for example), and it spawned the 17th Amendment which set the stage for further concentration of power. That Amendment removed the compromise and gave us a unicameral system that made abuse far easier.

We don't know if the original idea of our founding fathers would have prevailed or been better than what we have today. Logic says it would, because absolute power corrupts absolutely and you avoid that problem by not letting power become concentrated and by not letting it exist beyond the consent of the governed. Today, states have almost no power and the citizens don't have the power of the ballot because opposition is kept off the ballot.

Opposition? But aren't the Democrats and Republicans different parties? Yes, but in name only. Go back and review what happened during Reconstruction, specifically on the issue of the "Chinese Problem." Behind closed doors, these two parties merged. Why fight each other, when you can just pretend to do so and keep people thinking they were choosing between different ends of the same turd? Does it matter whether the Crips or the Bloods mug you? No, you are still mugged.

If you read the history of each president and his associates from 1870 forward, guess what? You keep seeing the same names. There is a reason for that.

As a consequence of the War of 1861, the United States changed from being a democratic republic to being a series of dynasties. The people we "vote for" during the "elections" are nearly always front men and almost never the actual players. This scheme allows criminals to escape detection. The ability for states to opt out of the broken system we now have was forcibly removed as a result of the War of 1861.

Now, go back and review what has happened with either wing of the Demopublican Party "elected" and "in power." There's no difference. We get more regulation and more spending, either way. Note that spending equals taxes, because we have to pay for it one way or another.

So as long as people refuse to actually vote and instead give into this false "choice" between wings of this single party, we end up with less freedom and less money.

The Libertarian Party would take us back to a Constitutional government that values individual freedom and makes government accountable. If you vote LP, you aren't wasting your vote. If you vote Demopublican, you are--because you are simply saying you don't care if criminals steal your money and your freedom.

Back to the uncivil war. Don't think of the Confederacy as a bunch of slavery-loving, racist rednecks who started a war against their country. The truth is it was the slavery-loving, racist Northerners who started a war against their country. They won, the country lost. The slaves had the appearance of freedom, but the real freedom that emerged from the Emancipation Proclamation was the freedom of mobs to lynch people simply on the basis of how much melanin is in their skin.

Slavery was on its way out, as slaves were expensive. The cotton gin was much cheaper. And, there were other problems in having slaves. If Lincoln had really cared about the slaves, he would have provided for a transition that included education and property grants, plus the right to vote. These did not happen. Lynchings did. As has other victimization in the years after Reconstruction, after WWII, and after the "Civil Rights Decade" of the 1960s.

The real tragedy of the unCivil War is that the country lost this war. Slaves were "freed," but other people also became free to burn their homes, deny them gainful employment, terrorize them, and hang them on the flimsiest of pretenses. People of color would wait an entire century before obtaining freedom. That war didn't give it to them.

 

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